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Maple Leafs’ Major League Damage Control

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

You know things went bad when you have to write an open letter of apology to your fans, your head coach and GM have to call year-end state of the franchise press conferences, and betting sites place odds on players from your team being seen walking out of a brothel. These are the things passed on to me regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ woes that I want to share with you today.

First the letter, as seen on the Leafs’ website, signed by the Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment:

Secondly, Brian Burke & Randy Carlyle’s recent press conference — despite Leafs’ ownership believing in the plan that the team has, Burke stated that they’ll be looking for a new goalie to backup James Reimer (that’s code for: adios, Gustavsson), a top line center (that’s code for Rick Nash), someone to assist Dion Phaneuf in leadership (that could be code for Jarome Iginla), and an extra large order of size and hostility. Wait, what does that leave left over to believe in and not change? Here’s the press conference: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/video/#id=2221324322

Lastly, the odds, from GR88.com. I can’t imagine a Toronto Maple Leafs player walking out of a brothel would be good PR for the team, especially after this open letter, but the site has odds on it, and a bunch of others too. Scroll down to see who might make you rich with their legal infidelity! (Phaneuf, right? Lupul? Kadri? Who’d you wager?)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ONTARIO’S STANCE ON BROTHELS, PIMPING SPARKS SHOCKWAVES ACROSS CANADA AND DEBATE ABOUT WHAT WILL BE LEGALIZED NEXT

NEW YORK, NY –  A court in Ontario has ruled that brothels and pimping will be legalized in that province sending buzz through the roof in Canada about how far the ruling will spread, and what it means as far as the legalization of other taboo vices.  With fans burning a trail across the internet to their website looking for answers, the fastest growing sportsbook on the web GR88.com posted odds on a number of questions related to this controversial headline!

Analysts at GR88.com posted the following odds on Brothels and Pimping in Ontario:

Odds on which celebs to be seen walking out of brothel:

Any Toronto Maple Leaf player: 10/1

Any NHL player: 5/1

Any Toronto Raptors player: 8/1

Any NBA player: 3/1

Any Toronto Argonauts player: 8/1

Any CFL player: 4/1

Any Ontario provincial minister: 5/1

Any Federal Minister: 3/1

Stephen Harper: 100/1

Mike Myers: 20/1

Jim Carrey: 10/1

Kiefer Sutherland: 3/1

Keanu Reeves: 5/1

Matthew Perry: 12/1

Ryan Gosling: 10/1

Eric McCormack: 12/1

William Shatner: 50/1

Province by province breakdown of odds to approve:

NFLD: 20/1

PEI: 50/1

NS: 40/1

NB: 50/1

QUE: 5/1

MAN: 10/1

SASK: 15/1

AB: 30/1

BC: 3/1

Will the Conservative Federal Gov’t, led by Stephen Harper, pass a new law to stop Ontario from enacting this provincial law within one year from now:

2/3

Odds on what is legalized next in Ontario:

Marijuana 10/1

Publicly removing bandages 15/2

Paying for a 50-cent item using only pennies 15/1

Caffeine in clear or non-dark sodas 5/1

Pretending to practice witchcraft 50/1

More than 3.5 inches of water in a bathtub 15/1

Tree-climbing 3/1

Purple garage doors 10/1

Back-yard clothes lines 5/1

Dragging dead horses down Yonge Street on Sundays 100/1

Sports and Newsworthy Information can be found at:   www.GR88.com

Media Contact:  Charlie Bernard at 646-592-3590 or cbernard@ccbstrategies.com

About GR88.com

GR88.com (pronounced Great Eight dot com) was designed to bring more fun to the online experience, and is focusing on delivering a unique, entertaining and unparalleled experience.

From first class games, massive jackpots, all huge variety of sports & odds, exceptional customer service, VIP rewards, as well as a simple, easy-to-navigate interface, GR88 is committed to providing an entertaining & enjoyable experience for everyone. GR88.com is backed by a highly experienced International team, and is licensed by Olympian Trading Limited BVI which operates under Maltese, Netherlands Antilles and Kahnawake gaming licenses.

Hockey Talkie:The Monster, The Trap, and The Hit.

November 19, 2011 2 comments

[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on November 15/2011]

With even Marty Turco’s name entering the discussion of future Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltenders now, at this point, the writing’s gotta be on the wall for Leafs’ goalie, Jonas Gustavsson, wouldn’t you say?

As much as Brian Burke refuses to admit any loss of confidence in “The Monster”, it’s his actions that tell the true story.

Look, I’m sure Jonas was as good as he was scouted to be in the Swedish Elite League.  His last year there, he had a 1.96 GAA.  And he had an intimidating nickname to boot.  So what could go wrong?  What went wrong was the Leafs gambling a goaltender would put up Swedish Elite League numbers in the NHL.  They needed him to be better than Vesa Toskola, Andrew Raycroft, and the rest of the revolving door of past Leaf goaltenders that failed to guide the Buds to the Stanley Cup.  Let’s be honest, he’s been average at best, and has in no way lived up to a moniker as lofty as “The Monster”.  Unless your lack of confidence in him scares you, or you compare him to the creatures from the animated Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc.

For all intents and purposes, Gustavsson should be the Leafs starting goaltender right now.  He’s 27 years old, and into his third NHL season.  I’ll give him credit, he did outlive 34 year old, former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, J.S. Giguere.  But with the emergence of 23 year old James Reimer on the scene, Gustavsson was again shuffled to a secondary role.  And with Reimer hurt, the Leafs elected not to give the reigns to Gustavsson, but to bring up 25 year old Ben Scrivens, who has basically been rendering Jonas obsolete altogether.  How many times does Jonas have to give way to other, younger goaltenders before even he realizes his lifespan in Toronto is limited?  Either the Leafs enjoy having 1.4 million dollars inactively sit on the bench, they’re too proud to admit a mistake and trade him, or are going to try and “show him off” in limited activity this year, in order to reclaim some value from him at the end of the year when his contract expires.

Whatever the scenario, I wouldn’t bet on Gustavsson being a Toronto Maple Leaf past this season.

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Some thoughts on the Philadelphia Flyers/Tampa Bay Lightning “stalemate”.

Tampa Bay was playing a system – “The Trap”, if you will.  Philadelphia realized this, and countered the system that relies on an active breakout to breakdown, by being completely passive.  Which is intelligent; some might even say smart.  But most are saying it’s boring, and bad for business.  And to Tampa’s credit, that’s one heck of an effective system, if you can make it work.  Both teams were simply trying to win the game (Tampa did), or at least not lose it.  Philadelphia later showed they could break the trap, and the game went on, but for 2 minutes of play there, it was pandemonium at NHL headquarters.

Here’s the thing: the new NHL is all about speed, scoring, and doing everything at a million miles an hour.  So while what both teams were doing were fantastic moves from a strategic we’re-trying-to-win-the-game standpoint, they are horrendous channel-changing deal-breakers to casual southern American hockey fans tuning in to hopefully see a hybrid-blend of boxing and NASCAR on ice.

If there was ever a more poignant example of the fact that the NHL is trying to run an entertainment business rather than a sports league, I can’t think of it.  It’s like Gary Bettman got scared NBC was going to back out of their freshly signed 10-year broadcasting deal if they saw that game.  We are now at the point where NHL higher-ups are going to have conversations about making rule changes in order to negate coaches ability to implement solid game strategies.  It’s no longer about winning folks, it’s about presenting an entertaining product.  I can’t think of one reason why a true hockey fan should be happy about this development.

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And finally, the Buffalo Sabres are officially the largest collective of gutless cowards on the planet.  Their all-star goaltender, Ryan Miller, got run by Milan Lucic, and not one Sabre players did anything of consequence to him.  I’d be generous to say that Thomas Vanek and Andrej Sekera both gave him mild bodychecks.  Announcers said during the broadcast that the Sabres didn’t have anyone tough on the ice at the time to respond, but the hit took place with 6 minutes left in the FIRST period.  That means there were 46 other minutes worth of hockey for at least one of the Sabres to grow a set and attempt subtract a few incisors from Lucic’s mouth.  This is the EXACT instance where fighting in hockey is required.  Of anyone who supports fighting and hockey, they would all agree, this is the prime example of where it is justified.  The Sabres absolutely embarrassingly failed to do the right thing, and they got walked all over the rest of the night.  Their goaltender is out with a concussion, and if Buffalo’s mentality doesn’t change, I’d bet they’re going to get walked on the rest of the season too.

Even minor leaguers knows that if someone punks your team out, it’s not necessarily how you do or how tough you are, but that at least you do something; as evidenced by this vid of Justin Bourne dropping the mitts with a player that had just knee’d his teammate in an ECHL game a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yfvWdS6MAU

Every player in hockey knows this is the norm, and it’s astonishing that Buffalo didn’t do a SINGLE thing immediately, or for the duration of the game. Boston will likely continue punking teams out because they have guys who can, will, and that get away with it; and teams like Buffalo that continue to not at least take the punk test will continue to fail it and get walked all over.

Hockey Talkie: Bobrovsky, Skinner, Worlds, Chi-Van for Winter Classic, Quiet Room Exploit, Coyotes, and Thornton in Flip Flops.

May 9, 2011 2 comments

I love TSN analyst Jay Onrait’s comparisons of Sergei Bobrovsky’s pulls and starts to a cop being pulled off a case, surrendering his gun and badge/getting them back & being reinstated on the case.  The frequency of his being “hired” and “fired” from the “force” is comparable to George Steinbrenner’s yo-yo’ing of Billy Martin.  It’s a classic tale of guy who’s dug himself a hole with a shot at redemption; but instead of realizing that potential, blows it and finds further condemnation, constantly restarting the cycle.  For all we know, he could be living out a real-life hockey player/fictional cop version of Groundhog Day; having to get it right to proceed in life.  The vids will clutter the blog up, but below are some links if you ‘re totally lost on what I’m talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyGSH4Ofuxw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps5IPq7DAgE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0M9F6GN2Ng&feature=related

Also, why do Philadelphia and Washington refuse to spend money on a dependable goaltender?

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Some perspective food-for thought…. With 63 pts this season, Jeff Skinner entered himself into the all-time-leading-scorer-as –an-18-yr-old conversation.  As remarkable as it was for him (while simultaneously nullifying the Taylor/Tyler debate), that total still put him behind Sidney Crosby’s mark as an 18 year old…trailing him by 39 points (102); and also behind Wayne Gretzky (110 in WHA, 137 in NHL).  As good as Skinner’s numbers were, they’re barely halfway to the best ever. 

BUT consider this too:  Skinner and Ilya Kovalchuk both had 31 goals this year, and Skinner ended up with 3 more total points than Kovy.  The fiscal difference between them? $97.3 million in salary.  So there’s that side of the coin as well. 

Now Skinner’s competing for Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championships, and doing just fine for himself.  I may have touched on this before, but this tournament just isn’t a fair portrayal of the world’s talent in the game; and I maintain that the Olympic tournament should be the measuring stick in world rankings.  Currently, Canada is ranked #2 behind Russia.  But why?  Because Russia does better in tournaments where the world’s best talent is still competing for NHL teams?  In a tournament where rosters are seemingly allowed to change as frequently as teams desire?  Canada destroyed Russia in the Olympic tournament where the world’s best players were ALL playing for their respective country.  A true world championship should be contested by the world’s best players; the IIHF Tournament does not offer this.  Why do they refuse to hold the tournament at a time where all players are available?  The potential for credibility is right there, but it seems more like pride that is holding the IIHF back from changing more than anything else.  In the meantime, Canada will continue to send the best they have available at the time and on short notice to top up their roster as best they can.

And a little further on Worlds rosters…. Toronto Maple Leafs’  Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer, and Luke Schenn were all good to go for Canada at the Worlds, but Phil Kessel said he was too tired to play for the US.  Feel free to insert your own American joke.  On the one hand, I think Kessel deserves the lambaste for this, but on the other, I think it speaks at least a little to how unimportant  some players view this tournament.  Playing for your country is an absolute privilege; it’s too bad that the IIHF refuses to present a tournament that all players wouldn’t waste a second thought on whether they would join their country’s roster or not. 

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If these two ever get teamed up in the announce booth, I'll quit watching hockey.

Can the NHL go ahead and book the Chicago Blackhawks/Vancouver Canucks for next year’s Winter Classic?  Great rivalry that has developed there; would make an entertaining HBO 24/7 special too.  They’d need to do it in Chi-town though, unless they’re prepared to deal with hockey’s first ever rain delay.

Glen Healy is approaching Pierre McGuire-level ridiculousness in some of his HNIC on-air commentary.  Though I hate the Vancouver Canucks, and a high-percentage of their fans, I do at least respect the Green Men.  Healy has, for whatever reason, decided to make it his mission to slag these guys at every on-air opportunity he gets.  Truth is, as annoying as they are, the Greenies  are just fans who have paid their ticket money, are excited about and supportive of their team, and aren’t hurting anyone around them.  If Glen Healy has a problem with fans, he might want to remind himself of who paid him his 14 years worth of NHL salary.

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I thought about this when Brent Seabrook got concussed by Raffi Torres in the first round….The NHL’s new “quiet room” rule (a player that receives a headshot has to sit in a quiet room for 15 minutes and be evaluated by a doctor, good idea) seems easy for a team to exploit to get an opposing team’s good player off the ice for 15 solid minutes.  I don’t know that any player/team would stoop that low, but when you think about it, if you can get a dangerous scoring threat or an impossible to beat defenceman off the ice for nearly an entire period, that doesn’t hurt your chances of winning the game.

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I love DJ Steve Porter’s sports interview remixes, especially these NHL ones: http://t.co/cwXdc6V  http://t.co/Uax93Bc

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It’d be too bad if the Phoenix Coyotes ceased to exist; I do like their red and white howling coyote jerseys.  It’d be a shame to have to ditch them.  Also, how unfair was it to the Coyotes that the media decided to talk about their pending relocation the entire time they were in the playoffs?  They never had a chance this year.  Oh, Glendale’s going to bail them out again next season now?  Wow, glad we had to go through that unnecessary hype and conversation a few weeks ago. 

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Everytime the San Jose Sharks lose a game in the playoffs, I’m pretty sure Joe Thornton thinks to himself about how much more comfortable his flip-flops and boardshorts are than his hockey equipment at that moment.

Schwartzel Taps His Inner Seinfeld For Masters Win, Tiger Loses Again, Norm MacDonald, and Hockey Quips.

April 10, 2011 2 comments

Shameless self-promotion: I had my latest newspaper article published; did you pick up a copy of The View on Friday? Click here to read it online if you don’t get the paper. Also, follow @LakeCountryBB and @BlackbeltsLCF on Twitter.

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Sorry if this throws you off, but I’ve got a few golf comments to make. I watched the final round of The Masters today, something I didn’t think I was capable of doing. A big part of making it tolerable was listening to Norm MacDonald’s “Norm Cast” running commentary of the event, and even getting one of my tweets read on the air live by Norm.  You should follow Norm on Twitter @normmacdonald and @normsportsshow , and check out the website.

The tweet I got read was, “If Tiger Woods wins the Masters today, expect Michael Vick level forgiveness of transgressions from the masses.” Valiantly try as he might, Tiger did not win. Charl (es?) Schwartzel did wins The Masters, and subsequently lifted the “Seinfeld Curse”(dubbed by Norm and company, as Charl has a striking resemblance to Jerry Seinfeld, facially). So I guess this means Tiger is still a dirty man-whore. How slutty do you think Tiger was over the weekend to play as well as he did? Also, do you think Tiger Woods was rattled that Lee Westwood’s wore his same red shirt, black hat/pants/shoes setup for Masters Sunday? That’s Tiger’s Sunday getup, Lee, everybody knows this.

I felt painfully bad for Rory Mcilroy, watching his Masters-sized meltdown. Guy was leading until he hit a shot onto some guy’s front lawn (who has a house on Augusta, btw?), and basically collapsed from there. Had a chance to be the youngest guy since Tiger to win the Masters, and then he BA-lew it.

I was closet-cheering for South Korea’s KJ Choi to win, and he was in the hunt. I bet KJ Choi played a lot of screen golf in Korea as a youngster. Only people who have lived in Korea will understand that comment. Basically, screen golf is virtual golf; and most Koreans play it instead of real golf because there are very few real golf courses in Korea as there’s very little previously undeveloped land to build them on, and the ones that exist are extremely expensive and exclusive. I am a little surprised Jinro Soju isn’t KJ Choi’s major sponsor (another Korean inside joke, sorry). SK Telecom must’ve won a screen golf bet for his rights.

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So the last place Edmonton Oilers beat the Canucks back to back before the end of the NHL regular season? Can anyone else feel Vancouver’s first round slipping out of their hands?

Vancouver’s Raffi Torres’ hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle seemed like a classic tall guy’s elbow naturally falling at short guy’s head level. Clean hit if Raffi got lower. I honestly thought it was a good, hard, borderline clean hit. The Chara-Pacioretty thing has every call on eggshells, and discipline is expected everytime someone goes down. I think Torres said it best himself, saying he was just finishing his hit, and if he hadn’t he probably wouldn’t be seeing much more ice. I like Eberle, but if players can’t hit, the NHL turn into touch hockey before we know it.

I’m happy that my LA Kings won’t be facing Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, especially now that they are without Anze Kopitar. I’m also happy that Vancouver will be meeting Chicago in the first round. I’m a casual fan, and I don’t invest my entire existence into my hockey team, nor their playoff hopes. If LA doesn’t win, no big deal. However, for Canucks fans, if Vancouver bows out early yet again, look out innocent civilians residing in the lower mainland of BC….

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Rookie Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and seasoned veteran Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils both have 30 goals this year. The difference between them? $97.3 million in salary. That seems fair. Oh, Jacques Lemaire just retired again, and Brodeur sucks now? New Jersey is in trouble going forward. Jeff Skinner on the other hand, not so much. Calder?

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Martin St. Louis sure is content using those obscenely yellow Easton sticks, isn’t he?

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I have a hunch that more NHL players are going after Gordie Howe hat tricks on purpose and as a real stat these days. Not that I mind.

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I enjoyed Toronto’s late playoff push. I love how mad so many people would have been if they got in. I think the Leafs have a lot to look forward to next season, as long as Brian Burke doesn’t Niemi/Halak his #1 goalie and trade James Reimer in the off-season, in favour of backing Giguere or Gustavsson (who is anything but a monster. Unless he’s one from Monsters, Inc).

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And finally, Cory Clouston gets tossed out of Ottawa. After getting the worst out of every good player Ottawa had under his regime, feuding with Dany Heatley to the point of a no-trade clause waiving trade, and finishing nearly last in the league over and over, how did it take this long for this to happen?

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