Pro sports have become a grinding bore

The tanking masses of the NHL, NBA and MLB have turned the regular season into a race to the bottom in search of top drafts

Pro sports have become a grinding boreO joy. The Feb. 25 National Hockey League trade deadline slides into view just as the National Basketball Association’s version of Trader Vic’s has expired. The fact that these two arbitrary dates are considered five-star attractions of the regular season tells you a lot about what a grinding bore the regular season has become in…

The fundamental flaw in coaching by instinct

Analytical detail determines winners and losers. So why do coaches insist on winging it at crucial moments?

The fundamental flaw in coaching by instinctI’m reading Ted Barris’s book The Dam Busters, about the epic 1943 raid by Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force flyers on the Möhne and Eder dams. The raid was famous for its risk – 53 men were killed, 18 of them Canadian – and for the new technologies used by the bombers…

Is gambling a big deal to the NFL? You can bet on it

With billions now being bet legally on sports, the simple outcome of the Super Bowl game will no longer be the only story

Is gambling a big deal to the NFL? You can bet on itIt’s late in Super Bowl LIII this Sunday. The driving New England Patriots, favoured by a field goal, have a three-point lead in the game. Hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide ride on whether the Los Angeles Rams can keep them out of the end zone or whether quarterback Tom Brady will push it in…

What happened to baseball’s free-agent frenzy?

If there is collusion this time, MLB has likely not left crumbs behind for the players association to dine upon

What happened to baseball’s free-agent frenzy?It was supposed to be the winter when money ran like water in baseball. With superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper dangling for anxious teams, it was predicted that the previous record for a Major League Baseball contract was going to be shattered. That would be the $325-million deal inked by Giancarlo Stanton with the…

Tied up in knots over ties in sports

Every sport has a different approach to dealing with games that end in a stalemate, including overtime and skills contests

Tied up in knots over ties in sportsThis year marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of the transcendent TV series The Sopranos. As its creator, David Chase understands better than most that a lousy ending can ruin a lot of the good work. Chase famously used a sudden blackout to conclude the final episode while Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ played in the…

Hockey carnivores versus the whipping boys

Why would anyone get their garters in a tangle over a hockey tournament held for a television network?

Hockey carnivores versus the whipping boysThere are about 5.5 million people in Finland. It’s the most sparsely populated nation in the European Union, with most of its inhabitants shivering away in the southern tier of the nation. The Finns also eat less red meat than the people of other developed nations. But you’d think they were carnivores of the first…

China syndrome: how long does HNIC stick with Huawei?

And are the Leafs negotiating with Auston Matthews? Are the Calgary Flames the real deal? Where does that leave the Oilers?

China syndrome: how long does HNIC stick with Huawei?Huawei did they go? That was the question on Saturday as Hockey Night In Canada hit the airwaves. The financial world has been roiling since Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested by Canadian officials in Vancouver on Dec. 1. She faces extradition to the United States, where she is accused of helping Huawei circumvent…

Stumbling Oilers now have a Hitch in their step

Tough love has long been Ken Hitchcock’s calling card in the NHL. But does it work on young men who are multimillionaires?

Stumbling Oilers now have a Hitch in their stepIf Ken Hitchcock is the answer for the Edmonton Oilers, what’s the question? Probably something like: How badly have we pissed people off? The National Hockey League team that dares to be known by first-overall picks alone finds itself spinning out of control yet again. The Oilers are dropping like a stone in the ultra-competitive…

The NHL shoves concussion conversation behind a curtain

Commissioner Gary Bettman never backed up or hinted the NHL might have had a problem related to head injuries to players

The NHL shoves concussion conversation behind a curtainIt used to be a staple of TV game shows. The grinning host on the stage. The dishevelled contestant looking dazed before him. “Do you want the $100 I’m holding in my hand … or would you like what’s behind the curtain up on stage?” Music, cheering, pandemonium. Maybe it was a new set of…

Bettman doesn’t belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame

Bettman’s biggest legacy to hockey fans is all the seasons he’s blighted by denying fans the game they love in labour stoppages

Bettman doesn’t belong in the Hockey Hall of FameOne of these people recognized at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday is not like the others: Martin St. Louis, Martin Brodeur, Willie O’Ree, Jayna Hefford, Alexander Yakushev, Gary Bettman. Hmm, wonder who? Most hockey fans – and this is all about the fans, right? – think the institution is about what happens on…

Oh baby! Bob Cole winds down a remarkable play-by-play career

The Hockey Night in Canada legend has seen plenty – and always offered it to TV viewers with plenty of panache

Oh baby! Bob Cole winds down a remarkable play-by-play careerThe venerable Bob Cole is making his farewell tour of Canadian National Hockey League cities this fall. The longtime play-by-play voice of Hockey Night In Canada is leaving the broadcast booth after a half century of “Oh baby!” And “They’re going home, they’re going home!” When he’s finished his tour at the end of December,…

A sure bet on pro sports gambling?

The NHL is ready to enter the betting ring. It’s a sign of liberalizing laws and the search for ever more revenue

A sure bet on pro sports gambling?“Can do, can do, this guy says the horse can do.” – Guy & Dolls How forbidden was sports betting in society? Just ask Pete Rose. Even though Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in hits never bet against his own team, Rose was given a lifetime suspension for making wagers on his sport. So there must…

Skill finally winning the battle for the soul of the NHL

The Vancouver Canucks, who may have lost the 2011 Stanley Cup to the bully Boston Bruins, have set a new standard for play

Skill finally winning the battle for the soul of the NHLThe Stanley Cup Finals series of 2011 – Vancouver versus Boston – was more than just the best chance for a Canadian National Hockey League team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993. As I explain in my book Ice Storm, it was widely seen as a showdown between the traditional NHL, in the person…

Toronto’s fond farewell to John Gibbons exposes deep faults

The Blue Jays’ president and GM bear the brunt of the blame for a horrible season, not the departing manager

Toronto’s fond farewell to John Gibbons exposes deep faultsLegendary baseball manager Leo Durocher once growled, “Show me a good loser and I‘ll show you a loser.” Soon-to-be ex-Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is certainly not a loser. Trips to the post-season in 2015 and 2016 showed him at his best. But for his 10 seasons during two stints in Toronto, his record was…

How migrants in search of championships hurt pro sports

Expansion meant salary caps and luxury taxes were necessary to keep teams competitive. But the system has failed players and fans

How migrants in search of championships hurt pro sportsThe problem with giving an athlete all the money he’ll ever need is that he’s going to ask you for something you can’t guarantee – no matter how much money you have. And that’s a championship. As the Erik Karlsson drama demonstrated last week, when an athlete gets all the money he can command, he’ll…
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