Battle of the Blades is entering its third season, what is Battle of the Blades, you ask? It is a Canadian television show, aired on CBC, which takes retired professional hockey players and pairs them up with professional figure skaters and pits them against each other. These duos compete in a figure skating competition to win a trophy and, more importantly, money towards the Canadian charity of their choice. The Colorado Avalanche has had their share of players’ lace up the figure skates.
There are three judges, and each award a score out of 6, which, I’ve been told weekly, is what figure skating competitions are marked out of. Thus, each performance can get a maximum of 18.0. In the first season the judges’ scores counted for nothing and was just so that the viewer could "base" their vote off of the scores and feedback that were given. The second season, however, that was changed and the judges’ scores did count towards the final score. You can vote by a) phone b) internet or c) texting. There is a charge for texting, last year it was 75 cents, but all that money is then given to the charity of the pair you are voting for.
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During the first season, only one of the guys had played for Colorado: Claude Lemieux. The other professionals were Bob Probert, Glenn Anderson, Ron Duguay, Ken Daneyko, Tie Domi, Stephane Richer and Craig Simpson. The fist season winners were Jamie Sale and Craig Simpson and they won $100,000 toward their chosen charity: Spinal Cord Research. The runners up were Claude Lemieux and his partner Shae-Lynn Bourne. Every pair got a minimum of 25,000 for charity.
During the second season two men represented the Avalanche: Theo Fleury and Patrice Brisebois. The other ex-players were: Russ Courtnall, Georges Laraque, P.J. Stock (who got frequently teased during Hockey Night in Canada), Kelly Chase, Todd Warriner, and Valeri Bure. This season was dedicated to Bob Probert who had died just before the start of the new BotB season.
Because the first season was such a huge success, the winning team got $250,000 to donate to their chose charity. The winners were Valeri Bure and his partner Ekaterina Gordeeva. They split the money and gave to two charities: Compassion Canada and Cardiac Kids. Patrice Brisebois placed second, he had been eliminated but was brought back after a Halloween "special". For those interested Theo was the 5th guy eliminated. Bure frequently had the highest score, out of eight weeks he didn’t have the highest score twice, but found himself in the bottom due to low vote counts. There is a youtube video of Bure's first half and second half of the season performances. You can see the improvement from his first foray with Paralyzer, when he looked rather like a box, to his finale smash, when he could actually dance.
Last year we, as viewers, got to see the guys in a new light. There were many tears as these guys shared their personal struggles. Russ talked about his father's suicide and how mental illness destroys people. Patrice broke down talking about sick kids (he was raising funds for a kids hospital in Quebec). Theo had tears in his eyes alluding to his past. It's a rare moment when you get to see players outside of their "tough guy" persona.
This upcoming year marks the first year that a non-NHL’er is fighting for the trophy. Tessa Bonhomme, who won the Gold medal at the last Olympics for women's hockey, will be competing. This year the pros NHL’ers include and two ex-Avalanche players: Brad May, Curtis Leschyshyn. The other guys will be Boyd Devereaux, Cale Hulse and Bryan Berard. Wade Belak had been slated for this season, he had already started practicing with his partner, before his untimely death earlier this off-season.
CBC has not announced plans to replace Wade at this time. Former NHL defenseman Todd Simpson will fill Wade Belak's open slot (per CBC). Nor have they said how they will be handling his death, but I imagine that there might be a touching montage.
The first week shows clips of boot camp. Boot camp is always a fun experience for the viewers, probably not as fun for the guys, the players are put out of their elements and given toe picks for the first time. In the past in wasn't unusual to see the guys falling all over the ice, but as they get more comfortable with the picks what the do on the ice becomes more impressive. Especially when it came to the lifts.
The new season starts on the 18th. Sunday night the competitors skate, and Monday night the bottom two pair is announced. Once announced those two pairs have a "skate-off", and the judges eliminate a pair. I'll be doing recaps, but would like to know if you would prefer one big recap with both Sunday and Monday's action in it, or a recap for each? What say you MHH Nation?