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From the Branches: The First Shift is the best

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I will use my platform to promote whatever I want and none of you can stop me.

Lake Louise Pond Hockey Classic Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Last summer my oldest kid finally decided that, yes, he would like to play hockey.

After years of not being interested, he finally reached in, tore my wallet out of my coat and stomped on it, like this, but the only thing dying is my credit rating.

One of the players in my rec league, who also coaches the grown adults in the lower division, shared a program he’s involved with through one of our local youth leagues: the Canadian Tire First Shift program.

It’s a few weeks of lessons and drills with a dozen or so volunteer instructors, and the best part is all of your equipment is included. A few weeks before lessons start, there’s an afternoon at the rink where they size all of the kids, making sure each piece of gear fits them properly and they and their parents are shown how to put it on. Bauer supplies all of the equipment, well, for now anyway...

No one needs to know a thing about hockey to join, it’s crafted for the blank slates. Do your kids not listen to a thing you say when you try to teach them to skate? Mine sure as heck do, but after a couple lessons from others my oldest is only falling down once or twice, instead of every ten seconds. The strides (heh) he's made the past three weeks are amazing. Soon he'll be better than me, not that it's a high bar...

Jerseys and socks and even sticks are included, which is great, but everyone is wearing the exact same stuff, so you need to decorate the kid with colourful tape to stick out. Mine picked Maple Leafs blue to make his number, which was 14 because “I was born on the 14th and also that’s how many cups the Leafs will have after this year”.

Not convinced? Maybe Johnathan Toews can change your mind?

Watching the lessons are great fun: so much falling over, knocking other kids over like dominoes, but they’re all having a blast. Personally it’s great because he’s learning on the same rink I had my hockey and figure skating classes on. Falling into the same boards I fell into, as my youngest runs around the old wooden benches like I used to during my sisters classes.

There’s a lot of good programs out there, but I’m abusing my powers here to give some props to the First Shift gang at the St. Catharines CYO, because they’re doing great work. If anyone reading this has kids interested, but don’t want to commit to an entire season and teams and stuff, click the link up there and check the First Shift out.

Okay, onto the links:

Maple Leafs Hot Stove has an interview with Kitchener Rangers head coach Jay McKee on who else? Jeremy Bracco.

Editor in Leaf takes a gander at Frederik Andersen a quarter way through the season.

Our good best buddies at TLN are feeling bad for Jhonas Enroth.

Color of Hockey profiles Jason McCrimmon, head coach and part owner of the tier III Motor City Hawks

Down Goes Brown looks at the ten types of bad contracts.

One more plug here, if you haven’t listened to DGB's new podcast 'Biscuits' over at Vice Sports, go do it now. It’s easily going to take over as the best hockey podcast soon. It’s well spoken, mixed properly, so both hosts are at the same level, and they know what they're talking about, and make arguments reasonably with telling you you're dumb for disagreeing so there's much less screaming at the podcast.

The Solar Bears are in the GTA, visiting the Brampton Battalion! Don Money has your news.

Finally, over at the Bloggers Tribune, I wrote about what cities could take on a OHL team right now. Why did I do this? The Peterborough Petes are using relocation as a threat.

That’s it for this morning. Enjoy the day!