|By: Mitchell Blair|
GREAT DEBUT -- Well done CFL! The first week of games were tremendous with the first three coming right down to the last play before we knew what the verdict was going to be. You can't really ask for anything better than that as a fan. Yes, those who bleed green-and-white wish the last play of their game would have been better, but Week 1 was full of excitement. While the Toronto-Hamilton game was a one-sided affair, you can see Ricky Ray could be re-juvenated under Marc Trestman the way Anthony Calvillo was, and SJ Green was SJ Green which is bad news for secondaries and defensive co-ordinators around the league.
Say what you will about him, but Corey Chamblin had the Argos defence looking good as well, Let us also remember it is also Week 1. I think it is safe to say though that if we can get games like what we saw this weekend it will be good for the CFL as a whole.
KICKERS - Rider Nation isn't the only one gnashing their teeth over the late game play of kickers. Safe to say, it wasn't a good week for those guys. Alphabet in Toronto had a kick blocked that went back for a touchdown, but that wasn't when the game was on the line. We know what Crapigna did, and he had company with the usually-dependable Rene Paredes and BC's Ty Long. Long's performance made me wonder if Wally was looking through his contacts to see if he still had Paul McCallum's number. Rider radio analyst Luc Mullinder sent out a tweet Saturday night saying Week 1 kicking in the CFL has been ____________! I'm guessing we know what some of the answers were.
CAN THAT STATEMENT BE REVIEWED? -- On Saturday night, TSN's Farhan Lalji came on saying he had spoken to Glen Johnson about two controversial calls that were not changed even though they probably should have been in the Riders-Montreal game and the Calgary-Ottawa game. The reason being they weren't "egregious" enough. Excuse me?!
Johnson told Lalji "They want replay to be just about egregious calls that have been missed, they don’t want grey area. So if it takes two-and-a-half to three minutes to make sure the call gets exactly right, that means that call was too close to overturn."
He goes on to say "Those were not egregious calls. In the minute, minute-and-a-half we want to take to make these decisions in an effort to speed up replay, not slow down the pace of the game, those calls did not meet the standard for obvious, egregious mistakes and we’re just not going to overturn those types of calls. That’s going to be something people around the league are going to have to get used to.'”
I'll just leave that there and let you react accordingly.
WHO IS NUMBER TWO? Sportsnet is asking Blue Jays fans to rank the top 40 players to have worn the Toronto uniform. There is no doubt Robbie Alomar will be number one when all is said and done. Who is number two though? Roy Halladay would get my vote. If they're going to retire Mark Buehrle's # in Chicago, then perhaps it is Toronto's time to retire another number other than the 12 once worn by Alomar. In thinking about it, and by no means is this gospel---the top 5 Jays in my mind would be Alomar, Halladay, George Bell, Joe Carter and Dave Stieb.
WHO WON THE NHL DRAFT - I don't know if one team won the draft, but one country did. When did Finnish hockey become so popular? 12 Finns went in the first two rounds. Compare that to the entire Quebec Junior Hockey League who only saw 14 players get drafted in total. I like what Vegas did, I like what Columbus did in getting Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad and I liked St. Louis' draft. The kid they took at 20--Robert Thomas--was the guy I was hoping to see fall to Edmonton at 22. I also like Calgary's acquistion of Travis Hamonic although it was a little steep when it came to the price they paid for him. Is the Battle of Alberta coming back. You bet it is!
NHL FREE AGENCY: As New York Rangers players cleaned out their lockers after a second-round playoff exit, all the talk was about impending change.
That's just getting started - for the Rangers and the rest of the NHL.
Big moves leading up to and at the draft by the Rangers, rival New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks and others set up a potentially crazy week to come going into free agency. Teams could begin talking to pending free agents Sunday and can sign them starting Saturday afternoon, and in between there could be plenty more movement now that the Vegas expansion draft is over and the foundation has been laid for trades.
Here are some things to watch for this week:
New York already acquired winger Jordan Eberle from Edmonton for Ryan Strome and traded defenceman Travis Hamonic to Calgary for picks, but no one believes Garth Snow is done. Captain John Tavares can be an unrestricted free agent in a year and Snow said he'd like the star centre to retire with the Islanders - and there's some work to do to get back into playoff contention.
That's why Snow said it's very possible the Islanders use draft picks they got from the Flames for Hamonic "as a currency in a future player transaction.'' Duchene would fit the bill, but he won't come cheap, and the Avalanche won't have a shortage of suitors.
Within the past 10 days, Arizona has traded starting goaltender Mike Smith, told captain and face of the franchise Shane Doan they're moving on, parted ways with coach Dave Tippett and traded for Stepan, Rangers backup Antti Raanta and Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The youth movement is on for the Coyotes, but they haven't made the playoffs since 2012 and new sole owner Andrew Barroway isn't afraid to shake things up.
The only question is, what comes next? Arizona has roughly $25 million in cap space and can make some splashes with more deals or free agent signings.
IT'S ALWAYS A GOALIE CONTROVERSY IN PHILADELPHIA
The goaltender carousel has stopped spinning after Carolina acquired Scott Darling, Dallas landed Ben Bishop, the Flames picked up Smith and the Coyotes got Raanta. That leaves the Philadelphia Flyers, no strangers to goaltending predicaments, as the only potential playoff contender in search of a starter.
The Flyers could run it back with Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, inquire with Vegas about 27-year-old Calvin Pickard or look to sign someone such as Jonathan Bernier, Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott or Mike Condon.
RE-DO IN FLORIDA
Since Tallon reassumed control of Florida's front office, he has taken steps to undo a lot of what former GM Tom Rowe did last summer and put his own stamp back on the Panthers. Tallon cleared $5 million cap space by trading Reilly Smith to Vegas and said he'll be ``aggressive moving forward'' and attack July 1 with a defined plan in place.
PENGUINS MARCH ON
Changes are afoot in Pittsburgh with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury already gone to Vegas and Daley, Nick Bonino, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cullen and Ron Hainsey set to be unrestricted free agents. With Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary among those needing new contracts, GM Jim Rutherford told free agents to test the market and come back to him, so the Penguins could look very different just three weeks after another Cup parade.
SHATTENKIRK SHOULD GET PAID
The Capitals committed big money to winger T.J. Oshie with a $46 million, eight-year deal, but they're unlikely to re-sign Shattenkirk, Williams, Karl Alzner and Daniel Winnik. Shattenkirk, 28, wants to be a No. 1 defenceman and is a good bet to sign the richest contract of any free agent Saturday.
"I've kind of done it all and I want the opportunity to do it consistently,'' Shattenkirk said. ``I have to prove myself and get that opportunity and run with it, but hopefully it's out there.''
(With files from Canadian Press)