Thursday, March 25, 2010
I want to start with some thank-you's first of all...
- Thanks to Regina for hosting us the last three days and doing a heck of a job in the process. To the Pats staff, Danny, Cliff, Athletic Therapist Greg and Equipment Manager Leigh. You all made the process easy and worked hard behind the scenes.
- Thanks to the Broncos organization...including the guys I spend the most time with like Butter, Mark and Timmy. Brenda, Carol, Keegan, Jordan and Derek in the office...it was another fun year.
- Thanks to the radio station staff, including game producer Nevan "The Champ" Chamney, colorman Tim Tisdale, Ken Audette and Ryan Switzer who filled in at times this season.
- To the Brandon Wheat Kings for showing some class in victory at the end and to Head Coach/GM Kelly MacCrimmon for tracking me down in the broadcast booth for a post-game hand-shake. A good luck to them as they pursue the Memorial Cup.
- To the Broncos graduating players Matt Tassone, Derek Claffey and Michael Stickland - a good luck wish as well. More on them later....
So the season is over. An overtime goal...which they call sudden death for a reason.
This may like a bit of an eye-rolling statement but the end of a season can feel similar to a break-up with your girlfriend. You get into a routine, you get comfortable...you know what you're doing every weekend, and then just like that everything gets flipped upside down.
It can be a bit of a transition. Personally it takes me about a month to gear down and get into off-season mode.
There's only two parts of the year for those in the hockey biz... the season and the off-season. Both can be polar opposites.
The playoffs are only fun when you win come to think of it.
There's nothing more exciting in the hockey world than winning a series and moving on. Living to play another day, not knowing what the next challenge will be.
Packing up, saying good-bye and blogging about the end of the season just plain sucks to be honest.
We had fun in Regina though.
Checked out some great little lunch places downtown Crave and Beer Brothers Inc. We even rounded up the entire crew including some other media folks to the Press Box Sports Bar for a post game-three gathering. Too bad they locked it up before midnight. Maybe I should have found out where the training/equipment staff ended up instead....
Regina was good to us this week. I suppose it would be good if I jumped on a treadmill in the near future...
Ryan Switzer joined me in the booth for the two games at the Brandt Center. It was good having him around aside from all the Transformer sound effects coming from his phone every email, text or twitter tweet he received. Honestly Switz you have to change that up...
Ryan and I often joke we could get on the banquet tour entertainment bill when all is said and for all the stories and things we've encountered over the years. There was another incident for the ages.... but we will save that one for the after dinner crowd ten years down the road...
Funny moment in last night's game. During the radio time-out in the third period I heard the gun-shot from ice level as the promotional crew shot sponge pucks and t-shirts into the crowd.
Out of my peripheral vision as I sat, I saw this yellow blur racing towards me. I looked up and reacted like it was gonna smoke me in the face. It's tough to avoid looking awkward in that startling moment. The puck glanced off the front of the radio booth. The guys in the WHL video replay/ referee supervisor booth saw it all happened and had a good laugh at me.
To make matters worse I looked down at the Bronco bench and they saw it all happen too. Mark and Tim were laughing pretty good on the bench. F Micheal Hay saw me back at the hotel and told me to "watch out for pucks eh".
In my seven years I've been smoked by three t-shirts and numerous "yellow" pucks. Can you blame me for being a little jumpy?
To the three 20 year-olds. I made the comment last night on the air that these three guys are going to be succesful in life because they are simply outstanding individuals. As human beings they don't come much better in the Western Hockey League.
Assistant Coach Tim Kehler took some time to address the three in our post-game show and did a really good job with his thoughts.
For me the graduating players remind you of just how quick time flies. These guys are through the system in a flash. Gone.
Matt Tassone. As Kehler said post-game, some good fortune is sure to be headed Matt's way soon. He's had some serious injuries which cut his last two seasons short including both playoffs.
I remember a young and energetic Matt Tassone jumping on the bus as a 16 year-old at 3am in the morning at a Husky truck stop just outside of Edmonton. Mid-way through the season the team was ravaged with injuries, we picked up Taz on the way to Prince George to begin our U.S. swing. Can't believe that was in December of 2005.
Matt is set to head down to Dallas soon to meet with the Stars. His neck injury will take time to heal.
Derek Claffey. What a nice guy. As a 16 year-old at training camp the Broncos wanted to keep him. After weighing his options, Claff returned for another season of Junior "A" in Alberta before joining the Broncos for his 17 year-old season.
What a warrior.
Claff played against all the best players in the league in a shutdown capacity and may have an opportunity to play pro hockey next season.
As a rookie he had the respect of all his teammates. The respect only grew as he got older.
Michael Stickland. 20 going on 35. A mature kid who just gets it. Wise behind his years.
A speedy, gritty player who never let size stand in his way of his WHL career.
A top-six skilled forward, master shot-blocker and PK specialist. Stickland can play the game any way you want to play it. I hope he gets a shot at pro somewhere. I have a feeling he'll be just fine
Stick is just a good guy to be around.
He was one of the last guys off the ice last night. I'm sure it was an emotional moment for him as he waved to the crowd before stepping off and disappearing under the awning,
I'll continue to watch the playoffs and recap the season. The players will be around a couple days before going their separate ways.
F Cody Eakin will likely head to the AHL to join the Hershey Bears - the Washington Capitals affiliate. There could be other pro opportunities, I'll keep you posted.