Author Archives: torontosportsmedia

Time For A Change In The Morning

I am going to go out on a limb here folks. It is time Nelson Millman to make a change to his morning show over at the Fan 590. I don’t want to call for someone to lose (not loose) their job, but the morning show is just stale. Why do I bring this up today, well, Don Landry was out ill today and Damien filled in for Landry. It was the best morning show they have had in ages. Let me be clear, I don’t know Don Landry from Adam. To quote Pat Burns, “I wouldn’t know him if I hit him with my car.” I don’t dislike him personally, nor the work he does. However, if ever there was a guy suited for a mid day slot it would be him. He can be funny, he likes to do more shtick then substance and I am sure he has a ton of loyal followers. He just isn’t a sports guy. This is a time slot the Fan has all to their own and to be honest most mornings I punt to 550 or god forbid music. If I am not getting sports at 590, there is no reason to listen. Nelson needs to find a replacement for Landry during that show and move Landry to an hour where his talents will be more appreciated. I can’t see the ratings for this show getting any better then they are right now. The show has peaked and I predict will decline until a change is made.

Damien was fantastic this am with Gord. They have amazing chemistry and man, they spent time actually talking about what their sports guests earlier in the am had to say. Damien was saying how he thought wht Burke was doing with Pogge was the right move, that it was part of a plan. He said he disagreed with Scotty’s take from earlier in the am which was great in that I didn’t get to hear all of it. There was a lot less hijinx then there usually is and a bigger focus on sports. Again, for some reason I think Damien’s column has suffered greatly as a result of the other things he does. He is better in his blog and is better then that on the radio. Watching him faceoff against Simmons on Sunday’s is pretty interesting too. In his column he rarely says why leaf fans should be happy that Cliff is gone. It sounds like a personal vendetta, and more so every time he says it isn’t. This morning he actually put some meat on the bones saying that if Cliff were still in charge we would have seen more deals like the one Cliff made for Lee Stempniak, trading away 2 guys who at the very least should have been given a shot with the Marlies to work our their careers. Damien guaranteed that Cliff was going to do everything in his power to get the team to the playoffs this season and deals like that were evidence of such. Now, I have no clue whether that is true or not. Damien also wrote that Doug Gilmour was paying for his players to be at the ACC this Saturday and we have since learned otherwise. At least it makes for interesting radio. It is certainly better then another bit of Ken Dryden in the house of commons! Good on Damien for mixing it up a bit, making it interesting etc.

I would like to see the Fan 590 think outside the box a bit more. In many major cities I have lived in the morning show and the drive home show feature a radio guy and a print guy as permanent hosts. The radio guy is always there (except for vacations) and the print guy is sometimes a little late, sometimes on the road or sometimes absent. They have good chemistry and create a good product. Now Brunt is a part timer on the Fan, not full time with McCown. While I love Brunt’s work, I think he comes across as being to cerebral for radio in this town. He is certainly better then some of the other guys though. I would love for the Fan to find a way to get Damien or someone like him in there with Stellick. Maclean would be a better fit to be honest. One of the problems I think is that we don’t have a huge bullpen of talent (at least known) in this market. It’s not like there are 5-10 guys on other shows who you say, man they would be awesome on the Fan. With the exception of Brady on 640 (and I think he would be terrific with Stellick, but can’t see that happening anytime soon), I really can’t think of anyone. Now Brady came from Detroit and there are probably a lot of folks in the industry looking for work in other markets. I think Nelson really should make a change, move Landry to the mid-day and bring in someone else to work with Stellick. This morning was a tease.

Pogge Up- Down The Stretch They Come

So we are going to see the start of the professional evaluation of one Justin Pogge. It’s a good thing too. At least when he is in net the pundits are going to have lots to write about. One shot, he’s good the next- he’s a bum. Burke and Wilson need to know what they have sooner rather then later and well sooner starts now. If Pogge can’t play in the NHL we had better know now as the planning is well under way. As one scout told me after the last game, Burke isn’t done his evaluations yet, when he is the dominoes will start to fall. One evaluation that is obvious is that of Justin Pogge.

Sorry for the NFL thought, but I am curious, US newspapers are ceasing to cover the NHL in droves, yet our news outlets are all already down in Tampa for the superbowl. Seems odd to me, does it to anyone else?

Doug Gilmour is a favorite. Someone, anyone please explain to me why he told Damien he was paying for his current players to attend the event honoring the former captain this Saturday night while Steve Simmons’s story is that a penguins player is the one who actually paid for the tickets? No really, why would Gilmour lie about something so small, he looks like and would be a liar if this is true.

Suspended not suspended, injured, not injured WHO CARES…enough already. Why was this the only thing being talked about today? There has to be something better to talk about then this.

I will say it again, there is no better player in the game today then Alexander Ovechkin. He is the only player in the league I would pay to see, night in and night out. He is strong, he is tough, he is animated, he is talented, he is the guy the NHL needs to start selling as the face of the league.

Have all the good rumor sources dried up? Garrioch had the Leafs looking at Pronger, Hanky gave the Jay Bo to the buds his highest rating before a deal being done. Where are all the good scoops?

The Avs are coming up this week. Tucker and Red light Raycroft doing battle against their former teammates (or what is left of them). It will be very interesting to hear the interviews with Tucker this week and then to see his sideshow Bob antics take shape against his former club.

Ok sports fans, who pulls the trigger first, Burke or Colangelo? Which player gets dealt first, a Leaf or Jermaine O’Neal?

The Hockey Hit The World Should Be Talking About Today

What happens when two college rivals face off??:

“The No.8-ranked Wolverines won 5-3. Michigan State, which has struggled this season, fought back from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 but couldn’t come up with the tying goal.

In the final minute, Michigan State forward Andrew Conboy grabbed Michigan defenseman Steve Kampfer from behind and knocked him to the ice. Michigan State forward Corey Tropp immediately slashed Kampfer as he lay on the ice.

Tropp was given a double disqualification and Conboy was given four minutes for roughing.

Kampfer, who suffered a fractured neck and cracked skull earlier this season in an off-ice incident, skated off the ice with the help of teammates but was taken to the hospital on a gurney.

Michigan seniors Tim Miller and Danny Fardig jawed at Michigan State coach Rick Comley after the game and Miller did not participate in the postgame handshake with the Spartans.”

Take a look and see…..

Burke To Take a Shot At the Playoffs?

It’s interesting, Burke has been on the job for about a couple of months now and well, nothing has changed. That isn’t a bad thing, it is what it is. If you look at what he is saying these days, it is the exact same thing he said in his press conference. I am not sure if some folks expected him to buckle under pressure, but the reality is- he isn’t going to.

““The biggest thing I see is this team lacks an identity,” Burke said. “We’re not a big offensive machine. We’ve been shut out at home twice and that shouldn’t happen. We need to get an identity, whether that’s a bigger, more physical team or a team that is better on special teams. “But I’m not discouraged at all. We have a good group. We don’t quit. They listen to the coaches. We just have to upgrade our talent.”

No, this isn’t a direct quote from his press conference when he got hired. This is from an article that just hit the net on Globe Sports.com.

“What we have is what the fans can see. We have the capacity to be a good hockey team, but the biggest simple problem is we’re not consistent at all, not only from game to game, but also from period to period.”

Again, he has been saying this since day one. Not a criticism, rather an observation.

“When I talk about having a hard-nosed team, I want to make it clear that I love skill, first and foremost,” he said. “If you look at the teams I had in Vancouver, we had a ton of skill and a lot of hard-hat guys.
“I draw a line right through the top six [forwards] and bottom six. The bottom six guys have to bring a pick and a shovel to work. They have to do the penalty killing, block the shots, they have to win the fights and deliver the bodychecks. The top six have to put the points up on the scoreboard. “We have a lot of work to do. There are a bunch of holes on this team. The one motto I have with my players is: no complaints, no excuses. I’m not going to complain.“I don’t have this and I don’t have that. We’ll get things fixed here, but it will take some time.”

It’s almost funny to read this stuff so long after he was hired. It is the exact same thing. I guess one could ask, well, you said all this when you started, you sound like a broken record. The truth is we fans know it and well….yawn

““If we get into a position to add a player to help us make the playoffs, we’re going to do it,” Burke said. “But we haven’t been presented with that. What we have been presented with are deals that will weaken us. If you’re going to make a deal like that, it has to be closer to [the trade deadline] when the value is higher and your fans can see the blue print and understand it. “But if I can make a trade today that will help us get into the playoffs, I would do it.”

To quote Paul Maurice, breath, people breath. What is he supposed to say here? No, I have no interest in being competitive? He hasn’t said I will mortgage the future. He has said what a GM should say. Don’t panic leaf fans. He isn’t gong to do what others have tried to do in the past, I don’t see another Yanick Perrault coming. I don’t think he is going to trade a number one pick for Tom Kurvers. What he means is that f he can trade for a guy who can strengthen the team he will do it as long as the deal makes sense. He isn’t going to trade the future just to make the playoffs. That isn’t what he said here, so no, not time to panic yet.

“They are not going to be 25-year-old guys, they are going to be 28 or 29-year-old guys. Whether Toronto is an attractive destination yet for those guys remains to be seen. It’s still too early to know. I know in the past, to get those players to come to Toronto, the team has given no-trade clauses to entice those players, but I don’t like no-trade clauses. So we’ll see what happens on July 1. We intend to be ready. We have cap space and money to spend.”

With Burke here, and Wilson in tow and a whack of dough, they will have the ammunition they need. You can bet the plan is already in the works… I don’t think we need to worry. The message hasn’t changed and I don’t think the strategy has either. Some times you have to say the right things because to do otherwise would look ridiculous.

You can read the Globe article here

Sunday Night NHL Thoughts

So, I tried to watch a few minutes of the ASG with little TSM this evening. We were about 5 minutes into the game when he said “Daddy, this is really boring, can I go do some homework?” Now, Little TSM is 6, so it does take a lot to capture his attention. I am not one who likes to slag something for the sake of it, as others do. I will say however that an article in NorthJersey.com does a fantastic job or breaking down the issue:

“The game has become a farce. The players rarely throw a body check and barely pay attention to defense. The skills competition is an even bigger joke with supposed skills, such as the breakaway challenge (the NHL’s version of the slam dunk contest), that have little to do with the actual game. The time has come to scrap the entire weekend. If the lure of Montreal and the history of the Canadiens isn’t enough to save the event, nothing else will.”

Isn’t that what all- star games are? Baseball is the only game that doesn’t amend it’s play for the all star festivities, yet if god forbid a game goes long or a pitcher gets used for too long…. To me one of the problems is that the game used to be for the fans now it is for sponsors.

“The All-Star game already has been supplanted by the Winter Classic outdoor game as the centerpiece event of the NHL’s regular season. The league can build the outdoor game into an even bigger event and use it to showcase the sponsorship deals that usually are highlighted on All-Star weekend. What makes the Winter Classic work is that, unlike the All-Star game, it is a real game that counts in the standings and the players play it that way.”

I agree one hundred percent. I had a real interest in watching the Winter Classic, it was a novelty, it was cool, it brough back memories from my childhood and made my son want to play a game outside. I didn’t care that Leafs weren’t playing, or even that a Leaf wasn’t there to represent the team. Ditch this sham of a game and let the sponsors hob nob around this event. Invite the fan favorites to a a golf outing or the award show for the sponsors to enjoy….

“None of the All-Star games in any of the pro sports is any good anymore. The NHL has a head start on the other sports, though, because it already has another regular-season event that it can shift its focus to. Scrap the All-Star game. In time, no one will miss it.”

In time? No one will miss it now….

Which leads me to the next thought. Not sure how many of you who have caught this but, there are rumblings that they NHL may move the award ceremony to Las Vegas. If you have heard the story, it’s because a talking head has probably gone to long about how bad this would be for the sport. Come on folks. This is not worth the time to even debate. I don’t care where they hold the show. No offense, but Ron MacLean hosting anything is SOOOO hokey, SOOOO Canadian. It’s not that he isn’t good at what he does, it’s just we accept it for HNIC. The award show is a joke. Seriously, would anyone care if they did what the other sports did and just announced the winners? Hell stretch it out like baseball does and announce one every 3rd day so it lasts a month! So, I have about as much time for the question, “why take the “event” away from it’s element as I do for the notion it would be better in Las Vegas. Raise your hand if you have ever gone to the event. Would anyone go more or less if it were in Vegas? Ok, all we need is another excuse and we are off to Vegas, but you know what I mean. Would more unrelated stars to the game attend the event because it were in Las Vegas??? Would better or more sponsors be drawn to hockey because the award snoozer is being held in Las Vegas? Who cares! Put it in Timbuktu for all I care if you think that works. As long as I hear who the winners are I am really not interested (and I am an avid hockey fan). I don’t care what the acceptance speeches are, I don’t care what player is wearing what tuxedo, or is with what former actress. It’s not the least bit interesting. Sorry to be a buzz kill, but I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. I sometimes think the fuss is nothing more then reacting to change.

Sunday’s Funnies (quotes of the early day)

Here are a few of my favorite things this am:

“No kidding the Coyotes operate under an onerous lease. But that’s exactly what previous owner Steve Ellman signed on for in exchange for his land-grab in Glendale, which was exactly the wrong spot to build a new arena and everyone but everyone knew it. Ellman didn’t care. He got his land. But now the NHL is supposed to bail out the franchise? Now the NHL is supposed to pump money into an organization that, somehow, is paying head coach Wayne Gretzky more than $5.5M this year and will pay Gretzky between $7-and-8M next season?” Larry Brooks

With the players taking the hit that they are, the count should expect long and hard questions about the league finances and the propping up of teams who do just enough to qualify for large revenue sharing payments. The ethical appearances of the league this day are all wrong.

“When Garth Snow talks about expanding the Islanders’ fan base in explaining why the team is playing a preseason game in Kansas City and spending the opening week of training camp in Saskatoon, it sounds like nothing more than an insult to the suffering fan base on Long Island. What is it about going to work in a suit and tie rather than in illegal pads that has turned Snow from an insightful, candid fellow into a suspicious, uptight individual?” Larry Brooks

Nothing like good old fashioned blackmail. Anyone else remember the Kansas City Blades of the IHL? Quick, when you think of hot potential NHL markets how many list KC in your top 25? The folks in government should tell the isles to build their own damned arena…Look around people, this isn’t the time for governments to be handing out checks to the likes of Charles Wong…. Poney up Charles and build your own building your fans deserve it.

“This Ron Wilson “we won, they lost” attitude in public will last only as long as his dressing room doesn’t erupt against him. There is much to like about Wilson — and who wouldn’t want a boss that rewards hard work and accomplishment? — but lately, he’s tripping over himself in public.” Steve Simmons

I agree. This we suck thing is going to get very stale in the locker room sooner rather then later. Coaches want to be part of the us vs. them mentality along with their players. Kind of hard to establish that when you slaughter your guys in public all the time. Take shots at the media, bash your players in private, man stand up for your guys just a little bit.

“How tough is it to get a hockey scholarship at a top U.S. college? Well, consider this: The top 10 ranked teams in the NCAA have only 15 Ontario players of the 250 or so on their rosters.” Steve Simmons

It used to be parents dreamed about the NHL. Now it’s a us scholarship. Let your kids have fun and stop pressing them to be all that you weren’t!

“When Doug Gilmour’s jersey is honoured at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, his Kingston Frontenacs players will be in attendance. But he had nothing to do with getting them tickets. Turns out, Mike Zigomanis of the Penguins, as a goodwill gesture to his former junior team and knowing nothing of the Gilmour ceremony, bought 34 tickets for the Fronts players to watch the Pens play. Now they get to see Zigomanis play and watch their coach honoured on the same night” Steve Simmons-

Why, would Gilmour lie about this? Seriously, I don’t get it.

“Donny (Doc) Lyons, the loudest, most opinionated, most inflexible and maybe most interesting sports fan in Toronto, has lost his fight with cancer. The owner of the popular House of Chan and longtime coach will be missed by all who have sparred with him and been charmed by him. He was a one-of-a-kind character in a city of too few” Steve Simmons

The house that Chan built won’t be the same…

“Boo hoo: Overpaid millionaire NHL players have to take a 13.5% paycut in the first half of the season and some have the nerve to squawk about it. Tell that to the autoworkers in Oshawa or the half-million Americans who lost their jobs in December” Steve Simmons

You knew it was coming and it is 100% accurate. This is why the players didn’t re-open the CBA.

Jay Bouwmeester A Maple Leaf?

“The Panthers are looking a trade possibilities and hoping to get a first round pick, another top selection and a top, NHL -ready prospect if they move Bouwmeester. The Leafs don’t have the wherewithal to put that kind of package today, although its believed GM Brian Burke might be willing to part with the team’s first rounder this summer if he could first negotiate a long-term deal with Bouwmeester.” Damien Cox

Now you are starting to enter the realm of hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Bouwmeester will be 26 in September. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. This is an old fashioned game of poker. Let’s assume for one second that he isn’t going to resign in Florida. He has NEVER played a playoff game since being drafted. Also, if he is going to resign, this debate is over. If he isn’t going to resign, why would he agree to re-up with anyone until the free agency period begins. Jay Bo is a westerner, so I guess if Calgary came a knocking he may re-up early. Other then that why bother? So the question becomes do you take the chance. The answer is NO. If you can’t resign him you don’t make the deal. That’s easy. Then the question is, do you assume whomever he gets traded to he will re-up with? If the answer is yes, then if you want him……you have to trade for him. Not an easy decision. It’s easy to SAY we won’t trade for him without talking to him about re-upping. What do you do in that game of poker???

“Barring that, if Bouwmeester gets to unrestricted free agent status, you can expect the Leafs to be at the front of the line of teams vying for his services. Interestingly, the Leafs would be well-positioned given that they currently operate almost $10 million below the salary cap. There’s a threat the $56.7 million cap could drop significantly after next season, leaving teams with fewer salary committments – like the Leafs – potentially in a position to have far more flexibility over the next two years. Even if Bouwmeester is traded before the March 4 deadline, he might still become unrestricted July 1st, as was the case with Marian Hossa.”

This could be the hardest decision to face Burke. Bouwmeester is the type of player you build around. Him and Schenn would make for a pretty solid base for a defence core. If the Leafs are 2-3 years from the playoffs you have to wonder why he would agree to come here (granted they would say with him maybe it’s not that long)…..

So Leaf fans, you are Burke…If you can’t talk to him or guarantee you can resign him, do you roll the dice that he becomes an UFA or the other way and pull the trigger. If you deal for him (a number one plus anything) and he doesn’t resign you are toast!….What do you think?