Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

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honda copy

It was November 25th, 1989, six months after my Dad had retired from the Los Angeles Kings and moved the family to Kelowna, BC. He decided to make the drive to Vancouver with my brother and I to see a Kings/Canucks game. I was granted the privilege of taping Luc Robataille’s stick before the game (I’m sure he re-taped it) on a night he recorded a hat-trick. After the final buzzer, we popped back into the Kings room for Dad to say his see-ya-laters, and he introduced us to his old Canada Cup teammate Wayne Gretzky. That day is one of my best childhood hockey memories.

Gretzky used the stick you see above that night, took the tape off and signed it. Look at that thing! Pre-made foam grip? Shiny as all get-out? NOT WOOD? How cool is that thing?

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The first time I used an Easton Synergy one-piece hockey stick, I was playing Junior B for the Osoyoos Heat of the KIJHL (Kootney International Junior Hockey League, out of BC). At that level you still paid for your own sticks, so I had to go full puppy dog eyes on Mom and Dad for weeks to finally convince them to drop the dough. There was a cool new toy on the market, and I needed it to succeed.

At $200-plus a pop, it wasn’t a small investment, and I wanted to have it forever. I was terrified to take a slapshot with it for fear it would break, which is sort of ironic – “Mom, Dad, I need this great new tool that will completely minimize my arsenal of shot options, y’know, to get better at hockey.” First generation Synergys were nearly unusable tools, comprised of a substance that I believe was mostly hardened sugar (I mean, they had to have been). Two shifts into my second game with it, there I was, using my old Easton Aluminum Silver Tip (convex) just like I had been a few days before. My Synergy was in two tidy pieces after it failed to withstand a puck battle that involved someone breathing on it (30 day warranty though!).

Eventually, Easton – a former employer of mine, full disclosure – found their stride, in a big way. They make arguably the best sticks in hockey today. But prior to their takeover, there were a ton of companies vying for the “Mommy and Daddy will pay too much for junior’s sporting equipment because they think he’s the next Sidney Crosby” market. And that’s one lucrative market.

I’m going to say the true Easton Synergy matte silver one-piece became truly popular and relevant around 2001-2002, and they changed the game. The one-piece revolution was on. Prior to that and in the transition years, there were some neat twigs, which we’ll reminisce about below. Hell, I once tried a triangular-shafted twig called the “Trilage” at one point; companies were trying everything and anything. Wood sticks took major strides around this time too (they had to), while non-wood sticks got more creative. It really was the glory days for gear fiends.

The 10 Best Pre-Synergy Hockey Sticks

Sherwood PMP 5030 (Coffey curve mandatory) Read the rest of this entry »

I saw my first game at Maple Leaf Gardens as a six year old kid in 1996. As someone who was unfortunately born into the sado-masochistic cult known as Leafs fans — Thanks Dad! Great taste! We’ll discuss the Buffalo Bills later! — this was a big moment in my life. February 24, 1996. The Dallas Stars rolled into town and the big storyline was recently acquired winger Dave Gagner was playing his first game against his former team. It also turned out to be Pat Burns’ last ever home game as Leafs head coach because that team was definitely his fault and had nothing to do with an utter lack of depth.

The Leafs lost that game by a 3-2 score because of course they did. Andy Moog narrowly outdueled Felix Potvin but hey, Dave Gagner scored so take that Dallas. I will say though, one thing I recall much more vividly than the soul-sucking way the Toronto Maple Leafs continued to do what they do was the awe I had at six years old for this arena. The banners, the pictures, the scoreboard, even the way the rink was painted. It was an opiate well before I knew the term and it came courtesy of Maple Leaf Gardens.

That rink closed, we thought, for good a little under three years later. But, as it turns out, hockey came back to MLG courtesy of the Ryerson Rams this past Friday night.
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Many of you will recall that I took a look at potential NHL homes who stand to win at the conclusion of this lockout last week. Referencing locales such as Quebec City and Hartford are the natural inclination for all of us. Hockey crazed markets that have had a team plucked from their clutches are natural fits for a league looking to boost revenues and potentially curb the drain of franchises that run deficit after deficit.

There’s obviously more to it than just plopping a team back where there used to be one – there used to be a team in Atlanta after all, though the number of damns given about hockey in that town are minimal. However, cities such as Colorado (sorry, Quebec) and now Winnipeg have had successful returns, which make it more likely for a return to other past towns.

Those of you looking for a legitimately heartwarming return story, however, ought to look no further than the State of Hockey.
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I just gave away the ending. Sorry.

You can find Game 1 and Game 2 here and here, respectively.

So, I was at a bar last night and one of the TVs had Sportscenter on. As one does when one has TVADD (the phenomenon that requires one to constantly glance at TVs scattered around the bar, regardless of the content of the current conversation) I was catching a little bit of the show here and a little bit of the show there. At one point, I saw something familiar. Game 2. I quickly realized it was familiar because I had just watched it a couple hours beforehand. As we’ve established in these last couple days, I am somewhat slow on the uptake. Anyway, they weren’t just replaying game 2; they were showing a highlight pack. Yeah, like the game was actually played. At first I thought it was just a commercial for the fact that TSN was showing these games (and, to be fair, at the end of the highlights they did throw up an ad saying game 3 was on tonight) but, nope, tried and true highlights. Someone really needs to tell those guys that this isn’t live. I’m seriously starting to worry about them. I know you can make it through this, Mike Johnson. I believe in you.

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Hey, this picture's actually from this game. Journalism!

And we’re back. Everyone rested? Feeling good? Hope so, it takes a lot of energy to deal with the intensity of knowing what’s going to happen. Or something.

Before we get started, something I found odd that maybe someone smarter than me has the answer to. I know that this is the 25th anniversary of the 1987 series so showing it on TV this week makes a certain amount of sense but isn’t it also the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series? Isn’t that a monumentally more important hockey event? Or is this like that Patton Oswalt bit about how you only get 20 birthdays? Even though, in said theory, you’d still get to celebrate your 40th. Maybe this comparison doesn’t work. I don’t know. Just seems kind of odd to me that there’s all this kerfuffle about the ’87 series and I haven’t heard mention one about ’72. Or perhaps I just needed something to obsess over that’s even more pointless than usual. I should have brought the bourbon.

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1969 – man walks on the moon. 1971 – man walks on the moon…again. Then for a long time nothing happened. Until 1987.

So, here we are, it’s the second week of September 2012 and we have yet to see a game of hockey which makes this year pretty much exactly the same as every other year. That being said, it’s been a little while since we’ve had an actual game to talk about here on Backhand Shelf so we’re firing up our flux capacitors (televisions) and going back in time (turning on the television) to 1987 for game 1 of the Canada Cup. We may still listen to Huey Lewis. I may still listen to Huey Lewis.

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Television is a magical box. It brings pictures to life out of nothing but sparks and entertains us to literally no end until, of course, we reach our demise. Certain things on TV are always awesome. Examples that come to mind are Shark Week, March Madness, Mila Kunis and seasons 32-419 of Big Brother.

Add Gordie Howe to that list.
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