MONTHLY MUSINGS: “LET’S FACE IT…LIGHTNING STRUCK”
Happy Monday everyone! Time has flown-by and we are once again back with the Monthly Musing. For those unfamiliar, this is a new(ish) thing we are doing here at Canes Domain. I’ve curated a few questions submitted by readers and have come up with a few myself. I sent those questions out to a number of “panelists” earlier in the week and they have responded.
This week we have Paul Kingsmith (formerly of Global News), Jeremy Sakamoto (Canes Domain), Vince (Rock 106/Hurricanes PA Announcer), and finally, Richard Gibson (he’s done it all). Topics this week include playoff expectations, Hurricane killers, bloggers and podcasters vs. the world, the Oscars, and the Canes dramatic turnaround.
Remember to drop by the comments section after you read the answers. It’s a great chance for you to have your voice heard and share your thoughts on the questions. Did you have similar answers? Maybe you agreed with one of the panelists. We want to read what you have to say.
(Photo courtesy of: Regina Pats/Keith Hershmiller)
1) Sharon and Byron ask – Looking at the Eastern Conference, and without unfairly labeling the team, what do you expect of the Hurricanes in the playoffs? What would be considered a success? Has the surprise regular season forced you to reevaluate what you would have said back in September? Is playoff experience a real concern or is it overblown?
I honestly don’t know what my expectations are, or should be. If the team can clinch the first seed in the division, I would expect a first round win. If they slip to second and have to play Calgary in the first round, I don’t know that a series win should be an “expectation” (although, it’s absolutely a possibility and the ‘Canes would be the favourite). But, I don’t think a hard-fought, first round loss should sour what has been an incredible season. Point is, this team has achieved so much this year, they’ve sort of reset the expectations bar. I could see them going to the finals, I just don’t know that it’s an expectation.
With Giorgio back, I expect the Canes to win at least one series. Babenko’s production has dropped off a cliff since Gutierrez got injured. Should Gutierrez return as 2nd line centre, that boost in scoring depth should get the Canes to the WHL final. Teams with and without playoff experience can win. It’s all about leadership.
I can’t properly answer this question right now as my expectations will depend largely on how the Canes close out the season. The playoffs are generally about getting hot at the right time, so if the Canes can find their “A” game again we could (emphasis on could) be in for a long run. That being said, I like the Canes chances in the first round if they can win the Central Division. If Red Deer passes them, then a opening round match up with the Hitmen will be very tough.
The Canes regular season performance has had an immense impact on my feelings about this team. If you would have asked me in September, “would you be happy with competing for the 7th or 8th spot come March?” My answer would have been an emphatic yes.
There is something to be said for playoff experience, particularly as it pertains to putting teams away. It’s like Peter Anholt recently said on the post-game interview with Dustin Forbes, you have to learn how to win at this level of hockey. It’s the mental side of the game where experience really helps.
Going back to September, like a lot of fans/experts (of sorts) I was quite happy if the team finished near the .500 mark and snuck into the playoffs. However, much to the delight of all of us, the Hurricanes have reached greater heights. Playoff aspirations? Eastern conference final is certainly attainable. The Canes have had success against each of the teams in the conference. Getting healthy, working their butts off and getting solid goaltending should get them into a match up with Brandon. As for playoff experience, it certainly helps in the first round. But the deeper the Canes go, the less the lack of playoff experience becomes a factor. Plus, their coach has a lot of playoff experience with the Hitmen. That will come into play.
(Photo Credit: Marissa Baecker)
2) Jaylen asks – Who is/was the ultimate “Cane Killer” (A player that always seemed to play their best against us)?
The ‘Cane Killer that jumps to mind for me is Linden Vey. He played at a time when the ‘Canes were actually quite good, but he always seemed to rise to the challenge. Playing on a line with Tyler Ennis that duo gave the ‘Canes fits and resulted in quite a few high-scoring games between the two.
Having only witnessed home games, I turned this question over to Rock106 play-by-play man Dustin Forbes who says, “Gage Quinney. When he was previously with Prince Alberta, or Kelowna last year and now with Kamloops, Gage always seems to get 1, 2 or 3 points against us.”
The first name that popped into my head was Emerson Etem; however, he kind of killed everybody, especially in his final season in the Dub. His speed and quick release were so impressive. I was amazed at how he could turn a game around single-handedly. That fact that he was a Tiger, and did so much damage, made it all the more painful.
To find a “Cane Killer”, I picked a player who we would faced a lot over the course of a few seasons, not just one. So it had to be someone from the Central Division and from a team Lethbridge fans hated. The Medicine Hat Tigers speedy, pesky (got under the oppositions skin), diminutive (5’-155lbs) forward Kevin Riehl (1987-1992) lit the lamp 199 times and he feasted on the Hurricanes. Riehl was deadly on specialty teams with 56ppg and 27 short handed goals over his career, many of those at the expense of the Hurricanes.
(Photo courtesy of: lethbridgehurricanes.com)
3) I often get asked how the team turned around so quickly. Who/what, in your mind, has been most important in the extraordinarily quick turnaround we’ve seen here in Lethbridge? Is it possible to replicate in other markets that are at or near rock bottom?
Peter Anholt. In my mind, it’s no question. Brent Kisio, Tyler Wong and all of the players deserve credit, but it all starts with the G.M. beginning the day he took over the team last season. There was a lot of talk about “culture” for a long time before he got here, but he was the one who actually changed the attitude. When he spoke he was open and honest and held his team to a different standard than it was before. And he showed it by completing re-making the roster. Everything that has happened since started because of Peter Anholt.
The cohesive dressing room adds tremendous accountability amongst teammates. GM Anholt changed the culture by removing the bad/divisive apples and boosted team size & skill. Coach Kisio’s system adjusts his system to play to the strengths of his players, whereas the old coaching regime stubbornly tried to shove round pegs into square holes. Let’s face it; lightning struck this team. Other cellar-dwellers can’t expect this type of turnaround in one off season. The Canes are way ahead of schedule.
I would have to go with Peter Anholt as being the key to the turn around. Obviously you have the shrewd moves he made as GM in hiring Kisio and acquiring players such as Gutz, Millette, and Atwal. All of these moves have been huge. However, the change was somewhat evident when he took over as interim coach last season. There was seemingly a shift in the off-ice culture which translated positively to on ice performance. It began to look like it was fun to play hockey in Lethbridge again after a lot of misery.
The turnaround certainly has shocked a lot of fans, media, and other WHL coaches/GMs. In my opinion the most important “WHO” in this extraordinary change of fortunes is GM Peter Anholt. Here’s why. He took a calculated risk in hiring a young, inexperienced (but was he really inexperienced?) Brent Kisio as his head coach, and then brought in Arvin Atwal, Cory Millette, and Justin Gutierrez as overages. None of the three had flashy numbers, but it was leadership Anholt was after. They have far exceeded expectations on and off the ice. If a turnaround can happen here, no reason why it can’t with other teams.
4) What is your best and worst Hurricanes related memories?
My best Hurricane memory is everything about the 2008 run to the WHL finals. I could pick out a dozen individual memories from that whole experience, but the feeling of going to the Enmax Centre every few nights, seeing and hearing that crowd and watching the entire scenario unfold was incredible. My worst memory is from last season. I can’t remember the specific game, but I showed up a couple minutes late and the team was already down 2-0. Before I got my camera set-up they gave up another. 3-0, not even ten minutes in. Yet again. It was happening with regularity and felt like a low point for the organization. Drake Berehowsky was fired shortly after and thankfully the turnaround soon began.
The worst was seeing the good people who work full time for the Canes invest so much passion and time off the ice, only to have the poor on ice production eclipse all their efforts. The best is seeing everyone with the Canes – the players, the coaches, management, the promotions and sales staff, the game day people & the fans – all wearing smiles and having fun coming to the rink again.
Best – Without a doubt Lethbridge vs. Hull at the 97 Memorial Cup round robin. Down 6-1 entering the third period, the Canes mounted a comeback for the ages, taking the game 7-6 in OT. There’s nothing quite like coming back in a game that seems all but lost, especially at the Mem Cup.
Worst – The 2013/14 season. It was brutal to watch. So many blow outs. Demoralized players. The passion sapped from their bodies. It doesn’t come much worse than that.
My fondest Hurricane memory is easy. The comeback by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 1997 Memorial Cup round robin game with Hull Olympics was incredible. Down 6-1 heading into the 3rd period the Canes came back and eventually won 7-6 in overtime. As for the worst memory, one does not have to look too far back to the debacle of the whole 2013-14 season. I felt so sorry for the players who were plagued with playing through that mess.
5) This is a diverse panel. There’s been allot of talk about bloggers and podcasters destroying the art of true journalism. Is that your feeling? Is there a happy middle-ground somewhere? Can they coexist, or like the Highlander, can there be only one??
I worry about the future of “traditional media” in terms of the medium. I think TV, newspapers and radio are all becoming increasingly reliant on the internet as their medium, which blurs the line between “bloggers” and “MSM”. I think there is always room for journalism, regardless of the medium. Anyone who is willing to put in the work, to be ethical, to have checks and balances and is willing to be fair should have a voice, no matter which (if any) organization they work for. I like hearing different and diverse voices, as long as it’s fair and balanced.
Much like Cassette Tapes and CDs, both can co-exist… until the media equivalent of a MP3 player comes along and destroys both.
In my mind, there is a happy middle ground where both co-exist and compliment each other. It’s great to have access to a variety of content. Sometimes I want to dive into my favourite team with like-minded people. Blogs are perfect for that. In other cases I want a more objective take on wider issues that may or may not concern my favourite team. Journalists are perfect for that. In my mind, variety is key when consuming media and we live in a great time for that.
Geesh, I could get up on a soap box for this question. But I will state my case based on one word, “professionalism”. There is a lot of very unprofessional people behind blogs and podcasts and in journalism. Mainly because they are in it for themselves. “Look at me, I stirred the pot, I got the scoop, people are talking about me”. You get the idea. I believe that those bloggers, podcasters, and journalist who are honest, can back up their stories with facts, and present themselves in an entertaining, and professional manner will eventually weed out those who do not.
6) The Oscars were last weekend. If it were up to you, which film from 2016 would have won Best Picture? What’s your favorite film to ever have been awarded as Best Picture? Do you have any terrible movies you love to hate-watch?
I used to be a movie fiend, but now don’t get the chance to watch very many. The Martian is the only Oscar nominated movie I saw this year and I loved it, so I’ll choose that one. My all-time favourite best picture winner is actually Casablanca. For a terrible “hate-watch” movie, every few years I give Napolean Dynamite another shot. I keep thinking, “maybe this time I’ll like it.” But, I never do. I end up just being mad that I’m watching that crap.
I think we can all agree the greatest movie of all time is ‘Pump Up the Volume’ starring Christian Slater – the story of a shy guy who can only truly express himself through writing and radio.
I really enjoyed Spotlight, so I’m totally fine with the Academy’s selection, but Mad Max was my favourite movie amongst the nominees. My all-time favourite Best Picture winner would probably be Lawrence of Arabia with honourable mentions going to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Godfather II. A terrible movie that I love to hate watch – it’s got to be Tremors. It gets me every time.
I have not seen “SpotLight” yet. As of now “Revenant” is my pick. DiCaprio (despite his comment about Chinook Winds being a sign of global warming) was great. My all time Oscar Best Picture was in 1972, which also featured the Best Actor Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”. Hands down my fav. As for watching movie that I hate, a complete waste of time.
What do you think? Who got it right? Did anyone get it wrong? Comment below.
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