NHL fans received a bit of a surprise at the league’s all star skills competition this past weekend, as Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in that event.
For those who didn’t have a chance to watch the skills competition, or haven’t read any sports media of late. Ms. Schofield took part in the fastest skater competition, in place of Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon. It was a neat thing to see, and got me thinking about how this was a perfect opportunity to both showcase one of the more talented female hockey players and to put the spotlight on women’s hockey as a whole.
As much as it was great to see a female hockey player make history, and be put in the spotlight at an NHL event, I think there needs to be more done to grow the game of women’s hockey. The best way to start, in my mind, would be to merge the two women’s leagues, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). This would bring the most talented women’s hockey players together to compete in one league, similar to how the NHL operates as a North American league. But, most of all, this would allow the NHL to throw their support behind the one league. As it stands now, the NHL can’t really support either, as they don’t want to show favouritism toward one league or the other. With the support of one of North America’s most influential and successful sports leagues behind them, the merged league could potentially benefit from a better marketed game and could create a new business model that could make them one of the most successful female sports leagues.
I think the NHL should continue to allow women to take part in the all star weekend every year moving forward, as a way to showcase how many talented female hockey players there are in Canada and the United States.
Now, on the topic of women in sports, I think it is inevitable in the near future there will be women involved, at the NHL level, as coaches and general managers. Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas made headlines, in August, when the team announced they had hired Hayley Wickenheiser, one of the most successful players in the history of women’s hockey, as their assistant director of player development. This is a good start.
It is also worth noting the Leafs employ Barb Underhill as a skating development consultant. In a different sports league, the NBA, there are already female assistant coaches employed. I think with viewpoints changing in pro sports, soon you will see women holding some of the coveted coaching and front office jobs on NHL teams.
I think it was great to see Kendall Coyne Schofield get her shot to showcase one of her skills in front of an NHL crowd, and I am optimistic about the future of women in hockey.
With the NHL’s annual all star game coming up later this month, I just wanted to give some of my thoughts on it.
First off, let me talk about the snubbing of Leaf players Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly. For those who don’t know, Auston Matthews and John Tavares have been named all stars this year, while Marner and Rielly are deserving players left off the all star rosters. As of press time, Marner leads the Leafs with 58 points. He has 41 assists and is third on the team in goals at 17. Defenceman Morgan Rielly is third on the team in points with 46, and is the second highest scoring defender in the league.
While these two are deserving, I think this actually might be the best thing for them. Instead of having to compete in this annual event, they can rest up and get prepared for the last portion of the regular season and the playoffs. I don’t think I need to remind Leaf fans that Toronto has been ousted in the first round of the playoffs the last couple seasons, so more rest this far into the season may be beneficial to two of the Leafs’ top contributors. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was voted into the all star game, but has decided to pull out for that exact reason, to get ready for the tougher stretch of games.
But, Leafs nation, isn’t it great the Leafs are so good now that there is controversy over a couple of their better players not going to an all star game? I think it really speaks to the depth the Leafs have built.
Now, about the All Star game itself, I know fans have been conflicted about it's format over the years. Some have liked it and found it fun to see these superstars taking part in this, while others have found it to be a bit boring.
Personally, I agree with the latter, so I am going to propose an idea to make this special event fun again. I think, for future all star games, the league should do what they used to do back in the early days of this event and have current Stanley Cup champions face a team of NHL all stars from around the league.
Yes, this was done before, but you can’t beat the classics. I think it would be interesting to see the defending cup champions, looking to hold onto the dignity that comes with it, playing against a team of the league’s true elite. I would be interested to see who would be victorious.
It could solve the NHL's problem of making the all star game competitive and appealing again to both fans and players.
Another new year, 2019, is upon us. Road safety has been a concern of residents across North Durham and the Kawartha Lakes for years, so for this year’s opening column I will write about the driving acts I hope to see less of this year.
Let me start with tailgating. I’m sure every driver has faced this at least once in their life. They are driving, following the speed limit, and they look in the mirror to see a vehicle very close to the back of their vehicle. This act is dangerous as it doesn’t allow the driver behind very much reaction time if the driver in front needs to put on the brakes. In my opinion at least, this act does not achieve the other driver’s goal of making me want to drive faster. My message to drivers in this case is be courteous and allow sufficient space between your vehicle and someone else’s.
Now, let’s move to a passing mistake. Another annoying driving act is the people that pass a car without looking at what is coming in the other lane. I probably don’t need to tell you what makes this dangerous, but just in case, this can create an accident as it could either cause the two cars to collide or the car in the opposite lane to veer off the road. To those who are in too much of a hurry to care about the safety of themselves or other drivers, I say, “is it really worth risking your’s or someone else’s life to pass a vehicle you see as driving slow?” At the very least, be patient, look and pass when it is safe to do so.
Of course, probably one of the most dangerous things you can do is drive while you are impaired. I will echo something I said in a column a year ago, it still baffles me that people think it is okay to drink alcohol and drive, especially with the vast array of information out there about how alcohol impairs people’s motor skills, and the fatal accidents drinking and driving has caused over the years. And to those wondering it has still been happening in Durham as the Durham Police’s weekly Festive Ride results have shown numerous Drinking and Driving charges laid. If you drink alcohol at a party, please have a friend drive you home or take a taxi home.
People, let’s all make an effort to make the roads safer in 2019.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy