By Lori Bennett
The Ottawa Senators are for sale… maybe. Reports surfaced this week that an external firm had been retained to assess the value of the team and explore options. This outcome has felt like a real possibility since the passing of owner Eugene Melnyk. A board has reportedly been running the team on behalf of Melnyk’s daughters since he died.
What does this mean for hockey fans in the National Capital Region? The sale of a Canadian hockey team always raises anxiety about a new buyer moving the team south of the border. Rumours have circulated that Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds might be interested in buying the Senators and, if accurate, it would signal the team’s future remaining in Ottawa. It may be too early in the process to fret about that outcome.
Sens fans are more likely to be fretting that the start of the season has not gone as planned. After nine games there were only four wins on the books for Ottawa, and with their busy off-season they were booking on a better start than that, but the season is still young.
Fretting would be an upgrade on the emotional temperature in Toronto. Injury troubles continue, the elite players are not playing like they can, and the coach and GM are on the hot seat. Fans and pundits have been awaiting a shake-up move since the season began. The Maple Leafs can surely use a defenseman, and a trade may be the jolt the team needs to refocus.
There is also a strong awareness that unemployed coach Barry Trotz may be ready to return to coaching as early as December and has an interest in coaching an original six team. Are the Leafs even considering a coaching change, and if they are, would they try to tread water until Trotz is ready? Would the Stanley Cup winning coach be interested in the Toronto spotlight?
But perhaps there was a turning of the tide on Wednesday night when Captain John Tavares delivered a hat trick in a convincing 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. It certainly seemed like a statement game, but we won’t know what statement until we see how the team responds going forward.
With Auston Matthews off to a slow start in Toronto, a couple of other guys have stepped up as candidates for the Maurice Richard Trophy. The big boys in Edmonton, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue their domination. In his first 10 games, McDavid scored 11 goals and 22 points. There is little doubt that McDavid can score 60 or more if he decides to.
There are a couple of players I’m keeping an eye on in the goal scorers’ category. Erik Karlsson is experiencing a bit of a revival in San Jose, with nine goals. Gabe Villardi seems to be having a breakout year in Los Angeles. Cole Caufield is delivering the season fans expected in his rookie year before the Montreal Canadiens fell apart.
Speaking of the Habs, GM Kent Hughes is on the hunt to swing a trade. The Canadiens began the season with too many forwards on the roster, but numbers were being managed through injury relief. On Thursday defenseman Joel Edmundson returned to the line-up, and they were forced to place Evgeni Dadanov on the injury reserve list due to a virus. That’s some virus.
With several other teams losing forwards to injury, Hughes is hoping to find a partner for some mutual scratching of backs. It shouldn’t be too much longer before a forward is traded, with guys like Dadanov, Mike Hoffman and Jonathan Drouin the most likely candidates. There’s a kid movement on in Montreal and if veterans want to stick, they’ll have to show their worth on the ice.
In Vancouver, management continued to tinker with the roster. After landing centre Jack Studnicka from the Boston Bruins last week, on the weekend they traded for defenseman Ethan Bear and continue to try to get their season back on track. Last Thursday, long-time Canuck turned hockey analyst Kevin Bieksa signed a one-day contract to retire a Canuck. Fans were hoping a little inspirational moment would spark something in the current roster.
It’s very early in the season, but the Toronto Raptors went into the weekend tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 record. This season’s version of the Raptors is big and athletic and on Wednesday night those traits were on display in a blowout 143-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs. If early games are any indication, we can expect a monster season from Pascal Siakam.
Blue Jays Babble
Announcements of MLB awards for the 2022 season have begun, and a Toronto fan favourite has found his name on the list.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has won the American League Gold Glove award for first base. This was Guerrero’s first win, and the first time that a Blue Jay has ever won a Gold Glove for the first base position. This is a remarkable achievement for Vladdy, having only played the position for three seasons to date.
Guerrero entered the league as a third baseman and struggled at the position in his first season. Management quickly abandoned developing him at third and focused on making him a first baseman. That decision has worked out well. Drafted for his bat, Vladdy was never expected to dominate defensively, but he has improved each season at the position. This is a player the Jays would be wise to lock up for a long time.