Under Further Review – Douglas Smith with Editor Bill Morphy. This week, we say so long to Pete Carroll. The Canucks sit pretty at the halfway point and the Leafs create a big cap challenge.
For Pete’s Sake – It was time. There should be no argument. Pete Carroll’s legacy in Seattle will remain intact. It was a remarkable 14-year run by any standards. Change was needed. Time for a new voice.
If the final two weeks of the season were a referendum on the Seahawks, they failed miserably. If it weren’t for two Matt Prater missed field goals, the Seahawks would be 1-5 against NFC West opponents this season. Sorry, that’s not progress. Carroll tried to mimic the glory years of 2012-2014 but it was not working. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times astutely wrote, “The biggest reason Pete Carroll is no longer the Seahawks’ coach is they stopped being the team resembling the one Pete Carroll created.”
This season was all about fixing the run defense yet the team finished 31st in rushing yards allowed. We remind you there’s 32 teams in the NFL. On the offensive side, the Seahawks finished 29th in rushing. Can’t run the ball. Can’t stop the run. That’s not a good mix!
If you want to bottle up the Seahawks season, go back to the Pittsburgh Steelers game in Week 17. Watching the Steelers push back six Seahawks and drive Najee Harris five yards into the endzone with Bobby Wagner at the bottom of the pile pretty much synthesizes the season. The Seahawks have been emasculated time and again. Hard to cheer for a team that is continually being physically dominated. What NFL team commits two second-round picks on running backs and then ends up at the bottom of the league in rushing attempts? That’s the definition of insanity. The fans were no longer being fooled.
Personnel-wise, there have been mistakes aplenty. Trade after trade and still no improvement. You will remember the names – Sheldon Richardson, Jadeveon Clowney, Quandre Diggs, Carlos Dunlap, and Jamal Adams. The linebacking corps has been a running joke. Where have you gone Austin Calitro, Brock Coyle, Michael Wilhoite, Mychal Kendricks, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Cody Barton, and Shaquem Griffin?
To hear Pete say it, the Seahawks were planning to bring back Jamal Adams next season. According to Pete, Adams did not have the same explosiveness this season after season-ending surgery last year. What makes you think he will come back next season with explosiveness? Adams has played in only 34 of a possible 67 games since being acquired from the New York Jets. He’s played in only 10 of a possible 34 games over the past two seasons. His cap hit in 2024 is $26,916,666. His dead cap hit if the Seahawks release him will be $20,833,334, a potential savings of $6 million. Cut his ass. Don’t even think about it.
The team is in need of a major influx of talent if they want to track down the 49’ers. The Seahawks have virtually no cap space so it’s time to redistribute the money. Tyler Lockett is one guy you would want to retain but he’s slated to earn $27 million next season. Lockett will need to renegotiate to bring the cap number down but that only pushes the problem forward. On defense, Adams, Quandre Diggs, Dra’Mont Jones, Darrell Taylor, Bobby Wagner, Devin Bush are among the names that need to be released to open up cap room.
On offense, the entire tight end group could move on. Colby Parkinson and Noah Fant are both free agents. Will Dissly should be released in order to reallocate dollars. Three interior linemen are free agents and could move on including Damien Lewis, Phil Haynes and Evan Brown. It’s time for tough decisions. Geno Smith is the least of the Seahawks problems although it will be important to find a long-term answer behind center.
It became clear that Carroll’s message was not being heard. If players aren’t part of the solution, then they are part of the problem. Smoking cigars in celebration in the locker room after the team has been eliminated from the playoffs is all the sign ownership needed. Pete will always be a legend in Seattle but it was time to say goodbye.
Canucks Notebook – Hard to argue with the Canucks season to date. They reached the halfway point in the season with a record of 27-11-3, tied for the best mark in club history after 41 games. The Canucks hit the midway point in second place in the overall standings. They have 25 wins in regulation and are a perfect 24-0 when leading after two periods, a sure sign the team can lock down games.
With Carson Soucey back in the lineup, the blueline group is complete. The defense corps has scored 21 goals. By comparison, the Leafs blueline has scored only 10. Quinn Hughes with 11 has outscored the entire Leafs defense. Everyone throughout the lineup is contributing. The Canucks probably need another strong two-way forward who can slot into the top-six. Even if they stand pat, you can’t help but wonder how far this team could go this season.
Maple Leaf Malaise – After gifting William Nylander with a rich, eight-year contract carrying an $11.5 million-dollar AAV, building the remaining roster just became a whole lot tougher. Next season, the Leafs will face a salary cap challenge like no other in the cap era.
The Leafs top five players – Auston Matthews ($13,250,000), Nylander ($11.5 million), John Tavares ($11.0 million), Mitch Marner ($10,903,000) and Morgan Reilly ($7.5 million) – will cost the team $54,153,000 million which is over 60 percent of the projected $87.7 million dollar salary cap. It will leave only $33,547,000 to fill out the roster with 18 other players.
If you account for players currently signed for 2024-2025 including David Kampf, Calle Jarnkrok, Matthew Knies, Pontus Holmberg, Jake McCabe, Conor Timmons, Ryan Reaves and Joseph Woll, the amount of available budget shrinks further. The Leafs also have to deal with three RFA’s including Timothy Liljegren, Nick Robertson and Noah Gregor. It would leave the Leafs with about $16-$18 million to fill out the roster with only four defensemen under contract and without a back-up goalie. It will make it very difficult to build a back-end worthy of a Cup run.
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs must be having a collective panic attack. If you rely on filling out your roster with minimum salaried players, it becomes very difficult to build a balanced lineup. Just look at Brad Treliving’s work last summer. Here’s how he spent the bulk of the team’s available cap space – John Klingberg ($4.15 million), Ryan Reaves ($1.35 million), Ilya Samsonov ($2.4 million), Tyler Bertuzzi ($5.5 million), and Max Domi ($3 million). Total spend: $16,400,000. You tell me whether this was money well spent.
None of the players signed by Treliving have done anything to help correct the Leafs fundamental issues. Treliving just haphazardly dished out cash without any real plan in place. They are just warm bodies. We would like to know the pro scout who signed off on Reaves when everyone knew he didn’t have the footspeed to keep pace in today’s game. Oh, we forgot. He’s good in the room. Treliving failed to identify the Leafs issues and find real answers. The Leaf lemmings in Toronto were quick to bury Kyle Dubas. There’s no chance he would have messed things up this bad. Extending Nylander only made matters worse.
NHL Notebook – Bummer to see Connor Bedard out of the Chicago Blackhawks lineup for up to two months after surgery on a fractured jaw. It would have been nice to see him at the NHL All-Star game. The Hawks have been decimated by injuries and may end up dropping to the bottom of the standings. Can you imagine if they end up with the first overall pick again this year and land Macklin Celebrini and have the two Vancouver kids to build around?
A lot of people were caught off guard by the swap this week between the Anaheim Ducks and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Ducks acquired disgruntled forward Cutter Gauthier in return for defenceman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick. You don’t often see two highly regarded youngsters changing teams this early in their career. Gauthier was outstanding at the recent World Junior Championships where he tied for the tournament lead in scoring with 12 points. However, he let the Flyers know he had no intention of signing with them so the deal was struck. Maybe he got cold feet with the idea of playing for Torts?
The Ducks are accumulating an attractive pool of young forwards including Troy Terry, Leo Carlsson, Mason McTavish and Trevor Zegras who could be made available with the addition of Gauthier. Anaheim also has some trade chips to use at this year’s trade deadline including Adam Henrique, Ryan Strome, Jakob Silfverberg, Ilya Lyubushkin, Cam Fowler and goalie John Gibson. The Ducks could be one of the Canucks biggest Pacific Division rivals in a couple of years.
It will be interesting to see what changes are in store in Ottawa where the Senators continue to struggle. With playoff aspirations, you would have to call the Sens the most disappointing team in the NHL this season. If you look down the roster, there are too many players who just can’t cut it defensively. Your top two centers have to be better 200-foot players. Nothing will change until the team buys into a more structured defensive game.
Ottawa is becoming a goalie graveyard. Are all the goalies who land in the Nation’s Capital that bad or does it have more to do with systems play? The Senators handed Joonas Korpisalo a five-year deal in the off-season and he is yet to deliver. Again, term is the issue not the price tag. Canadian teams trying to attract free agents continue to make the mistake of offering term in order to get FA’s under contract. Cam Talbot failed to live up to expectations in Ottawa last season but has been lights out this season in L.A. Same story with Filip Gustavsson in Minnesota. Are the goalies that bad or is it just the defensive system behind them?
The Detroit Red Wings have received good offensive output from several recent acquisitions. Shane Gostibehere, Daniel Sprong, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane have all made solid contributions. Problem is, none of them give you anything on the defensive end. No wonder the Red Wings are 27th in the league in goals against and almost dead last in five-on-five metrics.
The Canucks said goodbye to Oliver-Ekman Larsson in the off-season and for good reason. The Florida Panthers took a flyer on the veteran and it’s proving to be a smart gamble. Between OEL and two other free agent signings – Niko Mikkola and Dmitry Kulikov – it basically kept the Panthers afloat until the return of injured defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Erik Gustafsson at last year’s trade deadline to give the blueline a push for the post-season, Gustafsson played very little in Toronto and they chose to let him walk in the off-season. Gustafsson landed in New York and has been rock solid with the Rangers. He would have come cheaper than Klingberg.
Please don’t criticize Kyle Dubas for acquiring Erik Karlsson. The Penguins may not make the playoffs but Karlsson will not be the reason. As part of that deal, Dubas shed nearly $12.5 million dollars by clearing out Jeff Petry, Mikael Granlund and Jan Rutta. Regardless of how the team performs, that’s good work.
The Buffalo Sabres were hoping to push for a playoff spot this season. It hasn’t happened. It’s another example of how hard it is for small market teams to attract free agents. The Sabres made a couple of adds on defense over the off-season that they hoped would help solidify their defense. Neither player has moved the needle. They signed ex-Bruin Connor Clifton to a three-year deal at $3.3 million per season. He’s been a defensive liability and with two more years to run, this was not a wise move. Veteran Erik Johnson signed for $3.5 million. Good thing the contract is only for one year.
The price of success in the NHL is costly. The Tampa Bay Lightning have had all kinds of cap problems since winning a pair of Stanley Cups. In the off-season, they had to unload Ross Colton, Corey Perry, Patrick Maroon and Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare from their bottom six forward group. Bargain basement signings included Tyler Motte, Luke Glendening and Austin Watson. That pretty much explains why the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives despite top-notch seasons from their veteran core.
We stopped paying any attention to NHL All-Star Game selections a long time ago because there are always players who are going to be snubbed. Why does the NHL insist on having representation from every team? Quinn Hughes will represent the Canucks. Does that rule out Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller from being selected? Can’t wait to see Jason Dickinson representing the Blackhawks or Tomas Hertl representing San Jose.
World Junior Hockey Notebook – What an utter disappointment for Canada at the World Junior Championships in Sweden. After winning back-to-back titles, Team Canada was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Czechia. Outside of projected number one overall pick Macklin Celebrini, Canada produced very little offense. The top-six forward group, Macklin notwithstanding, failed to deliver. Sure, there were some injuries but this year’s edition was underwhelming at best. The gap has closed. Any number of countries can beat Canada if we are not at our best and that’s not going to change.
The U.S. rode a deep forward group to the gold medal. The Swedes had a strong showing but still have won only two titles in tournament history, none on home ice. The Americans return eleven players next year when the World Juniors are played in Ottawa. They will be seeking their first-ever back-to-back titles.
As a parent, would you direct your child into Canadian junior hockey if he had a promising hockey future? The short answer is a firm NO. The junior ranks in Canada are living in some kind of neanderthal world where the old, tired formula for player development went out the window years ago. You would have to be crazy not to send your kid to the U.S. college ranks.
Look at what’s going on in junior hockey. The WHL Wenatchee Wild just traded a pair of Team Canada members and here’s what they received. Conor Geekie was dealt to the Switft Current Broncos for three players plus two first-round picks, a second-round and an eighth-round pick. Matthew Savoie was traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors for two first-round picks plus five other picks. This is like going to a prairie sales barn on a Saturday night and bidding on cattle. If the players had any power, they would refuse to report.
Major changes are needed in junior hockey in Canada but as long as fans are attending and owners are making money, it will be same old, same old. Why do junior teams need to play 75 games at the expense of personal growth and development? No wonder the U.S. and Sweden have caught and are surpassing Canada on the international stage.
NFL Notebook – Wildcard weekend is always one of the best weekends of the NFL season. 12 teams fighting for their playoff lives. If you are handicapping the games, good luck. You can’t look at any of the games and pick a certain winner. That’s how balanced and unpredictable the season has been. Bad weather could be a factor in Buffalo and Kansas City. Home field is always massive and that’s why Baltimore and San Francisco should be considered prohibitive favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
No NFL has a better personnel department than the Baltimore Ravens. They constantly turn mid-round draft picks into All-Pros. For most teams, losing tight end Mark Andrews to a season-ending injury would be a devastating blow. Not the Ravens. Only Baltimore would stockpile six fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft. They used two of the picks to select a pair of tight ends – Charlie Kolar from Iowa and Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina. Out goes Andrews. In comes ready replacements and the Ravens don’t miss a beat. That’s great management. If there’s one thing the Ravens NEVER do, that’s neglect the line of scrimmage in the draft. They always have big time strength up front on both sides of the ball.
No NFL team had a better draft this year than the Los Angeles Rams who may end up with both rookie awards. Puka Nacua, drafted in the fifth round, is a lock to win offensive rookie-of-the-year. He set records for catches and yards by a rookie receiver. Defensive tackle Kobie Turner was taken in the fifth round and should be a finalist for defensive rookie-of-the-year along with the Seahawks Devon Witherspoon.
What a crash landing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were 9-3 at one point this season before losing five straight and falling out of a playoff spot. Trevor Lawrence will have a lot of proving to do next season.
There are so many NFL teams who over-think the draft. The Jags played it cute with the first overall pick in the ’22 draft and selected defensive end Travon Walker. That left pass rusher Aiden Hutchinson to the Detroit Lions. The Lions were more than happy to oblige. Hutchinson has out-played Walker by a country mile.
The Kansas City Chiefs may not go anywhere in the post-season but how can you not respect their string of success. The Chiefs have put together nine consecutive 10+ win seasons. They’ve rung up nine straight post-season berths and have eight consecutive division titles, the second longest streak all-time. Watch the Chiefs clean up their receiving corps in the off-season and get right back into Super Bowl contention next season.
Derrick Henry has probably played his last game with the Tennessee Titans. He’s a free agent but far from done. In the final game of the season, he had a 69-yard touchdown run and was clocked at a top speed of 21.68 mph. That’s the 7th fastest time registered in the NFL this season. Oh yes, Henry weight 247 pounds. He would be a great addition for the Chiefs. Just what Mahomes needs.
With Pete Carroll stepping aside, you wonder what the future holds for Bill Belichick in New England. If Belichick coaches next season, it will be his 50th season coaching in the NFL.
The College Football national championship game brought back memories of the glory years of Michigan and Washington when Bo Schembechler and Don James ran the programs. The rivalry will certainly be renewed when the Huskies join the Big Ten next season. The title game proved again that you win games up front. It also showed us that Michael Penix Jr. has issues targeting receivers when he’s under pressure. His performance in the championship game may hurt his draft stock.
Blue Jays Notebook – If you look right now at the Blue Jays projected starting lineup for this season, it’s not exactly a Murderer’s Row. The Athletic recently handed out off-season grades for every team and they gave the Blue Jays a D-minus. There’s still time to add an impact bat but the fans are getting very anxious.
Remember the name Enmanuel Bonilla. The 17-year-old outfielder was the Jays top international signing in 2023, a deal that cost the team $4.1 million. Bonilla made his pro debut last summer and although he had only three homers in 189 at-bats, he still projects as a power hitter once he physically matures. It seems like the Jays have only been developing infielders. It’s about time they developed a top-notch outfielder.
The Name Game – For the second year in a row, we have compiled our list of the funniest names in college football. There are some laugh-out-loud handles, believe me. Several of our best names from 2022 have graduated including Tank Bigsby, Thunder Justice-Keck and Boogie Knight. Here goes:
- General Booty (QB, Oklahoma)
- Pig Cage (CB, UTSA)
- Kool-Aid McKinstry (CB, Alabama)
- Decoldest Crawford (WR, Nebraska)
- Storm Duck (CB, Louisville)
- Shitta Sillah (DE, Boston College)
- Boobie Curry (WR, Buffalo)
- Phat Watts (WR, Tulane) Real name is
- Major Burns (S, LSU)
- Squirrel White (WR, Tennessee)
- Fish McWilliams (DT, UAB)
- Kavosiey Smoke (RB, Colorado)
- Chief Borders (LB, Nebraska
- Buck Coors (DB, Wyoming)
- Tiger Shanks (OL, UNLV) He’s Canadian.
- Demon Clowney (DE, Ole Miss)
- Blazen Lono-Wong (DL, Arizona State)
- Rowdy Beers (TE, FIU)
- Moh Bility (DB, UNT)
- De’Realyst Clark (WR, Defiance College)
- Dude Person (DB, UCA)
- Memorable Factor (LB, Duke)
- Panda Askew (OL, Charlotte)
- Parker Titsworth (OL, Ohio)
- Dodge Saucer (OL, Iowa State)
Honorable Mention: Juice Scruggs, Tonka Hemingway, Meatball Smith, Hot Rod Fitten, Nemo Squire, Jaden Muskrat, Alou (He’s Canadian)
Leftovers – No major sport has worse refereeing than the NBA. Good on Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic for his rant after the Raptors one point loss to the Lakers in L.A. The Lakers enjoyed a 23-2 advantage in free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter of that game, the largest discrepancy in the league this season. Free throws in the final four minutes favoured the Lakers 19-0. Who wouldn’t be upset? Fact is, this has been going on for years even when the Raps were contending.
Meantime, the Raptors have a decision to make on pending free agent Pascal Siakam. The NBA trade deadline is February 8. Siakam can sign an extension until the end of June and is reportedly seeking a max deal. There’s no doubt the Raptors are feeling out the market.
Want to know why the Raptors are floundering? You can trace it to their lack of success in the draft? Since picking O.G. Anunoby in the first round in 2017, the Raptors have had only three first-round picks – Malachi Flynn, Scottie Barnes and Gradey Dick. They have missed on four second-round picks. Dewan Hernandez, Jalen Harris, Dalano Banton and David Johnson have all flopped. The jury is still out on Christian Koloko. The Raptors would be wise to start accumulating extra picks and get back to using the draft to strengthen the foundation of the team.
I Don’t Get No Respect – His real name was Jacob Rodney Cohen. You know him as Rodney Dangerfield. He was one of the greatest stand-up comedians with the throw-back one-liners and the self-deprecating catchphrase “I don’t get no respect.” He’s perhaps best remembered for his role in the legendary comedy Caddyshack as a boorish nouveau riche golfer. Health problems curtailed his career in the early 2000’s before his death in 2004. Here’s Dangerfield in a TV skit from 1983 entitled Blind Dating 101.
Throughout his career, Rodney told countless jokes about his good-for-nothin’ psychiatrist. In this sketch from his 1982 TV special, “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me”, Bill Murray plays the role of Rodney’s psychiatrist to a tee.
Spotify Tracks of the Week – If you are a regular at Hermann’s in Victoria, you will be familiar with local legend David Vest. He’s one of the greatest remaining boogie-woogie piano players, cut from the same cloth as Jerry Lee Lewis. Vest was born in 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama and played his first gig at the age of 14. On New Year’s Day 1962, he opened for Roy Orbison. David backed Big Joe Turner and toured with the likes of Jimmy T99 Nelson, Floyd Dixon and many others.
Here he is performing Crocodile and Gotta Travel On at Blue Frog Studios in White Rock.
If you would like to download a few tracks from the David Vest catalogue, check out Shake What You Got from the release East Meets Vest. We also recommend Running Partner from Rock A While, The Blues Live On from Devestatin’ Rhythm and What’s the Matter Now from his self-titled 2018 release.
Special thanks to our regular contributors including Jordan Moss, Ian MacPhee, Dave Kittle, Ted Tait, Peter Hucul, Glen and Bill Myles, Howard Steiss and Rob Wagner.
We hope you are enjoying Under Further Review. If you have friends or family members who enjoy sports, please take a moment and direct them to the website at https://underfurtherreview.ca/ and encourage them to subscribe at no cost.