In honour of England at the World Cup, here’s another hopeless cause: the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports:
— With Willie Desjardins poised to become the Canucks next head coach, it’s time to step back and look at the first two and a half months of Trevor Linden’s administration.
Linden now has his coach and GM in place and both men are the polar opposites of their predecessors.
Desjardins is a no-BS career coach. Unlike John Tortorella, his press conferences won’t be appointment viewing.
New GM Jim Benning is a career scout who spent 20 years learning his craft. Like Desjardins, he is low-key and hard-working. Like Desjardins, he isn’t exactly a quote machine.
But this is what you like about the Canucks’ new hockey department. The men involved aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel. They are, however, interested in building an organization that encompasses the game’s core principles.
All three are from Western Canada. All view the game the same way. And the Canucks will reflect their philosophy.
There might have been sexier hires out there than Benning and Desjardins, but we’ve seen where sexy got the Canucks.
There are going to be trials this season because the plain fact is the Canucks aren’t as good as at least half a dozen teams in the Western Conference. But over the long term, you like the chances of Linden, Benning and Desjardins to succeed, because they’ll do things the right way, for the right reasons.
That will also be a welcome change for this organization.
— Here’s an itemized account of the bills the Aquilinis have picked up in the last year: Buying out Keith Ballard, $5.6 million; buying out David Booth, $2.8 million; trading Roberto Luongo, $6.4 million.
John Tortorella also had four years and $8 million left on his contract when he was fired, and Mike Gillis had similar term and compensation.
It’s unclear whether the full amount of those deals were paid out, but one thing is certain. Whatever the cost was, it was substantial.
Add it all up and it’s a staggering amount of money. You can second-guess a lot of aspects of the Aquilinis’ ownership. You can’t second-guess their financial commitment to the Canucks.
— One final thing with the local NHL side. The closer they get to the NHL draft, the more fascinating their sixth overall pick becomes. If they hold on to it, they could be looking at a size-and-skill package in Calgary centreman Jake Virtanen or a high-end, although smallish, talent in William Nylander. They could also use it to move up and go after hometown kid Sam Reinhart.
There’s one other name to keep in mind. Peterborough forward Nick Ritchie scored 39 goals in 61 games to go along with 136 penalty minutes. Ritchie is listed at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. The weight, in this case, is a concern and there’s some question about Ritchie’s conditioning.
But you have to admit. that’s an enticing package.
— Don’t want to overstate the point but that was an impressive performance by Kevin Glenn in the Lions’ final pre-season game on Friday night.
The numbers — 17 of 21 for 173 yards and one touchdown against zero turnovers — were pretty good, but not nearly as impressive as the poise and the leadership Glenn demonstrated.
He did this without starting receivers Manny Arceneaux and Shawn Gore in the lineup, but if Glenn had been wearing a No. 14 you would have sworn Travis Lulay was running the Leos’ offence.
Lulay is out for the foreseeable future. His absence could have brought on panic and a whole host of other problems for the Leos. That, however, doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue.
It cost the Lions a first-round draft pick to bring in Glenn. Right now, that looks pretty cheap.
— And finally, USA-Portugal produced the latest epic encounter in what’s becoming a memorable World Cup on Sunday and the stage now is set for two compelling matchups that will decide who goes through in Group G: USA-Germany and Ghana-Portugal.
With the Americans still threatening to make some noise, there’s also some thought that Brazil 2014 might provide a tipping point for soccer in the world’s biggest economy.
Granted, it won’t hurt the game’s cause in the States and it’s a positive development that so many MLS players are showing well in this World Cup.
But it’s still hard to see where soccer will move alongside MLB, the NFL and the NBA in the American sporting consciousness.
The game is gaining traction in the States and Canada. There’s no debate there. But history, tradition and loyalty — those things that belong to soccer everyplace else in the world — are already claimed in the USA. It will take more than one World Cup to change that.
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