this week: greatest belgian hockey stories + the most thankless job

The House That Smythe Built: Heritage Toronto and Ryerson University unveiled a plaque on Thursday, November 14, to commemorate the Leafs' first home, now reborn as Ryerson's Mattamy Athletic Centre and ... a Loblaws. (Drawing by Ross and Macdonald, architects. The Journal, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, viii, October 1931)

The House That Conn Built: Heritage Toronto and Ryerson University unveiled a plaque on Thursday, November 14, to commemorate the Leafs’ second home, now reborn as Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre and … a Loblaws.
(Drawing by Ross and Macdonald, architects. The Journal, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, viii, October 1931)

The Hall of Hockey’s Fame opened its doors to five new members this week, as reported in The Bangkok Post.

At the ceremony in Toronto, Scott Niedermeyer’s smoothness was recalled. “It was fun to be his teammate,” said Scott Stevens.

Ken Daneyko said he was effortless, graceful, “like a thoroughbred.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Brendan Shanahan “my personal favourite.” Shanahan, of course, is the league’s Senior Vice President responsible for Player Safety — or, as Bettman called it, “the most thankless job.”

“I think his contributions to the game based on what he’s doing now will even exceed what he did in the 21 years he played,” Bettman said.

Shanahan said that Geraldine Heaney is tough and talented. Also that Ray Shero’s gentlemanliness is a tribute to his father, Fred.

“He’s just a good man,” Gretzky said of the final inductee, Chris Chelios.

Brian Leetch: “I always tell people that Chris Chelios is America’s version of Mark Messier.”

“They’re similar in that they love the game and have a passion for it. They love to compete and winning and doing things as a group are very important to them.

“They played with an edge, whether it was a stick up or a glove in the face. They would drop the gloves if they had to. You knew if you were in a competition with either of them it wasn’t always going to be clean and you were going to get the worst of it because they would not back down.”

The took the time to check in on Mike Keenan in Russia and he’s doing fine. He’s coaching Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and the team is near the top of the standings in the KHL’s Eastern Conference.

His new favourite food item, Keenan owned, is Russian pizza, which is sometimes topped with mackerel and red herring. New favourite Russian saying?

Spasibo, which means thank you,” Keenan said. “Also, dobroe utro, which means good morning.”

From The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle we learned, this week, what the new Buffalo coach told his players after the first period against Toronto. Said a Sabre source of Mirtle’s: “Ted came in and told us ‘You guys are garbage.’”

Detroit’s coach, Mike Babcock, is getting a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from his alma mater, McGill University in Montreal, next week, on Monday, November 25.

A former hockey co-captain of the McGill Redmen, Babcock (BEd ’86) is being cited for “coaching winning teams” and “the achievement of excellence,” which is, according to a McGill press release, “the subject of his 2012 book, Leave No Doubt, highlighting the theme that one cannot accomplish great things without facing great adversity and making peace with uncertainty.”

WGR 550 Sports said that many of Buffalo’s players had been looking “like beaten down zombies for weeks.” Which explains, in part, why the team fired general manager Darcy Regier this week along with coach Ron Rolston, replacing them with Pat Lafontaine and Nolan, respectively. They won their first game they played under new management, against Toronto on Friday.

“It felt great out there,” said team captain Steve Ott, “it really did feel awesome. I really liked our team game tonight. A lot of guys did a lot of sacrificing.”

At Hockey Hall of Fame, Brendan Shanahan said that when his father first signed him up to play hockey, he was the worst player in the entire league. He didn’t know; he loved it.

He said how great it was to feel like a hockey player again. “You miss it.” He told John McEnroe, who was there, sorry, but team sports are better than individual games.

“We are in a unique brotherhood,” he said, also. “No-one knows what it’s like to be an NHL player except us.”

Ray Shero said his dad was an avid reader of Shakespeare and Dickens. When he played for the New York Rangers in the 1950s, he said he was first member of the team to own a  card from the New York Public Library card.

He claimed to have read Anatoly Tarasov’s book The Road To Olympus more than a hundred times.

The Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation has launched a brand new website, Joeri Loonen reported this week at It has “more content” and “a fresh new look.”

Not a big Belgian hockey fan? Loonen says there are more than 1,000 registered players in the country, with the men’s national team holding firm in the world rankings at 34th.


In its existence of over 100 years, many noteworthy stories have occurred. One which is still notorious is that of the Royal Belgian Ice Cream Federation. The story happened round about October 15th, 1996. A parcel was sent to the federation by delivery service and labelled: “Kon. Belg. Ijsk. Fed. (Roy. Belg. Ice. Fed.) – Secret. Generaal Mad. J. Clement – Tremelo”. The driver translated this as Royal Belgian Ice Cream Federation and started his quest, but obviously had to return home unsuccessfully that night. Nevertheless, the driver persisted the next day and went out again, this time enquiring with the local post office first where this funny mistake was recognized immediately.

In Montreal, the new mayor made some people mad — including the entire roster and coaching staff of the Canadiens.

During Montreal’s game with the New York Islanders last Sunday, Denis Coderre tweeted that what struggling Montreal centre David Desharnais needed was “a one-way ticket to Hamilton.”

“I’m very, very upset about that,” said Max Pacioretty, later. Coach Michel Therrien, said the tweet was “inappropriate.”

After sitting out the next game as a healthy scratch, Desharnais returned on Friday to score the shoot-out winner in a 3-2 win over Columbus.

Mayor Coderre was quick to tweet:

Yesssss! Bravo David 🙂

Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos fell into a goalpost this week, which broke his right tibia. He had surgery in Boston, gaining a titanium rod, permanently. “Nice to be back home in tampa,” he tweeted after he’d been released to fly south. “Can’t thank all the staff at Mass General enough for all their hard work and dedication the past 4 days!”

Because he was aided in his fall by a Boston defenceman, the question arose: dirty play by Dougie Hamilton?

Nope, said former referee Kerry Fraser at, just an accident.

The Tampa Bay Times talked to his coach, Jon Cooper. “It’s an awful situation you hope to never see again,” Cooper said. “But he did it working his tail off. I’m so proud of him.”

“Guys are going to have to step up,” said Martin St. Louis. “We’re all well aware of what kind of piece we lost, but we have to move forward collectively.”

Cooper, again: “That Monday night, Jon Cooper held a pity party, 100 percent. But when I woke up the next day, that was it. It was over. It’s game on.”

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin announced that Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov is innocent of the kidnapping and assault charges laid against him in Denver after an alleged attack on his girlfriend.

“I’m well acquainted personally with Semyon,” Tyutin told R-Sport. “He’s a pretty upstanding, tactful guy. When I heard all this, I immediately understood it was blown out of proportion.”

In Edmonton, Nail Yakupov wasn’t happy, this week, with how little he was playing and so his agent, Igor Larionov, flew in to talk to Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish about it.

Don Cherry wasn’t happy, for one. “I hate to say this — he’s a coach-killer.”

Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal talked to Larionov when he got in, before he met MacTavish. “We have a nice relationship,” he said. “He played the game, I played the game.”

“I want to help the kid. He loves it here. He wants to do better.

“I was a centre, I played the old-style, two-way game and he is a goal-scorer. Look at Bure when he was in Vancouver. Makarov and Krutov didn’t play defence either. I was doing the dirty job for them. Makarov and Krutov would be high, waiting for the pass to take off.”

Dallas’ Russian rookie Valeri Nichushkin told R-Sport that playing the NHL is harder than it appears.

“When I watched TV it all looked so easy, but now as I play here, I understand how difficult is it, how much effort you need just to steal the puck. Sometimes, you think you’ve already won the puck, but one moment later and it’s already gone. I will train hard, work in the gym and everything will come.”

“We were twenty guys that didn’t even like each other,” recalled Jim Craig, goalie for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team in his latest column for Ria Novosti. Mike Babcock would be proud, though, at what happened next:

Through hard work, preparation and trust in each other, we became a family who truly cared about one another. Team bonding didn’t happen overnight, but the result of the bonding has lasted for more than thirty years.

In Wales, the Cardiff Devils released Andrew Conboy, who’s been sitting out his third suspension of the season, 12 games this time for “an attempted eye gouge.”

Coach Brent Pope had said he’d stick by Conboy, because it was good for team morale. But … times change. “I love Andrew Conboy,” Pope told Wales Online. “He is a fantastic player, he has tremendous potential. But I can’t take the risk of something happening again in the future.”

In Saturday’s game against Toronto, Buffalo’s big John Scott was mad about … something. He was thrown out of the game in the third period along with the Leafs’ Frazer McLaren, whom he didn’t quite fight, after trying to hit Dion Phaneuf, but not really.

“All of a sudden I’m not allowed to hit him anymore,” Scott said. “He’s Princess Phaneuf. It’s a joke.”

One of the people who disappointed Don Cherry this week was Toronto’s marauding mayor, Rob Ford. Cherry thought he should straighten up. The other was a Maple Leaf, Nazem Kadri. Brendan Shanahan suspended him for three games this week, after he ran over Minnesota’s goalie, Niklas Backstrom.

“Smarten up, Kadri,” Cherry advised. “Nazem, you know what I think of you, but you played stupid.”