The news that was 2010

After watching a few programs highlighting the top news according to Canadians in 2010, I thought I’d give my own 5, because we all know how much I love doing top 5 lists by now. What are your Canadian news highlights (or low-lights) of the year?

5. HST

As if our economic struggles weren’t bad enough, the Ontario and British Columbia governments had to slap the harmonized sales tax (HST) onto the majority of our bills. I wish Ontarians had a stronger backbone and stood up to the tax like those in BC.

4. Rob Ford

..err I mean..

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford <- Not something I enjoy seeing. I was so shocked to hear he was elected mayor of my city. Unfortunately this is probably the first domino to fall for a larger conservative political movement in the province. So help us all.

3. Russell Williams

Sick and Twisted – the only way to describe this guy. Good things don’t always grow in Ontario, it seems; let this one rot in Kingston Penitentiary.

2. G20

Ahh, the G20.. so much debate was seen on this event across many news networks and of course on Twitter. It brought out so many opinions on the matter of over-spending, police brutality, rights to protest, etc. Check out the blog post I wrote on the topic.

1. Vancouver Olympics

Yes, my top choice was also Canada’s top choice, but I couldn’t help it, no matter how hard I tried. For a couple weeks my tweets were probably 90% about the Olympics. Is there any one highlight? Yes of course. The Gold medal winning hockey game was my favourite, as I was downtown celebrating in the streets with the rest of Canada. GO CANADA GO!

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Leafs and Skills? Yes indeed!

A couple Sundays ago (Nov. 14.2010), the girlfriend and I went down to the Air Canada Centre to watch the Leafs Skills Competition. I received a couple snarky comments on Facebook and Twitter when I mentioned “Leafs” and “Skills” in the same sentence, but I have to say it was definitely skill-filled, and entertaining. Of course the main point of the whole day was to raise money for charity, and they ended up raising $90,000 that will benefit the MLSE Team Up Foundation and the NHLPA Goals And Dreams Fund.

Sitting in the lower bowl, which is a rarity for me at the ACC, we got to watch eight skill testing events + other entertainment, which included crazy guys dressed up in old school goalie outfits skating around the rink, body-checking each other to victory; a kids hockey match which was exciting and hilarious to watch as they couldn’t stay on their feet; and the best of all was the human bowling event, featuring the blue crew (aka hockey cheerleaders) – check out the video (shot on my iPhone 4):

In terms of the actual competition, a couple highlights were Kris Versteeg’s goal in the freestyle shootout challenge. He lifted the puck, hit it up twice, then reversed his stick and batted it in the net, past the goalie (a minor hockey goalie); I wish I caught that one on video! My other favourite highlight was from the hardest shot challenge where (I believe) Nik Kulemin’s shot registered about 139 km/h, which if possible, would’ve rocketed him into first place all time for any competition.

I can’t wait for next year! Did you go? If so, let me know what you thought of the event and do you plan on going again? If didn’t go, here are a few of the random pictures I took:

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No pressure South Africa only the world is watching

Today marked day one of FIFA World Cup 2010. Host country South Africa played to a 1-1 draw against the powerhouse Mexico (not) to kick things off on an exciting note.

I occasionally watch the Toronto FC here and there, and every four years when the World Cup rolls around I become a temporary fan. Soccer is a bit too slow for my liking; kind of like football (North American kind). I tend to drift in and out consciousness for both, but when it’s on the world stage, there’s a whole other kind of magic.

My immediate family background is British (Mom) and Caribbean (Dad). Since my Dad’s country (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) fairs worse than Canada, I tend to stick with England as my team of choice. England is kind of like the Maple Leafs because they’re generally on the cusp of greatness, but it’s been an eternity since they’ve won.

As the tournament ramps up I generally get more and more into the sport, especially since I have an allegiance to one team. I’m excited for England’s first match tomorrow against the United States. I’m not sure if I’ll head out or not, but either way I’ll be wearing my Rooney jersey and cheering them on. I think they’ll win, but if they don’t it will mean a lot of trouble, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a pub in England if they lost.

Since I normally do this I figured I’d give my predictions on the winners from each group. Much of it is based on little to no knowledge, which means I should do well. The two teams from each group that I pick to advance are bolded.

Group A – South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

Group B – Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Rep., Greece

Group C – England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Group D – Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

Group E – Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Group F – Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group G – Brazil, Korea DPR, Ivory Coast, Portugal

Group H – Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

(And they say there are too many teams in NHL playoffs.. geez.)

Stanley Cup finals: My time for redemption

I’m not even going to discuss my record in the previous rounds of the NHL playoffs; it’s too depressing. I’ll instead focus on the here and now. After a ridiculous break the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers finally get the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs started, and it looks to be one exciting series to watch.

The two teams both have unproven playoff goalies in Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton, though both have been playing as if they were the league’s elite goalies. Niemi is in his first full season with the big club and he helped guide the team to a 2nd place finish in the Western Conference. Leighton is a career journeyman who was mostly a backup this season. He ended up replacing starter Brian Boucher who left the playoffs early on with an injury. He’s since been brilliant in helping the Flyers get past the Bruins and of course those wretched Montreal Canadiens.

The Blackhawks and Flyers are also physical teams and the big matchup everyone is looking forward to is going to happen in front of Michael Leighton. Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien (prounced Bufflin) and Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger are sure to have some battles for position which will in all likeliness lead to some bad blood between the two (one can hope).

Since my picks have been lacking in accuracy you can take it for what it is, but I’m going to say the Chicago Blackhawks are going to take it in 7 games. It’s a hard decision, mostly because it means the Maple Leafs will then hold the longest Stanley Cup drought.

What’s your take on the series? Are you looking forward to it?

NHL Playoffs round 3: The predictions

Photo: Getty Images from TSN.ca

So far my predictions haven’t been good by any standard. For the 2nd round I went 1-for-4 (Flyers) and to be honest that was the series I cared the least about, so it was even more of a disappointing result. That being said, I’m feeling really good about the conference finals round. Let’s give it a go shall we?

Eastern Conference prediction:

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens: I’ve said many times online and in person, that I will not cannot cheer for the Montreal Canadiens. This, however doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re a good team that’s played really well (and gotten really lucky) during these playoffs. The Canadiens have upset two great teams in the Washington Capitals (first round) and Pittsburgh Penguins (second round) and now they face the team that finished one spot ahead of them in the conference (7th). The Habs are still the underdogs, but not by much. Both teams have also played grueling series’ so fatigue shouldn’t really be a factor either. In the end, the Habs are relying too much on goaltending to win games for them and that luck has to end soon. I have to go ahead and pick the Flyers to take this one. Flyers in 6.

Western Conference prediction:

San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks: This is the series that will produce the next Stanley Cup champion team; you’ve heard it here first. I haven’t been a big promoter of either team so far these playoffs, but both have proven they have what it takes to go all the way. San Jose, the top seed in the Western Conference was a team that has perennially choked come playoff time. I haven’t picked them to win yet, because of this, even though they’re my favourite team in the west, next to Calgary and Vancouver. Chicago is a great young team, and I’ve always had trouble cheering for them, though it may have something to do with past Leafs history (same division when they were in the Western Conference). Because I’m a fan of the young, fast teams (think Washington & Pittsburgh), a small part of me is rooting for these kids to succeed, even though they bounced the Canucks (again). With all that I’m going to have to go with one of my favourites from the conference. Sharks in 6.

There you have it folks. What are your picks for the 3rd round of the playoffs? And why?

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