What does it say that of the NHL players surveyed by Hockey Night In Canada and the NHL Players Association just 16 per cent favour the establishment of a second team in Toronto - 9 per cent fewer than those who favour a winter in Winnipeg?
Coupled with Phil Kessel's wallflower status at Friday night's NHL all-star sock-hop, and Ron Wilson's strong 24-per-cent showing as the head coach most players wouldn't want to play for, it's clear Toronto doesn't get much love among NHL players, beyond "nice place to visit, wouldn't want to play there" status. That's a tough nut to crack in a salary cap league, since it means over-paying for free agents more often than not. Nice rebuke to have ringing in your ears as you start off the post all-star break portion of the season, no?
CALL IT A WRAP, OKAY?
The Raptors carry an 11-game losing streak into Monday's game in Indianapolis against the Pacers, who could be ripe for the picking after firing head coach Jim O'Brien on Sunday. It's nowhere near the longest losing streak in NBA history - 24 games, set by the Cleveland Cavaliers over the course of two seasons, 1981-82 and '82-83. The longest single-season records are:
23 games - Vancouver Grizzlies, Feb. 16-April 3, 1996
23 - Denver Nuggets, Dec. 9, 1997-Jan. 23, 1998
20 - Philadelphia 76ers, Jan. 9-Feb. 11, 1973
20 - Dallas Mavericks, Nov. 13-Dec. 22, 1993
This is, however, the fifth-longest losing streak in Raptors history:
17 games - Nov. 6, 1997-Dec. 9, 1997
13 - Feb. 12, 2002-March 7, 2002
13 - March 20, 1998-April 12, 1998
12 - Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 29, 2011
… and it's right up there among the losing streaks of Toronto's major sports franchises:
12 games - Argonauts (Nov. 2, 1980-Sept. 19, 1981)
11 - Blue Jays (June 2-13, 1987; Aug. 27-Sept. 7, 1998)
10 - Maple Leafs (Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 1967)
4 - Toronto FC (April 7, 2007-April 28, 2007)
(Toronto FC went 12 matches without a win from July 7, 2007-Sept. 29, 2007)
THE MONDAY LIST
What's at stake for the Canadian NHL teams when the schedule resumes:
(*)Vancouver Canucks: A legacy. Newcomers Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis will make them better in the playoffs, but why is it that nobody trusts Roberto Luongo?
(*)Edmonton Oilers: Relax. Keep a stiff upper lip and stick to that rebuild; think about how bad the Ottawa Senators have become, how messed up the Maple Leafs are, and remember that two years down the road, you'll be thankful you aren't the Calgary Flames.
(*)Calgary Flames: Freed from the tyranny of Darryl Sutter's general mismanagement and back from the dead with a 10-3-3 run before the all-star break, the biological clock on Jarome Iginla's tenure is ticking down. This is the last, dying gasp of this particular group.
(*)Toronto Maple Leafs: Avoid sharp objects - and Peter Chiarelli.
(*)Ottawa Senators: Forget you're the Senators for a minute, and try to do something right: salve a depressed fan base without making a colossal miscalculation in the initial stages of a painful rebuilding program.
(*)Montreal Canadiens: Just stay healthy and see what happens. Enjoy P.K. Subban's exuberance; you could have Dion Phaneuf and the Legion of Gloom.
LET THE EAGLE SOAR
Super Bowl week is America at its hyperbolic worst, and the Green Bay Packers have already set the bar high: quarterback Aaron Rodgers wondered why some of the 16 members of the Packers who were on injured reserve hadn't done their rehabilitating locally the way he did in 2006. This apparently rankled with the Packers' injured players, who were already upset upon learning that the official team photo will be taken in Dallas on Tuesday, two days before the injured players arrive. "I realize that people are going to want to talk about this at the Super Bowl," Rodgers said, after calling one of the irked players, Nick Barnett. Ah, the whiff of controversy.
"You have to sit there and think, 'What can we do better?' That's got to be our mindset - that there's ways of getting better. When we play a fast-speed game, we're much better. When we slow down and look for plays, we become victimized more by other teams being patient," Joel Quenneville, head coach, Chicago Blackhawks.
The Chicago head coach of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks has his team in seventh place after back-to-back losses heading into the resumption of the NHL schedule on Tuesday.
THE FINAL WORD
Weakness: The NFL Players' Association will have a 60-second ad on Sunday's Super Bowl centred on its "Let Us Play" campaign, which is the union's response to ownerships saber-rattling preparations for a lockout. Begging ownership not to lock them out shows once again how powerless the NFLPA is; they will be locked out and they will cave in and give ownership most of the 18 per-cent of revenue it wishes to reclaim. Forget whatever else you're told this week; there will be NFL football next season because Roger Goodell is not Gary Bettman, and the NLFPA has no stones.
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