A few post-vacation mind burps:
-- The Hockey News has listed its version of the top 50 players in the NHL. Not a single one is a Maple Leaf. Tomas Kaberle isn’t on it. Vesa Toskala was a year ago, but fell off it this year. Its just one publication’s opinion, and it has some peculiarities (Tim Thomas at No. 13) but it accurately suggests that if the Leafs are to have any success this season, it’s going to have to be a team thing.
-- Few sports work as hard at women’s tennis to promote themselves. In a span of three days, the WTA had Maria Sharapova at the top of the CN Tower, Serena Williams happily participating in a hit-and-giggle at Rexall Centre and Ana Ivanovic hitting a ball on Yonge Street. You cannot say these people don’t understand they have work to do.
-- So 21 years after a drug-fueled Ben Johnson ran 9.79 in Seoul, Usain Bolt is running 9.58 without even wearing one of those fancy new swimsuits. Humans are really getting faster? Nobody’s wondering whether this can all possibly be for real in a sport that needs major stars as badly as baseball did when Mark McGwire was smashing home runs?
-- No kidding Stephen Strasburg had the Washington Nationals up against the wall. Baseball’s draft, it seems, makes no sense to anyone, and seeing the No. 1 pick get about 50 per cent more than any draft pick in league history just confirms that. This is a sport that excludes Latin America and Asia from the draft for reasons that escape more sensible people.
-- So it seems pretty clear that Kerry Joseph’s days as the No. 1 quarterback of the Argonauts are unofficially over. Cody Pickett’s going to get a long look this time, and Joseph has run out of chances with his third head coach in Toronto. Looking back, the 2008 deal that sent Joseph to the Argos from Saskatchewan to Toronto – Pinball Clemons really wanted it, Adam Rita did not – certainly looks like an error. But how big? The key elements of the trade were Joseph going to the Argos in exchange for offensive lineman Glenn January, defensive lineman Ronald Flemons and the fourth overall pick in the ’08 Canadian college draft. January is now in Winnipeg and Flemons was dealt back to the Argos, while the Green Riders used the first rounder to select defensive lineman Keith Shologan of Spruce Grove, Alberta, a 6-foot-2, 290-pounder who played his college ball at Central Florida. Shologan has yet to make an impact on Roughriders – he did catch a touchdown pass against Hamilton last week – but his development will decide this trade. As it stands, Joseph’s contract probably makes him untradeable.
-- What a carry-on over the new Olympic hockey jerseys. They’re sure pretty and creative, but was this really a matter of national security?
-- Kaberle (Czech Republic) and Mike Komisarek (U.S.) are the Leafs likeliest to be Olympians in Vancouver. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson (Sweden) has a shot at making it, and defenceman Francois Beauchemin has been invited to Team Canada’s camp. Mikhail Grabovski could have a chance of playing for Belarus.
-- Boy, Alex Tanguay must be one rotten guy. Not one NHL team wants him? Among those free agents still unsigned, the most interesting names are Maxim Afinogenov, Manny Malhotra, Taylor Pyatt, Francis Bouillon and Dennis Seidenberg. Fellows of some credentials with nowhere to go include Mike Comrie, Radek Bonk, Mike Peca, Robert Lang, Dominic Moore, Rob Niedermayer, Martin Skoula and Mathieu Schneider and Todd Bertuzzi. (Ed note. Bertuzzi signed one-year deal with Detroit today).