Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My interview with 'Rod the Bod'

Here is the conversation I had with Rod Brind'Amour at Friday's BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in Penticton.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Scott Niedermayer Interview

It isn't often that you meet an athlete, or an ex-athlete and come away so impressed. My talk with Scott Niedermayer Friday night at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame banquet in Penticton was one of those times.
Take a listen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rockets Alumni Golf Tourney is a HUGE success

  • What a great day! The Kelowna Rockets Alumni Golf Tournament met, if not exceeded, every ones expectations. Hosted at the Harvest Golf and Country Club, 165 golfers had a great day of weather, laughs and raised money for Kelowna General Hospital. What makes this tournament the success it is are the current and former players that show up year after year. The presence of  big names like Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and Duncan Keith can't be overstated. Hockey fans want to come out and rub shoulders with these players that enjoy huge success at the NHL level. Unfortunately Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers couldn't make it, but having the 'big three' gives this tournament the 'cred' it deserves.
  • Why is this tournament such a success year after year? She won't say it, but Anny Hamilton (Gavin Hamilton's wife) puts in countless hours making the golf tournament and the alumni hockey game on Sunday the spectacle it has grown to be. Anny is more of a behind the scenes person and frankly doesn't like to receive the credit for how this event has prospered over the years. But make no mistake, without her tireless work this 'Alumni Weekend' doesn't even come close to being the envy it has now become across the entire Western Hockey League.
  • As the emcee for the event, I heard nothing but positive feedback from the participates on how well the tournament is ran. Everyone loves the course, the weather, and the banquet under the big white tent make for a spectacular day. It doesn't hurt when alumnus Nolan Yonkman steps up to the mic and entertains the crowd while he does his best impression of an auctioneer. Yonkman pulls it off with ease and gets top dollar for the merchandise that is auctioned off.
  • By the way, all the proceeds from the Alumni Weekend go towards the Pediatric Ward at Kelowna General Hospital. This was year three of a commitment to raise 200 thousand dollars. Heading into this weekend, 105 thousand had already been raised before the first golf ball was even struck. Impressive.To me, the funds raised over such a short period of time really tells the story of how good of an event this has become. 
  • As is always the case when I emcee an event, Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton takes a couple of swipes at me that always provide a chuckle from the crowd. I like to use the line, 'Bruce and I have a love and hate relationship. I love him and he hates me'. Truth be told, I really appreciate the man who treats me so well behind the scenes. Do we have our disagreements? Sure. Is he a fan of this blog? Nope. But Bruce had some nice things to say about me at the banquet after throwing a few darts my way at the expense of a few laughs. Those are from the heart and I appreciate him sharing them publicly.
  • He finds it uncomfortable, and frankly I don't blame him. Shea Weber doesn't like to talk about his new contract and frankly I think he wishes it would all go away. But as a media person it is tough not to ask him a few questions about it considering he will be the highest paid player in the NHL this season. What I enjoyed most about my time with Weber on Thursday was just sitting in his golf cart, shooting the breeze while he was eating his sandwich. To me, those are the valuable times and relationships that are built with these elite alumni players that go on to great things at the NHL level. 
  • Josh Gorges is still my favourite alumni interview. He is so well spoken. The Montreal Canadiens d-man has started up the NHL Players Association 'Goals and Dreams' - Helping kids play hockey program with Kelowna Minor Hockey. This program allows kids that want to play the game, but don't have the financial means to do so. There is no better spokesman for the program locally that Gorges.  
  • The picture above is 20 year-old Spencer Main signing a few jerseys at the golf tournament. I am pleased to say that Main has been cleared and is ready to play after missing the majority of last season with a concussion. Main tells me he has been symptom free for three months and has never felt better.  
  • Myles Bell is slowly starting to become one of my favourite current Rockets. I just love his personality. And can he hit a golf ball! If you thought his slap shot was hard, you should witness his drive off the tee box. Impressive.
  • The best interview of the day likely was my conversation with James McEwan. The 25 year-old told me he is retiring. The fact that McEwan walks away from the game with a tremendous attitude makes me feel good about his long term plan for success in the new ventures that lay in front of him. McEwan seems like he's focused and truly is looking forward to the next stage of his life. He will always be remembered as a heart and soul player who excited the Kelowna crowd with his toe-to-toe tilts with Vancouver Giants spark plug Garet Hunt. 
  • I had a good talk with Brett Bulmer. The now 20 year-old looks focused on showing many it wasn't a fluke that he made the Minnesota Wilds opening day roster last October.  Bulmer just attended the Wild's Prospects camp and was the most in shape athlete there. It says a lot about Bulmer and his training habits. It also says a lot about Shane Pizzey at Pinnacle Elite Athlete. Getting the right guidance can go a long way in helping an athlete achieve extra ordinary results.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it      
  • It looks like Dylan Hood will chase his dream of playing pro hockey. After one year at the University of Calgary, Hood is leaving the U of C and will try his luck in the ECHL this season.
  • Don't forget the Alumni Game goes Sunday at the CNC at 5 o'clock. Doors open at 4.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weber wants to win - now.

Shea Weber is a very rich man. 
The Kelowna Rockets alumnus got a whole lot richer this week when he signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers (14 years) at 110 million dollars.
This comes on the heels of an arbitrator awarding the Sicamous resident 7.5 million dollars last summer after the Nashville Predators forced their captain into a very uncomfortable situation.
The fact that Weber signed an offer sheet with the Flyers, that the Predators can match, isn't a surprise.
It was a slap on his face by the organization when they sent the NHL All-Star to arbitration and the team had egg on their face when Weber was given the largest arbitration award in league history.
Weber's signing with Philadelphia is a clear sign that he wants out of Nashville and is tired of the rebuilding process in 'The Music City'.
With Ryan Suter's departure to Minnesota, it is clear that Weber wants to win a Stanley Cup, and the best way of doing that is by leaving the Predators and playing with a Flyers team that is young but talented.
Will the Predators match the Flyers offer keeping Weber in Nashville long term?
As Weber's agent said earlier this week, you don't sign an offer sheet if you are not interested in playing for that organization.
Weber's heart is no longer in Nashville. He won't say it but agent Jarrett Bousquet has spelled it out.
As competitive as they come, the former Kelowna Rockets defenceman wants to win hockey's ultimate prize. By signing long term in Nashville, his chances of accomplishing that goal diminish greatly.    

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ex-BC Lions DE Brent Johnson in Kelowna

The cyclists have arrived in Kelowna for the second annual RBC Granfondo.

Close to 700 riders will participate in the 122 kilometre course.

One of the riders this year is former BC Lion defensive end Brent Johnson.

Johnson admits being 6 foot 2 and weighing 265 pounds makes it hard to be on a bike for a long period of time.

"The flats are great. Going down hill is not a problem. It is the little buck fifty guys that fly by you on any sort of climb, it doesn't matter what the elevation is. I am always pulling a little more weight than most people."    

Johnson retired last season from the Lions after winning the Grey Cup.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Alomar makes his way to Kelowna

It doesn't happen often.

In fact, it has never happened.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar is spending the next three days in the Okanagan.

Alomar is participating in the Toronto Blue Jays Super Camp at Kelowna's Elks Stadium.

What does the 44 year-old think of Okanagan weather?

"It reminds me of Puerto Rico.  It is the same weather. I love the the warm weather.  I grew up in it.  I couldn't enjoy it more." 

Alomar is joined at the camp by Lloyd Moseby and Rance Mulliniks.

The camp concludes Wednesday before moving to Vancouver in one of 14 stops across Canada.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dilly's Day

Kim Dillabaugh brought the Stanley Cup to Kelowna on Sunday. The LA Kings goaltending coach had the 'Cup' at Prospera Place where over a thousand hockey fans waited in 37 degree heat to get their picture with Hockey's holy grail.