Beyond that, I say blow it up. Peter Dyakowski is ready to be put out to pasture and Derek Dennis wasn’t good enough to be worth the $180k he reportedly made last year to use up an import spot at guard. Both should be released or at the very least restructured.
The team should re-build the hogs with affordable rookie import talent from down south and focus its free-agent efforts on recruiting Canadian defensive backs like Regina’s Tevaughn Campbell (Alouettes) and Jermaine Gabriel (Argos). Both have starting experience and could be had for bargain prices. This would open up import options for the offensive line.
2 –WHAT DO MARK McMORRIS, JERRY RICE & TIGER WOODS HAVE IN COMMON?: They’re all insane. To be the incredible athletes they are, they have to be. Any normal person would have shut 'er down after the horrific injuries McMorris suffered in the back-country of snowboarding in the B.C. mountains 11 months ago. His undying love for his sport and competitive spirit is what brought him back.
It’s the same reason Jerry Rice was sprinting up hills to crack an NFL roster at age 42, why it took Michael Jordan 3 retirements to finally walk away from the NBA and probably why Tom Brady limits his “treat” to avocado iced cream (barf) in his quest to add to his 5 Super Bowl rings.
It’s an admirable and yet painful struggle these guys go through to get where they are. Fans like us are the lucky ones. We get to enjoy it too but don’t have to put up with all that other stuff.
3 – I.O.C. TOO SOFT ON RUSSIA: I had thought the Russians were banned from competing in the Olympics over its state-sponsored doping program. So, you can appreciate my dismay to see athletes representing “Olympic Athletes from Russia” competing in Pyeongchang. The International Olympic Committee has chosen to limit its punishment to athletes actually implicated in the scandal. I get it. But if you want to send a message to the Russian people to change their ways and/or to turn against their corrupt government, wouldn’t it be a lot more effective to slap them with a blanket ban for everyone?
4 –CBC OLYMPIC COVERAGE STILL PHENOMENAL: Don’t know what I’m talking about with McMorris’s injuries? Just watch “Unbroken: The snowboard life of Mark McMorris” which should and probably will win an award. I hear a lot of bitching and moaning about the CBC guzzling our tax dollars but I’m all for it. I hope people realize broadcasting the Olympics is a money loser unless it’s hosted in North America and the private sector isn’t interested in giving us live coverage late into the evening like the CBC does.
5 – SENS OWNER’S BIZARRE BEHAVIOR CONTINUES: I have very reliable sources who sat in on an Ottawa Senators impromptu staff meeting Monday in which team owner Eugene Melnyk took a very awkward turn in addressing his employees.
After a long stretch of absenteeism and an incident where he is accused of attacking a corporate sales rep which has since led to a lawsuit against the team, Melnyk met with everybody to promise them he will be around and able to meet with them all directly going forward and that he wants their input on how to design the new downtown arena (which he supposedly didn’t want as recently as December). He ended by telling the group he’s not selling the team unless he “loses it through bankruptcy”.
Sounds to me like the bad news is, he thinks he could lose his team through bankruptcy which I wouldn’t wish on anybody. The good news is the Sens might get a new owner which is long overdue.
6 – NO SYMPATHY FOR MLB FREE AGENTS: Unlike CFL players who are badly underpaid for their services, Major League Baseball players still enjoy the greatest working conditions of all North American team sports. More than 80 free agents remain in the week of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona. The list includes star pitchers Jake Arrieta and Greg Holland as well as sluggers Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. The union calls it collusion. I call it being sick and tired of being fleeced by wiz agents like Scott Boras.
If the union wants to force teams to pay a floor, they can collectively bargain that when the next Collective Bargaining Agreement comes up in 4 years when they can also agree to a salary cap like all the other leagues. Everyone wants a free market until it no longer benefits their own self-interests.
7 –McDANIELS BLOWING OFF COLTS LEAVES EVERYONE A WINNER: The decision of Patriots O.C. Josh McDaniels to back out of taking the Indianapolis Colts head coaching job has worked out brilliantly for everyone. Josh gets a better deal to stay put and keep working with the greatest head coach (Bill Belichick), greatest quarterback (Tom Brady) and greatest owner (Robert Kraft) in the NFL. Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally gets his long overdue promotion to be a head coach. And instead of the Colts getting the 2nd most successful offensive mind in 2017, they get the man who beat him.
This series of events coupled with the delay of the Jim Popp-Marc Trestman hire in Toronto weeks after free agency began last offseason should be proof enough that it’s not about getting into a race to hire a coach quickly, but rather hire the right person for the job no matter how long it takes.
8 – WILL WE GET CAUGHT UP IN “WE THE NORTH”? When my uncle passed away two summers ago it reminded me of how passionately he ran the high school basketball program in Langenberg, Saskatchewan. It’s an affordable sport to run compared to all the others and it prompted me to ask another teacher why we never played. “I don’t know” was the puzzled looking response I got. That retired teacher remembered it being played in rural Saskatchewan high schools in the 1950’s but then fading away.
The Toronto Raptors (Canada’s team) has the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The Minnesota Timberwolves (my team) has their best team maybe ever. It's going to be a great spring of playoff basketball for this hockey fan still waiting for the NHL to get its act together. The jury is still out on the rest of western Canada going all in on the Raptors.
9 – TICATS NOT BUYING INTO MANZIEL MANIA: Kudos to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for standing firm on their original offer to Johnny Manziel and not caving into the demands or mindless hype of him or his agent. The interview Good Morning America did with Johnny Football should not change that stance either. If he’s truly committed to making it in pro ball then he needs to forget about marketing his own clothing line for this comeback, sign a contract and start learning an offense. No more screwing around. If he wants to play then it’s time to work.
10 – GLANVILLE TO HAMILTON HILARIOUS: Jerry Glanville joining June Jones’s staff with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at the ripe age of 76 is great news all around. It adds yet another ex-NFL head coach to our great league (4 and counting) and has potential to bring some desperately needed Hollywood flair to steel town. But more importantly, it gives us all a reminder that it really never is too late. I’m still waiting for John Lynch to do some more color commentary on the Rider radio broadcasts and my biggest question for Glanville: Is he going to leave tickets for Elvis at will call in Tim Hortons Field like he did in the old Astrodome when he ran the Houston Oilers?
(Follow Brendan on Twitter @brendanhowardmc)