Fortuitously, I won a ticket lottery to buy tickets to Game 6 of the NHL Playoff series between the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Black Hawks. Sadly, I guess my rather large expenditure didn’t cover a win as well, as the Flames were ousted from the Playoffs in that game by a score of 4-1. I took my camera to the game and captured 7 minutes of the intro, which is when everyone is cheering, the lights are down, and the players take the ice. I have yet to figure out how to import video onto my computer, because my photo post-processing software does not handle video. I suspect that I’ll need to buy a card reader, which is a worthwhile and small investment anyway.
Headed into the off-season, many questions are percolating in Calgary right now, with regards to the hockey team. Namely the future of coach Mike Keenan and who and how many players Calgary will be able to hang on to (or decide to keep) from this year’s talented roster, because of salary cap limitations.
Calgary had a star-studded line-up this year and in my opinion, had it not been for a deluge of injuries down the stretch, ought to have gone far into the playoffs. The expectation this summer is that leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri, defenseman Adrian Aucoin and veteran power forward-turned-play maker Todd Bertuzzi will want at least as much (or a lot more in Cammalleri’s case) money than they were paid this year, in which case the Flames may well not be able to afford them. Contrary to what a lot of people have been saying, I think Calgary took a giant leap forward this year in terms of defining roles for their individual players and playing like a top-tier team. The Flames looked very good and very solid until injuries began decimating their line-up just before the trade deadline. The Flames had four definitive lines and three definitive defense pairings – something every team strives for, but a cohesiveness that only Detroit has in recent years ever been able to fully exploit. This year was the first time I could recall such role definition existing in the Flames line-up since the Stanley Cup in 1989 (to Vancouver fans, the Stanley Cup is that big, shiny trophy with engravings and stuff that you’ve never seen before).
I have a feeling that we’ll lose Cammalleri and Bertuzzi, and perhaps Aucoin, but what I would like to see happen, and this would be the limit of my shake-up, would be to somehow keep most (if not all) the players and fire Mike Keenan. Calgary badly needs a real coach – one who can motivate and impassion such an outstanding line-up and has a bit more fire in the belly to respond to criticism from the media and the fans of arguably one of the top 5 hockey markets in the NHL (putting Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York ahead of them). I think they thought they got this in Keenan, but he’s proven to be a dud in nearly all departments. It is inexcusable that Calgary’s power play went 2 for 55 in the last twenty games of the season (including playoffs), injuries or not.
On to other matters… Aggressive dog breeds and dog attacks have resurfaced as headlines in the local media recently. In the last few days, two separate dog attacks occurred – in one case on their owners, who were purportedly arguing amongst themselves. The re-energized call is to ban aggressive dog breeds in the city, as Toronto has done with Pit Bull Terriers. Until a few months ago, I too was scared of large, aggressive dog breeds and feared that they were uncontrollable and a danger to citizens. Logic dictates otherwise, however.
When one thinks about implementing a policy banning aggressive dog breeds, you instantly think of two: Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. But what about German Shepherds? What about Chow Chows? What about Daschunds? What about Corgis? These all have hunting and fighting backgrounds and bite people all the time. Fact is, they were explicitly bred for such tendencies. Heck, one of my most prominent scars is from a Cocker Spaniel who bit my hand. I have been bitten more by my 15-pound Tibetan Spaniel, Emily (once) than I was ever bitten by my 60-pound Boxer, Cassie (none).
It is when you try to draw a line in the sand that you realize that many breeds can be considered aggressive. Truly, the argument gravitates back to the owner and how they have trained their dog which legitimizes whether or not their dog – not the breed – is a danger to society. Yes, breeds like Pit Bulls have shorter fuzes and thus they take greater amounts of training. What should happen is the City of Calgary ought to mandate requisite obedience programs with a minimum number of hours of training and/or certification of competence for prospective owners and spaying and neutering (excluded could be special licenses to breeders) of dog breeds deemed to be a risk. This should be a cost assessed to purchasers of these dogs and trainers should have special licenses to train and prepare these special breeds and their owners. For example, if I buy a Chihuahua, I have an option to train it (and train myself, which is the real crux of the problem). If I buy a Pitt Bull, I must enroll in a certified program of a given number of hours. Upon licensing my dog, I will be asked for proof of completion. To be found to have not completed such a program, and to be found having one of these breeds that is not spayed or neutered and not carrying a special breeder’s license, would incur a fine and/or criminal charges should the dog ever attack someone. Simple as that.
I am off to the Okanagan valley next week with a co-worker and we’re slated to hit more than 20 wineries and half a dozen related establishments in 4 days. Busy trip, but the valley ought to be quite wonderful this time of year. We’re looking forward to it. I turn 30 next week and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel older these days. I think it’s more to do with my fitness and energy levels, however.