Dissecting Canada’s NHL underachievers

We could see as many as five Canadians teams in the playoffs – but more likely we’ll see two or three at this pace

Dissecting Canada’s NHL underachieversFor fans of Canada’s seven embattled National Hockey League teams, the man from Zamboni is a suitable talisman of their frustration. As most everyone now knows, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver – a kidney-transplant Zamboni driver – stepped in for the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night in Toronto to defeat the listless Leafs 6-3. When both…

Corporate raiders are at the gates of pro sports

The future of franchise-based leagues and pro tours may hang in the balance as big-money investors look to strip out superstars

Corporate raiders are at the gates of pro sportsIn business they’re called corporate raiders. People who buy up a publicly traded stock whose assets are thought to be undervalued. They then strip out the valuable assets and sell them at a large profit, leaving the shell of a company behind. The world of sports has been largely immune to raider capitalism so far.…

The future of pro sports? Just look at the NBA

But the NHL, the league that never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, will sit back and let others get the gravy

The future of pro sports? Just look at the NBAIf there were a handicapping contest on who has the best handle on the future between the major sports leagues in North America, there’s little doubt the title would go to the National Basketball Association under its dynamic commissioner Adam Silver. When it comes to innovation, it’s “Hi-ho Silver away.” Silver, who replaced David Stern…

The truth behind Mike Babcock’s firing

Petulant, indifferent young stars are in charge, thanks to their huge contracts. Coaches pay the price

The truth behind Mike Babcock’s firingOn his voyage from coaching sage to the most ignorant coach to ever stand behind a National Hockey League bench, Mike Babcock learned a few important things. Principally, he learned that a coach’s job security is governed by winning. If you don’t win, you will be replaced. No news there. But he also understood that…

How to fill the void left by Don Cherry

How to fill the void left by Don CherryThe man voted the seventh-most famous Canadian has finally talked himself out of his job as hockey analyst/cranky old guy to the nation. To the utter confusion of people outside Canada, the removal of a TV figure has convulsed the nation. After 38 years, he is no more. Confession: I did an entire chapter on…

Progress? Sport? The two shall never meet

From disputed strike zones to goal-line uncertainty to bloody high-sticks, major-league officiating can't seem to embrace high-tech

Progress? Sport? The two shall never meetIt’s Game Three of the 2019 World Series and the Washington Nationals hope to extend their surprising 2-0 lead in games over Houston. The Nats have revival project Anibal Sanchez on the mound to give Washington fans their first home-field win in a Series since 1933. But the Astros are off to a quick lead.…

Don Cherry belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame

Cherry has been synonymous with the sport and its popularity since he started mangling the language and hammering Ron MacLean upside the head decades ago

Don Cherry belongs in the Hockey Hall of FameTo those wondering about the demise of Don Cherry, the rumours of his disappearance from Hockey Night in Canada have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the end is in sight for the man wearing his wife’s table cloths. Hell, he’s 85. But while others in the Rogers Communications constellation have gone dark, Cherry’s star survives. If…

The heavy burden of sports stardom

From Auston Matthews to Antonio Brown, the spotlight never seems to waver. Making a mistake can be very costly

The heavy burden of sports stardomIt doesn’t take much to send Toronto Maple Leafs nation into a tizzy. As the 2019-2020 season dawns, the supporters of the acer saccharum are consumed with whether their young franchise star Auston Matthews should be the club’s next captain. Distilled into a single sentence: can Auston wear the C when he’s acted like an…

Has hockey lost its one-for-all gene when it comes to contracts?

Welcome to the future of big-league sports, which will depend on a merger of sports and the star-making machine of the culture industry

Has hockey lost its one-for-all gene when it comes to contracts?Mitch Marner has signed. Someone wake Lord Stanley in heaven. A parade is coming. Okay, that might be a tad optimistic. But the hopes for any National Hockey League playoff success in Toronto hinge on Marner, who may not get the headlines but is the key to the Maple Leafs offence. Marner’s signing ended a…

Sportsnet can’t dig out of hole created by NHL contract

As the media giant sheds pricey on-air talent, the league has been unsympathetic. Where will the bleeding end?

Sportsnet can’t dig out of hole created by NHL contractAudacious. That’s perhaps the best word to describe Rogers Communications’ attempt to supplant CBC and TSN as the go-to network for the National Hockey League in Canada in 2013. It committed $5.2 billion over 12 years to buy national rights to Hockey Night in Canada and the rest of the TV and digital product on…