By Rob Ficiur
With Christmas just about upon us, Santa Claus let me know what some sports requests that came his way this year. (It is a secret so don’t tell anyone)
1. Sidney Crosby scoring touch.
At this moment Sidney Crosby, the two time NHL scoring leader, is tied for 95th in league scoring. At 28 years of age Crosby should be entering the prime of his NHL career, not on a downward slide that feels like we are falling off of Mt. Everest. Why is Crosby slumping? A couple of puck moving defenseman might be the best gift Crosby could get in order pick up his scoring. Many of the elite scorers of the past had a key defensemen who could carry the puck. Esposito had Orr, Lafleur had Lapoint (and Robinson and Savard); Bossy had Potvin. With the recent injury to Penguins defenseman Kris LeTang, Crosby’s scoring woes are matched with the team’s slumping play. A skilled puck moving defenseman will have to be a gift from Santa because no team is going to trade one at Christmas or any time of the year.
2. 2016 Toronto Blue Jays want surprise seasons from unexpected players. In the 2015 season part of the Jays success was great seasons from players from whom nothing was expected. Outfielder Kevin Pillar spent most of 2014 in the minors and there was no reason to think 2015 would be any different. Instead he became a gold glove center fielder no one expected. Chris Collabello was a depth pick off of waivers during the off season. His batting average never went under .300 after he was called up in May. Marco Estrada, a seven-game winner in 2014 was penciled in as a long reliever. After injuries forced Estrada into the starting rotation he won thirteen regular season games. More surprisingly his two post season wins was tops on the Jays. Robert Osuna was an average AA pitcher until spring training when he was suddenly too good to send to the minors. His (surprisingly) improved the year went. Twenty saves from a former AA level player is more than unexpected.
Where do the Blue Jays need or want their 2016 surprise stars? A top quality starter, a solid hitting infielder, a great defensive player and a solid reliever would nicely round out the current roster. However, since the wish is for surprise seasons, we can’t tell who they will be until the season unfolds.
3. The Ottawa Red Blacks want to Turn Back the Hands of time –
We all want time to go back to a better season of our lives. The Red Blacks are not greedy they just want time to go back one year. When they start the 2016 CFL season the Red Blacks want the 2015 Henry Burris to lead them to just one more win in 2016 than he did in 2015. In 2015, at age 40, Burris won the CFL’s most outstanding player award. His 5703 yards in passing would be a great start for the 2016 Red Blacks. At age 40 he had twenty six touchdown passes and only thirteen interceptions. This is the fourth time in his career that Smiling Hang had twice as many touchdown throws as he did interceptions. The first of those years was in 2008 when Burris lead his Stampeders to a Grey Cup championship.
Ottawa is not being greedy, they don’t need Burris to improve on his 2015 numbers, they just want a repeat of Hank’s eighteenth pro season numbers in his nineteenth year.
4. Refugees would be happy with what we take for granted. Whether you are thrilled to have the Syrian refugees enter Canada or think it is a foolish mistake, is not the point. The refugees in the camps would be happy with the life we (most of us) take for granted.
There are currently about sixty million refugees world-wide. Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are among the top countries that people are fleeing. In most cases war has devastated and or destroyed their home land to the point there is nothing to come back to.
Yes there are challenges and struggles in Canada and in Alberta. However, most of us have adequate food, clothing and shelter; we are safe from gangs, we know where our next meal is coming from. Yes, we work hard to establish and build our businesses and careers. Many of the refugees were in the same process when their country, as they knew it, ceased to be.
If the refugees had what we take for granted, they would think that life could not get much better.