Greg Wyshynski, editor of the Yahoo NHL blog PuckDaddy.com, joins Dallas on air to discuss the 2011 NHL playoffs, head hits and suspensions, and the fate of the Phoenix Coyotes and the likelihood of the team relocating to Winnipeg. Be sure to catch the entire interview in the media player below.
Greg Wyshynski blogs for Yahoo Sports at PuckDaddy.com. Be sure to check out his blog as it is insightful and entertaining. He also hosts PuckDaddy Radio which airs on The Score Satellite Radio on Sirius Ch. 98.
You will be caught up in John Robertson`s passion for the game of spongee in this interview with Ryan Karhut. He describes the games origins, why Winnipeg is such a great city for the game, and why he continues to referee as many games as he can!
In the interview, John talks about his passion for adult rec sports. Check out the Canford Sports website right here to get a first hand look at what John has been able to accomplish over the last couple decades.
(left to right) Breanne George, Addie Miles, Andrea Boras celebrate their gold medal victory at the 25th Winter Universiade.
Addie Miles, forward for the University of Manitoba Bisons womens hockey team, joins us to discuss how the team is feeling heading into the National Championship tournament. Addie was the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2007-2008 when she scored 22 points in 24 games. She has been both a Canada West First Team and Second Team All Star. This year she won a Gold Medal in the 25th Winter Universiade, held in Erzurum, Turkey. Check out the interview on the media player below!
Josh Sitton, that’s right, offensive lineman of the Green Bay Packers and oh yeah, Super Bowl Champion! Kind of a big deal. Anyways, Sitton joins us on the show this week to talk about the big game, preparations for next season, and fantasy football. Check out the interview below.
Ryan started by asking Josh Sitton to reflect on his career from high school ball to the University of Central Florida to the Super Bowl Championship. “It’s funny…you talked about the two-star (high school recruit rating),” said Sitton, “I’ve always kind of been an underrated guy.” “Coming out of high school, I didn’t have a lot of big offers. A lot of the guys recruiting me kind of fell off after my junior year and UCF wasn’t a big football school,” said Sitton. “It was kind of the same thing going into the pros. A lot of people said that I wasn’t going to be drafted and then I come in and I was starting. It’s been a fast three years,” said Sitton.
Ryan asked what the strangest question asked of Josh Sitton during media week before the Super Bowl. “I got interviewed by a guy from Nickelodeon who was wearing a Superman-like superhero outfit,” said Sitton, “I thought that was pretty crazy.”
Josh Sitton was named the top offensive lineman in the NFL in 2010.
Ryan asked about the night before the Super Bowl and how Sitton prepared for the big moment. “It was nerve-wracking,” said Sitton, “I’m the type of guy that gets real anxious and nervous before a game anyway so being in the Super Bowl was just ten time worse than normal.”
Ryan asked at what point Josh realized that Christina Aguilera flubbed the National Anthem. “All of us noticed,” said Sitton, “we all looked at each other like ‘what the hell is this chick doing?’” “Cause I’m sitting there singing along standing next to my o-line coach like I do every time, and I’m sitting there reading the words like I do every time, and I’m like well, either the Cowboys messed up the words on the jumbo tron or she messed up. It just made me more nervous,” said Sitton.
Ryan asked what the turning point was in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. “When I knew we were going to win the game was when Nick Collins picked that ball off and took it to the house,” said Sitton. “For some reason, I was fully confident, I went out and I had a few good series and I was playing good, I was really confident and I was really confident in the whole team,” said Sutton. “As soon as Nick picked it off…I really thought we were going to blow those guys out. I never – not once after the game had started – didn’t feel confident about the game and I’m normally completely different and I”m not very confident.”
Russ Sluchinski, U of A Pandas Tennis Coach, joins us on the program to discuss how tennis is on its way to being included under the CIS umbrella as a university sport. Sluchinski has over 25 years of university tennis experience, including stints coaching the universiade national teams. Sluchinski is not only a coach but is also involved in the decision-making committee that determines how to build university tennis across Canada. 25 years of experience, you better believe there are some good stories in there! Click on the media player below to catch them all.
Ryan started by asking Russ how and when the U of A tennis program began. “The University of Alberta tennis team participated as a club team for about 13 years starting in 1986,” said Sluchinski. “And then in 1999, the U of A joined the NAIA, a US league, and that same year, the team was designated with varsity status. So we played in the NAIA for about 10 years…and just this year, we actually dropped out of the NAIA to support a new Canadian university and college league being pushed by Tennis Canada.”
Russ Sluchinski has been involved with the U of A tennis program for over 25 years
Ryan asked how long Russ has been involved with the program and what his current role is. “I’ve been involved since 1986 in some capacity or another,” said Sluchinski, “I started coaching both the Bears and the Pandas in 1995.” “So I coached the Bears until 2002 and now we brought on a new coach for the Bears and I focus just on the Pandas.”
Ryan asked what the biggest accomplishment of the program has been so far. “There’s a number of accomplishments,” said Sluchinski, “first of all, just lasting as long as we have considering that tennis in Canada isn’t…that popular at the university level.” “Just taking the program to where we’ve taken it. To achieve varsity status, to get to a point where we’re offering scholarships, to be able to provide coaches for the mens and womens program, and come up with annual fundraising initiatives…that provide the athletes with good, competitive opportunities. I think they’re all equally as important.” “Also, building the Saville Sports Centre and having some impact on building a new facility because that’s key for our program as well. To have our own facility to host events and to train in.”
Ryan asked what types of hurdles the program had to overcome in the beginning. “For athletic departments to be able to stretch their dollar and provide extra funding for new programs like tenns is tough,” said Sluchinski. “So right of the bat it was clear we were going to have to raise our own funds if we were going to have a program and so that was definitely a challenge.”
Ryan asked Russ to update the listeners on the current state of tennis at the university level. “In western Canada right now we have 7 schools that have tennis programs of some extent,” said Sluchinski. “When you look at hockey and football, two of our more historical sports, hockey…has 7 schools and football has 6.” “If we just hold where we’re at, that’s not bad. In terms of the east, they have a few more schools. Probably closer to 12 to 16 schools between Ontario and Quebec.” “We haven’t been able to establish any schools in the Atlantic provinces yet but we’re working on that.”
Joining us to talk about star treatment is Cody Eakin of the Kootenay Ice (WHL). Eakin has been one of the premier players in the WHL over the past couple of seasons which has allowed him to add considerably to his hockey resume which now includes being drafted by the Washington Capitals (third round, 2009), winning a silver medal with Team Canada in the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, NY, and winning a Calder Cup Championship (AHL) with the Hershey Bears in 2010. Eakin discusses how adjusting to the pro game often means accepting a new role on the team. Catch the interview below.
Ryan asked if Cody believes star players do get treated a little differently than the average player. “Yeah. I guess differently in the sense that the coaches expect a certain amount from them,” said Eakin. “The best players know how to work and earn the respect of their coaches and they’ve put their time in over the years.”
Eakin was drafted in the third round, 85 overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Ryan continued by allowing Eakin to play the role of head coach. Ryan asked if two players, one a goal scorer and one a checker, make similar mistakes on the ice, for example, a missed assignment in the defensive zone, which player gets back on the ice first. “It’s tough to say. It depends on the game and situation,” started Eakin, “but in certain cases, I would think the higher end guy would go out again earlier.” “That’s the way the game is and those (high end players) usually get the most ice time.”
Ryan followed up by asking why that is. “I think (the high end players) have proved to the coaches that they can do it game in and game out,” said Eakin. “When you get to a higher level everyone has a certain role whether it’s checking or first line, everyone’s role is important. I don’t think the coaches are really picking favourites or anything like that.”
Ryan asked about a similar situation involving the same two players except instead of each missing a defensive assignment, they find trouble away from the arena. “Like I said, it depends on the team and the situation and how they’re doing,” said Eakin, “I think it will sometimes be the top guy that will get called upon first.” “(For) younger guys in our league, (the older players) are always told that we should know better and set an example for them.”
Eakin joined the AHL's Hershey Bears for the Calder Cup run in 2010
Ryan mentioned that Eakin wasn’t always a 90-point player in the WHL and asked how he was able to turn himself into one of those players. “I think I knew I always had it but just hard work over the years.” said Eakin. “Establishing a good relationship with my coach, working on the little things like being a good two-way player, and winning every battle I can. Over the years, you just kind of grow into the player you are and I was fortunate enough to put a little more p0ints up when I got a little older.”
Ryan asked if Eakin had any advice for the kids out there who are trying to convince their coaches that they should have a bigger role on the team. “I was always taught that hard work pays off,” said Eakin, “and you can never take something away from a guy that works his butt off everyday.” “Just work hard. Be one of the hardest working guys on the team and eventually you’re going to get your shot and when you do, don’t let it pass you.”
Joining us on the show is the Commissioner of the NLL, George Daniel. Daniel, who was appointed Interim Commissioner in 2009, has been involved in the NLL over the past 10 years holding numerous positions including Deputy Commissioner, CEO, President of New York Titans and the leagues legal council. Commissioner Daniel joins us to discuss the ins & outs of the NLL’s front office including expansion, tv contracts, neutral site games, and video games. Catch the entire interview below.
Ryan asked the Commissioner what the league has been up to the last 10 years or so. “It’s actually our 25th season this season,” said Commissioner Daniel, “The Rock came onto the scene, I believe in 1998, and that’s really when the sport started growing in popularity on a professional level in Canada.”
George Daniel (left) presents the NLL Champions Cup trophy to the Calgary Roughnecks in 2009
Ryan and Commissioner Daniel discussed the leagues expansion across North America and a few of the leagues difficulties in establishing franchise stability. “In some cases, we’ve probably gone to some cities too quickly,” said Commissioner Daniel. “We probably went to the west coast of the United States, in places like California where the sport was growing, we probably got there a little quicker than we were ready for.”
Ryan asked what it took for the NLL to secure a national tv contract in Canada. “We’ve had a good relationship with Canadian television over the years,” said Commissioner Daniel, “Since the inception of the Toronto Rock we’ve been on national television in Canada for the most part.” “It’s a good programming fit, the networks like it, it generally draws respectable ratings and it’s simply a matter of us getting out in front planning and talking to all the right network partners.”
Ryan asked if the NLL would ever play the championship game at a neutral site location. “No, not really,” said Commissioner Daniel, “I think we have the best format in sports to be quite honest with you.” “The electricity and the energy at our championship game…is superior to the Super Bowl.” “The environment at an NLL Championship is superior to any other event because it’s always like a game 7 atmosphere and you don’t get that in any other sport,” said Commissioner Daniel.
Ryan asked about the 2010 NLL video game and the impact it has on the sport. “I think it’s a tremendous impact,” said Commissioner Daniel, “just like fantasy lacrosse, it allows people who maybe have a passing interest in the sport and are not familiar with it, they open up a door and expose them to the NLL simply because they downloaded the game on their XBox.” “Another benefit is that it’s great for our fans and that they’re able to play a video game with all of the NLL players and all of the NLL teams represented,” said Commissioner Daniel. “It’s definitely a nice thing to have for the league.”
Ryan asked what the short and long term plans are for the NLL. “The short term and long term really come down to simply improve the awareness of the league, to continue to look for those platforms to increase our awareness and to push our brand out there and to expose our product,” said Commissioner Daniel. “We think we have a great sport, it’s high scoring, it’s fast paced, hard hitting, and we just want to get it out there and exposed.”
Ryan started by asking if it’s difficult to focus on hockey when a player is constantly moving to a new city and changing teams. “You just try to keep your focus as best as you can,” said Schenn, “obviously, you just gotta worry about the task at hand.” “For me, yeah, I’ve been all over since September 8 but it’s good to be home now.”
Brayden Schenn recorded 19 points at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship and was named tournament MVP
Ryan mentioned that will all of the moving around in such a short period, it might be tough to remember one’s postal code. “You always use the home one and that’ s it,” said Schenn.
Ryan asked what the biggest difference is in the pro game compared to the WHL. “I think the defensive zone play,” said Schenn. “The positioning and just the little things like having a good stick and not getting beat off the wall.”
Ryan asked if playing against pros gave him a big advantage going into the World Junior Tournament. “I learned a lot there but I wasn’t playing a whole lot,” said Schenn. “From a learning stand point it was a big advantage but from a playing stand point it wasn’t. I had to get back into game shape and get back to playing a lot of minutes…so there were advantages and disadvantages.”
Ryan asked what a typical day in the NHL was like. “For me, I would wake up at about 8:00 (AM), go to the rink for practice, workout, and you’re pretty much done your day by 12:30 (PM) and you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want,” said Schenn.
Ryan then asked how that differs from a typical day in the WHL. “In the WHL, obviously you got guys in school so you gotta wait around to practice,” said Schenn. “A WHL day, probably check in at 10:00 (AM), kind of wait around, workout, just hang out with the guys, practice at 2:30 (PM), then you’re done your day at about 5:00 (PM).”
Ryan asked if Schenn had more free time in the WHL or the NHL. “I think a lot more in the NHL just because your done your day by about 12:30 (PM),” said Schenn. “I didn’t have a lot to do so I guess you go to the beach, pretty much do whatever you want from 12:30 PM on if you aren’t playing that day.”
Ryan asked if Brayden saw the Toronto Maple Leafs, who his brother Luke plays for, beat the LA Kings and if look gets any bragging rights because of the win. “I don’t think so,” said Schenn, “I wasn’t playing in the game so I guess he can brag all he wants but I wasn’t there to do anything about it.”
Ryan asked what Kory’s keys to success in the championship game were. “My players that I was counting onto do well, did well for me,” said Stagg. “I was worried a little bit about New England maybe not playing Brady as much but he played through and Benjarvus Green-Ellis got a lot of carries and … the stars were aligned.”
Ryan asked who was the MVP for Stagg’s team this season. “I would say my MVP for the entire year is the Law Firm, Benjarvus Green-Ellis,” said Stagg. “Pretty unsung I thought. Nobody really expected much of him and it took injuries to get him onto the field but once he came and played, he played really well.”
Ryan mentioned that Stagg was recently married and asked where he finds the time for fantasy football and if it comes at a cost to something or someone. “Absolutely. The wife knows (that) during the football season that she comes in a strong #2 and fantasy football and watching football is #1 for me,” said Stagg.
Ryan mentioned the 2010 draft debacle in which Dallas accidentally bid $185 of his $200 cap on one player (Ryan Matthews) and asked who Stagg would spend $185 on if he couldn’t figure out how to work the very simple ESPN draft interface. “I think I would probably put it on Jamaal Charles in Kansas City,” said Stagg. “Going forward, I think he’s a dual threat with both running and passing and I don’t think you’ll see Thomas Jones get as many touches next year and you’ll see Jamaal Charles’ touches go up.”