Coaching is hard work. The higher up in any sport you go, the harder it gets and the higher the expectations become.

Hockey fans know that the 2011 Stanley Cup final is still being fought, and bitterly. Yes, the Boston Bruins won the cup and Vancouver rioted and Vancouver never got over it, having two chances to win the series, one of them at home. It hurt.

So last Saturday night Boston was in Vancouver for the first time since that series and while there was a lot less on the line, it was still a pretty emotional game. One big difference this time, however, was the guy standing behind the Vancouver bench.

It doesn’t matter if you like John Tortorella. My guess is that if you’re reading this he has one more Stanley Cup ring than you do. He can cuss like a stevedore, he doesn’t care what the media think, he doesn’t want to be your friend. He wants his team to win.

The link I’m going to send you to is a fascinating and methodical deconstruction of the Vancouver win on Saturday over the Bruins. And what it shows is that NHL coaches – or, the good ones anyway – are smarter than atom house league gate swingers.

In the 2011 cup final, Boston essentially used Zdeno Chara to shut down the Sedin twins and basically hobble the Canucks already-hurting offence. Torts, as those of us close to him call him, knew history and learned from it. And the story is a fascinating look at big-league coaching gamesmanship, instinct, timing and wile.

If you have ever coached a sport at any level, I think you will find this interesting. I sure did. Click here.

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Coming soon to a Future Shop . . .

You may not yet have heard about Google Glass. It’s a funky headset that you wear that looks like eyewear without the lenses. On one side is a tiny screen you control with you eye movements or something and on that screen you can basically do anything that you can do with your smart phone.

I’m not sure I’m ready for Glass, but I am sure Google doesn’t care. It is coming anyway.

And a writer at Esquire was recently allowed to be one Google’s explorers – test marketers, basically. He gives a fairly witty but useful review of what it was like to wander around New York like a creature from the future. He did the predicable (took family photos and videos) and fun (tried to help a younger colleague meet women) and dubious (cheated at poker.)

Ah the future. I still remember that old TV show Here Come the 70s.

It’s not on any more.

Click here to read about Google Glass and why you want one.

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Every family has traditions at Christmas. Some are imported from our parents and grandparents (like Laura’s famous Pork Pies which are not pies and contain no pork.)

Some just sort of evolve but for whatever reason become part of the ritual of the season. For us it’s lobster on Christmas eve, and me and the boys making a big batch of fresh-squeezed orange juice on Christmas eve for drinking the next morning (with champagne, another tradition.)

There has always been a reading of The Night Before Christmas and apparently, at Chris’s happy insistence, there always will be.

This Christmas will mark Pad’s return from his hockey adventures – he hasn’t been home since mid-August and weather permitting, he’ll be back Saturday.

As our boys grew from infants to toddlers to little boys to teens to youth adults, Laura and I have really only ever had one objective with the holidays. And that was to create a safe, happy place for the kids to enjoy being kids. They define the rituals. We’re along for the ride and to finance it all.

There’s a new thing on the market that apparently is popular in homes with young families. The Elf on a Shelf. I’ve never heard of it but I don’t get out much.

The small stuffed toy elf resides in your house and watches to see who’s be naughty and who’s being nice. And as if by magic – sort of like how Santa gets down the chimney if you get my drift – the elf moves around the house. Last night he was in the family room. Today he’s in the kitchen.

Frankly, it’s sort of the North Pole version of the NSA monitoring you and it creeps me out.

The strict rule (kids pay attention here) is NO TOUCHING THE ELF. If you touch the elf, the magic is dead and you have a useless stuffed toy instead of a seasonal stalker.

The elves are very popular. And they have apparently created a fair degree of stress in some households as parents cope with being naughty and nice to one another (sometimes at the same time, one imagines) while keeping up with the duties related to the elf thing.

Click here to read more about the stresses of the season, Elf Version. Ho ho ho.

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Since I know you are all wondering, the atom house league Knights tied 3-3 last night. We were down 2-0 pretty quickly, which was not part of the game plan.

We chipped away and had a 3-2 lead before the other guys yanked their goalie and knotted things up with less than 40 seconds left. Up until about bantam, pulling the goalie results in a goal for the trailing team about 80 per cent of the time, by my unscientific calculation. Anyway, good on our guys for crawling out of the hole. Good on the other guys for not giving up.

Since Coach Dave and I are both away Saturday I told the boys Merry Christmas and if we don’t win while we are away, we’re going to sell the lot of them for medical experiments.

The parents all laughed.

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OK, so this is two days in a row after a poor showing lately. I will warn you now that travel commitments will leave this space dark tomorrow, but I promise I will do at least one more posting before Santa arrives.

Before I go, a couple tear-jerker videos. Generally I loath heart-stringy ads but both these ones got to me.

In the first offering, below, the folks at Coca Cola offer as realistic a view as you can imagine of the joy and stress of early parenthood. To my own boys I will only say that yes, this is exactly what it was like. If they had Toy Story playing on the TV it could have been us. And yes, I still have scars on the bottoms of my feet from Lego I stepped on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImlmVqH_5HM

And this one, by Apple, is called Misunderstood. The video centres on a young teen male, who is hopelessly absorbed in his iPhone while family from near and far descend on his home for Christmas. Those around him become annoyed at his behaviour and playfully try to engage him.

And then on Christmas Eve, it all becomes clear and everyone cries. And buy Apple stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sNlcwAh83Y

Stay safe this weekend. Spare a thought for me out there on the road. I’ll drive slow and careful and you should too. Hug the kids.

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