Friday, August 28, 2009

Patrick Kane drama painfully comes to an end

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick T. Kane and his cousin James M. Kane pleaded guilty yesterday to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct for an early-morning fee incident with a Buffalo taxicab driver Aug. 9.

Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo granted them both conditional discharges and ordered them to make a written apologies to the cabbie and pay $125 each in court fees. There's really not a whole lot more to say on all this, other than the fact that the basic details in the case have been borne out by the fact there was a guilty plea and an apology to the cab driver.

I would guess his legal fees were about 100 times the fine he had to pay. Hopefully a lesson learned on this one.

photo source

Is this sign really necessary

Best wishes on your marriage Mats!

The Mats Sundin front has been very quiet this summer. However, Mats has been quite busy making wedding the plans. The long-term bachelor is marrying Josephine Johansson (not Scarlett Johansson) on Saturday. His agent, J.P. Barry, has indicated that after the wedding, Mats will take some time to decide on his hockey future – hopefully less time than it took last season. Once again his options will be limited. Mats is not going to play for a measly $1 million dollars however most contenders have little cap space available. He will want to get paid a salary on par with his credentials. Yet if he wants to win a Stanley Cup he should sign with Pittsburgh or Detroit for whatever they can afford and take a final shot.

Anyway, good luck Mats!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NHL wants to buy one if its franchises

The drama in Phoenix that began in May continues to surprise with the announcement that NHL surrogate, Jerry Reinsdorf, has withdrawn from the bidding for the Coyotes and has being replaced by bid by the NHL itself. Bettman’s boast that a number of parties were interested in purchasing the Coyotes has now proven to be fiction. Without another legitimate bidder, the court would likely have handed the team over to Jim Balsillie so the NHL has no choice but go head to head with Mr. Blackberry. It creates a bizarre situation where the NHL is bidding to own one of its franchises.

I have frequently suggested that the franchise was dead and could not possibly draw serious buyers who would be willing to keep the team in Phoenix. The team was stuck with an arena in a bad location, with a bad lease, with a bad on-ice product and no fan base. The NHL understands that the team will have to move, but it will continue to fight tooth and nail to prevent it moving under Balsillie’s ownership. So the NHL’s new strategy is likely the following:

  • Take control of the team by winning the auction
  • Operate the team out of Phoenix for the current season
  • Search for a new owner and location for the 2010-11 season

The eventual sale would have to produce enough revenue to reimburse owners for the money they will have put out to keep the franchise alive. Afterall, there are other teams under financial stress who could not possibly willing to lose money on Phoenix in addition to their own team. One scenario would have the NHL search for a new owner and city in Southern Ontario. This would freeze out Balsillie once and for all, from the market he so desperately wants to get into. He would not likely want to put a third team in the region. But also, it would generate a higher sale price and provide some cash starved owners with additional revenue.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Canada's 2010 Olympic uniforms

Hockey Canada released their fashion line for 2010, a sharp new look for Canada's three competing hockey squads at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

The home side will feature a uniform featuring a crest that depicts much of what the nation is all about, from eagles to Thunderbirds, to Maple Leafs and Fleur de Lys, the fabric of the nation is pulled together in the fabric of the red and white uniforms.

The highlight of the uniform features a vivid Red Maple Leaf with smaller Maple Leaf designs imprinted on the main logo, each depicting a gold medal victory as well as other designs. The official and replica versions will be manufactured by Nike.

So what do you think? Is it a hit or a miss?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eric Bruntlett had an unassisted triple play today

It also clinched a win. The Mets had two on in the 9th and none out when Bruntlett came up with the triple play to end the game.

Bad recession in Phoenix - but not if you're a lawyer

The recession hit Arizona pretty bad and it leads the U.S. in foreclosures. But it's no recession in legal firms down there as Judge Reinhold Baum's courtroom is filled with legal briefs. This week the tally hit 665. Now how much in legal fees has been incurred to produce this stack of documents has yet to be revealed by I can guess. It's big.

If the documents required on average 5 hours of lawyers time to produce at $300 per hour, that works out to about $1,500 per document. Multiply that by 665 documents and you have $997,500 or just under a $1 million. And I think I'm being conservative.

If this drags for several years as the parties appeal, the legals fees will be in the millions. So while many people are saying no one wins in this prolonged dispute, the truth is the lawyers always win.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What if Jim Balsillie got a NHL franchise

Here is how Jim Balsillie's first Board of Governors meeting might go:

Gary Bettman: Let’s get the Governors’ meeting started, we have a full agenda. I would like to welcome our newest Governor representing Hamilton, Jim Balsillie.

Jim Balsillie: Thank you Commissioner. However, I would like it noted for the record that I did not receive notification for the previous two Governors’ meeting nor this one. I happened to have found out about from a reporter.

GB: Jim that was likely a mix up with our distribution list. We will look into it and get back to you. By the way do you happen to have the name of that reporter?

JB: That’s note important. It would be better if we got on with the agenda, in particular I need to raise some issues with the league schedule.

GB: Well Bill can respond to questions regarding our schedule. I can tell you our staff had our work cut out for us with the sudden transfer of your franchise.

JB: Well I recognize the difficulty in last minute changes to the schedule but we have three double headers in our schedule. I have never heard of a hockey team being required to play two games in the same day. This is the NHL not a weekend youth hockey tournament.

Bill Daly: We were only able to schedule games on dates that arena still had clear days. Since these changes had to be made last minute we had very little flexibility. This represents the most feasible schedule.

JB: But we are playing double headers in two different cities on the same day. On December 12 we play in Dallas in the afternoon and Hamilton in the evening. On January 9 we play in Philadelphia in the afternoon and Los Angeles in the evening. On January 30 we play in Toronto in the evening and later in the evening in Vancouver. I also notice that no other team had to accommodate double headers.

BD: This schedule represents our best effort. Hamilton will just have to try their best to make these games. Did we happen to mention the $1 million penalty for missing a game?

GB: Jim is that a Blackberry on the table in front of you?

JB: Yes it is.

GB: Well you might as well put it away. The NHL has an exclusive contract with Apple to use their iPhone. As part of that agreement we have equipment in our offices that blocks radio signals to Blackberrys.

BD: Getting back to our agenda, there is a proposal from Craig Leipold regarding the Amateur Draft.

Craig Leipold: I would like to move that Hamilton forfeit all draft picks in 2010 and 2011 Amateur Draft.

JB: Now hold on here, that’s not fair. Why would you make such a motion?

CL: Well we just don’t like you Jim.

Jerry Jacobs: I second the motion.

GB: All in favour?

All: Aye.

GB: Carried.

JB: What a pile of crap!

Richard Peddie: I would like to make a motion under other business.

GB: Go right ahead Rich.

RP: I would like to move that the Hamilton franchise be renamed Hamilton Sucks.

Mike Illitch: I second that motion.

GB: All in favour?

All: Aye.

GB: Carried.

JB: I see what’s going on here. The NHL will be hearing from my lawyers.

GB: Well that concludes our business for today. Thank you gentlemen for coming today. Jim, enjoy your franchise.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who are the worst sports fans?

10. Chicago Cubs fans

The Shane Victorino thing aside, Cubs fans make this list for their continuous "woe is me" attitude. Nobody likes sports fans who feel sorry for themselves, and Cubs fans are the best at that. If the Cubs lose three games in a row in April, they start thinking about next year. I mean, c'mon.

9. New York Rangers fans

Somebody needs to tell these people that the New York metro area actually has two other hockey teams.

New York Rangers fans act like they own the hockey world and frown upon anyone who roots for the Devils and Islanders, despite the fact that both clubs have won more Stanley Cups in the past 50 years than the Rangers (Islanders four, Devils three, Rangers one).

8. Boston Red Sox fans

Remember that nerd from high school that developed some computer chip, struck it rich, and now thinks he's hot stuff? Well, that's the Red Sox fan in a nutshell.

Only a few years ago they were the AL version of Cubs fans, always down, always pessimistic, always willing to accept failure. They were lovable losers.

Then they win a couple of rings, and BAM, now they're Yankee fans. Nothing like forgetting your roots. Sickening.

7. St. Louis Cardinals fans

People have referred to them as the best fanbase in baseball. They're always happy, and they never boo their own team or players. It's like having a fanbase full of Mr. Rogers clones and kindergarten teachers.

Cheering and saying good job for bad play is OK in youth sports, but not for professionals. I'm sorry, but if somebody on my team strikes out four times, I'm not giving him a standing ovation, period.

These fans make the rest of us normal people look bad.

6. New Jersey Nets fans

Do they even exist?

If they do, then this is how pathetic they are...when the Nets were on their way to the Finals against the LA Lakers, I decided to go to an Eastern Conference championship game against the Celtics. I drove to the arena, walked up to the ticket window, and purchased two tickets on the day of the game.

Empty seats for a conference title game means you really suck as a fanbase.

I bet they'll be the first to cry foul when the Nets move to Brooklyn, too.

5. Philadelphia Eagles fans

These are the same fans who hate their quarterback, despite the fact that he's never in trouble, played with a broken ankle, and led the Eagles to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl in 10 seasons.

And don't even think about wearing your team's colors in "The Linc." I once saw them smack a cheesehead off a 10-year-old kid's head.

But what do you expect from fans who once threw snowballs at Santa Claus?

4. Dallas Cowboys fans

Nothing is more pathetic than an elitist fanbase whose team hasn't even won a playoff game since Bill Clinton was President.

Still, Cowboys fans will argue how good they are every year (even when they're not), how Tony Romo is the best QB in the division (even though he has yet to win a big game, while Donovan McNabb has been to five championship games and one Super Bowl, and Eli Manning has won a Super Bowl), and how they're the Yankees of the NFL (even though the Steelers have won more championships).

And when they have no argument, they just revert to talking about the 1990s.

3. New York Yankee fans

The elitist snobs of the fan world, the Yankees have won more championships than any team in any sport, and their fans will let you know it.

Never mind that the Yankees haven't won it all in almost 10 years, didn't make the playoffs last year, and are currently behind the rival Boston Red Sox in championships this decade. Yankee fans will still walk with their noses in the air as they make their way to their $2,500 seats to watch their $200 million team, while still complaining that the Yankees didn't get Roy Halladay at the trade deadline.

The Yankee fan has a sense of entitlement and little sense of fiscal responsibility or reality.

2. Oakland Raiders fans

These people are just lunatics, period.

They paint their faces, dress like Tina Turner in Mad Max, and actually believe that despite weighing only 150 pounds, wearing face paint, a mohawk, and shoulder pads with foam spikes will strike fear in the hearts of pro football players who are big enough to get tackled by Ray Lewis and live to tell about it.

And their team still sucks.

1. Philadelphia Phillies fans

If Philadelphia had 10 sports teams, then chances are no other city would crack this list.

For years these fans simply used the baseball season to pass the time until it was time to travel to Lehigh University to watch Eagles training camp, but now that the Phillies are champions, there are Phillies jerseys and caps all over the place, more and more McNabb jerseys being replaced by Ryan Howard jerseys.

As a Mets fan I have personally had my manhood challenged, my wife and son insulted, food and drinks thrown at me, walked to my seats amid chanting of @$$ hole, and had a grown man tell my children they suck for being Mets fans. I can personally attest to these individuals being vile, bottom-feeding, fickle sports fans.

These same people gave the best third baseman ever, their very own Mike Schmidt, a terrible time his entire career, and once threw batteries at J.D. Drew (come to think of it, who wouldn't love to throw batteries at J.D. Drew?).

They are simply the worst fanbase in all of sports, period.


Five ugliest hockey uniforms

5. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim - designing uniforms based on a Disney movie can't be a good idea. Fortunately the new owners did away with the farce.

4. Montreal Canadiens - These retro uniforms are too confusing when the refs are on the ice. More suited for Escape from Alcatraz.

3. Vancouver Canucks - the team paid big bucks for this design. Hope they got their money back.

2. Milwaukee Admirals - your table for four is now ready.

1. Some team in Finland - owwww! my eyes hurt!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five ugliest football uniforms

5. Buffalo Bills - Looks like uniforms handed out at some industrial league.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - There look like red uniforms that have been out in the sun too long and colour has faded to a sickly orange.

3. Oregon Ducks - The neon yellow makes you want to adjust your TV's colour.

2. Syracuse Orangemen - Should be worn only once a year- on Halloween.

1. Philadelphia Eagles - These throwback uniforms could empty a stadium on Super Sunday. Ouch they hurt the eyes.

Summer Recap

For those who have been out of touch with hockey during the summer months and enjoying all that cool wet weather, here is a recap of major hockey stories.

  • Scott Gomez was named the most untradeable player in the NHL because of his large, bloated contract. Bob Gainey decides to prove the pundits wrong by taking Gomez off the hands of the Rangers. So then Glen Sather turns around and uses the money to make another bad signing.
  • Gainey decides to do an entire makeover of the Canadiens’ lineup by not signing any of his 10 unrestricted free agents. The only certainty is that revenue from program sales will be up this season.
  • Chicago screws up providing a group of their restricted free agents with qualifying offers before the league deadline. They fix the problem by offering them all more money than they would have otherwise received as restricted free agents. This provides the team the excuse they need to fire GM Dale Tallon and replace him with Stan Bowman, son of Scotty Bowman. This completes the bloodless coup which began last summer when Scotty signed up as a special advisor.
  • Gary Ballsillie and the NHL have developed a stimulus package to help the legal profession get through the current recession. The initiative involves filing truckloads of legal document with a bankruptcy court in Phoenix in regards to a dead hockey franchise. The stimulus package is expected to assist unemployed and underemployed lawyers until 2012.
  • Dany Heatley demanded that the Ottawa Senators trade him and then rejects two attempts to move him to Edmonton (the only NHL team with colder winters than Ottawa). Senator GM Brian Murray is left with either subjecting Heatley to the Ottawa boo birds or moving him for an inferior package to a destination acceptable to Heatley. I would consider a 3rd option of sending to the Binghampton Senators of the AHL.
  • Chicago signs Marian Hossa to a ridiculous 12-year, $62.8 million contract which happens to be heavily front-end loaded. The NHL head office approves the contract then several weeks later announces it is investigating the contract to determine if the parties are trying to circumvent the salary cap. That is followed by the sound of 29 GMs slamming their hand on their forehead and declaring “Duh!” To add to be farce, Chicago also announces Hossa will undergo shoulder surgery and will miss half the season.
  • Brian Burke increases the truculence factor in the Leaf organization by drafting Jamie Devane, trading for Garnet Exelby, and signing Colton Orr and Mike Komisarik for the Leafs and Richard Greenop, Jay Rosehill and Andre Deveaux for the Marlies. If only John Kordic was still alive.
  • Chicago star Patrick Kane (the Blackhawks have hogged much of the news this summer) seemed to have gotten himself locked in a Buffalo cab with his cousin late one evening following a dispute over 20 cents. The cabbie claims they punched their way out and took off with his $13.80 fare. Police laid charges and, as always, the public presumes guilt until proven innocent. The cabbie’s lawyer later comes out stating it was all a misunderstanding, the incident has been overblown, cabbies shouldn’t be locking customers in their vehicles, his client did not incur serious injuries and this should not lead to a felony conviction. Which makes puts this lawyer at the top of the list of lawyers you would least likely hire if you wanted to win your case.
  • Theoren Fleury announced that he wasn’t happen with the way his career ended so he would plans to launch a comeback. However, there are a few small problems with his plan. He is still under suspension for substance abuse. He is 41 and hasn’t played a truly competitive level of hockey in 7 years. The post lockout NHL is younger and faster and poor Theo is risking further damage to his legacy.
  • Mats Sundin has spent the summer in Sweden trying to decide on his hockey career which only proves that some things actually stay the same.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Five ugliest NBA uniforms

5. Philadelphia Sixers jerseys looks like a box of kid's breakfast cereal.

4. This patriotic look by the Washington Bullets from the 1970s was just a little too much to take.

3. The 1980s Denver skyline on the Nugget jerseys on a rainbow is just too much. Looks like a game of tetris.

2. I think the Houston Rockets were wearing pajamas back then.

1. The first Toronto Raptor jerseys were so ugly it would have taken a long-term $40 million contract to get me to wear one.

Five ugliest baseball uniforms

5. Charlie Finley's Oaland Athletics had some funny concept regarding fashion. The white shoes and mustaches worn by all the players were a great touch.

4. Even if it was the 70s or early 80s, there is no way you could think these San Diego Padre uniforms could be hot?

3. Retro never seems to look good and Pittsbrugh Pirates of the 1970s just looked so goofy in those hats.

2. Houston Astros worns these uniforms for years but I just thought they looked gay.

1. Nothing looks more macho than the Chicago White Sox with there shorts, collared shirts and white knee socks. They would blend right in down in Miami.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Muskoka Five is now just One

Well August 15 is the last day that Tomas Kaberle can be traded without his consent. On Saturday the no-trade provision in his contract comes into force again so it looks like the slick defenseman will be around for one more season.

That means the Muskoka Five - the five holdouts who refused to waive their no trade contracts in the winter of 2008 - are down to One. That group included Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina and Kaberle. At one time they were considered the core of the team but look at them now. Mats Sundin walked last summer, dithered away the fall and returned in mid-season to play for the Canucks. He was a disaster. Now no one actually cares if he plays again or not. Tucker was bought out and signed with the Avalanche. He finished last season with just 8 goals and 8 assists which was worse than his rookie year. The sad part is that the Leafs will be paying him for another 5 years. McCabe was traded to the Panthers last summer and had a decent year scoring 15 goals. But with Jay Boiwmeester gone, there will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders. This summer the Leafs had a window to move Kubina and flipped him for Garnet Exelby. So Tomas stands alone. For now.

Teeder Kennedy is dead

Maple Leaf fans should be sad today with the news that Ted Kennedy has passed away at the age of 83. Like most Leaf fans I never saw Kennedy play hockey but you can’t ignore his accomplishments no matter what era he played in.

For those fans who think the all-time best Leaf player was Dave Keon, Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark or Doug Gilmour. I’ve got news for you, as great as those players were; they never had the success that Kennedy had. None were even close to be being considered the best player in the game. Kennedy was a Leaf centre for 12 seasons with five Stanley Cup wins, team captain from 1948 to '57, and the last Leaf to win the Hart Trophy in 1955 as the NHL's most valuable player.

Just looking at his MVP year, he beat out Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Rocket Richard. He wasn’t in the top 10 scorers or picked to the All-Star team but he was still recognized as the best player in the league. He wasn’t the fastest skater. He wasn’t the hardest hitter and rarely fought. But he played hard every second he was on the ice. He never held back anything. Those types of players are rare in any era.

Teeder along with Syl Apps were probably the greatest captains the Maple Leafs have ever had.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who will be the next Maple Leaf captain?

So will the Leafs will the captain vacancy this season? They one of about 5 teams that currently do not have a team captain. Personally, team captain is more of a tradition. I've always felt you don't need to wear a C to show leader ship. The Leafs went several seasons (1986-89) without a captain before appointing Rob Ramage. This is not an NHL record for going captainless. The Penguins went without one from 1968-73 and the Blackhawks stretch was 1970-75.

Last season the pickings were slim and it was obvious that some candidates might not be sticking around too long (e.g., Pavel Kubina, Nik Antropov, Alex Steen). Today the Leafs have a permanent GM who is not going anywhere real soon. Burke has brought in some players to provide leadership so it might be time to pick a new captain.

Luke Schenn

Schenn stood out in his rookie season, providing the Leafs with rock solid defense. He ranked first on the team in hits with 206 and third in blocked shots with 119. His age is an obvious concern, so it’s more likely he’ll be appointed captain in the near future.

Mike Komisarek

Komisarek once led the league in hits and ranked second in blocked shots. Burke obviously thinks he still has it in him after a disappointing season with the Montreal Canadiens. He may have to prove his worth as one of the league‘s top defensive defenseman again, but his leadership will never be in question. Since he is new to the team it may not go to him.

Francois Beauchemin

Like Komisarek, he has yet to skate for the Leafs. However, Beauchemin is a Burke favourite and brought to Toronto for a reason. He’s a veteran at 29, and will serve as a leader on a youthful Leafs team. He contributes in both ends of the rink and has a Stanley Cup ring to top it off. You can bet he’ll be considered as a potential candidate if the Leafs do decide to appoint a new captain next season.

Niklas Hagman

Hagman served as an alternate captain for the Leafs last season and may be ready to make the jump. He’s capable of playing on both the powerplay and penalty kill, and he will once again be relied upon for leadership. However, Hagman was not brought in by Burke, which may not work in his favour.

Tomas Kaberle

Kaberle is a fan favourite and has been with the Leafs his entire career so he might be the logical choice. However, he’s not a vocal leader and even if he were to lead by example, he lacks the defensive play to be considered one of the league’s top defensemen. A solid candidate, but not an ideal candidate.

Matt Stajan

At the start of last season he was mentioned as possible captain and he ended up having his best season although rather unspectacular. I'm not sure if the whispering about Stajan possibly being captain is just something being spread by the media or whether the speculation has some merit. He’s often criticized for his lack of physicality and balance on his skates. Stajan is underrated by a lot of Leafs fans but I'm not sure he is worthy of being named captain. Being a Ferguson draft pick will also not work in his favour.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leafs give up on another young player

I used to think that you couldn't have too many young prospects. Apparently that's not the case - at least according to Brian Burke. Justin Pogge follows Anton Stralman, Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo to other teams for next to nothing. But they haven't necessarily been pushed aside by better prospects. Pogge and Stralman have been replaced by veteran players.

It's become obvious that players drafted by other Leaf GMs do not interest Burke.

Now I'm not much of a Justin Pogge fan. He hasn't shown much in the 3 years spent in the Leaf organization. But the kid is just 23! Not every goalie prospect steps into the NHL at the age of 20. Last season's Vezina winner Tim Thomas was a NHL rookie at the age of 31. Would it have been so bad to give Pogge another couple years?

Don't think that he has a shot at the NHL in Anaheim. They have J.S. Giguere and Jonas Hiller so Pogge will be spending this season in the AHL - only in the Duck organization.

New Blackhawk marketing slogan: Bring exact change!

Jeopardy Answer: Twenty cents.
Question: What amount of money did Patrick Kane fight a Buffalo cabbie over?

To the benefit of no one, Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane became a punchline this weekend.

According to police, Kane and his cousin took a cab ride in the early hours of Sunday. The fare was $13.80 and the young men handed the driver $15. The driver handed them back a $1 but didn't have the 20 cents. What followed was a bizarre altercation and a tarnished reputation.

Marketing athletes is a high risk endeavour. The list of tarnished reputations is long: O.J. Simpson, Rae Carruth, Ben Johnson, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Jose Conseco, Pete Rose, Mike Tyson, Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, Darryl Strawberry, Todd Bertuzzi, etc, etc.

Sure the incident has already been blown out of proportion. But why did it even happen? To understand the bizarre nature of the dust-up, you need to think about the focused lives of pro athletes. From the time he was 14 years old, when Kane outgrew Buffalo’s minor hockey system and moved to Detroit, the 2008 Calder Trophy winner has been elite. He was a winner in every sense of the word, getting drafted first overall by Chicago and heading straight to the NHL.

Like all high-level athletes, Kane got to the top of the mountain with a mixture of skill and competitiveness. The latter did him in this weekend. Yeah, like the guy with a Calder Trophy is gonna back down from a 62-year-old with no trophies…come on!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Marian Hossa will never live this one down

Marian Hossa has been the butt of jokes all summer regarding his decision to sign last summer with the Red Wings rather than resign with the Penguins. It seems that during the Golden Puck Awards in Slovakia recently, they wanted to have a little fun with it as well. Hossa took home the award for best forward and along with the trophy he was given a live goat named Stanley (the Slovak word for male goat is "cap", so in fact he did receive the Stanley "cap").

Life after hockey is not always a bed of roses

Following in the footsteps of Claude Lemieux, TSN reports that Theoren Fleury is attempting a comeback and wants to play in the NHL again.

After playing senior hockey last season, Fleury decided in February he was fit enough to give the NHL another try, so he hired a personal trainer and has been working diligently since. He has been telling people that he didn't leave the National Hockey League the way he wanted, which is fueling his desire to return.

The 41-year-old has been sober for almost four years and has been skating daily in Calgary in the hope that an NHL team is willing to invite him to training camp. Fleury was always a fan favourite because the little guy played his heart out.

However, the real reason for the attempted comeback is money. Fleury earned $24 million over his career but supposedly is now broke. He has recently been in court to reduce his monthly child support payments from $5,000 to about $1,000. In court he reported that his annual income in 2005 fell to just over $10,000. So even earning the NHL minimum salary of $450,000 who likely help a lot.

Fleury is just one of many athletes who burn through their money before reaching the age of 50. Fleury will be entitled to a full pension as an NHLer who played more than 400 regular-season games at about age 50 — but between then and now, he might play some hockey to make ends meet. Very sad indeed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

So you think the Maple Leafs are getting younger?

Brian Burke is making the Leafs bigger and tougher but are they getting younger? I need a comparison of last year's opening lineup and what might be this season's opening lineup. The team isn't really younger. Now if players like Blake, Primeau and Mayers are pushed aside to make room for youngsters then the average age will drop. But if Burke wants to make the playoffs then he isn't about to do that unless the replacement players are better.

2008-09 Opening Lineup

Blake – 35

Mayers – 34

Antropov – 28

Ponikarovsky - 28

Hagman – 28

Moore – 28

Hollweg – 25

Grabovski - 24

Stajan – 24

Steen – 24

Mitchell – 23

Kulemin – 22

Tlusty – 20

Kubina – 31

Kaberle – 30

Van Ryn – 29

Finger – 28

Frogren – 28

Colaiacovo - 25

White – 24

Schenn – 18

Joseph – 41

Toksala – 31

Average age: 27.3

Projected 2009-10 Opening Lineup

Blake – 36

Mayers – 35

Primeau - 33

Ponikarovsky - 29

Wallin - 29

Hagman – 29

Orr – 27

Stempniak - 26

Grabovski - 25

Stajan – 25

Mitchell – 24

Kulemin – 23

Tlusty – 21

Kaberle – 31

Van Ryn – 30

Beauchemin - 29

Finger – 29

Frogren – 29

Exelby – 28

Komisarik - 27

White – 25

Schenn – 19

Toksala – 32

Gustavsson - 25

Average age: 27.7

Saturday, August 01, 2009