September 24th, 2016

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Team North America 2016

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This is probably the most frequently asked question I’ve been asked in the last few days:


“What the heck is this Team North America?”


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The U.S. fans don’t have a big interest in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. It is being shown on the ESPN and I seriously doubt that the ratings are impressive. With the Team USA 0 pts in their three games in Toronto, I seriously think that the viewership here is close to nothing. But…


“What the heck is this Team North America?”


That question bothers many. My explanation about under 23 team sheds some light but still…


“Oh, OK. Does it mean that Americans under 23 can’t play for Team USA? Does Canada have players under 23?”


Actually, it’s a reasonable question.


I think the new experimental teams were fantastic but the process of selection criteria confused some people.


Now, the idea of gimmicks like this isn’t new. For example, Team Canada was represented at the 1978 Izvestia Cup by the team called NHL Future Stars.


38 years afterwards, we can look at the roster of Team Canada 1978 and most of the players didn’t really become super stars in the NHL.


At the Izvestia Cup in 1978, they lost to the Soviets 3-9 and the game is mostly remembered by the bench clearing brawl shown on the shocased photo. We wrote about it in the 19 vs 19 article. Dwight Foster went on to a decent career of a tough guy and I still wonder how he couldn’t manage to win the fight with Helmut Balderis who wore contact lenses and was least of all known as an expert in hockey fights.


Team North America became favorites of many fans based on their play.


Perhaps, Dylan Larkin and Connor McDavid will have a more impressive career than the guys in 1978.


 

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Before the Race

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Just an old photo made at the Suffolk Downs back in September 2012.


Folks of the Suffolk Downs are loaded with information sources before the next race begins. The challenge is to read and compile the info right – from the programs in the hand to the view of the horses at the warm-up.


One may call it horse racing analytics in action.


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Now and Then (1972-2016): The Rivalry

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The Canada vs. Russia hockey games are the biggest hockey rivalry with a long history.


Times are different with over 4 decades past the 1972 Summit Series.


In 1972, it was a prime time of the Cold War.


For Phil Esposito, it was a war. He and his teammates hated their opponents.


Bobby Clarke deliberately injured Valery Kharlamov. Today, the Slash episode is a dividing point between Team Canada 1972 players as the lowest point of the series. Back then, it was part of the effort to come back from loosing to the Soviets in the series.


Pete Mahovlich assaulted the Soviet police officers with a hockey stick when he saw Alan Eagleson being escorted from the Luzhniki Arena.


Who will raise their hockey stick today to release the “Eagle” from the law enforcement today? Stan Mikita said a few years ago that they should have locked him up in Moscow and threw the keys away forever.


Things are different now.


Today Russians are playing in the NHL. Canadians are playing in the KHL.


Sydney Crosby has been playing with Yevgeny Malkin for years in Pittsburgh. Tonight he is playing against him in the semifinal game of the 2016 WCH in Toronto.


It ain’t a war anymore. It is an on-ice rivalry.


The cover photo of the rivalry in 1972 is the battle between Phil Esposito and Alexander Ragulin. Two big men that didn’t know each other before the 1972 Summit Series. They are on the edge. They might kill each other. No doubts.


The cover photo of the rivalry today is Sydney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin.


It was two best players in the world in their rookie season competing for the Calder Trophy.


It’s Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals.


It’s a contest for the Art Ross Trophy.


But it’s not a live-or-die war on the ice anymore.


Team Canada is facing Team Russia tonight.


It’s one of the most exciting hockey rivalries in the history of sports.


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Late Dinner In the Yard

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Last night a family couple of cardinals stopped by for a late dinner.


Needless to say, these guys come to see us at 5 a.m. and at 8 p.m.


They are gorgeous but sometimes I think it’s great that we cater only food for them.


Entertainment would have been a burden. I can’t imagine myself  singing and dancing at 5 a.m.


“No entertainment necessary,” said Mrs. Cardinal.


“Good night, guys,” summarized Mr. Cardinal and they both left the premises.


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Now and Then (1972-2016): Da Da Canada

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That was a chant Canadian fans supported their team at the Moscow Luzhniki Arena in September 1972:


“Da da – Canada. Nyet nyet – Soviet!”


Team Canada was down in the series 1-1-2 when they went to Moscow for the second part of the 1972 Summit Seties and that chant was a special connection between Canadians in Moscow, between the fans and the player on the ice,


Celebrating the 44th Anniversary, we have to realize that the eyewitnesses of  the 1972 Summit Series are now at least 45+. Most of them have half of the century experience of watching the game and cheering for their team.


They have PhD in hockey following. They’ve seen it all!


The majority of Canadian fans watching the games at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey today were not even born in 1972.


Yet, the hockey nation know and remembers the heroics of Team Canada 1972 and all will get a sip of Molson in these days in honor of Paul Henderson goal scored in September 1972.


Cheers! Go Canada!