If you want a snapshot of how hockey culture is changing, take a look at Everyday Hockey Heroes Volume II, the newly published sequel to the bestselling collection of tales about regular folk who populate Canada’s game, fronted by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The first volume, published in 2018 and subtitled Inspiring Stories On and Off the Ice, consisted of more than a dozen portraits of hockey-loving Canadians (and one American) who embody the sport’s grassroots values. Many of them had overcome significant adversity to be part of the game.
In his introduction to that book, McKenzie acknowledged he had never faced the same sort of barriers as those that confronted Métis player-turned-coach Kevin Monkman; or the Hockey Night in Punjabi broadcaster Harnarayan Singh; or the three-time Olympian Hilary Knight. But in the introduction to Volume II, McKenzie goes a step further and uncorks a specific term for what he had described, but not identified in the first book: “white privilege.”
He knows it will upset some of his fans. Even if he doesn’t think it should.
Like the first volume, which spent two months on The Globe and Mail’s bestseller list, most of Vol. II is written by former Sportsnet broadcaster Jim Lang. His subjects include Jack Jablonski, who suffered a terrible injury during a high-school hockey game and has become an advocate for paralysis recovery; Émilie Castonguay, a former player who is now one of the few female NHL agents (not to mention Alexis Lafrenière’s rep); and Rob Facca, an NHL scout who became an advocate and fundraiser after his son was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Jessica Platt of the PWHPA wrote her own chapter, in which she shares the struggles she faced as a transgender player.
In addition to the introduction, McKenzie contributes a chapter, writing about Terry Mercury and Lindbergh Gonsalves, two Black players from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough who enjoyed promising junior careers but never made it to the pros. McKenzie talks to them about their early talent, as well as the racism they faced: the physical and emotional abuse from other players and the broader community that slowly leached the joy from their playing.
On the one hand, McKenzie writes that, as a hockey analyst focused on data and given to skepticism, he might be inclined to point out that a couple of players failing to make it to the big leagues couldn’t necessarily be attributable to systemic issues. After all, “the road is littered with guys who coulda, woulda, shoulda played pro hockey if not for this or that.” But he also acknowledges that “for me, as a white man, it’s utterly incomprehensible to feel what it’s like to have your passion and love of the game stripped bare from you for no other reason than the colour of your skin.”
Over the phone this week, McKenzie elaborated. “If someone says you have white privilege, somebody might recoil and say, ‘Oh, I’m not privileged.’” In fact, as he’d written in the first volume, he grew up in a home where his father worked two jobs; his mother was in a wheelchair for many years until her death at 54; money was tight. Even so, “once you understand what white privilege is, you [realize you have it.] It’s real simple.
“I’m white and I’m male, in a sport that is dominated by white males. So I’ve had no impediments to getting a job in hockey media. I’ve had no impediments in carving out the career that I’ve had. Women would not have the same frame of reference. A Black person would not have the same frame of reference – or an Indigenous person, or a person of colour, or an LGBTQ [person]. Or a handicapped person. All that is, is saying, ‘Hey, you’re white, you’re male and you may have had things easier than other people.’”
He realizes, nevertheless, that some people will be offended by his comments – perhaps even, to use a noxious word, triggered.
“The hilarious thing about people who are triggered when they hear ‘white privilege’ is how sensitive they must be,” he says. “Because when you read the stories of how many women or LGBTQ, or Black or Indigenous [people], when you understand the difficulty of so many of the challenges they face in trying to move from the margins to the centre of the culture – somebody saying, ‘You’ve got white privilege,’ is, like, nothing.”
The original mission of the Everyday series was simply to tell good stories about trailblazers or those who’ve overcome adversity. But since the publication of the first volume, “there have been more stories and themes and conflicts, or whatever else you want to call it, in terms of hockey culture” – he mentions the ugly allegations made last year by Akim Aliu, which sparked the firing of his former coach, Bill Peters – “so I wanted to try and tackle that head-on.”
The writing itself, he admits, is a challenge. “That’s a time-consuming, painful process,” he said. “A lot of time when I’m writing a story, there’s breaking news, I’ve got to do social media, I’ve got to do this [TV] hit, then I’ve got to go do a radio hit, I’ve got a family commitment – you’re trying to squeeze it all in and you’re losing your mind.” The onset of the pandemic last spring, then, came as something of a mixed blessing because McKenzie had some rare down time in his schedule when he could write his contributions for Everyday.
In theory, he should have even more free time nowadays, because last August he announced he was stepping away from his full-time gig at TSN. Not that you’d know it: This week he recorded an NHL Draft Preview show and wrote a long accompanying piece for TSN.ca. And on Saturday, after an early family Christmas celebration, he’s headed to Edmonton to cover the world junior hockey championships, which run until Jan. 6.
“The world juniors and draft rankings are two of the biggest things that I will continue to do for the next five years for TSN,” he said. “When I semi-retired, I was sure to use the word ‘semi’ because I knew I was still going to be quite busy at certain times of the year.”
Maple Leafs’ top line shows first hints of greatness in win over Senators – Sportsnet.ca
When Joe Thornton is informed that, even at 41 years and 198 days of age, he only became the second-oldest Toronto Maple Leaf to score a goal, Jumbo wants to know about the man standing between him and history.
Who? (Allan Stanley, the Hall of Fame defenceman) And how old? (41 years, 252 days.)
“So… I gotta play a couple more years, you’re sayin’, eh?” Thornton smiled.
If the big-bearded, carpool-karaoke-singing, hockey-hug-initiating legend keeps having himself nights like Saturday, we wouldn’t rule it out.
Even though the oldest forward in the league has been influencing the outcome of NHL games years before Tim Stützle was so much as an umlaut in his parents’ eye.
Sheldon Keefe had a feeling heading into Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre that this would be the night his prime-time top unit would finally break out. Third time’s a charm. The coach just wasn’t betting on Thornton to bust the dam before dynamic linemates Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
“I don’t know that I had Jumbo maybe being the first one to get on the board,” Keefe smiled.
“That line, you could tell right from the drop of the puck today, was going to have a night. They’ve been working really hard. Haven’t had the results here quite yet, but they’ve been really working, and it was just a matter of time for the line.”
Fuelling a 3-2 Leafs victory over the Senators and salvaging a split in the weekend back-to-back, the performance of Thornton-Matthews-Marner was about as dominant as a first-line gets. That trio, Keefe’s most-used unit at five-on-five, skated nine and a half minutes together, out-attempting the opposition 13-3 in the process.
All three notched their first goals of the season, with Marner rebounding from Friday’s lacklustre showing to register three points.
“We’re still trying to get the whole rhythm thing down,” Marner explained. “It was really our first good game together. We were moving well. Down low we were really creating a lot of chances, holding on to the puck, weren’t rushing plays. I think we’re really using our creativity out there — and that’s something we weren’t doing the first two games.”
The trio is also communicating more on the ice, an element led by the boisterous, carefree Thornton whether he’s in sneakers or skates.
“That first goal, he’s screaming the whole time he’s behind me,” noted Marner, who set up Thornton with a slick drop pass on the rush.
Thornton’s first thought, of course, was to feed Matthews cross-ice on the two-on-one. Only when the Sens defender took away that lane did Thornton fire his warning shot to Allan Stanley.
“The amount of attention these two guys get it, I just gotta get open for ’em,” Thornton said. “It’s been so fun with Mitchy and Matty. We have a lot of fun out there, and I think we’ll continue to keep growing as a line. Because we are having fun and we get excited before every game, I think you can tell each game we’re getting better. And that’s a real good sign. Yeah, I love playing with those two kids.”
Matthews won an offensive draw to set up Marner’s quick-strike, which deflected off a sprawling Erik Gudbranson’s skate. And another Marner drop pass teed up Matthews’ bullet one-timer for the power-play winner.
A balanced contribution from three stars who’d had a number of positive shifts but had been snake-bitten up to this point was a major reason Toronto outshot Ottawa 40-19 and gave the puck away eight fewer times than their opponent.
What’s telling is that Keefe expanded the praise of his top line to their defensive efforts, particularly Thornton.
The most senior Leaf has played thrice in four nights, averaging 17:58 per game. He’s on pace for his most ice time since he was a sprightly 38-years-old.
“Joe had really great legs right to the very end of the game,” Keefe said. “Some of our best tracks and catching guys from behind and having a stick on the puck and creating a turnover the last couple of games here in Ottawa came from Joe and his effort there. So, feeling really good about what he’s been able to do and how he looks in that area.”
Certainly, it’s too early to declare the Jumbo and the Kids experiment a rousing success, but Saturday at least hinted at the greatness three guys with elite skill can stir when they’re clicking.
“We want to get better every single day we’re here,” Marner said. “Tonight was a great step forward for us three.”
• Brutal break for 19-year-old rookie Nick Robertson. In his NHL regular-season debut, the winger popped off the screen in his 2:20 worth of work, but suffered a knee injury when he was crunched into the boards by Drake Batherson.
“It looks like he’s definitely gonna miss some time,” Keefe said.
More on Robertson’s status will be known after his MRI, which could be as soon as Sunday.
• Jason Spezza skated less than seven minutes but was a perfect 10-for-10 in the faceoff circle, a major reason Toronto won 63 per cent of its draws.
• Even goalie Jack Campbell had to tip his cap to Stützle’s incredible first NHL goal, a one-timed clapper plucked out of midair.
“The only thing I could think other than ‘I should’ve had it’ was, ‘I just want to shake his hand,’” Campbell said. “That was a heck of a play. What a young talent. It’s good for the league.”
• Keefe spoke highly of Campbell’s work in the victory. Toronto’s starting goalie for Monday’s game versus Winnipeg has yet to be announced.
Toronto Maple Leafs game recap: Leafs remember who they are, defeat Ottawa Senators 3-2 – Pension Plan Puppets
The Toronto Maple Leafs came into game three of the 2021 season sporting an overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens and a two goal loss to the Ottawa Senators. Tonight was the second game of a back to back in the nations capital. It featured the regular season debut of highly touted prospect Nick Robertson, as well as the goaltending duo of Jack Campbell and Aaron Dell, giving Frederik Andersen the night off after two shaky starts.
Speaking of shaky starts, we get an offside call seconds into the game. It’s not that bad jsut silly. The first few minutes are a lot of back and forth, board play, scrums, but no shots or attempts. The Leafs start to get frisky in the offensive zone approaching the three minute mark; Zach Bogosian breaks his stick on a blue line shot attempt, William Nylander tries to put the puck through the side mesh. Jack Campbell gets tested quickly afterwards, and we get some nice safe play up and down the ice until Erik Gudbranson blocks a shot and the puck gets lots in his pants.
Mitch Marner receives a pass close to the net, but dangles one too many times before taking his shot and it’s easily stolen by Thomas Chabot.
Marner tries to retrieve the puck, but trips Chabot and gets called for it. Should he have though? That’s questionable. The Senators run a smooth power play but the Leafs are able to get in the way, block some passes, and when the Senators do get through Jack Campbell makes the save to kill off the penalty.
The game continues. Neither team is particularly putting pressure on the other, nor are they doing anything spectacular. Thankfully it’s not completely frustrating, though that’s probably because the game is tied. Auston Matthews and Nick Robertson get some good shots on net, but Matt Murray knocks them away.
Joe Thornton just completely falls over and slides down the ice. Forget goals, or fights, that is my favourite part of hockey.
Justin Holl easily strips Evgeni Dadanov of the puck, preventing him from getting his first as a Senator. HOWEVER the Senators regroup and Nikita Zaitsev shoots from the blue line, it hits Nick Paul in the midsection, which redirects the puck past Jack Campbell and into the Maple Leafs net. 1-0 Ottawa.
Pressure comes from the Maple Leafs in response to this goal. The puck is cleared up ice from the Leafs zone by TJ Brodie, Mitch Marner skates it in, drop passes to Joe Thornton and Jumbo scores his first to tie the game!
Goal scored by #97 Joe Thornton. Assist, to a player who was less than 2 months old when Thornton was drafted, Mitch Marner.
— Rob Pizzo (@robpizzo) January 17, 2021
The period ends tied at one each. The Senators are playing like a team who have been together for three years, not coming out of the bottom of a rebuild, where as the Leafs have forgotten how to defend and pick their spots for shooting the puck (the spots should be closer to the net).
After four periods of hockey against the Senators, I really feel like I underestimated them. Hopefully the Leafs get their things together for a more cohesive and solid second period.
They’ll be doing it without Nick Robertson though, as he’s out with a knee injury after Drake Batherson mashed him into the boards.
The Maple Leafs got revenge though, as Mitch Marner quickly scores on Matt Murry to open the second period.
The Senators get a chance to tie the game as John Tavares gets called for hooking, but the Senators can’t get a good chance, and Jack Campbell makes the necessary saves, and the penalty is killed.
Thomas Chabot gets the Senators their first penalty when he slashes John Tavares on the hand – the hand he needs to shoot pucks too! The Senators do a good job killing this penalty until Paquette makes a hand pass off a face off to give the Leafs 12 seconds of a five on three. They don’t score on the five on three, Chabot comes back to defence, but the Leafs are playing around in the offensive zone until a puck deflects out and down the ice.
The Leafs power play has a great sequence that sees Tavares, Matthews, and Rielly have great chances but nothing gets past Murray. On the plus side they got seven shots off on that power play. Great work, even if it didn’t go as planned.
Going back and forth with the penalties, Ilya Mikheyev is careless with his stick and gets it up high on Chabot. The Leafs keep the power play at bay for 40 seconds until Marner is called for puck over the glass.
The Senators waste their two man advantage without getting a proper shot off – not surprising as they only had 10 shots up until the power play – and the Leafs kill Marner’s penalty as well, keeping the Senators from scoring or getting a shot.
Auston Matthews comes close to the five hole, but Murray closes his legs in time. The Senators get a couple weak shots, the Leafs continue to control the puck though, and the second period will end with the score 2-1 and shots 28-12 for the Leafs.
Also, this is how the period ended. Okay, I guess?
The third period starts with the Leafs getting two quick shots on net and Alex Kerfoot drawing a hooking penalty from Josh Brown, so they get their third power play of the night early on in the third.
The first unit clicks on this one and Auston Matthews gets a shot from the top of the circle past Murray for his first goal of the season:
The Senators finally get their first shot on goal – five minutes into the period – and it’s stopped by Campbell (shots are 35-13 now for Toronto). The Maple Leafs are up by two, and are spending the third period clogging the neutral zone, and protecting the lead. The Senators are barely getting any possession time, and even less offensive zone time. The Maple Leafs are showing up for real now.
Brady Tkachuk tries to get under Matthews skin, but now that he’s scored Auston is afraid of no one.
The Senators manage to get a second goal past Jack Campbell, and it’s a big one for them as Tim Stützle gets the first NHL goal of his career. 3-2 Maple Leafs.
The Senators have a chance to build off the momentum of that goal as Zach Hyman is called for high sticking as Thomas Chabot shows off his acting skills.
This powerplay is a bit better for the Senators, but Jack Campbell still won’t let them have a goal on the man advantage.
The Senators are pushing hard to tie the game, playing the Leafs more until Stützle gets called for tripping Jake Muzzin, giving the Leafs a late powerplay and the chance to put the game away. They don’t, as the Senators kill off the penalty without any scares from the Leafs. Drake Batherson shoots on Campbell, how kick saves the puck, but the Leafs can’t clear after that and there’s a minute long scramble in front of the Leafs net as the Senators try to score before the game ends.
The first regulation win of the season for the Maple Leafs, outshooting the Senators 40-19. It started badly, but ended well. The Leafs ran the game in an unexciting way, got the win and now flee Ottawa for the comforts of home.
Game four is Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets*, 7:00PM on TVA Sports and Sportsnet Ontario.
Game grades: Edmonton Oilers outworked, outsmarted, as Montreal Canadiens dominate them – Edmonton Journal
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Dominik Kahun, 4. He got off a decent tip shot on the power play in the second. But he was just one of the many smaller Oilers forwards who had trouble with the big Montreal defensive group.
Kyle Turris, 4. Another player who struggled. He got the first Grade A scoring chance shot of the game, taking a pass in the slot from linemate Tyler Ennis. Blocked a wicked Shea Weber shot in the first. Otherwise wasn’t able to make an impact.
Jesse Puljujarvi, 3. Was involved in the oddball n-zone turnover leading up to Montreal’s third goal. He got off a decent one-timer attempt on a Draisaitl pass late in the second. Tripped over the puck early in the third, then failed to get the puck in deep, the play emblematic of the his game and Edmonton’s game. He was a culprit on two goals against, so not his night, not even close.
Tyler Ennis, 3. Worked hard but made no impact. Got beat on the backcheck on a dangerous Paul Byron rush in the third.
Devin Shore, 3. This line had a few good shifts, but not enough. Another quiet game.
Joakim Nygard, 4. Showed his speed a few times but not much else.
Alex Chiasson, 4. Battled hard on the power play, but couldn’t help his unit score.
Darnell Nurse, 3. Some major and costly mistakes this game from Nurse. He got a stick on Tyler Toffoli’s stick to turn a dangerous breakaway into a far less dangerous chance early in the first. But he went for the big hit and caused a two-on-one leading to Montreal’s second goal. Paul Byron beat him on the rush in the third.
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