Back at it for another week of Takes. Feels like January kind of flew by and it seems like every game from here on out carries a little more weight, which will be entertaining for all fans and give coaches a few more grey hairs.
Let’s close out January in style.
Take 1: Heads up to parents and billet parents. We’re getting to the time of year when players will start doing really wild and frankly, weird things to their hair. For some, it’s out of boredom, while for others, it’s just something silly and fun to make each other laugh. Either way, unless you’re prepared for it, it can be quite eye-popping. Better start mentally preparing now because the creativity of some guys will be on full display… at least during O Canada.
Take 2: A sad week for many hockey fans but especially those that grew up watching the Islanders dynasty as legend Clark Gillies passed away. The four-time Stanley Cup champion was as well respected and regarded on the ice as he was off. He was featured in the excellent ESPN 30 for 30 episode titled “Big Shot”. If you haven’t seen that one, you need to. It’s an incredible story and some NHL history that doesn’t get talked about enough.
Take 3: Chuck a puck is way too hard. I get it, it’s designed to be that way. But come on. You have to try and make it at least somewhat possible. If you’ve done it, that’s pretty darn impressive. If you’ve tried, that’s good, too. But put like a garbage can or like Dauphin did on Ukranian night, they put a washer out at center ice and let people toss it in for a chance to win. It’s not my money or prizes to give away, so easy for me to say.
Take 4: Really great to see teams getting involved with reading to local school kids. The little ones really enjoy it. Plus, it gives the teams a chance to show off the sweet jersey’s up close. With February coming up and it being I Love to Read Month, I’m sure we’ll see more and more teams posting photos of their players spending time in schools.
Take 5: I know this hint of bias and I don’t fully mean it to, but if you get the chance to check out the Pistons virtual Fire and Ice Banquet panel, you should. It has a pretty awesome guest list with Cindy Klassen, Jennifer Botterill and Jocelyne Larocque. For families across the province, it’s an excellent opportunity to see and hear from three amazing female athletes telling their stories. Even if you want to skip everything else that will be pretty Steinbach Pistons focused, it will still be worth it for young women around Manitoba to see.
Take 6: I think it was worth the wait and while it wasn’t the name I was hoping for personally as I wanted Rail Hounds or Roadrunners… could you imagine if it was Roadrunners, they could have done the ‘meep meep’ when they scored… anyways, Nighthawks is a really great name and can’t wait to see what they do with a logo and colour scheme. More announcements will be coming over the next few weeks and it’s nice to have a name for the Niverville franchise.
Take 7: Looking at the schedule for February, it’s going to be packed with lots of possible movement. Plus, the added bonus of week-day games. Talking to some players, they kind of loved the weekend-only games. Gives them more time to rest and heal, more time to do schooling or workout but for us adults who don’t have to worry about school or working out, we want hockey! It’s nice to break up the week with a game on a Wednesday. Doesn’t even have to be a team you cheer for. Sometimes just watching the scoreboard is enough.
Take 8: Some of the nicest people you can meet at a hockey game only come out when the game is over. I quite enjoy talking with the workers who clean up the stands after the game. Once the fans leave, they spring into action and even with capacity limits, there’s still a lot of stuff to clean up. They work really hard and are very nice people. Do them a bit of a favour though, don’t be a total slob. Clean up a little. If you miss the garbage, don’t leave it, pick it up and put it in. That’s just common courtesy.
Take 9: Who wants to play Swan Valley right now? May be some recency bias but after watching them take down the top two teams in the league, lose the next game then bounce right back. They have all the markings of a team that will just go about their business into the playoffs and then who knows from there. Good luck to whomever gets them in round one.
Take 10: If you want to see and possibly take home a sweet MJHL jersey, check out what the OCN Blizzard are up to. They’ve really gone all out with the design. I don’t want to give too much away but there are dogs on it! Perfect for the hockey fan/animal lover. It’s one of the most unbelievable jerseys I think the league has ever seen. Get the picture and the link to bid by checking out @OCNBlizzard on Twitter.
Take 11: I don’t have a lot to say about the MJ/SJ Showcase being postponed. I think we all kind of knew it was coming. Still disappointing. Players though are taking it all in stride. We still have games to play. The mindset is that if the team plays well and you play well on a good team, you’ll be noticed. Teams that go far in the playoffs tend to get noticed, too. There are a lot of mature individuals in the MJHL who always try and find the positives.
Take 12: A lot of focus this week on mental health. The stigma has become less over the years as people tell their story, speak out about their experiences and try and help others. The saying goes “you don’t fake depression, you fake being okay”. You never know what someone is going through. You can perhaps never fully appreciate what a simple “hello” or “how are you” can do for someone. If you’re struggling, reach out. If you’re feeling good, reach out to someone else. It doesn’t take much to make a positive impact on someone. Let’s set aside some time to text or call someone we haven’t spoken to in a while. Even just for a quick conversation. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Don’t be afraid to share what you’re feeling. Thanks to the MJHL and CJHL for continuing to support mental health of those in hockey.