Tag Archives: Manitoba

Koskie Named One of 50 All-Time Greatest Twins

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — The kid from Anola made it the day he reached the big leagues. He made it big again in 2001 when he became the first third baseman in Major League history to score 100 runs (100), drive in 100 runs (103), hit 25 home runs (26) and steal 25 bases (27). But tonight at Target Field, he really made it big.

Manitoba’s own Cordel Leonard Koskie, 37, the kid from tiny Anola, MB., was named one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Twins in a ceremony at the new downtown Minneapolis ballpark on Friday night. He was one of two Canadians named to the team along with New Westminster, B.C.’s Justin Morneau.

Koskie, who was selected in the 26th round of the 1994 amateur draft, was introduced to a wonderful round of applause and took his seat behind home plate along with Kent Hrbek, Rod Carew, Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven, Jim (Mudcat) Grant, Harmon Killebrew and Koskie’s good friend, Paul Molitor.

“I looked down the line and all I could think was, ‘What am I doing here?’” Koskie said with a smile. “Wow! The guys I was out there with… were they ever impressive. This is quite a group. I can’t tell you how honored I am.”

Koskie, who had to retire due to complications from post-concussion syndrome, did play for Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic, before calling it a career. His last Major League season was in 2006 while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.

These days, Koskie is a business man. The father of four young boys — all baseball and hockey players in the Twin Cities —  owns two Planet Fitness gyms in Minneapolis area and there are times when he thinks that’s crazier than being named one of the 50 Greatest Twins.

“I’ve gone from playing baseball right into the business world and that’s quite a jump,” he said. “I knew nothing about it when I started but I’ve learned quick and I’ve learned a lot.”

Friday night, however, Koskie forgot about the gyms for one moment. He called his moment on the field with Tom Kelly, Brad Radke, Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne and Tony Oliva, “overwhelming.”

“It was really great to be part of this and see these guys again,” said Koskie. “I feel pretty special.”



Things to Note… Kelly’s Charges Expunged, World Indigenous Games Coming to Winnipeg and What Does Marty Have?

Cleaning out a tattered notebook…

1) On Monday, in a Pennsylvania court room, all those trumped up “assault” charges against former Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike Kelly will be formally expunged. The charges have already been dropped. Monday, officially, Kelly can say nothing ever happened.

The fact is, nothing happened in the first place, it just takes this kind of baloney to ruin someone’s life. What happened to Kelly is sad and sick and there are people in Winnipeg who should be ashamed of themselves.

2) I see that my friend, radio talk-show host Marty Gold at 92.9 KICK FM, has “an official document that was sent to Lyle Bauer reporting on the state of the Blue Bombers at the end of last season.” Apparently he acquired it from a Bomber board member.

Don’t know what it is and don’t know what he’s going to do with it, but whatever happens, it will make for very interesting radio.

3) Had a nice chat with Premier Greg Selinger at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards Dinner at the Convention Centre on Tuesday night. A very enthusaistic Premier said, “The 2012 World Indigenous Games, the first ever World Indigenous Games, are coming to Winnipeg. We got ‘em and they’ll look good in that new stadium if we can get it finished.”

According to the Premier, Sport Minister Eric Robinson is presently at the United Nations with WIN president Dr. Willie Littlechild putting the final details together for these first World Indigenous Games. Good for Winnipeg.

4) Giuseppe Denatale’s CFC 5 will be held June 4 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The very popular Joe Doerksen is the headliner.

Dwight Sutherland from Peguis is also on the card. Should be a great night.

5) There are people in Winnipeg who love the Chicago Blackhawks because of the presence of Jonathan Toews, but the Nashville Predators are really Winnipeg’s team.

With Jordin Tootoo, who spends much of his off-season in the ‘Peg, along with Colin Wilson and Dustin Boyd, Barry Trotz’s Preds have the biggest group of Manitobans in the NHL. Of course, if Wilson continues to play as well as he did against the Red Wings on Tuesday night, he just might single-handedly lead the Preds into the second round.

6)Went to the launch for Jerrad Peters’ new book, We Call it Soccer, at the Round table on Wednesday night. Fun book written  by a great guy, Peters is the editor of ChristianWeek Magazine.

Published by Studio Publications (Full disclosure: Glen Tinley’s company published three of my books: Home Run, The Winnipeg Jets and In Search of Friends) the book is available at Chapters for only $12.95.



Helm gets Red Wings to within Four Games of Back-to-Back Stanley Cup Crowns.

Thanks to a kid from tiny St. Andrews, Man., the Detroit Red Wings have advanced to the Stanley Cup final to face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second straight year.

Wednesday night in Detroit, the Wings ended the Cinderella playoff run of the young Chicago Blackhawks with a 2-1 overtime victory as Darren Helm was the hero. Helm scored the game winner at 3:58 of overtime as the Western Conference champs are now just four wins away from their second straight Stanley Cup. The final starts Saturday night in Detroit.

Amazingly, Helm became the first player in history to score his first five NHL goals in the playoffs. He still hasn’t scored a regular-season goal. He breaks the record of another Manitoban, Winnipegger Eddie (Spider) Mazur who scored his first four NHL goals in the playoffs with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s.

Here’s our look at the upcoming Stanley Cup final:

Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings (No. 2 seed in the West) vs. Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 4 seed in the East):

The Red Wings are clearly the favourites, and for good reason. They just won the Western Conference title without Hart Trophy (MVP) finalist Pavel Datsyuk and Norris Trophy finalist (Top Defenceman) Nicklas Lidstrom is the lineup for the final two games of the Western Conference final.

However, when the Wings beat the Penguins in five games in last year’s final, the Pens’ top scorer Evgeni Malkin was injured and now, with a healthy Malkin, the Pens disposed of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern final in four straight games. Meanwhile, Malkin was not only the leading scorer in the regular season this year, but is currently tied with teammate Sidney Crosby for the scoring lead in the playoffs.

But here is why I like the Wings to repeat: Youth, experience and speed. Granted, with the addition of Bill Guerin, the Penguins have those elements, but Detroit just might have one of the great teams in NHL history. Almost every member of the Wings already has a Stanley Cup ring with two exceptions: off-season acquisitions Marian Hossa and Ty Conklin, who both played in Pittsburgh last year. I also like Detroit’s goaltending. Chris Osgood will outplay Marc-Andre Fleury when it counts.

The Wings and Pens split the season series 1-1. Detroit won 3-0 in Pittsburgh on NBC, on Feb. 8 while Pittsburgh won 7-6 in overtime way back on Nov. 11 in Detroit as Jordan Staal had a hat-trick. No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since, you guessed it, the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. And that’s why I like the Red Wings in six games.



Report: Canadian NHL Teams create 31 per cent of league’s ticket revenue.

A secret NHL report made public by Rick Westhead at the Toronto Star show that 31 per cent of the National Hockey League’s $1.1 billion (U.S.) in league ticket revenue, has come from the six teams based in Canada. 

According to the report that has not been made public by the NHL (as of Friday morning, May 30), “the league has seen its ticket revenue rise almost 10 per cent, but 11 of the 24 U.S.-based clubs were either revenue-flat or lost ticket income.”

Not surprisingly, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished first on the list at $1.9 million in ticket revenue per game. The Montreal Canadiens were second. Based on 41 home games, the Leafs collected $77.9 million in ticket revenue last year and that doesn’t count the revenue from pre-season games. 

Now, to be fair, Westhead suggested the increase in the value of the Canadian dollar may be responsible for as much as half of the league’s revenue gains since the NHL went through the lockout of 2004-05, but that doesn’t explain why six little Canadian-based teams create more than 30 per cent of the revenue.

What that suggests is that Gary Bettman’s foray into South Florida, Tampa, Nashville, Atlanta and Phoenix (not to mention the existing messes in Chicago, Long Island and Washington) has been an unmitigated financial disaster.

“This really makes the case for another team in Canada, whether it’s Hamilton, Winnipeg or Quebec City,” former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths told Westhead.

The most interesting item in the league’s report concerns the embarrassing Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes, who have been a financial and, yes, popular disaster in the U.S. desert since they moved from Winnipeg in 1996, were last in ticket revenue at $450,000. That’s a disgrace to the sport and suggests that commissioner Gary Bettman’s decision to allow the Jets to move to the American desert was a massive error in judgment. In the Jets final lame-duck year in 1996, the team earned about $330,000 per game in ticket revenues. That was the lowest in the final five years of the team’s existence. Twelve years later, Phoenix is only $120,000 a game higher. My good gawd…

The Coyotes are now, officially, losing more than $30 million a season (according to the Arizona Republic) and have lost as much as $600 million since leaving Winnipeg. 

According to the report, obtained by rivercitysportsblog.com on Friday morning, in 2007-08, eight U.S. teams – the Coyotes, the Atlanta Thrashers, the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Washington Capitals, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues – generated less than half the amount of ticket revenue of the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators. At $1.2 million in ticket revenue per game, the Oilers and Senators earned the least amount of ticket money among the six Canadian franchises.

This report obviously opens up the debate about bringing an NHL team back to Winnipeg.

Granted, Winnipeg has a population of only 700,000. Granted, Winnipeg lags behind other cities in weekly earnings. Granted, our corporate financial marketing base is very small. And granted, our downtown arena is tiny, with no parking revenue, many uncomfortable seats and too few luxury suites. 

However, there is little question that after 12 years, fans are dying to have the NHL return. The mere fact that my book, “The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg,” sold out 7,000 copies in Manitoba alone, is a clear indication that the Jets mattered, still do and that their return would still draw large crowds. Hey, if I were Bettman, I’d put a team in Central Ontario tomorrow. Then I’d look at Winnipeg and Quebec City.

It has been suggested that the money is already in place in order for Winnipeg to acquire a franchise. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know this: No matter what happens in terms of the future of the NHL, Winnipeg will ALWAYS be a better market for big-time hockey than the southern United States.

Period. End of discussion.



The 2008 NHL award nominees are in, here are my picks.

The nominees for all of the NHL’s major awards are now in and while we agree wholeheartedly with most of them, there were a couple we thought were a little weak.

 

Here are the nominees with my picks and why. The awards will be handed out in Toronto on June 12…

 

The Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender): The nominees are San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.

 

Our pick is Brodeur. He played  in all but five games this season and was brilliant in almost all 77 appearances. Brodeur’s 44 wins were second in the League behind only Nabokov’s 46. His 2.17 goals-against average was fifth best and his .920 save percentage tied him for fourth (among goalies who played in at least 41 games). He was clearly the best goaltender simply because he got a marginal team into the playoffs.

 

The Norris Trophy (Best Defenceman): The nominees are Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf and Boston’s Zdeno Chara.

 

Our pick is Lidstrom in a landslide. Phaneuf was fine and Chara had his moments, but the second-best defenceman in the league this year was Brian Campbell (Buffalo and San Jose). Lidstrom has won five of the last six Norris Trophies and he  should win easily again this year.

 

The Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): The nominees are Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom. 

 

Three outstanding nominees, but our pick is Jonathan Toews. He missed 16 games and still led all NHL rookies in goals. He was the Blackhawks alternate captain and emerged as a team leader. He was third overall in rookie scoring and despite his injury, he didn’t tire down the stretch like Backstrom. I love Kane, and he’ll likely win the voting, but Toews was the best rookie in the NHL this season.

 

The Lady Byng Trophy (Skill and sportsmanship): The nominees are Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and Tampa’s Martin St. Louis.

 

No question, Pavel Datsyuk. In fact, Datsyuk isn’t far from being the league’s MVP. He had 96 points, was a plus-41 and played all 82 games. He was the best player on a great Red Wings’ team and although he was a magnificent defensive checker, he picked up only 10 minor penalties all year.

 

The Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and New Jersey’s John Madden.

 

Zetterberg was tremendous but my pick is Datsyuk (see above).

 

The Hart Trophy (MVP): The nominees are Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla.

 

Three more outstanding nominees. My vote would go to Ovechkin at the end of the season, but if they counted the playoffs, it would be Malkin. The Pens’ star has been magnificent in the post season and really stepped up during the regular season whenever  Sidney Crosby was hurt (which seemed like a lot), but Ovechkin had 65 goals and 47 assists in all 82 games and that’s impossible to ignore.

 

The Adams Trophy (Coach of the Year): The nominees are Detroit’s Mike Babcock, Washington’s Bruce Boudreau and Montreal’s Guy Carbonneau.

 

Carbonneau will likely win but Nashville’s Barry Trotz was coach of the year.

 

Here’s why… this is my column from the National Post which ran April 7, 2008.

 

Scott Taylor in Winnipeg

 

At the beginning of the 2007-08 season, the Nashville Predators were left for dead.

 

Even if one ignored the off-ice fact that the franchise could be re-located on any given day without notice, one couldn’t ignore the on-ice fact that, at least on paper, the Preds were a bad hockey team.

 

Gone in an off-season housecleaning that made the books look better and the product look dreadful, were No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun, No. 1 defenceman Kimmo Timonen, leading scorer Paul Kariya and gifted rent-a-player Peter Forsberg. Two of the team’s most reliable forwards, Scott Hartnell and Scottie Upshall had moved on and No. 2 scorer Steve Sullivan was hurt. And he’s been gone all season. 

 

When they went to training camp in September, head coach Barry Trotz’s best player was 33-year-old Jason Arnott, a guy who hadn‘t been a top line centre since his days in New Jersey a decade ago. J.P. Dumont, a talented underachiever wasn’t bad and Alexander Radulov, a gifted 21-year-old Russian who has been a victim of unrealized potential, was about due. Dan Ellis, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Vernon Fiddler, Dan Hamhuis and Jordin Tootoo were all good players, but they were no-names who could have been up-and-coming country singers for all anybody knew.

 

“Yeah, like who is Dan Ellis?” asked Vancouver Canucks forward Jason Jaffray on Friday. “I’d never heard of him before and I looked in the paper and he had some of the best goalie stats in the league. I had no idea who he was.”

 

Dan Ellis is a 27-year-old from Saskatoon who played at Nebraska-Omaha and was with AHL Iowa last year, but yeah, who knew?

 

Naturally, the anonymous Preds started the season as if they were going to be so bad, they’d be sold to an owner who wanted to re-locate them to Minsk. Or Winnipeg.

 

They won their first two games, then lost six straight. They were 14th in the West (14-16-2), after a five-game losing streak ended on Dec. 22. But Trotz had faith. He had faith that his team wouldn’t quit and he believed, in his heart, that this collection of would-bes, never-weres and has-beens were resilient enough to overcome all the off-ice distractions and play like professionals.

 

“Resilient. That’s our identity,” said Trotz, an old University of Manitoba assistant coach who came out of Dauphin, Man., to become the only head coach the Predators have ever had. “We’re kind of a hockey version of Major League, the old baseball movie with all the misfits and cast-offs. We sat down in December, when we were almost last, and just decided to play as hard as we could and try to fight back into the playoff race.

 

“We didn’t say ‘Let’s go out and win 10 straight,’ we just tried to win two-of-three, pick up a point whenever we could and just tried to chip away. When you lose the guys we had lost and somehow you stay in the playoff hunt, I think resilient is the only way to describe us.”

 

This week, the surprising, No. 8 Nashville Predators will open the 2008 Stanley Cup Western Conference playoffs against the President’s Trophy-winning, No. 1 Detroit Red Wings in what should be a mismatch.

 

But it might not be. In eight meetings this season, the Wings and Preds went 3-3-2 against each other.

 

“It’s just another example of how close the league is today,” Trotz said. “We struggled against St. Louis and I really thought that Chicago was the most talented team in our conference. But Detroit, as outstanding as they were, weren’t that intimidating for us. We matched up well against them.

 

“Of course, we weren’t intimidated by anybody, all year. We’re a lot better than people think.”

 

This season, a veteran coach took a mediocre team in a lousy situation, convinced them to focus on the job at hand and found a way to keep them from thinking about moving locations or missing assignments. Now they’re in the playoffs. 

 

Certainly, Montreal’s Guy Carbonneau and Washington’s Bruce Boudreau have each done a wonderful job this season, but Barry Trotz would also make a pretty deserving coach of the year.

 

National Post