Friday, May 12, 2017
This And That
Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.
--We know the Regina Pats and the Seattle Thunderbirds are coming back to the Brandt Centre for Game 6 of the WHL final with one team having the chance to end the season. We don't know what team that is yet, and won't until the end of the night as Game 5 is tonight, but there are some wondering if the T-Birds solved the Pats as a result of their 6-1 beating in Game 4. All you have to do is look at the Edmonton Oilers to see the answer is no. The Oilers shook off a beatdown from San Jose in Round 1 to win that series and after clobbering Anaheim in Game 6, the Ducks came back to win Game 7. After Game 4, John Paddock said a loss is a loss no matter what the final score is and that everything goes back to zero when Game 5 starts. While Game 4 certainly wasn't as entertaining as the first three, I expect the two teams to treat us to another dandy tonight. If the Pats win, one can only imagine what it will be like inside the sold-out Brandt Centre Sunday night.
--I was surprised to hear the Pats and T-Birds were together on the same plane when the series shifted from Regina to Seattle. I am guessing the same thing will happen Saturday morning as the teams head back to the Queen City. It is obviously a move done to cut the costs for both teams. Here is a question I would like an answer to though because I don't know the answer.
The fact the series will go at least 6 games is good for the Pats bottom line because they will be getting 3 gates from the final. If the series had ended in 5, the team that got home ice advantage would not get that gate. Those gates mean money. I'm sure Brandon would have loved to had 3 gates instead of 2 last year. Does the WHL do something with gate money for Game 5 when it comes to the two teams involved? I am guessing they do or the 2-3-2 format would be scrapped. The team with home ice advantage should have that additional gate for Game 5 and in junior hockey, those gates can go a long way. How much do you think Brandon missed out on last year? How much will Regina make tonight. It's money they wouldn't have had in their pocket had one team swept the three games in Seattle.
--The Edmonton Oilers are done for the season. A loss in Anaheim Wednesday was the end of the line for a team that proved "the decade of disaster" is over. As the final buzzer sounded from the Honda Center, I was disappointed to see the Oil's season done, but I also realize what is right around the corner. The Oilers of this year are like the Pats of last. You knew when the team skated off the ice in Red Deer having lost to the Rebels in 7 that better times were ahead with guys like Steel, Hobbs, Wagner and Brown poised to have huge years. It happened!
McDavid was what we thought. Draisaitl is just getting better, Klefbom is getting better. Talbot is solid. Tweaks have to be and will be made to get better, but the Oilers of 2016-17 have laid the groundwork for a possible parade or two down Jasper Avenue in future years. As was mentioned a few times Thursday, the Oilers of now are like the Penguins of a decade ago. That being said, expectations will be high next year, and the team will have to deliver unlike the Washington Capitals or the San Jose Sharks of the 2000's. Will Jordan Eberle be a part of it? I hope so, and I have laid my argument down as to why that is, but it won't surprise me if he's not. As for what does have to be done, for me its as follows
1) How much do you give Connor McDavid? He can sign an extension as early as July 1. The Oilers aren't letting him get away. He will sign the 8 year maximum contract, but at how much. What he signs for will dictate the future of others and your budget. I am guessing he asks for the maximum which he deserves. That will have an impact on the likes of Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and others. It has been suggested McDavid will do what Crosby did and take his number (9.7 a season) which would be a bargain and provide some flex room.
2) Get an experienced backup G. If Cam Talbot had gotten hurt during the stretch run or the playoffs, the Oilers season wouldn't have lasted until May 10. Talbot was a workhorse for the Oilers this season, but I think he has to cut his workload down somewhat. You need a guy to play 20-25 games a year. Would Mike Condon or Peter Budaj be the answer? What about Cam Ward? The argument can also be made to give Brossoit a chance to earn the backup job. If he can, great. If not, make a move somewhere next season.
3) Tweak the D. Keeping Kris Russell is a must. Matt Benning was a huge surprise, Oscar Klefbom is finally starting to be the player people thought he would be. I'm guessing you can't move Andrej Sekera because of his contract, but if you could get a 4-5 defenceman at a reasonable price, why not?
There are other things as well like the expansion draft, the entry draft and where guys like Jesse Puljujarvi are going to fit in, but those 3 top my wish list.
At the end of the day, the contract McDavid agrees to will have a huge part on what happens moving forward and don't forget Leon Draisiatil is a restricted free agent this year as well and needs to be paid, and paid handsomely. It takes you back to what I said about the Oilers being like the Penguins 10 years ago. Crosby and Malkin then are McDavid and Leon now.
--The Blue Jays are having a better May than April, but at the rate guys are getting injured, they may be calling the Regina Red Sox to see what they have for players soon. I think it is safe to say this team is not going back to the playoffs. If that is the case, Sportsnet will come nowhere close to having the audience for Jays games they have had the past two years come August and September. Where does that leave the CFL? The CFL claimed the Jays ratings had an impact on their TV or lack of TV ratings, and there may be some validity to that. That reason won't be there this year so if the TV numbers aren't there, what will the league attribute it to?
--International soccer is ready to invade Regina. FC Valencia will take on the New York Cosmos in an international friendly. I realize soccer isn't everyone's cup of tea. Soccer is to some what NASCAR is to me---it's a reason to turn the channel immediately. That being said, there is no denying the rising popularity of the sport in this province and country. More and more are playing the game here with immigration having a large part to play in that. The question is what type of crowd should we expect? I would think having 20-thousand would be good. Can the Saskatchewan soccer community do that? People will come from neighbouring provinces and bordering states for the game as well. I think that is a reasonable number. I just hope this leads to a World Cup qualifier--either mens or womens. Years ago, I sat in Commonwealth Stadium for a friendly between Canada and Brazil. A friendly that Canada won believe it or not. It was an atmosphere unlike many other as there was a solid Brazilian contingent in the stands. I'd love to see that replicated here.
--Meanwhile, the Star-Phoenix's Kevin Mitchell had a story about former Rush president Lee Genier getting involved in trying to get a soccer team for Saskatchewan that would play in the newly-formed Canadian Premier League which is trying to get off the ground. Chances are the team would be based in Saskatoon which is fine. Kevin's story goes on to say a 6-8 thousand seat stadium would have to be built. Is that going to happen in these economic times? I hope that isn't a roadblock, but it could be.
--What team is really going to want Ilya Kovalchuk? If so, what do they give up?
--If you get the chance, don't forget about Mom on Sunday. I get the feeling many in Regina will say no to dinner Sunday, but yes to brunch because of a hockey game. Wouldn't it be great to see Mother's Day get punctuated with Ron Robison presenting the Ed Chynoweth Cup to the Pats? It could happen!
Have a great weekend everyone!