November 27, 2010
'Send down Bozak'
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
The Maple Leafs say they have no plans to send centre Tyler Bozak to the American Hockey League.
Perhaps, they need to reconsider.
Through the first quarter of the National Hockey League season, itís apparent that Bozak is a not-ready-for-prime-time player. And itís certainly not due to lack of opportunity.
Heading into Saturday nightís game in Ottawa, and with barely a word of public snarkiness from coach Ron Wilson (apparently all prospects are not created equal) Bozakís statistics border on the embarrassing: He is 316th in the NHL in scoring, 394th in scoring at even strength, 153rd in power-play points. He is on pace for a terrible 23-point season.
All this coming after he led all rookies a year ago in points per game. And it isnít as if he hasnít had the chance. He has had first-line, first power-play time all season long. Itís time to try and salvage his career with a minor-league demotion before there is any career left to salvage.
THIS AND THAT
Got all excited when I saw the business story that the Ontario Teachers had sold their share of Maple Leaf. Until I read it. Turns out it was Maple Leaf Foods, not Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
If the Leafs donít re-sign J-S Giguere and Tomas Kaberle, Brian Burke will have at least $11 million US to play with in free agency come July. The only problem is that he free agent market is terribly thin this year ... While Steven Stamkos is getting all the attention, and rightly so, consider this: Sidney Crosby is the only NHL player scoring at more than a point-a-game at even strength. And imagine what heíd do if he had any linemates.
Weird truth in numbers: From the day the Leafs traded the somewhat lost Lee Stempniak to Phoenix, he has outscored Phil Kessel 21 to 18, prior to Saturday night.
A mind-boggling statistic regarding the remarkable Niklas Lidstrom: In 20 seasons in Detroit, he has missed only 29 regular season games. At 40, Lidstrom is once again the best defenceman in hockey.
I took a lot of grief a few years back when I wrote that if I were John Tavares, I would refuse to play for the New York Islanders. So here we are, two years in, and the Islanders are the least relevant franchise in pro sport and Tavares is nowhere to be found.
HEAR AND THERE
So, who voted for Henry Burris over Anthony Calvillo as most outstanding player in the CFL? We wants names, addresses and telephone numbers. This was a battle between all-time great and sometimes great and itís the second time in three years the wrong player has won. In 2008, Cameron Wake should have won the MOP.
I hate when I hear Ben Cahoon referred to as a great Canadian player. An career CFL great, absolutely? But a Canadian only by the ridiculousness of the written rules.
Quick shout-out to Adam Rita, the Argos GM for the moment, at home recovering from season-ending knee surgery.
How are the Raptors going to replace Reggie Evansí rebounds and how are the writers going to replace all those profound post-game quotes? Before breaking his foot, Evans was getting it done on the floor and off.
The Montreal Alouettes donít have much of a case in complaining about getting the wrong dressing room and wrong hotel in Edmonton, but they have every right to be steamed when the league is giving an award to the fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, their Grey Cup opponent.
Memo to Riders coach Ken Miller: The only 13 you should see on the field Sunday is Calvillo. If you count that many players in green, youíre done.
SCENE AND HEARD
The disparity between rich and poor at quarterback in the NFL has never seemed so wide: On one side, you have a classic list of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and even Michael Vick playing at this uncanny level. And then you have Derek Anderson, Shaun Hill, Brian St. Pierre, Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski and Chad Henne. When you see those names, itís not hard to understand why Cleo Lemon got a few NFL starts. Itís that bad at the boom, that great at the top.
Joey Votto is my pick for Canadian athlete of the year, but there will all kinds of support for Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, speedskater Christine Nesbitt, gold medal winner, Alexandre Bilodeau and Joannie Rochette for the Lou Marsh Award.
So this is probably the best Mikhail Grabovski has ever played in the NHL: If youíre Burke, do you try and take advantage and see if thereís a trade market for him? His value may never be higher.
Now that youíve been exposed to one Colin Campbell e-mail of distinction, donít you wonder what else, and who else, heís written about?. If the Ottawa Senators are barely average with Daniel Aldredsson playing, what happens to the franchise when the captain is done?
My favourite Grey Cup outfits: Two middle-aged woman wearing similar football jerseys, one with ďDrunkĒ as the player name on the back, the other wearing ďDrunker.Ē
AND ANOTHER THING
Manny Ramirez is spending so much time in Toronto that even the Blue Jays are wondering what gives. Among the many rumours out there: 1. He has a hairdresser in the city; 2. He may have a child here; 3. Heís been a Phil Kessel fan going back to his days in Boston. One quick Manny fact: He has two sons named Manny, from two different women.
Is there anything more fun in life than watching Nick Saban lose? The Yankees and Derek Jeter are only $8-10 million US apart per year in contract negotiations. Other than that, all is well. The very successful and much-loved, Cabral (Cabbie) Richards, is leaving The Score after 10 years at the network for a another television position on the entertainment side. Kobe Bryant, for one, wonít be happy and neither will be a lot of kids, including Stamkos, who grew up watching Cabbie and was thrilled last season to be interviewed by him.
Congratulations to the Rouge et Or of Laval, who managed to win the Vanier Cup and stay under the salary cap.
Happy birthday to Leandro Barbosa (28), Jonathan Brown (35), Marc-Andre Fleury (26), Paul Warfield (68), Paul Shaffer (61) and Sixto Lezcano (57)...And hey, whatever became of Margene Adkins?
GREY CUP SUNDAY
If I were CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, this would concern me deeply: The minor hockey team of 14-year-olds I coach has a game scheduled Sunday opposite the kickoff of Grey Cup. To date, I have not received a single complaint from a player or parent about the apparent conflict. Nor has anyone suggested, on a very social team, a post-game Grey Cup party to watch the second half. This, we are told, by huge television ratings, is the biggest day on the Canadian sporting calendar. Just not in Southern Ontario and certainly not in Toronto.
Were this Super Bowl Sunday or Halloween, I would be flooded with complaints. The CFL hasnít just lost a generation of fans in and around Toronto, it may never have had them in the first place.
There is a general assumption floating around that Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be trade bait for the Maple Leafs come February. But Iím not sure I understand how or why. For starters, there will still be around $1.5 million US left on his rather large contract come the trade deadline. Thatís a lot for teams to inherit, especially with so many NHL teams having so little cap flexibility. The second, and more salient point, could be need.
The only teams that would be interested in Giguere would be Stanley Cup contenders with goaltending issues. And doing a team-by-team analysis, there may not be many of those who would qualify. Giguere is too expensive to pick up as a backup, which limits the possibilities of him going anywhere.
TORONTOíS HALL OF FAME CLASS
Is it not out of the realm of possibility that Pat Gillick, the late Tom Cheek and the Toronto Sunís baseball columnist, Bob Elliott, will be getting Hall of Fame recognition in the very same year. And what a deserving tribute, for all three, that would be for Toronto baseball. In the new format, Gillick, the former Jays GM, is one of 16 on the veteransí committee Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for this year.
He would require 12 votes to be inducted. Cheek is nominated once again for the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters, while Elliott is on the ballot for the third time for J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which rewards ďmeritorious contributions to baseball writing.Ē The winners will be announced in early December. Gillick, and Cheek, by the way, have both been honoured by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Why Elliott is not is a question that needs to be asked.