So here’s a little bit of a personal admission: I don’t like vegetables. It’s a texture thing. Puree them, hide them in muffins, turn them into salsa or sauce and I can get them down, but one crunch down on an onion or pepper can ruin a meal for me.
Friends and loved ones have marveled incredulously at the site of me eating fried rice in the past, as I will pick around the peas and carrots so maddeningly inserted into what otherwise is a perfect food for me.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, trying to cover the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament is much like picking the veggies out of fried rice.
The tourney, featuring some of the best Under-18 players in the world, takes place each summer in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and is an oasis in a desert of summer hockey news. But it’s not televised.
In fact, there’s hardly any North American press there at all. Fortunately, we were able to recruit Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis and Collin Bowman to report exclusively for THN from the tournament and give us the inside scoop, but what if I wanted to actually watch a game?
The Ivan Hlinka is well-scouted and is one of the best international events for prospects about to enter their draft year. In fact, the first time I interviewed Steven Stamkos was last summer, after he had done scouting reports for THN from the event. Along with Hall, Ellis and Bowman, players such as Matt Duchene, Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi and Kirill Kabanov are all boosting their profiles right now (and Hall and Kabanov aren’t even draft eligible until 2010).
Now that hockey as a whole has reached the point where the on-ice product is soaring and the new talent is coming in waves, it’s time for TSN, the NHL Network – anybody, really – to step up and give us our summer hockey fix.
With THN’s logo ranking and tournament well underway, I just wanted to put in my two cents on a couple teams I liked that didn’t make the top 10 in their respective leagues.
New Jersey Devils – For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the panel didn’t like the classic ‘N.’ It’s got the horns, it’s got the tail and it all flows nicely together. Even Omar rocked a Devils jersey in season one of The Wire.
Idaho Steelheads – Yeah, it’s just a mountain range, but for some reason I can’t take my eyes off it. The colors are definitely sharp and it just seems kind of majestic. I think I’d rock a Steelheads jersey.
Charlotte Checkers – I’m a firm believer in redemption and Charlotte’s updated bear mascot is a drastic improvement. I’m sure the old one was a hit with the kids (which is important), but the new bear is slick and the colors are cool. Again, I’d probably rock a Checkers hat now.
Jason Baird update
A lot of goodwill has come out of the Jason Baird tragedy and new ways to support his recovery and his loved ones are shaping up. Over at www.jasonbaird.ca, you can learn about a trust fund set up for Jason in his hometown of Cayuga, Ont.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every second Friday, and his feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.