April 12, 2015 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the boldest statements in the history of the storied Toronto Maple Leafs franchise. A new front office, new coaching and scouting staff, a new approach and certainly a lot of new players are just the beginning.
There are many things I love about hockey that will never change. However, there really are times when I feel like I am a throwback to the days when dinosaurs and giants roamed the earth.
A well-played hockey game is about as captivating and impressive a spectacle that exists in team sports (at least I think so). The action is non-stop, with much skilled movement and few prolonged breaks.
Recently, I saw a quote from Jaromir that really struck home with me. Jagr has been known to skate at midnight after playing in games. He outworks much younger teammates in the gym and adheres to a training regimen that borders on the surreal. That is why he's still around.
At the professional levels, there are regular crews who work the league that oversee operations and the penalty and game clocks. These folks are invaluable to us on-ice officials, and very often they spot things that the officials -- and even the coaches -- miss.
You know something I've never seen? I've never seen a referee or linesman who is "biased" toward or against a particular team. I would say so if it was otherwise, and probably would have to be physically separated from the SOB if we were in the same place at the same time.
Over the course of my officiating career in the NHL, I ran afoul of my bosses for a variety of reasons. Among the sillier reasons that I caught flak: my late father's briefcase, a roller bag, cowboy boots, a tuxedo, a quote, parking in New Haven, and a "bet" for charity.
It is so easy to keep the blinders on and live the lifestyle of which most of us have been conditioned towards where materialism and consumption are paramount. Adapting to and seeking out change is more difficult yet far more rewarding.
As a player, my ticket to reaching the NHL and WHA was my toughness and work ethic. As an official, I respected the people who performed the policeman role because I knew just how difficult and misunderstood that job really is.
When officials put on their equipment, they should take out of their bags an invisible bottle of Clorox. Before they head out to the rink, they should magically soak their brains and bleach out any preexisting thoughts about the game.
Conenna's son John, now the President of Venus Travel recalls the hardworking father who tirelessly kept long hours.
Everyday language is rife with pitfalls and easy misunderstands. One of the beautiful things about hockey is that the sport -- like art or music -- is a universal language. It's something we can appreciate, love, support and nurture.
The other night I put aside this pessimism as my eyes opened to some truly amazing stories of humanity in sports. If you want to see what is still great about athletes, just attend a local Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Having been in this sport for 40 years and involved in officiating since the 1980s, I have been to a couple of funerals for guys who didn't make it to games while trying to fight the elements.
It concerns and disgusts me that there are some folks in North America who are taking a perverse pleasure in the fallout and the collapse of the ruble. Part of the beauty of hockey at its best is its ability to transcend borders and politics.
One of the areas where I believe forward-thinking NHL teams could tap into an under-used knowledge base is by considering longtime officials for decision-making roles in their scouting departments and/or front offices. Why not?