Top 10 Tuesday: March 29

Another week has come and gone in the world of sports and some interesting issues have cropped up both good and bad. So in no particular order here are my ten thoughts from the week that was.

10 – The start of the major league baseball season is less than a week away and already there is a ton of interest after the Blue Jays run to the ALCS last season. Registration numbers have soared in Saskatoon as have expectations for the big league club. However, there has been a lot of focus on numbers during spring training. From contact numbers for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to the number one spot in the batting order and the fifth starter. The number to me that seemingly is being ignored is $1-million. That’s apparently the net profit that Rogers (the owners of the Jays) made last year on baseball operations. Yes, with play-off home games, sellouts from August on and a number of club friendly contracts the Jays only made $1-million. That speaks loud and clear and perhaps signals that the Jays won’t be anywhere near contention after this season as there is no financial way they can keep Bautista or Encarnacion.

9 – Speaking of the play-offs and there officially will be no Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Play-offs since the 1970 post season. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be Canadians in the tournament just that fans North of the border will need to commute in order to see play-off action live. Some are ringing the alarm bells, I say it’s just a blip on the radar.

8 – So, who is impacted most by missing the play-offs in Canada? Well it certainly isn’t the athletes. AND no, there will be no post season revenue for the Canadian owners. BUT affected the most by the lack of success will be Rogers. The NHL rights holders in Canada will not attract regional fringe audiences, and with a warmer, earlier spring in much of the country that will lead to lower viewership and in turn lower advertising revenue. With a loss in ratings last year, and you would have to anticipate more of the same this year the billion dollar contract that they signed with the NHL may come back to bite them.

7 – On the other side of the ledger the Washington Capitals officially clinched the President’s trophy, for the top regular season record in the league, last night. Now there is no direct correlation between the Presidents Trophy and winning the Stanley Cup. The last team to win both was  Chicago in 2012-2013 but since 1985-86 when the league started handing out the President’s trophy, the winner has only won 8 times (well below 50%). That has me pondering whether there should be more incentive to winning the Presidents trophy, as it has long been my argument that you have to build a team for the regular season or the post-season in the NHL (as the rules do change in the play-offs)? As a starting point,  what if they only need to win three games in a series as opposed to four? Just a thought it would give more meaning to the regular season.

6 – Speaking of giving meaning to the regular season, San Antonio of the NBA is at it again resting players down the stretch. From a team stand-point I get it, but from a fans viewpoint I would be upset if I spent good money to see my favorite team play and they a) don’t dress their stars and b) basically throw in the towel on the game. Those thoughts don’t mean much to the major sports leagues what does though, is the cut that they get off of gambling (in some instances) and that has major monetary ramifications that may force the system to change.

5 – Prince Albert trails Moose Jaw 2-1 in the opening round of the play-offs. Some in P-A are quite upset how could their team be down 2-nothing to a lower seed? Simple Brayden Point! The NHL bound star was away from the Warriors for almost the entire month of December while captaining Team Canada at the World Juniors. That’s a huge loss for the Tribe but it also shows the flaw in the CHL season where they loan their top players to the National team in season. The implications in the standing can cost a team a shot at the post season or even an extra home date in the play-offs which all amounts to money. However, I am not sure that I want it to change.

4 – Staying with hockey and there is talk of making a new rink downtown rink complex part of the growth plan for Saskatoon. I will have more on this in the days to come. Suffice it to say, that the time may be now to explore the option for once and for all as the University of Saskatchewan is in definite need of a new facility. That need is no longer a want and from my understanding getting closer to becoming a reality. If the city is looking for a partner now is the time to ask.

3 – To Saskatoon’s newest tenants of Sasktel Centre, oh what a feeling what a Rush. Yes, the Saskatchewan Rush have carved a nice niche in the Saskatoon sporting market (13,123 were on hand in their win over Toronto on Saturday night). Their product is fast, intense and thoroughly entertaining. With that being said, it was interesting to see on my employer’s website that 68% + of respondents to their poll didn’t know if the Rush should be active at the trade deadline as they didn’t know the players or the league well enough to answer the question. That’s both a good and bad problem to have. Time will tell which one it is.

2- The Ford World Women’s Curling Championship has come to a close in Swift Current and it ended with a whimper for Team Canada. The Canadians dropped the bronze medal game in a heated affair with Russia on Sunday afternoon. Tensions grew as Amy Nixon, Canada’s third had words with the Russian third after a stick clashing confrontation. Additionally, she uttered some poor words under her breath that lead to her issuing an apology through Curl Canada after social media outrage. In the end she probably should be cut some slack as no other sport mics the athletes for the entire competition but better judgement should have been used.

1 – Canada’s loss made it a 10th straight season without gold for Canada at the event which has the national governing body in a conundrum. In order to be successful the time has come to end the provincial representation at the national championship and feature a best-on-best style event. The problem is that the fans don’t want to see that they want the tradition of the Brier and the Scotties as evidenced by the attendance at those events compared to the Grand Slam of Curling Events, or World Tour events. So the question becomes do you go all out for international success or do you remain financially viable by giving the fans what they want? I don’t think there is any doubt that money will win out.