Friday, October 30, 2009

2nd Annual NHL Coaches in Costume

by Lisa Ovens

Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to tune in to an NHL game and see the coaches dressed up in costumes? It would be so refreshing to see the men of hockey do something different, something shocking, or silly, like dress up in Halloween costumes for the end of October games. The rest of us working stiffs have to dress up in costumes for work, why should it be any different for these guys?

The following are some super costumes ideas for the bench bosses on the clock this Halloween....

Hurricanes vs. Flyers

 Paul Maurice: Since his team leads the league in penalty minutes, Maurice and staff should dress up as NHL referees, complete with whistles so they can call penalties on themselves.

John Stevens adds a fake ‘stache and an apron, and voila, he’s the “No Soup for You guy” from Seinfeld. He can modify his character line and shout “No ice time for you!” and shake a soup ladle at the refs when necessary.

Oilers vs. Bruins

 Pat Quinn will look fabulous dressed as a leprechaun. But one of those traditional leprechauns that closely follows the "code".
Claude Julien: He could do a reasonable Don Cherry, non?

Thrashers vs. Senators

John Anderson: could dress up like a Thrashers fan. They appear to need more.
Cory Clouston I would love to see the entire staff dressed as the Pierre McGuires! I want to see Clouston and crew, wearing bald heads and glasses with all of that monster McGuire enthusiasm we are exposed to every time we see Pierre on TSN.!! (Pierre is a former Sens assistant coach and pro scout. – dude knows his monsters, too)

Devils vs Lightning

Jaques Lemaire:  He’s hockey’s wise old shaman...Obi Wan Kenobi. Screw the Force...It's now May the Trap be with you!!!
Rick Tocchet Lightning owner,Oren Koules already gave Rick the Jigsaw costume from Saw 6...and it's scary. But not as scary as Paranormal Activity.

Sabres vs Islanders
 Lindy Ruff: Personally, I could see Lindy “Wastin’ away in Margarita Ville” decked out in holiday fun wear – tropical shirt, shorts, straw hat, a little zinc on the nose, and a salt rimmed cocktail glass as a prop. Go Lindy!
Scott Gordon This is a group costume: the bench staff dressed like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda from Sex and the City!!

Leafs vs. Canadiens

Ron Wilson might like to be the Invisible Man wrapped in bandages under a nice suit, bowler hat and spectacles. (Would be a dream costume should Wilson want to skip out on the occasional post game interview)
Jacques Martin Hey...we need a Dracula, and Jacques fits the bill. Full marks given if he can keep his fangs in for an entire game!

Wild vs. Pittsburgh

Todd Richards Black T-shirt printed with the words "Mr. Playoff" That's all anyone needs to know.
 Dan Bylsma: Imagine Dan in a slightly ill fitting black wig, and a Penguins jersey. That’s right....he’s Mario Lemieux!

Panthers vs. St. Louis

Peter DeBoer: For one night only DeBoer is the head Chef of the Florida Panthers, big poofy hat and all. Mike Kitchen will loves this.
Andy Murray and crew have the easiest costume idea, ever...the Blues Brothers. Just a bunch of groovin' Blues Brothers.

Stars vs. Predators

Marc Crawford His nickname is crow, and he will be the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. Watch the hay fly everytime Crow loses his temper!!
Barry Trotz Barry Trotz plus shades and a tux equals Jack Nicholson. He will out-cool everyone in the place.

Ducks vs. Phoenix
 Randy Carlyle: Buzz Light the top of the standings and beyond!!!
Dave Tippett: Also from Toy Story... Woody, the adorable cowboy doll.

Wings vs. Flames

Mike Babcock and friends will be rockin’ out dressed as the rock group Kiss. Arena DJ will add to the atmosphere by playing snippets from Detroit Rock City. Bonus points for sticking and flicking tongue out at the refs after lame calls.

Brent Sutter: He wears his Devil costume from last year, and convinces brother, Darryl to wear one too, in the GM box above. They both have to throw their pitch forks down in disgust everytime Pavel Datsyuk scores.

Wishing everyone a safe happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random October Hockey Notes and Aliens, too

By Lisa Ovens

Although I spent most of the weekend watching the Alien movie franchise on AMC, I did take some hockey breaks. It can’t be acid for blood, humanoids and that bad ass flight engineer, Ellen Ripley running into that darn alien species all the time.

Canucks Above 500

Yes. This is good, now all the boys have to do is start winning some road games. Can’t do much about the injuries other than trick the call ups and the rest of the team into thinking they are like aliens that happen to have acid for blood. 

Canucks: 11 games played, six wins, five losses, no overtime losses

The Real Reason Vancouver has the “No Fun City” nickname?

For those of you who watched the Toronto Maple Leafs lose to the Canucks on HNIC Saturday night, you may have noticed the large presence of Leafs fans in the Canucks home rink. Oh, the “blue for blood” aliens were loud that night. The truth is, Vancouver is home to many former Ontario residents, and the number of these Eastern ex-pats must increase every year. Perhaps it’s all of these Leaf lifers that brought the fun level down in Vancouver. It’s a theory...

Gary Bettman: The Ultimate Alien with Acid for Blood?

As a member of the National Hockey League Fan Association (yes there is one of those) I receive emails from time to time. This weekend the NHLFA had this to say....

The following note is being sent to the 30,000+ Members of the NHL Fans' Association.

Recently, many suggestions have been received from Members related to the activities the NHLFA should pursue in its attempt to have Gary Bettman removed as the commissioner of the NHL this season. One such suggestion is to coordinate a league-wide protest week that will rally fans attending games to hold signs calling for the dismissal of Bettman.

If you would like to contribute an idea, please visit


It’s free to be a member of the NHLFA. Perhaps president, Jim Boone needs to sign up thousands and thousands more hockey fans in order to have some influence over the NHL Board of Governors. He is looking for corporate sponsorship, too. The association has been around since 1998, and with a growing membership, it looks like they don’t intend to quit anytime soon.

Goalie Masks Far Cooler than the Alien’s Head is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the goalie mask with an online vote. For those not in the know, Legendary Canadien’s goal tender, Jacques Plante made his own mask to protect his face. He was only allowed to wear it during the pre-season, and while practicing. On Nov. 1, 1959 his coach, Toe Blake had no choice but allow Plante to wear the mask during a game.

Check out the rest of the story and vote for your fave goalie mask here. The winner will be announce on Wed. Oct. 28th, so make that are running out of time...kind of like how Ripley always seems to be when she’s planning on blowing up multi billion dollar spaceships and inter galactic colonies!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Date with David Beckham


by Jan Snyder

After three years of disappointing soccer fans in Houston, David Beckham finally kept his date with us and made it to town. Houston is home to the two-time champions of Major League Soccer (MLS), the “Forever Orange” Houston Dynamo. Beckham led his team, the L.A. Galaxy, onto the field at Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston for a game that was important in the standings.

                              photo: Jan Snyder
The first season that Beckham was due to visit the Dynamo, he was on the injured list. The next season he had to serve a suspension and the only game left was the one against the Dynamo. His fans were crestfallen yet again, stood up twice by the beautiful Brit (who is newly-bearded, and a scruffy beard it is).

But on a lovely sunny day, the two teams met and the Beckham fans had their chance to see the hero of soccer live and in person.

I know – this is a hockey blog! But let me tell you that as a casual fan, I saw some similarities between the two sports. Believe me, I am the most casual fan and I don’t even pretend to know the rules or understand soccer or its history. However, my sister Kim, who lives in Pittsburgh, and her husband, Don, are Anglophiles and she is one of Beckham’s strongest supporters. After she came to town the first year he was due to arrive, she was let down, but vowed to return. In something of a serendipitous moment, Kim got sick last year as Becks got suspended. Neither of them made it to town!

The third time was the charm! Neither was sick, injured or suspended. Kim secured us fantastic seats in the eighth row right at midfield. Since Beckham is a midfielder, that was a no brainer on her part.

I know hockey fans are boisterous and fanatical, but soccer fans aren’t far behind, especially in the enthusiasm department. The 16,000 or so fans that jammed the stadium wore their orange proudly while two different sections sang, danced, banged on drums, unfurled gigantic flags and bounced at the slightest provocation.

                               photo: Jan Snyder

Finally – the moment arrived and Beckham ran onto the field. My sister was delighted, to say the least, as were the many others proudly wearing their #23 Galaxy jerseys.

Warm-ups also seemed similar to hockey – the players stretched, took some shots on the goalie, and bounced the soccer ball around. Hockey players often have a few players on the team who bounce a soccer ball around before games – another similarity.

After the ceremonial walk to the field with kids accompanying each team member, the anthem was sung and the game was on. (Aside: the stadium boasted a Canadian flag, I assume in support of the Toronto MLS franchise.)

Naturally, each sport has a goalie, but in soccer, he wears very little padding as he defends a huge net! Soccer goalies need to be free of equipment to make the gymnastic moves required of them – we saw quite a few from both sides. Hockey goalies are so weighted down by equipment that a fan doesn’t notice a lot of mobility.

There are defensemen, forwards and midfielders (I’m not sure what the distinction is between the forwards and midfielders) and everyone seems to run the entire length of the field often. So we know hockey players and soccer players are in great shape from all the running and skating!

The game began and I watched Beckham since he is the world’s best known soccer player, but my allegiance had to be with the home team Dynamo. One of the Dynamo players, midfielder Stuart Holden, visited my office about a year ago and I had the opportunity to meet him. He is quite a charming fellow and determined to preach the gospel of soccer to anyone who will listen. Turns out the two midfielders spent a good bit of the game close to each other, making it easy for me to watch both of the players that I knew.

For a few hours, they played and we watched. At almost the end of the game, there was still no score when what should happen? A fight! Aha, the hockey and soccer synergy reappears. One of the Dynamo players took exception to something Beckham did and did something back. Beckham shoved him and we quickly had a little melee. Push, shove, push, shove – the end result – Dynamo player Brian Ching got a “red” card, which got him tossed out of the game but also means he is out for the team’s next game. Beckham got a “yellow” card but wasn’t asked to leave the premises. In hockey parlance, Ching got a ten minute major and Beckham a two minute minor.

Even with the added minutes that are tacked on at the end of each soccer period, neither team scored and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Here is where soccer could take a tip from hockey and have a shoot out. No more boring ties! Shoot outs are big fan favorites in hockey and here we could have seen Beckham attempt one of his “bending” kicks. But no, the teams exchanged pleasantries, some exchanged jerseys and Becks applauded the crowd and his many supporters. As he walked to the tunnel, he removed his jersey and tossed it to a fan, something hockey players do only once at the end of the season with the “shirts off our back” promotions.

Beckham did play the entire game, never leaving the field for a minute. The goalies on each team were impressive and one of the Dynamo players made a fantastic scissor kick stop to save a goal. The only bad thing that happened was that I forgot I was in Texas where the sun never seems to lose its brilliance. Without a hat, I got sunburned on my head, face, neck and hands! That would never happen at a hockey game! But Kim and I had fun, we can cross “Seeing David Beckham play soccer” off our bucket lists, and maybe through osmosis, I learned a little more about another sport.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

He's a Mad Man and a Blues Fan

by Lisa Ovens

Being a former advertising professional, I have been a fan of AMC's Mad Men since the very first episode. Who isn't fond of series star, John Hamm? His portrayal of ad exec, Don Draper rocks, yet he still manages to break free of that scotch swilling, skirt chasing character and do comedy on other shows like 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

But here's John in real life...he's a Blues Fan...Check out this cute promotional ad for the St. Louis Blues. (The Blues currently have seven points, 2wins, 2 losses, one OT loss in six games.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Mom Stella

by Lisa Ovens

Stella Ovens
To my hockey friends around the world, it is with great sadness to announce the passing of my mother, Stella, after a year long battle with cancer. Those of you who read my book had the opportunity to meet my mother at various points in the story, and know she was the best hockey fan on earth.

As a youngster, my mom became a hockey fan in the early Forties in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She shared stories with me about her earliest memories listening to Hockey Night in Canada on the living room radio with her big family (youngest of 18 children). As a young working woman, my mom purchased the family's first television in the Fifties so everyone could enjoy the game in a new way. Those years she cheered for the Toronto Maple Leafs but always said she had a soft spot in her heart for the Detroit Red Wings.

My mom moved to Vancouver, fell in love the city and then fell in love with my late father, Orville. When the Vancouver Canucks came into existence, well, mom adopted and then fell in love with them too. Sometimes my parents travelled down to Seattle to see the Seattle Totems play, as one of our relatives played defense for the team.

Some of my earliest memories in my life were of hockey. But they were not of my father and hockey, but of my mother reacting to the game. Mom was amazing: she could make dinner, keep track of us kids AND focus on the game all at the same time.

As an adult, watching hockey with my mom was the best, whether we were at a game, at her place, or phoning each other during the game. She was great for one line comments on the phone and then hanging up; like whenever Sami Salo scored from the point, mom would call me and say "Don't you just love it when Salo scores like that?" Then she'd chuckle and hang up. Alex Burrows became her favorite Canuck because one time she saw him greeting fans and signing autographs at a local grocery store, and thought he was such a polite, young man ( and so handsome, too!).

When we attended Canuck games together, mom liked to be there as early as possible, because she loved to walk the concourse and watch the arena fill up. My mom was barely five feet tall, and barely ninety pounds and I always held onto her tightly as we were swallowed up by the huge, raucous crowds on the concourse of GM Place during intermission. She rarely took me up on my offers for a ride home, and instead rode the Sky Train because she loved being with the fans, chatting and laughing about the game, win or lose.

My mom was my game buddy for the quadruple over time playoff game between the Dallas Stars and the Canucks in 2007. It was such a long night, but she waved her towel at every opportunity. It was such a interestiing experience that game, and I am so glad I spent it with her.

When I told mom I was going to write a book about hockey she said "Good for you, Lisa. If anyone can do it, you can!" My mom was very proud of me and the work I put into writing Hockey & High Heels, promoting it, working with NHL teams, and making a fun place to be for hockey fans. Her love and support meant the world to me as I faced the challenges of being a woman trying to make hockey a more inviting place for other women.

Knowing her life long love of this great game helped me become a believer in what I am doing, and that is something I will never, ever forget about my mom Stella.

The dearest mother, the kindest friend,
One of the best whom God could lend,
Loving, thoughtful, gentle and true,
Always willing a kind act to do.
Also so good, unselfish and kind,
Few on this earth her equal we find,
Honourable and upright in all of her ways,
Loyal and true to the end of her days.

I don't know who wrote that, but that's my mom. So loving, so supporting, she was the best mommie a kid could ever hope to have.

Last week I went to the Canucks home opener, and it was a tough start for me. I was crying for my mom as soon as the Canadian National Anthem began. I was surrounded by good friends and they helped me through the first game without her. This season will be different: balancing the sadness and at the same time, creating new memories.

And learning how to know my mom in a new way... as my angel.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome Back Stanley!

by Jan Snyder

The Penguins did the banner-raising right, that’s for sure. I traveled to Pittsburgh to attend Opening Night for the Penguins and Rangers. “It was a dark and stormy night” to quote many bad writers, but the rain didn’t keep the fans from whooping it up, showing their enthusiasm for the start of the season.

Jen, Jim and I got there relatively early because we wanted to be sure to be in our seats and not miss a minute of any of the celebration. The first thing I noticed was what looked like draperies hanging around the scoreboard. The teams took their pre-game skate, the Zambonis did their thing, and then the celebration began. The Rangers left the ice, not to return until the drop of the puck, despite the fact that Coach Tortorelli was quoted in the papers as saying he wanted his team on the ice to see what they will be working towards. The Pens said later that “logistics” kept the Rangers off the ice during the ceremony.

What I thought were draperies fell to the ice and magically became a four-sided video screen where the audience was treated to a recap of the playoffs, culminating with Sidney Crosby taking the Cup to the other players. After that, the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Stanley Cup!” The “draperies” fell from the top of the scoreboard to the ice, revealing Stanley in all his glory. What a breath taking sight! There it was, back after 17 long years, in Pittsburgh with the Pens.

They rolled out the red carpet and the first to grace it with his presence was none other than Mario Lemieux, freshly back from Toronto where he helped open the season with some of the other members of Team Canada. The other brass made their way to their places on the red carpet. Coach Dan Bylsma received a rousing ovation from the grateful fans.

From the other side of the ice, the Zamboni entrance opened and each member of the Penguins was introduced to wild cheers from the crowd. The newest Pens were “welcomed to Pittsburgh” and even though they hadn’t been members of the Cup-winning team, they were given big kudos as well.

Max Talbot, who scored two goals in Game Seven of the Finals, had shoulder surgery and won’t be playing until mid-November. But he still “dressed” for the game and when he was announced, the crowd went wild! Max did so many good things in the playoffs and the fans fondly remembered every one – from the goals to the big fight against the Flyers. The only ones who got as much applause as Max did were Crosby, Malkin and Fleury. There was plenty of love and good will to go around to everyone! Even though I watched almost every game from the comfort of my living room in Texas, it was nice to be able to cheer and let the boys know how much I appreciated all their hard work.

The players were asked to move to the other side of the ice where the Cup and some other trophies were placed on tables. As the team gathered around to watch, the banner was raised to the rafters, much to everyone’s delight. But then, the 2008-09 season officially ended and a new one began.

The game started and the team looked pretty much in control on their way to beating the Rangers to end a terrific night for the fans and players.

The team traveled on to Long Island after the game. We traveled back to Mellon Arena on Saturday night, just as the puck was dropping against the Islanders. We were back to get a “Snaphot with Stanley”. The line was very long, but everyone was in a good mood and anxious for their turn with the trophy.

As the never-ending line of jersey-clad fans snaked though the concourse of the Arena, we were able to see a TV occasionally and listen to the game on cell phones. Just as we reached the entrance to the ice, the Pens tied the game and we saw the most exciting part on the Jumbotron as we stood in line. When we were only about four turns away from ours, someone from the Pens took Jim’s camera to make sure he knew how to use it. He took a photo of just the Cup, then about three of us surrounding it.

All in the Family! Jan Snyder, her daughter and son in law, Jen and Jim

No matter how many times I see the Stanley Cup, it’s always a thrill – and this time especially because it was “ours” for this year. To see the excitement on Jen and Jim’s faces was special too, since this was the first time they had seen Stanley up close and personal. We watched overtime and the shootout from Pens Station, the Penguins store. The Pens took their record to 2-0 when Letang and Crosby scored in the shootout.

The next day, Jen cropped the photos and we went to Ritz Camera to have the picture printed on nice photo paper. I brought my copy home with me to show everyone.

Both days were great days for hockey!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

There's No Biting in Hockey

by Jan Snyder

Just as there is no crying in baseball, there is no biting in hockey.

As if the Pens/Flyers rivalry isn’t heated enough already, in the first game of the season between these two teams, we have “Bite Gate”.

With just seconds left in the game, the Broad Street bully’s captain, Mike Richards, took a run at Fleury, to which the Pens’ defensemen objected – vehemently. Kris Letang and Scott (the hairy one) Hartnell slammed each other to the ice and a wrestling match ensued. Shortly thereafter, Letang skated off, holding his injured finger.

After the game Letang just said, “Ask him what he did, he knows.” He wouldn’t accuse him of biting his ring finger, but just implied it. Hartnell’s lame response was that Letang was giving him a face wash a lot of things were going on as they rolled around on the ice. But he didn’t think he’d bitten him.

What’s next? Will we see an ear bitten off during a game, a la a Mike Tyson boxing match? Will Letang need a tetanus shot? I love a good rivalry and there is no doubt both teams were up for this game. The game itself was really exciting, lots of scoring on both sides (and one that the Flyers scored for the Pens). Emery and Fleury were both good and Pronger held Crosby to no points. But let’s leave the biting out of it! I know the Flyers are bullies, but this is even beyond what I thought they were capable of doing.

There will be no discipline for Hartnell from the League. After a conference call with Colin Campbell, Hartnell was found “innocent.” How about looking at Letang’s finger? That should provide all the needed evidence.

Kris, in the immortal words of Shane Falco in one of my favorite movies, “The Replacements”

“Pain heals, chicks dig scars, but glory lasts forever.” You’ll have a scarred finger for chicks to dig, and the glory of last year’s Stanley cup will last forever.

Beating the Flyers in the remaining five games this season will be the best revenge.