Here’s what you need to know this week about the sports you love.
The deadline for NHL teams to submit their 23-man rosters was Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. In the days leading up to it, hard core fans were obsessing on how their teams would become compliant with NHL requirements.
Would kids on entry level contracts be demoted? Would teams get creative with undesirable contracts? Would taxi squad veterans be left unmolested by rival general managers? Who would be most innovative in finalizing their crews?
As they say, there’s more than one way to pluck a turr.
Montreal Canadiens fans were focused on Corey Perry. While past his prime, hard-core fans were still excited to see the caustic veteran in a Habs jersey. Having heard GM Marc Bergevin pontificate on Perry’s importance to the team, fans were confused when he was waived. But 24 hours later, Perry was still a Hab.
In the innovation category, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff waived Matthieu Perreault, a veteran whose production no longer matched his pocketbook. Chevy chose to maximize the cap savings on a player unlikely to be claimed. They don’t call him Clever Clogs for nothing.
The puck finally dropped on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The first face off the 2020-21 season was in Philadelphia where the Pittsburgh Penguins were in town to meet the Flyers. Does anyone give a fiddler’s flying flip who won that one? I figured.
In the Scotia division, the remodeled Habs were in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs who had their own share of new additions. Of course, if hockey players can be compared to vehicles, the Leafs additions are more “used” than new.
What a show these two put on for opening night! Montreal took a 3-1 lead on two goals from new addition Josh Anderson but were unable to hold on. Morgan Reilly was the overtime hero for the Leafs. Who is in for nine more matchups?
To quote Twitter’s @MimiLeMeow, “…it’s good to see two Canadian NHL teams looking good for a change. It’s about time, wankers.”
In Edmonton, the Vancouver Canucks surprised the Oilers with a 5-3 win. Brock Boeser was the hero in this one with two goals including the game winner. Every game on opening night was a high scoring affair as teams struggled to find their defensive games without the benefit of a pre-season.
Fans who like their rink sports with a little less spit and truculence have all eyes on the goings-on in the curling world. After some pandemic adjustments, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is set to begin on Feb. 20, while the Tim Horton’s Brier is penciled in for Mar. 6.
Playdowns are scheduled for the end of the month to determine who will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at each bonspiel. Hurry! Hard!
As of press deadline, the Toronto Raptors were 2-8 through 10 games to start the season. That record has them in the NBA basement with the Detroit Pistons. Regardless, there have been signs of life.
Pascal Siakam is looking more like the player fans and pundits expected, and Chris Boucher is finding his way. They’ve had a couple of close games, particularly against Portland, where they just couldn’t get the bounces.
In short, the Raptors have graduated from flat out losses to moral victories. Nothing makes merchandise fly off the shelves like losing the right way.
Blue Jays Babble
On Wednesday, Rogers Communications announced a five-year extension for President and CEO Mark Shapiro. Shapiro replaced Paul Beeston in 2015.
Fans will recall that Alex Anthopoulos, the beloved GM that took the Jays to the American League Championship Series in 2015, declined a contract extension following Shapiro’s hire. Ross Atkins was hired to replace Anthopoulos in the GM role.
Shapiro and Atkins were left with a hard act to follow. After a rough beginning and what some might call a “reset”, the Jays are expected to field a young and dynamic team in 2021. Young players like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are the hopefuls to bring Canadian fans some playoff baseball.
A final note from the diamond – Tommy Lasorda passed away on Jan. 7th. Lasorda had a brief pitching career but is best known as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976 to 1996.
A prolific manager, a Hall of Famer (1997), and an Olympic Gold Medalist (2000 Summer Olympics), Lasorda is probably best known for his colorful quotes and sayings. I’ll leave you with one.
“About the only problem with success is that it does not teach you how to deal with failure.” ~ Tommy Lasorda (1927-2021).
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and new ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat or even a debate, just as long as it remains respectful. She posts her gametime thoughts on twitter, in particular about hockey and the Montreal Canadiens, as @lori10habs.