Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prediction: Sundin to the Canucks

Mats Sundin rumors have been and will be the center of attention in the NHL for the next month, as we are coming closer and closer to the day he signs with a NHL club. I am saying the words now - Mats Sundin will be in the Vancouver Canucks lineup come January 2009. Sundin will be signing with Vancouver sometime in December and suit up near Christmas time.
I previously spoke about Luongo's injury and if it was for an extended period of time - Sundin will be going elsewhere. Now we know it is only a "week to week" injury, so when Loungo is in the lineup, so will Sundin. There are still many teams in contention for the Sundin sweepstakes, but I think Vancouver will come out on top.

Reason to sign:
  • Chance at a cup: I guarantee you Gilles has or will tell Sundin that if he signs with the club, he will make a blockbuster trade at the deadline to stack the team in an attempt to make a run this season and the next. Why have Luongo and Sundin secured in the lineup for the next two years without making a run. The window is starting to close and the chance at the cup is now.
  • Added scoring: Vancouver is currently 8th in NHL teams in scoring just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. Vancouver coming into the season is once again plagued by the question of where the offence is going to come from. 1/4 through the season, the Canucks are not as offensive challenged as many predicted, but help is definitely needed. Sundin will secure a solid first or second line with the Sedins on the other.
  • Captaincy problem: Whatever team Sundin goes to will have a leadership conflict. A captain throughout his career, Sundin will continue to lead. How this situation is perfect in Vancouver is that Luongo is the captain of the team and Sundin can help with the offensive unit while Luongo still wears the "C". If Naslund was still a Canuck with Sundin coming in, the situation will be a lot more difficult compared to going the unconventional route with Luongo as the captain.
  • Olympics: I personally don't think this is a big deal, but if he joins the Canucks he can represent Sweden in the 2010 Olympics playing in front of his hometown fans. This might not be the ultimate decision maker for Sundin, but it doesn't harm the cause for the Canucks.
  • Money: One simple word - MONEY. Canucks has not taken off the 2 year-10million dollar contract they offered Sundin on July 1st. No other team came close to the offer and money is definitely in anybody's consideration when signing a contract.
  • Salary Cap Room: Canucks still has close to 10 million dollars in contract space and they are the only team in the running that can deliver the contract to Sundin today and have him sign it without altering the team. All the other teams need to free up cap-space and dump salary in order to sign Sundin. Trades are not easy to make in the NHL - Montreal and New York Rangers will basically be throwing away players in order to free up cap-room.
  • Travelling: One of the biggest set-back in Vancouver's attempt to sign Sundin. Western teams are disadvantaged in the scheduling as proximity of cities in the West are farther apart than the East. As Sundin says himself, travelling is no longer an issue with a shorten season for him.

Conspiracy Theory:
- Sundin and Gilles already had a verbal contract worked out in the off-season stating that Sundin will sign with the Canucks in the middle of the season. Why I say this is that how can a first time GM be so patient and leave so much cap-space knowing far too well he needs more scoring. Who knows when Sundin will make up his mind, and by then maybe the Canucks are already so far out of playoff contention they need to blow up the team. Leaving that much cap-room open seems a little skeptical to me. But maybe thats why he is the GM and I am not.

- Sundin signing in the middle of the season also cuts down the labor of travelling out in the West. He doesn't want to go through all the travelling of the season so he waits till middle of the season to sign with the Canucks.

- Naming Luongo as captain eases the awkwardness of bringing in Sundin to a team mid-season. They could have easily named Willie Mitchell as the captain, but when Sundin comes in, the chemistry of the locker-room will be different. But with Luongo, he is the undisputed Captain of the team.

With all these events adding up, it seems like Gilles and Sundin already had everything planned out. I can't think of any other teams or situation that is more perfect for Sundin than than the Canucks. Everything that he would consider, Vancouver comes out on top. Sundin as a Canuck come 2009!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ottawa Senators on the Decline

How the mighty have fallen - the Ottawa Senators have dropped 3 straight games to the horrible New York Islanders and are just 2 points in front of Dallas, the worst team in the league. The same Ottawa team that set a new NHL record for the best start after the first 16 games last season. Many would argue that the record is unjustified and this is a bump in the road to success. I on the contrary believe the once powerhouse Senators team is on the decline and dropping fast.

Reasons for the Decline:
- Defensive players such as Redden, Meszaros, and Corvo has been replaced by Kuba, Picard, and Smith. Although Kuba is a pleasant surprise, Corvo is having an excellent year in Carolina and Redden/Meszaros are all top-end NHL players in my opinion.

- The Dominik Hasek experiment was to sure up the skeptical goaltending situation Ottawa has been receiving for the past decade. That turned out to be a bust. Fast forwarding to 2008, Ottawa is still having problems in net - and with an unacceptable defensive unit, the Ottawa back-end although stats-wise seems decent, it is definitely not as good as previous years.

- Surprisingly, Ottawa has been struggling to put pucks in the net this season. The power line of Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson is contributing, but not tearing up the league like we're accustomed to. Secondary scoring has practically disappeared. Behind Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza, the next three scorers are defenders and Jarkko Ruutu.

What to Do:
1. Here is a suggestion. Blow up the team and make a trade with Vancouver. Start rebuilding the team from the back-end by acquiring a defence from Vancouver (Ohlund? Bieksa?) and Cory Schneider for one of the top forwards on the team (Spezza? Heatley?). Vancouver has Luongo and Cory Schneider is a top-end goalie that might very well be expandable for the right price.

2. Time to rebuild the franchise. Alfredsson recently signed a long-term contract to stay with Ottawa for the rest of his career. Restructure the team for couple of years around Alfredsson and either Spezza/Heatley with a solid defensive core and make a run in a few years time.

3. Continue to go in the tank and hope for Tavares or Hedman. Previously i suggested for Vancouver to throw away the season if Luongo was out for an extended period of time in hopes of picking up one of the two prospects. Throwing away a season for a draft pick might not be the best idea, but when the top two picks has the caliber of Tavares or Hedman, finishing last is not a bad idea.

Something needs to be done in Ottawa to turn the franchise around. If they think things will just improve as is, they are in for a big surprise. There are too many flaws in the team to have a legit shot for the playoffs. Scoring was the key to the team for the past few years and do they really think Alex Auld or even Gerber can carry them into the playoffs. Key to the Sens - Make a Trade!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brian Burke in Toronto

Brian Burke is soon going to confirm what we all have known/speculated over the past year or so - he is ending up with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke in Toronto.. hmm... just seems so perfect, but is it really. Let us analyze what the next six years will be like in Toronto under Brian Burke's reign of chaos.

5 Reasons why Burke will succeed in Toronto:

1. He is a loudmouth GM that will do anything to stick up for his players. I'll always remember during the Canucks playoff runs he will step up to the mic after the game and start his rant on the refs making lousy calls and defending the Sedins - "Todd bertuzzi does not play for detroit" -
"Sedin, is not english for punch me or headlock me in a scrum." The thing with Brian Burke is when he is in charge, you know he's in charge of the team. He is one person you know that is not going to take crap from anyone up at MLSE.

2. Ron Wilson. Burke lucked out with the Ron Wilson hiring. He is someone who Brian Burke is comfortable with and many would argue that the Leafs hired Wilson to entice Burke. Imagine if he had a coach he didn't want, let's say, Paul Maurice. He will give Maurice 1-2 years to see how he does, but once the team goes sour, he'll be fired. This leaves Burke and his new coaching staff with only 3-4 years to turn around a dismal team.

3. There is nowhere to go but up for Toronto. Although everyone there thinks he's a saint that will revive the Leafs organization, this just puts the bar a bit higher for him. What constitutes as success? Making the playoffs? Stanley Cup? A competitive, 4th/5th place team? He has plenty of time to try and retry a successful formula in six years. If success means improving on the past couple of years, I think he will have success there.

4. He will definitely bring the centre of attention back to Toronto. The hockey capital of the world if not going to win the Stanley Cup, they will definitely be the loudest franchise in the world. With bold moves and constant media attention, the Leafs will be in media outlets around North America and especially Canada even if we don't like it.

5. Finally, who else would be more perfect or suited for this position - Scotty Bowman? Lou Lamoriello? Although they are valiant candidates, they don't have the charisma and attitude that Burke has. Who knows if on a managing and constructing a team point of view if Burke is more qualified than Bowman or Lamoriello, but for a thick skin and daily encounters with the Toronto media, Burke is the man.

- Keep in mind I didn't put his great GMing skills as one of the reasons for success in Toronto. Mostly his success in Toronto has to do with his personality as I am still a little skeptical on his construction of a team. He did do a great job in Vancouver, but what was left of the team when he left was pretty bad.

Summing it up
Now it is up to Burke and see what he does with this franchise for the next six years. This will make or break his career and legacy in career imo. If the Stanley Cup ultimately lands in Toronto before 2014, Burke will go down in history as the best GM and hockey person in NHL history. On the contrary, if the team is still battling for playoff spots and contemplating rebuilding year after year, Burke might very well be crucified in Toronto. John Ferguson Jr. had his escape route ready with being a first time GM and inexperience playing a part in the failure. Burke will have no such excuses for failure. Starting December 2008, the hockey landscape will change with Burke in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak Gondola Opening

For all you jibbers and shredders out there. Whistler Blackcomb is opening their long awaited peak 2 peak gondola this winter.

Peak 2 Peak Explanation
For people who is not familiar with Whistler Blackcomb - Whistler is one mountain and Blackcomb is another mountain. They are next to each other, but the whole area is often just referred to as Whistler in the tourism industry. The gondola in essence connects the two at the peak hence the name peak 2 peak. Before, riders would have to make their way down near the bottom to cross mountains, but now they have virtually created one big mountain with the gondola.

Best Runs on Both Mountains
The Whistler Blackcomb magazine has put together a list of "bests" on both mountains now that the gondola is finished - a list of Best Runs specified by categories. The time to cross from Whistler to Blackcomb (or vice versa) only takes approximately 11 minutes now instead of riders picking only one mountain to spend their day.
Best Powder: - Harmony Bowl, Whistler Mountain
Scariest Line:
- Air Jordan, Whistler Mountain
Best Park:
- Nintendo Highlest level, Blackcomb Mountain
Best Cruising: - 7th Heaven, Blackcomb Mountain
Best Storm Riding: - Christmas Trees, Whistler Mountain

The hype around the mountains and the peak 2 peak gondola is enormous. Events are being set up from auctions to be the first one to ride the gondola to a virtual experience and a Google Earth Flyover of the area.
With the Olympic tickets being sold and the torch relay route planned and scheduled, we are nearing the Olympics where the peak 2 peak gondola will be showcased to the world.
The Peak to Peak Gondola will start operation and take commercial customers on December 12, 2008 - The countdown begins.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LeBron VI Big Apple foreshadows Lebron as a Knick

LeBron James will be debuting his new shoe - the LeBron VI Big Apple - Nike Zoom Lebron VI tonight at Madison Square Garden. Part of the reason why this is getting so much hype is because, well its LBJ, but also the rumors swirling around him signing with a New York based team in the Nets or Knicks come 2010 when his contract ends with Cleveland.

This special Big Apple version of his shoe is foreshadowing his ultimate demise in Cleveland and a beginning in New York. He has, in my opinion already laid down the foundations to his depature. He was booed after dribbling out the last few seconds of their previous game where by hitting 100 points, everyone would receive a free Chalupa. The game ended with the Cavaliers stuck at 99 points. The heavy criticisms and boos can be and will be used as the "not being appreciated" card when he decides to leave Cleveland.
I do think that the Knicks need a league star like LeBron - I predicted that he will be the MVP this season, and with that on his resume, he will be perfect in white, blue and orange. L.A has Kobe, New York needs Lebron. Now we're just all waiting for 2010 the Summer of LeBron.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Junichi Tazawa worth $6 Million

Junichi Tazawa is not yet a household name, but he might soon very well be. Boston Red Sox offered this 22 year old Japanese pitcher a $6 Million contract. No big deal right - Ichiro, Daisuke, Johjima, Matsui all had major contracts with their respective MLB team. Here comes the catch - this player is only 22 years old as he requested not to be drafted by a Japanese team so he can sign with a MLB team immediately. Unlike Ichiro, Matsui and friends, that were proven stars overseas before they were offered a hefty contract by MLB teams. Tazawa is still young and he can very well be the next Matt Garza or the next Érik Bédard (who ultimately was a bust).

Nomo, Daisuke, and all the Japanese pitchers paved the way for this young man to have a chance to sign with a MLB team before showcasing his skills in Japan. So far the Japanese pitchers (and also players) that have made the transition from Japan to North America has been very smooth. These players have taken the league by storm and represented Japan well with their stardom in MLB. The track record they have laid down ultimately paved the way for Tazawa to be considered by teams.
Who knows how this will pan out. Not every Japanese player is the next Daisuke or Okajima - the Red Sox is taking a chance with him, but one thing we do know is that Tazawa will be in good hands learning from Daisuke and Okajima. I think this is the beginning of a trend with touted oversea rookies being scouted by MLB before turning pro in their respective countries.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roberto Luongo Injured: Future of the Canucks

Seems like we need to wait another day to find out the diagnostic and extent of Luongo's injury.
Now lets look at the consequences if Luongo is done for an extended period of time.

One of, if not the most important player to a team in the league - Luongo the captain, the leader of the Canucks is the key to the successful 13-6-2 record. Without Luongo, the future of the team looks bleak.
- No Playoffs. No Money: Although the Canucks are sitting comfortably in a playoff position right now, we are only 1/4 through the season and a downward fall in the standings can happen with a bad month in the super tight Western Conference. By making the playoffs a team is guaranteed AT LEAST two games at home. With revenue coming in from attendance and television deals, by missing the playoffs, the team is losing out on millions of dollars. No Luongo, no playoffs.

- Say goodbye to Sundin: A Canucks team without Luongo is exactly like the Dallas Cowboys without Tony Romo - the team is not going anywhere. With the Sundin talks heating up, money, success of the team, and chance of winning is the key to Sundin's considerations when choosing a team. Everyone knows the Canucks aren't going anywhere without Luongo so why would Sundin come to a team that has no chance.

- Time to Rebuild? : Looking at the situation in the most pessimistic angle possible, is the Luongo injury going to force the Canucks to rebuild? If the team starts going in the tank and fall far down in the standings, the Canucks might have to be sellers when the trading deadline comes. With upcoming free agents - Sedins and Ohlund, the team might dump these players for some young players or draft picks - the Canucks rebuilding process begins.

I know its not easy to find a silver lining when the franchise player goes down, but lets see if we can find any positives in this situation.

- Cory Schneider: The Canucks have already called up Cory Schneider from the Manitoba Moose to back up Curtis Sanford in case Luongo is unable to play. Schenider the future goalie of the Canucks (or at least a trade bait) can finally have some NHL playing time with Luongo injured. He is posting an impressive 10-1 record and 1.37 GAA in the AHL, and it seems like he is ready for some NHL action. Tony Romo, Tom Brady, and Cam Ward were all beneficiaries of stepping in and showcasing their skills when the no.1 (QB or Goalie) went down or struggled. Maybe this is Cory Schneider's time.

- Tavares or Hedman: Two great picks in the 2009 draft in Tavares and Hedman. If the season really goes sour for the Canucks, maybe there is a chance of picking up Tavares or Hedman in the upcoming entry draft. These two are considered future franchise players and if the Canucks are lucky enough to grab one of the two, losing Luongo this season and finish at the bottom of the league will not hurt as much.

Now we just have to wait and see on Monday what is going to happen with the Canucks future. I have already discussed the Stars troubles losing Morrow, losing Luongo will devastate the Canucks franchise - maybe I'll be wrong with the Canucks continuing to push for a playoff spot - or maybe Luongo is not hurt at all. We Shall See.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Relay Route

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Route has been announced and it is taking a 106-day track all around Canada from the Queen Charlottes, the North West Territories, to Cape Spear in St.Johns.

For those who needs a history lesson on the Torch relay - it is a symbol of the Olympic Games to honor Prometheus stealing of Zeus's flame in Greek Mythology. But in contemporary society, the Olympic Torch relay is more of a symbol of human rights, equality, and liberalism now it seems. The Beijing Olympics caused major uproars in many areas the torch travelled through. Many activists tried to distinguish the fire to make a political statement. Majority were upset with the violation of human rights in China, specifically Tibet. Now with the Torch route announced, I wonder if the demonstrations will happen this time around.

Detailed route of the relay:
- Five Days on Vancouver Island
- Flown to Northern Yukon
- Then to the Canadian Forces Base up North (northernmost settlement in the world)
- Travel to Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
- Newfoundland
- Then make its way back to BC spending 22 days there
- Finally to BC Place for the opening ceremony

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morrow out for Season - Stars are done - Time to Rebuild

Brendan Morrow is sidelined for the season with a torn ACL - what now for the Dallas Stars. As of November 21st, 2008, the Stars are tied for second last in the league with 15 points and now losing their captain for an extended period of time, its time to throw in the towel. Season over for the Stars.

Reason for the downfall
The beginning of the end for Dallas came on July 2nd 2008 when they offered $15.5 million to the one and only, Sean Avery. We all heard the impressive numbers the Rangers racked up in the 07/08 season with Avery in the lineup, and the horrible numbers without him. Dallas took a chance on a player who is often referred to as a cancer in the locker room and signed him to a long-term contract.
Lets take a look whether this deal worked out or not. Dallas is posting one of the worst numbers in their recent history - Turco's number is a ridiculous 3.67GAA and .867sv%. The team won one game in their first eight games and their longtime face of the franchise - Mike Modano spoke out publicly on the antics of Avery and Ott against the Bruins.

"Tonight, it was idiotic and stupid," Stars center Mike Modano said when asked what the team identity was. "It was one of the most embarrassing things I've seen. If that's what we're going for, then they need to find me an office job."

Time for a Change
This star studded lineup is supposed to contend for the Stanley Cup. Having lured Brad Richards from the Lightning last season, everyone thought they were a force to reckon with, but who did they give up to get him, Mike Smith. With the Turco struggles this season and Mike Smith posting up impressive numbers in Tampa, that looks like one bad trade for the Stars. With Morrow done for the season, it is time to blow up this team and start from the bottom up. This team had their chance at a Stanley Cup, but with players aging, goalies playing bad, and Sean Avery on the team, change is needed while the players are still considered a commodity.
I predicted the Stars to miss the playoffs, and now they definitely will. This team is not going up, it is on the decline. Time to blow it up Brett Hull!

Advertising in Sports

Sports advertisements has become more prevelant in the recent years with major corporations buying stakes in sports teams as well as stadiums to have their name associted with the culture of sports. For example Disney owned the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and AOL Time Warner owned Atlanta based sports teams in the Thrashers, Braves, and Hawks.
In Disney's case, they had a whole marketing plan for the Mighty Ducks. They were hoping by releasing the Mighty Ducks Movie, sweaters and tickets of the team would be swiped off the shelves immediately. They were wrong.

Now what is the present and the future state of Advertising in sports

GM place, Philips Arena, Rexall Place, TD Banknorth Garden, Bell Centre - these are just samples of arenas named after major corporations. Looking around major sports teams in North America, probably 90% of the teams play in stadiums named after corporations. In hockey the iconic Maple Leafs Garden and Montreal Forum has been replaced by Bell Centre and Air Canada Centre. At least the new Yankee Stadium is keeping its' name.

Superbowl, the cultural phenomenon in the United States has many entertainment values on several levels. Besides the game itself, the half-time show and Superbowl Ads are always heavily anticipated. Companies are willing to spend $2.6million dollars for a simple 30second spot during the game. These ads are incredibly creative and it begs the question, what is the relation between sports and advertisements when millions of dollars are exchanged for a 30second commercial

Advertisements in baseball
Remember back when Spiderman 2 was about to release and MLB was about to have ads of the movie on the bases. Baseball, the most traditional game in North America was about to take a huge leap to the right wing. The deal eventually fell through in part to the dismay of the traditional fans. For once the little people had a say and stopped the corporations from doing whatever they want. I just think that this event is just foreshadowing the inevitable mass advertisements in baseball.

Just recently, Olaf Kolzig and Mike Smith (goaltenders for the Tampa Bay Lightning) used their masks as billboards for the upcoming movie SAW V. The creativity was beyond my imagination. I thought ads would be on hockey sweaters or even along the ice before the goalie mask. It made perfect sense however. Whats next, goalie pads, blockers, and gloves painted for advertising? Imagine this, Luongo's pads, mask, blocker, and glove is painted in bright red and yellow with the McDonald arch all over it. Well, what do you know, Luongo signed a $50Million contract with McDonalds just to put these ugly yellow arches on his red equipment.

Red Bulls New York. Yes that is an actual soccer team in the MLS named strictly after a corporation. Doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Although it might seem ridiculous, but there are far worst team names out there and this is definitely an easy way to have your company name part of the sports culture. Just look at the Yankees, the team itself and the NY logo is already a brand. The Yankees brand. Don't laugh now, this can happen to your favorite sports team. Boston Celtics to Boston Coca Cola - has a nice ring to it.

I think in the future, we will be basking in stadiums filled with advertisements from jerseys, seats, floor, ice, and whatever you can think of. It will be so part of the norm that no one will have second thoughts about it. Can you imagine an NHL rink without advertisements along the boards now? In a consumerism society we are living in, its a win-win situation for everybody regarding advertisements. The teams are receiving revenue from advertising companies - Us consumers are the pack of sheeps that purchases whatever these social elites are telling us to buy - and these major corporations are making more money from sales of their items to us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marion Gaborik on the Move

The question is, Where and what team is Marion Gaborik going to? We are weeks, if not days away from the inevitable trade of Marion Gaborik from the Wild to a team that is risking a lot for an injury prone player who when on top of his game is one of the best in the NHL.
Here are the teams that are rumored in the running as well as my thoughts:

Vancouver Canucks
I know the Canucks would love to grab Gaborik to play alongside his good friend Demitra, but it is highly unlikely for Minnesota to trade their franchise player to a North West Divisional Rival. Demitra/Sundin/Gaborik. WOW! Instant Stanley Cup contending team with that line.

Montreal Canadiens
Montreal has been in all the big talks this season first with Hossa then with Sundin. Gaborik will be joining a heavily stacked Montreal team that is definitely pushing for the Stanley Cup this season.

New York Rangers
I can never rule out the Rangers. They are a star-hungry team that wants to load up on superstars instead of considering about the fit. I have no idea how they are going to make it work with Gaborik, but another superstar that can score will never hurt.
Maybe its a New York thing, with the Yankees doing the exact same thing.

Philadelphia Flyers
A baby Rangers in my opinion with the team always hungry for superstars. Sundin, Forsberg, and now Gaborik. The team was a Stanley Cup contender in many people's mind at the beginning of season, but with the underachievement, changes needs to be made. Although the back end is what I think the team needs, but maybe they will take the route of outscoring the opponents. They took a chance with Forsberg and his injury, we know they will too with Gaborik.

Chicago Blackhawks
I still think Chicago is a year or two away from being a Stanley Cup contender, but they have been in all the major trade talks and signings this season. Rumors about Chicago wanting Nylander just stirs the pot even more. If the trade falls through, I can imagine them dumping Khabibulin or Huet to Minnesota for Gaborik. Sundin, Nylander, and Gaborik - they can only choose one. Who will it be.

Teams trading for Gaborik hoping to sign him instead of a Loan:

Atlanta Thrashers
Although they are rebuilding, I can see Atlanta making a trade for Gaborik to play alongside Kovalchuk. The team will be rebuilding around these two players.

Carolina Hurricane
The team has cap space to deal with. A current strong team that wouldn't mind the offensive help Gaborik will give to Staal.

New York Islanders
Also a rebuilding team that would not mind building around Gaborik. With Charles Wang and Garth Snow in charge, anything crazy can happen on Long Island.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bears playing Hockey

This is one of the most amazing clips I have ever seen. We've seen monkeys playing sports and elephants playing soccer. Have you ever seen bears playing hockey?
Keep watching until around the 1:54 mark and you'll see the crap the refs have to deal with

Roger Clemens and Mindy Mccready

How fast can Roger Clemen's career and legacy fall into the gutter. The once dominant pitcher who threw 20 strikeouts in one game on two separate occasion has now been labelled as a cheater on and off the field.

On the Field:
Barry Bonds was once the lone sacrificial lamb of the steroids era in baseball but now with allegations from Brian McNamee, a dark cloud overhangs the legitimacy of Clemen's career and legacy.
What will always stick out in my mind is during the subway series between the Yankees and Mets in 2000 - the Clemens and Piazza feud - when Clemens threw the broken bat at Piazza is an exact depiction of a steroid user exemplifying roid rage. At the time we all thought it was intensity and competitiveness ended up being steroids.
If Barry Bonds has an asterisk beside his accomplishments, I think Roger Clemens should too.

Off the Field:
His affair with Mindy Mccready really put a stamp on what kind of person Roger Clemens really is. She was only 15 YEARS OLD! He is 13 years older than she is.
There are also allegations of Clemens involved in three other extra-marital relationships. The real victim is definitely Debbie Clemens who has to live with his roid-rage, extra curricular activities, and personality.

The once legend is just part of the bigger picture of the steroid usage era in Major League Baseball. Records were falling left and right from Barry Bonds home run record to Roger Clemens pitching dominance. Arguably the two best pitcher and hitter in history resided in this time period. Clemens was lucky to have kept away from all the controversies and hate Barry Bonds was receiving until his name was dragged into the dark clouds. It is interesting however that both Clemens and Bonds have off-field issues and are not the most well-liked people in baseball. The longer this drags on, the hate for Roger Clemens increases. I wonder if he will ever make it into the Cooperstown now. Funny how in a few simple years, someone can be at at the pinnacle only to fall off the mountain in an instance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eri Yoshida - 16 year old girl Drafted by Pro Baseball League

Eri Yoshida, a 16 year old girl was drafted by Kobe 9 Cruise to play alongside men in a new independent Japanese league. She joins the likes of Danica Patrick, Michelle Wie, and Hayley Wickenheiser to play against the men in their repsective sport.
This is just the beginning for her as she wants to play pro in a higher league and be just as good as Tim Wakefield.

I think this could work. She is a knuckleball pitcher who in no way is trying to overpower the hitters. She might inspire highly skilled girls to pursue a career in baseball now. From what I understand of the mechanics of the knuckleball - you release the ball with hardly any spin on it hence the ball changing direction many times before it hits home plate. It also works in soccer when someone toe-punts the ball without giving it any spin it moves the ball erratically. You could all try this out - as toe-punting a soccer ball is a lot easier than throwing a knuckleball. Nonetheless, if she has a good enough command on the knuckleball, her chance of success is very high.
For all you scientists out there, you could read about the scientific reasoning to a knuckleball. I say Good For Her - and good luck.

Here is a funny spoof of what we might be seeing from Eri Yoshida.

Now here is a real clip of her.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ovechkin VS. Crosby

Who would you want to build a team around, who is the better player, who do you like more, who would you use to market the game - Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin.
The two young superstars of the league, who would you pick. Looking at the these two players, there are many similarities as well as differences.

- Personality
- Playing style
- Nationality
- Charisma

- Skills
- Marketability
- Future of the League
- Scoring Prowess

Looking at stats alone as of November 16 2008, Ovechkin has (170G, 158A, 328points) in 260 Games. Crosby has (105G, 211A, 316points) in 230 Games. Stats alone are similar but if we look at the team they have played on, Crosby definitely has the better supporting cast than Ovechkin. Prior to this season and the emergence of Alex Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin never had the players to play with him as well as take the pressure off of him. Ever since the beginning of his career, Crosby had the guidance of Mario Lemieux then Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal to play with.

Hardware wise, they are both neck and neck in awards matching each other, but Ovechkin still has the upper-hand with the Art Ross, Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart Trophy, Calder, and the Maurice Richard Trophy. Crosby on the other hand has the Art Ross Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart Trophy, and the Eastern Conference Championship last season.

My Pick:
They will continue to be compared throughout their careers with the first one to win a Stanley Cup holding the advantage over the other. As of now, I think I would build my team around Ovechkin based on his goal scoring ability, charisma, entertainment value, personality,
Seeing him score and his excitement after will bring anyone to their feet. He is the total package - he can hit, score, and breaks away from the European hockey stereotype of not performing in the playoffs. Now with a better team and support, you will see The Capitals take a long run in the playoffs with the future captain Ovechkin leading the franchise for years to come. He will go down in the history as the best Russian born player in the NHL.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

UFC 91 submits the WWE

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the beginning of the end for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The reason why I say this is because as the UFC become more and more mainstream, people will start to see what real fighting is and none of the sissy slapping and punching while I stomp the ground the WWE "superstars" are doing.
I know the WWE is like a soap opera for guys with storylines, conflicts, love interests, and gangs, but it is still based on wrestling and sometimes fighting. MMA and UFC in specific has arguably taken over boxing on a interest level and the popularity continues to grow.

Now for UFC 91, we have a former WWE superstar in Brock Lesnar who has traded away his performing and acting for the MMA. There are also rumors of Kurt Angle leaving the wrestling business to join the MMA. We are seeing a shift from athletes that wants the reality of facing an opponent and winning based on skills instead of a storyline.
There will always be performers who wants to join the WWE to perform their charisma in front of thousands of people instead of fighting for their lives in a octagon. I just think that as UFC and MMA become mainstream, it will ultimately spell the death for the WWE. Maybe not the death, but a definite decline in popularity from a fans point of view as well as top notch athletes joining the MMA instead of the WWE hence the case of Brock Lesnar and possibly Kurt Angle. Rumor also has it that Bobby Lashley has left the WWE for a career in an octagon.

Today in UFC 91, if the result is Brock Lesnar overtaking Randy Couture, the spotlight will land on this former WWE superstar and the analysis and comparsion between the WWE and UFC will begin.
As the Buggles once sang, Video Killed the Radio Star. I would like to say that the UFC killed the WWE stars.

Lebron James MVP 08-09

Mark my words right here right now. Lebron James will be the NBA MVP this season. Being in the NBA Finals two seasons ago and having won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lebron James is soaring to new heights this season leading the Cavs to a 7-2 record and averaging 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists this season. I don't think the team has enough to overtake the Celtics in the Eastern conference, but they will be up there in the standings throughout.

He already amazed fans with his vertical and athleticism this season. During a game against the Bucks, LBJ jumped from the free throw line for a dunk. His dunk is definitely one of the highlights of the season in the NBA so far. Julius "Dr. J" Erving was the first and Michael Jordan did it during the 1988 Dunk Contest. Now you can add Lebron into the high flyers group.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Canucks third Jersey

Here is my point of view on the new Canucks third jersey that will be worn against the Leafs on Saturday the 15th. This absolutely looks like a money grab attempt by the Canucks. The jerseys looks in retrospect the same with the same colors and same designs and color layout. The Stick has been moved from the shoulders to the front with a new Johnny Canuck logo on the shoulders. It is so similar to the previous jersey but yet so different that people will flood to the stores and purchase one.

So what is the point of having a third jersey that literally looks like the one they are wearing now. Like I said before, what is the point of having the same color scheme on a alternative jersey. The least they could have done is to swap the blue and the green so the base color would be green. In a way it would look like the Brampton Battalion jersey.

I love the Canucks new colors now. Just I think for a third jersey they could have done something more unique and different than what they have. It is a third jersey that would be worn 15 times only. Remember the skate logo and the red third jersey. Although that wasn't the best looking jersey in Canucks history, it was at least DIFFERENT.
I really am quite disappointed by the Canucks third jersey. Edmonton has the best third jersey so far in my opinion. I wouldn't even mind seeing the Canucks in the old flying V jerseys or maybe even the skate logo like the 93-94 cup run. A 15 year tribute to that team with the Linden jersey retirement this season would have been perfect.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where is Brian Burke heading

The Anaheim Ducks annouced Bob Murray as the new General Manager of the Ducks this afternoon.
Brian Burke is NOT getting fired, but in a way, the organization is doing a shakeup and solidify/cement their future. It is the inevitable that Brian Burke will be leaving Anaheim soon so both sides are starting to do damage control for that inescapable day.

Brian Burke will be a special consultant of the Ducks while Bob Murray is the new GM.
I think this is a way for both sides to save face. Brian Burke not getting fired but as a senior advisor he can do anything he wants and sign with another team as GM whenever he wants.

Brian Burke and the Ducks:

Now lets look back at Brian Burke and his legacy and time in Anaheim. He was hired in 2005 taking over for Bryan Murray. He has a combined record of 138-74-34 since 2005. Lost in the first round and third round along with a Stanley Cup win, the Ducks have been a successful team under Burke.
The Andy McDonald trade is definitely a black mark on his resume along with the Bertuzzi signing as well as the Morrison signing.

Many would argue Burke didnt do much in Anaheim. He was lucky with the Pronger fallout with Edmonton and lured Scott Niedermeyer to have him play with his brother. He basically inherited a team built by Bryan Murray and he just reaped the benefits.
I would say Brian Burke is an admirable General Manager who sticks up for his players and is intelligent enough to run a successful hockey team. What he did in Vancouver by rebuilding the franchise was obviously not a fluke, but what he left for Dave Nonis was pretty crappy.

What now for Burkey:

From what it looks like now, he is heading to Toronto. The fit is right with him and Ron Wilson to keep the media honest and there is nothing for him to lose there. A team in turmoil can only go up. It is going to be a new era in MLSE with Brian Burke in Toronto.
Everybody thinks Brian Burke is this super General Manager that is going to turn Toronto around. Cliff Fletcher is doing a great job already, and what can Brian Burke do that is so different. The Leafs are rebuilding. No matter what, it is going to take time. Nonetheless, most likely Burke is heading to Toronto but there are also many teams wanting his service. So the question is, Where is Brian Burke going? Rumors have it that Ottawa is also interested. Although Ottawa is struggling, I don't think Bryan Murray needs to be replaced. Brian Burke has had success taking over a Bryan Murray's team (Anaheim) and winning a Stanley Cup with it, so why not try it out again. I still think it is highly unlikely for Burke to head to Ottawa.
Where else, Chicago? Boston? Toronto? Rangers?
1. Toronto
2. Chicago
3. Ottawa
4. Rangers
3. Boston

Read about the Brian Burke coverage on TSN here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NHL Third Jerseys

Many NHL teams are introducing new 3rd jerseys this season with the Canucks revealing their long awaited one on November 15th against the Leafs. This is another chance for the money hungry NHL to dig into the pockets of die-hard fans and earn that extra revenue for the league.
Are these 3rd jerseys really necessary? No.
Are they going to sell? Yes.
Is the whole point of the jerseys to grab more money? Yes.

Just in time for Christmas, the Canucks organization has been very tight lipped about the yet to release jersey. Speculations has mounted throughout the Vancouver area wondering what they look like and with a few more sleeps we are about to see it.

Canucks third Jersey:
Rumours have been swirling on the looks of this new third jersey with supposedly leaked pictures circulating the world wide web.
This one on the left is the one that was supposedly "leaked." I really doubt this is the Canucks 3rd jersey. For a 3rd jersey, there has got to be a bigger change than this. This looks like a fuse of the current jersey and the third jersey we had few years back. It is also basically the classic stick jersey with Johnny Canuck on the shoulders. My prediction is something in Green. The main color will be Green with blue and white as a compliment. Miss 604 has posted this green one which I think is a lot closer to the actual jersey than the leaked one.

Problems with 3rd Jerseys:
I personally think it is quite ridiculous that the NHL is rolling out new jerseys left and right just to sell their merchandise and create this "brand" behind the teams. I'm sorry, but the closest thing to the legendary NY Yankees logo in the NHL is the Toronto Maple Leafs leaf. These teams have always kept their traditional logo instead of flip flopping around like many teams trying to make that extra buck. The debate now is, should a team stick to a logo with nostalgia and history and build a brand around this history.. OR.. continue to pump out logos that changes every few years and gets the casual fans confused. Look at the Red Wings, Montreal, and Leafs. They never make drastic changes to their jerseys and these jerseys are classic. No one ever complains about it. But now I am a little skeptical purchasing a Canucks jersey knowing far too well that in a few years it will be out of date. What is the Canucks logo now anyways. The hardcore hockey fans would know, but for the fans down south, is it the skate? the stick? the V? the whale?
The NHL should really have their teams stick to one logo and work around this logo. This is not a way to brand their logo by switching it every so often. I am not surprised that the NHL is fifth in licensed product sales in North American Sports Organization. They are behind NFL, MLB, NBA, and NASCAR. WTF? NASCAR?
I don't mind the Oilers 3rd jersey changing the color scheme but always keeping the classic logo. That logo is their symbol, why change it. Canucks should keep the stick, and work with that stick for future logos. Or use the whale! Create an identity behind these logos!
To understand more about branding, visit my affiliate jibbing site on branding here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Whats the most important position in sports

I know all sports are different, but have you ever wonder which position in sport is the most crucial to a team's success? The single position that can win a championship for an organization. Here is my list:

#4 NBA-Point Guard
Unless you are Kobe Bryant and can score 81 points every game, the NBA is a team oriented game where one person cannot win every game for a team. Although the point guard controls the play and the team, that position needs all others to make their shots and rebound to be successful.

#3 NFL-Quarterback
This is a controversial selection. Many would think the quarterback would be higher ranked than this but hear me out. A quarterback is most successful when 1. the running game is working 2. the offensive line is doing their job 3. receivers running the proper routes and catching the ball. Although the quarterback is the one who sees the play, decides what to do, many factors needs to be in sync for the quarterback to succeed.
Here is another example why I think quarterbacks are overrated in the importance factor. The recent example of the Baltimore Ravens SuperBowl XXXV victory. They won solely on the backs of Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defence. Who was the Quarterback? Trent Dilfer thats who.

#2 MLB-Pitcher
Although pitchers only start once every five games, pitching in general is incredibly important to a team's success. World Series cannot be won without proper pitching. Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Pedro Martinez have all been dominant playoff pitchers. Look at 2001. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling literally pitched the team to victory by starting and also relieving. With a crapy Point Guard or Quarterback, the team can still pull out a win, but without proper pitching, a team stands no chance.

#1 NHL-Goaltender
Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy - these elite goaltenders can put a team on their backs and carry them to victory. This is one position that can dictate a game and win a Stanley Cup. No Stanley Cup winner has ever had questionable goaltending. When looking around the league, most if not all the teams that are contenders have solid goaltending. When a goalie sucks, the team sucks - when the goalie rises, the team rises. Look at Roberto Luongo and his recent streak of 3 shutouts. When the other team can't score, they can't win. Simple as that.

Problems the Leafs will face

So we all thought the Toronto Maple Leafs organization decided to rebuild the team from the bottom by dumping heavy contracts and basically throwing the season to have the chance of picking Jonathan Tavares. Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin, Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker-the old guard of the Leafs has been replaced by Hagman, Grabovski, Finger, Van Ryn, Moore, and Schenn. The new look, younger Leafs are not supposed to be this good.

The problem now is, although still early in the season, but what if the Leafs continue to play like this throughout. Lets say they finish 9th, 10th, or maybe 8th and make the playoffs - is this really a success? The point of rebuilding is to throw your team in the gutters for a few season so you can mimic the Penguins and draft players like Crosby, Malkin, and Fleury. Finishing in the middle of the pack with a 10th or 15th pick is in essence slowing down the team and their rebuilding process. Do you really think Antropov, Grabovski, Van Ryn, and the current Leafs team have the players to build a franchise around? Next season they will continue with the mediocrity hence the cycle they have been trying to pull away from with the Sundin and McCabe era.

What can be Done:
Is there really a way to solve this problem? Ron Wilson has done a great job coaching and getting the most from the players and transforming them into a hardworking, in-your-face type of team. Its not like he can start telling the players to throw in the towel. Lets face it, this current team is not going to be on top of the Eastern Conference anytime soon, sooo... what now Toronto. Hard work can always win you some games, but maybe a little more than they wish and a little less than being an elite team. They are in a tough spot. This is neither rebuilding nor an attempt at a Stanley Cup, so being in the middle of the pack is the worst scenario for this organization.
I think there is two things the team can do.

1. Think this is a start of something good and start trading for players that will help the team. Players with potential that can also be built around with. Instead of taking the draft pick route, pickup good young players and sign franchise players in the off-season and speed up the rebuilding process. The team has an identity now, so build around the identity instead of players.

2. Continue with the original plan of draft picks and start dumping players whos stock has risen from the beginning of the season. Antropov, Ponikarovsky, Kubina, and get some draft picks. Literally throw the season away and load up on draft picks.

The mediocrity of the Leafs Oranization has been a constant for too long. We are seeing the old leafs in the team this year just with new players, new coach, and a new playing style. The expectation has been lowered so it seems all good and rosy now, but if looking into the future, this is the worst case scenario for the organization. Something has to be done soon, or the Stanley Cup drought will continue in Toronto for another 40 years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What if the Patriots won the Super Bowl with Matt Cassel

Imagine the improbable. The headline: Patriots win the Superbowl with Matt Cassel.
On September 7, 2008, the dream of Patriots winning the Superbowl was torn away by Bernard Pollard along with Brady's anterior cruciate ligament and his medial collateral ligament. The nightmare of Patriot's fan became a reality, Brady was done for the season. Just two games prior (referencing back to the 07-08 season) Patriots was on top of the world. With a perfect season, awaiting to play the unlikely New York Giants in the Superbowl, and basically broke every offensive record in the books. That all seemed so far away on September 7th with Brady hurt lying on the ground screaming and grabbing his knees.

Fast forwarding to present day. Patriots still has an impressive record on the back of an unlikely source, Matt Cassel. The question is, what happens to the Patriots, Matt Cassel, and Tom Brady if they pull off a Superbowl win this season. Don't laugh now, but it really is a possibility. A little far-fetched, but not impossible. Brady has had a couple setbacks from infections that has led to more surgery so maybe the Patriots wouldn't want to rush him back for the beginning of next season. Maybe trade away Cassel? Some teams might think hes a legitimate starting quarterback so in that case there is no point keeping Cassel behind Brady when instead they can receive a leigitmate commodity back for him. Maybe Boston should immediately have a statue outside Gillete Stadium to honor Bill Bellichick. What I know for sure is for the Pats to sit/trade/release/dump Brady in favor of Cassel.
There are many possibilities but the Patriots are in a way, surprising everybody sticking with Cassel and doing as well as they are.

Keep in mind I am speaking of the Pats winning the Superbowl. Even if they don't win this season, if Cassel has an incredibly successful season which leads to a playoff win or two, these scenarios can still be played.