Hockey hijinks

Long has it been since I can remember such a traumatizing NHL playoff season.
My Edmonton Oilers succumb in the first round to the despicable Dallas Stars for the umpteenth time in a row. The Stars then turn around and fall prey to the even more despicable Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
(Why my Anaheim aversion? Simple. No team named after a cheesy Disney movie about a bunch of 12-year-olds should ever have its name inscribed on hockey’s Holy Grail. It’s just wrong.)
My hockey pool team as of Monday night has been reduced to Brian Rafalski of the New Jersey Devils—and my chances of winning the pool reduced to rubble.
To top it off, my playoff predictions have held as much water as a camel with a slow leak. At 5-6 after Monday night’s action, I grit my teeth and carry on—not expecting any of you out there to take me seriously anymore.
But let me try again, anyway. If Vancouver wakes up in time to vanquish Minnesota either tonight or tomorrow night, give me the Canucks (please, God) over the Mighty Ducks in six.
But if Minnesota pulls off another miracle comeback, I’ll take the Ducks of destiny over the weary Wild in five.
Over in the Eastern Conference, Ottawa has persevered to overcome their playoff failings of the past. But the best team that nobody’s talked about this post-season has been the New Jersey Devils, who made short work of both Boston and Tampa Bay.
I would love an all-Canadian Stanley Cup—even if the NHL brass would rather stick pins in their eyes (Can you imagine the TV ratings south of the border for an Ottawa-Vancouver match-up? You’d need a microscope to see them).
The Senators will be formidable, but Martin Brodeur is not Roman Cechmanek (there goes my job for the third time) and the Devils know how to take it to another level.
I’ll pick New Jersey in seven.
• • •
After an amazing effort at the all-Ontario badminton championships last week in Milton, Simone and Natalie Desjardins now face what could be a tougher task—paying the tab for the trip.
Fort Frances High School originally put up $500 to help cover the cost of the $2,000 excursion. They then fronted the sibling duo the rest of the cash on the condition of repayment when the Desjardins found themselves with less than a week to come up with the other $1,500 after winning the NWOSSAA title in Thunder Bay.
They’ll be pounding the pavement this summer hoping for donations from the local community. And considering the hard work they put in, not to mention their exemplary accomplishment of reaching the quarter-finals against the best in the province, they deserve our support.
This situation also puts more emphasis on the fact the high school and community have to speed up the process of devising fundraising plans for student-athletes who are not part of the hockey or football programs, which are backed by the Blueline Club and Touchdown Club, respectively.
No student athlete should be denied the chance to represent their school—and their town—because of a lack of money. The bottom line isn’t always about financial considerations.
• • •
The Fort Frances Curling Club will hold its semi-annual meeting next Wednesday (May 14) at 7 p.m. in the upstairs lounge of the facility.
The public is welcome to attend the meeting, which, among other things, will look at a proposed increase in dues for club members because of higher utility costs.
• • •
A “Sideline Passes” salute goes out to local cross-country ski enthusiast and all-around good guy Andy Young, whose charitable efforts this past winter will have a positive impact on many needy people in the Fort Frances region.
Through the best and worst of winter days, Young churned through the snow without fail, raising money for the local Salvation Army. People could donate per kilometre or for every pound that Young lost during his powder-pounding mission.
The final tally came in last week, with Young accumulating a grand total of $3,064—having skied 960 km altogether while shedding 16 pounds in the process.
He says he’s never felt better. His generous spirit and that of those who contributed to the cause will make many others feel better, too.
• • •
One final shout-out of thanks to Dana Kosowick’s Grade 6 class at Robert Moore School, who invited me to come speak to them on Monday about the life of a journalist as part of their Career Week activities.
I was glad to share my knowledge (quit laughing) with the attentive and inquisitive group, who within their ranks may lie the next great Canadian reporter.
Hopefully, one of you will grow up to be a famous and powerful media executive. And if you do, don’t forget about me—I just might need a job someday.
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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