Colour Commentary: Carey Price returns

A new chapter for the Montreal Canadiens began on Friday night.

Carey Price returned to the Bell Centre on Friday night, where he would be given a heart-warming welcome from the crowd. This would be the NHL’s highest paid goaltender’s first game since Montreal’s 1-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 7 in the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens have had a rough season without their star goalie and have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. 

The Canadiens’ netminder allowed two goals against 19 shots in his return versus the New York Islanders. The Habs would go on to lose 3-0, after Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored an empty-net goal late in the third period. 

For the game, Nelson would get a goal and an assist, with two shots on goal. The Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin also had an impressive performance, shutting out the Canadiens and making 44 saves. 

Despite the loss, the Canadiens and Price have come a long way. Price has had many hurdles since his last game in July. He had knee surgery on July 23 and has struggled during his recovery. He also entered the NHL’s player assistance program on Oct. 7 before the start of the 2021-22 season.

This is only the beginning of a new chapter, only time will tell what’s in store for the Canadiens’ star goaltender.  


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The NHL enforcer: adapting to the times

The role of the enforcer in the NHL has changed throughout the years.

Once upon a time, NHL teams took great pride in having a tough fighter on their roster. These intimidating figures, known as enforcers, were not necessarily the most skilled players, but were physically imposing competitors who would stand up for their teams and fight. 

For many years, enforcers played a crucial role in the sport by protecting the team’s best players and spending a lot of time in the penalty box as a welcomed consequence. Having a tough guy would boost the morale of the team, and give teammates confidence while offering a sense of safety by not hesitating to get their hands dirty.

With time, the game of hockey changed, as well as the role of the enforcer. Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, teams began to search for more complete players, who were faster and displayed more skills. Nowadays, teams are leaning away from having that one-dimensional fighter, opting to instead use their cap space for players who can add to the scoresheet.

TSN’s Calgary Flames reporter and Concordia University journalism alumni Salim Valji said having someone whose sole purpose is to fight is not needed to win in today’s game. 

“The game doesn’t revolve around fighting quite the same way as, say, 20 years ago. I think that you need players who have some skill but are also able to be physical and occasionally fight. So the enforcer role isn’t as common, instead it’s hybrid players like Tom Wilson, who can impact a game on the scoresheet in addition to bringing extra physicality, that are seen today,” he explained.

It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens, last season’s Stanley Cup finalists who fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, have been struggling this season. Despite the underwhelming season, Valji said the Habs should emphasize building a winning culture instead of looking to toughen up the roster. 

“I don’t think that would make a real difference for a team like the Montreal Canadiens, since they are clearly going through a rebuild. Instead, they should bring in veterans who work hard, are good professionals, and can mentor and guide the young players,” Valji said.

With the evolution of the role in modern hockey where fighting has become more frowned upon in today’s day and age, Valji doesn’t think that the evolution of the role takes away from the fans. “Everything in life changes and evolves. The game is faster, more skilled, and more creative than a few years ago — and I think that’s a great thing. And who knows, maybe in five seasons it reverts back.”

While old-school enforcers are few and far between in the NHL today, Valji said the player archetype is not yet extinct.

“I think there are still a few old school enforcers […] Nicolas Deslauriers of the Anaheim Ducks comes to mind. He plays on their fourth line, stands up for teammates, and is really well liked by the organization. Zach MacEwen is another one whose job description is just to be physical and fight. There are far fewer enforcers now than 10 years ago, but some are still around.”

Over time, hockey has certainly changed, but enforcers continue to impact the game. As time goes on, we’ll see how the game continues to evolve, and whether there’s a potential resurgence with enforcers down the line.


Graphic by James Fay


A new contender emerges in the world of MMA

A new mixed martial arts promotion is looking to launch in 2023

News about a new professional fighting organization called the World Fight League (WFL), was first reported by renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani on Sept. 14.

“A number of influential industry individuals have come together to create a new MMA league that is structured more like the NBA/NHL/NFL rather than your typical MMA promotion,” said Helwani in his post on Substack

According to Helwani, the league will contain an athlete association that puts a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with 50/50 revenue share. Furthermore, the promotion would consist of guaranteed contracts, health insurance, career-ending insurance, and a pension plan.

“The new league is structured as a non-profit,” said Helwani on the Sept. 15 edition of “The MMA Hour,” a weekly show he hosts.

Helwani retrieved more information from his sources affiliated with the league, who currently remain anonymous, and wrote on Substack Sept. 17, revealing the promotion’s name while including an image of the WFL’s logo.

A lot of work and planning have been put into the promotion, as Helwani mentioned that “the WFL has been in the works since 2020 and the non-profit was established May 3, 2021.”

The team consists of those in a variety of different domains bringing their expertise together, including many current and former professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, and MMA. 

Experienced amateur fighter Blake Loxton shared his thoughts on the news surrounding the WFL.

“It sounds like it’s a matter of funding kind of thing and a matter of it catching on, I love it. I think it’s a great idea,” said Loxton in an interview on Zoom. 

Loxton is ranked 5th in the Montreal Fight League (MFL) bantamweight division, having last competed July 24, 2021 at MFL 19, getting a TKO victory in the first round.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is the first major MMA promotion where fighters individually compete in a season. Loxton thinks this will be a big deal in the world of MMA.

“No one’s ever done what they’re doing — as far as whether it means what they’re giving and offering, or even the way it’s structured,” Loxton said.

As accepting as the sport of MMA is, it’s also very unforgiving — anyone can get injured in the world of combat, no matter who they are.

Conor McGregor, the biggest name in MMA, suffered a devastating injury in his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July.

As a matter of fact, it is very rare for a fighter to go into a fight unscathed. Fighting takes a toll on the body, not to mention that training can get really intense, so the prospect of health insurance being offered by the WFL is game changing.

“I can only imagine if you don’t understand the game or have a proper manager, you basically take what they give you,” Loxton said.

Loxton added that organizations such as the UFC will probably assume the WFL will fail until more information comes out. Loxton himself, however, is optimistic about this new approach to MMA.

“I think that no matter what, they’re opening-up the doors for people to try new things. There’s no failing,” Loxton said.

“Hopefully they can see where the kinks go, get them quick, work them out, and then in five to eight years, it will hopefully have some stability to it.”

The WFL will have four conferences: North America, South America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceania, with each conference having a minimum of eight teams and not exceeding 24. There will be 24 fighters per team, with three athletes in each weight division.

The sport has come a long way and seems to be constantly improving; this core-shaking news is certainly intriguing and enlightening. Can the WFL compete with the world’s biggest MMA promotions? Only time will tell.

For more information, visit “Helwani Nose” on Substack.


Graphic by James Fay

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