Anybody in hockey could have had Kyle Wellwood.
All they had to do was pick up the phone.
The truth is, nobody, aside from Don Cherry and the occasional family member believed in him -- and that includes his current team, the Vancouver Canucks.
It's easy now, with Wellwood having some playoff success, to play the revisionist-history game, to blame the convenient Maple Leafs for letting talent go without getting anything in return.
But the sequence of events needs to be re-examined: 1) The Leafs waived Wellwood in June of last year; 2) Vancouver claimed him and signed him in early July; 3) The Canucks placed Wellwood on waivers in mid-October and sent him to AHL Manitoba; 4) Every team in the NHL passed on Wellwood, even though he was earning less than $1 million per season; 5) After recalling Wellwood, the Canucks scratched him from a number of games this season, even though he was not injured.
To recap: The Leafs didn't want him. The Canucks didn't believe in him. The rest of the NHL wasn't interested.
Goes to show that sometimes everybody can be wrong, at least over the short term. The Canucks were willing to spend $20 million on Mats Sundin and wound up with a more effective player for a fraction of that cost.
This and that
Did Guy Lafleur do anything that any father wouldn't do for a son? It will be a crime if he does go to jail for doing nothing more than stretch the truth ... Ron Wilson took the blame for all the San Jose playoff collapses of the past. So who gets blamed now? And Wilson didn't have Dan Boyle and Rob Blake on his defence ... Can't turn on the television or radio without hearing about Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, Crosby or Ovechkin. Since when did Evgeni Malkin become the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey ... While watching the CFL draft on TV -- yeah, I admit it, I was watching -- I was struck by an unrelated thought: Boy, do I miss Ron Lancaster ... That was shabby of the Buffalo Bills to put together their 50th anniversary team and only make room for one running back, which meant Thurman Thomas was in and O.J. Simpson, the greatest Bill to become famous for other activities, was out.
Hear and there
I'm starting to hate myself because I'm starting to like some of the things Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has done. Nobody drafted before Aaron Hill is better than him. Marco Scutaro is tearing it up. Ricky Romero, before going on the disabled list, looked legit. It doesn't exactly make up for the contracts given to Frank Thomas, Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske, but what looked to be the end for J.P. is starting to finally look like a beginning ... We hope the stats lie: We hope Big Papi, David Ortiz, isn't done. He's too much fun to be over ... I have never seen an NBA first-round series as captivating as the Celtics-Bulls. This should have been a best-of-nine.
Scene and heard
Money can't always buy happiness or pitching: Combined, big-ticket pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are 2-3 with a 5.09 ERA with the struggling Yankees ... The starting Olympic goaltenders should be: Roberto Luongo, Canada; Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden; Evgeni Nabokov, Russia; Niklas Backstrom or Miikka Kiprusoff, Finland; Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller or Rick DiPietro, U.S.; Tomas Vokoun, Czech Republic: Can't wait for Vancouver ... The story goes, as soon as the Blue Jays start winning, they'd start drawing. So when does the drawing part start? ... Nobody mentions Randy Carlyle among the better coaches in hockey, but they should. He might be the best bench coach in the game.
And another thing
Keep hearing that Pierre McGuire is getting serious consideration for the vacant GM's job in Minnesota, which considering his encyclopedic knowledge of NHL players, makes a whole lot of sense ... I worry about Jaromir Jagr. He says if he doesn't play in Russia next season, he wants to play in Edmonton. I think he is badly in need of a travel agent or a therapist ... Happy Birthday to Frankie Valli (72), Greg Gumbel (63), Rod Langway (52) and Ron Hextall (45) ... Is Jason Frasor the modern-day version of Dennis Lamp? ... And hey, whatever became of Iran Barkley?