Under Further Review – Douglas Smith with Contributing Editor Bill Morphy. This week, we gather crumbs from around the sports world like a red ant at a summer picnic and offer up a few nuggets of nothingness. Trying to find some humour amidst all this gloom and doom is our only mission.
Crystal Ball Forecast – Here’s a little prediction. If the NHL resumes play, the attrition will be so significant that by the time they get to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, the two teams will be left with only five skaters each. The two goalies will be an equipment manager and the Zamboni driver who beat the Leafs.
Alaska Bound – For Americans crossing into Canada using the excuse that they are travelling through to Alaska but then found hunkered down in some BC or Alberta community, here’s what we are going to do. First off, we are going to impound your vehicle. Then, we are going to ship you back to the States are your expense. Finally, we are going to hand you a five-year ban from coming back into Canada. On top of that, we are going to make sure to flag your passport so that you can’t travel to any other country in the world without getting turned away. How’s that sound?
The Crunch is Coming – If you thought the cap crunch was going to hit NHL teams hard, you may want to recalibrate your concern. They are now talking about a flat salary cap of up to four years. When they reset the salary cap for 2022-2023, it will be based on revenues from two seasons prior. That means the 2020-2021, so it doesn’t promise to be a good picture. The current $81.5 million dollar cap is sure to remain in place for at least two years and probably longer. The effect on team payrolls is going to be catastrophic.
The Maple Leafs, of course, are the poster-child for poor cap management. But if things remain stagnant, the Leafs won’t be the only team feeling the crunch. Outside of Ottawa and Detroit, who are in the throes of all-out rebuilds, almost every team in the league faces issues. How about Tampa Bay? They have 15 players under contract and only $5 million to fill out a 23-man roster. The Lightning will be hard-pressed to find the cash to sign two quality youngsters in Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Say goodbye to the likes of Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn!
The Leafs have 16 players signed through 2020-21 and only $4.59 million in projected cap space. They will have to find money to sign RFA Travis Dermott and somehow replace Tyson Barrie in their top four defense group. It gets worse a year from now when goalie Frederik Andersen and forward Zach Hyman are free agents.
The Canucks are in the same boat. They have significant bonuses owing to rookie-of-the-year hopeful Quinn Hughes and star forward Elias Pettersson plus the Roberto Luongo recapture penalty on top of their own self-made cap issues. Like the Leafs, one year from now the Canucks will really be up against it when Hughes and Pettersson move away from entry-level deals. As many scribes are saying, it’s going to be all-out bloodletting.
Random Notes – It didn’t take Judd Brackett long to find a new job. He’s been hired by the Minnesota Wild as their Director of Amateur Scouting. He had served in the same role with the Canucks from 2015 until this year when the Canucks opted not to renew his contract in an acrimonious separation. Brackett had worked for the Canucks for the past 12 seasons and was instrumental in the drafting of current stars Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes.
Great story regarding the announcement of Pat Mahomes’ new record-breaking, 10-year, $500 million dollar extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. It seems that a Chiefs front office staffer went into a KC liquor store and purchased six bottles of Dom Perignon. The clerk asked what he was celebrating and he said “there’s a big signing today.” Being a Chiefs fans, the young gal said “Is it Chris Jones?” referring to the fact the All-Pro defensive lineman is seeking a new contract. The staffer said no so she assumed it as Mahomes and immediately put it out on Twitter. Although she nervously withdrew the tweet, word was already out. ESPN’s Adam Schefter picked it up and announced the deal an hour later. Pretty cool when a liquor store attendant beats everyone to the largest contract signing in U.S. sports history.
Anyone who doesn’t see the term “redskin” as offensive is clearly not paying attention. Most people think ‘redskin’ is simply a racist acronym for a Native American. However, there’s more to it than that. The origin of the term “redskin” actually comes from the act of scalping an Indian, one of the most despicable acts in American history. It’s certainly not a term that should be attached to a professional sports franchise, end of story.
Nice finish by Adam Hadwin at the PGA TOUR event in Detroit. He eagled the 17th hole and birdied the 18th hole to jump from what would have been a tie for 21st into a tie for 4th. He went from earning about 75 grand to prize money of 300 thousand. Adam took the momentum into the event at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio and posted a 66 and sat near the top of the leaderboard after the opening round. However, he failed to follow-up on Friday, posting a one over 73 to drop to T18 heading into the weekend. Two fellow Canadians sit in a tie for ninth at minus six, Nick Taylor, Hadwin’s buddy from Ledgeview Golf Club in Abbotsford and MacKenzie Hughes.
As expected, this year’s Ryder Cup competition has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. The PGA of America announced that the biennial competition between the United States and Europe will now be moved to a date in 2021. The event was slated for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. As part of the announcement, the Presidents Cup will also be pushed back a year to 2022. Of course, this comes as no surprise since the Ryder Cup would not be the same without fans in attendance and any consideration to holding the event without fans would be absolutely nonsensical.
The German Bundesliga managed to finish out its schedule without one positive case of coronavirus. It’s a marked difference from what’s happening here. Two teams, Dallas and Nashville SC have already dropped out of the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando and its barely underway. There’s now six groups with four teams each. Odds that the number will drop further?
Are we finally heading out of the woods when it comes to Canada’s Men’s National soccer team? Alphonso Davies was rookie of the year with Bayern Munich and his jersey is among the five most popular on the team. Canadian Head Coach John Herdman, who moved over from the women’s team, now actually has something to work with. There’s a great corps of players emerging including Lucas Cavallini, Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Richie Laryea, Kamal Miller, Tesho Akindele, and Derek Cornelius along with goaltender Maxime Crepeau, all of whom will get valuable experience in the MLS tournament. It’s no longer an absurd fantasy to think Canada could qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the CONCACAF region.
It came as no surprise when the Blue Jays announced that Vlady Guerrero is moving across the diamond from third to first base, a position change you knew was coming at some point, just not this quickly in his young career. Travis Shaw will now handle the hot corner. The move will certainly improve the Jays overall infield defense. Shaw will be a place-holder at third until Jordan Groshans is ready to step in.
In an effort to travel safely to the team’s Orlando bubble, 76’ers center Joel Embiid showed up at the airport in a full hazmat suit with mask, gloves…the whole enchilada. Not sure if it was a publicity stunt or if he was just trying to stay safe.
Thurston Howell DeChambeau III – Bryson DeChambeau is the new poster-boy for the “Crybaby Athlete” after an incident with a cameraman in the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. DeChambeau made a poor shot from a greenside bunker on the 7th hole then fired his club angrily into the sand. He ultimately made bogey. DeChambeau then took issue with a greenside cameraman as he approached the green and marked his ball.
Here’s his explanation for getting in the cameraman’s face. “He was literally watching me the whole entire way up after getting out of the bunker, walking up next to the green. And I just was like, ‘Sir, what is the need to watch me that long?’” DeChambeau said. “I mean, I understand it’s his job to video me, but at the same point, I think we need to start protecting our players out here compared to showing a potential vulnerability and hurting someone’s image. DeChambeau wasn’t done there. “We don’t mean anything by it, we just care a lot about the game. For that to damage our brand like that, that’s not cool in the way we act because if you actually meet me in person, I’m not too bad of a dude, I don’t think.”
Damage your brand? Is that what this is all about? Are athletes now going to try and dictate the television coverage? Petulant Bryson needs a lesson in reality. When the camera is on you, don’t throw your clubs, don’t fly off the handle, just try and act like a professional and not a spoiled child.
While we are on the subject, you have to wonder about DeChambeau’s sudden growth spurt. Saying he’s bulked up is putting it mildly. Two years ago, DeChambeau averaged 299 yards off the tee which put him middle of the pack in driving distance on the PGA TOUR. This year, he’s averaging 321 yards and had several drives over 360 at the event in Detroit. Don’t know about you but I am always skeptical when athletes put on that much muscle that quickly. Human Growth Hormone, perhaps? With a name like that it sounds like he should be at the country club lounge with an ascot on, sipping on a martini with Thurston Howell III and Reginald Van Gleason, the old Jackie Gleason character.
Genesis of Team Names – At a time when numerous team names are under fire for their connection to native Indians, it’s a good time to review the genesis of team names in general.
There are many team names that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. The L. A. Lakers for instance, moved from Minnesota, known as the Land of Lakes, but never bothered to change the team name. Not a good name for a team just a short drive from the Mojave Desert. The New Orleans Jazz relocated to Utah, that bastion of conservatism not exactly known for jazz music. How about the Memphis Grizzlies? They wouldn’t know a grizzly in Memphis if it strolled down Beale Street. The Calgary Flames? That was a holdover from Atlanta where the expansion hockey team was named after General Sherman’s march through Georgia in which he burned down every town in his path including Atlanta. Why name a team after that anyway? If teams would pay more attention in the first place, a lot of the current bull could have been avoided. The Calgary Flames should have been the Calgary Cowboys, the name of the team in the old WHA. We shouldn’t forget the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg being that epicenter of air travel and aviation history.
How about the case of the high school team in Oliver, B.C. called the Rebels? Can you explain to me why they would have the confederate flag as their logo? Then you have the Simon Fraser University Clan. They are now under pressure to change the name because of its close connection to the Klu Klux Klan. What the university should really do is a background check on Simon Fraser himself. Research will show that Mr. Fraser had a very sordid past. If they plan on changing the team name, they should change the name of the university was well.
It’s not as though change hasn’t happened before. Stanford University changed the team name from the Indians to the Cardinal two decades ago in response to public pressure from Native American groups.
The Joe Schultz Sports Quote of the Week – This week, we turn to former Kansas City Royals great George Brett for this beauty of a quote:
“If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out.”
Music Video of the Week – If you were around in the 70’s, one of the great Canadian singer-songwriters was a fellow named Willie P. Bennett. He was a Juno Award-winner who passed away far too early of a heart attack at the age of 56. Despite having a solid solo career, Bennett was satisfied with the role of background player, often strumming the mandolin or playing the harmonica for roots artist Fred Eaglesmith as well as dozens of other artists. He was the quintessential reluctant star.
Born in Toronto on October 26, 1951, Bennett began his musical career as a choir boy at his junior high, later emerging on the folk scene as a songwriter and performer in the late 1960s at Rochdale College in Toronto. He played at universities, clubs and coffee houses throughout southern Ontario in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Bennett’s song, White Line, was recorded in 1973 by singer David Wiffen and in later years was covered by other artists including Pure Prairie League. Musician Colin Linden recalls hearing that song as a 13-year-old watching Bennett play a coffeehouse in Don Mills in 1973. He approached Bennett after the show and recalls the singer treating him with respect. “He was incredibly encouraging,” said Linden, who would launch his own career nine years later.
Bennett’s contributions to Canada’s folk scene were highlighted in 1996 when Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden and Tom Wilson formed Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, a group named after Bennett’s 1978 album. They would record a tribute album to Bennett, using 14 of his songs.
Here’s Bennett performing Music in Your Eyes and Driftin’ Snow from the album Tryin’ to Start Out Clean.
Here’s Blackie and the Rodeo Kings performing Driftin’ Snow in a 2014 tribute to Willie P. Bennett.
One of Bennett’s best tunes was Sometimes It Comes So Easy which is covered here beautifully by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.