Let's Just Cool Things Down for a Minute. . .
Man, did a few people get riled up yesterday. All over the wording of a trade. Yikes. But that's the great passion there is for the sport of hockey in this town and in this country. People can care an awful lot about the smallest details.
So we'll leave the Luke Schenn trade debate for a moment. Never thought it would get that heated, and my goodness, some people out there get their feelings hurt rather easily. Hey, we all give and receive, and as long as the shots are within the confines of relatively polite discussion, I can take it and give it out, and so must those who decide to participate in this blog.
Actually, the past couple of weeks have been really encouraging in terms of the quality of the discussion. I know there are those out there who get all worked up when their comments don' t get posted, but folks, nobody out there has a right to be heard. It's my blog, and while some accuse me of posting only those comments I agree with, a quick look at the past months will illustrate quite vividly that isn't true. What I'm looking for is comments that add to the discussion or advance the discussion. If your comment doesn't get the job done, don't expect to see it.
Now, just for a quite diversion from the sport of hockey. I received this question this week, and rather than have it buried in a hockey mail bag, I thought we'd do a quick one off.
Q: The past few years I have found myself watching and enjoying tennis after mostly ignoring the sport for over a decade. The Federer/Nadal matches have created some buzz but do you think there are some players on the so called bubble that could consistently reach the finals in the majors or are we stuck (maybe lucky) watching Federer and Nadal for the next while? Women's side seems to be more wide open but is there a few female player's we can expect to see a lot of (on the court, not the tabloids). And while the game appears to evolve quicker than the bags under my eyes, what do you like about the current game and what would you like to see change?
David Miles, Burlington
A: Well, David, glad to have you back. To be honest, I tuned out of the pro game for about a decade as well. Right now, I'd say the men's tour is as good as it's ever been, but the question you ask is a good one. Can anybody consistently challenge Federer and Nadal? At the moment, only Novak Djokovic seems to be close, and he has one Grand Slam title to Federer's 13 and Nadal's six. Andy Murray has flirted with moving into challenging territory, but he's not quite there yet, although he's the best player on the tour without a Grand Slam title at the moment. Andy Roddick's time is over. Ditto for James Blake and Marat Safin. There are some young players capable of winning a Grand Slam eventually such as Gael Monfils of France, Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, Marin Cilic of Croatia and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. The question of whether we're going to be watching Federer and Nadal contest most of the finals in the future right now seems to revolve mostly around Federer. Can he maintain the incredible pace of making finals, or will 2009 be the year he drops off. Certainly at the Aussie Open he was outstanding until the fifth set of the final, but the French Open is next and then he goes back to Wimbledon for the first time in a long time not as the defending champion.
How quickly could this two-man rivalry get boring? Not yet, but certainly more players in the mix makes it more interesting.
The women's tour, meanwhile, is a bit of a disaster at the moment. Too many stars have disappeared and those near the top haven't had tremendous Grand Slam success (Jelena Jankovic). In general, the level of competition has fallen off, and the dreadful Aussie Open final between Serena Williams and Dinara Safina was evidence of that.
For the most part, I love the modern game. We could always use more net play in singles, but there is a lot of variety and there are many contrasting styles on tour. To me, the way in which the men, in particular, hit the ball with such ferocity has turned modern tennis into almost a violent sport, and the athletes are so much stronger and more conditioned that the level of play is really something to watch. Some pine for the days of Laver and Rosewall when there was more finesse than power, but not me.