Feb 25, 2007

Air Canada Centre conversion from hockey to basketball

From the Toronto Star, here's a stop motion video showing the conversion from a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game to a Toronto Raptors basketball game at Air Canada Centre. A crew of 18-25 workers takes about 8 hours to make the transformation.

Crunch invite Britney Spears to Syracuse

Via CP/NHL.com:
An American Hockey League team is offering pop star Britney Spears a break from the party scene and paparazzi madness in Hollywood - an all-expenses paid trip to snowy Syracuse.

And fans of the Syracuse Crunch are also getting a Britney offer: women who shave their head will get into Saturday's game against the visiting Manitoba Moose for free. Howard Dolgon, owner and president of the Crunch, said Tuesday he would be happy to fly Spears in, cover her hotel and meals and give her the best seats in the house at Crunch games.

More from a team press release:
In an effort to provide tranquility for troubled pop star Britney Spears’ turbulent lifestyle the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League have invited the newly separated icon to spend an all expense paid trip in snow- buried Syracuse, NY.

In recent weeks Spears has been the subject of negative publicity surrounding late-night partying, a very short stint in rehab and being photographed without wearing any underwear and a new shaved look.

In a show of support the Crunch is offering any woman that comes to the War Memorial Box Office with a shaved head a free ticket to the club’s February 24 game against the Manitoba Moose.

“The team and community want to provide Britney Spears with a stress free environment and the chance to experience a high level of hockey,” said Crunch President and CEO Howard Dolgon. “In addition to being 3,000 miles away from Hollywood, Syracuse is light years away from that pretentious environment. There won’t be paparazzi within a 100 miles.”

The Crunch’s offer of an all expense paid trip will begin with their game on the 24th. Also if Spears accepts the Crunch’s invitation each member of the club’s front office staff will shave their heads.

Also: Read Jon Cudo's comments on the GameOps.com Blog

Behind the Scenes: Penalty box guy

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a penalty box attendant? Kevin Kaduk from the Northwest Herald (Chicago) found out:
The first penalty is called on the Hounds, and it’s on Chris Busby, 2 minutes for hooking. I lean down on the lever and pull the door back. Busby skates up and steps in. I slam the door, slide to the left on the bench and remain unsure of whether to greet him. Finally, I decide to say something....

Busby mumbles something about the blue line, and that’s the extent of our conversation. Two minutes of awkwardness begin. I wonder, is there supposed to be chatting in the penalty box? Should I ask him about the weather? His life away from the ice? Britney’s new bald head? Read more...
(via Kukla's Korner)

Feb 19, 2007

Howard Berger on Montreal crowds vs. Toronto crowds

Blogger Howard Berger has this to say about the differences between crowds in Montreal and Toronto.

...First off, the winning tradition in Montreal far exceeds anything that is evident in Toronto, for obvious reasons. The Habs, though they haven't sipped champagne since 1993, have won ten Stanley Cups since the '67 Leafs upset them to win their last championship. Also, there are cultural differences among people in Ontario and Quebec that lead to a more passionate, noisy hockey crowd at Habs games. Here in polite, conservative Toronto, people do not start making a fuss until the Leafs win a first-round playoff match -- at which point Yonge Steet, the main north-south drag in our city, is closed to vehicular traffic. Montreal, because of its rich French-Canadian heritage, is more reminiscient of the culture and custom in Europe. And anyone who watches soccer from England, Italy, Spain or Germany knows how demonstrative and zealous good European soccer fans can be. Montreal's hockey audience reflects that trait, and it frequently carries over to the devotion for past heroes. There will never be a Rocket Richard-like ovation in Toronto for any hockey player, past or present. It just isn't in the genes...

Cudo on in-game marriage proposals

Jon Cudo writes about in-game marriage proposals on the GameOps.com blog:
  • I think if I would have proposed at a sports event on the jumbotron not only would my wife had said no….but she might have killed me.
  • In my days as a mascot I have been a part of over 20 proposals over the years, which means I have been (literally) right in the middle of two people’s most intimate moment. It’s something that always gets me emotionally. It’s really an honor, yet totally bizzare.
  • I also have been the “best man” in costume for a couple I never met nor have never heard from again. Again…and honor, and totally bizzare.
  • Previous: Animal rights activist sneaks message onto scoreboard

    Feb 18, 2007

    Too many NHL jerseys being retired?

    Columnist Rick Wile asks this question in Kamloops This Week: "Is there glorifying for the sake of image and marketing? Jersey retirement nights in hockey are far more prevalent than they are in the other major sports of football, baseball, and basketball. Is it overkill in hockey?" (via Kukla's Korner)

    I think Rick is on to something here - it seems like since the NHL lock-out, we've had a jersey retired about once every month.

    When/how/why should teams retire jerseys?

    After his #29 jersey was retired in Montreal last month, Ken Dryden said:
    "It used to be ... that when a special rookie arrived in a team's training camp, that player would be given No. 9 or 7 or 2, whatever the number that was special to that team. One of the great and surprising thrills for me was seeing goalies wearing No. 29 after me. For a few, it may have been because I wore that number, but over time it became a goalie number."
    And in Toronto, they prefer to "honour" players, rather than retire jerseys:
    It was felt that not retiring player sweaters gives the Leafs the flexibility of honouring more of these individuals than would be the case if the Leafs took the sweater numbers out of circulation.

    The consulting group determined that the former player’s number would be deemed an “Honoured Number” but remain in circulation. As a means of adding significance to this, the sweater of the current Maple Leaf that has the “Honoured Number” wears a special shoulder patch with the honouree's name inscribed for the balance of that season. The special banner for the honouree remains on permanent display at Air Canada Centre.

    The Leafs historically only retired numbers of distinguished players that have died or had their career shortened due to tragic or catastrophic circumstances while being a member of the team. Irvine (Ace) Bailey (No. 6) and Bill Barilko (No. 5) are the two represented in this category.

    What criteria should be used for retiring numbers? Here's an idea from the "Bitter Leaf Fan Page" blog:
    ...to be eligible to have a number retired, the player has to meet both of the following two baseline criteria:

    1. Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame
    2. Spent the majority of their NHL career as a Leaf...

    In addition to the above, the player would also have to meet at least 2 of the following 3 criterion:

    1. Won or been nominated for one of the major NHL trophies such as the Stanley Cup, Hart, Vezina, Jennings, Calder, Rocket Richard, Conn Smythe, Norris or Lady Byng while playing as a Leaf
    2. Lead (or have lead) the Leafs organization in at least one major statistical category (e.g. career games played, career goals, career assists, career +/-, career points, shut outs, GAA, wins, etc.)
    3. Been a pioneer or transformational player for the organization

    I think the team should also have special dispensation to retire a number in the event that a player had promising career cut tragically short a la Tim Horton, Bill Barilko...

    What do you think?

    Feb 4, 2007

    Austin Toros mascot loses his head, gets suspended

    The Austin Toros (NBA Development League) mascot "Da Bull" lost his head during a recent game, almost cost his team a win. From ESPN.com:
    The mascot, known as Da Bull, prematurely ran onto the court and hung from the rim with .4 seconds remaining, apparently to punctuate center Loren Woods' breakaway dunk that gave the Toros a four-point lead over Colorado.

    While hanging from the rim ... Da Bull collided with a Colorado player. At the point of contact, the mascot's head, to his horror, fell to the floor.

    The Toros were assessed a technical foul. The 14ers' Von Wafer made the free throw, but Rick Rickert missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the score as time expired.
    Click here to see a video of the incident from CNN.

    The Toros suspended the mascot, and assigned him to 50 hours of community service, according to a team press release:
    Da Bull will return to action on Friday, February 2, when the Toros take on the Bakersfield Jam. The Toros will have a replacement mascot for Friday's game against the Arkansas Rimrockers at 7:30.

    Community service for Da Bull begins this weekend at the Bastrop Hoopstars basketball clinic on Saturday and Sunday at the Whataburger Youth Basketball clinic from 1-3 at the IH-35 and Wells Branch store.

    (via GameOps.com Editor Blog)

    Interview with Krazy George

    GameOps.com has an new interview with Krazy George -- professional male cheerleader and inventor of the wave. Read about how Krazy George got started in the business, how he started the very first wave, and the time that Wayne Gretzky invited him out for dinner.

    I met George for the first time in January 1999. We booked him in for an Ottawa 67's game. We spent the afternoon taping tv promos -- with George yelling and screaming to the tv cameras.

    As it turned out, the 67's game was cancelled becuase the visiting team bus got delayed in a snowstorm. I took George out for dinner, and not once did he yell, scream, or try to start the wave at the restaurant.

    O Canada sung in Cree at Calgary Flames game

    From cbc.ca:

    A 13-year-old Alberta girl is about to make NHL history, when she becomes the first person to sing O Canada before a game in Cree.

    Akina Shirt, who lives in Edmonton but is originally from the Saddle Lake First Nation, will sing the national anthem in Cree before the puck drops for the Calgary Flames-Vancouver Canucks game on Saturday night.