Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Darryl Sutter: Retrospective

Darryl Sutter came to Calgary midway through the 2002/2003 season, and stepped down before 2010 came to a close. His tenure represented a defining moment in the Flames' franchise; it saw the prime of Jarome Iginla, the end of the playoff drought, a Stanley Cup appearance, and a number of baffling moves that sunk the franchise for years and years.

Make no mistake, you won't find very many Calgary Flames fans who will say that the team is any better off now than it was when Sutter left. Save for the one Western Conference Champions banner, Sutter came to the team after Greg Gilbert pulled them out of the cellar and left just as they came back in.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Scott Russell wants you to shoot pucks at your dryer, too

I like Sidney Crosby. He's not a bad hockey player, and he provided my generation with its Henderson moment. That said, I dislike some of the attention and coverage he attracts. I can understand that the NHL markets this guy really hard, and why not, but when you have people sloppily talking about their obsession with Crosby beyond the hockey sphere, we have a problem. This is over-saturation.

Sidney, meet Scott Russell.

Few greater treasures exist for a hockey-loving nation than a player who has come to symbolize the sport most of us obsess over.

This is his opening line, and you already know where the article is headed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A return look at player volatility: Grabovski edition

This was initially conceived as an all-encompassing Canadian sports blog, and I was really hoping to have something to add on the Hamilton stadium mess today, but I have a real desire to bring my readers content that they wouldn't find anywhere else. Without actually being in the room and talking to City Councillors, this post would be as useful as a TSN comment in the long run.

Before moving onto arbitrary hockey numbers, I will just add that the CFL is a historic league. Had Canadian Football not existed ten years ago, it would be impossible for seven guys in a boardroom to stand up and say "I have this GREAT idea! It will be football, but just three downs!" and be taken seriously. Canadian Football is gridiron's closest living relative to rugby football, from which the game was originally derived, and must be treated as such. I'm a sucker for all things historic in sports, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is one of them. From one CFL blogger to the Hamilton City Council, figure this one out.

***

Since the last time I posted anything about player volatility, I picked up a few readers, so I guess I should provide a primer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Canadian Juniors with 8-0 pre-tournament win over Switzerland

If you're like me and live in a town with a really lousy junior hockey team, Monday night was probably your first chance to see the latest Canadian World Junior players in action.

This doesn't mean short clips and highlight videos that you'll typically see in some of the game promos or when TSN is introducing the team, but watching the players play with each other in a game situation, analyzing their mistakes, and where you choose the player you'll pick on all tournament. Last year's was Patrice Cormier.

From the get-go, with talent like Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler in the National Hockey League, we sort of knew that this team wasn't going to be as talented in years past, but that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. One comment that struck me early on was somebody noting that this team doesn't have any "Taylor Halls or Jordan Eberles on it," but I disagree. I think that this team is full of Jordan Eberles, but that's because I don't necessarily see Jordan Eberle as a skill player.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What numbers can tell us about a tie game

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames played, with respect to both their fanbases, an absolutely meaningless game Thursday night to a 5-2 home-side victory at the Saddledome. Regardless of it being a mid-season game between two teams that won't make the playoffs, it doesn't mean we can't digest some of the numbers.

I didn't watch this game, but NHL.com has set itself up in such a way that I hardly needed to. All you truly need is the play-by-play feed and a handy spreadsheet, and you can plot the game on a graph complete with momentum changes and scoring chances.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Your morning 'Eh' Factor headlines

Because we haven't done headlines in a while, why not?

Chris Pronger left the game in Philadelphia's 5-3 over Montreal last night. It is being called a 'lower-body injury' for now, because Pronger ran off with the medical reports.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet your Edmonton Oilers cheerleading squad

Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers officially introduced the members of 'Oilers Octane', a collection of wonderfully backlit beautiful and exotic girls who will keep fans entertained throughout the game.

Despite the dissenting call for reason in this crazy, crazy world by Lisi Monro of Edmonton who said that "a cheer team would ruin the longtime traditional experience at Rexall, and the sight of scantily clad cheerleaders on the ice is not part of the hockey culture in Canada."

Oh, whatever.

Is Alex Edler the best defenseman in Canada?

What makes a good defenseman? Not allowing goals against? Ice-time? Plus/minus? I think it has a little more to do with how good shooters are when they're out against you.

I'm at my parents' place, so my copy of Moneyball isn't handy, but I recall baseball historian and statistician Bill James being quoted in it as saying that he didn't want statistics to manipulate his thought. James wanted to watch a game, compile data from the game and see what gave the winning team its success.

To determine the qualities that make a good goal scorer great, you have to take the reverse to determine what makes a defenseman good. The data that I've compiled based on 15 games isn't enough to draw up totally what makes a hockey team good, but I've noticed a couple of trends:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Who Ya Got? Georges St.-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck preview

Since Georges St.-Pierre fought Josh Koscheck to a unanimous 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 decision at UFC 74 on August 25th of 2007, the Montreal native has won six straight fights, all of them with a belt on the line, to become arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

What's impressive about the scoreline from the first GSP/Koscheck fight is that it is the last time St.-Pierre has lost a round. That's two rounds against Matt Hughes, two rounds against Matt Serra, five against Jon Fitch, four against BJ Penn, and five against Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy.

He's on an impressive winning streak but has drawn criticism for his inability to finish fights. Dan Hardy was very weak competition, and it's been GSP's only fight in 2010, way back in March at UFC 111.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Darren Pang picks sea shells down by the sea shore



Here's a video of Darren Pang getting the words "white" and "right" mixed up, hilarious timing considering he was talking about what PK Subban was doing wrong.

Between Darren Pang and Don Cherry, nothing is going "right" for NHL TV pundits today.

UPDATE: TSN made time for Pang to apologize, which is somewhat of a relief, although I don't think anybody for a minute thought Pang was a racist.

The pinkos are after Don Cherry, again

Fresh off his Saturday night rant against the left-wing pinko media bleeding hearts guys, Don Cherry struck again at Toronto City Hall at new mayor Rob Ford's swearing-in ceremony. At least Canada made it onto Deadspin!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Anatomy of a 3-goal comeback

It pains me to say, but it's fun watching the Toronto Maple Leafs as a neutral observer. I also hate to say that they're winning games as your lunch-pail gang that Don Cherry loves. They can't score goals, they can't get shots on net, and half of their goaltending monster can't make a save this season.

They've had two dramatic comeback shootout wins in consecutive games, once at home to Tyler Seguin and once on the road in Washington, a game they shouldn't even have been in.

Blue Jays trade for Brett Lawrie

Growing up and playing baseball in the Lower Mainland, every single road game was played on a field named after a Major League ballplayer. My summer league team would play at Larry Walker Field in Ridge Meadows, Justin Morneau Park in New Westminister, and we took the ferry to play at Ryan Dempster Field in the remote logging town of Gibsons, BC, at a park where the outfield fence was covered by weeds.

(Best 0-10 season ever, by the way)

One day, Langley, BC may be one of those players. Brett Lawrie was selected 16th overall in the 2008 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, and whaddya know, he is property of the Toronto Blue Jays; for now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Coach's Corner transcript: Grapes takes on Karl Marx



Don Cherry is a national treasure. Don Cherry also says a lot of stupid things during the first intermission of Toronto Maple Leafs games. After taking on Leafs fans, PK Subban, Alexander Ovechkin and praising Henrik Karlsson (for the same things Subban and Ovechkin do), Don went after the media. The following is a transcript of what he said. Take it away, Grapes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Expansion franchise: Hamilton Boo Birds


[Frank Chartrand - AP]

Ontario hockey teams are not very good, are they? Both got shutout last night at home, both were booing their own teams, and neither look like they'll make it to the playoffs anytime soon without some serious housekeeping.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Toronto Star digs the anonymous source

Here is a story written by the Toronto Star which may be true. There may have been talks between Rogers Communications and the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan to buy Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Keep this story in mind the next time Damien Cox rips a blogger for hiding behind anonymity, since many unnamed sources are used to put this story together.

Jim Kelley files online column; passes away

At first glance, this seems to be a long-winded look at Brian Burke's first two years in Toronto as Leafs GM, but consider it was filed just hours before he died.

Canadians are known for some plucky things, playing through pain is one of those. Kelley wrote his column from what could have been his death-bed after having battled pancreatic cancer.

Rest in piece, Jim.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Special teams? Just how much do they matter?

I was reading Jonathan Willis' excellent piece on Steve Montador Monday night, and it got me thinking about why Buffalo was having such a bad season. They have a pretty progressive front office, and I fully expect the front office checked Behind The Net in scouting Steve Montador.

Maybe statistics don't matter as much as we thought? The success of Montador this season shows that, from player to player at even strength, player contribution can be predicted. Special teams, however, are hard to break down.

How much of a role do special teams play in a teams' success? I broke down the numbers based on stats before Monday night's games:

Leron Mitchell: "Ouch"

From the gruesome injury file...

Montreal beats Saskatchewan by a field-goal... again



When Anthony Calvillo went down in August with a sternum injury, doctors found something a little more serious--a lesion on his throat, possibly cancerous--but Calvillo pled to be allowed to finish out the season. The season would end in Edmonton with a 21-18 Grey Cup Championship victory for Calvillo, his third, his Alouette team's seventh and second in a row, becoming the first repeating team since the 1997 Toronto Argonauts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

98 Reasons, and a look at the Grey Cup



98 Reasons I love the CFL

98 - Seats on the 55-yard line.
97 - $8 beer in hand.
96 - The fact that Pilsners were sold out before kickoff at last year's Grey Cup.
95 - The Legend of Doug Flutie.
94 - Lui Passaglia's kick to beat the Baltimore Stallions.
93 - Nik Lewis' hurdle earlier this season.
92 - "Frito Ray with Pringle in the backfield" - The old Eskimo chips!
91 - Watching ESPN Classic and counting the number of different uniforms you'll see on Damon Allen.
90 - Fireworks in the uprights that go off after touchdowns.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A brief look at Hockey Night in Canada

In a move up there with the Edmonton Oilers firing their training staff, the butthurt guys at the Ottawa Citizen suggested last week that the team ban Toronto Maple Leaf fans from Senators' home games.

Why is this relevant? Because the Leafs and Sens game is the early game on Hockey Night tonight; neither team is really good this year at a combined 18-26 and both team has found a way to manage a loss to the other!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Maybe they should have brought in some star power



An actual caption for an action photo for an actual National newspaper.

32-team NFL wheel really cool, can it be done for CFL?

Check out this NFL circle of life, which shows that, at some point this season, every team is "better than" any other team due to the law of common opponents.

But can it be applied to an 8-team CFL league...?

BC beat Calgary 36-31
Edmonton beat BC 28-25
Winnipeg beat Edmonton 47-21
Hamilton beat Winnipeg 29-22
Saskatchewan beat Winnipeg 27-23
Montreal beat Saskatchewan 30-26
Toronto beat Montreal 30-4
Calgary beat Toronto 30-16

So, yeah. We only have eight teams, and no fancy graphics, and 18 games per team to work with instead of 11... perhaps this is possible to do four times?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Joey Votto wins NL MVP with 31 of 32 first-place votes

The Etobicoke, ON native was given all but one first-place vote on the ballot as the Most Valuable Player for the National League Monday afternoon. Albert Pujols from the rival St. Louis Cardinals, once seen as the dominant first baseman in Major League Baseball for years upon years to come, finished 31 votes short.

They should be thawed out in time for the Grey Cup



In front of a chilly, bi-partisan audience, the Saskatchewan Roughriders punched their ticket to a rematch with the Montreal Alouettes in the Grey Cup, though it was almost not to be. Another critical special teams disaster was nearly in the cards for a second straight year at McMahon when Ryan Grice-Mullen muffed a punt late in the game, but Wes Lysack failed to fall on the ball for Calgary. The Riders hung on for a pretty exciting, albeit low-scoring, 20-16 win.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is what Canadian football looks like

In the Mitchell Bowl at McMahon Stadium Saturday afternoon, we saw at least one prolific offense sputter out because football was never intended to be played in sub-absolute zero temperatures, which are being recorded throughout Western Canada.

The Sunday forecast for the Western Final in Calgary calls for meat-locker temperatures with a chance of ice age. The play clock should be extended to 25 seconds in the interest of giving teams more time to huddle-up.

This isn't a sport, this is an insane spectacle of human stupidity that we all love to watch. There's something about Henry Burris in a thick coat on the sidelines with icy sweat on his brow, hands in a fanny pack and breathing volcanic steam that screams playoffs in the local Canadian tongue.

Unless you live in Quebec, like those fruity Alouettes. It's not even freezing temperature in Montreal and they're still playing indoors inside Olympic Stadium.

The early game is Toronto and Montreal. That's the blue collar game you watch to cure your hangover. The Argos aren't explicitly talented, but they've made it this far this season thanks to dedicated trenchwork, a running attack and special teams, those underrated aspects of a game that the dedicated fans and local scribes love.

The late game is Saskatchewan and Calgary, and even though it begins at 2 p.m. local time it will end in darkness, under the lights as the league's most popular team faces off against its most prolific offense filled with starpower. This game represents the casual fan's love of the game, there's something about watching a steady stream of 30-yard-plus plays in a snowstorm that keeps people from changing the channel.

A few NHL fanbases will have the chance to watch hockey, but why would you? Your team will probably get blown out anyway. The MLS Cup is also allegedly being played in Toronto tomorrow night, but that's lined up right alongside the Eagles/Giants game, so I can forgive you for forgetting its on.

From the CIS Blog: your Mitchell Bowl recap. From Facebook: some positively frigid-looking pictures from the Uteck Bowl.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My follow-up with Bill Daly on the Colin Campbell e-mails

Or, how to get involved in the 'access' debate

A lot has happened this week. Tyler Dellow kicked it off Sunday night with his post about the public Colin Campbell e-mails and connected the dots. There were three major points to take away from this:

A) Colin Campbell has a foul mouth.

B) Colin Campbell gets pissed off when calls go against his son.

C) Colin Campbell has harsh words for players who complain about calls.

Mike Richards sounds off on PK Subban

I'm no expert on unwritten rules, but I'm pretty sure Mike Richards is breaking one right about here.
“He’s a guy that’s come in the league and hasn’t earned respect,” Richards told Team 990 after the game.

“It’s just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he’s better than a lot of people. You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can’t just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It’s not the way to get respect from other players around the league.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Colin Campbell's time-bomb explodes

Here, friends, is the importance of the follow-up question.

When NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly came out today to talk about Tyler Dellow's now legendary take-down of NHL Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, he said the following:
"Any suggestion that Colin Campbell performs his job with any less than 100% integrity at all times and in every decision he makes is way off base and just factually wrong. Because of the potential for a conflict of interest, or more importantly a perceived conflict of interest, the League has implemented various structural protections that prohibit Colie from having any oversight or disciplinary authority relating to any game in which his son, Gregory, plays. Its always fair to question and criticize League decisions as being wrong, but not on the basis that they aren't justly and fairly arrived at."

3 things we learned this weekend:



Courtesy of CFL digital media guru Jaime Stein comes this picture proving that the Riders didn't really learn anything this football season. After failing math one year ago, they look to fail at grammar, too.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Here is what a Leafs General Manager looks like



No, Brian Burke is not looking at Mason Raymond's winning goal for the Canucks against the Toronto Maple Leafs through a pair of binoculars. For one, Raymond was so far away that there is no way that the two would fit into the same frame, and for two, the gap in JS Giguere's legs was large enough to be easily seen from the press box.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Here's a post on the CFL playoffs and award finalists

Well, would you look at that? Playoffs have already come around. While the CIS are midway through their playoff run (and we'll get to that, just as soon as we have a little bit of free time on the weekend) the CFL starts its second season Sunday with a pair of games in the East and West Semifinals.

For a bit of a primer, here is each teams' record since Labour Day:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Canadian women win Gold Cup! Stamkos to Maple Leafs!

Sometime last night after Conan came on and before his act got too stale to put you asleep, you may have done some channel surfing and stumbled across a tape-delay of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup Final match between Canada and Mexico.

Sometime between the time after you stopped channel surfing long enough to watch women's soccer and before Craig Ferguson came on, you may have seen Christine Sinclair's second-half penalty that gave Canada a 1-0 win.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday statgeek: In defense of Mikael Grabovski

Volatility measures the number of total goals per 60 minutes a player was on the ice for. The idea is that goals are more likely to occur when certain players are on the ice.

It took a couple of weeks, but it appears that Tom Renney has officially nixed the dreaded 10 - 14 - 6 - 77 penalty killing unit that was responsible for ten powerplay goals against. Last night against Chicago his top unit on the first powerplay of the game for the Hawks was Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner, Jim Vandermeer and Ryan Whitney. Shawn Horcoff saw just 25 shorthanded seconds and the defensively inept Tom Gilbert has been placed on a unit with Theo Peckham.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anachronistic Skyline Footage Night in Canada


Word to your mothers; mine pointed out this slight factual innaccurary during a phone call Saturday night. This is CBC's skyline view of downtown Vancouver, purpotedly taken live around gametime before the Vancouver Canucks took on the Detroit Red Wings.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some CFL thoughts headed into final week

The last few weeks of the CFL season are usually 'playing for nothing but pride' time, but this year has actually had one of the more compelling playoff races in recent years.

Maybe it's just because both teams started off so bad. Maybe it's because the talent pool is pretty lousy this year. But both the Edmonton Eskimos and BC Lions have been hot lately--the Esks have won 5 of 6 and the Lions 4 of 6, with both of their losses coming in overtime.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sidney Crosby fights, Jarome Iginla doesn't



Kaboom, Niskanen. I don't particularly like fighting, and when you're losing the game, it's certainly a bad idea to have your star player off the ice for 5+ minutes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dion Phaneuf: The Shakespearean Tragedy



Dion Phaneuf may go down in history as that guy who made a career out of being really really good in junior and playing on the strongest World Junior team we'll ever see. Everything after the lockout, and, well, Phaneufs career has really gone to shits.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Sportsnet One succeeded last night

There were three sporting events that Rogers Sportsnet had the exclusive Canadian rights to that would interest viewers in the Pacific timezone last night: the clinching World Series game, the Canucks game, and the Toronto Raptors/Sacramento Kings tilt.

Two thoughts involving Leafs and Canucks

It's already Tuesday and I only just watched the crazy end to the Montreal/Toronto CFL game this week, so I may as well just do what I do best and draw unsuspecting Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks fans to this blog by having them type their favourite teams into Google and having this post pop up.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

For $150K, you too can buy Maple Leafs season tickets

To be fair, they are pretty good seats. If there was any wonder why Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment doesn't really care all that much about improving the fortunes of the Leafs, Raptors or Toronto FC, it may be because there are people out there who think that selling the right to buy season tickets (for life!) is a possibility. On Kijiji, of course, for $150K.

Unfortunately, they're at the end where the Leafs shoot twice, meaning you'll only have the play in front of you one third of the time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A (very) brief look at this week's CFL games

Last week the Lions managed to somehow a) hold onto a lead and b) win at McMahon for the second consecutive time. That gave the Lions just as many wins at McMahon Stadium this year as they have all year at Empire Field.

Point being, it looked like the Leos playoff fortunes will secure until Jared Zabransky went all not-Ricky Ray over the Roughriders. He didn't put up astonishing numbers, even for a rookie, but he held onto the ball and let the Esks running game control the flow.

By the way, last week was the first game in which Zabransky played start to finish since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma as a member of Boise State, in what remains the most entertaining football game ever played.

Oddly enough, the most important game this week is Edmonton/Winnipeg, in which Paul LaPolice is starting fourth-string quarterback Joey Elliot. It is officially October.

In the Eastern playoff race, Toronto need a miracle to get another home game. They need to win both games, backs-to-back against Montreal, and for Hamilton to lose both of theirs. The Als have locked up first place in the East, but they've never been a team historically to slow down once clinching. Maybe this changes with Anthony Calvillo having been injured earlier this year.

We don't have a cold weather game alert this week, but we do have rain in forecast in Vancouver for Sunday, in what will surely quell Lions fans love of Empire Stadium and make them pine for that $545 million roof.

Montreal @ TORONTO (+4)
Hamilton @ CALGARY (-4)
Winnipeg @ EDMONTON (-7)
Saskatchewan (+3.5) @ BC

Signoff... not an optimist right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leafs strategy: Send Orr after goalie

Canucks cash in on ridiculous 40th anniversary festivities

Ever wonder why nobody has written a book called 'The Senators before Daniel Alfredsson: A Retrospective' or commissioned a painting entitled 'Accomplishments of the post-expansion era Leafs' is because those are fucking stupid ideas that swell those teams' fanbases with disgust, scorn and regret.

So what's different between that and this drawn out 40th Anniversary celebration the Vancouver Canucks have pulled out this year?

Side note: Canucks ownership, to their credit, have milked the 'vintage' program that the National Hockey League rolled out a few years ago. The Canucks were able to sell a buttload of blue and green merchandise before emblazoning a differet logo on it a few years down the road and selling a buttload more.

Now, this 40th Anniversary Celebration has everything. A book commissioned by the Canucks celebrating their history. Jerseys without nameplates. Honouring former pluggers who scored 62 goals with the team and never having played a playoff game with them.

Sure, it may be fun to look at the past, but when three quarters of your all-time team are in the starting lineup in late October, you should probably lay off on the pomp and ceremony until you win something.

As a Canucks fan can best tell you, here is a brief history of the Vancouver Canucks, sans colourful pictures or waxing poetic about Jack McIlhargey:

1970: The Canucks enter the NHL as part of the Eastern Division and fail to take advantage of any 'Eastern Bias' and go 24-46-8.

1982: Roger Neilsen surrenders in a playoff game against Chicago. This somehow starts the third most popular playoff tradition in Vancouver: Waving white towels at home games. The other most popular playoff traditions are bitching about how we started the towel thing, and bitching about Roberto Luongo on sportstalk radio.

1985: The Canucks allow 401 goals, a league high.

1988: Trevor Linden.

1993: Pavel Bure.

1994: Kirk McLean.

1999: Brian Burke wheels and deals to land two high draft picks, giving the Canucks the Sedin twins, who will eventually become the best players in franchise history and the most reviled by fans.

2004: Hockey punch player.

2010: After years of suffering, a Canuck finally wins the Hart Trophy as the player who has been judged most valuable to his team. Tangible value in the playoffs: absolutely none.

Other sports books that have been commissioned by Canucks Sports & Entertainment include 'Counting to 13' by Jason Armstead and 'How to make friends and influence people' by Hedo Turkgolu.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday morning statgeek: Player volatility Vol. II

The term 'player volatility' is the number of goals scored on both nets while the player is on the ice per 60 minutes of play. A player with a high volatility means that they're at a risk to score and be scored on when they step out on the ice.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear me, Americans don't like hockey

Wally's Lament, and other CFL Week 17 storylines

I am very proud of the Globe and Mail's Matthew Sekeres:
If his name weren’t Wally Buono, there would be grounds to fire the man in charge of the B.C. Lions.
The rest of Sekeres' story 'Buono's catchet begins to fade', is required reading.

Wally started the season by not having enough non-imported starters and ended last week by fluking out an overtime game with a 48-yard field goal from a kicker he didn't even know he had dressed.

You can forgive the occasional coaching mistake during the course of the game because things are happening so fast on the sideline and you need to get the right personnel on the field. Hours before gametime, not so much. Buono put backup kicker Sean Whyte on the 42-man roster and accidentally left actual kicker Paul McCallum off of it.

Wally was always a fan of cutting players before they hit their career decline (except for any player who was important during the 2004 season) but David Braley's failure to let Buono go before he went batshit senile turned out to be the difference between landing Eric Tillman as your new GM and anybody not named Eric Tillman.

With the playoff races decided for the most part, the story shifts to concussions. Andrew Bucholtz, as always, was on top of this one in the CFL Internet world.

Three NFL players were fined for helmet-to-helmet hits last week, and that's a step in the right direction. James Harrison of the Steelers, recipient of one of the fines, said that he's contemplating retirement because he feels the ability to go out onto the field and acting like a brutish, braindead asshole are compromised. If Harrison retired, there would be another step in the right direction.

Football is a physical game, but the more concussions are in the game, the more likely we won't have any football to watch because some sappy political organization, likely NDP contributors, named Mothers Against Violence in Football (or, as Jon Stewart would say: NAMBLA) will try to stop everybody's kids from looking like roid-induced maniacs at the linebacker position.

I equate the concussion problem in football to the clutching-and-grabbing problem that was apparent in hockey before the lockout. The NHL came out in their post-lockout season with a slew of new rules that made it impossible to watch a penalty-free game. Watch a game now compared to one from ten years ago, and you notice a lot less stickwork and players have more room to move. As a result, youth coaches and players are learning to avoid stick infractions and the like, and in fifteen years, as a result of this, the game will be better still because players won't know to use their sticks or hold when somebody blows by them--they'll turn around and skate to catch up to them.

In football, we'll see a similar thing: youth defensive players will learn to stop leading with the helmet, reducing the liklihood that a strong safety will be able to press a running back's brain against a newspaper and create a print impression.

Predictions:

Montreal (-1) @ Hamilton
BC @ Calgary (-9.5)
Toronto @ Winnipeg (-3.5)
Saskatchewan (-2.5) @ Edmonton

Early notice: there is a chance of precipitation in Edmonton on Sunday, and the early forecast calls for a low of -1. A snow game? Pretty please?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rick Rypien has at least one Toronto Star writer on his side

In the defense of John Shorthouse and John Garrett, Canucks play-by-play guys, anybody who didn't have an eagle eye on Rick Rypien and the Wild fans in Section 116 at the XCel Energy Centre last night could have reasonably thought that the fan started something with Rick Rypien.



After it became apparent he wasn't, many intelligent, reasonable people, including (but not limited to) Barry Patchesky of Deadspin, Yankee Canuck of Nucks Misconduct, Nick Costonika of Yahoo! Sports, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, Jim Neveau of The Hockey Writers, and Jason Brough of the Kurtenblog pretty much said that Rypien was in the wrong.

Rick Rypien straight up assaulted a fan for heckling and mock-clapping and has since been suspended indefinitely, awaiting NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell to administer his customary random punishment.

But one Toronto scribe, fresh off his public indictment of James Wisniewski, one who hates sports and entertainment so much that it's a wonder why he became a sportswriter, has jumped to the defense of Rick Rypien.

Preach, Damien:
"I find it fascinating that many who were willing to exonerate the Wiz feel Rypien should get hammered. Interesting standards."

"But if u let a guy off so easily for what Wiz did, how is grabbing a guy's shirt so bad, exactly?"

"All these tough guys who demand fighting in the game now suggest shirt-grabbing is assault."

"A minority of fans are jerks and pretend tough guys who love to abuse players from a distance. I don't feel any need to protect them."

"It's just this perception that all fans are innocents and deserve protection doesn't quite square with reality."

"It's kind of like Twitter. really. People can be so brave, so tough, so threatening from a distance under the veil of anonymity." [ed. note: I think he's referring to the fan being anonymous in this instance]

"So the Philly dude who fell into the box with Domi, he deserved to be protected? Domi shouldn't have touched him?"

"Fan safety? Really? You honestly believe that fan was in danger of anything?"

"All these folks so irate about Rypien must still be upset about Sundin getting only 1 game in '04 for throwing stick into stands."


I guess this means that if you go up to Damien Cox in public and grab his shirt and shake him viciously, he won't mind.

Although the one fan, who escaped unscatched, isn't making it any easier to like him as he is apparently ready to press charges the bottom line is that athletes shouldn't do that, in any sport. An arena shouldn't have to put guardrails everywhere players are within striking distance. Every now and then you get some douchebags like the fan in Detroit who ran onto the court to punch Ron Artest, but this instance wasn't that. Very likely the guy had a few beers, knows that it's dumb to pick a fight with Rick Rypien and mocked him a little because the score was 5-1 and Rypien looked like a goof going after Brad Staubitz.

Damien doesn't absolve Rypien of blame, but he does seem to give a heck of a lot to the fan. In Damien's world, the fans don't show up to sports games. They are too loud and noisy and you can't hear player chatter.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trainspotting with the 1-4 Ottawa Senators

Choose Ottawa Senators hockey. Choose a goalie. Choose defensemen. Choose a centreman. Choose a Swedish captain. Choose an arena with one entrance 25 km out of the city. Choose one highway exit. Choose a parking logjam. Choose red, black and white. Choose an easily confused GM. Choose an injury prone goaltender. Choose a more reliable backup. Choose to leave Jason Spezza on the first line, God knows why. Choose, of all possible San Jose Shark options, Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek. Choose not to accept that Daniel Alfredsson is not Daniel Alfredsson from five years ago. Choose a piggybacking PP specialist over a proven shot-blocker. Choose an over-the-hill Russian superstar. Choose to boo young defensemen. Choose not to attend games. Choose instead to unpack Leafs gear stored away in 1992. Choose to wear childish third jersey to game. Choose Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Campoli. Choose to keep Chris Phillips playing as your top defenseman, regardless of the fact that he has been on the ice for more goals at even strength than any other defenseman so far this season. Choose to be the team that shoots more than the opponent, but still get outshot 40-19 on national television. I choose not to choose Ottawa Senators hockey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holy hell, the Lions cut Casey Printers

Well this is an interesting turn of events. After putting Casey Printers in for no reason on Monday against the Bombers, Wally Buono turned on a dime on the heels of an overtime pick-six to give Casey a proper send-off.

Not the way you want your CFL career to (likely) end. Video at 7:13 here, with bonus Rod Black screaming and yelling.

It's not quite leaving him behind in the parking lot, never to bring him back, but a few years ago, Wally Buono had an eye for all kinds of quarterback talent. He had brought in Casey Printers (first-time Casey Printers. MOP Casey Printers) and Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson, all of whom had success throwing to one of the most complete receiving corps we've seen. Jason Clermont is gone. So is Ryan Thelwell. Geroy Simon is at the twilight of his career.

Addition by subtraction. Printers #2 was a selling point for fans. I still dream of yelling "NOOOOOOOOO" when Printers #2 put up that ball on 2nd and goal in that overtime game against Saskatchewan while on the run, throwing across his body.

For better or for worse, this team is now Travis Lulay's. The Lions are still in a good spot to make the playoffs, a game up on Edmonton and Winnipeg, but it's clear that from here on out, the Lions will be in a rebuilding period, hopefully culminating with Wally Buono stepping down at the end of the year.

If anything, the failed Printers #2 experiment has proved to the Vancouver media that Wally is not infallible and that packing your team full of evangelical Christians is not always good from a football perspective.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The hockey media is up in arms over the Wisniewski gesture

thus they continue to direct attention to the Wisniewski gesture



It's not a throat slash. It's not anything violent. It didn't put anybody in physical harm. It didn't involve anybody except for James Wisniewski and Sean Avery, and shouldn't really offend anybody.

Sunday's hockey games offered a lot for the hockey media to pontificate on. New Jersey dressed 15 players due to salary cap contraints (there's a legal issue here), there was a big brawl in the St. Louis/Anaheim game that was out of reach (there's an unnecessary violence issue here), there have been nine head injuries so far this season (there's a player safety issue here).

So James Wisniewski told Sean Avery to blow him. I'm sure that nobody has ever done that. I'm sure no fan has ever done that. I'm sure that Sean Avery has a squeaky-clean track record and sensitive personality that would make him feel totally uncomfortable by a gesture like that.

Or completely the opposite. Preach, brothers.

Larry Brooks compares what Wisniewski did to what Sean Avery said about Elisha Cuthbert a few years back that led to a six-game Avery suspension.

Avery:
"But I'm sure nothing is going to happen to him because nothing ever happens.

"It's interesting you get a warning [from the officials] for something like that. Imagine if I did that. I'd be sent to rehab."


I thought what happened on the ice stayed on the ice, or something. (Somebody needs to re-write the unwritten code) Sean Avery displayed his inability to let go of Elisha Cuthbert to the media the way a crying failed contestant on American Idol yells to the judges that "ya'll haven't heard the last of me! Ya'll missed your chance!" James Wiesniewski didn't. He told Sean Avery to blow him. The only way this is a controversy is if Graham James is involved.

Damien Cox decided to compare the Wisniewski action to the Niklas Hjalmarsson hit, also from yesterday, which sent Pominville off the ice in a stretcher.



Ugly hit, yes. Suspension-worthy, yes. Malicious, no. Hjalmarsson is a guy who had 20 PIMs last year, all minors. Like Pominville, he got caught out of position and had a momentary lapse of judgment. This is the type of hit that puts somebody into the 'repeat offender' category and nothing more.
Does the NHL value class or safety more? Does is despise vulgarity more, or actions which put other players in unnecessary physical danger?
Class or safety? The only player who isn't safe when Hjalmarsson is on the ice is Marty Turco (Hjalmarsson is a -4 already this year)
After 20 years of seeing various nefarious misdeeds on the rink, I can't tell you with any honesty what will transpire in either case.
Nefarious misdeed? Is that a synonym for "isolated incident" which is what both of these cases are?

If Damien Cox is so concerned about class and protecting the children, maybe him and the rest of the hockey media who are so concerned should stop talking about it. TSN ran the video in their highlight package, except they blurred the gesture. Again, if TSN is concerned about the children, then don't show it.

It reminds of when Paul McCartney was asked by an interviewer whether he did drugs. McCartney said yes. The interviewer asked whether he was going to be seen as a bad influence, to which McCartney replied "I'm not the one publishing it."
Will one action deserve only a slap on the wrist, or both? Will Colin Campbell decide enough is enough and hammer both Wisnewski and Hjalmarsson?

Only Campbell knows, and as he awakes this morning, he probably doesn't know, either.


Well that makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for clarifying it for me.

For what it's worth, Hjalmarsson deserves two or three games and a target on his back for the next time he does something like this, which may be never. Wisniewski deserves nothing until he starts slandering ex-girlfriends in the press or acting like a pest for being a pest on the ice reccurently and actually becomes a threat to the 'class' of the game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday morning statgeek: An early look at volatility

We aren't as close to having Gabriel Desjardins analyze player trends and bring expert predictive analysis to Hockey Night in Canada, but for what it's worth, Ron MacLean wore a suit on Saturday that looks a bit like the one Sheldon Cooper sometimes wears in The Big Bang Theory.

[Twitpic courtesy of Ryan Classic]

Volatility, loosely explained, is the calculation of how many goals a player will be on the ice for in a 60-minute timespan, both for and against, powerplay and shorthanded. The idea is that your players with higher volatility are unpredictable and more can happen when they're on the ice.

Seeing as its so time-consuming and there's no guarantee that it will offer me any insight into player trends because it turns out goals are a completely random occurence, I'm only taking into account players for Canadian teams in these statistics.

Notably high players:

Mathieu Darche - 8.7 MIN played, 1 GF, 1 GA, 13.79 VOL
Zack Storini, 9.1 MIN played, 1 GF, 1 GA, 13.19 VOL
Nikolai Kulemin, 30.5 MIN played, 3 GF, 3 GA, 11.80 VOL
Mike Komisarek, 25.9 MIN played, 3 GF, 2 GA, 11.58 VOL
Mikael Grabovski, 31.5 MIN played, 3 GF, 2 GA, 3.52 VOL

Notably low players:

With several players at 0, it's best to note that Dan Hamhuis has played the most minutes without having been on the ice for a goal. The player who has played the most minutes without having surrendered a goal is Tomas Kaberle. The high forward is Tyler Bozak.

The other thing I get looking closer into the plus/minus stat is to determine goals for per minute and goals against per minute.

High goals for ratio:

Mike Cammaleri: 7.10 GF/60
Jim Vandermeer: 7.06 GF/60
Mike Komisarek: 9.95 GF/60

High goals against ratio:

Chris Phillips: 7.46 GA/60
Raitis Ivanans: 7.23 GA/60
Tanner Glass: 7.06 GA/60

These are early numbers, so take them with a grain of salt. Is Mike Komisarek not a steady stay-at-home defenseman? Should Ron Wilson skate Nikolai Kulemin instead of Phil Kessel as an extra-attacker? Is Raitis Ivanans better at blocking punches with his face than he is blocking shots? Will I get laid this month?

Statistically speaking, the sample size isn't high enough to generate a sure answer for all but one of those questions, but Monday morning statgeek will take a look at volatility ratings bi-weekly (the one that means once every two weeks, not the one that means twice a week).

Vancouver host Florida and Ottawa are in Washington tonight. Ottawa has two goals in two games, so if you were lucky enough to pick up Michael Neuvirth in your pool, today would be a good day to start him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A brief look at CFL Week 15

This week features four rematches of last week's games, two of which were oddly compelling.

Edmonton @ Hamilton - Friday Night. Hamilton weather is sunny, high of 23, low of 9. Weather should not be an issue.

Toronto @ Saskatchewan - Saturday evening. Similar weather to Hamilton, but the wind is often an issue at Mosaic Stadium, and is certainly more of an issue where (presumably) half the kicks will be fielded by Chad Owens.

Calgary @ Montreal - Monday afternoon. A little chilly at McGill, but that's about it.

BC @ Winnipeg - Monday evening. High, sunny temperatures at CanadInns Stadium. It's friggin October, are you meaning to tell me that we won't see anybody's breath, Mr. Weather Report?

First things first: Saskatchewan can clinch a home-field game with a win and a BC loss, but if neither scenario pans out, it's not exactly a problem. They have enough of a lead to not have to worry about losing out on ticket revenue at Mosaic in November.

In the East, both losers of two-straight, it appears that Hamilton and Toronto have entered "choke-off" mode into determining the final home playoff position. This week, it's advantage: Hamilton, who play at home against the league's second worst team. Well, unless the magical accountability board has anything to say about it.

Pick: Hamilton -4

Saskatchewan is favoured by 11 points in Saturday's tilt, which is hovering around league average for point spread, until you consider that Vegas only expects 49 points out of this game. Toronto's offense sucks, and I really hate to say it, but Jim Barker may want to think about giving Danny Brannagan some snaps. Like it or not, people will be looking at Brannagan to start for this team out of camp next year unless the Argos make serious changes at the QB position.

Pick: Toronto +11

Just sit back and enjoy the Montreal/Calgary game. Montreal are clearly going to head into the playoffs headfirst rather than wading in and playing safe in the last few weeks. Calgary need to secure home field. Ballhawking secondaries and laser rocket arms on both sides.

Pick: Montreal -3

With Buck Pierce still on the shelf, the Bombers have decided to turn toWashington St. Cougar Alex Brink at quarterback on Monday. Unless he can Lulay leap, I'm not scared:



*Sound editing not done by me*

Pick: BC +4

Also, here are your import roster additions who you will begin to hear more of next year.

Yeah, so this Jordan Eberle kid is alright



So, these Edmonton Oilers are fun to watch, aren't they? Or at least just this one time. This is probably the goal of the night, also featuring Ian White refusing to take both the man and the puck, and TJ Brodie somehow being outskated by Jordan Eberle.

Outside of Hedley and a long, convoluted, corny Olympics-esque opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre, it was a pretty good return of hockey. Toronto and Edmonton had wins at home against a depleted Montreal team and a Flames team that's really just terrible, respectively, but it signaled a return of hope to two teams that looked in disrepair at January of last season.

Eberle notches his first goal in Oilers win
A good start in a year Leafs will fight for relevance

Buffalo are in Ottawa tonight. I guess I can't wait for that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Good Old Hockey Game - A look at the NHL season

The NHL season starts tomorrow, and every blog likes to put together a gimmicky look at the season. There's no reason The 'Eh' Factor can't get involved in this. Here are some lulz and predictions to get you ready for the season.

Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia - Who ya got?

The MLB playoffs start today, which are always compelling to watch, but this season, there's a little more riding on the line than cop cars in the championship city.

His worship Roy Halladay did not take long to get into the playoffs playing for a good team. A lot of Blue Jays fans took a lot of pride in the way Halladay pitched for the Phillies this year, and while it would be bittersweet to see Doc win with another team, it's certainly deserving of the best pitcher the Blue Jays have had in their history. Halladay's postseason appearance has already generated an online tag of 'Doctober'.

However, Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies will start the postseason against the upstart Cincinnati Reds, who are led by a breakout star from Toronto named Joey Votto. Votto led the majors in OBP and the National League in slugging and even though he lost ground at the tail end of the season in the homerun chase, losing out to not only Albert Pujols but Adam Dunn as well, Votto is a good bet to be the first Canadian player to win the National League MVP since Larry Walker in 1997.

It should be a great series, compounded by the fact that if you're a Canadian baseball fan, you probably have a rooting interest in this one. First pitch is at 2:07 pm from the hands of the Reds' Edwin Volquez. Halladay. Halladay Edwin Volquez is slated to go for the Phils Reds.

[TSN series preview]

A shame though, is that the 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau will be on the shelf for the whole of the Minnesota Twins' playoff run.

[CBC - Votto tops list of Canadians in MLB Playoffs

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toronto media continues to pile on Leafs prospect, and other hockey stories

Nazem Kadri, to nobody's surprise, was sent down to the Toronto Marlies yesterday, and Leafs nation's Barilkosphere outlets responded quite rationally. I still have yet to read a post from a reputable Leafs source which has declared Kadri a "bust" or other fancy terms Canucks had reserved for Cody Hodgson after his dissapointing preseason last year.

So, what say you, Toronto Sun?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Raptors intrasquad watched by half-empty gymnasium

The Toronto Raptors are in Vancouver this week practicing out at UBC in preparation for their pre-season tilt at Rogers Arena against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night.

So what better way to open up the team to fans than to hold an on-campus intrasquad game, with the proceeds going to charity?

Everything, as it turns out, if you're charging $15 for a scrimmage. Hundreds of seats remained empty throughout the event. Perhaps they should have advertised that Jarrett Jack would be singing Justin Bieber songs.

[Video update of Jack's aforementioned performance here]

While it's a good concept, charging money for the NBA in Vancouver is pretty well heresy after Michael Heisley stuck a knife into the city, and twisted it, taking away the beloved-yet-miserable Grizzlies.

Ubyssey editor Justin McElroy made the point on Twitter that when the Grizzlies took their training camp to the University of Victoria, the event was free for students.

Although at least UBC filled up half the gym. My school can't fill up a bus. For $35, Thompson Rivers University students get two-way transportation from Kamloops to Vancouver and a ticket to the Wednesday exhibition game. Spots are still available.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The ultimate in douchebag apparel - an Ultimate Figher replica jersey

MMA fans tend to have it rough. Many bars here in Kamloops don't allow entry to patrons sporting Tapout, Silverstar or Affliction t-shirts because of their apparent connections to gangs. While evidence is possibly around to support this, this isn't really the issue I'm taking at hand here. A hockey fan can wear a hockey jersey. A basketball fan a basketball jersey, ditto with all sports all the way down to rhythmic gymnastics. But how can a fighting fan support their favourite fighter?



Hopefully, not like this. I came across this at the local Jersey City, yours for just $69.99 (minus a 10% mall employee discount!) This, to the unfamiliar, is a replica "jersey" of what Ultimate Fighting Championship hopefuls wear while training on the set of 'The Ultimate Figher' competing for a six-figure UFC deal. Montreal's Georges St.-Pierre, UFC welterweight champion and generally regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, is coaching half the fighters. Hence, 'Team GSP'.

I pose to whatever commentariat we have one place where wearing this shirt would be appropriate. Even if you're steadily training in MMA, putting on a $70 'Team GSP' jersey is just out of mind ridiculous. If you see a 'Team GSP' jersey being worn in public, please send me the picture.

Related: Courtesy of Puck Daddy, this abortion of a Leafs jersey.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A brief look at the week's CFL games

So you may have noticed that this blog's CFL coverage is scaling backwards. No, this doesn't mean a series of layoffs have hurt the 'Eh' Factor's editorial content, it just means that the CFL playoffs race has become vapid and uninteresting, and while I still love watching the games, meaningful play is become increasingly rare in this 18-game, 6-out-of-8-teams in the playoffs puzzle.

Even though Calgary has dropped a couple and find themselves just a game ahead of Saskatchewan, they still have another game between each other. Toronto and Hamilton are neck-and-neck in the East, but as it turns out, you can't look at either team and say that they deserve home-field.

The way to fix this is to hold off on gimmicky late-season games in Moncton and actually expand the league by two teams and reduce the number of playoff teams to four. Fewer matchups against the same opponents and more games that will tangibly matter. Though your most intriguing matchup on paper this week is Calgary/Montreal, the one that really matters is BC/Winnipeg.

Ah well, enough with the whining.

Montreal/Calgary - Tonight at 9:

Unfortunately, with a bit of a sunny spell hitting Western Canada, its October and there's no cold weather games to speak of this week. Anthony Calvillo threw for 477 yards last week and could have hit 500 if it weren't for some illegal play by Winnipeg defensive backs. Also, he's an absolute beast. Ben Cahoon hit 1000 career catches last week, with two big ones on that final drive, and needs seven to pass former Alouette Terry Vaughn for the all-time record.

Calgary have dropped two straight, with last week's performance against BC going down as one of the dreaded good-teams-looking-like-pure-shit games. This isn't an important game for the Stampeders with just the standings in mind, but if they lose here, they go on the road for consecutive weeks into Montreal and into Saskatchewan, which is the only really tough stretch on their schedule.

Interesting stat: While Henry Burris and Anthony Calvillo have pretty well locked horns for Most Outstanding Player finalists (after all, this can only go to a quarterback, right?) their respective backups Drew Tate and Ricky Santos boast perfect passer ratings at 158.3.

Winnipeg/BC - Saturday at 10:

Holy hell, the Lions have won 3 of 4! Travis Lulay is going to start! The Lions invaded McMahon with a balanced offense last week! Yonus Davis is a little bit of awesome running back kicks (see what I did there?) Things are looking good in BC, although with six weeks left in the regular season, I'm weary they make be peaking too early.

Winnipeg have dropped 3 of 4, (the loss last week, though, can ENTIRELY be chalked up to the officials, though, right?) Steven Jyles had a QB rating of 137 last week, put 40 points up on the board against the apparently vaunted Montreal defense and still managed to lose.

Thanks to the cross-over, this game, and their subsequent matchup at CanadInns Stadium are quite important. Can BC, already one game up, stare down Winnipeg from their rearview mirror once this is all over, or will the Bombers leap-frog the Lions for that chance to go play at Mosaic in the middle of November? Or, more likely, will the teams split the home-and-home and have a choke-off in the final month to determine entry to the playoffs?

Saskatchewan/Toronto - Saturday at 3:

Toronto get to debut their new starting quarterback, Dalton Bell. We know this story: since Lemon made the team coming out of camp, it would be unfair for him to lose his job due to an injury. This means Bell will put up good numbers for the couple of weeks Lemon is out, and Jim Barker will completely not pull an Andy Reid and bring Lemon back to continue getting sacked, throwing interceptions and underthrowing mid-range receivers.

Hamilton/Edmonton - Sunday at 4:30

I hate to say it, but do you know what looks better to watch from a fan perspective on Sunday? All four late afternoon NFL games, yes, even Houston/Oakland. Hamilton are a mediocre 6-6 beating the week teams on their schedule. Edmonton flat-out suck, pulling a decent performance out of their asses ever so often. This could not be a more unintriguing matchup, unless a freak blizzard hits Edmonton. I would gladly watch a 7-6 game for that.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nazem Kadri is your saviour, Toronto

-Earlier this week, Toronto Maple Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets went to town on potential first-round flop Nazem Kadri. The Puppets explain how poorly Kadri is playing compared to the average developmental curve of prospects and completely ignore the reasonable approach taken by the Toronto Sun.

Or something completely opposite of that.

Kadri scored twice and had an assist in the Leafs' 4-3 exhibition win against the Ottawa Seators last night. Kadri still probably won't make the team and may be better off playing a full season in the American League, but his three-point night set up for one of the stupider ledes of the preseason.
It most surely was a slump at the most inopportune time of his young career.

Oh, sure, that makes sense. God forbid Kadri ever goes a couple of games without a point in the preseason ever again.

-Meanwhile, in Calgary, Flames president Ken King has called out TSN panelist Michael Peca for calling out Flames designated problem contract Jay Bouwmeester.
The whole drama erupted Tuesday night when TSN panelist Michael Peca said he used to look forward to playing against Jay Bouwmeester, because he coughed the puck up so much.

Strong words, to be sure. And it didn't die there.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a radio interview with Rob Kerr and Dean Molberg on the Fan 960, Flames president Ken King lashed out at the audacity of Peca, a former player, saying such things.

“I think it was out of line,” King said in an interview with The Fan 960. “It was a guy talking about his peer. His colleague. Someone who he has played with.....To diss and take such a low-brow approach to laughing at or ridiculing one of the premier defencemen in the league, I just think is completely inappropriate.”


In fairness to Peca, King has probably never skated against Bouwmeester.

-In Montreal, Brian Gionta was named the 2nd ever American captain in Franchise history leading to more concerns that the captain of the Habs can't speak French. The only reasonable solution is to move to Tampa, commence covering the Lightning, drag Vinny Lecavalier down and force Steve Yzerman to trade him to Montreal.

Here's an old link on a Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal for Louis Leblanc RDS story.

This is a tall order for Gionta.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who is this mysterious woman, and why is Henry Burris wearing a bra?



So... this is Calgary quarterback Henry Burris and a woman who is certainly not Mrs. Henry Burris.

"It was a birthday prank my friends ran on me," says Burris about the photos, which popped up online this week.

Burris was a little more exposed going 11 for 26 against the pitiful Lions this week. While I'm sure that there's nothing indecent going on here, it's the distraction the Stampeders need to get them back on the winning track, after losing their past two games.

Hey, at least it was Hank, and not 326-pound lineman Rob Lazeo, who may be a D-Cup.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Pat Burns and the breaking of news stories in the online age

As we all know, Pat Burns died, and then didn't die last Friday in a classic instance of the media, both traditional and social, jumping the shark based on the word of former Toronto Maple Leafs stiff Cliff Fletcher.

Just before 11:30 AM Friday morning, two messages popped up Twitter exaggerating the condition of cancer-ridden former NHL coach Pat Burns. One was from @ctvottawa, the other from @FAN590. It was sad and depressing, for the 58-year old man who the Internet had once tried to get into the Hockey Hall of Fame at some point during his life, to see go too soon.

Oh, Carey...

If the preseason is a somewhat worthwhile indicator of the regular season, then Montreal General Manager Pierre Gauthier made out even worse than expected by choosing Carey Price over Jaroslav Halak this summer.

Carey Price, known for giving Pierre McGuire a telepathic handjob with this save in the 2008 preseason...



...made out not so good last night, allowing four goals on nine shots, being booed off the ice, and refusing to talk to the media afterwards.

Oh, Carey, at least you're in midseason form in one regard.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toronto Star starts 'A Leafs Fan Blogs'

Rejoice, faire fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Star has heard your pain, and have given you an outlet to talk about the team online.

With 'The Spin' by Damien Cox and now our generically-named first-stop online ressource for cutting-edge Leafs opinions by a guy named Vinay Menon, the Toronto Star have managed to pull themselves out of what I call the 'Google Obscurity' and no longer just be for blue-collar lunchrooms across Southern Ontario.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Windsor Star predicts Toronto/Detroit in 2137 Stanley Cup Final

In today's Windsor Star, print media continued its slow demise announcing a Detroit/Toronto Stanley Cup Finals game in 2137, before repeating a news brief eight or nine times.

The joke here is that CBC won't exist the next time the Leafs make the finals, right?

Monday, September 20, 2010

'Into The Wind' - A modest review

Steve Nash and Ezra Holland's 30-for-30 documentary about Terry Fox, Into The Wind, begins with an old, grainy shot from 1980 of a baby-faced man with curly hair dipping a prosthetic right leg into the Atlantic Ocean.

When the trumpets sound and the judge looks back at my life, as a 22-year old, they'll see me in my couch and sweatpants on a Sunday night watching sports highlights. At 22, Port Coquitlam's Terry Fox, a cancer victim and an amputee, ran a marathon a day across the country, raising more than $1.7 million for cancer research before being forced to abandon his run more than halfway across the country.

Nash and Holland do a fantastic job of sorting through pictures, news footage, radio interviews, and Fox's own diary entries to chronicle the conception and denouement of the Marathon of Hope, an impossible, near superhuman, run across Canada with friend Doug Alward, later joined by brother Darrell Fox and Bill Vigars of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The 30-for-30 franchise is produced by ESPN, thus with a major American audience in mind. They won't see this documentary on their screens until next Tuesday. Nash does a terrific job at capturing just how vast and sparse Canada is, and how impressive Fox's unfinished accomplishment truly was. The narrative never explicitly lets the audience know that Fox didn't complete the journey and died just a month before his 23rd birthday, but anybody would be able to notice the tears in the eyes of Leslie Scrivener of the Toronto Star, and Alward and Vigars and realize how the story ends, as well as the absence of Fox interviews, instead with his diary entries read by narrator Taylor Kitsch.

"He's in Toronto, and he's going to make it to the coast," Betty Fox, Terry's mother, says at one point during a happy 1980 interview as the scene cut to a commercial. Nash is a tearjerking son of a bitch.

The film did everything it could do. It gave greater focus to the athletic accomplishment and resiliency of Fox over the cancer aspect of his story. ESPN is primarily a sports network, after all, and the Fox story from a pure athletic standpoint is amazing, and one that any American even, should surely appreciate. He ran 26 miles a day fighting unwanted publicity, conflicts with his teammates and false media reports as his celebrity faded towards the end of his run.

This documentary is not about who we lose to cancer, but rather about the potential that every human being has. Fox's tale is inspiring, and Nash is a terrific storyteller. Canadians tend to love seeing stories about Canada appear in American and world medias, and Into The Wind is an excellent film which will show the world a Canadian folk hero who has unfortunately been overlooked by the rest of the world.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This week in the CFL...

For what the CFL has lacked on on-field drama this season, the off-field business was certainly worthy of an Oscar bid and a starring role in M Night Shyamalan's next picture.

Twitter kills off former NHL coach at 58

Earlier today, CTV Ottawa reported the death of cancer-stricken former hockey coach Pat Burns. It was no doubt a sad story that touched us all. Burns has dedicated his life to hockey, was a fantastic coach, and was the centre of a large Internet campaign to have him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame when he was still alive.

Except somebody at the CTV Ottawa bureau failed to check their facts. Pat Burns is still alive, and "shocked to learn that he's dead," according to a member of the Burns family speaking to Bob MacKenzie. "Tell I'm alive--set them straight," Pat says to Bob.

How did this all play out? Twitter, of course. As soon as CTV Ottawa posted their since-removed message, it was taken up by high-profile bloggers, as well as radio stations such as the FAN 590 in Toronto and apparently the TEAM 1040 in Vancouver. The news caught on like a bug, and Pat Burns was dead before anybody with access decided it was a good idea to fact-check.

So CTV Ottawa apologized for the mistake, those morbid, morbid people at the station.

Burns now joins Gordon Lightfoot and Jeff Goldblum as celebrities killed off by Twitter. The 58-year old Burns is still sick, still not in the Hall of Fame, but still alive at home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chael Sonnen does not like your accent, GSP sir

Let's take a hypothetical situation. Let's say that Shane Doan, for instance, for some reason sounds off against some French Canadien player in the National Hockey League, say, Martin St. Louis.

Let's pretend that Doan says something like "God dangit that guy sounds like a French Canadien Minnie Mouse," or something as equally ridiculous.

We'd think 'wow, that is horribly, horribly wrong,' and a national crisis would likely ensue.

Skip to reality. For some reason, Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight contender Chael Sonnen's words about French Canadien and welterweight champion and Montreal native Georges St.-Pierre went completely unnoticed by the Canadian media.

It's curious, because the anti-mixed-martial-arts crowd in Canada never skip a chance to portray its fighters and its fans as violent or bloodthirsty or what have you.

"If GSP said he wanted to fight me, the first thing I would say is the same thing I say every time I hear GSP talk, 'God dangit that guy sounds like a French-Canadian Minnie Mouse.' That's the first thing I'd say," Sonnen quipped.

"Then I'd say 'hey GSP, let me ask you a serious question. Do you have a designated driver? Do you have someone to get you home safely? Cause clearly you're intoxicated.’ I would say, ‘GSP, do you have a hankering for pain? GSP, did you lose a bet with God? GSP, bring your $3,000 suit, bring your $3 date, and get that 3 cent tan beat off your socialist back.’ That's what I would tell GSP."


Thank you, Chael, for reinforcing the stereotype. St.-Pierre, known as GSP, is ranked by Yahoo! as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and number two by Sherdog. Sonnen is best known as a middleweight underdog who came close to one of the biggest upsets in fighting history before being caught in a triangle choke with three minutes to go in his fight for the middleweight belt against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 in August. Sonnen has more to worry about than GSP, or light-heavyweight title holder Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, with his own rematch against Silva coming up early next year.

GSP's next distraction is a title defense against the equally-repugnant Josh Koscheck, the Pittsburgh-native who slammed Montreal Canadiens fans after his win at the Bell Centre during the Eastern Conference semi-finals last year. Tonight, GSP's coaching debut on 'The Ultimate Fighter' debuts opposite Koscheck, in what will surely become one of the most-watched seasons of TUF. GSP is the sports' hero, not just in Canada, and the frosted-tipped Koscheck is its perfect villain and outlaw, and at least he keeps his trash-talking with other fighters within his own weight class with guys who he will actually face.

MMA Weekly also found this nugget online, which is a nod to GSP not being impressed by Matt Hughes's win against B.J. Penn at UFC 63, and saying so in post-fight interviews.



After Silva, Sonnen wants GSP or Shogun [MMA Weekly]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

News and notes this Tuesday

-There are two big hockey stories to look at today. The fallout has evened out from yesterday's shocking, absolutely shocking revelation that Roberto Luongo would step down as Captain of the Vancouver Canucks. Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun does a nice job of arguing that Henrik Sedin should replace him. Over at The Hockey Writers, I argue the same point with the grace and maturity of the comments of the MacIntyre column.

-Then there is Sheldon Souray. His orange highness Steve Tambellini told the media that Sheldon Souray would not come to training camp. Souray's only fault, it seemed, was criticizing team management. And going minus-19 in just 37 games played.

-Speaking of Edmonton baggage, Eric Tillman has officially been named General Manager of the Eskimos. The TSN story does not skimp out on the details in the fourth paragraph of that story. Tillman is generally credited with building the current version of the Roughriders and winning that team's first Grey Cup since 1989, restoring the glory that team never had. He scouted and signed Darian Durant, Weston Dressler and Rob Bagg.

Even though he tried to hump the babysitter, Tillman and the Eskimos have drawn pretty well zero criticism through this union of geeky-faced football experts and football teams with names coming from derogatory Inuit slang.

-BC signed Ricky Foley last night. Then they didn't finalize it, but then they did today. BC has won two straight. Saskatchewan have lost 2 of 3 and Rider fans are scared. Will there be a home playoff game in pouring, pouring, despicable rain in November at Empire Stadium? Oh God I hope so.

*UPDATE* It appears that Ricky Foley has actually signed with Toronto, the rat bastard, or as Cam Cole put it on Twitter, owner David Braley "successfully outbidding himself for services of prized pass rusher."

-Defensive Player of the Week:



-Some MLS team somewhere in Canada fired their coach/manager. Never trust a guy with one first name.

-From the "Darryl Sutter is still insane" files, James Mirtle reports that Calgary tried to sign Vesa Toskala this summer. No word on whether Toskala turned the contract down because he could not in good conscience work for somebody dumb enough to sign him.

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I'll return to a full-day of posting on Friday, where I will get some CFL previews running.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This week in the CFL...

Calgary Stampeders (8-1) (-10) @ Edmonton Eskimos (2-7) O/U 55.5
Today at 9:00
Weather report: Light showers - 14/7

One of my favourite things about sports is that, on any given day, on any given field of play, any team has the chance to win. Unless they're the Edmonton Eskimos playing against somebody other than their scout team. In their last two meetings, the Stampeders have beaten the Eskimos by a combined score of 108-20.

Take the Stampeders and the over.

Montreal Alouettes (6-3) @ Hamilton TIger-Cats (5-4) (-3.5) O/U 53.5
Saturday at 1:00
Weather report: Mostly sunny - 22/13

So Montreal has lost 2 of 3 and are already showing signs of rotting. Hamilton has won four straight. Anthony Calvillo will not dress for the game, which sounds dirtier than it actually is. Rodnei Santos/Chris Leak will not necessarily be a boon to Hamilton's fifth ranked pass defense, but certainly help a team that is still vulnerable through the air.

Take the Tiger-Cats to cover, and the under. According to the official rankings, this should be the game of the week. Since no game has two legitimate starting quarterbacks, I guess we'll have to take their word for it.

Toronto Argonauts (5-4) @ BC Lions (2-7) (-6) O/U 49
Saturday at 4:05
Weather report: Light rain - 18/12

Light rain in Vancouver typically involves a storm that would be given a name on the East Coast, so there's a high chance that Toronto's passing game could be worse. Oddly enough, Cleo Lemon's passer rating has been pretty average, even in the past couple of weeks where he's thrown no touchdowns and zero interceptions. Cory Boyd will probably see his touches increase in bad weather, and BC has the second worst run defense in the league. What's worse? BC has not won at Empire Field since beating the Montreal Concordes back on November 6th in 1982.

Take the Argos plus six and the under.

Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-3) (-4.5) @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-7) O/U 57
Sunday at 1:05
Weather report: Partly cloudy - 16/7

Oobleck is also in the forecast for Sunday. If you don't know your Oobleck, you'd better learn your Dr. Seuss. Oobleck is a mysterious green substance that descends upon your city and doesn't leave, much like Rider fans. This game sold out faster than Stevie Baggs looking for an NFL career. Fun fact: Winnipeg has not won since team officials banned the beer snake.

Take Saskatchewan minus the points, as well as the under.

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Related: Last night the NFL kicked off with two high scoring offenses playing to a dramatic 14-9 win. All we need is UFL season to start and football season will be officially on!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sidney Crosby hits a homerun at PNC Park and other wacky news

-In what is the easiest joke to make in the history of lazy sports blogging, Sidney Crosby hit a homerun in batting practice at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and will be slotted into the three hole for the 47-91 Pirates' game tonight against the Atlanta Braves.

-Who has two thumbs and is from a country whose national men's soccer team won an International Friendly? This guy! Canada defeated Honduras 2-1 last night at Saputo Stadium in Montreal last night.

-So a Waterloo football player pisses into a cup... and becomes the first ever North American athlete to test positive for HGH. Friend of the 'Eh' Factor and newest Yahoo! Sports blogger Andrew Bucholtz writes on the implications this has for Waterloo, the CIS, the CFL, and sports in general. I had a joke on this, but I used it up earlier in the day.

-If the rumour of Jamie Langenbrunner being traded for Tomas Kaberle sounds ridiculous to you, it probably is. This was an Eklund rumour (which is capitalized) that has gained steam today because, well, it involves the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it involves draft picks. Forwarded to me by a friend, the rumour is "The trade would involve Tomas Kaberle and a 4th rounder ending up in NJ, With Rolston, Langenbrunner, a first in 2011, and a second in 2012." [sic]

In other related news, the negotiations between myself and the student union building for the last roasted chicken sandwich hit an impasse when I realized it cost $5.

-Oh yeah. Buck Pierce fell hard and dislocated his elbow against the Riders and his season may be in jeopardy. It may work out for him, since "not playing for the Blue Bombers during the 2010 season" looks way better on the resume than "Blue Bombers starting quarterback- 2010". Also on TSN are reports that former Olympic bobsledder Jesse Lumsden may return to football. Which is appropriate, because nothing emphasizes the Bombers' season like... ah, you know.

-Here's a rumour that might have legs, about Eric Tillman possibly locking up the Edmonton Eskimo General Manager position. Tillman likely won't make a decision until he's found a suitable babysitter in Edmonton. Also on Rod Pedersen's blog can be found excerpts from a Stevie Bagg radio interview earlier today, where it seems like he won't be coming up to Canada this year.

On Dan Ellis' financial problems

Making $1.5 million this year, Dan Ellis stands to lose a fair chunk of that. Ten per cent goes to his agent, 35 per cent of that will go to Uncle Sam, and 25 per cent of that will go into the player's escrow account.

I have a hard enough time calculating my own paycheque, but subtract those basic numbers from his base $1.5 million, he has $450,000 in net pay, or 4091 per cent more than I make as a part-time student, part-time warehouse worker and full-time rabblerouser.

Week 10 CFL Excitement Rankings

Websites and other news organizations often compile statistics to determine how good a team is and call them 'Power Rankings'. These rankings are completely meaningless since the only true indicator of how good a team is is by its win-loss record, which is the same way that the league determines it.

These rankings are not totally useless, however, since they've given the 'Eh' Factor an idea into compiling statistics to determine how exciting the team is in played games. While close defensive battles may be a signature of the game of football, we all know that long bombs and high scores put butts in the seats and close games keep you tuned in on the couch.

Call these what you will. 'Excitement Rankings' suffice for us.


There was such little change in the rankings in the Labour Day games, except for the fact that in every statistic I use, the average excitement level dropped. Hamilton won with stringent defense and an inept quarterback on the other side. Calgary was Calgary and Edmonton was Edmonton. Earlier in the weekend, BC won with a road blowout and the only game that offered any sort of drama was the Saskatchewan/Winnipeg game.

Friday, September 3, 2010

CFL Labour Day Weekend preview

August sucks.

August really sucks as a sports month, and it sucks as a month in general. Temperatures are abnormally hot and the sports world is abnormally cool. Compare it to October, say, where we have hockey, three football leagues, basketball training camps and baseball playoffs, as well as collegiate sports across the country. In August, we have a few baseball games, 3rd quarters in the NFL preseason and the WNBA.

BUT! August is over. This is perhaps why I love Labour Day weekend so much. My team, the Lions, don't even have a rivalry and I love it. I love how the Battle of Ontario actually means something this year. I love the name 'Banjo Bowl'. This is the end of summer. That long, hot, egregiously annoying summer is over. Bring on winter. This is Canada.

BC Lions (1-7) @ Montreal Alouettes (6-2) (-10) O/U 50
Tonight at 7:35
Gameday weather: Sunny, high of 31, low of 16.

Montreal beat British Columbia back at Empire Stadium back in Week 3 without scoring a touchdown, so at least they're ready for the Chris Leak era, however short it may be. How bad are the Lions? So bad that the Alouettes are playing their backup quarterback, who has as much sway in a football game as the long snapper's rottweiler, and are still favoured by 10 points.

Basic numbers through eight weeks:

Montreal, 269 points. BC, 135. Montreal, 322 passing yards per game. BC, 244. Montreal, 18 passing touchdowns. BC, 5, spread across just two different games.

If Anthony Calvillo were playing, this game would be such a mismatch that the United Nations would get involved. Luckily, he isn't, and BC may have a chance to win this game if they effectively blitz and get that mobile secondary creating Interceptions. Yonus Davis, the CFL's Special Teams player of August, is also where the Lions hold a slight advantage, which is big in a league where one or two big returns can change the course of the game. BC has yet to allow a return touchdown, but that could also mean the team hasn't kicked the ball off enough to allow the other team the chance.

I'm going to say BC covers and the teams play to the under.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-6) @ Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-3) (-10.5) O/U 57
Sunday at 4:05
Gameday weather: Thundershowers, high of 21, low of 7

The other good thing about August coming to an end is all the thunderstorm threats that pop up around Mosaic Field on any given week. For the longest time before the Roughriders started winning playoff games, this was the most important day on the football calendar, and it has a very anti-climatic feel to it.

Saskatchewan still has a shot at landing the first place bye in the West Division despite being two games back after that ridiculous loss to Edmonton last week. Darian Durant, though, is lucky that the Bombers don't have any ballhawks in the secondary, because he's been throwing picks at an impressive rate lately. In a league of eight starting quarterbacks, Durant has the seventh best passer rating.

Ten and a half looks like a lot to cover, but the Riders offense is good enough, and have blown out opponents by more than that in three of their five wins. I may as well take the over as well and look for a 40-20 or so score, in honour of college football returning.

Toronto Argonauts (5-3) @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-4) (-4.5) O/U 51
Monday at 2:35
Gameday weather: Partly cloudy, high of 24, low of 15

This game is, for once, important, and not just in a "fighting for pride" sort of way that it has been in God knows how many years past. But it would mean so much more if the CFL had four playoff teams rather than six.

Digressing, this game is so even its ridiculous. Did you know that Toronto actually give up more yards and first downs than any other team? Most of that goes through the air. As the league's worst passing defense, Toronto allow 68.8 per cent of passes to be completed, and give up 324.5 passing yards a game.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is the league's second best passing game, but are third worst in rushing defense, where Toronto continues to shine despite their drop off in defensive play from the start of the year. Cory Boyd continues to lead the league in rushing and total yards from scrimmage. His receiver/return-man counterpart Chad Owens leads the league in total yards, over 200 more than the great rookie Marcus Thigpen on the Hamilton sideline.

We have yet to have a game in the CFL this year where both teams' strengths match up well against the other team's weaknesses like this. Keep in mind the two teams are numbers one and two in the Excitement Rankings this blog maintains. Get up early and set your PVRs, because this one may yet be worth keeping.

I'm going to give the edge to Hamilton. Ivor Wynne is sold out, and four and a half points is a very reasonable number. Take the over, as well.

Edmonton Eskimos (2-6) @ Calgary Stampeders (7-1) (-12.5) O/U 54
Monday at 6:00
Gameday weather: Partly cloudy, high of 11, low of 4

So Edmonton eked out a win against Saskatchewan last week by grinding out a game during which the football gods were drunk and simply wanted to toy with both teams and their offenses.

In case you haven't noticed, Henry Burris actually does lead the league in interceptions, and Edmonton actually are tied for the lead league in interception returns. It's about there that Edmonton's advantages end, because Calgary has the tightest, most efficient defense in the league, which leads the following categories:

-First downs
-Rushing first downs
-Passing first downs
-Yards allowed
-Net yards rushing
-Average gain per rush
-Passes allowed
-Lowest completion percentage
-Points per game
-Quarterback sacks
-Passing TDs
-TDs allowed
-Fewest points

While Toronto has the league's best running back, Calgary has the league's best rushing team. Joffrey Reynolds, Jon Cornish and Henry Burris have each more than 200 yards on the ground. Reynolds has yet to fumble the football, in 101 attempts. Conversely, the Eskimos have the league's worst rushing defense.

This is such a mismatch on paper that I'm willing to completely forget last week's upset, and determine that this is going to be a total blowout and such a catastrophic end to the summer from which we will not recover.

Give Calgary the 12.5 points, plus a little extra, but take the under, because I don't think Calgary will score more than 50 points.

Now that I have sufficiently jinxed the Stampeders, we have a chance to watch a good football game. Have a good weekend. The 'Eh' factor will return on Tuesday after the long weekend, unless something big happens.