Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hockey on TV In The USA Still The Red Headed Stepchild

Saturday the NHL is on NBC again for their game of the week broadcast. Just the sounds of that takes us back to the early days of cable when that is what you would get is a Baseball Game of the Week, Football Game of the Week, Basketball Game of the Week, heck even then you could only get The Superstars of Wrestling on at noon on a Saturday.

The funny thing about the NHL and the deal with NBC that pays the league just about nothing or may even charge to get on TV (which wouldn’t surprise me), is that in the event that the Capitals vs Penguins game goes longer then 1 overtime NBC will drop it in all markets except Washington and Pittsburgh to make way for the Kentucky Derby. This has happened before and it did not play well, especially to fans who didn’t know that they were going to do it.

I understand that the Kentucky Derby is a big deal in the States and as a rights holder they pay a lot and get huge ratings for it. They need to carry the event there is no doubt about it. We get that and know that it is all about money. Sure the likelihood in today’s NHL that a game would make it to double overtime is slim you just wish there was a better plan for the 2nd class sport in the US to be shown. It is hard to grow a sport and make it look important if you are willing to break away at the most exciting part of the game....sudden death...or sudden victory to the optimist.

You would think that with the amount of channels out there that 1 channel could at least pick up the feed or have it run uninterrupted on another "sister network". It is deals like this that make you almost wonder why the league bends over backwards for them. Even though we don’t get it in Canada it may be time to get it back on ESPN at least that way the chance of people stumbling upon it is there and they have at least 8 channels that they can move games to.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Round 2 NHL Predictions

The first round of the NHL Playoffs is done after what was actually a fairly entertaining beginning. There were some teams that were over matched some teams that were upset and some that showed exactly what we thought. Every series had something that made it worth watching.So, ok here are the match ups for the Second Round of the NHL Playoffs and some quick predictions:

In The East
1) BOS vs. 6) CAR
Carolina showed some real team pride and had that never give up attitude and Cam Ward is playing pretty well. I never trusted him much but it is getting to the point that his play may not be a fluke. Boston played Montreal and has had a lot of time off so they were neither tested not banged up.
Carolina with the upset in 7 ( This is my long shot pick)

2) WAS vs. 4) PIT
This will be a great one to watch, both teams have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. It may come down to which goalie winds up standing on his head. The battle between Semin, OV, Sid and Malkin should be epic and a sweet dream for the NHL an there marketing people.
Pittsburgh in 6

In the West
2) DET vs. 8) ANA
Anaheim "upset" San Jose but had to play hard to get it done. There must be some sore players and be a little tired. If Hillard isn’t all world like he was in round 1 there will be little chance to take out the Red Wings. The Wings are poised to go back to back and now have the best team both on paper and more importantly on the ice.
Detroit in 6

3) VAN vs. 4) CHI
This is the series that I have the most interest in purely as a fan. After the pace that the Blackhawks played at vs Calgary and the skill they have up front should be fun to watch. It will be very interesting to see that offence go up against Roberto Luongo. The big question may be will the Canucks have enough fire power to keep up and beat Khabibulin aka the "Bulin Wall"
Chicago in 7

Let the games Begin

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick Hits

A Florida high school pitcher came up short in his bid to throw a fifth straight no-hit game. Patrick Schuster had thrown 4 straight no hitters in high school play. Any time you can throw1 let alone 4 no hitters in a row at any level above t-ball you must be at least pretty good. He is currently ranked the 79th best prospect -- the 42nd best high school prospect in the nation.

Six Olympic athletes have tested positive for doping in a re-testing of Beijing samples. It was told to The Associated Press Tuesday that tests caught three track and field athletes, two cyclists and one weightlifter. 2 of the athletes are medalists one on the track and the other a cyclist. Just when you thought that things from the summer Olympics could be considered over and done with these new allegations have cropped up. It is almost at the point that there is no reason to believe that anything you see is actually happening. Sports may be becoming the equivalent to going to Vegas and watching a magic show...all smoke and mirrors. Well at least it is entertaining if nothing else.

Reasons to root for the Blackhawks during the NHL Playoffs. 1. The youth that is leading the team like Toews, Kane and Havlat can be electrifying and bring you out of your seat. 2. The Ice Crew in Chicago will do exactly the same but in a different way and for different reasons. To see the auditions click here.

Tennis player Andy Roddick has won a Grand Slam and it has nothing to do with tennis. Roddick has married fashion model and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit sensation Brooklyn Decker. I think it is safe to say congratulations Andy....and we all hate you (but in a nice way).

A message to Carrie Underwood, when you are on TV or on a video screen at a sporting event, don’t duck down and hide, just take a page from Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. When appeared on the jumbotron at the Staples Center last week during an LA Lakers game, they didn't duck their heads but started making out instead. Lets just hope that Jack Nicholson doesn’t try to follow Justin’s lead. We don’t need Jack to try to bring Sexy Back.

In a smart move the New York Yankees have decided to cut the cost on more than 40 percent of their front-row seats by up to 50 percent and announced many of those who bought tickets closest to the field for $325-$2,500 will be eligible for additional free seats. There were hundreds of empty seats in “Premium” areas that have gone unfilled at New Yankee Stadium. Maybe if people in Toronto would do the same thing for Leafs games they may not raise ticket prices every year despite not making the playoffs since the lockout. At least with the Yankees they will win every now and again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Around The Horn

Capitals' Donald Brashear was suspended for a total of six games by the NHL for two separate incidents Brashear got one game for contact during the pre-game warm up with Colton Orr and five games for his late predatory hit to the head on Blair Betts in the first period.
Where is Marty McSorley when you need him? I thought this when it happened and this just emphasizes it, Marty could have done the game of hockey a favor had he managed to take Brashear out of the league. He can’t keep up and doesn’t have a place in the league anymore.

In another sad story, former NBA star Jayson Williams was taken down with a stun gun by police at his residence Monday after the reportedly suicidal athlete resisted attempts by officers to take him to a hospital. He was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, after a 2002 shooting of his driver and allegedly trying to cover it up but the jury deadlocked on a reckless-manslaughter count. A retrial is pending, and he has been free on bail since the shooting.
This athlete had a $68M contract with the NBA’s Nets. It is crazy to think that someone with that wealth would still conduct themselves is such a matter. Clearly he must be more then a little unbalanced and that is just something that fame and money just can’t buy your way out of.

Former Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ladislav Scurko faces 15 to 20 years in prison after admitting to police that he murdered a referee and buried him in the woods near Kosice, Slovakia in January 2008.What is with all these messed up stories, full moon or something???
How bad is a tripping call that you would kill a man over it? Apparently there are rumours of gambling that may have played a role in this. It will be interesting to see what more comes our about this.

Tigers placed backup catcher Matt Treanor on the 15-day disabled list for an injured hip.
Why would this end up on this list? It came to my inbox via an SI alert about AVP star and Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May, his wife. He must know how Mr. Mia Hamm - Ramon (Nomar) Garciapara feels on a daily basis. I just find it funny.

2 months of speculation is over and thankfully so is the NFL Draft. Matt Stafford was selected by the 0-16 Detroit Lions. He got a lot of money and even more pressure and expectations not only for himself to be great but to turn around a team that is barely treading water after years of poor upper management.
Maybe now sports talk radio can focus on something other then the useless information about 4.4 40 yard dashes and bench press reps and Wonderlic Test scores... ok maybe the Wonderlic is important, it did expose Vince Young as a big risk with questionable mental makeup to be an NFL QB.

USC Got another QB drafted in the first round in Mark Sanchez.
Funny that the are a pretty boys (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Sanchez..and lets throw in Matt Cassel even if he never really played at USC). What is Pete Carroll doing down there during recruiting? Building football teams or having castings for High School Musical?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Could Have Been The True Last Lap At Talladega

Brad Keselowski won his first Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway but it was Carl Edwards who was the talk of the race. Edwards car became airborne and sailed into the fence near the finish line. It was a chilling crash as seen by the pictures. Thankfully Edwards managed to get out of his car under his own power and then did his best Ricky Bobby - Talladega Night impression as he ran down the track to cross the finish line on foot, lord knows the car wasn’t going to make it that far. Talladega is a NASCAR regulated restrictor plate race. Basically for those who are not racing fans, Restrictor plates are used to combat the high speeds at NASCAR's two fastest tracks, and the plates typically keep the field bunched tightly together. One wrong move by a driver can and almost always cause a massive accident.

NASCAR put these restrictions on the cars at a few tracks known as the Superspeedways. It was a crash by Bobby Allison that led to this rule at this very track. In the attempt to slow the cars down to make things safer, they made the races more dangerous.

With all the cars only able to go the same speed and it is not like it is a slow speed either. All the cars will bunch up during the race creating a big pack still going at a high rate of speed. 1 small mistake by any of these cars will result in what is known in the NASCAR world as “The Big One” and every week that they are at one of these tracks before, during, and after the race they talk about the ‘Big One’. This is not something new. Fans know it, commentators know it and of course the drivers know it....and very few like it. Many people will tune into a race to see the racing, many others will tune in to see a wreck but these races are more then just a fender-benders...just ask Carl Edwards. "We'll race like this until we kill somebody," said Edwards, "then (NASCAR) will change it."

Where the accident happened it was also very lucky that the “Safety Fence” held up and prevented the debris and the actual car itself from flying into the stands and doing some serious damage and undoubtedly killing spectators. This event had all the potential to turning into one horrific tragedy. It is bad enough if a race car driver is hurt, but at least they know that they are always in a dangerous position when on the track, fans in the stands our for a fun afternoon of watching a race, usually with friends and family don’t expect to be taken out by sheet metal, tires or a whole car. Luckily the safety measures in place held up this time but next time NASCAR may not be so lucky.

Not only was there Edwards' frightening flight into the fence, Sunday's race was also marred by a 13-car crash on the seventh lap and another 10-car accident with nine laps to go.

NASCAR needs to look into this NOW. They are always talking about the improvements that they make to make the races safer to ignore one of the biggest risks is borderline negligent!
it happens too often and they know that there is always a real possibility that a major tragedy is just 1 turn away...Smarten up and do something!

See the last 2 laps here

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Team 4- The Final Installment...ish

Round 4 of selecting a NEW TEAM has landed on the LA Kings. This is a team with some interesting pieces and makes them one of the more attractive teams to choose from.For the last few years they have been a bit of a joke on the ice and there were questionable decisions being made in the front office. On the bright side it was those years that put them in a position to start building their team through the draft. The decision to bring in Marc Crawford probably wasn’t the right choice and by all accounts his endorsement of Dan Cloutier in nets did nothing to further the development of this team.

The change in philosophy on how prospects are evaluated and developed under the guidance of Dean Lombardi and his hockey operations staff is a big reason for optimism. Lombardi did a good job at putting together the San Jose Sharks and looks to be doing that in LA. The Kings have what looks to be one of the deepest roster of quality of prospects in the NHL. They have 3 good looking goaltenders in Jonathan Bernier, Jeff Zatkoff and Jon Quick...all under the age of 23. Quick just came off a very solid rookie year as the starter. His play will allow the team to be patient in bringing along the other 2 and will allow for some competition on the farm team. Another luxury they have is a very deep defence both at the NHL level and in the system. Drew Doughty very easily could have been a contender for rookie of the year and was selected to play for Canada at the World Championships. Jack Johnson is a big body First Round Pick and has that Michigan pedigree. In the minors and in junior may be the best grouping of young defence. Canadian World Junior captain Thomas Hickey was an early pick and looks to be a good 2 way defenceman, smart and savvy Russian Vyacheslav Voynov has some real potential, towering pivot Brian Boyle may play center or defence but is a pig body for sure and then last years 13th pick the rugged Colten Teubert ( I have a softy spot for Teubert as I have met him and gotten his autograph. He seemed really down to earth very chatty and outgoing just a nice guy...also watching him in the World Juniors in person as a first pair shutdown player doesn’t hurt. He looks to possibly be a very solid player).

Where I see the team lacking is up front. After watching a few games and looking into the team they are a little weak up front. Scoring was an issue all season and they will need to do something soon to address this. There have been talk that maybe a Marian Gaborek may come as a free agent and even some talk of Vincent Lecavalier being dealt to LA. If that is the case they do have some pieces that could be moved in a possible deal as Tampa has NO DEFENCE. The Entry Draft this year will be very interesting for them as they do have the 5th pick and are assured of a good player or it could be used to get a top flight forward that can put the puck in the net.

Already on the team or on the verge that look to be making positive strides are Oscar Moller,Wayne Simmonds, Teddy Purcell, and Trevor Lewis. These youngsters along with Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Alexander Frolov allow for a decent core to build upon.

So here we are, 4 teams that are in the running to become my favorite Western Conference team. This is where things begging to get difficult and a little murky. I will admit that I did have a bit of a lean when I began thinking about this and LA had the early lead. The only problem was that as time went by and i started doing a little research the balance of power began to shift. As of right now I have widdled the selection down to 2 possible choices....The LA Kings and....The St. Louis Blues. and that I am afraid is where it will need to stay right at this moment. It is just too close to call and I will have to give it some real thought and weigh the pros and cons. At this point it is just too close to call...a photo finish as it were. I hope to have an answer to this burning question very soon, within the next few days but I just don’t know which way to go at this point. Wish me luck, it looks like I will need it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Team Three - The Winnipeg Je...Phoenix Coyo...Kansas City...

Round 3 of selecting a NEW TEAM has landed on the shoulders of the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are an interesting option right now. Coming on the heals of a fairly busy trade deadline, they have managed to save some money by sending out Oli Jokinen, F Daniel Carcillo, G Mikael Tellqvist D Derek Morris, 2009 3rd Rd. Pick and getting back D Dmitri Kalinin, F Nigel Dawes, F Petr Prucha, F Scottie Upshall, 2011 2nd Rd. Pick, F Matthew Lombardi F Brandon Prust, 2009 or 2010 1st Rd. Pick, 2010 4th Rd. Pick. Jokinen wasn’t fitting in Pheonix and had a big contract. They should never have moved Keith Ballard for Jokinen in the first place so that does call into question certain personnel moves fro the GM’s office. At least they managed to get back some quality bodies although the one concern is that they are small and soft and they got smaller and softer and with Prucha and Dawes 2 players that are in need to prove themselves. On the plus side they did get some good draft picks going forward. It seems that they do have a decent scouting staff but that could be skewed by them being bad for so long that they could just be just falling ass backwards into good picks.

They have a good young team and have many good young prospects in the system including Brett MacLean and the youngest Staal, Jared. Already on the roster is captain Shane Doan who is underrated but a true first line pressure player. Peter Meuller, Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov and Mikkel Boedker are good up and comers but the blueline looks to be a little weak at first glance and that need to be tended to. It does help that they have solid goaltender in Ila Bryzgalov to helps hide some defensive weaknesses the team has.

One big issue still remains...the team is looking good on the ice and maybe even behind the bench as Wayne Gretzky is actually having some success coaching this young team, but the franchise looks to be in big trouble. For a franchise that has already been moved once from Winnipeg and with the amount of debt that they have the franchise may be in jeopardy of either being on the move again, disbanded and/or consolidated with another team. With that kind of uncertainty I don’t know if I want to hitch my cart to that horse going up that mountain.
If the team had more certainty it would make a better case for itself but right now it seems like it may be fighting an uphill battle. Ownership and team viability will play a major role in their candidacy.

Well that is 3 down and I guess one more to go and then it will become decision time. After this review things have actually tightened up and what direction I believed to be going in has shifted a bit. There was, as in any sporting event a favorite going in. On paper it was a bit clearer but as we know these games arn’t played on paper. Sometimes the role of underdog is actually more advantageous.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Round 2 of selecting a NEW TEAM is a write in candidate, They finally made the playoffs for the first time ever. I speak of course about the Columbus Blue Jackets. They are the second team in the running and this rundown is in anticipation of them being ousted out of the playoffs sooner rather then later...probably tonight...probably another shutout for Detroit.

They have now appointed their number 1 goal tending job to rookie Steve Mason. Mason was great in the World Juniors when he played and has had a very successful 1st season and is posting 10 shutouts and is the leading candidate to win the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. The only concern is that perhaps it could be part of the system they play in and also will he fall into the realm of the infamous sophomore jinx, similar to what a Carey Price is going through right now. It seems that as teams find tendencies on goaltenders it can expose them and exploit any weaknesses.

The Jackets have some other good young players in on the team and in the system. Jakub Voracek, Nikita Filatov, Derick Brassard, Cody Goloubef, Stefan Legein, Kris Russell. A good base to build upon for sure.

Getting Antoine Vermette should help out Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash with the offence a bit but he isn’t enough to make that big of an impact. Now there is the big name and the big question mark...Rick Nash. This is the dangerous one, does he sign an extension and at what amount and/or term. That could go a long way in determining the short and long term success of the team. Nash is clearly the franchise player and the leader but has never had much support and so far during the playoffs not much success. Does that make him more hungry or just bitter.
Not knowing some of these major details makes it tough to stomach making them a front runner in the race to be selected. Also the fact that they have a lot of money spent this season it will be interesting to see how they use any possible space next year. Having Mike Commodore locked up for 4 more years at $3.7M isn’t helping their case any.

They are a viable option and is a deserving to be a finalist but at this point they look to be a an outsider. Perhaps a longer push in the playoffs may have helped their cause but I just don’t trust the team at this point going forward. I also hate to say it but I really don’t have much love for the logo and that isn’t helping their cause much either.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Quest - In Search of a 1B

ROUND 1 here is the first installment of the selecting a New Favorite Western Conference NHL Team. In honour of there first trip back to the playoff and their exit last night after being swept, I am submitting the St. Louis Blues.

This is an interesting team for a few reasons. I wasn’t planning on sellecting any teams for consideration that made the playoffs as they could be seen as already decent and I didn’t wasn’t to be considered as a bandwagon jumper. They messed up that plan by making a late season charge into the playoffs. Perhaps they over achieved a bit this year but they are still a good up and coming team. Chris Mason has played well and between himself and Hannu Toivenen could prove to be a good 1-2 combo in nets for a while. Keith Tkachuk is still there and is actually playing well and doesn’t seem to be a prickly or as , well, fat as he has been in the past. There are some real nice pieces already in the lineup with Patrik Berglund, Brad Boyes, Andy Mcdonald, T.J. Oshie, Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer. To be in the position that they are in right now despite the injuries to many of the big name players on the team such as Paul Karya it shows that they are a team to keep an eye on.

I also like the fact that John Davidson is there overseeing this club as he seems to have had a vision for this team and has stuck with it and that is beginning to show dividends with the run they are currently on. They should get a mid 1st round pick this season in a decently deep draft, and that will also help going forward.

They also have some decent players down the line either in the minors or drafted players. None more interesting then Alex Pietrangelo who will be looking to make the club next season and will have a very legit chance of doing so.

One thing that is going against them in my eyes stems to a trade that was made earlier in the year between themselves and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pre-Brian Burke, Cliff Fletcher pulled a deal that sent Lee Stempniak to TO for Alexander Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. I am not pleased with this deal as one player I have no use for is Colaiacovo. Steen I can take or leave, he may be serviceable but as for Colaiacovo, no can’t be a top prospect for 6 years...there is no reset button every year.

Look for the next possible team to be posted very soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Cha Gonna Do Brother?

Late last week former pro wrestler and reality tv personality Terry Bollea aka. Hulk Hogan was giving an interview where he, during the course of the interview stated that he could understand OJ Simpson. This is not a good thing to say by anyone let alone a famous wrestler. After what has happened to many before him and the circumstances surrounding Chris Benoit’s death and link to roid rage coming out with the comment "...I totally understand OJ. I get it" is chilling at best.

Hogan told Rolling Stone that his wife Linda dumped him, forced him out of his $18 million mansion, allegedly started spending his money at the rate of $40,000 a month and dating "some shaggy-haired pool boy 30 years her junior,"

Hogan allegedly said "I could have turned everything into a crime scene, like OJ, cutting everybody’s throat," "You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can’t go to anymore, you’re driving through downtown Clearwater and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife . . . I totally understand OJ. I get it."

It is bad enough that he may feel this way but to say so publicly not only shows bad judgement but also shows that he may not be thinking clearly. Perhaps he has taken the high road to this point but with these comments he will not help his own case going forward both legally and in the eyes of the public.

Hopefully this was just a one time outburst and not the result of any calculated ideas or anything that he would ever consider doing. It is sad just on its own Merritt but for someone who was once revered by millions of young children to be in this position is really a shame. We want the Hulk that reminded us as little Hulkamaniacs, to say our prayers, take our vitamins and we will never go wrong.

I just hope that Terry gets some professional help and can put this whole thing behind him for both the good of himself and his family only question now is... "What Cha Gonna Do Brother??"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Around The Horn

New Yankee Stadium looks like a launching pad where good baseballs go to die...over the fence. After the Yankees gave up 14 runs in the second inning Saturday and lost the game 22-4 they were probably looking for answers. The dimensions are the same as the original Yankee Stadium, so either the pitching was really bad, the aerodynamics of the new stadium are way different or after some $1.5 Billion put into construction they used some of that money to pipe in the thin air from Denver. Even a clean ARod may hit 80 home runs after he returns. Also who would have thought that entering the season that Right Fielder Nick Swisher would be the most effective relief pitcher on the Yanks?

Kevin Garnett of the Celtics is said to be out of the NBA Playoffs with a knee injury. Maybe this is true and if so the Celtics may be in big trouble. Just let us not forget that last year Paul Pierce went down and needed to be wheeled off the court in an apparent series threatening injury versus the Lakers and withing 5 minutes he was back running and jumping down the hallway to get back into the game. Guess you can’t always believe what you see. Lets see how this plays out.

Rafael Nadal won again at the Monte Carlo Masters, his 5th straight. He is now officially the face of men’s tennis. Roger Federer got married and is expecting his first child...could that be the beginning of the end for Roger? Is it time to start worrying that he may not get to Pete Samparas’ record? Hard to cover the court with a ball and chain on your ankle.

Isiah Thomas was hired as coach of Florida International University. Where is that? don’t worry you an’t the only one wondering. He was a great player but not a great executive a bad coach and questionable conduct when it comes to sexual harrasment. This small name school clearly picked Isiah only to get on ESPN with his name...and the best thing about that is when he was formally announced he was called ISIAH THOMPSON! Even Bobby Clark who forgot the name of his #1 draft pick Claude Giroux thinks this is really bad.

Friday, April 17, 2009

And Then BOOM! - Retirement

John Madden has announced his retirement from broadcasting NFL games on NBC’s "Sunday Night Football". Madden has been in the booth since 1979 after leaving the Raiders and joining CBS. He worked at all 4 major Networks over his career in broadcasting. Madden will leave the booth and be replaced by Chris Collinsworth.

Madden, the former coach of the Los Angeles Raiders and Hall of Fame member may well be regarded as one of the best football minds in the NFL. Though his delivery may have been the but of some jokes almost like a Harry Carey. John may not have had the polished delivery that Al Michaels Pat Summerall or Joe Buck may have but he did have a style truly his own. Madden was known for stating the obvious with his calls which was part of his charm - (Here’s a guy who see’s the ball better when he has his contacts in). Often in many parodies of him there would be a mention of Brett Favre. He probably didn’t say that much about him as people may believe but there is just something funny about the way that Madden would say his name.

Madden could not be accused of talking down to people, he would talk as if he was right there explaining it to you.
He seems to be a good guy, as he has sent me his autograph so he is A-OK in my books!

With Collinsworth taking the reigns the broadcasts will take on a very different feeling. Al Michaels is a pro and could probably work with a monkey and still make it look seamless and not at all out of place so chemistry should not be an issue. Early on I had little or no use for Collinsworth when he was on ESPN but he has really grown as both an analyst and as a color commentator to the point that he is actually one of the best in the business. He is still a little stubborn at times but he knows the game and has a good sense of humor.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Blue Devil Made Me Do It

Greg Paulus has a very big and a very rare decision to make after playing point guard for the Duke Blue Devils. Duke is one of the most prominent basketball programs in all of the NCAA, and the point is a very important position. Paulus wrapped up is basketball career in the NCAA Tournament and one would figure that he would either enter the NBA Draft and hope to be selected or perhaps go over and play professionally overseas for a few years.

Nope not Paulus. He was the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a standout quarterback in high school at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., and now after 4 years on the hardwood has 1 year of eligibility left to play football if he wishes.

Paulus spent Tuesday on the campus at the University of Michigan and talked with Coach Rich Rodriguez and has also been contacted by several NFL teams and also college programs about playing. One wonders if this might be like a Charlie Ward in reverse where he won the Heisman at Florida State and went to the NBA to play basketball with the Knicks and was not drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Difference here is Ward played both sports in college not just high school.
Now here is the obligatory Charlie Ward quote just because... After what was perceived as a anti Jewish statement Ward responded "I didn’t mean to offend any one group because that’s not what I’m about. I have friends that are Jewish. Actually, my friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ."

Clearly this kid is a very gifted athlete and has all sorts of options at his fingertips. One would think that even only one year of a Michigan QB Pedigree is better then 4 in most other programs, then if he chooses to move on to the NFL he will have a little more solid ground to stand on.

If only he was a Wide Receiver he could be drafted right now first overall by the Detroit Lions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hitting The Golden Trail

The Golden Boy has decided to trade in the gloves and the robe for a business suit. Oscar De La Hoya has announced his retirement from professional boxing. Now it may be too early to truly write him off. not very often is it that a boxer who retires actually does retire the first time. Retiring as a boxer is like knocking over a drink machine, you have to rock it and hit it a few times before it actually topples over.

De La Hoya carried a sport for the better part of a decade. In a time when boxing didn’t have as strong a field in the Heavyweight Division Oscar was always a big draw no matter the opponent. He is almost as well known for his miscues rather then his triumphs which is too bad. He is often criticised for being more Hollywood then prize fighter, which probably isn’t fair but that is the perception.

When he won the Gold Medal Barcelona Olympic Games he made himself into a household name and became one of the most popular and best drawing name on many Pay Per Views. De La Hoya was Ring Magazine’s "Fighter of the Year" in 1995 and Ring Magazine’s top-rated Pound for Pound fighter in the world in 1997.

Before his announcement he founded Golden Boy Promotions, Inc. which has become a pretty successful combat sport promotional firm and should allow him to both keep close with the sport that he loves without putting himself at any more risk of a major injury or getting his face caved in.

I was never a huge boxing fan but when De La Hoya was fighting I would take notice, I admit it may be partially due to his pop culture celebrity but also respected him as a champion fighter. Here's to hoping that he follows the lead of Lennox Lewis (so far) and stays away.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NHL Draft Lottery Order...For Now

Not since the Sydney Crosby sweepstakes h there been a a lottery that has drawn as much interest as this years NHL Entry Draft Lottery.There are only 5 teams with the ability to move to #1 as each team can only move up a maximum 4 positions. The 5 teams with a chance to be selected are as follows: 1.New York Islanders 2.Tampa Bay Lightning 3.Colorado Avalanche 4.Atlanta Thrashers 5 Los Angeles Kings. Now there is always the chance of trades later on but as of right now the order will be determined tonight on TSN and brought to you by Scotiabank!
There is a nice grouping of reps from the teams in the running for the top pick with Peter Mahovlich and Dave Andrychuk and former Senators goalie Craig Billington....if things don’t go well for the LA Kings I think that there could be a good chance that Ron Hextall has an on ice flashback and just snaps and starts slashing TSN’s nice HD Set.

Bill Daly VP of the NHL is also on hand and ready to announce the “winners”.
Kings were at 5 and stay # 5
Thrashers were 4 and Stay #4
Avalance were 3 and Stay #3
Tampa Bay were 2 and stay #2
New York Islanders were projected 1 and Stay #1

Everything went according to Hoyle and there was no movement or surprises. Provided Brian Burke doesn’t make good on his intentions on making a move to the front of the line with a trade it will be John Tavares and Victor Hedman going 1-2 to either NY or Tampa and it will likely fall in that order JT then Hedman. After that things get a little muddled as far as where players will fall. Anything in the top 10 should net a good player it is just depending on team need and best available player.

Toronto has 7 and that is right in the area with Luke’s younger brother Brayden Schenn. Ottawa in at 9, like they were when the made the questionable pick of Brian Lee and not Marc Staal a few years back. Look for them to once again take a defenceman and expect it to be either Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Dmitri Kulikov provided they too don’t make a play to move up a few spots which may just happen as Bryan Murray needs to do some “Tweeking”.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Truly a Final Round Unlike Any Other

In a round that left 2 of the competitors 3 and 4 shots back, it was those 2 that made The Masters Tournament worth watching. It was exactly what the PGA and CBS were looking for. Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods put on a show all day as Mickleson came out early firing on all cylinders and Tiger Woods started slow but then hit his stride. The beauty was that these 2 players were matched up together on Sunday and in pursuit of the Championship. Unfortunately they began fairly far back on the leader board making it very difficult to make up that kind of ground. These to greats did do their best to erase the deficit and put some serious heat on the leaders Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera. Watching Tiger and Lefty end the front 9 and thru the back nine it was like they were the only 2 players on the course, despite the fact tat they never did even get a chance to tie for the lead. It was some of the most compelling golf with great shots and devastating misses . It had everything except the actual tournament on the line. Strange that 1 super pairing that just didn’t have a shot to win was the best storyline of the final day. Mickleson ended -9 and Tiger ended -8.

Crazy thing about it is the Masters eventually came down to a 3 way playoff between Perry, Campbell and Cabrera. Even with that exciting finish it didn’t have the same buzz that followed Phil and Tiger all day. One could compare it to winning an MVP while being on the loosing team. Each player did all they could to make a poor shot and do their best to give the tournament away in a sudden death playoff starting on 18 then eventually followed it up with a huge save. Campbell was the one exception as he missed a makeable putt that eliminated him from the playoff. Perry and Cabrera moved on to the 2 playoff hole where Perry missed a relatively easy 2nd shot into the green and opened the door wide open for Cabrera, who put his 2nd shot pin high and put all the pressure on Perry to get up and down from just off the green. He was not able and Cabrera held on for the victory. It is too bad, Perry would have been a good story with the chance to be the oldest to ever win a Major. Instead, Cabrera who is, for lack of a better team and interesting character and golfer at best, is victorious and earns the right to go to Butler Cabin and put on that Green Jacket.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Great Finish In NCAA Championship Final

Since it was going head to head versus Hockey Night in Canada with Toronto hosting Ottawa and Montreal playing Pittsburgh it would not a surprise that the game seen on The Score last night may have been overlooked by most hockey viewers but it may have been one of the best NCAA hockey games ever. If not the game itself at least the finish. Not too many people would watch an NCAA game at the best of times since there just isn’t too much coverage but this was for the National Championship. Miami (OH) was up 3-1 over Boston University in the 3rd period. With just over 3 minutes remaining Boston pulled the goalie for an extra attacker. With just over a minute left they scored to close the gap to 3-2. Inside a minute to play now and the goalie still out Boston managed to strike again and tie the game at 3-3. Now what was an almost sire win for Miami has come down to a next goal wins. In the overtime, On a shot from the point a Miami player went down to block the shot, it deflected and fluttered over the goalies shoulder and into the back of the net. It was one of the most unlikely and most exciting finishes to a hockey game that you are ever going to get.

The fact that it was Boston U that made the comeback and won their 5th title you almost have to agree that Boston must have a stranglehold on the title of City of Champions. Between this game the Patriots Super Bowl wins and record and success of late, The Red Sox World Series’, The Celtics being NBA Champions...heck even the Bruins had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Marriage Proposals At Sporting Events

If it isn't bad enough that fans use the video board to pop the question (you gotta be 100%sure of the answer because 20,000 or more fans and TV stations can be very cruel).Now even the athletes are doing it right on the field. The is something to be said about college athletes using sporting events as a grounds for marriage proposals. There was the Boise St. QB after winning a Bowl game in an upset then during the celebration went over and proposed to his girlfriend, a cheerleader for the team. Good day for that guy.

Just recently University of Texas star Destinee Hooker won a high jump title and was still on the track when Clifton Gay dropped to his knee, pulled out a ring and proposed. She nodded in agreement and began hugging just about everyone in sight. Hooker said basically that this was the perfect place “My team's here, my family's here, this was perfect.”A mere 15 minutes or so earlier, Destinee won the Texas Relays title with a high jump leap of 6 feet, 3 1/2 inches in her first outdoor meet since 2007. A two sport star on bot the track as well on the Volleyball Court, took a year off of the track to concentrate on volleyball. Clearly an exceptional player she was invited to train with the women's national team before the Beijing Olympics. She was also an All-American as outside hitter. She may even have some opportunities to get a medal at the Olympics or Worlds with her talent.

Even with all those accolades and a 1.5 carat square-cut diamond set in a diamond-studded white gold band, people will still remember this story for 1 reason and I am sure you know what that is... the impending Gay-Hooker Wedding...Thanks Jay Leno, I am sure this should make your Headlines segment.

Looking ahead to 2009/10 - Decision Time

With the Ottawa Senators out of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years I figure now is as good a time as any to begin looking toward next season and like many GM’s have to get all the ducks in a row prior to the Entry Draft as well as July 1 free agency.

In the next few days I will begin a short series involving teams in the NHL’s Western Conference. One may think as the season is drawing to a close that it would involve the playoffs, but not this time. Over the course of a few days I will be outlining a small sampling of Western teams that are more “down” that I will be throwing my support behind and becoming my Western team and backup favorite. The Ottawa Senators will remain my team and I will always throw my support that direction in the unlikely event that the two ever meet up...but how sweet would that be? Now when I began throwing around some teams the Blues and Blue Jackets looked like they were going to miss the playoffs and had the potential to be a lottery pick but after an unlikely run they have basically made the playoffs but are still on the short list. I wanted to keep it to the down and outs so there would be no accusing of a bandwagon jumper. St Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, L.A. Kings, or Nashville Predators. The other teams in the West are either too established or teams that don’t interest me. Even though Edmonton fits the bill I just can’t justify them just for being a Canadian team and as for the Colorado Avalanche they just seem as a team that has been good for too long and maybe with Joe Sakic out and all the injuries, arn’t as bad as they appeared this year.

So look forward to this series to begin probably early to mid week next week. Please feel free to weigh in as there is a tentative ranking going in but nothing is set in stone yet and a good case could sway the final decision.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Around The Horn

Today marks the beginning of a Tradition Unlike Any Other. It is time for The Masters. For golf fans this is the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, the Final Four, the World Series wrapped into one.
Rumor has it that this Tiger Woods fellow is supposed to be good and has a chance to even win this year, it is like he came out of nowhere

The Columbus Blue Jackets have finally made the playoffs for the first time...ever in life. Will It be enough to make Rick Nash decide to commit to the team and sign a long term deal? Good question.
So does Doug Maclean still take credit for building this team? Is this just a coincidence that they made it in after he was relived of duty?

French officials say that Lance Armstrong violated the rules of their testing policy. His samples came back clean and there was no signs that he had done anything wrong. The agency, known as AFLD, said in a statement that the doctor leading the tests maintains Armstrong “did not respect the obligation to remain under the direct and permanent observation” of the testers.
Just another point that proves that the French really do hate Lance and will likely continue their witch hunt well after he decides to call it quits...for real this time.

Andrew Bynum of the Lakers is apparently ready to return to the team after rehabbing his injury in time to get ready for a playoff run.
Bynum had little choice but to re-join the team after he was seen at the Playboy Mansion with a bunny on his shoulders. Granted she probably weighed less then the bar he uses to put his weights on, but optically it just looks bad.

Bills running back Marshawn Lynch will be suspended three games by the NFL Lynch was arrested near Los Angeles on Feb. 11. In searching a parked car carrying Lynch, Culver City police found a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun inside a backpack in the trunk. Police also found four marijuana cigarettes in the car, but no drug charges were filed.
This may not be good as far as personal conduct goes but at least he didn’t shoot himself in the leg with his gun.

Cory Clouston Signed a 2 year deal to coach the Ottawa Senators.
With the amount of coaches that the team has gone through after some 8+ years under Jacques Martin it would be fitting had they left the Interim Head Coach title on him.

Terrell Owens shocked all of Up State New York by actually attending a voluntary workout with the Bills.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Head Over Heels

How fitting is it that on the day that Michael Jordan was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame that the North Carolina Tar Heals have become National Champions again? The former NC star was elected is a star studded class that includes John Stockton, David Robinson, C. Vivian Stringer and Jerry Sloan.

The Tar Heals came out firing on all cylinders and ran out to a 22-7 lead and never looked back. Many wondered if playing in Detroit at Ford Field before a pro-Michigan State crowd would intimidate the folks from Chapel Hill...they did not seem to have an issue. Unfortunately for the Spartans it took the same rout as Detroit Lions games in that same arena, Michigan State came up short. A combination of good team defense that left State turning the ball over both with forced and unforced errors, speed and an offensive attack that was just too much for the Spartans to handle. The trio of senior Tyler Hansborough, Final Four MVP James Ellingtons and the overall play of Ty Lawson who set finals record with 8 steals.

This game marked the end of Tyler Hansborough’s collegiate career, and to many it is one of the most outstanding and possibly one of the greatest college careers ever. He leaves being the ACC highest scoring player and as a National Champion. It is up to much debate about how he will be in the NBA. Will he be a star or will he become a Christian Laettner type guy, who knows? (I know comparing a Duke player to an NC player should not be done but the similarities are there)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chipper's Back And Locked Up!

Lost in the Hype of the Road to the Final Four has been the announcement that my Atlanta Braves have done what I have been hoping that they would do and that is lock up All Star third baseman Chipper Jones until 2012 with an option for 2013. The deal is worth $43M with the potential to reach $61M with incentives signing bonuses and the option. Sure that may be a lot of money and for those who may be familiar with the Braves they know that of all baseball clubs they are one of the best at getting out 1 year early rather then 1 year late with their star players. That is why they were able to go on the historic run that they did throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. So to lock up Chipper, 36, to this contract virtually ensures that he will be in Atlanta until he retires. I can only hope that that is true. Chipper is my favorite player, a very probable Hall of Fame member in the future, 1st overall pick of the Braves, should have been Rookie of the Year had the writers not had their head in their asses and selected Hideki Nomo, 6 time All Star, 1999 NL MVP and was a member of the Braves 1995 World Series Championship team. I couldn’t, nor would I want to picture him in another uniform. Even if he can stay relatively healthy for the next few years (which is a big IF since he is know to break down of late with lower body injuries) I will be happy to trot him out to 3rd base. He is still the engine that runs that offense.

The opening game is tonight at 8 with the Braves vs the Phillies. The Braves are entering the season with a young staff, but one with potential of being very good. Once they get back some injured vets like Tom Glavine and Tim Hudson they will become even stronger. The offense is tough to get a handle on and I don’t think many know what they are going to get so I guess we will let it play out and see if some vets can bounce back and if some rookies can step up and establish themselves.

Either way Baseball Is Back...PLAY BALL!!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sweet Carolina - NC Is Playing For Another Title

Game two is on and has North Carolina taking on Villanova. Carolina has come out firing and getting makes and have stretched the lead to as much as 17 points. Right on cue with most basketball games (I don’t know what it is but there is so often a comeback when teams fall far behind in basketball) Villanova has started to make a push and have closed the gap to under 10 at the half. Anything under double digits is good both realistically as well as optically. Double digits look bad just look at cases of cola at $7.99...looks a lot better then $8 or gas at 79.9 rather then 80.0.

The game is now over and the match is set North Carolina is victorious with a 83-69 victory. Villanova just couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half. they kept shooting 3’s and they wouldn’t fall, they would get looks close to the basket and they wouldn’t fall. North Carolina in turn just filled the basket and had three’s falling like raindrops. That is exactly what NC is going to need come Monday when they face Michigan State in the finals on Monday night.

Looks like there will be a great Finals Monday in a rematch that these teams played in December. NC won big that day, don’t expect them to walk over the Spartans again, this has the potential to be a big nail biter!

If you are watching the game Monday take notice of the court it seems to be raised and the benches are set well below the floor along with press row. It looks way different then a traditional court. I am sure that it has something to do with the fact that it is set on a football field but it is very distinctive, I like it. Perhaps more arena's should adopt this it is a sharp look.
Enjoy the finals!

Michigan State Wins..But Don't Call It An Upset

Game 1 of the final 4 is over and It was Michigan State taking over late in the second half after a closely contested match until the 14 minute mark. At that time it was 49-49. The Spartans were just too strong down the stretch and managed to pull away from the UCONN Huskies and ended the game 82-73. Not even the 7 foot 3 inch Thabeet wasn’t enough to save this one. What I found kind of funny was looking on some websites after the game that had headlines like “State of Shock” and calling it an upset. Just because it was a #2 beating a #1 doesn’t make it an upset...especially when you factor in the fact that they are playing in Ford Field in Detroit MICHIGAN. Yeah maybe they might have the edge as far as being the hometown darling. In basketball more then any other sport it seems like home court/field advantage is very important. Also, as in both Final 4 games they are all evenly matched and all the teams have a legitimate chance, rest assured that this was not an upset.

It was a great game to watch and set the bar for the North Carolina vs Villanova game pretty high to live up too, but I am sure it won’t disappoint.I am not pleased that State won but a good game is always ok in my books...I just hope whoever comes out of the second game prevails in the finals. Only time will tell.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Road To The Final Four

We are almost to that magical time in NCAA Basketball. It is April and the Madness is over and now we are on the Road to the Final Four.

Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans will take on Jim Calhoon and UCONN Huskies in one match up and Roy Williams and his North Carolina Tar Heals will take on Jay Wright and the Villlenova Wildcats. That makes 3 #1 seeds and a #2 seed that have made it through. Last year all 4 #1’s marched the road to the Final Four.

In my bracket I had 3 of the 4 correct with the exception of Michigan State.
The beauty of this tournament is that you don’t need to follow it all season to enjoy it at this time of year.

Both UCONN and North Carolina have a ton of talent and potential NBA players they are the 2 1 seeds and both favorites. Michigan State has the potential for an upset but the chances that they can knock of both look to be slim. If there is going to be an upset that likely pick will be Villlenova. Coach Wright is not only one of the best coaches in the nation but an upstanding person and an asset in the autograph department.
I am going to stay true to my pick and hope that Ty Lawson can take the Tar Heals to the top, but if they go down I'll be rooting for Villlenova.

So if you are looking for some good games and some good drama Saturday’s games followed by the National Championship game on April 6th.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sometimes The Police Need to Police The Police

I am sure that many by now have heard about Houston Texans Running Back Ryan Moats and his incident last week involving Officer Robert Powell from the Dallas Police Department. Moat’s mother-in-law was dying in the hospital and he and his family were rushing there to be with her.
The officer pulled over Moat’s SUV for rolling through a red light and pulled out his gun and threatened Moats with jail as the player and his family pleaded to be allowed to go inside the hospital. Powell continued writing Moats a ticket and lecturing him even after a fellow officer confirmed that Moats’ mother-in-law was dying.

This whole scene was caught on the dashboard video. At one point the officer was overheard as saying “I can screw you over,” “I’d rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens.”. Sadly Moat’s mother-in-law died before Powell allowed Moats to go inside the hospital. Since then Powell has resigned under his own accord but by doing so while still under investigation can not be rehired by the department. An internal investigation is still ongoing.

We have rules in sport and rules in society to protect people and their rights, and make for a safe environment. Much like plays on the field sometimes it isn’t black and white. There are times when there is a grey area and common sense needs to come into play. Clearly in this instance common sense nor compassion were used. What is also an interesting side note to this is that had this not happened to an NFL player and his family nobody would have seen this. Makes you wonder how often something like this happens.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sens Army Unite - In Mourning

If you are looking to watch your boys Spezza, Heatley and possibly Phillips or Fisher this spring you will have to switch your focus to the World Championships. As of last night the Ottawa Senators have officially been eliminated from the playoff picture. This marks the first time in many years that Senators fans young and old won’t see their team playing into the spring. It will be a bit of a culture shock for sure after a 10+ year run that saw them at least make it to the dance but this time around it was just not meant to be. Sure they had a decent conclusion to the year but basically in garbage time where it is easy to play loose because there is no real pressure.

April 12 is the last game on the schedule and that will conclude the regular season, then it will be playoff time for a good lucky 16, a time to brush of the golf clubs for the better part of the other wannabe’s.

April 14th is the next date to look at and that is the Draft Lottery. As it stands now the Senators are outside of the top 5 (or bottom side, however you look at it) and will not have a shot at Hedman or Tavares but are still in the top 10 most likely and by the looks of the prospects there is decent depth and player until 11 or 13 at least. As long as they don’t drop the ball like they did when they had the 9th overall pick and choose Brian Lee over Marc Staal.

At least with the early exit there will be plenty of time to gear up for the draft and open up all the speculation about Draft Day trades selections and July 1 Free Agency.