The Hall of Fame Game

nhlSpeaking of the Hockey Hall of Fame, this year's crop of inductees is pretty awesome. Entering the hall on Monday are:

  • Mark Messier
  • Al MacInnis
  • Scott Stevens
  • Ron Francis

All four could suit up for the Leafs on Saturday night in the Hall of Fame game against the New York Rangers. I'll be at that game, taking pictures and notes and reporting back here on Sunday.

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The Lindros Debate

nhlEric Lindros is announcing his retirement today. This begins the debate as to whether The Big E is Hall of Fame worthy. Damien Cox says he is, I say he isn't.

I was always a big Lindros fan. During a mid-90s draft of our annual playoff pool, I had quite the heated exchange with Jomp who didn't think Lindros was anything special. Lindros was special. He was big and strong but had the hands of a smaller, skilled player. He could feather a perfect pass and check an opposing player through the boards, all on the same shift. He wasn't just good, for a period in the 90s, he was the best.

Even though I loved the way he played and his insane talent level, I don't think he'll get into the Hall of Fame. Quite simply, he didn't play enough to put up the numbers that should be required. During his NHL career, he missed 438 games, including two complete seasons. He never played a full campaign, scored 100 points or more just once and didn't register a 50-goal season. He also never won a Stanley Cup, often a barometer of a successful leader.

Many will agree with me and many will agree with Cox, because you can make a case either way. At the end of the day, Lindros just didn't have the legs. He changed the game, and for a short period of time was scary good, but his 865 points in 760 games leaves him on the outside looking in.

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Entering the Next Phase

nflFirst there was anger. I blame Wade Phillips. The Music City Miracle was only made possible because Rob Johnson started instead of Doug Flutie. Hurt by the NFL, I found comfort in the organic beauty of the CFL and fully embraced the Argos.

Last season I didn't watch a single NFL game. I didn't think you could be true to the CFL and be an NFL fan. The glitz and polish of the NFL turned me off and I thought I was done with the league for good. The NFL was dead to me. I call this the blackout period.

Lately, I've found myself following NFL developments online, in the newspaper and on the radio. My team is still the Toronto Argonauts, but I've found myself checking in on my good ol' NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, checking in on Brett Farve and the two AFC juggernauts who will play each other this afternoon. I've been warming up the fact that you can be a CFL and an NFL fan. I don't think you have to choose one or the other.

Right now, while I work, I've got the Bills / Bengals game on the television and I'm peeking at the action. The kids and I have a date to watch the Raptors in an hour, but after that I'm going to watch the NFL game of the century. It's impossible not to be intrigued by the fact the reigning Super Bowl champions are 7-0, playing at home and underdogs. As impossible as that sounds, everything I've read suggests it's true. The Patriots are the better team. Yes, for the first time in a long time, I'm going to watch some NFL football.

I think I'm entering the next phase here. I was hurt and angry, I blocked the offenders out, and now I'm willing to accept things for what they are and make room in my life for a little NFL. Let the healing begin.

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Trinity vs. Millsap

footballOn Saturday there was a little NCAA Division III game between Trinity and Millsap in Mississippi.

I just have three letters to add to this video. W.O.W.

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A Couple Of Sick Goals

hockeyA couple of goals this past week really got my attention. These goals are both drenched in skill and quite creative, and neither were scored by Leafs.

Rick Nash Between The Legs

Jonathan Toews' Dekerama

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Hockey Songs: The Best Music About Our Game

Greatest Hockey SongsThere is nothing more Canadian than hockey. It's a little past noon on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I'm already thinking about Hockey Night in Canada tonight as my Leafs take on the Rangers. Hockey is life and pretty sweet.

Alison, who refers to herself as a stranger-friend because she drops by daily, wrote me to ask if I had ever posted a hockey playlist. She was looking for songs that would pump up a young hockey team in the dressing room, but my mind instantly turned to songs about our national game. I started thinking about hockey songs and decided to post the top ten hockey songs.

Here are the best ten hockey songs, in no particular order, and with apologies to Hayden because the amazing "Skates" isn't about hockey.

Hockey - Jane Siberry - Before she changed her name to Issa, Torontonian Jane Siberry was best known around these parts for "Mimi on the Beach", but my favourite Jane Siberry track is "Hockey" from her 1989 album Bound By the Beauty. Check out these pretty lyrics.

They rioted in the streets of Montreal when they benched Rocket Richard,
And that is true bona fide Canadian history, that's what really counts
That's what we're all about

Don't let those Sunday afternoons
Get away get away get away get away
Break away break away break away break away

You use your rubber boots for goal-posts
And you're so proud of that, cause they're your boots that they're usin'

Have a listen here and if you're not touched by the beauty you didn't grow up around here.

The Hockey Song - Stompin' Tom Connors - This song is simple, but has rightfully become a national anthem of sorts. Of all of Stompin' Tom's songs, this is the one we'll still be singing nightly in fifty years. I know you know the lyrics, but here's a taste anyway.

Where players dash with skates aflash the home team trails behind
But they grab the puck and go bursting up and they're down across the line
They storm the crease like bumble bees they travel like a burning flame
We see them slide the puck inside - it's a 1-1 hockey game!

I was lucky enough to see Connors perform "The Hockey Song" live when I saw Conan O'Brien back in 2004. Here's awesome footage of Connors doing it up with some great vintage footage of our game.

Hockey Night In Canada Theme - The Shuffle Demons - Speaking of unofficial Canadian national anthems, the opening theme for Hockey Night In Canada is right up there. It was written in 1968 by Dolores Claman and it only takes one note to prepare for puck droppage in Pavlov's dog-style. I threw The Shuffle Demons' cover on this list because it's chock full of bop rap goodness. Note to self: share "Spadina Bus" this weekend.

The Ballad of Wendel Clark, Parts I and II - Rheostatics - I recently wrote about this song as the video contains glimpses of the now defunct Old Mill Donuts on Dundas Street West. It's a great hockey song with a Toronto slant and mandatory listening for those of us who suffered through the 1980s Norris division follies. Check out the lyrics.

Well I heard Wendel talking to Dave Hodge last night
he said that he was confident and keen
he said that Jacques Plante didn't die
so all of us could glide
he said that hard work is the ethic of the free.

And here's that video I mentioned with classic Etobicokery.

50 Mission Cap - The Tragically Hip - The Hip's classic homage to my favourite legend, Bill Barilko, needs no introduction. It's everything that's great about this country rolled into one inspiring package. Here's the lyrics.

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another until 1962 the year he was discovered
I stole this from a hockey card I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap I worked it in to look like that

Here are the Hip playing "50 Mission Cap" back in '93 on The Another Roadside Attraction Tour.

Hockey Skates - Kathleen Edwards - This song isn't really about hockey, but it's called "Hockey Skates" and it's really good, so I'm throwing it on this list. I fell upon it while listening to the Men With Brooms soundtrack and it instantly captured my fancy. Here's a taste of the lyrics.

Going down in the same old town down the same street to the same bar
And the same old people saying hi and I don't care
Going down in the same old bar and I don't even order anymore
I am so sick of consequence and the look on your face
I am tired of playing defense
I don't even have hockey skates

While looking for Kathleen singing "Hockey Skates" I found another song of hers opening Hockey Night in Canada. This seems appropriate for this entry.

Gretzky Rocks - The Pursuit of Happiness - I remember the video for this song getting airplay on MuchMusic. It was well after Love Junk, and not TPOH at their best, but Gretzky does in fact rock and that needed to be said in song. Here's how it starts...

Walter Gretzky had a son,
he grew up to be the great one
He came from Brantford, Ontario;
he liked Gordie Howe you know.

Americans don't understand,
the national sport of the northland
The worlds best game they're always dissin'
but they don't know what they are missin'

Unfortunately, I can only see this video in my mind because there's no trace of it online. Moe Berg was in the penalty box for a while, I believe.

Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song) - Warren Zevon - 2002's My Ride's Here is the second last album of Warren Zevon's career and the cover shows him sitting in a hearse. For this album, he recorded "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)". Mitch Albom, a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press, helped write the tune while David Letterman chipped in by yelling "Hit Somebody!"

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Brains over brawn--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

Hit somebody! was what the crowd roared
When Buddy the goon came over the boards
"Coach," he'd say, "I wanna score goals"
The coach said, "Buddy, remember your role,
The fast guys get paid, they shoot, and they score
Protect them, Buddy, that's what you're here for.

The Zamboni Song - Gear Daddies - This song is probably best known from MasterCard commercials and from The Mighty Ducks soundtracks. It's pretty popular at arenas throughout this country and the kids dig it. It's safe to say this is the only Gear Daddies song you'll ever hear.

Now ever since I was young it's been my dream
That I might drive a Zamboni machine
I'd get the ice just as slick as could be
And all the kids would look up to me

Here's the song from this Austin, Minnesota band.

The Lonely End of the Rink - The Tragically Hip - I couldn't resist putting a second Tragically Hip song on this list. They litter hockey references all over the place and I could easily justify including "Fireworks" because of the references to The Summit Series and Bobby Orr. "The Lonely End of the Rink" is drenched in a romantic hockey sentiment we can all relate to. It's explained briliantly by Gord Downie in the clip below.

At the lonely end of the rink, you and me
At the lonely end of the rink, you and me
Oh to join the rush
As the season builds

I hear your voice 'cross a frozen lake
a voice from the end of a leaf
saying, 'you won't die of a thousand fakes
or be beaten by the sweetest of dekes'

This song opened the first Hockey Night in Canada telecast last year and it was perfect. Enjoy the unofficial video for another great hockey song.

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Rockies Never Lose, But Rarely Play

mlbI love baseball. I always have. There's something so damn romantic about this timeless game, the thrill of the grass, the crack of the bat, young Mike sending his vibes to Exhibition Stadium in the hopes that George Bell would get a hit. It's a beautiful sport to play and watch.

The Colorado Rockies, my adopted team for this playoff drive, have won 21 of their past 22 games. They're white hot, but now they sit and wait. The layoff is a record 8 games as they await the winner of the Cleveland ~ Boston series. I'm struggling with the lack of games.

All this waiting is killing my baseball spirit. The Rockies are ultra hot, led by a Canadian pitcher, and they sit about three times as often as they play. They beat the San Diego Padres in a one-game playoff for the National League wild-card berth before they swept the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

When they do eventually get back to playing ball, Jeff Francis will become the fifth Canadian pitcher to set foot in a World Series. The four other Canadian pitchers to taste Series action are Toronto's Ron Taylor, Johnny Rutherford of Belleville, Ont., John Hiller of Scarborough, Ont., and Reggie Cleveland of Swift Current, Sask.

Francis will be the first to open a World Series, and the first to win a game.

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Lenny Kravitz and the Grey Cup

cflLenny Kravitz will perform during the halftime show at the Grey Cup in Toronto next month. The 95th annual Grey Cup is November 25 at the domed stadium formerly known as Skydome.

I think Kravitz is an ideal headliner. People of all ages like the guy, and he attracts interest in multiple genres. He's rock, but he's also funky soul. He's a poorer man's Prince. Who doesn't like Lenny?

If the man plays four songs, I predict they will be the following:

  • Always on the Run
  • Are You Gonna Go My Way
  • Fly Away
  • American Woman

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Why I'm Rooting For The Rockies

MLBWe're down to four teams in the chase for the World Series, and I know who I'm rooting for. I'm backing the Colorado Rockies.

When the Blue Jays are eliminated, picking a team usually forces me to examine three factors. Do the Jays have a history with the team, are there former Jays playing an integral role with the team and is there some serious CanCon going on. With the Rockies, it's all about CanCon.

Jeff Francis from North Delta, B.C. got the win last night as the Rockies beat the Diamondbacks. He's the only Canadian-born pitcher to win a post-season start and he's done it twice... and counting.

If it wasn't for Francis, I'd likely be backing the Indians, but CanCon trumps all.

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Ranking the 2007/2008 NHL Logos

nhlThe 2007/2008 regular season is underway and the Leafs play their first game on Wednesday night against our good buddies from Ottawa Kanata. Since I was waxing nostalgic about the old Blue Jays logo yesterday, I thought I'd kick off this NHL season by ranking the current NHL team logos from best to worst.

The opinions expressed are strictly those of Toronto Mike. Reader discretion is advised.

1 - Toronto Maple Leafs

tor- Lengendary iconic symbol
- Solid blue and white
- God's team

2 - Chicago Blackhawks

chi- Named after the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I
- A classic beaut
- The best logo not belonging to God's team

3 - Montreal Canadiens

mon- Historic rivals, but a great logo
- Classic red, white and bleu
- Drenched in success (argh!)

4 - New York Rangers

nyr- Another original six, another great logo
- More clasic red, white and blue
- Conn Smythe's chip on the shoulder

5 - Detroit Red Wings

det- Another oldie but goldie
- The big red machine
- Motor city wheels of steel

6 - Dallas Stars

dal- Simple, but smart
- My favourite of the newbies
- It's good to be green

7 - St. Louis Blues

stl- Another simple but smart logo
- Named for the W. C. Handy song "St. Louis Blues"
- Blue is best

8 - Boston Bruins

bos- My least favourite of the original six
- Still a great logo
- Looks great in the video for "Courage"

9 - Calgary Flames

cgy- This logo was so strong, it survived a move from Atlanta
- From the Civil War to the Battle of Alberta
- Simple, but slick and timeless

10 - Philadelphia Flyers

phi- Not much of a nickname, but a good colour scheme
- 70s succcess gives integrity to the brand
- If the Flyers were to change this logo, we'd all go ape-shit

11 - Edmonton Oilers

edm- Memories of glory days
- Check out the web 2.0 mirror effect on the font
- As a young man, this was my favourite team, for obvious reasons

12 - Minnesota Wild

min- The only non-Leafs paraphernalia I own is a Wild tee shirt
- Fantastic colour scheme
- Collegiate look and feel for additional coolness

13 - New Jersey Devils

njd- Simple and practical
- It just works
- Not a logo you want to face in the playoffs

14 - Atlanta Thrashers

atl- Of all the Johnny-come-lately teams, this is the best logo
- This bird is pretty intimidating, for a bird
- Not bad for the middle of the pack

15 - Colorado Avalanche

col- Sakic, Forsberg and Roy will make a logo look better than it is
- Nice colours, recognizable icon
- I miss the Nordiques

16 - Florida Panthers

fla- This panther looks tough, but could he take on the thrasher?
- 14 years of life and only the rats are scared
- Otherwise not particularly memorable

17 - Pittsburgh Penguins

pit- I think this one is living on fumes of better times
- Likely got it's name because they play in the Igloo
- It's a freakin' cartoon penguin, Crosby oughta sue

18 - Tampa Bay Lightning

tam- There are worse logos than this one
- Lightning is pretty scary
- The font is pretty weak

19 - Ottawa Senators

ott- Yes I dislike this team, but that's not why they're ranked this low
- For proof of the above, check out who's #3
- The logo is okay, but not particularly inspiring or memorable or special

20 - San Jose Sharks

san2- Rode the teal wave to popularity in the early 90s
- The original shark was black, much better
- Still scarier than a seal

21 - Vancouver Canucks

van- This franchise changes their logo so often, it's hard to get used to one
- This orca logo is a blatant ad for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and that's pretty gross
- Bring back the stick!

22 - Carolina Hurricanes

car- Hurricanes are scary, but maybe a little too scary
- This logo isn't bad, but it's a bit busy... just try doodling it during history
- I miss the Whalers

23 - Columbus Blue Jackets

cob- What's so civil about war anyway?
- If you didn't know who this logo belonged to, would you guess it in a million years?
- Oh say can you see...

24 - Los Angeles Kings

los- Should we be afraid of this scary looking crown?
- Went from looking like the Lakers to looking like the Raiders to looking like crap
- It's a crown, only one thing is less intimidating than a crown...

25 - Anaheim Ducks

ana- Less intimidating than a crown
- A huge improvement over the old Mighty Ducks logo
- Your Stanley Cup champions, ladies and gentlemen

26 - New York Islanders

nyi- I know this will anger those who came of age in the late 70s, but I call it like I see it
- Not only a weak logo, but a weak nickname
- Still better than that fisherman

27 - Phoenix Coyotes

pho- A dog with fleas
- Not even the Great One can give this logo or franchise hope
- I miss the Jets

28 - Washington Capitals

was2- What is this?
- Uninspired, unspectacular, uninteresting
- No kid on the planet living outside of Washington is going to want a Capitals jersey this Christmas

29 - Buffalo Sabres

buf- Sorry Buffalo, but I hate this new logo
- Who decided on this colour scheme? Is that still a buffalo?
- It doesn't get much worse than this

30 - Nashville Predators

nas- What the hell is this thing?
- This franchise was a mistake and this logo was a mistake
- Fittingly named after a fossil

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