Link – Both of last season’s MLS Cup finalists missed playoffs for first time ever

jarmoluk / Pixabay

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Neither team was struck by extraordinarily bad luck. They were simply not very good and that’s why their seasons are over. From the MLS Cup final to out of the playoffs in 11 months.

Is this parity, or was let year just a case of two not very good teams getting on a hot streak? And if it was the latter, does that mean that there are no very good MLS teams that could consistently win over streaky teams? Either way, it’s been surprising to see both of those teams fall from the heights so quickly.

Link – WATCH: Ben Simmons didn’t give a damn about school at LSU

His journey from the preps to the pros is being chronicled in “One & Done,” a Showtime series set to premiere Nov. 4. The latest trailer for the show highlights his dichotomous experience at LSU, during which he was once benched because of his academic struggles.

I have to be getting better every day,” said Simmons, who averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in 2015-16. “I’m not worried about my oceanography class.”

Is there anything in sports more fraudulent that the one-and-done basketball phenomenon? The NBA age-limit created this monster, if I were the NCAA I’d be doing whatever I can to help someone who wants to challenge it. It’s not making college basketball better, that’s for sure.

Did Garth Snow Get The Roster All Wrong?

cropped-IMG_0073.jpgI know that Isles fans, especially those of us on Twitter, often get labeled as being a bit, shall we say, reactionary? Either this team is awesome or it’s worse than it’s ever been and there’s not a lot of in between.

Given that, and at the risk of being labeled a reactionary, I do think this 1-3 start falls directly on the makeup of this team, and I do believe it’s all wrong.

In fact, I even said it after game 1, a 5-3 loss to the Rangers.

The reason I said that had everything to do with the decisions that we made leading up to opening night, and what I’ve seen since then only seems to play into that fear.

Case in point. Isles fans were excited that Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier made the team, but thus far Barzal has played in one game, and while Beauvillier did get his first NHL goal last night, he’s currently playing 8-9 minutes per game in the 3 he has played. Seems to me that both of them are really only here temporarily and will be heading back to juniors shortly. You can’t keep them here and not give them ice time, that’s not how you develop young players. But, by keeping both of them on the roster, the Islanders had to jettison P.A. Parenteau, and keep only 6 defensemen. Those choices seem to be impacting what is going on with the team. First, on defense, instead of Seidenberg being a 7th D, he’s playing in the third pair with Thomas Hickey, and Calvin deHaan is playing on the 2nd pair with Johnny Boychuk. I haven’t really been impressed with those pairings, let alone the top pair of Hamonic and Leddy. How different would the matchups be in they could play Pulock with Hamonic and deHaan with Hickey? We don’t know, because there’s no roster spot available.

Up front, you would think that after John Tavares spent almost all of the preseason at the World Cup, that you’d maybe start the season playing him with someone he already knows, Strome, Lee, Nelson, etc. (Or even, you know the guy who was signed for that very purpose?) Instead we were “treated” to a line of Ladd-Tavares-Chimera in game one. Three guys who have never played together. It’s probably not surprising that the Isles have gotten nothing from their top line thus far.

Meanwhile if you look at the ice time, it would appear that the Isles 4th line is their second line, Josh Bailey is playing more than anyone, and the guys getting the least ice time are the ones this team desperately needs more production from, but it’s hard to get much when they play 10 minutes and under per game.

In short, the Islanders let a bunch of free agents walk away, only partially replaced them (Ladd, Chimera, Seidenberg in, Martin. Okposo, Neilsen, Strait out), find themselves wholly dependent on getting more consistency and production from their young players, who aren’t getting much ice time at all in order to produce those numbers.

And, of course, the Islanders also have a roster spot in use by their third string goalie, again.

This is not a plan. The team is 1-3, already falling behind in a highly competitive division. Instead of stringing along the roster, it’s time to get it to the point you would play out the season. That means, if Barzal and Beauvillier are destined for juniors, go ahead and send at least Barzal instead of sitting him. If Beauvillier is going to stay, go ahead and play he and Lee on the wings on the first two lines. Look, I like josh Bailey, he brings a lot to the game, but he’s a 3rd line guy at best offensively. If he’s going to play 22-23 minutes, we know where this goes, and it’s mediocre. I’d rather see the team live and die with one their young guns playing alongside Tavares, whether that is Lee, Beauvillier, Ho Sang, etc. They have more upside for scoring than the guys playing there now, and maybe, just maybe, their play-making ability will help get Ladd going, because he seems kind of lost out there.

On defense, the same holds true. Jack Capuano can talk about wanting his d more involved offensively, but look at those 6 again. Where is that going to come from? We know what this group can do, there’s not much room to grow with that group. There are, however, guys like Pulock who could bring some of that to the table.

Yes, it’s a risk, but let’s face facts here. The Islanders, on paper, are not as good as they were last season. The only way they get better is by improvement from within, which comes from young players stepping into new, expanded, roles. Look around the league at the teams who have some real young talent coming to the forefront early in the season, while the Islanders roll out Jason Chimera or Josh Bailey on their top line. Not much to get excited about there.

Brand me a negative nelly if you will, but I just don’t see how this team competes as it is currently constructed. It’s back to being a borderline playoff team instead of one taking the next step toward competing for a Stanley Cup. That’s not good enough.

Link – Once A Strength, Center Position Now A Mystery For Blue Jackets

Three years ago, the Blue Jackets’ center position was the strength of the club: Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu were the spine of the forwards.

Through trades and free agency (both coming and going), the Blue Jackets have transformed the position, so that it now reads: Brandon Dubinsky, Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, William Karlsson and rookie Lukas Sedlak.

Rule of thumb in the NHL: good centers make good wingers look great; poor centers make good wingers look poor.

The Blue Jackets are 0-2 after losses to Boston and San Jose to open the season. Several of their highest-paid forwards are struggling and the lines aren’t making sense already.

I lived in Columbus when the Blue Jackets got started, and for a number of years afterward, and during that time, I can’t even comprehend how much ink and web space was taken up talking about how the Jackets didn’t have a true #1 center, that they had never had one and because of that the slotting of centers and playing time was always a matchup problem and that was why they continued to struggle.

Then, suddenly the Blue Jackets had an All-Star center. In fact, he won the MVP of the All-Star game didn’t he?

Of course, he then got run out of town and traded for a young defenseman, because he was “out of shape”, or some such thing when the team started last season horribly.

We also won’t mention that guy who played center in New York for years in the top 6, and now in Ottawa does the same who was part of that ill-fated Marian Gaborik trade.

Turn the calendar ahead a year and here we are, with another bad start to the season staring them in the face, and we’re back to talking about how not having a true number one muddles the line combinations and make it difficult for wingers to score, and on and on.

Maybe it’s time the Dispatch started to blame management for the teams problems?

Link – Redskins Linebacker Says His Eyes Don’t Work Because of a Concussion


Then again, if a concussion is a brain injuring, why wouldn’t things like your eyesight be permanently disrupted by damage caused to the nerve receptors in your brain?

The more we learn about the damage done by concussions, the more we have to start wondering about the future of contact sports.

Link – Blue Jackets notebook | Folignos donate $1 million to hospitals

The gift they’ve been given can never be repaid, Nick and Janelle Foligno said.
Thanks to surgeons and doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and Boston Children’s Hospital, Milana Foligno is a vibrant, soon-to-be 3-year-old girl with a bright future.
She squirmed and smiled Tuesday as the Folignos announced a $1 million donation — $500,000 for each hospital — during a news conference at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Having lived in Columbus for a number of years, I know of plenty of people who can attest to the amazing work that is done there for children. Having had a couple of kids in our own family spent quite a bit of time in other children’s hospitals, I can also attest that Nationwide isn’t the only children’s hospital doing amazing work. I’m glad the Folignos have a healthy daughter, and glad they are giving back to the hospitals so they can continue to do amazing things for other children.

Link – Pulock and Pelech Sent to Bridgeport

Islanders BannerThe Islanders finalized their 23-man roster this afternoon. After parting ways with P.A. Parentau yesterday, the Islanders had a few more tough decisions to make.

Their first move was moving Eric Boulton to IR. The 40-year old winger is on the roster for the time being. However, he will most likely be sent down to the AHL, where he will also act in a mentor/coaching capacity.

The bigger news of the afternoon was that the Islanders decided to send Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech to Bridgeport. Unfortunately, it was a numbers game for those two. Currently, there are only six defensemen on the roster, so both should be back in the NHL at some point.

Interesting that the Isles start the season with 14 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders. I don’t think they stay that way for very long. This is more a result of 3 things.

1. Halak maybe not being available
2. Prince maybe not being available
3. The team wanting Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier to be in the NHL, at least for a little while.

Those three things contributed to the waiving of P.A. Parenteau, and these assignments as well. Clearly, the rookies are not going to be inserted into the lineup in the place of Prince, Kulemin or Quine. Those guys play roles on the penalty kill, and with defensive assignments that you can’t put on them yet. Makes more sense that they will take over PA’s role and be expected to provide offense.

Which puts the Islanders in an interesting position this year. By losing Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, the Islanders lost 2 of their two 3 scorers from last year. Signing Andrew Ladd should replace one of them, and the thought was signing Parenteau would replace the other, at least in the short term while the kids developed. But now? That extra scoring is going to have to come from somewhere. Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Barzal and Beauvillier are going to have to step up and provide consistent offense for this team to be as good as last year, let alone better. Last year, Lee and Strome took a step backwards, and you could argue Nelson didn’t take much of a step toward consistency either. It hurt the Islanders, causing them to finish a few points shy of the total from the season before, and in a wildcard spot instead of 3rd in the division.

This season, if it doesn’t happen, the Isles could find themselves outside of the playoffs at the end of the season. There’s potential in all of these kids, it’s time for it to show up.

On defense, there always was only one opening, and I believe there still is. Dennis Seidenberg will eventually be the 7th defenseman, and one of the younger defensemen will be in the lineup. You don’t keep one of them around to be the 7th d-man, they need to play. But if you’re only keeping 6 for now, you send them to Bridgeport because you can. Eventually, the Islanders will not keep 14 forwards, and I expect one of them to be back. Given the Islanders history of defensemen injuries, I expect we’ll see a lot of both of these guys during the season.

The question is, who goes once they can’t carry 14 forwards? Are Barzal and Beauvillier just here for a quick show and tell, or are they here for the whole season? Do the Islanders keep 3 goaltenders all season again? Given their injury history, it might not be the worst idea, but they need to play too.

Bottom line, don’t get too used to the roster as it is. It’s going to change along the way.

Link – 15 outrageous stats from Michigan’s 78-0 disembowelment of Rutgers

I saw the box score of this game after getting off a flight home Saturday, because I couldn’t help but wonder if Harbaugh had run up the score against Rutgers, but I really can’t accuse him of that. Michigan ran on just about every single play in the second half, Rutgers just kept punting the ball back to them after doing nothing on offense. And really, the numbers give new definition to doing nothing on offense. 39 total yards? 2 completions? 2 first downs? Yikes. Poor Chris Ash.

Link – High school teams in Washington are forfeiting rather than play school with NFL-sized talent

bykst / Pixabay

bykst / Pixabay

“With the latest opponent forfeiture, this one coming Wednesday by Granite Falls High, the Wildcats will move to 6-0, with their last three victories occurring without even having to play a down.

The reason? The Wildcats are just too huge.

Archbishop Murphy has six players who weight at least 250 pounds and three who weigh at least 300 pounds, according to CBS News.”

With what we are learning bout head injuries and the long-term effects of concussions, would you let your 5 foot 6 inch, 120 pound freshman be on the same field with, and getting hit by, a 300-pound 18 year old man? I think there’s a legitimate safety issue there, and apparently so do a lot of other people.

Where does the future of football stand if a lot more parents start pulling their kids from getting hit by bigger kids like this? I guess we’re about to find out.

Why we Watch Sports – Aussie Football Version

PeteLinforth / Pixabay

PeteLinforth / Pixabay

In a year that has already seen unlikely the highly title won by Leicester City in England, the Cleveland Cavaliers breaking the Cleveland curse, and Iceland, of all countries, finding huge success in Europe, I suppose it’s only fitting that I find myself this weekend in Australia catching the Grand Final of the AFL, and learning about the 62-year drought that was put to an end by the Western Bulldogs, despite their captain being lost to injury three weeks into the season, and a history that almost saw the club merged with another years ago, and has not seen anything close to a championship since 1954.

Seriously, they finished 7th this season, but somehow won 4 playoff games, including over a three-time champion in the semis and the highly-regarded and historically successful Sydney Swans in the final. Because, of course they did.

It’s been that kind of year in 2016. There’s only one more stunning, historic, championship left to finish out the year. Cubs fans, you’re up…