It is an uneasy time in our world. In the grand scheme of our lifespans, these next few weeks or months will be a very short time in our life, but very few, if any, of us have experienced anything like this. I’m confident we will be alright. It will be challenging at times, and now more than ever we have to look out for each other. Call your friends, your parents, your family, your co-workers just so they know you are thinking about them. Knowing that someone cares about you is powerful.
I’ve always been a glass half full person. I take note of bad situations, but I’ve always looked for the positive, or at least I try to. I rarely worry about things out of my control, but I will admit the past few days I’ve had moments of worry. I think it is normal. So much is uncertain at this point. Schools are closed. Will we have a full shutdown. I worry about single-parent families and how they will care for their children. I worry for seniors like my mother who is 74. She is very strong, but I still have fleeting moments wondering about her and my in-laws as well as many aunts and uncles who are seniors.
One of my nephew has asthma, and I worry about him and other people with breathing issues. I met a young boy, Peter, a year ago who has Cystic Fibrosis. He has such an awesome attitude about life, but he and others with CF will really struggle if they get infected with Covid 19. I feel a bit helpless that I can’t help him and others. I try not to focus on it too much, but those thoughts creep in now and again.
If you feel the same, try not to dwell on it too much. You aren’t alone, and it likely is normal. Many of us have feelings of uncertainty right now, and as we get used to our new normal (hopefully only temporarily) they will subside. Don’t hold those feelings. Tell a friend or family member. Talking about it will lessen your anxiety. We are all in this together and I believe strongly in the Canadian spirit to help each other. We will get through it.
Now let’s get to some sports.
1. On one hand, it is great the NFL is continuing with free agency. It gives us all something to talk about, debate and discuss, which is why we love sports. On the other hand, while many people are struggling the NFL is handing out millions and millions of dollars like nothing has changed. Maybe nothing will. Maybe this will blow over and sports will stay in their isolated financial bubble of success. I’ve felt and said for years that eventually the bubble would burst. Like the stock market eventually resets, I’ve thought sports would as well. Do players really need to make $30 million a year? The gap between the ultra-rich and middle class is widening, and I still believe one day sports will have a reset. If Canada and the US are forced to stop working for a time, many businesses will suffer, and possibly close down, if the government, banks and landlords of buildings don’t work together. If they don’t and many companies close, there won’t be enough sponsorship to pay sports the salaries they hand out, nor for the ticket prices.
2. Tom Brady announced he is leaving New England. He is now a free agent, and he signed with Tampa Bay. They have good weapons at running back and receiver, but how much does Brady have left? Last season his completion % was the same as Jamies Winston. Winston threw for 1,000 more yards, nine more touchdowns, but also 23 more interceptions. Brady has had an unreal career. But signing him at 43 years of age doesn’t get you the Brady who won all the championships. He looked mortal last year and while both the Bucs should be competitive with him, he isn’t the difference maker he was.
3. I’d love to see the Patriots sign Winston. I know he is erratic, but the Hoodie is a stickler for discipline and he might be just what Winston needs. Or maybe his vision was the issue, and now that he’s had laser eye surgery he will be able to see better. Could you imagine if that was the issue? Unreal.
4. Connor McDavid needed three points in his final 11 games to reach 100 for the fourth consecutive season. Maybe they will play a few more regular season games, and he will have an opportunity to reach the century mark. But if they don’t his chance to be second all-time in consecutive 100-point seasons is unlikely. I love watching players chase records and milestones and it is unfortunate if his chase ends.
5. Brett Hull had four consecutive 100-point seasons.
Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito, Dale Hawerchuk, Jari Kurri and Bryan Trottier had five.
Mike Bossy, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Peter Statsny and Steve Yzerman had six.
Wayne Gretzky had 13.
McDavid had a realistic chance to reach seven or more. Hopefully, they play a few more regular season games to give him a shot to reach 100 points and get players primed for playoff games.
6. Mike Smith has 35 appearances of 30+ minutes and with bonuses of $125K at 20, 25, 30 and 35 games played (minimum 30 minutes), he is at $500,000. I don’t see any way they play five more regular season games, so his regular season bonuses are likely capped at $500K. He has potential for $750,000 in the playoffs. If they make it, which they will if the NHL returns, he makes $250K. Then he can make an additional $250K if he wins three games in the first round and they win the series, and another $250K if he wins two games in the second round and they win. I do wonder if anything changes if the first round is a best of three or five and the opportunity to win three games is impossible in a best-of-three. Random thought, but an interesting one with no precedent.
7. On Monday we had Kelly Buchberger and Ken Hitchcock on our TSN 1260 show to kickoff a new series on the Oilers/Stars 1997 playoff series. Great stories from Bucky and Hitch. Yesterday we will have Richard Matvichuk and Drew Bannister. If you liked that series, or simply enjoy stories, tune in. We will have two more players from the 1997 series on today. Likely Derian Hatcher.
8. I’ve hosted my sports radio show for 19 years and yesterday’s interview with Frank “The Animal” Bialowas was one of the best I’ve ever had. Frank started the conversation with, “I just got out of jail, snuck across the border so I could play in the ECHL.” He was candid and funny about his life as an enforcer in pro hockey. He was one of the most feared fighters in hockey in the 199s. If you need a laugh or get an inside look into why he was called “The Animal” take a listen here.
9. If you were voting today, would you vote for Roman Josi or John Carlson for the Norris Trophy? Tell me who and why in the comment section.
10. Today TSN reported on a plan from the player’s association. Keep in mind this is just a plan. They want to play all the games and then start playoffs, have a short “off-season” and then start next season in November.
It is aggressive and they want to play all the games so the players don’t have to pay back too much in escrow. I get that. But is it reasonable? Unlikely. I do think they will need to play a few regular season games, just to get back in game shape before starting the playoffs going full-tilt. I could see four to six games depending on how many games teams have remaining, for a total of 75 games. Possibly a play-in game for eighth and ninth? Then the playoffs. At this point, all options are on the table.
What do you think is reasonable? As a hockey fan, what would you want to see? The other factor is cost. We don’t know what the financial landscape of businesses and employees in all workplaces will look like. Disposable income might be more limited than ever before. There are many factors to consider.
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