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Epic brawl in Leafs/Sabres preseason game

23 Sep
Line brawl in Toronto Maple Leafs / Buffalo Sabres preseason game on September 22, 2013. CREDIT: LeafsTV/NHL

Line brawl in Toronto Maple Leafs / Buffalo Sabres preseason game on September 22, 2013. CREDIT: LeafsTV/NHL

If you missed it last night, there was an epic brawl in the (preseason!) Leafs / Sabres game. It started when Sabres tough guy John Scott (6’8″, 270lbs) jumped Leafs scorer Phil Kessel (6’0″, 202lbs). The Leafs responded, including a goalie fight between Bernier and Miller.

All in all, the Leafs fared better in the brawl. They also won the game 5-3. The fights might cost the buds though, with David Clarkson expected to be suspended 10 games for leaving the bench during the fights. Phil Kessel might also get suspended a couple games for his stick-work.

In the regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres play a back-to-back on November 15-16.

Watch last nights melee:

And here’s the box score from 10:01 of the 3rd period last night:

Toronto: Andrew Macwilliam: 5 minutes, fighting
Toronto: Tyler Bozak: 5 minutes, fighting
Toronto: Tj Brennan: 5 minutes, fighting
Toronto: Phil Kessel: 10 minutes, match penalty
Toronto: Carter Ashton: 5 minutes, fighting
Toronto: Jonathan Bernier: 2 minutes, goalie leave crease
Toronto: Jonathan Bernier: 5 minutes, fighting
Toronto: Jonathan Bernier: 10 minutes, game misconduct
Toronto: David Clarkson: 10 minutes, leaving player’s/penalty bench
Toronto: Carter Ashton: 10 minutes, misconduct
Toronto: Tyler Bozak: 10 minutes, misconduct
Toronto: Tj Brennan: 10 minutes, misconduct
Toronto: Andrew Macwilliam: 10 minutes, misconduct

Buffalo: John Scott: 2 minutes, instigator
Buffalo: John Scott: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: John Scott: 10 minutes, misconduct
Buffalo: John Scott: 10 minutes, game misconduct
Buffalo: Brian Flynn: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: Michael Zigomanis: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: Chad Ruhwedel: 10 minutes, misconduct
Buffalo: Chad Ruhwedel: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: Drew Bagnall: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: Ryan Miller: 2 minutes, goalie leave crease
Buffalo: Ryan Miller: 5 minutes, fighting
Buffalo: Ryan Miller: 10 minutes, game misconduct
Buffalo: Drew Bagnall: 10 minutes, misconduct
Buffalo: Michael Zigomanis: 10 minutes, misconduct
Buffalo: Brian Flynn: 10 minutes, misconduct

A Summer of Scuba Diving

14 Sep

Over the summer Ashley and I have taken it upon ourselves to learn to scuba dive. There’s no real reason for it – no major travel planned – but it was something we were both interested in and so we decided there’s no time like the present.

So back in May-June we did the PADI Open Water Diver course with the Toronto Scuba Club (a friend of mine had done a course with them a couple years back and thought they were good, and since I trusted his experience, that’s where we signed up). The course consisted of two mornings in a classroom, two afternoons in a school pool, and a weekend in an actual lake for our checkout dives (though in this case the actual lake was one called Gulliver’s Lake – a manmade rectangle the size of a couple soccer fields and about 20 feet deep). We had homework to do ahead of the classroom sessions, written tests once we got there (though it would take effort not to pass them), and we were checked repeatedly on our practical skills in the pool and the lake.

Harrison Underwater

Harrison Underwater

From the classroom/pool session, the highlight for me was twofold – though both experiences happened at the same time. One of the skills you have to master as a scuba diver is how to empty a flooded mask (as water will, invariable, get into your mask at some point) while you’re underwater. It’s a simple enough procedure of tilting your head back, blowing out your nose, while simultaneously pressing the top of your mask against your forehead. In that maneuver holding the top of your mask against your head prevents the air from escaping; this allows the air to displace the water in the mask – which quite literally drains out the bottom (even though you’re underwater!).

On my first attempt to do this though, when I tilted my head back and pressed the top of my mask against my forehead, for some reason I inhaled through my nose. Considering I was in a pool filled with water, this was of course not the correct thing to do. Naturally, having just inhaled a bunch of water, I started coughing. But this lead directly to my second highlight: learning to trust my equipment.

When you’re underwater with scuba equipment you have a regulator in your mouth so that you can breath. With modern regulators though, you can do a lot more than just breath while they’re in your mouth. You can sneeze, cough, puke, burp – whatever. And while I didn’t test all of those, I certainly did test the coughing capability – and it worked perfectly. I was able to breath and cough without any difficulty underwater. This was an important realization, and it put me at ease: whatever happened, as long as that regulator was in my mouth, I could breath.

And once I was done coughing, I successfully cleared my mask.

Ashley after a successful dive to 100'

Ashley after a successful dive to 100′

On the open water checkout dives (the weekend at Gulliver’s Lake), we were being tested on the various skills we had learned in the classroom and the pool, except now we were in a lake 20 feet deep instead of a pool 9 feet deep. Overall, it didn’t really feel any different. The equipment was the same. The company was the same. Though it was nice to be outside for the weekend – and being outside did allow for two new experiences: first, actually being able to swim some distance without hitting the wall of a pool; and second, compass navigation.

Being able to swim more than six feet before running out of real estate was an important opportunity to work on buoyancy (as you want to be neutrally buoyant, i.e. “weightless”, as much as possible – which is achieved by adding or removing a little bit of air to a piece of equipment called a BCD – “Buoyancy Control Device”). Working on compass navigation was also fun – and it brought me back to my days of doing IFR flight training. When we had time for a free dive, Ashley and I actually successfully navigated both square (40 kick cycle) and triangle (50 kick cycle) patterns underwater (in very poor visibility) on our first attempts. I was proud of us for that success.

At the end of that weekend, Ashley and I were both PADI certified Open Water Divers. But! We didn’t stop there. Having enjoyed the experience, we decided to continue our training and do our Advanced Open Water certification during a weekend trip to Rockport, Ontario in August. The Toronto Scuba Club operated this excursion as well.

I would compare moving onto the advanced certification similarly to how I felt transitioning from my Private Pilot Licence to my Commercial Pilot Licence. We weren’t learning anything new per se; rather we were learning how to apply what we already knew in a more refined, precise way – which allowed us to take our scuba diving to new depths – pardon the pun.

Harrison after a successful dive to 100'

Harrison after a successful dive to 100′

For the advanced weekend, we were in the St. Lawrence River (finally a real body of water!) in the 1000 Islands area of eastern Ontario. To complete the advanced certification we had to complete some reading material ahead of time and complete five dives over the weekend. The dives were deeper and in a more challenging environment than we had experienced before, but the skills were the same. Simply getting accustomed to the environment struck me as the only real challenge, as I was comfortable with my equipment and confident in my abilities.

Of the five dives we did (deep, wreck, night, navigation, and drift) the one that stands out in my mind the most was the night dive. It was amazing. It felt like a combination of watching a National Geographic video about exploring the ocean floor with the experience of going on a spacewalk (there’s a reason astronauts train for spacewalks underwater!).

For more on the advanced weekend, just watch the video at the top of the page – it shows you what we did.

Also, I mentioned a couple times that aspects of scuba training reminded me of my flight training. And it really did, from start to finish. I’m not sure exactly why – perhaps the technical aspect, perhaps some personality similarities between flight instructors and scuba instructors, or maybe the comradery amongst the divers – but it was a very familiar and comfortable feeling from the onset.

In any case, if you haven’t tried scuba diving, I highly recommend it. It was a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to see where we’ll dive next!

Getting onto the boat at the end of a dive

Getting onto the boat at the end of a dive

Red Bull Stratos – Freefall from the edge of space

9 Oct

Update: Felix made his jump successfully from an altitude of approximately 39km. He broke the record for highest skydive and longest skydive. He also became the first human to break the sound barrier without being inside an aircraft. He fell at a speed of Mach 1.24 (1342.8km/h). – Harrison

The Red Bull Stratos Live Feed:

From Red Bull: “Red Bull Stratos is a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner will undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet / 36,576 meters and make a record-breaking freefall jump in the attempt to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles / 1,110 kilometers per hour), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.”

More information: Red Bull Stratos Website

The following images are all courtesy Red Bull Stratos:

Balloon Size Comparison (click to enlarge in new window)

Felix’ Capsule (click to enlarge in new window)

Test Flight (click to enlarge in a new window)

Check out more images by clicking here.

NHL Lockout, 2012-13 Edition

17 Sep

I won $2250 in the Shoot for Loot at a Toronto Maple Leafs game a few years ago. $2250 is a lot of money for me. What does it mean to the NHL?

Another NHL season is upon us, and for the second time in seven years we likely won’t get to see any of it.

After the last lockout in 2004-05 fans forgave the players and the owners, and quickly came marching back with their wallets open for the start of the 2005-06 season.

This time it feels different.

The global economic prospects are grim. People are out of work. The economy is slow. Ordinary folks are having a hard time. And the people whose livelihood depends on the NHL are just plain out of luck.

And yet we get to listen to millionaires squabble over how to divide their 100’s of thousands or millions of dollars amongst themselves? Give me a break.

A couple friends of mine have recently commented on the subject, and so I share their remarks with you here. They are bang on (except for Adam – football isn’t better than hockey).

An Open Letter To NHL Players And Owners

Dear NHL Players and Owners,

Your lack of season this year will not affect me. There are a variety of reasons for this, and I have outlined them below. Suffice to say, I don’t care which set of rich men takes slight advantage of which other set of rich men.

Why I will not miss the NHL this year, a list.

A) For pro sports, I watch football. Lets get this out of the way to begin with. I won’t miss you because I only pay attention to you tangentially. There are a ton of reasons why I’m not in to hockey, mostly based around the Canadian Cult of Hockey, but simply put, you don’t do it for me. I mean, I like hockey, I like to watch hockey, but that just brings us to….

B) For hockey, I prefer junior games I can actually afford to attend more than once a decade. One of the great things about Halifax was the lack of professional sports teams. If you wanted competitive sport, you had to go watch junior level hockey at the Metro Centre. I went, at least once, usually more than once, a year. Why? Because I enjoy watching hockey. I think it’s a great game… except at the top tier, where I think players and owners are a bunch of mouthy babies with no idea how the real world works, because…

C) I find your complete lack of concern for how people will afford to support you in the current economic climate to be a turn-off. The people directly concerned with this lock-out are, for the most part, living lives the rest of us only dream of. And they expect to get paid ungodly sums of money for either putting on a show or letting us watch that show. Do you know where I could watch hockey, NHL? At any arena in Canada, four to seven nights a week, or on any frozen pond within spitting distance of a school, community centre, or workplace. Speaking of things you can find just about anywhere in Canada…

D) Players: I think people who get paid millions of dollars, per year, to do something they love, are so overpaid it’s not funny. Do you not realize that you would be doing this anyway? That if you weren’t NHLers, you’d be those guys playing shinny at the arena in gentlemen’s leagues? You are literally living your dreams. Do you know what most people have to pay (yes, they have to give money away!) to live their dreams, however briefly? Suck it up, kids. There are four million kids across Canada who would give the owners money to let them take your place. You’re bargaining from the weakest point in the whole world. Except…

E) Owners: you run a multi-billion dollar game, so you are the only people in the world who CANNOT complain about how ridiculous pro hockey salaries are. It’s your own fault. You run a price-gouging enterprise that rivals mob-run casinos for it’s moral intentions. You exist in a world where, rather than supporting and facilitating competition between high level athletes, AND being permitted to make a living from it, you are obsessed with profits. Do you give a crap about the people who want to watch the game for the sake of the game? No, you don’t. If you care about the game, you don’t sell $10 watered-down beer, or $8 hotdogs.


That post originally appeared on the blog Adam In Toronto on September 16, 2012

In response to this, Aaron commented on Facebook:

I, personally, am not much for football, but otherwise I think my friend Adam here is dead-on.

The one thing I’d add that he does not address is the number of “average” folk (people who work in sports bars, restaurants, and the arenas themselves) who are either going to be laid off or given reduced hours until the lockout ends. In fact, in Winnipeg (where the fledgling Jets are only a year old), they can’t even balance out the lack of hockey by booking more concerts because they can’t book anything on scheduled game nights, JUST IN CASE the lockout is resolved.

So while the lack of season does not affect me any more than it affects Adam, it does affect MANY people via a) the millions of dollars in lost revenue to local businesses on game nights and b) the lost wages (and potential layoffs) for those who depend on the arenas and associated businesses for employment.

This is more than just a flagrant disregard for your fan base, this is a blatant disregard for the very lives of the people who actually depend on the industry you’ve created around your sport.

Teachers & doctors are getting their wages frozen or reduced, while NHLers squabble about how to divide their millions? Wow.

The last two sentences sum up this issue perfectly – and fans will not be quick to forgive the NHL owners and players this time (who are both, by the way, equally to blame for this mess).

Stop behaving like spoiled brats and get back to work: people’s lives (literally) depend on it.


Almost immediately after I posted this blog, it flashed across my Twitter feed that the Ottawa Senators have already started laying off staff and reducing the work-week for others. You can read the story by clicking here. These are ordinary people – not spoiled NHL players or owners. Not to be overly dramatic about it, but this is reality: these people are now looking for other jobs. They might be wondering how to put food on their kids table this winter. I wonder if Jason Spezza and Eugene Melnyk are having similar thoughts on account of the lockout.