Monday September 01, 2014

Canada skates easy to gold medals


Canada has won gold in ice hockey at the Olympics and everyone is happy, including me. I don’t feel as though the world has really caught up to us at all. You saw what Sweden put on the ice when Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Niklas Backstrom were all out. They couldn’t compete. Canada can leave home its top goal scorer (Steven Stamkos), put the Norris Trophy winner (PK Subban) in the seats, and barely use the defending Art Ross Trophy winner (Martin St. Louis) and still win it all without hardly breaking a sweat. Make no mistake. This wasn’t close despite all the people panicking after 3-1 wins over Norway and 2-1 win over Latvia. The reality is that at no time was Canada in danger of losing.

Hard to pick things apart when you win gold, but I think it would have been even easier if the suits didn’t over manage things. They juggled more lines than a professional clown. I also think the bureaucracy is laughable. Steve Yzerman is called the Executive Director and then there are a bunch of hanger-ons who grab various titles so they can get their picture taken with the rest of the group. I’m just curious, but can you name me one NHL team who has an Executive Director? And, when was the last time an NHL team needed six General Manager types to win a Stanley Cup? Maybe this is a new formula teams should follow. For all the hockey playing talent in this country, we sure have some heavy hitting managers who do their best to sabotage it, but not even they can prevent them winning gold.

The unofficial word from Joe Beeverz and Boston Pizza is that the two establishments were about 75% full for the Canada-Sweden Olympic hockey gold medal game on Sunday morning. I think that’s awesome. I wonder if we can get the Saskatchewan Roughriders to start playing their games at 6 am to help boost sales at sports bars?

Speaking of the Riders, there have been a number of players who have headed for the exit doors since winning the Grey Cup. Weston Dressler and Kory Sheets have both signed NFL contracts, while stud punter Ricky Schmitt is gone to BC, undervalued back-up linebacker Abraham Kromah and hard hitting defensive back Craig Butler have signed with Hamilton, and defensive lineman Keith Shologan has joined Ottawa through the expansion draft. So far, the Riders have replaced them with pretty much nobody. For the most part it looks like they will rely on the recruiting class to come in and defend the championship. To just roll over and say ‘Oh well, we won a Grey Cup last year and that’s the price of winning’ is not what I want to hear. The Riders are the Yankees of the CFL. Get back up off the turf, find some new stud players, and get back at it. I will reserve judgement for now. I think Brendan Taman has an excellent track record of uncovering stars. Here’s to hoping he can do so again.

I ranted on other subjects for the last two weeks, so I’ll have to be brief on my thoughts concerning Olympic sports who use judges to determine winners and losers. Those sports have zero credibility, and that especially includes boxing, where I remember (as a small boy) watching Shawn O’Sullivan beat Simon Brown from pillar to post in the gold medal match at the 1984 Olympics and then losing 5-0 on the judges cards.

This past Sunday is the last Sunday where there will be no Major League Baseball games until October. Spring Training games start this week. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect the Boston Red Sox to repeat as World Series champs. I’m not even sure they can win their division.  I also think the Toronto Blue Jays will be better than last year, but I can’t say I have the same lofty expectations for them that I did last year, but I do feel they will be improved and will exceed what many are predicting.

I also want to relay my Turner Ottenbreit story from last week that I ran out of space on.  Ottenbreit was called up by the Saskatoon Blades on February 13th and played games in Alberta with them on the 14th and 15th. He was on the team bus and travelled from Calgary to Saskatoon after the game on the 15th, arriving in Saskatoon right about the same time the sun comes up. Upon getting in Saskatoon, there was a ride waiting to pick him up and bring him to Yorkton, where he managed to get to the arena just in time for the pre-game warm-up against the second place North Battlefords Stars. He played a regular shift despite having to prove nothing. The Blades had already used him. The Harvest wouldn’t have batted an eye had Turner said he was too tired to make it back for a 2 o’clock game in Yorkton after having played until about 11 o’clock (time change) the previous night in Calgary. I’m not sucking up to the Ottenbreits, but rather pointing out that not everyone fits the model I wrote about last week.  Turner is a good kid, raised by good people, and he can play on my team any day of the week.

Nice person mentions this week to Chris Paradis, Natasha Katchuk, John Berezowski, and Bob MacEachern.



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