Saturday, 31 December 2011

20 Sportstaughts For 2012

As 2011 comes to a close and 2012 awaits us, here are 20 sportstaughts to ponder for the new year. In case you are wondering, the definition of a "sportstaught" is a cynical or sarcastic thought about the world of sports.

  • Will Habs fans finally embrace Scott Gomez after he scores the tying goal to help the team qualify for the playoffs?
  • At what point do Montreal sports fans get bored with the novelty of the MLS and the Impact to the point that they will stop showing up to Saputo Stadium? (Over / under : July)
  • Will the Winter Gimmick (i.e. NHL Winter Classic) be cancelled on the account of great weather?
  • Over / under: 50.5 snaps. Number of meaningful snaps taken by Adrian McPherson in 2012.
  • Soon after winning his first major in awhile, we will find out that Tiger Woods is dating not one but two women?
  • Will Geoff Molson cave again and make the right decision for the fans?
  • Can Habs fans stomach another Boston Bruins Stanley Cup reign?
  • Will Mr. Markov ever play this season?
  • A Steelers V. Packers Super Bowl is not possible. Look for Ravens V. Packers.
  • Ron Wilson will be fired after signing his contract extension after the Leafs fail to make the playoffs.
  • The National Headshot League (i.e., NHL) will continue to buried its head in the sand after losing another star to another concussion.
  • The NBA 66-game schedule will lead to some bizarre playoff match-ups.
  • Will Quebec City continue to be teased by the NHL and its inability to settle the ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes?
  • Over / under: 3.5 medals. The number of medal won by Canada at the Summer Olympics. (If anyone cares.)
  • How many NHL fans will be shocked at the thought of no hockey at the beginning of October 2012?
  • Will P.K. Subban be trade bait?
  • Should Expos fans be jealous at the accomplishments made by the Miami Marlins?
  • How many games are left in Sidney Crosby's career?
  • Who is willing to pay for tickets to see NHL games after the CBA is settled?
  • When is the city of Montreal going to see its next championship parade?
Final Taughts:
  • Start scoreboard watching now... If you are a Hab fan and still have hopes of the team making the playoffs, you better start scoreboard watching now. Yes, the team is now only 6 points out of 8th place with more than 40 games to play, however; there is a pack of 4 - 5 teams to catch. Furthermore, these 4 - 5 teams will play each other in which a team will pick up 2 point or worst case scenario, split the points and win the extra point. Case in point yesterday's Sabres vs. Capitals match-up or tonight's Maple Leafs vs. Jets game.
  • Where's the logic J.C.? I caught the last bit of Le Match on TVA Sports where host, Jean Charles Lajoie, was a tad upset that Jacques Martin's first interview since the Habs fired him was in English with Sirius XM. Lajoie commented that Martin was obligated to give an interview in French since Martin is still being paid by the Canadiens and 80% of the team's revenues are coming from francophones. Really J.C.? So to apply the same logic applies to the ordinary "Joe" where Joe should still show up for work the morning after he was canned from his job because he is collecting severance?
Related posts:

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Fantasy Hockey Advice - Dec. 29

Del Zotto's fantasy value is rising fast
Since I have a strong track record playing fantasy hockey and am a sports stats junkie, here's what I believe will become a regular foray into providing strong NHL players to pick up, trade for or sell high on in your respective pools.

Michael Del Zotto - The book was out on this young defenseman a couple of years ago. However, a stint in the minors, coupled with a slow offensive start this season have tempered his stats to some degree. But, with each passing New York Rangers game, Del Zotto makes his case for being one of the top blue liners in all of fantasy hockey. According to the Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey tools at my disposal, Del Zotto is top point getter for all defensemen over the last month. So, if he isn't a free agent in your pool, try trading for him now and offering up perhaps an underachieving D in return. Sometimes fantasy owners will trade for a big name over a currently performing player.

Roman Josi - Josi is more of a risk than Del Zotto, to watch out what you give up for him. Chances are he's a free agent in your pool. With Shea Weber now out due to concussion problems, the Nashville Predators will have to rely heavily on him and recently called up Ryan Ellis. While Ellis is a first round pick, Josi was highly touted as well and does have a few points already in a baker's dozen games in the National Hockey League thus far. With Ryan Suter and Weber still unsigned, Josi could also see his ice time explode after the trade deadline on the outside possibility the Preds jettison the two studs.

Mike Ribeiro - The Dallas Stars are sorely in need of Ribeiro continuing the production they've seen from him over the last couple of weeks. The smallish center is on a role lately, with seven points in his last 14 days, including a game-winner and a power play goal. He'll never light it up, but he's a reliable assist man when he's on his game. The Stars have enough wingers to continue to allow Ribeiro rack up decent point totals. If you're scrambling at center, Ribeiro may be available in many pools in a trade, as his season totals are not very impressive.

Petr Sykora - An oldie but a goodie, Sykora has been paired for most of the season with Patrick Elias. The result has been a rejuvenation of the Czech player's career. He wasn't even in the NHL last season! Sykora has 21 points in 36 games for the New Jersey Devils and is only owned in five percent of Yahoo! Hockey pools. Crazy. As a RW player, he offers value at a position that isn't always easy to find decent free agents in midseason. Sykora has  seven points over the last couple of weeks, including two game-winners. His ceiling is about where his current stretch is, but he could be a nice fill-in for injuries.

Marian Gaborik - I have nothing negative to say about Marian Gaborik. The veteran Rangers sniper has been outstanding this season, leading the league in scoring with 22 goals. However, with his penchant for getting serious injuries, I advise you to sell high if you can. You can get quite the bounty for Gaborik right now and he'll never be worth more. Do you really think he'll continue to go against his career trend of missing substantial amount of games? If you could use more depth on your fantasy hockey team, I say explore the trade route on this superstar.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these evaluations.

You can follow me on Twitter @gamepointsradio

Could Kellen Moore be a fit for the Alouettes?

Will Moore get an NFL shot?
The next big date on the Alouettes football calendar is at the end of January where they will congregate with every professional football team for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

At an event such as this, general manager Jim Popp is a master at discovering bubble players who he might deem the perfect fit for the Alouettes. One player in particular who will have a NASA-like microscope on every move he does is former Boise State Broncos quarterback, Kellen Moore who is currently on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats negotiation list.

Moore, a four year starter, and the NCAA all-time leader in wins, will have a lot to prove to all the scouts in attendance. The common theme being discussed, he lacks the prototypical size to be an effective NFL quarterback. Last time I checked, New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees best resembles Moore in physical stature, football IQ, and his ability to win. He has done fairly well in his career.

If the NFL does not workout for Moore, he could potentially be a perfect fit in the CFL. Some will say his predecessors at Boise State who tried their luck; Jared Zabransky and Ryan Dinwiddie, miserably failed at the Canadian game.

But the strongest tangible that Moore brings is his accuracy, something that the two other quarterbacks are not very strong at. In his senior year, he had a passing percentage of 74.3-percent, and he was sacked a mere seven times on 439 passing attempts. As usual, scouts will never heavily weigh these stats in determining whether they should select him.

Aside from the end of the 2011 season, during the four years that Anthony Calvillo has played in the Marc Trestman system, how often was he sacked? The point is he was rarely touched by a defense.

If you’re the Alouettes, going into these next two years, a lot could transpire with the pivot position. Calvillo is coming back for what is probably his last season.

How ironic that Calvillo came from a similar athletic background as Moore coming from a small school (Utah State) to working his way in becoming the CFL’s greatest passer. Another strong connection between these two players is that Moore’s last game as collegian was the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. As luck would have it, in that very same game Calvillo was inducted into the bowl’s first ever Hall of Fame class.

In the case of Adrian McPherson, without question he will be given the first right to see if he will be the eventually successor to Calvillo. But as mentioned in a previous article, how long is he willing to wait for this to become reality? Granted, even though Moore is considered to be Tiger-Cats property, would they consider trading his rights to a division rival?

Looking further at Moore’s skills, he fits the profile for the Alouettes system. In the last four years that Calvillo has been apart of the Trestman offense, his passing average has been 67.6-percent. The key rules in the Trestman offense, is making the correct read, and completing the pass. Calvillo has done this to perfection. The same can be said for Moore who would fit nicely into this system.

Simply put, Moore throughout his career has won big nationally televised games over the traditional powerhouse teams such as Georgia, TCU, and Virginia Tech.

As for transitioning to the cold Canadian weather, it should not be a problem for Moore, since the state of Boise has similar weather pattern as Canada.

It is still a far cry for this scenario to become reality. But with all due respect to Ricky Santos or Josh Neiswander, they will not be the quarterbacks that the team will look upon as their future saviors. Given that in CFL the third and fourth string position is an interchangeable part, why not give a shot to a player such as Moore?

The end result is that come April a NFL team will select Moore in the late rounds of the draft. From there, he will be in that system until further notice. The Alouettes could deem him as a player they could try to pry away from the Tiger-Cats negotiation list. If things don’t pan out down south, he might have a chance to flourish in Canada.

The time is now for Jim Popp to unearth any football player that could be the next great quarterback for the Alouettes and if he plays his cards right, maybe it is Kellen Moore.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

NFL Pool Week 17 Picks

SD +2.5 at OAK

KC +3.5 at DEN

BAL -2.5 at CIN

DAL +2.5 at NYG

Matthew: SD, DEN, BAL, DAL
Stefano: OAK, KC, BAL, NYG
Trexis: SD, KC, CIN, NYG
Listener (Will Martinez): SD, DEN, BAL, NYG

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Some Perspective on the Habs' Win in Ottawa

I've been trying to put last night's Habs win into perspective. Any way you look at it, this team is still in a lot of trouble despite a landslide victory over a team ahead of them, albeit slightly, in the standings. I've seen enough putrid, disgusting hockey from these Montreal Canadiens over the better part of the last two months to suggest to me that they're closer to needing to blow the entire thing up than they are being a few small pieces from turning into a conference powerhouse.

I'm not a complete cynic though when it comes to this team. Last night was pretty much the way the Habs SHOULD be winning games. Strong goaltending, their best players being their best players and they kept their foot on the gas the entire way through.

Most encouraging was that after five straight losses and the team being attacked any which way you can imagine, they overcame what should have been a devastating goal by the Senators less than two minutes in. Sure Craig Anderson did them a favour by putting up a save percentage Andre Racicot would laugh at but screw it, the Habs have been on the receiving end of enough brick wall goaltending performances from opponents that they deserved to be the beneficiaries for a change.

Above all, the win was fantastic in just about every way for Randy Cunneyworth, who must've felt the weight of Patrick Roy's ego being lifted off his shoulders. If this city's English-hating rats feasting on his lack of linguistic skills wasn't enough, his team hadn't given him a solid effort since the moment he was promoted. He hasn't been given the fair chance every new head coach deserves upon receiving the title. Cunneyworth pulled a shrewd move by benching Lars Eller and PK Subban in Winnipeg, a move that I saw as Cunneyworth going "all-in" with his players. How would those two respond? How would the team respond? Would they ever respond to a coach who's obviously an interim coach in every sense of the title? Luckily for the fragile state of every hockey fan in this city, they did.

I'm not sure what will become of the Habs from now until April. I'm not optimistic about a playoff run considering the hole they've dug themselves and my hope would be that rather than try and squeak into the playoffs and get bounced out early by a real contender, they'll look ahead to the future for a change. Guys like Hal Gill and Travis Moen are valued assets for a team looking to get deeper for a Cup run and the Habs should benefit from the seeds those assets would yield and see what they can grow into for their future. It's time the organization did things right for a change.

Alouettes and Braylon Edwards a Match Made In Heaven?

Could the Alouettes be interested in current NFL player Braylon Edwards? With San Francisco 49ers releasing the polarizing figure from their club, this will mark the third time in less than three years that he will be looking for a new home.

The history of Edwards does not bode well for his future chance at NFL employment, at least in reading the Twitter thoughts of the NFL beat writers. Beyond his knee injury, the same sentiment has been echoed by all, that his off-field incidents will outweigh his on-field accomplishments. Thus, it might make it difficult for any potential suitor to sign him up early in free agency period.

Apparently the reason why he signed on with the 49ers is because of the Michigan Wolverines connection of current 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh and his father.

In the upcoming spring, if Edwards has exhausted all corners of the NFL universe and has no choices, would he consider playing in the CFL, in-particular for the Montreal Alouettes? It has to be a two-way street where there’s interest from both parties.

Under the Marc Trestman regime, he has taken flyers on former NFL players such as O.J. Santiago, Ahman Green, and Jerry Porter. Santiago lasted the longest with the club before he was released midway through the 2010 season, and for the other two, unfortunately injuries derailed any chance of them making the roster.

Let’s fast forward to the present situation with Edwards. By all means, he probably isn’t even thinking about coming north of the border knowing very well it could signal the end of his career. Even though the Alouettes are loaded at the receiver position, they have never said no to any American especially with a NFL background willing to tryout.

With the future of Kerry Watkins unknown whether or not the team would like him back at the salary he is earning, Could anyone imagine Edwards catching touchdown passes, albeit when he’s focused from Anthony Calvillo?

Edwards has the speed and penchant to making highlight reel catches. If he is able to learn the angles of the Canadian game he could flourish playing in this system where the wideout position is very important in the Trestman offense.

It seems like a far fetched scenario. But consider that Trestman can help rectify Edwards’s career because at the age of 28, he is very quickly running out of NFL options. Remember, it was Trestman who spent countless hours helping to reform Tim Tebow’s throwing motion and career. From all indications, Tebow has become an overnight revelation.

Many expect Trestman to honour the last year of his deal with the team. If he opts for the NFL in 2013, he could bring Edwards along with him.

To date, Edwards’s most successful NFL season was in 2008 with the Cleveland Browns, where he amassed; 80 receptions, 1,289 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He has shown glimpses of being a solid player. But the stigma will follow him whether or not he deeply loves this game to go beyond the means to become a great football player.

Maybe a year in exile from the NFL could do him well where he could come up to the CFL and redefine his image, and game. If he does show interest, will the Alouettes take the bait at a signing one of the NFL’s more enigmatic players?

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

NFL Pool Standings into Week 17

1st) Mitch: 38-26 (3-1 last week)

2nd) Stefano: 37-27 (4-0 last week)

3rd: Producer: 36-28 (2-2 last week)

3rd: Matthew: 36-28 (2-2 last week)

5th: Moe: 35-29 (4-0 last week)

6th: Listeners: 31-33 (2-2 last week)

7th: Trexis: 30-34 (1-3 last week)

8th: Sean: 21-43 (3-1 last week)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Why NHL Fans Should Be Worried About 2012 - 2013?

With all Habs fans in a panic over the recent troubles of the team, some fans are calling for the tanking of the season and trading of some key assets in the hopes of preparing for a better 2012 - 2013 season. These fans need to be reminded that before the team gets a makeover starting at the trade deadline in March 2012, the league's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires at the end of season which may hinder the future general manager's efforts.

A key element of the CBA that NHL and Habs fans should be worried about is the salary cap for 2012 - 2013. According to NHL insider for ESPN / TSN, Pierre Lebrun, there are rumblings that the cap is expected to fall. If this will be the case, expect the following:
  • Teams against the cap will need to shed large contracts (i.e., Scott Gomez will be placed in Hamilton.)
  • A lot of face time for Donald Fehr, the new executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association

As compared to former director, Bob Goodnow, Fehr is seen as a hardliner and will not have players cave in as easily as they did in 2005. With this being said, should fans be leery of not having a 2012-2013 season based on CBA posturing?

No; however, if there is going to be a "work stoppage" expect a shorten season (i.e., 60 games). Cancellation of an entire season will not be in the cards due to the following reasons:

  • The league has a solid television "paying" partner in NBC Universal which is attempting to "expose" the game to Americans
  • Positive momentum in key markets such as Toronto, New York and Florida with winning products on the ice
  • The league's willingness to move franchises that owners are abandoning due to financial distress (i.e. Atlanta to Winnipeg)
  • Revenues from Canadian franchises are increasing and will be able to compensate for lack of revenues coming from Phoenix, Columbus, Long Island and Dallas
  • Some owners that have a stake in NBA franchises may not want to go through the same bargaining process with their NHL franchise

The only thing that the NHL and Habs fans should be worried about is how much are they willing to pay for a ticket and beer in 2012-2013. The NHL is and will remain a gate-driven league and as a result, franchises in Canada can continue to milk fans of their money until fans decide not to show up at arenas. The chances of that happening is slim and none.

Related Post(s):

Final Taughts

Follow me @sportstaughts

Friday, 23 December 2011

Time For The Alouettes to Lock Up Jamel Richardson

Heading into the offseason, my curiosity has spiked on the future contract negotiations with CFL all-star Jamel Richardson. The man known as “Optimus Prime” is entering the last year of his deal. I am confident his agent would be open for dialogue on a long-term deal.

But where does it rank on Jim Popp’s to-do list? Historically speaking, very little information is ever released on in-house contract negotiations. So for all we know, a deal may have been consummated already, and they’re just waiting to announce it at the onset of the new CFL calendar.

From a public relations standpoint, it is imperative the team locks up one of their most popular players in the organization’s history. His on-field play has led to his jersey being one of the hottest items for Alouettes fans. Whereas 10-years ago, the only jersey seen in the stands was Anthony Calvillo. Today, it is Richardson’s last name bearing on backs of the partisans.

The team is entering what is likely the final turn for this group of players, does Richardson want to wait and see how it plays out? With the cloudy contract situation of Marc Trestman, the potential last season of Calvillo, and others who might move on, this could be a whole new environment for Richardson if he opts to sign on beyond next year.

Without question, in the last four years, Richardson has put up astronomical numbers playing under Trestman’s offense. To date, no defense has been able to stop him. As a few CFL experts have said, he is the modern day Allen Pitts with his size, physicality, and high football IQ.

To further cement why Richardson is better satistically than Pitts! Comparing Richardson’s first four seasons with the Alouettes against Pitts. He has accumulated 392-receptions, 5390-yards, and 43-touchdowns. Meanwhile, Pitts in his first four years with the Stampeders, totaled 331-receptions, 5303-yards, and 38-touchdowns.

If you’re Richardson, what do you plan on doing? Here is arguably the best player at his position who’s looking for a long-term deal that will pay him well. He has made it known in the past he enjoys the city of Montreal, the fans, and playing with the organization.

History has shown the Alouettes have signed players entering or in their primes. By the time the season starts, Richardson will be 30 years old.

Could Jim Popp look at his age and rank where his production will be in three years time? No doubt, in professional sports all general managers will try to forecast a player’s future potential value. Historically speaking, from what I have been told, Popp tends to offer deals with a lot of peformance bonus incentives (i.e. if we make the Grey Cup, you will earn an extra $18,000). Is this the route he will take with Richardson?

If Richardson opts to test the market, he could command a hefty offer from a team such as the Argonauts, who he is very familiar and has a close connection with Scott Milanovich being the leader of the ship.

Let’s not forget the newly minted Grey Cup champions will have a hole at receiver if and when Geroy Simon decides to hang it up. Right now, their future looks bright with a young quarterback in Travis Lulay, and a good energetic group of receivers.

But will Jim Popp give a fair offer? For example, in the past at Richardson’s position, he allowed former Alouette receivers, Chris Armstrong, Jermaine Copeland and Kwame Cavil walk in the prime of their careers because he felt they weren’t worth the value they sought. Could this scenario apply to Richardson when it is time to negotiate a new contract?

For all the accolades Richardson has garnered, he is entering an unknown period on whether the nucleus will be intact for the next few years. There are a lot of questions that he and his family will have to figure out, including finding the best situation and seeking out fair compensation.

Quite frankly, if the Alouettes wish to remain relevant with the next generation of fans, they need to jumpstart negotiations with one of the CFL’s most popular figures.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

NFL Pool Picks for Week 16

NYJ -3.5 vs NYG

SD +2.5 at DET

PHI +2.5 at DAL

ATL +6.5 at NO

Matthew: NYG, SD, DAL, NO
Producer: NYG, SD, DAL, NO
Stefano: NYG, DET, PHI, NO
Listener (Stef): NYJ, SD, PHI, NO
Mitch: NYJ, DET, PHI, NO
Trexis: NYJ, SD, PHI, ATL
Sean: NYG, SD, PHI, NO

NFL Pool Standings going into Week 16

1st: Mitch: 35-25 (3-1 last week)

2nd: Producer: 34-26 (1-3 last week)

2nd: Matthew: 34-26 (3-1 last week)

4th: Stefano: 33-27 (2-2 last week)

5th: Moe: 31-29 (2-2 last week)

6th: Trexis: 29-31 (2-2 last week)

6th: Listeners: 29-31 (4-0 last week)

8th: Sean: 18-42 (1-3 last week)

The Future of Dwight Anderson With The Alouettes?

Heading into the offseason, an unanswered question that’s still a mystery is the future of Dwight Anderson with the Alouettes.

Last February, the addition of Anderson was heralded as “the rich getting richer,” as it provided another weapon in the Alouettes secondary. However, pundits said “buyer beware” as some wondered could any staff member handle this expressive player?

No doubt Anderon was at his best when he played for the Calgary Stampeders. From what I was told by my source close to his former team, they knew how to handle and get him to play at his full potential everyday.

Back in May, current Hamilton Tiger-Cat, and former Alouette, Avon Cobourne, said on my show, good luck to the Alouettes in handling of Anderson.

Did the great potential outweigh the risks of having a player on-board who might be a problem? Without question it did, because in the past, they got the best out of the controversial former NFLer, Lawrence Phillips. That resulted in bringing their first Grey Cup back to Montreal in 2002.

This past season, there were a couple of on-field penalties that was caught on camera that did not shed a good light on Anderson. Then there was the alleged spitting incident in Hamilton in which he was later cleared. This was unchartered territory for this team, as they never had this much negative attention on one player.

Off the field, Anderson was always a class act, exuding his bright smile with the media taking time out of his busy schedule to converse before he would leave the complex.

But, as first reported by this scribe and confirmed by many sources close to the team, there was an apparent disagreement with Anderson and the staff on some internal issues that resulted in him being sent home.

Shortly thereafter, representatives from Anderon’s camp issued a statement saying he was sent home due to an injury, not because of the supposed incident being mentioned.

Finally esteemed writer, Herb Zurkowsky of The Gazette wrote and cemented what I had mentioned on-air about Anderson, that there was an apparent disagreement with him and management.

Now the issue is what to do with Anderson? Sportsnet CFL insider and writer, Perry Lefko tweeted that Anderson to the Roughriders would be a perfect fit because of relationship with new head coach Corey Chamblin, who coached him with the Stampeders.

Would the Roughriders bite on Anderson? This is a team coming off their rollercoaster season in which they fired their coach midway through the season, their key players were injured, and essentially have to remake their image.

In speaking to a source close to the Alouettes, a lot of the guys enjoyed Anderson, and would like him back on the roster. Now, will it sway the vote for management to keep him? Popp is entering an offseason with more holes to fill than Ste. Catherine Street. After less than a year from signing him to a contract, does he want to risk the embarrassment of trading or releasing a player he paid handsomely, due to a bad first year experience?

If the option exists to rid of his services, what value does he have in the trade market? Clearly, the Alouettes, and Anderson got off to a rough start. Is it rectifiable for him to come back? It depends on who will blink first, Anderson’s camp, or the team in stating their intentions.

Right now, the Anderson question is shroud in mystery. No one knows the direction of Alouettes management, or Anderson’s camp. But one thing is for certain – he does have a CFL future, but where?

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Monday, 19 December 2011

O'Shea Going to the Alouettes?

According to RDS’s Didier OrmeJuste on his Twitter handle (@44DidierRDS), the Alouettes have interviewed Argonauts special teams coach Mike O’Shea for the very same position in Montreal.

First reaction, is this move by the Alouettes a mind game they’re playing with their 401 rivals? Especially after they swooped in for two of their coaches?

Ultimately, O’Shea is looking to become a head coach in this league. He has done wonders with the Argonauts special teams unit by making them relevant in games when their offense disappeared. I am sure star player Chad Owens will acknowledge that O’Shea has been instrumental in developing him into a multi-faceted player in this league.

But is this really an upgrade for O’Shea to come to Montreal? The probability of winning a Grey Cup does increase especially considering the Alouettes are always perennial contenders.

However, let’s be honest, how many of you knew who the special teams coach was with the Alouettes? Probably not many! On the other hand, everyone knew O’Shea’s job with the Argonauts. So automatically, by adding a name of his stature will bring respect to this unit. Furthermore, it might entice a few free agents to sign on with the Alouettes.

Let’s not forget, in 2012, half the league’s teams will have a new leader. So if it doesn’t work out to land a head coaching gig. The odds of him getting one in 2013 is very slim considering the holdovers from last year in John Hufnagel, Paul Lapolice, Kavis Reed, and Trestman are firmly entrenched at their position.

Now the scenario that could play out is that O’Shea accepts the Montreal offer. Then in-turn, if Trestman opts to go back south to coach in the NFL or NCAA, then O’Shea could have the inside track to become the future head leader for the team.

If O’Shea plays his cards correct, he could fetch a high salary from the Argos or Alouettes. Considering all season long, the Alouettes special teams were horrendous as they didn’t return a kickoff or punt for a touchdown. In the last two Grey Cup runs, they can credit their special teams for making a game-changing play. It was obvious they were missing that link during the season to be the difference maker.
O’Shea will surely exhaust the head coaching vacancies until further notice.

But if he doesn’t get one this year, his value will go up for when he negotiates a contract with the Argonauts, or Alouettes to potentially be apart of their organization. Stay tuned!

You can follow me on Twitter; @MoeKhan19

Sunday, 18 December 2011

One Step Forward... Two Steps Back.

Yesterday the Montreal Canadiens fired their head coach, Jacques Martin. For full disclosure, I was never carrying a pitchfork with the rest of the mob calling for the head of The Count. He has a long, successful track record as an NHL head coach and brought the Canadiens as far into the playoffs as they've been since they last won the Cup. Of course, his tactics never impressed the fans and was doomed to be unpopular from the start; even more so after seeing the Habs let Guy Boucher and Kirk Muller walk away in consecutive seasons.

While I never thought Martin earned the vitriol directed his way, such is life as the Canadiens head coach. If you haven't won the Cup within two or three years, don't answer that 6:00 AM phone call. (Or if you're an assistant coach, stay on the ice a little extra after that game day skate. At least until the GM leaves.) But more importantly, just like no one should be untouchable in a trade, if management thinks it can improve a team by bringing in another head coach, by all means do so. Clearly, there is room for improvement. Unfortunately, this is also where the problem lies. They did not improve.

Randy Cunneyworth seems like a fine man and had a distinguished playing career. A "real hockey guy" as we're sure to hear repeatedly. And he's more than earned his chance to be an NHL head coach after almost ten seasons running an AHL bench. I just don't think the time and place are right now and Montreal. The last three coaches they've hired with no NHL coaching experience (Alain Vigneault, Michel Therrien, Claude Julien) lasted an average of three seasons each and aside from a few playoff upsets, didn't have all that much success. And all have gone onto the Cup final with another team. This simply isn't the right town to bring in a rookie head coach unless he has a PhD in Habsology (Carbo, Muller) or has a clear force of nature personality (Boucher).

When people said the Kaberle trade reeked of desperation, it's only because they caught an early whiff of this move. If you're going to make a coaching change, you don't just hand the team over to the dearly departed's assistant. Hell, Cunneyworth even played for Martin in Ottawa. All signs point to a disciple. But what bothers me most of all about of this is that Gauthier immediately announced that Cunneyworth is interim head coach for the rest of the season. Why would you limit yourself like that? If the right coach is out there then you go get him now. The Ducks didn't hesitate to fire Randy Carlyle and bring in Bruce Boudreau once he was available. The Kings never promised John Stevens the whole year and worked something out with Darryl Sutter. In contrast, the Habs decided Martin shouldn't coach but they aren't sure what to do next and they need another five or six months to think about it. It's one thing to have a direction and stick to it for better or worse. To shrug your shoulders and throw your hands in the air is entirely unacceptable and exposes the higher management as unwilling to do what's necessary to both win at all costs and to dedicate resources to future seasons.

Most pundits seem to agree that naming Cunneyworth for the rest of the season is meant to give him a chance to succeed. That's bullshit. It's purely because Geoff Molson doesn't have enough faith in Pierre Gauthier to go out and hire another head coach. You don't need sources to figure that out. And if Molson doesn't have enough confidence in Gauthier to do his job, he should have taken him out back as well. As far as I can tell, there has been no real reason to like or dislike the current Molson era until now. Unfortunately, he's earned himself a detractor as he's seen fit to leave the good ship CH rudderless the rest of the season.

The most disturbing part of last night's loss to the Devils is that the man who should have been coaching the Habs was standing right behind the bench. It was just on the visitor's side. And if someone from Habs management didn't give Larry Robinson a wink and a handshake last night, then they simply aren't doing their job properly.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Firing Jacques Martin only part of Solution

For the record, let me state that I was never a big fan of Jacques Martin as the Habs' head coach. I found his system suffocating and brutal for any fan of the team to watch. I also didn't agree with his blind loyalty to under-performing veterans while showing a lack of patience with young players.

Do I think Martin is a bad coach? No, I don't. When you look at his overall record of wins and losses with the team he had in Montreal, you can't say he's terrible. You can say though, that he made a lot of questionable decisions as a coach and that his system hasn't been effective this season.

Having said all that, I was all for going in a new direction at head coach. However, this won't magically solve the bigger problem lying with the Montreal Canadiens.

The bigger problem is the notion that they MUST make the playoffs every season. That makes the job tough on any general manager looking to build a perennial cup contender. Look at Pierre Gauthier. Has he made a lot of head-scratching decisions? Of course. However when your job is on the line and if you don't make the playoffs, you're out, of course management is going to ignore future problems and reach the playoffs right now.

Judging from what I've seen from Geoff Molson thus far, he's looking at making the money back that he spent when he bought the Canadiens, which was over $500 million. The way he'll make the money back is if the team's in the playoffs every year. That's a lot of pressure to put on management to make it every year to the dance, even if it's as a 7th or 8th seed.

The truth is, things have to get worse before they get better in Montreal. The organization needs to change it's philosophy and be patient with its young players and build around them. The priority for the Habs should be locking up their blue chip players for the future. Locking up Carey Price, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty should be the priority, but instead they're only thinking up until April and not thinking 3-5 years down the road.

The best trade the Habs have made in the last decade was not giving up youth and draft picks for a veteran; it was the opposite. The organization's best trade was trading Craig Rivet to the Sharks for a youngster named Josh Gorges and a 1st round pick that turned out to be Max Pacioretty. Obviously that took a stroke of luck as well, but it's a prime example of thinking ahead, and now you can make the argument that Pacioretty is the team's best forward and Gorges is the best defenceman.

Again, for the Habs to truly be a cup contender, they need the right personnel. They don't have it, due to constantly overlooking the future to salvage a single season. That philosophy hasn't worked and won't ever work.

Look at the Edmonton Oilers. As a Canadiens fan, which team would you rather have? Habs will probably make the playoffs this year, the Oilers may not. But since Edmonton has been patient and built from within, and have been terrible for a few years, they've locked up the best prospects. They're going to be a scary team soon and are already a thrill to watch.

So in essence, I believe the Canadiens took a step in the right direction today, but there are many steps to go before this team raises number 25.

follow me @smocella9

Why Canadiens fired Jacques Martin and what Randy Cunneyworth will do for Habs

Deer - meet headlights
First, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not a so-called insider, nor do I pretend to know what the Montreal Canadiens are thinking in firing Jacques Martin and replacing him with assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth. These are merely educated hockey assumptions. See, unlike some of my blowhard media cohorts who claim to know why certain things are done, the truth is NO ONE ever knows why the Canadiens do anything. They're so tight-lipped, they should also be the keepers of the Caramilk secret.

Here's what we do know. Martin liked his veterans and always reluctantly played his youth, unless pressed into it. We also know that whenever his team got a lead, NO ONE was permitted to push the tempo, EVER! And the man loved to juggle his lines. I'm sure players were known to get dizzy under his stewardship. Finally,  with Martin, it was also about how players played without the puck. Heaven forbid he acknowledge how they play with it.

So why Cunneyworth? Well, he's already there and under contract, did a great job in Hamilton last year, knows some of the younger players well from his time with them last season in the AHL and he's got character and leadership skills. He'll trust the younger players on this team a little more than Martin, who played Louis Leblanc an astounding 50 seconds following his Thursday first NHL goal versus Philadelphia. And Mathieu Darche got 17 minutes. That's right. Mathieu Darche.

What I love about Cunneyworth is that he is unpolished from a media perspective. You saw him looking like a deer in the headlights in the media, meaning we might get some slip-up sound bytes, very uncharacteristic of a Habs coach in recent years. He was banging his hand on the press conference table and making noise unbeknownst to him. Hey Randy - there's a mic on. You can't be sighing deeply into a mic. We CAN hear you!

This should get interesting. I still say you jettison some vets and get some high picks, tanking the season to possibly get a top five June draft selection. Look at what happened the last time they got one in 2005 - Carey Price.

The jury is still out, the future is unknown and Cunneyworth has some French lessons to take. Can you imagine, the second question today at the press conference was about him not speaking French. Talk about petty from the French media. Get a grip and give the guy some time.

Follow me @gamepointsradio

We are on TSN 990 Radio in Montreal 6pm this Sunday.

Holiday Gifts and Wishes For All On The Montreal Sports Landscape

As we approach the holiday season, I would like to take the time to express my gratitude to the people and organizations that make the sport landscape in Montreal so great. The following list are my “would be gifts” and best wishes.

(Please Note: Do not take these seriously. They are meant to mock. I mock because I like, well at least sometimes).
  • To Moe Khan of TSN Radio 990, pleated slacks.
  • To The Montreal Canadiens, qualifying for the NHL playoffs.
  • To The Montreal Impact, the Canadiens not qualifying for the NHL playoffs. (Please read, "A Test Of Impact For The Montreal Sports Fanatic")
  • To Matthew Ross, an embargo on Habs' Tuesday night games for the next six years.
  • To Pierre Gauthier, this.
  • To Jack Todd, an email address at The Montreal Gazette.
  • To the AM radio station on Fort St., the radio rights to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (Local sports radio highlights are not the same without hearing "Shutout buster")
  • To The Montreal Alouettes, God telling Tim Tebow to take his talents to Mont Royal.
  • To Elliott Price, an extended vacation for Dave Randorf. (Figure it out)
  • To Dwight Walton, the Lakers finishing ahead of the Clippers.
  • To Concordia University Football, a winning program.
  • To McGill Redmen Football, a win.
  • To Mitch Melnick, another historical partnership agreement between, BCE and Rogers. A deal which allow Stephen Brunt to return to Melnick In The Afternoon and have “Louis” from Ville Mercier call Bob McGown.
  • To TVA Sports, content.
  • To Randy Tieman, the ability to keep his secret on how he can be on the radio and television at the same time between 12:55 and 1pm.
  • To Norman Flynn, employment with the Habs which will substantiate his use of the pronoun, "We" on The Montreal Forum.
  • To Jesse Marsh, a gift certificate. (Sorry, I don't know you that well.)
  • To Jacques Martin, a tablet, specifically, a Blackberry Playbook. (Hey, they are on sale.)
  • To Randy Cunneyworth, a membership card to the PQ to be used as a bookmark for his new Bescherelle.
  • To the person responsible for the airing of the spots on TSN Radio 990, the power to delete the promo with John Bowman of the Als for Melnick In The Afternoon.
  • To Anthony Calvillo, the missing segment of the video tribute from "a" Brett Favre.
  • To Marc Trestman, his own radio show. Co-host, Moe Khan. (Please read, "Will Marc Trestman Be The Alouettes Head Coach Past 2012?"
  • To university baseball, fans.
  • To Andie Bennett, a Merry Christmas.
  • To Jim Popp, a winning quarterback for 2013.
  • To Tony Marinaro, candies.
  • To Shaun Star, have "#licketysplit" trending on Twitter 24/7/365
  • To listeners of the AM radio on Fort St., a decent sports cast weekday morning.
  • To dyslexic fans of sports talk radio in Montreal, a radio with no dial, just an on/off switch.

Final Taughts…

No wonder Kobe is pissed. Anyone see how snippy Kobe Bryant got during a press scrum regarding the trade of Lamar Odom?

The guy wasn’t pissed at the trade, he was pissed because he just found out that he has NO PRENUP. NO PRENUB, C’mon Kobe!!!

Well Done Mike!!! So Mike Milbury goes off on a 12 year old kid at his son’s game? Well done Mike. Say goodbye NBC and CBC, hello TMZ.

Follow me on Twitter : @sportstaughts

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Will Marc Trestman Be The Alouettes Head Coach Past 2012?

We’re in the following days concluding the 2011 CFL campaign! A lot has transpired in the coaching ranks where 50 percent of the league will have a new field general patrolling the sidelines in 2012.

However, to take a closer look at the current Alouettes situation in the aftermath raid by the Argonauts, as they were able to poach Scott Milanovich, and Jonathan Himebauch to their staff, one has to wonder where does Marc Trestman stand entering the last year of his contract?

In the last two media sessions of the year, he declined all questions related to his status. He would not reveal any details of his future plans with the team.

To look at his body of work, it is peculiar that a coach of his ilk, who arguably has had the best start to a CFL coaching career by going to three consecutive Grey Cups and winning two in a row, has he not been locked up to a long-term deal.

Entering the last year of his deal is Trestman bracing for serious changes to overall landscape of this team in 2013?

His career has been best intertwined with Anthony Calvillo, whom he transformed and rectified the future CFL hall of fame’s career. Calvillo is entering the final turn of his career, so maybe Trestman sees this upcoming year as his last run at potentially winning a Grey Cup with the old warhorse?

If Calvillo indeed retires at the end of the 2012 season, does Trestman want to cash in on his very high stock to go back south?

Ever since his first year with the Alouettes, his name had linked to various NFL and NCAA jobs. In 2010, his former alma mater, the University of Minnesota, was searching for a head coach. Many felt he had a strong chance to get the job.

According to those who are close to the program, he was the choice of many important alumni members because of the success he had at that point with the Alouettes. Of course the job ended going to former Northern Illinois head man, Jerry Kill.

Moving forward, 2011 was a trying year for Trestman. Throughout the season, there were tense moments with the media pertaining to personnel, play-calling, and overall team’s desire amidst their slump.

At times, it seemed that Trestman, who runs the Alouettes ship like an NFL team, where little information is revealed, allowed his guard down. It was highly uncharacteristic of a coach who prides himself on having the correct answer for any question posed to him.

The start of the 2012 season is many months away. But looking at the core of guys on this roster, many key figures are entering the last year of their deals, or potentially contemplating retirement. Remember in the CFL, not everyone is blessed to have financial security playing in this league.

Therefore, a lot of players have second jobs for extra income. As a result, some players opt to hang up their cleats and move on from football.

One has to contemplate will Trestman want to stick around if key employees are not going to be there in 2013? Already he has lost his lieutenant in Milanovich, and important support staff in Himebauch.

The 2012 campaign could go a long way in determining the fate of Trestman. If he views this as so-called transition year where the team might not fair well, maybe he cashes in on his stock and takes the first job that is offered to him down south. Thus, he will be leaving an immense legacy that will be hard to duplicate for the next coach that will come in after him. Time will only tell.

Give me a follow on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Realignment: An NHL Tradition

Did you have mixed emotions when the NHL announced it’s new realignment? Do you think it’s weird the Florida teams basically got thrown into the Northeast Division? Are you confused by divisions being called conferences? It’s okay, everyone is a little confused by the division/conference dilemma/conundrum, but rest assured anything else you feel is perfectly normal (historically speaking) for a fan of the National Hockey League.

A quick look through the record books would show that since the days of the Original Six, the NHL has almost constantly toyed with its lineup of teams. In fact, this current season ended the longest stretch since 1967 without any expansion, relocation or realignment. As Kurt Angle would say, “It’s true… It’s true.” The last expansion teams were the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000. Eleven years later, the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and blissfully disturbed the status quo. Previously, the longest stretch was nine years from 1982 to 1991, which book-ended the Colorado Rockies heading to New Jersey and the Sharks washing ashore in San Jose. Between those two periods of stability, many franchises played both geographical and divisional musical chairs for the better part of the 90’s.

Any real hockey fan in their late twenties and older has fond memories of the Campbell and Prince of Wales conferences and longs for the days when teams weren’t clinically cut into puzzle pieces on a map. How can one possibly grow attached to division names inspired by a compass? But even the familiar names of Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe were not always what we remember them as. For instance, imagine a Norris division of Montreal, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Washington… playing in the Prince of Wales conference… before the Norris and Patrick divisions swapped conferences in 1981. I assure you, someone just read that and couldn’t decide between looking it up on Wikipedia or getting a Kleenex to stop his brain from bleeding out his nose.

Here's a quick reminder on what we're in for next season...





Upon further inspection, the new four conference system is actually a little bit of genius. It creates some new and really exciting possibilities, not the least of which is the rumoured and most logical playoff structure given the schematic they’ve put in place. It would finally do what none of the other big four sports have figured out: Have almost any two teams face off in the championship final. Once every conference has a champion, they would re-seed the four teams and the two left standing would play for the Stanley Cup. Montreal-Philadelphia? Vancouver-Chicago? Winnipeg-Phoenix? When it comes to the Cup, anything can happen now. To me, that’s the real beauty of the NHL’s future structure.

It’s also comically easy to play with the groupings should relocation or expansion occur, since the four conferences are essentially independent from one another. There is no East or West umbrella covering the divisions, which explains why they are no longer referred to as “divisions”. Someone moved to Quebec? Cool, take your rightful spot in sorta Northeast! Expansion in Kansas City? No problem, do you want to be rivals with St. Louis or Colorado, we can make some room by moving Columbus!

Of course, the conferences are currently named A, B, C and D. Barring an unprecedented surge in the alphabet’s popularity, they will be renamed before the start of the 2012-2013 season. The only question is whether or not they will stick with the bland geographical titles or pay tribute to more former greats. Public opinion clearly favours the latter and I count myself among the public. If I were the NHL, I’d hold an online voting campaign to name the new conferences, much like the All Star vote. And also like the All Star vote, I’d disregard any actual votes and rig it in the league’s best interests. It’s pretty simple really. Gretzky, Howe, Orr and Lemieux. Even the players themselves represent a team (or two) in each conference. Done and done.

The big gripe I've heard about this realignment is that it's gonna get boring playing the same teams all the time. Well, that's already the case. No one is going to be playing in their conference any more than they're already playing in their division. However, it greatly narrows the possible playoff opponents. The reality is, that although there is never a perfect system, the NHL has never been afraid of tinkering or revamping itself. While fate has never given us all the long awaited Montreal-Toronto matchup, the odds are much better that one day soon we'll be watching the Habs and Buds duking it out for the Bobby Orr Trophy while Bruins fans bemoan the sacrilege of it all. And that's something everyone can enjoy.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Alouettes Free Agent Priorities

As the CFL enters the dead of winter, I have decided to rank the soon-to-be-free agents on the Alouettes roster. I have prioritized each player and given them a percentage as whether or not they will be back in an Alouettes uniform in 2012.
Please be aware, so many variables have to be considered, as the Alouettes could go in any direction and not even offer a contract. But as winter progresses towards free agency in February, some of these names might be signed before the period begins.

But it is always amusing to speculate on the future of this team.

1. Marc-Olivier Brouillette: Without question, this should be Jim Popp’s first order of business in re-signing one of the rising players in the CFL. It has been a seamless transformation from being a CIS quarterback to playing defense in the CFL. As one of his old football coaches told me about him, “The kid picks up things fast.” In 2012, he has a great chance to get more playing time. Beyond his on-field capabilities, Brouillette could be the local face of the franchise in the community. He is well spoken in both official languages. He has gone through the minor league, CEGEP, and CIS systems to now becoming a role model for the next generation of football players to follow in his footsteps.

Odds: 98-percent chance he comes back, unless he is blown away by another offer.

2. Scott Flory: When Bryan Chiu opted to retire on the eve of the 2010 training camp, Flory became the dean of the offensive line. He is well respected and looked up for guidance by his younger cohorts. Yes, he is entering the last stages of his professional career. But his ability to play and know every position on the offensive line has made him an integral part of this team. This club still needs the veteran presence. Flory can provide it for the next couple of years.

Odds: 100-percent chance he comes back. He loves this team, city, and is well respected in the community.

3. Jermaine Mcelveen: He is in an intriguing situation. Throughout his Alouettes career, he has shown glimpses of his potential. However, in 2011, he was banged up throughout the course of the season. As mentioned in the local papers, he wasn’t too thrilled about the very limited playing time he received towards the end of the season. He does have NFL tryouts lined up during the winter. But given his size, would the Alouettes be content to let him walk away to a rival CFL team? If he stays for the long-term, he could replace Anwar Stewart, and become more relevant in the system.

Odds: 75-percent chance he returns, unless he is holding out for a big payday from the NFL, or better offer from another CFL team.

4. Etienne Boulay: This is a tricky state of affairs. He didn’t get off to a good start in training camp when whispers were abounding of him not being in the best shape. During the season, Boulay was placed on injured reserve after suffering an upper body injury. He wasn’t seen or spoken of until a few days after the season was completed where he came on television to clear up, and explain his side of the story. The Alouettes secondary was decimated by injuries. It was greatly felt at the safety position where rookie Jeff Hecht wasn’t as effective. I believe Boulay will be back. But what salary will Popp offer him? Will it be incentive based performance, or will he ask the local product to take a pay cut?

Odds: 70-percent chance he returns. However, if Jim Popp will lowball him, there are suitors out there for him. Especially in Toronto where two of his former coaches Scott Milanovich and Chris Jones are there.

5. Mark Estelle: He suffered a terrible knee injury against Calgary. The irony, when he went down, the secondary started to give up big plays. Estelle is considered to be one of the premier cornerbacks in the league. At 31-years old, I fully expect him to re-sign with the team. But would defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar ask him to move to safety to alleviate any wear and tear on his body? The example that can be looked upon is former Alouette Barron Miles, who made the transition to safety. Miles will surely be a future CFL hall of famer. Estelle is a quiet leader, but he has all the tools to make the shift to safety where he would have more opportunities to ball hawk.

Odds: 80-percent he returns. If he is 100-percent healthy, it could up his value. But it will not shock me to see other suitors who might make a play on him.

6. Paul Woldu: He has been highly regarded as a bright player in the CFL. Unfortunately, given the rash of injuries on the team, he was thrust into a situation to play cornerback where at times he looked a bit uncomfortable. Given that he is Canadian and that he can play special teams very well, Woldu will be a valuable free agent. It will not surprise me to see his home province Saskatchewan Roughriders call him up.

Odds: 50-percent, this could go either way. If he plays his cards right, he could command a bigger payday. But it might be hard not to listen to the Roughriders offer.

7. Eric Deslauriers: One of the classiest players on the roster. Deslauriers has always been a media favorite because he gives well thought out answers. On the field, he has fallen into the numbers game. Given the receiving position is their strongest and deepest group occupied by Americans, it has been tough for him get any significant playing time. Even though he did catch Anthony Calvillo’s touchdown record mark, and had a huge catch in the East semi-finals. But will that be enough to sway him to re-sign and be a backup again? With his size and non-import status, it will be tough to say no to other suitors.

Odds: 55-percent, very tough for Canadians to get any significant playing time at receiver on this team. The Argonauts could be calling his name since they’re in dire need of Canadian content.

8. Jeff Robertshaw: An excellent role player. He had his moments making plays for this team. He did get banged up during the season which slowed his development. Next June, there will be intense competition for spots on the defensive front. He doesn’t have much leverage in commanding a big deal; therefore, he might have to accept what is given to him.

Odds: 65-percent he returns. What else can a backup Canadian defensive lineman command on the open market?

9. Walter Spencer: Quite a career with the Alouettes. He has earned his mark as special-teams demon for this football team. However, at 33-years old, does he want to endure another grueling season? This could go many ways, he could re-sign with the Alouettes, look elsewhere if he doesn’t get a contract he desires, or simply retire.

Odds: no line, very tough to gauge where his mind is at this very moment.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

NFL Pool Games for Week 15

Detroit -1.5 at Oakland

New England -6.5 at Denver

Baltimore -2.5 at San Diego

Pittsburgh +1.5 at San Francisco

Matthew: OAK, NE, SD, PIT
Producer: DET, DEN, SD, PIT
Stefano: DET, NE, BAL, SF
Listener (Simon): OAK, NE, SD, SF
Mitch: OAK, NE, BAL, SF
Trexis: DET, NE, SD, PIT

NFL Pool Standings going into Week 15

1st) Producer: 33-23 (2-2 last week)

2nd) Mitch : 32-24 (2-2 last week)

3rd) Matthew: 31-25 (2-2 last week)
3rd) Stefano: 31-25 (2-2 last week)

5th) Moe: 29-27 (2-2 last week)

6th) Trexis: 27-29 (2-2 last week)

7th) Listeners: 25-31 (1-3 last week)

8th) Sean: 17-39 (0-4 last week)

McPherson Looking To Spread his Wings

Will McPherson finally get to start in 2012?
Here are my CFL thoughts on reports that Alouettes quarterback Adrian McPherson has received permission to seek out a trade with another CFL team. Quite frankly, I do not blame the backup pivot in his pursuit to become a starting quarterback.

McPherson has patiently waited for the last few years, holding off the likes of Chris Leak, Tyler Palko and Ricky Santos, to be the heir apparent to Anthony Calvillo’s throne.

After each practice, as the media congregation would patiently wait for Calvillo to conduct his Q&A, there went McPherson, politely saying hello to everyone he walked by before leaving the complex.

One had to ponder what was going through his mind? Yes, in the last few years, he was getting a “Harvard” education in learning from three professors in Marc Trestman, Scott Milanovich, and Calvillo. He was just like a teenager hoping to get the keys for the very first time from dad (Trestman) to drive the family car. But, was Trestman willing to give him the Ferrari?

We saw glimpses of McPherson driving for a couple blocks when he would come on for short yardage situations, and the occasional spot duty. But did it enable Trestman to firmly believe that he is the man to carry the torch from Calvillo?

Throughout the season, even right up to the last media session, McPherson had said all the correct answers about the team, Calvillo, and his role.

However, in the weeks after the season, I was informed from a source close to the team that McPherson was potentially looking for a bigger task on this squad. Let’s not forget, Calvillo did mention in the very same media session he was open to the idea of McPherson having more of a role in 2012.

Can you blame him for wanting to be more involved? Absolutely not, because football is one sport where there is a small window of opportunity to maximize your dollar value. In this case, he might have felt that the clock is ticking on his ability to get a long-term deal that would allow him to be a starter, and get fairly compensated as the number one guy on the roster.

If you survey the quarterback situation across the CFL, there is one potential landing spot in Hamilton. Already, Toronto has pulled the trigger to acquire Ricky Ray from Edmonton. Let's not forget about Henry Burris who is all but done with Calgary. So where does McPherson rank with Burris who is a former Grey Cup winner?

For McPherson’s sake, he has to understand that whoever he seeks a trade with, Alouettes general manager, Jim Popp will demand a boatload of compensation for him. Is there any team willing to give that up to an unproven, but yet great potential in this quarterback?

As much as I don’t fault him in wanting a chance to be a starter, there isn’t much leverage he has in his pursuit. Popp knows that, therefore, he has the pull in dictating where his backup pivot will end up.

By all means, McPherson has demonstrated being a team player. But if McPherson is willing to wait another 12-months, he could potentially see the greatest CFL quarterback retire into the sunset. Finally, he would be given the keys to the Ferrari that he has dreamt about driving for the last three years.

You can follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Epic Story Tim Tebow is Writing

I was contemplating last night why I'm such a fan of the epic story Tim Tebow is in the process of writing. I am by no means a Broncos fan as the Cowboys own my heart (insert your own joke here). I am not a religious man in any sense though I respect the right of others to devote themselves to a faith. I don't particularly have an appreciation for the way Tebow plays the game seeing as he sets the quarterback position back by a solid 40 years. So what is it? Why do I root for this fullback masquerading around as a quarterback? Then it hit me.

Tebow epitomizes the reason I love sports. I have been about as passionate a sports fan as you can be for a solid 15 years now and the thing I love the most about it is that you never stop seeing something you've never seen before. I live for those stories and moments that force me to tell my eyes to believe what they're seeing.

Post-game yesterday, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher gave Tebow a rather back-handed compliment, calling him "a really good running back". While disrespectful, Urlacher is right. Tebow uses a throwing motion that you only generally see from a punter trying to hit a running back in the flat on a fake kick. But who cares? Call him a mediocre quarterback, a glorified running back, Cinderella man, overrated, call him whatever you want but he's also a winner and a leader and right now, the Broncos wouldn't ask for anything more.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the rather large hand the Broncos defense has played in this epic run of six straight wins. In a weird way, Tebow's overall incompetence at the quarterback position has probably motivated this defense as they know that for about 58 minutes each game, it's up to that unit to keep their team in the game. Whatever the case may be, this odd recipe the Broncos have thrown together is making for one delicious meal.

This Sunday, the Broncos face the mighty New England Patriots, easily Tebow's biggest test to date. Tebow, with God clearly in his corner, will be going up against Tom Brady, someone many aspiring quarterbacks refer to as their own God. To date, Tebow has already converted many non-football fans to the sport. If he manages to pull off another miracle on Sunday, he may very well start converting football fans to Christianity.

Follow Me On Twitter @HeyMyNameIsWill

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Habs Are Better Than You Think

Yes, you read that title correctly. I am about to defend the Montreal Canadiens and tell you why they'll make the playoffs and why they'll be tough to eliminate. I know the hip thing to do is scream from the rooftops that the sky is falling, but if you think about it, you might realize the glass is half full. And no, it's not because I drank half a glass of Kool-Aid.

I'll get the obvious negatives out of the way first. Clearly, the powerplay is not working well. They're producing goals at a measly 11.8% rate with the man advantage, which is good for 28th in the NHL. In fact, if you negate the 5 shorthanded goals they've given up from their powerplay total, it drops to 7.6%. They would then be 29th in the NHL for the nifty PP statistic I just made up. The word abysmal isn't strong enough to describe it. It's abysmally abysmal. On top of that, there's the nasty habit they have of blowing leads, especially after scoring first. They have now lost 11 games (and counting) in which they've held the lead.

So why don't those problems bother me? Because the Habs are so good at playing 1-man down that it's actually making up for the power play. If you combine their 11.8% PP and 89.3% PK you get more than 100%. To me, that's a better indication of where their special teams are at. Teams don't just live and die with the PP, they live and die with special teams. Not to mention, after years of struggling 5-on-5, they are actually a plus team at even strength. Want to know something else? They're also averaging more shots/game than their opponents. Looking at their team stats, the only conclusion you can draw is that they're a competitive team who simply are not capitalizing on their opportunities.

Speaking of not capitalizing on opportunities, the Habs have blown leads in 11 of their 18 losses. Now, I do not recall any team ever having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory so often, which leads me to believe this is only an aberration. Please, correct me if I'm wrong. I couldn't find a historical statistic. I just simply can't believe that at the end of the season a team would actually have a lead in 60% of their losses. That either means they're gonna quit blowing it or simply lose games outright. And as long as Carey Price is around, they're not going to be losing too many games outright. He's more than keeping the team in every game and played well enough to steal a couple. It might not be at the near-Vezina level it was a year ago, but no one in the league plays more games at a higher level than he does.

Does anyone really think Michael Cammalleri will get worse? Or that P.K. Subban will not find his stride? Sure, Travis Moen's production will trail off, I'll give you that. But players like Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller are only getting better. Heck, Pacioretty just needs to stay the course. And can I get odds on Eller breaking out in the last 40 games, much like Tomas Plekanec (the player he looks up to the most and is often compared to) did in the latter half of his own 2nd NHL season?

Let's not forget the Bell Centre faithful's fiercest fan favourite, Alexei Emelin. It only took him a perfectly reasonable 20 games to get his timing down in the NHL and now he's leaving a trail of broken bodies in his wake. People are also forgetting just how young this defense corp is. Jacques Martin has stressed in press conferences because it's true. He might deploy some mind numbing coaching strategies, but in another year where injuries have hit the team hard, they continue to be tough to play against.

This team could have quit a long time ago. They could have packed it up to get the coach fired. Instead, since the 1-5-2 start, they are actually 11-6-5. That's not a team that has quit on it's coach. Granted, they pull no shows against the cellar dwellers, but since Bob Gainey assembled most of this squad, they especially refuse to go away when you expect them to. Psychologically, the OT losses may be taking a toll, but mathematically those extra points are adding up to keep that 8th seed within arm's reach. As soon as they rip off that inevitable 3 game streak or go 5-for-6, they'll be sitting around 6th place and everyone will be patting each other on the back saying they knew it all along.

If you think this team should tank, go take a look at the rosters of any Canadiens season between 1999 and 2002. Those are teams that should have been scrapped to rebuild long term. This team just has too much to tear down. It's like imploding a skyscraper that's already reached the 50th floor because you want to redesign the bathrooms. The Habs might not be a Stanley Cup favourite, but they have an elite goalie, some quality veterans and a few flashy kids, which is enough to ensure there will be hockey in La Belle Province this spring. As usual.

Better grab a seat while you still can. This bandwagon fills up pretty quick.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

What's The Point NHL?

"You play to win the game." - Herman Edwards, Former Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs

Not enough NHL board of directors, GMs, players and coaches have come around to facing this reality in professional sports. It is only in the months of March and April that these stakeholders (including fans) realize that the present points system for wins and loses is completely outdated and flawed. Teams jockeying to qualify for the playoffs seem to play for crucial points by just getting a point in regulation and just skating off to put it the bank regardless if they win.

Fans are always anxious to put forth their own recommendations for a system would be fair and equitable, at least to their favourite team.

Here is my suggestion: toss the points system and just go with: Wins, Loses, Games Behind and Winning Percentage, regardless of when the game is won. If a team loses in overtime or in a shoot-out, they are awarded “Nothing”. Under this system, we will not be subjected to the dopey line that is given by some players in post-game interviews, "Well, at least we got a point." Sounds like a high school punk getting a 60% on an exam, going home and telling his/her parents, "Well, at least I passed".

Isn't the benchmark in professional sports about the number of wins that a team or an athlete racks up at the end of the season?

Of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, (sorry MLS fans), the NHL is the only league that uses a points system to qualify teams for its post season. I can just hear NHL fans saying, "Ian, you're nuts. You can't change the system; it has been a part of the NHL for decades”. Well, so did the red-line and tell me where it is now? With the adoption of the new conference re-alignment format, my suggestion could have been implemented; however, the league will never consider it in a million years. Here’s my theory and it may seem obvious to some, but it is worth highlighting.

It is question of economics folks. The NHL is and will be always be a gate-driven revenue league and depends on "fans" to fill the arenas for 41 dates. The current points system provides fans a false sense of hope thinking that their teams situated at the bottom of the conference standing are still in the playoff hunt. As a result, fans will continue to buy tickets on the premise that there is still "hope".

If the NHL is confident in fan sport support in all of their 30 markets, the board of directors would get rid of the silly points system and stop promoting a mediocre product between the months of October and mid-April. The product on the ice is much better in the playoffs when winning and losing matters and competing for points is an afterthought.

Final Taughts

What could have been with Loria? - Has anyone noticed how much money the Miami Marlins have been spending on free agents? I can't stop thinking about what could have been with Jeffrey Loria still owning the Expos. Say what you will about his hand in the demise of the ball club, he was able to get a new 37 000 seat stadium in Miami and spend cash on players. The Marlins franchise was in the same situation as the Expos (minus the two World Series championships): 1) Attendance issues, 2) Playing in an awful stadium for baseball and 3) Fire sales of impact players.

Decades of mismanagement of the Habs. You would think that selling out 41 dates and winning 24 Stanley Cups would be worth something? Apparently not that much for the Canadiens. The recent acquisition of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment by Rogers and BCE prompted me to look up the valuation of the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to Forbes, the Leafs are valued at $521 million versus $445 million for the Habs. If the Habs are constantly being compared to the Yankees, then Habs executives have a long way to go in terms of maximizing the value of their asset on the ice. No doubt this has to be something on Geoff Molson's "To Do" list after decades of mismanagement of the Habs.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Reality of Today's Habs Fan

I went to last night's Habs game at the Bell Centre. Trust me, I'm not bragging. If anything, I'm looking for pity and I can't ever recall feeling that way about my team in the 18 years I actually have recollections of being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens. Part of the joy of having tickets to an upcoming game is the anticipation as the date printed on the tickets draws near. The commute is enjoyable as you see more and more people pile into the metro along way wearing the same sweater you are. You puff out your chest a little bit as you get off at the Lucien L'Allier metro station because you feel the eyes of those not going to game on you with envy. There was none of that last night. No anticipation. No optimism. Even the ticket usher's greeting of "bon match" seemed a plea of desperation rather than a genuine wish.

There should have been a buzz in the building last night. It was a Thursday night, the start of the "Montreal weekend". A Canadian team was in the house and not just any Canadian team, a Stanley Cup finalist. Hometown boys Roberto Luongo, Max Lapierre and Alex Burrows were back in town. There was no buzz. I have a personal tradition of giving the team a standing ovation when Michel Lacroix brings them onto the ice regardless of how bad things are. For the first time, I felt like an outcast as everyone around me simply applauded politely with a subdued ovation normally reserved for when a season ticket holder is welcomed on the jumbotron.

Even as the game got under way and the Habs raced out to a 3-0 lead, each goal scored gave the crowd a sense of "wow, they're going to blow THIS?!" rather than joy of an impending rare home victory. When Mason Raymond scored to put the visiting team on the bored, it was as if the world's largest Dirt Devil was turned on inside the arena to completely suck out any emotion there was in a crowd more suited for a golf tournament than a hockey game.

When the inevitable finally happened and the zombie march towards the exits was underway, there wasn't a sense of anger but rather a sense of numbness. The predictability of it all didn't necessarily make the loss any easier to cope with. It just felt like another stroke of a hammer driving home the point that this team just isn't that good. I will always love my Habs. I will always wear my jersey proudly and continue to greet them with a standing ovation. I just wish it was out of acknowledgment for a job well done rather than out of habit.

Follow Me On Twitter @HeyMyNameIsWill

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Major Reality Check: The Canadiens are just not that good

Upon the conclusion of Montreal's 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, a couple of thoughts re-occurred to me.

It's hard to tell rabid Canadiens fans that their team isn't all that good. Invariably, there's a reason for any prolonged period of winlessness. It's the coach's fault. It's the special teams. It's injuries.

But sometimes, it's just that the team isn't all that good. Period. End of story.

Here's the honest truth about winning the Stanley Cup and contending in the National Hockey League. First, you need a redhot, lights out goaltender, one capable of putting up back-to-back shutouts, one who intimidates shooters. The Canadiens have a good goalie in Carey Price. Lights out? No. Intimidating to the opposing forwards? No. Capable of standing on his head and carrying a team for long stretches? Unknown.

The truth about Price is he seems to be an unfinished product. There are brilliant and boneheaded plays from him on a regular basis. Clearly, the good outweighs the negative. But to call him an elite goaltender on the same level as Tim Thomas or some of the other consistent stalwarts, would be a mistake.

Next, a team needs elite offensive finishers, players who have that special knack of scoring the timely goal or hitting the top corner instead of putting the puck into the netminder's pads. These electric players are always key in a cup run and to contending. Stamkos, Crosby, Malkin, Sedins, Perry, Toews, Kane. You get the idea. Who does Montreal have? NO ONE. They have Cammalleri, a guy who can't stickhandle his way into space in order to get off a shot. He's also not the most consistent guy in the world, either. Cammalleri gets a free pass because he was clutch in the postseason a couple of seasons ago. Fine. Impressive. But what have you done for me lately? Anyone else in the supposed killer-instinct, elite scorer category on the Habs? Didn't think so.

Okay, so if you don't have either of these preceding elements, then you need a lockdown system, kind of like what Guy Boucher had going last season for the Lightning. Montreal doesn't have this, either. You can blame it partly on the inexperience of the defense or even on the injuries. But the bottom line is the coaching staff mixes and matches the lines and defensive pairings so much, the players can never really get into a rhythm.

Add in things like Price not making saves in a shootout, the team giving up shorthanded goals, the taking of too many men penalties, no hard, consistent forecheck and a lack of energy and passion, etc... and you have a team that should miss the playoffs.

So what do you do then? Well, you have faith in Price that he will grow into an elite netminder. You continue to let the youth grow and you build around your core players, such as Subban, Pacioretty, Plekanec, etc...

If Habs fans were realists and truly understood the plight and ceiling of this team, they'd encourage the team to jettison veteran players in favor of tanking the season and getting some picks, including maybe even landing a lottery pick come next June.

Let's not be stupid, Canadiens backers, let's take advantage of this wasted season and use it to the team's advantage in the future.

Otherwise, if they go all-in to simply make the playoffs, other than the home postseason payoff for the owners, what's really accomplished? It's not like they're capable of winning a series with this roster.

Remember when they missed the playoffs AND didn't trade Sheldon Souray? I bet they wished they could have that one back, huh?

You can follow me on Twitter @gamepointsradio and listen to us on TSN 990 Radio Montreal this Sunday, 6pm EST. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

NFL Pool: Picks for Week 14

Chicago +3.5 at Denver

Houston +2.5 at Cincinnati

Oakland +12.5 at Green Bay

NY Giants +3.5 at Dallas

Mitch: DEN, HOU, GB, DAL
Matthew: DEN, CIN, GB, NYG
Producer (Jimmy): CHI, CIN, OAK, NYG
Trexis: DEN, CIN, GB, NYG
Stefano: DEN, CIN, GB, NYG
Listener (Andrew): DEN, CIN, OAK, NYG

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How to size up the Alouettes start to the offseason?

How to size up the Alouettes start to the offseason?

Marcus Brady’s Role

In conversing with sources close to the team, there is a strong sentiment on the respect Marcus Brady has inside the locker room.

His ability to connect with the players has made him a desirable coaching candidate, as seen by the Argonauts overtures to bring him on-board to be their offensive coordinator. Many members felt had Brady bolted for their division rivals, it would have been a big blow to the team’s Grey Cup quest.

With him staying on the Alouettes coaching staff, it heeds anymore bleeding suffered with Milanovich, and Jonathan Himebauch, both leaving for the Toronto organization.

Moreover, this must have been a difficult decision for Brady, given that he got his start playing professionally with the Argonauts. In the football world it is very hard to say no to an organization that brought you into the league.

What this will entail for Brady is an opportunity to be more immersed in the weekly game planning. He will learn from a great coach in Marc Trestman. There is no questioning that the head coach will continue to call the plays. But Brady will be given a first class seat in being an important figure in the offense decision-making.

Brady is only 32-years old; eventually he could become the Alouettes next head coach in the near future if Trestman opts to leave the organization after the 2012 season.

Furthermore, Milanovich, probably in his mind felt there was an uncertainty whether or he would be the next head coach of the Alouettes, and that’s why he probably took the Argonauts job. The organization will have their potential plan B in place if they deem Brady the heir to Trestman.

To sum it up, Brady made the decision that he sees best for him and his family. Now, the hard part comes in taking the next step in his coaching career to demonstrate to Jim Popp and management that he is the right choice for the job. Already, he has the respect of many in the organization. I am confident he will repay them by making his unit much better.

Anthony Calvillo Returns

Simply put, with the greatest CFL quarterback in the lineup for his 19th season, this team is arguably the favourite to win the 2012 Grey Cup.

Reasons why Calvillo would not comeback? At the tender age of 39 who will be 40-years old next August. Some pundits would think it is outrageous to comeback given what he has gone through from the serious physical shots he took to his body all season long.

What else is there to accomplish in the CFL? With the exception of furthering himself from the competition in the quarterback statistical categories, and winning another Grey Cup! There isn’t much left to achieve.

Without question, when he reassesses each season, his family weighs heavily in the decision process. With the backing of the most important people in his life, Calvillo can proceed into his rigorous offseason training preparing to potentially wining his fourth Grey Cup.

Reason why Calvillo would comeback? Unfinished business! As my colleague Mitch Gallo, and I discussed in the press box during the East semifinal loss to the Tiger-Cats, had Calvillo won the Grey Cup this past season, the chances would have increased that he retires and goes off into the sunset. If he lost (which they did), without question he would come back.

With the arsenal he has at his disposal, from Brian Bratton, Kerry Carter, S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson, and Brandon Whitaker, Calvillo can be satisfied to know the nucleus is still intact and knows the system very well to make another run at a title. So there won’t be any adjustments or chemistry issues if they had to rebuild their offense.

Going into the 2012 season, Calvillo knows this could very well be the last great dynasty run of this generation of players.

Scott Flory, and Anwar Stewart entering the twilight of their careers! Given the cloudy contract situation of Marc Trestman, whether or not he signs on after next season, this could very well be the last kick at the can for this class of players.

Already within the last 16-months, we have seen the retirements of such greats as Ben Cahoon, Bryan Chiu, and Matt Proulx. So Alouettes fans enjoy these moments, because we could be bidding adieu to the remaining veteran core of players that has been so dominate.

In 2013, buyers beware, because this current team could very well be a different Alouettes squad with a potential new coach, quarterback, and players on the field.