A huge smile came across my face today when I found out that my dear late friend Lorne Starko is being honoured by the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
"Coach" Starko, who left us way too early in 2009, is this year's recipient of the Bell Memorial Award which is given each year by the HOF to a distinguished member of Alberta's sports media. Coach is more than deserving of this award for his thirty-plus years of dedicated, passionate coverage of the Red Deer sports scene. Radio. TV. Newspapers. Lorne did it all... and he did it with a smile on his face. Although we all miss him dearly we are all proud of Lorne Starko for the honour he is receiving.
The Rebels latest injury to forward Turner Elson has left me feeling disappointed in more ways than one.
Firstly, I am disappointed that Turner will be missing both of this weekend's games and quite possibly beyond. He has been a real spark plug for this team on the ice all season long. Off the ice he is one of the "go to" guys when it comes to interviews and can always be counted on for a great sound bite... but that's for me to have to deal with I suppose. Bottom line, its another devastating blow to a Rebels team desperately trying to find a way into the postseason.
Secondly, I am disappointed in the Western Hockey League for its handling of the hit that led to Elson's injury. It occurred in the first period of Tuesday night's game in Moose Jaw as the Warriors' Kenton Miller comes in and drives Elson's head into the glass while he was playing the puck. (you can view the hit at the end of the game's highlight reel at whl.ca) Miller was given just a one game suspension for the hit... not cool!
After watching the hit a couple dozen times, it is clear to me that Miller got off lucky by only being dinged one game. On the play, he targets Elson's head as the primary point of contact and actually rises up as he drives Turner's head into the glass. After some of the multiple game suspensions we have seen the league hand out this season, most notably for the Rebels a six-gamer given to Elson himself and a four-gamer to Petrovic for some dangerous hits last November, a one game suspension in this case is simply unacceptable. So much for taking a hard line stance when it comes to addressing head shots. I admit that supplementary discipline is a touchy issue, but the WHL dropped the ball with this one.
Sticking with the Rebels... I had a chance to visit today with both Jesse Wallin and Adam Kambeitz before they stepped on the ice for practice.
It goes without saying that Kambeitz is thrilled to be back in the Rebels line up after missing a month with a sprained ankle. The fact that he returned ahead of schedule is an added bonus (his original target date to return was tomorrow vs. Swift Current).
In regards to the Rebels push for a playoff spot, Kambeitz says the players are still feeling loose and feeling confident.
"There's no point in being uptight about anything" noted the Rebels Captain. "We still have an opportunity to make the playoffs and we fully believe in our dressing room that we are going to make the playoffs this year. Obviously we need some help from some other teams. But I think we're just gonna try to stay lose and stay positive and what's gonna happen is gonna happen."
For his part, Wallin is glad to see that his players are taking things in stride as they go about their business.
"We've been trying to approach things that way for the last few weeks. We all understand the situation we're in but squeezing the sticks isn't gonna help any. We know we've got a mountain to climb and we have to take care of our end of the bargain and get all the points that we can."
Admirable talk from the coach and the captain. Unfortunately, the both admit that winning their games isn't enough anymore. They need help, and lots of it, from the out of town scoreboard to erase their eight point deficit.
Here is the full audio from my chats today...
- Jesse Wallin
- Adam Kambeitz