August 31 2016 10:04AM
There's now less than a month until NHL training camps open up and, and the first exhibition games will start getting played in late September. That means Auston Matthews's debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs is getting pretty near. While Auston's time spent playing in the World Cup may delay his first game with the Leafs by a week or so, it won't be long until Leafs fans finally get to see him don the blue and white.
Expectations for the recent 1st overall pick are sky high, but Mike Babcock has tried to keep expectations in check by saying that Matthews will start the season on the third line. Any player's production is going to be affected by their ice time, so just how many points the Leafs prized rookie can score is going to depend if (or, let's be honest, when) Matthews starts moving up the lineup.
August 30 2016 01:00PM
We're into the second part of our trip down Olympic memory lane. Last time, we looked at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Those games saw a scrappy little oil town host the world and get a few pieces of sporting infrastructure out of the whole process (along with a nice sense of community).
The 1988 Olympics made money (in terms of their operations), and the reports of corruption were rather minor. Now, there are two common explanations for this:
- Hey, the corruption and chaos of Russia and Brazil were unique to the business and political cultures of those countries.
- Hey, the IOC only got really corrupt in recent years.
So to test whether it's the place (the host country) or the time (recent versus past) that impacts the feasibility, profitability and tolerability of an Olympics, let's head to a place very near and dear to us – Vancouver, who hosted the 2010 Olympics.
August 30 2016 11:00AM
Sergei Belski: USA Today Sports
You can tell hockey season is just around the corner when the professional tryouts start rolling in. That's usually one of the first signs that summer is almost at a close.
For Canucks fans, though, it's often an off-season ritual their favourite team's notably absent from more often than not. In fact, the last PTOs the Canucks offered were to a geriatric Owen Nolan and Todd Fedoruk back in 2010-11. It's been a while, really.
To their credit, the Canucks haven't had the need to. They've been mostly competitive, or at least expected to be, for all but the last two-three years and didn't have many holes they could plug with a veteran tryout. That or they've tried to keep as many openings for young players as possible.
While you could certainly make the case that the Canucks are in a similar position to the two I broached for years past, their publicly stated need for help in the middle of their lineup indicates they're still looking for a helping hand. I've a few suggestions in mind, on the other side of the jump.
August 30 2016 07:00AM
One of the questions I’m often asked is why it is so important for NHL teams to address all of their important positional issues in the summer. After all, the reasoning goes, is there really much harm in checking out the players on the roster for a month or two and then fixing things up if necessary then?
Although superficially plausible, this is a dangerous way to run an NHL team.
August 29 2016 10:00AM
Glen Gulutzan has a handful of challenges ahead of him as the new Flames coach.
Perhaps no single obstacle is as big as the bottom end of the Flames blueline rotation. Brad Treliving has so far been unable to clear out any of the clutter from positions 4-6 on the club's back-end, leaving his new bench boss with an unsightly mix of aging players who all have the same problem: they can't defend.
To crystallize this problem further, we'll concentrate on Dennis Wideman. At $5.25M, Wideman is expensive. He still has some offensive chops, but his defensive game is rapidly swirling around the bowl. In the proper circumstances, Wideman could probably be an asset for at least one more year, but beyond that, you need two very obvious things: shelter at even strength and a partner who can do the defensive heavy lifting.
The first is possible. The second is the problem.