Under Further Review – June 6 Edition – Douglas Smith with contributing editor Bill Morphy.
We’re BACK!!! Apparently, we couldn’t hold off any longer. Here’s a few tidbits from the world of sports gathered over the past few weeks as life and sports slowly returns to normal. For now, it seems the ‘anarchy’ watch in the U.S. is capturing most of our attention.
Random Thoughts –
- It’s says a lot about hockey players when you consider they will be playing for nothing when the NHL returns this summer with a Stanley Cup playoff tournament. NHL players have already received all but one of their pay cheques for the season. The quest for Stanley apparently overrides money.
- According to the playoff formats being bandied about, the Canucks would meet Minnesota to start the playoffs. That’s a ‘pick-em’ if there ever was one. The “play-in” round will determine the 16 playoff qualifiers. If the Canucks fail to advance, they will be considered a non-playoff team and be part of the draft lottery. Would they then elect to keep their first round pick this year that was sent to Tampa (and then forwarded to New Jersey) as part of the J.T. Miller trade? According to reports, that’s a real possibility. Maybe the Canucks draft lottery luck will change. There’s a slim chance but they could move up into the top 3.
- The Leafs will draw Columbus in the “play-in” round of the NHL playoffs. Seth Jones will be back in the Blue Jackets lineup. John Tortorella will have his team ready. If anyone thinks Sheldon Keefe will out-coach Torts, please stand up! Even if the Leafs survive, they will meet the Bruins in the next round.
- Why isn’t anyone talking about the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar and how it will impact Canadian NHL teams? When you are taking in Canadian dollars and paying most of the bills in U.S. dollars, that’s not a good picture. What happens if our dollar drops even lower? Remember the days of the Vancouver Grizzlies when the dollar was worth about 62 cents U.S.?
- If I am Brandon Leipsic, I am looking for another line of work. There’s a zero chance he gets another NHL job.
- TSN has been naming the All-Time team for each Canadian NHL franchise. What were they thinking when they left Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour off the all-time Leafs team?
- Is this the summer the Flames look hard at trading Johnny Gaudreau? He’s one of many big name players who could be on the block.
- Sorry but I’m not suddenly going to become a UFC fan because it’s the only live sports available on television.
- The PGA Tour returns next week with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. Tournament play will be much different, at least for a while. The first four tournaments will be played without fans and a limited number of people on course. Without any grandstands to work as a back-stop, it will be interesting to see where all those errant shots into the green end up. Scores will reflect the fact there will be no stands or fans to prevent balls from rolling out of bounds or into awkward positions.
- The highlight of The Match between Tiger and Peyton Manning and Phil and Tom Brady was when Brady bent over to pick a ball out of the hole and exposed a rip in the crotch of his pants. The exhibition match was carried by TNT and Canadian golf fans didn’t get to see it.
- Rory McIlroy is right. The Ryder Cup is not a Ryder Cup without fans. If they try to stage the Ryder Cup in September without fans, it will take all the drama and excitement out of the competition.
- If you haven’t watched The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan during the lockdown, make sure to check it out on Netflix. If it points out one thing, it’s Jordan’s fierce competitiveness. However, it hasn’t translated to Michael the NBA owner. His Charlotte Hornets have not won a playoff series in Jordan’s 10-year stint as owner. But why would he care when the franchise value has grown from $175 million to $1.5 billion during his tenure.
- Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott reportedly turned down a five-year, $175 million dollar contract offer. Stand up if you think he’s worth $35 million a season? First, the Cowboys were foolish to offer him that much dough and secondly, he’s an idiot to turn it down.
- Alphonso Davies hasn’t turned 20 yet but he is starting to make a major impact for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. With little major sports on TV here in North America, he’s got a chance to make his mark on the world stage.
- Free agency has not been kind to the Seahawks over the years. Since 2011, the roster has been littered with players carrying the “bust” label who were signed in free agency. Do you remember some of these names who failed to pan out? Robert Gallery. Matt Flynn. Jimmy Graham. Luke Joeckel. Eddie Lacey. Ed Dickson. Ziggy Ansah. There were more but you get the point. The Hawks had better hope their fortunes in the free agent market improve this season because it’s definitely becoming a black mark on the organization.
Mr. Melnyk’s Neighbourhood – It’s clear now that Eugene Melnyk can’t go two months without picking a fight with somebody. His latest feud is with his own Senators Foundation. They have decided to cut ties with the Senators owner after Melnyk demanded a portion of the proceeds raised by the foundation, whose focus has been on supporting youth programs, to go to organ donation awareness. You will remember that Melnyk underwent a successful a liver transplant in 2015.
Something tells me there is more to the story than that. There are reports that high rent charges charged by Melnyk to the foundation have been a “sore point” for the two sides. The report noted that “charging rent is not believed to be a common practice by other sports franchises with charitable foundations.” It seems odd that a team would sever ties with its own foundation over the distribution of charitable donations. Once again, Melnyk is making no friends in the Ottawa community. Until he is out of the way, do you really think the Senators will become a contending team? Fat chance!
The sad part is the Senators have the three major ingredients to follow the Colorado blueprint and build a long-term contender – tons of cap space, a rich prospect pool and a major stockpile of draft picks. If you look three years ahead, the Senators could be bursting at the seams with young talent. Hopefully, it will coincide with a change in ownership and the construction of a new downtown arena.
Numbers Don’t Lie – Stan “the Man’ Musical is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. In 1943, he won his first batting title with a .357 average while leading the league with 220 hits. He also drilled 20 triples while striking out only 18 times in 152 games with over 600 at-bats. Think about that? More triples than strike outs over the course of an entire season. Incredible! Pitcher Carl Erskine of the Brooklyn Dodgers was once asked how he pitches to Musial. Erskine responded “I throw him my best stuff, then run over to cover behind third.” In his 22-year career, Musial had 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 hits on the road. Talk about consistency!
We are all aware that the Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Since then, 19 different teams have won a Cup while eight other teams have made it to the Cup final. That’s 27 teams in total. Only four current teams have yet to reach a Cup final – Columbus, Arizona, Winnipeg and the Minnesota Wild. Don’t expect the Leafs long run of futility to end any time soon.
Where Have All the Rasslers Gone? – When you look at the collateral damage from the world of wrestling, it is astonishing. We all know that the industry has taken its toll over the years but when you look at the sheer numbers of premature deaths among professional wrestlers, it is shocking. Heart attacks by the dozen. Rampant drug and alcohol and steroid use. Undiagnosed concussions leading to depression and suicides. You don’t realize how widespread the issues are until you look at the body count of premature deaths. Check it out for yourself in this list posted on Wikipedia.
Frontline Hero – Dr. Leslie Bottrell is a Canadian working on the front lines at a New York hospital. She received a surprise phone call from the Raptors Kyle Lowry on Mother’s Day as a show of appreciation for her service during the COVID-19 crisis. In case you missed it, here’s the video from a report that appeared on ESPN.
Music Video of the Week – As you have no doubt noticed, we like to post rare videos that are somehow unique. Here’s Steve Miller performing “I Wanna Be Loved” with the late, great Les Paul – (Live At Fat Tuesday’s / 1990).