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On the beach, talking hockey back in the day

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First day back from vacation, wishing I were still kayaking and hiking the Whiteshell trails....

Sigh.

Anyway, given the paucity of people in public education around today, I’ll ease back in by talking about a couple of old-timers at the lake grousing in incredulity about the money the Habs paid P.K. Subban.

How much would the guy get if he could play defence?

Our major gripe was that pretty much every reference you see to D these days talks about the guy’s point totals. Sure, a few guys are OK in their own zone, Duncan Keith and Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber come to mind, but most D are rated these days on their ability to channel Cindy Klassen as they carry the puck through the neutral zone, or take wicked but not necessarily accurate slapshots from the point.

And we got to reminiscing about people who played D when the purpose of being on D was to keep the puck out of your net. This is back before Bobby Orr changed the nature of playing defence, though you have to remember (or ask your grandparents to recomember for you) that Bobby Orr could also handle his own zone, as could Brad Park and Paul Coffey, the only D among dozens if not hundreds who tried to play like Bobby Orr who came remotely close.

Anyway, back to the point... no, not that point, not the point at which these guys turn over the puck.

Back when I started watching hockey, Doug Harvey was in his prime, and there were Tom Johnson, Red Kelly, Tim Horton, Harry Howell, Pierre Pilote, Marcel Pronovost, Allan Stanley, Bill Gadsby, Leo Boivin, Bob Armstrong, exceedingly strong defenders. There’s no D today who bodychecks as hard or as frequently or as legally as Boivin or Fern Flaman.

We agreed that Trouba might reach that level. But what do you think Doug Harvey would have said if told that Erik Karlsson could win the Norris without killing penalties?

Meanwhile, related subject but again nothing to do with education, other than as a possible heritage fair project for school next spring, I was remembering those prehistoric days when I started to watch hockey, and had also noticed that TSN rates the top left wingers in the NHL starting with Alexander Steen, and going down through Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp, Max Pacioretty, Tayor Hall, Patrick Marleau, and Gustav Nyquist.

When I started watching hockey, you had Ted Lindsay on LW, Dickie Moore, Johnny Bucyk, Bert Olmstead all in their primes. Couple of teenagers named Hull and Mahovlich were a year or two away. Guys such as Vic Stasiuk, Dean Prentice, Dick Duff, Real Chevrefils would be zillionaires today playing the left side.

Old guys sitting around talking on the beach....

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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