Triano hiring would thrill Coach Jack

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Somewhere up above Jack Donohue is beaming.

His boy, Jay Triano, is coaching the Toronto Raptors. A Canadian coaching the only Canadian team in the NBA.

You can almost hear Jack's voice now, telling you all about Jay, bragging with pride about how far he's come, telling story after story, like he always did. He couldn't help himself.

You should have seen them together -- coach and student, the perfect fit -- Donohue mentoring, nurturing, moulding Triano from the best basketball player on the fourth-place 1984 Canadian Olympic basketball team to Team Canada coach in Sydney to now. He never called him Triano. It was always Jay. And he was always Coach. And one forever seemed to be basketball dependent on the other.

This is a historic day in Toronto and not just because the first NFL regular-season game is being played at Rogers Centre. This is a historic day for basketball in this country.

No one did more to build the game here than Donohue, who died at the age of 70 five years ago. And no one would have been more excited to see Triano coaching the Raptors than the old coach himself.

THIS AND THAT

How strange is this? An American is running the Maple Leafs, a Canadian is coaching the Raptors ... Yes, this Bills game in Toronto today has not exactly worked out as planned, but even so, the economics have to be daunting for the CFL. Today's game will bring in more ticket revenue -- about $8 million -- than the Argonauts manage for an entire season. The Argos do between $6 million and $7 million a year in ticket sales ... The part of the hockey mentality I hate: Todd Bertuzzi ends somebody's career and is welcomed back by the Wayne Gretzkys of the world with open arms. Sean Avery says something ridiculous and insulting and everybody runs full speed in the other direction ... If I were Marty Turco, I'd worry more about stopping pucks, which he isn't doing much of these days for the last-place Stars, than anything any of his teammates say or do.

HEAR AND THERE

You can't make this up: I heard Doug MacLean say that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, right now, are better than Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. Honest ... Another Toronto oddity: Sam Mitchell gets fired and Paul Maurice gets hired on the same day. Mitchell, who was a more interesting person than he was a coach, failed to progress in a number of ways. The Raptors seemed forever disorganized coming out of timeouts, never got better defensively, had trouble distributing the ball, but in fairness he had been dealing with a hybrid, uneven roster than would be challenging for any coach. The hiring of Maurice in Carolina was pure nepotism. After two lousy seasons in Toronto, how was Maurice, another fine man, the best candidate for the Carolina coaching job? ... When Ted Rogers and Ralph Wilson sat beside each other at the press conference to announce the series of Buffalo football games at Rogers Centre, the thought was how long would the 89-year-old, since turned 90 Wilson live? Nobody expected Rogers, 15 years his junior, to be the first to go.

SCENE AND HEARD

If Mats Sundin comes back to play this season, assume this much: Nothing he ever says can be believed again. Last February, he refused to be traded because he didn't want to be a rent-a-player. He needed, he said, to be part of the process from the beginning At the end of the season, he was asked about coming back for half an NHL season, like Scott Niedermayer or Teemu Selanne did. He said he would never do that. So if he comes back in January, as many assume, guess what? He becomes a rent a player and he comes back for half a season ... New name to emerge in Argos search for a coach: John Mackovic, the 64-year-old former coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and University of Texas.

AND ANOTHER THING

Bobby Clarke, who was never shy about giving the finger, recently lost one to surgery ... When Harold Ballard was still alive, the great hockey writer, Frank Orr, used to joke that the Leafs were three heart attacks away from the Stanley Cup. Wonder what they say in Chicago with Bill Wirtz gone and the Blackhawks leading the NHL in attendance of all things ... And hey, whatever became of Dan "Machine Gun" Manucci?


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