Evan Power’s Top 10 NHL Power Rankings – Week 1

Just over a week into the new 2021 NHL Season, we have had our fair share of quality hockey as well as some evident rust amongst some teams in the league.

In the North Division, the Montreal Canadiens are yet to lose a game in regulation, the Leafs offseason additions such as Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds seem to be integrating themselves into the young core, and teams with high expectations are faltering.

In the West Division, the Vegas Golden Knights appear as the early President’s Trophy favourite, the addition of Alex Pietrangelo has allowed players like Shae Theodore to break out even more.

Over in the East, things are tighter than in any of the other three divisions. The Bruins took back to back games over the Flyers after struggling to score even strength goals out of the gate. Washington, while missing their starting goalie, captain and other key pieces due to COVID-19 protocol, are proving they are also a deep team. First overall pick from two years ago, Jack Hughes is emerging as a breakout star for the Devils.

And finally, in the Central, the teams have had their troubles containing COVID. The Stars won their long awaited first game of the season very convincingly over the Predators, the Hurricanes and Panthers have had games cancelled and the Lightning are back to their high scoring selves.

Overall, it has been a good start to a season that began very quickly to start the new calendar year.

Here are what I believe to be the top 10 teams in the NHL after week one.

  1. Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas is a team that has a chip on their shoulders this season. A couple deep playoff runs with nothing to show for it will do that for a squad. Recently naming Mark Stone the first captain in franchise history, he is off to a hot start on the stat sheet and defensemen Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo are proving plenty of offensive opportunities from the back end. This team is built to win a lot of games over a short season, as well as long after the regular season ends.

2.  Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay could be put infront of Vegas, but for arguments sake, Tampa has looked like their regular selves against lessee teams like Chicago. Without their dynamic scorer Nikita Kucherov, offence is coming from everywhere in the Lightning lineup. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman are the three headed monster that will consistently produce all year long for Jon Cooper’s team.

3.  Colorado Avalanche

This team’s top line is something to watch on a nightly basis. Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantenen and Gabe Landeskog are off and running, dominating all of their games so far other than the opener. Cale Makar looks to have taken another step in his development and is easily one of the best puck movers in the NHL. To think they couldn’t get more offensively potent was wrong, as they have recently added former Vancouver Giant Bowen Byram to their already stacked lineup.

4.  Washington Capitals

After failing to abide by the strict protocols the pandemic has brought to the teams, the Capitals lost their captain Alex Ovechkin and starting goalie Ilya Samsonov for a delayed stint. Outside of that, Washington has handily gone 3-1-0 against Buffalo to open the year, and split a two game set with the Penguins. When at full strength, the Caps have a very good power play unit and an experienced defensive core that can provide stability during their teammates absence’.

5.  Montreal Canadiens

This may be quite the recency bias, but when I watch Montreal play, it reminds me a lot of the old Canadiens teams from the early 2010’s that were fast, big and skilled. Carey Price is back to making acrobatic saves and he isn’t playing on a nightly basis this year. Montreal is loving the development of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, they are a team to watch out for.

6.   Philadelphia Flyers

Coming of a thrashing at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Philly should be higher in this list. Goalie Carter Hart showed his frustration by smashing his stick to smithereens after the game, proving that this squad is ready to win now and won’t accept being a mediocre team. A hot start against the Penguins was halted with back to back losses against the B’s, so Philly will be looking to get back on track this week and avoid any further regression.

7.  Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs have looked like the Leafs really. Inconsistent, but when they are on they are a difficult team to beat. They defence looks to be shaping together in the early going, and additions they have made are contributing early. Mitch Marner is being aggressive with the puck and it is allowing Sheldon Keefe to utilize him with or without Auston Matthews. This is crucial for a team that needs scoring up and down their lineup to be successful.

8.  Boston Bruins

After starting off very slow on offence, failing to score a goal five on five for the first three games of the campaign, the Bruins lineup woke up in their weekend series with the Flyers. Brad Marchand is a machine when it comes to generating scoring opportunities and the forward depth of this team is shining in the absence of David Pastrnak. Look for the Bruins to begin to look like their normal selves once Pasta returns.

9.  Calgary Flames

The Flames have had an extended time off to rest after quite frankly embarrassing the Canucks in a two game home set during the week. Goalie Jakob Markstrom has been his usual solid self, and fellow former Canuck Chris Tanev leads the league in blocked shots through four games. Where Calgary will be challenged is staying out of the penalty box, teams in the North have the power play talent to make them pay.

10.  Carolina Hurricanes

Another team from the Central to be heavily impacted by COVID protocol, the Canes have looked great in their brief showings early on. Young star Andrei Svechnikov is proving why they were spot on with selecting him second overall a couple years back, and their defence remains once of the most underrated in the NHL.

What a start to the new NHL campaign we have been treated too. I will try to keep up with what is going on around the league and fill in the public on the best of the best in the NHL all season long.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

Brady vs Rodgers by the Numbers

The Battle of the Bay’s.

NFL Championship Sunday is finally here and while today’s games are both set up to determine which two teams are most deserving of playing for the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, but for Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, it means just a little bit more.

These two Quarterbacks have been aligned through greatness for years. Their work ethic’s are unmatched, and with age came even more opportunity in a sport where young people are suppose to dominate.

Aaron Rodgers at 37 years old has done basically everything one can in his 16th season, but there is one little box that is yet to be checked in his stories career, and that is beating fellow great Tom Brady in the playoffs.

For Brady, it is absolutely surreal to look around at his counterparts around the league. Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger are all hanging them up or getting ready to. Meanwhile, Brady is ready to take part in his 14th NFL conference title game, with no signs of slowing down.

Sure, he isn’t doing what he use to, flinging the ball everywhere and anywhere down field and hitting whatever target he needed to. Yet, he feels smarter than he ever has when out on the field. He brings a feeling of unity and resilience to a Buccs team that has never even been close to where they are now, the Brady effect.

These two men will go head towhead for the first time ever in the playoffs from Lambeau Field in Wisconsin, where it appears to be pretty frosty.

Two of the most efficient and clutch QB’s to ever play in the NFL, they have combined for 130,449 career yards passing and 993 touchdown passes, that is the most ever in a conference championship starting quarterback matchup in both categories.

A combined age of 80 years and 227 days, the oldest by starting quarterbacks ever in a conference title game.

This sets up to be a very intense, close and tactical Football game, the number one objective for both offences will be to keep the opposing teams offence off the field for as long as they can.

For Brady, many people criticized his move to Tampa Bay and said that after all New England and Coach Bill Belichek provided him, it was his duty to stick by the Patriots and help them transition.

Tom had other plans though, leaving to the Buccaneers and bringing his friend Rob Gronkowski with him. Now, preparing for the NFC Championship in the strangest season of all, is nothing short of insane.

Keep in mind, that this Tampa Bay team never had an offseason to use to gel together. They were a new group of teammates that needed o adjust on the fly and hit their stride late in the season, and that is exactly what they have done.

For Aaron Rodgers, this game means a bit more. Going up against what is the proclaimed ‘greatest” to ever do it, Rodgers’ destiny will be heavily influenced by the result of this game. For what should be a unanimous MVP campaign in the books, Aaron Rodgers has two more goals to accomplish, beat the best.

As for the game, it is definitely going to be a barn-burner. -2 degrees Celsius at Lambeau has to give a slight advantage to Green Bay who have been playing in it consistently over the season. Brady himself has become accustomed pretty chilly conditions over his 20 seasons in Foxborough, but the rest of the Buccaneers will need to quickly adjust and overcome, especially the defence.

Where the game will be there for Tampa Bay is on that same defensive side of the Football. Last week in their vengeful victory over rival New Orleans, their secondary was relatively unbeatable through the air. Drew Brees was held to just 57% completions and the Buccs were able to force key turnovers, if they can do the same today, their fortunes will be in good hands.

On offence for Tampa, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette will go a very long way. The two running backs have had their inconsistencies over the campaign, but feel as if they’re hitting their final form at the right time. Running the ball and controlling clock is the only true way to beat the Packers in their barn, the air attack will need too feed off a successful ground game, and the red zone will mean everything.

For the Packers, the keys to success are a little more clear than their counterparts. Their MVP needs to be their MVP. Stud Receiver Davante Adams needs to allow for his versatility and wide range of usage to attract the defence towards him and open up other players. And Head Coach Matt Lefleur will have to prepare a steady gameplay for getting Tom Brady.

If there is one thing 43 year old Quarterbacks don’t like, it is getting hit. If there is anything they don’t like more than getting hit, it is getting hit in the freezing cold wind chill of the frozen tundra.

The Buccs have the recency trend in their favour, as they embarrassed Green Bay earlier in the season 38-10, one of their most substantial victories on the year. That day, the Packers actually looked fantastic for 15 minutes, but they struggled to adjust and eventually the turnovers and lack of defensive structure hurt them.

I expect a different story today, what is to be a battle for the ages and will probably come down to who is more clutch in the fourth quarter. Two men who have the upmost respect for one another and their respective careers, but have never once played each other in the Postseason.

My prediction, Green Bay Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24.

The revenge factor has a lot to do with my prediction. As the Buccs had last weekend against the Saints, the Packers come into this game with a salty taste in this mouths from the beating they took early in the season at the hands of Tampa.

Aaron Rodgers will be the difference, his ability to escape the pocket is still a threat even if it isn’t as clean and quick as it once was. I expect Rodgers to use his legs in key moments and find his weapons when need be.

Most importantly, I believe the Packers defence can be stout in the red zone, and contrary to that, I truly do not believe the Packers can be stopped in the red zone.

Can’t wait for this one.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

What We Have Learned About the Vancouver Canucks

We are a little over a week into this fresh NHL campaign and the city of Vancouver has already lost it’s cool with the on ice performance of the team as well as ran out of patience with upper management.

After last nights 7-3 drubbing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, the Canucks hold a 2-4 record and are being dealt a handful of injury problems right off the hop in 2021.

Vancouver came into the season with a new look defensive core after losing some key pieces in the off season, understandably, the defensive unit as a whole is struggling to keep pucks out of their net and are constantly leaving their goaltenders out to dry by giving up high quality scoring chances.

Newcomer Travis Hamonic has shown rust in the early going, as he was one of the players to veto his opportunity to play in the bubble last Summer, and hadn’t seen NHL action since March 2020. Nate Schmidt was brought in to solidify some of the minutes lost with Chris Tanev’s departure, but he too, is struggling.

If two of the defensive mainstays struggles weren’t enough to already create problems on the back end, injuries have already began to pile up for Coach Travis Green. Hamonic left Wednesday nights game with an injury, as did Alexander Edler. The night after, rookie Jalen  Chatfield did not return to action with issues of his own.

That left the Canucks shorthanded on both nights with an inexperienced and unbalanced defence core. The Canadiens found ways to exploit these voids, especially former Canuck Tyler Toffoli.

This brings us to the discussion of upper-management. I believe in giving people time in laying out their vision for a product, yet in the offseason coming off an impressive and unexpected playoff run, the Canucks really did find ways to actually make their roster worse on paper.

As if giving up a pretty blue chip prospect and an early round pick for Toffoli at last seasons trade deadline wasn’t enough, seeing him sign in Montreal on what appears to be a complete steal of a four year contract for the Habs is what really doesn’t have an explanation to it whatsoever.

This was always my number one most criticized move ever since Toffoli left the Canucks. It never made any sense to me as to why General Manager Jim Benning paid such a steep price for a scoring forward mid season, then basically gave ZERO effort to retain his services in the offseason.

Aside from the obvious incompetence of not resigning key pieces, the Canucks bottom six is a joke. Their bottom two forward lines combine to make double any other bottom six in the league in cap dollars, and they provide little to no impact in the games when they are tight.

We have been talking about this for years now, and I believe with age and deteriorating games, players like Brandon Sutter, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Jake Virtanen do not provide much, if ANY value to a team that needs help behind their top players.

After allowing twelve goals to Montreal over the last two nights, it is difficult to determine where the Canucks are going. The vision has become very blurry in the early going of this short season, where you will be playing the same teams over and over again.

One thing I know almost for certain, is that this Canucks roster is no where near built to perform at a high level in this certain division. This division is high tempo, whoever can score 6 goals a night wins, or it is 2-1, duke it out with defence type play, the Canucks are not a team that can do either of these right now.

Heading into their third and final game of this mini series vs Montreal, the team is most definitely aware that their backs are already somewhat against the wall. At this point, the players may be playing for the jobs of their coach and GM.

As players, they know the situation they are in. This core is led by the perfect person who has been through these types of droughts before, and that is Captain Bo Horvat. Horvat has been putting the team on his back since the first night of the season and hasn’t had a bad game yet. As for their other top players, JT Miller and Brock Boeser get a pass as well. The rest of them are where this team needs to wake up.

The team currently hasn’t had one good defensive performer. Tyler Myers is likely to miss Saturday’s showdown due to a suspension for a very dirty hit on the Habs Joel Armia. If there was a time for Nate Schmidt and Quinn Hughes to be at their best it is now, and that just hasn’t been happening.

On the other side of the fence, there is us fans.

As supporters, we are in the bigger picture a pretty important part of how the Canucks run. Social media has been in an uproar about the quality of play and rightfully so, but there is a time to be “ultra angry” and a time to let the team slow it down and take a deep breath.

We are only six games into this season, and yes it doesn’t look good. Although there were high expectations coming off of last seasons run, we need to realize that this team is still young and this is quite a new situation for them. When top offensive players like Elias Pettersson are struggling, it is easy for fans to take out frustration.

If things get turned around, as supporters of the team we must be accountable for all the things that we have said or demanded. Whether it is calling for heads in coaching or management or begging for more from a player. It is in our best interest to remain loyal and supportive of the team until we have enough of a sample size to justify these types of statements.

Let’s hope they get it right on Saturday Night.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

NFL Award Predictions for the 2020 Season

The most ‘play it by ear’ season in the history of the National Football League is nearly in the books and as per usual, there are yearly recognitions to be made for the annual NFL Awards.

A season that was manoeuvred around the agenda of a global pandemic and at times had trouble staying on schedule. The emptiness that was felt without the tens of thousands of roaring fans in the stadiums. This season was short of ordinary, but the stars most definitely came to play.

We witnessed extraordinary quarterbacking this season from players in their 21st season in the league, and players in their first.

Running backs ran wild and made their presence felt all year. Derrick Henry ran for over two thousand yards in Tennessee, Dalvin Cook won people fantasy championships and Alvin Kamara had a 6 touchdown game, on Christmas Day.

Pass catchers from all around the league were more consistent and dynamic then ever before, the likes of Davante Adams proving he can’t be stopped, and rookies Justin Jefferson and Chase Claypool were touchdown machines.

On the defensive side of the ball, we have never seen a first year player have the kind of impact that Chase Young did for the Washington Football Team. TJ Watt of the Steelers was the leader of a stout defence in Pittsburgh.

Of the comeback stories that we saw in 2020, none outshined that of Alex Smith, another Washington player that overcame the adversity of a lifetime after being told his career, and leg were in jeopardy, he faces the odds and led his team to a division title in the NFC East.

And finally, the amount of coach’s who deserve recognition for the jobs they did this season goes on. In a COVID ravaged season, these men and their staff’s had the tallest of tasks, to adjust and move forward as the leader of their 53 respective players. An honourable mention to the Giants Joe Judge, Miami’s Brian Flores, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers and Matt Lefleur in Green Bay for the outstanding work they did for their organizations all year.

As there are always decisions and debates to be made, I will do my very best to project correctly who will take home the specific individual awards. Note that these are in the view of the NFL and voters among the media and are not what I believe they should be.

Let’s get started.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: This is one of those that is so close and the performances to compare were both so spectacular, that I wouldn’t be mad or surprised either way it went.

Justin Herbert out of Oregon was forced to step into the starter’s role too early into his career, about 15 minutes after he clocked in for that matter. On an LA Chargers team that didn’t lack weapons, Herbert quickly locked the gig up for the next few decades. He shattered all the Chargers franchise rookie records with ease and although lost an awful lot go close games, may have been the reason the Chargers won a solid amount of games.

The other Justin comes from Minnesota, his first NFL season was hung up with the likes of Randy Moss. Justin Jefferson proved the teams that took other receivers infront of him very wrong, and hauled in 88 catches for 1400 yards to go with 7 scores.

The media voters and the NFL tend to lean quarterback with any award unless it is clear cut and definitive. For that reason, I believe Justin Herbert is the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: For me, this is a no-doubter. Chase Young was an unstoppable force until the playoffs for Washington. He took pride in the situation he was in as the locked in number 2 overall pick after Joe Burrow. 7.5 sacks and 4 force fumbles on the year, but a huge obstacle for opposing teams to gameplay around every time he was on the field. He will be the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Offensive Player of the Year: This award is pretty close to impossible to clearly choose. There was too many players this season that were truly remarkable all year round. Davante Adams of the Packers will be a major snub, along with Alvin Kamara in New Orleans. At the end of the day, with only one winner to be chosen, King Henry is the one for the throne.

2027 rushing yards accompanied by 17 scores for a Titans team that ran directly through their huge back. Derrick Henry joins the 2K rushing yards club with the likes of Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson, that calls for some hardware to show for it.

Defensive Player of the Year: Another close award comes on the other side of the ball where for the first 10 games of the year, TJ Watt led a historically good Steelers defence to an 11-0 start to the year. Over in South Beach, Xavien Howard was thriving under Head Coach Brain Flores and locking down any receiver that the Dolphins needed him to.

Once Pittsburgh lost the likes of Devin Bush and Bud Dupree, their defence began to fault. The tough AFC presented problems for them down the stretch, all while Howard and Miami were only alive in the playoff picture due to the power their defence presented. Howard picked off Patrick Mahomes three times In their game vs Kansas City and continued to shine until the very end.

For those reasons, I believe Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins is the 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Coach of the Year: Such a close race. Ron Rivera beat cancer and did everything he could  to guide a young Washington team to the playoffs. Sean McDermott in Buffalo has his team in the AFC Championship Game and has Josh Allen playing like a modern day John Elway.

Yet, there is one thing that happened this season that I never thought I would see, the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs. Kevin Stefanski has to win this award, he just has too.

MVP: A race that started with Russell Wilson, moved over to being a one horse race and everyone else chasing Mahomes, and ended with none other than Aaron Rodgers doing that little mid game smirk right into an MVP award.

4299 passing yards and nearly flawless in the red zone. 49 touchdowns through the air while only throwing 5 interceptions (!!!). It was stunning to watch number 12 all season as a fan. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is the 2020 NFL MVP.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9.

 

NFL Divisional Weekend Review

Before I get started with my review of this weekends AFC and NFC Division Championship games, I want to start by congratulating Drew Brees on what has been a monumentally historic career. I remember February 7th, 2010, Colts vs Saints in Super Bowl 44. I was laying on my couch as Drew Brees went out time after time to dissect a really good Colts defence. That night, when he won the city of NOLA a Super Bowl and you saw how much it meant to him and the fans there after Hurricane Katrina, I kind of consider that a moment that enabled me to fall in love with this game and this league. All those records he has broken definitely say enough but I want to have the chance to say Drew Brees is one of the greatest players we’ll ever see.

On a happier note, what a weekend it was in the NFL, the four teams playing for conference championships are all UNITS. There are storylines and dramatic narratives to follow, lots of questions on major injuries and above all, four teams that can all realistically have a chance to win the big one this season.

Saturday was expected to be the cold day of the division series, and it lived up to expectations. The thought going into the first matchup of the slate between the LA Rams and Green Bay Packers was simple. The all-but-guaranteed MVP, Aaron Rodgers was going to have to find a way to out perform the defensive star power of the Rams, and LA Quarterback Jared Goff was going to need to make atleast a couple big plays despite a surgically repaired thumb in the low temperatures at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin.

With the bye week in the rear view and extra time for rest and preparation, it was always going to be a tall task for Head Coach Sean McVay and the Rams. Their team lived and died with their defence and their ability to flip the field and often score points. Aaron Rodgers clearly understood the hype behind his top receivers matchup with defensive player of the year candidate Jalen Ramsey, and wanted to get him involved where it mattered most, in the red zone.

The Packers got an unfortunate yet good break with reigning defensive MVP Aaron Donald being supremely limited. He had injured his rib cartilage in the week prior versus Seattle, and Green Bay took advantage of it. Running back Aaron Jones went for 99 yards on the ground, opening up the passing game for his fellow Aaron (Rodgers) to torch the Rams and manage the clock. Davante Adams ended with 9 receptions and a touchdown, clearly victorious in his matchup with Ramsey. The Packers took down the Rams 32-18 to solidly their spot in the NFC title game next weekend, most importantly at home in the frozen tundra.

In the second game on Saturday, the quarterbacks were the main course. The ability to escape the pocket and create plays with their legs was the only thing anybody talked about all week. Points, points, and more points were on the menu as people declared this game a shootout without a second thought

In the end, it was the defences and the strategic prep by both coaching staffs that dominated the night.

A low scoring, grind it out affair at Orchard Park in Buffalo, the Bills were out to prove they were able to play with the best against the Baltimore Ravens. They had to stop the dynamic Lamar Jackson which was never an easy task. The Ravens and Bills took shots at each other all night. Big plays were at a premium and the first touchdown of the game wasn’t even scored until the second half. Both coaches clearly had their minds set on consuming the clock as much as they could, something that we hadn’t seen from the Bills in months.

On the opening drive of the second half, Buffalo broke the 3-3 tie on a 3 yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs. Late in the same quarter, the Ravens were moving down the field and had made their way inside the red zone. Looking to tie the game up, a pass intended for Mark Andrews was intercepted and returned 101 yards for a pick six touchdown.

This all but sealed the fates of Baltimore, who were down two scores at the depths of an offensively challenged game. Buffalo took down the Ravens 17-3, punching their ticket to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994.

Sunday came around and had the feel of more of a mystery. It was mysterious int he sense that we hadn’t seen the Kansas City Chiefs truly play meaningful football in 3 weeks. And on the other side of things, the Cleveland Browns were coming off a historic playoff win in Pittsburgh and were really feeling great about themselves.

This was an eventful game and probably my favourite of the weekend. Cleveland did what they could to put drives together, but their running game was off in the first half and a late fumble by Rashard Higgins, on what appeared to be an illegal helmet to helmet hit, was a gut wrenching way to go into halftime. A game that could’ve been 16-10 was 19-3, and things looked bleak for the Cinderella Browns.

Once the second half came around is when the gas pedal hit the floor for Cleveland. Star back Nick Chubb found his game and was able to continuously thrash the Chiefs inside with runs of 10 or more yards. When Chubb left the game for rest, they did the same with former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt and were able to generate offence and put points on the board.

In the third quarter, the face of the NFL Patrick Mahomes left the game with what was deemed a concussion. The door was wide open for Cleveland. Kareem Hunt ended up scoring a touchdown with 11 minutes left in the game to keep the Browns alive. It came down to Chiefs backup QB Chad Henne gaining 12 yards on a third down scramble, and a terrific play call by the seasoned Andy Reid on fourth down to certify Kansas City’s victory over the Cleveland Browns 22-17, sending them to their third straight AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium in KC.

Finally, the matchup of the week between two teams that knew each other well. After being beaten twice in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went to New Orleans for a date with the Saints. A legendary QB showdown was sure to make this a classic game.

Back and forth these two teams went all night. Tied up 13-13 at halftime and trading touchdowns in the second half, it was once again the defences that won the day. The Buccs were able to take the ball away from the Saints three times, twice on interceptions and one crucial late-third quarter fumble.

When Drew Brees was picked off for the second time, Tom Brady did the honours of sneaking in the game winning touchdown, setting up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers next week in Green Bay.

Prior to the game it was released that Drew Brees was leaning towards retirement after this season, and a beautiful sight was to be seen on the field post game in NOLA.

A great weekend of football it was for the NFL and its fans, with an even more exciting week of hype is upon us ahead of what is to be a sensational championship weekend next week.

Predictions:

Packers 28 – Buccaneers 27

Chiefs 34 – Bills 31

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

Connor McDavid is a Very Good Hockey Player

Opening night of the 2021 NHL season was a near perfect storm for the Vancouver Canucks. On the road in Edmonton is always a tough test for the team, regardless of what other dynamic variables there might be.

In this case, you could just feel it coming. Wednesday nights opener was just about as good of a road game that the Canucks have played in years. They went into Rogers Place on the best player in the worlds birthday, kept him off the scoresheet completely and clearly frustrated him to the point where he is running Quinn Hughes with less than a minute left.

The fact that Vancouver was able to do that all without their best all around player in JT Miller, quite frankly, seemed like a once in a blue moon sort of occasion.

So Thursday night rolled around, and #97 made sure the Canucks, as well as the entire North division know it was just a rare off night.

From the drop of the puck in game two of this mini set between the rival teams, you could tell there was a different type of juice that McDavid and his linemates had separating themselves from the way they played 24 hours prior. Thatcher Demko was forced to start his season kind of similarly to how he ended last season, by robbing the Oilers on two high quality scoring chances off the bat, one by Zack Kassian, and the next on the Oilers Captain. The Canucks were on their heels for much of the first period even if the shot clock didn’t resemble that type of script. The two headed monster of McDavid and Draisaitl was an issue to deal with for two consecutive shifts, often dealing against one of the Canucks less capable defence pairings. Staying out of the box was evidently going to win or lose this game for Vancouver.

With the Canucks on their heels in their own zone, forward Tyler Motte took a highly debatable hooking penalty, sending the Oilers top ranked power play frrom 2020 out for the first time. It was nearly a full two minute shift (and a stunning display of puck possession) by the Oilers top unit. They knew the importance of the first goal and playing from ahead, and that’s what Burnaby native Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to provide them on that man advantage, a goal assisted by none other than 29 and 97.

With the Canucks needing a spark and a counterpunch, their power play wasn’t providing any of the above. What McDavid may have been dealing with on opening night may have found its way into Canucks star Elias Pettersson’s game on this night. The young swede appeared to have trouble gaining any traction playing with Jake Virtanen on the top line and was clearly frustrated without his regular lineman Miller.

Where it appears the Canucks may have let their spirits get away was with less than 5 seconds remaining in the first period, a crucial time of the game where you are just looking to get into the locker room down one. Thatcher Demko made a routine save at the periods end, but elected to hold onto the puck and freeze play with 2 seconds left on the clock, rather then play it and let time run out.

Literally the only problem on the planet with doing that, was wearing a #97 Oilers jersey, 2 seconds is the equivalent of half an hour for this guy. Leon Draisaitl won a draw as clean as you possibly can versus often reliable Bo Horvat, (who doesn’t lose many D-zone draws, ever) Kailer Yamamoto let go of a hot shot at the top of the circle which Demko was able to barely stir aside, unfortunately he planted it directly on the stick of McDavid who cleaned up the garbage upstairs at 19:59 of the first period, a draining goal for Vancouver.

 

Coach Travis Green clearly let his presence be felt in between periods, as the lines began to shift and you could tell the Canucks had some more life in their game. Some sustained pressure was able to be built when McDavid and Draisaitl weren’t on the ice, and eventually newcomer Nate Schmidt got Vancouver on the board with a low bomb from the point that slipped through the legs of Mikko Koskinen.

It didn’t take long for the Oilers to snag the momentum back, another absolutely brutal slashing call was made again on Tyler Motte, sending the high powered Oilers back to the power play. Something I have noticed in my annual assessment of Oiler games, is that there is regular, flashy, undress the entire Canucks roster McDavid, and angry to-the-point McDavid, the latter is what stepped over the boards for this certain shift. Not even 30 seconds into the man advantage, the Oilers Captain sped down the right side, backing Canucks defenders up basically into the goal crease, cut in and ripped his patented snap shot into the top left corner over the shoulder of Demko. This goal was a visual example of why you can’t take penalties against the Oilers, if you give that amount of space and time to one of these players, you will pay the price.

By now, it is all but logged as a win for the Oilers, if they were to go on and lose this one, it would call for everyone in Vancouver to buy a lottery ticket. Yet, the Canucks still were clawing as they have now built a reputation of doing. Another new face, Travis Hamonic let go of a low slapper that was able to find the stick of Tyler Motte for a nice deflection, making up for his 4 minutes in minor penalties that resulted in two Oiler goals.

Where the game finally went out of the window for Vancouver was late second, when the top two lines of Edmonton could not be stopped. Nugent-Hopkins fed a nice pass infront of the Canucks net to a wide open McDavid (three words that don’t belong together) who went to the back hand just to be robbed yet again by Demko. This time,McDavid was able to get enough of the puck to poke it past the goal line, extending the lead to 2 goals again, where the Canucks would never recover.

A hat trick for Connor McDavid, making up for his quiet night on his 24th birthday the night before. 4 points for him and his side kick Leon Draisaitl was sure to put the Canucks on notice, as the two teams will face off 8 more times in this short NHL campaign. With the return of JT Miller inching closer, it will be interesting to the see how this Canucks vs Oilers season series plays out, but for now it will be nice to get away from the teams that can beat you on the backs of two cheat-code players.

The Canucks open up a two game set in YYC against some former teammates and the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

Evan Power’s TOP NHL Teams for the 2021 Season

Here we go again as another NHL season is upon us, yet this time around it will be looking quite a bit different then we are used to as fans.

A new divisional system separates teams in one of four regions: North, West, Central and East. Each team will play a 56 game schedule against only the teams in their divisions, perhaps playing the same opposing side TEN TIMES in one season. The top four teams in each division will then move on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs where it is business as usual. The battles will come early and often this season as every game comes as part of a mini series to limit travel for the squads. The hockey will be highly competitive and there most likely will not be a clear cut favourite for the Stanley Cup until it is being carried onto the ice and handed to the Captain of the winning team.

In this articles, I am going to do my very best to provide a clear outlook on the best of the best. The top ten teams in the NHL right now, their strengths and their weaknesses and what they will need to do to be successful and remain a contender. I will also provide my predictions for the NHL Awards and the Stanley Cup Finals.

Let’s do this. 

 

#1) Colorado Avalanche – The only thing there is NOT to like about this hockey team is how they played last night in their season opener. The Avs come into this campaign off a disheartening Game 7 OT loss to the Dallas Stars in the Second Round of last season’s playoffs. They’re a hungry team who found ways to improve in the offseason. GM Burnaby Joe Sakic added some depth to his lineup with forward Brandon Saad and defenceman Devon Toews. Their offence is led by superstar Nathan Mackinnon and the D-core has the ability to get faster and younger by possibly adding rookie Bowen Byram. Colorado finished with an NHL record low in points just a few seasons ago, and now they top my power rankings at number 1.

#2) Tampa Bay Lightning – The defending cup champions deserve to be 1, and they most likely are on most lists that you will see. I just have seen how this movie goes one too many times. The Lightning won their franchises second cup in the bubble without their captain Steven Stamkos, so they have already proved they can get the job done without key pieces in the lineup. That will get tested yet again as their leading scorer Nikita Kucherov is expected to miss the entire season. For that reason only, I have to list the Lightning at number two on my rankings.

#3) Vegas Golden Knights – This team is one to keep your eye on. In my opinion, Vegas is the best bet to win the Stanley Cup as of now. The front office for the Golden Knights has done a tremendous job building from what they were given from the rest of the league and it is starting to come alive now. Recently naming Mark Stone their captain, signing the biggest fish in free agency Alex Pietrangelo and locking in Goaltender Robin Lehner to an extension, this team is poised for a big year. The only weakness I may see is the lack of home ice advantage when playing at T-Mobile Arena this year, as Vegas is known to put teams away heavily complimented by the effect their crowd has on opposing teams, a lead is a little less safe in Vegas these days..

#4) Philadelphia Flyers – On paper, this team screams DEPTH. All four lines have the size, speed and experience that you need to compete in the NHL on a nightly basis, especially in a short, compact schedule like this one. Goalie Carter Hart is poised to content for the Vezina at just 22 years old, and head coach Alain Vigneault is a coach who knows what he is doing when he is handling a talented roster. Expect Philadelphia’s power play to be on fire this year, and for them to be amongst the league leaders in goals.

#5) St. Louis Blues – The Blues are an interesting team this year, this may be a little too high for them as we sit right now, but by the end of the year could very well have been too low. They lost their captain and best player in free agency, but that shouldn’t effect them too badly if they can make up the minutes with young studs like Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko. The defensive additions from the last two offseason, Justin Faulk and Torey Krug will be called upon to bounce back tremendously this year and carry the Blues on the back end in offensive production.

#6) New York Islanders – One of the best pure defensive teams we have seen in the NHL in a long time, Barry Trotz brought the Islanders all the way to the East finals in the playoffs, and I believe they have a system in place that will shine in the short schedule. Matt Barzal signed a preseason extension with NYI to focus on the season, and that’s usually a good sign when your best player is buying in and setting the standard.

#7) Boston Bruins – This is a team who was hit harder than usual in the offseason. The Bruins recent success was eventually due to show up on their roster and with the loss of long-time Captain Zdeno Chara, as well as offensive defence man Torey Krug, their back end has more questions then answers right now. To go along with it, leading goal scorer David Pastrnak is set to miss an extended period of time to start the year. Tuukka Rask will have to be a brick wall for this team if they want a shot at winning the division this time around.

Honourable mentions:

  • Capitals – New coach needs to find a way to utilize Ovechkin, who is in a contract year.
  • Oilers – 97 and 29 are the two best players in the world, that defence is shaky though.
  • Canucks – A young team with a tough division. Special teams will be everything for Vancouver.
  • Stars – No Seguin Hurts, but Dallas has an up and coming core and the ability to defend very effectively which can make them a threat any given night.
  • Hurricanes – This team is a wildcard to me still. No real answer in net until it is proven + can Aho and Teraveinen continue to supply 80% of the offence?

 

 

How Jeff Bezos Changed the World in 57 Years

Jeffrey Preston Bezos via / Getty Images

Continually raising the bar when it comes to customer experience. Using the internet and technology to help people buy and discover anything they can think of. Helping fellow businesses and entrepreneurs go further and be more successful. Jeff Bezos and Amazon are the juggernaut of business, marketing and creation.

We may not see anything like it again.

Growing up in the age of booming technology and preparing to enter a business world filled with hundreds of millions of possible avenues to make income, I love to follow and look at the lives of those who utilize what they have so well. As a student and a young person who loves to mimic the actions of successful people that come before me, there is a handful of role-models and icons that could be considered ground-breaking to my generation. As a lover of Sport, it is easy for a person like myself to look at pioneers like LeBron James and Tiger Woods and say; “that man is a role-model” or “that is who I want to be.”

Yet, in a way it feels almost too easy. Those are two prime examples of who many people look up to in this generation, and rightfully so. They broke barriers not only in their respective Sports, but culturally as well.

My top role model stems from a different side of world-changers, the business side, where success isn’t as much driven by your physical ability or what you can do, but more of how you think and innovate.

“You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn’t amazing, it won’t matter. Nobody will watch.”

– Jeff Bezos

On this day in 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeffrey Preston Bezos was born. His upbringing was just like that of a lot of people, simple and intriguing. From a young age, Bezos displayed a fond interest in science and was savvy in the early age of technology. He loved to write and tell stories with his work, and was touted for how well he could speak in front of an audience. Like many of us, he worked the morning shift at McDonald’s every weekend throughout his high school years, but used that time to project what he wanted for himself when he was older. In his valedictorian speech to his graduating class, he told the audience he dreamed of the day when mankind would colonize space. He was a dreamer and was ready to take action on it.

A simple reason as to why I decided to write about the life of Jeff Bezos tonight; because there is nothing more I would love to do in my own life then build an empire with my mind. Using creativity and imagination to someday make a fortune and live a life of new experiences and opportunities, it all sounds like a far fetched dream to me.

I’ve decided to break this up into 2 categories, and they go as follows:

  • Amazon
  • Leadership & Wealth

Bezos’ life doesn’t come without controversy, the obvious stories about his personal life and absurd amounts of money that him and his organizations reel in are there to belittle what he has created, but on the topic of his impact upon the world, there is more good than bad, yet I will speak a little bit on both.

Amazon:

A good way to start this sub-topic is to ask my readers, what would your holiday shopping have looked like without Amazon? Most will answer with “impossible” and some may be the opposite, yet, it all still probably falls into the same designation of “impossible” one way or another.

To elaborate on this, since Amazon was founded in 1994, it has come further and further towards dominating the world of sales in ways that other companies fear and are forced to follow. Amazon is driven by the power of the consumer, through pricing, experience and handiness. When a person is shopping on the internet, which in the age of COVID is expeditiously more frequent, regardless of it it is on Amazon or not, that company is competing with the tech giant for your business.

Amazon Inc – 2002

Amazon Prime was introduced in 2013 and since then, the opportunity for online retail has gone through the roof. Nowadays, you can order something off the Amazon website, and through their continually improving service, you may get it the same day, at latest the next day.

This was all an idea just a decade ago, but Jeff Bezos had a vision for him company and himself, allowing for it to slowly become a reality. Amazon has contributed heavily in being a reliant employer and as their brand expands, new jobs and careers are being planted on a daily basis.

Although it is a known fact that Amazon has a large role in the elimination of other businesses, there is something to be said for companies that won’t adjust and accommodate to the needs of a costumer/consumer, and many businesses ended up paying the ultimate price for it.

“Over the last 10 years, Amazon has become one of the most powerful, respected and feared companies in tech, and well beyond.” – Matt Rosoff, CNBC

Leadership & Wealth:

Amazon will go down in history as one of, if not the most important company to ever exist. How that was created by Jeff Bezos, who is just like anyone else and was just building on a dream, is something to be in awe of.

According to Forbes, Bezos is worth approximately $182 Billion, and makes somewhere around $13 Million an hour. The fortune is a thing the behold, but it is easy to look at how much money the man has accumulated with his own accomplishments and say he is just a rich guy who does smart stuff. It goes beyond the dollar signs.

Jeff Bezos is one of the first successful, wealthy people to display the leadership qualities of a president. He is adamant about wanting people to think in a long term perspective. What will make you and your situation better in 5 minutes? Planning and goal setting is another renowned aspect of Bezos and his outspoken leadership. Many people who follow the Amazon plan understand that these types of leadership techniques are tied to what has made Bezos so fitting for the title of “pioneer”, and are all things that I am striving to do not only starting this year, but for the rest of my life, too.

Turning 57 years old today, I’m sure there is a big beautiful boat somewhere along the coast of somewhere right about now. Toasting a small glass of expensive liquor to what has been monumental run so far.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s at home reading a book about planets or somethin’, either.. It is Jeff Bezos after all.

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

The Identity of the 2020-21 Vancouver Canucks

 

Regardless of what you do in your life, the good or the bad, it is generally perceived that a fresh start to anything at all, is a consistent and effective way of improving at the things you desire to.

A new year brings optimism and reflection; not only for you and the people around you, but companies, organization’s and teams, as well. For the Vancouver Canucks, 2021 is a long path of the unknown, a road they will go down clinging to the momentum and enthusiasm that they worked so hard to build upon in 2020.

2020 was the year of power and perseverance, for everyone and everything. It brought to light the problems and struggles of people, and even more, those same individuals daring abilities to get through the darkness and find the hope.

After losing in 7 games to the Vegas Golden Knights and being bounced in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Canucks felt as if they could’ve had more. They looked at the distance they had come and said it wasn’t enough to satisfy the hunger they still had in them to keep going.

via / Elias Pettersson Instagram

Through all the hardship during a draining campaign, one that saw their starting goaltenders father lose his battle with cancer at the season’s start. One with early injuries to key players and young pieces to integrate. A global pandemic bringing it all to a sudden halt, the 2019-20 Canucks may have not been the most talented and physically imposing team, but they finally started to build something that doesn’t show up on an analytics sheet –

Heart and Culture.

That brings us here, as fans of this specific hockey team, excited for another new beginning, but this time one with a little more anticipation than the last few. A fanbase that has never gotten to witness their team with the big one, but hasn’t wavered a bit, even when they were putting a product on the ice that maybe made you start watching more Leafs games (kidding).

As for who they are, this season will bring forward new questions for the hockey club. In this business just like most others, faces come and go, people find better opportunity and fortune elsewhere, and that brings the need to sustain and replace those parts of the motor, in an attempt to improve upon what you have built so far.

As a team that was very closely watched during the NHL Bubble, the offseason saw the repercussions of that. Vezina caliber Goaltender Jakob Markstrom got a lucrative deal with some team that plays in Alberta, so did longtime veteran defensemen Chris Tanev.

And… so did forward Josh Leivo.

via / Calgary Flames

 

They also lost the services of hometown product Troy Stecher (Detroit), and the goal scoring ability of Tyler Toffoli, who went to Montreal on a very affordable deal. The outpouring of disappoinment was clear and overwhelming when Toffoli took the deal in MTL, as the price that was paid for him at the Trade Deadline was steep, and ended up feeling as things never really got started on the Toffoli era in YVR.

With that being said, new parts were brought in to bolster a roster that was hit hard by free agency. Defensemen Nate Schmidt and Travis Hamonic are both journeymen editions to an already experienced D-core. Goaltender Braden Holtby was a highly sought after pickup for the team to complete a solid goalie tandem with Thatcher Demko. And finally the arrival of young Swedish wonder-kid Nils Höglander has everyone on the edge of their seats before the puck has even dropped.

Canucks Rookie Nils Höglander – via / Canucks Instagram

A lesson that this group may have to learn from the team of last year is one that may take some time to fully integrate, and that is identity.

“Knowing others is intelligence; Knowing yourself is true wisdom.” – Lao Tzu

The Canucks have been collectively working on this for years. Finally, it is starting to come to fruition, the vision that was set forth years ago with the hiring of Coach Travis Green. It took another gigantic step in a positive direction with Bo Horvat being named the next captain, and last season when the numbers 22 and 33 were hung up in Rogers Arena for eternity.

The culture of this hockey club is strong, arguably stronger than it has ever been. Years ago, it was a trend to hate the Canucks. The “divers and finger-biters” and the “team with no cups.” You heard it everywhere, but that narrative is starting to take its rightful place behind the curtain, and the new one is getting its time to shine.

Around the league during the playoffs, you saw the amount of support and respect the Canucks got, players like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes electrifying empty arenas. Passion, grit and leadership displayed from Bo Horvat. Underdog stories like Tyler Motte, this is the vision that was being set every time the team was in a draft lottery.

The 2021 Canucks have a different feel to them, they now feel like not as much of a stepping stone, but more of the other side of the mountain where the view gets nicer, and clearer.

Their identity will take time, but in my honest opinion, it will be pretty effortless. This team has heart, those of lions. Pieces like Nate Schmidt and Braden Holtby will only contribute to improving that even more. A yearly question that this city has began to ask themselves is, “what Canuck will be in the rookie of the year race this season?”

That is culture and identity, nothing more and nothing less.

An opportunity is arising for this group, most of the core not yet having began the primes of their NHL careers, almost all set up for new contract extensions in the coming years, this is the time to act and perform for a city that needs it (ASAP).

The identity of this team will form itself, over time and trust, I believe by March this may be the tightest knit and most readily prepared to contend team we have seen since 2011.

And I believe I speak for many when I say,

I’m going to enjoy every, single, second.

 

Evan Power, Evolution 107.9

 

 

NBA and Player’s Association Agree to NOT Test for Marijuana During 2020 Season

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Over the leagues history, marijuana has been on the list of banned substances in the NBA, and it had led to players being fined and suspended without pay in various instances, further creating divide amongst the players union and league officials.

Players believe that the use of marijuana during the long haul of an NBA season gave them an alternative way to relax and rejuvenate their minds and bodies to reset before getting up the next day and continuing their grind.

Until today, the NBA has been testing players randomly throughout the season and occasionally even during the offseason in attempt to keep their players honest and at “peak condition” to perform.

Today is the start of this no longer being the case. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has agreed on a deal with the players union ensuring that they will no longer be tested for the use of marijuana, even though the substance remains “banned” league wide.

Marijuana legalization is becoming more common across the US. Recreational use is fully legal in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, and many other states have various levels of decriminalization or medical use allowances.

With younger generations leaning much more heavily toward legalization, this trend is likely to continue across the nation.

Sources say this decision to not test players is largely based on COVID safety, just another way of limiting unnecessary contacts. However, there’s also significant expectation from many in the league that the entire marijuana testing program is on the way out in the near future.

“Due to the unusual circumstances in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend random testing for marijuana for the 2020-21 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement.

This has been an issue among various major sports leagues across North America, but with 2020 throwing curveballs the way of these commissioners, they are looking for new ways to limit the potential damage that the virus can do to its businesses.

Way to go, Adam Silver!

 

Indoor Adult Team Sports Now Banned in BC

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As Summer came to a close, we saw progress within our province of British Columbia from a perspective of COVID-19 cases and the new virus contraction rate. Since then, a second wave has viciously struck within the lower mainland especially, forcing us to take a step back and regroup towards bringing the numbers back down again.

With this comes restrictions that were initially put in place way back in March and April in respect to social gatherings, travel and personal space mandates. Over the last month, we have seen the serving of alcoholic beverages in restaurants be halted at 10:00pm, group fitness classes brought to a stoppage, as well as all non-essential travel being temporarily closed as well.

Clinging on to life were sports. Being able to go to your personal team’s games, practices and training sessions was a blessing and a privilege as we continued to fight against the pandemic’s challenges.

For now, these privileges are no longer, and they have been revoked.

With high COVID-19 case numbers, and death rates spiking in BC, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced more restrictions on indoor gatherings, specifically on “indoor adult team” sports.

“All indoor adult team sport is prohibited,” Henry announces on Wednesday in a statement. “This includes basketball, cheerleading, combat sports, martial arts, floor hockey, floor ringette, ice hockey, ringette, netball, skating, soccer, squash and volleyball.”

There are still activities that remain open and available to the public, however.

“Low-intensity fitness activity like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, stretching and individual fitness activity is also suspended until new guidelines are available to resume these activities safely,” Henry said.

Health officials announced on Wednesday that 834 new test-positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the province,  bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 34,728, making these new restrictions inevitable and mandatory.

The province and its guidelines are hypothetically working on a two week time period, with cases numbers being closely monitored to determine the it will be safe to resume these activities. Until it is realistically okay to do so, these restrictions won’t be lifted for at least another 14 days, probably longer.

Stay safe.

LeBron James Signs a 2 Year, $85M Extension to Stay with Lakers

2 years ago when the Los Angeles Lakers lured NBA poster boy LeBron James out of his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, they did it with the mantra of being all-in, desperate for a product worthy of the Hollywood spotlight, determined to get back to being “The Showtime Lakers.”

As the first two seasons of that 4 year, $154M deal are in the rear view, they have one championship to show for it. Results that owner Jeanie Buss and GM Rob Pelinka will be very satisfied with, from not only the Basketball frame of mind, but the publicity side of the game as well.

LeBron may have took his talents to the hills for a variety of reasons.. Whether it was to be able to suit up for the illustrious purple and gold and play in-front of a jam packed Staples Center crowd on a nightly basis, or to expand his horizons in the business world. . .

One thing is for sure, his moves are calculated, and things are molding together better than maybe even he thought they could’ve.

He brought superstar big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers after a stressful first season, a move that proved to be detrimental to their 2020 title run. While working out in the offseason, he has been working on the set of ‘Space Jam 2,’ a sequel to the original ‘Space Jam’ movie starred in by none other than his comparable Michael Jordan.

And to top it all off, he has been networking furiously to gauge the attention of important people all around the globe, from fellow athletes like Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, trending artists like Drake and 2 Chainz, even the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

With this new 2 year extension, it basically insures LeBron for 4 more runs with the Lakers, four more attempts to reel in as many rings as he can to wrap up his unanimous, first-ballot Hall of Fame career.merlin_165978696_235f0a87-1be2-43ac-af77-c4e13a2ba454-superJumbo

The most interesting part of the extension that James signed this morning? In four seasons when it is up, his son LeBron James JR should be eligible to enter the NBA Draft should the draft rules change, as they are rumoured to do so.

The first active father/son duo in the NBA? On the SAME TEAM.. ? ! ? !

Sounds like something only LeBron James could make happen. .

*sips tea*

Lack of NHL Season Start-Up Talks Leave Fans Anxious

As COVID-19 continues to thrash the sporting world and leave the resumption of new season’s to take place across many leagues around the world, the lack of discussion and information coming out of the National Hockey League leaves fans anxious and eerie to the idea of a possible lockout, again.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL head office is still rumoured to have their sites primarily set on a early January start date for the 2021 campaign, but with that date just a little over a month away, it is concerning to see no plans have been laid out, and no agreements have taken place between the league and the players association.

Before the NHL return to play in the summer, the two parties agreed to a 6 year collective bargaining agreement that accounted for the financial repercussions of the pandemic. However, since then, it is rumoured that the league has since requested the players defer their salaries by even more than initially agreed on in the CBA, as well as increase escrow numbers, a situation that has left the players feeling betrayed.

Another rumour is that the commissioner and NHL Players Association chairman Donald Fehr hadn’t spoken to each other for over a week in late November, leading people to believe the two sides were no where close to a deal that would help begin the new season.

As COVID cases continue to spike across the world, the challenge only gets more difficult for the organizers, who would be most interest in a personal isolation system with teams travelling from city to city to play their games, as the NFL and MLB have put forth.

An obstacle that remains, the Canadian governments boarder implications, that does not allow non-essential travel to take place from outside the country without the requirement of a 14-day quarantine period, which just isn’t doable for NHL teams.

So, what will it come down too? Will we see yet another lockout under the watch of Gary Bettman? Will the players be forced to forfeit even more of they salaries in order to make any money at all? When will this season start?

We hope to see news come out any day now, but the longer ti goes, the lower the chances of starting this NHL season on time go with it.

Happy Birthday, Bo Jackson!

jacksonboA true testament to the title – “professional athlete” – there was only one Bo Jackson.

Multi-Sport athletes come and they go, many of them only really have an impact on one of their careers, the one they choose to focus on. We saw it in the world of Sports today, with Kyler Murray. A top prospect in the National Football League, and a top 10 draft pick in Major League Baseball. Murray went on to choose the path of the sport he adored more, Football.

Deion Sanders also did it. Had an illustrious football career in the NFL as one of the best defensive backs and kick returners to grace the Earth, but then also took his talents to Baseball for a little while.

Bo Jackson was different in his own way, Bo Jackson was GIFTED in his own way.

Jackson never took anything too seriously. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1998 as College Football’s best player, he went on to describe the sport that he dominated as nothing but a “hobby.” He wasn’t a huge person, standing 6’1 and weighing about 225 lbs, but his gift didn’t need him to be, he was the best and most coordinated athlete that has ever played a sport, he could truly do anything with his body.

Jackson was the first athlete named to play in the All-Star Game of two major sports, he actually hit a home run in 1989 MLB All-Star Game.

“When people tell me I could be the best athlete there is, I just let it go in one ear and out the other,” Jackson said when his stardom was near its peak in 1990. “There is always somebody out there who is better than you are.”

Whether that was modesty or not, it wasn’t very accurate when talking about the athlete Bo Jackson.

In baseball, he was a career .250 hitter with 141 home runs in eight major-league seasons as an outfielder with the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels. He hit 107 homers for the Royals from 1987 through 1990, when he also played pro football.

As a part-time running back making full-time money with the Los Angeles Raiders, he ran for 2,782 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. He is the only player in NFL history to have two rushing touchdowns of 90 yards or more, with a 91-yarder coming when he rambled for a Raiders record 221 yards against Seattle a month into his pro football career.

His last play as a Raider began the end of both his football and baseball careers. Even though the 1991 injury would lead to hip-replacement surgery in the spring of 1992, Jackson would make a triumphant return to baseball before retiring for good.

Happy Birthday to one of, if not the greatest athlete to ever walk on this planet, Bo Jackson.

Blue Jays Owners Plan to Demolish Rogers Center and Build New Facility

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The architectural home of the Toronto Blue Jays could be set to be a thing of the past.

Rogers Communications has set their sights on the demolition of Rogers Center, and a plan to build a new state of the art facility in Toronto’s downtown core. Ownership of the team is working on a deal with Ontario government to set forth a plan that would see the stadium costs be cut in half as a new redevelopment project.

The plan is to hopefully build a new stadium on the south end of where Rogers Center lays now, and have offices buildings and residential towers put up on the North end. It is also being reported that the organizers are considering the building of a stadium on the lake side. The renovation costs are most likely to be upwards of a few billion dollars, with Rogers and other owners, Brookfield Asset Management willingly taking on renovation costs.

Rogers Center has been the home of many enormous baseball moments for the Blue Jays. Originally named the Skydome, opening in 1989 as a $570 million project built by the city of Toronto. Rogers bought the domed stadium for a bill of $25 million in 2004.

Many will remember Jose Bautista’s game sealing home run in the seventh inning of the Jays’ divisional series against the Texas Rangers, the bat flip and all, a moment engraved in the hearts of not only Toronto residents, but Canadian Baseball fans nationally. Even through a television it felt as if Rogers Center retractable roof was going to blow off the place.

Historic.

A little longer ago, but still as relevant as it ever has been, Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in the 1993 World Series is probably the single greatest sports moment to ever take place in the city of Toronto, let alone in Rogers Center (Skydome at the time).

It is still a project that is being negotiated, but not necessarily “up in the air” as it seems likely that this process will begin once the details are laid out. Due to COVID-19, Rogers Center is likely to remain closed to the Blue Jays as long as the boarder is as well. So the demolition process could come in the blink of an eye.

NFL Fights COVID-19 – Ravens vs Steelers

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For the 10-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, this season has had an unlimited amount of blessings and successes.

Their Super Bowl MVP quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has returned from an elbow injury that cut his 2019 campaign short, and has provided a massive lift for his young supporting cast and filled the role of game manager to perfection.

Although, that so-called young supporting cast doesn’t look so young when they’re playing..

A three headed monster at wide receiver is fuelling this offence at a near impossible to contain rate. Abbotsford native Chase Claypool is having a rookie season we have never seen and may never see again from a Canadian player. Fellow pass catchers Dionte Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster are also having their own stellar seasons respectively.

And on defence.. when all is said and done, this unit may be proclaimed as one of the greatest to touch a football field.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has his 53 man team playing with an untouchable consistency, and to top it all off, the Steelers have had one of the best or simplest schedules of any team in the AFC.

The one and only thing that has really not gone the way of the Steelers this season, has been the exact thing that hasn’t gone the way of the world over the course of the last 10 months.. COVID-19.

In week 4, the Steelers were set to take on the Tennessee Titans, that game was postponed due to the Titans contracting an absurd amount of COVID-19 cases within their team facility. The Steelers let their voices be heard when the NFL was forced to postpone the game, saying they weren’t happy about having to be punished for personally abiding by protocols and following league mandates.

Since then, there has been no other games needing to be postponed, until this week when the Steelers were set to face the Baltimore Ravens in the prime time slot of the NFL’s Thanksgiving Thursday slate. The Ravens this week have registered more than 10 positive COVID cases and counting, leading the league to postpone the game until Tuesday.

Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool posted their thoughts on the decision to postpone more of the Steelers games, knowing that they aren’t the ones at fault.

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For Pittsburgh, this is yet another game postponed at the worst time, as they are clearly scorching hot, and the Ravens are not.

The NFL is making these decisions with the health and safety of their players and staff as their first priority, therefore they will do anything they can to make the scheduling work.

We will see if the postponements have any effect on the teams when they hit the field on Tuesday night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA.

Diego Maradona – A Lost Legend

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Diego Armando Maradona grew up in a small town called Villa Fiorito, Argentina.

A place where hustle and devotion was infused in the blood of hard working people and children with dreams. Anything that may have resembled the sport of football was enough to satisfy Diego and all of the emotions that made an impact on his life and goals.

Rolled up newspaper or an empty can on an open road, Maradona would kick it all the way to school, using his imagination to motor his love for a game, the game of football.

At the age of three years old, when Maradona received his very first soccer ball, he slept with it, every single night.

Until the age of 15. Football was engraved in Diego Maradona’s soul.

Growing up in a place like Villa, it was the opposite of easy trying to maintain a love for a game like football and still be able to pursue a dream of making it big. Villa Fiorito wasn’t a safe place for children, many people who have made it out with success have been ashamed to admit they come from Villa..

but not Diego Maradona.

Maradona embraced it with the highest honour, he said that if it weren’t for his home, and what he went through to get to where he is, there never would’ve been a Diego Maradona.

Maradona is immortal amongst the people of Argentina, comparable to that of Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan, he is known for being a philosopher for his sport, creating new love and attraction to his respective sport. Children that come from Villa have opened their minds to succeeding the way Diego Maradona did.

Leading Argentina to their first and only World Cup victory in 1986, that is what changed the name and brand of Diego Maradona forever.

Show stopping goals and elegant assists, his talent on the field was unmatched and admired among all football fans regardless of who didn’t like the person Diego.

A troubled life outside of football and stories of struggle and trying times to overcome the punches life threw his way, Diego Maradona helped create a new path for children not on in Villa Fiorita, Argentina..

but that of many children all across the world.

RIP Diego Maradona,

1960-2020.

NFL Thursday Thanksgiving in Review – Texans @ Lions

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The yearly daytime binge of NFL Football was upon us today and it didn’t look as familiar as we are use to.

Earlier in the week, the NFL announced that due to positive COVID-19 tests and concern for player health, the night time cap of the Thanksgiving day slate between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was postponed to Sunday.

With this, it was a little bit less of a spectacle for fans not only in the United States, but that of NFL fans across the globe. The first matchup between the Lions and Texans was as bad or worse than we could’ve envisioned. Detroit came in a beat up team and showed just that on the field. Without key playmakers Kenny Golladay and rookie DeAndre Swift, Detroit’s offence looked unbearably dysfunctional.

The centrepiece of their offensive production for the game was Adrian Peterson, who managed to run in two scores for touchdowns, other than that, it was a rough day for Matt Patrica at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Texans on the other hand looked like a team who is playing inspired football lately thanks to interim Head Coach Romeo Crennel and QB magician Deshaun Watson. The Texans have 7 losses on the year, but only one of them have come against a team not currently holding a playoff position, that is a tough assignment dealt by the NFL schedule makers.

Houston made it look simple on Thursday morning, throw for multiple deep ball touchdowns to the likes of speedster Will Fuller, as well as elusive back Duke Johnson JR.

Watson heaved the ball for a whopping 318 yards and 4 touchdowns, embarrassing the Lions on international TV.

As the playoffs are more of a miracle for both squads, a game like this one on Thanksgiving is one of the more solicitied games they will play all year. For the Lions, it was a disaster, familiar to the last 30 years of the franchise. For Watson and the Texans, it was a nice stepping stone for a team that has showed flashes of brilliance for the majority of the season.

NBA Return to Play + Postpones All-Star Weekend in Indy

usatsi_15055843The NBA wants to come back in December and begin a new season along the lines of what the NFL has done, tight team isolation and constant testing for all players and staff, as well as travel from state to state to compete.

The league informed the Board of Governors that it is targeting a late December, pre-Christmas return. The NBA’s preference is a 72-game schedule that would end the season by early July, before the scheduled start of the Summer Olympics. On this schedule, training camps would open in early December, less than two months after the Lakers finished off Miami in the NBA Finals.

ESPN first reported the NBA’s plans for a Christmas start, meaning things are settled? The NBA is back?

Well, it’s not that easy in the year 2020 is it?

The NBA may want to return around Christmas, but the league can’t simply get what it wants. It’s become increasingly apparent to team and league officials that playing games in front of fans is unlikely, at least in the first quarter of 2021. As the NBA brainstormed ideas this summer, there was hope that, even without a vaccine for COVID-19, new safety measures, including rapid testing, would make it feasible to get fans in buildings. If not, that means 100% of revenue would be reliant on TV and TV only, a scenario that just isn’t realistic for such an income driven association.

Its biggest obstacle: The players union. Union officials have often suggested that starting the season before 2021 is unrealistic.

“My guess is we’ll probably not start until early 2021,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts.

The annual NBA All Star festivities that many players, coaches and fans adore so much has been postponed until 2024 due to raising COVID-19 concerns.

Originally set to take place from February 12-14 in Indianapolis, it will now be moved for the people and city of Indy to host the events on a weekend in 2024. It is still a possibility that the NBA will host some sort of All Star festivities, but that is unclear as of now and will have to be revisited at a later date.

Evan Power’s Week 12 NFL Power Rankings – TOP 5

merlin_180344997_f9a473de-dc3a-4e0d-a7e3-43e738fbf2e8-mobileMasterAt3xWeek 11 has concluded in this peculiar 2020 NFL campaign, and as many would put it, there is no more ‘2020’ way that the NFL’s power rankings could shape out.
We have a team that is 10-0, and one that is 0-10. The defending Super Bowl champions have only lost one time, otherwise looking virtually unstoppable. The NFC East is a turtle race to see which below average team will be able to host a playoff game at home in January (cringe), and teams are starting to craft an identity that will follow them until SuperBowl 55 in Tampa.
Here are my rankings for the top 5 best teams in the NFL, based on what I have seen watching them and what their pre-season outlook was to begin the year.
#1 – Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City Chiefs (9-1): Patrick Mahomes is being Patrick Mahomes, what else is there to say? Andy Reid is one of, if not the best offensive mind in the NFL and their defence is looking sustainable enough to push them to a deep run in the postseason.
#2 – Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers (10-0): Yes, Pittsburgh has been blessed by a generous schedule, this is no secret. Yet, there really is something about this team and their stout defence that makes people think they very well could go 16-0. Ben Roethlisberger has been steady while playing through injury and COVID-19 scares, and Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool has the most total touchdowns by a rookie through 10 games in NFL HISTORY.
#3 – New Orleans SaintsNew Orleans Saints (8-2): In my opinion, as of right now this top 3 is unanimous in this order, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it held out for the remainder of the season. Sean Payton has this team playing at a very high level even without veteran QB Drew Brees who is out with cracked ribs. Their defence is coming together at the perfect time.
#4 – Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers (7-3): The Packers should be 8-2.. They really, really should be 8-2. That loss at Indianapolis on Sunday was a tough one when leading by 14 at halftime, and giving up the ball on their side of the field in Overtime, they win that game every time if they replay it 10 more times. The Packers are. sports car, that goes fast and looks cool until something goes wrong and they destroy themselves. They need to use the last part of the year to develop a more physical, bully mentality.
#5 –Los Angeles RamsLos Angeles Rams (7-3): The Rams may be the team that Green Bay should watch a lot to gauge how they should play. They are physical, sometimes too physical, but really know how to bare down and play defence when it matters most. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are two centre pieces of their great defence that will need to continue to reach a higher level week in and week out to make up for a pretty non-existent run game.