Check out last Saturday’s podcast (Oct. 13) from the Bro Jake Show on TSN 1040 in Vancouver! Just click on the link above.
NHL This Week: It’s early but you can see some BAD teams emerging in the NHL this season. The Red Wings are horrid and may end up being the front-runner for Jack Hughes which might be the best thing that could happen to them since Hughes is from Michigan. Arizona, the Rangers and the Islanders look pretty bad as well.
The Canucks, on the other hand, have had a nice start to the season considering the difficult road trip that just ended. However, it’s early and there’s a long season ahead. But at least there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Elias Pettersson alone makes the games worth watching and that’s something Canuck fans haven’t had in years.
Interesting trend in the NHL as more and more coaches lift goalies when trailing with three or so minutes to play. This was never heard of 10 years ago and has really caught on since Patrick Roy started doing it when he coached the Avalanche. Everybody thought he was wacky.
The thing is, it seems like there are a lot of empty net goals this year and guys are really getting to pad their stats. A decade of this and it’s going to impact the record book. Imagine how many goals Gretzky or Lemieux or Jagr would have had if this had been the norm during their careers?
Speaking of goalies, there’s tons of talk recently about all the concussions being suffered by goaltenders. Matt Murray of the Penguins and Corey Crawford of the Black Hawks both just returned from concussions. Crawford has been sidelined for 8 or 9 months. The Canucks prize goaltending prospect Thatcher Demko is also out a month after taking a hard shot to the head.
I have played with goalies who have had 8 or 9 concussions during their career. A good friend just told me his nephew is still playing despite a similar number of concussions. This problem is not going away and I know the NHL is concerned because they have been studying the problem including looking at more-advanced equipment.
Alex Auld says he can remember being hit by pucks in the mask and the impact was so strong that he could smell burning rubber after the puck ricocheted off his mask.
Crosswalk Hank: Did you hear that Henrik Sedin, who’s apparently enjoying retirement, has been acting as a crossing guard at his kids’ school. That’s awesome! The Sedins were always so humble and that just shows his character even more. Way to go Hank!
Passing of Paul Allen: The world lost a great man with the passing of Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. The co-founder of Microsoft died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at just 65. He had beaten cancer back in 2009 but it returned recently and took his life.
Allen was worth over 200 billion dollars which made him the richest owner in the NFL. He was known for his philanthropy, having given more than two billion dollars to a variety of charities and important causes including homelessness and efforts to fight the Ebola virus in Africa.
Of course, what’s now on every Seahawk fans mind is what about the future of the team? Allen never married and had no children, leaving only his sister Jody, who apparently has no interest in owning the team. It will be interesting to see what happens now. The NFL requires all team owners to submit a succession plan in case something happens to them. To date, they have not released any information regarding Allen’s succession plan.
Of course, we have seen this movie before and it doesn’t always turn out well for fans. You will remember Eddie DeBartolo Jr. who owned the 49’ers for 23 years, winning 5 Super Bowls. Another very supportive owner but once he stepped aside, the franchise went into the dumpster.
In 1992, DeBartolo was accused of sexual assault at his Menlo Park condo by a cocktail waitress he met at a local bar. The married DeBartolo, who denied any wrongdoing, was never charged but reportedly paid $200,000 to settle the case out of court. DeBartolo later became involved in the 1998 corruption case of former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to report a felony, and received a $1,000,000 fine and 2 years of probation in return for his testimony against Edwards. Edwards was on trial for extortion and other charges, among which were the $400,000 he demanded from DeBartolo to gain a river boat casino license. DeBartolo never received the license, was fined by the NFL, and barred from active control of the 49ers for a year. He could have returned to the team but instead ceded control of the franchise in 2000 to his sister, Denise York, in return for other parts of the family business empire.
The long and short of it is – the 49’ers have largely stunk since 2000 when DeBartolo gave up controlling interest in the team.
Allen was the perfect owner – tons of money and a very low profile. He’s the anti-Jerry Jones. A couple of names come to mind when looking at potential buyers of the team down the road. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person and based in Seattle, is an obvious choice and for good reason. The other guy whose name will come forward is Steve Bullmer, the former Microsoft CEO from 2000 to 2014. He replaced Allen’s partner and co-founder Bill Gates as chief executive. Bullmer paid 2.3 billion to buy the LA Clippers and is remembered for trying to purchase the Sonics before they sped off to Oklahoma City. He’s far more flamboyant than Allen and lives in the Seattle suburb of Hunt’s Point.
One thing is for sure – you can bet Allen left a stipulation that the team cannot be moved from Seattle under any circumstances.
Seahawks Report Card: The Seahawks head into their bye week at 3-3 but the schedule gets really tough over the next 5 weeks. They have to go to Detroit, home to the LA Chargers, at the LA Rams, home to Green Bay, then on the road again at Carolina. Plus they have two home games later in the year against the Vikings and the Chiefs. Getting to 10 wins is going to be very daunting.
The good news is they are back to playing hard-nosed, physical football again. They have rushed for over 600 yards over the past 4 games. At a time when the league has gone completely pass-happy, the Seahawks are bucking the trend. The offensive line is actually becoming a strength. They surrendered 12 sacks in the opening 2 games, but only 7 in the 4 games since.
A bunch of kids have emerged on defense and all of a sudden you can see the makings of another powerful team. They are going to have a ton of cap space next year so instead of shedding contract, like they have in the past few seasons, they can now look at add.
NFL Notes: Does anyone in the NFL actually play defense anymore? The Chiefs-Patriots game on Sunday night was like a sandlot game or perhaps more appropriate – a video game. You kind of knew whoever had the ball last was going to win. The Chiefs, the Patriots, the Rams, the Saints – all top teams with loads of offence but none of them play great defense. I don’t know about you but I like watching good defense. If it becomes too easy to score, well, that’s not exciting football. The NFL would be happy if every game ended 85-84 and the ratings bear that out. Apparently, most fans seem to love free-wheeling, high-scoring games. Sorry, not me.
The Chicago Don: One of the most notorious gangsters in US history is long-time Chicago don Tony (The Big Tuna) Accardo. He ruled over the Chicago organized crime scene for close to 50 years without ever spending a day in jail. Accardo is best known for carrying out retaliation against burglars who entered his home while he was on vacation in California. Within a few months, 3 suspected thieves and 4 others tied to the job were found shot in the head or strangled with their throats slit, most of them in the trunk of their car.
Why am I bringing this up? Seems that Accardo is the great-great grandfather of the Bosa boys. Joey Bosa is the All-Pro defensive end with the Chargers and brother Nick is an All-American D-lineman at Ohio State and projected to be among the top 3 picks in next year’s NFL draft. Like they say, I guess you can never pick your family.
Jays Fortunes: The Blue Jays experienced a 31% drop in attendance this year. Total ticket sales were 354 million in 2018, a 107 million dollar drop from last year. If you factor in the negative impact on related revenues, the Jays lost an additional 61 million, taking into account parking, merchandise, and food and beverage sales. Don’t expect things to change next season as the Jays enter the second year of a full-blown rebuild.
The search is on for a new Jay’s manager. The Jays had an extensive list of names to be interviewed including Canadian Stubby Clapp, who has twice been named Manager of the Year in the Pacific Coast League. Stubby definitely makes my ‘All Name Team’. The Clapper is currently managing the Arizona League team where the Jays top prospects have been assigned. The list has been pared down to about 5 potential candidates and its apparent the Jays are looking for someone much younger than Hillbilly John Gibbons. They would also like the new manager to speak Spanish with top prospects Vlady Guerrero Jr. and Lourdis Gurriel Jr. expected to be key players next season.
The Blue Jays top pitching prospect Nate Pearson missed almost the entire season this year due to injuries including a broken arm after being struck by a hard comebacker. He’s been sent to the Arizona Fall League and is off to a great start. Pearson was selected late in the first round in 2017 with a compensatory pick acquired from the Indians signing of Edward Encarnacion.
The Blue Jays have a number of players in the Arizona Fall League. One guy worth following is named Jackson McClelland. This was his fourth year in the Jays system. He’s 24 years old and big – 6’ 5”, 240 lbs. He hit 101 on the radar gun this year. Had a combined 4.33 ERA at Dunedin and New Hampshire. In 43.2 IP he walked 21 but K’D 57. If he can improve his control, he could help the bullpen at some point. Just another guy to keep an eye on.
Interesting read from Ben Nicholson-Smith on what the Jays should do this off-season. Check the link above for details. I agree with almost everything he wrote expect for eating 16 million of Russell Martin’s 20 million dollar 2019 contract. If you are going to swallow that hard, you may as well keep him around because he’s like having an extra coach. Reese McGuire can start the season in Triple A and keep Martin around to back up Danny Jensen. You can always try to find a taker at the trade deadline.
More on Donaldson: This is going to be an interesting off-season for Donaldson. His season was a complete wash so it remains to be seen if anyone will tender him a big free agent contract. I doubt it. Very few teams bid on free agents last winter and I don’t see things changing much this year. He will probably only get offered something short-term with perhaps some decent incentives based on games played, at-bats etc. Donaldson flamed out with the Indians in the post-season, going 1 for 11 with his only hit, a single, coming in his final at-bat after the series had been decided.
Brew Crew Bandwagon: I would love to see the Brewers upset the Dodgers in the NLCS. Two years ago in 2017, the Dodgers had by far the highest payroll in Major League baseball at 242 million. They were carrying all kinds of dead money for players like Adrian Gonzales. The Brewers payroll, in comparison, was 63 million.
This year, the Dodgers payroll was down to 157 million since they were able to clear a bunch of contracts off the books. The Brewers payroll grew to 90 million since their competitive window had opened. In the winter, they traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain as a free agent and consequently, the payroll went up significantly. For small market teams like Milwaukee, the window only opens for a short time so you have to go ‘all in’ when the time is right.
By the way, the Jays came close to acquiring Yelich from the Marlins in the off-season but refused to include uber prospect Bo Bichette in the deal. Something tells me they should have pulled the trigger. Yelich is sure to be voted National League MVP this season.
Raptors for Real: Great to see the Raptors get off to a fast start and knock off the Celtics in an early clash of titans in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. People may not realize how much better defensively the Raptors are with Kawhi Leonard in the lineup instead of Demar DeRozan. Danny Green, the other guy who came over in that trade, is hugely underrated and will also be a big factor this season for the Raptors. This team goes 11 or 12 deep and could surprise a lot of people.
If Leonard does not want to stick around and sign long-term, then the good news is you are still out from under the remaining 3 years and 85 million of DeRozan’s contract. Plus you would then trade Leonard and add to the Raptors excellent young core of players. That deal was a win-win either way as far as I’m concerned.
Miller’s Time: Long-time NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller is planning to retire after the Phoenix Open in February. Paul Azinger is going to replace him. Miller was known to be critical of players unlike other announcers who seemed completely averse to stepping on any toes. Miller was also not shy about telling his audience how good he was during his playing days, especially being the first golfer to shoot a 63 in a major at the 73’ US Open.