Category Archives: Opinion

Winter is coming. Well, for some people at least.

With winter around the corner and me sitting in my kitchen on the Central Coast of California, hundreds of miles away from snow, an ice rink, or a professional team, it is hard not to feel envious of my family up north as my favorite season (hockey season) begins.

In many parts of the United States, especially the west coast, we miss out on this culture because of the climate.

“You come down to Phoenix and baseball [is] the deal, because you play that year round.  You go up to Canada and [there are] no opportunities,” said John Danko, a Canadian and former hockey player who is in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame.  “The odd baseball player comes out of Canada but they don’t have the feeder teams and the minor programs, and it’s because of climate.  In Canada we have winter eight months out of the year so it’s curling or hockey.”

“Joe Canadian” said it best when he called Canada the “first nation of hockey” in the 2000 Molson beer commercial during their “I Am Canadian” campaign.

The sport of hockey has been around as long as the pyramids.  It started as a simple stick and ball game in Egypt.  This causes people to deny that Canada claims ownership over the sport.  However the version that we see today, ice hockey, finds its roots around 1800 in Nova Scotia, Canada.

King’s College School in Windsor, Nova Scotia is said to be the birthplace of modern ice

A 1922 hockey game between Oxford University and Switzerland.

hockey or “Ice Hurley” as they called it.


In reality, the sport has been a part of Canada’s culture since before it became an independent country.  Canada declared its independence on July 1, 1867, over half a century after some boys in Nova Scotia started passing around a ball with sticks on ice.

The passion for and devotion to the sport hasn’t changed over the years; if anything they have increased.  Kids are beginning to skate earlier and earlier, to the point where they are learning how to walk and skate concurrently.

“I think hockey is important to Canada because it brings a sense of togetherness. If you’ve ever been to a game in Canada (it’s usually packed) and there’s a feeling of camaraderie and a feeling of pride. Most Canadians grew up on a pair of skates.”

-Tessa Campbell, Canadian hockey fan

If Canadians aren’t playing hockey, they are watching it.  The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Gold Medal Game between Team Canada and Team USA averaged 27.6 million viewers.


Roberto Luongo of Team Canada celebrates their victory over Team USA. Creative Commons: s.yume

Canada accounted for an average of 16.6 million of those viewers.  When you take in to account Canada’s population of 34 million at the time, it means that nearly HALF of all Canadians watched the game.  Even more impressive is that 26.5 million Canadians tuned in at some point of the game—that’s 80 percent of the nation’s population.


Some consider hockey to be the national pastime, some say it builds the community, while others say it is a religion.  One thing they all agree on is that hockey is more than just a sport, and none will deny that it is deeply woven into the fabric of what makes Canada, Canada.

People aren’t quite sure what to think about the NHL’s face-off rule

The face-off (or puck drop) element of hockey has been around as long as the sport itself.

It is a crucial part of the game, and it is what fans around the NHL countdown to every year.

However, a renewed focus on the already existing face-off rule (see Rule 76) has been the cause of much confusion so far in the 2017-18 NHL season.  While some players and coaches are adjusting nicely, others have yet to fully grasp and accept the violations of the rule.

I already highlighted the differences between how this rule was treated in past seasons versus this season in my post “The New NHL Season is Bringing In a New Set of Rules With It“.  The goal of this post is mainly to catch up on how the rule has been affecting the NHL thus far this season.  For a quick review watch the video posted below.

Players such as Sidney Crosby seem to have adjusted quite nicely to the rule.  “It’s like anything: You have to adjust, but I like it. I think it’s good. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with it.”  Said Crosby in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Being disciplined in the face-off circle leads the new enforcement of the rule to become an advantage for good centers and their teams.

It is still causing a lot of frustration for many player and coaches.  Joel Quenneville, coach of the Chicago Blackhawks believes the enforcement of the rule lacks clarity.  “Tonight was an epidemic for sure.  Right off the bat, I don’t know what was the number but I think [captain Jonathan Toews] got tossed about nine times.”  Said Quenneville to CBC Sports Online about their 4-3 OT loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 9.

Many fans have similar feelings on the matter.

I think the way face-offs themselves work is fine but it’s super dumb that if two players get kicked out of the dot then there’s a penalty because the ref can’t possibly be looking at both players at the same time so it would be super hard for them to see if they cheat.

-Chase Long, second year business major at Cal Poly SLO and NHL fan

Whether it comes down to the inconsistency of the linesmen or the discipline of players in the face-off circle, the enforcement of this rule has yet to prove itself worthy of having a permanent place in the NHL Rulebook.


Little hockey stars are rising on the Central Coast

This weekend I got the opportunity to go out and discover a small, but thriving hockey community in probably one of the most unexpected places, the Central Coast of California.

They may have traded skates for roller blades, and ice for concrete but the one thing that remains is a passion for hockey, a passion which they have instilled in their children.

Josh and Danielle Salazar are no exception.  Their daughter Lolila is 5 years old and has been playing for three seasons.

Lolila gets ready to receive a pass.

“She loves hockey.  We told her [she] might not get to play tonight and she was crying and upset.”

-Danielle Salazar, Lolila’s mother

Lolila was sick earlier that day but was still determined to come and compete.

The San Luis Obispo YMCA A Division (pictured in this post), features kids as young as five years old.  They are still trying to gain their footing, but they still love to compete.  The score isn’t reflected on the scoreboard, but you had better believe every single kid knows exactly what the score is (and how many of those goals they contributed to).

Forty percent of the time is spent getting back on their feet, thirty percent of it features them trying to do push ups in skates and riding their hockey sticks like brooms, twenty percent is spent being confused about where the puck is, and the remaining ten percent is spent playing hockey.

Needless to say, it is immensely entertaining and refreshing to see these kids genuinely enjoying themselves.  We are so used to seeing the major leagues bogged down with politics and greed, that we forget what the point of sports really is.

The youth league has taken a sport that is usually known for it’s violence and aggression and stripped it down to the very basic elements.  It has taken us back to the innocence of hockey.




Tougher Than You

Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) hit the nail on the head when he said,

“Hockey toughness” is not about an individual player’s physical strength or fighting prowess. It’s about teammates protecting and defending one another, preserving together through adversity and pain. It’s not about a lack of fear but, rather, a willingness to face it head on.

On November 18th, 2016, halfway through the second period during a game between division rivals, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, Blue Jackets’ left-winger, Matt Calvert, took a nasty slap shot to the face courtesy of the Rangers’ Nick Holden.  (Video is bloody, be advised).

He was quickly helped off the ice and taken to the dressing room where he received 36 stitches.

One would assume that he would not see the ice again that night, but after passing a concussion test he took to the ice again mid-way through the third period.  Not only did he come back to play in the same game but he also scored a short-handed goal which proved to be the game winner.   

Calvert’s return to the ice that night after what should’ve been a game ending injury serves as only one example of why hockey players are some of the most physically impressive athletes in professional sports.  On top of the physical toughness they also possess great amounts of mental toughness.  Having to insert themselves into such a physically demanding situation when already injured takes insane amounts of courage. 

Matt Calvert isn’t the only hockey player to have displayed this kind of perseverance.  Here’s some ‘tough’ hockey history: 

In the 1964 Stanley Cup Finals, Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Bobby Baun injured his leg badly enough that he had to leave the ice on a stretcher.  He returned for overtime where he scored the game winner.  It was later revealed that he did indeed have a broken leg. 

Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers returned to the ice after breaking his jaw in a 2014 playoff game versus the Montreal Canadiens. 

Boston Bruins’ Gregory Campbell blocked a shot during the 2013 playoffs which resulted in a broken fibula.  Campbell got up and finished killing the penalty before leaving the ice. 

The list goes on and on: endless amounts of lost teeth, stitches, breaks, and sprains.  Injuries which would often see the best of athletes sidelined for anywhere from one game to a few months, hockey players simply shrug off as a minor inconvenience, showing us why hockey is a sport that demands respect, if for no other reason than the unmatched toughness of the players.