The time has come for Gary Bettman to take Colin Campbell aside, hand him a nice going-away cheque, and say thanks.
The time is relatively soon ó at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Campbell has been on the job as chief NHL disciplinarian for too long. He has become too erratic, too emotional, too exposed to be of real internal or external value to the league any longer.
His explosive interview on TSN Radio this week was both telling and startling: There was a Howard Beale element to it all: Campbell may not be mad as hell ó in most cases, Iíve found him to be rather sane, terribly human and always approachable ó but he doesnít seem to be willing to take it anymore.
The job of patrolling the out-of-control state of the NHL borders on the impossible. Campbell has had a long run and mostly a good run as sheriff. Itís time for someone else to find out just how impossible this position happens to be.
This and that
If you havenít seen the Bobby Ryan goal from Friday night, find it. Watch it. Then watch it again. Itís a top five playoff goal. Even if it came against Nashville ... If somehow the Vancouver Canucks donít recover, canít recover, this will go down as one of the greatest choke jobs, anywhere, anytime. And for those counting, if Roberto Luongo fails to find his game the rest of the series, this will make the third consecutive playoff season in which heís been found wanting ... Canít imagine the Boston Bruins, or anyone else for that matter, would be all excited about signing Tomas Kaberle as a free agent. If he ever was a prominent player, he isnít one anymore ... Wouldnít it be great if the ageless and peerless Teemu Selanne used his free-agent status to sign with Winnipeg and finish his NHL career where it actually began? That is, assuming Winnipeg is in the NHL ... When you think about it, Patrick Kaleta isnít the first NHL person to show Nikolay Zherdev the door ... Itís great to see Steven Stamkos finally on the scoreboard Saturday: The kid from Unionville scored at 61-goal pace prior to
the NHL all-star break and has scored at only an 18-goal pace since. The two playoff goals against Pittsburgh were his first ... How much did the Raffi
Torres by-play factor in the strength of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks and the apparent demise of the Canucks? ... I give up, whatís happened to home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Hear and there
There are players made for teams and cities and John McDonald just fits right and feels right as a Blue Jay. If itís possible, heís getting better at age 36 and not for the Barry Bonds reasons. Every team should have a Johnny Mac to appreciate ... Jose Bautista has seven home runs already, which should quiet the doubters. If he hits only one more this month, that puts him on 48 home run pace. That ainít half bad ... Bautista has seven home runs: The rest of the Jays, combined, have 12 ... Combined, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider, have two home runs and a batting average of .217. Jays health aside, and Hill is banged up again, and with all of them coming off uncertain seasons, thatís clearly not what either John Farrell or Alex Anthopoulos envisioned from their core players ... One more thing: Why do teams pitch to Bautista when he has next to no support around him? ... Welcome back, Brendan Morrow. What took you so long? ... Impossible to imagine the Dodgers were taken over by Major League Baseball. Theyíre the Dodgers. Theyíre like baseball itself. How messed up was Frank McCourt to have financially manipulated this storied franchise into absolute disarray?
Scene and heard
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment needs to do one of two things: 1) Fire Bryan Colangelo, or 2) Re-sign Colangelo. And, whatever it is, they need to
do it now. Allowing him to twist in the wind at this stage of Raptors development is plainly ridiculous ... If you do the math on the Ontario Teachersí Pension Planís ownership of MLSE, it bought in at $50 million. Want out at $1.25 billion. Have owned the thing since 1994. On an annual basis, my banker friend tells me, thatís a 20.5% return on investment per year. And to think, Iím getting 1% from the bank, maybe ... Love the new torontosun.com/sports website ó check it out, if you havenít seen it yet ó and maybe I love it so much because I absolutely hated the old one ... Who better to score in overtime for the nameless, faceless Nashville Predators than the nameless faceless Jerred Smithson. Like, really, who is he? ... Two things Iíve learned on this weekend of minor hockey tryouts: There are no too many goalies out there looking for spots and not enough defencemen ... Hate to keep banging the drum on this, but advocates of womenís hockey canít be happy when Canada outshoots Finland 76-18 in semifinals of world championship. If the Swedens and Finlands donít get better soon, womenís hockey at the highest level will die or become irrelevant.
And another thing
The best second-round playoff series, any league, anywhere, should be the Boston Celtics against the Miami Heat ... Like they say in Bull Durham: Youíve got to respect the streak. If thatís the case, if Iím Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds, I keep shoplifting until I lose a game ... The next football book Iíll read: Rex Ryanís soon to be released, Play Like You Mean It ... It says here that Cory Joseph, the freshman from Texas, is making a large mistake coming out early for this yearís NBA draft. He hardly dominated in college; so why make the jump now? ... The NFL schedule is out, lockout aside, and the Buffalo Bills are one of five teams to get shut out
of prime time ... Big fight in language between the NFL and the NFLPA: The league claims the average career length is six years. The PA says itís 3.5. Itís one of those arguments where you can manipulate the numbers either way to make your points ... Every year you watch playoffs and realize some players are better than their numbers: One of them, Tomas Plekanec of Montreal. Another, Valtteri Filppula of Detroit. A third: Tyler Ennis of Buffalo ... Happy birthday to Omar Vizquel (44), Bill Singer (67), Vince Ferragamo (57), Yogi Stewart (36), Nicolas Gill (39) and Kris Letang (24) ... And, hey, whatever became of Daryl Evans?
The NFL Draft Goes Canadian
What are the real odds of a Canadian making it in the National Football League? Well, consider this: There were 1,696 roster players in the NFL last season, and 11 were Canadian. Four were starters, six in all, if you want to extend the list to kickers. By pure math alone, that means Canadians represent less than half of 1% of all NFL players. All of which makes the Danny Watkins story all the more remarkable. The former firefighter from Kelowna is expected to be the fourth Canadian (Mike Schad, Tim Biakabutuka and Tony Mandarich were the others) chosen in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday and the first to make it big. By all accounts, he has all the tools to flourish in the NFL, dominate really. Everything but nationality seems on his side.
Tristan and the NBA Draft
At first glance, itís natural to wonder why Bramptonís Tristan Thompson, after one year at University of Texas, would declare himself eligible for
the NBA draft. It seems too soon. He seems too young, too undeveloped. Then you look around and see that a) this is a weak draft class; b) some of the
best players thought to be eligible have chosen to go back to college; and c) his rare athleticism has already attracted the interest of NBA teams. So, you begin to understand the mindset of he and his family. Thompson is all but certain to be a top 10 pick in the draft now, which all but guarantees his economic future, even not knowing what the next NBA collective bargaining deal will look like. Cashing in now may seem presumptuous, but itís probably the right way to proceed.
Bryzgalov and Winnipeg
Why the big deal about Ilya Bryzgalov saying he wonít play in Winnipeg? Heís not the first player to say this. He wonít be the last. When Charlie Simmer played for the Los Angeles Kings, he once said the best thing about Winnipeg was the airport: ďThat way you know you can always leave.Ē Winnipeg, bless íem, is something of a Canadian punchline, especially from those who havenít spent much time there (itís a great restaurant city). And Bryzgalov, as a free agent, has the right to play wherever he chooses. Heís also not the first to sort of refuse Winnipeg. Last summer, free agent defenceman Zybnek Michalek, had to decide between staying in Phoenix or signing in Pittsburgh. With similar offers, he chose Pittsburgh, because of future concern the Coyotes might be moving north. Should the Coyotes end up in Manitoba, Bryzalov will represent the majority on the free-agent front. Thatís not news. Thatís the upcoming reality.