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One question Crosby is reluctant to answer

Posted by Jeff on December 9, 2010 at 8:46 PM Comments comments (0)

He's won an Olympic medal and Stanley Cup by 23 but has trouble responding to this hockey request. 'I don't know'


PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby(notes) sniffed, clearing his thoughts as much as anything, buying some time. He had been asked to define, in his mind, the phrase “best player in the game.” He was reluctant to do it.

“I don’t know,” Crosby said. “I don’t really think about it. Everyone …”

Crosby stopped himself.

“I don’t know.”

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Pens star Sidney Crosby has posted 20 goals and 15 assists during a 17-game point streak.

(Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

But he must think about it. He must know. So he was pressed. What kind of qualities would the best player have?

“Well,” Crosby said, relenting a little, “there’s a lot that goes into being a hockey player, depending on what you play. I mean, I could sit here for two minutes and tell you things. Faceoff. Shot. Passing. Leadership. Defensive play. Being a good teammate. There’s a ton of different things. But it’s pretty tough to do. That’s why everyone is always arguing who it is.”

Crosby won’t come out and make a case for himself. That’s about as close as you’re going to get. At least in an interview.

On the ice? That’s different. The captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins is playing better than ever before, and this is someone who has won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, the Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal already at age 23.

Crosby scored two more goals Wednesday night in a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has posted 20 goals and 15 assists during a 17-game point streak. He has factored into nearly 60 percent of the Penguins’ goals during an 11-game winning streak. A team that started 6-7-1, that has played the past three games without No. 2 center Evgeni Malkin(notes), that has played the whole season without No. 3 center Jordan Staal(notes), leads the NHL with 42 points.


[Photos: See more of Penguins star Sidney Crosby]


All of this has come while the NHL is using Crosby and the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin(notes) – his biggest rival in the best-player debate – to market the sport to a broader audience. Vanity Fair features a photo spread of the two stars in its latest issue. HBO began embedding camera crews with their teams this week for a behind-the-scenes miniseries leading up to their meeting in the Winter Classic, the league’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day.

And it just so happens that Crosby caught fire as another player started to steal the spotlight. The Hockey News features the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steve Stamkos on the cover of its latest issue. The headline: “The NHL’s NEW BEST PLAYER.” The key line from the story: “Without a doubt, Stamkos is the best offensive player in the NHL right now.”

Oh, yeah? With 26 goals and 24 assists, Crosby now has 50 points in 30 games. He has a 10-point lead over Stamkos – and a 15-point lead over Ovechkin – in the scoring race. He’s on pace for more than 71 goals and 136 points, numbers the NHL hasn’t seen since the early to mid-1990s.

That’s a pretty strong case.

“M-V-P!” the fans shouted Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. “M-V-P!”


We can’t climb into Crosby’s head and heart. He guards his privacy. He said he didn’t think he would allow HBO cameras to follow him home, as much as the NHL and the Penguins would love to show more shades of his personality, so good luck getting him to open up on his deepest motivations.

But no one works at his craft as hard as Crosby does without a burning desire to be the best. Crosby has spent thousands of hours training since he was a teenager. He obsesses about the biomechanics of his stride. He always shows up for skates – even the optional ones – trying to improve some skill.


Sidney Crosby shoots for his second goal in Wednesday's 5-2 victory.

(Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

“It still amazes me everything he does,” Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) said. “I swear at him sometimes in practice.”

Crosby has said that last season was the best of his career. He scored 51 goals, a career high, tying Stamkos for the league lead. He recorded 109 points, same as Ovechkin and only three fewer than the league leader, the Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik Sedin(notes). And he did it without the support the others have.

Stamkos has Martin St. Louis(notes). Ovechkin has Nicklas Backstrom(notes). Sedin has his twin brother, Daniel. Crosby has Malkin, but they don’t play together as much as those other sets of teammates do.

Still, Henrik Sedin won the Hart, making it three years in a row that Crosby didn’t win the MVP award. The players – Crosby’s peers – also picked Ovechkin as the NHL’s most outstanding player for the third year in a row. There are whispers that deep down, in places Crosby doesn’t talk about at parties (or in the media), that hurt.

What does it mean to be the best?

“Everybody’s different,” Crosby said. “Some guys choose to work on specific things and really make sure that they have those skills perfected. Other guys try to work on all types of different things and might not be the very best at them, but they bring a lot of different things.”

That might be another way of saying this: If you’re looking for the best shot in the game, it belongs to Stamkos. If you want the best combination of power and skill, that’s Ovechkin. But if you define the best player the way Crosby does, well, it’s Crosby.

Faceoff? Shot? Passing? Crosby once struggled on faceoffs; he has become one of the top faceoff men in the league. Crosby once was more of a set-up artist; he concentrated on shooting more last season and ended up scoring a dozen more goals than he ever had before.

Leadership? Defensive play? Being a good teammate? Crosby sets the example for his teammates with his work ethic. He’s a two-way player who does the little things. And he impacts the game and his team in so many ways.


The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin is Sidney Crosby's biggest rival in the best-player debate.

(Luis M. Alvarez/AP Photo)

One reason Crosby is so successful offensively is because of how responsible he is defensively. Say there is an important faceoff in the Penguins’ zone. Coach Dan Bylsma sends out Crosby. “It’s an offensive-zone faceoff for the opposition,” Bylsma said. “They send out their best line, and we have Crosby’s line. I’m not sure their focus is at that point in time shutting down [No.] 87 and his line.” Next thing you know, Crosby is headed the other way against players for whom defense is not the top priority.

At the same time, one reason the Penguins have improved defensively this season is because of how prolific Crosby is offensively. The Penguins felt they had been scoring enough goals but giving up too many. So instead of spending salary-cap room on a winger that Crosby didn’t really need, they spent it on defensemen Paul Martin(notes) and Zbynek Michalek(notes) (letting offensive defenseman Sergei Gonchar(notes) go as a free agent). While Crosby has lit it up with Chris Kunitz(notes) and Pascal Dupuis(notes) as his linemates, the Penguins have allowed less than 1.6 goals per game during their winning streak.

The key is Crosby’s all-around game. He lacks one defining skill, but that means opponents can’t take away his strength. They try to match defense pairings against him. They try to get physical with him. They try to take away his time and space. They try to keep an eye on him at all times. “If you don’t know where he is,” Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek(notes) said, “it’s probably not a good thing.” And he just does his thing, excelling in several areas, from flying through the neutral zone to going hard to the net.

“You know, I don’t see him making adjustments to what people are trying to do,” Bylsma said. “He’s just playing the game and playing within our structure, playing the right way.”

This is not like when Crosby focused on faceoffs or his shot.

“I don’t feel like I’m that much better in any area,” Crosby said.

Nope. Not any one area. All areas.


Brent Johnson(notes), the Penguins’ backup goaltender, looked back at the beginning. He recalled one night when he was playing for the Capitals at the Penguins’ old home and Crosby introduced himself.

“I remember a time in Mellon Arena when he had no room to score whatsoever on me, and he got a backhand up from a foot out and put it right under the bar on me,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘How the heck did that kid do that?’ ”

Then Johnson paused and looked to the future.

“There’s no end to him,” Johnson said.

No one knows how good Crosby can become. No one knows how the horse race will develop over the coming weeks, months and years between Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos and others, either. But the Penguins’ past 17 games have proven at least one thing.

“I try to be my best,” Crosby said.

And by his own definition, that can make Sidney Crosby the best player in the game.

WestJet confirms deal is in-the-making

Posted by Jeff on December 9, 2010 at 8:46 PM Comments comments (0)

The Calgary-based airline is now one step closer to becoming an international player. What it means for travellers


Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press, On Wednesday December 8, 2010, 4:26 pm EST

By Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

CALGARY - An interline deal between WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s and British Airways brings the Calgary-based budget carrier one step closer toward becoming a bona fide international player, an industry analyst said Wednesday.

The agreement will allow the airlines to work together on baggage handling and other tasks, making it easier for travellers to transfer from one carrier to the other.

Interline pacts often pave the way for code-share deals, which enable airlines to sell seats on one another's planes using the same two-digit code.

WestJet (TSX:WJA) spokesman Robert Palmer confirmed an interline agreement has been signed with British Airways, but that the sale of seats won't begin until early next year.

WestJet's fleet of Boeing 737s does not have the range for overseas flights, so interline and code-share deals are a key way for the company to expand its market reach.

But Rick Erickson, of RP Erickson & Associates, said he's convinced WestJet is setting the stage to eventually leap onto the international scene itself.

Such a move would involve a departure from its single-aircraft strategy by adding larger planes to its fleet, likely Boeing 787s.

"I do think that WestJet is going international. It's probably 30 months off, 36 months off before they make the announcement. And it could be another year or two after that before they actually do it. But I do think that they are going to go international," Erickson said.

Aside from the revenue boost, another reason WestJet is chasing alliances with other airlines is to gain experience in the international arena, he added.

WestJet has code-share deals with Air France-KLM and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, and an interline pact with American Airlines .

With British Airways now in the mix, there aren't many more pieces WestJet needs to complete the puzzle, Erickson said.

"When you look at the world travel map as to where Canadians tend to want to get to, they've pretty much got it covered off now," he said.

WestJet is reportedly in talks with Emirates Airline about a potential deal, which would "certainly close off one of the last secondary markets," Erickson said.

WestJet shares rose about 1.4 per cent, or 20 cents, to $14.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Wednesday.

Rising trend among millions of workers

Posted by Jeff on December 9, 2010 at 8:43 PM Comments comments (1)

The amount of Canadians using this job luxury has grown to one-fifth of the workforce. Usually the educated staff

 On Tuesday December 7, 2010, 12:25 pm EST

About 3.6 million Canadians have the luxury of wandering down the hallway in their pyjamas to start their work days, suggests a report released Tuesday showing a rise in home office use.

Statistics Canada's report says the number of people working at home is evenly split between the self-employed and those paid by companies. Together, they comprise 19 per cent of the workforce, up two per cent in eight years.

The greatest increase is in the number of self-employed people working at home. In 2008, when the study was conducted, there were 1.8 million, up from 1.4 million in 2000.

One of the greatest factors in determining who gets to work from home appears to be education. Fifty-four per cent of people working from home have a university degree, compared to the 25 per cent who have a degree but never work from home.

Another key factor is the individual's role within an organization.

Fifty-five per cent of people working at home, at least occasionally, are in professional or management jobs, compared to 23 per cent of people who are in higher-ranking positions but never work from home, the study indicates.

The most common reason for working at home, cited by 25 per cent of employees, is that they're required to, and 23 per cent said their homes provide better working conditions.

Just slightly more men than women work from home.

Prince Charles' car attacked by protesters

Posted by Jeff on December 9, 2010 at 8:41 PM Comments comments (0)

Vehicle carrying the Royal and his wife is smashed, hit with paint as protest turns ugly. What's behind the anger


..LONDON (Reuters) - A car carrying Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla was on Thursday attacked by protesters in London demonstrating against higher student fees, a spokesman for the prince said.

"We can confirm that Their Royal Highnesses' car was attacked by protesters on the way to their engagement at the London Palladium this evening, but Their Royal Highnesses are unharmed," the spokesman said. He did not elaborate.

The car carrying the royals later arrived at the venue where they were to watch a variety performance.

Television footage showed the Bentley limousine splattered with white paint with damage to one of its rear passenger-side windows.

Police chief superintendent Julia Pendry who is in charge of policing the protest that turned violent said the car was attacked around Oxford Circus, a busy shopping district in the heart of London.

"I can't tell you the specifics...and whether the (protesters) were actually trying to have contact with the prince we're not sure of," she told reporters.

"But what did happen was that some people made suggestions to him and were kicking his vehicle," she said.

(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; editing by Keith Weir)


The first countries in danger of vanishing

Posted by Jeff on December 7, 2010 at 8:17 PM Comments comments (0)

Rising seas threaten the economy, homes, and very existence of these low-lying nations. Unprecedented


..Islands fear "end of history" due climate changes

Reuters – Mon, 29 Nov 10:37 PM EST



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Enlarge Photo.Islands fear "end of history" due climate changes

....CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Some low-lying island nations face the "end of history" due to rising sea levels unless the world takes stronger action to slow global warming, a spokesman said at U.N. climate talks on Monday.

Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives were most at risk, said Antonio Monteiro Lima, a delegate of Cape Verde who is vice-chair of the 43-member Alliance of Small Island States.

"All these countries are at this moment struggling to survive ... they are facing the end of history," he told a news conference on the opening day of Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 negotiations among almost 200 nations on slowing global warming.

Island states say that storm surges are eroding beaches, blowing salt water onto farmland and contaminating fresh water supplies. In the longer term, they fear that rises in sea levels will wash them off the map.

AOSIS reiterated demands that the Cancun talks should work out a legally binding treaty by the end of 2011 to limit any temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

That target is far tougher than a 2C ceiling set by most other nations in a non-binding Copenhagen Accord agreed at a 2009 summit. Goals for Cancun are modest, including setting up a new "green fund" to aid poor nations.

"We have clear scientific evidence, from sea level rise through desertification, of the impact on small, vulnerable countries," said Dessima Williams of Grenada, who chairs AOSIS at the talks.

She said AOSIS would on Dec. 8 announce details of a deal to promote low-carbon economic growth for 17 small island states, backed by a group of developed nations as part of "fast-start" aid for the poor meant to total $30 billion from 2010-21.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists said in a 2007 report that seas were likely to rise between 18 and 59 cms (7-24 inches) this century, before accounting for the possibility of a change in the melt rates or Greenland and Antarctica.

Seas rose by about 17 cms in the 20th century, a trend the panel blamed on emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Elizabeth Smart tells of close call with detective

Posted by Jeff on November 9, 2010 at 5:37 PM Comments comments (0)

Elizabeth Smart tells of close call with detective

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EmailPrint.. AP – Elizabeth Smart leaves the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, in Salt Lake City. …

. Slideshow:Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Trial .

Play Video Video:Elizabeth Smart on the Stand ABC News .

Play Video Video:Smart Reveals Chilling Details During Trial AP .

By JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press – 1 hr 2 mins ago

SALT LAKE CITY – Elizabeth Smart told jurors Tuesday how a Salt Lake City police detective tried to see behind her veil but backed down when the man accused of kidnapping her said her face was hidden for religious reasons.

"I was mad at myself, that I didn't say anything," she said on her second day of testimony in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell. "I felt terrible that the detective hadn't pushed harder and had just walked away."

Smart, now 23, was 14 when she was taken at knifepoint in June 2002 while sleeping. Nine months later, motorists spotted her walking in a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell.

Mitchell, 57, faces life in prison if he is convicted of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The close call happened months after her abduction.

The detective had approached a robed Smart sitting at a library table and asked if he could look under the veil she wore across her face.

"He said he was looking for Elizabeth Smart," Smart said.

Under the table, Mitchell's wife at the time, Wanda Eileen Barzee, squeezed Smart's leg — a sign, Smart said, that she should remain quiet.

Mitchell stood between Smart and the detective.

"He said that it was not allowed in our religion and that only my husband would ever see my face." she said.

The detective pressed.

"He asked if he could be a part of our religion for a day, just so he could see my face, just so he could go back (to the police station) and say, 'no it wasn't Elizabeth Smart'," she said.

Mitchell remained cool and calm, stating again firmly that it would not be allowed. The detective gave up and left, Smart said.

Afterward, Mitchell sped up plans to move the trio away from Utah, so Smart would not be discovered, she told jurors.

The encounter came in early fall, weeks after Mitchell and Barzee first brought Smart with them into the city — essentially hiding her in plain sight but keeping her under his control with threats on her life.

"He told me that I needed to stay next to him at all times and that if I tried to run away, I would be killed," Smart said, describing her first venture into the city.

Smart said Mitchell took her to a noisy, "rave-type" party he was invited to by a grocery store employee he had befriended.

"There was a lot of drinking and drugs," she said, adding that she could smell cigarettes and marijuana burning.

Smart said Mitchell was also forced to drink a liquid laced with the hallucinogenic absinthe.

Mitchell also became very territorial when the grocery clerk, Daniel Trotta, tried to talk to her, Smart said.

"He said this is my daughter and she can't talk to you," she said.

The trip was the first of many — Mitchell essentially hiding a white-robed Smart, whose face was hidden behind the veil, in plain sight, keeping her quiet with threats.

It also came within weeks of Mitchell's July 24 unsuccessful attempt to kidnap one of Smart's cousin, Olivia Wright, from another part of Salt Lake City.

"He decided it was time to go and kidnap another girl to be another wife," Smart said.

Smart said she watched Mitchell pack a bag with the same dark clothing, stocking cap and knife that he has used the night he had taken her from her home.

The kidnapping attempt was thwarted when Mitchell tried to get through a window of Wright's home but pushed over some knickknacks from the windowsill and awakened the sleeping household.

The following day, Mitchell forced Smart to metaphorically sever any remaining ties with her family by burning the red pajamas she had been wearing on the night she was taken.

Smart said she dropped the pajamas into a campfire and watched them burn. Afterward, she found in the ashes a safety pin that she had used to keep the neck of the pajamas closed. She fastened it to a small piece of rubber from her tennis shoes — which Mitchell had thrown out — and hid it.

"I didn't want to let go of my family, of my life," she said.

Hockey team debuts 'awful' denim jerseys

Posted by Jeff on November 9, 2010 at 5:33 PM Comments comments (0)

Uniqueness of the Saskatoon Blades' uniform is creating plenty of buzz on TV and online. See the denim duds.

Witness the Saskatoon Blades' denim hockey jerseys in the flesh

By Greg Wyshynski

As reported last week by Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy, the Saskatoon Blades both mortified and captured the imagination of the hockey world by announcing plans to wear a "denim jersey" on Friday, Nov. 12.

Previously, we've only seen an artist's rendering of what the jerseys would look like. Courtesy of the Blades, here are two players wearing the not-actually-denim sweaters the team will rock against their Western Hockey League rival Portland WinterHawks.

The jerseys -- designed by the team and a company called ProJoy -- were intended to be a celebration of the following weekend's Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canadian finals at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon.

Reactions to the team's Wrangler wear has been slightly less friendly than a steer-kick to the groin. From The Gazette:

"Some people aren't necessarily loving these things," Blades staffer Michael Scissons said with a smile, "but we never went out to design the nicest jersey in the world. We went out to design an event-specific, fun jersey. We knew that it wasn't going to rank in the top-10 nicest jerseys of all-time."

Seeing these things in reality rather than in concept, we can pretty much guarantee that. But it's all for a good cause, as these "Canadian tuxedos" will be auctioned off after the game.

How this wasn't paired with mandatory mullet night, we'll never know ...

Thanks again to the Blades for the image.

The Happiest place on earth found:study

Posted by Jeff on November 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The happiest place on Earth found: study A satisfying job is the biggest draw here, where a garbage man makes as much as a lawyer. Plus, 3 more happy places

Related linksMore about this spot

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Canada slips in UN ranking.

Air Canada orders extra security checks on Yemen-linked passengers

Posted by Jeff on November 6, 2010 at 11:38 AM Comments comments (0)

Workers load a Qatar Airways plane with luggage at Sanaa International Airport. Governments tightened aviation security earlier this week after two US-bound bombs sent in air cargo from Yemen were ...

Air Canada is directing staff to subject passengers with any connection to Yemen to additional security screening, the head of an Islamic group says – a move he equates with racial profiling.

In an internal memo, the national carrier wrote that anyone who is born in the Arab nation, has citizenship there or is travelling to the country, should be pulled aside, taken to a separate area and subjected to extra security checks on top of regular search procedures, said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Mr. Gardee, who has seen the memo, said the document had been issued to staff at Vancouver International Airport, but implied that the new checks apply to passengers at other major airports as well.

The missive follows the discovery of two bombs, which had apparently originated from Yemen, and were discovered aboard cargo jets bound for the United States. The reported targets were Jewish centres in Chicago. An al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Yemen has since claimed responsibility.

Earlier this week, Canada and some other nations banned direct cargo flights from the country, in order to head off potential security concerns.

It was not immediately clear whether the latest memo was taken at the initiative of Air Canada alone, or if it followed some direction from the government. Officials at the airline and at Transport Canada could not be reached for comment late Friday evening.

Mr. Gardee said that he understands the concerns about airline security, especially in the wake of last week’s bomb scare, but cautioned that the new policy contains elements of racial profiling.

“What if you were born in Yemen, you left when you were six months old, you’ve never been back, you don’t care about Yemen, but what this memo says is you would still be taken for additional screening,” he said. “There is no qualitative or quantitative evidence that [racial profiling] works as public policy.”

What’s more, he said, staff are being directed not to hold flights while these additional checks are performed, and instead to book the Yemeni passenger on the next plane.

Veterans to protest compensation changes

Posted by Jeff on November 6, 2010 at 11:38 AM Comments comments (0)

Second World War Veteran Merchant Navy Captain John C. Smith Stands beside a wreath placed during a ceremony to kick of Veterans Week 2010 in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010