Who cares about the opinions of a bunch of crusty sportswriters and broadcasters, or about stand-up comedy from a C-list hack like Jay Mohr.
The really big deal at the NHL awards, being held this week in Las Vegas, is the unveiling of the player who’ll be on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 12, which takes place on Wednesday.
If it isn’t Tim Thomas, then these people are lunatics – although it’s tough to argue with people who send out a press release trumpeting that they’re “reigniting the beloved fighting engine that first appeared in NHL 10 with all-new goalie battles. When the action gets heated, send a message by leaving the net, dropping the gloves, and trading punches with rivals during fights.”
Well, colour us thrilled! There really is a special place in hell for these people, no? No report on whether you can pick a city of your choice to burn after your team craps the bed in the playoffs.
IS IT A RAP?
Call the news conference already. Everybody in the NBA says it’s down to Lawrence Frank and, more likely, Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey for the Toronto Raptors head coaching job, with Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News saying it was a done deal this past weekend.
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo has indicated he wants the new man in place before the draft Thursday and Casey’s defensive intellect would appear to be a great fit.
If Casey can convince centre Tyson Chandler to join him as a free agent – once the NBA’s labour mess is straightened out – so much the better. Chandler showed in the NBA final that he is the antidote to everything that ails the Raptors (other than point guard) and Raptors fans can only wonder what might have happened had Colangelo’s deal to trade Jose Calderon for Chandler and Boris Diaw not been killed last off-season by the Charlotte Bobcats.
GREEN ROOM BECKONS
To no one’s surprise, forward Tristan Thompson of Brampton, Ont., was one of 15 prospects invited by the NBA to watch the draft Thursday from the so-called green room, where players and families that the league considers to be early draft selections gather.
Thompson, out of the University of Texas, was one of three players invited who also attended a Raptors workout last week. The other two were Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State and Marcus Morris of Kansas.
Other players headed for the green room include Kyrie Irving (Duke,) Derrick Williams (Arizona), Enes Kanter (Turkey), Brandon Knight (Kentucky), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Chris Singleton (Florida State), Klay Thompson (Washington State), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Alec Burks (Colorado) and Markieff Morris (Kansas).
Markieff Morris is Marcus Morris’ twin brother and is considered to be something of a reach above the 10th pick. According to the consensus, the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Irving or Williams with the first pick, while the Raptors have been linked to whomever is left from Walker and Knight. Colangelo will have a lot of explaining to do if he takes another European player.
Wimbledon men’s winner
Roger Federer, Switzerland, 2 to 1
Rafael Nadal, Spain, 9 to 4
Novak Djokovic, Serbia, 4 to 1
Andy Murray, Britain, 5 to 1
Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina, 25 to 1
Andy Roddick, United States, 33 to 1
Milos Raonic, Thornhill, Ont., 80 to 1
Wimbledon women’s winner
Maria Sharapova, Russia, 4 to 1
Serena Williams, United States, 9 to 2
Venus Williams, United States, 8 to 1
Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic, 9 to 1
Na Li, China, 10 to 1
Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, 11 to 1
Service aces by Milos Raonic this year to lead the ATP World Tour, 82 more than second-place Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. John McEnroe told The Guardian that Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., is “the one who could come out of the pack” to win the event.
The last time a British man won Wimbledon, when Fred Perry beat Baron Gottfried von Cramm of Germany
I’m going to go with Maria Sharapova this time. Venus [Williams] has forgotten how to win in the last year or so.
The 1977 Wimbledon champion didn’t dodge reporters’ questions about who might win the women’s singles event at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
THE FINAL WORD(S)
Something else. Through noon Sunday, the team name that had received the second-most votes out of 11 options in a Winnipeg Free Press survey on what the Atlanta Thrashers should be named when the team relocates to the Manitoba capital. The NHL’s board of governors is expected to approve the sale and move at a meeting in New York on Tuesday. Out of 34,877 respondents to the Free Press survey, 64 per cent (22,239) selected the name Jets. The Moose, which was the name of the city’s AHL affiliate, had attracted just 4 per cent. The answer something else had 10 per cent of the vote ahead of Falcons, Warriors, Polar Bears, Gold, Breeze, Thunderbirds, Prairie and Braves. Folks … it’s got to be the Jets. If you’re all that worried about merchandise sales, change the jerseys radically from the last time they were in town. New colours, the whole works.