New idea or totally sexist?
The CBC is planning some counter-programming for female non-hockey fans as the Stanley Cup final begins next week, but faced a backlash on Twitter as a slew of posts denounced the idea as sexist.

Viewers can go online to listen to an alternate commentary from Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso, who run WhileTheMenWatch.com. They describe their site as a sports talk show for women, “Sex and the City” meets ESPN, with banter “from a woman’s point of view.”

“One afternoon while (our husbands) were both watching the same game on TV Jules and I were on the phone and we started just making comments to each other like, ’Did you see that guy’s hair?’ and ’What’s going on with that coach wearing the suit four sizes too big for him?”’ said Sutherland of their web show’s inspiration.

“And we kind of thought, ’Wow, this is funny, wouldn’t it be great if we could tune into an alternative version of the commentary from a female perspective?’ And that was kind of where we got the idea.”

Not everyone was happy with CBC’s decision.

“Seriously #CBC? While the Men Watch? I’m a serious sports fan and can go toe to toe with any male fan. Thanks for the patronizing insult,” wrote Laurie Kempton.

Trying Something New, Innovative & Ultimately Grueling

The Boy was recently offered an opportunity to try some cool hockey-related technology.  Technology has invaded hockey like any other sport or walk of life.  Tools have been designed to make you skate faster, shoot harder and supposedly perform at a higher level.  The Boy, admittedly at dad’s urging, thought it would be cool to give this latest one a try.

A local sports/hockey shop has recently installed skating treadmill, which he’s signed on to try with a buddy and former teammate.  The kids in the YouTube video clip we watched looked to be having fun, while presumably improving their skating stride. The were skating, smiling with relative ease. Marketing can be so deceiving sometimes.

The 8×8 treadmill requires participants to be harnessed/tethered from above to keep them from being flung off the end at high speed. It can be set at an incline upwards of a 20 degrees and is, by all accounts, one hard-ass workout. There’s no gliding with this skating unlike its on-ice equivalent. The ultimate purpose of the treadmill is to work specifically on developing a cleaner, more powerful stride. A trainer guides each athlete through a series of endurance, power and explosive acceleration drills.

The first challenge the Boy encountered was simply getting used to the feel and speed of the unit.  Like I said, there’s no gliding — you must keep your feet moving or the treadmill will move you – hence the harness.  Day one on the new contraption and the Boy along with his mates could be seen scrambling and eventually swinging through the air like an astronaut on a gravity-free spacewalk.

The second challenge for the Boy grew out of the fact that he hadn’t been on the ice for a few weeks.  Even 16 year old boys lose something when they shut down for an extended period of time. In this boy’s case, shutdown translates into spending time in his beanbag chair playing Call of Duty on XBox.  Now suddenly, he was being tasked with performing high-impact skating sprints for 20-30 second intervals — uphill.  An onlooker asked my favourite question upon witnessing the obvious strain on the Boy’s face, “What ya been doing that past few weeks?  Eating samwiches?”  During this first session there was a pretty good chance we were going to see exactly what type of samwiches the Boy may have eaten earlier that day. Story simple – the treadmill kicked his ass. In fairness, it should be pointed out that his training companions found themselves in similar straits.  All were quiet, sullen and gasping for air that was apparently not in abundance from their perspective.

A week later (last night) all three skaters looked like they’d gained some comfort and confidence with the machine from their experience the week before. They approached their new-found nemesis with a greater awareness of what they were up against.  The roar of the motor was less intimidating. The streaking surface below was an easier measure. But the work was no less difficult.  One by one they took their turn at the direction of the trainer. Slow to start…a little more speed and incline with each rotation. The expressions of each lad declared their level of effort. The instructor sensed the physical toll the machine was taking; slowing the pace every so slightly. Yet a participant was lost a little past the 1/2 way point in the scheduled hour-long session. Shortly thereafter a second brave soldier fell by the wayside. The Boy, to his credit, somehow worked through the obvious stress of the situation. He told me at once, “Dad, I think I’m gonna puke.”  Then a sip of water sated his thirst and seemingly buoyed his spirits for the last couple of rounds. He was about to quit when the trainer asked if he had enough left in the tank for a quick cool-down. He was pleased to learn he had made it to the end; whereas his comrades were not as fortunate.

The true test of the value of this experiment will be realized tomorrow night when the Boy and one of his partners take to a standard sheet of ice for hockey practice with their Summer team. Flat ice should be a welcome surface by comparison to their mechanical nemesis of the past two weeks. They should welcome the opportunity to push then simply glide.  We’ll see how much difference a couple of weeks of effort and pain makes.

Then next week its back to the pain. We’ll have to see who bows out and who, if any, is able to make it through to the end.  No matter, they will all be somewhat richer for having had the experience.  Of course, the Boy claims that his “old dad” had no idea how hard it is.  In fact, he doesn’t think “old dad” would last a minute on the daunting machine.  With ego firmly engaged, “old dad” may just have to jump on the treadmill to prove the “young lad” otherwise.  There may, or may not, be photo evidence of said event…if/when it should actually come to pass.


Progenic Revenge aka Dads v Boys Part Deux

The end of a hockey season generally culminates with a team party of some description. In the case of the Boy’s team it was decided that the father’s should give their offspring a chance to redeem their pre-season loss at the hands of their proud papas in the Father/Son challenge.  That rematch took place this past weekend.

In the pre-game dressing room banter and on-ice warmup, we on the father’s side were fairly confident we would be able to repeat our prior victory on the strength of our vast combined hockey experience and superior game management.  But we somehow forgot six-months had passed. The Boys were six months older and so were we – a factor which would prove to affect each team in decidedly opposite directions.  The Boys played like they had gained six-months experience playing together against a high level of competition along with six-months worth of post-pubescent muscle, agility and speed; while our ragtag group of fathers had simply become six-months older.

Within a couple of minutes of the initial puck drop, the Boys were tic-tac-toeing their way to a two-goal lead.  I, for one, was questioning the advisability of scheduling three 20-minute, running time periods.  Having not played for a few weeks, I was fairly certain a single 20-minute, running time period would be enough of a challenge for those of us on the other side of 40.  Our saving grace was our teenage goaltender, who filled in for our previous keeper who wasn’t able to attend.  Our young netminder made some great saves to keep the score closer than it should have been on the back-end of several odd man rushes by our able opponents.  We did get scoring chances of our own, but the 15 year old goaler we faced, turned our shots away with veritable ease.

The scoreboard revealed the lopsided nature of our game as we entered the third period. Only some very questionable off-sides and penalty shots called in our favour by our father-friendly ref allowed us to artificially cut the score to 9-7.  We also had a sympathetic father running the clock.  Enthusiastic mothers chirping from the stands above were quick to let us know that the real score was somewhere in the 12-7 range.  Who would have ever thought they’d cheer louder for their sons than their husbands?

At the end of the trouncing; and indeed it was a trouncing; the victorious Boys took back the coveted cup we had so proudly, if not nefariously, earned only months earlier. They mimicked so many previous championship teams by kissing the cup, raising it high above their heads and taking it for a couple of victory laps around the rink.  Some fathers hung their heads in semi-feigned shame.  Other clutched their backs or wondered aloud how their unaccustomed muscles would feel the next morning.

After the game players, moms and we severely ego-tarnished dads retired to a local establishment for wings and beer of both the root (for the Boys) and the un-root (for the thirsty Dads) variety.  After some memories of the season past were shared by players and coaches alike there was one final declaration to uncap what was meant to be a capped season. Without need for consultation with his battered teammates, the head coach proclaimed that the Boys’ victory only served one real purpose; to tie the series at one game apiece; which of course summoned the need for a customary rubber match.  All I can say is that match better come sooner rather than later as our age-induced father/son chasm ain’t gettin any smaller.  We’ll be sure to sign up the same short-sighted ref and occasionally forgetful time-keeper as ballasts against another trouncing.  In Game 3, we will no doubt need all the help we can get.


We’re Number Two (But One in Our Hearts)!

The Devil and her Shark teammates certainly had an eventful tournament weekend.  After a slow start with a 1-0 loss followed by a 0-0 tie in round robin play, the girls just kept getting stronger with a 4-2 quarterfinal win, a 4-3 shootout win in the semi-finals. The rollercoaster three-day event ended with a heartbreaking, albeit inspiring, 5-4 overtime loss in a turbulent final.  A final that would have the team watch their captain leave the ice on a stretcher after suffering a season-ending injury, but still manage to come back from two 2-goal deficits and hold a lead going into the last two minutes of the game. More details to follow as the weekend wore this father/temporary assistant coach out.  For now I’ll let the smiles in the photo tell the story of an overall successful, team and character-building effort.