Playing hockey for sheer love of it

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

When the excitement of the game was all that mattered. That's what's they're wearing in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, these days -- on the back of the official T-shirts at the World Pond Hockey Championships.

A total of 96 teams are participating in the 4-on-4 tourney that allows no goalies, ranging from hockey hotbeds like England, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to at least one that made the seven-hour drive from the nation's capital.

The Foxtrot Faces are comprised of three Ottawa cops -- Steve "Bouche" Boucher, Anthony "Iceman" Costantini and Dave "Cubbie" Christie -- plus Dave "Bobby" Orr, who originally hails from 100 Mile House, B.C.

They lost their first game to a team from Fredericton last night.

The score?

"Yep," said Bouche. "We lost."

They did bounce back to plaster a Plaster Rock squad a couple of hours later, 19-15.

"Playing hockey outdoors with your buddies ... it doesn't get much better than that," says Cubbie. "Pond hockey is a timeless tradition. My father played it, I play it, my sons play it ... it's Canadiana and I love it."

Media coverage of the World Pond Hockey championships includes representation from TSN, ESPN and Sports Illustrated. When the Foxtrots ran into former CJOH sports guy James Duthie last night, they were told that the NHL and NHLPA are resuming negotiations today, news that especially perked the interest of Iceman, a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

Naturally, devoted followers of the game in this country, at least, will care how the talks progress. We remember when the excitement of the game was all that mattered, right? But in places like San Jose, Florida, Atlanta and Nashville?

They're probably glued to their sets waiting for the next Gary Bettman press conference in much the same manner as the good people of the Cayman Islands.

NEWS AND VIEWS: Remember when the highest paid players in the CFL were the quarterbacks who made $150,000? The league must be in good shape now that teams like the Calgary Stampeders can give an import receiver (Jeremaine Copeland) $200,000 and another $200,000 combined to an import DB and a three-year offensive lineman who has started just nine games, like former Renegades Anthony Malbrough and Alexandre Gauthier. Earlier, they forked out $150,000 to linebacker John Grace, too. Just wait until the Stamps pay Henry Burris $400,000 to be their quarterback. That will leave them a whole $1.65 million to split between the other 35 players on their team. With that kind of contract disparity, it's tough to imagine the Stamps' dressing room will be a happy place ... It sounds like Kelly Wiltshire and Tim Fleiszer are both leaning toward Edmonton now, further fuelling a Renegades-Eskimos rivalry that has received a pretty good boost this off-season ... Ed Hervey's word and 75 cents will buy you a copy of today's Sun ... New Montreal Alouettes running back Michael Jenkins is the one player of consequence J.I. Albrecht brought to the Argos when he was in charge of that team's personnel five years ago ... The 24% rollback NHLers offered on their contracts isn't so big, right John Avery? The Argos' running back has seen his salary sliced from $250,000 to $150,000 this week ... In the sequel to Liar, Liar, the role of Jim Carrey will be played by Hervey ... His jokes are considered old and crass by some, but who other than Jim Jerome could land a 35-minute interview with Brett Hull for their radio station the morning the NHL shut down? ... In keeping with the tradition of clever Sun sports writers, Edmonton's Gerry Prince points out that, over the course of a few hours, Hervey went from being a Renegade saviour to a "Renege-ade." ... Not sure Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux would have ever complained about an NHL player's salary 10 years ago, no matter what the top guy was getting ... This just in from Hervey -- Edmonton's temperature has dipped to -40 C. In that case, make sure you bring your golf clubs, sun screen and shorts if you're flying out to Alberta this morning.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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