Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PRICE BUYS SOME TIME

If there are two things we've learned five games into the NHL pre-season, they're that even if results don't matter, impressions do, and that impressions only last as long as the time between starts for Carey Price.
Forty-eight hours after officially declaring the Canadiens goal crease a disaster area, hockey's most fickle fans clambered back onto the bandwagon last night, presumably for a trip to the pharmacy to refill their prescription for bipolar medication. On the heels of a pair of alarmingly weak performances, Price didn't need to excel as much as he needed to not implode last night, and it was mission accomplished for the embattled goaltender, who stopped 19 of 21 shots in a 6-2 win over Florida at the Bell Center.
It had the potential to go off the rails for Price, who gave up the game's first goal on Florida's third shot - one of two Panthers goals on rebounds that either Price should have controlled or the Canadiens defence should have cleared, depending on the observer's agenda. He was otherwise solid with occasional gusts to spectacular, and that was the difference between last night and Price's first two starts. No goaltender who only makes the routine saves is going to survive any amount of time anywhere, let alone at the NHL level in a city as demanding as Montreal.
The jackals are still out there waiting and even hoping for Carey Price to fail, but for the next couple of days at least, he bought himself some peace of mind when he needed it the most.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS-SEPT27/10

As stories of redemption go, it's tough to beat the one being authored by Michael Vick. From three-time Pro Bowl selection to hard time in prison to lighting up the NFL a second time around, Vick has proven himself on and off the football field as a remarkably gifted athlete and a rehabilitated citizen...The Pittsburgh Steelers probably didn't envision themselves being 3-0 in the absence of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who's serving a season-opening four game suspension for personal misconduct, but there's little probability that Roethlisberger will have to win his job back. With all due respect to veteran Charlie Batch and the job he's done stepping into the breech, Roethlisberger versus Batch is not exactly a Kevin Kolb-Michael Vick dilemma....Call it semantics, but while the respective performances of Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak will ultimately determine whether the Canadiens traded the wrong goaltender when they dealt Halak to St. Louis, the trade itself has to be judged on how the two players they received in return for Halak pan out for the Canadiens, and it's going to take at least a couple of seasons to take the measure of Lars Eller and Ian Schultz...Meanwhile, I'm paying a homeless guy a retainer to hold my place in line at Fairview for next summer's Alex Auld autograph session after Auld replaces Price, takes the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup semifinals and then gets traded to Columbus.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WHAT KIND OF WOOD WOULD A BALLPLAYER USE IF A BALLPLAYER COULD CHOOSE HIS WOOD?

The fun doesn't only stop when someone loses an eye.
A wooden shard embedded in your torso can also take the festive edge off the proceedings, as it did this past weekend when a splinter from a broken maple wood baseball bat punctured the chest of Chicago Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin. Colvin is listed in stable condition and recovering in hospital, where doctors reportedly inserted a tube in his chest to prevent a collapsed lung.
It was the most frightening illustration to date of the dangers posed by maple bats, which ballplayers like because they can hit the ball harder and farther than they can with more traditional ash wood bats. The trade off is that while lighter, softer ash tends to shatter into smaller pieces when it breaks, the heavier and harder maple bats snap into larger and potentially more lethal fragments.
Major League Baseball already has standards in place for maple bats, but when a player leaves the field with an injury that befits the Battle of Hastings more than it does a baseball game, it's time to revisit those standards. Performance-enhancing bats are no more acceptable than performance enhancing drugs if they have the potential to kill someone.
Ash wood bats were good enough for Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. That makes them good enough for today's baseball players.

Monday, September 20, 2010

PAT BURNS STILL NOT DEAD

Leave it to Pat Burns to do a Monty Python skit in the shadow of the Grim Reaper. The three-time NHL coach of the year's "I'm not dead yet" pronouncement after premature reports of his demise went viral last Friday was typical of his unfailing good humour in the face of adversity. Burns was at the Metro store in Magog buying steaks for a family barbecue when he first heard he'd died, and accepted mock condolences from longtime friends and acquaintances, including the irrepressible Robin Burns, who called his cousin's cell phone and asked Pat whether he was in the bread aisle or the dead aisle. Morbid? Perhaps, but it's an Irish thing...Not to question Anthony Calvillo's status as the Alouettes starting quarterback and undisputed leader, but if I'm Adrian MacPherson coming off a strong performance in Calvillo's absence last week, I'm wondering why I'm not getting more playing time yesterday with the game well in hand and Calvillo coming off a pretty serious injury...The Colts' 38-14 win over the Giants in last night's meeting of the Manning brothers had less to do with Peyton outduelling Eli than it did with New York's Tom Coughlin being outcoached by Jim Caldwell of Indianapolis...Based on the consensus that female reporters have a right to be in men's locker rooms and Aztec TV's Inez Sainz should be allowed to wear her working wardrobe as tight and skimpy as she pleases, I'm thinking about covering the October 8th Concordia-McGill women's hockey season opener and conducting my postgame locker room interviews dressed in a form-fitting leopard print unitard. I'm sure no one will have a problem with that; after all, I am a professional.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS - EVENTFUL OPENING SUNDAY IN THE NFL

Week 1 of the NFL season set up some interesting scenarios for Week 2, not least of which is a full-on quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, where Michael Vick was outstanding in relief of the injured Kevin Kolb and will certainly be the consensus choice of Eagles fans and media next Sunday, whether or not Kolb is ready to play. The Manning brothers are coming off mixed results ahead of a Sunday night meeting at the Meadowlands, where Eli was less statistically impressive in the Giants win over Carolina than Peyton was in the Colts' loss to Texas. And will Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones be able to resist the panic button after a crushing season-opening loss to the lowly Redskins? How Wade Phillips has lasted this long as Cowboys head coach is worthy of an entire episode of Unsolved Mysteries...Sometimes, neither the car nor the driver is the determining factor in Formula One. Team strategy and execution won yesterday's Italian Grand Prix for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who was classy enough to acknowledge that the race was won in the pits...With NHL training camp around the corner, I've been steeling myself for Hockey Night in Canada windbag Bob Cole's first broadcast of the season by listening to tapes of my dog barking for three consecutive hours...And what in the world motivated the Tiger Cats cheeleaders to run onto the field during a bench-clearing brawl in the Alouettes game in Hamilton Saturday? The only missing elements were the Montreal cheerleaders and an industrial cauldron full of lemon jello.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS (ON A TUESDAY)

That was a nice little love story at Fairview on Saturday, and a class act at both ends of the equation. It says a lot about Jaroslav Halak's character that he came back to Montreal to raise money for charity even though he no longer plays here, and even more about the fan sentiment surrounding his departure that an estimated five thousand people waited several hours for an autograph and a quick hello...The New York Jets Super Bowl prospects got a lot brighter yesterday with the signing of holdout All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who at 32 million dollars guaranteed now OWES it to the Jets to be the most dominant defensive player in the NFL...Not to be mean, but if Chris Leak's first start at quarterback for the Alouettes were to be summed up in one word, that word would probably have to be "next!"...Here's all the proof you need that baseball is off the juice: National and American league leaders this September are in the 30s and 40s in home runs, compared to the 50s, 60s and 70s of the steroid-fuelled Mark McGwire/Alex Rodriguez/Barry Bonds heyday...Memo to Wayne Rooney: I don't care what you look like - if you're a world famous multi-millionaire professional athlete and you're PAYING for sex, you're not trying hard enough.