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The private school education of NHL All-Stars

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Of the 37 North American players named to this year’s NHL All-Star game or filling in as replacements, 15 — or 40 per cent —  attended private school. It’s a statistic that reinforces the notion that hockey, particularly at its very highest levels, is increasingly a sport not just for those who can afford it, but for those in the highest tax brackets.

Some attended athletic academies. The Oilers’ Connor McDavid attended Premier Elite Athletes’ Collegiate, a now-defunct private school in the Toronto area with an annual tuition that ranged from $15,500 to $27,000. The Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner went to The Hill Academy in Vaughan, Ont., (where Prep Hockey tuition is currently $13,000) and later Blyth Academy (where tuition is $15,995).

Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, who was named to the Metropolitan Division team but is injured, and St Louis goalie Jordan Binnington went to Crestwood, a private day school in Toronto, which currently costs $28,500 per year.

Tuition was even higher among some American players. Chicago’s Patrick Kane went to Detroit Country Day School, where tuition is $32,200 US.

Max Pacioretty of the Las Vegas Golden Knights went to The Taft School, a prestigious private academy in Watertown, Conn., where day school tuition is $46,500 US and boarding runs to $62,500 US.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner will be making his first all-star game appearance. Marner attended The Hill Academy in Vaughan, Ont., and later Blyth Academy in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

 

All the private schools offer scholarships and some sort of financial aid to those who qualify. CBC News was not able to determine if any of the NHL All-Stars who attended the schools received scholarships or financial aid.

But the number of private school alumni is astounding, considering the chances of any young hockey player having a steady — non-All-Star — career in the NHL are just .02 per cent, according to an oft-quoted study.

Game for the rich?

And it may be the starkest evidence yet of what some say is a growing socioeconomic exclusion in hockey due to skyrocketing costs.

“For generations — and I don’t think that’s overstating it — generations we’ve been talking about the cost of the game,” says Sean Fitz-Gerald, author of Before the Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink.

Fitz-Gerald’s book suggests the expense of playing hockey now has the sport approaching a state of crisis, and that expense runs far beyond $300 sticks and $1,200 skates.

“It’s power skating lessons, skills, development lessons and skating on treadmills. It’s private coaching. It’s all of these things and they start from the age of four. Sometimes I bet you you can go out and find one under the age of four,” says Fitz-Gerald.

 

NHL All-Stars
Sean Fitz-Gerald is the author of Before the Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink. He says the number of NHL All-Stars that are private school alumni is not surprising, given the soaring costs of the sport. (James Dunn/CBC News)

 

Parents can pay between $10,000 and $15,000 per year or more for their children to play in minor hockey’s highest level, AAA. But as Fitz-Gerald notes, those are just capital costs.

“It’s [also] the soft costs, the costs you don’t necessarily think of,” he says.

“Competitive tournaments now start on Fridays. Are you able to get that Friday off of work to go? Your child might have after school skating on a Wednesday or practice before school on a Thursday. Do you have the flexibility in your job to be able to accommodate that?”

All of that has the effect of winnowing down potential players not just economically but also geographically.

Fitz-Gerald cites a series of 2016 articles by Teri Pecoskie at the Hamilton Spectator. The series looked at players in the Ontario Hockey League (Major Junior A) and found 80 per cent came from neighbourhoods with median family incomes above the Ontario average of $80,987.

Roughly 15 per cent of the players came from neighbourhoods with median family incomes at least 50 per cent higher than average. And the vast majority of players also came from urban areas, which just happen to be where the expensive extra-curricular hockey training and facilities are often located.

It’s a far cry from the days when NHL legends like Gordie Howe honed their game on used skates on frozen prairie ponds. Wayne Gretzky, whose father worked as a telephone repairman, addressed the differences in an interview on The National in 2016.

“Do you think your parents would have been able to support you through hockey in today’s world?” asked Peter Mansbridge.

“Probably not,” said Gretzky.

WATCH | Peter Mansbridge interviews Wayne Gretzky

[embedded content]

The possibility that the next Great One might never become great due to lack of financial resources is very real, says Fitz-Gerald.

“Those [less well-off, small town] children statistically don’t make it to the NHL anymore. Because today, statistically speaking, you have to be from a well-to-do part of an urban area,” he says.

Number of players not dropping

Overall participation rates in hockey dropped for five straight years from 634,892 in 2013/14 to 626,090 in 2017/18. But the number of registered players in 2018/19 leapt back up to 643,958, thanks a huge jump in female players.

Hockey Canada is well aware of the economic constraints in the sport.

“When it comes to the cost of hockey, I think there’s no doubt with hockey, just like all sports, as you get to the higher levels and more competitive levels, that cost does go up,” says Corey McNabb, Hockey Canada’s director of player development.

McNabb says Hockey Canada has several programs designed to make the game more accessible financially. The First Shift program offers full equipment and six on ice sessions for $200 as a way of introducing new players to the game.

There are also 150 Hockey Canada Skills Academy programs across the country that operate with local schools. They allow kids to get on the ice up to four times per week at a cost of about $750 per year.

At the same time, McNabb attributes some of the soaring costs of the sport to parents spending far more than required.

“I think parents need to sometimes take a step back and really look at how much is too much,” he says.

“You don’t need to be going to six hockey schools in the summer and being on the ice 12 months a year. I think that’s one of the things that is a little bit of a misperception in the game right now.”

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Former NHL Goalie from Manitoba arrested in Kentucky on public intoxication charges – CTV News

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WINNIPEG —
Former NHL goaltender Ed Belfour was arrested at a hotel in Bowling Green, Kentucky and has been charged with criminal mischief and public intoxication.

According to an arrest report obtained by CTV News from the Bowling Green Police, Edward John Belfour was arrested on Tuesday morning shortly after 1:20 a.m. at the Kentucky Grand Hotel.

Police said Belfour was found kicking a spa door while lying on the floor clutching a curtain rod that had been ripped out of the wall.

“Belfour had slow slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, he could barely stand up, and he had the strong odor of alcohol on his breath,” an arresting officer wrote in the police report.

According to the report a man who called 9-1-1 was locked in the spa, and later told police Belfour had been drinking when he became violent.

A spokesperson for the Bowling Green Police told CTV News that Belfour had been released from custody later Tuesday morning.

Belfour, who currently lives in McKinney, Texas was born and raised in Carman, Man. The 54-year-old had previously played as a goalie in the NHL, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks over the course of a nearly 20-year career.

Belfour was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

The charges against Belfour have not been tested in court.  

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How Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter found different paths to stardom – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — For years now, every time Vince Carter returned to Toronto it was about the end.

Was this his last visit? Was this his last visit?

How much longer would he play?

This time the end didn’t matter, although the circumstances being what they are, you wished differently.

A clue — if you needed one — that something was off came when Carter’s Atlanta Hawks teammates gathered during shootaround Tuesday morning and sang him happy birthday.

But Carter’s birthday – his 43rd – was Sunday wasn’t it?

And then it comes back: There was nothing to celebrate Sunday. The Hawks were playing but there were no well wishes to be had. When Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter accident, the NBA lost an icon, but Carter lost a friend, a contemporary, a peer and a one-time rival.

It’s all still fresh.

“I think when you see somebody that young leave us [and] for me having conversations with [him], talking about how happy he was and doing what he was doing,” said Carter, who has a basketball-playing teenage daughter of his own. “Being able to travel around with his daughter… and teaching her. That’s what makes it a little harder.”

The beginning of the Toronto Raptors’ 130-114 win over the Hawks will be remembered for a moving tribute video in memory of Bryant and a 24-second moment of silence in recognition of his uniform number.

With that in the air this time, Carter’s visit to his NBA home was not about the end — that will come April 10 when Carter visits Toronto the final time in the third-last game of his NBA-record 23rd season, which he has said will be his last.

Instead, Tuesday was all about the beginning, back when Vinsanity was spreading and Carter was a high-flying kid, wowing the NBA in this strange, new market.

It was all there in a tribute video to Carter that earned a standing ovation at the start of the second quarter. Carter did his part by knocking down a couple of vintage threes for old time’s sake.

“I was just happy to see a few shots go in,” said Carter, who scored eight of his 10 points in a three-minute burst in the second quarter. “I was trying to play my game, just taking what’s there. I haven’t been shooting very well, so it was more finally making a doggone shot.”

It was a bit of throwback, but fitting as Bryant’s passing has inspired the NBA to look back, and when you look back on the legendary Laker’s career, you see Carter.

The NBA was in a post-Michael Jordan limbo when Carter won the rookie-of-the-year award in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. The job of the biggest basketball star in the world was available.

But we know how all that ended. Carter, ultimately, didn’t want the role.

Bryant? He put every fibre of his soul into applying for it every single night. There was a moment when Carter was ahead of him on the superstar-in-waiting depth chart, a more likely candidate to bridge the gap between Jordan and — as it turned out — LeBron James.

Carter was just another obstacle in Bryant’s way.

“I just know he thinks,” Carter said of those early years when Bryant was gunning for him. “‘If he’s the next guy that’s compared [to Jordan] I gotta go dominate.’”

Carter will end up in the Hall of Fame, but it was Bryant – Carter’s AAU teammate when he was 16 and Bryant 15 – that died an NBA icon.

“He was a star, he was elite, he was one of the best,” said Carter. “So regardless if he played for your favourite team or not you had an appreciation for him… you respected him for his drive and for his willingness to be the best and to try to win by any means.”

Carter experienced it firsthand many times. He went head-to-head with the Lakers star 31 times in his career, 19 as a starter, but it was the early matchups that carried the most punch.

Bryant had already been in the league for two seasons when Carter – having played three seasons at the University of North Carolina – made his NBA debut. They didn’t meet in Carter’s rookie year due to a compressed 50-game schedule. The next season – Carter’s breakout 1999-2000 year – Bryant was injured when the Raptors upset the Lakers on the road. They finally met at what was then the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 20, 1999.

Carter knew he had his hands full.

“[You] respected him for his drive and for his willingness to be the best and to try to win by any means. I can recall games here where we’re just going back and forth with him. Especially in the early years where we were, I guess, three years removed from being teammates in AAU basketball,” said Carter. “So competing against him — and his Laker teams were dominant — it was a challenge for us to even compete. So it was something special and, obviously, to battle him head [on] was what it was all about, man. He was one of the elite players, and, obviously, his drive… he wanted to go [against] the best competition and dominate. And I knew that coming in.”

Eventually the Lakers went 5-1 against Toronto when both Carter and Bryant were in the lineup – not surprisingly, given several of the games came while the Lakers were reeling off three straight championships and four trips to the NBA Finals in five years.

Bryant had the edge statistically too.

Carter averaged 25 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 36.9 per-cent shooting in those six games against Bryant and the Lakers. Bryant averaged 28.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and four assists on 43.4 per cent from the floor.

No surprise there, either.

“With him and Shaq, you had to figure out how to solve that puzzle,” said Carter. “There were nights when I had to figure out how to score through, around and over Kobe Bryant and if you happened to get past him, guess who was next? Shaquille O’Neal. It was one of the toughest puzzles to solve. I’ve had success and I’ve had some failures.”

That Bryant was eager to take on Carter was no surprise – this was the kid who challenged Philadelphia 76ers players to one-on-one games when he was playing high-school ball in Philadelphia. But the more easy-going Carter was up to it as well.

“You could tell there was something there, but surprisingly there was something there from Vince too,” said Alvin Williams, who knew Bryant as a young prodigy in Philadelphia and was Carter’s teammate on the Raptors. “Vince was usually the guy who was kind of laid back and didn’t care about the matchup all that much, at least from the outside it looked like that.

“But you could tell that game meant a lot any time they matched up.”

The first time Carter met Bryant, they were teenagers playing on a summer-club team that featured two more future NBA stars – Tim Thomas and Richard Hamilton. Bryant was a year younger, but unnerved.

The future was foretold.

“It was a little different back then, as far as when you heard about a guy it was because somebody had played against him. It was word of mouth,” said Carter, who had come up from his home in Daytona Beach, Fla., to play for the New Jersey-based team. “Once he got there, I mean the swagger, the confidence at that age, you knew he was going to be something… he came in and he was one of our point guards. And his ability to shoot, obviously, how tall he was, his ability to pass, make plays.”

But it was the younger kids’ audaciousness that stood out and – as it turns out – stood the test of time.

“I remember he was shooting half-court shots,” Carter recalled. “He wasn’t making them all, but the confidence to come on an AAU team that was that good and still feel like he could shoot half-court shots in games? And he’d make a few. So you were in awe of his range and his ability, and his confidence was second to none.”

Bryant never changed. But how his rivalry with Carter did and how their respective careers went along explains more about the two men than how it started.

Bryant eventually packaged that confidence, that willingness to stand apart and commit to being the best he could be in the pursuit of being the best ever into an alter ego he called ‘Black Mamba.’

He introduced it to the world after he was embroiled in a sexual-assault case in 2003 that was eventually dismissed, but which included Bryant publicly acknowledging wrongdoing and settling with the victim in a civil suit.

He told The New Yorker in a 2014 interview it was a way to distance himself from himself.

“After the Colorado incident, I had every major sponsor drop me, except for Nike,” Bryant said. “I’m sitting there thinking, ‘what am I going to do now?’ My vision was to build a brand and do all these things. Now everybody’s telling me I can’t do it… The name just evokes such a negative emotion. I said, ‘If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what’s coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?’ You’re not watching David Banner—you’re watching the Hulk.”

It worked. Eventually Bryant’s off-court ventures picked back up. On the floor, even as a three-time champion, his best years lay ahead of him. There were the spectacular scoring exploits in 2005-06 — the season he dropped 81 points on the Raptors — and 2006-07 when he averaged 33.5 points a game, back when points were a lot more difficult to come by. He then led the Lakers to three straight Finals and post-Shaq titles in 2009 and 2010 that helped seal his legacy.

By this time, Carter was on to his second act, too. After 11 years as a leading man split between Toronto and New Jersey, Carter was content to transition into role-playing status, eventually moving to the bench and then finally three years of semi-retirement far from the spotlight’s glare — first in Sacramento and the last two years in Atlanta.

Two different men, two different agendas. Bryant never stopped pushing. After an early taste of being the NBA’s next big thing, Carter went with the flow for most of his 23 seasons. Bryant was hard on teammates, demanding perfection. Carter extended his career because everyone liked him, and he was a source of wisdom and comfort for young players on bad teams.

Each in their own way were being true to themselves.

“Kobe had a different determination. Kobe had a different perspective. Kobe had a different goal [and] agenda than Vince did,” said Williams. “That was the biggest difference between Vince and Kobe because they were both great players, they both had great opportunities [but] Vince started going in a different direction whereas Kobe had to still prove, prove, prove because he wanted to be that No. 1 guy. That was the biggest difference.”

No one would have bet earlier in their careers that Carter’s would have outlasted Bryant’s, mainly because it was impossible to imagine Bryant ever walking away.

Injuries eventually forced his hand and Carter was the last man standing.

Some of Carter’s most memorable – and most significant – moments as a Raptor came in his battles with Bryant and the Lakers.

On Tuesday, there was one more Carter moment in Toronto with his old friend and rival Bryant looming large.

It wasn’t one anyone would have wanted, Carter least of all.

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Helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and 8 others was 20 to 30 feet from clearing a hilltop when it crashed, investigators say – CNN

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As federal investigators wrapped up operations at the crash site, NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said preliminary information suggests the plane descended rapidly and was likely in one piece before it slammed into the hill.
“The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 feet a minute, so we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” Homendy said. “This is a pretty steep descent at high speed. So it wouldn’t be a normal landing speed.”
NTSB investigators wrapped up recovery efforts at the crash site Tuesday
The crash occurred about 1,085 feet above sea level, missing the top of the hill by 20 to 30 feet, investigators said. Parts of the helicopter were found scattered around a crash site that stretched 500 to 600 feet, the NTSB said.

NTSB recommended a safety system

On Tuesday, NTSB turned over the accident site back to local authorities after recovering pieces of the wreckage, an iPad, cellphone and documents including maintenance records, the helicopter’s registration and the airworthiness certificate.
The helicopter did not have a terrain awareness and warning system — a safety feature which provides the pilot with information about the terrain, Homendy said.
The NTSB recommended that similar helicopters be equipped with the system after a fatal Texas crash in 2004 that killed 10 people. The Federal Aviation Administration failed to implement the recommendation, Homendy said.
NTSB's Carol Hogan examines wreckage NTSB's Carol Hogan examines wreckage
In his last communication with air traffic control, the helicopter’s pilot said he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer, the NTSB previously said. But when air traffic control asked him what he planned to do, there was no response.
Radar data indicated the helicopter climbed 2,300 feet and began a left descending turn, Homendy said.
That last contact was around 9:45 a.m. The first 911 call about the crash came in two minutes later, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

Weather experts are studying that morning

That morning had been particularly foggy.
Visibility was so low Sunday morning that the Los Angeles Police Department had decided to ground its helicopters.
But comparing the police helicopters with the one Bryant was flying in — a Sikorsky S-76B — isn’t accurate, Homendy said.
“It’s an apples to oranges comparison. It’s a different helicopter, different operations, they have 4-person helicopters, this is outfitted for more than that,” she said. “We have to look at this specific crash, this specific helicopter.”
The S-76 line serves as offshore oil and gas transportation, air ambulances, executive transport and search-and-rescue aircraft. One aviation expert calls it a “workhorse.”
Homendy said a weather expert on staff is studying the weather that day and the decision-making behind flying Sunday.
Moments before the crash, air traffic control approved pilot Ara Zobayan’s request to fly with SVFR clearance — special visual flight rules clearance — which allows pilots to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for regular visual flight rules.
And while she said that clearance is very common and nothing out of the ordinary, Homendy said investigators will look into whether Zobayan should have been granted that special permission.

Families mourn mothers, daughters, siblings

Meanwhile, families are grieving the nine people who died Sunday — including 41-year-old Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
“The first day was brutal,” Matt Mauser, whose wife was killed, said. “I woke up this morning and I said, ‘I’m OK,’ and then I walked out and I started to cry. And then I saw my kids and I started to cry.”
Christina Mauser was an assistant girls basketball coach, former teacher and mother of three. Her youngest daughter is turning four years old next week. Mauser had been recruited by Bryant himself, her husband said, to help coach a team in his basketball academy.
Christina Mauser, killed in crash with Kobe Bryant, would have celebrated her daughter's 4th birthday next week Christina Mauser, killed in crash with Kobe Bryant, would have celebrated her daughter's 4th birthday next week
Three young girls on the helicopter — including Gianna — were on their way to a basketball game in Thousand Oaks.
One of them, Alyssa Altobelli, was flying with her parents, John and Keri.
Another, Payton Chester, was flying with her mother, Sarah Chester.
They all were killed in the crash.
“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important … their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken,” Todd Schmidt, a former principal at the elementary school Payton once attended, wrote in a Facebook post.
Zobayan, who also died, had more than 8,200 hours of flight time, Homendy said, and had been working with Island Express Helicopters, which owned the Sikorsky S-76B.
The LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner announced all nine bodies had been recovered — four of which were officially identified through the use of fingerprints.

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