Friday, 30 September 2011

Gauging all the NHL's suspensions

Bobby Roy

The National Hockey League's (NHL) newest disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan, has been busy for the latter part of September, handing out eight suspensions in eight days.

The question is: Has the NHL's new whip-cracker, Shanahan, been handing out too many suspensions on some questionable calls this preseason?

Having seen all of the hits and video of the players who have received the suspensions, they are warranted for sure, but eight suspensions in eight days?

I hope this is not a sign of things to come in the regular season, which is less than a week away.

Of the eight players who have received suspensions, only James Wisneiwski and Jody Shelley are repeat offenders, which may be a good sign players are starting to learn what is a legal hit and what hits have gone too far.

The difference between the preseason and the regular season are the amount of different players teams put out on the ice in each game. Some of these players aren't going to be top line players, who are counted on to score or provide highlight passes game in and game out.

The players who don't have a guaranteed spot on an NHL team's roster are looking to make their mark. And what better way to show the coaching staff they can play at the NHL level than making a big hit and playing with their heart on their sleeve.

Unfortunately, as we've seen in some of the hits resulting is suspensions already, these players looking to make their mark went a little too far. It's tough to fully blame them, because some of these players aren't used to the NHL game speed and they get caught up in the emotion of the game.

What they will learn from these suspensions is the NHL and Shanahan are going to suspend players for a lengthy period for any kind of hit to the head. And that's a good thing.

But it also seems like some players aren't playing the game like they were in the past. A lot of the time players are turning into the boards before a hit or they're not keeping their heads up as they glide across centre ice.

Hockey is a physical game and players are taught to finish checks and punish those for watching their beautiful pass.

I'm not saying players should be looking to destroy each other with a hit to the head, but players should be more aware as they skate through the middle of the ice or near the boards. They should be prepared to get hit and that seemed more apparent back in old days when padding wasn't as near protective as it nowadays.

Be more aware is all I'm saying. Turning into the boards may turn into a powerplay chance, but it also may result in an injury, or even worse, paralysis.

When the regular season begins, there probably won't be as many suspensions in such a short period of time (hopefully), but only time will tell.

The one thing that is for sure is that Shanahan is doing a great job trying to get as many of these cheap hits to the head out of the game as possible.

The short video explanation on each suspension is also great for the NHL and its fans too. More information the better.

Last season proved to be a new era for the amount of suspensions handed out for head shots in the league, so it will be interesting to see if this season follows suit.

Hopefully it doesn't mean suspension after suspension will be handed out this year, resulting in players not playing like they usually would.

Players, fans, coaches and anyone else connected to hockey shouldn't see NHL stand for the No Hitting League.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Psyched to see my first psychic

Kidney stones, a strong career and surprise surprise, money in my future were all of the things talked about by the psychic I went to see during the Leduc Psychic Fair.

I’ll admit, I was quite skeptic about going to a psychic and what they would tell me that I didn’t already know, but I left there with a little bit more optimism and a little bit less money.

First off, I didn’t expect two psychics to say the same thing to me. I only paid for one reading but apparently the fact that I have a Vitamin B12 deficiency ‘radiates’ from my aura and compelled one of the psychics to stop mid-interview just to tell me.

“It’s not a really bad thing, but I do see something to do with your kidneys and it is something you should watch out for,” she said in a slightly ominous tone.

“Ummm,” was my only response. I mean really, she knew something about me that 1) I did not tell her 2) Was bang on. She didn’t know which Vitamin B but she did know I was lacking it, which I have to admit, impressed me.

And it only got better from there. After I finished talking to the clairvoyant medium, I moved on to another clairvoyant who did my tarot card reading.

As he fanned the cards out on the table, I couldn’t help but think of the several movie scenes where this exact situation plays out, only to see the psychic lift the ominous Grim Reaper card to signify death. Luckily, there was no Grim Reaper card for me this time as I chose 11 cards at random.

The first thing he noticed was fast movement. He told me “You’re not a couch potato are you?” I wanted to say to him “Well, it depends what night of the week it is. If it’s Jersday, then ya, I like to lounge around,” but I decided to stick to a simple “no.”

He then told me that he was feeling a ‘pulse’ of a large sum of money in my future. He emphasized that it wasn’t a big lottery win where I could quit my job and retire tomorrow, but it would be a lump sum that could get rid of my debt. Sure, I can’t buy a jet in the near future, but I’ll take some money to get rid of those pesky Visa bills.

But there was still a part of me that wondered if he always said that to his clients. I couldn’t help wonder if that was just a scam on his part so I would pay up and get more readings done, but I figured he probably wasn’t lying. He seemed like a nice clairvoyant.

As the reading continued, he asked me to pose a question to him and I decided to stick with health. He had told me earlier in the reading that he, too, could detect something in my kidneys, nothing life-threatening, but an issue like kidney stones. Yikes, two for two.

But when he looked at the three new cards I had picked out and was deep in thought, he started to talk about how my mother had something wrong with her ovaries, like a cyst or something. That was really when I started to believe. About three years ago, my mother had one of her ovaries removed because it had a cyst and I was shocked to hear, that I, too, would have that issue later in life. It wasn’t the greatest thing to hear, I’ll admit, but when he mentioned by mom, that was just too creepy for me not to believe.

He also talked about my personality too, which I won’t bore you with, and how it will tie into my future. He mentioned that I have a long lifeline (yes, he did do a brief palm reading), and that I am an empathetic person, a trait that will continue to be seen for the rest of my life. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I thought it was a nice, uplifting way to end the reading.

My friend asked me if I would go to a psychic again and I think maybe I would. I may not be a religious person but I do believe in karma and that everything happens for a reason. So, if I am supposed to get kidney stones, fine so be it. Money in my future? Yes please! But I also believe that by knowing money and kidney stones are in my life trajectory has made me look at things a little differently. Maybe I’ll start eating more magnesium-rich foods to fend off the stones, and maybe I’ll start buying a lotto ticket here or there. Either way, I admit I feel a little bit more enlightened into my future than I did yesterday. I would encourage people to try a psychic at least once in their lives, skeptic or not. I mean even if you do get some so-so news, chances are money is in your future and I didn’t even need a crystal ball to tell you that.

Check out the Leduc Psychic Fair this Saturday and Sunday at the Days Inn and Suites in Leduc.

Weekly roundup forSeptember 16, 2011

• The community mourns as the body of Larry Majeski was pulled from Pigeon Lake

• The skatepark is improving math skills

• More people are mounting pressure about a possible spray park in Leduc

• The city's Community Report is now online

• A new home, beginning for Leduc family

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The last days of the great season

Bobby Roy

When the September long weekend finishes up, in my mind, that marks the end of summer and it's a little depressing when you think what's ahead.
Thankfully I got to spend the September long in Calgary with my buddies and got to come home happy after watching the Eskimos give the Stamps a good ol' beatdown in Cowtown. It was a fantastic way to end summer.
I think the best quote a Stamps fan gave us was, "head onto the QE north and go home!"
A classic and satisfying way to end the weekend I'd say.
But back to real life.
Luckily this week, it looks like Mother Nature is giving us Albertans an extended summer, even though at some points (especially July), it didn't feel like we had summer at all.
It's a nice little bonus and gives us some extra time to spend time outside at the parks, beaches, lakes and anywhere we can soak up the sun and heat.
So enjoy it if you can, because it'll all be over before we know it.
It's only a matter of time before the cooler days and nights, the dark and dare I say it, the snow, starts to creep in.
What I hate the most are the dark nights and mornings fall and winter bring us.
The snow, cold and terrible driving conditions compound my dislike for winter here, but there are plenty of places around the world that have to deal with the more serious of problems Mother Nature hands down and the other problems life brings (political unrest, domestic, societal, etc ).
So I guess it's not all bad here when you look at the grand scheme of things.
But I'll likely still complain at moments this fall and winter.
For now, I'm going to enjoy these days of beauty and hope they last for as long as possible.
Once they're over then it's time to start finding hobbies that don't include watching copious amounts of television for the fall and winter months, but I'll worry about later.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Belak's suicide opens up even more questions

Bobby Roy

The Extra Point

Former Nashville Predator, Toronto Maple Leaf and enforcer Wade Belak’s sudden suicide sent chills throughout the NHL community and world this past week, and as the third NHL enforcer to pass away in less than four months, the NHL has got some serious investigating to do.

As does the rest of the sports world and its numerous athletes.

Belak was found dead in his Toronto apartment on Aug. 31, where he allegedly hung himself.

The news circulated around the NHL hours after reports confirmed he was found dead and I’m sure many, including myself, thought, ‘it can’t be suicide, can it?’

For those who watched Belak over the years, he was always seen as the guy who was cracking jokes, smiling, laughing with teammates, standing up for teammates on the ice as his role as enforcer, or getting involved with some crazy sort of skit.

He seemed like he was having the time of his life and why wouldn’t someone believe that?

He finished up a 14-year NHL career this past summer where he played for five different NHL teams and was working on getting into the broadcasting business.

For any prospective, young hockey player, is that not a dream come true?

So why would a seemingly happy, accomplished and gregarious Belak commit suicide, never mind hang himself?

It’s tough to ask that question and hope for an answer when you don’t know anything more about the man other than what you see on television, read in the news or hear on the radio.

But a lot of people are asking it and the NHL is going to have to seriously delve into research efforts on how or why this sort of terrible occurrence happened to not only one NHL enforcer, but three in such a short period.

Maybe it’s a bad coincidence since there are no clear patterns of NHL enforcers committing suicide since the league came into effect, or maybe the cause of these actions are much more complex than we think.

It’s more than likely, the answer is the latter.

But I’m not a doctor, a psychiatrist or someone who knew these three players.

Unfortunately, the best I can do is speculate.

On May 13 former Minnesota Wild (and New York Ranger) tough guy, Derek Boogard was found dead after taking an accidental mixture of alcohol and oxycodone.

On Aug. 15 former Vancouver Canuck, Rick Rypien committed suicide.

What the three do have in common was their role on the ice — they were enforcers who, for the most part, took and threw punches for a living.

It’s also been reported, Boogard, Rypien, and now Belak, were all dealing with depression during points in their life as an NHL player.

It’s understandable the pressure of being a professional athlete can get to someone, but they’re living a life many can only dream of and it's hard to think it could ever get to point you would consider killing yourself.

How bad was it that these three decided to end it all?

It doesn’t make sense to me when I think about it on that level, but maybe it was a factor they couldn't control as well as they would have liked to.

No one knows for certain what the human brain is capable of, so maybe there were some chemical unbalances that played a part in the threes' decisions.

The topic of concussions and what the consequences are to the human brain have never been more prevalent today than ever before in hockey and other contact sports.

The diagnosis into the consequences of a concussion to a person is still in its infancy in the world of medicine, so it’s hard to determine how exactly a concussion affects each person mentally and physically.

Watching, listening and reading about professional athletes who have had concussions, the consequences for each are inherently different. Determining what kind of effect and for how long it will have on each person is no doubt one of toughest jobs a doctor has to do.

That couldn’t be truer for Austin Trenum, a young football player who committed suicide out of the blue, days after suffering a concussion. In the article by Metro Edmonton, Trenum was by all accounts, a normal teenager, who didn't have a history of depression and neither did his family.

He had friends, went to school, lived in a great house, had a great family, loved playing sports, was destined to go to university, and lived a seemingly normal life.

It was one Sunday afternoon after suffering a supposed concussion a few days before that he ended it all.

It doesn’t make sense on the surface, but Trenum isn't the first promising athlete to commit suicide. If you search athlete suicides on the web more and more stories like this one pop up.

That's the sad part, because there are so many questions left unanswered for families like the Trenums.

The same goes for Belak's, Rypien's and Boogard's.

So, maybe after taking years of hits and punches to the head, the effects of the abuse on Belak, Rypien and Boogard’s brains had taken their toll enough to play a factor in the decision making to commit the unthinkable.

There are so many factors at play when it comes to determining why a person commits suicide and more times than not, there isn’t one answer.

But there will be plenty of eyes watching the NHL to see how they can create outlets for players who may be in the same boat as these three.

Depression is a tough issue and being tough guys, the three probably put a fa├žade to protect that image.

The NHL is definitely not to blame, because, like everyone else they didn’t know these three players were going to do what they did.

Now it’ll be about making sure players have as many outlets as possible to talk about what's bugging them in their NHL and personal life.

It will also be paramount to continue investigating and researching what concussions and contact to the head does to the mental state of players.

Hopefully Belak’s passing will be able to shed even more light and open even more discussion on problems NHL and professional athletes are dealing with.