While the title of this particular missive is "The Week That Was", the focus will be kept to an area of experience of which I feel comfortable talking about and is more closely aligned with what I cover. I've found that few people really give a snap ( my 4 year old daughter says we should replace all potential bad words with the word "Snap". I will follow that decree! ) about my thoughts on the Leaf tear down which so for as seen three players off-loaded, three picks and a player returned, and an unwanted Raffi Torres, marooned somewhere on AHL island.
Lets get to the local and relevant stuff.
The natives are restless, the team cannot score and the coach is really, really snapped off (see earlier reference to snapped). All this has resulted in a four game losing streak, two against opposition below them in the standings at the time in Mississauga and two versus the elite of the league in London and Kingston. So the IceDogs cannot beat the teams below them, and really have no measuring stick games when it comes to stacking themselves up against the contenders in the league. Purgatory is not a nice place to reside, and neither is the dog house. Marty Williamson laid waste to his team after a listless 6-2 thumping at the hands of the Steelheads. He had them running the stairs of the arena immediately after the game and then lambasted them in the newspapers, reserving some of his finest vitriol about the team for DJ Brooks and Matt Young of Niagara This Week. If motivation by demotivation was the goal, it did not work as the IceDogs lost again on home ice to the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2, and there were man-handled by the conference leading Kingston Frontenacs who used their back up Jeremy Helvig on route to a 4-0 shut-out. The most positive thing that has happened was the cancellation of Saturday's game versus Ottawa was "rained out" . Apparently those who work in arena management could not control a leaky roof and after a couple of hours of thoughtful standing around and staring at the roof, it was ascertained that the roof was indeed leaking and subsequently the game was cancelled. The IceDogs will get a chance to salvage something from the weekend tonight when the game is replayed tonight at 7pm in Ottawa. Here's hoping the team can send the bill for their extra bus miles and hotel rooms to the 67's!
Niagara This Week Article is : HERE
So what's wrong with the IceDogs, and can they right the ship in the last 12-13 games of the season ?
1. TRADES HAVE NOT PANNED OUT
While the acquisitions of the likes of Michael DalColle by Kingston, and Travis Konecny by Sarnia have paid immediate dividends the same cannot be said of the IceDogs. It's a little unfair to compare as the IceDogs kind of went for the "sum of their parts" attitude, but it is clear that Tyler Boston, Stephen Harper and Pavel Jenys are all scoring below their average before being traded. Josh Wesley and Alex Nedelkjovic are in a holding pattern, but it is clear that none of the trade acquisitions have made the splash that was hoped.
2. BREAKDOWNS/POOR DECISION MAKING
Several times mistakes have lead directly to goals. Turnovers in their own zone from a player trying to do too much ended up in the back of the net. It's a little bad luck as players do make mistakes and subsequently get bailed out, but some of these errors have been glaring and were committed by players who really should know better
3.SQUEEZING THE STICK
Offensively, the IceDogs have not scored more than three goals since January 29th, a 6-1 W over Sudbury. There is a ton of offensive talent on this team, but it is really under performing. Goalies have played well versus Niagara, but there are guys who are blindly shooting rather than placing and a lack of the gritty, drive the net , get the rebounds goals. Offensively they have become predictable and this league that can catch up to you awfully fast.
Is there reason for concern? Yes. Does this mean that should abandon the S.S. IceDog as if your hair is on fire? Snap no! The IceDogs can get hot in the last 8-10 games and head into the post-season with momentum. Plus, really things are so tight 3-7 in the conference, you could pick the teams out of a hat at this point.
RIVERLIONS FIRE COACH/GM
In a show of empathy towards their fellow Meridian Centre tenants, the RiverLions created a little news and controversy of their own by dismissing Head Coach/GM Ken Murray after coming out of the gate at 5-14. A release by the team cited an "inability to close out games" as being a key factor. While it is true, expansion teams are supposed to struggle, and there is no question that the RiverLions were highly competitive in most of their games. Grace Lokole, the assistant and local product takes over for the balance of the year. Also, what was curious was the timing of the release. It was announced at 10pm on Saturday day night, hardily the optimal time to announce such a key change. You could say the team was burying the lede, and trying not to call attention to the move but that is speculative on my part. In another move, Windsor interim coach Tony Jones turned over the coaching reigns back to brother Bill who returns from exile/suspension after last year's Game 7 debacle. Tony went out with a flourish by getting the boot for picking up two technicals in rapid succession. If you were in the Meridian Centre on Friday, then you saw the last game coached by both Tony Jones and Ken Murray. All teams qualify for the playoffs in the NBL, so the rest of the regular season will be used for positioning and momentum. It is hoped that Niagara can derive some momentum for the rest of the year under the new coach.
TIGER CATS SCHEDULE RELEASE
One of the recent trends in sports has been building up a schedule release as something that is vitally important to a fans life. It really is clever marketing as a game that might be considered to be a stop in the schedule, can be built up as a must attend/must watch game. As a broadcaster, I always love the anticipation around the release of the OHL schedule, and schedule releases as a whole have become appointment viewing. Fans love to plan road trips to various destinations, and just are plain curious to see how their teams schedules play out. The CFL rolled out is schedule in somewhat grand fashion, bookending the season around the Argos move to BMO Field. They will open the season in Toronto, and that is where the Grey Cup will be as well. There is a sense that a move to an outdoor, grass facility will revitalize a fan base that was largely dormant at the too big and too impersonal Rogers Centre, and more along the lines of the revival in Montreal. The hometown Hamilton Tiger Cats are the natural adversary for the first game at BMO, and their schedule was released with fanfare, player visits to radio stations. The team is looking to build a little goodwill and continue the streak of sellouts at majestic Tim Horton's field.
SPORTS RADIO NERD ALERT
There is a group of hardcore and casual people who follow both TSN 1050 and the FAN 590 and love to comment on the various personnel. As someone who is invested in growing their sports media role, I rarely comment on personalities, unless it's positive, but there are some who are hardcore listeners and have strong opinions about all personalities. Both stations have changed up their on-air roster, in much the same way a team changes their roster to find the right chemistry. The Fan , via cutbacks said good bye to two on air personalities in Greg Brady and Jeff Sammut and will debut the Andrew Walker Show weekdays 1-4pm. Brady had formerly co hosted that show. TSN 1050 practically detonated key elements of their lineup moving Mike Richards from the key AM drive slot to 1-4. Moving the Leafs Lunch crews to the drive home time of 4-7, and re branding the show Overdrive. Andi Petrillo hosts a one hour version of Leafs Lunch from 12-1 and the new morning team is Dave Naylor and Michael Landsberg. That' s a lot of changes, but when you are behind in the ratings, it does not hurt to change things up. It will give the listeners new destination listening, and also something to talk about. Good luck to all that are new, and have been moved, and best of luck to those who were let go. Both guys are too talented not to land on their feet.
Until next time.