Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tottenham Fan in Canada #3 - 2017

Second place in the EPL is all sealed up with Tottenham's 2-1 win over Manchester United during White Hart Lane's final game ever.

I didn't get a chance to watch it, unfortunately it was on a channel I didn't get. Soon, I'm looking to set up a strategy where I never miss a game. However, because it was Mothers Day Weekend I went back to my childhood house to spend time with family.

I saw on Facebook that it was 2-0 Spurs in the 55th minute. I was surprised but why should I be. Tottenham dominated at home this year and last year against United the Spurs were 3-0 winners.

I watched the game later that night on Tape Delay. The final 20 minutes were emotional for me. Don't understand why we had to get to this point. A stadium that looks newish is getting demolished. Being replaced with what looks to me as another big stadium, something like that already exists in Arsenal and Manchester City.

I saw images of Arsenal's old ground a few weeks ago. Despite it looking old it had a humble look to it.

My ideal stadium would have the stands right on the action, the old stadiums had that. The newer ones seem to be farther away. Money is taking over a game that was once filled with passion and heart.

Two games remain, both on the road. Tottenham will try to get revenge over falling short to Leicester last year in the Title race. It was a 1-0 win for the Foxes at WHL that kick started their title surge last year. That win got their fans believing that winning the Title was a reality. In fact, Tottenham was one of the only teams not to play at the King Power Stadium before Leicester became a sensation as the game on the road against Leicester happened early in the year that ended in a 1-1 draw.

I'll have to find somewhere to watch it as I don't think the match is on TV tomorrow. The next time I'll post will be Tuesday as I will be at my Grandmas this weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Could Jake Virtanen be Traded?

Is Jake Virtanen safe this offseason? The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft has had a disappointing start to his NHL career. In two seasons he has only played in 65 games, scoring seven goals and tailing another seven assists. He spent most of his time last year in the AHL and didn't preform much better. 

People will question if he will ever succeed in Vancouver. His hometown, as he grew up just an hour ago away. The thought is, the Canucks management isn't ready to give up on Virtanen yet. They hired his AHL coach from Utica to be the new Canucks coach, therefore all signs point to him getting more than a fair chance of making the team next year. 

What if it doesn't work out. You ran the risk of getting next to nothing from a once promising player. 

So would the Canucks consider trading Virtanen? As it is, there might not be room for Virtanen next year with so many young guys about to join the fold. 

For some possible partners, how about the Florida Panthers? Vancouver and Florida are due for their annual player swap and a player like Thomas Vanek might be appealing for Vancouver. 

Vanek produced 48 points between Detroit and Florida last year which would have been good for third in scoring for Vancouver. It isn't a secret but Vancouver needs some scoring. No matter how well Virtanen does next year he isn't scoring 48 points. In other words, the Canucks improve their team next year at least in the short term while creating some Virbata like magic has high reward. At 2.6 Million cap hit he isn't that expensive to roll the dice a bit. 

For Florida, the chances of competing for a Cup next year are slim and at 33, the opportunity to get a underachieving prospect for a 33 year old is good value with nothing to lose. 

For Vancouver, there is a risk factor involved. Virtanen still could be a star. How I see it though, if Vanek turns out to be a bust, by October of 2018 players like Adam Gaudette, Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlén will hopefully be playing well that the Canucks won't be missing Virtanen if he ends up turning his career around. 

The reward for Vancouver is somewhat high as well. Vanek would add a present to the lineup that was missing last year. 

I don't see Benning pulling the trigger on this trade, at this time I don't see him speeding up this rebuild but I would hate to get nothing for Virtanen. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tottenham Hotspur Fan in Canada #2 - 2017

Sunday afternoon in North London will be an end of a era for Tottenham Hotspur as they will play their final game at White Hart Lane when Manchester United will be the team wanting to spoil the party.

This will be a sad day for me, despite only being a Spurs fan for only four years but White Hart Lane was one of the reasons why Tottenham appealed to me. White Hart Lane was the perfect stadium. It wasn't too small like Shelhurst Park but it also wasn't overly big like Old Trafford.

Now, I hope the new stadium is at least normal. Unlike Wembley Stadium that seems like it's way too big.

Four years ago, Tottenham had trouble winning home games. They dropped points too bottom of the table teams fairly often. This year, it has been polar opposite. In the EPL this year it has been 16 Wins, 2 draws. An impeccable record if you ask me.

White Hart Lane has gone over renovation after renovation that it just seems silly to get rid of it now. Feels like they are losing part of their identity. That identity is what made Tottenham unique and separated themselves from United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.

With the Title race potentially done and dusted by Sunday. Tottenham will try to go out in style and leave with one last entertaining game.

The game won't be on TV for me in Canada, last week's loss AT West Ham wasn't either but I caught the game somewhere else.

The United game last year at WHL resulted in the Red Devils being late to the stadium and a 3-0 Spurs win.

This year, United have it all to play for. Fighting for a Champions League place. However, depending on how their game goes today, they might not be aiming for a Top 4 spot but instead be focused on the Europa League Final.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Is Oilers - Ducks the Next Great Rivalry?

It's not quite Gretzky vs the Leafs in 1993 at the Maple Leaf Gardens, a Stanley Cup berth isn't at stake quite yet but the Game 7 tomorrow night between the Anaheim Ducks and Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers has must see TV written all over it. 
If you haven't heard yet, Connor McDavid is the greatest thing the NHL has seen since Sidney Crosby bursted on the seance in 2006. The Ducks have all the experience but in a pressure packed Game 7 it might be the team that has nothing to lose that has the advantage on Wednesday night. 
According to a Toronto Sun article in 2013, 4 Million people watched on TV the LA Kingsdefeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in Game 7. I'm curious to see what the TV ratings are tomorrow night when Edmonton travels to the arena that is closest to Disneyland as the fans await the script tat is going to play out at 10 ET on NBCSN. 

The script that has played out over the first six games has already been storybook. Two major meltdown's by Edmonton in Game's 4 and 5 was followed up by a an Oilers slaughtering in Game 6 that saw the Oilers win 7-1 and force a decisive Game 7 with the winner eight wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. 
With the NBA playoffs being anything but exciting this year, two Game 7's back to back featuring the three best players in the game should capture the American audience as well. 
If tomorrow night doesn't, what the hec will? The NHL is at a pivotal point right now, The sports next superstar is playing in Edmonton, a city where three quarters of Americans might not be able to pin point on a map in a game that would be similar to pin the tail on the donkey. 
Who knows, this might be the last Crosby - Ovechkin Game 7 we have. What will NBCSN have to advertise after the two stars that have dominated for over the last decade retire? 
I can't see NBC getting too excited about promoting the battle of Alberta. As good as it would be for Western Canada, it won't happen anytime soon. Both the Sharks and Kings are getting older, hec the Kings didn't even make the playoffs. That leaves the Ducks  the only remaining divisional rival that will give Edmonton any competition. 
The thought might be a bit premature, but it is still fun to imagine what NBC would do without Pittsburgh and Washington being the two great rivals they are now. 
If Ducks - Oilers is a preview of what the future holds in the NHL, lets hope that tomorrow's Game 7 is a instant classic. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tottenham Fan in Canada Post 1 - 2017

Growing up in Canada there are a lot of advantages. Being able to to have a bunch of sports on TV isn't one of them, unless you are a fan of Hockey and Soccer that is.

Growing up I played youth soccer and I enjoyed it actually except for the cold weather consistently week in week out. I didn't understand the relegation format and considering that internet wasn't what it was back in 2001, it wasn't like it was that big of a deal. In fact, back then, Sportsnet would show about four games a week. Seemed to me that it was the same teams on every week.

There was also one other problem. I lived in Vancouver. That means that the middle wave of soccer games was at 7am, a tad too early and Champions League happened when I was at school.

I graduated in 2011 and started to catch on to the Premier League that August. That year Man City won the title in dramatic injury time and Tottenham got robbed of Champions League place.

I still think it's unfair that the Spurs got denied a place just because Chelsea won the UCL but finished 6th and therefore knocked Tottenham out. White Hart Lane was home to at the time  one of the best young players in the game so it seemed that Tottenham Hotspur had a strong future.

The next year was again crushing. The inability to defend plus the unfortunate Europa League hangovers were Spurs undoing in 2013. Gareth Bale continued to turn heads and was rumoured to bolt to Real Madrid if the team didn't secure Champions League.

Now, my thoughts on the Gareth Bale saga would amount to a blog post alone but the fact that the Spurs were thinking of getting rid of one of the best players in the world seemed mind boggling. It isn't the North American way of building a Title contending team that's for sure.

Not only was the start of the 2013 season a new era for Spurs, it was also a new era for NBCSN which signed a deal to show the Premier League across the Atlantic.

I decided to make an effort to watch the EPL and get up early on weekends. The Spurs first game was against newly promoted Crystal Palace. TSN picked up the NBCSN coverage and I really enjoyed the match with Tottenham squeaking past Palace 1-0.

That year was inconsistent. A terrible goal differential despite managing to finish 6th in the Table. Nevertheless, it was a good intro year for me.

The next year saw more the same. Brutal defense and a struggling home record at the start was the Spurs downfall. At this point, I was starting to wonder whether the Spurs would yo-yo between 5th and 6th in the EPL forever.

Something changed the following year, For me it was damage control. Too many draws in the early part of last year became a blessing for Tottenham. On December 13th 2015, a 2-1 loss to Newcastle was the last of the old Spurs. They have seemingly said enough was enough and have been a different team. After that game until Leicester clinched the Title Spurs went 14-5-2 with the only two losses to Leicester and West Ham.

The Newcastle game and the emergence of Dele Ali, Toby Alderweireld and Heung-min Son have changed Tottenham's fortunes for maybe decades to come. Mauricio Pochettino has found a home in North London and has ambitions of turning this club into a European powerhouse.

The chase for the Title last year wasn't an anomaly. It was signs of what was to come in the future. Despite having the fifth best odds to win the EPL title this year, I had a feeling this was going to be a special year.

Like last year, this year started with a unbeaten stretch that saw them go the first 12 games without a loss. A few draws maybe should have been wins but the reverse could have been said about some of those draws as well.

Similarly, it was a mid December loss this year that has kick started a furious climb up the ranks and a chance for a epic photo finish at the end of the season with Chelsea. Another London Derby beckons in the balance on Friday night at the Olympic Stadium. A win and Tottenham would still need Chelsea to slip up twice.   Considering that Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge three more times this year, the odds are stacked against them.

Whether Chelsea drop points or not shouldn't determine if this season was a success or not. It already has been. Last Sunday proved that Tottenham is the new Arsenal and Arsenal is the new Tottenham. In other words, Tottenham is now the team to beat in North London and Arsenal is now the little brother that isn't nearly as good.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The EPL Coverage in Canada

One thing that has really bothered me over the last few years as been the inconsistency of EPL soccer games shown on Sportsnet and TSN.

From my understanding, TSN and Sportsnet get 190 each. Well that seems great, it is very misleading. Sportsnet divides their games up between SN Regional, SN1 SN360 and SN World. In contrast, TSN splits up their games between the five TSN channels. Therefore, unless you have basic cable, your pretty much safe.

However, Sportsnet rips people off putting a handful of games on their specialty channel Sportsnet World. It's a complete money grab by Sportsnet World to try to get you to pay for the channel which is hard to fathom unless soccer is your #1 sport.

On the other hand USA's coverage shows less games but the coverage is more consistent. They show about 228 games on NBCSN, CNBC and NBC. All accessible to the middle class Americans. The good thing that NBCSN does is they make a effort to show the Sunday, Monday and Friday games. Something that Canadian TV does a very poor job about.

It is what it is, I guess we will have to deal with it until something changes.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Canucks Hire Head Coach Travis Green

Some people aren't going to like it, but you can't please anyone when your trying to hire a new head coach in a Canadian Hockey market. They decided to go with the safe pick, which from what everyone says was going to bolt elsewhere if Vancouver didn't hire him this time around. 
Travis Green will be the 19th head coach in one of the toughest markets to succeed in. There was no slam dunk pick this time around. The only for sure thing we know about the Canucks next year is that they will be tied for first place at the start of the year. 
Benning and Linden say they are going to stay the course, whatever that means is anyone's guess. At this rate, the rebuild will take forever and that won't make fans happy. There isn't a
fast forward button like there is on EA Sports NHL 17.
This is the price you pay for keeping two 36 year old twins from Sweden. The reality is though they don't want to be moved. 
So, the Canucks Management will have to work with what they have. Trying to do the best they can to put themselves in position to succeed when the Sedin's retire. 
The Sedin's are too slow of players to make the team a playoff team, if the Canucks are going to make the Playoffs next year they will have to rely on a breakout youngster to have an amazing season. 
I think this pick is a no lose choice for the Canucks. Low risk and and high reward. The Castlegar BC native has payed his dues over the years that has seen him coach in in Portland Oregon in the WHL and Utica New York in the AHL. He lost in the Memorial Cup and Calder Cup respectively. 
Travis Green is the right fit because he is a hockey guy, will help the players that are going to come up from Utica next year as they will feel more comfortablw with him behind the bench. If he presses the right buttons it is going to get the fans around British Columbia back on the banwagon that has sat fairly empty since 2013. 
My concern is that Green's resume is too similar to Willie Desjardins was when he was hired in 2014. Desjardins had success at the WHL and AHL level before but was canned after three years after only one playoff appearance. 
Overall, there is way more I like about this hire than I don't. Green said all the right things in the press conference Wednesday morning at Rogers Arena and I'm very excited to see what is in store for the Canucks next year and more importantly tomorrow at the NHL Draft Lottery. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Drifting Blog about ESPN's Cuts

Once upon a time I wanted to be Journalist, Sports Center Anchor. I didn't and I'm glad I decided not to with ESPN's cuts yesterday that shook the sports world with so many high profiled sports personalities being let go. 

Now that we are in 2017 anyone can write a sports blog these days or be a talk show host through Youtube. It's quite easy actually. A lot of us just don't feel that we have the time and effort to do it. 

The NFL Draft is today, a day of hope for the 31 teams that didn't win the Super Bowl last year to have hope that they will acquire what they need to take them to the next level. I have always thought that the NFL Draft was boring and slow. At times that can be the case but they value of picking the right player is so crucial to your organizations success. 

NBA and NHL playoffs tonight again as we have two elimination games in basketball. April is one of  the best sports months because there is so many things to watch. 

A sports blog should be unique to you. I don't want to sit here on the computer dissecting the key event of the key event in most important sport of the day. That is boring and sometimes words don't come to you on a given night. 

 I want to write about something that makes sense to and put my opinion into it and deliver it to the audience the best way I know how. 

I'm glad I became a Super Bowl Champion in 2014. I was 20 years old and I was overdue. Nothings guaranteed in life but the one thing that should be guaranteed is that sports should always brings us together. Be debatable and let our emotions flow with the results. 

I want to write about anything that comes to mind. Mostly the big five sports  including the various soccer leagues and soccer stories. It's time to make life fun again!   

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Revamped Champions League Group Stage

 Pot 1
Spain Real Madrid[TH]176.142
Spain Barcelona159.142
England Leicester City15.256
Germany Bayern Munich163.035
Italy Juventus107.087
Portugal Benfica116.616
France Paris Saint-Germain112.549
Russia CSKA Moscow48.71

Spain Atlético Madrid144.142
Germany Borussia Dortmund110.035
England Arsenal105.256
England Manchester City[LR]99.256
Spain Sevilla95.642
Portugal Porto[LR]92.616
Italy Napoli90.087
Germany Bayer Leverkusen89.035

Pot 2
Switzerland Basel87.755
England Tottenham Hotspur74.256
Ukraine Dynamo Kyiv65.976
France Lyon63.049
Netherlands PSV Eindhoven57.112
Portugal Sporting CP51.616
Belgium Club Brugge43.000
Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach[LR]42.035
Scotland Celtic[CR]40.460
France Monaco[LR]36.549
Turkey Beşiktaş34.920
Poland Legia Warsaw[CR]28.000
Croatia Dinamo Zagreb[CR]25.775
Bulgaria Ludogorets Razgrad[CR]25.625
Denmark Copenhagen[CR]24.720
Russia Rostov[LR]11.716

Pot 3
Spain Villarreal60.142
   Italy Roma41.587
Greece Olympiacos70.940
Romania Astra Giurgiu11.076League Route
Netherlands Ajax58.112
Belgium Anderlecht54.000
Turkey Fenerbahçe40.920
Greece PAOK37.440
France Monaco36.549
Switzerland Young Boys24.755
Russia Rostov11.716

Pot 4 
Cyprus APOEL35.935
Belarus BATE Borisov34.000
Azerbaijan Qarabağ13.475
Norway Rosenborg12.850
Kazakhstan Astana12.575
Moldova Sheriff Tiraspol10.575
Serbia Red Star Belgrade7.175
Georgia (country) Dinamo Tbilisi5.875
Iceland FH5.750
Slovakia Trenčín5.400
Luxembourg F91 Dudelange5.050
Lithuania Žalgiris Vilnius4.925
Israel Hapoel Be'er Sheva4.725
Slovenia Olimpija Ljubljana4.625
Republic of Macedonia Vardar4.200
Sweden IFK Norrköping3.975

So in this new format, the easiest group possible would be CSKA Moscow, Copenhagen, Young Boys  and IFK Norrkoping. To think that one of those teams would have to win the group would be exciting for all four teams. I will admit, last years Swedish Champions might struggle a bit but not to the extent that Malmo struggled the past few years. 

The easiest group possible in the current format this year would have been CSKA Moscow, Bayern Leverkusen, Club Brugge and Legia Warsaw. The odds of that group coming to fruition was slim to none and at the end of the day, I doubt that group would have been competitive anyway. 

A larger group stage opens up the door for more competitive matches. The Champions League Group Stage isn't competitive right now not because the lower teams are bad, but more so because their are too many strong teams with only 8 groups. 

Creating a 64 team group stage isn't ideal but it gives the lower level teams a way bigger chance at avoiding strong teams. 

Lets face it, Ludogorets Razgrad had no chance at getting out of Group A this year which featured Arsenal, PSG and Basel. Placed in Pot 4 and drew two strong teams and to be honest fared decently all things considered. 

Not saying at all that every group would be competitive but the chances are higher. A tough group in the new format would be Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Roma and Red Bull Salzburg. Based on the numbers that would be the hardest group possible. 

If you still don't believe me, simulate a draw yourself. The 32 team group stage is horrid for UEFA right now because the Top 16 are so much better than the next 16 teams in UEFA. This format would make European nights fun again in smaller countries. As of now, too many countries have long droughts of not competing in the group stage. That needs to change, UEFA needs to grow soccer in their 55 countries. Not just the three cities that are named Barcelona, Madrid and Munich.