By Roger Currie
The Blue Jays are history, and my two Canadian football teams — the Riders and the Blue Bombers — are not worth talking about, so it’s time for couch potatoes to focus on hockey.
The Winnipeg Jets are off to a very promising start in what most regard as the toughest division in the NHL. There are some dazzling rookies on the ice this season, with most of the attention going to Connor McDavid of the Oilers. Just as exciting here in Winnipeg so far is 19-year-old Nikolaj Ehlers. He’s from Denmark, but it was his junior play in Quebec that prompted the Jets to make him their # 1 pick in the entry draft last year.
Speaking of foreign-born players, did you know that Canadian kids made up only 49% of the names on NHL rosters when the season began? How things have changed since the days of the original six when we watched in black and white on a Saturday night. Back then, when the Leafs were still hoisting the Mug, well over 90% of the players were born and raised in the True North Strong and Free.
The dream of a Canadian boy to star in the NHL appears to remain as strong as ever, especially if they find the right agent. But long ago, hockey fans decided that they were quite prepared to cheer just as loudly for Alex Ovechkin as they do for Sidney Crosby, despite outdated rhetoric from the likes of Don Cherry.
Speaking of Russians, explain to me why Alex Burmistrov of the Jets was fined almost $5,000 for throwing an elbow? If that rule had been in place back in the day, Gordie Howe’s career might have ended before it ever began.
More than 630,000 Canadians kids are registered for hockey programs this year, almost as many as are registered for soccer.
The dear old Habs in Montreal began the season with nine-straight wins, something they had never done before. But we won’t know who wins it all until next June.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.