As votes of confidence go, this one comes with an asterisk: Jose Calderon is the Toronto Raptors point guard by default, but nobody believes that is a satisfactory situation, unless Nimble and Flexible are the names of incoming point guards instead of the words general manager Bryan Colangelo uses to describe the teams payroll structure heading into a possible labour stoppage.
The Raptors play the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre with Calderon now holding the keys to the car because of the trade of Jarrett Jack to the New Orleans Hornets. The problem is Calderon is here only because a summer-time trade to the Charlotte Bobcats fell apart. He then compounded his lack of marketability when he lost the starter's job to Jack. The good thing is that the Raptors' young players now know with whom they have to fit in - the better thing is that Leandro Barbosa, if healthy, can be the sort of late game, ball-handler who can create his own shot that Calderon cannot be.
Jerryd Bayless, the guard who is expected to join the Raptors on Tuesday, is a former first-round draft pick whose numbers suggest he is more of a No. 2 than a point guard. Bayless was part of the 2008 U.S. select team chosen by USA Basketball, where Raptors head coach Jay Triano was an assistant to P.J. Carlesimo (who is now Triano's assistant with the Raptors).
A VOTE FOR VOTTO
Joey Votto should be favoured Monday to receive the National League's most valuable player award, even though the Toronto native and Cincinnati Reds first baseman lost out in Silver Slugger and Gold Glove voting to Albert Pujols. But the vote could be close, with Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies figuring in it as well. The Reds making the playoffs ought to carry extra currency with voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America, who rightly often give more weight to postseason play in the MVP award than in Cy Young voting. Votto could be the third Canadian MVP, joining Larry Walker of Maple Ridge, B.C. (1997 NL MVP) and Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., (2006 American League MVP).
It is to be hoped that Colin Campbell, the NHL's resident master of social media and chief disciplinarian, has dropped a few words in the ears of the Philadelphia Flyers ahead of their game Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, after Flyers captain Mike Richards said "something might happen" to Habs defenceman P.K. Subban. According to Richards, Subban is cocky. Puck heads seem especially worked up about the Triple Low-5 handshake thing he and goaltender Carey Price do after games. It's okay to hit a guy from behind into the boards, but God help those funky handshakes. What a league.
CLEARING THE CREASE
With Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars in town Monday for a game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, get ready for 24 hours of chatter about him being traded to the Maple Leafs. …Steven Stamkos gets all the love, but going into the Pittsburgh Penguins' game against the Florida Panthers on Monday, Sidney Crosby has 14 goals - his best 21-game start to any season. … Canada's skeleton and bobsleigh drivers return to the Whistler Sliding Centre next weekend for the first World Cup events of the 2010-2011 season. Don't expect the fastest track in the world to be as fast as it was last February: In addition to safety changes, the weather hasn't been cold enough and it hasn't had the same degree of preparation. … The New York Yankees could formally offer free-agent Derek Jeter a three-year, $45-million (U.S.) contract this week, but the overtly public nature of negotiations so far do not necessarily auger well for a quick resolution. The way around it all is for the Yankees to come up with a personal services component. … Would the Toronto Blue Jays view Carlos Pena as a potential replacement for Lyle Overbay at first base? Pena, the Tampa Bay Rays free agent, hit .196 last season in 502 plate appearances, which is the lowest total for a player with as many at-bats since Rob Deer hit .210 in 1993 and 45 percentage points off his career average. But Pena still hit 24 home runs and drove in 84 runs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have met twice in the playoffs since 1967. And Jeff Juden outpitched Roger Clemens on Canada Day 1997. Incorrect information appeared in The Globe and Mail Saturday.
The home winning streak, in games, for the top-ranked Laval Rouge et Or, who play host to No. 5 University of Calgary Dinos in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Saturday. Canadian Interuniversity Sport still doesn't get it: For maximum exposure and quality of presentation, it makes no sense not to play the game on the Friday night before the Grey Cup in the CFL championship game's host city.
"Every year, there's teams that have a tough first 20 games and people count them out and every year, there's always a team or two that nobody thought had a chance to regain some momentum and climb back up and they make the playoffs. This year, we feel that can be us but we know we have a lot of work ahead of us. As a team, we've got to play more confidently," Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla. He and his teammates continue a road trip Monday with their second of five games in seven nights, against the New York Rangers. The Calgary Herald reported Iginla has been told he will not be asked to waive his no-movement clause.
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