Top prospect Bennett focused on making Flames

July 29 2014 01:11PM

CALGARY, AB -- Sam Bennett isn't about to make any guarantees.

With two months until the opening of training camp, the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft isn't feeling entitled to a spot on the Calgary Flames roster.

"I'm not going to say I'm ...

Airlines and pilots raise alarm over laser attacks

July 29 2014 07:22AM

OTTAWA—Canada’s airlines and aviation organizations are pressing Ottawa to make shining a laser at an aircraft a criminal offence, warning that the threat is “too great to ignore.”

In a joint letter to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Justice Minister Peter MacKay, aviation representatives say tough action is needed to stem what they call a “genuine and growing safety and security concern.”

The June 20, 2014 letter is signed by the country’s largest airlines, including Westjet, Air Canada, Porter, Jazz and Air Transat, along with pilot unions and helicopter and general aviation associations, some 14 groups in all.

It’s a rare united front for an industry where competition is fierce but the signatories say Ottawa must act now on a problem they say is increasing “exponentially.”

They are seeking tough new laws and a public education campaign — similar to one launched earlier this year in the U.S. — to alert people to the dangers of shining a laser at an aircraft.

“We want this covered under the criminal code where police officers have the authority, something that has teeth to act. We feel this is the only deterrent,” said Craig Blandford, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association.

The proliferation of small, handheld lasers has spelled trouble for pilots, who can be startled by the brilliant beam of light, suffer flash blindness, temporary and even permanent injury to the eye.

“We’ve had people that have had to go to emergency after they’ve landed because they’re vision has still been affected by the cockpit flash,” Blandford said in an interview.

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Westjet is pushing for changes to protect the health and safety of its pilots, spokesperson Brie Thorsteinson Ogle said.

“Shining a laser in a manner that could result in injury or serious damage is not a smart thing to do,” Ogle said.

“It’s amazing how little apparent thought these people put into their actions. They don’t understand that what they’re doing is not a joke — it’s potentially very dangerous, most notably from an occupational health and safety perspective,” she said in an email.

Yet despite the dangers, more and more, pilots are being targeted by the devices.

In 2013, the number of laser strikes on Canadian aircraft jumped to 461, up 30 per cent over the previous year. So far this year, Transport Canada records show there have been 184 incidents as small planes, big jets, even air ambulance helicopters are in the crosshairs, including:

June 30. An Air Canada and Air Transat flight each report being targeted by a laser while making their approach to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. May 20. An Air Canada flight preparing to depart from Pearson wasn’t even off the ground yet when it was hit by laser beam the pilots believe came from a strip mall just outside the airport boundary. Feb. 27. The pilot of a Kelowna Flightcraft DC-10 was blinded by a laser as the cargo jet took off from Calgary. mid-January. Over two days, six separate flights reported getting hit by a laser as they flew over Toronto’s east end.

In addition to the risk to a pilot’s eyesight, there are other dangers. Many of the strikes happen when aircraft are landing — when they are low and slow. A distracting laser could have devastating consequences, Blandford said.

“They need to understand that they are jeopardizing that flight at its most crucial point in the flight profile,” he said.

Transport Canada says that directing a bright light into an aircraft cockpit is already an offence under the Aeronautics Act and carries a $100,000 maximum fine and prison term of up to five years.

Elements of the Criminal Code could come into play, such as charges for mischief endangering life or criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, the department says.

Jana Regimbal, a spokesperson for Raitt, says that the department investigates incidents along with law enforcement agencies and once sufficient evidence is obtained, the case is referred to crown attorney for legal action.

“Aiming a directed bright light source into the cockpit of an aircraft jeopardizes aviation safety and these light sources are also hazardous to pilots and threaten passenger safety,” she said in an email to the Star.

As well, Transport Canada launched an awareness campaign in 2010 among law enforcement agencies and astronomical societies — which use lasers to point out stars — to highlight the risks.

The aviation representatives say Ottawa must take a tougher stance. Making it a criminal offence “will put the public on notice that shining a laser into an aircraft cockpit is a serious offense that will be met with serious consequences,” the letter states.

The letter points to deterrence efforts in the U.S., where the Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a public awareness campaign and where shining a laser at an aircraft is a felony that carries a jail sentence of up to five years.

The FBI is offering up to $10,000 (U.S.) for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft.

“The Americans are dealing with it. I mean, when the FBI gets involved, it’s a serious event,” Blandford said.

“We need regulation, we need education and we need punishment and deterrence,” he said. “I hope the ministers receive the message that this is an important issue.”

Canada shuts diplomatic operations in Libya, pulls staff

July 29 2014 05:25AM

OTTAWA—The Canadian government is temporarily suspending its consular operations in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and pulling out all staff.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Lynne Yelich, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, cite an ‘‘unpredictable security environment.”

They say Canada’s chargé d’affaires and Canadian diplomats in Tripoli will temporarily work out of the Canadian embassy in Tunisia.

Libya is witnessing one of the worst bouts of violence more than three years after the downfall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Libya’s interim government, which relies on militias filled with rebels who battled Gadhafi’s forces for security, now finds itself unable to rein them in.

On Saturday, the United States evacuated its diplomats from Tripoli to neighbouring Tunisia and shut its embassy.

“The government of Canada takes the safety and security of our diplomats abroad very seriously,” said the joint statement from Baird and Yelich.

They stressed this decision is based solely on security concerns and Canada ‘‘remains committed to supporting Libya’s democratic transition.”

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya and the International Committee of the Red Cross have already withdrawn their staff as well.

Libyan officials warned Monday of growing dangers to civilians from a large and spreading fire in a fuel depot near Tripoli’s international airport, which was sparked by fighting in the area between militias armed with heavy weapons.

Two storage tanks containing petroleum fuel had been set ablaze, with the fire engulfing one tank, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. The depot contains more than 58 million litres of petroleum and diesel fuel, and potentially explosive canisters of liquid gas, according to Mohamed al-Harari, a spokesman for Libya’s National Oil Co.

Firefighters had been withdrawn from the area because of the risks from the continuing fighting, he said, adding that Libya’s government had contacted neighbouring countries to send aircraft to fight the fire, but that so far, everyone had refused.

The depot was the latest casualty of weeks of fighting between militias for control of the airport. The clashes have killed dozens of people, including civilians, and destroyed the airport.

The militias control vital installations, including airports, and manipulate the country’s politics, using force.

Al-Harari, the oil company representative, said there had been little progress in stopping the fighting. “We don’t have a way to even contact them,” he said of the militia leaders.

With files from The New York Times

Colborne hopes Flames can build on late-season momentum

July 29 2014 01:00AM

CALGARY, AB -- Joe Colborne knows the Calgary Flames took great strides in the first year of building back up the Calgary Flames.

But he’s more than aware the hill to climb is still a steep one.

And while the Flames can take great pride in f...

Top prospect Bennett focused on making Flames

July 29 2014 01:00AM

CALGARY -- Sam Bennett isn't about to make any guarantees.

With two months until the opening of training camp, the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft isn't feeling entitled to a spot on the Calgary Flames roster.

"I'm not going to say I'm goin...

Home of Senators coach almost went up in flames

July 28 2014 06:36PM

Home of Sens coach almost went up in flames

How long until John Tortorella is back behind an NHL bench? (Puck Daddy)

July 28 2014 03:13PM

It's no secret that John Tortorella's tenure in Vancouver was a disaster, but here's one story you may not have heard. Tortorella never actually lived in Vancouver. Instead, he lived in nearby Point Roberts, which is across the American border, but only about a 45-minute drive from Rogers Arena on a good day. For practice days (which were so rare the players complained) Tortorella would drive in for a brief appearance, and then head home, leaving his assistants to handle everything else. Mike Gillis got so frustrated with his quick turnarounds that the team eventually built a bed into Tortorella's office so he could take naps there instead of driving home. You can watch Willie Desjardins react with bemusement to the fold-out bed  in this video of the Canucks showing their new coach into his office. But despite Tortorella's one-and-done turn in Vancouver, which is destined for infamy and seems like a pretty logical endpoint to his NHL head coaching career, former GM Jay Feaster is confident that Tortorella's not done. "I think time heals all wounds," he said in an exclusive interview with the Fischler Report: I believe that John will get back. General managers in the league know he’s a good coach, and you take the good with the bad. Part of what makes him a good coach is that he does not have the political correctness gene. He is not worried about what you or me or what anybody else thinks about him – he’s going to do what he thinks is right. I think some time away, so time to decompress, I think that’ll be good for him. I don’t have any doubt that at some point in time, a team is going to be struggling and a team is going to need some discipline, some structure, and a general manager is going to say, “This is a guy that can provide it.” Feaster's probably right. It won't be too long before some team decides they need discipline, and then makes the puzzling leap that the famously difficult Tortorella is the man to provide it.  It will be insane, especially when you consider a story Feaster told just prior to vouching for Tortorella, about one of the legendary run-ins between Torts and Larry Brooks of the New York Post . After a heated game versus the Devils, Feaster was worried Tortorella would blow up if he went out for his postgame presser before calming down: We were literally nose to nose in each other’s faces. I was between he and the door. He said, “Jay, I’m telling you, I’m fine.” We go back and forth with this song and dance, so off he goes to do the media. It wasn’t three minutes later that somebody came walking by and said, “Guess what your head coach just told [NY Post reporter] Larry Brooks to do on live television?” Of course he dropped another F-bomb and he came back in and I looked at him and I said, “I thought you were fine!” He hanged his head and looked at me and said, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard him say, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” We had a lot of fun together. "Did I put you in a bad spot?" is the new "Did I do that?" One assumes he also said this to Mike Gillis after trying to punch his way through the Calgary Flames' hallway like that one scene in  Oldboy . And yet, Tortorella's next opportunity -- to be a paragon of discipline, ironically enough -- will undoubtedly come. I can hardly fathom it. Back in March, I asked aloud if we were living in the end times of Tortorella's coaching career : If John Tortorella is let go after this season, he may never coach in the NHL again. There were few that wanted him last season before the Canucks surprised everyone and decided to take a chance, and they were burned for it. Who else is going to look at what's happened here in Vancouver, and how clearly at fault the coach has been for much of it -- how out of control he was that night in the hallway versus Calgary, how badly he mismanaged his goalies at the Winter Classic, how thoroughly he destroyed the Sedinery that made Vancouver so special, how, by the end of one season, nothing worked, and he looked completely out of ideas -- and say, 'he's our guy'? Nobody is, I suggested, foolishly, but Feaster's words are a reminder that I wasn't being nearly cynical enough about the NHL's front-office recycling program. Still, as crazy as it seems to me, I'm looking forward to Tortorella's return. Hockey needs personalities like him -- guys who can't help but be themselves, regardless of how difficult that is.   And let me tell you, it is difficult. In the interview, Feaster tells of players coming to his office to complain about Tortorella's in-your-face approach. "The guy would come in and say, 'He hates me.' I would always tell him, 'Don’t flatter yourself, he hates all of us.'"

Busy offseason shows no signs of slowing for Treliving

July 28 2014 08:44AM

CALGARY, AB -- The offseason has been anything but quiet for Brad Treliving.

Between prepping for the NHL Combine in May, hiring front office staff while finalizing lists for the NHL Draft in June and the opening of free agency in July, the Cal...

Todd Gill named assistant coach of Adirondack Flames

July 28 2014 08:06AM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames announced today that Todd Gill has been named assistant coach with the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League. Gill will work with head coach Ryan Huska who was named to that position this past June.


Freshly signed Ortio eyes Calgary’s crease

July 27 2014 08:48AM

CALGARY, AB -- The second season of Joni Ortio’s two-year deal contains a one-way stipulation.

But the 23-year-old goaltender already has a one-way mentality. Ortio’s attention is focused solely on Calgary.

“My mindset going into camp is to ...

Flames sign D Cundari (The SportsXchange)

July 26 2014 01:10PM

The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Mark Cundari to a one-year, two-way contract on Saturday.

Flames sign D Cundari (The SportsXchange)

July 26 2014 01:10PM

The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Mark Cundari to a one-year, two-way contract on Saturday.

Flames sign defenseman Cundari to one-year contract

July 26 2014 11:00AM

Defenseman Mark Cundari signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Calgary Flames, the team announced Saturday.

Cundari, an undrafted player, appeared in four regular-season games with the Flames last season. He had six shots on goal, 10 hits...

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 ...