Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Big Trades

Yesterday, some big trades in the MLB and NBA took place.

On the MLB side, many teams were looking to get ready for the post-season, as yesterday was the trade deadline. There were some minor trades, but 1 stuck out from the rest.

Canadian Eric Gagne was traded today to the Boston Red Sox for left-hander Kason Gabbard, Class AAA center fielder David Murphy and Class A outfielder Engel Beltre. Although Gagne has had injury troubles in past years, he is still a great player. The Montreal native is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 16 saves for the Texas Rangers.

On the NBA side, another Boston team upgraded their team as the Boston Celtics traded for dominant big man Kevin Garnett. After months of wondering where he would end up, he is now in a place that can win. Earlier in the year, the Celtics acquired guard Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics. With Boston already having Paul Pierce, the Celtics are now instant contenders.

"Kevin Garnett is a great player in our league, with a fierce and competitive spirit, who brings offensive scoring prowess and a defensive presence to our team," said executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "The players we're trading to Minnesota have bright futures in the NBA and we wish them well."

Boston did give up a lot though as heading to Minnesota are forwards Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes; guards Gerald Green and Sebastian Telfair; center Theo Ratliff and two draft picks. One pick is Boston's 2009 first-round selection and the second is the pick Boston acquired from Minnesota in the Wally Szczerbiak-Ricky Davis trade. The Timberwolves also receive cash considerations in the deal.

"This trade is about improving the Minnesota Timberwolves and improving our team for the future," said Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale. "The past few seasons our on-court performance has been disappointing to our fans, myself, Glen Taylor and the entire organization. Through this trade, we have obtained very talented, young players with a lot of potential, future flexibility with the salary cap and two future first-round NBA draft picks. This will not be an overnight fix, but it is the big step in renewing our commitment to build an exciting franchise for our fans."

The city of Boston should brace themselves, because this next year is going to be a wild ride.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Braves Land Teixeira From Rangers

In the 1st big MLB trade of the season, Mark Teixeira, the slugger from Texas was traded to Atlanta today.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 27-year old was shipped off to Atlanta with pitcher Ron Mahay and picked up rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, minor league shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitcher Matt Harrison and a player to be named.

Teixeira has 13 homers and 49 RBI this season, but did miss about a month with injury troubles.

Saltalamacchia is a 22-year-old switch-hitter who can also play first base and was hitting .284 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 141 at-bats for the Braves. Feliz is a 19-year-old left-hander who is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in seven games, including six starts, for the Braves' Rookie League team in Danville (Va.). Andrus is a shortstop who is hitting .244 with three home runs and 37 RBIs at Class A Myrtle Beach. He has 25 stolen bases.

This trade is probably the 1st of many to come in the next few days.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who's Left?

Most of the NHL free-agents have been signed, but there are still some quality players out on the market.


Centre- Peter Forsberg. The 34-year old from Sweden had yet another injury riddled season, as lingering foot problems took some of the jump from his game. But Forsberg still managed 55 points with the Flyers and the Preds. He should go for $4-6 million dollars per year with 1-2 years, because of his injury troubles.

Right Wing- Teemu Selanne. Selanne didn't miss a beat in his 17th NHL season scoring 94 points and coming 2nd in the Rocket Richard trophy race. Selanne has expressed little intrest in retiring at the ripe age of 37, and should probably get $4-5 million dollars in a short-term deal.

Left Wing- Nils Ekman. Ekman had a rough season playing only 34 games, but did manage to get 15 points. He has shown over his short flashes of greatness scoring 21 goals for San Jose in the '05-06 season. He should get signed for $2-3 million dollars and 2-3 years.


Danny Markov- Markov had a great year with Detroit playing as a solid 2nd line defenceman for the entire season. He still has some years on him, so maybe 3 years and $2 million for Markov

Andy Sutton- He played a good Atlanta team last and like Markov is a good 2nd line defenceman. He had a bad year in terms of offence, but has shown in the past that he can produce. 2 years and $1.5 million for Sutton.


Curtis Joseph - The veteran goalie had another good year with a bad Phoenix team. His age seems to keeping teams away from him. Although he is past his prime, he can still produce, so probably 1 year and $1-2 million dollars for Cujo.

There are many other players that are out on the market that can produce, but those are the best 6.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Roy Signs Long-Term With Buffalo

Derek Roy of the Buffalo Sabres earned $627,000 last year and was supposed to be an average 3rd-line centre. But he quickly joined Thomas Vanek as the future stars for the Sabres.

Roy had 63 points last year with Buffalo, good for 5th best on the team, which is amazing considering the Sabres had players like Chris Drury and Daniel Briere in their lineup. Today he got rewarded for his hard work with a new 6-year, $24 million dollar contract, which is $4 million per year.

The announcement of this deal came just before Roy was scheduled for salary arbitration in Toronto.

He will be counted on to play a big role next year with the Sabres after the departure of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. He, Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov will have to be the top forwards for Buffalo next year.

''Derek is a solid young player who will only continue to improve,'' general manager Darcy Regier said in a statement. ''He will play an increased role for our club, and we look forward to having such a quality player in our organization for many years to come.''

Roy should continue to become one of the best players in the NHL.

Oilers Sign Penner To Offer Sheet

The Edmonton Oilers are back at it tendering another offer sheet to a restricted free-agent.

Edmonton signed Dustin Penner, a group 2 restricted free-agent tendering a five year, $21.25 million offer sheet to Penner. This is the 2nd time this year that the Oilers have gone after a restricted free-agent after failing to pick up Tomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres.

The Ducks have 7 days to match the Oilers offer, and if they don't, get a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick from the Oilers!

''We're going to wait and see what happens here in the next seven days before we make a comment,'' Penner's agent Gerry Johannson told The Canadian Press.

Penner had 29 goals and 16 assists in his 1st full NHL season last year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Staal Brothers Arrested

It seems there is a discipline problem in sports. The MLB, NFL, and NBA all have troubles, but the NHL seemed to be okay. After today, NHL fans can't say that.

2 Staal brothers, Jordan and Eric were arrested after a weekend bachelor party for Eric. It appeared that the brothers and 12 other members were drunk at the Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas, about 90 minutes south of the Thunder Bay, Ontario., hometown of the Staal brothers. After multiple warnings, the group was ordered out of the building. But the problems didn't stop there. ''After leaving the property, the group gathered on Highway 61 and began harassing passing motorists,'' the Sheriff's release said. ''At approximately 4 a.m. the suspects were placed under arrest for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Some of the suspects fled in to the nearby woods.''

Eric was one of 10 people to spend the night in jail, and Jordan was released a booking but not before being charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age, in addition to disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

''I'm sure that everyone involved is embarrassed about the incident - as they should be,'' Rick Curran, the agent for both players, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. ''Not to take anything away from the seriousness of it, it's what can happen when you get any group of 15 to 20 people together and there's loud noise.''

Yet another discipline problem that the sports community has to endure.

"Worst Situation"

David Stern,the commissioner of the NBA addressed the betting allegations against retired NBA ref Tim Donaghy yesterday. It was the 1st time since the news hit the public that he spoke about the issue, and he looked like a guy who hadn't slept in days.

As I said in my last post about this, Donaghy may have gambled on NBA games he officiated and didn't. It is so serious, that the FBI is investigating the situation! "I feel betrayed by what happened on behalf of the sport, regardless of how protective I've been," Stern said. "This is not something that is anything other than an act of betrayal of what we know in sports as a sacred trust."

"Not only aren't they permitted to either gamble or provide information to people," Stern said, "they may not even provide other than to their immediate family the details of their travel schedules or the games they are going to work."

The FBI contacted Stern shortly after the NBA Finals had ended, June 20th to talk about a ref that might of been gambling on games. Donaghy resigned on July 9th, just 19 days after the FBI contacted the NBA.

"I can tell you that this is the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA," said Stern, who has held the top post for 23 years.

"This is something that is the worst that could happen to a professional sports league," Stern said. "And I want to say on the other hand that we are going to make good on the covenant that we believe we have with our fans, and I pledge that my involvement will be as intense and complete as it can possibly be." Well at least someone is acting responsibly.

Right now, the NBA is just 1 of 3 of the 4 major sports in North America have some controversy surrounding them? The NFL has Micheal Vick and dog fighting. The MLB has steroids and Bud Selig's hesitation to go to Barry Bonds' potential home run record tying or breaking games. And then this situation with the NBA.

What is going on with the sports leagues right now? With all this controversy it is really hard for kids to look up at these athletes and want to be them. Many great athletes have used steroid or gambles or done some sort of illegal action. I say that all these players and officials of these leagues better get their act together, or their PR will be ruined forever.

Lets Go Streaking

The Toronto Blue Jays have been defined by 2 things this year. Their injuries and the 9-game losing streak in May. For the entire year the Jays have been trying to make up for that 9-game losing streak. And now, the Jays are going on another streak, and this time, it's the good kind.

One of the MLB's best young pitchers in Dustin McGowan took the hill for the Jays yesterday against the Minnesota Twins trying to get the Jays 4th straight win, which would tie a season high for them this season. McGowan was also trying to get the Jays back to the .500 level.

After 2 1/2 scoreless innings, John McDonald drove home Aaron Hill with a safety squeeze to give the Jays the 1-run lead. Next inning, the Hays would score again as Vernon Wells blasted his 1st home run since July 6th into the bullpen to increase the Jays lead by 2.

While the bats were driving in runs, McGowan was silencing the Minnesota bats as he pitched scoreless inning after scoreless inning. Toronto would get some insurance runs in the 7th and 8th, and McGowan would go 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The Jays bullpen then did their job to seal a 7-0 blow out win for the Jays.

This was the Jays 3rd shutout win in the last 4 games. The main reason for this are the starters. The 3 starters who pitched in the shutout games each went 7 or more innings. Gregg Zaun was quick to compliment McGowan's performance, as Zaun caught for him yesterday. "I can see his confidence building with every start, good or bid," Zaun said of McGowan, who has won three of his past four starts.

"I think the biggest difference for Dustin is knowing he's going to get the ball every fifth day. He doesn't have to go home and sweat and worry and look over his shoulder and thinking `are (manager John Gibbons) and (general manager) J.P. (Ricciardi) going to give up on me today and ship me back to the bullpen or even worse, to (triple-A) Syracuse. He doesn't have to worry about that right now. We're going to run him out there every fifth day and let him develop and continue to grow as a player and he's sure starting to respond."

Toronto's Jesse Litsch will try to get a sweep for the Jays when he takes the mound for them this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Goodell Puts His Foot Down

In the few months that Roger Goodell has been commissioner of the NFL, he has shown that he is not afraid of making big moves. He already suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Pacman Jones for the entire 2007-08 NFL season, and he is already taking disciplinary action on Micheal Vick.

The QB from Atlanta has been been indicted for being at multiple dog fights in past years. Dogs would be trained to kill, and if a dog were to lose and survive, would be hung, electrocuted or shot. Vick's 1st court hearing is on the 1st day of Falcons' training camp.

Goodell made the 1st move of disciplinary action yesterday, ordering Vick to not report to training camp. To the Falcon faithful, taking action before Vick has been proven guilty may be a little pre-mature, but Goodell wrote a letter to Micheal Vick clearing that issue up.

"While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy," Goodell wrote in the letter to Vick.

Vick is just 1 of many sports athletes that have chosen illegal activities, than using their sports talents. Some examples of these people are Ricky Williams with marijuana and Pete Rose with gambling.

No matter what happens with this case though, Micheal Vick's good reputation is now forever gone.

Emery Cashes In

The Ottawa Senators have avoided salary arbitration with Ray Emery by signing him to a last-minute contract today.

According to TSN, Emery has signed for 3 years and $9.5 million dollars, which is $3.16 million per year. This is a big raise from the $925,000 he earned last season.

Emery had a break-out season last year beating out Martin Gerber for the number 1 goalie spot, and leading the Sens to they Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in 5 games to the NHL champs, The Anaheim Ducks.

Emery is now another young star that has signed a new, multi-million dollar contract. Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers signed for $3 million after 2 stellar years in goal. Sidney Crosby also cashed in signing a 5-year, $43.5 million contract extension which is worth about $8.7 million per year.

These young kids are growing up before our eyes, and now, they are getting grown-up money as well.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Final-Round Thrill Ride At Carnoustie

Sergio Garcia, a person who is notorious in giving up leads on Sunday had a chance to win one of the PGA's biggest tournaments yesterday.

Garcia started the day 3 strokes up on the 2nd place player in the British Open yesterday. He started his round well staying par threw the 1st 6, but then got 2 straight bogeys to go down to 7-. Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington was having a great round getting birdie after birdie and getting closer to the lead. Garcia then got 2 straight birdies on the 13th and 14th to get a big lead. He would then bogey the next hole though. Harrington kept up the pace getting a eagle on 14 and having the lead going into the final hole.

But on the final hole, he hit it into the water twice to double-bogey! This meant that Garcia needed a par to win the Championship. After hitting his fairway shot in the sand, he hit it onto the green to give himself a 12-foot putt for the win. But it just went left, so Garcia and Harrington went to a 4-hole playoff.

Skip to the final hole, Garcia needed a long birdie put for a tie after Harrington got the lead on then 1st hole. Garcia again burned the edge of the hole leaving the door wide open for Harrington to win the Open with a 3-foot putt. He made it becoming the 1st Irishman more than 50 years to win the Open.

After the round, all of the talk was about Sergio blowing it yet again. "To tell you the truth, I don't feel like I did anything wrong," said Garcia, who closed with a 73 and was 1 over in the playoff. "I really didn't miss a shot in the playoff. I hit unbelievable putts. They just didn't go in."

He had a change of heart in the next interview. "I should write a book on how not to miss a shot and not win a playoff."

Harrington also talked about this win and what it meant for him. "I think if I had lost, it would have been hard to take it," Harrington said. "But because I had a chance, I didn't let myself get down about taking a 6. I convinced myself if there was a playoff, I would do the best in it."

He certainly did do the best he could.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Ultimate NBA Nightmare

Sports are very strange in a way. Playing sports is the only way you can fight without getting thrown in jail. There are a lot of things that you can do in sports that you can't do outside of the arena. When someone crosses that line, you know that person has done something extremely wrong.

The FBI is investigating that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games over the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, including ones in which he officiated. Apparently Donaghy made calls during the game to effect the point spread of the games for him and his "mobster" friends.

Donaghy has a gambling issue in his life, but this is to far. To put into perspective on how devastating this is to the NBA, Scott Soshnick, a Bloomberg sports columnist said, "David Stern would rather have Shaquille O'Neal in the middle of a dog fighting scandal", referring to Micheal Vick. The law enforcement official said the bets involved thousands of dollars and were made on games during the 2005-'06 and 2006-'07 seasons.

''As we previously stated, we have been co-operating with the FBI in their investigation of allegations that a single NBA referee bet on NBA games that he officiated,'' commissioner David Stern said in a statement Friday afternoon.

''We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again.''

It is safe to say that right now, everyone agrees with David Stern.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yashin Goes Home

Russian native Alexei Yashin has signed a 1-year contract with Locomotiv (Yaroslavl) of the Russian League today. After 12 seasons in the NHL where he has underachieved and been hated, he has finally gone to a place where he will be appreciated.

The 33-year old had 50 points in 58 games last year, and looked like he would be a good number 2 centre for any team. He became an unrestricted free agent after the Islanders bought out the remaining four years of his 10-year contract.

"Alexei has a history with Yaroslavl, having played several games for them during the lockout," Todd Diamond, who represents Yashin along with Mark Gandler, told CP on Friday. "He feels comfortable with them, having a North American coach (Paul Gardner) and a former teammate, Randy Robitaille, being there as well next season."

"They came after him very strongly," said Diamond. "He's going to go there and have a great year. . We'll see where we are 10 months from now.

It seems that Alexei Yashin's NHL career may be over, and many people will remember him, for all of the wrong reasons.

Bonds Hits 2 Out To Break Slump

For the 1st time in the last 3 games, Barry Bonds was in the San Francisco Giants starting lineup yesterday. He did not disappoint breaking out of the slump that got him sidelined in the 1st place.

In the 2nd inning against Cub's starter Ted Lilly, Bonds swung at the 1st pitch he saw and pounded it out of the part for his 752nd home run of his career. In his 2nd at-bat, he drove in 2 runs with a bases loaded single. And then, in his 3rd at-bat, Barry came up with 2 men on. He whacked to centre field for his 753rd home run. But Bonds' 2 homer, 6 RBI effort was not enough for the Giants to win as the Cubs took this one 9-8.

"It's (feels) real now," Bonds said, swarmed by media in a makeshift dugout press conference at Wrigley Field. "I had to get over them switching those baseballs. Any time that happens, I kind of go into a slide. It's tough because you actually really realize something's going on and you don't really want to think about it. . But when they stop it for a second and switch baseballs, it's very hard to not know something's happening right in front of you."

Bonds next 3 games will be in Milwaukee, a perfect place to hit 756. Hank Aaron's last games where at Milwaukee, and Commissioner Bud Selig is a Milwaukee native. Selig still has not said he will try to attend the game when Barry breaks the MLB all-time home run record.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Accardo Blows It in 9th

Yankees Stadium can be overwhelming for some. With all the it's history and the great fans, it tough to concentrate. Jeremy Accardo found that out last night the hard way.

After both teams scored runs in the 1st, it turned into a pitching duel between Roy Halladay and Andy Pettitte. The 2 pitchers both threw 6 scoreless innings after the shaky 1st, but then they each got pulled. So in the top of the 8th, Kyle Farnsworth came in for the Yanks.

He struggled giving up a single to Howie Clark, and then later letting him get to 2nd. Aaron Hill then drove him in to give the Jays the lead going into the final innings of the game. Scott Downs shut out the Yankees in the 8th, and Brian Bruney did the same to the Jays in the top of 9th.

So it was up to Jeremy Accardo to get the save and the win for the Jays. Miguel Cairo got to 2nd as a pinch-runner for Andy Phillips, but was thrown out by Alex Rios when he went home after a Melky Cabrera single. But the Jays weren't out of it yet, as on the at-bat, Cabrera went all the way to 3rd off a steal. Then the unthinkable happened. The craziest thing that could happen in the MLB happened. Accardo balked in the tying run! He stepped off the mound during his windup, and balked. But he then got the 2nd and 3rd out to send it to extras.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Casey Janssen gave up a hit to the gap to Robinson Cano with a runner on 2nd. This ended up with the Yankees winning 3-2.

After the game, all of the talk was about Accardo's balk. ''I caught a cleat and was going to step off. Dumbest thing I've ever done,'' Accardo said. ''I kind of let things get out of hand. I gave up the leadoff single and I started pressing. ''It's a mental mistake. You can't get beat by those. If you're going to get beat, get beat by the hitter,'' he added.

''I've seen some crazy stuff. I can't remember seeing that,'' Halladay said. ''It can be a tough place to play, and things like that happen from time to time.''

The Yankees have turned it on the past few games, and are looking like they might give the Red Sox a run for their money. ''We just seem to be playing with something in mind right now,'' manager Joe Torre said. ''I think we're at a point now, because good things have happened when we've come after people, that when we lose a game like this it's going to be a surprise.''

Lost in the excitment of the end of the game was the pitching performances. Both Andy Pettitte and Roy Halladay put together amazing 7 inning starts giving up just a run each. Halladay gave up one run and five hits. He struck out six and walked three.

''It's nice to win a close game, that's for sure,'' Pettitte said. ''I knew it was going to be a tough game. Roy was throwing as good as I've ever seen him.''

Pettitte fanned a season-best seven over seven innings, allowing seven hits and three walks. It was the left-hander's sixth no-decision when allowing no more than two earned runs. 'To me, Andy made it all possible, because the only way you're going to have a chance against Halladay is to match him and he certainly did that,'' Torre said.

The Jays will try to win the next 2 games of this series to salvage a split.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sens Send Schaefer to Bruins

Peter Schaefer is now a Boston Bruin. Today the Ottawa Senators traded the 3-year old forward from Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan to the Bruins for former Calgary forward Shean Donovan. The move was made to clear up some cap room for some up-coming moves that must be made.

These moves are re-signing players for next year. Some of these players include starting goaltender Ray Emery, centre Chris Kelly and defenceman Christoph Schubert - all of whom are scheduled for salary arbitration. But the team also has three key players to try and re-sign after the 2007-08 season - winger Dany Heatley, centre Jason Spezza and veteran defenceman Wade Redden.

All these players are very valuable to the Senators, who haven't made any big free-agent signings in case these players to leave next year.

If the Sens can't sign the majority of these players, they may go from one of the NHL's top teams, to a bottom-feeder.

Penguins Ink Therrien

The NHL team with the brightest future has just inked a big part of the next few years to come.

Head Coach Michel Therrien has signed a contract extension through the '08-09 season. Therrien led the Penguins to the Atlantic Division title with 105 points last year and their 1st playoff berth since 2001 last year.

The Penguins GM Ray Shero announced the extension on Monday. “He had a year left, so he wasn’t going anywhere, nor did he want to go anywhere, but I really believe that showing faith in your coaching staff and head coach, especially after the year he had, gives some stability to the franchise, which is important. I think this is just another step in the right direction for us,” Shero said. “What I talked to him about was, if I came in last year and there wasn’t a coach in place and I had hired somebody, I would have hired him for three years. A three-year contract is pretty standard and he has two years left, so he was very agreeable to that. I am hopeful this is something that is going to turn into something more long-term. We’ll see how things go moving forward. It’s well deserved."

Therrien will try to improve on last years 1st round elimination, with young players like Sidney Crosby and Jordan Stall getting better.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lights Out Litsch

With the Toronto Blue Jays finally healthy, they faced the Boston Red Sox yesterday in the last of 4 games in that series. With 35km/h winds going, it was a pitching duel out of all things.

The Jays drew 1st blood in this game, as Aaron Hill and Royce Clayton both drove in a run to give the Jays a 2-0 lead. Then after 3 scoreless innings, the Sox got a unearned run off Litsch. Alex Rios made an error in the outfield that let the eventual run get on base. The inning could of gone much worse, but Rios made up for his mistake by throwing David Ortiz out at home plate.

From then on it was a pitching duel. The Jays relievers did the job against the Sox big hitters and didn't give up another run. The Sox pitchers were also lights out, so the final score was 2-1.

This is the type of game that the Jays need more of. Games they shouldn't of won, but they win anyway. Those are the type of wins that good teams have. "That's the way the game works," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "You go out there and look at the way the flag was blowing today, you never would've expected it to be 2-1. He was great."

The wind also played a big part in the game. The outfield seemed to have the biggest trouble. With the Blue Jays leading, 2-0, in the sixth, Red Sox second baseman Alex Cora drilled an offering from Litsch (2-3) into center field. Wells turned and sprinted after the ball, but his jump was delayed just enough to allow it to fall over his outstretched glove for a leadoff double.

"The weird thing was, Coco Crisp hit me a ball the inning before the same height as Cora's," said Wells, referring to an inning-ending catch he made in the fifth. "Cora's took off and Coco's stayed there. It's good to get out of here. It was totally unpredictable."

Another incident was when Alex Rios seemed to be tracking the ball, but then had to dive for it and ended up losing it. "We were both going that way and I took a look at him," Wells explained. "I saw him kind of go up with his glove. So, I was like, 'OK, he has it.' I went to back him up, and all of a sudden he's diving for it. It's one of those things. In this park, you never know what's going to happen."

The Jays will now play the Yankees today. Toronto will try to cut down Boston's lead in the division, which is the greatest on a 2nd place team in the MLB.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Remembering John Ferguson Sr.

John Ferguson Sr., one of the 1st real enforcers in the NHL died yesterday in his home in Windsor, Ontario.

The 68 year-old defended all of the great Canadiens of the 1960's. He got in his 1st fight just 12 seconds into his 1st game in the NHL! ''He was tough, he wanted the best for his teams, his teammates and his players, and his country, and would stop at nothing to try to help them win. His fight against cancer was every bit as fierce as his competitive drive on and off the ice.''

But he was more than just an enforcer. He scored 20 goals 2 times in his career. He scored 145 goals and 303 points in his career while tailing up 1,214 penalty minutes. He won 5 Stanley Cups in his playing career.

After retiring from playing hockey in 1971, Ferguson pursued his coaching career. It didn't take him long to get a job, as he was an assistant coach on the famous 1972 Canada team. He then spent a short time as the head coach of the New York Rangers, and then became the GM of that same Rangers team. He later was GM of the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association and, starting in 1979, the National Hockey League. Later, he worked for the Ottawa Senators in the early 1990s and was a Special Consultant to the General Manager of the San Jose Sharks.

His son, John Ferguson Jr. followed in his dad's footsteps becoming the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. ''My father battled cancer with the same spirit in which he played the game of hockey,'' Ferguson Jr., said in a release. ''He showed courage, strength, class and tremendous character. He had deep appreciation for the support he'd received from so many people beginning with his initial diagnosis."

A beast on the ice, but nothing short of a gentleman off it, Ferguson died at 68. A 2nd battle with prostate cancer took his life.

John Ferguson Sr. (1938-2007) ''My father's spirit will continue to live on in all of us whose lives he touched.'' - Ferguson Jr.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What Can You Do?

It's seems things can't get any worse for the Montreal Canadiens . After missing the playoffs for the 1st time in 2 years, the Habs looked to get better offensively and get a substitute for Sheldon Souray during the NHL free-agent signing period. But that plan is very quickly falling a part for Bob Gainey and the Montreal Canadiens.

After the 1st day of July was done (which was the 1st day of free-agency), almost all of the big names in the free-agent market were gone. Daniel Briere signed an 8-year, $52 million with Philadelphia, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez both signed on with the Rangers, Ryan Smyth went to the Avalanche and Jason Blake signed on with Toronto. Other notable signings include Paul Kariya going to the Blues and Brian Rafalski to the Red Wings.

But where you might ask are the Canadiens in this signing frenzy? Your 1st reaction might be that they didn't try for anyone, or at least didn't make a very good try at anyone. But this is where we get to the problem. The Canadiens did try for some of players, and they made good offers as well. So good, that they offered more money to Ryan Smyth, Paul Kariya and Quebec boy Daniel Briere than they signed for.

These players all signed lucrative contracts, and to think that the Habs offered more money is mind boggling. So what is the Habs answer to this problem, that players don't want to play in Montreal? Well, to the dismay of Habs fans everywhere, there isn't one. The Canadiens can't help it, if players don't want to learn french. The Canadiens can't help it, if free-agents sign for less money, than what they offered.

So the Habs plan to upgrade their offense is gone, but what about their defence? Well the Habs where so caught up in trying to sign offence, they missed out on all of the big defence men. Rafalski as I already told you went to Detroit, Matthieu Schneider went to the Ducks and Scott Hannan signed with Colorado. So the Canadiens solution to Sheldon Souray's is..., Roman Hamrlik? Yes the defence man who was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread, and then never developed signed with the Habs for 4 years and $22 million! It was quite evident to the world that they Habs signed him for to much, but what happened next was a shocking blow too Montreal.

Sheldon Souray, who was supposed to sign for $6-7 million in either the free-agent market or in a contract extension with the Habs ended up going to Edmonton for 5 years and $27 million! Do the math and Hamrlik, a liability offensively and not much better on defence will make $100,000 more than Souray!

Now, Montreal couldn't of seen the massive under payment of Souray coming. But really, the Habs free-agent troubles are getting embarrassing.