Senator David Braley hasn’t been able to make a dent in the Rubik’s Cube that is selling Argo football in Toronto but he’s going to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Leo Cahill, who made football sing and dance in Toronto like no one before him or since, is not.
This is not so much a comparison between Cahill and Braley, because as owner of three different teams, as commissioner for a moment, there is no questioning how much Braley has done for Canadian football. It’s the annual lack disregard of Cahill that remains troublesome.
Braley , if anyone, must understand what a failure he has been in his time owning the Argos. They don’t sell tickets. They don’t excite people. They generate almost no buzz in the market.
Cahill may have come from a different time, but it was the best time. When the Argos and the Maple Leafs shared newspaper space. When conversation was as much about one as the other. With Cahill, the off-season was often more fun than the regular seasons. So it doesn’t matter now that he didn’t win the Grey Cup or didn’t have the greatest won-loss record in history.
What he managed was far more difficult than winning and losing.
Numerous owners have tried to make the Argos into something special in the post-Cahill days and virtually all of them have failed.
For that alone, Cahill needs to be recognized by the Hall of Fame. It is long overdue.
THIS AND THAT
The trust between Tim Connolly and the Leafs’ coaching staff took a giant leap forward after Connolly had a recent MRI and a small crack in his shoulder was revealed. Before that, the coaches were starting to doubt Connolly’s ability to play with pain and Connolly, himself, was wondering why he hurt so much. The MRI provided evidence that the injury is more than legitimate but not longterm and Connolly should return shortly ... Memo to David Stern and his friends at the NBA: The lockout year of hockey may have led to rule changes but solved little economically for NHL teams. The lowest spending team in the NHL, the Dallas Stars, is spending more than $48 million on salaries this season, which is about
$15 million more than Florida, Nashville, Columbs Carolina, Tampa Bay, the Islanders, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, Colorado and Winnipeg care to pay. Other than that, all is well ... The other strange juxtaposition of the NHL: League business has never been better across the board. Individual team business has never been worse ... As teenagers, Phil Kessel was compared favourably to Sidney Crosby. As adults, the separation has been vast. And while it’s too early to call this a breakthrough for Kessel, it sure has the look of one. And no, no one is ever saying he will be anywhere close to Crosby again.
HEAR AND THERE
So who comes back first? Crosby? Evgeny Malkin? Connolly? Larry Holmes? ... The worst part of the Mike Komisarek contract isn’t the money. It’s the no-movement clause. Brian Burke not only overpaid for the ponderous defenceman, but he made him impossible to get rid of ... Don’t know if anyone has noticed this, but the Red Sox weren’t nearly this messed up when John Farrell was sitting alongside Terry Francona ... The weird part of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. They announced their class of 2012 this week. They won’t induct until next CFL season, although Damon Allen would like it to be part of Grey Cup week in Toronto. Why not time this out a little better? ... What a time to be a Dallas sports fan. The Mavericks won the NBA. The Rangers are in the World Series. Dallas played host to the Super Bowl ... How often does this happen? Leafs, Habs, Saturday night with the Leafs in a playoff position and the Habs way way back ... A nice story that should have got more play: Anthony Stewart got to play his baby brother, Chris Stewart, for the first time as NHL players. All the Toronto people who played a part in their development should be proud.
SCENE AND HEARD
Andrea Bargnani will be playing in Italy, courtesy of the insurance purchased by the dating website Ashley Madison because a) he has no clue what Ashley Madison is; b) figures it’s the best way to hang with some married women c) he remains clueless about his reputation; d) doesn’t care ... This is all you need to know about Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. In the annual Maple Leafs media guide, there are two full long pages on Richard Peddie. But just half a page on Dave Nonis and Rick Dudley ... On the team page in the NHL media directory, clubs provide the press with numerous restaurants in which to enjoy in their city. Except in Toronto: The Leafs page lists just one restaurant, RealSports, owned by you know who ... Quick, name a Pan American Games medal winner? Name two? As of this moment, Canada has 46 medals at the Pan American Games. Yep, can’t wait for those Toronto Games ... Add Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves to the list of those surprised at the early progress made by Jake Gardiner with the Leafs. “I didn’t think he’d play this quickly,” said Eaves. “But from what I’ve seen, he’s really making smart decisions out there. He could always skate, but sometimes he would make poor decisions without the puck.”
AND ANOTHER THING
The last thing anybody thought when the Blue Jays traded Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel to St. Louis: Well, that puts them in the World Series ... The time to move the NHL draft up a year in age was two decades ago. But good for Hockey Canada for trying to do something about it now ... Should Jerome Messam run for 112 yards over the final two weeks of the CFL season, he will become the highest-rushing Canadian running back in 55 years in the CFL. What’s impressive — he’s just beginning to cash in on his talents ... This is Year 4 of the Bills in Toronto series. But it’s the first time I’m actually looking forward to seeing a Bills team in this city. This group is fun to watch ... If the Canadian Football Hall of Fame is going to induct college players along with the professionals, they need to separate the two when making the announcement. Strange to see Milt Stegall and running back Eric Lapointe categorized together as players. One was a long-term, all-time CFL great. The other a short-term CIS great. Lapointe was an okay CFL player. Lumping the two together isn’t proper ... Born this date: Johnny Carson, Fred Shero and Ron Wilson’s dad, Larry. And a happy birthday to Doug Flutie (49), Al Leiter (44), John Lackey (33), and Justin Medlock (28) ... And hey, whatever became of Wayne McBean?
NFL KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
If Cincinnati wasn’t on its bye-week, the NFL would have four rookie quarterbacks starting today. And that goes against the age-old thinking that quarterbacks need years of study to produce in pro football. Rookies Cam Newton in Carolina and Andy Dalton in Cincy are doing just fine. Blaine Gabbert hasn’t necessarily looked out of place in Jacksonville and Christian Ponder makes his debut Sunday with the Minnesota Vikings as the starter. It’s not just the rookies in the NFL: If Sam Bradford was healthy, he’d starting as a sophomore in St. Louis. Tim Tebow has taken over, for now, as Denver’s starter and Josh Freeman is the man for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What’s even more remarkable is that Gabbert bypassed his senior year of college and Newton only played one year of major college football. Time was, this kind of youth movement seemed impossible.
EARL McRAE: FAREWELL TO A MASTER
Crazy and talented Earl McRae was put to rest Saturday morning in Ottawa but his remarkable words should live forever.
There are lots of us out there, trying to write, trying to put words together, but most of us are of the assembly-line variety, serving up meat and potatoes.
Earl was a master chef.
He could make you laugh, make you cry, sometimes in the same sentence.
He did what only the best of writers do: He took you places, brought you along as part of the story, amazed you with his detail, and his turn of phrase.
His anthology works, A Requiem for Reggie and The Victors and the Vanquished, stand as the single best works of Canadian sports writing anywhere. Used copies can be purchased online. Well advised to do so.
BARKER HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO
The assumption has always been that if he doesn’t coach the Argos next season, Jim Barker (inset right) will remain as general manager of the team. That’s the assumption. The reality may be something entirely different. Barker will get the Lucy treatment at the end of this CFL season. He will be asked to explain himself. What went wrong. Why it went wrong. Why the Argos talent appears inferior in important positions to those they compete against in the league. And he will be asked how he plans to change things. If the answers are what owner David Braley is looking for, then Barker will be kept on as coach or GM but likely not both. If the answers aren’t what Braley wants to hear, Barker could be let go from both his positions.