CFL Catch Up
The 2021 CFL season kicked off on Thursday night after missing last season due to COVID-19. To get you set for the season, I connected with CFL alumnus Christopher Milo.
Milo is a retired placekicker, a two-time Grey Cup Champion, who played for three CFL teams between 2011 and 2017. He won championships with Saskatchewan (2013) and Ottawa (2016). Milo is tied for the longest punt in professional football history at 108 yards. A decorated CFL veteran, Chris Milo knows the Canadian football landscape. I asked him a few questions about this coming season.
When asked about the impact of a missed season for CFL football, Milo said the impact for the league would depend on how quickly they can accept a full capacity crowd into their stadiums and find smart solutions to allow this to happen quickly. Chris said the biggest concern was the health and safety of players, coaches and management who had been out of the game, and the challenges of managing potential outbreaks.
Milo also mentioned the potential loss of players who were able to start new careers during the stoppage, and no longer need football to take care of their families. This last dynamic is unique to the CFL where players are paid modest salaries in comparison to their counterparts in other professional sports.
I was interested to hear more from the veteran about the uniqueness of the CFL and what makes the league special. Milo talked about the fans, particularly in markets where CFL is king. He mentioned his time in Saskatchewan and compared it to playing for the Canadiens in Montreal. Milo said the exciting thing about the CFL is that absolutely anything and everything can happen in a single game. He recalled a quarterback punting the ball and a wide receiver recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown.
“There’s always something going on that I think makes it very exciting!”
Chris gave me some insight on the teams to watch this year but said it’s more difficult to predict with the 18-month break. He explained that the team that comes out firing to start the year may not be the team to watch. Milo said he likes the chances of the team that can bond quickly and overcome outside distractions along the way.
For the East Final, he predicts a meeting between the Montreal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In the west he has the Saskatchewan Roughriders facing the Edmonton Elks. He’s calling Montreal to defeat Saskatchewan to win the Grey Cup.
Now you have the inside scoop from a CFL alumnus to get you ready for another football season!
After a frantic opening to NHL free agency, the pace has slowed to a crawl. Canadian teams have added some depth players and are rumoured to still be in the market for remaining free agents.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are credited with the most noteworthy signings this week, adding forwards Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase.
Some of the market is believed to be held up by the tangly mess unfolding in Buffalo where franchise centre Jack Eichel is on the trade block, and Buffalo is reportedly asking for a king’s ransom in return. Teams are hesitant due to questions around Eichel’s health, and disagreement between the player and the team about how to manage the herniated disc in his neck. The off-season – and what could be recovery time – is ticking away while the two parties are at a standoff.
Once this domino falls, others are expected to follow as teams who lose out shift focus to other trade targets, such as Vladimir Tarasenko who is still available in St. Louis, and remaining free agents.
On August 2nd at 6 p.m. the free agent negotiation period opened in the NBA, with signings beginning at noon eastern on Friday. At press deadline we know that Kyle Lowry’s time in Toronto has come to an end, and he has committed to Miami. We also know this has been facilitated through a sign and trade.
Goran Dragic, a veteran point guard, and Precious Achiuwa, a big power forward/centre, are believed to be returning in the trade. Whether other picks or prospects are included, and whether Dragic will play in Toronto or be flipped for other assets was unknown at press deadline.
We also know that Sam Dekker, and athletic shooting wing, has signed with Toronto. By the time you are reading, you will have a better picture of what your Raptors have done.
Blue Jays Babble
The MLB trade deadline passed on July 31st and the Toronto Blue Jays made two significant deals. They landed the starting pitcher they have been desperate for all season, acquiring Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins for two top prospects. Then just before the deadline they added relief pitcher Joakim Soria. These moves were in addition to adding reliever Brad Hand in the days leading up to the deadline.
The addition of Berrios means Steven Matz or Ross Stripling will move to the bullpen, strengthening their relief options. Will these reinforcements, along with their surge since returning to Toronto for home games, be enough to boost the Jays up the standings and into a playoff spot?
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and newbie ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat, just as long as it remains respectful. Find her on twitter as @lori10habs.