The the NHL trade deadline comes and goes and the biggest story is how Twitter faked out some over-eager reporters? Man, bring on the playoffs. The deadline was one of those things where you know you're wasting your time watching most of it, but you can't really help yourself. The spectacle was breathtaking in its hypeness. Canada is so ... American now, when it comes to this stuff.
I was listening to the radio and former New York Islanders star Denis Potvin was talking about the trade that brought Butch Goring to the club in 1980 and helped set the stage for four straight Stanley Cups, making it arguably the most significant deadline deal in NHL history. Potvin was saying how no one really knew what was going on; there were no reporters staking out practice for days on end or buildup to the big day. They heard about the trade after practice and wondered who this Goring guy was and how he was going to help them.
1. Dustin Penner: acclaimed thespian?
There is no doubt in my mind that the real winner of yesterday's trade deadline day was the hulking former Edmonton Oilers forward's acting coach, if he has one. If he doesn't his performance on his way out of Edmonton en route to Los Angeles was even more Oscar-worthy. Everything I saw and read made it seem like he was sad to leave a cold, windy city home to a losing, rebuilding team where he was a target for criticisim to a rising club in Southern California, where he already owns a home and has a car parked. But I couldn't help thinking he'd be pounding the steering wheel and shouting YESSS! as he was driving to the airport: He could be excused for wanting out. But he didn't. He actually liked it here. Go figure.
"I'm sad to leave," said the 28-year-old winger, after being traded to the LA Kings for a first round draft pick, conditional third round pick and prospect defenceman Colton Teubert.
"Like everybody here, I felt like we were building something together. I didn't expect to get traded. It's kind of a daze."
This wasn't Ryan Smyth blubbering like a lost kid in a shopping mall, but it hurt just the same.
"With life there's ups and downs," he said. "A decent first year. The second year (underachieving and in Craig MacTavish's doghouse) was something we'd all like to forget. The last two I've enjoyed thoroughly. It's a really fun place to play.
"I went through good times and bad times here but I think I grew as a player and a person."
With 93 goals in 304 games as an Oiler, Penner is a rare commodity in the NHL There aren't many 250-pound wingers who can score 30 without really trying. Of course, it's hard to get by in a hockey city when you're not really trying, which contributed to the love-hate relationship with the fans and media.
2. When a team trades a franchise player:
The NBA trade deadline was last Wednesday and perhaps the biggest deal was one that no one had speculated about in advance, as the Utah Jazz shocked just about everyone -- including Deron Williams -- by trading Deron Williams. We'll see if there's a deconstruction of a trade so thorough coming out of the NHL's trading period in the next few days: But while Williams was kept in the dark, the Jazz were making a play. After Denver took the New York Knicks to the limit Tuesday, receiving maximum worth for free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony, Utah knew the stage was set. The Jazz had spent the weeks leading up to Anthony's trade gauging Williams' market value - a process that started after teams began dialing Utah's number when news of Williams' seasonlong clashes with Sloan went public, as opponents tried to sweep in and steal the disgruntled guard. Once Anthony was finally moved, the Jazz cashed in. Utah spent the night leading up to Williams' trade contemplating the decision, weighing whether a team that started the season 27-13 was for real, or really just one that would face another disappointing first-round playoff exit. But once the Jazz realized what was on the table - a future-laden deal that contained as little risk as possible, and one that would immediately send Williams and his mounting problems packing -Utah did not hesitate. Moreover, by intentionally keeping the trade as quiet as possible, the Jazz negated any leverage Williams still held. By not allowing him to first go public and back the organization into a corner if he disapproved of the move, Utah was able to completely elude the 24-7 Internet rumor mill and discreetly pull off the most shocking trade of the season. To Williams, the Jazz's top-secret operation was unwarranted.
"If that's what they wanted to do, I can't stop [the trade]" Williams said. "There's nothing that I can do. Am I going to say, 'I'm not going there?' That's not who I am."
3. Headshots and firearms -- welcome to the EPL:
Two of the biggest clubs in world soccer -- Chelsea and Manchester United -- play today and the build-up is mostly that two of the sports biggest starts will each be in the lineup despite recent snafus. Ashley Cole of Chelsea will get the nod despite having wounded an intern while fooling around with air rifle at the club's training ground, while Man U will be able to to turn to Wayne Rooney despite Rooney have elbowed a Wigan player in the head on the weekend -- would he have been suspended if he played in the NHL? The lack of action in either regard has some up in arms: The FA should be ensuring justice is done, that mistakes can be rectified. Nobody is advocating that results be changed, simply that catching culprits is important whether the match is on-going or concluded. Inconsistency riddles FA thoughts. It pours money into a glossy Respect campaign and then sits idly by as one high-profile footballer elbows a lesser one. Those right-minded souls seeking to instil healthy sporting habits into impressionable youngsters have had their tasks further complicated by Clattenburg and the compliant officers of the FA. "How will I explain this most recent action from their 'role model'?" one teacher lamented on Monday. "Another accident?"
4. Ferguson Jenkins -- Cy Young winner; Hall of Famer, memorialized on a stamp:
There is no shortage of Canadian talent making an impact in major league baseball these days, but it's unlikely that any of them took a route as challenging and circuitous as Chatham's Ferguson Jenkins, the most accomplished baseball play Canada has ever produced. A nice story here by Tom Hawthorne on the occasion of Jenkins having his own stamp in recognition of Black History Month: He signed baseballs and sold paraphernalia to benefit his eponymous charitable foundation. The son of a Barbadian immigrant father and a mother whose family came to this land along the Underground Railroad as escaped U.S. slaves, Canada's greatest ballplayer has been placed on a postage stamp to mark Black History Month.
His reception in Victoria was considerably warmer than that afforded the pitcher early in his career as a professional.
His introduction to segregation - to Jim Crow laws - came during his first spring training in Florida in 1962.
"We didn't eat in the restaurants, couldn't stay in the same hotels," he said.
5. Pete Sampras still better than Andre Agassi:
I'm not much for nostalgia, but a lot of people are, apparently as Madison Square Garden was sold out last night for an exhibition match between two U.S. Open legends, inspiring conflicting emotions among those who watched: More than 19,000 people packed Madison Square Garden. Even watching on television, you got a sense of the building's high energy. It was a happening. And you wondered: Outside of Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal, could any matchup of today's players compare in the New York setting? What a testament to reputation and legacy.
NIce eh? But also: Hate to say it, but if you'd never seen or heard of Agassi, and got a look at this bald, pasty character, you'd make the pre-match assumption that he'd won some kind of "Play a set against Sampras" contest.
6. The myths and misconceptions of the 40-yard dash
Today the defensive backs take centre stage at the NFL Combine while the CFL version gets underway in Toronto this week. In each case someone's career prospects will be enhanced or damaged based on how fast they run a 40-yard dash. Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star does a nice job here digging into some of the history and misconceptions about football's most famous track event: No test during the combine will be more closely watched than the 40-yard dash, and no results more intensely discussed. Or more widely misinterpreted. "As a football player you really never run in a straight line, ever," says Larry Jusdanis, a Burlington-based trainer preparing prospects for the CFL evaluation camp. "It's an overrated test. It's a controlled environment, where football isn't a controlled environment."
But 40-yard times still carry weight.
Last March, Bishops University slotback Steven Turner blazed a record 4.31-second 40 at the CFL evaluation camp, fast enough to earn him an invite to the Chicago Bears' mini camp. The only player with a faster pre-draft 40 than Turner's was current Oakland Raider Jacoby Ford, whose 4.28 topped the NFL combine. And even a world-class sprinter like Ford couldn't match Titans tailback Chris Johnson, whose 4.24 at the 2008 combine prompted speculation that he was the fastest man alive. But are any of these guys as fast as their 40-yard dash times indicate? A closer look at the numbers raises questions. At the 2008 Olympics, Usain Bolt covered 100 metres in a world-record 9.69 seconds.
His time through 40 yards - 4.35 seconds.
So either several NFL players-and at least one CFLer-are faster over 40 yards than the world's fastest man on his fastest day, or something strange is happening with 40-yard dash times.
7. Canadian Women's soccer team in preparation for Cyprus Cup:
So happy are the Canadian women's soccer team about apparent progress in the CSA's relationship with head coach Carolina Morace that they have backed off threats to boycott this week's tournament and have celebrated by making a music video; showing that that they're just 10-year-old girls at heart: