Tag: Stephen Harper

Harper and Putin

No, Harper and Putin won’t be playing hockey against each other

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have no plans to face off against each other in a pair of hockey games to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

That according to the Prime Minister’s Office, which today was forced to refute a report in the Toronto Star that the two leaders would be hitting the ice in September. (Presumably with the winner becoming the undisputed ruler of the North Pole.)

To be fair, the rumor wasn’t the most ridiculous ever.

Putin isn’t an experienced hockey player; however, he did skate with CSKA Moscow in November.

Harper knows all about hockey – he’s even written a book on the game’s history that’s due out later this year. Granted, he only played a few years as a kid and quit when he was 13.

Jets cancel season ticket accounts for scalping

Winnipeg Jets MTS Centre

Everyone knows that opening night tickets in Winnipeg are a hot commodity. That’s the same kind of understatement as saying “Shea Weber had a pretty good beard last season.” Even though face-value tickets max out at $192 per game, tickets on the secondhand market for opening night are going for more than $4,000. As the season approaches and tickets are increasingly out of control, the Jets organization is doing something about it.

According to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail in Toronto:

“Winnipeg Jets say a number of season ticket accounts have been cancelled for activity regarding the re-sale of tickets.”

This isn’t the first time that the Jets organization has stepped up to limit the actions of scalpers. Back in June, True North cancelled ticket transactions that they didn’t think were legitimate. After it only took 17 minutes to sell 13,000 season tickets, there were bound to be some issues with average fans looking for single game tickets. Mix in the aura and intrigue of the first regular season NHL game in fifteen years and tickets for Sunday’s game against Montreal have long since been spoken for. Predictably, not everyone who was lucky enough to land tickets plans on using the tickets.

To give proper perspective, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly asked for 14 tickets to the game—and was only given two by the organization. It’s not every day that an organization refuses to fill the prime minister’s ticket request.

We have to give it up to the Jets organization to do whatever they can to make sure the tickets are getting into the fans’ hands. There’s a supply-and-demand effecting going on in Winnipeg. The MTS Center only holds 15,015 for hockey games and there are about 684,000 people in Winnipeg who want tickets. Considering plenty of scalpers got their hands on the tickets for opening night—and the rest of the season—the Jets are doing their part to get face-value tickets into the hands of their fans.

We wonder: what would have been the going rate if were the Canadiens were playing their opening night game in Atlanta?

Chara speaks up about Pacioretty hit; Habs owner questions NHL, Canada’s Prime Minister and Donald Fehr voice concern


There’s been a lot said from all sides about the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident and the NHL’s subsequent failure to impose punishment on Chara for his dubious hit that broke Pacioretty’s neck and gave him a severe concussion. While Pacioretty was released from the hospital today the war of words and debate rages on everywhere.

It started earlier today with Zdeno Chara reaffirming his take on the situation and serving to further infuriate Canadiens fans and those who disagreed with the NHL not suspending him. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty spoke with Chara who said he was relieved to not be punished.

“[Pacioretty] is in the hospital,” said Chara. “He has the right to be emotional, and I respect that. As hockey players, we all feel bad when something like that happens no matter whether you’re the home team or the visiting team. There’s always concern when somebody gets hurt.

“It was a hockey play. It wasn’t intentional. That’s not my style. I never try to hurt anybody. It’s not what I attempted to do.”

As for the talk of the incident being investigated by Montreal police, Chara is well aware of what’s going on there.

“I’ve got some media info on [the police investigation] this morning,” said Chara. “I’m focusing on the game and playing hockey. We’ll see”

While Chara had his say today, Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson issued a letter to Canadiens fans stating that they’ve made it clear to the NHL they do not agree with their decision. Molson joins Penguins owner Mario Lemieux as a member of the league’s Board of Governors who has publicly come out and lambasted the NHL for their lack of action concerning violent acts on the ice. While this incident differs greatly from what happened in Long Island between the Penguins and Islanders, it’s the alarming lack of safety for players that’s at the forefront of discussion.

Molson was direct and to the point with the NHL regarding his concerns.

Our organization believes that the players’ safety in hockey has become a major concern, and that this situation has reached a point of urgency. At risk are some of the greatest professional athletes in the world, our fan base and the health of our sport at all levels. Players’ safety in hockey must become the ultimate priority and the situation must be addressed immediately. As a proud father of three hockey players, I want to help create a healthy and safe experience for them, and I certainly never want any family to go through what the Pacioretty’s are experiencing at this moment.

We understand and appreciate hockey being a physical sport, but we do not accept any violent behavior that will put the players’ health and safety at risk. On this specific issue, I am asking for the support of the 29 other NHL owners, to address urgently this safety issue. And I am willing to play a leadership role in coordinating this group effort.

The words are powerful and Molson willing to embrace a leadership role rather than lecture from the pulpit takes what Lemieux did just last month and increase the vigor which league executives are trying to go about changing things. As always, our issue on matters like this when owners speak out is we’re wondering where the outrage and concern was when other players suffered horrible injuries because of terrible hits on the ice.

We know things matter differently when it affects you directly, but if things are boiling down this much so that teams are waiting until they’re dealing with a mess directly before speaking up about problems they see with the game, we’re in for a long wait before any sort of changes are made. After all, if teams continue to act disinterested as long as they’re not affected, change will never come about.

One of the sides in this whole affair that can help change things for the better as they see fit is the NHLPA. Executive Director Donald Fehr issued a statement pertaining to everything surrounding this situation. Disappointingly, Fehr made it more of a point to direct attention to how the rink is built rather than how players treat each other on the ice.

“Player safety has always been, and continues to be, a great concern to the Players’ Association. In that regard, issues involving the boards and glass in NHL arenas have been a longstanding focus for the players. The serious nature of the injury suffered by Max Pacioretty in Montreal this week reinforces the importance of maximizing the safety in this area and highlights the need to look further into the matter. We will be inspecting the rink in Montreal, and elsewhere, to make sure the appropriate padding is in place. We will continue to gather feedback from the membership, to ensure the safest possible work environment for our players.”

Dancing around the real problem of making sure players have some sense of respect for each other on the ice is disappointing but I suppose if they’re going to get the rinks to be safer that’s one very small step in the right direction. Whether that helps curtail the amount of violence players have toward one another remains to be seen. Addressing the players to make sure they’re not out to maim each other would make a bit more sense than simple architecture work.

As we’ve seen through this ordeal, it’s the sort of hot topic that brings out everyone to make a comment on things. Air Canada made their statement last night (to which commissioner Gary Bettman fired back upon today) and now Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is speaking his mind as well. Harper, in typically politically correct ways, spoke about how player safety should be a bigger concern in the sport.

“I just say this as a hockey fan, I’m very concerned about the growing number of very serious injuries, and in some cases to some of the premier players in the game,” Harper said at an event in Toronto on Thursday.

“I don’t think that’s good for the game and I think the league’s got to take a serious look at that for its own sake.”

Government figures speaking up on a hot topic is nothing new, but in the NHL is something a bit different. Getting noticed like that from on high doesn’t reflect well upon the the league and keeping off government radar in matters of safety should be a concern for the league.

We’re sure the NHL didn’t intend to have this much attention drawn to the sport in such a negative fashion, but we’re also pretty sure Zdeno Chara didn’t intend to break Max Pacioretty’s neck either. Unintended consequences are sometimes the hardest ones to deal with. We can only hope the NHL is prepared to continue facing up to the public backlash for not acting upon a violent hit that resulted in a horrible injury for the second season in a row.