Numerology: Mark Cundari

July 26 2014 07:20AM

3 - Defenceman Mark Cundari suited up for three teams in the 2013-14 season: the Abbotsford Heat (AHL), the Chicago Wolves (AHL), and the Flames. He was loaned to the Wolves mid-way through the season.

23 - In the AHL, Cundari posted 23 points ...

Flames sign Mark Cundari

July 26 2014 07:17AM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames announced today that they have signed defenceman Mark Cundari to a one-year two-way contract.

Cundari, a native of Woodbridge, ON, played four games with the Flames in 2013-14. He played an additional 56 games ...

Where is the Ryan O'Reilly saga headed next? (Trending Topics) (Puck Daddy)

July 25 2014 02:16PM

It never got as bad as it could have, but it's tough to be convinced it's not still bad. Arbitration is a cutthroat and nasty process that often leaves both sides feeling hard done by, so it was no surprise that Ryan O'Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche settled on a contract that will carry a cap hit of $6 million for the next two seasons. We're told now that everyone looks good in this situation. The Avs came up from their initial arbitration offer, O'Reilly came down from his. The definition of compromise is when both sides are unhappy, you see. But that's a fairly fatuous view of things, if we're being honest. The Avs lowballed — to a ludicrous extent at just $5.525 million — because they wanted to keep his cost down and it's in their best interest to do so. O'Reilly went beyond what he's worth by a hair or three, asking for a $6.75 million AAV, and it's in his best interest to do so. In arbitration, as with just about any negotiation, you don't ask for what you think you're going to get, you just try to maximize the wiggle room so you get closer to what you really want. Simple stuff, really. The big knock on O'Reilly this whole time was, weirdly, that he's not a team guy. You can kind of see where those who feel that way about him are coming from, to an extent. He stayed in the KHL last season even after the NHL restarted — but only because the Avalanche offered him just $3 million to come back, which was flatly absurd. Then he wanted to be paid more than Matt Duchene, which is apparently some sort of unforgivable crime. But all that talk should be over now, both because it was absurd to begin with and because he can say, “See? I took less money than I wanted to better fit within the team's salary structure.” This flatly ignores that the team's salary structure is silly, though. Over the past however-many years in the NHL, a number of teams have tried the, “No one gets paid more than (Player X)” rule, and with some justification. Most famously, it worked in Detroit for quite a while, because their “No one gets paid more than Nick Lidstrom” rule, which made sense because anyone arguing they should be paid more than the second-best defenseman of all time wasn't coming in talking sense to begin with. That Lidstrom kept taking hometown discounts to help himself and his team simultaneously was a nice thing to do. But the Avalanche's rule is apparently still, “ No one gets paid more than Matt Duchene ,” which seems a little silly. Matt Duchene might not be the second-best center in his own division, as you'd have to put him behind Jonathan Toews and perhaps Paul Stastny at the very least (and it wouldn't be hard to hear arguments for Mikko Koivu and David Backes either, all things considered). Is O'Reilly as valuable to Colorado's, ahem, “success” as Duchene? Yes. But the thing is, Duchene is probably underpaid, as is Gabriel Landeskog. And look, the Avs are a team that generally don't want to spend a lot of money, as is their prerogative, but when it comes at the cost of a strained relationship with a difference-maker like O'Reilly, one has to wonder about the wisdom of the hardline. You can't compare deals made this season, with the salary cap higher than it's ever been (discounting the partial lockout season, when teams could only spend $60 million but that was equivalent to $70.2 million against the cap) to those made when Duchene signed his extension in the summer following that work stoppage. Given the contracts to Toews and Patrick Kane, it seems the dollar value of deals for star players might actually be increasing commensurate with their actual on-ice value, and if Duchene cashed in early, it shouldn't be O'Reilly who has to pay for it. If Duchene had a better eye for negotiating, maybe he works out an extension this summer instead of last and pulls more money. He's certainly worth it. The point, though, is that people think this deal has sown seeds of contentment and amiable feeling that could sprout into a new deal as soon as next July 1. Wouldn't that be something? O'Reilly locked up long-term, just to prove the Avs really do like him as much as Joe Sakic is all of a sudden swearing they do? It's not a sign-and-trade situation, Sakic crosses his heart and hopes to die. They really value him now, Sakic says with the full assurance that his pants will not catch on fire. There was never any animosity from either side, he said before not-being struck by lightning. So all of you trying to make a big to-do out of it are just misinformed. And it's easy to believe Sakic that Colorado wants to have O'Reilly under contract for many years to come. At least, it would be if everything the Avs have done in the past 18 months or so in any way reflected that they didn't want to trade O'Reilly, or that they valued him, or that there wasn't animosity between the two stemming from the post-lockout decision to keep playing in Russia and then sign a reasonable two-year offer sheet (insofar as you have to overpay at least a little with an offer sheet, and certainly not related to the whole debacle that would have resulted had Colorado not-matched) advanced by the Calgary Flames, an Avs division rival at the time. But we can't take Sakic at his word here, because if this were a sign-and-trade situation, it wouldn't really behoove Colorado to say, “Yeah, we still want to trade him at the earliest convenience.” When guys are clearly on the market, they don't pull as much as they could if a team has to come sniffing around of their own volition. That's basic business. This deal makes it pretty easy to see him with the team for the entirety of the coming season, of course. And as for the contention that they wouldn't have signed him to a two-year deal if they didn't want him, well, having O'Reilly at a known price tag for 2015-16 makes him more valuable on the trade market. That's pretty simple as well. Beyond that, it's still difficult to believe this whole play won't start all over again as soon as next summer. At least, not without an actual show of faith from the team that has treated its player so badly for so long. The person who probably has to be most convinced is O'Reilly. Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here   and his Twitter is here .

Ken Dryden: We asked leading Canadians, now we want your thoughts

July 25 2014 01:07PM

I didn’t know what they would say.

Sarah Polley, James Orbinski, Nick Saul, Margaret Atwood, Ritika Goel, P.K. Subban, Naheed Nenshi, Tiff Macklem, those who I spoke with, and those who the Toronto Star’s editors and journalists talked to — Esi Edugyan, Tanzeel Merchant, Cadence Weapon, Les Jacobs and David Northrup, and others. I knew they were interesting people who are doing interesting things. I didn’t know what they would say about Canada, or about the future.

I knew that I wanted to know. I wanted to hear them speak about books and cities and food, but more, I wanted to get them out of their today and yesterday, out of what they know to what they don’t quite know. To hear their interesting minds puzzle about things that puzzle all of us. To hear beyond the immediate to what truly matters to them, worries them and excites them most. I thought hearing them this way might reveal something about who we are as Canadians.

So much of what they said struck me.

Our interconnectedness; our need, our ability, to get along. Margaret Atwood: “[P]eople are biological beings who live in a physical space and need to share its molecules.” Naheed Nenshi: We “are all in this together . . . we each have a stake in the success of each other.” James Orbinski: “We are in the world. The world is in us. We cannot choose to retreat or choose not to participate. We must consciously be in the world.”

Our openness to change and diversity. Tanzeel Merchant: “We’re being reinvented. No one can put a finger on what that new identity will be, because it changes from year to year.” Sarah Polley: “[My daughter’s] going to grow up in a province where the first premier she will be aware of is a gay woman.” James Orbinski: “I’m married — mine is an interracial marriage and it is so normal a part of our culture it’s not even honoured. It’s just the way it is.” Esi Edugyan: “The greater our diversity, the stronger we become. I don’t know how this works, but I believe fiercely that it is so.”

After reading the full edition, one reader, a Canadian who has been teaching in the U.S. for more than 20 years, put it this way:

“[H]ere are some of the words that jumped out at me. Diversity, diversity, diversity. Over and over. And in many different ways. Diversity of businesses, and diversity of cultures, for instance. Another key word: openness. Not quite as often as diversity, but it’s there. Openness to new ideas, openness to new people. And the third was fairness. I have lived in many different countries in my life, from Colombia to Israel, and I don’t think any would sound the note of fairness as loudly as Canadians do.

“Diversity, openness, and fairness. A very fine trilogy.”

Another reader picked up on the story I told about Stephen Sondheim and his play, Sunday in the Park with George, inspired by the Georges Seurat painting. He noted the work’s pointillist style, where its dots, as in a mosaic, together form something different and bigger than its individual pieces. The reader also took on my challenge to the Youth Council of the Art Gallery of Ontario of what should go up on the museum’s walls, if other things came down, that would better express them and their Canada:

“The Future Wall of Canada Would Be Linguistic Word Art: Canada Foundation Built For Universal Family. Connect Your Dots. Realize Your Magnificence. Discover Your Tapestry. Together We Unfold. Play It Again Sport. Live It All.”

One reader noted the few number of women interviewed. Several readers made reference to Canadians’ treatment of Aboriginal Peoples, and how this haunts the pride in Canada they would otherwise feel.

Many others talked about politics and politicians. It was coincidental, but interesting, that the first page of the Staron Canada Day juxtaposed three articles, a long interview with Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi, and two shorter articles, one on Rob Ford about his first public address after a two-month program in drug rehabilitation, and the other on the federal byelections held the day before. Side by side were the poetry of Canada Day and the prose of politics.

It is the job of every politician to understand the country he or she represents, what it is, what it was, what is in it to be, and to reflect that country in its party’s policies and platform. But instead, party platforms begin with what a party is, what it was, and who its supporters are. This immense divide in approach results in the public not seeing itself or Canada in our politics, and walking away. I thought, in reading this Canada Day edition, in hearing what these Canadians had to say and what you had to say, what would a party platform look like developed this way — as a country/province/city, this is what we are; this is what we see in us; this is what we want to be? Then for the parties to tell us — this is how we would get you there.

It is often said that parties campaign in poetry and govern in prose. But really, parties first need to conceive their campaign in poetry before they apply the prose, and then govern in both prose and poetry. The poetry is the reason why, and can never be forgotten. “The Just Society,” “The New Deal,” “The Common Sense Revolution” are more than slogans.

James Orbinski, as many others did, talked about climate change. From banker and teacher Tiff Macklem, to novelist and social critic Margaret Atwood, in imagining Canada, the world and the future, they recognize climate change is what pushes every structure we have created, every way of thinking we have about ourselves, everything we have achieved, to the limit. It’s “the bomb” for this generation and for generations to come. It’s “the game changer.” As Orbinski put it in shuddering understatement, “good planets, even those that are a bit damaged, are hard to find.” He said he wasn’t “willing to expend one more calorie of energy on the debate about climate change.” The science, he states, is “unequivocal.” But in spite of this, far less has been done than is commensurate with the dimensions of the problem. Opponents to the science have needed only to create doubt, as they did with tobacco, as they did with lead. They know that doubt allows us not to have to do what seems too hard to do.

Orbinski sees the answer not in more science, but in art. In language and story that “helps us see a phenomenon and ourselves differently.” That gets inside us in the way prose, or science, cannot. Again, it’s the poetry. Sarah Polley talked of how in the future she wanted to do films that connected the personal and the political. Maybe she and Orbinski can work on climate change together.

Finally, beyond the specific points that arose out of the interviews was a collective feeling about Canada. Guarded, realistic, grounded, but nonetheless, hopeful, happy. (After all the qualifiers — what we don’t do well and aren’t), this is a pretty good place. And, as Polley put it, “the truth is we can do better.”

Now back to you, the reader. All this started with the Canada Day edition, then came your comments, now this follow-up article. Next, we’d like to hear from you again. Our Canada Day interviewees, it turned out, focused on three problems/possibilities of our future more than others — diversity, fairness (equality/poverty) and climate change. As Canadians, for us to become what is in us, what do you think our focus should be? And why? Is it one of these, or something else?

We want your thoughts and your ideas. And not only in 140 characters or less. Polley, Orbinski, Atwood and the others were asked challenging questions — you are being asked the same. I can’t say you won’t be edited — Polley, Orbinski and the others were edited (almost all the transcripted interviews were more than 7,000 words) — but your words will be treated, and edited, as seriously as theirs.

Share your thoughts in the comment section, on Twitter @TorontoStar with the hashtag #KenDryden or via Facebook at the Toronto Star page. Many of your contributions will be posted early next week for everyone to read. Next Wednesday, I will be hosting a conversation which will focus on the one or two problems/possibilities you identify as of greatest priority, and which we will make known to you the day before (July 29). Join the chat at on July 30, at 1 p.m. ET. After the chat, we hope to receive many more of your contributions and create an ongoing conversation.

We hope that this will be a real conversation. Respectful, not my monologue followed by yours, but a back and forth. Not any of us begin by knowing, but by being willing to listen, puzzle through, maybe to get to some place different from where we started.

Just as I had no idea what all those interesting people would say about Canada and the future on Canada Day, I have no idea where this will go. Let’s find out.

Flames sign top pick Sam Bennett

July 25 2014 12:49PM

Sam Bennett, the fourth player taken in the 2014 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, the team said Friday. No financial terms were disclosed.

"It really is just a dream come true," Bennett told the Flam...

Signing caps 'surreal' month for Bennett

July 25 2014 11:51AM

CALGARY, AB -- Understandably, Sam Bennett hasn’t had much of a chance to catch his breath.

In less than a month, Bennett has gone from anxiously awaiting hearing his name to being the fourth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft to Calgary F...

Inking Bennett automatic for Treliving

July 25 2014 10:13AM

CALGARY, AB -- Signing Sam Bennett was always a matter of when -- not if -- for Brad Treliving.

So it came as little surprise when the Calgary Flames general manager finalized a three-year, entry-level contract with the team’s top pick, fourth ...

How to deal with hateful messages on Mideast: Delacourt

July 25 2014 09:00AM

The biggest danger of treating politics as a business is that old rule about the customer always being right.

Consumers of politics — and media — are not always right, and extreme events, as we’ve seen in the news this past week in Gaza and Ukraine, are eliciting extreme views.

The perpetual question is: how do you deal with the people who are prompted by these events to share their extreme, “I’m never wrong” views with the politicians or the media? Even more vexing: what if their views are hateful or threatening?

This week on Facebook, CBC journalist Neil MacDonald, Washington correspondent and veteran of Middle East and Ottawa political coverage, conducted an interesting experiment in dealing with hateful messages.

A very angry woman in Calgary was peppering MacDonald and other CBC reporters with messages wishing for their death or kidnapping because she disagreed with CBC’s reporting on events in Gaza. She said she was sharing these wishes with “friends around the world,” hoping her wishes might turn into reality if they reached people in the Middle East.

MacDonald decided to let the rest of the world, or at least his Facebook followers, see the vicious rubbish verbatim, complete with the woman’s name and email address.

No stranger to these kinds of messages when he was reporting in the Middle East, MacDonald decided that there was something to that old saying about sunlight being the best disinfectant: Shine some light on this nastiness, and it will fade or retreat to the dark place from whence it came. At the very least, the letter-writer might get some help from friends or professionals in dealing with her anger.

Some people argued on MacDonald’s Facebook page that he should just ignore her: that he was just giving her the oxygen her extreme views craved.

So what is the best medicine for toxic commentary? Oxygen-deprivation or a dose of sunlight?

Steve Ladurantaye, head of news and government partnerships at Twitter Canada, conducts very useful sessions with political types on how to use the medium.

One of his perhaps surprising bits of advice is to “block early, block often.” Ladurantaye isn’t kidding — his view is that free expression isn’t a free-for-all: you don’t have to put up with people who are repeatedly offensive on Twitter.

“Bottom line is you don’t need to be exposed to anyone you don’t want to be,” Ladurantaye says.

You could call this the opposite of what MacDonald attempted this week — shut them down versus open it up. But the two approaches, it seems to me, are complementary; both revolving around the discipline of the virtual, community square.

In a real, in-person discussion, anyone who simply yelled insults would be shut down or ignored. This is the test I use when making the decision to block people on social media — if their remarks are the pointless, angry kind that would make me walk away from a real-life conversation, I simply turn off the noise.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t take criticism — and journalists can be notoriously thin-skinned. But when it crosses the line between criticizing what we’ve written or broadcast and insults based on who we are or where we work, that’s when it’s probably time to stop listening. Block early, block often.

Threats are a different matter altogether. When someone is trying to intimidate or scare you into silence, alerting the community, if not the authorities, seems to be the wisest course. The woman writing to MacDonald was trying to frighten the journalists — that’s a tactic that should be exposed, whether it comes from audiences or the politicians we cover. (And yes, it does happen more often than one would think in Ottawa — the old “call the boss” routine, trying to imperil people’s employment.)

Harry Selfridge, founder of the Selfridge’s department store in the U.K., is given credit for coming up with the motto about the customer always being right.

But democracy isn’t a department store and public dialogue is more than a conversation between service deliverers and recipients.

A couple of months ago, I spent an afternoon walking through Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood with NDP candidate Joe Cressy and municipal councillor Mike Layton, campaigning in the Trinity-Spadina byelection.

Along the way, Layton was encountering shop owners or other citizens venting their concerns and complaints about local affairs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he didn’t just tell them they were right — he pushed back, politely and respectfully, when he thought their views or facts were off-base.

It was a demonstration of the difference between simple, “retail politics” and authentic political dialogue.

Sometimes the customers — let’s call them citizens — aren’t always right. Sometimes, when they’re really wrong, the best reply is a little less oxygen or a little more sunlight.

Susan Delacourt is a member of the Star’s parliamentary bureau.

Record 50/50 jackpot at CFL game in Edmonton reaches $348,534

July 25 2014 06:53AM

Sports fans in Toronto would be stunned by the jackpot for Thursday night’s 50/50 draw at the CFL game in Edmonton.

There was a frenzy at Commonwealth Stadium, not because of the game between the Eskimos and Stampeders, but because of a record lottery, as fans endured long lines for a chance to win the jackpot, which reached an astounding and record-setting $348,534.

In their last home game against Ottawa, the jackpot of $71,732 went unclaimed and carried over to the game against Calgary.

Because of the heavy demand, the draw couldn’t be announced at the game. Instead, the winning number was announced on the team’s website.

The previous record for a 50/50 draw at a sporting event in Canada was believed to be from last year’s Grey Cup in Sasaktoon when the jackpot climbed to $252,087.

Fans at Raptors or Leafs games can only look at those jackpots with envy. Average jackpots at Leafs games are around $11,000, while it’s much lower at Raptors games.

The difference, some say, is because of a legal interpretation in Ontario that says charities can’t use electronic devices for raffles.

The mobile electronic devices allow tickets to be sold faster and the growing pot can be advertised on an arena’s big screen, enticing people to buy their own tickets.

But starting next season, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is launching a pilot program that will allow 50/50 raffles to use mobile electronic devices at Leafs and Raptors games in Toronto, and Senators games in Ottawa.

Numerology: Sam Bennett

July 25 2014 06:31AM

4 - The Flames drafted Sam Bennett fourth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. He was NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American skater heading into the draft.

91 - In just 57 games in 2013-14, Bennett posted 91 points with the Kingston Fronten...

Flames sign Sam Bennett

July 25 2014 06:30AM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames announced today that they have signed 2014 first round draft pick Sam Bennett to a three-year entry-level contract.

The Flames selected Bennett with the fourth overall pick, which is the highest Calgary has eve...

Flames expect Hiller to recover quickly: report

July 24 2014 09:09PM

The Calgary Flames expect goaltender Jonas Hiller to be recovered quickly after an appendicitis attack last week.

Hiller reportedly had minor surgery after experiencing the attack working out in Switzerland.

"The procedure nowadays ... they ...

Flames sign G Ortio (The SportsXchange)

July 24 2014 03:20PM

The Calgary Flames signed goaltender Joni Ortio to a two-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

Ortio signs two-year contract with Flames

July 24 2014 02:56PM

Goaltender Joni Ortio has signed a two-year contract with the Calgary Flames, the team announced Thursday.

Ortio played 10 games with the Flames last season, making his NHL debut Feb. 27. He was 4-5-0 with a 2.84 goals-against average.


Flames sign Joni Ortio

July 24 2014 11:00AM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames announced today that they have signed goaltender Joni Ortio to a two-year contract.

Ortio, a native of Turku, Finland, played 10 games with the Flames during the 2013-14 season. He played in his first NHL game ...