October 28, 2012
Injured players being paid in full during NHL lockout
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Chris Pronger may never play again but he received a $1-million bonus last month and his first regular paycheque from the Philadelphia Flyers arrived halfway through October. Pronger, in fact, will be paid his full $7.2-million salary whether there’s an NHL season or not.
And he’s not alone.
Perhaps the only benefit of injury is that those deemed unable to play will be fully compensated throughout this NHL madness known as a lockout.
The Leafs, for example, are paying Matt Frattin’s NHL contract, which is only $6.3 million less than Pronger’s, while the young winger recovers from a knee injury that required off-season surgery. Pronger, still suffering the affects of a concussion and unlikely to ever play again, has $19.2 million remaining on his Philadelphia contract.
During the lockout of 2005, Ed Belfour received payment from the Leafs because he was deemed not healthy enough to play. The Leafs also happen to be paying Colby Armstrong and Darcy Tucker $1 million each, not lockout related, but from past buyout situations.
THIS AND THAT
Maybe because it was Reggie Jackson, or because it was the first time I saw it, but the three-home-run game in 1977 seemed so much more dramatic than the three-home-run game of Pablo Sandoval in Game 2 of this World Series. Looking back, though, the similarities are many: In Jackson’s three- homer game, the Yankees beat the Dodgers 8-4. In Sandoval’s game, the Giants beat the Tigers 8-3. Jackson’s first two homers a) tied the game and b) put the Yankees up four runs. Sandoval’s first two homers gave Giants their first lead and then put San Francisco up four runs. Their third home runs had little to do with the final score for either man ... If you’re going to play World Series baseball in Detroit in late October on a weekend, why do it at night? ... The Blue Jays want to trade Yunel Escobar and need pitching. St. Louis has all kinds of pitching and needs a shortstop. A match? ... The Jays will have company chasing free-agent Anibal Sanchez in the off-season. The Royals have big interest also ... What the Jays could really use: A surprise, like pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Guy kicked around the minors for year, failed, went to Japan, came back to San Francisco and has been terrific ever since. His salary — $3 million a year, or just a little more than the Jays pay Dustin McGowan ... A thought watching big bodies Sandoval, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera: I should have played more baseball as a kid.
HEAR AND THERE
My solution to end the NHL work stoppage: Lock agents Don Meehan, Pat Brisson, Anton Thun and Don Baizley (if he’s healthy enough) in a room to represent and negotiate on behalf of the players’ against general managers Ken Holland, David Poile, Ray Shero and Lou Lamoriello, representing their owners. You’d have a deal in a matter of days with both sides giving something back, and no politics, no rhetoric, no spin ... The story going around has Roberto Luongo coming to the Leafs the minute the lockout is over. The story is wrong. The Leafs have interest in Luongo. Vancouver will trade him. He may end up here but there is no deal done, no agreement, no handshake, nothing ... It doesn’t matter where I go these days, to the doctor, the grocery store, to a restaurant, to get a haircut, it doesn’t matter. The same question gets asked: When will there be hockey? That’s Canada. It’s what and who we are ... Now that the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn, there are basically three NHL franchises within an hour’s drive of each other. In Toronto, there is one. Will someone please explain? ... I know they’re keeping the New York Islanders name but courtesy of Twitter friends my favourite new names for the team would have been Coney Islanders and Vince McMahon’s choice, the Brooklyn Brawlers.
SCENE AND HEARD
What outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern did for Toronto: 1. Took John Bitove’s money and granted an NBA franchise; 2. Put in expansion rules to ensure the franchise could never succeed (one provision being: You can finish last but you can’t have Allen Iverson); 3. When things went wrong, his solution was to foist the disinterested Lenny Wilkens upon ownership ... In Stern’s 30 years running the NBA, only eight different franchises won championships (the Raptors did win one playoff round, thus referred to as the good old days). Since Stern took over the NBA and turned it into a league of cool kids and not cool kids, 15 different NHL teams have won the Stanley Cup ... One more Bitove note: John Jr. doesn’t get enough credit for the structure that is the Air Canada Centre. It was his initial work that got the arena built, and not with taxpayers dollars ... There is a certain element of fascination to this new Raptors season, with Kyle Lowry coming in at point guard, the anticipation of Jonas Valanciunas’ rookie year, the wonder if DeMar DeRozan will ever translate his athleticism and become a player that DeMatters and the continued improvement and passion (assuming there is more) from Andrea Bargnani ... Why it is necessary and important to still celebrate the 1992-93 Blue Jays World Series champions. 1) There’s not much else to celebrate; 2. Only one team has won back- to-back World Series since the Jays did (the Yankees have actually won three in a row), so it puts the quality of those teams into further perspective ... Don’t you feel better knowing that Ilya Kovaluchuk is demanding that all his salary be paid, otherwise he might consider not returning to the NHL? ... So it wasn’t necessarily embarrassing or dirty pool that the NHL gave its GMs permission to talk to the players during the lockout, without informing the NHLPA. But what was truly embarrassing is how the league provided handouts to GMs informing them how to answer questions that players might ask ... It is pretty clear that Chad Owens will be named most outstanding player on the Argos, and not that he deserves it with all his turnovers. He gets it, frankly, because there is no one else to vote for ... Why I don’t know what to make of first-year Argos coach Scott Milanovich: Every time I start to like one aspect of their team, something else falls apart. Early, they had no offence and a pretty good defence. Lately, they have some offence and no defence. And their special teams, well, that seems a minute to minute thing.
AND ANOTHER THING
Bart Andrus is out of work again. The former Argos head coach was in the United Football League, which has ceased operations ... The Los Angeles Lakers are my early pick to win the NBA title and it’s not just because they are the only NBA team with two Canadians, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre, on their roster. Sacre, born in Louisiana but raised in Vancouver, was the last pick in the 2012 NBA draft ... So who saw this coming?: Legatron (St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein) is having a better year than Megatron (Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson) ... Everybody’s talking parity in the NFL, but I look at it differently. Can’t remember an NFL with so few great teams and so many weak ones ... So if you’re the St. Louis Rams, are you kicking yourself for getting all those draft picks in the deal that cost you Robert Griffin III? ... Just wondering: Why are Vanier Cup tickets so expensive? Shouldn’t Canadian university football tickets be in the $20-$25 range? Not double that ... Tyler Varga, who made the unusual transfer from Western to Yale, is lighting it up in the Ivy League, averaging 103 rushing yards a game ... It’s certain Jon Cornish will become the leading Canadian rusher in CFL history: Will that gather him any support for Canada’s athlete of the year? ... Happy birthday to Juan Guzman (46), Gary Nylund (49), Kevin Dineen (49), Terrell Davis (40), Bruce Jenner (63), Julia Roberts (45) and Paul Orndorff (63) ... And hey, whatever became of Clarke Wilm?
HE SAID I SAID WHAT?
Alex Anthopoulos isn’t about to get in a war of words with John Farrell but he isn’t happy with what Farrell attributed to him at the Red Sox manager’s opening press conference.
Farrell said that Anthopoulos was understanding of his move out of Toronto and Anthopoulos said he felt the same way had a similar job with his hometown Montreal Expos been available.
Anthopoulos insists he said nothing of the kind. According to the Jays general manager, he just wanted to end the conversation with Farrell, was disgusted by his lack of loyalty, and made an analogy about running the Baltimore Orioles and wanting to run the Blue Jays.
The inference was more like, “OK John, save the explanations and let’s figure out where we go from here,” said Anthopoulos — and not in any way tacit approval of Farrell’s move to Boston.
I think I was 10 years old when we began the ritual of going to Argos games at Ivor Wynne Stadium. We ate at the same place, my father and I, at a restaurant called Martin’s, and we always ordered the same thing — open-face roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. And then it was off to creeky old stadium; even back then it seemed somewhat broken down. But the walk from the car to the stadium — we always parked on someone’s lawn — meant Ticats fans would yell and you, and my father would always holler back. It became my favourite place to watch football, even if the seats had no backs on them. The stadium was so small yet so alive. My dad is long gone and now the stadium has housed its final regular-season game but the memories of Dad and football and our annual traditions, they will live with me forever.
A GREAT MANNY
The three educators of the sweet science have all moved on. Eddie Futch was first. He died in 2001, but I still hear his voice, his words, experience his knowledge. Angelo Dundee passed away last February. Every day was a great day for Angelo, who trained Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard among his best. Every story with Angelo had to be told. Emanuel Steward, who died on Thursday at the age of 68, was less caricature and more pragmatic a boxing man. He coached, he managed, he worked television, and simply he made fighters better. When Oliver McCall upset a reluctant Lennox Lewis to win the heavyweight title in 1994, Lewis made the best decision of his career: He hired McCall’s trainer. Under Steward, Lewis went on to become on one of the most indestructible champions in history. Known best for his time with Thomas Hearns, Steward was a man of substance of whom commentator Larry Merchant said, “Manny loved the life he lived and lived the life he loved.”