Hearsay: Sundin tackling childhood obesity

Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin will be in town next week to help the fight against childhood obesity.
March 21, 2013, 10:49 PM

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SUNDIN TACKLES CHILDHOOD OBESITY

The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine presents a case that hockey legend Mats Sundin built a career around healthy living, good nutrition, exercise and physical fitness.

Now, the former Toronto Maple Leafs Captain is pairing with U of T’s Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development to stamp out childhood obesity – and all the chronic, lifelong health problems that result from it.

“Obesity robs kids of their chance at a happy, healthy life, and that’s something that all children deserve,” says Sundin. “To tackle this very serious issue, we need to explore all the factors that put kids at risk for obesity – from fitness and nutrition to genetic and environmental influences – and that is exactly the type of game-changing research that’s happening at the Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development.”

To raise awareness about the issue of childhood obesity and the Institute’s cutting edge, cross-disciplinary research, Sundin is participating in a social media campaign to take your questions about health and fitness.

Using the hashtag #UofT, fans are encouraged to tweet their health, children’s health, fitness and nutrition questions for Sundin to @UofTNews and @UofTMedicine before Monday, March 25. Fans can also find the Faculty of Medicine or the University of Toronto on Facebook and post their questions for Sundin. The ten best questions will be put to Sundin next week when he’s in town promoting the Institute.

KOVALEV CALLS IT A CAREER

The Miami Herald reports Panthers general manager Dale Tallon confirmed to the paper on Thursday night that 40-year-old Alex Kovalev signed his retirement papers and is no longer a member of the Florida organization.

Kovalev, who signed a one-year deal after the lockout ended, hadn’t played for the Panthers since getting nine-plus minutes in a loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 22.

The Panthers and Kovalev parted ways soon afterward as Kovalev practiced with the Panthers on Feb. 24 but was a healthy scratch that night against Boston.

He left the team soon afterward.

“He’s a classy guy who has had a great career,” Tallon said last week.

KIPRUSOFF DEFLECTS TRADE TALK

The Calgary Herald believes changing nappies is, naturally, more on second-time father Miikka Kiprusoff’s mind at the moment than changing teams.

“I try to stay out of that,” shrugged the habitually-nonplussed goaltender of trade speculation. “I try to keep it simple, still. I try to help team here. Try to win games.

“Everything else is out of my control.

“So there’s no reason to think about it. At all. It’s NHL. Every year, it’s the same talk. A part of the game. My name is out there, too.

“But I can’t worry about it too much.”

With one year left on a deal that plummets to $1.5 million in 2013-2014 and his no-movement clause expired, the time has never seemed more ripe for the unthinkable prospect of the 2006 Vezina Trophy winner changing addresses.

“I’ve been traded once in my life” — from San Jose to the Flames back in 2003 — “and it was probably the best thing that happened in my hockey life,” Kiprusoff mused. “But, like I say, I just try to do my job here. That’s it.”

ANALYTICS WORKING FOR PENGUINS

The Globe and Mail divulges how speaking at the Predictive Analytics World Conference in Toronto on Thursday afternoon as part of a panel on hockey statistics, Pittsburgh Penguins director of player personnel Dan MacKinnon explained that the team’s trade for James Neal in 2011 was the first time the organization referenced the work of a company called The Sports Analytics Institute before pulling the trigger.

The end result of that unique behind-closed-doors process has been widely visible on the ice ever since, as the player they eventually chose has scored more goals since the start of the 2011-12 season than all but Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos.

“I don’t think we’ve made an impact decision since then without consulting the analytics,” MacKinnon said. “I’ll put it that way.”

What had set Neal apart for MacKinnon was his ability to produce goals at a high rate based on where he was shooting from, something SAI analysts Mike Boyle and Kevin Mongeon felt meant he could score far more often if elite players were getting him the puck in better areas on the ice.

“It looks like a good deal now, but at the time, out of all the possible players to get, it wasn’t that simple,” Mongeon said.

“They had other choices,” Boyle added. “Neal wasn’t necessarily the most obvious.”

Boyle notes that their anecdotal evidence reveals the better teams in the league are following Pittsburgh’s lead by applying Moneyball-type principles developed in baseball to hockey.

“As far as we can see, the clients we work with as well as the organizations who call us back and ask the right types of questions happen to be the teams that are in the upper ranks of the league,” Boyle said.

“We’re just trying to be an early driver on this and get a bit of a leap on the rest of the league,” MacKinnon said. “Maybe we can be a little bit better than the competition at every turn.”

BRUINS’ HAMILTON PRO-VISOR

The Ottawa Citizen details how Boston Bruins star rookie defenceman Dougie Hamilton has a tough time understanding why anyone who has played with a visor his entire life would choose to remove it once he makes the big leagues.

“In the AHL, you have to wear them and obviously in junior, you have to wear them, too, so I don’t see why you would want to take it off,” the 19-year-old Hamilton said before Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. “As a young guy, you’re used to it and the visors here are much better than in junior. They’re a lot lighter and you can get them shorter or however you want. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t.”

He added: “I think it should be, for sure, grandfathered in. (The Marc Staal injury) was a little bit flukey, but at the same time, you’ve got to protect yourself with a visor. I want to wear all the best gear I can. You can limit those fluke plays with equipment. It’s like shoulder pads. Looking around the room, a lot of the older guys use a lot less of a shoulder pad than maybe a guy coming in from junior or something like that. It’s what you’re used to.”

HEDBERG ON GOALIE EQUIPMENT SIZE

Fire & Ice points out that one of the topics discussed at the NHL general managers’ meetings Wednesday in Toronto was reducing further the size of the goaltenders’ leg pads.

Devils backup goaltender Johan Hedberg agrees that the size of some goaltenders’ equipment is excessive, but doesn’t think that reducing the pads again is the right way to go.

“The pads are not the problem,” Hedberg said today. “The problem is the pants and the chest protectors, arms and shoulders.”

Hedberg believes that reducing the length of the pad above the knee and having more conforming knee pads wouldn’t necessarily create room in the five hole, but it might expose the goaltenders to being hit in the knee more and possible injury.

“The way you play on your knees these are good for preventing injuries,” Hedberg said of the current knee pads.

That said, Hedberg fully believes that reducing the size of other parts of the goaltenders’ equipment is something that needs to be done.

“I definitely think it’s the right thing,’ he said. “It’s getting out of hand. It’s manufacturers finding ways to get around the measurements. I just think it’s not the right thing. Anything that’s not there for protection should be not there. That’s my point. They should make the position as athletic as possible to be what it was meant to be.

“That and get rid of the trapezoid and it will be a fun position to play.”

PAVELEC: GIVE SKATERS WOODEN STICKS

The Winnipeg Sun indicates Ondrej Pavelec doesn’t get upset often, though a question about the possibility of shrinking goal equipment got his blood boiling on Thursday morning.

“I don’t know, come on. How many times are they going to change the rules? I don’t think it’s that fair,” said Pavelec. “If you take something away from the goalies, you have to take something away from the players too. Ok, so we’re going to get small gear, we (should) give players wood sticks.

“There’s nothing I can do but I don’t like it, that’s for sure.”

BRUNNER LEARNING HOW TO FINNISH

The Detroit News relays that Mike Babcock is banking on Damien Brunner to find some inspiration in Teemu Selanne.

The Red Wings will play the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and Sunday, facing, among others, fabulous 42-year-old Teemu Selanne.

“He’s pretty special,” Babcock said Thursday as the Wings prepared to practice at Honda Center. “I just saw he scored his 107th game winner. That’s not bad. I actually gave the article to Brunner, because he just hasn’t scored in 10 games. It just goes to show you, that you do score again if you just keep doing good things.

“Teemu is a great personality. He’s a good man, he’s a good in the community. He’s positive every day. He likes hockey. He’s remaining youthful and he can still skate and he can still flat-out score.”

Brunner has gone cold the past 11 games, after scoring 10 times his first 19 games.

PREDS’ JOSI LEANER THIS YEAR

The Nashville Tennessean notes Predators defenseman Roman Josi went green this summer.

As he trained for the 2013 NHL season, he cut a lot of pasta and other body-fat boosters from his diet. Instead, he added more vegetables to meals that included chicken and steak.

He wanted to prepare for increased ice time and a more important role, which he has handled with aplomb and ease — especially in the past month.

As Josi’s body fat has dropped — from 12.5 percent a year ago to 8.5 percent this year, he said — his stats have risen.

“I can see it, and I feel like I’m recovering a little bit quicker and might be a little quicker in the corners,” Josi said. “I feel a little lighter.”

Although Nashville has struggled in many areas this season, it has excelled in turning Josi into a top-pairing defenseman. He has nine points in his past 11 games.

“He’s just a good player,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s not intimidated by the game or the situation. He’s making really good pro decisions.”

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