I dread long weekends.
For most, holiday weekends represent a chance to spend time away from work with family and friends.
And the effect a little time off can have on a person is usually pretty amazing. The same person who looked tired and ready to snap prior to the holiday always looks so refreshed and relaxed after a long weekend.
Unfortunately, such is not the case for journalists.
Holiday weekends for us usually involves covering every event in the region while still trying to have fun with your family and friends.
The result is a complete and utter lack of sleep.
What does this have to do with this week’s column? Absolutely nothing. However, it does explain why I’m about to rant on everything from NHL free agency to the Tour de France.
NHL free agency got underway at midnight on July 1 and for the second year in a row, the action has been fast and furious. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to TSN’s website in excess of 700 times in three days and every time I check, a new player is on the move.
All the signings have led to the inevitable discussion concerning which teams have improved themselves via free agency and which ones are slowly killing their fans due to inactivity.
As much as it pains me to write this (and as a Senators’ fan, you know it is killing me), the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a great off-season.
Pavel Kubina is a top-flight defenceman. Anyone who watched the team last year knows how badly they needed quality defencemen. And at $20 million for four years, he comes at a relative bargain.
Hal Gill is a pylon out on the ice, but he’s better than Aki Berg. Good signing.
And while Andrew Raycroft technically was acquired on draft day and not via free agency, he did need a new contract, which he got yesterday.
Raycroft should fill the gap in goal for the Leafs until minor league star Justin Pogge is ready to assume the job on a full-time basis several years from now.
Raycroft’s deal ($6 million for three years) fits beautifully under the salary cap.
While Leaf fans are rejoicing, their counterparts in Ottawa, myself included, are getting ready to revolt.
It’s been a quite the off-season for the Senators. They lost Zdeno Chara and Brian Pothier to free agency and then let Dominic Hasek walk.
I can handle that. I really can.
What I, and many like me, are a little concerned about is who is replacing the departed players.
Joe Corvo? I’m willing to wager most people had no idea Joe Corvo was a L.A. Kings defenceman last season. And then there is Martin Gerber. Gerber is a great regular-season goalie who struggled mightily come the playoffs.
Well, at least he should fit right in with the Senators.
Changing topics, Major League Baseball announced the rosters for the all-star game on Sunday night and five Blue Jays will be making the trip to Pittsburgh next Tuesday.
Roy Halladay, B.J. Ryan, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, and Troy Glaus all have been named to the squad.
I got excited for a minute—until I checked the standings in the American League East and saw that the Jays are five games out of the division lead.
Maybe if owner Ted Rogers spends a billion dollars on players next season, the Jays finally will be able to get past the Boston Red Sox and N.Y. Yankees.
Michelle Wie finished tied for third in the U.S. Women’s Open this past weekend. She is easily the most hyped player in golf never to win a major and I’m sick of it.
I think a new rule should implemented throughout sports halting all proclamations of greatness until the player actually wins something noteworthy.
How many times have I heard that a player is the next [“insert sporting legend name here”]? It’s aggravating to listen to as a fan.
And finally, the Tour de France is suffering through its worst scandal in recent memory. Most of the top riders who were scheduled to compete were barred from the race after being associated with a doping scandal.
Testing for performance-enhancing drugs in both cycling and track and field always makes me laugh. It’s no secret there are a disproportionate number of cheaters in both sports.
It’s also no secret that the cheaters are years ahead of the organizations responsible for testing the athletes.
So what’s the solution?
Fans of both sports need to assume the majority of the athletes are on drugs and then decide if they want to support the events.
If the money suddenly stopped flowing because fans were legitimately concerned about watching fair races, you can bet the regulatory agencies would start making dramatic strides in testing procedures.
I dread long weekends.