Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Around The Horn

Chris Bosh is facing a child support suit in the US.
I just hope that this is just an isolated incident and isn’t the beginning of The Shawn Kemp Story Part 2.

World Baseball Classic is now over and Japan is 2 for 2 and defended their title.I must say for a game that I had little invested in it was a great game and very close and exiting all the way and the last 3 innings were as intense and interesting as any MLB playoff game that I have seen since the 1995 World Series with my Braves in it.
a) Starting the game at 9:30 est and going into extra innings and ending after 1am is not going to be good for ratings...especially if the US arn’t going to be in the finals.
b) Is it actually the Asian Baseball classic?
c) will this ever become as big as say the Rider Cup in 20 years or does the US not care enough about it?
d) If Japan won this versus S. Korea, can we really call a Red Sox vs Braves final a “World” Series Matchup? At least each of those 2 teams has a Japanese player on the roster.

Jennifer Jones and Team Canada are 9-1 at the Woman’s World Curling Championships.

This is only mentioned because I am a fan of Ms. Jones and am always rooting for her to do well and move forward.

Pierre Lueders should be very careful if he wants to make it to the Vancouver Olympics.
With the injury history of Jesse Lumsden maybe he may net be the best person to hurl yourself down a hill of ice with.

Q: What do you call a Soccer fan with an IQ of 10?
A: Supremely gifted!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blackhawks Ice Crew

During a scouting mission for my new favorite Western Conference team I had to watch the Chicago Blackhawks vs LA Kings game on WGN. The Blackhawks would be a good team to throw my support behind but they are too good right now and are in the playoffs so that has taken them out of contention for my support. After years of being VERY bad they have managed to draft well (bad teams and top picks will help in that regard) and are now seeing the results paying off. Even the fans are getting behind them and are filling the United Center. I was watching this game to evaluate the LA Kings and see what they had and if they were worthy of my support. When I post my series on the teams I will make a case for them as they are an early front runner.

What I did see while watching the game was that of the many US arenas that I would like to watch a game, The United Center is one of the tops on the list. They always said that Old Chicago Stadium was one of the best and loudest places to play. That may be true but right now the United Center is more then holding their own. It has everything to do with the team on the Ice. Sure the Blackhawks are fun to watch but I am talking about the Hawks Ice Crew. They put every other team to shame. This is some fine marketing and a great idea. Not only do these lovely ladies do a great job managing the ice but they are all style while doing it.

I think that The Ottawa Senators should adopt this idea, it would be great for ice conditions as well as the total entertainment value while at the game.. Mr. Mlakar think about that for next year to turn around the fortunes of the team. Just look at what having Mike Fisher sign Carrie Underwood then trading for Hillary Duff...errr Mike Comrie did to help the team change their loosing ways.

To learn more about the Ice Crew visit the Chicago Blackhawks website: http://blackhawks.nhl.com/icecrew/0809icecrew.htm

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Road to the Sweet 16

Round 2 of the tournament is in mid swing and the first line up of games were just like the seedings would predict and that made for some games that were never close. The Villanova game for example falls in that category.it wasn’t until the 5pm games that things started to get interesting. The North Carolina Tar Heals had more then their hands full with LSU and may have been forced to use their star guard Lawson more then they would have wanted. I had that game streaming as I have UNC to will it all in my brackets and it is way to early for them to be upset and blow things up for me. The other game that I had streaming was MY Michigan Wolverines. Sure I knew that they were going to loose but as a true fan it is my duty to watch and cheer. They were right there for 3/4 of the game and offered a glimmer of hope for an upset. Unfortunately in the end they fell to the #2 seed Oklahoma. The 3rd game that I had up on the stream was Purdue-Washington..I had Washington in the bracket and that one was the true down to the wire game that screwed up my perfect West region that I had going...jerks.

While all this was going on I managed to have the Ottawa Senators-NY Islanders hockey game audio on and the Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens Game on the TV. Nice to have multi games available on a Saturday night!!

Lakers-Bulls and Vancouver-Coyotes game for the tv and the 12 seeded W. Kentucky-4 seeded Gonzaga and Duke-Texas streamed on the computer. Texas looked like they may have put themselves into a position to become an upset in the making but Duke being Duke managed to beat Texas and sent them home...more times then Leave it to Beaver, reruns. The Gonzaga game was more tournament like...wow that was a wild finish. It is crazy that some of these kids have the mental make-up to execute in some of the pressure situations that they are put into. W. Kentucky was clearly seeded wrong as they may have been one of the best #12 team I have seen in a long time.

Second Half of Day 2 of the Madness

WOW, apparently the Friday’s special was upsets with a side of overtimes.

Cleveland State-Wake Forest was one of the biggest upsets, not only because it was a 13 defeating a 4 but it was the way that it happened and just how bad of a blowout the 84-69 Final really was. Wisconsin-Florida State 61-59 OT Final was crazy right down to the last play in overtime with yet another 5-12 upset. Siena-Ohio State 74-72 2OT Final came down to a “three-for-all”, as Siena nailed a 3 with 4 seconds left in the 2nd overtime to seal the 8-9 upset.

Once again both games were back and forth and it was all that The Score to do to keep up with each game flipping back and forth between the two during whistles and time outs. EVEN MORE MADNESS!

This is why the NCAA tournament is what it is, memorable games, exciting finishes overtimes and buzzer beaters! Bring on the next round of games, but it will be tough to top what has already happened!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 2- March Madness

After an excellent opening day to the NCAA Tournament one would figure that day 2 wouldn’t be able to equal or match the quality or excitement...thankfully that was not the case. Day 2 started the day with 2 edge-of-your-seat games. Tennessee-Oklahoma State and Utah State -Marquette. Both games were back and forth and it was all that The Score to do to keep up with each game flipping back and forth between the two during whistles and time outs. MADNESS!

The next round of games in the 2pm schedule also had its share of excitement. 16 seed East Tennessee State gave one heck of a performance vs 1 seed Pitt. No #16 has ever beaten a #1, that trend continued this time but very late in the game it look like it may be possible. Pitt survived a nice scare for sure. As for the upset game it was Dayton vs West Virginia. I know that there weren't too many people who saw Dayton taking this game, in any event it was a very exciting game.

It will be interesting to see if the 7pm games will offer up the same sort of excitement as the afternoon games, only time will tell.

As for the best event from day 1 was North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough's taking the ACC all time scoring lead. It is a great fit for the fact that not only did Tyler go to school, stay in school the full time, put up this amount of points and become one of, if not the greatest college player ever (whether that equates to NBA success remains a huge debate). Most importantly he took the record from not only a player from the Tar Heals biggest rivals from Duke but that player was none other then JJ Reddick. Reddick as I have suspected for many years was at Duke for like 8 years, It seemed like he would just never leave and that is why he was able to put up so many points. Reddick is like the Carlo Colaiacovo of college basketball, you know, the guy who was a top prospect for like 6 years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 1 - Let The Madness Begin

Day 1 of March Madness is now in full force and many of the games have been played with just the late games left to be played. There was little in the way of major upsets so far. There were a couple of 7-10 games that went the way of the 10 seeds but none more impressive then those feisty boys from Ann Arbor. Yes that is right, my Michigan Wolverines managed to pull off the upset over Clemson in a tight hard fought game that Michigan managed just to hang on to win. 1 win in the first round shouldn’t make me that happy but for this Michigan team it is huge. I don’t expect them to win another in the tournament, and in fact I am just happy that they finally made it back. It has been 11 years since the Wolverines have even qualified for the big dance. Sure there may have been some NCAA discipline that may have prevented them for a few of those but now they are in. This is no Fab Five for sure but it is a start.I would have liked to see them in the classic yellow or white jerseys not the navy but maybe next game.

As for the rest of the day thus far, games were what we should expect, some blowouts from the #1-16 games and some very close games that went down to the wire.

I had the set up going- 1 game on the TV and used the March Madness on Demand to get 2 others streaming on the computer. It was a great set up and allowed me to stay on top of 3 games at the same time. Madness times call for Madness measures I guess. I did have to break that a bit and throw up the Senators-Canadiens game but had the Michigan game on the computer, so all was good.

I know all about the close games as I decided to play a few tickets on Proline even broke down some games and hedged my bets to cover myself and ensure even just a small payout and.....well lets just say... that needless 3 pointers late in a game that you are clearly going to loose helps NO ONE! Win by 6, tell that to the players, it is like that useless field goal in a football game. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like kissing your sister (I know your sister, and that would not be a cause for celebration for sure). My great plan was crushed and that was some well wasted money. So outside of the 4 brackets that I filled out that is where my outside interest stops. I will watch the games for entertainment and the fun of the brackets but no more Proline. Apparently I have done something to anger the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming).

Time now for the late games! OOHHH, look who we have up....Duke and as we all know “Certainly Duke is Duke. They're on TV more than Leave it to Beaver reruns” - Former Providence coach Pete Gillen

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top Canadian Female Sportscasters

Before the NCAA tournament begins and the networks will have plenty of coverage of the favorites, all the Mid-Majors and the Cinderella's. I figured that this would be a good time to give a look at some of the faces that you may see feeding you the scores, the highlights and the video and the audio. There was a time where you would almost never see a female on a sports show, maybe on the sideline but even that was a stretch. Now there are many female sportscasters not just sideline reporters but also in prominent and even head anchor spots. The best part of it is that yes they are attractive that is a huge bonus but they are also very talented and knowledgeable. I have chosen to give a quick look at what Canada is bringing to this party.

Because this is a Canadian list that is part of the reason why there are only small head shots. It seems that it is much easier to find good pictures of their American counterparts. In addition the limited number of national sports channels limits the scope of this list but to be able to make a list of 10 with so few options says something for the overall depth.

10. Jody Vance - Leafs TV
Jody was at Sportsnet for a while before moving to Leafs TV. That may play a role on why she has slipped to #10. Also without the national platform she isn’t in plain view anymore and that seems to have cost her a few positions.
9. Christie Chorley - The Score
Not sure if she is still there but seems to be deserving of a top finish. Lesser role and smaller network may hold her back.
8. Daru Dhilon - Roger's Sportsnet
Limited in her role on the network doesn’t work in her favor and doesn’t allow her sports knowledge to be shown.
7. Chantal Machabee - RDS
Basically the only female on the french sister network to TSN. Can’t understand french but I will presume that she is good and is a true professional.
6. Cassie Campbell - CBC Sports/ HNIC
Cassie is a former captain of the women’s national hockey team and not does games for Hockey Night in Canada. She doesn’t do much colour work in the booth but is actually very good when she has and does a great job whenever else she is on camera.
5. Jennifer Hedger - TSN
She should be higher on the list but seems to have slipped. She has done nothing to fall but credit the others on earning a promotion. Some ahead have matured in there roles and Jennifer seems to be a little over tanned.
4. Holly Horton - TSN
She is the dark horse in my list. Back in the day when she had just started, she very raw and her ability was questionable. Over time she have become a first rate anchor, her delivery and knowledge is top notch and she managed to get more attractive which is a nice bonus.
3. Sara Orlesky - TSN
Sara is still finding her voice but does a good job in whatever assignment she does. On screen she is easy on the eyes and that has vaulted her into a top 3 finish.
2. Martine Gaillard - Roger’s Sportsnet
Martine was good on The Score but was notorious for her looks changing on a weekly basis, you never know what look she would throw at you from week to week. Now on Sportsnet she has been stable and always looking top notch. Her ability is top notch and I would give her the nod as the #1 female sportscaster in Canada. It is also an advantage that Sportsnet does a better job of getting their people out to be seen in other forums. Getting time on the FAN 590 (A Rogers station) helps.
1. Evanka Osmak - Roger’s Sportsnet
Evanka has also come a long way from her start and has become a solid sportscaster in her own right. Still a small step behind Martine in overall ability but continually getting better. This is clearly just a shallow, physical reason why she get top billing but still very deserving. Also working in her favor as with Martine is that she has more exposure and I know more about her background and more behind the person info then just in front of the camera.

At this point I will mention to all those who remember Hazel Mae and think that she would be at the top of this list had she not left for NESN (New England Sports Network), she would not! She actually would be lucky if she even makes my list. I didn’t like her doing the morning update show, didn’t like her style and didn’t care for the overall presentation. I just didn’t find her that attractive either. I was glad that she opted to move on.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Test" Failed - Former WWE Wrestler Found Dead

Well I guess that it was just a matter of time. Yet another pro wrestler has died at a very young age. Canadian Andrew “Test” Martin was found in his Florida apartment March 13th after a neighbor noticed that he hadn’t moved in several hours. Test was one that may not come as as big a surprise that he passed so prematurely. When your ring name is a short form for “Testosterone” there is little left to the imagination. Although there has not been an official cause of death, foul play was not suspected. I guess that is up for ones definition of foul play. Martin failed a drug test and was suspended under the promotion's wellness policy in February 2007 and that could be construed as foul. He was arrested on a DUI charge near his Tampa home in April 2008. Clearly Test had many demons, and it would appear that they eventually caught up to him.

Despite all his troubles he has had his share of success in the ring holding several titles and romances with Stephanie McMahon and Stacey Keibler and outside the ring with a real life romance with Keibler and most recently with Kelly Kelly.
He must have been a decent guy in real life because he sure came off as a real douche as a wrestler and really not a very good one. He was just big, not overly talented.

Martin joins a long list of young wrestlers who prematurely died, most from causes stemming from substance-abuse. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Mike "Crash Holly" Lockwood, Bryan "Crush" Adams, Davey Boy Smith, Rick Rude, Miss Elizabeth are among Martin's WWE contemporaries who have passed away. Just remember as well, this is a very small portion of the list of wrestler's who have passed very early. The list is just too long to get into in its entirety.

It is sad that this Male Soap Opera has such a dark side and takes so many so young.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thank You and Goodbye Killer!

March 15th, 2009 marked the last game that 67’s Coach Brian Kilrea would work a regular season game behind the bench. Now he still has a playoff run ahead as they will play Niagara in the first round and will still stay on as GM of the team. Kilrea has been with the 67s as coach since Sept. 27, 1974 minus 2 seasons as an assistant with the New York Islanders, has the most wins by a coach and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. All you ever hear about him is that the players that he has come in as boys and leave as respectful men. It is kind of funny when, by all accounts, that a Kilrea story can’t be told because of the expletives yet he manages young men and moulds them into not only good hockey players but good members of society.

I was lucky enough to be there in person 4rows from the glass right behind the net to take in this special event as “Killer” was saluted with an almost 40-minute pre-game ceremony.There was a few video messages played before he addressed the crowd. Former Springfield Indians teammate and friend Don Cherry and TV sidekick Ron MacLean said some nice words, as well as from former 67's goaltender-turned-broadcaster Darren Pang and Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky sent on their regards as well. There was a nice video tribute that highlighted his career showing him scoring the first goal in LA Kings history to his many triumphs behind the bench, including him lifting the Memorial Cup. Kilrea now has 1,193 wins in 2,157 games behind the bench. Both numbers are Canadian junior records. The CHL's coach of the year award is also named after Kilrea. He then addressed the crowd with a very moving speech, which he almost got through until the end when he got a little choked up when talking about the most recent honor bestowed upon him...a donation to CHEO by the team and the OHL to name an educational teaching room after him. It is only fitting that his name be linked with developing youth. A banner to commemorate Kilrea's career was also raised to the rafters.

In a fitting tribute the 67s managed a 5-3 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs in Killers last game. Logan Couture scored a hat trick on some pretty goals to lead the team to victory. In 2 very classy moves at the end of the game the team held their sticks like an arch as Killer walked under and off the ice and then there was the announcement that there were 4 stars, 1 Frontenac, Juilan Demers who was the 3rd star, Couture was 2nd and of course then Brian Kilrea was the games first star.
As a fan of junior hockey it was really great to be in attendance for this and just be apart of the 10,000+ standing room only crowd as Ottawa said goodbye to a legend. It will be interesting next year for Killer not to be behind the bench but hopefully incoming coach Chris Byrne can continue in the success that the team has come to enjoy. It will be tough for sure as you can’t fill the shoes of a legend. I am sure that he will do a great job and become a good coach in his own right after his success in Nepean as coach of the JR A. Raiders.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Final 8 CIS Championship

Ottawa is hosting Canada’s version of the Elite 8 in a championship tournament format for Men’s CIS Basketball. Concordia, Calgary, Dalhousie, UBC, Ottawa, Western, StFX, Carleton all made the cut this year and took the trip to Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place. The Carlton Raven’s are again the #1 ranked team heading in and look to continue the dynasty that coach Dave Smart has in place.

I was lucky enough to gain entry to the second double header of the quarter finals Friday night. A buddy scored up some sweet seats and offered up a ducket. Actually to be fair the seats were not the best but the location was PRIMO. The seats were folding chairs which was ok but they were placed on the floor and only 4 rows back...oh yeah pretty much centre court. Lets just say that it gives you different perspective on the game when you are at that level for sure. It would have been a bit better had the rows been raised a bit and staggered but when you are at that level and you get the tickets free you really are in no position to criticise. Also you’d think that by now I would learn to bring a good camera to events like this, but alas another rookie mistake on my part and had nothing but my crappy 1.3mp phone and that is why the pictures, well, suck.

Not unlike the game that was played with Kansas when they came to plat the Ravens and Gee Gees, this event was also sponsored by milk. Like I said before in one of my posts, nothing says basketball like a nice carton of milk! Mmmmm thirst quenching after a good game of ball

This is no place to sugar coat things, this is not NCAA ball, far from it (actually from what I saw Carleton may be an exception to that). In the first game you could tell that Ottawa and Western may not be on the same level as some others in the tournament. It appeared that they don’t practice foul shooting...ever, as I have never seen more missed free throws since Shaq in 2001. That game was played at a fairly slow pace and was more of a half court game, When they did run it seemed to wind up as a miss or a turnover. Ottawa was fairly outmatched from the outset and were only in the game at the beginning.

The second game was just a blowout from the get go when Carleton plated St. FX. It was actually one of the stranger games I have watched. In warm up both teams were making shots, running dripps and both looked crisp. During the game St. FX played hard, shot decently and created some difficulties with some good pressure and a strong full court press. I know sounds like that would make for a nail biter doesn’t it? Not so much, Carleton crushed them 94-57. It was weird it was the closest and most even blowout I have ever seen. If you didn’t look at the scoreboard you’d think it was a close even game.

That is a big difference being there and not watching it on tv with commentators. Without knowing some of the back stories or basically anything about the teams you are going in blind and may miss on some of the small things of the game.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pre-Tournament Classic - Game Goes To 6 Overtimes

Someone tell Donovan McNabb that there may be ties in football but there are defiantly no ties in basketball. Much like the song from Sherry Lewis and Lamb Chop, it was the game that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends. Some people started playing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue playing it forever just because....

The Syracuse Orange and the UCONN Huskies battled last night at Madison Square Garden that went from being a regular conference tournament game into the longest game in Big East tournament history and the second-longest game in the history of NCAA Division I basketball. Syracuse ended up the victors with an upset of the number 3 ranked team from UCONN 127-117 victory that went 6 overtimes and spanned three hours and 46 minutes - the game started at 9:36 p.m. Thursday and ending at 1:22 a.m. Friday. The game almost ended in regulation on a buzzer beater but after review the last frame showed the last dimple on the ball was still in the shooters hand as time expired.

You know that these two teams will always remember the history they made the night they went 70 minutes at the Garden.

If this is any indication on how much Madness there will be this March, we should look to be treated to some epic games.

As the PA man said, "Have a safe trip home, and good morning."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March Madness- Time To Bust the Bracket

It is almost that time of the year again when the world of pro sports takes a backseat to the college ranks. Much like New Years day is known for all the college bowl games March is here and it is time to unleash the MADNESS...March Madness that is.

The fun will all start with Selection Sunday only a few days away when we find out who is in, who is out, who got the number 1 seeds and find out where Weber State is. I looked on a map of the US and A and did not see the state of Weber, maybe it is hidden under part of Texas, Texas is pretty big you know.

This is a time for the under dog and the Cinderella team to shine and put their tiny school on the map even if it is only for a few weeks in March. A time where a number 5 seed will fall to that number 12 seed. A time where some unknown kid becomes a household name, where his 15 minutes of fame may be a basket with 0.4 seconds on the clock. A time when we hear things like Sweet 16 Elite 8 and Final Four

It is a time when knowing absolutely nothing about sports or basketball is the best. I know it sounds weird to say but you know it is a fact that the secretary in your office will fill out her (or his) bracket with no idea anything about anything and wind up winning the thing because she likes the colour Baby Blue (this is not an endorsement for the North Carolina Tar Heals, even if there is a good chance they may take it).

It is also that time when those who are die-hard Young and the Restless fans have to suffer through the show to end all shows getting pre-empted for basketball coverage. Sorry to be the barer of bad news but please don’t shoot the messenger. I do feel your pain, but it is only a couple of days and I am sure you can make it few days without finding what is really going to happen between Jack and Victor and the triumphant return of Danny Romalotti and Snapper Foster!

So come Sunday get that bracket printed and engage in the fun of “Busting the Bracket!” it is one of the best events in all of sports.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Old "Hab"-it - Gainey Takes Over As Coach

There have been some big moves of late in the sporting world. Over the course of the NHL year 7 coaches have been fired already. 1 in the Western Conference and 6 in the East. The most recent is Guy Carbonneau in Montreal. It was believed that with the personal relationships and ties to to team that he would be difficult to fire him and the only way that he would leave if he stepped down. Not so much and now he is gone and Bob Gainey has taken over the team.

"Not long ago, I responded to a question: What was the best decision I made as (Canadiens) GM? And hiring Guy was my best decision," Gainey said Monday at a news conference. "Today this decision might seem contradictory, but in the last eight weeks our performance has been below average, and I believe that a change of the direction at ice level was necessary. With 16 games left in the season, I believe that the change was necessary to maximize our chances of being one of the teams to participate in the playoffs this spring." Gainey said

The Canadiens have been a struggling team of late and are now in a very dangerous area in the standings. They are in 5th place but only 2 points up on 9th. Any slip up and they could fall further then the Ottawa Senators did last year and manage to become bigger choke artists then the Mets in their epic collaps.

It will be interesting to see if Gainey can right the ship in the few games that are left and get the Habs playoff bound, because if he doesn’t this will be a VERY different looking team next year with nearly half the roster left unsigned next season. Jobs are on the line and there are a lot of prospects in Hamilton that are very close to making the team and many veterans who may not be welcome back. The 5 year plan might have to start from ground zero if things don’t go as planned.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Battle Of The Young-Stars

Rivalries come and go in sports all the time. There have always been battles through the years between teams. Whether it be due to repeated playoff meetings, divisional match ups or strictly geographical. Celtics- Lakers, Michigan-Ohio State, Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins, Cowboys-Redskins, Senators-Leafs, Flames-Oilers and of course Yankees-Red Sox and so on.

With that also comes personal rivalries. Usually those are sparked when 2 elite level players are either so good that they match up well or are involved in a team rivalry and it escalates to a “Whatever you can do, I can do better”. It seems that it is more a basketball thing because 1 player can make more of a team impact then the other sports. Recent memory has Magic vs Bird, Jordan vs the NBA...Jordan was just that much better, Reggie Miller vs Spike Lee (Ok that may be a stretch but hey, it is funny), Kobe vs Shaq. But right now there is a new battle that is taking form and it is probably the best thing for the NHL - Sidney Crosby and sidekick Evgeni Malkin going head to head with Alexander Ovechkin and his boy wonder Alexander Semin.

Despite the collaboration at the All Star game between Malkin and Ovechkin there still is some dislike I believe. Semin and Ovetchkin have been very critical of Crosby of late and both sides have thrown out some barbs, both on the ice and in the media. Crosby has taken exception to how Ovechkin handles himself on the ice, especially his celebrations while on the other side Ovechkin has said that Crosby is a talker and a whiner. This give Capitals-Penguins games a nice bit of intrigue above and beyond the game and may just be what hockey needs, 2 of the top players going head to head with real emotion and dislike. Bird Magic saved the NBA, maybe this will do the same for the NHL. Should be interesting to see how this storey plays out.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Canada Falls To USA In A Thriller

Canada and the United States have opened up play at the Rogers Centre in the World Baseball Classic and it was a classic. The Canadian squad is a good looking group yet again. When you can throw out hitters like Matt Stairs, Joey Votto, Russell Martin, Jason Bay and former MVP Justin Morneau you know that you should be able to score some runs. The pitching is thin as all the big names aren't there for a variety of reasons and that could prove to be the difference. Despite that, today's 6-5 loss to team USA the team looked good. 40,000+ were on their feet for the last 3 innings and were ever so close to pull out an upset again this year versus the Americans.

As a Canadian, anytime you watch a team with the Maple Leaf Flag on it is tough to ignore and easy to root for. Whether it is Hockey or baseball, curling or basketball pride takes over. The only exception would be soccer because 1) They are not good, there is no real league or coverage for them so it is tough to associate or recognize them and 2) It is soccer so who cares..it is just wrong that during the course of wearing the uniform in play that when they do the customary crying and grabbing their leg after a fake injury occasionally a fake tear may fall on the Canadian Crest.

It was great to see an awesome emotional game not only this early in the year but just having baseball back on is a sight for sore eyes.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Senators-Oilers Game At The Bank

The final ticket from my World Juniors package came up last night when the Senators played the Edmonton Oilers. The "experiment" of going to games solo has been done and on the whole it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. The first 2 Sens games were not the greatest games as far as the product on the ice, but the Junior games were awesome and an experience that was great both as a hockey fan and a Canadian. This game held It's own too and seemed to make up for the first 2 dud games. The fact that Dany Heatley scored and had a good game may play a large part in it but that is fine by me. I have come to the conclusion that going to a sporting even solo is ok but am still pretty sure that is still isn’t right to go to the movies alone, maybe I will tackle that sometime down the road.

As I have done before I have a list of what went down and what I have learned during this season long exercise.

1. Jason Spezza’s goal 12 seconds in (a new Senators record for fastest goal to start a game) started the game in the right direction. It looked like he used the Mighty Ducks style "Triple Deek" to score the goal. It was then that I had to check the Sens bench to make sure that it was Cory Clouston back there and not Emilio Estevez aka. Gordon Bombay.
2. As usual I was seated beside a young child, but this one was very well behaved and sat on her moms lap most of the game so that free up even more space on the side which was nice. Yet again I was next to a couple. It is without fail that that would happen so it didn’t catch me off guard, but that doesn’t make it right. She was pretty tiny and not-not attractive so that was good and there was decent room for legs and arms. I managed to get over that whole deal fairly early on and despite that still managed to enjoy the game.

To the dude in front: the term sitting on the edge of your seat is just an expression, don’t take it literally. If you have a big head sitting that far forward just impedes the vision of those behind you.

As it turns out I like free swag, even if it is a Sens Army streamer thingy. Unfortunately there was none last night which may have put things over the top but it is what it is.

Oiler fans have to come to grips with the fact that it has been 6 years since Mike Comrie was there and it is probably about time to stop the need to boo him every time he touches the puck. Maybe at this point it is more Lindsay Lohan fans that are booing him now because of Hillary Duff and not Edmonton fans, who knows. 6. Even with only 17,000+ in attendance still the usual 20min wait in the parking lot, I have come to grips with that and am not too bothered anymore, just more time to listen to the post game show...what I do hate is the people who weasel and aggressively maneuver their way into line and then not give a courtesy wave...common courtesy it isn’t too much for a quick wave.

In conclusion the World Juniors Ticket Package purchase looks to be a success both as a sociological experiment as well as from an entertainment standpoint. Getting to watch Team Canada play and getting out to watch a few Sens games....not too shabby.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ottawa Busy On Deadline Day

The trade deadline has come and gone and the Ottawa Senators have achieved what they have tried to do since the team was granted a franchise...get a number 1 goalie...we hope. Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick has been acquired for Antoine Vermette. Right now I see this as good deal, that being said I thought that the Gerber deal was good at the time so I am going to let some time pass before passing judgement. I like the idea for a french Canadian goalie with a Hockey Canada background. My only concern is that he was very good in Columbus and posted many shutouts, then got hurt....then Steve Mason came in and started posting shutouts. I just hope he is not just a beneficiary of being in a good system. Vermette always seems to have been on the block at the deadline and this year the shoe finally dropped. I like the fact that there was a draft pick involved as well which is always good.

The Filip Kuba 3 year contract extension came as a big surprise and I don’t think that that is a great deal. Seems like an awful lot to be giving a player of his ability, both in dollars and in term. $3.7M is ok but 3 years may be too long and I wonder how much money is left going forward. I was expecting that his signing was going to be part of another deal but apparently that is not the case. With a defence corps that is basically the same that is was with only the addition of Campoli I question. I saw that former Sen Tom Preissing was on waivers and would have probably taken him on as a waiver pickup and flipped Filip for youth or picks.

The fact that Ottawa didn’t deal Chris Neil was also a shocker. I was all for shipping him out and getting anything possible for him, even if it ended in a 6th round pick. I don’t think that he is as valuable as people think he is and perhaps the Senators have over valued him.

I was also a little surprised that Christoph Schubert or Jason Smith wern't on the move. There are a lot of bodies on the blue line but none that can be considered a number 1 or 2 offensive guy.

With what happened today it could make this years draft day a little more interesting, especially if Murray wants to change the culture a bit within the team. We will all keep an eye a see what happens.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

NHL D-Day...What Dealings Wil Be Done And By Whom?

With 3pm looming March 4th there has been little or no movement on the trade front. 1 Minor deal yesterday but other then that it has been quiet...perhaps too quiet. Today and yesterday there were a lot of players that were put on waivers. This will give teams the chance to bury some cap money in the AHL and free them up financially to pull the trigger on a deal. This may allow for more player- for-player deals then just players for draft picks.

What do teams on the cusp do, St. Louis and L.A. both potentially could make the playoffs but is that worth grabbing a player only to get pounded by San Jose or Detroit in the first round or get 1 last solid draft and stockpile prospects that you can move in the summer for perhaps an established point producer or 1-2 defenceman...guess we will know in a few hours!

More in hockey then any other sport deadline day has become a beast upon itself, buyers sellers and those who choose to stand pat. there seems to be a lot more teams this year that could be potential buyers but the leagues are so tight that it is tough for GM to decide to unload or load up. It looks like there will be the potential for more minor deals and role players being moved, I wouldn’t expect too many big name players being moved.

The hometown Senators are sellers for the first time in recent memory and it is up to Bryan Murray to shop some players who may fit into long term plans and try to get back some prospects to help out the depth in Binghamton, bolster the team going forward and or stockpile some all important draft picks in this salary cap system that they are in. Just a few rumored to go are Chris Neil, Filip Kuba, Christoph Schubert and again this year Antoine Vermette.

We will have to keep an eye on the ticker and stay on top of the happenings as teams begin to make their moves.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

NHL Trade Deadline 09

It is getting close to that time of the year when the NHL becomes a game of high stakes poker. With the trade deadline only a few days away GM’s are already looking at their team and where they are at and other teams on what they can get. The buzz words are all there ”buyer, seller, secondary scoring, puck-moving-defenceman, UFA (unrestricted free agent) and draft picks”.

TSN (TradeCenter 09) and Sportsnet (HockeyCentral Deadline 09) are all ready for a day of covering the happenings of the day, both going on the air at 8am until the 3pm deadline in hopes that there are an abundance of deals that take place to fill the time.If they take an hour to break down a 4th line player for a 5th round pick you’ll know it is a slow day.

Usually the Ottawa Senators are buyers at this time of year, but not this year they look to rid some money and some players and grab some youth and draft picks. Since they are not in the running to make a “right now move” the interest is in what they do with the players they have, who they get rid of and what they get in return. This is the angle that I am looking forward to, I am almost more interested in what draft picks get moved rather then some of the “big” names do. With the Word Juniors that was held in Ottawa and last years draft in Ottawa I have taken a shine to the young players and where they will end up.

With the inconsistent play this year the Sens have positioned themselves into probably a top 10 pick this year and it could be interesting to see what else they can get in the coffers.I am sure there will be plenty to have to say as Wednesday 3pm draws closer so stay tuned!

There is also another reason why I am interested in the developments not only going into the trade deadline but to see how the rest of the season plays out. Since the Senators are having an off year I have had the chance to look at some other teams and have come to the conclusion that I am in need of another team to cheer for. NO, I am not changing my allegiances from Sens Army, I will continue to Be Red, and plan to stay on the wagon. Teams can’t always be good (case in point my Atlanta Braves, 14 consecutive Division Champions, then a few years of sub .500 seasons). What I am looking for is more specific and perhaps a little more scientific.

Here is the criteria I am looking at, I don’t want it to be a front runner right now so it doesn’t look like I am jumping on a bandwagon, so teams like San Jose and Detroit are out. I have whittled the list down to probably 4 potential teams... in no particular order; Pheonix, St. Louis, Chicago, and L.A..

Over the next little bit I plan on posting Pros and Cons for each team before making a final decision. It would be helpful if you the reader would make a vote on the comments page as to what direction you think I should go and perhaps why. If there is another team in the West that you think deserves some interest by all means make a case for it. I will take it all into consideration when making a decision. Give me some feedback and if after the Pros/Cons changes your mind just leave a comment on those as well.