Why Isn’t Ice Hockey Played More Around the World?

When you think about ice hockey and the great players that are involved, you think Canada, the US and maybe Russia. Other countries don’t enjoy the sport nearly as much as these do, and for a number of reasons, the main being their too busy playing hockey on the grass.

The Difference Between Ice Hockey and Field Hockey

You don’t need to be an expert to understand the fundamental difference between the two sports. One is played on a sheet of ice, while the other is played out on grass or another less brutal turf. This is likely why only countries like have learned to live with ice and snow have figured out a way to have fun with it.

While our minds are obsessing over ice hockey and the Stanley Cup, the majority of the rest of the world is making a really big deal over field hockey. This sports origins can be traced back over 4,000 years, evidenced by tomb drawings found in the Nile Valley. International events take place all over the world, all year round, with various countries and cities taking their position very seriously.

In India’s Chhattisgarh, the chief minister is so concerned about their local teams future that he has proposed an academy that focuses its attention on learning two sports, field hockey and archery. This may seem like an odd combination, but learning how to shoot a recurve bow and arrows for beginners has also become a highly coveted sport around the world. And that is not just in the warmer countries, Canadians and Americans are also going crazy over recurve bows and arrows.

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Another major difference in the sports is the number of players. While in ice hockey there may be up to 12 players out in play at any given time, field hockey allows for 22, or 11 for each team. Plus in ice hockey the net is significantly smaller, adding even more challenge to the game. The shape of the puck, and the movement of the players makes ice hockey a faster paced sport overall.

While the names are similar, there is no confusing the two sports once you have become familiar with one. Ice hockey is quick and painful, with an emphasis on painful, while field hockey is laid back and not all that exciting to watch. Bear in mind that this comes from a die-hard Rangers fan.

Did Someone Really Try and Ban Beards From the 2015 NHL Playoffs?

The NHL may never be the same now that NBC is in the picture. ESPN gets sports, and more importantly, the players that we idolize in a way that NBC never will. Just take a look at what they had to say about the time honored tradition of big beards during the playoffs.

Apparently the head of NBC Sports thinks that all of this beard growing is getting in the way of marketing, as if the die hard fans really care. According to a report by Sporting News, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus told the “Chicago Tribune” that he went so far as to lobby NHL executives, NHLPA executives and even certain players to “cut their playoff beards so we can see their pretty faces”. Right, because these guys are in the playoffs because they look good. What does he think, the NHL is the male version of the Miss America pageant?

In a quote made public, this is exactly what Lazarus had to say on the subject of beards, playoffs and NHL players:

“The players won’t like this, but I wish they all would stop growing beards in the postseason,” Lazarus said. “Let’s get their faces out there. Let’s talk about how young and attractive they are. What model citizens they are. (Hockey players) truly are one of a kind among professional athletes.

“I know it’s a tradition and superstition, but I think (the beards do) hurt recognition. They have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, ‘That guy looks like the kid next door,’ which many of these guys do. I think that would be a nice thing.”

WTH? “That guy looks like the kid next door”? That guy looks like an athlete so focused on winning the cup that he doesn’t give two hoots how he looks, or if he is easily recognized by fans. That’s what the name on the back of the jersey is for.

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Is there any sort of competitive edge that playing hockey clean shaven may have? Maybe you can make a half hearted argument for aerodynamics, but that’s nothing a healthy layer of beard balm wouldn’t fix. The fact is, NHL players like to grow beards, and it has become something of a sport within the sport as they compete amongst themselves to see who can ditch the beard trimmer and grow the best one.

In the end, Lazarus admits that no one is going to take his suggestion seriously anyway. So at least we know he has at least a partial understanding for how hockey works.

5 Amazing Benefits of Summer Sport Camps

If you have a kid that is developing a special talent in a sport, you may be wondering how you can foster its growth. School programs are good, but a summer camp program geared towards the sport they love provides valuable benefits that are not found at school. Whether it’s hockey, baseball or even archery that your child is interested in, you should be considering these benefits of sending them to a sports camp:

  • Your kids stay active when you send them to a sports summer camp, as opposed to letting them veg in front of the X-box all day. From learning how to put up a tent with all the pegs and tarps, to daily practices, they are getting a healthy dose of exercise consistently.
  • Self-discipline is fostered at a sports summer camp. Not only will they be expected to excel in their sport, they will have to learn valuable lessons on surviving a week or two without you. Being a part of a campsite will make them accountable for how they maintain their own family tent and sleeping bag, take care of their belongings and keep up with their personal hygiene.
  • A summer sports camp is going to have superior equipment and advanced training techniques, allowing your kid access a well rounded program that will help them to become a better athlete in the sport they love.
  • Child athletes in a summer sports program get a different perspective of the sport from caring mentors who have specialized expertise in the activity they are interested in. With this higher level of coaching, your kid develops the confidence and self-esteem needed to become a sought after athlete.
  • Summer sports programs are fun. Kids get the whole camping experience of sleeping in tents and cooking on a camping stove, while developing valuable skills and knowledge about teamwork and the value of working hard. Not only will your child be playing sports extensively, they will get the chance to take nature hikes, swim and make arts and crafts projects.
Titan Sports Camp 2005 by Patrick O'Donnell
Titan Sports Camp 2005 by Patrick O’Donnell

What you need to send your kid off with will depend on the individual program, but you may need to buy them some basic camping supplies in addition to their sports gear. Check online review sites for affordable tents, sleeping bags and backpacking backpacks to make sure they are well prepared with quality gear. Don’t forget a compass just in case all the fun they are having causes them to lose their way to get back home.

NHL Free Agency Period 2015

"Brandon Saad - Chicago Blackhawks" by Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA - IMG_7619. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks” by Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA – IMG_7619. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Each year in the NHL, a player who’s contract is up ends on July 1st. This means that on the same day, many players are looking for new places to play the following season. It is a busy day as NHL General Managers try and convince the best players available to come play for their team, while also trying to figure out if they can afford them. There are three days each year that drastically alter what an NHL roster looks like – Trade Deadline Day, Draft Day, and Free Agency Day. This is the day when GMs look at what is missing on their teams, and try to find free agent players that fit that mold. Some years there are superstars on the market, and there will be many teams competing to try and sign the player. If a GM makes smart moves on Free Agency Day, he can set his team up for success in the future. Failure to sign the players you need however, or signing players that are not a good fit, can lead to failures. This year, there are not as many big names hitting the open market, but that will not stop the GMs from pursuing them. Below is a quick summary of what to expect come Free Agency Day.

– Matt Belesky is considered by many to be the best forward that will be available on July 1st. However, this says more about the Free Agency class than it does about Belesky. While Belesky is a good player, he does not put up the big numbers like other players in the league. But since he is the best option on the market, he can expect a rather large payday. It is almost guaranteed that some General Manager will pay him more than he is worth simply because they are desperate to improve their club.

– There are several players who are restricted free agents this summer, and this may lead to some GMs worrying about offer sheets. With a restricted Free Agent, they can listen to offers from other teams and sign a contract with them, but their original team has the right to either match the offer and keep the player, or receive compensation in the form of draft picks if they choose to let the player go. One big name that could be given an offer sheet is Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are already spending a lot of money on their other players, and as such they do not have a lot of room. Saad is a skilled, young player that most teams in the league would love to have. Knowing Chicago’s salary problems, they may hope to sign him away, or at the very least make it harder for Chicago to other players into the roster.

– Lastly, it will be interesting to see where Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green ends up. At one point Green was one of the most electrifying players on the ice, but his play has dipped over the past few seasons. With Washington unlikely to be able to afford him, some team will most likely pay him a lot of money to sign with them. It remains to be seen however if Green can regain his old form and live up to the contract he is likely going to get.

2015 NHL Draft Summary

"Nicklas Jensen 2011 NHL Draft" by Bri Weldon - 29 Nicklas Jensen Shakes. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Nicklas Jensen 2011 NHL Draft” by Bri Weldon29 Nicklas Jensen Shakes. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This past weekend the NHL held its annual entry draft. In it, young prospects are selected by the NHL teams, who will retain their rights for the next several years. Each year the teams spend countless man hours scouting out these prospects in order to find out which are the best ones, and who would make the best addition to their team. There are 7 rounds, in which each team is given one pick depending on how high they finished in the standings. However, throughout the course of the year teams can trade these picks for other picks or players. This creates an interesting day as teams are drafting out of position, or trying to move up and down the list in order to get the player that they want before he is gone. The NHL draft is also one of the main days that NHL General Managers make trades with other teams to try and improve their rosters for the upcoming season. Since every GM is in the same room for an entire weekend, it is the perfect time to make deals. This year saw several large deals taking place over the weekend, along with the drafting. Below is a quick recap of some of the highlights.

– As expected, Connor McDavid went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid is seen as a once in a lifetime player, and is projected by many to be the next superstar in the league. The Oilers won the draft lottery, which gave them the first pick in the draft, and there was no question who they were going to select. McDavid, combined with several other young players that the Oilers have acquired over the past few years, is going to give that team a very dangerous young core for many years.

– Right by McDavid came Jack Eichel. Every report was that Eichel was the next best player in the draft, and that he would most likely go to the Buffalo Sabres. This turned out to be true, and Buffalo was thrilled to select him. In any other draft Eichel probably would have went first overall, and only dropped a spot this year because of McDavid. He will most likely be on the Sabres roster come training camp, and will help to lead a newly re-vamped Sabres roster that hopes to compete in the wide open Eastern Conference.

– Rounding out the top 5 was Dylan Strome to the Arizona Coyotes, Mitch Marner to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Noah Hannifan to the Carolina Hurricanes. Arizona selected Strome as they need a big centerman to compete in the Western Conference. Marner is a skilled playmaking right wing, and Toronto couldn’t pass up the chance to grab him. Hannifan was considered the best defenseman in the draft, and Carolina was thrilled to have him drop so far. He should anchor their blue line for many years.

– Moving down further in the draft, the Boston Bruins had 3 straight picks in the first round, an NHL first, after making several trades earlier in the day. After trading away key players, and making some questionable selections with those picks, it has left many fans wondering what the direction of this club is going to be.