Starting in October, I'll begin my NHL coverage, breaking down each Conference; who will make the playoffs and who misses out? Looking at the teams on paper, it's hard not to pick Detroit as an early Cup favorite. Dallas is looking good too, having Brad Richards for an entire year and bringing Avery in to replace recently retired Stu Barnes. Combine them with goalie Marty Turco and that makes them one of the best in the West. Of course, the Kings and Islanders will be fighting for 30th place and the chance to draft first. The Kings are on the verge of becoming Pittsburgh of the West, filled with top draft picks but not ready to make the jump yet - wait a season or two to see real improvement. On Long Island however, things will only go from bad to worse, Ted Nolan's out of the NHL again and the Islanders will be in a fog. With some of the leagues worst attendance figures and needing a new arena, I believe New York may be looking for a Canadian home in a year or two. Red Bull Energy has a team in the Austrian Hockey League and they are rumoured to be interested in a NHL team to add to their MLS soccer team and their Formula 1 racing team (formerly Jordan Racing). The Islanders, Thrashers and Panthers all need a new home to strengthen the NHL.
As Brian Burke told TSN last year, there are only so many points available in an 82 game schedule, if a team makes a 10 point improvement, someone else drops 10 points. Things will be getting tight in the standings this year as Chicago, Phoenix and Tampa Bay look for better seasons. Just one more hockey thought - has anyone told Tampa that they still need a goalie to go with their high priced additions?
The Can-Am Baseball League playoffs get started in early September. Our expansion Ottawa Rapidz were comfortably in last place all season but still averaged 2400 fans per game. Needing a 3000 average to break even, the Rapidz came close to their goal and made an impact on the Ottawa sports scene - that's where I'll be tomorrow as the season wraps up September 1st.
And... I have to admit when I'm wrong. I've watched too many Seinfeld episodes in my life, and their portrayal of George Steinbrenner was always on my mind as I predicted a Tampa Bay collapse and a Yankee return to the post season. George always seemed to get the job done... I'll finally admit that the Rays are for real this season. After living in the basement of the A.L. East for years, they have accumulated enough top draft picks to become legitimate World Series contenders. The Yankees continue to battle injuries (Wang and Matsui have missed most of the season), age is becoming a factor (Jeter and Giambi are not getting any younger), and the New York tabloids (A-Rod hasn't helped himself or his teammates with his high profile divorce). The Yankees might find themselves battling Toronto for third in the next few seasons if they don't look in the mirror this off-season. Could we see a return of Joe Torre to the Big Apple? George is getting angry...
Have a great sports day everyone.