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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
John Tavares bolts to blue team, Mark Turasz stays with Wallbangers red

By: Ross Robinson (#9, Blue)

Special to Niagara Now


Observing the John Tavares Road Show was more stressful than trying to get a date for the high school prom.

Would he sign a ridiculous contract and move teams, or stay where he was comfortable, but didn’t really see a winning future? San Jose, Boston, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Toronto, or Long Island?

Concurrently, the Mark Turasz negotiations were playing out in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with both the Wallbangers Blue and Red teams hoping to have him between the pipes this winter.

In the end, Mark stayed with Red Team. 

“I really could not think of playing without Ray Jackson, Pete Vanderperk and Marcel the Rectangle Lounsbury in front of me.” 

Back to Tavares. 

Finally, he went home to Toronto, for all the reasons that sounded so sincere. His agent, Pat Brisson, talked about his star client fulfilling a childhood dream, playing on his hometown team, a young team loaded with stars.

And the lure of being in a city where real hockey fans use real hockey terms — no jerseys, back pressure or puck drops, but rather sweaters, back checking and face-offs.

And the rink is surrounded by the boards, not the wall. You don’t get a two minute penalty for walling — it’s boarding, damn it. 

Agent Brisson said, “I was very impressed with how John presented himself, and how serious (sic) he took the process.” 

Gosh, we would hope so — $77,500,000. Isn’t chump change. Now they can buy adjacent fixer-uppers on Lake Muskoka. I suspect the key point in the negotiations was how much money they could get up front. “A bird in he hand,” and all that. 

We will see, Leaf fans. It’s a pity the young kids cheer for their heroes. What the heck happened to stars James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Roman Polak? 

All gone within three days. Thank goodness Austin Mathews hasn’t bolted back home to the Arizona sun — yet.

Meanwhile, back in the Niagara Peninsula, Wallbangers Commissioner Bill Dickson has again kept the teams competitive. Some say he has too much power, but his integrity is unquestioned.

Scheduler, player distributor, treasurer, rules enforcer, frozen puck bringer and chief disciplinarian — yes, there is much potential conflict of interest, but our 80 year old leader has seen it all. He cannot be bought or tricked, and has no referees or committees to cloud his judgement.

At Butlers Sports Bar and the SandTrap, Wallbangers chat about next season. Will Rafael Aparicio suffer a sophomore slump? This speedster has great hands, is a 200-foot player, and makes every Red Team player better.

Modest and shy Mike Bruce will be back on the Blue Team blue line, a mirror image of Jacques Laperriere back in the 60s and 70s. Tall and rangy, this Huntsville boy exudes confidence.

This October will also see Shaw Festival veteran Gray Powell return to the hockey stage — what a skater, and so determined from the blue line in.

Josh Wiwcharyk will be wearing a Moore’s Maple Leaf blue sweater again. James van Riemsdyk’s parting quotation to the sycophantic Toronto media on July 2 could have been describing Josh’s game. “I’m still a cerebral type of player who can still skate well and have good offensive instincts and can make the smart plays in all three zones.” — Yes, but the smart plays are done at a much slower speed.

Let’s review the value of Mark Turasz. He brings a constant positive good nature every Sunday, as well as a regular hockey bag and a much bigger goalie bag. This makes him really valuable, because if the opposing goalie sleeps in or gets the skunk eye from his wife, Mark quickly puts on his forward equipment and plays “out.”

This is a rarity. But come to think of it, three of the best known hockey players who can play both “in” and “out” (sounds like a belly button viewing) are from the Niagara Peninsula. Gerry Cheevers (Boston Bruins,) Doug Favell (15 years in the N.H.L. — and a better lacrosse player —and Sean Simpson (Wallbangers Blue Team.)

The planet earth continues to exist, and Wallbangers are dreaming of the alarm clock ringing at 5:55 a.m. on cold Sunday mornings. 

There are two questions: Will we finally move to the old rink, which is considerably smaller than the new rink. Less backchecking, and more goals, eh? And, after a five month layoff, will memory magicians Lisa and Michelle at Silks Country Kitchen still remember how each of the 21 or so Wallbangers like their eggs and coffee?

This includes the preference of Mark Turasz’s wife. Mark takes breakfast home to her each Sunday.

What a guy, eh?

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