Posted on: September 1, 2011 12:41 pm
By: Adam Gretz
How can you tell we're looking forward to the start of a new hockey season? We're reviewing items off of the Gary Roberts menu featured in Sunday's Globe and Mail to help pass the time and count down the days.
If nothing else, I wanted to taste some new dishes, and the hockey connection just adds even more incentive to try them.
On Tuesday I cooked up a batch of Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise and came away very impressed. On Wednesday I decided to go with Gary Roberts's Molten Chocolate Mousse (pictured), which is mainly bananas and cacao powder. I figure I like chocolate, I like bananas, so it has to be good, right?
Let's find out.
What You Will Need: Four bananas, 1/4 cup cacao powder, water.
With four bananas you're definitely going to get your fix of potassium for the day. As for the cacao powder, I picked up a box from the local natural food store; it'll run you about $8.
Recipe And Prep Time: It's pretty simple, if you can peel bananas, use a measuring cup and add everything to a blender until it's mixed together. The entire thing from start to finish takes no more than five minutes.
Overall Review: The first thing you notice about this shake is that it is thick, so thick that it could probably be consumed with a spoon with no problem. After taking the first sip my initial reaction was to throw the rest of the pitcher away and burn the blender it was prepared in. It was strong, and didn't have the taste I imagined it would have (which is odd, seeing as how there's only three ingredients). I gave it another shot and with each sip the taste started to come around a little, to the point I was able to finish most of it. I can't say it's something I would want to drink regularly, but it ended up finishing much better than it started.
If It Were A Hockey Player: It would be Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks. Great size, tends to start off a little slow but ends up rebounding quite well to be very useful.
Photo from: My kitchen
Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:18 am
By: Adam Gretz
Georges Laraque spent 12 seasons in the NHL with one specific role: fight. He appeared on TSN Radio on Wednesday afternoon and spoke about how much he hated that role and hated promoting violence, but did it because it was his job. Following the death of Wade Belak later that day, he spoke to the Toronto Sun and called for the NHL and NHLPA to establish some sort of counseling for fighters.
Said Laraque: "Listen, they have to step up. Now more than ever, people have to realize that the job that we did is a really stressful job. Mentally, it’s one of the hardest things. There’s so many guys that have demons and problems with that. We have to do something.
“This, as sad as an incident that it is, is tainting the image of the NHL. If we don’t do something about it, it’s going to be bad. It’s not going to be safe anymore. It’s unbelievable.”
The easy connection here is to automatically associate the three recent NHL deaths (Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Belak) with fighting because all three shared the same role on the ice. We still don't know what impact their role had on their untimely deaths (or if their role on the ice was a symptom of an underlying issue that already existed long before they were in the NHL). This isn't just about fighters or fighting. Both sides (the pro-fighting side and the anti-fighting side) have their own agenda on the subject and it does nothing but clutter everything up with noise at this point.
The issue is why players -- all players, not just fighters -- can't get (or aren't getting) the help they desperately need. Anything that involves any sort of anxiety, depression or therapy still has plenty of stigma attached to it in society in general (and it shouldn't). But it has to be even worse in sports, an industry where everything happens (good and bad) in the public eye.
I've never had depression, so I can't speak as to what it's like, and I certainly don't work under the same spotlight professional athletes do, but I have had my own anxiety issues (OCD tendancies) since late high school/early college. Once I realized it was happening (like, for example, having to turn the car around, drive back home and re-check the same locks that I had systematically checked before, or making sure the stove was still turned off or the toaster was still unplugged) it took me a while to finally admit it and talk about it. I'm not going to lie and say that it was easy to start telling people about it -- because it wasn't -- but finally doing so turned out to be a huge step in facing it and working to overcome it.
It's nothing to hide from or be embarrassed about. Anxiety and depression issues are more common than most people realize, and often times go unnoticed or unreported. Why wouldn't that happen in sports, too? You're dealing with an environment where any potential flaw has the possibility of being used against you by an opponent, a drunk heckler behind the penalty box or, hell, even a potential employer. How difficult would it be for a person in an industry like professional sports where the pressure is immense and the spotlight is constantly on you? And what about a player that's sitting in a pre-draft meeting getting grilled by an executive? Is there a fear that if something like that is revealed it will hurt his chances of being selected or given a contract?
Following the death of Rypien, Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis spoke about how he and the Canucks organization were going to continue Rypien's fight against depression. It's a worthy fight that demands more attention than it's currently getting, in society, in sports ... everywhere. Here's hoping he and the Canucks (and the NHL and NHLPA) are not only successful at improving the way these situations are handled, but also changing the culture so that players with a problem are more comfortable and willing to seek out the help they need.
A friend of mine that works in the psychology field (you can check out his website, Psychotherapy Brown Bag, by clicking right here) asked me to include the national suicide prevention lifeline if you or anyone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide. Please call 1-800-273-TALK for free, anonymous help that is available 24/7.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 9:25 am
By: Adam Gretz
A WRETCHED SUMMER Bruce Arthur of the National Post has an excellent column on an unbelieavably sad summer that has seen three player deaths in a span of just four months. Writers Arthur: "This shouldn’t be a political issue in the sport; it should be a human one. And at some point, some deadly serious questions have to be asked about the role of enforcers in hockey, if only to understand why these men are gone too soon. This has been an unspeakable summer, which is exactly why it needs to be talked about." The entire column is worth a read.
POST-NHL CONCERNS In the wake of Belak's death more than one player has taken to Twitter to talk about how difficult the transition is from playing to retirement. Said Brent Sopel, "It's true when you're gone from the NHL it's like you never played. We're all just pieces of meat." Former Phoenix Coyotes forward Tyson Nash shared this: "Ur entire life is dedicated to hockey and then one day it's all over and ur kicked to the curb! And the NHLPA does nothing to prepare u."
STALBERG AIMS FOR TOP-SIX ROLE Viktor Stalberg is looking to take one of the available spots on Chicago's top-two lines this season, saying he's going to do everything he can to earn more playing time. The speedy forward scored 12 goals in 77 games last season in his first season with Chicago.
HNIDY GOES TO THE RADIO BOOTH Former NHL defenseman Shane Hnidy announced his retirement on Wednesday and that he will also be taking over as a radio analyst for the Winnipeg Jets. He appeared in three regular season and three postseason games last year with the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. In 550 career games he scored 16 goals to go with 55 assists as a member of the Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Bruins.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:08 pm
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Posted on: August 31, 2011 9:31 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Over the past decade -- and especially over the past five seasons -- the Western Conference has been dominated by a small handful of teams, particularly at the top of the regular season standings. In any given year it's been a safe bet that Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver will be there in some order.
In the early 2000's Detroit, Colorado and Dallas were the dominant teams in the West, winning divisions, playing for the conference title and usually winning the Stanley Cup. In recent years the power has shifted a bit, with Detroit remaining in the drivers seat and the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks joining them at the top of the confernce.
The Red Wings are the only team that's made the playoffs in each of the past nine seasons, finishing in one of the top-two spots seven times, and out of the top-three only once (2009-10). In the pre-cap era when they could spend as much as they wanted on free agents (and keeping their own players) they were an elite franchise, and adjusted to the capped NHL remarkably well, continuing to remain as one of the gold standard franchises in the league.
There's been quite a bit of juggling in the No's 4 through 15 spots, but the top-three (the divisional winners) have been pretty consistent.
In total, nine different teams in the West have claimed a division title over the past nine seasons, with only five of them taking more than one. Here's the quick breakdown:
Central Division: Detroit (8), Chicago (1), St. Louis (0), Nashville (0), Columbus (0)
Northwest Division: Vancouver (5), Colorado (2), Calgary (1), Minnesota (1), Edmonton (0)
Pacific Division: San Jose (6), Dallas (2), Anaheim (1), Los Angeles (0), Phoenix (0)
There's not really a lot of variety there. While nine of the 15 teams have managed to win a division over this stretch, the past five years have been dominated by Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver, with each of those clubs winning their division in four of the past five seasons. Heading into 2011 each team is looking to be an early favorite to take its division once again.
Colorado and Dallas, the other two teams to win more than one title, haven't finished at the top of their respective division since before the lockout.
But what happens once the postseason starts? Are the Western Conference playoffs still dominated by the same three teams at the top?
Over the same nine-year stretch 10 different teams have managed to go as far as the conference finals, with (no surprise here) Detroit leading the way with four trips. The rest of the teams have had the following appearances: San Jose (3), Anaheim (3), Chicago (2), Vancouver (1), Calgary (1), Edmonton (1), Minnesota (1), Dallas (1) and Colorado (1).
The list of teams that have actually made the Stanley Cup Final is even shorter: Detroit (3), Anaheim (2), Vancouver (1), Chicago (1), Edmonton (1), Calgary (1). Since the Salary Cap was put into place prior to the 2005-06 season the list shrinks down to just Detroit, Anaheim, Vancouver and Chicago being the only teams to represent the West over the past six seasons.
Are any other teams ready to take a step and leapfrog the established power in their division, or the conference in general? The Kings may have positioned itself to make a run at San Jose in the Pacific thanks to the blockbuster trade that landed them Mike Richards, forming a fantastic 1-2 punch down the middle with he and Anze Kopitar.
Chicago, coming off a disappointing defense of the Stanley Cup this past season thanks in large part to a sluggish first half, should give Detroit a solid run for its money, but the Canucks look to still be the runaway favorite in the Northwest, as well as the Conference. If not the entire NHL.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 31, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:35 pm
By: Adam Gretz
What has been an incredibly sad offseason in the NHL continued to get worse with the news that recently retired defenseman Wade Belak was found dead in a Toronto condo on Wednesday afternoon according to the Toronto Sun. He was 35 years old.
Belak, selected 12th overall in the 1994 Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, spent 14 seasons in the NHL as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and, most recently, the Nashville Predators. In 549 career games he scored eight goals and tallied over 1,263 penalty minutes.
He announced his retirement back in March.
On Wednesday evening the Predators organization released the following statement:
“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”Belak's name was in the news earlier this month when it was announced that he was going to appear in CBC's Battle of the Blades, which is basically Canada's on ice version of Dancing With The Stars
His primary role in the NHL was as an enforcer and fighter, which will make it easy for everyone to immediately connect his death to the recent passings of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien, both of whom were also fighters. Whether there's any connection or not, it's been a very disturbing couple of months.
According to Hockeyfights.com Belak was involved in over 125 fights during his NHL career.
I never met Belak or had an opportunity to speak with him, but just about every person that did meet him and work with him throughout his 15-year NHL career has shared pretty much the same opinion on Wednesday night: He was an amazing person to be around and always -- always -- a fantastic player to interview.
You can find plenty of examples of his personality on YouTube, including just about every episode of the "Wade a Minute" segment that was filmed during his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here are a couple of examples:
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 30, 2011 7:10 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 8:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
A couple of weeks ago we had an opportunity to speak with Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets about the rather frightening look his new mask will carry in 2011, illustrating just how unique these works of art can be. On Monday, the mask for new Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was revealed by the artist, David Arrigo, and it will feature, appropriately enough, the Looney Tunes character, Wile E. Coyote.
Have a look, via Arrigo's website, where you can check out multiple angles as well as his thoughts on the design.
Smith will be competing for the No. 1 job in Phoenix with Jason LaBarbera in an effort to replace Ilya Bryzgalov, and Arrigo adds that he will soon be revealing the art work for Labarbera's mask for the upcoming season, having designed it as well.
It's not the first time a Looney Tunes character has been featured on a goalie mask, as Patrick Lalime's mask always had a version of Marvin The Martian.
Photo: David Arrigo
Posted on: August 30, 2011 4:20 pm
By: Adam Gretz
On Monday we directed you to an article in the Globe and Mail by James Mirtle that talked about the diet Gary Roberts has several of the NHL's best young players eating to stay in top physical shape. It's different, requires a great deal of dedication and is definitely a little on the extreme side.
I like to think I have decent eating habits, but they obviously don't compare -- or come close -- to what Roberts has players like Brayden Schenn and Jeff Skinner sticking to in preperation for the upcoming season. I enjoy my fruits and vegetables, I don't eat a lot of red meat and I try to stay away from junk food as much as possible. But, like most people, I have my guilty pleasures and usually find myself grabbing lunch at Chick Fil-A once a week, and I enjoy Pepsi Throwback more than I probably should.
Still, I'm always looking to try new things, and included in Mirtle's article were a number of sample recipes that Roberts supplies his players with. Because it's still the dog days of the offseason -- and, most importantly, since I wanted to try some of them myself -- I wanted to combine the fun hockey and food and review a couple of the selections.
For Today I decided to whip up a small batch of the roasted red pepper mayonnaise, mainly because I already had most of the ingredients in my kitchen.
And away we go…
What You Will Need: Four Red peppers, four tablespoons of olive oil, one clove of garlic, sea salt (all of these are pictured above).
The Recipe: "Bake peppers in half the olive oil at 400F until soft. Remove burnt skin. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until chunky or smooth (depending on preference). Use to marinate meats, as a vegetable dip, with pasta or as mayonnaise for sandwiches and wraps."
Prep time: The most time consuming part of this is simply baking the peppers. I kept them in the oven (at 400 degrees) for a little over 10 minutes and, in hindsight, probably could have (or should have) left them in a little bit longer, as it took longer than I expected for them to break apart in the food processor (I was going for the smooth texture). Still, from start to finish, from the time I started slicing peppers and preparing all of the ingredients, until it was in a bowl and finished, was no more than 20 minutes. Fast and very simple.
I ended up making half of the recipe (two peppers, two tablespoons of olive oil and only half of a garlic clove and only a small pinch of sea salt) since I wasn't sure how much the full batch was going to make, or how it would taste.
Here is the end result…
Overall Review: It's actually quite delicious -- if you like red peppers. Obviously the red pepper is the main ingredient and ends up dominating the flavor, but you also pick up a nice hint of garlic, which is fine with me. I decided to use it as a mayonnaise on a chicken sandwich with lettuce, home grown tomato and onion, and it was a wonderful finishing touch to the sandwich.
If It Were A Hockey Player: It would be Pavel Datsyuk. Smooth, very versatile, can be used in a lot of different ways and is a great finisher.
Tomorrow we'll tackle "Gary Roberts’s Molten Chocolate Mousse", which is mainly cacao powder and bananas.
Photos from: My kitchen