From just browsing Toronto Maple Leafs related tweets on Twitter the last few weeks, and from personally hearing some fans talk, it seems Toronto’s backup goalie Garret Sparks has faced a lot of unwarranted criticism from fans of the team that wears blue and white.
It seems the decision to make Sparks the backup goaltender and to put Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers was an unpopular one in Leafs' nation, but I think Leafs fans are missing the bigger picture here, and are deciding to ignore the sound logic this decision was based on in favour of nostalgia.
Personally, I think Sparks is simply facing this criticism because he is not Curtis McElhinney, a goalie who was so popular with the team and with fans the last two seasons, and that’s unfair.
McElhinney’s positive attitude endeared him to Leafs fans. He also had a decent record as the team’s backup, which helped, as he won six out of the 14 games he played, in his first season with the Leafs, and followed that up with an 11-5-1 record with the team the following season. But, as I noted in my annual predictions column, Sparks is 10 years younger than McElhinney.
The Leafs had to make a decision, and were faced with the possibility of losing at least one goalie on waivers no matter what, so they had to go with the younger asset to protect. For those who are unaware, the Leafs lost both Pickard and McElhinney on waivers to the Flyers and Hurricanes.
Unfortunately, because McElhinney was claimed and Sparks won the job, a lot of ire was directed at Sparks unfairly.
Sparks had a great season in the AHL last year, eventually leading the Marlies to a Calder Cup victory. He posted a 1.79 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, and had six shutouts in 43 regular season games. Ok, so some people will point out the AHL is a whole different league than the NHL. Ok, so let’s let his stats this year do the talking. He has won four of the first five games he has played as the Leafs’ backup, and has a .924 save percentage. Not to mention, he is coming off a shutout performance against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The AHL is a league specifically for development, getting players ready to play in the NHL. Leafs fans, who I might add were embracing the rebuild that brought the team Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and William Nylander among others, should have known someday Toronto would promote their young goalie, and that day just happened to take place this season.
Let’s also look at his inexperience through a positive lens, as he played in the NHL only previously in the 2015/2016 season. If he has won four of five with a record like that, as a goalie still learning the ropes in the NHL, his numbers should improve as he gets more experience, and his best is still yet to come. If you give Sparks a chance, as he works to get better every game, he could very well impress you.
Leaf fans, I think we should be embracing Sparks as our present and future backup goaltender.
Like many people, I like to listen to music whenever I get a chance to.
As a reporter who often travels to certain places in North Durham and the Kawartha Lakes for photo opportunities and interviews, I like to either listen to the radio, or CDs I brought with me, while I drive to my destination. I also often play music to motivate me while doing chores at my home, and I listen to music while I relax as well. I’ve found that the right song has a way of setting the tone for a particular moment, and it is fascinating to listen to the vast array of interesting lyrics. So, in today’s column, I’d like to share some of my favourite song lyric quotes, and why I like those specific quotes.
The first one is from a Kelly Clarkson song titled ‘I Had a Dream.’
The quote is “I had a dream that we were more a generation to behold. Lighting fires with our words, instead of useless smoke that blurs the lines of right and wrong.”
First off, let me just say, I like to listen to this song at times to motivate me. These lyrics specifically remind me how a person or people can create a legacy for themselves by standing up for what they feel is right, and how their words and the actions they take will end up defining how people remember them after they die.
I’ve written in the past about how I hope to leave a legacy, that will last, of both informing the public and possibly making a change in people’s lives through my news stories and columns, so these song lyrics fit well with that interest.
Similar to a song about a generation of people coming together is a Nickelback song about people as human beings coming together. The song is titled ‘If Everyone Cared’, and the lyrics I like are once again in the chorus of the song.
The quote is “If everyone cared and nobody cried, if everyone loved and nobody lied, if everyone shared and swallowed their pride, then we'd see the day when nobody died.”
While I think it is a bit of a naïve thought knowing history, these lyrics do remind me that if people decided to not focus on hatred of other people and instead about caring about the well being of everyone, the world would be a much better place, without things like greed inspired decisions and murder.
While I know this utopian society thought will likely never happen worldwide, I do take solace in knowing there are a lot of caring people locally in the communities I cover and in Canada as a whole.
Now, with Stompin’ Tom Connors’ ‘The Hockey Song’ having recently been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and since I am a longtime hockey fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a quote from this legendary song in this list.
Probably my favourite quote from this song is “Where players dash, with skates aflash, the home team trails behind. But they grab the puck, and go bursting up, and they're down across the line. They storm the crease, like bumble bees, they travel like a burning flame. We see them slide, the puck inside, it's a 1-1 hockey game.”
I like these lines simply because there’s lots of imagery in them, that perfectly encapsulates what the battle to tie a competitive hockey game can be like.
I could list several more, but with the constraints of this column, I will conclude this list with a quote from a song titled ‘The Champion’ by Carrie Underwood.
The quote is “I am invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable, unshakeable. They knock me down, I get up again. I am the champion.”
These lyrics remind me of what it takes for a person to be the best at whatever they are doing, which is the right confident attitude, perseverance and hard work.
Hope you enjoyed reading this list and/or found any of these song quotes inspiring or thought provoking.
Well fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it has been a fun start to the season, with the team having won eight of their first 11 games.
There are two Leafs players who I’m happy have finally been given the opportunities they deserve this season. They are Kasperi Kapanen and Frederik Gauthier.
Let’s start with Kapanen. He has thrived on one of the top offensive units, Auston Matthews’ usual unit, as he already has six goals and 10 points. As most Leafs fans likely already know, Kapanen is in the spot usually occupied, in the past, by William Nylander, because Nylander has not yet, as of press time, signed a new contract with the Leafs.
Before this season, Kapanen was mostly used on the fourth line, playing along side guys with less skill and more grit, such as Matt Martin. While he excelled in the defensive aspects on that line, there is no denying he has the tools of a scorer. Kapanen has great foot speed, and can create goal scoring opportunities where there don’t appear to be any. A great example of this was in Game 7 of last year’s first round playoff series between the Leafs and Boston Bruins where he rushed onto a misplayed puck, got past the Bruins’ defender, and deked out the Bruins goaltender to score a goal, giving the Leafs a 4-3 lead.
As he was one of the more exciting players to come out of the trade that sent Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh, it’s great to see him finally put in a position to use his offensive skills.
I’m also happy to see Frederik Gauthier as a mainstay on the team’s fourth line.
Gauthier was drafted by the Leafs in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft. Of, course as any first round pick will know, there are tremendous expectations put on a player chosen that high, and Gauthier has struggled the last few years to make himself a permanent member of an NHL team. Coming into this season, the highest number of games he had played in the NHL in a single season was 21 in the 2016/2017 season.
Despite the idea he will likely never live up to the expectation of being a high calibre player, as he only has recorded five points in the 45 games he’s played in the NHL, he does have the tools to be a fourth line centre. He has the size, he’s listed as six foot five inches tall and around 235 pounds. Gauthier is also Plus 2 in the plus/minus stat, meaning he’s been on the ice for more goals for than goals against. He’s also only 23 years-old, so he still has a lot of hockey left in him.
Hopefully when, or if, Nylander returns this season, head coach Mike Babcock will find a way to keep Kapanen in an offensive role. As well, hopefully Gauthier will be able to stick as a regular in the lineup for the rest of the season.
Here we go again. The Quebec provincial government is looking to ban certain provincial employees from wearing religious symbols.
As has been widely reported, François Legault, the recently elected Premier of Quebec, plans to use the notwithstanding clause, if it is necessary, to push through a ban on employees such as police officers, teachers and judges, from wearing religious symbols like the hijab, crosses, and kippahs while on the job.
If this kind of thing sounds familiar to you, it is because it was part of the controversial Charter of Quebec Values proposed by the Parti Québécois in 2013. However, that charter was unpopular in the province at the time and never passed. The party also lost the 2014 election, with some sources speculating this charter led to the downfall of that party’s government. If it was unpopular five years ago, you’d think it would still be an unpopular move today.
While I understand Quebec is a unique province, and the current government is looking to assert their secularism, I don’t see how the wearing of certain religious symbols could impair somebody from doing their job effectively.
In fact, in the case of teachers specifically, the wearing of any religious symbol could lead students to be curious about why the person wears it and about the customs of the religion, leading to an environment of tolerance for all religions.
In a country as rich in diversity as Canada, I think each province should be celebrating their religious, spiritual and ethnic diversity any time they can. It must also be noted that while they are looking to ban the wearing of these symbols, the government has said they will not remove a crucifix from the legislature. This sounds a bit hypocritical to me.
The government should also ask themselves, if they do decide to use the notwithstanding clause, if this is an appropriate use of the clause. Yes, as the Ontario government proved recently, with the pushing through of Toronto council cuts, provincial governments can use this clause to their advantage.
But, I feel this clause should not be used to 'fix' something that, as I noted above, is not even a large issue in the province, as most employees can do their job well while wearing religious items. Some even might do it better wearing them, as, for some people, their religion is an important part of their life and makes up a large portion of their personal identity, including their commitment to a solid work ethic.
I think the Quebec government should rethink this proposal and decide not to go through with it.
Well, it’s already October and the municipal elections are drawing nearer. The 2018 municipal election will be held on Monday, October 22nd.
Soon, people will be marking down their ballots for who they want to be their Township or City’s next ward councillor, Regional Councillor, Regional Chair, Mayor and school board trustees.
Before voters go to the polls however, it is important for them to learn as much as they can about these candidates to make informed choices. This could involve attending candidate debates and meetings, doing some research about the candidates online or reading their local newspaper to see which candidate’s platform aligns with their values and their views for what their local area needs.
People should remember, they are electing these people to guide the future of where they live, over a four year term. It will be four years until they will be able to do this again, so it is important to make the right choice in this election.
On that note, let me say I am happy to work for a newspaper that does not endorse candidates. As an impartial reporter, I cannot and won’t tell you who you should or shouldn’t vote for. Personally, I feel it is the role of a journalist to provide all of the facts in an impartial way and let the people make an informed decision based on those facts. That is what I have been doing for the over three years I have worked at The Standard and that is what I will continue to do.
I do have a message for those who end up elected. Remember, you are all coming to council with common goals, to make the Township or City you represent the best it can be, and to be a voice for those who reside in your ward, or municipality.
I encourage all residents who are of legal voting age to vote in this election, as this is your chance to make your voice heard and be a part of shaping the next four years of your Township or City’s future. Those that end up elected will be the people deciding so many things that affect residents, such as bylaws, the refurbishment of municipal roads, fire and emergency services, municipal taxes and decisions on future proposed developments among others.
This is your chance to make your voice heard for what you want to happen in Scugog, Uxbridge and the Kawartha Lakes over the next four years.
THE CAPED CEARNSADeR's "Everyday heroes" a day in the life of... Windreach Farm Stable Coordinator KENDRA ABBEY
DAN CEARNS The Standard
DURHAM: For about four years, Kendra Abbey has been working at Windreach Farm in Ashburn as their Stable Coordinator.
She told The Standard she usually starts her day by taking care of the horses on the farm property.
“Normally I come in in the morning and we feed the horses. A big part of my job is taking care of the horses. I book the appointments for the farrier and the chiropractor, the veterinarian, some of them get massaged if they need it. So in the morning we make sure they are fed and happy,” Ms. Abbey said.
As well, she coordinates the Therapeutic Riding Program and teaches lessons.
“Learning to ride and care for a horse, participants experience improved physical strength, balance and coordination as well as increased attention, concentration and self esteem,” read Windreach Farm’s website’s description of the program.
Ms. Abbey explained the criteria it takes to take part in the program.
“We can start them at 2 [years old]. Every rider that comes in, before they get on a horse, has to have a physician referral form completed by the doctor to ensure it is safe for them to ride because there are some disabilities where it is not safe to ride,” she said.
Ms. Abbey coordinates the schedule for the program. There are group lessons of up to four riders, and then there are also private lessons depending on the needs of the rider.
“I do my best to get people the times that they want, which is sometimes difficult and from there we pick horses suitable for each rider,” she said. “Lessons normally start between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.”
She also stressed the importance of volunteers, stating some riders need up to three volunteers during their session.
Ms. Abbey said her job involves “teaching a lot during the day, and then returning emails and phone calls.”
“We get a lot of enquiries about new riders,” she said.
She also explained what it takes to do the job on a day-to-day basis.
“Definitely patience, energy or enthusiasm to keep the riders engaged and working towards their goals, you have to be excited but also [be in control of the situation] and definitely passion. I grew up riding horses and they are my passion. You have to be passionate about what you do to make it work,” Ms. Abbey explained.
She said her least favourite part of the job is the paperwork.
“I like to move around and do stuff instead of sitting down at the computer, but it’s part of my job. I like to be up and moving and working with the riders and the horses.”
However, she stated it is a very rewarding job. She mentioned seeing riders go from needing a lead and side walkers to riding independently as one of the rewarding moments of her job. There was also one fond memory she mentioned from her time on the job.
“The very first rider that I had when I first started teaching here, she was three [years old] and terrified to get on the horse. So I think it took us a couple of weeks and eventually she got on. That was an exciting moment for me,” she said.
Ms. Abbey noted that there is one thing that keeps her motivated to come to work everyday.
“To see the smiles on all the faces that get on the horse. It’s incredible to see them up there and having fun.”
With the Leafs starting their preseason schedule this week, and with this being my last column before the Leafs kickoff the regular season, it is time once again for me to make some predictions about the 2018/2019 Toronto Maple Leafs season.
For those who aren’t aware, every year in late September I make predictions about such topics as, what certain players will achieve, how the team will do in the standings, and what fringe players I think will make the roster, among others. For those who want to see the predictions I’ve made in past, go to www.thestandardnewspaper.ca and find the Caped Cearnsader column link. Now, on to this year’s predictions.
For starters, I will talk about the backup goalie position. For those who haven’t been following the team closely, Toronto has three possible goalies who could potentially backup starter Frederik Andersen when the Leafs begin the regular season. They are last year’s backup Curtis McElhinney, Garret Sparks, who helped the Marlies win the Calder Cup, and Calvin Pickard, who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights last year.
I think Garret Sparks will win the backup role this season, with the Leafs either losing McElhinney on waivers or trading him.
First off, Sparks had an incredible season in the AHL last year, posting a 1.79 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, and had six shutouts in 43 games, eventually helping to lead the Marlies to a Calder Cup championship.
Also, with the Leafs looking to move forward as Stanley Cup contenders, they are likely looking to take some of the burden off of the starting goalie. Andersen has played over 60 games in each of the last two seasons, and Toronto could look to reduce that to allow him to be a little more rested for the playoffs.
McElhinney is 35 years of age and hasn’t played more than 21 games in a season since the 2014/2015 season.
Sparks, on the other hand, is 25 years-old and was the Marlies starter last year, meaning he is used to carrying a big chunk of the workload for a team.
Next, I should speak to John Tavares’ impact. I think Tavares will score close to the number of goals he had last season, he had 37 last year. Personally, I think he will have a 35 goal season. He will continue to have success, in part because of playing with talented winger Mitch Marner, who has posted over 40 assists in each of his first two NHL seasons. I’m picking a slightly lower goals number for this season because Tavares won’t be counted on to be the only top level centre on the team, as Toronto also has a guy named Auston Matthews.
I also think current prospect Trevor Moore will make the Leafs this season, and will start on their fourth line. With the Leafs having lost Leo Komarov to free agency and having traded Matt Martin, it opens a spot on Toronto’s last forward line for someone in the organization to take. Moore will be competing with Tyler Ennis for that spot, but I think Moore will end up taking it.
Moore has been a plus player, in the plus/minus stat, the last two AHL seasons, and he has shown he can play on both the power play and the penalty kill, which will endear him to Leaf coach Mike Babcock. The fact former Marlies General Manager (GM), Kyle Dubas, is now the Leafs GM may also help.
Lastly, I think the Leafs will make it to the Eastern Conference final in the 2019 playoffs, before being eliminated. With a roster including Tavares, Matthews, Marner, and William Nylander, who will likely be signed before the start of the regular season, I think Toronto is poised to take the next step and will have a long playoff run.
Feel free to call me on these if any end up being wrong fans, but right now I’m looking forward to another exciting season.
It has been interesting to learn, through the process of working on my Everyday Heroes feature series, about what an average day is like, for people who do different jobs in this community. It has reminded me that, through small acts, anyone can be someone’s hero.
I remember the day I followed Scugog firefighter, Todd Soomre, as he performed the department’s Alarmed for Life program, he remarked to me that sometimes, when he is visiting homes, all it takes is simply listening to a resident speak to make their day.
Jessica Pett, the animal control officer I featured in the second installment, makes a difference for those animals that stay at the shelter for a long period of time, by simply taking time to give them some attention.
These examples got me thinking about everyday acts people can do, making themselves a hero to another person. However, to understand what it takes to be a hero, I first looked at what comic book superheroes share in common, besides powers. I found heroes in comic books are brave, never compromise their morals, put others’ needs before their own, and are motivated to make a difference and do the right thing.
So, now that we know that, what are some things people can do to be a hero to someone else? There are numerous things you can do. It could be as simple as helping a friend understand a certain subject or assignment in school, volunteering for a charity that needs help, giving up your seat on a transit bus to someone else who could use it more, listening to a friend when they are upset and comforting them or reminding them why they are important to you, or surprising a tired spouse or family member by making dinner for them.
If you know a friend who is feeling sad or depressed, give them a call or send them a message to brighten their day. Just simply be there for them in their time of need and ask how you can help them.
Looking at the never compromising morals portion of the comic book hero analysis; to be a hero you could simply serve as a role model for a coworker, classmate, or friend by living your life by a code of morality.
Of course, this doesn’t mean to impose those morals on someone, but instead to just lead by example and hope others learn from that example.
A good example for those students going back to school this week of bravery is you can be that one person to stick up for a student who is being bullied, and to tell the bully to leave the person alone.
Another brave thing any person could do is speaking up about an issue they are passionate about and possibly starting an initiative to fix the issue.
A person could also make a difference for someone by paying it forward, such as paying for the order of someone behind them in the line at the coffee shop or restaurant. Random kindness acts, such as holding a door for someone, complimenting somebody or thanking a person who has been doing good work in the community, are also a good start.
You could also donate blood, to possibly save the life of a patient in the hospital.
I hope these examples get you thinking about how you can be a hero to someone, and possibly inspire you to perform some of these simple acts or other kind acts for someone else.
Let me conclude this with a quote from a new song by Carrie Underwood, titled ‘Love Wins.’ “I believe we're made to be here for each other, and we'll never fall if we walk hand in hand.”
DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Like her last name would lead you to believe, Jessica Pett, an Uxbridge-Scugog animal control officer, is an animal lover.
“I've always loved animals. Originally, I thought about going into the veterinary profession, but I switched my focus once I got a summer student job here at [the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre], and I saw what it was like. I was more interested in this line of work, so I decided to focus on animal control.”
She explained to The Standard what her job involves on a day to day basis.
“To start, we always come in and we take care of the animals. Usually we have more cats than dogs. Sometimes we will have some small domestic animals like rabbits, we've even had chinchillas before. So we'll take care of them, we'll clean all of their cages, we'll feed them, medicate any of the animals that need medication. That's what we start with, and once that's all done, it really depends on the calls we get each day. It can vary. We will go out for sick or injured wildlife, so if we get a call about that, we'll go and take care of them. We also deal with complaints under the animal control bylaws,” Ms. Pett said.
She elaborated on the types of complaints they receive and respond to.
“Things like excessive barking, dogs running at large, we'll deal with aggressive animals as well. Anything under the animal control bylaw is what we deal with here. There's a few provincial acts that we deal with as well. The Dog Owners' Liability Act is one of them.”
If the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre receives a complaint about an aggressive dog, there is a certain procedure they follow.
“If we get a complaint about an aggressive dog acting [out] towards a person, we go out and we like to talk to the dog owner beforehand, just explain what the complaint was and let them know how to remedy any violations that have been occurring. We do like to get both sides of the story” Ms. Pett said. “And then we do have options to put things like orders to restrain on dogs, and that just puts further restrictions on a dog owner. Public safety is our main concern, so we don't want to take dog aggression lightly, but we don't want to accuse anyone either.”
She also explained how they deal with injured animal calls.
“It really depends on what the call is like. The first thing we do when we get a call about a sick or injured animal is we try to get as much information from the caller as possible, and then we'll go out and assess the situation. If we need to, we can take the animal to the vet, we can also bring them to the shelter. It just depends on the call and how severe it is.”
Ms. Pett noted, the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre works closely with the veterinary clinics in the two Townships.
“They'll do the veterinary work for any of the animals that get put up for adoption. When we get an animal in the shelter, we have to keep them for at least five business days before they can go up for adoption, just in case they are someone's animal, that they're missing. We want to make sure we can get lost pets home before we put them up for adoption, but if they are not claimed we will get them into the vet [clinic] and get their vaccinations done. We'll also get them spayed or neutered if they are old enough, and then we de-worm them, and we microchip them here. So that all gets done before they get put up for adoption.”
If there is a lull during the day, Ms. Pett said she spends that time giving the animals at the shelter some attention.
“We give them lots of attention, lots of socialization. Sometimes animals can be here for months at a time before they are adopted, so it's really important to keep them stimulated,” she said.
Ms. Pett said it can be tough sometimes to see an adopted animal leave the shelter after she has spent a lot of time with it, but added she knows “that they are going to a good home, so that makes it worth it.”
To be an animal control officer, you need to be in good shape Ms. Pett said. “You are dealing with large dogs at times. Sometimes we get calls about livestock, so you do need to be in good physical shape,” she said. “Sometimes you will have to lift dogs if they are hit by a car,” she added.
Liking animals is important as well. “You definitely need to like animals to be in this line of work. You deal with them every day, so if you didn't like animals, I don't think you would last very long in this type of profession.”
Ms. Pett also stressed the importance of dog owners licensing their pet. “A lot of times people aren't aware that all dogs in the municipality do need to be licensed, and the licenses do help the dogs get home if they ever get lost.”
With progress continuing on the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog, Ms. Pett said she is hopeful they will be able to be in the new building, located at 5500 Lakeridge Rd., by spring 2019.
“We are very excited about that,” she said.
After being off on vacation for a week, I have returned to The Standard’s office revitalized.
After a couple years of going to the same location, my family and I decided to do something different this year. As avid readers of this column will know, in the past my family and I have spent a week of vacation at Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood. However, this year I spent a couple weeks of vacation in two different spots.
For starters, in July we spent a couple days in Midland. The time over there contained many different and interesting experiences, including just touring around and seeing the colourful and creative murals on the sides of buildings in the area, learning more about the history of the area at the Huronia Museum, and touring the serene Wye Marsh and even helping to row a canoe for the first time there. It was fascinating to me to see how Midland has embraced arts and indigenous people’s culture.
Moving on to my second week of vacation, as I wrote above I was off last week. Most notably during that time, my family and I spent a day visiting Niagara Falls. Some of our fun while there included finding our way through a challenging maze attraction, touring through a wax museum featuring statues of movie stars, checking out the interesting, and somewhat disorienting, Upside Down House, and, of course, seeing the falls.
I think what I enjoyed most about these two weeks of vacation was simply being able to tour around, and experience the unique cultures of the areas, at my own pace, not having anything specifically scheduled to do. As a reporter, I am constantly scheduling times to interview people or specific times to take a photo, so being away gave me the chance to escape that structure for a little bit and just do whatever I would like to do, during the warm, sunny days I was on vacation.
Personally, I think all people should allow themselves some time every year to “stop and smell the roses” as the old saying goes.
However, that being said, I am happy to be back reporting on the great communities in The Standard’s coverage area.
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