Hockey, food safety and losing

Now that things are normalized, with the kids back in school, I’ve had some time to think about Sunday’s practice.

dp-sorenne-becI’m quite proud of the kids at Coff’s Harbour; we went from a team that was beating us 15-0 at the start of the year, to a 1-1 tie; great improvement

And Kaleb was awesome in goal (come practice whenever you like at acacia ridge, i can work with him).

Anyone else want to play goal this weekend and get some practice in? Alex? Liem?

I’ve got a coupe of drills I want to run, and one is attached below, along with short area games; we can divide the ice up into 3 sections, so children are not standing around too long

I regret to inform you that Kyle has resigned as head coach of the atom majors. This was not a decision taken lightly, but we’re all volunteers, and sometimes it’s best to move on.

I have always supported Kyle and think he is a great coach. He has done wonderful things with the atom majors this year.

He will be out on the ice Sunday to help out — cause that’s how he is — but will no longer have to deal with the politics.

I fully understand, and it’s why I stood down as head coach for the club a couple of months ago.

For Kyle and I, our shared coaching philosophy is continuous improvement, lotsa smiles.

ADM kids

Even Sporer

In the vast ocean of youth hockey, the best way for some of the youngest fish to learn is not by swimming in a single-file, straight line, but by spreading their fins and doing a little of everything.

And it’s not opinion. It’s science.

“Chaos can be fun,” said Dave Starman, masters-level instructor for USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program and college hockey scout for the Montreal Canadiens.

hubris-humilityLess Structure, More Development

NHL practices can be military-like in precision. When it comes to practices for younger players, less – in terms of structure – can be more.

“It’s important, especially at the younger level, because if they’re not moving around, they don’t have the ability to teach themselves to do a lot of things,” Starman said. “I can stand there and tell a kid to move his foot one way, or move his foot another way, but when that kid goes out there and starts moving his feet around, and falls down, and gets up, all that trial-and-error just makes you a better player because you’re teaching yourself a lot of stuff.”

More than Cross-Ice

That’s where USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM) comes in, a program Starman said is tailor-made to be the guiding principle of an 8U practice.

“Number one is, people need to realize that the ADM is more than just cross-ice playing,” Starman said. “The beauty of the ADM is that it’s laid out so clearly, and part two of it is it’s so science-based.

“What you’re reading is not hypothesis; what you’re reading is fact.”

Keeping Kids Engaged

Keeping things fresh and lively, Starman said, are keys to maximizing what a young player is getting out of a practice.

Unconventional drills and games can be the key to helping harness different skills a hockey player needs to be successful.

“For 8Us, look at sharks and minnows,” Starman said. “Sharks and minnows is chaos, but the beauty of sharks and minnows for our little kids is they can skate from one side of the rink to the other in any pattern they want to.

“They’re not getting told, ‘Go in a straight line, and make a left,’ or, ‘Make two circles, and take a shot.’ They’re figuring out where to go, they’re finding open space, and they’re figuring out a way to avoid being tagged. They’re keeping their head up, conscious of where the danger is.”

No Standing Around

At such a young age, and still firmly in developmental mode, Starman said keeping hockey enjoyable and a fun game is also paramount.

“There’s no sport for taking out the garbage, because kids don’t want to do it,” Starman said. “For hockey, it’s kind of the same thing. If you make it something they have to go to, or make it something that’s not enjoyable, they’re not going to play.”

That’s precisely where the ADM comes in.

“The one thing the ADM has done is allow both coaches and players to have a little more fun because of the fact that you’re in more small-area games, you’re in more stations, your compete level is higher, your ability to get more kids moving at the same time (is higher), and I’m talking even up to the bantams,” Starman said. “The best way to make a kid not want to play is to make him or her stand around and watch others play. With what we’re doing right now, everybody is in motion; there’s not a lot of standing around.”

Teach a Kid to Fish

It can create chaos, like Starman said, but a little chaos in the ocean could be just what the fishes need.

“You know the expression ‘You give a man a fish, he can eat for a night, but you teach him to fish, he can eat forever?'” Starman said. “A lot of that is true when you get into unstructured situations in their small areas because they’re teaching themselves.

“When you teach yourself something, you tend to remember it a lot longer than being taught something that either, one, you may not understand right away, or two, you’re not in the mental frame of mind to learn.

“That’s one of the major reasons why we’ve made a lot of strides with our younger players. They’re having more fun because they’re picking a lot of things up through their own play and competition.”


Thermometers and hockey

“Do you always bring that thing with you?”

coffs-hockey-team-16“Don’t you?”

The thing was my tip-sensitive digital thermometer which is always in my backpack, which is always on my back, and the occasion was the annual BBQ at the annual Coffs Harbour 3-on-3 hockey tournament.

With 120 guests to serve, I always arrive packin’.

The meat was safely-temperature-verified-grilled, no bare hand contact was achieved through either tongs or gloves, and cross-contamination was minimal (the parents all know what I do, and they knew I’d be watching).

Amy and I played sous chefs for a couple of hours, prepping onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon.

Coffs Harbour Big Banana 3-on-3 Skirmish, now in its sixth year, started as a two club match-up between Newcastle North Stars and Southern Stars from Brisbane with Coffs Harbour as the halfway meeting point for the 3-on-3 ice hockey weekend.

doug-ref-oct-16The tournament has grown each year to now include nine clubs represented by 26 teams from NSW, QLD and ACT. Some 175 players ranging in age from 5-to-16-years-old in five different age divisions played in 80 games.

I coached, acted as medic, refereed for the first time since completing that 14-hour training and was called upon to be the badass coach when kids got unruly around the pool and BBQ area.

Amy did scorekeeping, merchandizing, and overall hockey mom stuff, like getting Sorenne prepared.

So many other people contributed in similar ways.

Great kids, great parents, it’s our church, but without the god stuff. There’s singing and dancing, but not so much the hymns. More AC/DC.


23 years late, Chipotle gets food safety religion (or so they lecture)

I just registered for an Ice Hockey Australia Level 2 coaching course.

The course is rarely offered, and there’s only a couple of level 2 coaches in Queensland. It will take 25 hours of training to complete.

dp-sorenne-becThat’s on top of the 16 hours I put in for Coach 1 in Australia, and recertification every two years.

It’s similar to the Intermediate Level Coach status I had in Canada back in 2001, which was required to coach a rep or travel team.

It’s a lot of time, sitting in a classroom, and on the ice.

I view it as my church, my community service.

So when Chipotle makes a big deal saying all of its managers will be trained in food safety the ServSafe way, I shrug, and ask, why weren’t they before?

How far was Chipotle’s head up its own moralistic ass that it paid more attention to food porn – like hormones and GE foods – than to food safety, the things that make people barf?

Great, you’re going to require training. Anyone ask if the training is any good? Third-party audits? Nice soundbite but they’re just a paycheck. Handwashing every thirty minutes? McDonald’s have been doing that for decades (you’d think Chipotle would have picked that up when they were partnered with McDonald’s, but no, there was food porn to peddle).

The Chipotle announcement reads like a moralistic lecture, and that no one had discovered food safety before.

A year after the outbreaks, Chipotle is now getting into standard PR – which it should have done months ago (Chipotle, your communication advisors absolutely suck). The full page ad, the video, the push for food safety.

Guacamole, for instance, now takes advantages of the cleansing properties of the lemon and lime juices in the recipe. Before getting mixed, the chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapeños are laid on top of avocados and drizzled with citrus juices in one last effort to ensure food safety.

Some scientists may question such tactics, saying they have been supplanted by newer methods. But Dr. James Marsden, Chipotle’s new executive director of food safety, who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University (and the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series) said he was confident in them.

“We’re doing research and are going to publish papers on what we’re doing, so people can see for themselves that it works,” he said.

That’s all good, but they’re still moralistic assholes who expect people to pay a premium for their food sermons (journos, contact me for Marsden stories).

Chipotle founder and Co-CEO stepped in front of a camera in a bid to win over weary diners that still aren’t hankering for the chain’s once-popular tacos and burritos.

In a video that the Mexican burrito chain unveiled on Wednesday, a contrite Ells admits that last year, the fast-casual restaurant chain “failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program.”

chipotleadContrite is not the word I would use.

Looking to revalue Chipotle’s share price is more accurate.

Chipotle initially blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Australian beef for its woes. Today, it blamed social media.

“No one has ever had this kind of a food safety crisis in the era of social media,” Mr. Ells said.

I could list hundreds, beginning with E. coli O157 in spinach in 2006, you arrogant poser.

“Jack In The Box,” — a burger chain where more than 700 people got sick in 1993 after eating E. coli contaminated meat — “never had to deal with Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

When I coach, I’m always telling kids, and adults, stop blaming the refs, go score a goal, stop whinging.

What is fresh? Australian beef in the U.S.?

Is this guy stealing from Trump’s playbook?

It’s slogans and hucksterism.

Which Americans seem to go for.

And Mr. Ells, since you seem content on lecturing Americans about food safety, while blaming others, here’s a history lesson.

In the Fall of 1994, Intel computer chips became scrutinized by the computer geeks, and then the public.

Intel had delayed responding to allegations, and Wall Street analysts at the time said it was the result of a corporate culture accustomed to handling technical issues rather than addressing customers’ hopes and fears.

On Monday, Nov. 12, 1994, the International Business Machines Corp. abruptly announced that its own researchers had determined that the Pentium flaw would lead to division errors much more frequently than Intel said. IBM said it was suspending shipments of personal computers containing the Pentium chip

Mr. Grove was stunned. The head of IBM’s PC division, Richard Thoman, had given no advance warning. A fax from Thoman arrived at Intel’s HQ on Monday morning after the IBM announcement, saying he had been unable to find Grove’s number during the weekend. Mr. Grove, whose number is listed, called directory assistance twice to ask for his own number to ensure he was listed.

After the IBM announcement, the number of calls to Santa Clara overwhelmed the capacity of AT&T’s West Coast long-distance telephone switching centres, blocking calls. Intel stock fell 6.5 per cent

Only then, Mr. Grove said, did he begin to realize that an engineer’s approach was inappropriate for a consumer problem.

Intel took out full-page ads, apologized, and did better.

That was in months, not a year.

Mr. Ells, you can claim you’re in uncharted territory, that no one has experienced the woes like you have, that fresh is a meaningful term.

But it’s just a repeat.

Customers may expect you to have the humility to admit such failings when driven by the hubris of your own beliefs.

But hey, anyone who can get Americans to believe that 1,000 calorie burritos are healthy can do anything you damn well please.

And customers will bow down.

Investors. I wouldn’t touch it. But I said that in 2007.


Australian citizenship

It’s a trifecta of citizenships for me and Sorenne – Canadian, American and now Australian — and a deux-fecta for Amy as we attended our citizenship ceremony on Saturday morning.

citizenship-sep-16We didn’t even know it was Australian Citizenship Day (a U.S. thing too, which is ironical because the three of us are also Americans), but there were 492 of us in a community centre — with another 500 of supporting friends and family, although we decided to keep ours a personal affair — who were welcomed to the Australian family.

Special thanks to Amy and Sorenne, and many others, who have stuck with me while I adjust to the next phase of our life.

We’ll be celebrating tomorrow, in sub-tropical Brisbane, by spending the day at the arena, playing and coaching ice hockey.

And many thanks for all the kind messages we received in response to our citizenships.

We are quite fortunate, and grateful.


(before and after pics; are we different? that’s a softball question lobbed up there for your amusement)


Barfblog daily is down

Blogging used to be glamorous, sorta like airplane travel before 9/11.

Sorta before you knew that Bob Ross’ afro wasn’t all-natural, how things were normal until Harrison Ford started wearing an earring, sorta before you knew that people who run ice hockey in Australia are just as self-centered as the Canadians (they mainly are Canadians).

There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff, and the pay sucks. Chapman is off in Japan (right, not exactly as shown) and barfblog daily ain’t working. For the 4,000 subscribers, we’re trying to fix things.

With over 70,000 direct subscribers to in over 70 countries, you’re getting the news, just a bit fractured at the moment.

And since so many of you comment on my music choices, I’m sending this out to my favorite and under-appreciated hockey coach, bus driver Chris. Gotta have soul.

Most Canadian heist ever: Guy in goalie gear robs Manitoba beer store

I was in Brisbane.


RCMP in Manitoba are on the hunt for two people who pulled off a beer store heist in the community of Russell.

One of the suspects had a hockey stick and was apparently dressed as a goalie.

In surveillance footage from Aug. 15 posted on YouTube, the men are seen smashing a door and walking into the store to steal a bunch of beer.

Police said the one suspect may have been “a defenceman or forward in disguise as he was wearing jersey #17 — a non-traditional number for goalies.”

“Anyone with information about this theft or has played against a goalie matching this description is asked to call Russell RCMP,” the RCMP added.

In others matters Canadiana the full concert of the Aug. 20, 2016 Tragically Hip show that was broadcast around the country – and world – is now up on youtube at

I laughed, I cried, I rocked.


My worlds collide: Eichel misses game vs. Leafs with gastro illness

Buffalo Sabres superstar in the making, number two pick in the 2015 draft, the guy who isn’t Connor McDavid – Jack Eichel – missed his first NHL game in Toronto over the weekend with an illness that was described by Buffalo News as the flu. But was more likely norovirus.norovirus-2

He was back on the ice Tuesday as the Sabres beat my hometown Hurricanes (and Eichel was -2 with no points).

Norovirus isn’t fun.

Food safety, hockey: Training could be improved but at least something should be required

In addition to endless sausage sizzles, folks in Brisbane are forever hosting school fetes, dinners, and homemade goods for sale at the weekly tuck shop.

I’m always wary of such items because I have no idea of the preparation technique, sanitation and storage. need 16 hours of training to open a door on a kid’s hockey team, but nothing to offer up food for sale (that’s me this morning, after my practice, and before coaching a kids practice an hour later, getting in some blogging – I was working with the goalies so kept my pads on).

That’s going to change in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.

Mandatory food hygiene training will be required for those preparing food for groups including non-profit organizations holding fundraising suppers and breakfasts.

The new training rules will come into effect on April 1 and will apply to everyone who is involved in food service, P.E.I. Environmental Health manager Joe Bradley said.

“It is for people to understand their role in preparing food for large groups of people as to prevent foodborne illness.”

At least one person in the group holding the fundraising event in which food is served will be required to have the training and will have to be on site, he said.

“Certainly for community groups, church groups that haven’t had the opportunity to access training yet, we would certainly look at a grace period for them to access that training.”

The required mandatory training takes about one day to complete. The free food safety courses are being offered this month in Charlottetown and Summerside.

A shorter course of just a couple of hours for non-profit groups, churches and community service organizations is being planned, Bradley said.

Crappy bathrooms in NY’s JFK

It was Australia Day, 33 C, so why not coach an exhibition hockey game. travelled to Toowoomba yesterday, about 100 minutes from Brisbane, where one of my fellow coaches lives, and put the younger kids on a makeshift ice surface to drum up local interest in the sport (they’re trying to build an arena).

Afterwards, many of the families went to a park, where the one grilling had remembered to bring his tip-sensitive digital thermometer, and another asked me about the bathroom.

I explained how 29 years ago, when I was editor of the Ontarion, the University of Guelph student paper, my first story in my new role was to rate the bathrooms at local bars.

It cost the paper thousands in lost advertising revenue because many of the bars didn’t like the results. The story was popular, and we made up the lost revenue in no time.

Christine Negroni writes in The Huffington Post that women arriving on oneworld flights into New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport have one word for the condition of the bathrooms in Terminal 8, “Ewwww.”

hockey.toowoombaKisha Burgos stopped at the bathroom in the baggage claim area and was shocked to see paper-strewn floors, filthy toilets and empty and broken paper dispensers in the stalls. “It’s bad,” she told me comparing it to the airports she visited in in Bangkok, Vietnam and Laos on her recent five week trip.

“Everything was really clean,” she said of the bathrooms in places one might not expect to find them. 

Airport workers know the secret is to use the toilets on the departure level because passengers are better cared for there. Keeping them happy encourages them to shop and dine while waiting to board their flights. Arriving passengers on the other hand, are in a hurry and on their way out.

The most customer-friendly airport is Singapore’s Changi where every bathroom has a touch screen survey enabling users to immediately register their satisfaction (is that before or after washing their hands?).

I reported back to the parent the bathroom had the essentials – running water, soap and paper towel (which isn’t that common in Australia).

As a coach, I like that – we had the basics covered.