Canadians in Basketball – An Evolution

Even though the beautiful game of basketball was once upon a time created and handwritten by a Canadian-born man by the name of James Naismith, the country of Canada has never truly been a mainstay in the overall development of high-level NBA talent.

The obvious doesn’t need to be stated, the United States has always and will always be the mecca of development for young and upcoming basketball stars to grow their skills. We see it in the Olympics, FIBA World Championships, and by the overwhelming amount of American-born professional ballplayers taking over the NBA today.

To elaborate even further on how far ahead the USA is in respect to basketball development, it is startling whenever the general public sees players from international grounds make an impact on the biggest stage in the sport, the likes of Luka Dôncic (Serbia) and Giannis Antetekoumpo (Greece) to name a few.

Rewind back fifty, thirty, even twenty years ago, international basketball talent in comparison to what there is today is impractical, because it just wasn’t a common trend at all. The sport is embedded in American culture and rightfully so, it is what they do the very best in terms of athletics.

Yet, slowly and surely the game is beginning to expand out to a point where the entire world is seeing representation within the National Basketball Association. Most prominently speaking from the perspective of a young Canadian basketball junkie, our country is rapidly becoming a powerhouse in the upbringing of raw basketball ability.

As we are beginning to see so very often in the NBA and the past two seasons specifically, Canada and the players that found a love for the game north of the border are making their names be heard, and doing it while carrying multi-billion dollar American organizations to new heights.

Q: What has sparked me to do a piece on this subject, even though it is a commonly known fact by now that Canada is changing the way people view us from a basketball perspective?

A: Wednesday night was another monumental night for this country in the NBA, let’s talk about it.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics, have begun their franchises rebuilding stage and have made it abundantly clear. They made moves to signalize their intent to add young talent and draft picks while offloading some bigger contracts and NBA-proven talent over the past two seasons.

In doing so, one of the moves they made was to send all-star forward Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019, in return receiving a package of players and picks, one of those players being guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Toronto, Ontario.

Old news, yes I am aware. The point of mentioning this is the fact that the Thunder have relied on SGA all season to be the focal point of their team and carry the load on both ends of the court, and he has provided that and more.

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging an outstanding 22.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game all while shooting 51% from the floor, and 41% from three-point range, all of which are career highs.

Staying on the topic of career highs and Wednesday night, SGA put up an insane 42-8-4 (points-rebounds-assists) stat line for the Thunder against the San Antonio Spurs.

Though when the game was tied at 99 in the final seconds, it was yet another Canadian-born star that took the spotlight.

Lugentz Dort is a 6″3, 215 lbs combo guard that is highly regarded for already being one of the leagues best perimeter defenders. Nicknamed ‘The Dorture Chamber’ for his work on defence, it was Dort was called upon to take the final shot against San Antonio when the team needed its biggest offensive play of the night.

‘Lu’ as his teammates call him, is only 21 years old and was born in Montreal, Quebec where he was taught the fundamentals of the game. From a young age, he fell in love with the game and parlayed it into a full-ride scholarship at the Arizona State University.

These two young men are prime examples of where the game is going in this country. The best part is that it doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either.

With other Canadians already having primal roles on NBA teams, this will do nothing but inspire a younger generation of hoopers to pursue a life and career in basketball, opening doors and new avenues for these kids to fall in love with the game, as well.

All Canadian sports fans should be aware of who Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins and Tristan Thompson are. Now is time to familiarize the basketball community in this country with names like Nickeil Alexander-Walker, RJ Barrett and Dillon Brooks.

Following the success of the Toronto Raptors and their 2019 NBA Championship, hopes of an even brighter future within the sport are high and buzz is being generated around the possibilities of some competitive international competition down the road.

To think that it is likely that Canada will be able to beat the likes of the United States on the world stage like the Olympic games or even world championships might be a little too ahead of reality, but someday down the road I am expecting big things for the Canada Basketball program and where it is headed with talent like this and much more on the horizon.

To even be able to send a team to these competitions and compete at the highest level is unprecedented for the country and its program. It is very rare to witness the development of any country at any sports flow at a rate quite like it is in this country right now.

Putting it in hockey terms, it is almost as if over the next 5 years, Germany began to push for top 3 or 4 contention in the international ice hockey ranks. Not only was it unlikely, but relatively impossible.

That is something to be said about the systems we have in place for young players to progress, and the privilege we have to be able to get better every single day with facilities, coaching and opportunity.

Keep balling out, Canada.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

 

Is it time for the Vancouver Canucks to clean house?

For what might have been a rebuild that was moving a bit too fast for comfort, the ceiling is beginning to cave in on a hockey team and everything they have worked so hard to build over the past few seasons.

After a solid, COVID shortened season last year, flashes of brilliance and plenty of heart were not hard to come by, a stretch where everything about the organization seemed to fit perfectly.

As a matter of fact, just one year ago around this time the Canucks had recently traded for Tyler Toffoli prior to the 2020 trade deadline, solidifying themselves as a team ready to push and compete, not just for the now, but for the future as well.

They conquered the big, bad Boston Bruins by a score of 9-3 in an electrifying home game with a packed Vancouver crowd, times seemed too good to be true. Fast forward 366 days, we are now witnessing a stage 10 tire fire.

Another night, yet another blown multi-goal lead for the Vancouver Canucks as the 2021 season is rapidly going from awful to impossible to watch.

For the third time in 10 nights, the Canucks managed to put together a near-flawless first frame, propelling themselves to early 2 or 3 goal leads that seemed to get them out on the right foot. Yet, setting the tone for the entirety of the game is really the opposite of what they have done, they build up their own confidence as a unit just to have it all come crashing down through a series of short lapses.

On Tuesday night, it was a 20-minute effort before packing it in and deciding they no longer felt the need to apply any pressure or push pack against the Edmonton Oilers. For a season that already feels lost, had the Canucks just finished the job and beaten the Oilers in regulation, they were still within striking distance of a top-four playoff position in the North.

That hunger and drive we saw in the opening twenty minutes seemed to fade without a reason, and as it has gone for the previous two months, it didn’t return for the remainder of the night.

To pin the mind-blowing errors and hysterically bad losses on any certain issue is not justifiable at this point, but for the sake of trying to put it into perspective, that’s exactly what we need to do.

Firstly, the powerplay is a major problem. The way the unit seems to never be able to break down an opponent’s penalty kill and generate high danger chances while up a man is a mystery. A complete lack of creativity and movement has a talented group with high powerplay potential looking like it doesn’t even belong on the same ice as other teams with less skill (LA Kings, Chicago Blackhawks).

In all honesty, this is not a player problem. The players on the powerplay are only able to do so much with the system they are utilized in. Brock Boeser is a top 3 NHL goal-scorer this season, yet finds himself as a lost commodity down below the goal line when the Canucks have a man advantage.

Newell Brown is a highly regarded powerplay specialist amongst people involved in NHL team personnel, but this season it seems he doesn’t have touch with where the league is regarding the powerplay system and it is proving itself nightly when the Canucks are unable to capitalize in key situations.

Next, the bottom six is glaringly inept when it comes to making an impact offensively. It has reached the point now where you can see Antoine Roussel dump the puck in before it even happens on the ice, you just know it is coming.

Same with the likes of Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter, players that were brought in on lucrative contracts to provide a spark and generate chances through hard work down low and applying pressure, it is all non-existent.

Not to come down too hard on the goaltending, but it is just another area where the Vancouver Canucks can’t seem to get any type of reliability. In years past, the Canucks still gave up high-quality scoring chances at a high rate, but they had the ability in goal to bail out the skaters and make timely saves.

This season, it feels like they are getting the polar-opposite, the overtime winner against Winnipeg by Pierre-Luc Dubois, 10 nights ago on the Johnny Gaudreau winner, and tonight with the brutal, unforced giveaway leading to Dominik Kahun’s 3-2 goal, less than a minute into a crucial third period…

All of this and plenty more details about the Canucks play lead us to where we are at right now as fans, wondering what happened in 7 months to completely flip the narrative around what this team had built.

The on-ice product is unacceptable, so much so that not having fans in the building has truly been the franchise’s ultimate blessing.

This is the COVID version of throwing jerseys on the ice, paper bags over the head, and “FIRE BENNING” chants echoing around a half-empty Rogers Arena.

Although owner Francesco Aquillini has come out publicly to provide reassurance about the job security of GM Jim Benning, head coach Travis Green and others, it feels like that’s a half-hearted way of saying he is not in the mood to what the problem is with this team.

Keeping in mind that many still may consider this a rebuild, and that is fair, but at what point is enough going to be enough in regards to the blowing leads, game-losing errors in their own end, and inability to make a simple breakout pass? These don’t feel like problems that will go away overnight, so why do we keep reliving the same nightmare without any call for consequences?

Where they stand now, the Canucks are not even going to sniff a playoff race in 2021, a monumental step back from where they were just 365 days ago. As the halfway point of the season nears and Vancouver looks like more of a lottery team than a competitive one, where do we go from here?

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

Evan Power’s Top 10 NHL Power Rankings – Week 5

Another very eventful week in the National Hockey League is in the books and as teams in the four divisions are beginning to find separation on the standings, we are also beginning to notice who the top dogs are around the league.

On the COVID side of the league, this was actually a much lighter week in respect to games being postponed, as all 31 teams around the NHL aside from the Dallas Stars were able to get consistent action in over the last seven days.

A rare occurrence for the league who over the last month and a bit has been adjusting on the fly to make the season get off to a steady start, and it becomes more evident now that the protocols set forth by commissioner Gary Bettman and others at the NHL head office are being utilized properly.

On the ice, it is hard to ignore what is happening in the North division, as Montreal appears to be faltering, the Leafs and Oilers appear to be finding consistent success on the shoulders of their top players, something other Canadian teams have been having trouble finding.

In the West, it appears to still be a two-horse race for the top spot between the two outdoor game participants in Colorado and Vegas, but St. Louis has remained in the hunt after a few series’ with the Coyotes and Sharks.

Out East, the Boston Bruins are finding their stride in a big way, after dropping tight contests with the Devils and Islanders, they bounced back big time at Lake Tahoe against the Flyers in a 7-3 win, continuing their domination of Philly this season.

Lastly in the Central, the defending champs have lost their scoring touch and the teams with the most questions seem to have the most answers so far. Carolina is in the top spot after a 4-0-1 week, and Florida is close on their trail following a successful 3-1-0 road trip and an OT win over those same Hurricanes.

Here is how I have things shaping up overall after five weeks of the 2021 NHL season –

  1. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 3)

I mentioned that wouldn’t be surprised to see the Avs make the jump back to the top spot last week after they had their schedule take a hit due to COVID protocols, and here we are.

This team is a wagon, that’s truly the best way to put it. Joe Sakic has set this young squad up for success for a very long time and this is only the beginning of what his vision has in place for Colorado. The addition of former Vancouver Giant Bowen Byram is like adding another mini Cale Makar to an already stacked blue line, and we saw how well they can move the puck up ice against Vegas over this past week, outscoring them 6-5 over the first three games of the two teams four-game set.

2. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 1)

A one-spot drop for the Golden Knights who I have noticed really like to take random shifts off, especially after they have been pushing and their games appear to be at their top level. This is obviously something they will figure out, but as of now, I find the largest difference between this VGK squad and the Avalanche is the effort level. Perhaps it’s just early season gameplay, but I see no argument as of now to have the Knights over the Avs.

Good news: The duo of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone seems to be brewing up good chemistry and are a threat on both ends of the ice whenever they’re out.

3. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 2)

A week that saw the B’s drop a couple of games they probably deserved a better fate in against the Islanders and Devils, the Bruins bounced back in a major way on Sunday night in the outdoor game with Philly. A 7-3 demolition to extend their record to 5-0 this year against the Flyers.

A lot of the same stuff for this team who continue to get great production from sniper David Pastrnak, the forward recorded his second hattrick against the Flyers in three weeks.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 5)

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are really good at hockey.

5. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 6)

A big week for the Hurricanes was headlined by outstanding production from Vincent Trocheck, Sebastian Aho, and Andrei Svechnikov. The Canes shutout the cup champion Lightning handily, 4-0 on Saturday night, showing why they believe they are a cup contender themselves this year.

Frankly, I’m starting to believe it as well.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 4)

Another week, another drop in my rankings for Tampa who may be suffering their Stanley Cup hangover right about now. A team that definitely doesn’t lack in scoring ability is seemingly having trouble putting the puck in the net without Nikita Kucherov.

1-3-0 over the last seven days and it is very clear that they are having trouble staying out of the penalty box, ranking in in the top five of the league in penalty minutes per game. The Lightning have a chance to get redemption on the Hurricanes on Monday night in a rematch of their big loss on Saturday.

7. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 9)

The team from the sunshine state appears to be thriving under coach Joel Quenneville’s second season with the team. Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Barkov are carrying the offensive load for the Panthers but are getting significant help from depth scorers Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair.

Aaron Ekblad has come into his own as a number one shutdown defenceman and has to be getting some Norris trophy consideration in the early going of this year.

8. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 8)

The Blues have been playing the same teams every second day for two and a half weeks, which is insane to me. As mentioned in my previous rankings, it will be hard to gauge the Blues until they are further into this year with all their fresh faces, but so far, so good. They remain a steady top 10 team until further notice.

9. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: Unranked)

Welcome back into the top 10, Oil Country!

A convincing week of hockey where their only loss was a tight game against the Jets, the Oilers bounced back in a big way taking out the same Winnipeg tea, the following night, the proceeding with an easy two-game sweep of their Alberta rivals, Calgary.

Connor McDavid is feeling himself right now, with nine points this week alone, it is up to the opposing teams in the Canadian division to figure out how to stop 97, or else the Oilers could move up very quickly.

10. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 7)

Lofty droppers this week, and it may be generous to even put them here. This team was very hyped up early on in the year by the media and fans especially and it is beginning to look like the bar may have been set a bit too high off the hop.

Carey Price is struggling to keep his team in games, and after a few bad losses over the week to both Ontario teams, the Habs have a big week and a busy schedule ahead of them to do some soul searching.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

When Sports and Entertainment Collide

In the world of sports, we are privileged to have witnessed and continue to witness the moments that create lifelong memories for fans and consumers all across the world. When speaking about the sports empire, regardless of whether it is football, soccer, tennis, or golf, it is important to know that the entertainment industry doesn’t care about the game that is being played, we just want what is the most content-oriented.

As much as sports are about performance and a player or teams ability to win games and reach high levels of success, many people that consume sports are mostly in it for a fun, entertaining pastime.

Where sports have become so neglected over time and are still so greatly slept on is in the entertainment aspect, and what they do for media as well as the overall outlook of the entertainment landscape.

To elaborate more on what I am trying to say, use Tom Brady and his storied career as a prime example.

Lots of athletes within any league or association go into their careers not really considering the fact that they have the ability to change a sport, change a perspective and create a name that people will remember for generations.

While looking at the career of Tom Brady, it is unbelievable to think that this player, who was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft, was able to come in and change the way people viewed football.

Brady made a name for himself by becoming the best winner in the history of the sport, do you think he came into his career as an undersized and overlooked quarterback from the University of Michigan with the plan on doing what he did?

Not a chance, but he did it… And along the way created thousands of little noteworthy storylines for people to chew on over and over again.

In the media, we are always hungry for the next thing, the next greatest ever, or the next prodigy in sports. The reason for that is not because we are dying to watch the next great basketball star play basketball, we know they are amazing at that.

The reason is that we need something to talk about, post about and maybe, more importantly, argue over.

LeBron James was being watched under a microscope from the time he was 13 years old until this very moment. He was touted as the next best thing since bacon, and deservingly so due to how great he was at what he did.

Yet, for a player that people will claim is the greatest of all time, he perhaps wouldn’t be mentioned with the likes of Michael Jordan if it weren’t for how closely watched he was, and the expectations set upon him by the media, the entertainment industry really helped fuel the career of LeBron James from a very young age.

Sports and entertainment are two very different things, and in a way, it is hard to understand why, but once you are invested in them and study what there is to see under the surface, entertainment is the biggest part of any game there is.

It helps pay the endorsement contracts of big-name athletes, as well as the college tuitions of high-level recruits.

Massive television deals like the NHL and NBC, NBA with ESPN, TNT and ABC, the NFL and CBS are all prime examples of the effect the entertainment industry has on these sports, the revenue and CBA’s within these leagues depend on these entertainment industry contracts.

Under the top layer of sports, there are hundreds of thousands of individual stories that are being built and careers that are being crafted.

We stare and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans in awe of his size and athletic ability. When he came to the NBA out of Duke, the expectations pinned to him were lofty, he was the only thing that people wanted to talk about until we reached this season.

This season we saw the arrival of rookie LaMelo Ball, who slowly began to move the spotlight off of Williamson and onto himself, even though Willamson’s performance has done nothing but trend upwards on the court.

The media and entertainment business do not really care about what is going on within these sports, what we really want is something that will spark a debate, or create new talking points.

The “Miracle on Ice” was a hockey game that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1980 WInter Olympic games. At the time, it was believed to be the single greatest international ice hockey moment ever, for any country when the USA upset the dominant USSR to win the gold medal.

Fast forward 24 years later, a 2004 box office hit film titled “Miracle” hit the public eye, and all of the sudden it was no longer really about the USA’s triumph over the Soviet Union, but it was now a story about overcoming and perseverance that anybody from anywhere could relate to and enjoy for their own entertainment.

The moments that sports provide us as fans and content providers are unmatched in many ways. Watching the successes of players who come from nothing and make it big in their sport. Those who suffer gut-wrenching losses in their lives, like Karl-Anthony Towns in the NBA, or Joannie Rochette before her stunning bronze medal performance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

What is important to remember when these moments are being created is the beauty of the entertainment they provide. Sports are the main contributor of raw, unfiltered moments and stories that nobody can write, this is part of the reason I fell in love with them in the first place.

Saying that one is a sports-fanatic is a fair title to own, but it isn’t just the sport they may be referring to. It is that feeling of the national anthems before a packed game seven or the fighter jets gliding through the sky before the Super Bowl. Seeing Serena Williams capture multiple grand slam victories or Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal to win the Stanley Cup…

Sports are what the athletes performing worked their entire lives to do for a living, to do as an occupation, and play well in doing so.

Entertainment is what they thought about in their heads while working towards that goal, the make-believe game-winning shots, or sinking the final putt. It is the real reason we love sports and what they do for us every day.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

 

A Wild Saturday in the NHL

During the pandemic, what has felt like years of uncertainty and slow, boring days can really start to take a toll on people and the things they get excited over in today’s world.

Although we are very far from what we perceived as fun or exciting just 11 months ago, as a hockey fan, you have trouble not finding a way to get hyped up over a big day in the National Hockey League, especially one with so many momentous headlines.

Things kicked off early in the day around 9:30 AM, and the final buzzer didn’t sound until about 11:00 PM. So the day was long, but better yet it was filled will things to recap and amazing storylines to cover.

A super-milestone for one of the NHL’s greatest ever, a pair of huge nights from the two biggest superstars in Canada, as well as an absolutely mesmerizing sight to see at Lake Tahoe in California, as the latest edition of ‘NHL Outdoor Games’ was set to take place.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1363223408264110081?s=20

For those whose lives called for them to make an impact on the world today, I fully understand. My duty on this Saturday was to do nothing but sip some warm green tea, sit back and watch some fantastic action on the ice from the comfort of my couch, so let me tell you all about what you may have missed.

Sid the Kid Hits 1,000 – 

From waking up at 5 in the morning and driving fully geared-up to the local arena in Pearl Harbour, Nova Scotia to registering 1,000 NHL games played and counting, Saturday was a day of celebration for one of the NHL’s biggest names.

Sidney Crosby has all the hardware you could think of, and then some. From individual awards like the Hart and Conn Smythe trophies to the team successes in three Stanley Cup wins or double Olympic gold medal’s, but for a player who nearly saw his career take a drastic turn after savage concussion issues in the middle of his prime, 1,000 games feel different than anything else.

Crosby’s whole career has been looked at through a microscope. He was the highly touted prodigy that every NHL team dreamed of winning the ’05 draft lottery to obtain. Once he was in the NHL, he was in charge of rejuvenating the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, to be their next Mario Lemieux, in a way.

In his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday against the New York Islanders, Crosby picked up the second assist on Kris Letang’s game-winning goal late in the third period, earning his team the 3-2 win and added a little extra pep to the historic night.

It is safe to say that Sidney Crosby is nowhere near done with his illustrious NHL career, and whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. For what Sid has done for the game of hockey in Canada, as well as the city of Pittsburgh, we are forever indebted to number 87.

Congratulations, Sidney!

Two Big Names, Two Big Nights –

With this season being so special and strange at the same time, one thing that by now is affirmative is the fact that the North division is likely to produce the top names on the NHL’s scoring leaders for the 2021 campaign.

The way the game is played between the Canadian squads is so different from the rest of the league. Some of that can be attributed tot he fact that most of the teams are very top-heavy in the wy their rosters are assembled.

Well, on Saturday night we saw that on full display and boy was it enjoyable to watch.

7 of the top 10 point scorers in the league heading into the day played for Canadian teams, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Tonight, it was once again the two top dogs, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews proving why they are worth the price of their superstar contracts.

Starting with Matthews, who has been on an absolute tirade as of late. After lighting up the Canadiens for another 2 goals and 2 assists on Saturday, he now has 18 goals and 11 assists in 18 games this season, and 7 goals in his last 4 games.

To think Matthews performance could not be upstaged was so naive of me, as the second game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader was the battle of Alberta, a situation we knew the captain of the Edmonton Oilers was licking his lips for.

Something tells me that Connor McDavid got to watch a little bit of the Leafs game prior to his own, as you could tell before the puck even dropped that 97 had a little extra gas in the tank for this one.

McDavid didn’t let Calgary begin to believe they had a chance on this night, his 3 goals and 2 assists in less than half the game was enough to show everyone who the best player in the world still is, no matter how impressive others around the league maybe.

We are now creeping closer and closer into Gretzky type production for McDavid, who has 37 points over a 20 game span to start the year, will he reach 100 in a short season?

A Long Day at Lake Tahoe –

The stage was set and was it ever gorgeous. As you could see in the pinned tweet earlier in the article, Lake Tahoe Resort in California was the setting of the NHL’s first outdoor game in a years time.

The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche were set to play each other in a matinee on the Lake, but the sun and ice conditions had other plans.

The game had to be delayed for 9 hours after the first period due to unsafe playing conditions for the players and officials, so the outdoor game at Lake Tahoe quickly turned into a nighttime battle under the lights.

Although the scenes were not nearly as pleasant for the eyes, the play actually was a lot higher quality than we saw at any time earlier in the day.

The Knights and Avs, two of the best teams in the West division, went back and forth on the scoresheet, with Colorado eventually edging out a 3-2 victory on the back of Devon Toews insurance marker in the third.

After all of the hard work from maintenance staff and I’m sure lots of off-ice commotion within the league, the game was able to be played without issue. Not to mention how great it was to listen to Mike Tirico call the game for NBC Sports.

Lake Tahoe will be the setting for another outdoor matchup tomorrow night at 4:30 PM when the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers go head to head.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

2022 Olympics: Projecting Men’s Team Canada

In this country, we are heavily bonded and brought together by the sport of hockey, and the moments it has provided us with on the international stage for what has been generations.

During the Winter Olympic Games, we don’t only have the privilege of taking in the best of the best in sports such as snowboarding, skiing, figure skating and bobsleigh, but in the perfect scenario and contractual agreement allows it, we get to see the best international ice hockey competition the world has to offer.

During the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeoung-Cheng, South Korea, the National Hockey League as well as its players, along with the IOC ( International Olympic Committee) could not formally agree on a contract to securely and profitably send its players to Asia for the Olympics.

With that, the usual star-studded ice hockey tournament that has provided us with immortal moments like Sidney Crosby’s ‘golden goal’ or the 1998 goaltending performance of Dominik Hasek, stoning the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic on route to the Czech Republic upset of Team Canada.

So after what will be eight years come the 2022 games, the NHL and its players are expected to close a deal and make a triumphant return to the Olympic hockey competition, where the league will send its deepest pool of quality international talent ever to the city of Beijing.

Briefly scouting and looking across the globe at what the opposing countries will have to offer as far as roster depth, I can confirm that on paper this will be the most intriguing and surprising tournament perhaps in Olympic history.

The United States will be a powerhouse, rostering an elite group of young forwards getting their first tastes of international hockey, from Auston Matthews to Brock Boeser, the back end poised to be highly skilled as well with Quinn Hughes and Seth Jones. Their goaltending will be the best one-two punch in the tournament, with Vezina caliber products John Gibson and Connor Hellebyuck between the pipes.

Elsewhere, Sweden, Finland and Russia are the usual European giants that Canada has to navigate their way around. Yet, that isn’t where this pool of teams will stop showing firepower.

The Czech’s will boast a goal-scoring squad with David Pastrnak and Tomas Hertl. The Swiss are generating NHL talent, too, with the likes of Roman Josi and Kevin Fiala leading the way.

Even the Germans, who had success without NHL players in 2018, will add Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl and Tim Stützle into the mix.

This tournament will be a lot different from the rest, and after a long eight years of craving some stacked Team Canada hockey on the biggest stage of them all, it feels good to know that it will most likely be back again in the near future.

Projecting the 2022 Team Canada Olympic roster in Beijing, China –

Forwards:

This is going to be awesome. Canada is always known to be the best of the best, so I guess we can call this specific roster the best of the best of the best. That is a lot to read so let’s put it this way…

GOALS ARE FUN.

This group of forwards will certainly have no trouble doing just that, scoring goals. Keep in mind that this team will have some very noteworthy and significant cuts prior to the official naming of the team. As the head office of Team Canada was recently named, GM Doug Armstrong and AGM Don Sweeney will not likely be constructing this roster off pure goal-scoring ability, they will make room for the roles that need to be filled.

That being said, the top line of Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner and Mathew Barzal will have a lot of fun playing together. The speed, IQ and overall playmaking ability of these three players combined are higher than any line ever constructed, simple as that. These three will be key contributors to Canada’s offense, and will likely make up part of the top powerplay unit.

Filling out the next line, I have the Pearl Harbour, Nova Scotia boys together on a gritty second line. Nathan Mackinnon and Sidney Crosby will play in all situations for this team, and probably together. On their other wing, I’ve decided to slot in another two-way star Brayden Point, whose speed and agility in on the boards will open up the middle of the ice for the other two.

In the bottom six, I love the sound of Mark Schiefele in the middle of Steven Stamkos and Mark Stone. Three responsible players in their own end that have a knack for scoring goals as well. They should see the most favorable matchups and be able to provide depth scoring when Canada needs it. On line four, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are the best penalty killers in the league, adding Ryan O’Reilly with the duo makes too much sense.

Defence:

On the back-end, I am projecting that Canada will look for the six fastest, most currently proven defenders there are right now. That would leave the likes of Drew Doughty and Shea Weber off this team.

Pairing number 1 has Shea Theodore and Aaron Ekblad as the teams’ shutdown duo. They are heavy, dynamic and able to shut down any teams top talent on any given night.

The next pair consists of Cale Makar as the teams lead offensive weapon on defence, accompanied by Hockey Canada legend Alex Pietrangelo. This duo would be scary for other teams as they can get it done at 100% on either end of the ice.

Finally, rounding out the defence core I have Morgan Rielly and Dougie Hamilton. Both of these players have the most responsibility on their respective teams to perform at an elite level, and I expect them to contribute mightily on the end of Canada’s defensive line.

Goalies:

I mentioned the caliber of Team USA’s goaltending earlier, and I believe Canada is a very close second to them.

If Carey Price shows he is still the type of netminder we saw in Sochi come next year, he should be a lock for the starter’s job in Canada’s crease.

Backing him up, it will be an ongoing battle between Jordan Binnington and Carter Hart. Binnington of course has the luxury of his own GM being the head of Canada’s roster construction, but Hart will make a strong case when the final decisions are being made.

No matter how it shakes out, this team will be the most talented and game-proven roster in the history of the NHL at the Olympics…

Are you ready, Canada?

Marner – McDavid – Barzal

Mackinnon – Crosby – Point

Stone – Scheifele – Stamkos

Marchand – Bergeron – O’Reilly

Theodore – Ekblad

Pietrangelo – Makar

Rielly – Hamilton

Price

Binnington

Hart

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evan Power’s Top 10 NHL Power Rankings – Week 4

Another week of Hockey is in the books as NHL teams continue to jockey for position in tight races across all four divisions.

Teams are getting adjusted to what playing in this age is like, as we are continually seeing temporary schedule stoppages around the league, it is really becoming quite normalized.

Teams such as Colorado, Buffalo, Philidelphia, Minnesota, and more have been momentarily halted from playing their previously scheduled games as they have been victims of COVID-19 exposures within the organization.

The only division with seemingly zero positive cases or confirmed exposures remains the North, where teams are doing a good job of adhering to protocols and staying healthy.

In the North, there are some evident top dogs like the Canadiens and the Leafs, then the rest of the field where everyone has seen their struggles so far, and have their work cut out for them to squeak into the final two playoff positions.

Over in the West division, as mentioned before, the. Avs and Wild saw their normal schedule games be postponed, resulting in the Coyotes and Blues playing SEVEN (!) straight games against each other, where the Blues took the series 4-3 in some highly contested bouts.

Looking at the East, the Boston Bruins have really found their stride thanks to the early return of sniper David Pastrnak, a player that has turned Boston from a team with scoring troubles to one of the more potent offences in the NHL. The Flyers, Devils and Sabres are teams that saw their schedules halt as a result of COVID last week.

Finally, the Central is being controlled by the two teams from the sunshine state as Tampa Bay and the surprising Florida Panthers are looking like locks for the post season in a weaker division. Behind them are teams still searching for their identities ahead of what should be a very interesting second half.

Here are my rankings one month into this unique NHL season –

  1. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 1)

Vegas is a team that can win in multiple different fashions as well as a squad with absolutely no trouble finding out who they are this year.

They can out-score, out-hit, out-battle and overall outplay any team on a given night. On Sunday they took on the Avalanche in Colorado’s first game back from their COVID stoppage and completely locked them down defensively to the sound of a 1-0 victory. The upcoming week will be a true test, as they play the Avs three more times in what many believe to be two of the best in the West.

2. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 6)

Big jumper here as the Bruins, who I had at number eight in my week 1 ranking, has flourished with the return of David Pastrnak to their lineup. Pasta has already made his presence felt on the scoresheet and has allowed players lower in the lineup to adjust to their normal roles of being depth scorers.

The B’s are 10-2-2 and hold a 4 point lead in the East, and are very similar to the high powered Golden Knights in the number of ways they can win.

3. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 2)

Slight drop here due to inactivity, which may be unfair in a way that they haven’t shown any signs of regression in their play. Their COVID break was actually used as an opportunity to rest their stars, and Captain Nathan Mackinnon who was set to miss time due to a lower-body injury prior to the stoppage only ended up missing one game with the time off.

The Avs have a big week ahead as they take on VGK for what should be 3 more tight-checking games. They also get to play the very first NHL outdoor game on Lake Tahoe on Saturday night, a match they should be back in full swing for.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 3)

Tampa has shown no signs of a Stanley Cup hangover to start the year. They handily took care of the Nashville Predators in back to back games on the road, then ended up dropping one against their cross-state rival Panthers.

On the next night, they did what they usually do, a 6-1 beating against the same Panthers team, proving why they are the superior team in Florida and are ready to take a stranglehold on the Central.

Brayden Point is leading the charge offensively for TB, 16 points in 13 games is good to put him top 10 in league scoring.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 5)

Toronto looks like a team with a different mindset this season. Auston Matthews seemingly has transformed into one of hockey premier defensive centers and playing with Mitch Marner on his wing has created a duo that nobody in the Canadian division will be capable of slowing down.

Their defensive structure has changed heavily under the influence of coach Sheldon Keefe, and players like Justin Holl and Travis Dermott have begun to understand what they can provide to this team apart from getting involved offensively.

6.  Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 9)

Carolina had what many people would call a luxury by having their COVID stoppage early on in the campaign. It allowed them to get it out of the way while other teams continue to fight it midseason.

They are probably the most complete team from top to bottom in the league right now, getting contributions from every player in their lineup and not having to rely on a certain person to provide offense on a nightly basis.

The goalie tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are showing that they are very capable of getting the Canes to where they want to go.

7. Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 8)

Montreal hit a rough patch especially on the offensive side of the ice this week. People around the NHL accused them of only being able to handle the weaker teams of the North division and not be able to play up to the standards of Toronto.

Carey Price had critics saying he should be benched in favor of Jake Allen until he proved his game was back in peak form. His response? A 2-1 victory against those Maple Leafs in Toronto.

8.  St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 10)

After seven straight contests against Arizona, it should be slightly more difficult to put a benchmark on where this team really is. Yet, for a squad with lots of movement in the offseason, I believe they are right where they should be in their development.

Goalie Jordan Binnington has regained his form after being shaky in the bubble, and newcomers Torey Krug and Mike Hoffman are making impacts for their new team. Once the Blues get more action against other teams around the West, they should be able to put together some more convincing results.

9. Florida Panthers (Last Week: Unranked)

Welcome to my rankings, Florida! Although their schedule has been somewhat favorable to start the year against the likes of Chicago, Detroit, and Nashville, the Panthers appear to be a pretty steady defensive team that can score when needed.

Alexsander Barkov should be back in Selke consideration this season, and Jonathan Huberdeau is 20th in league scoring. Coach Joel Quenneville is known for utilizing his big defensemen in the offense, and Aaron Ekblad is having a breakout season in this regime. Keep an eye on these sneaky Panthers.

10. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 7)

Another drop in the ranks due to inactivity, but also a team struggling to string together good results. They have yet to prove that they can beat Boston this season, and are seeing their big offensive producers like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek go missing on some nights.

It will be interesting to see how Philly returns after their current COVID-19 stoppage.

It’s Hockey Day in Canada

Today is Hockey Day in Canada and it is a jammed-packed day of Canadian team action going down in the Scotia North division.

Other than the Oilers, every team will play in what should provide a ton of quality play for Canadians around the world to celebrate the game of the North.

The Jets are currently in a deadlock at 1 with the Senators in a mid-day matinee from MTS Center in Winnipeg.

At 4 PM PST, the Maple Leafs are hosting the Montreal Canadiens in the first of a back-to-back, where it was Toronto who took down the Habs 4-2 just three days ago.

And finally, the struggling hometown Canucks are basically playing for the job of their GM, whose seat continues to heat up after a terrible start over a quarter way into the campaign. They take on the Calgary Flames in the second of four games looking to snap a six-game losing skid.

This year, Hockey Day in Canada takes on a little bit of a different feel.

As the usual festivities in small Canadian towns across the nation have obviously been put off due to the pandemic, we turn our focus to recent events and put extra energy into the heritage of the game as well as diversifying the sport of Hockey.

Seven current and former NHL players announced Monday they have formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which has a mission “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.”

Over the course of the last year, world events have fuelled an initiative to ensure that nobody feels unsafe or uncomfortable when playing this great game that was made for people of all ethnic backgrounds.

A group called the Hockey Diversity Alliance was introduced to push the mission ‘to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.’

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu were named as co-heads of the organization. The executive committee included the likes of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds, and Vegas Golden Knights staffer Joel Ward.

The importance of this association and what they are trying to achieve has no bounds, and on Hockey Day in Canada, we must recognize their efforts and understand that as a nation, we have improvements to make when it comes to inclusion and most importantly education of the same topics.

Also a part of this year’s Hockey Day in Canada celebration, we look back on the great things that our NHL teams, as well as small communities around the country, have used Hockey as a central part of their culture and development.

Things such as Craft Hockeyville and Hometown Heroes have brought our communities into the spotlight to get the recognition they deserve for putting meaning behind inclusion and the history of Hockey.

All these topics and so many more are touched on by educated people and special guests throughout the Hockey Day in Canada broadcast on Sportsnet, and I challenge people to pay closer attention to the types of things that are talked about during pre-game, intermissions, and post-game analysis.

The Best of the Best – Canadian Team Edition

Something I thought would be fun to do for Hockey Day in Canada was to try to create the most talented and entertaining lineup of players that are on Canadian team rosters today.

Over the last few years, Canadian Hockey fans have been fortunate to see a lot of international and homegrown talent suit up for their favorite franchises.

When making this team, I took into account the excitement and intrigue that seeing these players together would bring. There is plenty of combinations that would be so much fun to watch play a game together, here is the way I would love to see its lineup.

Forwards –

My top-line is made up of the two NHL leading scorers from the Oilers in Connor McDavid and Leon Drasaitl, having these two ensures that the team won’t have any scoring troubles at all. I am pairing them up with Canucks young star Elias Pettersson, because why not?

On the second line,  two Toronto Maple Leafs with strong chemistry, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. On their wing for scoring touch around the net and a knack for defending his teammates, Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk is a perfect fit for this high powered set of forwards.

The third line is all about the two-way game, Jets winger Kyle Connor and the Canucks’ Brock Boeser are an American duo that thrives in their respective Canadian markets. In the middle, I am slotting in John Tavares, who signed with Toronto just a few offseasons ago in order to have the chance to compete in a Canadian market.

To cap it off, the fourth line is for the young stars, Canadiens centermen Nick Suzuki is joined by Brady Tkachuk and Nikolaj Ehlers as a speedy, gritty trio that will be able to provide offense at the depths of their lineup.

To recap the All-Canadian team forward group:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Pettersson

Marner – Matthews – M. Tkachuk

Gaudreau – Tavares – Boeser

B. Tkachuk – Suzuki – Ehlers

On the back end, we’re keeping it simple with a nice mix of offensively gifted defencemen and stout shutdown guys as well.

The top pair, the matchup nightmare tandem of Shae Weber and Quinn Hughes. These two together would fit so perfectly it is almost a move I wish the Canucks had made at last years deadline if the cap could work.

Behind them, I’m going with Morgan Rielly and Jeff Petry. Another smooth-skating, defensively responsible defenders who can play in any situation, this pairing and the first are interchangeable on this make-believe roster.

And to round out the skaters of this all Canadian team roster, I’m going with Darnell Nurse of the Oilers and Mark Giordano of Calgary. Not sure how the chemistry would be as these two have had their battles in the past, but on the same pairing, no team wants to play against these two at any given time.

The D group:

Hughes – Weber

Petry – Rielly

Nurse – Giordano

And between the pipes, it doesn’t get much easier than the two Vezina trophy candidates, one of which took the award home in 2019-20. Jakob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames and Connor Hellebyuck of the Jets would ensure this team allowed little to no goals on a nightly basis. Scary things are happening in this country when it comes to talent…

Now it’s just time to bring Lord Stanley back home where it belongs.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

A Message for TSN 1040

You hear it so often in the world and in life today, that there are things we experience and neglect every single day that grow into our souls and impact our lives so positively that we often forget it was ever a privilege to have in the first place.

On Tuesday morning, the city of Vancouver lost a part of its identity, and to know it most likely will never return chills me to the bone.

I remember some things so vividly in my life, others are forgotten and only recollected in little mental glimpses.

One thing in my childhood that was always constant was a radio station by the name of TSN 1040 (formerly TEAM 1040 radio).

I recall my early years of playing organized hockey. Falling asleep on a weekday night extra early, so that before my 6:00 AM hockey practice, i could grab a bacon and egg McMuffin will my old man and listen to the morning show on the home of Vancouver sports.

I remember the likes of Bro Jake, Dave Pratt, and the famous Don Taylor embracing their roles as personalities and igniting a new passion for the city and their love for their teams.

The special thing about 1040 was how well they managed to make an organized radio show such an unorganized radio show, and at the same time make it such ‘can’t miss entertainment.’

From a young age, I heard with my own ears the characteristics it took to cover sports for a living. The pride and enthusiasm you needed to work your way up to being an everyday contributor to a successful talk-show. I learned the importance of conversation and what it was like to live every day doing something you loved, the people on every show made me realize how precious your occupation could be.

Fast forward to my final year of high school, and me being so unsure of where I wanted to go and the things I wanted to do in this sport we call life.

When other people around me got their licenses, they played the newest music and played it loud. Windows down on a hot summer day, letting everyone know what kind of music they were in to.

I did the same, but for me, it was Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on the ‘Alpine Credits Canucks pre-game show.’

I knew that the people at TSN 1040 were good at doing their jobs, but I never really fully understood it until my own mother was calling Bob Marjanovich “The Moj” to my face when explaining something ridiculous he had said earlier in the day, that was really cool to me.

They had a way of getting through to a listener through your radio and often making you forget it was even a sports station in the first place.

Through the ups and the downs of Canucks talk, Whitecaps coverage, or the classic offseason slowdowns, there was still never a dull moment when talking about the product 1040 rolled out every single day.

Bringing me to now, a nearly graduated student of the Radio program at BCIT, I can truthfully say that half the reason I am even writing this right now is due to the contributions and impact this radio station had on my identity and who I have become today.

The late, great Jason Botchford screaming at us through the radio waves at 7 in the morning. There was nothing quite like a patented Botch rant at that hour, it truly was remarkable. He would have you excited for a Canucks game that didn’t start for another 10 hours.

Rob Fai displayed a love for sports and the cinematics behind them, being able to find a quality story at any moment.

Tom Mayenknecht was the first person to really get through to me about the business of sport and how money is the main motive behind any and all sports and entertainment decisions.

Halford and Brough provided a valuable lesson for everyone if you’re going to be sad about something, at least be sad about it with thousands of other people at the same time. They always managed to make the terrible times so comical and comedic, exactly what we have always needed, what we still need to this very minute, and many more after I’m finished writing this.

 

Sekeres taught us that it was okay to be stubborn and to stand your ground. It didn’t matter if it was your friend or someone with a burning dislike for you, to never shy away from what you believe.

I could go on and on about the lessons I have taken from the impeccable work of the personalities at 1040, as well as all of the people behind the scenes, Ryan Henderson, Iain Mcletchie and so many more over the years.

The most important of them all was to love what you do every day. It is okay to be different and want to pursue different things. Maybe you won’t be the richest or the most famous. You may not be the most liked or most respected, but you sure will enjoy driving to work every day and doing what you love to do for a paycheque.

There was so much anger and animosity in my mind and body when the news came out on Tuesday. The way that things were done and how little peoples’ livelihoods were taken into account in the decision-making of the suits, but that is the furthest reason as to why I wanted to write this.

I wrote this to say thank you In the most heartfelt way I could think of, my writing.

My passion for sports coverage and entertainment media stems from the hard work and dedication the people of TSN 1040 showed to their craft. The engine of this cities sports coverage for generations was cut off at a time they were needed the most, and it really isn’t fair for anyone.

I believe that mistakes were made in this process, and we will see the repercussions over time and the effects will stem way beyond just Canucks talk on a daily basis.

There is one less little kid out there who gets to hear prime examples of what it’s like to do something you love. Not everyone will understand the loss, but the people who listened every single day do, and they always will.

Thank you to every single person who ever made TSN 1040 a place of freedom and top-of-the-line opinionated conversation.

Thank you for the laughs and the debates. For the unfiltered thrill of the 2010 Olympics games and J-Pat’s reaction to Crosby’s Golden Goal.

The 2011 Stanley Cup run and the excitement that no one else will ever come close to generating again.

Thank you for the devotion, and I hope someday I will get to listen to people with equal passion and sentiment for sports and entertainment once again.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

2021 NFL Offseason Primer

What a season it was for Football fans in 2020.

Amid all of the pre-season speculation and question marks that surrounded a league and sport that was deemed a danger to society and impossible to complete through a raging global pandemic, against all odds, the NFL made It work.

Teams around the league worked together and made a massive point to the world that they were ready to fulfill the need for football and did it with the best possible protocols they could think of.

They passed with flying colors

Although there were substantial setbacks along the way, as well as obstacles that may have seemed insurmountable, all 32 organizations found a way to get through what many critics said was a stupid and unrealistic idea.

After a strong finish for the league and seeing the greatest of all time, Tom Brady hoist his seventh Lombardi Trophy, it is officially time to turn the page and begin what should be one of the most hectic and intriguing offseasons we have ever seen in this wonderful game.

Trade requests for high-profile players, along with an extremely deep draft class filled with NFL-ready talent and potential superstars, the next 7 months will provide a whole lot of newsworthy moves and we should buckle up for what should be a great offseason.

Potential Trades – 

After the Detroit Lions sent their own cornerstone quarterback Matthew Stafford to LA earlier this month, it has set the tone for some other movement in regards to QBs around the NFL this offseason.

As we are well aware by now, the Houston Texans and their franchise QB Deshaun Watson have a relationship that is beyond repair. The 25-year-old signal-caller has multiple outstanding seasons under his belt playing for an annually bad Texans team. After former Head Coach and GM Bill O’Brien traded away Watson’s top receiver as well as their first-round pick in this year’s draft (ended up being 3rd overall), Watson has made it clear he is done with Houston and wants to be moved to a competent team.

Teams that have been linked to Watson are the same ones who may just be a good QB away from contending for championships. Watch out for the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Washington Football Team, and Las Vegas Raiders to name a few. All of these moves would make sense for the player and team, it would really come down to Watson’s preferred spot as well as the package going back to Houston.

Deshaun isn’t the only Texan that could be on the move over the next few months. His all-pro teammate JJ Watt is said to be unhappy with where the organization is too and is reportedly looking for a new home in 2021.

These types of moves are always interesting because over half the league is constantly looking to improve their defensive front. Teams to key an close eye on when it comes to the services of Watt could include the Seattle Seahawks, brother TJ”s Pittsburgh Steelers, or maybe even the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who could get hit hard in free agency on the d-line.

Another interesting move that makes sense is Philidelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who ESPN analyst Adam Schefter reported would be dealt sooner rather than later and is a highly sought-after target for teams in the quarterback market.

It just makes too much ‘sense for Wentz’ to be reunited with his first NFL offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

This move is a match made in heaven for Wentz, who would go to a solid Indy team coming off an impressive playoff-making season, and a roster with high-caliber talent ready to contend.

Wentz’ career needs revival in a new situation, and there is no other place that can best fulfill his needs than under Reich, who had Wentz playing at an MVP level before his unfortunate ACL injury in the Eagles in 2018.

A Stacked Draft – 

What an absolute sweat of a night we are in for on April 29th when the NFL Draft will make the dreams of many young prospects come true.

Stud quarterbacks, gritty offensive lineman, as well as multiple skill position players, that have the ability to change franchises will fly off the board all night in this draft, and it will be so intriguing to see who will land where, as well as what kind of draft positions will be available for trade.

The unanimous number one overall selection will be Clemson QB, Trevor Lawrence. A mobile player with a huge arm and the ability to manage the game with the best of them, Jacksonville will finally get the leader they have been waiting for. Newly-appointed head coach Urban Meyer would most definitely not have taken the job if it weren’t for Lawrence falling into the Jags lap, this move is a no-brainer.

As for the rest of the cards, nobody knows where they will fall.

Elusive playmakers at the wide receiver position such as Heisman winner Devonta Smith of Alabama will be a player that teams will look to trade up for. LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase took the NCAA season off due to COVID concerns, but many forget how much of a problem he was for defenses in 2019. And finally, Jaylen Waddle also of the Alabama Crimson Tide is a player who is just as dynamic as the top two outside of growing injury concerns.

QB’s Zack Wilson (BYU) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) are just a couple more who will have their names called with the intention of becoming a team’s generational QB.

Until August arrives and a new NFL season is upon us, anything can happen. Teams around the league have now seen first-hand how you can change the outlook of your team in just one offseason, and the champion Buccaneers will be that example.

So many questions are looking for answers, even off the field as COVID-19 continues to be a huge dilemma heading into a new league year.

WIll we have fans? Will there still be a need for strict protocols in 2021? How many players will dawn a brand new jersey and new expectations? WHO IS GOING TO GO FIRST OVERALL IN FANTASY?!

I guess we just have to kick back, relax, and be happy that these aren’t our decisions…

(Except that last one, of course)

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

Tampa Bay Wins Super Bowl LV

A team that came together in an offseason of uncertainty, at a time of crossroads and question marks galore, a team of destiny.

On Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by the greatest football player the world has ever seen conquered and stunned the defending world champions, 31-9 to win the franchises’ second Super Bowl title in history.

What was it about this team that made them so special? Where did the heart, attitude, and work ethic all come together to make them unstoppable at the perfect time?

We see it often in the NFL, a league where all it takes is getting hot at the right time to ring off a couple of wins in the playoffs and get to the big game. What Tampa Bay did once they got there is what makes them so different from the rest.

It was far from the most entertaining Super Bowl we have seen, from the opening kickoff to the underwhelming half-time show, along with some particularly bad officiating from the outset.

It was just how the Buccaneers and Tom Brady needed it to go to get the job done, they needed all the cards to fall into their lap in order to shut down the high-powered Chiefs who could score at a lightning rate, right?

That is all we heard in the lead up to the game, how the Chiefs would be carrying the play and forcing the Buccaneers out of their comfort zone.

Well, when the game came around, it was really the exact opposite, it was Tampa Bay and their grizzled leader who decided what was going to happen every step of the way.

Two first-half touchdowns were thrown from number 12 to number 87, Brady to Gronkowski, a movie we have all seen many times before in the big game. Once the two touchdowns happened and the Buccaneers got a hand up on KC with the skeptical penalty calls, you could feel the game shifting into the Bucs’ favor.

On the Kansas City offensive side of the ball, their star QB couldn’t get a clean look all night, while missing the core of their interior offensive line, the pressure drawn up by what I believe to be the Super Bowl MVP, Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, was close to perfect.

Coming into the game, the mind games were already on Tampa Bay’s side of the field.

Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid’s son was involved in a very serious car accident on Thursday night, resulting in the lives of two young children being in danger.

For Tampa, Brady was oozing confidence as well as the rest of his teammates. The Bucs were led on D by their young, stout playmakers in Devin White and safety Antoine Winfield JR., who were making plays all night right at the get-go.

Mahomes was unable to put any touchdowns on the board for the first time in 26 games as an NFL starter, an incredible stat that further resembles the game planning of the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2007, they have truly been a franchise labeled as constant underachievers. Until Tom Brady showed up in the summertime and changed the DNA of the hurting franchise.

Adding outcasts like Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown, players who could make a difference on the file but were known as distractions off of it, Tom Brady made it work.

Leading 21-6 heading into the second half, we knew that Tampa Bay just had to weather the Chiefs storm to get through 30 more minutes of football, instead, they took their play to another level and didn’t let off the gas.

Knowing the Chiefs were struggling to protect Mahomes, they dialed up even more pressure. Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh all found ways to apply more pressure and force Mahomes to leave the pocket, a textbook way of putting a nail in the coffin of the defending champs.

Where the game got out of reach was early in the third quarter, proclaimed ‘outcast’ Leonard Fournette took a handoff to the right side of the dominant Buccaneers offensive line and to the endzone, bumping the Tampa lead to 28-9.

From there, all it took was a few stops with their backs against the wall. We saw some things we have never seen with the Chiefs’ offense over the last three seasons, the effect of pressure and the big moment got to them.

It is safe to say with his 7th Super Bowl ring, it may be impossible for another player to reach what Tom Brady has done in his superhuman career.

As for the passing of the torch, it is going to have to wait at least another season as Tom Brady came out on top of maybe the most headlined QB dual in Super Bowl history.

Congratulations to the coaching staff of the Bucs as well, the first team to ever have 4 or more coaches/coordinators of color to coach in and win a Super Bowl, a feat that will be barrier-breaking in the NFL forever.

The 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a great mini-movie someday. They will be a story of coming together and understanding that it is a marathon and not a sprint. After being embarrassed on Sunday Night Football to the New Orleans Saints earlier in the year, many wrote this team off and said they were too soft to make it anywhere.

Proven wrong once again by the one man to do it so often over the last 21 years, Tom Brady is on top again.

The scariest part about` all of it is that they will be back again, perhaps one more time for the great number 12.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

We May Be Witnessing a Tire Fire Folks

2021 for the Vancouver Canucks has been a roller coaster of emotions to date, and on Saturday it took another turn for the worse, losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs in embarrassing fashion, once again.

Prior to the game and coming off another thrashing on the East coast a game earlier, Canucks fans across Twitter and all other social outlets were crying and screaming for change, change that would see team owner Francesco Acquillini let go of his long-running GM, Jim Benning.

What we are seeing on the ice isn’t just a term in a bad state of mind that is dropping close games consecutively, it is a team that has completely lost touch of themselves, and is evidently not providing 100 percent maximum effort on the ice.

Whether it is the fact that the teams front office took a step back in the offseason, letting go of top-notch players that would’ve helped this current group push for another deep run, or if the Canadian ‘North’ division is just too skilled and fast for them to compete, whatever it is, it is quickly turning this season into a complete and utter disaster.

Nothing is more telling than the reaction of their newly signed goalie Braden Holtby, who was visually infuriated by the effort of the players in front of him after Auston Matthews coasted by for his 2nd goal of the game and fourth in this two-game set against Toronto.

At this point, even the most positive Canucks minds on social media are calling for change, for what seemed like a great culture and locker room heading into this year has now completely flipped around to truly feel like a lost cause.

Panic has fully set in for the fans. JT Miller has been caught on multiple occasions on this road trip giving little to no effort on back checks, even after being the player to make a half-hearted pass and cause a turnover.

Out of everything that is happening with his organization especially over the past week, nothing feels more disappointing than to see what has happened to MIller. A player who made himself part of the team’s DNA last season when people scrutinized the deal to bring him in. Miller was touted as the Canucks best all-around player and a great leader for the young players, yet it feels he is jumping ship before anyone else has had the chance.

Not only has the team showed an incompetent mindset in the defensive end, but they aren’t early as effective offensively against any other team not named the Ottawa Senators. Players that are not in top-line roles have no way of producing for the Canucks and haven’t really found ways to make the presence’ felt at all, especially over the last four games out East.

If it only couldn’t be worse, Elias Pettersson hits what feels like 45 posts or crossbars per game. He has had a league-leading 7 shots ring off the iron since the season started and it always seems to come at the most opportune times, with the opposing team scoring right after.

Just one week removed from a really impressive team win in Winnipeg, it is crazy to see where the team is when pinned up against the best of their division, and quite frankly it is scary. If every game against Montreal and Toronto is going to be a blowout loss, what is the use for Canucks fans to continue tuning in every night to support

For a team that handily beat the Senators three games in a row, the Canucks are struggling to generate any sort of offensive zone time. The Senators are currently in a three-game series with Montreal and actually beat them 3-2, followed by a 2-1 close game loss on Saturday morning.

The results across the Canadian division go to show that all of this shouldn’t be such an overreaction right now, as teams like the Oilers and Senators have beaten the likes of Montreal and Toronto, who have done terrible things to Vancouver.

Yet, it feels like Vancouver is in a different race than all those teams. It feels as if Vancouver is in a race with themselves and trying not to lose the game on a nightly basis rather than trying to attack and win it.

People a highly anticipating some news to come out of the Canucks camp soon, whether that is the firing of GM Benning or Coach Travis Green. Nobody is sure of what the owner is thinking and if he wants to buck up to have more than 1 coach/GM under contract during these unsure times.

One thing is for certain, is that this team needs a shake-up immediately. Last night, all of Jake Virtanen, Olli Juolevi, Adam Gaudette, and Zack Macewen were healthy scratched and sitting in the press box to allow older players such as Loui Erikkson and Justin Bailey to be put into the lineup.

This is a message from the head coach to say he doesn’t have an effect on what kind of talent is being put on the ice, he just has to play with it. This is correct, Travis Grene should not have to face the consequences of the team’s poor asset management, that is not his job.

It will be a long and highly anticipated few days here in Vancouver and we will see what happens, for now, just enjoy the Super Bowl, friends.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

Who are the Greatest Winners in the History of Team Sports?

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs take the field this Sunday in Super Bowl 55, they will both be playing for much more than a trophy and some added contract bonuses.

What is at stake during this Football game is unmatched in any other championship final…

With the eyes of the entire world on them, both teams, led by their respective world-class Quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, are going to be playing for that little boy they once were, dreaming of the moment they got to step on the field in a Super Bowl championship.

Both teams have that aura of being winners, they have that characteristic within their locker room of knowing what it takes to go all the way and get the job done.

That, of course, wasn’t always the case for Tampa Bay, until they brought in six-time world champion Tom Brady via free agency, solidifying the culture and signalling their intent to take their organization to the next level.

Six championships by one player in any sport is an astonishing feat in itself, but in the NFL where there is so much constant change within a franchise due to the large roster sizes and tight salary cap restrictions, what Tom Brady has done in his 21-year career is truly one-of-a-kind.

So, on Sunday if we were to watch Brady hoist his SEVENTH career Lombardi Trophy, this time within a whole new set of coaches, players, staff and system, would that make him the greatest winner we have ever seen in team sports?

Of course, athletics have a way of exposing greatness in many individuals, from solo sports to team-oriented. We have seen the likes of Michael Phelps capture a total of 23 Olympic gold medals. Jack Nicklaus, a cornerstone of Golf, who won 18 majors including 6 green jackets at the Masters’. As well as Serena Williams, who has captured 23(!!!) Tennis grand slams and counting.

Being able to find this kind of success in solo sports is an honour and accomplishment, and should be viewed as that, utter domination of an individual within their craft, no help from anybody else when it matters the most.

In team sports, success is judged a little bit differently.

There is no specific thing that any expert or average fan can point to that suggests a player is a great one in their respective sport other than winning. It is how we judge any player’s greatness in today’s age and rightfully so.

The greatest winner’s in the history of team sports all share very similar qualities, they provide comfort for their peers and enable the people around them to be better at what they do. When you have LeBron James playing for your team, everything feels better within the organization, it may even enhance the performance of the guy selling doughnuts during the game.

Winners are also culture changers, they are conquerors and people that everyone wants to go to battle within the most prized moments you can think of.

I wanted to write this article to list off some of the most gifted champions we have ever seen in team sports, and touch a little bit on why they were so groundbreaking.

Wayne Gretzky – 

You don’t just randomly pick up the nickname “The Great One” for nothing. When you think about Wayne Gretzky, the only word to describe it is dominance. The dominance was so inevitable that other teams felt coming second place was a reasonable goal due to the fact you knew you weren’t going to beat number 99 in the big games.

Even people who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of Hockey know who the great one was, and what he brought to a sport that had trouble getting off the ground until the late 1970s when Gretzky came onto the scene.

Wayne won 4 Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, shattering any and all team records you can think of as well as enabling his teammates to do the same. If you took away all the goals that 99 has ever scored, he would still be the league leader in points throughout NHL history.

That screams greatness. The one time Gretzky lost to a team in the cup finals was in 1993 to the Montreal Canadiens, yet that season, Los Angeles fell in love with the game thanks to him, exceeding more than double the season ticket sales for the franchise and boosting them to get to where they are today.

Pele –

The things that Pele did for the game of Soccer will never be matched, as he is considered the biggest catalyst and revolutionary the World has seen within the sport.

Pele provided an understanding of what were third-world countries when he started playing, and cultural goliaths when he finished. His goals were to be an example for young people in Brazil and it extended across the globe through his words and play on the field.

A leader of leaders, and a winner of winners. 3 total world cups for his country making him the only player to ever do so. He also had unreal club accolades to go with his international success, as he led his hometown team, Santos, to 10 league titles; and even went to New York in 1977 to with them a North American league championship, too.

Michael Jordan – 

After winning an NCAA title with his hometown North Carolina Tar Heels, Jordan continued to be the greatest, bringing 6 titles to a franchise that was nothing before he arrived. The Chicago Bulls transformed overnight into a worldwide phenomenon thanks to MJ, who touched people all across the world through his mantra and way he played the game.

Perhaps the most special part about Jordan is the way he spoke to people and handled the big stage. He was known for being the hardest worker in the room always, and never shying away from the clutch moments.

Not only these great things, but in his 6 championship runs, not once was he taken to a game 7, and never in his career had he gotten to the NBA Finals and lost.

Tom Brady – 

What else is there to say? At 43 years of age, Brady is doing what nobody even dreams about. Playing to an age where you are supposed to be slowing down, both on the field and within your mindset of preparing and running back another season after another season.

What makes Brady so special is his work ethic and aura, he spends up to $1.5 million on his body and health and creates programs for his teammates to join him while he is playing with them.

By making everyone around him better, he also is unmatched in his accomplishments, capturing 6 Super Bowl titles over his career, and just coming up short in another 3, games that could’ve been won if not for a couple of miracle plays by the opposition.

This Sunday when we watch Tom Brady, it would be normal to think that it may be the last time and to savour it, but that’s not the case. Brady said in an interview this week that he expects the Buccaneers to be even better next season, so this won’t be the last time we hear of what is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

Vancouver Canucks – Quarter Season Recap

13 games in 22 nights to begin a season will make a team, and a fanbase, ask more questions than there are answers.

Already at the quarter-season mark of this shortened season, the Vancouver Canucks have seen the ups and the downs of what an all-Canadian division can provide.

A roster that is working to integrate fresh faces and young players is expected to have some pretty major growing pains especially when the lack of preseason and overall normality is heavily influencing the way things are going.

After an offseason that was considered a failure on paper, so far we are witnessing the repercussions of some spotty decision-making from a front office that is being scrutinized for their lack of aggressiveness and poise in building the Canucks roster.

There are quite a few things to touch on in the evaluation of this season to date, one thing that remains certain, is that in no way are the Canucks a bad hockey team. The way they have played in their wins against other North division foes proves that point willingly. They are a team that will be able to compete for a playoff spot come Summertime.

Yet, in a way that the fans of this team dread so mightily, the team is basically finding ways to lose games on a nightly basis when they are not at their best.

This was an issue for the Canucks when they were a perennial playoff team and Stanley Cup contender, as well.

Although we may not remember it, this team used to have issues holding onto leads and containing their opponents late in games. Nowadays, we are so accustomed to seeing the team make very few unforced errors, especially in their own end under Head Coach Travis Green

We are used to seeing that because of the way the Canucks roster has been built in years past. They were always a team that didn’t play a high-powered, high-flying offensive style unless they had to. Players like Chris Tanev and Jakob Markstrom were key components of that, they masked a lot of the Canucks issues.

Now, without those pieces still in the picture, we are seeing more mistakes being made in the defensive, where Vancouver has found ways to shoot itself in the foot on various occasions.

The primal issue in their losses this season? They don’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they shoot themselves in the knee, stomach, and everywhere else, as well.

The Canucks, who lead the NHL in games played to start the season and in NHL history over a 22-day span, also lead the league in goals against, shots against, and hold a bottom twelve powerplay percentage.

All so uncharacteristic of this team, who exited the playoff bubble last season feeling great about where they stood as a team, and where they were at in the development of their system.

Now after a rocky start, fans across the city are calling for the job of General Manager Jim Benning as well as the coach to go with him.

There were some drastic mistakes that were made over the short offseason. One was even admitted today by Benning in an interview with The Province’s Ben Kuzma, where Benning stated that his team “ran out of time” in an attempt to retain the services of goalscorer Tyler Toffoli.

Toffoli left for the Montreal Canadiens on a bargain contract and has made his presence felt in record-setting ways for the Habs, scoring a league-leading 9 goals, 8 of which have come against his former team the Canucks.

Trading away what appeared to be a solid prospect in Tyler Madden last season, and a second-round pick to go with it, the least Bennign could have done was to ensure he gave everything he could to get back Toffoli, a player that fits in with the age and progression of a young Canucks forward core.

The past is the past and there is no time to let those questionable decisions linger. This article is not to call for jobs or accuse the Canucks of being a team with no heart or identity, even if it may feel like it after these embarrassing losses.

In their victories, most notably over teams like Winnipeg and Edmonton in the season opener are signs that Vancouver is going through a severe case of ups and downs in their performance on the ice.

Some nights they look like a team with a purpose, but it isn’t enough to look at what they have done so far and say they are going to be okay down the road because it just isn’t that easy.

At the 25 percent mark of this year, what we can do is look at the trends and see what they have done well over the course of their 13 games, and also look at what needs to improve if they want any shot at competing with these high flying teams in Montreal and Toronto.

The good: Elias Pettersson appears to be on the upswing. He has found his scoring prowess and the powerplay is improving with every game.

To accompany that, the offensive side of the puck is where we are seeing the absolute best of sophomore Quinn Hughes, who has racked up a total of 14 points and gives him sole possession of the lead amongst NHL defensemen in points.

Bo Horvat has trailed off the rails a bit in the last few but has been steady in his own end and the faceoff circle to start the year. Brock Boeser is scoring goals at a higher rate than in his rookie year which is another good sign.

And finally, the goaltending has been keeping them in the games they had no reason of ever being in, most notably their only win against Montreal this year. Although there is plenty of room for improvement and several big, key saves that could still be made in certain situations, Holtby and Demko have been fine.

Where improvement is needed is CLEARLY in their own end. It takes no expert analysis here to know that what they are doing is unacceptable right now and this goes for everyone on the team.

It is crazy to say this, but rookie forward NIls Höglander is technically the best defensive forward on this team, based on +/- and how much time he spends out of his end.

The rest of the team should take notes on #36, who proves the point that offense and puck possession is the best form of defense a player can provide.

The veteran players on this team need to find their roles again. If they are going to be eating up such a large portion of the teams’ cap dollars, there has to be some sort of positives coming out of their play. Whether it is improving on their middle-of-the-pack penalty kill, or spending more time in the opposing teams’ end, right now the only thing they are providing is goals against the Senators and brutal offensive zone minor penalties…

The Canucks are opening up a three-game set on Thursday with what many people believe is Canada’s most talented squad. As a firm, unbiased believer in the Canucks, I think they have many similarities as the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is rested, they are happy about the way they have opened the season and would like nothing more than to continue their domination over Vancouver.

So the Canucks must be ready and hopefully ste\al a couple from the Leafs in the Six.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

Ranking the Best Super Bowl QB Matchups

In 5 days, people around the world will sit down to take in one of the greatest annual spectacles in history, the Super Bowl. Even those who don’t consider themselves Football fans find ways to get involved in the consumption of this game.

Whether it is the famous and highly thought-out advertising brought to us in the form of expensive commercials, where the world’s largest organizations pay top dollar for an opportunity to promote their brand in unique and often entertaining ways.

Or the brilliant half-time performance of top-tier artists, bands, and entertainers. The likes of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, and Beyonce are just a few of those who inspired millions and immortalized themselves in just over 15 minutes’ time.

Perhaps the most important of all, the quality of talent playing on the field and the witnessing of stories being told, moments being created, and history being written. The sporting cinematics that this game provides is unlike any other we will ever see, this game makes blockbuster documentaries and films.

This Sunday at Raymond James Field in Tampa, Florida; we may just be set up for the most historic of them all, perhaps the greatest Super Bowl gift the Football gods have sent us.

Patrick Mahomes is somewhat comparable to LeBron James in a way. They both have that mantra and aura about them that make them so special and important to their respective Sports.

Tom Brady and the great Michael Jordan also share an awful lot of daring similarities, that of unmatched work ethic, attention to detail and leadership, the kind of leadership that makes ‘hundred million dollar organizations’ – ‘BILLION DOLLAR ORGANIZATIONS.’

On the field this Sunday, the game being played is a sign of torch-passing. What Tom Brady has accomplished as a player over 21 full NFL seasons may not ever be compared again, it is truly astonishing. Yet, there may be one person who will be able to do it or even get close for that matter.

And he’ll be wearing jersey number 15 on Kansas City.

What Brady has done in his career is just as mesmerizing as what Patrick Mahomes has been able to accomplish in his first three NFL seasons. Three for three getting to AFC title games, with a Super Bowl to show for it and in hot pursuit of another one to go with it. It seems almost as if the Chiefs got the job done last year, we blinked, and here we are again, ready to perhaps see them do it again.

This will be a game for the ages, and it sparked a question in my Sports fanatic brain… What were the biggest headline matchups between Quarterbacks in Super Bowl history?

A disclaimer: These are just the most magnified matchups, not the quality of Football or performance that was put on. Just the most anticipated matchups there have ever been comparable to this Sunday’s GOAT vs Baby Goat showdown.

4) Ben Roethlisberger vs Aaron Rodgers – Super Bowl 45

Ten years ago.. Can’t believe it has been that long! Coming off a controversial offseason and a suspension to start the year, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger already had two Super Bowl rings in his semi-young career. The Steelers were the most model franchise in the NFL and they were the gold standard on how to win.

For Aaron Rodgers, it was just the beginning of what was to come. A career that brought excitement and anticipation to NFL fans due to being so slept on in the draft, as well as being the heir to the throne that Packers legend Brett Favre occupied for the longest time.

Rodgers ended up securing his first and only Super Bowl title. As for Big Ben, this wasn’t the end at all, but looking back, it might’ve been the beginning of it. Ben hasn’t been to the big game since, and as he gets prepared to hang up the cleats in the near future, we glance back at history to what was one great matchup between the hall of fame QBs.

3) Drew Brees vs Peyton Manning – Super Bowl 44

Just one year prior to that great matchup, we were gifted another. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning both exceeded expectations in this specific season, as both were the number one seeds in their conferences, as well as debatable MVP winners.

This was such an important game for the legacies of both men, but especially for Brees. The state of Louisiana was in a state of recovery following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This marked the first time the state or the city of New Orleans had seen any relative success in sports, and it was used to rebuild and recharge the vibrations of a community.

With that narrative and Peyton Manning being named league MVP over Brees the night before, it made this matchup have so many different avenues and viewpoints to grasp. As I have expressed before in my work, this game was what ‘drew’ (pun intended) me into the NFL and art of American Football.

2) John Elway vs Brett Favre – Super Bowl 32

The timing of this supreme matchup is well ahead of my expertise in Football history, but in no way could I downplay the storylines this game provided.

John Elway had been to the Super Bowl three times before and had come up short in all of them. By this time, he was only a shadow of his former self, which by no means was a bad player, just not what he used to be.

For Favre, it was the opposite. Being in the absolute prime of his career and winning a third straight MVP award, there was a lot more to lose on Elway’s side of the ball and for the Denver Broncos’ legendary signal-caller.

If Elway never obtained this victory and secured his first Super Bowl victory, many people questioned if he would ever get that opportunity again, especially with Denver.

This matchup was one of many narratives, but most of all it was about the one with nothing to lose versus the one who may lose it all.

1) Joe Montana vs Dan Marino – Super Bowl 19

Okay, so this one is much ahead of my time. I do my best to educate myself on the past cornerstones of the game and open my mind to what some of the sports greatest players brought to the table.

Watching the press coverage of this game on YouTube, (see below) I see so many comparisons to what we are going to see this weekend.

Joe Montana was the younger Brady, who had won Super Bowls and MVP awards, while Marino was the Mahomes, breaking records in his early seasons and making the big game for a franchise that needed a spark of new energy.

Although the game didn’t go as we should expect SB 55 to go, the headlines and matchup that many think will be the greatest ever, are the same that were seen during this era, and for a whole other generation of Football lovers.

 

 

Super Bowl LV – One Week Away

We are exactly seven days away from having crowned a new world champion in the NFL and this is when the hype begins to ramp up in the excitement of the big game.

Media week is always one of the more light-hearted, easy-going weeks of the year for the NFL, its fans, and the players participating. One of the greatest parts about this specific Super Bowl, in particular, is the number of storylines heading in and the kind of quality media bites we have the potential to get.

Brady vs Mahomes is so good, it’s actually almost too good for media week. Brady is known to be quite laid back in advance of his Super Bowl’s, fielding questions from almost anybody asking. With virtual media week set to kick off on Monday, be sure to pay close attention to some of the lead-up to this game as I am positive there will be some good stuff to keep an eye on.

As for the game itself, we were lucky enough to be given a matchup that we saw previously in the regular season. In week 12, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buccaneers by a score of 27-24, with KC coming out hot and taking an early stranglehold on the game.

If there is one thing we know though about this year’s Tampa Bay Buccs squad, is that they were and still are a work in progress. Tom Brady is different in that exact way in comparison to other leaders around the league, he is consistent in gathering his troops and regrouping, learning from the past whether they win or lose.

We saw this on display in the NFC title game versus Green Bay, a game that was expected to favour the Packers within the cold conditions, as well as having already demolished the GB in week 6, the revenge factor was heavily talked about in the leadup.

Brady made sure that his team wouldn’t go down without a fight. Taking down fields shots all game whether it was first down or the final heave of the first half, and it miraculously worked in his favour. This is the type of attitude and gameplay I expect to see from Tampa in Super Bowl 55, a never say die mindset and the willingness to take shots, hopefully resulting in offence against a strong Chiefs secondary.

 

For KC, I’m not too sure it is possible to find a group more calm, cool and collected ahead of the biggest game on Earth. This team is made for adversity, the way they carry themselves on and off the field shows everyone why they are consistently going to be in this position on a yearly basis.

Heading to Raymond James Stadium to face Tom Brady on his home field, in the Super Bowl?!

That is the Football equivalent of Prince Charming storming the castle, it will be so cinematic that those true football junkies will watch this game in aw of every single snap, I can hardly wait.

For Patrick Mahomes, it is hard to ignore what he has been able to do in this season following his first Super Bowl ring. Had it not been for the Chiefs somewhat ‘packing it in’ for the final 5 weeks or so, Mahomes may be in the conversation for MVP with Aaron Rodgers.

4700 + yards, 38 touchdown passes to only 6 interceptions, also adding 308 rushing yards and 2 scores on the ground. It was a lethal campaign for the NFL’s shiniest star and he will look to continue his unmatched success in his second Super Bowl start.

How the Buccaneers can win this football game:

Tampa Bay will need to be close to, if not absolutely perfect in order to capture the franchises second Super Bowl title. The key to success in the Buccaneers game is being able to utilize their stellar passing ability, whether long or short, eating up clock and picking up first downs, while keeping the potent KC offence on the sidelines.

A heavy dosage of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones will also be detrimental for the Buccaneers. Fournette appeared to be back to his old college self against the Packers, running with weight and making tacklers miss. Preventing TB from running the ball will be Kansas City’s number 1 priority I would have to assume, as the things it does in allowing Brady to throw through play action and quick screens are hard to keep in check.

On defence, they just need to hold their own. The Buccs Defensive personnel truly is amazing, they have had what I consider to be top personnel in the league, it just took time in coming together and figuring out how to utilize it.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will have to find a way to get to Mahomes if they want any chance at getting stops. The Chiefs are entering Super Bowl week hammered by injuries to their offensive line, it will be interesting to see what they end up rolling out. For TB, that is an area the game can be won, at the line of the scrimmage a through their highly skilled defensive front four.

How the Chiefs can win this football game:

The Kansas City Chiefs are a lot different than most teams when it comes to how they can win games because quite frankly they can win them in any way possible. They will come back down 20 points, beat you in the first quarter alone, or go punch for punch and score for score with the best of them.

In this Super Bowl specifically though, falling behind to Tom Brady is NOT what they will be trying to do, this isn’t Jimmy Garropolo.

The Chiefs will need a high rate of success on early downs. The running back trio of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams and Le’Veon Bell have to take charge early behind a shaky o-line.

On third down, don’t expect long developing plays to be in KC’s gameplan, as the shaky offensive line and lack of experience among them will play a big role on how Head Coach Andy Reid draws up his offence.

For KC, this game is there for the taking if they play with their hearts and not their heads. On the road, emotions will be very high and communication will most definitely be limited. Their defence is full of bulldogs in Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark, two players that will be heavily relied upon to keep the defence united and make big plays along the way.

How it should go:

Depending on how the game plays out, I can see whoever is running the ball better be the team to have a slight advantage. For two teams with deadly downfield passing attacks, it will be in the trenches where this game is going to be controlled.

If Kansas City finds themselves starting slow on offence again, it won’t go the same way it did last season against the 49ers. Tom Brady knows how to protect his leads and I highly anticipate he learned from his multiple INT second half at Lambeau.

One thing is for sure, this week is going to be exciting and hilarious at the same time. The way the players every year make it seem like the opposite of a big deal is always such quality entertainment, stay tuned for full coverage of Super Bowl 55 this week on Evolution.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

Evan Power’s Top 10 NHL Power Rankings – Week 2

Week number two of this 2021 bizarre NHL season is officially in the books and it is safe to say that there may not be any specific way to rank the league’s top teams, as of right now.

It seems evident that North division teams are going through the feeling out process still, as results are shifting on a nightly basis and these 2-3 game mini-series’ are exciting and for the most part, closely contested.

Vancouver was the only team to assert true dominance over another side so far, handily outscoring the Ottawa Senators 16-3 over their three-game set at Rogers Arena.

Montreal hadn’t lost a regulation game until Saturday night when they took a 2-0 defeat to the Calgary Flames on the back of Jakob Markstrom and a 37-save shutout at the Bell Center.

As for the rest of the teams, Toronto appears to have taken a step forward defensively this season, and their top line of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Zach Hyman are playing at an elite level.

The Oilers are being carried by their two-headed monster as per usual, but are facing a major goaltending dilemma with Mikko Koskinen as their only NHL caliber netminder with Mike Smith on IR.

In the Central, a team making the jump in my rankings is the high-flying Colorado Avalanche who are getting insane production from the best line and powerplay in the NHL. Colorado is without the services of their regular backup Pavel Francouz, but it hasn’t halted them from putting up quality defensive numbers at all.

Before getting hit with COVID problems, the Vegas Golden Knights maintained their position with solid performances against Arizona and St. Louis.

The St. Louis Blues are also a team to keep an eye on as they continue to work on integrating new pieces into their lineup and have a 5-2-1 record in the meantime.

The East Division is an absolute gong show right now with nearly every team providing some sort of quality performance nightly. The Washington Capitals have been without most of their primal offensive producers for much of the last week, yet have not only survived but thrived while short-staffed.

The Flyers and Goaltender Carter Hart faced criticism mid-week for their effort levels early in the week against the Bruins but quickly bounced back over the weekend with back-to-back overtime wins over the Islanders.

And finally, in the Central, Joel Quenneville has the Florida Panthers looking like a well-oiled machine early on after a delayed start, a record of 5-0-1 with their only loss coming in a shootout.

The defending cup champs from Tampa Bay hit a bump in the road following their scorching start, dropping two straight contests for the first time since January 2020. A four-goal second period on Saturday against the struggling Nashville Predators prevented them from dropping their third straight contests in four nights.

Overall, this week was super entertaining and provided what hockey fans love the most, and that is spirited competition and excitement, which we were not sure we would see right away after such a quick start to the year.

A+ goes out to the organizers, staff around the league, and everyone else who is contributing to putting a show in for fans around the world, so far so good.

Let’s get into these rankings.

  1. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 1)

As mentioned in my introduction, word came out early in the week that there was a COVID-19 exposure within the team’s coaching staff, resulting in the immediate cancellation of their upcoming games due to league protocol. Before the stoppage, the Knights were looking like a team playing carefree. They won three of four with the Coyotes and came home for a back-to-back with the Blues.

In-game one, the Knights hit SEVEN posts and came back from a 4-2 deficit in the third period. Had it not been for the pipe and some Jordan Binnington magic, the Knights would’ve had a pretty easy two points. The COVID stoppage is something to look for in the game when they return, but as of now, I do not see a team looking as deep and dynamic as VGK.

2.  Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 3)

A combined 43 points between Mackinnon, Makar, Rantanen, and Landeskog have the Avs looking like a true beast early on. The best powerplay in the NHL looks even more dangerous than in recent years with a healthy Mikko Rantanen who is one goal behind NHL goal-scoring leader Brock Boeser. Simply-put, this Avs team may be destined to meet with their Central rivals Vegas sometime in May.

3.  Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 2)

Dropping one spot this week is Jon Cooper’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Playing in what is considered to be the easiest division this year, Tampa has had trouble making it look relatively easy over their last few games.

At 4-1-1, the Lightning seems to have avoided the Stanley Cup hangover for the most part, but dropping a 1-0 decision to the Hurricanes isn’t something we should get used to seeing for a team with the offensive potency of TB. A close three this week, but don’t be surprised if they’re sitting at the top next week.

4.  Washington Capitals (Last Week: 4)

The Caps not only kept their heads above water in the absence of Ovechkin and most of their main scorers, but they flourished with their depleted roster. Nicklas Backstrom is playing at an elite level right now and Rookie netminder Vitek Vanecek is still undefeated in regulation, and the addition of Zdeno Chara appears to be a smart one as he has done well to sure up the backend for Washington who does not allow many even-strength goals. Look for the Caps to get healthy and improve this week.

5.  Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 7)

A big jump for the Leafs this week. Simply put, Toronto may have brought in the right players this offseason. Wayne Simmonds seems to be a great fit lower in their lineup and is bringing sandpaper to a pretty ‘soft’ lineup on paper. The Leafs are winning games in all fashions, from low-scoring and tight-checking to who can score last. They’re a big mover heading into week 3.

6.  Boston Bruins (Last Week: 8)

Another team making a significant jump. Perhaps people were too quick to judge this Bruins team after their horrendous start at 5 on 5. Now that their sniper David Pastrnak has made his return, it will be a much-needed offensive boost to a team that ranks in the NHL’s top five in goals against.

7.   Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 6)

Philly rebounded off humiliating losses to the Bruins with stellar performances against New Jersey and the Islanders. Winners of four straight now, the only thing on the to-do list now is to beat a team with some form of a reputation for being good. Winning the big games does a lot for a team’s power rankings position I would say.

8.  Montreal Canadiens (Last Week: 5)

The second biggest drop from a team in this week’s rankings comes out of Montreal. When comparing the Canadiens to other teams outside the North Division, we have to keep in mind how streaky Canadian teams are and always have been.

It seems the Canadiens are feeling great about their game right now, and I can understand why as they have looked great, but following a shutout loss to the Flames, Montreal is my ‘show me more’ team of the week this week.

9.  Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 10)

The Canes look AMAZING. The only reason they are not higher in this list is due to their situation to start the year and that the extra rest could be playing a factor in these tightly contested games they play.

After taking down both of last year’s cup finalists within the last four days, it is safe to say this team is one to be reckoned with.

10.  St. Louis Blues (Last Week: Unranked)

The Blues are the NHL’s highest upside ‘work in progress’ right now. The potential for a great team s there with all the familiar faces, along with new additions. Jordan Binnington appears to have regained some form, as well.

The Flames didn’t do enough prior to Markstrom’s stellar night on Saturday to warrant staying in the top 10. Although they are still in the hunt, there are several teams that could contend for this spot. Honourable mentions go out to the Panthers, Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Blue Jackets and Penguins.

It is just too close right now, I love it..

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

The Toronto Blue Jays are a World Series Contender

For years, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been watching the young and upcoming stars that were drafted and developed within the organization. The likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio have given a glimpse of hope and promise to a team that has endured a lengthy rebuild.

Since the Jays made back-to-back runs to the ALCS in 2015 and 2016, the team took a step back to reevaluate what they are going to look like in the future.

Now, with a completely turned-around roster consisting of not one player from any of those teams, the Jays are looking to propel themselves back to those days of deep playoff runs and opportunities at becoming World Champions once again.

Since Joe Carter walked off the Jays back-to-back World Series title in 1993, the team has failed to win another AL pennant and make another appearance in the World Series.

The front office of the team has turned a new face this Winter, looking to take an aggressive approach, spend up and combine their young stars with certified, grade A talent to possibly take the next and final step.

Coming off last season’s quite surprising 32-28 record, good for a Wildcard spot and third place in the AL East, the Jays decided this was the time to play up to the Yankees and Dodgers of the Baseball world, and that they did.

Two major splashes in the Free Agent market are what headlines the Jays push this offseason. A team not known for their lucrative spending, even when they were a contender a few seasons ago, pulled some strings and instantly brought the team to heights and new expectations.

None bigger than this, inking outfielder George Springer to a 6 year, $150 million deal to add some extreme power and run production to a lineup that already was very capable of hammering baseballs.

Springer comes to Toronto off an impressive season in Houston, with 14 home runs and 32 RBI’s in an ultra-shortened regular season. Where this acquisition makes a Hugh difference is in October, where Springer had an even more productive playoff campaign racking up 4 more long balls, 10 RBI, and carrying Houston to a league shocking run to Game 7 of the ALCS.

The Jays weren’t done there, as a few days following the signing of Springer came a move that was much needed at third base. Former Oakland Athletic Marcus Semien to a 1 year “show me” deal worth $18 million.

Semien, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019, is known for his consistent hitting and solid effusive play at the hot corner. Moving from one of the MLB’s least favorable hitters parks to one of the league’s most favorable will do good to Semien’s pop and power and allow him to fit right in with this offense lower in the lineup.

Another big question mark for Toronto heading into 2021 was their pitching, whether they could sure up a bullpen and rotation that was iffy at times in last year’s run.

GM Ross Atkins pulled the trigger on big, proven arms for the bullpen like Tyler Chatwood and Kirby Yates. Yates was one of the best relief pitchers in Baseball in 2018 and 2019 and has the potential to be a very high upside signing for the Jays in an eventual closer role.

The resigning of starter Robbie Ray was another solid move for this regime as the pitcher they acquired at last year’s trade deadline managed to regain his past form pitching lower in the rotation.

Lastly, for the arms on this revamped roster, the development of the young pitchers will be detrimental to the teams’ success in 2021. Jordan Romano and Anthony Kay in the pen, and Nate Pearson looking to take the next step as one of the best young starting pitchers in the show.

Where the Blue Jays will have to prove themselves is amongst the tall trees of the American League. As usual in the MLB offseason, the Jays were not the only team to improve their roster.

The obvious needs to be stated, and that is the New York Yankees are stacked. Although their lineup didn’t change over the course of the offseason, the Bronx Bombers re-upped on their stud second basemen D.J. LeMahieu and added great arms to their rotation in Jamison Taillon and former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

The team that took the second-biggest leap this offseason after Toronto was the Chicago White Sox, bolstering their pitching with the league’s best closer, Liam Hendriks as well as the addition of Lance Lynn to their already flawless rotation. Keep an eye out for the young players on this team as well. Lucas Giolito can be in contention for a Cy Young, along with Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert blasting the ball anywhere and everywhere.

Lastly, amongst the AL’s best, the Minnesota Twins are expected to be back to their hard-hitting selves. Bringing in Andrelton Simmons from the Angels in the offseason was an under-the-radar move in the MLB which I expect to make a world of difference for a team that has been much too long-ball dependant over the course of their failed playoff runs in the past few seasons.

The Twins also added rotation depth of their own by signing the consistent former Blue Jay J.A. Happ to join Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Randy Dobnak in what is probably the best starting pitching staff in the American League on paper.

For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays ball club, there is nothing more needed than a trip to Rogers Center to watch this highly anticipated ball club. Amid reports that Rogers Communications wants to demolish the Rogers Center and build a new stadium in the downtown core of Toronto, there is nothing more needed than a ball game with the roof open with this stacked roster putting on a show.

The Jays have been a rebuilding squad for years now, and ever since the playoff success they found 6 years ago, everyone has been eager to retool and get back for another shot. The excitement is building for 2021 and with pitchers and catchers set to report in just over a month, I can’t wait to follow this journey every step of the way.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

Mental Health in Sport – Bell Let’s Talk Day 2021

Thursday marks the 11th year of the Annual ‘Bell Let’s Talk Day’ tradition in Canada.

An annual occurrence that was created and initiated to bring light to the issues that we as humanity fight on an everyday basis.

The things you may see in somebody are more than likely not the only things they are dealing with. That is the intent behind Bell Let’s Talk, a genius initiative that encourages people to speak out on the way they are feeling inside.

Now more than ever, the issues and stigma surrounding mental health are as important as they have ever been. During the pandemic and over the last calendar year, we have been faced with many traumatizing obstacles in the public view, as well as many have fallen on troubled times in their personal growth.

Every retweet including #BellLetsTalk, watching a video or making a TikTok. There are multiple different ways that people can reach out and offer their support towards this movement. With one of these simple actions, Bell will be donating 5 cents towards various mental health initiates around the country.

Bell Let’s Talk is more than just a way of raising money, that is really the least of its intent. It really is a conversation that anyone and everyone is able to join in to, to share the everyday  struggles they face in their routine lives.

As an aspiring writer in sport, I have encountered multiple occasions where athletes, whether famous or in my local circle have expressed their hardships to fans, teammates and anyone who will listen to them.

As athletes, it is very easy to bottle things up, because you are viewed as a person with a gift, as well as someone who has plenty to live for and not much to be down about.

Yet, in many ways, it can be the opposite for athletes, especially those of a large stature in the World view.

As many people around this province are aware, form Canuck Rick Rypien was a gritty and tenacious fighter for the hometown Canucks for years. He served to protect his top guys such as the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows and many, many more.

He took pride in that, being the man to defend his brothers and inflict fear into those who lined up across from them on a nightly basis.

On August 15th, 2011, Rick Rypien took his own life at the ripe age of 27 years old.

Rick was always described as a naturally uplifting friend and teammate. He was close with he jokesters of the team like Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. His close friend and fellow Canuck Jason Jaffrey expressed his surprise by Rypien’s death, saying he looked as though he had overcome his fight, and had been the happiest he had ever seen him.

This goes a very long way in showing people how good athletes, and mostly just men in general are at masking their emotions and feelings. In the case and life of Rick Rypien, it felt like he may have just not had anybody to talk to, in the right moments, at the right time.

Bell Lets Talk has brought these exact issues to the forefront. It has provided a platform for people of all ages and all walks of life to engage in a conversation to better themselves and release their minds of the everyday battles it gets put through.

We aren’t where we need to be as a society and quite frankly we are not close, but every year that we remind ourselves to have these talks and to get involved, the closer we are getting.

Former Toronto Raptor DeMar DeRozan spoke about his own demons, and what he endures as a rich and famous NBA superstar.

DeRozan sent this tweet in 2018 during a turbulent time in his life. Facing scrutiny over trade rumours and lack of success with the Raptors, DeRozan went public about his struggles with mental health issues.

He said in an interview with ESPN that, “People say, ‘What are you depressed about? You can buy anything you want.” Money can’t buy happiness. Wealth doesn’t always play much of a factor in someone’s mental health. DeRozan said, “I wish everyone in the world was rich so they would realize money isn’t everything.”

Strong words from a professional athlete with his kind of name and success in the NBA. Someone like that is expected to live lavishly and never have any sort of personal issues themselves, they are all expected to be perfect.

As people heard about DeMar’s stories and struggles around the NBA, it became a life raft of sorts for the rest of the players league wide to express how much adversity they feel at times. DeRozan in a way set out a platform for many other players such as Kevin Love and Metta World Peace to come out and begin their own storytelling, and strive towards furthering a movement that was in the closet for far too long.

In the Canucks 5-1 win on Wednesday night, it was only fitting that their stud grinder Tyler Motte was able to capitalize on two scoring chances infront of the net.

On ‘Hockey Talks’ night in Van City, their was an extra special jump in the skates of number 64. Motte captured his fourth and fifth goals on the young season, and the lead amount Canucks goal scorers.

Why was this so fitting? Motte made headlines last year for coming out about his own mental health, and used his platform to express to people around the Hockey World how important it was for him to talk to somebody about it for the first time.

“You never know what someone is going through but for those that are going through it you’re never alone. And for those that aren’t, just be there.” Motte expressed proudly about how far he has come and how happy he is about where these issues are going.

The 11th Annual Bell Let’s Talk Day is on Thursday, so make sure you are making your presence felt on all the social media’s, and contributing towards a brighter and better tomorrow for you, your friends and others.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

1/26: A Message About Kobe Bryant

This day still haunts my soul.

Every time I reflect back on where I was, what I was doing, what I was listening to, how I felt.. Anything that has to do with this moment of that day gives me a certain feeling of disgust and sadness that I don’t think I could feel in any other situation.

Not that it was the most tragic thing we as people will ever experience, not at all really. It wasn’t someone we knew personally or had a constant relationship and communication with. Yet, for some reason, the moments on this day just one year ago will always feel like the moment time stopped. It felt like a moment where nothing seemed normal, it felt like a world couldn’t be right anymore.

January 26th, 2020 was the beginning of the battle.

At approximately 9:05am on that brutal day, NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter Gianna and seven other people lost their lives when a helicopter taking them to their routine basketball academy, crashed into a California hillside.

There are still so many questions, questions that feel will never be answered and even if they were, it doesn’t change any of the horrific facts.

The single worst tragedy to a sporting figure to ever occur.

From my perspective, I couldn’t really explain how my mind felt in that moment. Driving down the highway in Maple Ridge, BC and hearing the news get broke over the radio. Any and all social media channels were fully absorbed by this. Every television network you can think of had the news on the TV, it was a moment that can not be removed from the minds of so many due to its overwhelming sorrow.

Basketball has always been one of my fondest past times. Playing recreationally for 4 years made me realize how much potential the game has and what it can provide you in life. A game of teamwork, hard work and detailed fundamentals, Basketball is a sport that teaches you a lot of things about unity and passion.

For me, there is no one even close to inspiring or driving me more towards anything in life, than Kobe did to me with Basketball.

He was just the coolest guy ever, on the court and off of it. His style and stature was second to none, the way he played and the way he looked doing it. Kobe was an enigma.

For the kids that grew up in my generation, it was the era of Kobe. The purple and gold of the LA Lakers and their culture of winning. Everything that number 24 did was closely followed and mimicked. Before my first season of High School Basketball in eight grade, I looked up videos on YouTube of Kobe showing people how to do his famous “fadeaway” jumper.

After watching one of these videos as a little kid entering his first year of high school, this was the only inspiration I had, or needed. I remember immediately doing to my shoe closet to grab a pair of my dads runners, pretending that they were the coolest Kobe Basketball shoes on Earth. I ran outside and although it was already dark out, I just started shooting the ball over and over again in my neighbours driveway, the only hoop on my street.

The power of Kobe Bryant truly hit differently. The way he was able to connect to anybody was true to who he was, the best influencer you could ever envision.

Being one of the best Basketball players ever was one thing, that was the easy part to Kobe, but he wants and needed to go deeper to fulfill the goals he had set for himself. He wanted to make sure everyone knew he was the hardest worker at his craft you will ever see, and he is.

It was so infectious to his fan base, too. People that were fans of Kobe typically had the mindset that they were going to work their hardest at whatever they did. They became leaders instead of followers and made it known. They didn’t pass and shot a lot, but that’s just who they wanted to be, it was just like Kobe Bryant.

On January 26th of last year, things changed forever. The way people viewed their lives and their love ones will never been the same. Life is just too unpredictable and time should never be taken for granted while we are here, this is a prime example of what it feels like to lose something that truly made us better.

The terror of feeling that way again is what people should fear. Losing innocent young girls to a terrible accident, families torn apart forever, it was a tall task to recover and move forward, on that day it seemed so unlikely.

Slowly, the world has been moving forward.

The Lakers captured their 17th Championship in franchise history last season, their first since Kobe was the Finals MVP of it.

Kobe’s widow, Vanessa does all she can to keep people updated on her well being, and though she expresses how hurt and lost she is in her recovery at times, it is also a fuelling way to cope when she is posting photos with her daughters, and her friends.

NBA players have shown their respects over theist year to the legend of Kobe. Remembering how on the day of the news, players were forced to play out their set scheduled games, battling all emotions and trauma, but they did it in his name.

I see a lot of Kobe in players like Devin Booker of the Suns, and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz. Young players who clearly grew up in a similar era as myself, idolizing none other than the Black Mamba.

As I use this day to reflect back on the impact that Kobe has had on mine and millions of lives around the world, I feel as if I am speaking directly to him. I wish I could tell him one time that I am thankful that he never passed to anybody, because it was so addicting to watch him score and score and score. I wish I could say another ‘thank you’ for showing me what it takes to be the best at something, and how hard I have to work.

If there is ever a day where my endless questions get answered about everything that has happened since a year ago, I hope that I am able to come to peace with the young Basketball fan inside of my soul, and let him know that these things happen for a reason.

Until then, I will continue to do whatI can to remember all the moments that made me obsess over this Basketball player in the first place, and cherish the things that made me love the person even more.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

8 / 24.