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Many Important Decisions Ahead

I am going to be very brief with my introduction to this newsletter.

I am going to put out another, within a few days regarding many of the important considerations that midget and junior aged players need to make at this time.

I have been gathering a number of great articles and stories that I will draw upon, that will hopefully provoke some thought, regarding some of the important decisions and opportunities that  need to be considered.

If you ever think we can help sort out some of the confusion, please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience.


David MacDonald, SPAD
Hockey Family Advisor




Posted in Newsletter

Two Neat On-line Services That You Might Want To Check Out


Nearly a million athletes over the age of 14 participate in North American hockey leagues each year. PlayingUpHockey.com is a social media hockey website designed for these boys and girls to interact, share stats, post highlight videos, discuss camps, learn about hockey programs, and gain exposure to the scouts and coaches that matter most. And PlayingUpHockey has a powerful data engine allowing scouts and coaches at all levels the ability to query potential players based on personal profiles and accomplishments both on and off the ice.

NHL legend, Phil Esposito, is leading the charge as PlayingUpHockey.com helps aspiring hockey players showcase their talent, get exposure, and get recruited to play at the next level.

At the playingUpHockey website, players can start by creating a profile this summer, and then stay tuned as more features and programs get added at the start of the hockey season. Every one who signs up has the chance to win a visit from Phil who will coach a practice and teach you the tricks of the trade.

Visit PlayingUphockey and tell them that David of Hockey family Advisor sent  you….



Online Education | Sports

Sean O’Brien is The Founder of Educate Athletes, the newest online education resource for athletes and professionals. Educate Athletes welcomes high school students, college students and professionals from across Sports and Corporate America that share a drive to improve.

Sean’s services offer valuable programs delivered in proprietary learning management systems unique to each program.

Previous to Educate Athletes, Mr. O’Brien became known for building one of the most successful brands in athletic development at Perfect Competition.

Perfect Competition accounted for helping over: 300 athletes achieve college scholarships, 120 NFL draft picks improve their draft status, and over 200 MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL veterans improve their performance, while helping over 5,000 youth athletes achieve new heights in their development.

Sean is now a sought after speaker on both player development and sports business.

Sean spent 8 years as a professional hockey player in all levels of pro hockey including the NHL, AHL, IHL, ECHL and IIHF. Sean is also a key figure in USA Hockey in Florida; he is currently the Director of Player Development and an Executive Board Member. He has helped hockey players get to the USHL, NCAA and the NHL. Mr. O’Brien graduated from Princeton University with a BA in economics, while playing 4 years of College hockey.

in the video below, Sean talks to Brian Burke about his thoughts on the importance of an education.


NHL draft tracker: Jujhar Khaira, Prince George Spruce Kings

By Neate Sager

Jujhar Khaira’s size and skill means he’s a project a NHL team with patience will be willing to tackle.

The Surrey, B.C., native, who’s bound for Michigan Tech this fall, was the lone player from the British Columbia Hockey League to attend last week’s NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto. Khaira produced in one of North America’s best Junior A circuits, totalling 29 goals and 79 points in 54 games for the Prince George Spruce Kings, while also representing Canada at the World Junior A Challenge. The 17-year-old centre, who was not selected in the WHL bantam draft three years ago, has sprouted  to a power forward-ish 6-foot-2 1/2 and 182 pounds. As a result of all that, he’s ranked 74th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Khaira seems well-aware that coming out of Junior A underlines that he’s a work in progress. He’s hoping playing at Michigan Tech yields significant minutes as a freshman.

Prince George Spruce Kings' Jujhar Khaira (Garrett James Photography)

“I obviously want to mature as much as I can,” says Khaira, who is still two months shy of his 18th birthday. “This summer I want to train as much as I can and be ready for next season. Maturity-wise, personality-wise, I want to show that mentally I’m strong enough to play the game at the next level.

“My foot speed really needs to increase and I do need to get stronger because there’s some big guys at the next level who are 24, 25 years old and have matured,” he adds. “I do really need to work on that.”

It might not be surprising in hindsight that Khaira would sprout into a big centre. His parents, mother Komal and father Sukhjinder, each thrived in a taller person’s game as provincial-level volleyball players in British Columbia.

Now their son is hopeful of making a name for himself in high-level hockey. Jujhar Khaira notes that although he’s in select company as a junior hockey star of South Asian descent, he has a long way to go before he becomes an idol to Asian-Canadian fans. He long ago got used to being the only player in the dressing room who is brown.

“It’s always been that way growing up,” he says. “Everybody around me has never really judged me. It’s not even in my mind anymore. Everybody’s equal out there so it doesn’t matter what skin colour you are.

“There’s some older players who are South Asian as well, [Buffalo Sabres prospect] Kevin Sundher and [Vancouver Canucks farmhand] Prab Rai,” he said. “They’ve made it a little higher, signing with NHL clubs. There’s recognition for me, but you want to catch those guys.”

1. What drew you to Michigan Tech?

“Our former coach is an alumni there and he had a lot of great things to say about the team there. Then just talking to the coaching staff they said I’d be a centre building block to the program there, get used in key situations. I’d rather play at a smaller school where I’d get a lot of playing time rather than go to a bigger school where I’d have to sit out the first couple years.”

2. What specific components of your game need the most work before you’re ready to play pro hockey?

“I think I can brush up on my skating, [point] A to B. And my shot release could be a lot faster.”

3. Prince George is almost as far as you can get from Surrey without leaving B.C.; what did moving there do for you?

“My maturity level really increased with moving that far away from home as a 16-year-old, The opportunity I got there, I don’t think I would have got anywhere else. I’m really thankful to them for keeping me. I think I grew as a player and a person.”

4. What do you like to do when you need to withdraw from hockey for a spell?

“I like to watch movies, lay low, just hang out with friends, hang out with my brother and family … I like any kind of movies, comedies.” (Got a favourite?) “Yeah, Step Brothers and Superbad.”

5. Hockey players have to be strict with nutrition. So what is your guilty pleasure, food or drink?

“I don’t have too much junk food. Maybe a piece of chocolate.”

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports.


Some NCAA Regulations Regarding Amateurism

This memo was written by the NCAA and distributed to Hockey Coaches in 2003. We provide the memo  to give you an idea of some of the various complicated situations that  players can find themselves in regarding “options”….

Some things have changed since 2003, but I provide this memo to players and parents to help them realize that there are important considerations during various steps of a player’s academic and hockey career.

In no way do we present this memo as “all-inclusive”, nor do we suggest that  anyone rely on it for it’s current relevancy, because rules are constantly changing. It is not meant to provide any professional advice.

We present this to simply remind players and parents that it is important to realize that there are very stringent rules and regulations when it comes to playing College Hockey , and we always suggest that a long-term strategic plan is important.


The purpose of this memo is to inform NCAA Division I ice hockey coaches of two changes: (1) amateurism rules as they apply to prospective student-athletes prior to initial collegiate enrollment, at any collegiate institution; and (2) the student-athlete reinstatement directive as approved by the Division I Management Council at the July and October 2002 meetings, which applies to prospective student-athletes first enrolling at an NCAA institution on or after August 1, 2003.

1. PRE-ENROLLMENT LEGISLATION. The Division I membership amended the professional draft legislation to permit individuals, prior to full-time enrollment at a collegiate institution, to declare for the professional draft and be drafted without compromising their NCAA eligibility. Once an individual enrolls full time at a collegiate institution, he or she can no longer take advantage of this rule change. This change applies to all individuals initially enrolling at a collegiate institution on or after August 1, 2002.

Please note that this change only allows the prospect to enter a professional draft and be drafted; it does not allow the prospect to sign any type of agreement, accept any compensation or compete on a professional team.

Situation #1

An 18-year-old prospective student-athlete is in his first year of draft eligibility for the National Hockey League draft in June 2003. He is currently playing junior hockey in an USA Hockey-sanctioned junior league (e.g., USHL, NAHL, etc.). He elects to “opt-in” to the NHL draft but does not get drafted. He has signed a National Letter of Intent with a Division I institution and will enroll in that school for the 2003-04 school year/season.

Eligibility Status: He does not jeopardize NCAA eligibility as long as the “opt-in” to the NHL draft occurred prior to his initial full-time enrollment at a collegiate institution. Further, if he is drafted and still wants to enroll in college, then he must indicate his desire not to be contractually obligated to the professional team and may not compete on that professional team.

Situation #2

A student-athlete initially enrolls full time in a collegiate institution for the 2002-03 academic year. After full-time enrollment, the student-athlete elects to “opt-in” to the NHL draft.

Eligibility Status: He loses his NCAA eligibility. Entering the draft after enrolling full time at a collegiate institution will jeopardize the student-athlete’s NCAA eligibility.

2. REINSTATEMENT DIRECTIVE. The second issue pertains to the penalty for violating certain amateurism rules. At its April 2002 meeting, the Division I Management Council voted not to change restrictive rules related to professional contracts, professional competition and compensation from professional teams, including expenses. At the July and October 2002 meetings, the Council amended a penalty structure proposed by the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee and staff. The changes will affect many student-athletes, including men’s and women’s ice hockey student-athletes. The entire reinstatement directive is attached (Attachment A).

At the April 2002 meeting, the Management Council adopted a revised definition of a professional team (Attachment B). Based on the new professional team definition, it is the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee’s and the staff’s understanding that NCAA Bylaw (Major Junior A Ice Hockey) is still a valid bylaw since Major Junior A teams provide compensation exceeding actual and necessary expenses to some players. Based on this premise, the portion of the reinstatement directive related to competition with a professional team applies to competition on a Major Junior A team.

a. Competition with Professionals (includes Major Junior). As noted in the attachment, competing in a single professional contest subsequent to an individual’s first opportunity to enroll in college will result in permanent ineligibility. This result is different than the current application of Bylaw (Major Junior A Ice Hockey), which charges a season and requires an academic year of residence for competition on a Major Junior A team, considered professional under NCAA legislation. Please note that the penalty in Bylaw establishes a minimum penalty as opposed to a maximum. Therefore, the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee can exceed that penalty; and in the case of competition on a Major Junior A team occurring after a prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college, the committee’s penalty will exceed the penalty in the legislation.

In cases where a prospective student-athlete competes on a professional team (editor  – this includes Major Junior)  prior to his/her first opportunity to enroll in college (e.g., during high school), the reinstate- ment condition will continue to be the application of Bylaw and an additional one-for-one withholding condition for every professional contest in which the prospect participates, provided the prospect did not sign a professional contract or accept any form of compensation. Thus, specific to professional competition, a critical consideration for coaches to consider during the recruiting process is when the prospective student-athlete actually engaged in the professional competition. If the competition occurred prior to the individual’s first opportunity to enroll in college, the consequence is different than if the competition occurred after the individual’s first opportunity to enroll in college as determined by the individual’s expected high-school graduation date.

Expected High-School Graduation Date

The determination of a prospective student-athlete’s first opportunity to enroll in college is based on his/her expected high-school graduation date. (Expected high- school graduation is based on the date established by the Foreign Students Records Committee, as published in the April 23, 2001, edition of The NCAA News.)

Situation #3

Prospective student-athlete attends a Major Junior A hockey camp. The prospect does NOT sign any type of contract. He stays for 72 hours and plays in one exhibition (preseason) game. The competition occurs during the prospect’s senior year in high school.

Eligibility Status: Since the competition occurred during the prospect’s senior year in high school, it is important to verify that the prospect is graduating with his expected class. Assuming that the prospect is a legitimate high-school senior, the prospect would be charged with one season and not be eligible for competition during his first year in residence at the institution. Then, the reinstatement condition would require that the prospect would miss the first collegiate contest of his second year at the institution, assuming he did not violate any other amateurism rules. The key issue to determine is when the competition occurred in relation to the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college as determined by his expected high-school graduation date.

Regarding the issue of expenses, the only time expenses are permissible from a professional team are for a tryout prior to full-time collegiate enrollment, provided the tryout does not last longer than 48 hours. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time; however, if a game (including preseason and exhibition contests) against another team occurs during a tryout and the prospect represents the Major Junior A team, then the eligibility consequences described above still apply.

Situation #4

Prospective student-athlete graduates from high school in May 2001 and then attends a Major Junior A hockey camp subsequent to his first opportunity to enroll. He stays at the camp for 72 hours and plays in one exhibition game.

Eligibility Status: Since the competition occurred after the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college, he will be deemed permanently ineligible.


The first question to ask the prospective student-athlete is when did he graduate from high school?

Assuming that the prospect graduated at his expected time from high school, the second question to ask is did the competition occur before or after the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college? For example, if the prospect graduated from high school in May 2003 and competed in an exhibition game in October 2003, the game occurred after the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college, which would have been August 2003.

If the prospect did not graduate at his expected time from high school because he discontinued full-time high-school enrollment to compete on a professional team, then the expected high-school graduation date must be determined. Based on the expected high-school graduation date, the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college must be determined. Finally, the coach must then determine whether the professional competition occurred before or after the prospect’s first opportunity to enroll in college.

b. Professional Contract (includes Major Junior) . As noted in the attachment, if an individual signs a professional contract (at any time, including while in high school) the action will result in permanent ineligibility unless the institution is able to present overwhelming mitigation. A contract with a Major Junior A team is considered a professional contract per NCAA legislation.

Situation #5

Prospective student-athlete signs a contract to play for a Major Junior A team, attends one day of training camp (and does not play in a preseason game) and decides he does not want to play Major Junior hockey.

Eligibility Status: Permanent ineligibility.


If you are a player or parent who is considering your options, and wish to have a discussion with one of our professional family advisors, please send an e-mail to us to arrange a consultation. Email david@hockeyfamilyadvisor.com



Intensity Boosts Your Mental Focus in Hockey

By Patrick Cohn

Playing with the proper intensity is important to play your best hockey. Your intensity might not always be consistent. Some games, you might be psyched up and ready to play while other times, you might lack interest or feel bored, which hurts your ability to concentrate.

When your intensity isn’t consistent, your play is not consistent either. When your level of intensity is high, you’ll perform your best. But when not focused, you might look like a totally different player struggling to perform the same way you’ve performed in the past.

We recently received the following question from a hockey parent:

“What makes a team play like champions one day and perform like beginners that next. I can understand one player being off their game, as I realize that we all have days when we should have stayed in bed. But a whole team at the same time. Even at the professional level, in the NHL, you see a team be spectacular one game, then fall apart the next. What’s in the air? Can Murphy’s law affect a whole team at the same time? And the biggest question is….How do you overcome it?”

When you lose intensity, it’s harder to focus your best. Without full focus on the task, you can’t execute or perform to the best of your ability. A lack of intensity can lead to mental errors such forgetting the play or losing the puck in your own end. Mental errors can cause momentum shifts too.

Many players and teams can lose intensity and thus focus during the game. You might lose focus because you’re bored, such as playing a weaker team. The key is to give yourself a challenge. For example you might challenge yourself to make crisp passes or have two more shots on goal.

Your pregame routine is a perfect time to boost your intensity. What’s your optimal level of intensity? Do you play your best when you’re relaxed or do you need to psych yourself up? Once you know your optimal level of intensity, then you can try to establish that mindset before competition.

Your pregame preparation is key to maintain your intensity. Not only do you need to warm-up physically, but also mentally. You want to get in the right frame of mind and emotional state before competition. Listening to music is one way to do this. If you need to increase your intensity, listen to fast, upbeat music. If you need to decrease your anxiety, listening to slower paced music might be more helpful to you.

Your hockey psychology tip for today is to monitor your pregame level of intensity. Take the necessary steps to boost your intensity prior to the game. Get your heart rate up before the game. Challenge yourself to play well and set small goals to go after. Don’t play to the level of the competition if the opposition is weaker.



Tanner Pearson – The Next Ones: 2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile – Third Time’s A Charm

by Carl Maloney

Tanner Pearson Close-up:
Date of Birth:  August 10, 1992
Place of Birth:  Kitchener, Ontario
Height:   6’0″
Weight:  196 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position:  LW/RW
NHL Draft Eligibility:  2012

Photgraph by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

There are a few things that make Tanner Pearson stand out from the rest of the 2012 draft class, especially amongst potential first rounders, the main one being that he is entering his third year of draft eligibility.  Passed over in the previous two years, there’s little chance the same will happen this year to the Barrie Colts 19 year old leading scorer.  A classic late bloomer, Pearson stormed onto the OHL scene and was the scoring leader by a wide margin for a large part of the year.

Pearson’s torrid start earned him a spot on Canada’s entry at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Alberta this year as well, and was one of the bigger surprise picks on the roster.  He aquitted himself well on the world stage scoring 6 points in 6 games helping Canada to a bronze medal.

There isn’t many areas in Tanner Person’s game that haven’t improved coming into this season, he’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster, but the biggest area is confidence.  A player who has always possessed good hockey sense, he is now playing more assertive and aggressive and his awareness and anticipation on the ice is really shining through.

A player that can play up and down a lineup, Pearson is a complete forward. He has good size, skates well and competes hard every shift.  He plays an effective two way game and has been lethal on Barrie’s powerplay this year.

It’s hard to predict how his game will translate at the next level, with really only one season to guage from, or where he will go in the draft.  It’s very unusual for a player who has gone undrafted previously to go early, let alone twice and especially in the first round, but Pearson appears to be a special case.  He certainly possesses the size and skill set to project as a top six forward in the NHL and in a few years can certainly help an NHL team.

Ultimately Pearson has a chance of going in the first round, but will likely be taken somewhere in the early to mid second round.

International Tournaments:

2012 IIHF World Junior Championships – played for Canada helping them to a bronze medal, scored 6 points in 6 games.

Scout’s Honour:

“He’s such a smart player and sees the ice so well. His anticipation and reads make him a terrific playmaker.” – OHL Prospects

“He has the size to play at the next level, competes hard, skates well, and has really become a dynamic offensive player off the rush and in the offensive zone. The numbers don’t lie, he’s been extremely consistent this season, and frankly, he’s become a player you notice in every game.” – The Scouting Report



The New York Americans: A Gentlemen’s Agreement Brings the NHL to MSG

by Michael Rappaport

The first National Hockey League team to claim home ice in New York City played at Madison Square Garden and wore red, white, and blue uniforms. This team was not the New York Rangers, but they were responsible for the Rangers coming into existence, and become the Rangers’ first rival during the early years of the NHL.

The New York Americans were one of the first expansion teams in the National Hockey League. The club was founded by Thomas Duggan, who was awarded options for three expansion franchises in the United States in 1923. One of these franchises was awarded to New York, and was purchased by “Big Bill” Dwyer, who was the biggest and most celebrated bootlegger in New York.

In order to bring a hockey team to New York, Dwyer paid $75,000 to purchase the Hamilton Tigers, whose players went on strike near the end of the 1924-25 season. Although Dwyer would be involved as an owner of the Americans, he needed some prodding before he was willing to purchase the franchise. The man who convinced Dwyer to make the purchase was Tex Rickard, who was the head of Madison Square Garden.

At the time, Rickard told Dwyer that he didn’t want to run a team at MSG, but he was willing to rent out the newly built arena starting with the 1925-26 season. The Americans played their first ever game on December 15, 1925, which would be a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden. The Americans drew over 17,000 people on opening night, and despite a difficult first season, their success at the box office never wavered. On the ice, the Americans finished the season 12-20-4, and star center Billy Burch led the team with 22 goals in 36 games.

Before the next season began, Rickard went back on the promise that he made Dwyer when “Big Bill” agreed to purchase the Americans. After seeing the success that the Americans had in selling tickets with a marginal product on the ice, Rickard went out and purchased an expansion team that would play in MSG alongside the Americans. The rival team was referred to as “Tex’s Rangers”, and five months to the day after the Americans played their first game, the New York Rangers came into existence.

Over the next few seasons, the Americans struggled on the ice and had trouble establishing a fan base with the Rangers coming into existence. Part of the reason for the Americans’ on-ice problems was the new two-division format that the NHL adopted after the league expanded to ten teams before the 1926-27 season. The two divisions were called the Canadian and American Division, but the Americans ended up being the only American team that played in the Canadian Division. In the 1927-28 season, the Americans finished last in the Canadian Division, while the Rangers went on to win their first Stanley Cup.

In an attempt to emerge from the Rangers’ shadow the following season, the Americans acquired goaltender Roy Worters from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Worters had an incredible season in between the pipes, as he led the Americans to a 19-13-12 record and their first ever playoff birth. Worters finished the year with a 1.15 goals against average, and became the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP. In the playoffs, the Americans battled the Rangers in the playoffs, but lost in a two-game total goal series. The teams played to a 0-0 tie in the first game, and were scoreless through regulation of the second game until Worters let one by him in overtime of Game 2.

The “Amerks” continued to play second fiddle to the Rangers in the standings and at the box office. After losing to the Rangers in the playoffs, the Americans missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens dominated the Canadian Division. However, that didn’t stop the Amerks from impacting the future of NHL hockey. Since they were usually the less-talented team on the ice, the Americans would shoot the puck down the ice from their defensive zone as a defensive strategy (icing wasn’t a rule yet). In the 1931-32 season, the Americans iced the puck 61 times in a game against the Boston Bruins and won 3-2. The next time the two teams met, the Bruins iced the puck 87 times as the teams played to a 0-0 draw, and ultimately led to the implementation of the icing rule.

In 1935-36, under the guidance of head coach Rosie Helmer, the Americans made the playoffs for the second time in team history, even though they finished 9 games under .500. The team was comprised of a collection of young players and some aging superstars. Two of these players were Sweeney Schriner and Nels Stewart. Schriner won the Calder Trophy in 1934-35, and then led the league in points in 1935-36 with 45 in 48 games. Stewart, who held the league’s goal scoring record until Maurice “Rocket” Richard broke it, had played the majority of his career with the Montreal Maroons and was already in his early 30′s when he joined the Americans. Despite barely making the playoffs, the Americans won their first ever playoff series by upsetting the Chicago Black Hawks in a total goal series, 7-5. (editor’s note: In 1936 the name of CHI’s team was spelled out as two separate words.) However, the Americans would go on to lose in the semifinals against the Maple Leafs.

But while the team showed signs of improvement on the ice, Bill Dwyer’s finances were in disarray. After unsuccessfully finding a buyer for the franchise during the 1935-36 season, Dwyer bailed on the franchise, and the NHL controlled the team for the ’36-’37 season. Red Dutton, who coached the Americans during the 1936-37 season, became the team’s owner starting with the 1937-38 season.

Under Dutton, the Americans experienced the best years in franchise history. The Americans finished 2nd in the Canadian Division in 1937-38, and then beat the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the deciding third game of the series. The Americans would win Game 1 of their Semifinals series against the Black Hawks, but they lost the next two games and were knocked out by the ultimate Stanley Cup Champs. The next two seasons saw the Americans reach the playoffs, only to be defeated in the first round by the Maple Leafs in 1938-39 and the Detroit Red Wings in 1939-40.

Like other NHL teams, the Americans were affected by players leaving to fight in World War II. However, it’s tough to find a team that was hurt worse than the Americans were. With the club in financial trouble once again, Dutton was forced to sell his top players for cash, and the Americans finished last in the NHL with 8 wins in 48 games in the 1940-41 season. The next season, the team was renamed the Brooklyn Americans, as Dutton tried to gain fan support outside of Manhattan, where the Rangers continued to dominate the headlines and the attention of New York hockey fans. The renaming didn’t sit well with Americans fans still in Manhattan, and the team finished the season in last place.

After the 1941-42 season, the Americans decided to suspend operations because of a decade’s worth of outstanding debts and player shortages during the war. This move was intended to be temporary, but was ultimately permanent. After the war ended, the NHL wouldn’t allow the Americans to re-enter the league, and the sentiment was that the Rangers played a role in not allowing the Americans to return to play.

In what has become legend, Dutton allegedly said that “the Rangers will not win another Cup in my lifetime.” This became part of the Rangers’ “curse”, as they went 54 years between winning Stanley Cups (1940-1994), and Dutton was right, as he passed away in 1987.

Although the Americans’ history in the NHL didn’t include a lot of on-ice success, their impact on the landscape of the NHL cannot be overstated. They brought the NHL to New York City, paved the way for one of the league’s Original Six franchises, and produced some of the game’s earliest superstars.


A Year After His Tragic Death, Ian Jenkins Continues to Have A Purpose

by Shawn Reznik

Ian Jenkins

Last week the London Knights fell to the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Memorial Cup Final.  It was painful for Joel Jenkins.  But not as painful as the loss he suffered a year prior.

Ian Jenkins was riding high leading up the OHL Priority Draft in 2011.  It wasn’t a matter of if his name would be called, but rather when and by what team.  On May 7th, the London Knights decided it would be in their best interest to take one of the most sought after goalie prospects since Jack Campbell or Ryan Miller.  The elation lasted only 12 days.  After being selected in the 2nd round by the Knights, Ian fell off a truck’s flatbed, knocking him unconscious, and inflicting severe head trauma.  On May 23rd, 2011, Ian Jenkins lost his battle and so the healing process began almost immediately.

Ian stretching before his game

“Devastated beyond belief.”  Those were the first words Joel Jenkins told me he felt after the whole ordeal.  ”I was with his sister driving to pick him up when we were passed by the emergency vehicles proceeded by the dreaded call.  We were bringing him ice cream because it was Cassidy’s birthday.  Life changed for all of us that day and will never be the same.”

And dealing with the loss of a son/brother/friend can be even more difficult.

“Coping is a day to day program,” Joel conveyed.  ”He has never left my thoughts and I think of him constantly.  It’s a nightmare that won’t end.  I really haven’t been strong.  The tears still flow easily and there is some days that I just pray the pain will go away.”

However, the outpouring of love, compassion, and heartfelt wishes has been extraordinary.  Thousands upon thousands of people have heard about the tragic death and have reached out to Joel and the rest of his family.

“Just knowing so many people were touched by his story or touched by his friendship is up lifting.  Not one day has passed that I have not received at least one email or message about Ian,” Joel said.

For those who aren’t familiar with Ian as a person, he was a phenomenal human being who put people before himself.  He did what he could to change the lives of those around him for the better.  The letters “H-A-P” were engraved in his hockey pads since he was a kid.  The letters stand for “Have A Purpose”.  Ian lived and died by these words.

“Ian was the hardest working person I’ve ever been around.  His motto ‘Have A Purpose’ is important to me now as it is to so many others,” said Alex Talcott, a former teammate of Ian’s since age 8.  ”I try to understand the effects of my actions before I do them.  This can be for both negative and positive things, like whether or not to give up or if doing something is really in my best interest for the future.”

“I hope Ian’s message has changed lives, made people more responsible and given them the true meaning of positive work ethic; Having a purpose,” he went on.  ”This whole ordeal has shown us that the hockey community has lost one of its very best role models.  Not only that though, we learned how to be a loving brother, a respectful son and great friend.  The last conversation Ian had with Joel ended with “I love you dad” – something I don’t think we tell our loved ones enough.  THAT Ian always had time for.”

A few weeks after his passing, a memorial game was held to remember Ian player; Ian the brother; Ian the son; Ian the person.  Copious amounts of people, (friends, relatives, and acquaintances) flooded the ice hockey rink to honor a fallen friend.  One of those players who attended was a close friend of the Jenkins’ family, Sarnia Sting goalie, Brandon Hope.

“Ian has made all of us a better person by teaching us all to have a purpose, not only in life, but each time I step out onto the ice.  Others will learn all the broad meanings of HAP and also to really think about something before they do it.  Ian was not a reckless kid, but just for one flukey moment that happened, and something devastating came out of it,” Hope said.

Brandon Hope - Sarnia Sting

He wanted to make this year in Sarnia special so he enlisted the work of Andrew Manning to customize a mask for him with Ian’s foundation logo on the top.  He wears it proudly and never forgets a major lesson he learned from Ian’s death.

“Really cherish your friends and family because you never know when something like this could happen.  I always tell my parents I love them every time before I walk out the door.”

Yet another in the long line of hockey players who wanted to do something for Ian is close friend, Thatcher Demko, who is currently playing for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.  The two had met when attending Bandits Goaltending School and became even closer when they signed up for Warren Strelow National Team Goaltending Camp just before Ian’s accident.

“It was a weird thing because there were so many conflicting reports on Facebook and Twitter.  Finally, I just relied on getting the word from Stan, the owner of Bandits.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I thought if anyone could pull through it would be Ian.  I still find myself in disbelief.  I miss him a lot,” Thatcher said as he recalls the day he heard about Ian’s death.

Demko decided to wear the number 35 (Ian’s number) this season in remembrance, but his support didn’t stop there.

“I painted the back plate of my helmet with his foundation logo.  I also have a foundation jersey framed that I keep in my room.  I make sure to let everyone know Ian’s story when people inquire about my stuff.”

Thatcher Demko - Omaha Lancers

Thatcher, like many others learned a great deal from Ian and his habits.

“Ian taught me to have a purpose in everything I am doing, both on and off the ice.  He also showed me how important work ethic and character is and how it pays off.  The most important thing this has taught me is to not take anything for granted.”

Joel thought it would be best to set up a foundation on Ian’s behalf a few weeks after his death.

The Big ‘E’ Foundation was set up with its goal being to promote its theme of Have A Purpose (H.A.P.) by supporting amateur ice hockey and other sports through equipment donations, grants, event sponsorships and organized competitions; by enhancing closed head injury rehabilitation in children through athletic participation and other beneficial activities; and by fostering organ donor awareness.

“The Belle Tire corporation did donate $10,000 and that is much appreciated.  The foundation has issued twelve ‘Financial Aid’ scholarships for families that are in need and one ‘Academic Achievement’ Award,” Joel stated.  ”Also, we have granted our first organ donor recipient scholarship to a young child to attend The University of Michigan Transplant Center summer camp (Camp Michitanki). This is all possible because of donations.”

In the weeks following May 23rd, 2011, donations poured in and a new opportunity arose for the foundation to spread out.  Partnered with various athletes, the Big ‘E’ Foundation created ‘Athletes with A Purpose’.  The goal of this program is to raise money for the Big ‘E’ Foundation through Athletes with A Purpose fundraising activities. These special athletes will advance Ian’s legacy through the teachings of HAP. The athletes have the ability to direct fifty percent of the fundraising net revenue to their charity benefactor(s). These athletes will give back to the communities that have supported their success in life.

The founding members of the program are Garrett Jenkins, Lester Lancaster, Patrick Sieloff, John Hayden, Tyler Motte, Trevor Hamilton, Anthony Louis, Scott Savage, Mike McCarron, Brandon Hope, Matt Roy, Drew Michals, Thatcher Demko, Brendon Kearney, Eric Israel, Evan Allen, Andrew Copp, Alex Talcott, Gordie Green, Matt Cimetta, Alex Smith, and Mike Downing.

There is just one thing missing that Joel could use for the organization, however.

Everyone gathering at center ice at Ian's Memorial Game.

“It has grown in support and importance over the year.  The only problem is that it is a story that young kids have grasped onto but it lacks big money support on a continues basis.  I would love to have a big name professional athlete to promote his foundation and it’s benefits…that would take it to the next level.”

But what is bigger than any donations or scholarships is the power to give new life to those less fortunate.  Ian has left his mark, yet again, on Kevin Folster, the young man who received Ian’s kidneys.

“I have had kidney problems since I was born in Russia,” Kevin began.  ”I found out about Ian’s accident at my church and was asked to pray for him.  Later that night I received a call that Ian’s family were donating his organs and wanted to direct one to me if he was a match.  My thoughts were all over the place.  There was excitement and sorrow all at the same time.  On the way to the hospital for the transplant I was not sure how to act. I had a mix of feelings from gratefulness to guilt.”

When I asked him about how Ian has changed his life, Kevin responded, “I think it is obvious!  With this transplant my life did a 180.  I have more energy than I have had for years.  The situation has also showed me how selfless people can be.”

“I first met him on Father’s Day,” Joel mentioned to me.  ”He was my gift that day. It is remarkable to see how this has changed his life.  It’s a true miracle.  Kevin has attended a lot of his events and shares his love with our family.”

Kevin has gone to various different high schools in order to speak about Ian and the benefits of being an organ donor and he makes sure to conclude with the same message each time.

“I always ended it with the motto of H.A.P.”

Thousands of people who have never met Ian, his family, or his friends have been deeply touched by his story, his purpose, and his life.  The hockey community has lost one of its most upstanding players, but the lessons learns have spanned all across North America.

“Ian was larger than life. He was a great son, brother and friend,” Joel recounted.  ”His death has caused me, and the rest of the family, to learn how to live again. When someone is that important to our family and they go away, everything is different. You have to redefine all the relationships you have and realize that they are now different. The sadness settles in and becomes apart of you.”

The last thing Joel said to me was, “Life is priceless and it can be gone in an instant.  Every day is a gift and should be treated that way. We only get one chance on this earth so we all should live life like Ian…”

…by Having A Purpose!


Five Awful Hockey Card Photos

by Sal Barry

Hockey cards immortalize our heroes onto small pieces of cardboard that we can keep forever. But sometimes, a card can make our favorite player look really bad. Here are 5 hockey card photographs that should have their negatives burned.

5. 1981-82 Topps #130E – Denis Potvin

Denis Potvin / 1981-82 Topps #130E
The card says “Super Action” at the bottom, but the only action we see is Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders falling backwards and squashing his own goaltender. Sadly, this photo does not properly encapsulate his remarkable playoff run in 1981, when he scored 8 goals and 17 assists en route to the team’s second Stanley Cup championship. Instead, Potvin looks like a clumsy oaf. Topps did a great job of making him appear incompetent on his own trading card.




4. 1994 World Cup Soccer #C8 – Wayne Gretzky

“When is my flight home?”
Wayne Gretzky / 1994 World Cup Soccer #C8
Gretzky was a spokesman for the Upper Deck trading card company. Sometimes, this entailed doing things he might not have wanted to do, like appear on a soccer card. Upper Deck included cards of popular athletes from other sports in their 1994 World Cup Soccer set, designating each one as an “Honorary Captain.” Here, Gretzky is the Honorary Captain for the city of Los Angeles, but his forced half-smile lead us to believe that right now he’d rather be in Edmonton.




3. 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Leaders #14 – Glen Hanlon

A man’s gotta do…
Glen Hanlon / 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Leaders #14
Is Glen Hanlon making an, ahem, equipment adjustment? Or does he just have an itch?  You really can’t fault the Detroit Red Wings goaltender here, so you have to wonder why (a) the photographer felt the need to sell this picture to the card company, and (b) why the card company thought this would be a great photo for their “League Leaders” set? Hanlon appeared in 36 games the previous season, so it’s not like a better photo was lacking, which brings us to our next card…




2. 2010-11 Score #545 – Bryan Pitton

“Hey buddy, the camera is THIS way!”
Bryan Pitton  / 2010-11 Score #545
If the absolute best photo a card company can muster up shows the back – not the front – of the player’s head, then why bother making a card? Nonetheless, Panini America felt the need to include Edmonton Oilers prospect Bryan Pitton in their Score “Hot Rookies” subset. When your own rookie card shows you from the back, that can’t be a good sign.  Coincidentally, Pitton’s rookie card in that year’s Donruss set – also made by Panini – shows him from the back too. (Click here for a 2-minute video further detailing why this card sucks.)



1. 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #226 – Mel Bridgman

“Hey you kids! Get off mah lawn!”

1. Mel Bridgeman / 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #226
Absolutely nothing about this card makes Mel Bridgeman look good. When he was traded from the Calgary Flames to the New Jersey Devils in the off season, the O-Pee-Chee card did what they always did back then – have someone paint the player’s new uniform colors on the photograph. The results were usually laughable, and this card is no exception. Bridgeman’s gray lunchbox-of-a-helmet would be enough to merit inclusion on this list, but what really ices it is his angry, toothless scowl. Instead of painting over his jersey, O-Pee-Chee should have had the touch-up artist give Bridgman a few more teeth.


Posted in Fun, NHL