Three Tuesday Morning Thoughts To Chew On
At first glance. . .
It certainly seems like the NHLPA has a little quid pro quo in mind.
Back in 2004-05, if forcing the union to dump Bob Goodenow as executive director wasn't the end game of NHL owners, it was certainly a priority.
Now, more and more, it feels like the union wants to even the score. It would love to force the owners to replace Gary Bettman as commissioner in order to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place.
It seems far-fetched, a remote objective. Then again, Goodenow seemed impregnable seven years ago, and he was toppled from within. As if to make their point clear, the players then mutinied on the next two executive directors as well.
From uncalled-for verbal arrows from players like Ian White and Kris Versteeg to the daily drumbeat of idiotic propaganda from agent Allan Walsh to the overall attempt by the Fehr Bros. leadership to personalize this labour squabble and suggest Bettman and a small number of owners are holding the game hostage, it's clear the players union would hold a massive celebration if the owners were to dismiss Bettman.
It's not likely to happen. If Fehr is looking for cracks in the NHL armour, the best he's been able to get so far is a story based on unnamed sources out of Philadelphia suggesting Flyers boss Ed Snider is wavering, although Snider and Bettman both flatly denied the story.
The union will need more than that to get Bettman fired. They might also want to consider whether the effort is worth it.
After all, four years after Goodenow was dumped, the players turned to Donald Fehr. Think that's made the owners' job of getting the deal they want any easier?
In other words, there's little to no chance that if the owners did replace Bettman, the next guy would be any more to the liking of the NHLPA.
And at second glance. . .
What, Jimy Williams wasn't available?
After all, if the Blue Jays were going to recycle unsuccessful former managers, Williams would be a front of the line, wouldn't he?
Imagine if the Leafs re-hired Mike Murphy as head coach, the Raptors turned to Butch Carter again and the Argos decided Gary Etcheverry deserved another shot.
People would say, wow, what a clever idea?
Not that John Gibbons isn't the right manager for the new-look Jays. Who knows, really? Two years ago - heck, last spring - everyone seemed to think John Farrell was the perfect manager.
Here's what is weird. When teams recycle coaches or executives, it's usually because that individual had noteworthy success the first time around. So the Leafs brought back Punch Imlach and Cliff Fletcher. The Yankees kept bringing back Billy Martin. The Jays seemed to have interest in bringing back Bobby Cox before Cox said no.
Usually, however, a guy who didn't work out the first time doesn't get a second shot. Gibbons was .500 overall as a manager and had 87 wins in his best season. Maybe he deserved a better shot. But they all say that.
"You guys were as far off as I was," chuckled Gibbons this morning at a hastily called news conference, acknowledging he was "surprised" to be hired.
"I would never have thought this could happen."
What Gibbons seems to be is several things. One, he's a former catcher, and catchers-as-managers are all the rage in baseball. He's extremely popular with the media, no small thing. Farrell, never cuddly, couldn't get those rave reviews that help a manager.
Gibbons also has a bit of old school about him, and when you've had players running out on the field with homophobic slurs on their eye-black, it seems natural a team might figure a little discipline could go a long way. Lots of folks remember Gibbons getting in the face of players like Shea Hillenbrand after Hillenbrand sulked then wrote defamatory comments about the team on a clubhouse board.
Finally, Gibbons is a known commodity to the Jays and Alex Anthopoulos, and one who won't come to Toronto thinking of the Jays job as a stepping stone to something bigger.
So something old is new again..
And from a third angle. . .
So the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play their home games next season out of the University of Guelph campus at 15,000 Alumni Stadium.
And this makes sense to somebody?
Sure, the Packers used to play home games out of Milwaukee, but let's face it, all of Wisconsin adores The Pack.
All of Ontario doesn't love the Tabbies. Sometimes it's hard to figure out whether Hamilton does.
It's only one season, sure, while Ivor Wynne is torn down and a new 22,500-seat stadium is built. But Guelph still it's a strange decision. Why the team could not cut a deal with McMaster - the two sides tried repeatedly to get together - is a mystery. Guelph has little or no connection historically or otherwise with Steeldown. Logistically, it may be just as easy or even easier to navigate the team back-and-forth from Hamilton up Highway 6 to Guelph than to other possible locations, but Guelph is definitely foreign territory.
How the team boxed itself in like this is a story in itself, and it won't make it any easier as the CFL tries once again to build its brand in a southern Ontario market that has rejected it over and over.
The issue won't be whether Guelph supports the Tiger-Cats, although seriously, why would it? It will be whether Hamilton remembers the Cats when they want to come home again.