Reed On Sports

 

jeffhead

Reed On Sports February 19, 2019

Some things just can’t be explained in sports. Case in point: with a 6-3 win over the London Knights last weekend, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have now beat London in 11 straight games … Will the real London Lightning please stand up? After their embarrassing 121-88 loss to the Windsor Express on Feb. 6, they have won five straight, including a 132-109 win versus Windsor last weekend. Such is the NBL of Canada … Chelsea’s 6-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend was their biggest defeat in 28 years …

Len Obokata with Brooke Henderson. Photo: Claus Andersen.

London has lost two champions of the game of golf. Sunningdale G&CC GM and former long-time West Haven G&CC GM Sal Bruni has died at age 67. He was one of the most beloved members of the local golf community and a big supporter of the industry and its charity element. And long-time volunteer Len Obokata, whom many remember as a starter at the Freedom 55 Financial Championship, has died at age 71. Obokata was a provincial court Justice of the Peace for more than 40 years … The Canadian Press reports that Mike Weir Wine Inc. has been put into receivership, and that it owes more than $6 million. Just how does a former Masters Tournament champ with superstar status from coast to coast lose a winery? It’s easy folks. The wine biz is as competitive as a PGA Tour playoff. A combination of poor business strategy and cutthroat competition sealed the winery’s fate. And after Weir severely cut his hands-on approach, the winery went south. Too bad. Weir’s wine was a good label, and I was a big fan of his premium vintages … Congratulations to Western Mustangs women’s softball captain Claire Linton, winner of the 4th annual Jeffrey Reed Courage Award. Details here … Golf course architect Rene Muylaert will be posthumously awarded with the London Ontario Golf Heart Award this May. Details here

Claire Linton

World Cup-winning goalie Gordon Banks has died at age 81. At the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the keep for England blocked a header from Pele – many consider it the greatest save in soccer history … You’ve got to hand it to the NFL. No other league could market its combine with such success. The March 1-4 workouts will televised by NFL Network and will air on ABC and ESPN … Great story, Burlington’s Michael Gligic winning the Web.com Tour’s Panama Championship. One more Top 10 finish and he’s on the PGA Tour next season. Gligic, 29, was crowned Canadian Player of the Year at the 2018 Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada’s Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland Country Club … Childcan is again the F55F Championship’s official charity in 2019. This year’s tournament is scheduled for Sept. 9-15 at Highland CC. The 2018 tournament raised $40,000 for Childcan, which raises funds to provide responsive and compassionate support services to families facing the journey through childhood cancer – from diagnosis, through treatment, to recovery or bereavement. Part of that fundraising effort involved the 1st annual BDO Million Dollar Shootout, which returns in the same format this year, according to tourney committee chair Justin Wismer …

John Gibbons. Photo: Toronto Blue Jays.

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bourque and former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons have been added to the head table of the April 1 Start.ca London Sports Celebrity Dinner. Tickets are available at ldnsportsdinner.com … With the Fanshawe Falcons women’s and men’s curling teams winning OCAA titles on Sunday, the school has a new record for most provincial championships in a single season with eight. The previous record of six was set in 1978-79, 1987-88 and 2017-18. The Falcons have also captured 20 overall medals this season, tying the 2017-18 school record for most medals in a season … Falcons guard Falcons guard Chris Parker of Toledo, Ohio has joined the OCAA 1,000 points club in only three seasons … He’s still in the honeymoon stage – we’ll give him that – but when will Jays’ new skipper Charlie Montoyo stop blowing sunshine up our noses? Last week he said Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez “could become Cy Young candidates if they come back to where they used to be.” The Stroman claim is ridiculous. Big-league hitters have figured him out. And besides, he’s the Kim Kardashian of MLB @mstrooo6. Sanchez has Cy Young stuff, but he is snake bitten with injuries. It’s going to be a long season, Blue Jays fans …

Roberto Osuna. Photo: Houston Astros.

Houston Astros skipper A.J. Hinch has handed the closing role to Roberto Osuna, and rightfully so. He’s the best man for the job, by far, in the Astros’ bullpen, and is one of the game’s best closers … Bobsledder Kristen Bujnowski of Mt. Brydges and pilot Christine de Bruin captured silver at the World Cup two-woman race in Lake Placid, N.Y. last Friday. Bujnowski, a Western U. grad, now lives and trains in Calgary … On Coach’s Corner Saturday night, Don Cherry said this feat will never be seen again. “He gets the shutout and he gets the winning goal,” Cherry said of St. Thomas Stars goalie Anthony Hurtubise. Friday night at Joe Thornton Community Centre in St. Thomas, the Stars beat the Komoka Kings in double overtime, 1-0. Hurtubise, 20, of Sarnia shut out the Kings in regulation time, turning away 27 shots. With 1:12 left in the second OT frame, he made a save then fired the puck the length of the ice into an empty net for the victory. Watch the video here … … And finally, on this day in 1965 the NFL ruled it would begin using six officials during its games. They still can’t get all of their calls right, but they’re way ahead of any umpiring crew I’ve seen.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports January 21, 2019

It wasn’t his best comeback win, but it was amazing just the same and vintage Tom Brady Sunday night as the New England Patriots punched yet another ticket to the Super Bowl with a 37-31 overtime win against the favoured Kansas City Chiefs. Brady finished 30-for-46 with 348 yards, one TD and two interceptions. The Patriots’ defense, coupled with the TD drive with just over two minutes to play in regulation, and then in OT a Rob Gronkowski catch and Rex Burkhead rush put New England into the Super Bowl for the ninth time in two decades. Brady’s passing was a thing of beauty and what we’ve come to expect from the 41-year-old all-time great pivot. Watching him at this stage of his career is like watching Gretzky before he retired, but better. Brady is still at the top of his game. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to watch him play. We won’t see another like him, ever … South Lions standout QB Ethan Martin will play football for Steve Snyder’s Queen Gaels. The three-peat Bob Gooder Award winner as the city’s top high schooler joins the Mustangs former offensive coordinator in Kingston. Snyder, of course, went undefeated in two seasons, minus Laval’s Vanier Cup win in 2018, as offensive coordinator with the Western Mustangs … Four Russian bobsledders, including Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the 2014 Olympics, have been banned from the sport until December 2020 for doping at the Sochi Games. It speaks volumes about your sports culture when your flag bearer is caught with PEDs in his system … How much does Tiger Woods move the pro golf needle? News of his 2019 debut at this week’s PGA Farmers Insurance Open at his old haunt, Torrey Pines, overshadowed every other element of the sport. Woods has won this tourney seven – yes, seven – times … If you’re trying to find a chink in Matt Kuchar’s armour, don’t waste your time. His happy-go-lucky demeanour is the real deal. Inside, though, he is as competitive as Tiger. He has a simple swing, is solid six inches between the ears and is a young 40. Expect him to be a top-20 finisher for another five years. It is difficult, though, to imagine that before his two recent wins, including a Sony Open victory, he had gone 115 starts without a victory on tour … London’s Maddie Szeryk has been named to Golf Canada’s Team Canada Young Pro squad for 2019. A recent grad from the Texas A&M Aggies program, Szeryk won during her professional debut (following Symetra Tour Q-School) January 9 at the Cactus Tour’s Wildfire Golf Club tournament in Scottsdale, AZ … In an age when pro tennis barely moves the needle, it’s sad to see a star like Andy Murray hang ‘em up. Just 31 years old, Murray lost in the opening round of the Australian Open last week. The real story, other than his probable retirement, is that he played on a surgically repaired right hip that left the star struggling to pull on his socks. He’ll decide soon whether or not to undergo another hip surgery … Yankees great Mel Stottlemyre, who died Jan. 13 at age 77, was baseball royalty. Even when his son, Todd, pitched for the Blue Jays, you could sense that this family was special. Mel was a five-time all-star and three-time 20-game winner who filled the role of pitching coach for a decade in the Bronx under manager Joe Torre. Mel Jr. is the Marlins’ pitching coach … Can’t wait to see the new movie about Terry Sawchuck’s life. The Winnipeg native was one of the best goalies in the 1950s and ‘60s, with 103 shutouts. He had more stiches in his face, though – 400 to be exact – and died in 1970 at age 40. He shared a house with and got into a fight with Rangers teammate Ron Stewart, was rushed to a hospital and had his gallbladder was removed, but internal injuries led to death from a pulmonary embolism. The biopic will open March 1 in Toronto and Vancouver …

IBL Commissioner John Kastner

Intercounty Baseball League commissioner John Kastner was proud of the IBL’s release of its 100th season anniversary book in 2018. Now, the league boss has inked his own book about an off-diamond star. Kastner is general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, which houses a Justin Bieber exhibit. The Biebs is a Stratford native, whose exhibit has drawn thousands of visitors from across the globe. The new book, Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom, features 100 photos of the artist’s memorabilia. Pre-orders at stratfordperthmuseum.ca, chapter.indigo.ca and bluemoonpublishers.com/Justin-Bieber are now accepted in advance of the book’s release to bricks and mortar retailers this spring … Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry collected his 5,000th career assist Friday night versus Brooklyn Nets. Only nine other active players have reached that milestone: Chris Paul; LeBron James; Tony Parker; Rajon Rondo; Russell Westbrook; Dwayne Wade; John Wall; Jose Calderon; and Raymond Felton … For a fifth year from Sept. 12-15, Highland CC will host the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada’s season-ending championship. The event is a huge success by every measure except attendance. Barring a miracle, that won’t change. After all, this is London we’re talking about. Not the Knights? Forget about attendance …

Photo: Facebook.

Ringette Canada says enrollment in the sport is at an all-time high of almost 31,200 participants. Ringette Ontario lists more than 75 local associations and more than 9,500 registered players, 2,600 coaches, 600 referees and countless volunteers. The London Lynx ringette program is one of the province’s strongest. There are seven Londoners on this year’s Western Mustangs squad, yet the team lives in almost anonymity on and off campus. Read my story here about the Mustangs ringette program … London has lost one of its community staples: the high performance rowing centre at Fanshawe Lake – at least as it relates to our national rowing team. Rowing Canada has selected North Cowichan, B.C. as the home of its national training centre. Read the release here … And finally, this is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dave Zirin, in his 2010 Sports Illustrated story, wrote that Dr. King “understood with remarkable acuity the political and symbolic power of sports. He understood that the athletic field – and athletes – could be a powerful megaphone for civil rights and racial justice.” How right they both were.

Ed. Note: Reed On Sports returns Feb. 19 as LondonOntarioSports.com and our sister publication, LondonOntarioGolf.com, prepare to announce our two major awards. Watch for the announcement of the 2019 London Ontario Golf Heart Award on Tuesday, Feb. 5, and the Jeffrey Reed Courage Award on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports January 14, 2019

We’re back after a long Christmas holiday season. Miss us? Here we go … Once again, Peter Inch is proving he is no hack when it comes to promoting curling and concurrently growing the game in London and area.

Peter Inch. Photo: Curling Canada.

Fresh from his fall 2018 induction into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame, Inch is once again leading the local curling community in its bid to host the 2020 World Financial Group Continental Cup. Curling’s version of golf’s Ryder Cup pits Team North America against Team World.

This week, all of the reigning World and Olympic curling champions are competing in the WFG Continental Cup from January 17-20 in Las Vegas.  In mid-February 2017, Curling Canada announced London as the 2018 Continental Cup host. Curling Canada communications director, Al Cameron, said there is “no firm date” set to announce the 2020 host. Read my story here …Sad to know former London Knights great Rick Nash has retired after 15 years in the NHL because of concussion symptoms. He was the Hunter brothers’ first pick in 2000 when Mark and Dale purchased the junior club. He went first overall in the NHL draft after his time in London 2000-02. And despite a long pro career, he’s only 34 years old with his whole life ahead of him. We wish him well. Concussions always have been and always will be a part of sports. But it’s sad all around when concussions claim another athlete … No disrespect to the Hunter brothers ownership group, but it’s about time a Knights hall of fame has been established. Retired unis in the rafters were a no-brainer. So was the formation of the Don Brankley London Knights Hall of Fame, carrying the name of their late, beloved long-time trainer … Walt McKechnie (1965-1967), Dennis Maruk (1972-1975), Dave Lowry (1982-1985), Tim Taylor (1986-1989), Chris Taylor (1988-1992), and Rob Schremp (2003-2006) represented the Class of 2019 – the inaugural class – inducted into the Knights hall …

Kevin Hancock. Photo: Twitter.

As was expected, the Knights picked up some firepower before another run at the Memorial Cup. This time it’s overage scorer Kevin Hancock. The former Owen Sound Attack centre, 20, came to London with 31 goals, 62 points in 37 games – third in the OHL. In just five games with the Knights, he has three goals, five assists … Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson said his arrest in 2018 stems from him falling off the wagon after almost two years of sobriety. The former London Knight said he began drinking again when feeling the effects of anxiety, depression and alcoholism, demons he has dealt with since age 18. The league suspended him for 18 games after his June 16 arrest … Has anyone seen the Western Mustangs media relations office? It has gone MIA – it’s only a shadow of what it used to be. The Mustangs deserve a hell of lot more than that … What on earth is New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman smoking? When assessing the signing of former Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki – a five-time all-star who has not suited up since July 2017 because of injuries – Cashman said, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to get vintage Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies years when he was there, but it’s exciting to dream on what he might be capable of when his health is there on a consistent basis because he was quite the player for quite a long time.” Keep dreaming, Cash … Yanks pitcher CC Sabathia, 38, had a blockage in one artery to his heart, and on Dec. 11 had a stent inserted to clear it. He’s been given the green light to resume workouts … The Tampa Bay Rays will reduce seating at Tropicana Field to between 25,000 and 26,000 this season – about 5,000 less than 2018. What’s more surprising is that the Miami Marlins finished dead last in MLB attendance last season with an average of 10,013. Tampa Bay averaged 14,258. Maybe there is hope for an Expos revival …

Russell Martin. Photo: Twitter.

I was a big fan of Russell Martin’s leadership, but not a fan of his on-field performance. The Jays have traded the Montreal native to the LA Dodgers for two promising prospects, 19-year-old shortstop Ronny Brito and RHP Andrew Sopko. Smart move. Martin hit only .194 over 90 games last season, so you knew the end was near. He turns 36 in February – old as dirt for a big-league catcher. Yes, he can play many positions, but below MLB average in the skills department. It’s on the bench and in the clubhouse where Martin shines. Expect him to be a big-league manager one day … Former London Majors hurler and Detroit Tigers farmhand Mike Lumley of the highly-successful London Badgers baseball program has been named to London Mayor Ed Holder’s Mayor’s New Year’s Honour List … Speaking of the Majors, the Intercounty Baseball League team can do a much better job with social media, especially during the off season when they should keep the club visible to current and prospective fans and sponsors … Congratulations to the 2019 Best of London Golf Awards winners, as presented by our sister publication, LondonOntarioGolf.com. Click here for the official news release … Still confused about the newly-updated rules of golf? Click here for a rundown of some of the key rules changes … Congrats to former Canadian amateur champ and Champions Tour winner Rod Spittle, and long-time college golf coach Herb Page, both headed to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame … Choosing Ireland’s Padraig Harrington as captain of the 2020 Team Europe Ryder Cup team was a no-brainer. He’s a proven winner, with three major championships on his resume. He’s a proven winner in team formats, beginning with junior golf. He has Ryder Cup vice-captain experience. And he’s beloved by the Euros. Harrington, 47, has competed in six Ryder Cups. He’s currently nursing a broken bone in his wrist and is eyeing a February return to the links. The Wilson Golf ambassador has plenty of game left to compete against the young guns on the PGA Tour and European Tour … Lindsey Vonn, already the World Cup record holder, needs five victories to break the record of 86, set by Swede Ingemar Stenmark … No surprise that the Montreal Alouettes signed Laval Rouge et Or QB Hugo Richard. The 6’2” pivot led Laval to a 34-20 win over the Western Mustangs in November – it was the 24-year-old’s second U Sports title …

George Bell. Photo: Twitter.

The 41st annual St. Thomas Sports Spectacular goes Jan. 24 at St. Anne’s Centre. Former Blue Jays great George Bell, former Maple Leafs netminder Mike Palmateer and Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor are among the head table guests. Founded in 1978 by Father Pat Costello, the annual event has raised over $500,000 for St. Thomas Special Olympics, and the Elgin Association for Community Living. Ticket are available at stthomassportsspectacular.com … And finally, on this day in 1951 the first NFL Pro Bowl was played in L.A. As far as all-star games go, this is one of the most entertaining. Players still make contact, unlike the NHL all-star game. This year’s game goes Jan. 27 at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports December 10, 2018

For the basement bargain price of $650 million, Seattle now has an NHL franchise, to play during the 2021-22 season. That’s a steal as far as big-league franchising rights go. And how about the Seattle Americans, to provide fodder for a hoped-for rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks? … What the hell is wrong with the London Lightning, and London Nationals? Both seemed invincible, especially at home. The Bolts lost their second-straight home game Sunday at Budweiser Gardens, this time falling to the K-W Titans, 123-97. K-W scored 41 points in the fourth quarter. As for the Western Jr. B hockey Nats, after starting the season 7-0 and then 10-1, they’ve dropped four straight games and have fallen to 19-8 thanks to a 6-2 loss to Chatham on Sunday …

Colin Kaepernick. Photo: Facebook.

The Washington Redskins, without a quarterback, turned down the idea of bringing in blacklisted pivot Colin Kaepernick. Both Skins QBs, starter Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy, broke their legs. Colt had surgery last Tuesday after fracturing his right fibula in a 28-13 loss to Philadelphia last Monday night.  Smith broke his leg in November. The club said turning down Kaepernick was strictly a football decision, given the time of year. But no one is buying it. Smells like collusion to me … How ‘bout those Cowboys? Dallas is trending in the right direction with a huge 29-23 OT win last night over the Eagles. Dak Prescott threw a third TD pass to Amari Cooper on the first OT possession. They’re 8-5, Philadelphia and Washington 6-7 … Orlando Steinauer is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ 26th head coach, taking over for June Jones who will remain as the team’s associate coach and offensive co-ordinator. The Tabbies said they made the move because Steinauer was a much sought-after coach. This move makes sense, and it is typical of a CFL club that follows its own unique path. It’s part of what makes the CFL so great and so Canadian … On the heels of this announcement, long-time coach Jerry Glanville, on the job as Tabbies’ defensive coordinator this past season, says he won’t return for a sophomore season due to personal reasons. Steinhauer wanted him on board, but Glanville declined the offer …  Jack Wallace had two goals and an assist, Josh Sweeney added two helpers as the U.S. edged Canada 5-4 Saturday at Western Fair Sports Centre to win gold at the 2018 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup. It’s the fifth gold medal in a row for the Americans, who have topped the podium at seven of the 12 editions of the tournament dating back to 2007. Can you say dynasty? … Retired Canadian weightlifter Christine Girard received her 2012 Olympic Gold and 2008 Olympic Bronze medals at an Ottawa ceremony last week, both upgrades following the stripping of medals from Maiya Maneza of Kazakhstan and Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia for use of banned substances. If this keeps up, we’ll have to establish a separate Olympic medal ceremony every year when disgraced athletes are forced to give up their medals …

Evan Bouchard. Photo: London Knights.

No surprise that London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard, and forwards Alex Formenton and Liam Foudy were chosen to attend Team Canada’s World Junior camp. This is a trio of thoroughbreds. Final roster is expected to be named Dec. 14. Canada will play three exhibition games before opening the tourney against Denmark on Boxing Day in Vancouver … Canada’s men’s basketball team has clinched its first spot in the FIBA World Cup in almost a decade. China hosts the tournament next Aug. 31-Sept. 15 … Sad to see Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer stepping down. Headaches caused by an arachnoid cyst in his brain have worsened, and the program has been riddled with personal issues, all wearing on him. Meyer has an 82-9 record at the school … There are big-time plays in curling, and then there is the runback double from skip Jennifer Jones yesterday at Estevan, Sask. Which gave here team a bye into the 2021 Road to the Roar Pre-Trials, and qualified them for a World Curling Federation World Cup event in 2019-20. Jones’ ninth-end runback double scored three and gave her a record fourth Canada Cup curling victory with an 8-5 win over Kerri Einarson in Sunday’s final … Social curlers have always been hopped up on hops, but a new bonspiel at the Wiarton and District Curling Club will take that fun to another level. A sold-out January 26 Bongspiel, the first of its kind in Canada, will combine curling and cannabis. Organizers Ted Ratcliffe of Wiarton and Grant Nicholson of Owen Sound will provide music and munchies for the 16 four-curler teams. Alas, curlers won’t toke on the sheets, since smoking is banned indoors. Outdoor toking only, please. No word yet if Sean Penn, in character of course, will throw the first rock …

Brooke Henderson. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

The LPGA Tour still represents as fringe sport as far as the American TV viewing audience is concerned, but the 2019 version of the loop will include 33 official events – including four new stops – plus the biennial Solheim Cup, will visit 15 states and 12 countries and will offer a record $70.55 million US in official prize money. Australia, the Republic of Korea, Florida and Michigan will host new tourneys … You can’t drive on Highway 401 without seeing a billboard ad for a local golf course, but those days are in jeopardy now that the Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing (TODS) program fees have risen from $300 a year to $750. Canadian TODS Ltd. manages the program under supervision of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport and the Ministry of Transportation. One golf course teed off at the cost jump is Dutton Meadows GC in Dutton. They’re opting out. Expect more to leave … On this day 1972 the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in a three-year experiment. We all know how that turned out. Personally, I am a baseball traditionalist who believes in pitchers taking their turns at bat. But it disgusts me to see pitchers go to the plate with less enthusiasm than the Grinch at Christmas. Fergie Jenkins was never cheated at the plate, and he is a Hall of Famer … And finally, may you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year. Thanks for all of your support this year. Reed On Sports returns on Monday, January 14.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports December 3, 2018

They call it the Sweet Science, but a call for a ban of boxing which has gained momentum in recent years has gathered more fodder with the latest tragedy in the ring. Canadian boxer Adonis Stevenson, 41, has been upgraded from critical to stable condition although he remained in an induced coma after being knocked out on Saturday in a light heavyweight bout in Quebec City. Ukranian Oleksandr Gvozdyk ended the fight with an 11th-round knockout to take his WBC title … Why are we surprised when hearing of yet another case of hazing and bullying? Two-time Stanley Cup winner Daniel Carcillo took to Twitter to call out the Sarnia Sting for allowing hazing during his junior hockey career. Carcillo said he was beaten with the sawed off paddle of a goalie stick, forced to sit on the shower floor while veterans urinated and spit tobacco on him, forced to bob for apples in a cooler filled with pizza, urine and spit, and stuffed into a bus washroom en route to play the London Knights. Some of Carcillo’s former Sting teammates have also come forward to speak about how the hazing affected their lives. Sports and hazing have always been linked. There’s no room for it, period – not now in our politically-correct society, and not ever …

Photo: Knights Twitter.

The Knights’ winning streak has hit 14 games after a 6-3 win over Sarnia Sting Sunday at the annual Teddy Bear Toss game. What I want to know is, who counted the 8,763 teddy bears? … Lost in the Knights’ streak is the fact the Ottawa 67’s lead the Eastern Conference East division with a 22-3-3 record. The Knights are first in the Western Conference Midwest at 20-4-2 … Do you think Leafs Nation eagerly awaits the return of forward Michael Nylander? He’ll rejoin his teammates Thursday versus Detroit Red Wings, after signing a six-year deal on Saturday … The pain lingers after the Mustangs’ Vanier Cup loss, but the OUA has not wasted any time releasing its 2019 football sked. Western opens at Laurier Aug. 25, then opens at home Sept. 2 versus Queen’s … Congrats to the CCH Crusaders senior boys football squad on another stellar season. After a 10-1 year and No. 2 national ranking, they lost to No. 1 Hamilton St. Thomas More, 26-9, at OFSAA on Nov. 26 at Ottawa … So, the Atlanta Braves give Josh Donaldson a one-year, $23-million deal. A drop in the bucket for the club, but a make-or-break season for the former Jays third baseman who is an old 33-year-old, thanks to a series of injuries that limited him to 52 games, .246 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI in 2018 … The Para Hockey Cup continues at Western Fair Sports Centre through Saturday’s gold medal game at 4 p.m. Canada captured gold seven years ago. Team U.S.A. has won the last four tourneys … Southern Ontario will be the backdrop in February for a three-game cross-border hockey series between Canada’s National Women’s Team and the U.S. Women’s National Team. The series kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens. This is a rivalry as strong as there is in sports. Expect some fireworks at The Bud … How good is Jon Rahm? The Spaniard, 24, wraps up his sophomore season on the PGA Tour with three more wins worldwide for six career over two years. Yesterday, tourney host Tiger Woods handed him the trophy and winner’s cheque at the Hero World Challenge … Wonder if Woods will hang around as long as ex-beau Lindsey Vonn? The American has announced she’ll extend her farewell tour into next season. Let’s hope she doesn’t enter one race too many. It’s much different crashing and burning on a slope than it is on an undulating green … Good NFC East Monday nighter: 6-5 Washington at 5-6 Philadelphia. The Cowboys lead the division at 7-5, with the Giants in the basement at 4-8 … Tom Brady passed for 311 yards and a TD, while Bill Belichick picked up win No. 250 (including playoffs) as the New England Patriots topped the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 on Sunday. Brady now has 579 TD passes (including playoffs), tying him with Payton Manning for most all-time. Brady also has 508 regular-season TD passes, tying him with Brett Favre on the all-time list. Manning is first with 539, and Drew Brees second 518 … The Patriots are now 9-3 after starting the season 1-2 … And finally, on this day 1968 Major League Baseball lowered the pitcher’s mound from 15 to 10 inches after the Year of the Pitcher. The strike zone was also reduced to span from the top of the knees to the armpits. Fast forward to 2019, and MLB umpires still can’t make correct calls on balls and strikes.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

Reed On Sports November 26, 2018

Just how good were the Laval Rouge et Or? And just how tough is it to win in their house? The Western Mustangs had not lost a game in two seasons, and steamrolled over their opponents this season en route to a second-straight Vanier Cup championship game.

Greg Marshall

But the Rouge et Or virtually shut down the mighty Mustangs from the opening kickoff, allowing a predictable rushing TD by Cedric Joseph to open the second quarter, and a TD pass from Chris Merchant midway through the fourth quarter. This one was never in doubt. Indeed, the Mustangs do bleed… Laval have won a record 10 Vanier Cup championships in 12 appearances over 24 years. The Mustangs have won six times in 14 appearances … Classy interview with Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall post-game. He really does care about his players as people first … Make it 12 straight wins for the London Knights. Ho hum, the Hunter brothers are continuing their dynasty. They’re the Mustangs of the Canadian Hockey League. People want to play in London, where a big-league template is used on a smaller scale … The Grey Cup curse is over for the Calgary Stampeders. Terry Williams’ record 97-yard punt-return touchdown on a slick Commonwealth Stadium turf led Calgary to a 27-16 win over the Ottawa Redblacks. This was Calgary’s third straight appearance in the championship game. They lost 39-33 in overtime to Ottawa in 2016, then 27-24 to the Toronto Argonauts in 2017. It’s the Stampeders’ eighth Grey Cup. QB and CFL MVP Bo Levi Mitchell was the game MVP with 2 TD passes … It’s time to rethink spending billions to host the Olympic Games. Calgary City council just voted not to support the city hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Without $2.2 billion from the feds and the province, it was not possible to upgrade Calgary’s aging sports facilities. There comes a time when you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? What’s the return? More times than not, the Olympic Games do not bring a financial return …The pipeline between Toronto and Houston continues: the Blue Jays have dealt SS Aledmys Diaz, a former NL all-star, to the Astros for triple-A starter, RHP Trent Thornton. In 22 games with the Fresno Grizzlies, Thornton posted a 4.42 ERA with 112 Ks in 124.1 innings. The Jays need pitching, and must see something in Thornton. Obviously, Diaz and his .263 BA and 18 HR weren’t part of their future. Expect a lot of shuffling within the Jays camp. The roster is a mess and there’s no end in sight … Jays farmhand Griffin Conine has been suspended 50 games to begin the 2019 season for testing positive for the banned stimulant ritalinic acid. The outfielder is the son of former MLB outfielder Jeff Conine … Adrian Beltre carved out a hall-of-fame career, yet he’s a relatively unknown superstar.

Adrian Beltre. Photo: Facebook.

The Texas Rangers third basemen has hung up his cleats after 21 season, 477 home runs and 3,166 hits. His 2,759 games at the hot corner rank second only to Brooks Robinson. He’s the first Dominican to reach the magic 3,000 hits mark … It’s hard to think of David Price as the AL comeback player of the year. But the Red Sox hurler earned that honour with his 16-7, 3.58 ERA record over 30 starts. And, of course, he was a key part of the club’s World Series victory. In 2017 suffering with elbow inflammation, Price went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts. Atlanta reliever Jonny Venters is NL comeback player …. Now, let me get this straight. The curling foursome of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby was kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic for “unacceptable behaviour” that included being “extremely drunk.” They were thrown out from the World Curling Tour event and forced to forfeit their final match. Wouldn’t this type of behaviour eliminate just about every foursome competing at rinks from coast to coast in Canada? Fry says he’s taking time off from the game to focus on his “growth and self-improvement”  … Fanshawe Falcons midfielder Chelsea Zavitz aims to return to the national bronze-winning squad in 2019 if she can stay away from injuries. After suffering multiple concussions, she played this season after tearing her medial collateral ligament (MCL) and tibial collateral ligament (TCL) in her right knee, and her right hamstring, all during an indoor game last February. Read about Zavitz here … Kudos to hockey legend Ken Dryden for his crusade for concussion awareness. The former Habs and Team Canada 1972 netminder was spot on when stating there is “plenty of awareness. The problem is sports decision-makers who don’t take this awareness and act.” …

Chelsea Zavitz. Photo: Fanshawe Falcons.

Great move by the Canadian Premier League in adding Ontario Soccer’s League1 Ontario to its operations. The link strengthens the association between Ontario Soccer and the CPL, and provides stronger player development … As expected, FC London’s Mike Marcoccia is the League1 Ontario coach of the year. He guided both the men and women this season – read about his season here … London’s Ellie Szeryk, 17, who lives in Allen, TX returns for a second year to Golf Canada’s 2019 junior squad. Szeryk is the 2018 Ontario Women’s Amateur champion … Since 2013, the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada has given back to its event communities to the tune of $4.1 million. It surpassed $1 million this year, in part thanks to $40,000 raised by the Freedom 55 Financial Championship at Highland CC for Childcan … You can’t make this stuff up. The PGA Tour is heading to Japan for the Zozo Championship in 2019. The tourney is backed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his fashion website Zozotown. Maezawa was announced this year as the first commercial passenger to attempt a flight around the moon … Sarnia, Ont.’s Tall Ship Celebration, slated for Aug. 9-11, 2019, will share dates with the city’s Artzscape by the Bay and Borderfest Music Festival events. More than 100,000 people visited Sarnia for its last Tall Ship festival. Smart move by the City to combine the three for more marketing punch … Nice to see Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton speaking about the importance of community at a recent Windsor fundraising lunch for fighting poverty. Horton was a member of the 1968 Tigers who helped unite Detroit during a time of social unrest … The NFL just pulled its scheduled Chiefs-Rams game from Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium due to poor field conditions, but a week later announced the venue would host an NFL game in 2019. It will be the third contest of a contract signed in 2016 … Meanwhile, the CFL is close to signing an agreement to forge relationships with the eight-team semi-pro Liga de Futbol Americano. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says there are plans to bring the best players from Mexico to the CFL, and to send Canadian players to Mexico to develop skills up to par with the CFL. Says here it’s a waste of time.

Reed On Sports is published each Monday morning. Send your bricks and bouquets to jeff@londonontariosports.com.

 

The Interview
Don’t miss our 6x/year Q&A, The Interview. Reed goes one-on-one with London and area’s most outspoken sports personalities. Read it here each month.