John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


My latest for – Like his personality, Burns leaves large legacy

I'm particularly proud of my work last weekend for I wrote a brief piece on Pat Burns' impact on the National Hockey League's Northeast Division and my hockey fandom. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Like his personality, Burns leaves large legacy
A former policeman, Burns looked the part behind the bench with his thick moustache, but didn’t act like any cop that would visit my elementary school or volunteer with my Cub Pack. He was always yelling, screaming or trying to get at the other team’s bench. My parents had to awkwardly explain what he’d just said to the referees that had gotten him in so much trouble. (Although I had no problem understanding the idea of sending him to the locker room as punishment.)

He was easily my favorite of the Leafs. As news of Burns’ death spread Friday night, it quickly became clear I wasn’t the only one.


Review: Civilization V

Otto von Bismark is just one of the 18 world leaders you can play as or against in Sid Meier's Civilization V.

Last week I finished writing a review of Sid Meier's Civilization V for the Canadian Press. It was picked up by a lot of news outlets including,, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the Guelph Mercury, the Winnipeg Free Press, 570 News, Sympatico's Sync, the Medicine Hat News, 680 News and Yahoo! Canada.

I was pretty pleased with the finished product, although props have to go to editor Neil Davidson for adding some spit and polish to the finished product.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I love writing my own reviews, but hopefully I'll be able to do more video game review in the near future.

Please follow the links above or below to read the whole piece.

Minutes become hours that bleed into days with "Sid Meier's Civilization V."

The latest instalment of the classic PC game casts the player as the leader of a Stone Age society tasked with guiding a nation to the heights of civilization.

"Just one more turn" is an unofficial motto of "Civilization V" players, as they plot their nation's progress city-by-city and develop social policies, trade routes and technologies. Waiting for the responses of enemies and allies creates a compulsive need to play more and more.


The Return of the Link Dump

Autumn has arrived once again and with the changing of the leaves comes the busiest time of the year in the world of sports.

That applies to the journalists who cover sports as well, so this blog has fallen into disuse for the past week as I’ve been cranking out articles for other outlets. Here’s a quick rundown:

On Tuesday the Globe and Mail (and other websites) ran an article I wrote about the Ontario Hockey League indefinitely postponing their All-Star Game.

Wednesday the Winnipeg Free Press picked up a bit of an OHL season preview I did.

I’ve been busy over at as well, writing pre-season looks at the Northeast Division starting with the Boston Bruins and then moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators before finishing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hockey’s not the only sport I’m following this fall either, as field lacrosse has started up. I’ve got a vested interest as I’m continuing my involvement in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association as its Communications Director.

I’ve already written a review of the first week of play for the league’s website and I'll be penning a second one today.

That’s a quick update for you, but you should expect more content from me in the next week, starting with the return of My Weekend in Junior Hockey on Monday.


My latest for Hockey Prime Time

Montreal's Westmount Arena, site of the first NHL game.

Recognize this place? It's one of my top 10 arenas in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for the answer.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m involved with a hockey website called It’s a great site that offers up news and analysis of the National Hockey League as well as hockey around the world.

Normally I’d be writing some notebooks on the comings and goings of the NHL’s Northeast division.

However, since there’s no hockey on right now we’ve been putting together a series of Top 10 lists. I’ve contributed two articles to the project and I’m really proud of both of them.

Most recent was my list of the Top 10 Arenas in Hockey History. A few recent rinks that made the list are Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena and Philadelphia’s Spectrum.

My other Top 10 list was posted about a week ago and breaks down the Top 10 Most Influential Individuals in NHL history. I had a blast writing it. Like my work with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame I got to combine my interest in history with my love of hockey.

Art Ross, former general manager of the Boston Bruins and innovator of the game.

Recognize this guy? He's #9 on my list of the most influential people in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for his name.

I think my list of ten influential people will surprise some people and hopefully it’ll also introduce people to some players and builders who don’t get enough credit for shaping the modern NHL. I also feel that some people will be surprised at who is at the top of the list as the most influential man in NHL history.

In any event, it was a lot of fun putting these lists together.

What do you think the most significant hockey arenas are in hockey history?

What about influential people? Do you think I missed anyone?


Knowledge bomb – Canadian Sports History

Cliff Thorburn

Snooker player Cliff Thorburn at work.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, my I’ve been very busy doing some freelance work for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The past two weeks have been spent researching and selecting the top two or three defining moments in the lives of 96 honoured members of the Hall.

Along the way I’ve learned a lot of quirky and interesting facts about some of Canada’s greatest athletes.

Snooker master Cliff Thorburn was the first person in world championship history to record a perfect break of 147.

For those of you who’ve never played snooker: a perfect score of 147 means that he sank every cherry ball on the table and was able to follow up with the black ball (the most valuable of the coloured balls) every time. Further, he did it without his opponent ever sinking a single ball. It’s an incredible feat of strategy, foresight and skill at any level, let alone in a world championship.

Unfortunately, Thorburn went on to lose the final match of the tournament to Steve Davis, but that doesn’t diminish his accomplishment in the first round against Terry Griffiths.

Famed strongman Louis Cyr’s records are hard to verify since few were recorded and most were hyped and exaggerated by promoters. However, he definitely set a record in 1895 by lifting 4,337 pounds on his back. As impressive as that is, the story that struck me was that at the age of 18 Cyr won a strongman competition in Boston by lifting a horse off the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, no horse weighs as much as 4,337 pounds, but they do, you know, move around and squirm. Particularly if they’re uncomfortable, like if someone was picking them up off the ground. Trying to lift something as heavy as a horse while it is moving is way more impressive than a dead lift, no matter the disparity in weight.

Finally, as many hockey fans know, Henri Richard holds the record for most Stanley Cup wins as a player. His 11 championship rings is a mark that may never be passed with the salary cap-era of the National Hockey League in full effect.

What most people don’t know is that at the time of Richard’s retirement he had won more Stanley Cups than he had had birthdays. Since he was born on February 29th, 1936 – a leap year – he had only celebrated his actual birthday nine times before his retirement during the 1974-75 season.

Anyway, thought I’d just drop some knowledge. I should have time to do some more posting as the week continues.


My latest work – Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Lionel Conacher

Lionel Conacher was Canada's Athlete of the Half-Century in 1950. He excelled in football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling and many other sports.

As I mentioned about three weeks ago, I’ve been doing some freelance work for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The Hall is moving from its current home at the Canadian National Exhibition fairgrounds in Toronto to a new building at Calgary’s Olympic Park. The move itself is a long and protracted story - detailed in the final four paragraphs of this history – but it’s suffice to say that a permanent building is long overdue.

My job is to research and write the content of displays that will be installed in the galleries of the new Hall of Fame. Specifically, I am working on entries for timelines that will be incorporated into the entrance of each gallery. These chronologies will highlight the greatest moments in the history of Canadian sport.

For example, when I was trying out for this job I worked on moments for Lionel ConacherAngela James and Jacques Plante.

Conacher’s storied career had many incredible moments but I chose to focus on June 1922. In a single day he drove in the winning runs to lead the Toronto Hillcrests to the city’s baseball championship and then he took a cab to Scarborough where he led his lacrosse team to the Ontario senior championship.

With James I focused on the period of March 19-25, 1990 when she scored 11 goals and two assists in just five games as Team Canada swept through the first-ever Women’s World Championship of Hockey.

Of course, Plante’s tale revolved around the night of November 22nd 1959 when the Montreal Canadiens were playing the New York Rangers and the all-star goaltender’s nose was broken by a shot. After that he began wearing a mask, the first National Hockey League goalie to regularly wear one.

I even added a little bit about Andy Bathgate – the man whose shot broke Plante’s nose – and that the Rangers forward had intended to hit the goalie in the face with the puck.

Now I’ve got to do another 50 moments and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m still in the planning process of picking which athletes I want to do for this phase of the project but I am thrilled that I’ve been chosen to work with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The intersection of sports and Canadian history is like a perfect Venn diagram of my interests and I am honoured to be playing a role – no matter how small it may be - in the creation of a new monument to the great athletes of this nation