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North America or Europe?



USA TodayBefore we get too deep into anything on the blog (you know, cause I usually discuss such deep topics), check out my latest column for USA Today here.  It’s on team identity, how tough it is to find one when you’re losing, and how the Toronto Maple Leafs are the perfect example of that.  Don’t be shy to comment, recommend, and just generally make the major newspaper provider feel like they’ve made a good hire.


It’s weird, how getting older means you see your friends less.  People move, get married, have kids, all that.  So of course, it’s always nice when you get the chance to reconnect. 

One of those ridiculous-looking sponsors supplemented his salary directly. Do we think this doesn't happen in NA to circumvent the salary cap?

One of those ridiculous-looking sponsors supplemented his salary directly. Do we think this doesn't happen in NA to circumvent the salary cap?

In junior, my roommate Andrew Derton was like a part of my family.  He’s down in Phoenix playing for the CHL team (er, change of plans on that, but anyways), so he’s spending some time over at my place.  It’s been nearly FIVE YEARS since I’ve seen the guy I once lived with for two years, won a championship with, and endured Mussonlini-as-a-coach with.

And just like yesterday’s blog involved some hockey thoughts that I mentioned came up over beer with a different guy, the following came up over red wine with Derts:

Derty played in Belgium and Holland a bit last year, and in talking about that, we got onto an important point for players making the “where to play” decision after junior or college.  North American hockey matters on your resume.

A little known fact about going to play overseas for fans, is that they really want you to have some experience over here before you go over there.  For the small and talented ”he’ll be great in Europe” guys, they should really stick it out over here for a year before they go (especially since it’s a LOT harder to go Europe to NA than NA to Europe). 

Good experience here can earn you double/triple what a similar player to you will be earning, strictly because you have North American pro under your belt. You're right, fate, a broken face in Boise is much better than being overpaid near Amsterdam.

Before I broke my face in shattery-five places last year, I was in the midst of negotiating a deal in Europe, and had just had a deal for 750 Euro a week in The Hague (Netherlands) fall through (teams there are only allowed two imports per team, and there were some complications I don’t feel like writing out).  They pay housing and bills on top of that, and there’s almost no tax.  Neato.  Glad I broke my face and took up writing… stupid computer…

{<——- No, you’re right, fate, a broken face in Boise is much better than being overpaid near Amsterdam… I look like Artie Lange there.}

Anyway, he was telling me that on his CHL team, there were Europeans coming across to play in North America for two reasons:  One, the money is gone in a lot of lower European leagues (not all are mob backed.  I’m looking at you, KHL…).  Apparently the economy isn’t just bad here.  But the bigger one, two, is that they were trying to better build their resumes to earn better money. 

He was playing with a Dane, a French fella, Czechs, a Slovak and some Russians.  And, as is to be expected, and is typical, most to all of them hate “our” style of game (here comes the flood of “then go home thoughts” from readers).  I don’t mean that in a derogatory anti-Euro way at all; I’m stating a fact.  Most of them hate the dump and chase buffonery North American coaches employ (and I side with them on that).


I have my “to blog about” file on my phone that I update when I chat with people and think of something.  I add stuff at sporting events, at red lights, wherever.  The downside of this, is that I think I get good ideas in the middle of the night, so I enter them in the file.

I consistently wake up to some cryptic, garbled nonsense that I have no clue how to decipher.  My favourite, by far, came last night, apparently around two a.m.

PopTart from an Oscar Envelope?

…yeah.  See?  These are the type of insights you’d miss if you didn’t read this blog.  (I love the question mark, like I wasn’t certain if it was a good idea or not.)


7 Responses to “North America or Europe?”
  1. What flavor of Pop Tart?

  2. Deirdre says:

    Some people keep dream logs – you keep idea logs…and neither make any sense when you read them in the morning!

  3. John says:

    Damn…you just jogged my memory and made me nostalgic. I played a year in Holland when I was 13 years old, in 1977. I had played in Connecticut since age six, Pop got an overseas gig for a year, and Johnny needed a place to play. We ended up in Leiden, where they had a brand new rink. Our team was the Leiden Lions. Our coach was Jean Martin…brother of Chicago’s Pitt Martin. Jean was also a player/coach on the Leiden Lions pro team, very much doing the Reggie Dunlop thing like in Slapshot. Great guy by the way, Jean Martin.

    Prior to settling in Leiden, our family stayed at an Inn in the Hague, where the owner’s 19 year old son(Jakob DeVoss) was on the same Hague franchise that you almost played for. Upon hearing I was a hockey player, Jakob tossed me in his car and took me out to the Hague arena for a grand tour of the facility. I was quite impressed.

    My season with the bantam Leiden Lions was a blast. They bused us up to various towns in Holland and Germany to take on similar teams. In between periods they would always bring in a huge jug of hot tea with sugar for the players to drink, and it always hit the spot. Nobody wore any face protection. And you could expect at least one good brawl per game. Those were the days…

    I watched a bunch of pro games in Holland too that year, and those cats were GOOD. I don’t think they had the two-NA player rule back then, so all the teams had lots of NA’s…ex AHL and such. I often wonder what those guys are doing now. And there’s some fodder for a future blog…what do bubble-players who stretch it out as long as they can end up doing with themselves when the gig is up, and all they have done their whole lives is play hockey?

  4. Patty B says:

    Who knew anyone on this blog had Dutch hockey stories? I actually spent the ’07-’08 season as a referee (I know….I know……I suck) over there in the Ere Divisie. Great country, passionate about their hockey, and definitely kind to us foreigners. The Euro is especially kind when you get back to the States. It was an experience I’ll never forget!

  5. jtbourne says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if more Dutch tales showed up. I know there are more guys that occasionally read that are playing there right now – plus I’m getting a half dozen daily hits from there, so somebody is checkin in…

  6. Kristiina says:

    Here in Europe, well at least in Finland we love our NA-players and the style of hockey they play. In Finland, it is most similar to NHL/ AHL style of hockey rather then “eurostyle”. We dont care where you from if you play well and hard. For example one of the most loved players in the legue is Shayne Toporowski and he does not play “eurohockey”..

    Great blog by the way!

    * Kristiina *

  7. Pete L says:

    Took your advice and registered on USA to leave a comment. Ended up calling you Justine there, so be careful what you wish for (and sorry about that). Now I had to register here to apologize. Been reading you since Artie Lang (above) had the first post on Chris Botta’s site, so it was time. Love the insight and the humor. Keep it up.

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