SUN Hockey Pool

On Marino and Iginla

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:31 PM ET

The careers of Jarome Iginla and Dan Marino have more than a little something in common.

Both have played their whole time in one uniform. Both were the centrepieces of their teams. Both were denied better days by the talent they were surrounded with.

In Marinoís case, the Miami Dolphins were forever lacking at running back.

In Iginlaís ongoing and rapidly declining case in Calgary, the Flames have been forever lacking at centre. Whoís the best centre Iginla has ever had? Probably some middle-of- the-road player such as Craig Conroy or Daymond Langkow?

While Marino was clearly higher up the career list than Iginla will ever be, it remains a shame to see players of this magnitude lead their teams season after season without the ultimate result.

There is, in this, a message of sorts for Phil Kessel, the wayward and sometimes starring Maple Leaf. While heís already changed uniforms, great players, without much help, still have to produce. Thatís what makes them special. They make teams better, even when an obvious piece is missing. Like Iginla, like Marino, Kessel has to step up.

This and that

Nothing more annoying that millionaire athletes complaining about their cable services in Canada. Hey, rich boys ó and that means you, Chris Bosh ó if your condo doesnít have the right cable, move. You can have anything you want here, legally, illegally, your choice ... Just wondering: Why so much noise when Patrick Kane stiffed a Buffalo cab driver of change but just a muffle of sound when Brett Sutter, son of the GM, gets charged with allegedly beating up a cabbie in Arizona? ... For those counting, 16 of the 20 players dressed for the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, not including Dion Phaneuf and Colby Armstrong, were acquired by Brian Burke in his two years as general manager. So for those who argue this isnít his team, the facts, frankly, donít add up ... Burke has succeeded in bringing better players to Toronto such as Kessel and Phaneuf, younger players, but the team still lacks something more than centres. It could use a Brian Skrudland/Doug Risebrough type or three, the kind of player who makes teams better without necessarily scoring goals.

Hear and there

So I didnít go to Harvard, but Iím not sure how a Leafs team with five wins in 15 games going into Saturday night can consider itself two games under. 500. Fact is, with three-point games in the NHL, a point-a-game isnít really .500 hockey anymore. Depending on the number of overtime games, around 90 points is the new 82, the new .500 in my eyes ... Truth: Toronto hasnít had a great centre since Chad Folk ... Maybe this great Argos-Ticats rivalry isnít as great as we think it to be: As of Saturday afternoon, there were still 4,000 tickets left for Sundayís playoff matchup. Considering the apparent rivalry and closeness of the cities, thatís disappointing ... Manny Ramirez wants to play for the Jays. No fooling. His agent, Scott Boras, is selling hard, but the Jays are ignoring the pitch to date ... The Blue Jays had to be happy when Edwin Encarnacion was claimed on waivers by Oakland. They lose a decent sized contract from a player who canít field his position and Oakland gets some much-needed power. Works for both sides ... Cleo Lemonís job on Sunday is not to screw it up. If he can do that, and manage the ball, the Argos can beat the Ticats. If they need Lemon to produce, they have no chance.

Scene and heard

Going into this season, it looked like the Raptors were going to have trouble winning on days that end in Y. But Friday is clearly their night of choice, with their best win and best loss of the year coming the past two Fridays ... By the way, Bryan Colangelo says he was never offered Michael Beasley in his sign-and-trade deal for Bosh.

Beasley was cast aside by the Miami Heat and has scored 42 and 35 points in his past two games in Minnesota ... Kyle Wellwood is being Kyle Wellwood in the KHL: In other words, he is disappointing people who expected more ... Wonder if new Jays manager John Farrell is considering platooning Adam Lind next season. Lind hit a paltry .117 against left-handed pitching this past year and couldnít seem to lay off the high pitch out of the strike zone ... In fairness, the best players at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night ó Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler ó were Burke draft choices ... Shouldnít someone demand a recount? How does a shortstop past his prime and with zero range ó hello, Derek Jeter ó end up winning a Gold Glove? ... Big year for the Beach Boyís nephew, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Two cameo appearances on Entourage and now the first 30-point, 30-rebound game in the NBA in 28 years.

And another thing

You canít make this up: CFL officials flying to Regina for Sundayís playoffs got caught in the fog and had to be re-routed. Normally, theyíre in a fog during games, not before them ... As bad as the officiating is in the CFL, itís a lot worse in the CIS ... The Buffalo Bills need Luck. The great college quarterback, Andrew Luck. And let the headline puns begin ... At least 10 of 32 NFL teams could use an upgrade at quarterback, which is unfortunate because the league has never been deeper in high-end wide receivers ... Tweet of the week from Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, after beating the Miami Heat: ďItís been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis.Ē ... Yes, that was very nice of Paul Henderson and Don Cherry to send thoughtful notes to those over-40 Canadian men playing in the world masters ball hockey championships in Slovakia ... Just watched a version of the Mighty Ducks yesterday. Still canít understand they how they kept winning with Goldberg in goal. He wasnít that good ... Pat Gillick is up for the Hall of Fame against an old rival George Steinbrenner. Gillick should be a Hall lock this year ... With Richie Hall out in Edmonton, the CFL is without an African-American head coach. There are six in the once very-white NFL ... Happy birthday to Silken Laumann (46), Bryan (Bugsy) Watson (68), Murray Oliver (73), Don Lever (58), Rod Seiling (66) and Jim Piersall (81) ... And hey, whatever became of John Grisdale?

The Makarov question

In the best years of Wayne Gretzkyís career, the second best offensive player in the world did not play in the National Hockey League. And while cases are being made for the inclusion of Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Pavel Bure in the Hall of Fame, not nearly enough is being said about Sergei Makarov. The Makarov who scored 28 points in 22 Olympic games, 16 goals in 22 Canada Cup games and 56 goals in 101 world championship games. All Makarov did in his career was win two world junior titles, two Olympic gold medals, one Canada Cup, eight world championships and took home the Soviet scoring title nine times while being named player of the year on eight different occasions, Remember, itís not the NHL Hall of Fame. And no disrespect to Dino Ciccarelli, this yearís inductee, but when it came to players, Markarov and Ciccarelli werenít even on the same planet.

Baseball shopping

The shopping of the baseball winter has officially begun and three of the Blue Jaysí American League East rivals are expected to be big-time players. The New York Yankees, being the Yankees, have targeted pitcher Cliff Lee as their No. 1 priority and you know thatís only a starting point for the Bronx Bombers. The big surprise in the East may be the aggressive plans of the Baltimore Orioles, who have been messed up forever, but have a general manager with just two years left on his contract and a manager in Buck Showalter who wants to win now. The only thing working in the Jaysí favour is the imminent departure of Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and Carlos Pena in Tampa. Typically, the Jays wonít let external player movement alter their off-season plans but with the club back in semi-contention, the winter does get more intriguing.

Adam Rita

There isnít much Adam Rita hasnít done or experienced in his time with the Toronto Argonauts. He has won Grey Cups as coach and as general manager. He has coordinated offences. Heís cleaned up a mess or 10, some of them his own in his time with Toronto. And today, with the Argos playing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a playoff game, he may, in fact, be saying goodbye if the Argos happen to lose Sunday. If the stories out there are true, this will be Ritaís last season with the Argos after more than quarter-century of CFL activity. There may have been better coaches or managers running teams in his time, just no better people. Heís one of a kind. Toronto has been lucky to have him.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve


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