Are you ready to rock?

P.E.I. Tankard hits the ice Fri­day in Char­lot­te­town

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - Lyle Richard­son is a free­lance writer with The Hockey News and runs the web­site Spec­tor’s Hockey. His col­umn will ap­pear in The Guardian through­out the NHL hockey sea­son.

It prom­ises to be a rock­ing good time later this week as the P.E.I. Tankard pro­vin­cial men’s curl­ing cham­pi­onship be­gins at the Char­lot­te­town Curl­ing Com­plex.

Open­ing draw is Fri­day at 2 p.m. The win­ner ad­vances to the Tim Hor­tons Brier March 5-13 in Ottawa.

Six teams, in­clud­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pion Adam Casey squad from the Sil­ver Fox Curl­ing and Yacht Club and the Char­lot­te­town Curl­ing Com­plex, are in the hunt.

Other en­tries in­clude the Robert Camp­bell, Ed­die MacKen­zie and Jamie New­son rinks from Char­lot­te­town, Tyler Har­ris from Char­lot­te­town and Mon­tague, and the Tyler Smith team from Cra­paud and Mon­tague.

The P.E.I. Fu­ture Tankard de­vel­op­men­tal event for male curlers un­der-21 is set for the same time and venue, with two teams, skipped by brothers Devin and Mitchell Schut from the Corn­wall Curl­ing Club, signed up.

First game is on Fri­day at 7 p.m.

The Fu­ture Tankard play a three-game se­ries, while the Tankard will be a mod­i­fied triple knock­out, qual­i­fy­ing up to three teams for a two-game cham­pi­onship round.

If a team wins all three sec­tions of the draw, it will be de­clared the win­ner with­out the cham­pi­onship round.

A team win­ning two sec­tions would play in both cham­pi­onship games and would take the ti­tle if it wins ei­ther game, while the op­po­nent would have to win both.

On the web at www.pe­i­curl­ing.com.

NHL fans se­lec­tion of lit­tleused en­forcer John Scott to at­tend the up­com­ing All-Star Game in Nashville (as a team cap­tain, no less) is the nadir for this in­creas­ingly ir­rel­e­vant an­nual show­case of NHL tal­ent.

By stuff­ing the bal­lot box for Scott, fans ex­ploited a long­stand­ing weak­ness in the on­line vot­ing process. They con­sider it a great joke to se­lect a player whose sole tal­ent is his pugilis­tic skills.

How­ever, this prank came at the ex­pense of more-de­serv­ing skill play­ers. Among those passed over in­clude Pitts­burgh Pen­guins cap­tain Sid­ney Crosby, Win­nipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler and Dal­las Stars de­fence­man John Kling­berg.

Soon af­ter Scott was voted to the All-Star Game, he was traded from the Ari­zona Coy­otes to the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens and de­moted to the lat­ter’s AHL farm team. Spec­u­la­tion quickly arose, sug­gest­ing the deal was a league-driven ef­fort to keep him out of the All-Star con­test.

The Coy­otes, Cana­di­ens and the NHL de­nied it.

League com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman stated Scott would still par­tic­i­pate. Prob­lem is, the hulk­ing bruiser was the Coy­otes’ sole All-Star rep­re­sen­ta­tive. His trade now means they have no one go­ing to the game.

This farce fi­nally forced the NHL to make a long-over­due change to the fan vot­ing sys­tem to pre­vent this sort of thing from hap­pen­ing again. That it took them this long to ad­dress this long­stand­ing prob­lem speaks vol­umes for their stun­ning lack of over­sight.

Ko­pi­tar

The Los An­ge­les Kings re­cently signed cen­tre Anze Ko­pi­tar to an eight-year, $80-mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion. It’s com­pa­ra­ble to the eight-year, $84-mil­lion deals of Chicago Black­hawks su­per­stars Pa­trick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Some crit­ics ques­tion Ko­pi­tar be­ing in the same class as those two.

Any­one who doubts Ko­pi­tar’s worth ob­vi­ously hasn’t fol­lowed the Kings. Since his NHL de­but in 2006-07, the 28-year-old Slove­nian quickly rose to be­come one of the NHL’s elite cen­tres and the Kings top for­ward.

In ev­ery sea­son since 2007-08, Ko­pi­tar’s been the Kings lead­ing scorer. He was their top play­off scorer in both of their Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship runs, and is reg­u­larly a fi­nal­ist for the Selke Tro­phy as the NHL’s top de­fen­sive for­ward.

Any cen­tre, who is con­sis­tently his club’s lead­ing scorer and top de­fen­sive for­ward, de­serves to be well-com­pen­sated. If Ko­pi­tar played in an East­ern NHL hot­bed like Toronto, Mon­treal or New York, no one would ques­tion his new con­tract.

Play­offs

A quick look at the NHL stand­ings this week re­veals not a sin­gle Cana­dian-based team hold­ing a play­off berth. That raises the pos­si­bil­ity of no Cana­dian club in the post-sea­son for the first time since 1970.

One rea­son is three of th­ese teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers and Van­cou­ver Canucks) are cur­rently re­build­ing. As for the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens, Ottawa Sen­a­tors, Win­nipeg Jets and Cal­gary Flames (all play­off teams in 2015), they’ve failed to build upon last sea­son’s prom­ise.

Enough time re­mains in the reg­u­lar-sea­son sched­ule for one or two Cana­dian teams to squeak into the play­offs. How­ever, it’s un­likely Canada’s 23year Stan­ley Cup drought will come to an end this year.

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