Jack Hall Blog
ESCANABA, MI--APRIL 17, 2014-3:19 A.M.
The best time of the year is upon us. The Stanley Cup Playoffs. In my opinion, the path to the National Hockey League championship is tougher than any other major pro sport.

Yes, I know, football is grueling and the month of playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl is intense. I know that the NBA Basketball playoffs are also intense, with very physical play and lots of games that go down to the wire. The Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series are intense, too, especially, for the mental part of the game.

But the NHL playoffs are just more emotional, intense, and competitive, in my opinion. The last-ranked playoff team is very rarely overmatched by the team that won the division and conference titles. That usually leads to very close games, as we saw tonight in Montreal's overtime win over Tampa Bay (pictured), and Pittsubrgh's late win over Columbus.

And don't forget, the Detroit Red Wings open the playoffs Friday night!!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--APRIL 16, 2014-2:03 A.M.
I am not a Green Bay Packers fan. I love the Chicago Bears.
But I still enjoyed the Packers' Tailgate Tour event Tuesday night at the U.P. State Fairgrounds. The fact that the Packers came to Escanaba, for free, to meet with U.P. fans, shows that the team cares about the Upper Peninsula.
Three current players (Mason Crosby, Jarrett Bush, Brad Jones) and three former players (Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, Paul Coffman) joined Packers CEO Mark Murphy on the stage for a question-and-answer period. And they posed for pictures, and signed autographs. There was a standing-room-only crowd on hand, and it was good to see so many U.P. residents...young and old...enjoying themselves.
And the Packers are donating every penny that was raised in the event to Lakestate Industries, which is a local business that helps to find job opportunities for people with disabilities in Delta County.
You can see a bunch of photos, listen to interviews, and see a couple of video clips, by going to our RRNSports.com web site. CLICK HERE  to see that story.
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--APRIL 15, 2014-12:27 A.M.
Ah, yes. April 15th. The deadline for us to file our income taxes. A day for politicians to make fine speeches and for conservative groups to talk about just how high our taxes are.

On average, our tax burden, adjusted for inflation, is actually lower than it was a generation ago. But, most of us still feel overtaxed...I know I sure do. And most of us feel that the government wastes much of the money that we pay in taxes. As for filing income taxes, well, I'm happy to say that mine have been filed for weeks!

NOW THIS about flooding in our area:
Delta County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Berbohm says there's already been problems at the Tacoosh River, where the water went over the banks on Sunday because of ice jams. The Delta County Road Commission came out and broke up some of the ice jams to free the water.
The Rapid River is also running high thanks to ice jams, and Berbohm says they had a couple of incidents with ice jams on the Escanaba River as well on Sunday. In one case, a propane tank trailer was washed away and water surrounded a home. But the Road Commission came out to that location and helped to break the jam, and the water started to recseed.
Berbohm says that the Upper Peninsula Power Company is trying to help by opening the gates at the dam, sending as much water as possible into Lake Michigan.
Berbohm says that he has never seen ice that's so thick and packed like he is seeing on the county's rivers this spring. He says that people who live near the rivers should use extreme caution and keep an eye out for changing water conditions.
And don't look now, but Wednesday promises to be a day filled with wet, heavy snow, with a healthy dosage of rain for dessert. Will this winter ever end?
---later, Jack

Why do vacations have to come to an end? Haha. Mine is wrapping up in a few hours as another blast from Old Man Winter is on its way to Delta County.

During the nine days I was gone, I saw temperatures in the 50's and 60's in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. I had a great time walking around Becky's family's property, or sitting on a picnic table in the community park eating a ham sandwich and chips. Or going to the zoo (pictured here).
It wasn't a Florida vacation, or a trip to Cancun or to Hawaii. But to me, it was an excellent week.
Before I go...a congratulations to Gladstone second grader Austin Solis for winning a national gold medal championship at the NUWAY national wrestling finals on Sunday. Several other Gladstone wrestlers also did well there. I have posted the results at rrnsports.com.
And as for the weather? Well, a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 2:00 Monday afternoon across the Central U.P. for rain, snow, and high winds. Take it easy out there.
---later, Jack 

MUNDELEIN, IL--APRIL 11, 2014-1:39 A.M. CT
Good news and bad news.
The good news is that I went to a mall down here Thursday and got some great deals on new shoes and a couple pairs of jeans. The bad news is that Becky wasn't feeling well, so we did not go to the Chicago Cubs baseball game as planned.

That might be good news, too, since the Cubs lost to Pittsburgh, 5-4. I also bought a few bumper stickers, and now the back of my vehicle looks awesome. I need to find a Red Wings bumper sticker to finish decorating my Ford Escape!
I want to wish the Escanaba Eskymos baseball team good luck in their season-opener Friday evening at Appleton North, and the same good luck to the Gladstone Braves as they play in Appleton on Saturday. Sorry I can't be there, but I will rely on some of the Moms to give me some photos and stats and I will let you know how the boys did on RRNSports.com.

And I will be with both of my baseball teams next week.
Also, I want to congratulate former NMU goaltender Jared Coreau for being called up again by the Detroit Red Wings. I know that it's only for this weekend while the Wings play against Carolina and St. Louis, and I know that Jared has struggled in the minor leagues.
But this is a good experience for him to be around an NHL playoff team and I wish him the best.

---later, Jack

MUNDELEIN, IL--APRIL 10, 2014-12:55 A.M. CT
What were you doing in the Spring of 1990?
As for me, I was completing my freshman year as a student at Northern Michigan University.
I was a skinny kid who was taking 16 credits and also working at the North Wind campus newspaper, working at WJPD Radio, and working in the NMU Sports Information office.
Well, the Spring of 1990 was the last time the Detroit Red Wings did not make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
This 2013-14 season looked like it would be the end of the streak for the Wings because so many top players have been out with injuries.

But the Red Wings have buckled down and in their last 13 games, they have won eight, lost three, and lost two in overtime or shootouts. That's 18 out of a possible 26 points, and we can mostly think the kids that were brought up from the minor leagues for that streak.

Guys like Gustaf Nyquist, Thomas Jurco, Thomas Tatar, Luke Glendenning, and Riley Sheahan have been huge. Sheahan scored the goal Wednesday night that sent the game against Pittsburgh into overtime, guaranteeing the Wings the last point they needed in the standings to clinch a playoff spot.
It's an amazing accomplishment for the Red Wings franchise to be in the playoffs for 23 straight years. That is the longest such streak of any team in any professional sport.
Can the Wings pull the big upset in the first round against either the Boston Bruins of Pittsburgh Penguins? I wouldn't put it past this MASH unit that is suddenly coming together!
And one quick thing....I went to a zoo down here today and it was an enjoyable time with family, with a nice warm breeze. Very relaxing. Going to the Green Bay zoo later this week, probably on Sunday, once we head our way north!
---later, Jack

MUNDELEIN, IL--APRIL 9, 2014-1:38 A.M. CT
A little bit of rain down here, but I am not going to complain when it is 60 degrees during the day and around 40 or so at night. Not after the winter we have had.

It has been a relaxing time away from home. Just laying around the hotel for a few hours on a weekday afternoon (instead of being in my office at the radio station) is a real treat!
I ended up at a couple of malls today, which isn't my favorite thing to do. But I did find a sweet sports collectables store in one of the malls and I bought a few things. Including a brand new Chicago Cubs hat (pictured!). And I will be there at Wrigley Field Thursday to watch the Cubs' game against the Pirates!
Speaking of baseball...the Escanaba Eskymos have cancelled their games this Saturday against Shawano, and next Tuesday's game against Norway. Al Ness Field is still in winter-mode. Eskymo Athletic Director Dave Wilson texted me Tuesday to say the EHS baseball team will play against Appleton North this Friday at 5:30, but in Appleton, not Escanaba.

It looks like my first Gladstone Braves baseball broadcast will be in Peshtigo next Tuesday the 15th, and my first Escanaba Eskymos baseball broadcast will be in Marinette next Thursday the 17th. I'll let you know more when I get a more detailed (and revised) schedule.
---later, Jack

FOND DU LAC, WI--APRIL 8, 2014-1:07 A.M. CT
Still enjoying looking at grass and walking on bare sidewalks....rather than icy and slushy pathways!
I think this winter took a toll on me more than any other, and I've lived in cold climate areas my whole life. I know a lot of people, young and old, who were really affected by this winter.
So, it has been a simple pleasure to walk in and out of stores and restaurants down here in southern Wisconsin, even with a light rain sprinkle falling on us tonight. Becky commented that the rain "smelled good" as we walked from our hotel to the restaurant this evening.
It was also good for me to see my buddy Matt Weyers. He is a Gladstone boy who is a third-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I've known him and his family since Matt was ten years old, through all the years of Little League and American Legion Baseball.
When he graduated from Gladstone, we've kept in touch.

That is a great part of my job as a sports radio broadcaster: to be able to watch kids grow up, and then contimue to be friends with them as they become adults.
Speaking of Gladstone baseball...Coach Don Lauscher called me Monday to let me know that the Braves will open their season this Saturday with a doubleheader against Appleton North.
But the site is changed...the games will be in Appleton, where I can confirm that there is no snow on the ground...instead of in Gladstone. Game time this Saturday is 1:00 ET.
We're in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for the night. It's on to suburban Chicago from here!
---later, Jack

OSHKOSH, WI--APRIL 7, 2014---12:11 A.M. CT
The Upper Peninsula's two girls hockey teams competing at the national tournament in suburban Buffalo over the weekend represented us well.
The Marquette Sentinels and Keweenaw Storm both went undefeated in their brackets, heading into Sunday's USA Hockey national championship games. Unfortunately, both teams lost their games by 2-1 scores...Marquette lost to Charles River, Mass., in the Under-16 bracket...and Keweenaw lost to Cape Cod, Mass., in the Under-19 bracket.
Those are heartbreaking losses, for sure, but what a great run for the U.P. girls. Allison Carlson scored 18 goals in the tournament for Marquette, while Jessica Schlaff had seven goals for Keweenaw, including two game-winners.
While I'm sure the girls are heartbroken, they should also be proud of their accomplishments. I mean, how many of us have made it to a national tournament, let alone make it to the championship game? It shows that our kids can compete with anybody.
As for me, I'm enjoying my vacation, with my girlfriend and sister. We're in Oshkosh to do some shopping, then it's on to Chicago to visit some family and maybe go to a baseball game. The Florida trip may have been cancelled, but hey, the weather's nice down here and the snow has melted. I've seen grass for the first time in months!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--APRIL 4, 2014-1:00 A.M.
The calendar says "April", but all of the Upper Peninsula is under a Winter Storm Warning Friday. Meteorologist Keith Cooley at the National Weather Service in Marquette says they're concerned about the amount of ice that will fall in the counties that border Lake Michigan.

In those areas, he says that the forecast raises the concern for power outages throughout the day on Friday as ice knocks down branches and weighs down power lines.

Meanwhile, most of the Upper Peninsula will see six to eight inches of wet, heavy snow, which will make travel difficult. Western Marquette County, northern Dickinson and Iron Counties, and all of the western U.P. are getting ready for as much as 18 inches of snow by Friday night.

The Michigan Department of Transportation advised motorists to cancel their Friday travel plans if possible. "Don't drive unless it's absolutely necessary," said M-DOT Spokesman Dan Weingarten in Ishpeming. He said that M-DOT plows, along with those from the region's county road commissions, will work had to keep at least the main highways passable during the storm.

Bay deNoc Community College, known for rarely cancelling classes, took heed of the warnings and called off Friday's classes Thursday night for both the Escanaba and Iron Mountain campuses.

Most Central U.P. school districts are already closed for Spring Break. Several western U.P. school districts cancelled Friday's classes during the evening on Thursday as the storm approached.

I am on vacation! But my colleagues at RRN will keep you updated.

---later, Jack

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