Archive for April, 2012

Leg 2 – Edmonton

Gonna be a short one today, folks.

I ended up getting about 12 hours of sleep in Saskatoon, which was nice, so I got on the road probably a little before 10 a.m.

I knew the drive from Saskatoon to Edmonton was going to be a lot shorter than the drive the day before, but it just seemed to breeze past.  It was probably a little under a six-hour drive, and thankfully it was a little more scenic than yesterday.

Almost the second that I pulled onto the highway, it started to rain – again – and rained for probably the first three or four hours of the drive, even when I was well into Alberta, so those clouds covered some pretty good distance.

Did you know there’s a town called Borden, Saskatchewan? I found that pretty funny because it sounds just like “bored in Saskatchewan” which is all I ever was driving through.

There was a section of highway just over the Alberta border that apparently mother nature forgot.  All of a sudden, I look out my window and it looks like November in Winnipeg outside.  It’s 10 degrees celsius out, but this snow apparently could just not be bothered to melt. Very odd.

So I’m in Edmonton now, just had some pizza and am about to call it a night so I can get on the road for Fort McMurray pretty early tomorrow morning.  Reason being that seven people were just killed in a head-on collision on the highway I’ll be driving on, which is apparently pretty treacherous, so I’d like to give myself a good amount of time to make the trip.

I also want to have as much time as possible in Fort Mac to get settled and check the place out before jumping right into work the next day.

I think I’m obligated to at least complete the blog series, and do “Leg 3”, so I’ll try to write that one up tomorrow evening after I’m settled in Fort McMurray.


Leg 1 – Saskatoon

So today I started the three-day journey up to Fort McMurray, where I’ll be working starting May 1st.

The plan was to get up around 5 a.m. and be on the road around 6.  But unfortunately for poor Plan A, I stayed out pretty late last night, as it was my last night in Winnipeg, and actually set my alarm for 6, and then promptly ignored it for about an hour when it went off.

But I eventually picked up my 50-pound head from off the couch, and got on my way.

The trip from Winnipeg to Saskatoon is almost 900 km, so today was definitely “trial by fire” for my brand new car, which had just surpassed surpassed 100 km the night before.

This was definitely the longest distance I’ve ever driven in one sitting, and I wasn’t really sure how it would affect me, if at all.  Despite only having about three hours of sleep, I really didn’t get drowsy at all during the drive.  Some parts of Saskatchewan were horrendously mundane to drive through, and I found myself battling boredom most of the time over drowsiness.

Obviously enhanced. It was pretty gloomy though.

It rained pretty heavily for probably almost all of the time that I was in Saskatchewan, which got a little tiresome, and actually made the landscape look even duller, which I didn’t think was possible.

When I was finally within about 80 km of Saskatoon was when I really started to feel like, “Alright, I’m over this drive for today”, and did start feeling a little tired right towards the end.

But no big deal, I made it into Saskatoon (after driving through The Motherland AKA Regina), and got set up in a room at the Holiday Inn for the night.

Things I’m looking forward to tonight:

1) Sleeping in a BED.

2) Sleeping for a long ****ing time.

3) Complimentary breakfast tomorrow morning.  Yes, tomorrow morning, but I am choosing to look forward to it beginning tonight.

The drive from Saskatoon to Edmonton is quite a bit shorter than the marathon I drove today, so it’ll be nice to just relax tomorrow and get on the road a little later, and also enjoy some nicer scenery than what Saskatchewan has to offer. Spoiler alert, it’s nothing.

I still have no idea what’s going on with my apartment yet, I guess technically it’s not rented out for May 1st as originally thought, so I may end up with an unexpected $700 on my tab, so that adds a little bit of stress, but ultimately I’m just focusing on the opportunity ahead of me, and not letting the negatives get to me.

So the rest of my night includes enjoying the NHL playoffs, having a quick dinner and getting a good sleep before saying goodbye to Saskatoon tomorrow morning, and hello to Edmonton later in the afternoon.  I’ll try to give another update tomorrow as well after I get into Edmonton. Nothing too riveting yet, the good stuff will come when I get to Fort Mac and start work.


Wind Turbines. Probably the coolest thing I saw in Saskatchewan. Pretty sure I yawned.


So yeah, I’m moving to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Making this decision has been, and continues to be, quite a roller coaster of different emotions for me, so if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to need to get a little bit personal and introspective for just a brief moment. I promise it won’t happen again.

I have had my fair share of personal obstacles to overcome to reach the point I’m at now, and, quite honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle that I even managed to get a high school diploma, not to mention a post-secondary education.  And I’m not trying to portray myself as an incompetent moron, it’s just that school and I have never gotten along.  I’ve always known that I’m an intelligent and capable person, with skills in certain areas, just like (most) everyone else.  But in a classroom setting, I drown.

I’m also independent, at times to a fault, other times to my credit.  As my parents will back-up, I’ve been disobeying them since I was probably a few months old. And at 23, I’m apparently still doing it.  I was the kid who reached out to touch a hot lightbulb, and stopped when my mom would yell, “Don’t touch that, you’ll burn yourself!”  I stopped to listen to her. When she was finished, I touched the damn thing anyways, and burned myself.  And I’ve been burning myself ever since.

I’m the type of person who has to learn lessons for himself.  I have to.  I don’t think I’ve heeded a single warning in my entire life.  I just can’t leave anything to chance.  I need to make my own mistakes, so I can truly understand how to avoid making them again.  And I have made a LOT of mistakes.

But when I think about the person that I would be today if I hadn’t made those mistakes, it’s hard to regret having made them.  In a sick way, it’s almost an incentive to continue making mistakes.

I also know that doing things that scare you is one of the best ways to learn, and grow.  And moving to Fort McMurray scares the fucking shit out of me (don’t tell anyone, though).  I’m just glad that, through the infinite number of mistakes I’ve made in the past, I’m a strong and confident enough person to know that I’ll be fine.  As hard as it could possibly get out there, as much as Fort McMurray might try to throw at me, I know I’ll be fine.

Because when I think back to the eighth grade, and the fact that I was somehow failing elementary school, if you had told me back then that I’d be in this position today, I probably would have done the Riverdance on my desk.  I’ve worked my ass off to overcome a lot of different things that were stacked against me, and I know that no matter what happens in Fort Mac, there’s no way that I can come out of it worse off than I ever thought I’d be.

The truth is, I don’t feel like I can ever reach my full potential in Winnipeg. As corny and cliché as it sounds, I’ve suffered way too many setbacks here, and have too many bad memories that I associate with this city, that I feel pigeon-holed for failure here.  There are a lot of things about myself that I want to change, and change for good, and I feel like starting over in a new city is the best way to get there.

I think everyone eventually has an opportunity in front of them that they can use to find out what they’re really made of.  And the reward for success is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, and that will ultimately define you as a person. The hardest part is just the decision to do it.

So, I’m moving to Fort McMurray, where I’ll be working as a reporter for the Fort McMurray Today, the town’s only daily newspaper.  My beat will be municipal issues, crime, and the editor, mysteriously aware of my love of sports, even said I could cover a sporting event here and there.

I start May 1st, which tasks me with getting rid of my apartment, packing as much of it as I can into a new car that I’ll also have to get, selling everything that won’t fit, and saying goodbye to anyone who wants one, in the span of about… a week and a half, and then I need to hit the road.  Easier said than done, I think.

I imagine I’ll be blogging quite a bit about my experiences out there, so there is likely more to come on this development.  I feel like I owe the city of Winnipeg a farewell letter, as well.  Stay tuned.

(And anyone who wants to hang out before I go, please just let me know!)

The Winnipeg Jets: Year In Review

Whether the record read 82-0-0 or 0-82-0, the verdict would be the exact same: what a year for hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I’ll never forget the feeling on that day in May 2011, when we found out the NHL was once again going to be calling The ‘Peg home.  But looking back, I now realize that I had no idea just what we were in for.  What a roller coaster ride it’s been, from the name announcement and logo design, to heartbreaking overtime losses and thrilling come-from-behind victories.

While it was a lot closer than most of us expected, the Jets just barely missed out on the post-season, but I think we can all agree that a run in the playoffs would have just been a bonus prize on what was a truly groundbreaking, and successful season.  The entire NHL knows now that Winnipeg has hands-down the best and loudest fans in hockey.  O Canada will never be sung the same way again.  But most importantly, I think the biggest success story of the Winnipeg Jets’ 2011-2012 season was the growth of almost each and every individual player on the team.  Let’s take a look:

Blake Wheeler (17 G, 47 A, 64 P)

It seems insane when I look back to the start of the season, and remember feeling bad for poor Blake Wheeler, who just could not seem to find the back of the net, no matter how hard he tried.  After every game, he’d say “Just gotta keep pluggin’ away, and hopefully they’ll start going in.”  And boy, did they.  Wheeler has put up some highlight-reel goals this season, and finishes with a career-high (get used to that word) 64 points to lead the team.  A truly classy player, who cemented himself as a staple on the team this season and beyond.

Ondrej Pavelec

What can you really say about Pavi?  Winnipeg was introduced to an all-star this season. When our guys weren’t executing the game plan, the reason we were always able to stay in the game was Pavelec between the pipes.  He faced the 5th most shots of all goalies in the NHL this season, and was nothing short of a human highlight-reel.  You can’t have a great hockey team without a great goalie, and that is one thing that the Winnipeg Jets can absolutely check off the list.

Andrew Ladd (28 G, 22 A, 50 P)

The captain.  Anyone who knows me knows I was far from a fan of Laddy in probably the first three quarters of the season.  I didn’t like his play, he was a turnover machine, he seemed to really enjoy taking penalties in the offensive zone in the last three minutes of a one-goal game… I’ll stop there.  And I’ll also give him a hell of a lot of credit, because he stepped up in the last 15 or 20 games of the season.  He was responsible with the puck, took his penalty minutes down, and started putting those pucks in the net like he was a goal-junkie.  The Andrew Ladd I saw at the end of the season is the guy I would be happy to call my captain, and will be glad to see back next season.

Dustin Byfuglien (12 G, 41 A, 53 P)

Big Buff is a player that brings bad with his good, and all you can really do is just hope that the good outweighs the bad.  I enjoyed having him on our team.  He brings a big presence to the ice, which is important.  There’s no question that he’s a capable defenceman, he just also likes to pinch in off the point, and sometimes gets caught out of position.  Personally, I think he is much more suited to a forward position, and hopefully once we get some more capable defencemen on our squad, he can be put back up where he belongs.  But there’s no question that Big Buff is consistently one of the most exciting players to watch, and he brings a lot of energy to the bench with his bone-crunching hits, 105 mph clappers from the point, and always-upbeat personality.

Evander Kane (30 G, 27 A, 57 P)

Our leading goal-scorer.  At only 20 years old, Kane has the potential to be this team’s all-star player in the near future.  But does he have the attitude? TBD.  There’s no question that Kane’s performance this season was downright impressive, as he set career highs in all three columns.  He was also the cause of a lot of whispers in the community, lashed out on Twitter a couple times, and didn’t even come out to thank the hometown fans once when he was the third star following a loss.  The question is, “Does Evander Kane want to be here?”  And that question will be answered in the off-season, when we find out whether or not he’ll be returning to the Winnipeg Jets for the 2012-2013 season.

Alexander Burmistrov (13 G, 15 A, 28 P)

I think 2012-2013 is going to be this sensational 20-year-old’s season.  Some of the glimpses of brilliance I saw from this young kid this season were exciting beyond words.  Burmistrov has a fantastic attitude, and I would go so far as to say that he has easily the best hands on the team.  He just needs to work on finishing now.  I can’t see anything but a young Evgeni Malkin or Pavel Datsyuk when I watch this kid play, all he needs is some more experience and I’m confident that Winnipeg will watch him grow into one of the top-calibur players on our team. This was an outstanding season for Alex Burmistrov.

Kyle Wellwood (18 G, 29 A, 47 P)

For a guy who played five and a half seasons in the NHL before coming to the Winnipeg Jets, setting a career-high in points is a pretty big deal.  I think Wellwood has finally found a home here with the Winnipeg Jets.  His hockey sense is outstanding, and this season he was one of, if not the most consistently good player on our team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he didn’t turn the puck over once the entire season.  He sees the whole ice surface, makes great heads-up plays, and even put up a respectable number of goals this season as well.  He’s a UFA at the end of the season, but I hope Chevy has a big raise planned for this guy, and he’s one that I will welcome back for 2012-2013 with open arms.

Zach Bogosian (5 G, 25 A, 30 P)

Bogosian almost falls into the same category as Wellwood.  He looked like a consistent player out there, he’s easily one of our best young defencemen, and I think this season was a great growing season for him.  Like Burmistrov, Bogosian had a great career-high performance this season, but I think next season is when we’ll really see what he can do.

Bryan Little (21 G, 25 A, 46 P)

Bryan Little was our clutch player this season.  When I think of Little, I think of “game winning goal”, because he got so damn many of them.  He was a player that we could count on to come through when we needed him to this season.  Unfortunately he’s one of those guys who just goes to work almost silently, and flies under the radar a little bit, so there’s not a lot to say about Little except to just look at his numbers, and know that he made a significant contribution to the team’s success this season.

GST (Tanner Glass, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn) (22 G, 26 A, 48 P)

Two words: Heart, soul.  “GST” wasn’t a marketing gimmick developed by True North, and force fed into the fans’ mouths.  We all recognized the importance of the GST line, and paid those three guys the respect they deserved.  Known as “grinders”, the GST line went to work against the NHL’s elite, blocking shots, battling in front of the net, and dropping the mitts to beat a little respect into their opponents.  The GST line is about as much of a staple on the Winnipeg Jets as Ondrej Pavelec as this point, and their contributions this season are worthy of a standing ovation.

Mark Stuart (3 G, 11 A, 14 P)

If you looked at Mark Stuart, you’d probably guess that he’s a veteran. And you would not be wrong.  Not taking anything away from Andrew Ladd, but Stuart felt like the captain out there sometimes.  He’d never hesitate to put his body on the line to block a hard slap shot, or stick up for his teammates by dropping the gloves.  Stuart produced some of the most cringe-worthy hits of the season, and commanded respect with almost everything he did on and off the ice.  You know you’re doing something right when you’re honoured with your very own fan chant.  “STUUUUU!”

Spencer Mahacek (2 G, 7 A, 9 P)

How can I not mention Spencer Mahacek? Called up to the Jets on March 18, Mahacek continues to look like he’s been playing with this squad for years.  The nine points he has on the season were tallied in his first nine games back on the roster, and that is outstanding for a player called up from the AHL.  He’s even been moved up to replace Andrew Ladd in a game when Ladd got the boot after a fight.  No doubt that Coach Noel is high on this kid’s performance at the end of the season, and I expect to see a lot more of Mahacek in the 2012-2013 season.

And there it is, your 2011-2012 Winnipeg Jets season.  What will 2012-2013 bring? The triumphant return of Mark Scheifele? Who will the Jets pick up in the entry draft, with their extra two picks?  Learning from this season’s mistakes, are the Jets now favoured to make next year’s post-season? What sort of off-season moves has Chevy got planned for the summer?

It may feel like it’s been one hell of a ride, Winnipeg, but the Jets didn’t just come back this one season. It’s hard to believe, but this ride is only just beginning.

WrestleMania 28: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Wrong

Another year, and another WrestleMania has been etched into the history books of the WWE.

While I still feel like the WWE is really missing that “wow” factor that it had so many years ago, WrestleMania 28, like any WrestleMania before it, had its highs and lows.  There were moments and matches that exceeded expectations, and those that could have been so much more than what they were.

John Cena vs. The Rock

I think the match itself lived up to what we were expecting.  Chris Jericho said it best when he said, “I think Cena vs. Rock is going to be one of the greatest matches we’ve ever seen, because it’s destined to be that.”  It was two of the biggest stars the WWE has ever seen, and that we thought would never cross paths, going toe to toe in the squared circle.  The atmosphere alone was destined to make the match everything we wanted it to be.

But the outcome… I’m sorry, but I completely disagree with what the WWE did here.  The Rock wins? My, oh my, oh my… Now, I’m not going to pretend to be able to see into the future. For all we know, these two could have a rematch and split the wins.  But if The Rock is packing up and leaving once again, as we all expect him to, this was an atrocious decision to make. And if you know anything about me, you know I hate John Cena.

But the fact of the matter is, tomorrow, and five years from now, Cena will still be here. He’ll be bleeding WWE until the day he hangs it up, and for that reason alone, he needed to come out on top in this match. So Rock wins, and what kind of mileage does he get from it? Nothing, he’s as good as gone again already.  A win in one of the biggest matches in WWE history is worthless where he’s going.

The match itself was great. Rocky clearly got in good ring-shape for the match, as we would expect him to. There was some good back and forth, and nice false finishes.  Rock still has the best arm drag in the business, but it’s not good enough for me to feel good about the final 3-count in this match.

Undertaker vs. Triple H

What can you really say about this match?  As soon as it was announced, I said, “I bet they want to make up for their stinker at WrestleMania 27,” and I stand by that opinion; their match last year was a piece.  The story-telling in this year’s match, with the addition of HBK, was outstanding.

Without question it was the most physical match of the night. Those chair shots had me cringing.  But Shawn, Hunter and ‘Taker all told a great story in there together. I would be comfortable calling this the best match of the night.

And I may take flak for saying this, but it should not be that way. And leads me to my next point:

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus

Pardon my French, but are you fucking kidding me?

This “match” was an absolute disgrace, and flat-out insulting and disrespectful to Bryan Danielson first, Sheamus second, and the fans third.

I said right off the top that this match would steal the show, and two talents like Sheamus and Danielson going at it easily could have.  I don’t know who Danielson pissed off, or what Vince McMahon was smoking backstage, but this was just mind-boggling.

As I alluded to earlier, newcomers like Sheamus and Danielson hold the future of the WWE in their hands. When guys like ‘Taker and Triple H aren’t around anymore to send the fans home happy, it’s going to be up to these guys to do the heavy lifting. And they should be stealing the show right now at WrestleMania.  And like I said, these two could have, they’re fantastic talents.

Quite frankly, these two are owed an apology in the form of a rematch, with no time limit, so we can see what we should have on the Grand Stage.

Horrible booking.

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho

Honestly? Nothing special here.

Was it a good match? Absolutely.  But this was one of the matches on the card that had the capability of exceeding its expectations, and I don’t think it did. It was everything it was supposed to be, but nothing more.

The other matches were all filler, and quite frankly I don’t think anyone came here to read about them.

And to come a little out of left field here, this is as good as official: They need to bring Money in the Bank back to WrestleMania. It never should have left.  I can guarantee that probably 99% of the WWE Universe would have rather seen the participants of Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy in a MitB match instead.  It was consistently one of the best matches on the card, and really rounded out the whole show.  Bring. It. Back.

And that’s that!  Another WrestleMania down, and this one was really one of the better ones I’ve seen.  There were some things I didn’t agree with here and there, but I think the good outweighed the bad.  The only thing I’d say is most important right now, is that the young talent starts being given the opportunity to step in and fill the roles that guys like Edge and Triple H are leaving behind. And an 18 second bullshit match is doing the exact opposite.

What did you think of WrestleMania 28?  Share your own opinions, or comment on mine. Let me know!