Tag Archives: toronto maple leafs

Why Rick Nash Should Pull A Carmelo

Rick Nash needs a better home.

I had a dream last night, a hockey dream… pause.

I was watching the Maple Leafs and Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals in Toronto with leafs up 3 games to 1. The clock was winding down and the Air Canada center was going crazy as the Maple Leafs were heading to their first Stanley Cup since before I was born.

When the clock hit all zeros the Leafs flooded the ice in celebration with sticks and helmets littering the ice. After pandemonium ceased and the Prince of Wales trophy was being handed out Captain Dion Phaneuf excepted it with a big smile on his face and the camera closes in on the teams assistant captain Rick Nash.

The Toronto native left the doldrums of Columbus and forced a trade to his hometown and brought his team back to glory. He made the Leafs relevant again, he brought on of the league’s greatest franchises back to life.

Then I woke up. Rick Nash was still in Columbus. Steve Mason was still his goalie, shaky as ever. He was going to miss the playoffs… again.

In 8 years in the NHL Nash, one of the games most skilled and talented players, has only made the playoffs once, a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. He’s won an Olympic gold medal, led the league in goals and is guaranteed for 35-40 each season. If you watch him play the game you’d be amazed at how a 6-4 220+ pounder can be the perfect combination of power and finesse.

Legitimately he is one of the top 7 forwards in the league. Sure he’s the face of the Blue Jackets and easily the franchises greatest player. However, I cant help but wonder what he would do in a bigger market around better players.

8 seasons and 1 playoff appearance is not good enough for one of the league's best forwards.

He’s literally had no offensive help during his 8 years in Columbus. The defense behind him has been iffy at best and goaltending, well you’ve seen it.

He’s been the be  all end all of the team, if he doesn’t do it then no one will. He’s a more hard luck version of Kevin Garnett. He turns 27 this year and is playing in the prime of his career on a bad team. He needs to get traded.

Rick Nash needs to pull a Carmelo Anthony and he needs to do it now.

A player of his caliber needs to be on a good team at this point of his career. Its clear that Columbus cant put a good enough team around him and they need to start over. Start that by trading Nash to either a contender or a team that’s one player away. It would benefit all sides, the Jackets who could cut some payroll, the team receiving Nash would get one of the games best players and Nash can get the exposure he needs and play for a contender.

Picture Nash in Boston, Los Angeles, Buffalo, San Jose, Montreal or any team where his skills would mesh well with the team chemistry and attitude of the city. He scores 70-75 points a season when guys like Anze Kopitar, Joe Thornton or anyone would bump that total to 90 range. If Nash had a comparable winger he would have won a scoring title or two at this point of his career.

But the team that would make the most sense for him and that team, drum roll please…the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s the Carmelo conundrum. He’s from Brampton, Ontario, which is right outside of Toronto so he’s a hometown kid. He would be an automatic hero and the biggest name that they’ve had since Mats Sundin in his prime. Picture the buzz in that once proud hockey city, which is going through one of its worst stretches ever.

If you’re Toronto how would you not trade for him? You’d have Nash, Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel as your front line of Clarke MacArthur leaves and if he doesn’t that’s another piece to play around with.

That front line without Nash has been good enough to get the Leafs back into playoff contention this year. Adding Nash would put them over the top and make them an instant player in the East.

It also makes Toronto relevant again. The Leafs are to the NHL like the Cardinals are to baseball, the Lakers are to basketball and the Cowboys to the NFL. They’re one of the two glamour franchises in their sport. They need to be great, they need to matter.

They haven’t been to the Cup finals since 1966-67, which was their last title. 44 years without a championship for a team that ranks second to the Montreal Canadiens in that category is insane.  The leafs need to get back to that level of play of get back to being a championship team.

The Leafs need another face of the franchise like Mats Sundin once was. Nash would be perfect.

While they are making strides to get back to that point a big move like trading for Nash would put them back in the discussion of being one of the best in the business.

For Nash it would be the fresh start he needs and the proper stage for a player of his caliber. The Jackets have tried to build around him but they haven’t been able to. It makes no sense to keep paying a franchise player franchise money without the proper team around him. I would love to see Nash in the prime of his career have a chance to win a title and contend for an MVP. Columbus is a nice place to play but if Nash wants to reach his full potential and become greater than just a great player for a small franchise then he needs to either force his way out or have a team make an inquiry for him.

I’m not a Jackets fan but I’m a Rick Nash fan. I want to see him win a title, get the national exposure he deserves and become one of the best in the game. He wont be able to do that in Columbus. I know hockey players are very different from other professional athletes and don’t let their greed show, but this is one scenario that I wouldn’t protest. Hopefully he gets a little Carmelo in him and gets out while he can.

Are The Yankees The Next Empire To Fall

Was the Soriano deal a sign of a possible downturn for the New York Yankees?

Did you notice a trend that has happened in sports in the last ten years?

The death of the traditional power.

Think about this for a second; how many traditional sports powers took hits to their pride and luster in the last 10-15 years?

In college football Notre Dame still thinks that they will wake up the echoes in a matter if time and Michigan still considers itself to be the gold standard even when no when, I mean no one, wanted its head coaching job after the ousting of Rich Rod. Throw in Miami and Florida State and four of the games premier programs are in the middle of the pack as far as relevance .

In college basketball its Kentucky who still prides itself on being an elite program but hasn’t made a final four since Tubby Smith’s first year. Arizona, though they have an excuse, and recently UCLA, which is stunning especially after the run they had at the beginning of Ben Howland’s regime, have all fallen to the middle of the pack in recent years.

In hockey its been the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. Did you know once upon a time in the 90’s that the Habs had the same number of championships (24) as the Yankees? Ever since their last cup in 1993 the franchise has been plagued by unfortunate injuries (the Saku Koivu cancer cancer scare), lackluster performances (have they had a player in the top 20 in scoring in the last 20 years?), and scandal (hi Kostitsyn twins). Oh yeah don’t forget the whole Patrick Roy asking out of Montreal fiasco that has probably led to a curse on the team. Not that we’re counting or anything.

Dont get me started on the Maple Leafs. They havent won a title in over 40 years and in the last 10 they’ve resembled the Toronto Raptors more than the franchise that has the second most cups (13) to the Habs.

(Side note: Shouldn’t Gary Bettman step in and help fix this team. The NHL needs to Leafs to be good just like the NBA needs the Lakers, or baseball needs the Dodgers to be important. This is one of the leagues flagship franchises in the country’s capital. The hockey hall of fame is there for goodness sakes. The fact that the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in seven years and haven’t been relevant since their last division title in 2000 is a little more concerning than the fledgling Phoenix Coyotes, who should still be in Winnipeg. Yep, Bettman is back on my bad side.)

There haven't been many good times in Toronto for awhile.

In the NFL its been the Cowboys, Redskins and Raiders. All of these franchises have slid to mediocrity due in part to their ridiculous owners and their bad habits of spending money while letting the football side of things slip through their grasp.

The Redskins haven’t won a division title since their Super Bowl run in 1991 and have been a running joke since Daniel Snyder took over. They’ve made the playoffs three times with only one win to show for it. However, what’s defined them is their penchant for over paying players well past their prime. Bruce smith, Deion Sanders, Mark Brunell, Jason Taylor, and that’s for starters. Throw in their horrible coaching history lately (hi Jim Zorn, and Steve Spurring) and you wonder why fans want Dan Snyder’s head on a stake a la MacBETH.

For the Cowboys its a combination of Jerry Jones overbearing style and the lack of productivity on the field that has hindered them.

In the 90’s Dallas owned football with three titles and a high-powered offense anchored by three hall-of-farmers. Then after their last Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 30, the team hasn’t seen a playoff victory.

They’be been plagued by bad QB play, poor decision making by Jones, which includes firing Bill Parcells and trading two number one picks for Roy Williams (I’m sure the Lions still can’t believe that one) and not getting much from heralded draft picks (Mike Jenkins that’s you). Be honest, what do you know about the Cowboys now, a franchise with a rich history from Roger Staubach to Troy Amman, or their ridiculously expensive stadium with a 80 yard flatscreen in the middle of it?

As far as the Raiders go… let’s put it like this; they haven’t been over .500 since getting smoked by the Bucs in Super Bowl 37 over 8 years ago. If you want to know why then take a look at Hue Jackson’s press conference to introduce him as the team’s new coach this past week. Owner Al Davis, looking as decrepit as ever, sat at the table and ranted about Tom Cable’s personal life, comparisons of Jason Campbell to Cam Newton, and seemed more out of his mind than normal.

This is the guy who blew up Lane Kiffin at a press conference years ago, fined Cable for not executing a game plan he wrote out, drafted JaMarcus Russell, and has made so many horrible personnel decisions that no coach or player should come near Oakland. Poor Hue Jackson, I don’t think he knows what he’s getting into.

Before the Boston Celtics climbed back into contention in the NBA they had grown into a punch line. Gone were the days of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and in were Dino Radja and Antoine Walker.

Their most memorable moment during that time came during a Rick Pitino news conference after another loss where he told the media and essentially the fans to get over themselves and that “Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door.” Right he was, though fans would’ve rather had a near 50 Bird than Ron Mercer.

So in essence every sport has seen its top franchise go through the motions and fall from grace in a haze of greed, nativity, or ignorance. Well everyone except baseball.

In the last 15 years the top tier teams in the sport have stayed on top without much static.

Sure past champions like Kansas City, Toronto and Oakland have seen their share of bad times, but their history is nothing like the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers.

(You’re probably wondering what about the Cubs? Flagship franchise? Yes. However, they haven’t won a damn thing in 109 years so they don’t count. Sorry Cubs fans.)

These were the bad times in Boston.

Baseball has largely protected its top franchises by not introducing a salary cap, which allows the Braves, Phillies and Angels to out spend every other team in the league and stay where they are.Sure these teams haven’t made the playoffs every year, but they always bounce back from lackluster seasons.

The Red Sox will be favorites this year after finishing third in the AL East last year in part to overspending for Carl Crawford and giving away the farm for Adrian Gonzalez.

It’s hard for any of these teams fall off of their perch and fall victim to the same plague that’s infiltrated each league over the past 15 years. Or is it?

Last week the New York Yankees announced the signing of former Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano to be the 8th inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera and eventually replace him.

No big deal, just the Yankees spending their endless funds to fix a problem like not having an eighth inning stopper.

However, GM Brian Cashman didn’t want to spend the money on Soriano and wanted to keep either Joba Chamberlain in the setup role or David Robertson. Owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled Cashman and handled the negotiations himself while Cashman sat in the corner and pouted.

Both sides say everything is fine but I’m not buying it.

Cashman is the game’s best GM and built a dynasty in the 90’s while the young Steinbrenners sat back and watched from The Boss’s luxury box. Cashman knows what he’s doing and what to do to keep the Yankees successful.

What Steinbrenner did was undermine Cashman and used his power to make a decision that may or may not work and also costs the Yankees a first round draft pick. That’s the kind of decision you would see Al Davis make. Uh oh.

Ok so that’s one little thing so what? Well, look at the Yankees future for a second if you will; the Yankees have been able to stay competitive after their dynasty years in the late 90’s and 2000 thanks to their huge budget and the ability to get whoever they want for any price. While they haven’t been winning championships at the rate that they would like, the Yankees are still the class of the AL East and remain the team to beat.

However, look at the current contract situations that the Yankees have:

Mark Teixiera- 8 years/180 million dollars, signed til he’s 37
A.J. Burnett – 5/82.5, signed til he’s 39
C.C. Sabathia- 7/161, signed til he’s 37
Alex Rodriguez- 10/275, signed til he’s 43
Derek Jeter- 3/51, signed til he’s 40
Jorge Posada- 4/52, signed til he’s 41
Mariano Rivera- 2/30, signed til he’s 43

In other words half of the Yankees main players on their roster are all signed well into their late 30’s or 40’s and are owed a boat load of money.

Guys like Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada are already on the downside of their careers and aren’t worth the money.

Not to mention there is the possiblility at other long term deals for Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes looming, which will add more money to their books.

The Yankees are used to shelling out lots of cash but right now there’s too much tied up in players that won’t help them contend in three years and could lead to the Yankees becoming baseball’s Cowboys.

As great as they've been, the deals given to A-Rod and Jeter could lead to the Yankees downfall.

There is no balance with them right now. There’s lots of old guys and not enough youth. Sound like Dan Snyder to you?

Another problem are the deals that the Yankees have made, which cost them two viable parts that they could use right now and both could’ve added some much needed youth to their everyday roster.

Last year they traded Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson essentially in a three team deal. Jackson and Granderson play the same position and Jackson hit for a higher average, stole more bases and had a higher in-base percentage than Granderson. Not to mention he’s five years younger and the perfect leadoff hitter that the Yankees so desperately need.
Kennedy went 9-10 last year for the Diamondbacks with a 3.80 ERA. While his numbers don’t seem too impressive Kennedy got stronger and stronger towards the end of the year. He’s currently penciled in as their third starter while the Yankees have no viable options in their rotation past Sabathia, Hughes, and Burnett. I’ve seen the Leafs give up on a few young guys in the past few years haven’t you?

Lastly the Yankee luster isn’t what it used to be. Guys now a days grow up hating the Yankees instead of idolizing them. No one fawns over Jeter the way they did Mickey Mantle, there’s no appreciation for Posada like there was for Yogi Berry. In the 60’s if a guy like Zach Greinke was on the market he would’ve been a pinstripe in a heartbeat, same for Cliff Lee. Now, they’d rather be a Brewer or a Phillie.

Still, the Yankees can out bid whoever they want to get their man. However, they also set the bar for other teams with just as deep of pockets to follow. How do you think the Sox got Carl Crawford or the Nats (yes, the Nats) got Jayson Werth? It’s the Yankee model; overpay for them and dare someone to leap up and get them.

So now its no longer about the pinstripes and the aura of the stadium and the pressure of the media. If you were Werth wouldn’t you rather take 126 million to play in a small market and not have the pressure of facing 1000 media faces a week wondering what’s wrong with you?

Maybe I’m going crazy, or maybe I see the writings on the wall. I know the Yankees have had to good a run of gluttony and capitalist pleasure to not have it come to a screeching hault. We’ve toed the line of smart and senseless way too long to not have it blow up in our face and I feel were getting to that point.

If the Yankees don’t solve their spending problems and incorporate some youth and practice patience then they may resemble the Celtics of the late 90’s or the Raiders of right now. They run the risk of losing their luster like Notre Dame and could become a legendary afterthought like the Habs.

Call me crazy, but Soriano deal might be the first in a long line of problems for top to bottom from the Yankees. I might be wrong, but I’ve seen it all before.