1 – NHL STILL BORING: As someone who grew up on a farm playing hockey in a small town on the prairies, it still bothers me to see how uninteresting the NHL has become. Scoring might be up this season to just under 6 goals per game but not nearly enough. They averaged 9.5 goals per game when they started the NHL 100 years ago and it jumped back up to 8.5 goals per game during the scintillating era a la Gretzky and Lemieux in the 1980s. Jacques Lemaire ruined a great thing with his neutral zone trap of a Stanley Cup win with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 and the copy-cat league has never fully recovered. They could fix this problem with my 3-step approach, but explaining that would take up far too much space than I’m allowed here.
2 – WILDER RIGHT, ARGOS WRONG: Nothing bothers me more than some old, rich football executive telling a star player to suck it up and play for less than he’s worth. Argos GM Jim Popp is reportedly pulling down roughly half a million dollars/season to find players. James Wilder Jr. is due to make $56,000 Canadian next year to be the running back of the Toronto Argonauts. He plans to sit out and work construction instead. A ploy by he and his agent to pry more cash out of the Argos? Probably. But can anyone honestly say his contributions to the Argo Grey Cup this past November wouldn’t warrant a hefty raise? I say “PAY THE MAN”! Offer him $150 k per year over the next two seasons. That way, he gets his money and the Argos/CFL keep a stud talent from the NFL for at least 2 more years.
3 – XFL RELAUNCH OFFERS NOTHING NEW: Vince McMahon plans to spend the next 2 years “listening” beforebringing back the XFL in 2020. “Listening” is always a great quality in any business leader, politician or coach. But it’s not enough. You need a vision. His introductory speech didn’t offer one. Look for this edition of the XFL to get a lot of attention, Vince to flush a lot of money down the drain and to fail just like the first one did.
4 – MANZIEL MANIA A DUD: Johnny Manziel’s social media posts and ultimatums through his agent have done little to inspire confidence from this scribe that he’s put his past behind him and is ready for a fresh start. I was excited about the media hype this project would create at first, but have since downgraded my expectations with this to match Matt Nichols, Bob Irving and Dave Campbell in the thought of “Sign, don’t sign. Let’s just move on already.”
5 –TOO MANY ARE WRITING OFF THE ALOUETTES: CFL fans/analysts everywhere are already writing off the Montreal Alouettes and their management team lead by GM Kavis Reed. The Wetenhall family are still very smart business people and dad (owner, Bob) still loves the Alouettes. He’s allowing sons Andrew and Bob Jr. to figure this one out on their own. They are both very savvy business people in their own right and will get this project figured out eventually.
6 – NHL HAS TOO MUCH PARITY: You always want some level of parity. The late 90’s were a disaster for both the NHL and Major League Baseball. Small market teams had to choose between sucking or going broke trying to compete with the New York Yankees and Detroit Red Wings of the world. Nobody wants to go back to that. But seriously, an expansion team like the Vegas Golden Knights fighting for the league’s best record heading into the all-star break? That’s embarrassing.
7 – BELICHICK DESERVES MORE RESPECT: The New England Patriots get a raw deal from the mainstream fans/media over such transgressions as recording other team’s signals (Don Matthews did it all the time) and deflating footballs(seriously). As a Denver Bronco fan, it pains me to admit the Patriots are the greatest dynasty of the salary cap era in any sport, let alone greatest football dynasty of the Super Bowl era. Coach Bill deserves his due for thriving in a dual coach-GM role which has eaten so many others alive.
8 – NFL SHOULD BUILD THEIR OWN STADIUMS: I’ve made many a trek to NFL games including the old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis before they tore it down a few years ago to build US Bank Stadium on the same site which will host Super Bowl 52 in a just over a week. It’s a beautiful facility and very unique but I just can’t bring myself to perpetuate the use of more than a half billion dollars of taxpayer money to make the NFL richer than it already is. It’s a 14-billion-dollar industry and yet continues to bend regular joe’s over with the threat of losing their franchise. This kind of behavior is what forces other municipalities/state or provincial governments to do the same just to stay competitive. It’s partly why the Montreal Expos, Quebec Nordiques and Vancouver Grizzlies no longer exist. We don’t put up with nearly as much of that BS as they do down south which makes me proud to be Canadian.
9 – WENTZ NOT GETTING ENOUGH KUDOS: I feel for Carson Wentz because the one chance for the North Dakota kid to play in a Super Bowl within an 8-hour drive from his parents’ home was snatched away from him by that knee injury late in the season. Not only has he not sulked, but he has even hobbled down to the sideline to help calm Nick Foles down so he performs. Wentz has even cracked a smile or 2 while at it. Could you imagine Tom Brady doing it if he were in the same spot? I can’t see it.
10 – DURON CARTER NEEDS BETTER MARKETING FROM THE CFL: With NFL players making so much more than CFL players these days, it really was refreshing to see Duron Carter re-sign for another year with the Roughriders. Through his hall of fame/highly viewed morning talkshow host dad and YouTube highlight catches, Duron has an impressive following from the American sports fan already. When tailgating before a Rams-Eagles game back in December (the same game Carson Wentz suffered said injury), I was asked about Duron by no less than two separate groups of NFL fans. The CFL could do itself a real favour by embracing Duron’s quirks and celebrating his superb athletic ability.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)