Time to continue spring cleaning

I do believe I mentioned two weeks ago that my plan to clean out my winter storage of sports tidbits would be a two-week process.
I should have known better. In this business, rarely do things go according to plan.
But after a week away, I’m back to fire up the Hoover, swing the mop, and eradicate the dust bunnies.
Let the spring cleaning continue (that’s a hint, Old Man Winter—take a hike, already!)
• • •
Way back on Nov. 21, there was a momentous occasion that occurred in the NHL that received some attention at the time but, for my money, not enough.
That was the night Ted Nolan led his Buffalo Sabres against Craig Berube and the Philadelphia Flyers—marking the first time two head coaches of First Nations’ heritage led their teams in the same NHL game.
I found it especially significant for myself, considering only three months earlier and just a week into my return to the Times, I had the chance to interview Nolan for the second time in my journalism career while he provided instruction at his son Brandon’s hockey camp, which was the unofficial christening of the new Couchiching First Nation Arena.
Nolan had been railroaded out of Buffalo in 1997 despite winning coach-of-the-year honours the previous season.
Then when he finally made his way back to “The Show,” he was handed a N.Y. Islanders’ team that Scotty Bowman couldn’t have led to a playoff berth, never mind the Stanley Cup.
I could tell that day how much Nolan wanted another opportunity to exhibit his coaching prowess and I was pleased when Buffalo gave him the call after firing Ron Rolston.
But as great as that was, I imagine the extremely proud member of Garden River First Nation felt even more thrilled to make history with Berube that November night.
• • •
Since it still feels like hockey or curling weather, let’s reach back into the February file and congratulate skip Diane Bonot and her rink, which won the seventh-annual Back Alley Bar bonspiel in Emo.
Bonot and her crew of third Lucinda Meyers, second Trudy Badiuk, and lead Carrie Baker blanked Steve Gushulak’s foursome 5-0 in the final to win the eight-team event.
There is no truth to the rumour an outdoor bonspiel is being planned for next week in Rainy River District.
It just feels like a possibility considering it’s early May and there’s still snow in some ditches and on fields in the region.
• • •
Speaking of weather-impacted sports, the new-look board of directors for the Borderland Racing Association will be practising their anti-precipitation dance for the next few weeks.
The board already pushed back the start of the 2014 racing season by one week from May 17 to May 24, shying away from its normal Victoria Day weekend start.
May 17 now has been deemed an open practice night, beginning at 5:30 p.m., with the cost set at $30 per participating car.
Grandstand admission will be free for the public.
This year’s board, which was elected on Jan. 24, sees Ken Perry assuming the role of president from Denny Trimble, who remains on as a director.
Dirk Crans will sit in the vice-president’s chair while the other directors include Ron Westover, Albert Leek, Lindsay Bourne, Alyssa Strachan, Steve Nordin, Chuck Lambert, and Zack Manty.
At this point, if I show up for opening night and there’s horse-drawn sleighs lined up in the starting grid rather than stock cars, I will not be the least bit surprised.
• • •
If you like your racing on two wheels rather than four, then Emo also will be your destination of choice May 24.
That’s when the Superior Dirt Riders motorcross racing season kicks into overdrive at the Emo track.
A number of district riders had strong seasons on the circuit last year and look to repeat their success of 2013 once again.
The season consists of nine races, with a second stop in Emo happening Aug. 9.
I’m looking forward to seeing the aerial circus these riders can put on. But perhaps I’ll leave my 1980s model Schwinn 10-speed in the garage.
A person can only stand so much ridicule.
• • •
Count me in as curious as to what will happen with the Rodrick and Telford Bruyere Ball Field on Couchiching First Nation down the road with newly-elected chief Sara Mainville now in charge.
While nothing was confirmed officially by the late former chief Chuck McPherson, the core sample testing being done on the field after the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League season ended, and the allegations made by various band members, seemed to hint at the possibility the diamond would be uprooted and moved to another location in favour of a new structure (rumoured to be a new school).
That move would have severely compromised the chances of the Couchiching Raiders and Lady Raiders of having a home field ready in time for the upcoming fastball season.
No further moves in such a direction have been made since band council election in March, which would seem to indicate Chief Mainville may be in favour of leaving the diamond—which was moved already once before from its original site 20 years ago—just where it is.
Here’s hoping this ballpark brouhaha has been put to bed, and the focus can be put back on home runs and all-star defence.
• • •
In case you were wondering why my NFL and NHL season predictions were not followed up with my prognostications for the Major League Baseball season, my reason is simple.
As much of a disaster as my football and hockey picks were, I didn’t figure I needed to accentuate my incompetence in telling the future in sports any further.
Let’s just say I had hopes the Toronto Blue Jays would turn it around this season.
It’s only May but something tells me I had better enjoy my memory of Joltin’ Joe Carter’s World Series-ending three-run homer against Philadelphia in Game 6 back in 1993 for at least one more year.

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