Well, it’s been an interesting few months for me and I want to take a moment to say thank you to all who have re-joined me on my adventure in hockey writing. This is not something I ever thought I’d come back to, but...here I am. I want to say a huge thank you to the boss-man of the site for allowing me to come back and continue doing what I love. And another big thank you to the other writers on this site for welcoming me back unconditionally. This has been like coming home. And I appreciate the opportunity.
Alright, allow me to dive right into a brief version of my 10 Takes...
1. Why does almost every fanbase turn on their best players when their teams get booted from playoffs? I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve read online how the Oilers should consider moving Draisaitl or that McDavid isn’t what everyone makes him out to be. And then the Bruins weren’t even finished playing their final game and I heard snippets of fans saying that they’d like to get rid of Debrusk/Krejci/Lazar. And Flames fans can be the same way. There are very few players on the Flames who I haven’t seen mentioned that some fans want to see moved. And this doesn’t even include the well-known media presence trying to push Gaudreau out the door. And now Tkachuk. First, the loyalty by the fanbases seems to be non-existent in this day and age (which is really sad because I remember when organizations would hold onto players for decades and develop a team around those players for a long time - yeah, I’m THAT old). Second, I hope none of these players go online after their final playoff games when the team is eliminated because some of the things being said about some of the best players in the entire league is disgusting. I understand that fans can be passionate about their teams, but there’s a line that should not be crossed. Talking about the player, their plays/mistakes, and potential changes they need to make during the off-season is fine. But taking pot-shots at a player’s family/friends/personality should be off-limits because that has nothing to do with the hockey being played.
2. Which leads me to my next point. Ethan Bear. He is a young, talented player from Regina, with roots in the Ochapowace Nation. The comments and racism he faced after the Oilers lost in their final game during playoffs was disgusting. And what did he do afterwards? He faced those racist comments and held his head high in the face of ugly adversity. I’m not an Oilers fan, but I am, without a doubt, a huge fan of Ethan Bear. And to those who may have commented in such a derogatory way, you seem to need a lesson in respect. So, here is a list of links to players who are helping me to stop, listen, and learn.
3. Playoffs, they can be the absolute best time of our lives as hockey fans, or they can be such an utter disappointment that we feel like we never want to watch hockey again. I’m in the latter group this season. Not only did the Flames bow out completely, but my number two team, the Boston Bruins, took an early exit as well. And who took the series over the Bruins? The ISLANDERS. Now that the Bruins/Islanders series is over and the Islanders are still going, my only hope is that the New York team takes it all because it would mean that the Bruins weren’t as far behind the team who took the cup. And with Barry Trotz at the helm of that ship, they have the potential to do it. So, who will take the cup this season? I have no idea because the final four teams are very evenly matched. But, for this season, my bracket is busted and I’m out.
4. Andrew Mangiapane has been a bright spot on the Flames roster since the 2017-2018 season when he was called up from the AHL. At first, I looked at the 5’10” winger and shook my head, wondering how a small player like him could make an impact on a team that already had enough smaller players. At that time, I believed we needed bigger, tougher, grittier players - not another small-ish winger who would barely impact the plays. And then he started scoring a few goals and adding some assists in the 2018-2019 season and I thought maybe he could be a good bottom six player. When Mangiapane broke out in the 2019-2020 season with 17 goals and 15 assists in 68 games before the pandemic hit, I was surprised. He was on his way to becoming a permanent top six player before everything was shut down due to covid-19. I was disappointed that we couldn’t see him progress and develop even more at the end of last season. So, when the NHL announced an altered season this year, I was looking forward to seeing Mangiapane rip up the stats again. And he did not disappoint. With 18 goals and 14 assists in 56 games this regular season, Mangiapane proved that he’s worth his weight in gold. And then he was invited to the IIHF World Championship, where he had to quarantine upon arriving in Latvia. But as soon as he took to the ice, Team Canada, who had a less than stellar start to the tournament, suddenly became a contender. With 11 points in 6 games before the gold medal game, Mangiapane, again, proved his skills and talents as an elite hockey player. And as the MVP of the gold medal game, where Team Canada won the coveted gold medal, I was very happy that Mangiapane came back to Canada victorious. After all the hard work he’s put into his game in the past three seasons, he’s earned it. And I’m looking forward to watching him rip it up in the NHL again next season with the Calgary Flames.
5. I went online the other day and saw the rumours that Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary. Sigh. These rumours are mentally exhausting, especially knowing where they come from - people making up their own narratives in order to fish for a story. This is not a story. This is fiction writing. I have never seen or heard anything in any interview with Tkachuk even hinting at the idea that he wants out of Calgary. Same with the whole Gaudreau narrative - I’ve never seen or heard that he wanted out. This is why I hate hockey rumours. They’re all made up by people who need something to write about and can’t find substance in anything factual. Stop it. Here’s a wild thought - instead of making things up just to get readers/listeners/viewers, let’s just enjoy the talent while we are fortunate enough to have it. IF it ever happens, like all families, we will mourn together at our losses. But, until then, let’s just be grateful that we have such talent to watch every week.
With that being said, I will be taking a break through the summer to chase my kid around the province as he continues on his way through competitive baseball. It’s a pretty intense travel and play schedule so I won’t be able to keep up with my column like I have been. Summer is my busy season. But, if the boss-man allows it, I’ll be back in the fall with more of my 10 Takes columns as the Calgary Flames continue to battle for the ultimate prize again next season.
Thank you, again, to everyone who has followed me around the past few months while I jumped back into the hockey writing pool. I’m genuinely glad you’re here. And I’m happy to be back!