Tag Archives: Hockey

My Cup Runneth Over

It happened, then it took twelve years for it to happen again, and another seven for it to happen a third time.

Until recently, every year I would watch the captain of the winning team hoist the Stanley Cup above his head and plant a giant kiss on it. This memory is burned into my brain from at least 1980 onward. Certainly, for my entire adult life, I know I have not missed the raising of The Cup more than a couple of times.

I normally root for one particular team to win The Cup but this year I was rooting heavily for the Vegas Golden Nights to win. You see, last night this particular situation arose for only the third time since 2002. I like to think of it as my own version of Halley’s Comet.

Back in 2002, my wife was pregnant with our first child who was due on July 4. I was always a bit ticked off because of all the days for a True Canadian to have a baby, I got stuck with American Independence Day as a due date. Three days earlier would have been ideal.

At any rate, there we were living in Cambridge, Ontario and as always I was watching the Stanley Cup Finals. It was mid-June. In fact, to be completely precise it was June 13. Detroit was playing Carolina in game #5 and Detroit was up 3 games to 1 in the series.

As I mentioned, for as long as I can remember I have watched the Stanley Cup get hoisted by the captain of the winning team. I can go back to when I was a kid and my dad would let me stay up late to watch them hand out the cup. I’m not sure what it is about it, but growing up with a dad who played hockey at a very competitive level, playing it myself for 10 years, going down to the old CNE grounds to the Hockey Hall of Fame when I was a kid and seeing the Cup up close (and even touching it), well, it’s a feeling stronger than common nostalgia that’s hard to explain.

So, three weeks removed from our first child’s due date, my wife and I were lying in bed watching Detroit win The Cup. Lidstrom got the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and then Gary Bettman came out and presented the cup to Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y hoisted The Cup over his head and planted a big kiss on it. Right then, I turned to her (she was pretending not to watch the game), patted her on the stomach, and said, “OK, you can give birth now”.

At 05:00 the next morning she woke me up with, “Andrew, we’re going to have a baby”. More than half asleep, I replied, “I know,” and she said, “No. We’re going to have a baby TODAY. My water just broke”.

A little more than twelve hours later our daughter was born. That makes today her birthday (and aside from making me feel slightly old that means yesterday was June 13).

I waited twelve years for The Cup to be handed out on June 13 again but the Hockey Gods must be looking upon me favorably because I only needed to wait another seven for it to happen once more. Last night the Vegas Golden Nights won the Stanley Cup and today my daughter celebrates her twenty-first birthday. Congratulations to them and a most wonderful happy birthday to her.

Hockey may have the greatest trophy but I have the greatest daughter and to me, that’s worth more than any sterling silver cup, Stanley or otherwise.

Why Is Everyone Clapping?

If you want to skip all this and go straight to the awesome update at the end of the post you can click here.

Some people will say,  “You’re overreacting.”

Some people will say, “It’s part of the game.”

Some people will say, “It’s all in good fun.” 

I will tell every one of them that they’re wrong.

As some long-time readers of this blog will know I suffered a severe concussion
back in 2011 (to add on to the pile of other “less severe” head injuries, you know, the ones where I didn’t get knocked completely unconscious). I was off work for several months and it took me more than six months to get back to a level of function comparable to what I had before the accident. 

As my friends know I am against the idea of fighting in hockey at any level and whenever I take one of my kids to a Kitchener Rangers hockey game and a fight breaks out on the ice it makes by blood boil. There is absolutely no place for fighting in hockey, let alone junior hockey, where a good number of the players are under the age of 18. 

So, I guess what you are about to read is the inevitable reaction of a father and hockey fan who has finally had enough with the glorification of two athletes assaulting each other in front of thousands of adoring fans.

You could say the moment I snapped was one Saturday morning when I heard a promotion on 105.3 Kool FM for a contest they were running in association with the Kitchener Rangers and sponsored by Forbes Automotive. It’s a good promotion and I considered entering the contest… right up until I heard the line, “the hits… the fights…”

I wasn’t actually sure I had heard it correctly so I just filed it away until the next time it was aired. Sure enough, the next time I was listening and they played the promo I heard the line again, “the hits… the fights…” Suffice it to say I was nothing short of shocked. Were they actually promoting hockey fights? Were they actually promoting fights that involve kids under the age of 18?

First order of business: Posting to social media in hopes I would get areply. To date I have received none, and having heard the promotional spot countless times since it has come to this. I have resorted to the most extreme measure that an irate Canadian can possibly use.

I wrote a letter.

Jay Nijhuis, Promotions and Marketing Manager, 105.3 Kool FM
Murrary Hiebert, General Manager, Kitchener Rangers 


Jason Stainton, General Manager, Forbes Waterloo Mazda (sponsor)
David E. Branch, Commissioner, Ontario Hockey League  
Letters to the Editor, The Kitchener Record
Brain Injury Association of Canada


Fight Club

Mr. Nijhuis and Mr. Hiebert,

I am writing to request the recent Kitchener Rangers “KooLest Seats in the House” radio promotion be taken out of advertising rotation immediately, or at a minimum, the voice over changed to something more appropriate. 

The rationale for this request is quite simple. I believe the wording promotes violence, specifically violence by, and toward, teenagers.  
I am an avid listener of 105.3 Kool FM and I attend anywhere between 8 and 10 Kitchener Rangers hockey games each season and I take my 11 year old daughter or my 7 year old son to most of the games. Now, it is possible that my previous experiences with concussions have made me more sensitive to the issues of head trauma in hockey (I’ve had at least 4 concussions) but I don’t think I’m out of line in admonishing Kool FM and the Kitchener Rangers for airing a promotion that highlights the fights that we can look forward to the next time we attend a hockey game.
The last two games I attended with my children there were fights in first five minutes of the game. On the one occasion my son, who is just starting to understand some of the rules, asked me why everyone was clapping after the fight. On the other occasion my daughter had to look away because the sight of two teenage boys punching each other in the face upset her (as it should, would you not agree?) 
Let’s not forget that these hockey players are also kids! In case you haven’t counted there are currently 12 players on the Kitchener Rangers roster that are under the age of 18. I’m left to wonder how it is you can justify promoting fights between underage hockey players? 
An even better question: 
How do you think the parents of the younger players feel about you encouraging the public to come out and pay to see their 16 year old’s get into a fight and risk their future as hockey players as well as possible brain injuries?
Suffice it to say that, at best, the promotion as it currently stands highlights a terrible error in judgement by the marketing and promotions staff involved. At its worst it is a call for people to not just witness, but enjoy, teenage violence that doesn’t belong – on or off the ice.

The promotion could have easily been worded, “The hits… the goals…” instead of “The hits… the fights…” and as such I ask that you re-think the words chosen for this promotion or pull it from the radio outright. 

I further encourage everyone involved to issue an on-air apology to the players and fans and make a donation to the Brain Injury Association of Canada or other applicable not-for-profit organization. 

Andrew F. Butters


Within a couple hours of sending my email and posting this I have received several emails from Kool FM and the Kitchener Rangers!

First, Kool FM informs me the script would be revisited tomorrow:

Click image to read

Then, I received an email from the COO of the Kitchener Rangers indicating he would be following up tomorrow as well, and reiterating his commitment, and the commitment of the OHL and CHL to reducing fighting in their games:

Click image to read

Finally, I received an email from the Program Director at Kool FM (after I replied to their original reply) informing me that neither Forbes Automotive nor the Kitchener Rangers were involved in the wording and approval of the script (good on Kool for owning up!) and that it has been re-written and will be re-voiced and produced on Monday:

Click image to read

If all this isn’t a whole pile of win I don’t know what is. Naturally, there are a few douchecanoes over at Reddit /r/hockey that are downvoting the link to this post but what’s a guy to do? One step at a time.

~ Andrew

For Dad

Not surprisingly, a good number of the memories I have that involve my father also involve sports. Whether it was sitting on the porch listening to the Toronto Blue Jays on the radio; me with a lemonade, Dad with a can of Schlitz, or him taking me downtown on the subway to sit in General Admission at Exhibition Stadium and watch them play live. I can still hear the chants of “Er-nie! Er-nie!” echoing through the ball field and out onto the cool waters of Lake Ontario.

If I was really lucky we’d sit in Right Field – Reserved Bench!

I have a family of my own now and my wife’s father enjoys heading down to the ballpark as well, so every so often for Father’s Day she and I will buy tickets for our dads and we’ll all go down to the ballpark and catch a Jays game (preferably against the Yankees). Where do you think Dad likes to sit? Yup, out in left field above the Jays bullpen – not too far from the old General Admission days at Exhibition Stadium.

By the age of 5 I had watched more games on Hockey Night in Canada than I could count. In 1979-1980 my dad, as the principal of a school, would bring home boxes of confiscated hockey cards (no shootsies allowed in the hallways!) and I would catalogue each and every one, diligently using the checklists to see which ones I was missing. Dad would sometimes get hockey tickets from a parent and take me down to see the game and if he was really itching to go to and didn’t have seats he’d hop on the subway and get some off scalpers. The most memorable moment would have to be the 1987 playoffs against St. Louis. Toronto won the series in 6 games on the same ice that I scored a goal on a little more than 2 years earlier. Dad and I were in standing room “seats” and I thought the building was going to collapse! After the game Mom said she saw us on the news; Dad carrying me on his shoulders as fans paraded up the street. Even if I didn’t know what it meant at the time that night was probably the first truly surreal experience of my life.

1984 Thornhill Rebels crammed into a broom closet in the bowels
of Maple Leaf Gardens. I was 10 years old. 

All grown up, able to afford my own tickets (and a knack for being able to actually get some), I would make a point of taking my old man to a game every year. The last Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game we saw was in 2001 at the new home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Air Canada Centre. Wouldn’t you know it, the Leafs would win in overtime and we were fittingly situated in standing room (it was the game Sergei Berezin actually passed the puck!) Dad didn’t put me on his shoulders but an usher did have to instruct him to get down off the railing and stop banging on the bottom of the press box.

Now, as any good hockey fan knows, when you’re not out on the ice you should be out on the course. When it came to golf Mom had more patience (and a hole in one!) but played a lot less than Dad. Not that Dad played a whole lot, but both his parents were avid golfers and he definitely liked to get out on the course and hack it around. Dad would let me borrow his clubs and I’d go out to the Unionville Par 3 course with a friend and just make a total mess of things. I’m pretty sure the only reason every club came back in one piece was the uncertainty of what would happen if even one of them came back broken.

Since Dad retired he’s played a lot more golf, and since I’ve grown up I have as well. Now, once or twice a year we go out on the course and shoot a round, usually 9 holes so it doesn’t take as long. I couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve played, but I can definitely tell you how many times I’ve beaten him: once. That’s right, I’ve only beaten him one time. I’ve never been able to hit his curve ball, and apparently when he’s around I can’t hit a fairway either. I bought him a round at the course by my house for Father’s Day this year and I have this sneaky suspicion that he’ll eek out the victory just like he’s done all all those times before.

Pretend score card from the one time I beat Dad (as if I shot a 44)

If it’s possible to be influenced into enjoying a certain type of book I was definitely influenced by my father. He’s read all the classics of course, and as an English major from Waterloo Lutheran University and public educator for 34 years he has read his fair share of novels. The man loves to read, and one of his go-to genres is the one I head to first when I’m looking to buy a new book: suspense / thriller. I have borrowed many a book off of his shelf written by Dan Brown, Steve Berry, or Robert Ludlum and have certainly purchased many of their works or taken them out from the library as well.

Is it any surprise then that my novel, just a few thousand words shy of a completed first draft, happens to be a conspiracy suspense thriller? I’m 39 years old and still trying to get in my dad’s good books.

One thing I am looking forward to is writing on the inside cover of his copy and handing it to him sometime this year; heart in my throat, terrified he’ll think it sucks. I have another feeling though, that he will think it’s a perfectly readable book, and even if he doesn’t, one thing I know is he’ll put me up on his shoulders one more time and place my novel proudly on his bookshelf right beside Ludlum, Brown, and Berry – and every time I visit it will be surreal.


~ Andrew

Choosing Wisely

On the day of what can arguably be described as the biggest day in North American sports, Super Bowl Sunday, I find myself in a minority position when it comes to giving a damn. I’ve never really been a football fan – hockey and golf seem to hold my interest – and I’m definitely not in the habit of worshipping the ground these best-of-the-best athletes walk on. Now I’m not saying I’m a perfect human – I’m far from it – and I’ve been lucky to make my mistakes in private without the world standing around judging me.

That being said, my kids are starting to pay attention to what’s on the TV and are going to start to look to people that aren’t my wife and I as role models. As such, I started paying closer attention to the famous faces that SportsCentre plasters all over their highlight reels and I noticed something: a lot of them are little more than just really good athletes.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a God-fearing fella with a few tattoos, a better than average passing arm, and seemingly no fear of running the ball. He takes the field for his first Super Bowl appearance today playing on the first professional sports team to openly support the gay and lesbian community. Now that’s a really big deal, and one that San Francisco player Chris Culliver came out and said he was not OK with. Now, that’s his choice, but I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not running out and getting my kids a Culliver jersey any time soon. If anything, I’ll be using him as an example of someone whom my kids should pay as little attention to as possible.

Unfortunately, the number of athletes on that list of mine is more than a few. It seems that for every incredible story on the field there’s an incredibly idiotic one that’s happening off of it. Pick your poison: religious extremists, misogynists, rapists, philanderers, racists, bigots, drug addicts, blood dopers, steroid abusers, liars, and cheaters. You can certainly find these people in among famous scientists, writers, and educators as well but the principal difference is the media is not often pushing them into our line of sight and hanging off their every word hoping for a sound bite they can use to open the show.

Now, the good news is we also have many respectable athletes to choose from as well. For every jerk with record setting statistic there’s another one I’d gladly hang a poster of on my wall. Sidney Crosby, the poster boy of the NHL, lived with Mario Lemieux for the first 5 years he was in Pittsburgh – to help with his transition from a small town kid to a big city superstar.  Here was a full grown, voting age adult with a job making millions of dollars a year, and a full entourage of advisers, coaches, and support staff living with his boss and mentor. No controversy, no scandal, no embarrassing photographs… just a pretty nice guy who happens to be a pretty amazing hockey player.

I suppose my wish is for the media – and the general public – to do a better job of distinguishing good athletes from good people, because at the end of the day they’re all just people. For all they do on and off the field, I think it’s important to remember they have their own problems, their own hurdles to overcome, life lessons to learn, or growing up to do. They also have their own opinions – which you don’t have to agree with. I know in a lot of cases I certainly don’t, and I used to get worked up over it, but I try not to any more. I’ve just stopped putting athletes on a pedestal and touting their virtues to the world because they happen to be rich and good at their jobs. At the end of the day they’re just a bunch of guys who excel at playing games.

I’ll acknowledge that fact they possess remarkable athletic skill, and I’ll be duly impressed by it, but after that I’ll be keeping a close eye on the ones I point out to my kids, because superstar athletes have just as much chance as the next guy of being absolutely bat shit crazy.

Go Niners (most of them)!