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By HARVEY ROSEN For those of you whose favorite indoor and outdoor sport is to kvetch (as in to whine or complain) I must confess that there are some who strongly believe that I already have a Kvetching PhD - and in the Honours program to boot.


It was earned with minimal effort on my part during my elementary school days, both in English at William Whyte, Aberdeen, and Champlain schools (We moved a lot.) and in Yiddish, when I was deemed to be a rather precocious lad back in the day when I attended Shalom Aleichem School, which was once located across from our grocery store at the corner of Pritchard and Salter.


The latter business is no longer there, but should you care to visit the empty lot to pay your respects, it has become a shrine, both to honour my academic accomplishments (back then we had standards in education) and for being the fastest bottle sorter in the entire province.
And please, leave your cell phones, laptops, or any other electronic wonders at home - plus any snacks, cigarettes, cigars, or pot. Should you have any other disposables that ought to be taken to the local dump, please do so. Oh yes, no loud music please. Forget the pleases. Just do it, damn it !
See how facile it has become for a professional kvetcher to slip the aforementioned diatribe by you?

Well, lets get on with the negativism, I mean the sports scene. On Tuesday last the Minnesota Wild came to town in what used to be called a four pointer because the teams are in the same division. You win outright in regulation time and you receive two points, while the other team gets to chew on the centre of the bagel. If you win in overtime or in a shootout, the loser has to be compensated with a single point. That’s what I refer to as the “rachmoonus” (pity) rule.
When the playoff positions are finally determined sometime in mid-April, there will be no shootouts or four-on-four, five-minute sudden death overtimes. Instead there will be as many 20-minute sudden death periods as will be deemed necessary in order to decide a game winner.
Hey, the after-midnight muggers, as well as the concession kiosks which will be open longer, have to make a living too. Peculiar, isn’t it, that the game formats now change for the playoffs after having had all the teams play a grinding 82-game schedule under another standard ?
Now, where was I? Oh, the Wild came to town on the 10th of February, and I was looking forward to speaking with a pair of Jewish skaters who are in the Minnesota system. As my late mother Sarah used to say: “Mein Mazel” (my luck) whenever things didn’t work out as she had anticipated
Left-winger Jason Alan Zucker, a sturdy fellow who is an inch under six feet and carries 186 lbs, would be my target. The 23-year-old is having the finest season of his career and just happens to be the Wild’s second best sniper with 18 goals (a career high) plus five assists.
Scott and Natalie Zucker’s son, who played his college hockey at the University of Denver and was the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Year, as well as being named to the Second All-Star team was nowhere to be found.
Where oh where was the one-time 2010 gold medal winner who strutted his stuff for Team USA in the World Juniors tournament? Couldn’t the Wild have used the Newport Beach, California-born winger on this occasion?
Well, as fate would have it, on the night previous Minnesota was in Vancouver against the Canucks when Zucker was injured in the first period of a 5-3 Wild win. The big hurt was, as usual, listed in clandestine fashion as “an upper body injury” and he was placed on injured reserve.
In a matter of 24 hours the clouds rolled in and it became known that Jason had suffered a broken clavicle and would be out for three months. Within a day or two the left-handed shooter underwent surgery to repair the damage.
On March 26th last season Zucker underwent successful surgery on his quadriceps to repair a tendon and also missed the remainder of the season.
This was his breakout year. In his first 47 games, from 2012-2014, he scored eight goals and added four assists. This season alone, as previously alluded to, he was 18 and five in 48 games.

Now, where was my other victim, I mean interviewee, 26-year-old defenceman Jonathon Blum, who was a 2007 first-round draft pick (23rd overall) of the Nashville Predators? His résumé at the amateur level is exemplary! The former Vancouver Giant was a Western Hockey League all-star, also the winner of the Bill Hunter Trophy as the top rearguard in the league. Not to mention that in 2008-09 Blum was  voted the Major Junior Defenceman of the Year. Just as an aside, I thought I’d mention that Blum toiled for three years with one-time Jets’ personality Evander Kane. And, if I might annoy you further, the latter in his final season was a real Giant! In the 2006-09 campaign in 61 games Kane scored 48 goals along with 48 assists. Oh, and he was a legitimate two-way player registering a plus/minus of +51. Did the Buffalo Sabres fleece us?
Well, the 6’1’’ and 190 lb. talent failed to reach fruition with Nashville and Blum was eventually signed as a free agent a year ago to a two-way pact with Minnesota. I noted that Blum, in late January, had been summoned from the American Hockey League Iowa Wild to the NHL and falsely believed that he was still under the big top. Not! His stay lasted a total of four games, during which he managed one assist and, in the plus-minus department, was an unspectacular minus-three - something that  rarely draws accolades for defencemen in any league.
Jonathon has played 110 games in the NHL and recorded seven goals with 17 assists. In the AHL, with the Milwaukee Admirals and Iowa Wild, Zucker has played a total of 306 games. On the positive side if I may - for a change, the Jewish skater has also been named Des Moines’ “Man of the Year? for his contributions to the community.
Now, don’t you feel more relaxed? I do. Thanks for listening to my kvetching. Now I’m going to relax further with a cup of green tea and one of those kosher Gunn’s Bakery cinnamon buns.
 POST PATTER: In case your son or daughter chooses to become a goaltender, here is a quote from Newsday by a former pro who was once a guardian of the nets. “Playing goal is not fun. Behind a mask, there are no smiling faces, no timely sweaty grins of satisfaction. It is a grim, humorless position, largely uncreative, requiring little physical movement, giving little physical pleasure in return. A goalie is simply there, tied to a net and to a game; the game acts, a goalie reacts.”
I learned recently that the Iowa Wild have in their employ a Jewish right-winger whose claim to fame is that few wish to take him on since his fast fists are his calling card. Joel Rechlicz, 27, has played in three games with the Washington Capitals and another 23 with the New York Islanders. He has a single assist to his credit in the NHL. Most of his 207 games have been played in the AHL, primarily with the Hershey Bears, where he has scored three times and added one other with the Iowa Wild. At 220 lbs. and standing 6’4” in height, Minnesota might require his services during the playoffs. (Note: his most penalty-filled season was with Hershey in 2011-12 where he amassed 267 penalty minutes in only 44 games.) You might soon see him in a rink near you. Like at the former location of Eaton’s on Portage Ave. Even the statue of Timothy Eaton in the rotunda will quiver at its very foundation!
The writer, a Jewish Winnipegger, is a former school teacher, and covers football and hockey for Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
Keep in touch with Sporting Touch. Send news about Jewish sports to Harvey Rosen, 360 Scotia Street, Winnipeg, Man., R2V 1W7, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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