Sunday, March 29, 2015

Heavy Metal Memories: On the Radio

There's been a long, dry spell in my writing efforts. I've had plenty of ideas, but for some reason, the pathway between my brain and my hands seemed to be cut off with no detour in sight. I'm slowly getting back on track, although I can't seem to get my thoughts out in coherent fashion for the two novels currently "in progress," so I'm using this space for a smaller-scale writing exercise, in which I share random memories from my somewhat long and eventful life (eventful to me, at least).

Here's the first in a series I'm calling HEAVY METAL MEMORIES:

ON THE RADIO. When I moved to New Jersey from Germany in 1983, I decided to pursue interests I'd never had the courage to pursue in high school. I got a job answering phones at the music publishing arm of a major record label in NYC. I joined a heavy metal band as their lead singer. I paid for the privilege to host a 30-minute heavy metal radio show that aired down the Jersey shore (and parts of NYC) on Monday nights at midnight. The company that made this possible was called NBS (I still have my ID card somewhere). I taped the show on Saturday mornings at 10am, at their studios in midtown Manhattan. Each week, I carefully compiled my playlist, buying or borrowing albums to lug up to New York on the North Jersey Coast Line train. I think I had enough time to play 3 to 5 songs, plus two 30-second PSA's. I recorded those PSA's on carts and engineered my own show. I learned to end each show with an instrumental, which is easier to fade out than an actual song, should I mistime my show. (I ended a lot of shows with "Dee" by Randy Rhoads, "Switch 625" by Def Leppard, and the intro to "Crazy Train," by Ozzy).

(My studio at NBS Radio in 1984 looked a lot like this)

During this time, I met a guy named Eddie, who rode my train in the mornings. He told me about a record label called MegaForce, that sold records at a year-round indoor flea market on Route 18 in New Brunswick. I drove there one weekend and met MegaForce owners Jon and Marsha Zazula, who, once I told them about my radio show, sent me off with albums from several bands they had on their roster so far: Kill 'Em All by Metallica, All for One by Raven, Fistful of Metal by Anthrax, and TT Quick's debut album. I devoured these albums and shared them with my listeners. When Metallica's second album came out, I was one of very few radio DJ's to receive a copy. I think I played Ride the Lightning in its entirety, over several weekends. (Side note: Heavy metal was garnering more interest at this time, and Bob Cutarella, one of the A&R people I worked with at PolyGram (Chappell-Intersong, to be exact) asked me whether I knew any bands that might interest him. Thinking immediately of Metallica, Raven and Anthrax, I introduced him to Jonny Z. The two of them chatted and, the next thing I knew, Bob and Jonny had gotten deals for Metallica (Elektra Records), Raven (Atlantic Records) and Anthrax (Island Records). I am NOT claiming any responsibility whatsoever for any of this, because the bands were so awesome, it was only a matter of time before Jonny wrangled deals like this on his own. I'm just tickled to have been able to facilitate one introduction that yielded such great results, especially for Metallica.)

(The eternally ageless Marsha & Jon Zazula. founders of MegaForce Records)

(Kill 'Em All For One tour t-shirt, 1983)

(Thrilled to have been one of a few radio deejays to play this album first)

As MegaForce Records expanded and opened a record store, Rock 'n Roll Heaven in Clark, New Jersey, I was given access to more bands and albums. I took to giving Rock 'N Roll Heaven a shout out in each week's show, giving special thanks to store manager Brian Nyers, who is one of the most nicest people around. I played bands like Venom, Manowar, White Lion, Battalion and Talas, as well as giants like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy and Black Sabbath. I went to some great shows at Roseland Ballroom, L'Amour in Brooklyn and L'Amour East in Queens, and talked about them. I interviewed bands like Talas (Billy Sheehan's group) and Loudness (from Japan, with lots of interpretation from their Irish manager).

(Loudness, circa 1984)

The fun ride lasted about a year and a half, before NBS went out of business. I had a great time sharing metal with listeners up and down the north Jersey coast and was sad when it ended, but had no desire to pursue a radio career. My passion lay in writing, and I was fortunate to land a gig writing for Hard Rocks, a short-lived but awesome offshoot of The Aquarian Weekly. I met some incredible people, some of whom are still in my life; and enjoyed some incredible music by countless bands, some who flared brightly for an album or two before fading away, while others are still going strong. MegaForce Records continues to support rockin' music, with Jon & Marsha still at the helm. Their #1 person, Maria Ferrero, runs her own PR firm (Adrenaline PR) and management company (Breaking Bands LLC). Bob Cutarella is a highly-respected music producer in LA. Metallica, Raven and Anthrax are still going strong. Brian is living a quiet life but is active on Facebook. Sadly, L'Amour, L'Amour East and Roseland Ballroom are no more. I don't even know whether there are any clubs left in the New York City or tri-state area that cater to heavy metal bands.

(RIP, L'Amour, Rock Capital of Brooklyn)

(The indomitable Ms. Maria Ferrero)

I smile when I think about my time as a radio DJ. Most of my listeners were guys and they never remembered my name. I was known as "The Chick that Plays Metal." I had cassette copies of every show, but sadly, like the metal clubs mentioned above, they met a tragic demise. All that remains are memories, which may or may not make it into one of my novels. Writing about this experience has given me some ideas, though, so as they say in show business, stay tuned.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The punch seen 'round the world leads to backlash against... RAY RICE'S WIFE??

(Janay & Ray Rice/AP Photo)


The latest turn of events in the Ray Rice saga stunned... no, shocked me, and I'm not talking about the video released by TMZ this morning, nor his subsequent contract termination by the Baltimore Ravens or suspension from the NFL.

What I found even more shocking than the punch seen around the world, were the reactions of many people, predominantly women, vilifying Janay Rice for not only taking the beating, but marrying him. Many critics were not sympathetic toward Janay; in fact, she's being called everything from "desperate" and an "idiot," to "gold digger," using her husband's fat paycheck to ease the pain from a fat lip (and other myriad injuries). Even people I thought I knew well had harsh words for Janay, saying she was as much to blame for the elevator altercation as her Pro Bowl husband because she hit him, too.

Now, I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in the Rice household. I don't know whether the elevator incident was an "isolated" one. Some comments accused the media of fueling a one-sided story by airing the video, using it to condemn Ray Rice and "bully" the Ravens into cutting him loose.  Others are questioning why the extra video is only coming to light now, instead of months ago, along with the snippet seen by millions - showing Ray dragging an apparently unconscious Janay out of the elevator by her hair.

Take ten seconds and go back and read that last sentence. Go ahead. I'll wait. 

The video showed Ray Rice dragging his apparently unconscious then-fiancee out of an elevator. BY. HER. HAIR

This could hardly be considered an an act of love and concern on behalf of a besotted young man. The sight of a man dragging a woman by the hair sends a very clear message: HE's ANGRY and SHE's PAYING THE PRICE.

And yet, several things happened as a result of the original video clip:
  1. Both Ray and Janay were arrested and charged with domestic violence
  2. They held a join press conference where both apologized for their roles in the "incident."
  3. Janay married Ray, a man she has known and loved since they were 16 year old high school students.
The fact that Janay married Ray seems to lie at the root of 85% of the backlash against her. There's also the fact that she's seen pushing him before he punches her so hard, she hits her head on a railing inside the elevator and is knocked unconscious. Oh, and she was also arrested, so it's just as much her fault as his (another popular assertion).

So... am I being hypersensitive about this? Am I bandying about the term "domestic violence" a little too freely? Am I reading too much into Janay's body language from the joint press conference and seeing a woman who is firmly under her husband's thumb; a man she's been with since the tender age of 16? Is she really a gold digger, overlooking his apparently violent temper for his multi-million dollar salary, jewelry, a nice house, fancy cars and all the perks that come with being an "NFL Wife?" Is she pushing his anger buttons because she has become addicted to his temper?

Or... is Janay Rice a victim, whose husband has had years (decades) to groom her, chip away at her confidence and bend her to his will? Is she feeling useless and trapped, unable to stand up to her famous husband, especially not with a toddler in the house? Is she feeling as though she cannot make it on her own, in spite of a communications degree from Towson University? Does she look in the mirror and see a failure, blaming herself even for the newest video released today and for her husband losing his job without even a glimmer of hope he'll ever play professional football again? Is she afraid he'll blame her, too, and take it out not just on her, but on their little girl?

Whenever I think about this situation, I try to place my mind in an impartial state, but my gut keeps seeing that brief clip of Ray dragging an unconscious Janay out of the elevator by her hair, and just like that, it's difficult to be impartial.

The majority of men who took to social media today seem to agree. Current and former NFL players came down on Ray Rice like the proverbial ton of bricks. Many fans called for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step down, accusing him and the Ravens' front office personnel of trying to cover up the severity of the so-called "altercation," then expressing surprise when TMZ posted the incriminating video this morning. Several sports pundits, including a couple of former NFL coaches, vented their outrage "as fathers." Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he and Ray had talked a lot since the first video emerged and expressed hope the couple would work their way through this, together, and come out stronger for it.

I've never been in an abusive relationship. 
I know people who have been in very abusive relationships. 
Some were able to leave and not look back. 
Some look over their shoulders all the time. 
Some have gone back to their abusers, over and over... and over again. 
Some remain in troubled relationships because they just can't leave right now, because they're afraid, because of the kids, because they have no support system, because, because because. 
Some of these people have very successful careers. 
Some of these people would make you shake your head in disbelief and say, "Her? NO WAY is she a domestic violence victim!" 


Is Janay Rice a victim? No matter how incriminating that video looks, only she knows for sure, and she's not telling, at least not right now. If she is, we can only hope she finds her voice before it's too late.


If you're reading this and you ARE in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, call the 
National Domestic Violence Hotline for immediate help, 24/7: 
800-799-7233  

Or-- visit the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence for more resources: www.wscadv.org
(Please, make sure you're in a safe place or using a phone your abuser cannot access)

If you know me and want someone to talk to before making any decisions, either for yourself or someone you're concerned about, get in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter (@Motley_Su or @TaoOfSu) - or have someone get in touch with me on your behalf if you don't feel safe reaching out. You're not alone and you do not have to go through this alone. 



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mariners' anthem memory

 
Two years ago this week, THIS happened.

 
On May 9, 2012, I had the honor of performing the National Anthem at the Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers game at Safeco Field. The date is pretty special, because it was the day after the anniversary of my mother's passing (May 8, 1991). For those of you who know me, you also know my mother was a huge baseball fan and a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees.

At the beginning of the 2012 season, I sent the Mariners a clip of me singing at a Seattle Thunderbirds game with no expectations. Imagine my surprise (shock) when they emailed to book me (!) and offered these dates: May 7, 8 or 9.

I don't believe in coincidences.

After a long and somewhat tearful conversation with my sister Kimberly, I selected May 9. We both felt performing on May 8, the actual date of our mother's passing, might prove to be too emotional. I had a terrible sound check (seriously - I started way too high and was intimidated by the players who were taking batting practice on the field). The three-hour wait that followed only served to ratchet my anxiety into orbit.

Then, something weird happened.

As I stepped onto the field to sing, a sense of calm washed over me. I stepped up to the mic - and sang. I didn't fall apart until I finished singing and walked off the field and into my family's waiting arms. We then enjoyed watching the M's beat the Tigers 2-1.
 
I'm so thankful to the Seattle Mariners for helping make one of my anthem dreams come true... and thankful to my friend Elaine, who recorded it on her phone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WHL US Division well-represented in NHL playoffs... plus Seattle's "Golden Boy" TJ Oshie

 
Fans of WHL's US Division teams have a number of teams to cheer for in the first round of the NHL playoffs. But if you're not a diehard fan and want to know who to follow, I've done the legwork for you. Below are players from WHL US Division teams whose NHL teams are in the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup. 

In addition, one of the Seattle-area's homegrown stars, TJ Oshie, is shaking off an injury in an attempt to help lead the St. Louis Blues in the Cup chase.

Take a look at the list of players below. Let me know if I've left anyone out. And may your team win the Cup (if your team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, that is).

TJ Oshie - product of Seattle Junior Hockey Association


 
Brenden Dillon (2007-2011) - Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)

 
Patrick Marleau (1995-1997) – San Jose Sharks (v. Los Angeles Kings)
 
Cory Sarich (1998) – Colorado Avalanche (v. Minnesota Wild)
 
 Nate Thompson (2001-2005) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)

 
Radko Gudas  (2009-2010) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)

 
Ryan Murray (2008-2013) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins)

 
Note: Former Silvertips Head Coach Craig Hartsburg is Columbus Blue Jackets’ Assistant Coach
Carey Price (2002-2007) – Montreal (v. Tampa Bay Lightning)

 
Clayton Stoner  (2002-2005) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 


Tyler Johnson (2007-2011) – Tampa Bay Lightning (v. Montreal Canadiens)
 

Darcy Kuemper (2007 - one game) –  Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 
Jared Spurgeon (2005-2010) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)
 
Ray Whitney (1988-1991) – Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)
 
Note: Former Chiefs Head Coach Mike Babcock is Detroit Red Wings’ Head Coach
Note: Former Chiefs Assistant and Head Coach Bill Peters is Detroit Red Wings’ Assistant Coach
 Braydon Coburn (2000-2005) - Philadelphia Flyers (v. New York Rangers)

Brandon Dubinsky (2002-2006) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins)


Marian Hossa  (1997-1998) – Chicago Blackhawks (v. St. Louis Blues)

 
Ryan Johansen (2009-2011) – Columbus Blue Jackets (v. Pittsburgh Penguins )
 
Cody McLeod (2001-2005) – Colorado Avalanche (v. Minnesota Wild)
 
Brenden Morrow (1995-1999) – St. Louis Blues (v. Chicago Blackhawks)


Nino Niederreiter (2009-2011) – Minnesota Wild (v. Colorado Avalanche)


Luca Sbisa (2010) – Anaheim Ducks (v. Dallas Stars)

Colton Sceviour (2004-2008) – Dallas Stars (v. Anaheim Ducks)


 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Puckpourri: T-Birds love, 'Tips news, two ooh's + one OMG GWG

T-BIRDS LOVE
The Seattle Thunderbirds proved to be no match for the CHL-leading Kelowna Rockets, losing all four games in their WHL playoffs second round match-up. The T-Birds showed some flashes of brilliance, but unfortunately, the Rockets shined just a bit brighter, winning 3 of 4 games pretty handily: 6-2, 6-3, -5-4, 5-2. 

(Photo: Kelowna Rockets/WHL)

I'm not going to try to wrap up the season. That's definitely not my strong suit. I will say this: I thoroughly enjoyed myself this season, both as a fan and as an anthem singer. T-Birds fans are incredibly friendly, supportive and loyal. AND they sing along. I can't wait to see what next season brings.

In the meantime, here are write-ups from hockey minds I respect and admire:

Thom Beuning (The "Voice of the T-Birds"): The Last Harrumph
Andy Eide (T-Birds writer for MyNorthwest.com): T-Birds season ends with 5-2 loss to Rockets in Game 4

Player notes:

The team and fans said goodbye to Mitch Elliot, who wrapped up his fifth and final season. He played his entire WHL career with the T-Birds, which is a bit of a rarity in these times. He played in a total of 322 regular season games, scored 14 goals and had 20 assists. He played in 16 playoff games, scored 1 goal (against the Everett Silvertips in Game 5 of this year's playoffs), and had 2 assists. I had the chance to sit and chat with Mitch, his parents and his billet parents. That story will post very soon. I will say this about Mitch - he's a class act, and I expect this young man to succeed at whatever he puts his mind to doing.

(Mitch Elliot/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)


Captain Justin Hickman signed an ATO with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (the Islanders' AHL team). Here's the release. I wonder whether former T-Birds Captain Thomas Hickey (current d-man for the Isles) will be able to offer any tips.


(Justin Hickman/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)

D-man Shea Theodore has been called up to the Norfolk Admirals (the Ducks' AHL team). Here's the release.
(Shea Theodore/Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds/WHL)
'TIPS NEWS
The Everett Silvertips have got to be proud of goaltender Austin Lotz, who made the NHL Central Scouting Service's final rankings of North American goaltenders prior to the Entry Draft in June. Lotz came in at number 22 of the top 30 goalies. By all accounts, Austin had a stellar season: 57 games played, Record: 31W (including 5 shutouts), 18L, 3OTL, 2SOL. His GAA was 2.53 and SV% WAS 0.905%.
(Austin Lotz/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)
 
Player notes:
Captain Matt Pufahl signed an ATO with the Lake Erie Monsters (the Avs' AHL team). Here's the release. The d-man will protect former enemy opponent, former T-Birds goalie Calvin Pickard.
 
(Matt Pufahl/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)

Josh Winquist and Jujhar Khaira have joined the Oklahoma City Barons (the Oilers' AHL team). JJ signed a contract with Edmonton over the summer, while Josh signed an ATO. (Side note: The Silvertips Booster Club has this neat thing they do every year - they match each member up with a player in a "secret pal" program. The pals deliver good cheer to their players throughout the season, along with gift cards. At the end of the regular season, they host a party where the pals and players finally meet, and the pal gives his/her player one last gift. I was proud to be JJ's secret pal this season, although I couldn't make it to the reveal party because of a prior commitment. I'm told he thoroughly enjoyed his gift, a mounted photo of him in action against the Winterhawks, snapped by awesome photographer Chris Mast. I wish JJ the best of luck with the Barons and beyond).
 
(Jujhar Khaira/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)
 
(Josh Winquist/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)

Mirco Mueller has been called up to the Worcester Sharks (San Jose's AHL team). The Sharks drafted him 18th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Read about all three players here.
(Mirco Mueller/Photo: Mast Images/Everett Silvertips)


TWO OOH'S
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pens):  incredible flip to deny Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson in the shootout the other night.



Kris Letang (Pens): suffered a stroke six weeks ago. Wednesday night, he laced 'em up and hit the ice for the first time and played like he'd never left. I won't lie - seeing him back in the game makes me nervous, but as friends (and Tanger himself) pointed out, a stroke could hit at any time, no matter what he's doing. Why not at least be doing what he loves? I can't argue with that.


(Kris Letang/Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins/Getty)

Jonathan Quick (Kings): Kings fans know what a class act Jonathan Quick is - now, the entire nation knows. Watch what happened when he surprised a young fan on the Ellen Show:



OMG GWG
Justin Holl (University of Minnesota): This kid waited until the final 6 seconds of the final 4 of the Frozen Four to score his very first goal of the season. And what a goal! Holl's shot lifted the Golden Gophers over the UND Fighting Sioux team to land in the championship game against Union College, who beat Boston College Thursday. That game takes place tomorrow (Saturday, April 12) at 7:30pm ET on ESPN.



Talk about the ultimate buzzer-beater.


 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Puckpourri: Ugh T-Birds, incredible comeback in Kootenay, baby "Blues" for TJ Oshie... + the King of Pop-- on ICE?!

1. UGH, T-BIRDS

Game 1 in the second round of the WHL playoffs is in the books and the Seattle Thunderbirds got the ugly end of the stick. The Kelowna (formerly the TACOMA) Rockets took advantage of a number of penalties and just plain outmanned the T-Birds to a final score of 6-2.

 (Photo: Kelowna Rockets/WHL)

Ugh.
Double Ugh.

I know Kelowna finished the regular season with a whopping 118 points, more than any team in the WHL, OHL or QMJHL. Powerhouse? You bet. Unbeatable? No team is unbeatable. Just ask the 2008-2009 San Jose Sharks, who won the President's Trophy with 117 points, only to lose 4-2 to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. Or the 2009-2010 Washington Capitals, who finished the season with a whopping 121 points only to go down in 7 games against the Montreal Canadiens, also in first round action.

I'm not a sports psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. But I'd say the T-Birds are facing more than a formidable opponent in the Kelowna Rockets this series. Of course the Rockets are formidable - they've got the best record in the CHL. But they also have something else: history - and recent history at that. In the first round of the playoffs last year, Seattle won the first 3 games and seemed poised to finish off the Rockets and advance to the second round. Instead, Kelowna pulled off an incredible upset, winning the next four games and leaving a stunned T-Birds team (and fans) in their wake. (They didn't advance past the second round after hitting a brick wall called the Kamloops Blazers). 

So... this armchair sports psychologist thinks maybe *some* of the T-Birds may be remembering their massive fall from grace last season and the memory is (consciously or subconsciously) messing with their minds. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first person to offer a loud "mea culpa" at center ice of ShoWare Center. But I heartily believe Seattle has what it takes to bring down this Goliath-like Kelowna team. In fact, the teams split their four regular season games with two wins apiece (4-3 Seattle, 4-3 Kelowna, 4-1 Seattle, 7-3 Kelowna). 

Here's hoping the T-Birds roll into Prospera Place tomorrow night and show the Rockets they don't care about 118-point regular season records or what happened last year, then ride that momentum to Kent and show the hometown crowd, and most importantly, themselves, that they've got the heart and the talent to keep the post-season going.

2. INCREDIBLE COMEBACK IN KOOTENAY

And I'm not talking about the playoffs, although the Ice handily defeated the Calgary Hitmen 4-2 to advance to the second round (Game 1 against Medicine Hat is tomorrow night). 

No, the incredible comeback I'm talking about happened before the March 29th game at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook, when Ice forward Tim Bozon took part in the ceremonial puck drop before his teammates skated to a 5-3 victory and knocked Calgary out of the playoffs.

(Photo: Barry Coulter)

Tim spent the better part of the month in a Saskatoon hospital, battling a form a bacterial meningitis so serious, doctors had to place him in a coma for two weeks while they treated him. He was released from the hospital on March 28 and watched his teammates win the next night. The Montreal Canadiens prospect is now back home in France with his parents, where he'll continue the healing process.

Here's the news conference with Tim and his father (warning: dad gets a little emotional)


Here's video of the ceremonial puck drop: 


3. BABY "BLUES" FOR T.J. OSHIE

Blues star (and Seattle Junior Hockey Association alum) T.J. Oshie has been tearing up the ice and helping St. Louis clinch a playoff spot and a whopping 111 points. But on the Today Show this morning, TJ and his fiancee Lauren shared the emotional challenge faced by their newborn daughter, Lyla Grace, who was born with a serious birth defect called gastroschisis (part of baby Lyla's intestines were outside her tiny body). Surgeons successfully repaired the problem and baby Lyla is expected to go home with her mom and dad next week. 




3. THE KING OF POP... ON ICE?!

The Hubby (@StuV94) spotted this photo tweeted out by @History_Pix today. He retweeted it, then texted me to check it out.


t

The photo is identified as a ceremonial puck drop between the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins on November 16, 1984. According to a story posted by the Canucks in 2009, the only thing the team can confirm is that Stan Smyl is #12 for Vancouver, and we all recognize #66 in the Penguins uniform. But they couldn't confirm with complete certainty that the gentleman holding the puck aloft is actually the King of Pop himself. According to the story, Michael Jackson *was* in Vancouver at the time, performing for three nights at BC Place, so one would assume this was the real deal participating in the ceremonial puck drop. He looks real to me and it seems like the type of thing the kid in him would have enjoyed doing. 

I'd love to sit here and continue ruminating with you, but I've gotta go. I think a UFO just landed in my backyard - and I think Bigfoot's behind the wheel. #TheTruthIsOutThere



Monday, March 24, 2014

My worst hockey nightmare comes true: The T-Birds and Silvertips face EACH OTHER in WHL playoff action

I like to be able to cheer for a team in the playoffs freely, without stress, conflict or dare I say, guilt. So, when the WHL released its playoff bracket, I let out a loud groan as I saw who the Seattle Thunderbirds (@SeattleTBirds) and Everett Silvertips (@WHLSilvertips) would be facing in the first round: EACH OTHER.

My first reaction was, "Really, WHL? Why??????" 

Then I realized the league had absolutely nothing to do with the match-up. Their nearly identical records placed them at 4th (T-Birds) and 5th (Silvertips) in the Western Conference, which meant they would have to battle each other for the chance to advance to the Round 2.

Well, two games are in the books and it's been brutal trying to be Switzerland (aka: impartial). It's been damn hard to be happy for the team that won both games (Seattle) and sad for the team that lost (Everett). Because at the end of this series, whether it goes 4, 5, 6 or 7 games, one team's players will jubilantly advance to the next round, and one team's players will go home for the summer, utterly deflated.

I've written little tidbits about Game 1 and Game 2 for the KING 5 Sports site. They're nothing more than overviews of the game for casual fans perusing our website. But I've been reading juicier recaps courtesy of Andy Eide (@AndyEide) and Tim Pigulski (@tpigulski) on MyNorthwest.com (T-Birds) and Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) at The Herald of Everett (Silvertips), as well as admiring the stellar action shots captured by photographer Christopher Mast (@MastImages) (click here to check out the ingenious "goal cam" he set up before last night's Game 2 at Comcast Arena in Everett)


http://www.mastimages.com/
(Game 2: Kozun robs Khaira of a goal/Photo: Christopher Mast)

Game 3 takes place tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 25) at ShoWare Center in Kent. The puck drops at 7:05pm, and a few minutes before that, I'll do what I've done about half a dozen times at T-Birds games during the regular season: sing the national anthem. And I'll be wearing a T-Birds jersey because that's what anthem singers do. But for the minute or so it takes to get through the anthem, I hope all the fans inside the arena will unite as one and sing with me. 

After that, when the puck drops, you're welcome to retreat to your corners and cheer your little hearts out for your team until the final buzzer sounds. Then, maybe we can unite again-- not just as T-Birds or Silvertips fans, but as hockey fans.

At least, until Game 4 (Friday, March 28 - 7:35pm at Comcast Arena in Everett).

The rest of the schedule (if necessary):


Game 5 – Saturday, March 29, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)

Game 6 – Monday, March 31, 7:05pm – Seattle at Everett (Comcast Arena, Everett)

Game 7 – Wednesday, April 2, 7:05pm – Everett at Seattle (ShoWare Center, Kent)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Heartbreaking week for hockey

It's been a heavy week for hockey fans, as tragedy struck players from four teams. Fans pushed rivalries aside to unite on Twitter and other social media, offering prayers, support, sharing tears and comfort. Meanwhile, four players' families, friends and teammates struggle to make sense of the heartbreak in their midst.

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - TIM BOZON
Tim Bozon, a forward with the Kootenay ICE (WHL), was rushed to a hospital in Saskatoon, the day after helping the ICE beat the Blades 4-2 the night before. Doctors determined Tim was suffering from Neisseria Meningitis, a serious inflammation of the tissue around the brain and spine, and placed him in a coma earlier this week to help him heal. His parents flew in from Switzerland and have been constantly at his side. 

The WHL has set up a fund to help Tim and his family with expenses during his recovery process. Fans in Canada can donate at any BMO Bank of Montreal branch in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Fans in the U.S. can mail donations to:

Tim Bozon Fund
c/o Western Hockey League
Father David Bauer Arena
2424 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 3Y9
CANADA

Anyone looking to send get well wishes to Tim can either send them to the above address, or directly to the team:

The Kootenay ICE Hockey Club
c/o Western Financial Place
#2 - 1777 - 2nd Street North
Cranbrook, BC V1C 7G9
CANADA

Monday, March 3, 2014 - MATT STAJAN
On Monday, March 3, Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan and his wife Katie welcomed their son Emerson into the world, then grieved as the newborn passed away a short time later. Matt has taken a leave of absence from the team to be with this wife, but the Calgary Sun reports, teammates and their wives have rallied around the heartbroken couple in a show of love and support. 

Fans who want to show love and support for Matt and Katie Stajan can send cards to:

Matt & Katie Stajan
c/o Calgary Flames
PO Box 1540 Stn. M.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 3B9
CANADA

Friday, March 7, 2014 - RYAN FISCHER
 17-year-old Ryan Fischer was found unresponsive in his bed on the morning of Friday, March 7. It was later determined he had died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). His team, the Grandville High School Bulldogs, were scheduled to play in the Michigan State semi-finals that evening. According to a story in The United State of Hockey blog, Ryan's parents, Scott and Roni, visited the team and urged the players to play that night. (They lost to Detroit Catholic 3-0 in an arena filled with emotional fans from both teams supporting Ryan and his teammates).

Ryan was laid to rest on Wednesday, March 12, following a memorial service where he was remembered as kind, passionate and dedicated to doing "what's right." He had been accepted to both the US Naval Academy and West Point (he had decided to attend West Point), and dreamed of serving his country.

Fans wanting to send condolences to Ryan's family (parents Scott and Roni, siblings Kelsea and Connor) can mail them to:

The Fischer Family
c/o Grandville High School
4700 Canal Ave. SW
Grandville, MI 49418

Monday, March 10 - RICH PEVERLEY
Six minutes into the game between the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets, Rich Peverley skated to the Stars bench following a shift... then collapsed. Teammates quickly carried him into the tunnel as head coach Lindy Ruff screamed for a doctor - the entire drama broadcast live on TV. We later learned emergency crews treated Rich for a racing heartbeat and a stopped heart before rushing him to the hospital. 

Now, we learn Rich will miss the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery for atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes an irregular and rapid heartbeat that makes it difficult to send blood throughout the body. He missed the preseason because of heart issues, but had been given the green light to play following treatment - and worked with team doctors to monitor his heart and took medication regularly. 

A return to the ice remains unclear.

Fans wanting to send Rich encouragement and "get well" cards can mail them to:

Rich Peverley
c/o Dallas Stars
2601 Avenue of the Stars
Frisco, TX 75034

Many people have tweeted well-wishes to/about all of the players mentioned above, but sometimes, a good old "snail mail" letter or card can brighten things up even more. Or am I really old fashioned?