Here’s what you need to know this week about the sports you love.
The job satisfaction theme continued in the NHL with insider reports from TSN, Sportsnet and The Athletic. The Calgary Flames were in Montreal to play the Canadiens when news broke that Victor Mete and Sam Bennett – both represented by player agent Darren Ferris – were unhappy with their roles and were requesting a trade.
Each player’s situation is unique. Mete, a 4th round draft choice, was given much opportunity over three seasons with the Habs. Promoted early due to a poorly constructed defence group, Mete has seen plenty of ice. But as the Habs have improved, Mete has dropped like a sack of spuds through a wet paper bag.
Bennett, on the other hand, was the 4th overall pick in 2014. Expectations for him were high, but he has not delivered. Bennett no doubt believes he has not been placed in a position to succeed, spending most of his time in the bottom six. Ferris took to the media to get his kids opportunity elsewhere.
On Sunday morning the New York Rangers told Ferris to hold their beer. At noon they placed defenceman Tony DeAngelo on waivers, and rumours began to dribble out about the gong show in their dressing room, with DeAngelo at centre stage.
The Rangers can’t feign surprise – DeAngelo was as mysterious as a bucket. His career, in junior and the NHL, is rife with suspensions for offences from harassing teammates to abusing officials. His social media presence can only be described as dark and twisty. Yet the Rangers gave him a hefty contract in October. DeAngelo cleared waivers on Monday. You’d think the line-up would be short for this level of tangly, but a trade is expected.
On the ice, teams are figuring out their rosters having not had the benefit of pre-season games. Some squads have identified bigger holes than others.
In Edmonton, the Oilers story is familiar – strong up front but struggling in the back end, and hoping kids like Evan Bouchard can step up. The Canucks are recalculating after a series of off-season departures. Tyler Toffoli has been a giant pain in their butt, brutalizing his old team in every match-up. Meanwhile, the Habs can’t stop grinning.
The Calgary Flames have been average despite adding some Canucks in the off-season, while Johnny Gaudreau has upped his trade value with a solid start. The Leafs are flying on the strength of a dominant power play, connecting at 43%. The Winnipeg Jets are holding on while they wait for Pierre-Luc Dubois to finish his quarantine. The hole in Ottawa can’t be patched.
Next week we’ll bring our first quarter review of the Canadian division.
On Tuesday Fred VanVleet made Raptors history in their win over the Orlando Magic. With 54 points in the win, VanVleet topped DeMar DeRozan’s record of 52. The showing also set a record for most points in one game by an undrafted NBA player, surpassing the 53-point record held by Moses Malone.
The win left the Raptors at 9-12 heading into a tough 6-game road trip that may be definitive for their season. Time is running out to gain ground.
Blue Jays Babble
The Jays have used this off-season to transition their batting order to one of the most formidable in the American League East. If they want to make real noise, pundits agree they need to add a starting pitcher to their rotation. On Tuesday they brought back Francisco Liriano on a minor league contract. He’ll be given a chance to make the roster out of camp, but this wasn’t the addition fans wanted. It’s a bit like showing up for an east coast lobster boil and getting served Captain Highliner.
The 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador Tankard was held from January 27-31 at the RE/MAX Centre in St. John’s. Sarah Hill and her rink won the Newfoundland and Labrador Scotties Tournament of Hearts and will represent the province in Calgary from February 20-28. Skip Greg Smith and his crew will represent NL at the Tim Horton’s Brier in Calgary from March 5-14.
A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, I’m occasionally prouder of my roots than usual. Last winter I told stories in an office building at Bay and Bloor about a snowstorm out east that had kids snowboarding in the downtown. I was teary more than once at the Royal Alexandra Theatre watching the Come From Away performance. I also had a curling moment.
In February 2006, I was running errands at a mall in the west end of Toronto when I encountered an electronics store with a TV in the window. Olympic Curling was on, and I stood there alone and watched Brad Gushue and his crew win the Gold Medal for Canada.
I swear I had goosebumps. Patrick Roy hoisting the Cup goosebumps. I mean the Joe Carter home run kind goosebumps. Kawhi Leonard draining the buzzer-beater goosebumps. Saku Koivu returning from cancer goosebumps. You get the picture. But this was curling.
All I’m saying is keep an eye on those curlers heading to national bonspiels. You never know when one of your own might end up being the best in the world.