Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You Know You Spend Too Much Time at the Rink When...

- someone asks how old your child is and you reply "Minor Atom"
- your odometer hits 100 000km in the arena parking lot
- it's just as dark outside leaving the arena as arriving
- you convince people that practice Sunday mornings at 6AM isn't really that bad
- people you don't know call you by your name
- it's so cold outside starting the car would take longer than the trip to Timmy's so you break down and drink the arena vending machine coffee
- said vending machine coffee tastes good
- any fecking coffee tastes good at 6AM
- you know where the warm(relatively speaking) seats are in every local rink
- you keep different types of hockey tape in your purse
- you keep track of time by skate sharpenings
- you wake up two hours early to shovel the driveway to get to the game/practice
- that glove smell no longer induces vomiting
- you know whose turn it is to make the coffee run
- no one knows whose turn it is and no one cares because it all evens out
- a stranger stops you at the grocery store and asks, "Don't you work at the rink?"
- your holiday schedule is planned around games
- you see your friends at there more often than anywhere else
- you remember the rink you where in when your friend called to tell you she was finally pregnant
- you know what rinks have amenities for grandparents(viewing rooms and heat lamps!)
- despite all the hassles, you jump out of bed quicker for games and practices than anything else
- you don't think I'm crazy for doing it week after week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prospects Report - Euro Style

Swedish Elite League – Erik Karlsson

The Ottawa Senators surprised many when they selected Erik Karlsson 15th overall in the 2008 draft. Currently listed at 5’11 and 165 pounds, the biggest knocks against Karlsson are boosting his speed and bulking up. Despite his size he still dishes out big hits and that will improve as he fills out. Karlsson currently anchors the blue line for Vastra Frolunda HC Goteborg of the SEL, notching 1 goal and 2 assists in 23 games. He is using his excellent hockey sense and positional play to full advantage this season, only picking up 8 PIM. No doubt the Senators could use a big hitter in their own zone. Don’t be shocked if he’s at training camp in 2009.

Kontinental Hockey League – Evgeni Dadonov

This has been a difficult period for Russian prospects. Alexei Cherepanov, picked 17th by the New York Rangers in 2007, died tragically during a KHL game. Kirill Petrov, selected 73rd overall by the Islanders in 2007 has yet to play a game this season with Kazan Ak-Bars due to an undisclosed injury. Luckily Evgeni Dadonov, Florida’s third rounder (71st overall in 2007) has stayed healthy. The nineteen-year-old clocks in at a solid 5’10, 178 pounds and has amassed 3 goals and 3 assists in 23 games with Chelyabinsk Traktor. He was at the Panther’s training camp and drew praise from Scott Luce, Director of Scouting who compared Dadonov to Pavel Datsyuk. The biggest draw back against Dadonov is the lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and the NHL, but Florida has to take some risks.

Czech League - Tomas Kubalik

Czech draft picks such as Jakub Voracek (#7 in 2007), Michal Repik (40th in 2007) and Tomas Kundratek (90th in 2008) have successfully made the jump to playing in North America’s top hockey leagues. This bodes well for Tomas Kubalik, picked 135th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008. Kubalik, 6’2, 189 pounds makes up in chippiness what he lacks in point production. He’s only posted 1 assist in 20 games with his hometown team Plzen HC but picked up 37 PIM. Rough and tumble is picking up in the NHL but Kubalik must improve his skating to stand a solid shot at becoming a third or fourth line grinder.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hockey’s Smallest Hazard

Hockey’s biggest pest is not Sean Avery. Fans and players alike are familiar with the risk of physical injury from high sticks and hip checks but the bacterial strain methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) packs a far more lethal punch than Zdeno Chara’s right hook.

MRSA(pronounced mer-sa) is a form of bacteria that is highly resistant to traditional antibiotics; it first emerged in hospitals during the 1960s. The version that occurs outside of hospitals is known as community-acquired MRSA(CA-MRSA) and it became a frequent visitor to dressing rooms in the late 1990s. In 1999 it was responsible for the deaths of four previously healthy children in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Amateur athletes can be considered at higher risk of contracting MRSA than the pros due to less stringent sanitary measures in local rinks or stadiums. That’s not a knock against the caretakers, merely acknowledging the staff at places such as the Air Canada Centre have higher budgets and more resources with which to minimise the risk.

That doesn’t entirely eliminate the risk. Professional athletes including NHLers Mikael Renberg, Joe Thornton, and Ed Belfour have required hospital stays due to MRSA. Renberg’s case, triggered by a skate blade cutting his skin, was particularly nasty with his hand swelling to the size of a boxing glove. His doctors seriously considered amputation before the infection relented its grip. Death was indeed a possibility. An unfortunate few such as Lycoming College football player Ricky Lannetti have died from MRSA.

Treatment is difficult not only due to the bacteria’s drug resistance and constant evolution, but also due to lack of information. Most people are stunned to learn that more Americans died of MRSA than HIV-AIDS in 1995.

But don’t pull little Parker and Posey out of house league just yet. Prevention is possible. Luckily the most effective way to keep MRSA, and other illnesses at bay is also the simplest and most cost effective – hand washing with soap and the hottest water you can tolerate.

Another option for those times when the arena taps run colder than the ice you've skated on is Hockey Hands. This product is a heavy duty hand sanitizer, similar to the familiar little bottles such as Purell. The main ingredients are rubbing alcohol, tea tree oil, and mint.

That’s great for hands but who washes their gear thoroughly after every game or practice? Usually it gets tossed into a hockey bag and stays in the trunk until next time. A Mississauga entrepreneur, Sam Mauro of Core Marketing Solutions has come up with a twist on the traditional hockey bag. According to Mauro, his product, The Hockey Hangup reduces the risk of MRSA. The built-in hanger allows it to hang on dressing room hooks instead of germ-infested floors. It is 85% mesh so the equipment dries in the bag, avoiding the hassle of removing and hanging individual items. Mauro admits Hockey Hangup is not a cure but after playing hockey his entire life and dealing with hockey bag hazards, he created the product. “I want people to need the bag, not want the bag.” The time and money spent is heavy – each prototype cost $650.00 and takes two months. Mauro is not discouraged; he views his work as a way to make his hockey mark.