Shockers’ New Song Provokes Controversy

The Saskatchewan Shockers are trying a new marketing campaign this season.  In previous seasons, the Shockers have been famous (or infamous) for their off-the-wall promotions, which frequently went wrong in spectacular and embarrassing fashion.  The mere mention of sumo, kazoos, or blimps is enough to send a shiver down the spine of Saskatchewan’s marketing department.  (Don’t even talk about the kid’s book.)

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

Heading into 2019, Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz dialed back some of his grandiose visions, and instead wants to focus of celebrating the team’s local roots.  “This is Saskatchewan’s team, baby!” Doofenshmirtz said.  “We want the world to know that we’re proud Saskatchewanders!  Um, Saskatchewanians?  Saskatchewanists?  Uh, I mean… Saskatchewan people!  We’ve got maple syrup in our veins, and we want to celebrate that.  I mean, not literally maple syrup – that would be kind of sticky and weird.  You know what I mean.”

As part of their new local focus, the Shockers are hosting post-game concerts from Saskatchewan artists such as The Sheepdogs and Wide Mouth Mason.  They’ve added offerings from local restaurants to their concession stands.  And they’ve completely revamped the team’s entrance.  Previously, the team hit the ice to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”  Now, their entrance music is the 1972 Guess Who song “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.”  (They continue to play “Thunderstruck” to celebrate goals.)  The song was penned by Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings, a native of Winnipeg; it name-checks several cities along the Canadian prairie.

“One of the guys in the front office was messing around on YouTube one day, and he found the song.  He emailed it around the office, and we all loved it!  It was catchy and fun, and it had Saskatoon right in the title!  What could be better?”

The song quickly won the favor of the fans, who took to singing along with the chorus as their heroes prepared for battle.  “I’d never heard of the song before, but it’s awesome!” said 26-year-old Brayden McCord of Eagle Ridge.

Of course, this being the Shockers, they had to find a way to mess things up.  At last Tuesday’s game, the audio staff forgot to cue the song up at its usual spot just before the chorus.  Instead, they played it from the beginning, which features a spoken-word intro from Cummings describing Saskatoon as “a small town where nothing much ever happens.”  The fans responded to this description with boos; even the jazzy harmonica riff that followed couldn’t turn them around.

The Shockers responded by pulling the song and restoring the “Thunderstruck” intro for the games that followed.  A funny thing happened, though: The fans demanded the return “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.”  “It’s cool to have a song with our city in it, even if it’s kind of making fun of us,” said McCord.  “Besides, it’s kind of true: not a lot happens around here.”

The Guess Who tune made its triumphant return Sunday against the Dakota Jackalopes, and the fans responded with a standing ovation.  The Shockers also responded well, downing the Jackalopes 3-2.

“I guess if you’re a Shockers fan, you’re used to people insulting you,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “If they’re not taking it personally, then neither am I!”

The team is hoping to get Cummings to come to Potash Arena and play the song live before the season is over.

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Shockers Snap Up Thompson to be Bench Boss

Michigan Gray Wolves assistant coach Morris Thompson has been one of the most sought-after SHL head coaching candidates for the last two seasons.  The Washington Galaxy reportedly gave serious consideration to hiring Thompson to replace Rodney Reagle.  After the Galaxy opted for Peter James instead, the Saskatchewan Shockers wasted no time in tabbing Thompson as their next coach.

Morris Thompson

“Behold!” exclaimed Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz as he introduced Thompson.  “If there was such a thing as a Coachinator, this guy would be it!”

Over the last several seasons, the Shockers have gone from being the joke of the SHL to a young team on the rise.  As the team’s progressed seemed to stall in the 2018 season, however, Doofenshmirtz and the front office decided that change was in order.  They fired Myron Beasley, the only coach the team had ever had, in midseason.  Assistant coach Caleb Ponder was appointed as the interim head man, but was never seriously considered for the long-term job and was dismissed at the end of the season.

Reportedly, the Shockers were seeking a coach who would impose a firmer hand on discipline than either Beasley or Ponder, as well as someone who help the team take the next leap to become a contender.  When seeking a model for the kind of organization they wanted to build, they kept coming back to the Wolves and coach Ron Wright as a model.  “Michigan is everything we want to be: disciplined, hard-working, willing to do whatever it takes to win,” said Saskatchewan GM Connor Matthews.  “So why not go get one of the guys who helped build that?”

The 39-year-old Thompson started out playing for Wright and built a reputation as a grinding fourth-line winger.  After a shattered kneecap ended his playing career a decade ago, Wright suggested that Thompson get into coaching, and he’s been on Wright’s staff ever since.  In the SHL, Thompson followed Wright from Hamilton to Michigan.

“Everything I know about coaching, I learned from Coach Wright,” Thompson said.  “He taught me what it really means to work hard and be prepared.  He taught me that championships are won in practice, when a team commits itself to be all in.  He taught me that a coach can’t ask his players to make the sacrifices they need to win if he’s not willing to make those same sacrifices himself.  He taught me that hard work and sweat trumps raw talent every time.  That’s the culture I plan to bring here.”

Like Wright, Thompson is regarded as a defensive specialist.  With Saskatchewan, he will be working to strengthen a strength; the Shockers’ 2.71 GAA was good for fifth in the league.  Where they fell down was on offense, as they converted only 8% of their shots and outscored only the expansion teams in Kansas City and Boston.  Critics of the hire wonder if Thompson has the skill set to jump-start Saskatchewan’s sluggish offense.

“There’s nothing wrong with this team’s ability to create shots,” said Thompson.  “The problem is that too many of them are one-timers and slappers from way out, and any good goalie can stop those.  We need the ability to follow up.  We need to strengthen our net-front presence, get into the dirty areas where we might be able to get a deflection or rebound or take the goalie’s eyes away.  Work hard and be physical.”

The expectations are high for Thompson and the Shockers, as Matthews made clear.  “We know that champions aren’t built overnight,” the GM said.  “But we aren’t afraid to set that expectation.  The goal is not just to get a little better or be respectable.  We’re building to a championship.  That’s the goal, nothing less.”

Shockers Blimp Photo Blows Fan’s Cover

If there’s one constant in the history of the Saskatchewan Shockers, it’s their penchant for disastrous promotional events.  Whether it was the Japanese Night promo (when the Shockers started a sumo in goalie and had to pull him after one period), the Kazoo Night fiasco (when angry fans littered the ice with hot dogs and malfunctioning instruments  and nearly forced the game’s cancellation), or last season’s Kids Night embarrassment (when the team gave away a “kid’s activity book” that was filled with errors and obscenities), Saskatchewan leads the league by a mile in-game entertainment failures.

“I feel like we’d be better off if we started advertising the nights when we don’t give anything away,” quipped Shockers interim coach Caleb Ponder.  “‘Tonight, every fan in attendance will receive: Nothing!  We promise!'”

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

Despite the team’s sad history with such promotions, the Shockers went ahead and held “Fan Appreciation Night” on Saturday against the Anchorage Igloos.  The team announced that they’d be giving away a “special, limited-edition T-shirt,” and made vague promises of a “special event” for fans in attendance.  Owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz was coy, saying only that it would be “something special the fans will never forget.”

The T-shirts were given out as promised, although the design was unexpected.  The bright yellow T-shirts read “#1 Fan!”  The team said that the Shockers logo supposed to appear below those words.  The version the fans received instead contained a picture of Doofenshmirtz’s face.  According to the owner, he sent the wrong image file to the printing house.  The finished shirts arrived only a couple of days before the event, and (as usual) no one with the Shockers bothered to look at them before handing them out.

The fans’ reaction to the Doof-bedecked T-shirts could fairly be described as “mixed.”  Many fans discarded the shirts immediately; several trash cans in the concourse were overflowing with them.  Other fans chose to wave the shirts over their heads like rally towels.  Others proudly wore the shirts (ironically or otherwise).

“I looked around the stands, and I saw my own face all over, staring back at me,” Doofenshmirtz said.  “It was a little creepy, to be honest.  But also kind of cool!”

After the performance of the anthems and a ceremonial puck drop by rock guitarist and Saskatoon native Pete Friesen, PA announcer Tim Conroy told the fans to “stay in your seats and get ready for something special.”  Shortly afterward, a small blimp with the Shockers logo on the side emerged from one end of the arena.  The blimp was designed and built by the owner himself, and it contained a camera that was taking a panoramic photo of all the fans in attendance.

“I know from my daughter that if there’s one thing the young people today like, it’s taking selfies,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “So I figured, why not take one big selfie of the whole crowd?  And behold!”

After the photo was complete, the blimp was supposed to drop leaflets with the URL the fans could visit to view the group picture.  But Doofenshmirtz was also piloting the craft, and he lost control of it and crashed it into a catwalk hanging from the roof.  The start of the game was delayed for over 15 minutes while workers retrieved the stranded blimp.

After the game, the photo went live online.  (The team posted the URL on the scoreboard, since their leafleting plan was thwarted.)  Once fans started looking at it, however, they started noticing some curiosities.  Several fans greeted the blimp with upraised middle fingers.  Others appeared to be engaged in fisticuffs.  Some female fans raised their shirts for the camera.  As fans started pointing these out on social media, the Shockers responded by blurring the offending photos.

Things went from bad to worse when the team received a call from the Canadian national police.  Apparently, the camera had captured a person who is in the witness protection program and had been moved to Saskatchewan under an assumed identity.  The police said that the fan had received threats on his life after being identified in the photo.  The police demanded that the Shockers take the picture down.  The team initially resisted, but ultimately took it down.

“Yeah, I guess I didn’t think this one through as well as I should have,” admitted Doofenshmirtz.  “I definitely don’t want us to get in trouble with the police.  But why would you go to a hockey game if you’re in the witness protection program?!  Seriously, dude, just watch it on your couch next time.”

SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell has noticed Saskatchewan’s sad history with promotions.  “As a rule, we try to encourage our teams to do as many promotional events as is practical,” the commissioner said.  “It’s a great way to boost attendance and give fans something to look forward to.  In the case of the Shockers, however, I’d like to ask them to stop doing them altogether.  Or at least Mr. Doofenshmirtz shouldn’t be allowed to plan them, design them, or really be involved with them in any way.  It’s for the best.”

Shockers, Tigres Lead List of Uni Changes for 2018

The SHL’s 2018 season will see the addition of two new teams, the Boston Badgers and Kansas City Smoke.  But Boston’s and Kansas City’s uniforms aren’t the only new threads that fans will see on the ice this year.  Almost half of the league’s existing teams are making changes to their looks, with two teams – the Quebec Tigres and Saskatchewan Shockers – making major overhauls.

New Quebec Tigres Home Uniform

According to Quebec GM Pete Gondret, the Tigres’ revamp was the brainchild of owner Marc Delattre, who felt that the team’s old uniforms – which famously featured striped sleeves and socks – were too busy.  “Mr. Delattre was not a fan of our old costumes,” said Gondret.  “When he watched our games, he said ‘We look like a junior team, not professional.'”  Delattre wound up hiring fashion designer Rene Saramond to develop something cleaner.

Saramond’s design, which was reportedly inspired by vintage hockey sweater designs of the 1920s, preserved the stripes, but compressed them into a narrower band across the chest, sleeves, and socks.  Each band contains seven stripes, which symbolize the seven gates in the ramparts that surrounded the old city of Quebec.

“These uniforms are a perfect blend of old and new,” said Gondret.  “They speak to the history and tradition of both hockey and of Quebec, but at the same time they are fresh and sleek and modern.”

The Tigres unveiled their new jerseys at a season-ticket holder event in late November.  Captain Stephane Mirac, who modeled the home jersey, said that he is a fan of the new look.  “The old uniforms, they were a bit too garish,” Mirac told reporters.  “Now, we have a better look, and as we start winning more games, we can be proud of how we look and how we play.”

Meanwhile, the Shockers’ uniforms are largely similar in design to last year’s, but they’ve made a significant change to their color scheme.  Previously, the Shockers were notorious around the league for sporting the eye-searing combination of yellow and seafoam green  Reportedly, this unusual look was chosen by owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz, as those are his favorite colors.

New Saskatchewan Shockers Home Uniform

The fact that the colors clashed with one another apparently did not trouble the owner, although it did trouble Shockers fans and players.  Former Saskatchewan RW Daniel Bellanger, who played for the Shockers for half a season in 2015, likened the color combo to “a wound that is infected and filled with pus.”

After years of lobbying by the players, coaches, and front office, Doofenshmirtz finally relented this season, dropping seafoam and replacing it with electric blue.  GM Cooper Matthews hailed the new look, calling it “striking and eye-catching, but more pleasant to look at.”

Upon receiving news of the new colors, Saskatchewan players erupted in celebration.  C Napoleon Beasley declared the new combination “really cool!  We’ve got a new look we can be proud of.  The old look kind of made guys a little sick just looking at it, to tell the truth.  And we definitely came in for a lot of heckling about it from fans in other arenas.  But that’s over now!  Now they can just heckle us for our play instead, and that’s way better.”

A couple of other teams are making smaller but still noticeable changes to their uniforms for the new season:

  • The New York Night are are making a number of tweaks, adding drop shadows to the numbers on the back of their uniforms and adding more silver to their black-and-white-heavy palette. They’ve also gone from single-color stripes to a two-color pattern on their home and road unis (and changed the stripe pattern on their alternates to match.)  GM Royce McCormick called their new look “sophisticated and classy, just like our city.”
  • The Washington Galaxy have added white outlines to the logo on the front of their home jersey and to the numbers and name on the back.  According to GM Garnet “Ace” Adams, the team made the tweaks in response to feedback from fans, who sometimes had a hard time reading the jerseys from the upper rows of the Constellation Center.  “We always put the fans first,” said Adams, “and we want them to be able to see who they’re cheering for.”  In addition, the team switched from gold to blue numbers on their road jerseys, as well as changing from red socks and helmets to white.

 

Shockers Set SHL Record with 11-Goal Game

There’s no denying that it’s been another long season for the Saskatchewan Shockers.  They fell out of contention from almost the beginning of the season, and they were mathematically eliminated with almost three weeks left.  They unleashed yet another disastrous promotion on their fans, this time a poorly designed kids’ activity book.  Until this week, perhaps the most notable event of Saskatchewan’s season was when one of their players accidentally set fire to the locker room.

That all changed on Friday, as the Shockers finally delivered a season highlight worth celebrating.  They may be having a season to forget, but Friday was a game to remember, as Saskatchewan set a new SHL record for goals in a game in an 11-5 thumping of the Dakota Jackalopes.

“We sure know how to deliver excitement, huh?” said Shockers coach Myron Beasley with a huge grin.  “You saw more goals in this game than you’d see in a week watching Michigan or Anchorage.  You want fun, come see us!”

C Elliott Rafferty pointed out that Saskatchewan had scored 11 despite the fact that no player managed a hat trick.  “That’s a testament to the kind of depth we have here,” the center said.  Rafferty, C Napoleon Beasley, and D Dick Bradshaw each scored two goals, while LW Troy Chamberlain, D Wyatt Barnes, RW Brad Stevens, D Ed Francis, and RW Andrew “Lucky” Fortuno got one apiece.

The game was not a blowout at the beginning; at the end of the first period, the score stood 4-3.  The Shockers peppered Dakota goalie Buzz Carson, but the Jackalopes fired 19 shots at Oliver Richardson and put three behind him.  In the second period, Saskatchewan blew it open, scoring five unanswered goals and sending Carson to the showers.

The Shockers came into the third chasing history, but it seems that no one was aware of it.  The PA announcer made no mention of it, and the fans and benches seemed equally unaware.  Eight and a half minutes into the period, Chamberlain snapped a shot past new Dakota netminder Christen Adamsson for Saskatchewan’s tenth goal, tying the SHL record, first set by Dakota against the Shockers last season.   Five minutes later, Barnes buried a rebound to set a new record.  The crowd roared its approval, but again, no mention was made of the new record.

It wasn’t until after the game, when a journalist who had looked up the record asked about it, that the Shockers discovered what they had done.  “Hey, we’re famous!” shouted Beasley when informed of the record.  “That’s really cool.  Now we’ll be able to go to the record books and point and say, ‘Hey, I was part of that.'”

“This team is more dangerous than people think,” said Rafferty, who had two assists in the game in addition to his pair of goals.  “We’ve got some real snipers here.  We’re a young team and we’re still learning, but games like this show what we’re capable of.”

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

Owner Heinz Doofenschmirtz, whose passion for his team is well-known around the league, was ecstatic with his team’s performance.  The owner reportedly came into the locker room after the game and gave each player an $1,100 bonus check in recognition of the record-setting performance.  “I believe he’s doing a few laps around the ceiling about now,” said Beasley.

For the Shockers, the game was a welcome bright spot in an unremarkable year.  For the Jackalopes, it was yet another reminder of a season gone wrong.  Small-market Dakota spent heavily in the offseason to build a team that could contend for a title.  Instead, the Jackalopes have turned in another so-so season, and ownership has signaled that they intend to cut payroll next season.

Jackalopes coach Harold Engellund, whose job is reportedly in jeopardy, responded wearily to news of Saskatchewan’s record-setting performance.  “Well, congratulations to them,” said Engellund.  “They’re a team on the rise and they deserve it.  But that’s not a record you really want to be part of, not on the other end.  If this is what we’re remembered for this year, that’s not too good.”

Shockers Screw Up Another Promo With Error-Filled Kids’ Book

The Saskatchewan Shockers, to put it mildly, have had a rough time coming up with successful promotions.  In 2015, there was Japanese Night, in which the team started a sumo wrestler in goal; the result was an awkward embarrassment.  Last season, there was the Kazoo Night fiasco; that game nearly turned into a riot, with fans chucking malfunctioning kazoos onto the ice.

This season, the Shockers decided to try a simpler, less dangerous promotion: Kids Night.  In an effort to draw in younger fans, the Shockers offered discountered tickets for fans 12 and under.  In addition, they raffled off the opportunity for kids to work in a variety of positions, including on public address announcer, in-game entertainment crew member, usher, reporter, and ceremonial first puck dropper.  To cap it all off, the team offered a giveaway: a Shockers-themed activity/puzzle book.

The day itself largely went off without a hitch.  The PA announcer repeatedly mangled the name of LW Tadeusz Adamczyk, and the puck dropper accidentally flung the biscuit onto the bench instead of dropping it on the ice, but otherwise things went smoothly.

The trouble started when the kids got home and started looking at their activity books.  The book was riddled with errors and problems.  For instance, the word search was missing several of the terms that kids were supposed to find, and the grid spelled out multiple curse words.  The scramble that was supposed to contain the names of Shockers players instead contained strings of letters that didn’t spell anything.  Multiple pages were printed upside down, and the page that was supposed to list the answers was missing entirely.

Irate parents took to social media to vent their displeasure with the book.  “My kid cried for 45 minutes bc he couldnt get the word scramble right,” said one fan.  “Turns out it was all garbage, like this team!!”  Another highlighted the obscenities in the word search and tweeted, “So I guess u think this is ‘appropriate’ 2 give 2 kids???”  The Shockers initially claimed that “some fans” might have received misprinted copies, but it quickly became clear that all of the books contained the errors and omissions.

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

It turns out that, rather than hiring a professional company to design and print the books, team owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz outsourced the job to a relative who “wants to make kid’s books someday.”  He never provided proofs of the work before printing, and the Saskatchewan front office apparently never asked for any.  Nor did they check the finished books before handing them out.

“Yeah, we had a few problems there,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “The one time I really needed a self-destruct button, we didn’t have one.  How ironic.”

The Shockers have destroyed all remaining copies of the book, and are reportedly looking for a way to compensate the children who may have been upset or traumatized by the event.  “I was going to put a bouncy castle on the roof of our arena and let the kids play on it,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “But it turns out there are some liability issues with that, and our insurance company dropped us after the whole Kazoo Night thing.  So we’re working on it.”

At least one person from the Shockers had no problem with the promotion.  “I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” quipped coach Myron Beasley.  “I found the word search very educational.”

Shockers Host a Wild Home Opener

The Saskatchewan Shockers are in a difficult spot entering the 2017 SHL season.  By all accounts, Saskatchewan doesn’t have the talent to contend in the West; they’re an up-and-coming team, but they still have a long way to go.  Playing in one of the league’s smallest markets, the Shockers also struggle at times with attendance, and the team’s attempts at splashy promotions have too often gone awry.

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

So when Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz promised “a really spectacular spectacle” for the team’s home opener against the Anchorage Igloos, many fans held their breath and tried to imagine what might go wrong.  Would the ceremony wind up injuring a star player?  Would Doofenshmirtz accidentally burn the arena down?  The mind reeled at the possibilities.

But the Shockers defied the ill omens and put on a show that, while long and over-the-top, was free of calamity.  “This is it!” crowed the Shockers owner afterward.  “Now we’re going to take over the entire SHL!”

Shortly before the scheduled puck drop, the lights went out at Potash Arena.  At first, nervous fans believed that there might have been a power failure.  But their worries were dispelled when multi-colored spotlights began flashing around the arena, and the sound of thunder filled the arena.  Soon thereafter, the familiar opening strains of “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback echoed over the PA system.  The fans began clapping and cheering as a phalanx of skaters wearing Shockers jerseys and waving Canadian flag began to circle the ice.  Soon, they were joined by a kick line of women in old-fashioned Vegas showgirl costumes, which only increased the cheers.

But then the fans’ eyes were drawn skyward, as a large platform began to descend from the roof of the arena.  On the platform was a golden ram’s head with glowing red eyes; flames shot upward from the corners of the platform.  Suddenly, a ’57 Chevy convertible emerged from the ram’s mouth, driven by Doofenshmirtz, who was clad in a leather jacket with a pompadour rising from his head.  Doofenshmirtz drove the Chevy out onto center ice (narrowly missing the showgirls), popped out, and waved to the crowd.

Sparky

Doofenshmirtz then pointed dramatically back toward the ram’s head, and out skated the Shockers’ new mascot, Sparky.  Sparky, an anthropomorphic lightning bolt in team colors, took a couple laps around the ice and tossed candy necklaces to the crowd.  Some of the children seated near the ice appeared to be frightened by Sparky, but they were soon mollified by the candy.

An inflatable slide then unfurled, connecting the ram’s-head platform to the club level of the arena.  The Shockers players slid down one at a time from the club level and came out through the ram’s head, to the crowd’s rapturous approval.

Finally, Doofenshmirtz opened the trunk of his convertible and out popped the members of Nickelback themselves.  They mounted the platform and proceeded to blast their way through a hard-rock rendition of “O, Canada.”

After the anthem was complete, the fans roared deliriously as the Shockers’ in-game entertainment crew fanned out along the catwalks on the roof and flung T-shirts and caps onto the masses below.  Doofenshmirtz and Nickleback hopped back into the Chevy and drove off the ice, and the ram’s head rose back to the roof.

Shockers fan Howie Crawford of Regina summed the ceremony up aptly: “I don’t really know what was going on, but it was a lot of fun.”

The visiting Igloos (who wound up winning the game 3-0) were reportedly unhappy about the length of the ceremony, which delayed the start of the game by almost 40 minutes.  But the fans left happy, and for Doofenshmirtz, that’s what really matters.

“Behold!” crowed the Shockers owner after the game.  “We actually had a successful event for a change.  Now, what can I do to top this next time?  Maybe I can fly a jet around the arena, or I can have the team enter through a ring of fire, or…”