Posted by: cedarsurf | March 4, 2010

Blogging Graffiti

Banksy painting over Robbo

Here at Sports Crap World Headquarters there was a discussion a few days back over  were the Olympic’s worth it? Values of art, hockey players and other intangibles discussed. For me -and I may have not been clear on this point, the question of worth is a thorny one -especially when -and this is a key point -all sense of proportion has been lost when we talk about things like six billion for Olympics , Six million for Luongo etc.

Several friends and respected commentators pointed out to me that it all boils down to supply and demand, the market place etc.

Frankly some of this logic just flies over my head. Anything that I’ve ever done that has had meaning for me usually ended up costing me money- I usually called this art, or a labour of love – and the idea of money seemed an enormous compromise. Money so the great Cyndi Lauper sings Changes Everything. It explains how I’ve become the well rounded loser I am today.

This idea came up again with a couple of stories linking art/sport and culture in today’s news.
As I mentioned in an earlier post  What is Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal worth?
When Crosby threw his arms up in the air over said goal his gloves and stick went flying. As of last night Sid the Kid’s stick and one of his gloves were nowhere to be found.
Hockey Canada has launched an investigation int o the whereabout’s of Crosby’s equipment. The Hockey Hall of Fame wants the equipment. Someone apparently is hanging onto the equipment. What’s it worth?
Elsewhere I read of a street artists showdown between legendary London graffiti artists Bansky and Robbo as reported in the Wall Street Journal (again the world is only interested  in art when it involves money) .

“In the predawn hours of Christmas morning, a 40-year-old shoe repairman who goes by the name Robbo squeezed his 6-foot-8-inch frame into a wet suit, tossed some spray cans into a plastic bag, and crossed Regent’s Canal on a red-and-blue air mattress.

Robbo, one of the lost pioneers of London’s 1980s graffiti scene, was emerging from a long retirement. He had a mission: to settle a score with the world-famous street artist Banksy, who, Robbo believes, had attacked his legacy.

The battle centers on a wall under a bridge on the canal in London’s Camden district. In the fall of 1985—just 15 years old but already a major player in London’s graffiti scene—Robbo announced his presence on that wall with eight tall block letters: ROBBO INC.

The work, written in orange, red and black on a yellow background, had been in good shape for nearly 25 years and was considered a local icon, surviving long after Robbo himself vanished from the scene 16 years ago.

But recently, Robbo’s work was dramatically altered by an unlikely rival: Banksy, the stealthy Bristol-born artist who has made a lucrative art of graffiti. The work of Banksy—who, like Robbo, doesn’t disclose his name—sells for big money and is widely merchandised. His first film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is due out in U.K. theaters this month.

In early December, Banksy did a series of four pieces along the Regent’s Canal’s walls. Inexplicably, one of them incorporated Robbo’s piece into Banksy’s own work, painting over half the Robbo original in the process. The resulting work, in Banksy’s typical stencil technique, shows a black-and-white workman applying colorful wallpaper that is, in essence, the remnants of Robbo’s piece.”

Bansky released a provocative statement through a spokesperson: “I didn’t paint over a Robbo piece. I painted over a piece that said mrphfgdgf,he said. “I find it surreal when graffiti writers get possesive over certain locations. I thought that having a casual attitude towards property ownership was an essential part of being a vandal.”

Very cheeky Banksy boy!

What was surprising to me was that graffiti art actually was being sold at auction. As the WSJ reports the battle between a lost legend and  acclaimed artist highlights, a larger rift in the art world. On one side are old-school graffiti writers who ‘Tag” or “bomb” their names in as many places as possible and seldom , if ever seek compensation for their work. On the other are street artists, who aim for a political or cultural resonance and –here is the key part, the money part -also create portable pieces they can exhibit and sell. Their prototype is Bansky, who exists in the art world as both renegade and establishment darling. His 2007 work ‘Keep it Spotless’ sold for $1.87 million.

Robbo now works as a  shoe repairmen. He emerged from London’s working-class districts, a teenage skinhead and footballwho had more than a few run-ins with the law.

I really like what Robbo had to say about his retreat from the scene ” I had achieved what could be achieved. I was quite happy to take the backseat and live another life.”

Robbo has never sold a single piece of art. But as he’s drawn back inito the limelight he’s getting curious. On a recent Friday evening he and a friend attended a contemporary art auction at London’s chichy Phillipe de Pury & Co. where a Bansky was on the block alongside two Basquiats and a Warhol.

Arriving late-his shoe repair store doesn’t close until 7 pm -Robbo made his way through the gallery, wearing a grey hoodie and sweat pants, black shoe polish still staining his hands. A security gurad was quickly on his tail.

” It’s all right,mate, we’re artists,” he said.

Speaking of the art of theft and tying our subject of the day -what’s it worth ?-into a great big bow- on March 8 on the South Coast of Vancouver Island  Timberwest aided and abetted by the former Minister of Forests Rich Coleman. a former real state agent and brother of Stan Coleman a Western Forest Products executive will put a giant chunk of land for sale. Land in the traditional territory of the Tsooke.

I had the opportunity to write about this for The Globe and Mail (I’d link but the Globe mysteriously charges for archived articles), The Tyee, and SBC Surf. Find here the article I wrote for SBC on the topic and check out the Dogwood Initiative for more info on this historical rip-of. What is the future worth?

Jordan River is Mine?

By Grant Shilling

SBC Surf Magazine

Access to choice surf spots on BC’s south coast are under threat and it will take a wide range of concerned citizens to ensure that the beach remains free for all to enjoy with both surfers and First Nations leading the charge.

Western Forest Products was given permission by the BC Provincial Liberal government in 2007 to remove more than 28,000 hectares of private land from tree farm licenses on Vancouver Island, including about 12,000 hectares from License 25 near Jordan River.

The move sent shock waves through the surf and recreation community, which quickly organized several town hall meetings, lobbied the federal and provincial governments and formed a Facebook group named “Make Jordan River a Park.”

“I was very happy when I went to the public meeting that so many young people were concerned, especially surfers who are concerned about their access,” says Dorothy Hunt, Band Manager of the Pacheedaht First Nation (located near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island). “ One young man who got up to speak asked for a show of hands of surfers and at least 60 people put up their hands. They are concerned about access, the need for permits and the area being developed the same way that Tofino has –making it unaffordable for some.”

The waters and lands are the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht, Dididaht, Nitinaht and T’sooke.

“The logging companies and the government came and said you don’t need all this land,” Queesto (Chief of Chiefs) of the Pacheedaht told an interviewer in 1976. “So they took it.”

The Pacheedaht (meaning Children of the Sea Foam) claim traditional territory from Jordan River to Port Renfrew, about a 50 kilometer stretch, and have been pushed back into a reserve beside the San Juan river. They are fraught with poverty, unemployment, and suicides.

The land they claim has been planted and re-harvested again and again and again by Western Forest Products. WFP signs are marked “Harvested 1959, Planted 1967, Spaced 1978” — and now must include: “Subdivided 2007.”

The locals, including aboriginals and surfers, have been sounding alarms about the deal for months.

For some the need to make noise marks a necessary about face or as a post on coastalbc.com noted: “I find it amazing that we are talking about JR, because in the past if you had mentioned JR and surf in the same sentence you would have upset some surfer who wanted it all to himself. Now that they maybe excluded from their sacred spot, they want the entire web to know about it, and help save their not so secret spot for them.”

Planted in front of a sauna and clubhouse on a 4 kilometer stretch of waterfront park land provided by Western Forest Products is an innocuous little sign, a declaration of territory that reads: “Jordan River is Mine.” The sign was put there by a group of surfers known as the West Coast Surfing Associates better known as ‘the clubbies.’

The sign now stands as an ironic joke as the land has been sold by Western Forest Products to Ender Ilkay, president of Ilkay Development Corp., a West Vancouver developer that already has a subdivision project underway in Sheringham Point, in nearby Shirley.

When Minister Coleman announced the deal he stated it was “to bring stability to the company.” Western Forest Products is one of the provincial Liberals’ biggest corporate donors. NDP forest critic Bob Simpson has accused Coleman of bailing out the firm without getting fair value for taxpayers.

The failure of the Provincial Liberal Government to consult with The Pacheedaht First Nation over the decision to allow private lands to be withdrawn from the Tree Farm Licenses (TFL’s), sub-divided and sold to private developers is likely to result in court action.

Dorothy Hunt, Band Manager of the Pacheedhat First Nation asserts that the Provincial Government failed to respond to their concerns and letters after being notified by the government that they were considering allowing lands to be removed from the TFL’s.

“We sent them a letter clearly stating our concerns and we received no letter and had no further discussion. One day I started getting calls from band members on the reserve saying –‘what is going on, we hear chain saws cutting down our trees’. The first we heard of the sale was on the news that same day,” says Ms. Hunt.

As a result the band is considering court action.

A Band lawyer is gathering case studies in the province where other First Nations felt they were not treated fairly in treaty negotiations. In those cases the Provincial government was taken to court. Something the Pacheedhat will consider once all the facts are in. The lawyer is also asking under the Freedom of Information Act access to all correspondence between the Pacheedhat and the Provincial Government.

“There was indeed correspondence between the Minister and First Nations and any concerns they had were addressed,” a spokesperson for the Provincial Government told this writer. When asked by this writer to locate this specific letter addressing those concerns the spokesperson was unable to provide it.

“If this had been negotiated we’d have asked for other land to be put on the table so we would have the same amount of land to negotiate. We are very worried that if the land continues to be sold at this rate there will be no more land or resources to negotiate over,” says Ms. Hunt.

A little over a year ago Timberwest sold approximately 360 acres of land, within the Township of Port Renfrew, to Three Point Properties without disclosing to the buyer, the fact that the lands were involved in treaty negotiations and that there are traditional use sites within this parcel of land.

Around the same time Timberwest sold approximately 350 acres of land to Bob Macleod Industries. This is a parcel of land that abuts the reserve lands and was used by the Pacheedaht as a spiritual place to cleanse before and after whale hunting. Band members go to this area to gather cedar bark, build canoes, hunt and use the sites for other cultural purposes.

The reserve shares a bridge over the San Juan River with Port Renfrew the two villages share economic impoverishment and youth at risk.

Is it an issue of money?

“We like to joke –because we need the money- that we would never refuse cash,” says Ms. Hunt with a chuckle. “But that is not our first concern.

“We want environmental impact studies done-we are concerned about sustainable water supplies we have really shallow wells on the reserve and we need to make sure that our rivers and streams are not polluted by logging activity,” says Ms. Hunt. “What we also want is Archeological Impact Assessment’s on each site before any sales take place, we are also concerned about access to our sacred sites, the ocean and our traditional hunting and gathering territory.”

Ms. Hunt points out that the work done by Bob Macleod Industries on Brown Mountain has resulted in most of the trees on the parcel being cut down. The mountain looms over the reserve and with all the rainfall in the area there are concerns of mudslides, soil erosion and damage to rivers.

After Band members met with Mr. Macleod that were apparently told by him that “he answers to no-one, he bought the land and can do what he wants with it.”

Now it appears both the logging companies and the Provincial Liberal Government will have to listen to a growing wave of concerned voices. B.C.’s Auditor General has been asked to examine the deal brokered by B.C. forests minister Rich Coleman, a former real estate agent.

“ Jordan River was a galvanizing moment, says Ms. Hunt. “All of a sudden it felt like the concerns we had been trying to address for some time had reached a lot of people, most notably the surfers. They have an important role to play in this.”

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The questions being asked everywhere today by traditional corporate media is were the Olympics worth it ? Is Roberto Luongo worth 6 million dollars a year  as the headline of  the (Jocks paper) Province recently  put it?A question that pops up in reference to other sport stars regularly.What is anyone worth ? And for doing what? Is their a word for that?

Well, some times the answer lies in how much we the fans have to pay to witness these sports stars. If Roberto Luongo is getting paid six million dollars a year-then you the sports fan get to pay for that. The word in this case is Roberto Luongo .

Its why most  families cannot afford to go the Cancuks games and get to watch it on tv with the rest of us. Me I like watching the games on tv and having the Olympics at a distance-thanks Vancouver for the show as watched  from here in Dodge.

But having  Roberto Luongo under contract for the Canucks  makes them likelier to be winners. And you the fan the loser (can’t  afford to go to the game) but winner at the same time. Well its very complicated.

Did six billion dollars make the Olympics a winner ? Is it love or ( amateur -coming from amore to do for love) money?

Well definitely money. You the taxpayer get to pay for it. Polls say the Olympic ride was worth it. For now. Then we want more kicks. Please.

How to measure the giddy rush that these Olympics produced? Was it worth it? What is a good surf worth ? It costs money sure. But ultimately it is priceless ( and yes for the rest there is Master Charge – by the way  not an official olympic sponsor.)

Will I ever look at McDonald’s the same again. Golden arches indeed.

How to measure the value of art? The only way traditional media respond to it is when a work sells at auction (Damien Hirst ) for a lot of money – or a profile of another wacky artist or in Hisrt’s case both. At least Hirst is still alive to enjoy it -most of the dead guy painter stuff that sells for big time -are yes, quite dead.

Ken Lum’s Van East neon cross over East Van is a fine  artistic legacy to these games (see above). What’s it worth?

Speaking of  art and deals with the devil what was Crosby’s overtime goal worth ? What is Ryan Kessler’s scoring an overtime goal worth?

Oh that one’s easy.

Its the difference between Silver and Gold .

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 2, 2010

Fit What? Part 1

My sister was a tomboy, my goalie coach, a fastball pitcher and an athlete. She was
the first pick on the block when it came to choosing teams. Around 14, she began to wear hip huggers, smoke, hang out with girls interested in boys and began to downplay her interest in sports. I lost my first athletic influence and substituted a whole bunch of Canadian female track stars: Debbie Van Kiekebelt, Debbie Brill, Dianne Jones and Patty Loverock to name just a few. Track was raw and natural. The Olympics seemed the ultimate and adidas the connection to them. The shoes in the late ‘60s were available in three styles: ‘Gym’ at $6.99, ‘ROM’ at $14.99 and the lofty ersatz ‘Gold Mexicana’ at $24.95. I owned and worshipped a pair of ROM’s bought with paper route money.
These shoes made me, pigeon toed and all, an athlete.
In my neighbourhood there was a Math teacher, Mr. Levine. A smart man, who seemed to limit himself to classical music, marking papers and jogging, Mr. Levines’ wife, Freda had just begun work as a campaign manager for the Liberal party.
Mr. Levine’s jogs were the talk of a Jewish/Italian immigrant neighbourhood. Just what was this guy doing?
Mr. Levine’s first jogs were around the block. He wore sneakers, plaid shorts, and a defiant Pierre Trudeau — who was soon to become Prime Minister — chin. The brainy, Mr. Levine was pointing the way. The liberals were sweeping the nation and soon Governor General Roland Michener would be hopping and bopping in a track suit in the name of Participaction Fitness.
Further down our street were the Strauss boys, Danny and David. Their father, Maurice was a tailor from Belgium with a bald head, all thigh, bicep and smiles. Maurice was an Olympic weightlifter at the Macabiah Games: “The Jewish Olympics”. He would take Danny and David to the YMHA with him and they’d lift weights.
Early on my father had offered to take me to the ‘Y’ but it struck me as a damp hospital for old people with gas. There was an old guy in the locker room who’d terrorize you about using a lock, a towel and taking a shower before you went into the pool. There were these cots in tiny rooms you could sleep in after you took a “shvitz” – a sauna. (It was only later in life that I would grow to appreciate saunas-) The showers were moldy, the pool was all chlorine – the general feeling I got was one of being barefoot in a wet bathroom of toilets.
It wouldn’t be till I was a teen and the Young Men’s Hebrew Association had become the Jewish Community Centre that I became a regular.
As a youngster I was given a strong sense of being a Jew in sports – or at least it was imposed on me by both my parents and anti-Semites. Taking part in athletics was not something nice Jewish boys did One day when I was delivering the “anti-Semitic” Toronto Star David Strauss told me he had been to a hockey tryout. This was something I was interested in. I came home to tell my father about it. I don’t remember what equipment I used at that first tryout – but it couldn’t have been much. The tryout was at Woodbridge Arena, which at the time felt like a couple of hundred miles out of Toronto (maybe its downtown now, I don’t know).
I made the team. And that night my father, sister and I went to Soles sporting goods to buy goalie equipment. We would go ‘halves’ on all of the equipment. (This would be the case throughout my hockey days.)
Just a bit about the equipment – the blocker (non-glove hand) was made out of felt, my chest protector was a baseball bat catchers’. I wore used ‘forward’ skates (trying to suit my ankle mechanics to that of an obviously skating disabled other was a cruel form of torture and a first lesson learned-never buy your child used skates.) The team was Avenue Road Boys Sports Club and I would play with them for several years. The boys on the team I tried out for were 10 and I was 7. We were ‘Atoms,’ I believe. The next year David would move on and I stayed behind – the only Jew on the team. This would be the case throughout my minor hockey years. It was nothing I really thought about – but being a Jew and an outsider in sports was something that was reinforced in our home. Jewish athletes were identified and held up as examples. The shining example was Sandy Koufax the L.A. Dodger pitcher who didn’t pitch on Yom Kippur during the World Series. Move over Moses, now there was a mensch.
The incident that stands out in my mind was that of a stick-swinging fight between the Jew, Larry Zeidel and Eddie – Clear the Track-Shack. At the time Zeidel a marginal player was the only Jew in the sport that was my first passion-hockey. Shack was a bit of a doofus and a real crowd favourite. He was also illiterate: the anecdote about this being that he signed his contract with an ‘X’. I remember the picture in the ‘anti Semitic’ Star of blood rolling down both Zeidel’s and Shack’s face. Shack had apparently called Zeidel a “dirty-Jew.”
My father was of the opinion that the entire Leaf organization was anti-semitic. Conn Smythe, Stafford Smythe and Harold Ballard will always be remembered by me -as reinforced by my father as anti-Semites. Needless to say, we were not Leaf fans. We did have Marlie tickets the junior hockey team) though and most Sundays after Hebrew school my father would pick us up and take us to the gardens. I remember Bobby Orr playing for the Oshawa Generals and squirming through listening to The Who sign See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me on the p.a. …this was obviously a dirty song and one I should not be listening to with my father.
In my childhood Toronto was not the multi cultural city that I return to (only occasionally) today. It was the Granite club-which didn’t allow Jews to join, the Leafs, Eaton’s – a wasp city.
I remember once coming back to my father’s car after a hockey practice to ask him what a ‘Christ Killer’ was. One of the Kettle boys had called me that. My father freaked out and we drove home in silence listening to the radio.
As I mentioned, my earliest inspirations of pure athletics were track stars (and Mr. Levine). In 1972 I watched the Munich Olympics with much interest. I’d call them my ‘first’ Olympics. ABC gave us its ‘up close and personal biographies’ of athletes. The thing I wanted to know most about these athletes was how they trained.
The next level of interest for me was athletic gear. What were the athletes wearing? And could I find it? Wearing the stuff would make me feel like an athlete. In the early ‘70s athletic gear was not mass marketed. My first tracksuit was an adidas. A stretchy nylon kind with a stirrup (which I found inexplicably stirring and sexy). I received the track suit for my bar mitzvah. The tracksuit was made in Germany.
In our family we were not allowed to buy German products. The only barely passable proviso was if it was made in ‘West’ Germany. My tracksuit was made in West Germany.
I’d watch the Munich Olympics in my West German adidas tracksuit. These were the games in which Germany would attempt to atone for its’ sins. The backdrop of forgiveness and reconciliation played upon our screens. I remember simply feeling bad that Germany’s history was a problem – as I was enjoying the games so much. Then, sometime in the middle of the games the Olympic village was raided and athletes held hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists. The games were suspended. It was then debated as to whether the games should continue or not. This took place during the high holidays and I remember Rabbi Erwin Shields of the Adath Israel congregation debating whether or not the games should go on. (I was quietly praying to a god whom I hadn’t paid much attention to up to this point-but there I was in shule-that the games should go on.) My father was of the opinion that Avery Brundage, at the time the president of the I.O.C was an anti-Semite and the games would be allowed to go on because Brundage wasn’t all that worked up about the Jews. The games went on.

Image from PLO Munich Masacre of 11 Israeli Athletes

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 1, 2010

Putting the Games to Bed

Good night Quatchi,Expo Ernie & Expo 67

Photo by Grant

Posted by: cedarsurf | March 1, 2010

Holy Exploding Hockey Sticks Batman

The story goes that the word hockey comes from a Mohawk word ‘Hog-he’ meaning the stick. Players would call this out pursuing a puck often made from an animal part. Hockey is as old as hunting and gathering. It is this primal aspect that captivates us.
Once upon a time, all hockey players used wooden sticks.For the longest time these sticks were made by  the players themselves.

A player would cut down an alder or hickory sapling, cut out 3 ft  sections of trunk with branches attached, and file the wood into the desired shape. These first sticks had short handles and small, rounded blades, much like field hockey sticks. Even as play became more organized and stick manufacturing moved from the woodshop to the factory, stick development was slow and evolutionary. First the blades grew longer and squarer, allowing better control of the puck. Then, the shaft grew longer so that players lost the hunched over stance of early games. However, the stick was still fashioned from a single piece of wood, which made it heavy and made the thin blades prone to splitting.

In 1928, the Hilborn Company, a stick manufacturer in Montreal, produced what is acknowledged by some to be the first two-piece hockey stick. The new design, with separate pieces for the blade and shaft, freed stick makers from having to find appropriately shaped lumber and allowed blades to be replaced when they cracked. Separating the blade from the shaft also gave manufacturers new latitude to experiment with the shape and thickness of blades.

From this sprung a host of made in Canada brand hockey sticks Hespeler, Sherwood, Victoriaville, and  Northland .

It was not until the late 1960s that blades took their largest jump in shape change when they began to take on a curve. One story, possibly apocryphal, attributes the design revolution to Chicago Black-hawks star Stan Mikita. The story tells that Mikita, frustrated during practice, was trying to break his stick by jamming it between the player’s bench gate and the boards. The stick would not break, but its blade did bend remarkably. The new curve gave Mikita exceptional control and speed when shooting. Today, every player has his own preference about the amount and placement of the curve, but all blades have it.

The next change came in the 1970s, primarily as a response to increased competition for wood supplies. During that time, foreign demand for ash wood raised prics beyond what stick makers could afford. Typically, only 10% of the wood in a shipment would be of acceptable quality for use in a stick, so manufacturers needed an enormous supply. They began to experiment with lamination as a way to use less and varied types of wood. Ultimately, the cost-cutting measure produced stronger, lighter, more responsive hockey sticks.

In recent years, sticks made of more expensive materials such as Aluminum, Aramid (kevlar), fiberglass, carbon fiber, and other composite materials have become common. In addition to weighing less, composite sticks can be manufactured with more consistent flexibility properties than their wooden counterparts. They also do not have the natural variations that wooden sticks possess therefore a batch of the same sticks will all perform roughly the same. There are die-hard NHL professionals that still like the feel of wood sticks such as Paul Stastny (Son of ice hockey Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny).

These sticks are now used by about 85 percent of NHL players. They come in one piece or two piece sticks, with a shaft and replaceable blades.

I was thinking about sticks after watching the excellent Canada-USA Gold Medal hockey game. I was shocked at how many stick were breaking at weird and invconveneint times- for apparently no reason. What happensthe theory goes is the composite stick builds up tension in it and has no way of releasing it other than breaking. Is a compsite stick really worth this unexpected disaster?

There are no longer wooden hockey sticks made in Canada. Other manufacturers, like Victoriaville, CCM, and Easton, continue to sell wooden hockey sticks but they are made in foreign countries.

After 58 years of making the famous Quebec stick, Sher-Wood, located in Sherbrooke,  will continue to sell wooden hockey sticks but they will come from such far-off places as China, Russia, and Estonia. The game might be ours but the sticks no longer are. Talk about going out on a limb.

Posted by: cedarsurf | February 27, 2010

Tom Williams American

When I was a kid –hockey was a Canadian only game. There was only one American hockey player and his name was Tom Williams.

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Williams was a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team that defeated Czechoslovakia and won the Gold Medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. He scored one goal and had four assists while playing on the second line with Bill Christian and Roger Christian. The Christian brothers would go on to be hockey stick manufacturers.

Williams National Hockey League career began when he joined the Boston Bruins for the 1961–62 NHL season. After eight seasons with the Bruins (and a serious injury in 1968 that almost ended his career), Williams joined the Minnesota North Stars, where he played for a season and a half until he was traded to the California Golden Seals.

After just two seasons with the Golden Seals, Williams jumped to the World Hockey Association to play for the New England Whalers. Upon his return to the NHL, Williams joined the new expansion team Washington Capitals where he led the team in scoring (22 goals, 36 assists), and was involved in the franchise’s first penalty shot on December 5, 1974, against the Buffalo Sabers. Williams retired during the 1975–76 NHL season.

Europeans –Inge Hammastrom and Borje Salming being amongst the first-were light years away.

Despite this limited presence of only one American player it seemed terribly important to me as a child that hockey was Canada’s game. This is well before our identity was reduced to Tim Horton’s and hockey.

I was thinking about this today when I found myself in the women’s bathroom (another Sports Crap moment) at the Panda Gardens Chinese food restaurant here in Cumberland. My son and I were at the restaurant to have a bowl of Won-Ton and watch the third period of the Women’s Gold Medal game between Canada and the U.S.A.

The Men’s can had been occupied for some time and after enquiring with the gentleman in there if he was indeed o.k. I realized I wouldn’t be if I didn’t use the washroom soon. I checked the women’s can and figured what the heck –the only other gal in the restaurant at this point was our waitress. Still I got that mysterious transgressing feeling when entering something marked as women’s territory –is there really anything different about the washroom deal? –well no, but the feeling persisted. I really didn’t want to be caught out.

After successfully emerging from the women’s can undedected I settled in with my son to watch the game with Won-Ton soup and Canada Dry Ginger Ale. It was about five o’clock and customers were coming in for take out. The most frequently asked question about the game being played out on the screen  was: “Is this the men or the women?” (that was going to be my line if caught in the bathroom) And the most common statement was “I hope we beat the Americans.”

A couple of us started talking Olympics in the restaurant and one gal proudly pointed out that the Canadian girls were doing far better than the men. I decided to reduce this to a bumper sticker slogan: “Are you telling me Canadian Girls Kick Ass?”

“You bet! Wohooo!”

It seemed terribly important to her this Canadian girl ass kicking thing. It reminded me of that kid so long ago. And of course I began to wonder why do these things –victories, medals, gender and nationalities matter to us –and when?

I know it was important to my Dad that Joe Louis, his idol knock out Max Schmeling the German boxer. As a Jew from the old country my Dad adopted Louis a black from the new country to the south as some sort of symbol of triumph over the terrible Germans.

I know it was of earth shattering importance to me and millions of Canadians that Canada beat the U.S.S.R in the inital summit meeting  –who were these guys?

Like many Canadian kids I was a hockey player with dreams of the NHL. I played for the Avenue Road Boys Club in Toronto and we often would play in tournaments. These tournaments would include American teams and man would they take a beating. As a goalie it would often be a boring game with us winning by a huge margin. I remember one score, 18-2 and telling my Dad after the game that I felt sorry for the American team.

A few years later as a Pee Wee we would go down to St. Clair Shores, Michigan. It was here that I would learn there were many good American hockey players. We had our hands full. This was the mid-seventies and slowly Americans were beginning to enter the NHL. A few years later there would be the Miracle on Ice with the Americans beating the Russians at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Things further began to blur after Mark Howe son of the legendary Gordie Howe actually played for the Americans in International hockey tournaments.

Take a look at the top 10 American born scoring list Mike Modano, Phil Housley, Jeremy Roenick, Joe Mullen (learned how to play hockey on roller blades) Brian Leetch, Pat Lafontaine (yup of St. Clair Shores, Michigan), Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight and 48 year old Chris Chelios (still playing in the AHL-that’s American Hockey League) and one gets a feel for the depth and breadth of the American presence in the game.

My personal favourite symbol of the globalization of the game is embodied by Scott Gomez a Mexcian-American born in Alaska starring for the Montreal Canadiens’.

Naturally with Canada all set to play the USA tomorrow in the Gold Medal game at the Olympics I began to think of all these things. It is going to be a great game. Sports Crap predicts a 4-3 win in a shoot out. It doesn’t seem to matter to me who wins.

Post Script
I decided to do a little research on Williams.

Williams’ life was marred by personal tragedies that also had a negative impact on his playing career. In November 1970 his wife died suddenly and it was never determined for certain whether her death was due to accident or suicide. Williams, normally a happy-go-lucky free spirit, become moody and fought with North Stars manager Jack Gordon who suspended him before trading him to the Seals. Tragedy struck again after he had retired from hockey, remarried and found a new career when his 23-year-old son Robert (a Boston Bruins prospect) died in 1987. Williams himself died of a heart attack on February 8, 1992, at the age of 51.

Tom this Canadian kid will be thinking of you.

Posted by: cedarsurf | February 26, 2010

Canadian Art Wohoo!

Two links here. One to Danielle Egan’s blog with Canadian Art in which she reviews the Cultural Olympiad -make sure to check out her short video at the end of the blog where she asks Vancouver fans on the street to come up with a chant for Canadian Art.

Also here Mark Leiren-Young’s piece in the Tyee on Fill the Opening Ceremonies with Art Than Cut Them.

Above: Art Work by Brian Jungen

Posted by: cedarsurf | February 26, 2010

Mosi Tatupu,54 R.I.P

Mosi Tatupu, one of the most loved players in New England Patriots history died very unexpectedly of undetermined causes yesterday in Attleboro,Mass.
The Plainsville Fire Dept responded to Tatupu’s home on Tuesday and took him to the hospital where he died.
Tatupu was born in Pago,Pago American Samoa and was a high school football star in Hawaii.
Tatupu was chosen by the Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of Southern California and played 13 out of his 14 NFL seasons with the team. His son Lofa was coached by his Dad in high school and is now a star for the Seattle Seahawks.
The bruising 227-pound fullback rushed for 2,415 yards and 18 touchdoiwns including a career best 578 yards in 1983.
He thrived on snowy and icey fields, running for 128 yards on a snow covered field in a win over New Orleans that season.
While never a superstar, Tatupu was beloved by Patriots fans for his play on kick off and punt teams and even had his own cheering section known as “Mosi Mooses.” He was selected to the 1986 Pro Bowl as a special teams player.
Tatupu was known for his ready smile and good fun. He was remembered by his former teammate New England QB Steve Grogan : “He was one of those guys that made life fun whether it was in the locker room or on the practice fields.
He had a smile that radiated.”

Fun loving fan favourite

Posted by: cedarsurf | February 26, 2010

Zdeno Chara is Very Tall – Slovakian Hockey

Since its divorce from the former Czechoslovakia in 1993 the Slovak men’s national ice hockey team has participated in four Winter Olympics, finishing in a team best of fifth in 2006. They have also appeared in the IIHF World Championships 15 times since 1994, bringing home a gold medal in 2002.

During the 2006 Winter Olympics, Slovakia posted a 5-1 mark, defeating Russia, the United States and eventual gold-medalist Sweden in pool play before losing to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. The country has produced a multitude of big, physical NHL defensemen over the years, and this season was no exception.

The team competing in Olympic ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics is nearly equally split of NHL players and other European based Slovakian born hockey players.

The Slovaks play a Canadian kind of grindy game that includes a tendency to play the boring trap. They can lull an opponent to sleep and turn it on when they need to get that one goal they need in a tight game. They play with an impressive intensity much like the Latvians but with less of their offensive idiosyncrasy and within more of a defensive system.

The Slovaks have already beat two of the most talented teams in the 2010 tournament. Russia (by a score of 2-1) and Sweden (4-3) in the quarterfinals. The defeat of Sweden was referred to by Miroslav Satan “As the biggest achievement so far in the short history of the Slovak Republic.” Which ought to warrant some kind of wild- party and national holiday for the good republic.

The Slovaks don’t have depth on defence or on the forward lines. But they do have many stars on their squad. Jaroslav Halak who has been frustratingly inconsistent with the Montreal Canadiens has stepped up his game and has a 1.97 goals-against average in the Olympics. Halak has the talent to do what American goalie Ryan Miller did — beat Canada all on his own.

The Slovaks (is that what they are called- Slavs-Slovos ? ) are led by Zdeno Chara. The Captain of the Boston Bruins, Chara is the third Slovak Captain to play in the NHL joining Peter Stasny for the Quebec Nordiques (his son Paul born in Quebec City plays for the American Olympic squad) and Stan Makita.

Chara has been nominated for the leagues best defenceman -The Norris Trophy- twice.

Chara has the fastest shot in the league clocking in at 105.4 miles an hour. He plays literally half the game –every other shift and is a mighty as the oak game –changer.

And yes he stands Six –Ten and would make Larry ‘Big Bird’ Robinson, who’s wicked slap shot and rushing defenceman style he shares – appear a mere chickity.

Chara is an intelligent thinking man’s athlete (-thus the Captaincy). And as a side note which speaks to his character supports Right to Play

Marian Hossa is a goal scoring threat as is Marian Gaborik who scored 42 goals for the Wild a few season back. Pavel Demitra the Vancouver Canucks player who had been plagued by injuries and frankly underwhelming with the NHL home team has stepped up his game playing for the homeland.

Slovakia has medaled three times during the last eight years at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship — including a gold medal in 2002.

Here’s a look at NHL.com’s choices of the top 10 Slovaks in the game today. As a side note, forward Miroslav Satan does not appear on the list since he remains an unrestricted free agent.

1. Zdeno Chara, D, Boston — Chara, the two-time winner of the NHL’s Hardest Shot competition, was sixth in the League in average ice time (26:04), second on the Bruins in hits (169) and finished with a career-high 19 goals, 31 assists and a plus-23 rating in 2008-09. He became the third Bruin to capture the Norris Trophy — joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr.

2. Marian Hossa, F, Chicago — Recent surgery to repair a small tear in his right rotator cuff certainly won’t keep him off the Slovak Olympic roster. Hossa led his countrymen in goals (40), points (71), shots (307) and plus/minus rating (plus-27) with Detroit last season. He has 719 points in 775 career games during his 11 NHL seasons.

3. Marian Gaborik, F, New York Rangers — The two-time NHL All-Star has reached 30 goals in five of his eight seasons, including a 42-goal performance in 2007-08. He skated in 502 regular-season games in Minnesota, registering 219 goals and 437 points, before signing with the Rangers this summer. Gaborik made his Olympic debut in 2006, scoring 3 goals and 7 points in six games.

4. Pavol Demitra, F, Vancouver — In his first season with the Canucks, in 2008-09, he had 20 goals and 53 points — his seventh straight season of at least 50 points. It also marked the 10th time in the last 11 seasons Demitra scored at least 20 goals.

5. Michal Handzus, F, Los Angeles — The 6-foot-4, 218-pound center not only finished fourth among Slovakian scorers with 18 goals and 42 points last season, but he was first in faceoff winning percentage, (54.5, on 1,320 attempts), tied for second in takeaways (28), fifth in hits (75), and sixth in blocked shots (69).

6. Lubomir Visnovsky, D, Edmonton — A dislocated shoulder limited him to 50 games in 2008-09, but he still produced at least 30 points for the fourth straight season. Visnovsky, who was voted the best player in Slovakia during the NHL work stoppage in 2004-05, is a key contributor to the Oilers’ power play and a veteran of three Olympics.

7. Andrej Meszaros, D, Tampa Bay — He was second among Slovakian players in average ice time per game (24:10) and amassed 68 hits and 98 blocked shots. Prior to last season, his first season with the Lightning, Meszaros hadn’t missed a game in his first three NHL seasons. He had 16 points in 52 games in 2008-09.

8. Milan Jurcina, D, Washington — Jurcina appeared in a career-high 79 games last season and set personal highs in assists (11) and points (14). He was first on the Caps and among Slovaks with 131 blocked shots and second with 157 hits.

9. Marek Svatos, F, Colorado — The 27-year-old, a top-six forward with the Avalanche, has registered at least 30 points in his four NHL seasons. He had a career-high 32 goals and 50 points as a rookie in 2005-06; he had 14 goals and 34 points last season. Svatos also played in the ’06 Olympics.

10. Jaroslav Halak, G, Montreal — The 271st pick in the 2003 Entry Draft took over as the backup to Carey Price following the trade of Cristobal Huet. He went 18-14-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 34 games last season, and played for Slovakia at the 2007 World Championships.

Should be a gritty grinder Canadian, uh Slovakian style game. Players to watch

Charra! Charra! Charra! (And while we are at it –a word for Charo)

Beware: Havlak having the game of his life and the Slovaks grinding one out. Also note if you haven’t already they have a player named Satan.

Enjoy : On the Canadian side the continued fine play of the young defencemen Drew Doughty , Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook .

It will be fun to watch a game with a definite European league based flair. Sports Crap predicts Canada 4 –Slovakia 2.

Slovaks Nice to Meet You

Game on and Bon Chance!

Posted by: cedarsurf | February 25, 2010

Jesus Was A Hockey Player

Jesus Was a Hockey Player

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