16 December 2010

An Open Letter to the CBC

Dear CBC,
During the first period of the Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins game tonight, Canadiens defenceman PK Subban delivered a clean and crushing body check to Bruins forward Brad Marchand. The hit, as noted above, was perfectly clean - after the play concluded several Bruins players wanted to fight Subban, who was not interested and skated away. He made a hockey play, and that should have been the end of it.

However, the CBC commentators during the intermission decided that the play was deserving of considerable discussion targeting Subban and essentially calling him a coward for not fighting. Not surprisingly, Mike Milbury and PJ Stock were most vociferous in their condemnation of not only Subban, but of another Canadiens player, Max Lapierre, an agitator whose role is to get under the skin of his opponents. These are two men that have often railed against what they call the "pansification" of hockey, yet when a player makes a big hockey play, they condemn him for not doing something illegal that is penalized by a major penalty. They thus picked up on the long-running theme of another CBC commentator, Don Cherry, in proclaiming that Subban does not have any respect for his fellow players, and needs to earn the respect of not only his opponents but his own teammates. They didn't proclaim, as Cherry has, that somebody is "going to get him" but they continued the ongoing theme targeting Subban.

What do all three of PJ Stock, Mike Milbury, and Don Cherry have in common? They are all former members of the Boston Bruins. To have these people commenting on anything to do with the Montreal Canadiens lacks credibility because their bias is heavily pronounced and hardly concealed. The CBC prides itself on journalistic integrity and fairness; these men do not have any semblance of fairness when it comes to discussing the Montreal Canadiens.

As a Canadiens fan, I have for years had to endure listening to Cherry slagging my favourite team without a balancing voice. Canadiens games are, on those occasions that they are shown on Hockey Night in Canada, often called by Bob Cole - Canada's most famous Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I am just old enough to remember a time that the legendary Dick Irvin Jr. was on the broadcast team during HNIC to call Canadiens games. One could tell that he actually liked the team, unlike many of his colleagues that are products of other organizations that have been the Canadiens' rivals over the course of many decades. However, he was moved off the broadcast team, and ever since there has been a noticeable imbalance in broadcasting whenever the Canadiens have been featured on CBC.

I'm a reasonable person. I don't think it's necessary that the CBC should hire a pro-Canadiens cheerleader to add pro-Canadiens comments to the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. However, what was once mildly amusing has become incredibly irritating; while Cherry is and remains a caricature, his calls for somebody to "get" Subban has sparked a dangerous trend that has been picked up by his colleagues on the program. Subban is a young and exciting player that is respected by his teammates and loved by many Canadiens fans. To hear somebody calling for him to be injured is despicable. I am beyond frustrated listening to Coach's Corner and the other intermission panels. Indeed, even though I am almost entirely unilingual and speak only a small amount of French, I often turn to the French channel RDS and leave it there not only during the game but also the intermissions. I would rather practice my diminished second language skills than listen to anti-Canadiens propaganda spoken in my first language. I think that many of my fellow Canadiens fans would agree with my sentiment that something must be done to restore a degree of balance to the HNIC broadcasts.

Richard McAdam

09 July 2010

Just a Little Patience....

I saw this little news item today and it's got me thinking...

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports former Stars goalie Marty Turco texted him to say nothing was currently going on regarding his efforts to sign with another NHL team. While the Philadelphia Flyers were rumored interested in Turco their negotiations with winger Nikolai Zherdev could prevent Turco from signing there. Heika suggests the netminder could be forced to accept a one-year, $2 million contract and prove next season he's worth more.

The Habs rushed to get Alex Auld as a backup to Carey Price. While that definitely assures everybody that Price will be the #1 goaltender in Montreal next year, what happens if Price gets hurt and/or struggles? A month ago I was discussing with some friends what would be the ideal goaltending situation for the Canadiens in the event that Halak had to be the one to go. This is what I wrote:

If Halak was just too good in the playoffs and priced himself out of what Montreal can pay him relative to his demands, and the organization wants to stick with Price after investing so heavily in him, a trade to Dallas is in the offing. Trade Halak for Jamie Benn and/or James Neal (pending RFA) and the rights to Marty Turco, who is about to become a UFA (can somebody try this on NHL '10 and see if it gets accepted? Send me a message if it works). It maximizes the return on Halak's stock in getting a blue-chip prospect while also giving Price the veteran mentor that he might just need to excel. Plus, if Price falters, Turco, at only 33 years old, is still capable of playing a lot of minutes. Whether Turco wants to accept a more limited role is of course still up in the air, and he may feel that he can get one last big contract as a legitimate #1 goalie.

Unfortunately that didn't happen, though the Habs did get a blue-chip prospect in Lars Eller, and Ian Schultz could prove to be a sleeper pickup (a la Tommy Pyatt), in return for Halak. Nine days into free agency, Turco is still available but Montreal has already made their move for a goalie. I read that they didn't want to spend more than a million on a backup, which they didn't, but I still think that they rushed to get a serviceable goalie when they could have waited things out and got a pretty good goalie for a little more.

Of course, they do still have to sign Carey, something that Gauthier hopes to do "by training camp". That unnerves me a little. But that's a different story for a different day.

05 July 2010

A Re-Awakening of Sorts

This blog has been glaringly quiet lately on the international relations front. For anybody that enjoyed reading my thoughts on global politics, IR, and the advance of liberty and democracy throughout the world, I do apologize. I hope to make that change in the not-too-distant future.

This past week I've re-read Natan Sharansky's impeccable The Case For Democracy and it has lit a spark in me that hasn't really been there for some time. To me, this can only be considered a good thing.

01 July 2010

Happy Canada Day Everybody!

Enjoy the day, get some fun, have a BBQ, celebrate everything that makes this country great!

23 June 2010

Plekanec - 6yrs/$30M

All in all, I think this is a very good signing. The team, the city, and the player are a mutual admiration society, so it's a great fit that will hopefully make all parties involved happy for the duration of the deal.

There was a lot of talk that Plekanec could have hit $6M/season on the open market, and I don't doubt that for a moment. NHL general managers have demonstrated that they are more than willing to spend big dollars for a free agent on July 1st. When you look around the League, Mike Ribeiro and Ryan Kesler are also $5M/season players and frankly I'd rather have Pleks than either of those two. He's versatile, he works hard, and he's used in every situation. It is true that his playoff performances in recent years haven't been superlative, which is probably why he got $5M instead of $5.5M from Montreal, but clearly the Habs hope that this trend stops in the coming years.

Cap-wise, this means that the Canadiens chose Plekanec over Halak. I think that's a good move. 70 points of production on a team that didn't have a lot of production last year is a great number, and if he has a full year of a healthy Mike Cammalleri, and if they get a good 3rd man or an Andrei Kostitsyn that doesn't have his head in the clouds, those numbers will almost certainly increase. I fully believe that Plekanec can be a solid point-per-game player while keeping an overall plus +/- rating, all the while helping on the PP and PK. That type of player is pretty hard to come by in the NHL these days, so I'm glad that he'll be wearing a CH turtleneck for years to come.

Now, sign Carey!

21 June 2010

Reports of the Liberal Party's Death Are Exaggerated

Who wants some more coalition talk today?


Andrew Coyne muses today that Michael Ignatieff has self-imposed a terminal wound on his own party by refusing to immediately and firmly squash all talk of a coalition. In so doing, the NDP's hand will only continue to strengthen as the Liberals continue to flounder, all of which will result in the NDP claiming domain over the political left in Canada. The hopelessly-fractured Liberals will bleed away depending on where they rest on the spectrum, as people like me run far and fast away from Libby Davies and company, while those left-leaning Liberals continue the "anybody but Harper" march by running into the willing arms of Jack Layton.



The Liberal Party has survived far greater perils than it faces today. Remember the years 1984-1992?

In the 1984 election, the Liberals were decimated electorally against a Mulroney Conservative machine that took the largest majority in Canadian history and reducing the Liberals to a pathetic 40 seats in Parliament, only 10 more than the Ed Broadbent-led NDP despite the NDP getting more votes than the Liberals in five provinces. The Tories had a majority popular vote in 6 of 10 provinces and the Liberals won only 2 seats west of Ontario.

The 1988 election saw better results for the Liberals as they increased their seat count to 83 seats but still faced a Conservative majority government.

When you compare those awfully dark days to the situation Liberals face today, it seems like sunshine and lollipops relative to the mid-late 1980s.

The Conservatives have been unable to mount a majority in successive elections. Their leader is grossly unpopular outside of his own party. They have not been able to position themselves into the desired 40% support that is the baseline for an electoral majority. They rank in 3rd place in seat-rich Quebec and have seemingly abandoned hope of building a base there where they can plausibly claim they are the strongest federalist party in the province. They have alienated a number of fiscal conservatives with their reckless spending and true-to-form ruination of Canada's balance sheets. They have passed laws about when to hold elections, and then broken them. They are, simply put, fully capable of being defeated in an election.

However, this is unlikely to happen until the Liberals start to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get themselves in order. The 2008 election was a disgraceful result, with the lowest popular vote total in the country's history on account of having the worst leader in the party's history. Forget supposed CTV hatchet jobs or whatever other convenient excuses people come up with to rationalize the defeat, Dion was awful. That mistake was corrected shortly thereafter.

Michael Ignatieff is one of the most brilliant liberal intellectuals of our time. I pointed the finger at him way back in 2005 and said that he would be the guy that succeeds Paul Martin as the next Liberal Prime Minister. I still believe that can happen. But he has to be Michael Ignatieff the intellectual and bloody smart person, because Michael Ignatieff the politician isn't getting the job done. He is smarter than Harper and could probably debate a circle around him if he were given the opportunity.

The ideas and values that the Liberal Party stands for are timeless and central to the Canadian way of thinking. They need to be articulated fully. Where is our Red Book? Where is our plan? Why aren't the core values splashed front and centre on liberal.ca ? When you go to the "Documents" section, "Rules of Procedure for the Election of Officers of the Young Liberals of Canada" is posted higher on the page than anything to do with an action plan for Canada. That's sad.

This party needs to go about rebuilding the big tent that has served it so successfully for most of its existence. This listing lazily to the left may be a maneuver that can outwit a Star Destroyer gunner, but it's doing nothing to assuage the many concerns of those socially progressive/fiscally conservative members that want nothing to do with the NDP. The Conservatives have failed miserably to "Stand Up For Canada"; it's well past time the Liberals did just that.

18 June 2010

Thanks For the Memories...

It has now been nearly 24 hours since Jaroslav Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues for prospects Lars Ulri Eller and Ian Schultz. As to be expected with any move made by the Montreal Canadiens, it has been a much-discussed issue that has seen many more negative comments than positive directed at Canadiens management.

After all, it is barely a month since Halak's playoff heroics against Washington and Pittsburgh, where he was integral to the team's success as the #8 seed. I have said to many people in recent weeks that it was likely the case that his performance is what assured him he would not be re-signed by the Canadiens. The Habs, like a lot of teams, are in a bit of a salary cap crunch and have about $44M committed to only 14 players. That leaves a mere $14 (estimated) to sign two goalies, possibly Tomas Plekanec, one or two more capable forwards, and probably a defenceman to fill the gap left by Andrei Markov's injury. Looking around the League, Kari Lehtonen got $10.5M for 3 years in Dallas; quick, how many comparisons to Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy did Lehtonen earn this spring? You'd have to figure that Halak and his agent would have been after at least $4M per season - the Canadiens simply can't do that this year, and given some of the guys that will be free agents next year (here's looking at you, Captain Josh!) they were very adroit in this move.

As a fan, I can see why there have been many emotional and irrational outbursts by a lot of Canadiens fans who feel as though we've just traded away our best goaltender and playoff saviour. There is absolutely no denying that Halak was the most important player on the ice for the Habs in this playoff run--not Cammalleri, not Gionta, not Gill--and without him, they would not have made it as far as they did.

Jaroslav Halak

Jaroslav Halak's Young Guns Rookie Card - it's definitely peaked in value now.

But, and there is a but, the organization had to keep an eye to the future when making their goaltending decision. Were Halak's heroics a flash in the pan (a la Michael Leighton) or was this going to be a level of excellence to expect for years to come? As good as Halak had been, could Carey Price be even better next year, and the year after? Which had the largest upside? After running through all of that, the Canadiens decided on Price as their future #1, and that meant Halak had to go. Both deserve the chance to be starting goaltenders, and since the Canadiens feel that Carey Price gives them a better opportunity than Jaroslav Halak in the long run, that opened the door for Halak to be traded.
Now, I am a Carey Price fan. In fact, I'm his #1 Fan:

Image courtesy careyprice.com

I am very happy to see my favourite player still with my favourite team. There is no denying that Carey had a rough season last year. There is also no denying that he has tremendous untapped potential and could be a superstar in the NHL. At only 22 years old, he's already got 60 wins, has won a playoff series, been to the All-Star Game, and so on. I believe, and apparently so do the Canadiens, that he has all the tools and talent necessary to be a part of a Stanley Cup winning team. He's going to have off nights, but he's also going to have spectacular nights, and I believe there will be many more of the latter than the former.

So thank you for the memories Jaro Halak. It was a magical ride. I wish him all the best in St. Louis.

17 June 2010


Another year, another template re-design. Plus, new links! Exciting stuff, I says.

Michael Ignatieff was in town last Saturday. Nobody bothered to tell me - I found out on Facebook the next day - or else I would have posted something about it by now. The communications team does a horrible job of announcing when important people are coming around - apparently Ken Dryden was here not long ago too. Would it really be so hard to send an email or even a carrier pigeon to tell us all the news?

10 June 2010

Congratulations Chicago!

Hats off to the Blackhawks for their Stanley Cup victory last night. If it couldn't be my Habs, thanks to Philadelphia, I'm glad that it could be a team that I like, all the moreso since they beat the team that beat the Habs. 50 years is a long time to go without a Stanley Cup--get ready to know what that feels like, Leafs fans--so to end it with this great group of young players is a really cool finale to what has been a great season.

And of course with the closing of this season, comes the fun stuff...

Draft is in 2 weeks.
Free agency starts July 1st.

And then training camp in September.

I'll be a married man the next time I see the Habs. That's pretty neat.

09 June 2010

The Polls Say...

Regarding the proposed cooperation/coalition/merger of the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP, a recent survey gives us the following:

Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed favoured a non-compete pact between the two parties, wherein they would agree not to run candidates against each other in some ridings across the country.

When Stephane Dion gave Elizabeth May a free pass in the last election, and she still lost, the Liberals came under a lot of hostile fire--from without and within--for not running candidates in every riding. The argument is that as a truly national party, they should make every effort to field viable candidates and win in every battleground in the country. Imagine, then, carving up the electoral map and making concessions in every region and province in Canada, essentially throwing up their hands, waving the white flag, and saying, "You have a better chance of winning here than we do." It is outrageous to suggest it, and even moreso that such a margin of people actually thinks it's a good idea. I don't know how many of those 28% are Liberals, how many are NDP backers, and how many are mischievious Tories, but I am of the mindset that each of them are gravely mistaken in their line of thought. To throw seats to an opposing party before the election is even called is a preposterous idea, particularly given that there is no guarantee that conceding all the parked Liberal votes in a riding will flow to the NDP in sufficient numbers to trump the Tories. It's a high-stakes game with risks that are too great to play.

Fourteen per cent favoured a Liberal-NDP coalition government after the next election.

What isn't parsed out of this is the result of the election: is it another minority Conservative government where the combined forces of the Liberals & NDP give them a plurality of seats? A Liberal minority where a coalition produces a stronger minority, or even a majority? A situation in which there is a deadlock between the Tories and a coalition, leaving the balance of power with the Bloc Quebecois? There are unique challenges and opportunities with each one of these outcomes, very few of them desirable. Would Libby Davies get a spot with Foreign Affairs? Would Jack Layton get Industry? Fortunately only a meagre percentage of Canadians support this idea.

13 per cent said they’d prefer an outright merger of the two parties prior to the election.

Again, only very meagre support, likely because there are so many Canadians who occupy the centre/centre-right of the political spectrum that would not want to see the Liberals shift dramatically to the left and leave all the so-called "blue Liberals" without a real political home. The merger of the right worked because it was two parties going back to being one and claiming ownership of the entire half of the political spectrum. The Liberals and the NDP have enough substantive policy differences that a merger would be very unlikely unless both camps made significant concessions that would be tantamount to abandoning long-held principles for the sake of political expediency. While it would dramatically reform the landscape in Canada, making it much more similar to the American system, how do you merge: support for free trade with opposition to NAFTA; support for Afghanistan-type missions with condemnation of "George Bush's war"; support for Israel with not support for Israel; support for low business and corporate taxes with support for higher taxes on businesses and corporations. There's a pretty wide policy gap on some major issues that would be difficult to reconcile.

Another 30 per cent – including 50 per cent of Conservative supporters – said they would rather that the two parties not co-operate at all.

Count me included in this grouping. There is still a plurality opinion on sanity in this country. *whew*

04 June 2010

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This...

But pass the beer & popcorn, Mr. Reid, because I agree with you wholeheartedly.

For as long as I can remember, the Liberal Party has operated as a "big tent" party capable of attracting people on all sides of the political spectrum in this country. As a social progressive with right-of-centre foreign policy views including an activist agenda to make the world safe for democracy plus a strong commitment to the principles of free trade and globalization, I can easily find a place within that tent and not feel as though I'm forced to accept a position that compromises my integrity and my values.

There has, of course, been a notable exception to that rule, as Paul Martin went completely off the rails during the 2006 election campaign and it took the party a good couple years to remember that it was something more than the Green Party with a commitment to liberalism. During this period I kept the party at more than an arm's length and even flirted with the concept of aligning myself with the Conservatives. On the issues that mattered most to me there was a degree of convergence; however, my past concerns about Harper and the social conservatism within their ranks prevented such an alliance from ever taking place. After the appointment of Michael Ignatieff as leader, my exile ended as I truly hoped that the brilliance he exuded in his political academic writings would come to the forefront as a politician and he would restore the party to its former greatness and restore the coalition across the political spectrum that served so well for so many years.

Things haven't exactly turned out that way, of course. Though Ignatieff was once hailed as a leading light among liberal internationalist scholars, he hasn't been able to provide a coherent and visionary platform for Canada's international agenda that would outflank Harper while remaining close to the new Obama administration. Sure, that's the least of Ignatieff's concerns given the economic climate and the day-to-day political gamesmanship that is Canadian governance, but it's been a disappointment for me personally. Too often he, and the rest of the party's talking heads for that matter, have gotten bogged down in mundane matters that have prevented them from attacking the Conservatives on the biggest issue of the day: the economy. Instead of relying on the neoliberal economic agenda that did so well for Canada during the Chretien-Martin years as a basis to launch a coherent and articulate agenda to get us out of the horrific deficit we find ourselves in, we get a lot of static and very little in the way of what a Liberal alternative would do differently than than the Tories.

It is because of that vacuum and a seeming reticence to take the party on a little trip to the right to remind Canadians that the Liberal Party can be very fiscally conservative in times of needing to tighten the economic belt that there are growing voices for a merger of the centre-left parties. Such a move would alienate those socially progressive/fiscal conservative/activist foreign policy members of the party, abandoning the big tent in the hopes that the left-of-centre tent is larger and better-funded than the right-of-centre tent. Recent history suggests that the Conservative fundraising machine can easily outdo the combined efforts of the Liberals and the NDP, and my suggestion here is that many suddenly-alienated right-of-centre Liberals may instead park their political donations with the party that doesn't have Jack Layton in a high position of influence.

What deals would the Liberals have to strike with Layton to make a coalition or merger acceptable to him? Would the Liberals abandon the relatively recent forward-looking transformation of the Canadian Forces into a relevant and effective force capable of waging a "3-block war" in the post-9/11 world, to go back to the days of "peacekeeping"? Would the Liberals accept suggestions of a new series of tax increases and greater social spending? Would the Liberals cede ridings in places across the country because it was calculated that the NDP would have a better chance of victory, thus ending the Liberal Party's standing as a truly national institution? There would be a heavy price to pay for Layton's support in any formal coalition or merger, and that price would almost surely be too heavy for many Liberals who are already concerned about the long, slow drift to the political left.

It is a plain truth that under the status quo, the Liberals will have to fight hard for votes on the left, the centre, and the right against a united right-of-centre Conservative Party. Small-c conservatives in this country have a singular option and a safe place to park their votes. Progressives in Canada do not have a united option; indeed, it is split among three parties and in Quebec among four. As long as the battleground on the left is so divided, it will be a strong challenge for any party to defeat the Conservatives in an election.

This begs the question: should the Liberals take the easy route and form an "anybody but Harper (and the Bloc)" to better increase their chances at reclaiming power as soon as possible, or should the Liberals roll up their sleeves, dig in their heels, and be prepared to do the ground work that is necessary to claim dominance over the centre-left and compete well enough on the centre-right to win an election the old-fashioned way: by being the party that holds the greatest appeal to the Canadian public?

For this Liberal, there can be only one answer: let's roll up our sleeves and remind Canadians why the Liberal Party of Canada is the most successful politicial institution in the Western world.

01 June 2010

Feeding the Trolls

Young Liberal President reminds me why I couldn't get out of the categorization of being a Young Liberal fast enough: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/young-liberal-pushes-stop-harper-coalition-conservatives-brag-on-economy/article1587660/

Seriously, all of this rejuvenated coalition/merger talk just makes me ill to my stomach. The Liberal Party stands (used to stand?) for so much of what is great and good about Canada, yet we find ourselves entertaining the notion of bringing Jack Layton and his ilk into the fold simply for the sake of political expediency. I honestly just don't understand what happened to the party machine that did such an effective job of making the Liberals the "default option" of Canadian government. We're four years removed from the sponsorship scandal and Paul Martin's spectacular flame out, and we've seen four years of incompetent Conservative government that has turned the $13 billion surplus we'd invested into the country into a $54 billion deficit that is going to have a severely negative impact on Canada's economic well-being for a generation, not at all unlike the mess left behind by Mulroney that took Chretien & Martin years to fix.

With all of this, how is it fathomable that the press team is being outwitted at nearly every turn by the guttersnipes at CPC HQ? With all of this, how is it fathomable that we turn to Jack Layton--JACK LAYTON--as the one that can deliver us from Stephen Harper?

The mind boggles, and yet we still find ourselves feeding the trolls.

31 May 2010

I Just Threw Up A Little In My Mouth

Over this headline: "Prime Minister Layton?"

For some absurd reason known only to the Harperites that are fabricating the story's foundation point to make political hay, coalition talk is all the rage in Canada again. And of all the complex and multitude of ways to formulate such a coalition to topple Stephen Harper, apparently the idea that Jack Layton should head it up is the most popular among Canadians.

Folks, I know that I've been on the sidelines for a while and haven't been particularly active on the political scene, but really? REALLY? Are we so bored and complacent in this country that we're letting the Conservatives air re-runs of their 2008 propaganda spiels and falling for them? Why are otherwise seemingly-intelligent people buying into this ridiculous notion that the Liberals and the NDP will find sufficient common ground for a long enough term to provide a sustainable viable alternative to Harper, and why would anybody think that Jack Layton is the person for the job?

I'm very curious to know because this is twilight zone stuff here.

26 May 2010


Pierre Gauthier has tipped his hand with regards to his future plans for the two goalies. You just have to read between the lines:

“We’ll take the best decision to make sure the team grows in the future,” Gauthier said. “We’ll do the right thing for the organization and them. I won’t speculate. Honestly, all options are open. The worst thing to say is we’re going to do this. Then you lose your position in negotiations. We could have a plan and not be able to carry it out.”

Yes, three weeks without a post and this is what you get when I come back.

04 May 2010

If They Keep This Going, He'll Be a Sung Hero Pretty Soon

I enjoyed this article in the Globe and Mail this morning because it got me to thinking a little bit about one of my favourite players.

For a good long time now, people have been referring to Josh Gorges as an "unsung hero" for the Canadiens. Once considered the "throw-in" to the deal that sent Craig Rivet to the San Jose Sharks for a 1st round pick (which turned out to be Max Pacioretty), Gorges has quietly and solidly developed his game and became a mainstay on the Habs' blueline. Since coming to Montreal he's missed only one game due to injury, due to a vicious headshot delivered by LA Kings thug Denis Gauthier in January 2009. He took a Mike Green slapshot in the back of the head earlier this season, a shot with such force that it left the puck's imprint on his helmet. Josh played the next game, but that puck hasn't been seen since.

In the much-maligned centennial season of 2008-09, Gorges came 2nd in the voting for the Jacques Beauchamps Trophy, awarded to the Canadiens' unsung hero. He was a bright spot in an otherwise dark season that many would like to forget. He continued that upward trend this year, becoming a highly-trusted half of the Habs' penalty-killing shutdown duo with Hal Gill. The "Of Mice and Men" (thanks Mike Boone) pairing was superb throughout the season, and the ice time for both has consistently increased concurrent with the pressure of each game. While on many nights Josh's scoresheet would be a block of 0's (until you reached the blocked shots category), that spoke to his quiet efficiency on the ice. For his efforts, he was named the Jacques Beauchamps Trophy winner this season.

So this begs the question: can a player who wins an "Unsung Hero Award" be from that time forward still be considered an unsung hero?

It appears that the answer is yes, though with dwindling legitimacy. All throughout the series with Washington, when Gorges & Gill threw a blanket over Ovechkin & company, Pierre McGuire would often sing their praises. McGuire even went so far as to label Josh the undeclared captain of the Canadiens. Surely the captain of the Montreal Canadiens isn't an unsung individual.

I don't know when the Habs will announce their next captain, but in my mind it comes down to a very small number of people, really only two in my mind: Gorges or Brian Gionta, another diminutive player who plays much larger than his actual size. Perhaps landing that gig for the former will finally put an end to the "unsung" portion of his heroic nature on the ice.

02 May 2010

Post-Game 2 Observations

  • In Game 1, the Penguins hinted that they may have learned the strategy to beat Halak: shoot rarely. Today, they learned that the more they shoot on him, the better he is.
  • Sergei Kostitsyn has watched the last few games from the pressbox. Today, Andrei Kostitsyn may as well have - 1:43 total ice time. Think they'll be gone after this season's over? I'd bet the farm on it.
  • This could end up being another long series - if so, we simply can't survive using only three lines. The utility guys have to step up to the plate.
  • Guts and determination make winners and champions. Both of these teams have it - Washington did not demonstrate those qualities in the last round.
  • Mike Cammalleri >>>>>>>>>>>> Alex Tanguay in the battle of the #13's. Tanguay sat out of the playoffs last year because he didn't feel that his shoulder could hold up against the Bruins. Cammalleri's returned from a gruesome leg injury and has stepped up big time in the playoffs.
  • Brian Gionta >>>>>>>>>>>> Chris Higgins in the battle of the #21's. What a warrior!

29 April 2010

'Nuff said.

23 April 2010

No Tomorrow Scenario For Habs, Probably One Goalie

Well, the Habs are down 3-1 to the mighty Capitals in their first-ever playoff match-up. While the fact itself wouldn't surprise anybody who hasn't seen any of the games, for those of us who have sat through every minute it is a major disappointment. The Canadiens have dominated significant portions of Games 2 and 4, but both times could not sustain the effort for a full 60 minutes and thus ended up on the losing end. It *could* have been 3-1 the other way or even a tie series, but bad breaks, bad breakdowns, and bad third periods have made the series what it is.

Tonight is Game 5 in the Caps' home barn. The crowd will of course be "Rocking the Red" and will be its usual boisterous self in support of Ovechkin and company. They will want to close out the series tonight to maximize their rest until Round Two begins, as a date with the Flyers looms on the horizon. For the Canadiens, there remains only a faint glimmer of hope. They will have to be perfect tonight in order to force a Game 6 back in Montreal. They cannot play very well for only 20, 40, 50 minutes; they must play excellent for a full three periods...and maybe even more.

The greatest burden of all falls on the shoulders of the goaltender. It is he who must stop the lethal offence led by the game's most offensive dynamo. This is the biggest game of his NHL career because if he does not win tonight, the future becomes very uncertain.

That goaltender is Jaroslav Halak.

It pains me that it is not Carey Price. However, I accept it. Halak has earned the right to bounce back tonight after Price couldn't stop the onslaught the other day. He has been very good many times this year. He will have to be tonight, because if the Habs lose tonight, not only will their season be over, but so too could the career of one of these two young men with the organization.

Both are restricted free agents this coming July, and you have to think that one of them will be moved prior to next season, whether it's a trade at the draft or via an offer sheet come July 1st. The ongoing sideshow doesn't benefit either player or the organization. Both are highly valued commodities: highly-skilled and -talented goaltenders in their early 20s that have demonstrated that they are capable of handling #1 responsibilities and carrying the load for a team. Price has the higher pedigree, but Halak has shown more this year than he has in any previous year. At 24, Halak is entering his prime years. At only 22, Price is not there yet. Both want to be #1, and there's only one goal in Montreal to tend. Something's gotta give...

Here is my ideal scenario at this point:
1. Halak is traded to a Western Conference team for a high draft pick (1st or 2nd round) and/or a prospect. This gets him out of Montreal and into a situation where we will not have to regularly deal with a Price v. Halak debate.
2. Re-sign Carey Price to a medium-term deal for decent money. Two years would be ideal, since he'd only be 24 and thus not yet eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract but the Habs would be able to make the judgment at that time whether he deserves the long-term deal that keeps him in the bleu, blanc, et rouge for life.
3. The Canadiens acquire a veteran goaltender that can provide leadership and mentor Price. They can be assured of seeing 20-30 games (depending on their performance as well as that of Price) in order to quell the ego but still give them enough moxie to want to push Price hard to earn the role. I really wish they'd pushed to bring in Olaf Kolzig for this after Huet was traded, but that didn't happen; Price hasn't really been the same without that veteran presence since. Marty Turco is the ideal candidate. At 35, he may still field offers to be a #1 making #1 money from some teams who really need someone like him. The Canadiens may have to overpay a little bit to secure his rights. I'm not sure what other goalies are available, but he's my first pick.

I'll get into other, less happy scenarios, later.

But for now, enjoy the game. Go Habs Go!

16 April 2010

That is all.

15 April 2010

The Fun Continues

The puck hasn't even dropped yet and the Habs-Caps series is already a ton of fun. First we had the neat Tomas "Don't Call Me Jagr" Plekanec/Jose "Not Quite Martin Broduer" Theodore commentaries, and now we get this:

"The situation in Washington this season is different from years gone by. In the franchise's early days, the Caps courted fans from out of town. But the arrival of Alex Ovechkin and an upturn in the team's fortunes have made such moves unnecessary.
In fact, the Capitals actively discouraged sales to Pittsburgh fans when the Caps met the Penguins in the playoffs last season. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who made his money with AOL, had the Capitals' online ticket sales programmed to reject bids from fans in Pittsburgh."

That's actually pretty funny, and I wonder if they've done it again this year. Two really cool organizations going to battle. When the series shifts to Montreal it's going to escalate to a whole new level - 21,273 going crazy to deter Ovechkin and his band of merry men.

13 April 2010

"Plekanec States the Obvious" - Should Have Been the Headline


I appreciate the gamesmanship and on top of that, I think it's the truth. Yeah, Theo and Varlamov had pretty good seasons, but I think that Price and Halak are better too. Doesn't mean that the Caps' goaltending is brutal, just that the Canadiens get the upper hand in that department.

Also, this:

10 April 2010

Habs Playoff Scenarios

So I'm thrilled that we're in the playoffs, earning one point in our final 3 games to really demonstrate that we're ready to hand with the elite teams in the NHL. And I say that because we will be playing one of them.

By "virtue" of their 88 points the Habs presently sit in 7th place. They can finish no higher than that.

Habs finish 7th if the Rangers defeat Philadelphia tomorrow.
Habs finish 8th if the Flyers defeat New York tomorrow.

Washington will finish in 1st place.

Buffalo will take 2nd place if they defeat New Jersey in regulation tomorrow.
New Jersey will finish in 2nd place if they defeat Buffalo tomorrow or if they lose in OT/SO.

So here are the potential first round matches and what will have to happen to force it.

If the Rangers win and New Jersey wins/loses in OT, Montreal plays New Jersey
If the Rangers win and Buffalo wins in regulation, Montreal plays Buffalo.
If the Flyers win, Montreal plays Washington.


09 April 2010

3rd Post of the Day for My Habs' 1st Star

Couldn't happen to a better guy: http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/32513

Way to go Josh!

Pat Burns


This article has me literally biting back tears. Having just lost a loved one to that bastard killer, it brings up a lot of emotions. I hope that when Pat lets go of life he is at peace and with those who love him most.

My WTF Moment of the Day


I'd really be curious to know who those 10% are and what their motivation could possibly be to disagree with such a notion.

Also, my 29th birthday was awesome. Pics soon.

06 April 2010

He May Not Be "Our Bastard" Any More...

There's an old adage in realist politics that deals with unsavoury characters and the often-necessary need to side up with less-than-reputable folks:

"He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard."

For a good long while many people have been highly wary of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and his unwillingness to tackle corruption, move forward on women's rights, and certain other tactics he's employed during his leadership of the country. The rather lame defence of Karzai in this context is that he's the least bad option available and that alternatives to his leadership run the gamut from much worse dictatorial types all the way to the Taliban. Well, the times, they may be a-changin':

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai twice threatened to quit politics and join the Taliban if the West continued to pressure him to enact reforms, legislators said Monday."

01 April 2010

Idiots Booing Carey Price

I didn't hear about the latest round of booing of Carey Price when he was announced as last night's 3rd star until this morning. I was watching the TSN broadcast and they cut to SportsCentre pretty much right after the final whistle. I think it's absolutely revolting that he can stop 25 of 26 Carolina shots, getting beaten only by a legit superstar and Roman Hamrlik, and these idiots decide to point the finger at him. Well, these so-called fans are likely to end up getting a bigger one right back if/when Carey leaves town. I know that this is what Montreal fans do - they've done it to every goaltender going as far back as Ken Dryden (and probably beyond) but the sheer ignorance of it all just disgusts me.

30 March 2010

Rockets Move on to Round Two!

It was a game well-worth staying up until 1am to listen to via the radio via the Internet. A hard-fought, hang on by the skin of their teeth victory for the Rockets propels them past the Silvertips to round two against the Tri-City Americans. This is the second straight year they'll be meeting in the playoffs, and again I wonder if Josh Gorges and Carey Price have a small wager on the outcome.

40 saves for Mark Guggenberger, including 33 in the final two periods. Hopefully he'll get the opportunity to carry the Rockets the rest of the way and earn some redemption for the Memorial Cup Championship game last year, where he was shelled for 3 goals in the first ten minutes of the game against Windsor. Few expected that team to go so far, and probably even fewer predicted this victory. But hey, it's the playoffs, where anything can, and does, happen!

26 March 2010

Democracy in Iraq

Wow two political science posts in one day.

I read with great interest that the Iraqi people have spoken and that there will be a new government in their country, with incumbent Nouri Al-Maliki coming in second to Iyad Allawi in the latest election. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of a slowly maturing democracy, so hopefully that is exactly what will transpire. Elections on their own do not signify a legitimate government; that the results are viewed as legitimate and therefore accepted by the people are a key cornerstone of what constitutes a democratic society. Saddam used to get between 99.9% and 100% of popular support in his "elections," which were mere shams to give the outward appearance of a democratic state. Truly, things have changed in Iraq, and very much for the better.

A simple truth is that more than 40 countries have invested significant amounts of blood and treasure to ensuring a successful transition towards democracy in Iraq. The hope is that by kicking out the corrosive and rotten structure of governance in much of the Islamic world and replacing it with a system of government based on respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, the region will become more peaceful and more integrated vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Gone are the days of Saddam's torture chambers and hopefully the inspirational message that societies can make the transition from fear societies to free societies will carry over to Iraq's neighbours.

US-Russia Nuclear Arms Reduction Pact


Can I be an unnamed foreign policy analyst that "hails" this accord? Cuz I just did.

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons ever created by man. Any attempt to reduce the number of them in existence is a step towards a more peaceful and secure world. The two powers will each retain 1500 nuclear weapons, still plenty enough to destroy every living being on Earth several times over. The verification mechanism is of huge significance, as there have long been concerns about the security of Russia's nuclear stockpile and fears of them falling into the wrong hands. Again, any step to secure existing weapons to prevent non-state rogue actors to proucre them is a step towards a more peaceful and secure world.

23 March 2010

Megadesk! Update + Random Thoughts

A friend in the States has purchased the shirt for me and shipped it yesterday. Hopefully it will arrive before my birthday. Ugh, 29 this year. Last year my awesome fiancee made me a cake styled like a Habs jersey with my name and the 28. This year, a Ken Dryden mask cake would totally rock the house.

I am presently 4-for-33 on this year's Roll Up The Rim to Win. I say "presently" because there's a coffee right beside me as I type this. I'm just happy for a donut at this point; no sense in having delusions of grandeur this one has cash money, right?

I was very happy last night to see Bret Hart give what could be the farewell promo speech prior to the WrestleMania match against Vince McMahon. Hearing Bret recount the great matches of 'Manias past, including mentioning Owen, made me smile but also got me to thinking about all the WrestleMania matches that could have been. And that's what makes this build-up with Vince so great - it's a reminder of everything that Bret was robbed of by the circumstances that led to the Screwjob. Some way, some how, I will find a way to see Bret's last match where he gets the closure and final send-off that he deserves and was deprived of 12 years ago.

We're in for 2 straight days of rain & fog. Must be springtime in Halifax.

Rockets desperately need to win tonight. I want their playoff run to still be alive when I get the new hat!

Added thought:

Reading this from Andrei Markov this morning made me a little bit loopy in the head:

"No question they [Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron] are good players, but it doesn't matter who plays on the power play," Markov said. "We have to realize it is a huge opportunity to score. We just can't play like that."

Are you kidding me? Is he honestly trying to say with a straight face that Cammalleri = Mathieu Darche and Bergeron = Roman Hamrlik on the power play? Get real! Cammy's got 15 of his 48 points (including 4 PPG) on the PP, while Bergeron has 6 power play goals to Hamrlik's 2. Not to mention that Cammy's a super-skilled playmaker and Darche...um, isn't. A lot of talk pre-season had Markov as the next captain of the team - between this and some of his other statements (not to mention the brouhaha with Carey) I really hope that's not the case.

19 March 2010

WHL Playoffs

Tonight is opening night of the playoffs for my Kelowna Rockets. They'll be up against the "missed 1st by that much" 3rd place Everett Silvertips for the first round. I'm hopeful I'll be able to stay up late enough for one or two of the games during the series. Here's to hoping that the hometown boys will be able to go on another magical run like they did last year!

15 March 2010

Take It From a Constitutional Scholar...

Re: Misunderstanding Canadian Law - March 13 letter to the editor

Aaron Piecowye's attempt to "clear things up" with regards to search and seizure of property does anything but provide clarity on the issue. Canadians do not have a "right to unreasonable searches and seizures" provided in Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Section 8 actually states that Canadians have "the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure." The two statements are drastically different. While the word "unreasonable" provides a certain grey area, as what one person deems to be reasonable will differ from another's perspective, what is not a grey area is Mr. Piecowye's assertion that other laws can never override that particular Charter right. Sections 7-15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are subject to Section 33, the notwithstanding clause, which states that Parliament can enact laws which contravene the rights of Canadians in the applicable sections.
While I'm sure that Mr. Piecowye's effort to provide clarity was genuine, perhaps he should do a little bit of research to ensure that his statements are accurate and factual.

**Update** Godwin's Law makes an appearance in the discussion here

12 March 2010


"Tweedledee and Tweedledumbass have been away on maternity leave, and now Tweedledumbass is back and we have a problem. Yes, getting hooked on Megadesk was my own damn fault, but I don't care about assigning blame. All I care about is Megadesk." -- Dwight

I've been thinking of a way to make this happen all day at work today. It would be so easy:

Move the filing cabinets out from behind my desk.
Rotate the empty desk around the corner in that place for the surveillance position.
Move second empty desk / rotate neighbour's desk into front (gaming) position.

I'd be enclosed and would have to jump over the gaming desk to get into Megadesk. This would not be a problem.

Also, I need somebody to make a t-shirt of this pronto.

Power Outage

So last night, 10 minutes after the hockey game ended, as I was in the middle of writing my mother a message on Facebook, the power went out for about two hours. It was very strange - the power does go out here in Halifax semi-regularly but usually only during the day. I don't recall off the top of my head the last time it went out at night. What made it so strange was that it was out for a good 2km radius and EVERYTHING was out. All the houses. The Sobeys. Even the street lights. Pitch black until you looked over at the areas (anything from the Commons to the waterfront was still online) on a different power grid. I'm glad that the flashlight was still operational - comes in handy when wandering around a small, dark apartment building. Because Tasha was out last night I didn't really feel like sitting around in the dark so I decided to go for a walk and see how widespread the outage was. On my way back - FYI, all the way up to Cedar Ave. across the street from the hospital - I looked up at the Atlantica Hotel and all of a sudden I Am Legend popped into my head - must have been the visual of all these buildings without any lighting whatsoever - and I decided very quickly that it was time to go home before the dark-seekers came and ate me alive. So it was back up the 17 flights of stairs to just oversee all the darkness until Tasha got home.

And this morning my computer is fried.

10 March 2010

Don't Look Now

But the Habs are only 7 points out of first place in their division. Sure they only have 14 games left but they were able to do it back in 07-08...not that I'm comparing this team to that one.

However pessimistic I've been about this team this season, I'm seeing a glimmer of hope here. The team is clicking right now. The best players are playing like best players. Pleks, Pouliot, Gomez, Gionta, Markov, Halak, and company are even being bolstered by the third and fourth line guys. It would be nice if Pricey were more integral to the overall success of things, but hey, his only loss post-Olympics was still a heroic 37-save effort against the top team in the West.

Consider that there are two games remaining against the Sabres and one against Ottawa. Those will be the crucial elements in deciding whether this team makes a run at the division crown or has to settle for the middle of the pack. Take 2 of 3 and it could be close, take 3 of 3 and it will be real close, but anything less and they'll have to focus more on the teams behind them instead of chasing the teams ahead of them. It won't matter what they do against the likes of the Islanders, Hurricanes, Oilers, and Leafs - they must beat those top divisional rivals or else it will be a dogfight to the end.

But hey, isn't it nice to think positively for a change?

02 March 2010

Trade Deadline

For some reason I can't shake this gloomy feeling that Carey Price will be traded either today or tomorrow. I've never had that sense before - maybe I've spent too much time around too many negative Habs fans - and I hope that I'm wrong about this.

19 February 2010

The Bastard Cancer

My step-father, who was more like Dad 1A than a step-father, passed away last night at the age of 60. It was the worst phone call I've ever had in my life when my sister gave me the news. I had no words. I will, soon, have quite a bit to say about cancer; for now, though, I just want to cry and grieve and come to terms with all of this.

Jim, I love you and I miss you. May you rest in peace.

27 January 2010


Semi-famous Canadian celebrity George Stromboulopoulos has a great quote regarding the mentality of the average Montreal Canadiens fan: "One win, plan the parade; one loss, tie the noose." Depending on the most recent game's outcome, the 2009-10 edition of the Canadiens is either the best team ever or the absolute worst piece of garbage squad to ever wear la Sainte Flanelle. The truth, most maddeningly, lies somewhere in the middle of that bipolar dichotomy.

The truth of the matter is that the 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens are thoroughly mediocre.

It is that mediocrity that leads to the immensely frustrating inconsistency that leads to 4-1 and 6-0 victories over New Jersey and the Rangers, and 2-1 and 3-0 losses to Florida and Tampa Bay...all in the same week. Dominant and excellent one night, pathetic and listless the next. If you were to market mediocrity in a bottle, you would slap a Habs logo on it.

Last season a good team had a meltdown. This year the only consistency has been the inconsistency. They made the playoffs by the skins of their collective teeth last season -- had the season been a week longer I am thoroughly convinced they would have missed them. This year it all depends on whether they're hot or cold on the final weekend of the season. Until then, the key to maintaining a semblance of sanity while watching the Canadiens is to assume nothing and treat each game like a blank slate with no memory of what happened in the previous game. Or, do something else.

25 January 2010

Kelowna Monopoly Update

Currently sitting in 10th position!

Monday Morning Musing

Re: Proroguing means smaller security risk

Mr. Goddard makes a good point and I think it should be extended to its logical conclusion. After the Olympics are over this forthcoming spring and early summer will feature the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the rest of summer and early autumn will have baseball and the World Series, and the winter months will again have a lot of hockey, basketball, and football on TV. With all of these major sporting events and the security required to monitor them Canada's Parliament is under permanent security risk. Plus, nobody is going to choose to watch a parliamentary committee instead of the Super Bowl. Let's just do away with Parliament entirely and let Mr. Harper the Wise govern by decree.

15 January 2010

Crunch Time For Canadiens

It may be mid-January and there may still be 34 games remaining on the 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens regular season schedule, but we are officially entering crunch time for the beloved bleu, blanc, et rouge. After last night's 5-3 victory over Dallas, the Habs are sitting in 8th place in the Eastern Conference--actually, tied for 7th with the Senators, but Ottawa gets the nod for that spot--which would mean a playoff series against the New Jersey Devils if the season ended today. Thankfully it does not. Here's a look at the rest of the season and what will have to happen if the Canadiens want to move up in the standings and separate themselves from the cluster of teams fighting for a playoff spot.

First and foremost, it's probably a safe bet to rule out a division title this season. The once-again-mighty Buffalo Sabres have been riding the hot hand of Ryan Miller all season long and are presently thirteen points up on the Canadiens with two games in hand. Given how well the Sabres are playing--and a big shout out to Rockets alumni and possible Calder winner, Tyler Myers!--and how up-and-down the Canadiens have been to this point, it's difficult to envision Montreal winning 7-9 more games than Buffalo does the rest of the way. That said, Ottawa held a pretty comfortable division lead fairly late into the 2007-08 season, so truly anything is possible, but I would not count on a Sabres collapse barring a major injury to Miller.

Second, I like to think of myself as an optimistic regarding my team's fortunes. Roughly two years ago at this time I noticed a distinguishing feature in my thinking relative to what many of my good friends and colleagues were saying about the Canadiens: I was looking at the teams ahead of us in the standings rather than worrying about the teams that were narrowly behind us. The more common custom is borne out of the way things have gone for Montreal since the lockout - it's always been a struggle to make the playoffs and they've always been bunched up with a handful of other teams all fighting for the 7th and 8th seeds. When the Habs got hot two years ago I stopped worrying about the Bruins, Hurricanes, and Sabres, instead thinking, "Can they catch up with Ottawa and start pushing the likes of New Jersey, Washington and Pittsburgh?" I'm still waiting for that hot streak to materialize but as I look at the standings and the schedule, I still hold out hope that the Canadiens can push their way up to 5th place, maybe even 4th by the end of the regular season.

My optimistic thinking is based on their remaining games and their opponents. Only 5 of them are against teams from the Western Conference, leaving 29 games against division and conference rivals. There are no "gimmies" for this team, not this year, but they have games with Anaheim, Edmonton, two with the Leafs, and two with Carolina that on paper should translate into points. Where things get really interesting, of course, is the fact that 18 of the remaining games are against teams that are in the cluster of 5th-13th place, including 4 against Boston and 3 each against the Rangers, Flyers, and Senators. These are the so-called "4 point games" that are tremendously important to win in order to jump ahead of those teams and let them be the ones looking over their shoulders at the teams in 9th place and lower. A strong record, say 9-10 (or more, please) wins out of those 13 most important games, would certainly assure the Habs a playoff spot.

I mentioned the weaker opponents earlier for a good reason: if you want to consider your team to be a good or very good one, you have to beat the weak teams. I did a little post-mortem on the ill-fated 2008-09 centennial season, and it turns out that Montreal left in the vicinity of 30 points on the table against teams that failed to make the playoffs last year. Losses to teams like Toronto, Florida, Carolina, and the Islanders had a severely negative impact on Montreal's place in the standings, relegating them to 8th position and leaving them easy prey for a hotly-determined Bruins team eager to humiliate the Canadiens. Over the course of an 82-game season it's easy to mentally detach from a late January game against a pathetic team, but you do so at your peril because those two points could come in really handy when April rolls around and you're jockeying for position. Games against the cellar-dwellers are almost as "must win" as games against Boston. You need only look at the Vancouver Canucks right now and how frustrated they are with the Alex Burrows-Stephane Auger situation, because they're fully acknowledging how important losing those two points could be come playoff time.

Now, I realize that I said earlier that the Habs shouldn't get their hopes too high and shouldn't focus on winning the division so much as they should on establishing themselves as a playoff team. However, I would be a terrible fan if I did not at least entertain the possibility. The Habs still have two games left against their division rivals, and while they have gone 1-3 against Buffalo, with the exception of a 6-2 drubbing in early December every game has been decided by a single goal. One lucky bounce here or there is all it takes to turn the tide of a game, and Buffalo has benefited from a number of those this season. If Montreal were to take the final two games against Buffalo, that’d mean only a 9-point space to make up over the other 32 games. If Buffalo goes on a three-game losing streak at the same time Montreal goes on a three-game winning streak, that’s six more points made up along the way. These are two big if’s and I fully acknowledge that, but these things can and do happen during the course of a long season, and if they do things get very, very interesting for our Montreal Canadiens.

There is still an awful lot of hockey to play in the 2009-10 regular season but it is never too early to look at the future and try to scheme things out for your favourite team. I still have a lot of confidence in the Habs and while I think another slog of a battle is in the offing, I am hoping for a season finale more reminiscent of 2007-08 than 2006-07 and 2008-09. I am tired of getting dragged into the latest Price v. Halak debate and I want to think about the entire team and its prospects for the remainder of the season. When I do, good things come to mind. Go Habs Go!

14 January 2010

Go Kelowna Go!

Kelowna is one of 65 cities nominated to be represented on the brand-new edition of Canadian Monopoly. As I type this up Kelowna is ranked #13 on the list with 2.3% of all votes cast.

Just like getting 4 Montreal Canadiens into the starting line-up of the All-Star Game last year, vote early and vote often! You're allowed to vote for your city once per day, every day, until voting closes on February 22nd.

While you're at it, throw in Penticton as a wild-card nominee!


13 January 2010

Fortunately, politcians are temporary and do go away

Some sooner than others, and given what Kevin Page has to say regarding the Conservatives and what they've done to Canada's finances, I'd put forward the idea that Messrs. Harper and Flaherty fit the former category:

“Even Mr. Flaherty is saying five years out you are still running deficits,” [Page] told The Globe this morning in an interview. “Implicitly even Mr. Flaherty is saying if he’s got deficits for five years out, he’s got a structural issue. You can’t grow your way out. It’s economist geek math. Structural means … it is permanent and it won’t go away.”

11 January 2010

The Politics of Prorogation

In the past year, prorogation has entered into the Canadian political lexicon in a big way. It is a tool that hasn't been infrequently used throughout Canadian history but it has never been used as often or with as much of a self-serving political purpose as it has been by the current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
He invoked it at the end of 2008 to stave off the ill-begotten "coalition" that was formed by the Dion-led Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois - the move certainly saved his political skin, as even though many Canadians were outraged at the perceived "coup" or "attempted subversion of our democracy" the numbers were there to remove the Conservatives and establish Stephane Dion as the Prime Minister of Canada. Never mind that there is nothing at all in the Constitution to prevent a coalition government from taking office after it has established non-confidence in the existing government. In order to preserve his leadership, Harper shut down Parliament and staved off the vote that would have ended his time as Prime Minister.
While the heady days of December 2008 will be fodder for debate for years to come--personally, the idea of Prime Minister Dion and Lieutenant Jack is enough to still send a shiver down my spine--what happened in December 2009 was purely unacceptable and a legitimate affront to our parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister didn't like where the public discussion was going with regards to Afghan detainee torture, the environment, and the economy so he simply shut down the venue. While the New Jersey Devils were able to turn the lights back on after only 48 hours and continue to lose their confrontation, Parliament will not re-open until March, giving Harper two months to avoid facing the problems that his government has created and ought to be held accountable for. Committees are shut down, there will be no Question Period to grill the government on its actions, and the work of government will now be the sole purview of the PMO.

What does all of this mean?
First, it means that all the talk about "accountability" that was so valuable to the Conservatives in the 2006 election has been demonstrated to be just that: talk. For two years in a row now, when tough questions have been asked and answers demanded, this government has attempted to sweep everything under the rug and hope the problem simply goes away. It worked last year, after all. If Irwin Cotler and Michael Ignatieff can't stand up on the floor of the House of Commons to ask why Canada is jettisoning its long-standing support for human rights and long-standing condemnation of torture and instead turn a blind eye to what Afghan authorities are doing to transferred Taliban prisoners, how can the government be held accountable? If the opposition cannot ask why Canada chose a path of obstruction and obfuscation at Copenhagen, how are Canadians to know why their government insists on holding us back from being active participants in finding a solution to a global problem? If John McCallum and other respected economists cannot press Jim Flaherty on job losses, an ever-increasing deficit, and the poor decision-making processes that resulted in our economy being weaker than it should be, how do we get that information to make educated choices about our portfolios and voting preferences?
Second, the practice of proroguing Parliament has now become a tool to be used at a whim. The precedent has been established that if government faces unpleasant and uncomfortable questions in Parliament, it can simply shut down the Parliament and thus avoid those questions. Yes, the opposition parties can continue to rail against these policies in the media through television, Facebook, media releases, and elsewhere but these means are nowhere near as effective as they are when they take place in the hallowed halls of the House of Commons or in a committee. This is where the work of Canada is done, and the excuse that Canada shouldn't work while Vancouver is full of play doesn't hold water. Canadians need only look at how tirelessly the American Congress has been working in recent weeks to finally approve a comprehensive health care reform bill to see how weak and pathetic our own elected chamber has become. What excuse will be used next and meekly accepted by the Canadian public? The Stanley Cup Playoffs? Canadians love their hockey and don't have time for politics! Stephen Harper has often been referred to as a "bully" by his critics - it appears as though he is now content to behave like the proverbial bully does when people stand up to him.

There is an old adage: Democracy is the political system by which the people get the government they deserve, rather than the one they may need. The people of Canada voted for this--twice. The anger Canadians felt towards the Paul Martin-led Liberals in 2006 and their extreme hesitancy vis-a-vis Stephane Dion in 2008 left them to hold their nose and vote for Stephen Harper. Some did so enthusiastically, sure, but on a large scale we are now reaping what we've sown and are seeing the negative traits that we've always known he's had manifesting themselves in ways that are increasingly dangerous to our democracy. Hopefully the swelling of anti-prorogation sentiment will be a clarion call to Canadians that they not only need a better government, they deserve it too.

04 January 2010

Did They Re-Define the Term Boycott?

I love Kelowna, I miss it every single day. But I tell you, some of the letters on Castanet just make me shake my head. I won't get into the one from a week or so ago with the guy rambling about how the "Islamic People of Afghanistan" orchestrated 9/11 because that's just too far out there. I am more than a smidge concerned that he's all-too-willing to look the other way when it comes to torturing Taliban prisoners.

But I'm in a light-hearted mood today so instead I'm going to point this gem out to everybody. The writer, as many of us are, is greatly displeased at the vile decision made by the International Olympic Committee to remove women's ski jumping from the list of events at the 2010 Winter Games. It's unconscionable that in this great country, where we value equality, an entire group of athletes are being barred from competition in their chosen sport based on their gender. On that much, the writer and I agree, but here comes the humourous diversion:

"As a suggestion, perhaps a boycott of just one Olympic sponsor's products would quickly bring this troubling and truly trivial situation to a successful ending.

Instead of buying two cases of Coca-Cola a week just buy one - or whatever. No doubt Coke will react within days and will become the heroes and the girls will jump at Whistler with much hype and applause. Coca-Cola will be drooling over the headline-gathering news.

I'm getting close to 30 years old so my memory is starting to wither, but boycott doesn't mean "cut our consumption of a product by 50%" does it? My understanding is that if one boycotts a product they do not purchase it in any quantity, and instead seek out a viable alternative or adjust their lifestyle to simply live without said product. If I were a Pepsi executive, my heart would have sank after reading that initial quoted line only to not have my company's named dropped at all in the discussion that followed.

That being said, Coca-Cola doesn't hold anywhere near the sway over the IOC that would be needed to compel them to reverse their decision. If the athletes themselves lobbying all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada doesn't work, how is drinking only one case of Coke per week going to make an impact? I will say this much: the heart is in the right place, and that's commendable.

Oh yeah, Happy New Year everybody!