Top Ten Tuesday – April 12

Well another seven days have come and gone. Here are my musings from the week that was in the world of sports. In no particular order.

10 – Well it can only be called an implosion of epic proportions, Jordan Spieth’s unraveling on the back nine at the Masters won’t soon be forgotten. With that said I think Spieth deserves a tip of the cap for the sportsmanship that he exhibited following the collapse. As is the tradition of the Masters, being the defending champion, he presented the winner Danny Willet with the coveted Green Jacket. Unlike some athletes, coaches and managers who shy away following defeat Spieth was right there, although I am sure that he would have preferred to have been anywhere but there.

9 – Rider Nation is getting an appetizer for the coming season with the team’s annual spring mini-camp in Florida. While it is hard to judge from this far away my initial impressions are very positive. There seems to be a good mix of veterans and players looking to crack the CFL. AND GM and Head Coach Chris Jones is definitely living up to his word and looking for a group that is fast, athletic and big.

8 – The best news out of the mini-camp thus far has to be the health of Quarterback Darian Durant. The team’s on-field general says that he feels close to 100% which is a great step forward.

7 – The player that I am going to watch with interest is former Ti-Cat and Alouette Quarterback Dan LeFevour. The pivot seemed to take the next step in his career with Hamilton two years ago when he took over from injured starter Zac Collaros. However, he suffered a season ending knee injury that halted his progress. Additionally, he was not resigned in Steel Town and made his way to the gong show in Montreal that didn’t do him any favors. I think it will be interesting to see if he can displace Brett Smith as the back-up and/or find his way onto the main camp roster.

6 – On a different field, albeit early, I think there is cause for some concern with the Toronto Blue Jays. After a 3-and-4 start to the season the positive has to be the starting pitching as all starters, even R.A. Dickey, seem ready to roll. The jury is out on the bullpen considering the Jays have held the lead in most games they have played after the fifth inning. BUT the concern to me is the number of times that Blue Jays batters are striking out. I am convinced that the offence will come to life, but the group should think about dropping some of the swagger that they have developed in the off-season. It’s a new year and the Jays bats will have to prove themselves once again.

5 – I am in total admiration of the marketing strategies used by the Saskatchewan Rush. The team is gearing up for a pivotal weekend on the floor with a home and home with Colorado, that will likely determine the order of finish in the west. Off the field the team is marketing play-off tickets, 2017 season tickets and teaching the game, and league rules at the same time. Wow!

4 – So while the Rush are flourishing in Saskatoon and Central Saskatchewan is interesting waning in the WHL? Outside of Regina and Moose Jaw, the two centers with teams still alive in the post-season, you have to struggle to hear anything about the league. That has to be concerning, doesn’t it?

3 – Speaking of interest waning. How many will be following the NHL play-offs with no Canadian teams on the ice? With that being said which NHL team has the opportunity to turn their fortunes around the fastest? Despite Montreal getting Carey Price, the best tender in the world, back from injury next season I would reluctantly submit Calgary. They have a good young group of forwards, solid defence and if they can find a goaltender they should be able to climb up their division’s ranks and into the post-season.

2 – So which Canadian team is the furthest away from returning to the post-season? My head leans towards Toronto as I’m really not sure what they have to build-off of. William Nylander could turn into a top 6 forward and Morgan Reilly may be a top 2 or 3 D man but I am not sure what else they have. I’m thinking the Buds are at least three seasons away from the play-offs.

1 – And last one on the NHL and the numbers aren’t good for Rogers and their advertisers. NHL Ratings took another 12% dip this season. That coupled with the 12% decline last year and there are a large number of Canadians that are tuning out hockey. Rogers is said to be looking at their operation top to bottom which could include a new cast. Many are asking if that could or would mean a return to Saturday night for Ron McLean? At this point I think Rogers will be open to anything.