Fiddler's Facts: Islanders make trade noise

Fred MacDonald
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Santa Claus hands out some hockey-related gifts; Island hockey trivia masters test readers’ knowledge

The Charlottetown Islanders are making a lot of noise and they didn’t play during the Christmas break. 

The hockey Islanders sent talented 18-year-old Yan Pavel Laplante and defenceman Julian Leduc to Victoriaville for the Tigres’ first-round picks in 2015 and 2016. In addition, the Islanders sent 19-year-old Matt Bursey, a fast skating, high energy penalty-killing type of player to first-place Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for a 17- year-old provincial junior A player. Laplante, who played for the Team Canada under-18 team last year, has a lot of upside and to trade him for draft picks down the road was “gutsy”  to say the least.

GM Grant Sonier and the trades created a great deal of discussion at local sports watering holes around the city and time will tell whether it’s a smart move or not.

Let’s not forget, Sonier packaged the highly reliable Louick Marcotte to Val-d’Or for a first-round pick in last summer’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League midget draft that landed Alexandre Goulet, now one of the top rookies in the league. Marcotte is second in the Q in scoring while playing on the top line with Anthony Mantha. And although Marcotte is headed for a 100-plus points season, Goulet was well worth it.

Unfortunately for Sonier, Island hockey fans want to see a top team right now, and that’s not easy, especially after a 41-win season and in year one of a rebuild.


Christmas gifts

Santa Claus was busy this past week, handing out hockey-related items to some older local players.

Gord Tweedy, a young looking 77, who played at UNB when the head protection was made of leather, got a new pair of elbow pads to keep his own oldtimer teammates safe.

Goalie Jamie Cudmore received a copy of Bobby Orr’s new book from the noontime Whites team in honour of his first win over former UPEI Panthers teammate Terry McKenna and the Reds.

For the harness racing crowd,  David Cudmore, Cindy Coady and Tammy Brown, horse lovers and simulcast regulars, got a book on handicapping the horses autographed by Rabs MacDonald (ho ho ho).

And little Alexander Drake from Stratford received an autographed Boston Bruins sweater from Adam McQuaid to go along with his Brad Richards jersey. I hope Adam doesn’t see that No. 19 Rangers jersey.


Hockey trivia

Jamie (Squid) MacLeod and the Merchantman duo of  Steve McCabe and Paul Strain, the top-three hockey trivia experts in the province, have sent us a few hockey teasers that will require some research. The answers will be supplied next week.

The questions are:

1. Which Island-born/

connected NHL player scored the most goals in his rookie season?

2. Name an NHL defenceman that scored 20 goals in a single season, yet none came on the power play.

 3. With the Olympics coming up, which former NHLer from 1972 Team Canada never lost to the Russians?

4. Which P.E.I.-born/

connected player scored on Vladislav Tretiak?.

 5. Who was/is P.E.I.’s best-ever referee?

6. In a recent Maritime- published book on 25 hockey players that made the NHL, two Maritime captains were left out. Who were they?

7. Name four Islanders (P.E.I.) with Stanley Cup rings.

8. Who was the last Montreal Canadiens player to wear No. 10 before Guy Lafleur?

 9. Who scored the last goal at Maple Leaf Gardens?

10. Who was the last Toronto Maple Leafs player to win the scoring race?

Good luck, and have fun. 


NFL weekend

The National Football League heads into its final week of play, and there are numerous games with playoff implications. 

Six teams in each conference earn playoff spots, and right now Miami (8-7), Baltimore (8-7), Pittsburgh (7-8) and San Diego (8-7) are fighting for three playoff places in the AFC.

As I said in earlier columns, the NFC is the tougher of the two conferences as Seattle (12-3), Carolina (11-4) and San Francisco (11-4) have already clinched. Tampa Bay (4-11) travels to New Orleans (10-5) while Arizona (10-5) entertains San Francisco needing a win and a New Orleans loss to make it to the post-season.

In other crucial NFC games this weekend, the Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) travel to Dallas (8-7) to meet the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) visit Soldier Field in Chicago for a date with the Bears (8-7). In the latter two games, the winner moves on and the loser is finished for the season.

The Philadelphia-Dallas game not only decides the NFL East Division, but has more twists and turns than a Rob Ford press conference.

Dallas star quarterback Tony Romo is out with a back injury and Kyle Orton, a proven veteran QB, will play in his place. In addition, the Cowboys have signed Jon Kitna, who was teaching high school math last week, in case he’s needed Sunday.

The Eagles, who mauled the Bears 51-14 last week behind QB sensation Nick Noles, are on a roll right now and head coach Chip Kelly, who has relatives living in Morell, likes his chances with a hot QB and an offence that can score via the air or the run game.

The Eagles are meeting the Cowboys at a time when the Dallas club is most vulnerable — without Romo and without star middle linebacker Sean Lee. The Sports Prophet loves the Eagles in this one.

The Bear-Packers matchup has loads of intrigue, too.

Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ great QB, is starting for the visitors and that’s a big surprise. Rodgers, who has missed the last four games with a fractured collarbone and hasn’t played in just about two months, was an unlikely starter at the first of the week, but now he’s ready to play.

Rodgers gives the Packers a huge lift, but his appearance doesn’t guarantee anything, especially against a Bears team that is Jekyll and Hyde. 

The Bears have one of the worst defences in the league, but they have a potent offensive attack. Chicago has a top QB in Jay Cutler and a capable replacement in Josh McCown, plus two top running backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Add two of the league’s best receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, and you can see why this is a nightmare to handicap.

It looks like a wild shootout, so keep your money in your pocket.

Here are other games worth betting on.

Cleveland (4-11) at Pittsburgh (7-8): The Steelers need to beat the Browns and hope for help, and with Big Ben Rothelisberger at QB, they’ll stay alive with a win.

The Baltimore Ravens can get into the playoffs by beating Cincinnati (10-5), but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The Bengals are unbeaten at home and want to head into the playoffs in top form. Both teams are 4-1 down the stretch, but I like Cincinnati over the defending Super Bowl champs. If the Ravens lose, and I think they will, Miami can get into the playoffs by winning at home against an over-achieving New York Jets

(7-8) club that is long on hustle and short on talent. I love Rex Ryan as a coach, but he just doesn’t have the horses, so bet the Fish. Besides, the Dolphins have a top QB in Ryan Tannehill and are hungry. 

Another game with playoff implications has the tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting New Orleans, where the Saints are almost unbeatable.

Drew Brees is a master in the dome and they need a win to assure themselves of a playoff spot. New Orleans with Brees is a dangerous club, so jump aboard the Saints bandwagon. 

As always, pay the mortgage first. The picks are for fun.


Harness racing

Live harness racing continues today at the Charlottetown racetrack with a 13-dash card at 1 p.m.

The $2,200 feature is a dandy with horses like  Nobestbfor (Walter Cheverie), Doll R General (Mark MacKinnon), Mcjestic (Cory MacPherson), Pinner (Mark Campbell), Toad Road (Ken Arsenault), Blu Meadow Willie (Ron MacInnis), Stayoutofmyaffair ( Jason Hughes) and Artist List (Mark Bradley).

Simulcast is also available this afternoon at the CDP from Flamboro with a large number of Maritimers in action.

The $34,000 feature at Woodbine is available via simulcast tonight at 7:25 p.m. and it has the likes of  Sparky Mark (Anthony MacDonald), Casimir Jitterbug (James MacDonald), Modern Legend (Jack Moiseyev), Mystician( Bill Davis), Franceschetti (Doug McNair), Apprentice Hanover (Jody Jamieson) and UpfrontHoosierBoy (Randy Waples).

At the Meadowlands tonight, there’s also a top 13-dash card. The $30,000 race has a field of six with the likes of Versado, Betters Edge, Abelard Hanover and three others. A number of familiar faces are entered, including Silent Swing, Lucky Man, Hypnotic Blue Chip and Dial or No Dial.

Don’t forget to purchase the O’Brien Awards and Kitchen Party tickets as they are a little more than a month away.


Fred MacDonald’s column appears in

The Guardian each Saturday. He can be reached at

Organizations: Islanders, Team Canada, NHL Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Cowboys Boston Bruins Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs NFL weekendThe National Football League Philadelphia Eagles Green Bay Packers Baltimore Ravens NFL East Division Rob Ford press Browns Bengals New York Jets Dolphins Tampa Bay Buccaneers CDP Kitchen Party

Geographic location: Iceland, Victoriaville, New Orleans Val Dallas Miami Pittsburgh San Francisco Chicago Maple Leaf Gardens Baltimore San Diego Seattle Arizona Cincinnati Morell Cleveland Charlottetown Toad Road Hanover

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