OCT. 3, FREDERICTON, N.B. – Gritty defensive winger and perennial fan-favorite Kent Fackenthall has agreed to terms with the Thursday Night Hockey League to play full-time for the 2019-2020 season. 

After a lackluster season last year, where he saw most of his time spent in the minors with the occasional call up-to The Show, Fackenthall admitted that his game needed work. “Yeah, last year was a a bit of a disappointment for me. I felt like I could do better. I struggled with some nagging injury issues and had a hard time adjusting to the late ice-times. I was – y’know – tired – it was past my usual bedtime – and it was hard to get up the next day. So that sucked, now that I’m older.” When asked if he’d done anything in the off-season to help get back on track he replied, “yeah, I rode a lot of bike to try and strengthen my knees and I’ve worked with my trainer on a pretty comprehensive nap program that I’ll be trying out this year.” 

At the end of last season rumors swirled that Fackenthall might end his long and storied career, retire and go to work in the front office in player development. “I had some talks with the league, with my family, my agent, and the guy who does the ice at the rink and decided to give it one more go. I wanted to try and play another year and then assess – maybe go out on a high note – also, there’s the money, too, right?” Long noted for his aggressive play and willingness to mix it up on the ice – even when it is entirely inappropriate – Fackenthall has developed a reputation, and in some cases a report – with other members of the league. “Yeah, he’s a bit of a dick at times,” – says Mike Morton, a veteran center that often finds himself battling opposite Fackenthall on the ice. “He’s not above the frequent cheap shot, slew foot or butt end. He likes to talk smack, but he’s easy to get off his game – you can get inside his head and then he’s done.” 

When asked if he planned to change his game any in an effort to secure his spot on the team, Fackenthall replied, “Yah, uhm, no, I don’t think so. Not really. I mean, pretty much my style is look for the guy on the other team who’s maybe not having the best night, then go out and maybe try and make it a little worse for ‘em, y’know. Mostly I don’t want to work too hard and just try and get out of the room fast afterwards so I can get to bed.”

When asked if Fackenthall’s return to full time play would have a positive or negative effect on the profile of the league, Commissioner Collin Sleep replied, “Kent WHO? Oh, oh, oh, THAT, Kent. Um, yeah, whatever – as long as he pays me it’s up to him if he shows up or not – I just gotta cover these ice time costs. Some of these bastards still owe me from LAST year.”

Looking longer term, Fackenthall was non-committal on his future past this season. “Yeah, I dunno, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll play another year, or I could just coast through this one, then into a cush front office job or maybe a sweet real-estate sales gig, probably.”

The TNHL kicks off Thursday, October 17 at 10:15pm at Willie Oree Place. Admission is free and the league asks that if a couple of fans could bring water bottles on the off chance Collin forgets them or doesn’t show, that would be appreciated. 

‘Willie’, The Willie O’Ree Story

Took Colin and Olivia to see a screening of the documentary of Fredericton hometown hero Willie O’Ree last night, ‘Willie’. It was followed by a lovely Q&A with the man himself and the director of the movie. Truly a magnificent and inspiring story .

For those not in the know, Willie was the first Black player in the NHL, and if that wasn’t enough, after playing pro for 20 or so years, he retired, but went to work taking the game of hockey to kids all over North America who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to play – AND continues to do so now at 82.

A superbly well done documentary. I don’t know where or when it’s screening, but if you get the chance I highly suggest you check it out. It’s about so much more than hockey. It was great to learn more about this man, I feel fortunate to have landed in the region of Canada from which he sprung, and I’m proud that my kids get to play in the same rink that he did and one that now bears his name. Totally a class act.

Willie said it best, “They called me the Jackie Robinson of the NHL, and I guess that sort of stuck, but that wasn’t me, I’m the Willie O’Ree of the NHL.” You know he’s a class act – and a badass – because they only let those kinds of guys wear fedoras. Thanks to @discoverunb for the free screening.

The Freight Train that was Scott Stevens.

I was watching the Toronto-Montreal game last night on Hockey Night in Canada and even though I’m a Habs fan, I have to admit, it was kind of a snoozer. First game of the season, teams still sorting line-ups out and all. I guess if you’re a Leafs fan you can be excited about it, but it wasn’t exactly fun hockey to watch.

For me the best part of the game was Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner. Now – hold on – I know some of you can’t stand ’em, but my comment is not so much about HIM as what he was talking about. He was discussing the recent crackdown of discipline by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s new VP of Player Safety and bemoaning the fact that guys were not hitting as much or “missing hits on purpose” out of fear of suspension. I’m only getting to the good part though.

At this point he showed some old video of Scott Stevens – arguably one of the best open ice hitters the game has EVER seen. And was chiding Shanny with comments like “how many games would this hit get” and “what about this one Brendan?”

I’m a little disappointed Don. You should know better. Even a layman could see that the hits Shanny are suspending guys for now are NOTHING like Scotty’s hits. Stevens was a consumate hitter. He didn’t target the head. He didn’t lead with the elbow. Stevens hit you with his WHOLE BODY. You’ll see in these videos, his arms are almost always at his sides. This is indeed why his hits were always so spectacular and indeed, in some cases, more ferocious looking than many illegal hits. That was 6’0′, 200lbs of solid muscle he was throwing at you at considerable speed. Stevens had an uncanny knack for catching guys coming cross ice with their heads down.

Truly, his hits were things of beauty. He was a textbook hitter. I loved watching him play, if nothing for the sheer fact that you didn’t know when he might catch somebody lace-checking. It made my night.

I dare say, if more guys hit like Scotty, and hadn’t resorted to throwing elbows etc, Brendan would have never had to step into this job in the first place.