Sunday, 16 June 2019

Schenn deserves to soak in Blues’ Stanley Cup win

Brayden Schenn skating in Saskatoon in 2017.
    Brayden Schenn showed that good guys do finish first.
    Last Wednesday, the 27-year-old centre who was born and raised in Saskatoon, scored a goal to help the St. Louis Blues down the host Boston Bruins 4-1 in a series-deciding Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The win allowed the Blues to capture their first NHL title in team history as they took the best-of-seven series 4-3.
    Schenn was one of three players that were born and raised in Saskatchewan that helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup along with left-winger Jaden Schwartz of Wilcox and centre Tyler Bozak of Regina. Schwartz had a pair of assists in the Cup clinching victory.
    In the time flies department, Schenn has completed his eight full season as a professional since graduating from the WHL ranks following the 2010-11 campaign. In 587 career regular season games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and Blues, Schenn has posted 154 goals and 218 assists for 372 points.
    Growing up in Saskatoon, Schenn has always been the quiet superstar. You talk to him, and you would never know he was putting up monster point totals.
    The gifts he had on the ice were pretty apparent. He had 65 goals and 43 assists in 43 regular season games with the Saskatoon Generals bantam AA team in the 2005-06 campaign. In his lone midget AAA season with the Saskatoon Contacts in 2006-07, Schenn piled up 27 goals and 43 assists in 41 regular season games.
    Following his time with the Contacts, Schenn played four seasons in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades netting 116 goals and 199 assists in 224 regular season games. He was selected by the Kings in the first round and fifth overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
    After moving to the NHL, Schenn often returns to Saskatoon and area for various fundraising and community events.
    Schenn is a respected person in Saskatoon.
    In what is now viewed as a more water under the bridge time, that wasn’t always the case. Schenn did face challenges in his hometown, when he played for the Blades. He experienced great times and some unfathomable down times.
    It should be noted the bumps Schenn faced with the Blades were never his fault or the team’s fault. The bumps were a learning experience about what could happen when an extremely high profile player laces up the skates for his hometown major junior hockey team.
    At the start of the 2010-11 campaign, Schenn, who was in his 19-year-old season, made the Kings and appeared in eight NHL contests. He also suited up for seven games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes before being sent back to the Wheat Kings in the WHL.
    The Blades were in a race for first overall in the WHL that season, and they made a monster trade with the Wheat Kings to get Schenn.
    In the deal that was made Jan. 10, 2011, the Blades received Schenn and a third round selection in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft from the Wheat Kings in exchange for the Blades first and second round selections of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, a first round selection in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, a first round selection in the 2012 CHL Import Draft and then prospects in defenceman Ayrton Nikkel and centre Tim McGauley.
    Schenn arrived home in Saskatoon shortly after helping Canada win a silver medal at world juniors. He was named the MVP of that seasons’ world juniors topping the event in goals (eight), assists (10), points (18) and plus-minus (plus-10) in seven games played.
Brayden Schenn starred at all levels of hockey growing up in Saskatoon.
    Schenn played 27 regular season games with the Blades piling up 21 goals and 32 assists. Saskatoon topped the WHL standings with a 56-13-1-2 record for 115 points in the standings. The 56 wins and 115 standings points are still Blades club records.
    It seemed like Schenn was going to live out a dream season with his hometown WHL team.
    While Schenn always carried himself well, it seemed there were some in the public that wanted to bring him down.
    During the Blades first round playoff series with the Prince Albert Raiders, someone went online and made racist comments towards First Nations peoples in Schenn’s name via a fake Facebook account. That development caused the Blades to hold a news conference to state Schenn didn’t have anything to do with that fake Facebook account and request a police investigation.
    At that time, the Blades found nine fake Facebook accounts in Schenn’s name.
    Schenn wasn’t made available to the media at that press conference, but the Blades issued a statement from the skilled forward. One can only imagine how much time was spent putting this fire out that Schenn and the Blades had no part of starting.
    On top of that, Schenn and his team were focusing on a player series against an archrival club.
    The Blades proceeded to eliminate the Raiders 4-2 in a best-of-seven series. Saskatoon was swept away in a best-of-seven second round series 4-0 to the Kootenay Ice, who went on to win the WHL championship.
    In 10 playoff games, Schenn put up six goals and five assists for the Blades. Expectations were high that year that the Blades would win the WHL title and sizable crowds were showing up at the rink that is now known as the SaskTel Centre.
    During the immediate aftermath of the playoff ouster, there were a number of people in the Blades fanbase that blamed the post-season elimination on Schenn.
    I was working in Medicine Hat during that time covering the WHL’s Tigers for the Medicine Hat News, and relatives in Saskatoon told me that Schenn couldn’t show his face in public in town in the days that followed the Blades playoff exit. I do recall seeing a Facebook group that existed to dump hate on Schenn for costing the Blades the Memorial Cup. I can no longer find that Facebook page.
    What Schenn had to deal with in the 2011 WHL playoffs goes down as a blip on the radar. Most have forgotten what Schenn went through in that post-season outside of the random ultra-passionate fan.
    That episode likely helped prepare Schenn for dealing with unfair criticisms that ultimately pop up at the NHL level. Some likely came this season, when the Blues sat last in the entire NHL on Jan. 2.
    From that point, the Blues went on a magical run to capture a playoff berth, and that run continued through the post-season cumulating in a Stanley Cup title.
    Schenn posted 17 goals and 37 assists in 72 regular season games and added five goals and seven assists appearing in all of the Blues 26 post-season contests.
    When you do recall what happened to Schenn in the 2011 WHL playoffs, it makes seeing him lift the Stanley Cup last Wednesday that much more special.
    Schenn’s parents still live in Saskatoon, and he is expecting to bring hockey’s most storied prize back to “the Bridge City.”
    When that happens, Schenn will be returning home as a hero.

Morons of the week – those that threaten Kyle

Kaylyn Kyle demonstrates a soccer drill in Saskatoon in 2015.
    If anyone sends a death threat to a person over criticisms of a sporting event, the person sending the threat is a moron.
    Death threats were something Kaylyn Kyle, who is a former standout midfielder with Canada’s national women’s soccer team, said she experienced this past week.
    Kyle, who was born and raised in Saskatoon, is working as an analyst for TSN during that network’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup being held in France. Last Tuesday, the United States thumped Thailand 13-0.
    The American players celebrated every goal in that romp.
    Kyle said the celebrations should have stopped when the score hit 8-0. She said the continuing celebrations were excessive and disrespectful.
    In a tweet late last Tuesday, Kyle said she had been sent death threats.
    Kyle’s criticisms of the U.S. side were correct. From what I have seen so far, I think she has been outstanding in her role with TSN.
    She gives insight, the straight goods and tells it like it is.
    Sending a media personality death threats over a critique of something that happens in a sporting event is way over the top.
    I also find a disturbing trend that some low life types feel like they have a right to lash out and bully female media personalities in sports especially if they are good looking without any repercussions.
    Those low life types need to be subjected to a number of days of hard labour.
    Kyle ranks up there with the best in the world in the looks department. Anytime I have had the opportunity to photograph her at public events, it usually takes just one click of the camera to get a perfect picture.
    Still, she is excellent when it comes to doing her job, and she is tough both mentally and physically.
    I am pretty certain Kyle will keep being who she is.
    Here’s hoping the morons encounter repercussions for being morons.

Massive turnout for Filteau’s celebration of life heartwarming

Justin Filteau in action for the Huskies in 2016.
    It was heartwarming to see the massive turnout of people that came for Justin Filteau’s celebration of life.
    The celebration of life for Filteau was held Friday at the Circle Drive Alliance Church and close to 1,000 people turned out. That right there shows how much of an impact he made on peoples’ lives.
    Filteau passed away tragically in a plane crash on June 1 just east of Medicine Hat, Alta., at age 26.
    He was born and raised in Moose Jaw and became a high school football star at A.E. Peacock Collegiate. After graduating high school in 2010, Filteau was standout at linebacker for the CJFL’s Saskatoon Hilltops from 2010 to 2014 and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team from 2015 to 2017.
    He had been a position coach on defence for the Saskatoon Valkyries of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League since 2017.
    Filteau was also heavily involved in judo and competed frequently at the national level in that sport. There was a huge turnout from the provincial judo scene at the celebration of life.
    During the celebration of life, Filteau was honoured with the posthumous presentation of a blackbelt in judo.
    He implemented the two claps and a Rick Flair “woo” as a fun cheering activity, and that will likely live on in the provincial judo scene.
    Filteau left behind a nice legacy on a number of levels. You can be sure the people he impacted will dig a little deeper against any challenge the face and will smile more.

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