Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts! Here you’ll find information on the NHL, the NWHL, the CWHL, and occasionally the AHL and WHL. Hockey has become my way of life, and I love every minute of it.

Agree or disagree, but please keep your comments civil. If I wasn’t secure with my thoughts, I wouldn’t put them out there for you to read. Debating why we feel the way we feel is at least half the fun for me – who knows, I may sway you into thinking a certain way, or maybe the other way aorund. However, this is a safe zone and slurs (racial or homophobic) will not be tolerated.


On Morgan Rielly, the NHL, and hockey is for everyone.

I was expecting to be writing about my weekend at the Seattle Hockey Analytics Conference today. In a way, I still am because as I said in my weekend twitter wrap-up, the hockey community can be a diverse, inclusive space, filled with people who uplift and support each other.

No less than 12 hours after I tweeted that, the Morgan Rielly incident occurred. I’m not here to discuss the details of the incident itself, or even if the situation was appropriately handled.

What I want to discuss is the why of the assumption he did yell a homophobic slur. And it’s not even so much about Rielly himself (who the league has found, by internal investigation, did not yell a slur), but more regarding the state of NHL culture.

I was so quick to assume the worst, because for the first time it wasn’t.

Let that sink in.

I’m happy to have been proven wrong in this case because he didn’t say it. But does that mean mission accomplished, we no longer have to fight for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the NHL? Absolutely not! In my opinion, however, it is a sign that the culture shift has begun.

It takes a 30 second twitter search to show there is still a long way to go. The reactions from fans defending Rielly varied from the intelligent breakdowns of video to downright vitriol. People minimized the slur, saying much worse things are said regularly in an NHL game or that there was nothing wrong with it. Or that Rielly didn’t mean to use the word, it just “slipped out”.

Whatever the defense may be doesn’t matter. What matters is that to some, the usage would have been fine. And it’s that way of thinking still being prevalent that led me to believe Rielly could use a homophobic slur in the first place.

Because though culture is changing, though we are making strides in showing that yes, hockey is for everyone… There is still work to be done.

The NHL has shown us time and time again that despite their initiatives, hockey is not for everyone. Maybe I’m a fool, but today is the first time I have seriously thought that some day, it might be. I look forward to that day.

Proposal: Hockey Inclusion Conference. Hockey needs to be for everyone.

When Josh Weissbock asked what could have been done better to engage and promote the inclusion of women at the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference (VanHAC), I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t have one because Josh had done all the “right” things in my mind. He reached out to women, personally encouraging them to submit proposals. He followed up with those women to verify their status (in at least one case, offered to extend the submission date to accommodate real life).

As I tried to find an answer to his question, it dawned on me. Maybe the reason there’s not an actively engaged minority presence is because as a whole, women and non-cis men are still regularly excluded when it comes to the world of hockey. And answering “how do we fix that” is where we truly need to start.

The idea was born and the dream began. Expand upon the Hockey is for Everyone initiative by focusing on inclusion, diversity, and accessibility for those who are not cisgender males. Have a conference where there’s a point made to have speakers anything other than that. Allow for a “meet and greet” among attendees and panelists, as well as the opportunity to have access to talk with those in media, leagues, and more.

Ideally, this would take place in the Spring/Summer of 2018. Preferably on the West Coast (Seattle? Las Vegas? To be determined.) A location that is easily affordable to travel to by most is key. Speakers would range from women of the NWHL/CWHL, minorities who play in men’s leagues, women who work in the front office, analytics, social media, journalism, etc.

Hopefully this event would be of interest to both the general and more serious fan. From those who want to “break in” to the hockey world (whether as media, player, management, analyst, or more) to those who just want to feel accepted attending a game.

The barrier in hockey needs to be broken down. The league needs to take the next step so fans don’t feel like hockey isn’t a safe space (Stanley Cup of Chowder), like teams are doing the bare minimum to recognize You Can Play/Hockey is for Everyone nights (Five for Howling), and like Hockey is for Everyone isn’t overlooked and forgotten (Broadstreet Hockey, Dallas News).

I hope the idea of this event starts the conversation of restructuring the thought process around hockey culture. Hockey really should be for everyone, and it’s far past time that it is. If the NHL won’t make change happen, we will.

My All Star is not your All Star, and that’s okay.

There have been a lot of complaints with regards to the crazy voting for the All Star Game in the NHL. Supposedly, the ASG is a skills contest, designed to test the best of the NHL. They’ve moved to a 3-on-3 format after “shenanigans” occurred last year. But, ultimately, the ASG is 1) about making money for the NHL and 2) about giving the fans an unforgettable experience.

Part of this year has included the NHL inviting fans to vote the 4 captains to lead the 3-on-3 format (The other 40 will be chosen by the NHL.) So fans began rallying around players – not as a “cruel joke” as some are saying but because this is an aspect that they have control over. So names such as Jaromir Jagr and John Scott and Rob Scuderi made their way into the top 50.

There have been blogs campaigning for certain players (I see you, Leafs Nation) and blogs stating that “it’s dumb” and that “some player who actually deserves the accolade on their record [won’t] get it”.

And sure, while some of the votes – perhaps it’s even a large majority, I don’t know – are not being made in good faith, there is a percentage of people (myself included) who have voted for Jagr and Scott because they honestly want to see them there. I don’t care if they step on the ice during the 3-on-3 portion (it’s 20 minutes. There will be 9 other skaters, plus the goalie. They don’t have to skate more than one shift, to be honest). While I’m positive the NHL values the monetary aspect over fan experience, these players *do* have fans that want to see them. Further, I would rather a kid who is at the ASG meet someone like John Scott (or my personal hold out vote – Rich Clune) than someone who has recently been embroiled in a sexual assault case.

Any ways, in just a few days, the All Star Game voting has become a source of drama and ridicule.

Scott is on the record as saying that he doesn’t want to go if it’s a joke:

“I don’t want to have my name in the headlines for this reason,” Scott said. “Like, it’s a fun little thing and hopefully it’ll die down over time. It’s not something — I definitely don’t want to be voted into the All-Star Game. It would be cool, but I definitely don’t deserve it to this point. You never know. There’s still some time left. I could turn it on.” (AZ Central)

And he released this today, via the Coyotes’ Twitter account:

While Jaromir Jagr had to be “convinced” by Teemu Selanne to participate if he’s voted in:

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.06.46 AM

Look, I love the NHL. I don’t always like them, to sound like a parent talking to their teenage child, but I love them. But I think there’s a large portion of people who are giving the ASG more credit than it deserves in both player and fan opinion. After all, it’s suppose to be fun, for all fans. Not just those that are fans of the “good at hockey” players. I saw a suggestion that perhaps the NHL should choose the players fans get to vote on but again, that’s limiting the fans whose favorite players aren’t selected. To quote the title of this post – My All Star is not your All Star.

Where There’s Smoke…

Most of you know that I’m a “more recent” hockey fan. Meaning, I didn’t fall in love with the sport until late 2011. After the Canucks cup run. After a lot of the rivalry drama had passed. I touched on what brought me into the sport a little when I talked about how I became a Leafs fan, and how Mason Raymond’s story and perseverance made me into a fan – of not just his, but of the entire sport.

It’s also a well-known fact I’m not a fan of just one team. I have my favorites – the Canucks, Leafs, Flames, Penguins, Lightning, and Canes. That list used to contain one more, the Nashville Predators. The first hockey game, not just NHL game, but any type of hockey, I attended was the Vancouver Canucks in Nashville on April 15, 2013. The Canucks won 5-2. I don’t remember a lot from that game, to be honest, but there are some things that I’ll never forget.

  • My best friend getting me down to the visitor’s side next to the glass during warm ups to take pictures. (I took a lot.)
  • Meeting Derek Jory (Canucks Twitter account – at the time, it was @canucksgame).
  • Derek Roy’s first goal as a Canuck.
  • Alex Burrows pointing out my best friend’s Nashville Predators #17 Kesler jersey to Ryan Kesler and the looks on both of their faces. (Her last name is Kesler, I promise it makes sense.)

And I’m sure there would be more, but mostly I just remember the levels of excitement I had watching my favorite game live. The sounds and feeling of the crowd just don’t translate over television. It was amazing, and I remember leaving Bridgestone Arena that night with the feeling of “when can I come here again?”

Living in the middle of Washington, it’s not easy to get games. My nearest NHL team (the Canucks) is nearly a 5 hour car ride away – longer if there is a wait at the border. Stockton, CA, home of the Stockton Heat (and the nearest AHL team) is 12 hours by car or 2 hours by plane. And while I have 3 WHL teams I could conceivably get to (Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds, and Portland Winterhawks) even they are minimally a 2 hour car ride. In addition to that, they rarely play home games on Tuesdays or Wednesdays – my days off.

But, I made it back to Nashville. Not once, but twice. In October 2013, I watched the St Louis Blues destroy the Preds. (It was sad, TJ Oshie scored. So did Derek Roy, which was slightly happier. It’s also where I fell in love with Nick Spaling, who scored the lone goal for Nashville, a short-handed beauty. But I digress.)

My next trip to Nashville didn’t happen until March 2015. It’s a day and night I’ll never forget, for multiple reasons. But before the game, some stuff had happened that made me more than a little worried about being in Nashville at all. I posted that from Seatac, waiting for my plane to take me to the city that I was beginning to think of as my getaway place. I wondered then if it would destroy the coming two weeks, if my vacation would be ruined.

I hadn’t yet made my peace with the Predators organization, much less On the Forecheck’s derailment tactics. Over the course of my trip, I met up and talked with a writer for OTF a couple of times. We’d been friendly, had met up in my October 2013 trip, and, with my best friend in tow, I felt that keeping the lines of communication were important. At that point, despite Ribeiro, that was still an organization I was proud of, and OTF was still an outlet that represented a large portion of Nashville Predators fans.

I was informed that to the selection of Predators fans that had attended OTF’s Watch Party, I (and others that had opposed Hoag, Zito, and company’s take on Ribeiro) was the “bad guys”. People were buying Zito drinks after the “rough day” he’d had. (Yeah. I’m sure the look on my face was super fantastic at that.)

In full disclosure, that friend that wrote for OTF and I have gone our separate ways since then. But any ways.

I left that last meeting feeling like maybe I had been heard, and it was understood why we were so upset at the take OTF had on Ribeiro. I attended the Predators-Canucks game on my 30th birthday, thrilled that my bestie and I had upgraded our seats to be close to the action. Even more thrilled with Eddie Läck’s shootout win and the way the Canucks kept the game interesting for me.

I came home from that trip excited to get back to Nashville again, already planning on attending the 2016 All Star Game.

And then… Then this summer happened. Before Voynov’s “voluntary” deportation. Before Patrick Kane became the suspect of a rape investigation, before the NHL let us down in multiple ways, the Nashville Predators had already disappointed me, and countless others, with choosing to give Mike Ribeiro another contract worth $7 million over 2 years on July 1, 2015. The contract would come just days before settlement details where the Ribeiros former-nanny accused him of sexual assault would be made public. David Poile would stand in front of media and call Ribeiro “a good teammate, a productive player and a person of character amongst his teammates, the community and with his family”.

And that’s when I lost all respect for the Nashville Predator organization. I canceled my plans to attend the 2016 All Star Game, I made a vow to not watch the Preds on television (even if they were the visiting team), and I packed away my Colin Wilson shirsey and Shea Weber hoodie so I wouldn’t be tempted to wear them this season.

It hurts. I almost feel like I’m  breaking up with a significant other. The Preds were a large part of why I enjoyed hockey, since the moment I discovered the game. I love so many players on that team. The first game I ever watched on TV was the Preds, and I would love to have my faith restored in that organization, but I just can’t see it happening.

I know I’m not the only one that feels this way about them, or about the Blackhawks, or about the Kings, or about the entire NHL. Because while I’ve broken up with one team, others feel the need to leave the entire league behind (and more power to them.)

I need something to change. I need the NHL to change how it reacts to sexual assault and domestic violence allegations. I need the league to do better by women everywhere and draw a line in the sand making the point of what is unacceptable and what they will not put their backing behind. Enough is enough.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And the NHL is on the edge of burning down.

Women’s Hockey News Roundup, Sunday, August 23

CWHL Draft Day! I found a nice symmetry between my last round up being from around the time of the NWHL Draft and having one today. Included are podcasts, calendars, and (of course) articles from around the web. I do plan on getting a post up (hopefully tomorrow) with more CWHL draft recap information, once it’s available.

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Download CWHL+NWHL Monthly Calendars

In an effort to make things easy to view, I have gone through and put all the CWHL and NWHL games onto one calendar, broken down into months, in .pdf form.

And then the awesome Masha (@cad_yellow) made teams a google calendar!