we have more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on earth
so when winter rears its somewhat ugly and harsh head with cold blustery conditions and toe-freezing feels-like-absolute-zero temperatures, there is an upside: ponds, water sheds, and ice surfaces everywhere are freezing. Outdoor rinks come in different shapes and sizes but all offer a skating and hockey experience one cannot help but enjoy. And enjoy it we do all across Canada.
A new addition to the Toronto area is the city’s first ice skating trail. A project that was first dreamed up way back in 1996, construction finally got underway last year and the trail at Colonel Samuel Smith Park opened this week! A change from the usual more hockey-oriented rink design, it is all about rec skating around a figure-8 loop that’s 250m long. It is made with artificial ice for ease of maintenance and a lighting and sound system is integrated amongst a natural park setting full of trees. Sounds neat.
That new skating trail is just another addition to the over 50+ rinks in the city. Outdoor rinks continue to rise in popularity in towns around the GTA as well. To the north, Newmarket’s long-planned downtown community urban space project (CUSP) includes a skating rink plan. In a town that boasts a long-standing vibrant hockey and figure skating community, it has been slow to embrace outdoor rinks. Unlike rival Shelbyville that has a whole section on its town website dedicated to the handful of publicly maintained outdoor rinks and skating sites.
Again, being Canada, it’s not that hard to find a pond or strip of ice that some kids have shoveled off and started a game of shinny(you just have to look at google maps, or drive around). Toronto’s famous spots like Nathan Philips Square and Harbourfront Centre are already hopping with regular activity for winter as well. Again some wisdom of Molson Canadian marketing, “we know we have the best backyard in the world and we get out there every chance we get.” So get out there!
For some more details about the new Skating Trail, check these sites:
A disappointing end to the summer season followed by some off season drama and a division of the Whalers organization/franchise into two independent teams meant the new Winter 10/11 season got off to a weird start to say the least. But alas, things are settled now and THEGRIND IS ON. We wish each respective branch of the organization all the best in their winter seasons.
The Grind is only truly on when we start to play multiple times a week and the weather turns cold. Weather actually turned cold and a bit of early snow appeared a few weeks ago now — so the last ingredient to fall into place remains: Playing at Pickering.
Zamboni ‘rink rat’ friends are busy and all nods, and everything is frozen and a go down the old ‘Diet Coke Barn’, so we’re all set.
Here is a couple highlight links floating around the past while to get the winter season rolling and freshen up IARL again (to go with freshened up logo!).
Gong Show Apparel : homegrown Ottawa apparel company with a ton of hardcore hockey tees and hats etc.
If you didn’t see it already on TSN, Jordan Eberle really pissed off his new Oiler teammates with that season opener showcase goal: Who does he think he is?
Flat Bottom V: while not new to the area (it is an Ontario invention after all), people are still talking about this sharpening technology. Word has it that more and more players on NHL teams are using it regularly, and that fact coupled with some teammate peer pressure will surely push most serious and rec heads to use it. Just gotta find the contact at the local pro shop who’ll cut ya a deal now yeah?
Check out this NYTimes article New Skate-Sharpening Method Takes Hockey by Storm that has a little visual feature on how it works.
And of course the title image for this post needs some explanation, and what would an IARL post be without some Ovie! CCM put out an Ovechkin halloween mask pdf for printing! Brilliant! Best random halloween mask idea in ages. [Download pdf here]
Of course, it ties in with their equally wacky ad campaign which some props are due for as well: Soon the Championship will be ours. All ours.
Sidney Crosby helps Tim Hortons make the ultimate ad for the season, ‘In His Own Words’.
The nationalism and patriotic pride these sequences are going for hit their mark dead on. Ridiculous level of appealing to Canadians, but wow, if it means something to you, it leaves you almost speechless. Another epic piece of marketing/cultural artwork even.
Howie Meeker was a legendary player, coach and CBC commentator. Recently, we discovered that he also had a hockey school and corresponding CBC show back in the 70’s!
Howie Meeker sought to make teaching hockey basics to Canadian junior players the most fundamental part of all hockey training. He succeeded by putting out a book, Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics, and he did a tv show chock-full of hockey training and skill demonstrations for a few seasons in the early 70’s.
The TV show is unreal. Slices of fantastic retro gold and a Canadian hockey masterpiece. To begin with, it’s shot in St. John’s, Newfoundland — doesn’t get much more Canadian/smalltown/hockey than that. It features a bunch of young hockey kids at his hockey school and they talk to Howie about skills and he teaches them various aspects of the game. The accents and Canadian hockey-isms are all in there, with Howie joking around with the kids here and there and using catchphrases like Golly gee-whiz’ and Cotton pickin’ puck
I mean, it’s a classic rendition of grassroots Canadian hockey — and it was based on the premise that teaching the hockey basics to kids would improve the Canadian game all-around (and prevent any threats to rink supremacy from disciplined, regimented programs from the likes of the Russians…haha)
Check out this short clip of Howie talking about cutting hockey sticks to proper lengths.
The whole notion of the stick length question came up recently in our own grind as one fellow player cut his stick after probably a year of us making fun of it being too long, and he scored 3 goals in the first game of using it. haha…cause & effect not concrete I know, but the stick length issue definitely needed dealing with.
Anyways, back to Howie. The book, with its classic sort of sports manual/instruction book design, was so groundbreaking that even the Literary Review of Canada took notice. It was listed as one of the most important Canadian books of all time — because of its massive influence over the development of junior hockey and effect on the shape of Canadian players eventually making it to the NHL.
CBC has a gold mine of archived shows that can be watched online. Start with this clip, from September 20, 1974 — just to watch the incredible intro sequence and Howie briefly reviewing what the show’s about: Howie Meeker Hockey School: A new season, new skills.
An amazing piece of Canadian hockey history and a great discovery, if not just to enjoy the retro goodness, but to recall forgotten hockey basics whose timeless value can be found all these years later.
Okay, it’s no secret around here that we at IARL are fans of Alexander Ovechkin — I mean, the enjoyment we get out of his appearances on the highlight real is always great, and the pleasure we see in his play reminds us of our own love for the rink life.
However, he really is operating on some other crazy level. First there’s these old pics circulating around of him cementing his rockstar life status — a night out on the town with Markov racked up a bill after a ton of drinks and introduced them to a number of friendly ladies. There was a ‘receipt’ floating around the net that supposedly was for like $1000+ dollars but has been proven to be fake, but we can dream…
Then there was of course, Ovie’s now famous performance at the NHL All-Star weekend Breakaway competition with the hat and glasses and double sticks and act with Malkin.
Now the NHL Playoffs are on and Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are in the first round against the New York Rangers, Ovie has come out with some new antics.
Rangers were on the ice practicing the other morning and Ovechkin wanders in and sits down on the Visitors’ bench and just watches them practice!
Ovie is just chilling there, hanging out, when one of the Rangers trainers starts complaining and eventually Ovechkin was asked to leave by a Capitals PR guy. Hilarious. Ovechkin didn’t mean much by it, he wasn’t really ‘scouting’ the Rangers out. He explained to the media later that he did it to ‘tick off’ Rangers coach John Tortorella. Watch this clip here on the TSN media player of it — pretty funny stuff. Ovie’s Spy Games
And also this NY sports mention of the incident…
Thing is, Ovie, despite not doing to hot in the playoffs even, still seems to be enjoying himself, as well as leading the NHL to new heights and being in the spotlight — very Rockstar President-like if you ask us at IARL — and you can’t help but like the guy a bit for that.