Thursday, July 15, 2010

City Council likely to decide ice skating's future in Pasadena on Aug. 2

The above headline is not hyperbole. As of this writing, it appears that the Pasadena City Council will vote on Aug. 2 whether to relocate the current ice rink next door to the tent-structure on the grounds of the Pasadena Convention Center.

That's according to officials who briefed rink supporters at a meeting Wednesday night at the Pasadena Convention Center. Here's the Star-News' story on the meeting.

If the Council votes not to relocate, then the lease on the current rink will soon expire and operations will likely cease in Sept. 2011, allowoing Convention Center officials to convert the rink back to the ballroom it was prior to the 1970s. If ice skating in Pasadena ceases to exist, the next closest ice rink in Burbank -- Pickwick -- is a 12-mile drive away.

I think supporters of ice skating in Pasadena have ample reason to be worried. Attentive readers may recall that last year the Council couldn't muster enough votes to build a new ice rink in the eastern portion of the city that would have had two sheets of ice, plenty of parking and been funded largely by private interests.

Four members of the council voted for the new rink and three against -- including my representative, Terry Tornek. Five votes were needed for passage, but the potential fifth vote didn't bother to show up for the Council meeting. With city finances reeling from the recession, some members didn't want to spend the money even if construction costs were low and the money was to be repaid later.

It's a far different scenario this time around. Instead of building a new rink from scratch, the rink would be relocated to the tent structure that is currently standing (convention center officials said the tent would have to be lengthened by about 30 feet). The new rink would be a full NHL-sized rink at 200 feet by 85 feet, unlike the current rink that is only 150 feet long. The facility would have bleacher seating for 100, four locker rooms, a party room and concession stand.

The current rink has character -- thanks to its past as a ballroom -- but it's also a dump, there are problems with the quality of the ice and the Zamboni looks like it's personally trying to set some type of record for greenhouse gas emissions. 

The tent structure isn't exactly full of character. But in my view it will do. And it would be great to play on a regular size sheet of ice, which would allow for more room for skating and stickhandling. It's also worth noting the tent rink isn't intended to be permanent -- it would host the rink until a new facility is built, something that Convention Center officials suggested could happen once the recession ends and city finances bounce back. Hmm. 

Officials at the meeting last night said it would cost about $1.5 million for the new rink and they would like to have it up and running by August of 2011. The story in the Star News quoted the cost at $3 million. It sounds like the city's cost would be about $1.5 million.

Losing a rink in Pasadena would be, in my view, catastrophic to ice skating in the region. The Pasadena rink basically serves most of the San Gabriel Valley, as well as neighboring communities such as Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, Montrose and La Crescenta. In terms of hockey, 10 teams play in adult leagues, the youth Maple Leaf team practices there and the rink hosts a variety of youth and adult clinics, four stick-time sessions each week and pickup games on three nights a week.

I have no idea if other rinks in the area have the capacity or inclination to absorb that kind of ice time for hockey. I don't want to find out.

What can you do? Write the City Council, whether you do or do not live in Pasadena. If you do live here, remind the Council that you like to vote. If you don't live here, remind the Council that you are among many people who spend their money in Pasadena.

Here's the email addresses for Mayor Bill Bogaard and the seven members of the Council -- write them all at once so that perhaps a couple of them actually listens:,,,,,,

This week in hockey crimes and misdemeanors

I almost don't know where to start, other than saying my team had a 2 to 1 lead midway through the second period in a playoff game against the best team in our league and we couldn't hold on. The end result: a 4 to 2 loss.

Wow -- the guys on my team played their hearts out. And wow -- I wish I could have joined them. I didn't just play bad. I played stupid.

Bad to the point that I really should have done the team a favor and sat down on the bench and stayed there once it became apparent that I had nothing to contribute. If there's five guys on the ice and one of them is skating around with his head wedged at an unlikely angle up his ass, you don't have to be a NASA scientist to figure out the team is at 80% strength.

So let's get right to it and piece together what I can still remember about yesterday's game.

THE CRIME: I'm at right wing. From behind the goal, someone on my team bangs the puck up the right boards. It gets past me -- I'm out of position and not up against the boards -- and it also gets past the other team's defenseman. So we're chasing it up the boards and he's in front of me and I give him a shove in his back to get him out of the way. He falls, I get whistled for roughing.

THE RESULT: Did I mention we were on a power play at the time? Our one-man advantage turns to a minute of four-on-four followed by the other team going on the power play -- which my teammates manage to kill.

THE LESSON: It's good to play aggressively. But it's dumb to be aggressive when you don't have to be -- and in this case, there was no reason to be. I know what I was thinking at the time -- if I can pick up the puck, I've got a clear line of attack into the other team's zone and we're on a power play and we gotta get the puck out of our own end.

THE CRIME: I'm at right wing. The other team has possession in their own zone, the puck somehow goes sailing all the way to the right side boards, 20 feet from the nearest players -- me and one of the other team's defenseman. We race to get it. He slows to grab the puck, I barrel on through, hoping to pick it up and continue on the boards. He goes down hard against the boards and threatens to "hit me next time," leaving me puzzled why he didn't hit me this time. I'm whistled for roughing. Again. The ref tells me I have to at least try to stop.

THE RESULT: My teammates kill the power play, but we're now down 3 to 2 in the game and we lose two minutes of catch-up time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Getting in the mood....

It's about 8:30 Sunday morning. I've been up a couple hours already because my team's first-ever playoff game is at 3:45 this afternoon and I couldn't sleep. In the meantime, I've turned to the Viagra of the internet -- YouTube -- to help get me in the mood for the game.

Too bad my stick doesn't have a starter motor.

I wonder what percentage of the human race dreams of growing up to drive school buses in demolition derbies. I bet the ones that do have great drinking stories and prescription medications.

.44 magnum obliterates cantaloupe. Niiiiice.

Hope I can recover like this if I blow chunks on the ice. Has almost happened a couple times.

Nothing inspires you to play tough on the boards like watching a jawbreaker bust out of a blender.

Well, if that doesn't amp up someone for beer league hockey....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Will skating survive in Pasadena?

I haven't written about this for a while -- and I get steamed when I do -- but if nothing is done, the rink in Pasadena may close. The rink is in a converted banquet hall behind the city's Civic Auditorium and it could become a victim of civic center expansion when its lease runs out.

That wouldn't be a problem if the Pasadena City Council had mustered the votes last year to build a new skating complex with two sheets of ice. But the Council balked at the expense and location in eastern Pasadena, with some members also failing to appreciate that a lot of their constituents like to ice skate.

That's why I'll vote for a lump of coal or any other inanimate object before I vote for Councilman Terry Tornek when he's up for reelection. I found his opposition to the new rink to be shortsighted, thoughtless, irresponsible and lacking in good leadership, nor did I think he did a good job explaining himself when I -- a constituent -- emailed him. If the city can build a dog park, they can build an ice rink and make it financially work.

Cut to this year. The rink's last hope may be to relocate next door to the site of a current giant tent structure. It's large enough to accommodate a full-size rink, whereas the current ice is about two-thirds the length of an NHL rink. It would also be a chance to add locker rooms and bathrooms that don't remind you of something you might find in a bus station in Oklahoma City.*

So the meeting should be interesting to see how far along those plans are and what political strings will need to be pulled to keep the rink in Pasadena. I'm not clear at this point whether it's possible to keep going in the current venue -- which I kind of like -- but I think everything must be done to keep a rink in Pasadena.

More on this soon...


*When I was in junior high school, I attended a summer camp on wheels that entailed sticking 20 kids on a bus and sending them from Cincinnati to Los Angeles and back. On the return trip, we stopped at the Oklahoma City bus station -- I can't remember why -- and I still recall the bathroom was disgusting. This occurred in 1979.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Not hockey, but you sure see some weird stuff in L.A.

Went to the beach for the holiday on Sunday and while driving south on PCH on the way home, saw a bunch of people looking into back of this truck parked in Malibu. Look close at the photo. That's no horse in the truck.

The best I can figure is that it's possible to rent giraffes for parties. At least it's possible in Malibu.

On a similar note, for $1,000, my beer league lower division hockey team will come to your party and show kiddies -- or anyone else -- the proper way to put on a hockey garter.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Drills and more drills

I went into my Wednesday night clinic hoping to work on some team-oriented drills -- in particular, the basic breakout and anything involving positioning in the offensive zone. You know, the whole "there's no I in team" thing.

Actually, there is. If, for example, you treat the puck like it's a giant suppository and can't do anything useful with it, things become a lot of harder for your team. Because when you suck -- and I know a thing or two about this -- there are times you may as well be playing for the other team. You're just going to give the puck away, almost always at the most inopportune times.

Well, our coaches didn't feel like doing the team thing. They've seen us play and I think in their mind it was time to amp up some of the individual skills all hockey players need to create time and space -- always, always in short supply -- to make an intelligent pass or earn a quality shot.

And so began 60 minutes of sweating our asses off, aided in part by the semi-tropical weather that seems to settle inside the old Pasadena rink this time of year. It took precisely four minutes for my earholes to fill with sweat, something that usually happens when I'm close to redlining.

For those who just can't read enough about hockey drills -- in other words, you're shy about looking at porn on your work computer -- I'll run through our session below. For the reset who want to stop reading here, I'll just say this: use every opportunity you can to get on the ice with a puck and practice 180 and 360 degree turns and sudden stops and changes in direction. Do it over and over and try to do it faster and faster.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post hockey food: potato balls

Although I should write about it more often, I consider it Puck Boy's sacred duty to help readers pack on the calories they've burned off playing the exciting sport of ice hockey.

Toward that end, I was fairly starving at lunch today after skating enthusiastically (not the same as skating skillfully) at hockey clinic and pickup last night. My timing couldn't have been better: my lunch was at Porto's Bakery in Glendale, a Cuban place that everyone but me seems to have already eaten at. For some reason, Porto's never got on my radar.

I had the excellent and juicy steak torta with banana chips as my main dish. After the last bite of torta I was enveloped in a great wave of sadness but lacked the courage to reach across the table and start eating my friend's chicken torta. I suppose that also would have been rude -- but it was more the courage thing that stopped me. And the bitch-slap I probably would have received.

But the true revelation at lunch today was the potato balls, shown in the above photo. I know they have a proper Spanish name that is more melodic and makes them sound more appetizing. My Spanish-fluent friend repeated it several times for me, but I was too busy stuffing these tasty little demons into every available orphus above my neck line and couldn't hear.

Yes, they're that good. The potato filling is so, so, so creamylicious good! I instantly put the potato balls on the same list as the empanadas from United Bakery in Echo Park (1515 Griffith Park Blvd), which are basically empanadas with an eggroll-type filling.

Porto's is on Brand Boulevard, just north of California, in downtown Glendale. It's about a 10-minute drive to the Pickwick rink in Burbank and about 10 or 15 minutes to my home rink in downtown Pasadena at the civic center.

Now that I think of it, I could probably stop at this place on the way to rink and throw some balls into my hockey bag as a post-skate treat. Although I do have slight reservations about eating anything that's been in my hockey bag for more than a few seconds....

--Steve Hymon