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


Writing from Twitter

Twitter debuted “Twitter for Newsrooms” on Monday as an online guide for journalists on how to best use the social networking site. It focuses on enhancing the quality of online content as well as the quick dissemination of that content to a wider audience.

I think this is a great idea. As long time readers of this blog know, I’ve been a fan of Twitter for years and I regularly use it to promote my own writing and as a forum for my alleged wit.

There’s no better way to keep track of breaking news stories. I’ve learned about dozens of trades through the Trending Topics feature and have often learned about other hot stories through Twitter. In fact, most of the feature stories I read I’ve discover through Twitter.

In other words, I’m really looking forward to exploring TfN.

Coincidentally, the Canadian Press had been using Twitter as a source for quotes for some time, taking the tweets of athletes (or politicians or whoever) from verified accounts to add colour to our news stories.

Recently, CP’s sports department has composed entire stories from these tweets, adding greater context to developing stories. I’ve written two of these articles.

The first was reactions from NHLers (and NBA star Steve Nash) on the pivotal Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.

“NHLers react on Twitter to Game 6 action”

Watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final brought back some emotional memories for Bret Hedican, something the retired NHL veteran was only too happy to share with the world.

Hedican was one of several NHL players, both current and retired, took to the social networking site Twitter on Monday night to weigh in on the Boston Bruins' 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

"I've won and lost a Stanley Cup game 7!," Hedican tweeted. "I remember both like they were yesterday! Heartbreak & Elation!" (Read more…)

On Sunday we applied the same idea to the opening match of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup as Canada took on Germany.

“Soccer fans cheer on Canadian women against Germany via Twitter in World Cup”

As Christine Sinclair scored for Canada’s in its 2-1 loss to Germany at FIFA’s Women’s World Cup on Sunday, fans and players took to Twitter, often tweeting directly at the forward.

“@sincy12 That was soooo pretty! Love watching you play! Come on, 1 more!!” said Leslie Osborne, a former player with the U.S. national team and current captain of Women’s Professional Soccer’s Boston Breakers after the strike at the 82nd minute.

Despite playing most of the second half with a broken nose after taking an elbow in the face, Sinclair scored in the 82nd with a brilliant free kick to the top right corner, cutting Canada’s deficit to one and shocking the German fans. (Read more…)

I think that both articles did well to take advantage of the instant access afforded by Twitter and also allowed for more candid – if horribly written – comments from athletes who’ve been trained to clam up whenever a microphone is in front of them.

Hopefully, “Twitter for Newsrooms” helps CP and other news organizations take full advantage of social networking sites.


For the record: NHL predictions 2010-11

Will Jordan Eberle, formerly of the Regina Pats, win the Calder Trophy? I think so.

I'm usually not one for predictions since, well, I've got a terrible track record. Just look at my Memorial Cup picks from last season. I went 1-for-4. Yikes. Similarly, I was rocked in this year's March Madness.

But when J.P. Hoornstra, my editor at, asked me to chime in with my picks for the 2010-11 National Hockey League season, well, how could I say no?

You can see all of the picks from the staff right here. It's interesting to see that none of us agree on everything, although we come close to a consensus on a few select issues, like Alex Ovechkin winning the Rocket Richard Trophy or the Washington Capitals winning the Eastern Conference championship.

There are also some picks where I stand alone, like tabbing Tuuka Rask to win the Vezina or Jordan Eberle to go home with the Calder. But hey, there's the distinct possibility that we'll all be wrong. That's why you play the games.

But anyway, I figure that I'd share all of my picks right here so that you, the fan, can mock my poor decisions in about nine months time.

Western Conference champion: Vancouver Canucks
Eastern Conference champion: Washington Capitals
Stanley Cup champion: Vancouver Canucks
Hart Trophy: Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Calder Trophy: Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Norris Trophy: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy: Tuuka Rask, Boston Bruins
Rocket Richard Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Jack Adams Trophy: Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks
Executive of the Year: Rick Dudley of the Atlanta Thrashers
Comeback player of the Year: Mike Modano, Detroit Red Wings
Surprise playoff team: Atlanta Thrashers
Surprise non-playoff team: Montreal Canadiens

Agree? Disagree? Want an explanation? Go ahead and ask, I'll be happy to answer.


The Arenas Rule

With an unseemly Arenas Rule Point rating of 8, no NBA executive should consider Stephon Marbury as an addition to their team ever again.

As I was writing Tuesday’s piece on why players leave Toronto’s sports teams, I began to toy with the idea of athletes who have moved from team to team, and came to the conclusion that there’s a point where any general manager should see a player’s team history as a red flag.

I call this policy the Arenas Rule, after recently disgraced Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas who, thanks to his criminal gun charges, will likely be joining his third National Basketball Association team sometime this summer.

Here’s the technical language:

Arenas Rule (also known as the Shaq Threshold) – Any athlete who has played for three or more franchises in their professional career is not worth signing as a free agent or trading for under any circumstances.

The Rule only applies to athletes who’ve been previously selected to their league’s all-star teams and/or won an individual award (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Triple Crown, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.)

The logic is simple. Although this former all-star might pay dividends when playing, they’re not worth the trouble off the court/ice/playing surface of your choice. It relies on the assumption that, like a first date who has to count off their exes on their fingers, they’re not worth the time or effort.

Presumably, this veteran player has a nagging injury, is locker room poison, has an unwieldly contract, has lost a step due to age, is crazy or a combination of all of the above. Somehow, someway, they are damaged goods.

Each team they play for adds an extra Arenas Rule Point on to their evaluation, increasing the risk of the move exploding in the GM’s face. Any athlete that has an ARP of 3 or higher is bad news and is going to severely damage the team’s chemistry, salary or reputation.

There are some stipulations that can both add or subtract from an athlete’s ARP score:

Nash Caveat (also Seller’s Remorse) (ARP rating = 0) – Referring to NBA All-Star Steve Nash who was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Dallas Mavericks only to re-sign with the Suns as a free agent, the Caveat stipulates that a player shall not have a second tenure with a team count against their ARP score.

By all accounts, Nash is a not just a great player, but a great person. So likeable that even Canadians comment on how nice he is, the Suns welcomed him back with open arms, having regretted ever letting him get away. A player shouldn’t be punished for a GM’s hasty decision making.

Millbury Allowance (ARP rating = -1) – Used judiciously, the Millbury Allowance forgives players who were traded in incredibly lopsided deals.

An acknowledgment that not all GMs are created equal, the Allowance refers to former New York Islanders GM Mike Millbury who regularly traded away his best players for terrible returns. For example, Roberto Luongo is one of the best goalies active in the NHL today, but has an ARP rating of 3. He’s been moved from the Islanders to the Florida Panthers and then to the Vancouver Canucks. It’s not his fault that Millbury didn’t know what he had. The Millbury Allowance restores Luongo’s ARP rating to an acceptable 2.

Davis/Trump Proviso (ARP rating = -1) - A team move, merger or a league’s collapse shall not count against a player’s ARP rating, as the extra teams listed on their resume were because of the financial and/or mental instability of the team or league’s leadership.

Herschel Walker is one of the best running backs in National Football League history. However, he would have been the best running back in United States Football League history and led the New Jersey Generals to several championships, had the league not folded.

Of course, he went on to play for four NFL teams, flagging him as an undesirable addition to any roster. (Although makes him an ideal candidate for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.)

Lindros Rider (ARP rating =+0.5) - If a player demands to be traded before their rookie training camp, an ARP point of 0.5 shall be added to their total score on the assumption that they are a budding prima donna.

In his young career Eli Manning has already earned a 1.5 ARP because he refused to play for the San Diego Chargers. Instead, he was traded to the New York Giants.

The demand should have been a warning to former Giants GM Tom Coughlin that Manning would suffer from erratic play, crippled by human emotions that his brother Peyton was not programmed with.


David Beckham has earned an ARP rating of 6, having played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy (+2) and AC Milan.

Green Card Caution (ARP rating = +1) 

Any athlete who has played professionally outside of North America will have an extra ARP assigned to their rating in addition to the standard penalty.

Players will not be penalized for beginning their careers outside of North America. However, should they play more than 10 games in North America and then move to a professional league outside of the United States or Canada, the rule applies.

If labour issues halt a North American league’s regular season, this rule is suspended for the duration of the work stoppage.

 NOTE: For soccer players, replace “North America” with “Europe”.

What’s that? Stephon Marbury is the starting point guard with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons? Yeah, you better believe that he’s crazy.

Neon Deion Condition (ARP rating = x1.5) = Applies to any “two-sport” athlete who participates in more than one professional sports league in a single calendar year.

Bo Jackson could’ve been a fantastic baseball player. Or a fantastic football player. He chose both. The decision cost the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Royals an all-star because he required hip replacement surgery at the ripe old age of 28, when he should have been in his athletic prime.

The Royals (or Raiders) should’ve turned him away the second they realized he was going to be playing in another league.

The next time you hear that your favourite team is pursuing a veteran free agent or trading for a seasoned all-star, consider the Arenas Rule and do some math with the various stipulations. If you come up with an ARP of 3 or higher, you should be concerned.


My weekend in junior hockey, Feb. 12-14

Brandon Kozun is the most dangerous scorer on the Calgary Hitmen.

The Western Hockey League is the very picture of dichotomy. Its Eastern Conference is locked in a struggle for dominance, while the West’s playoff picture is quickly coming into focus.

In the Prairies the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings both have 84 points, with Saskatoon given the advantage with two games in hand.

The Blades edge might be short lived as Brandon is rolling, earning points in the last 11 games.

The Calgary Hitmen are in charge of the Central Division with 82 points and are white hot with eight straight wins.

The Hitmen and Wheat Kings are hitting their stride at the right time of year, climbing the standings and taking momentum into hockey’s second season. They will decide who is the hottest team in the league Monday night as Brandon will visit Calgary.

The Wheat Kings will have to keep a close eye on Brandon Kozun, whose 29 goals and 54 assists has the most points in the WHL. Brandon will also have to watch out for Tyler Fiddler who had two goals Friday night against the Prince Albert Raiders.

Despite the success of the Blades, Hitmen and Wheat Kings, no team in the East has booked tickets to hockey’s second season just yet.

Compare that knot to the WHL’s Western Conference where the playoff picture is almost completely sorted out.

The Tri-City Americans, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs have all clinched postseason spots.

Further, on Saturday night Portland beat Prince George 3-1, eliminating the Cougars from contention. This means that of the 12 teams in the West, half already know how they’ll be spending the playoffs.

The Seattle Thunderbirds will probably join Prince George soon, as they haven’t won a game since Jan. 9 when they, of course, earned a 3-1win over the Cougars. Since then it’s been 10 regulation losses and three in overtime.

That leaves it up to the Kelowna Rockets, Kamloops Blazers and Chilliwack Bruins to claim the final three postseason berths.

Friday, Feb. 12 2010
QMJHL – Quesnel leads Val-d’Or to win over Montreal
Alexandre Quesnel put the Val-d'Or Foreurs on his shoulders Friday night.

He scored back-to-back goals to lift the Foreurs to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Junior in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)

OHL – Generals get pounded by Majors as Brace scores twice
Riley Brace and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors were happy to take advantage of the slumping Oshawa Generals.

Brace scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lift Mississauga to a 6-0 win over Oshawa in the Ontario Hockey League Friday night. (See more...)

WHL – Hitmen run streak to seven straight with win over Raiders
Tyler Fiddler and the Calgary Hitmen continue to roll.

Fiddler scored twice, including the winner, to lead Calgary to a 3-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders in Western Hockey League action on Friday night. (See more...)

Saturday, Feb. 13 2010
QMJHL – Lefrancois, Oceanic skate to 9-6 win over Mooseheads
It was a career night for Felix Lefrancois and Petr Straka.

Lefrancois scored four times and had two assists to lead the Rimouski Oceanic to a 9-6 win over the Halifax Mooseheads in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)

OHL – Whalers’ Seguin scores OT winner to beat Sting
When the Plymouth Whalers are in a tight game they know they can rely on Tyler Seguin.

Seguin scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the Plymouth Whalers topped the Sarnia Sting 5-4 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...

WHL – Cougars eliminated from playoffs with loss to Winterhawks
It's no surprise to Western Hockey League fans: the Prince George Cougars won't be making the playoffs.

With a 3-1 effort the Portland Winterhawks officially knocked Prince George out of the WHL post-season Saturday night. (See more...)

QMJHL – Tigres drop Chicoutimi as Pulin earns 75th careers win
Kevin Poulin made history as the Victoriaville Tigres rolled to a win Sunday afternoon.

Poulin made 17 saves as Victoriaville dumped the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 7-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)

OHL – Hodgson scores first two if season as Battalion down Petes
Cody Hodgson is getting back into the swing of things.

The Vancouver Canucks draft pick scored his first two goals of the season as the Brampton Battalion shut down the Peterborough Petes 4-0 on Sunday afternoon in Ontario Hockey League play. (See more...)