By Rob Ficiur
In last week’s issue of the commentator, I reported that 50% of my predictions for 2015 came true. This year I am older (and wiser?). Looking far into the future, here is what will happen in the sporting world in the 2016.
1. No Canadian team wins the Stanley Cup… (again?)
No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993 and this tradition will continue. Why? On January 1, Montreal is the only Canadian team playoff team. If we turn the standings upside down, five of the bottom ten teams in the NHL are based in Canada.
Is the slumping Canadian dollar a stumbling block? A look at the league salary cap finds four of the seven Canadian NHL teams are in the top half of the league spenders. The dollars are being spent, but the wins (and Stanley Cups) are not coming. Why Canadian teams can’t (and don’t) win championships will be a sports column topic later this month.
2. Three Canadian teams will make the NHL playoffs.
Right now Montreal is in a playoff spot. Last year five of the seven Canadian teams made the playoffs. Two more Canadian teams will move in to playoff spots before the end of the season.
Ottawa is only one point behind the two Eastern Conference Wild Card teams and two points behind Boston. In 2015 Ottawa overcame a fourteen point deficit to qualify for the playoffs. Over coming one or two point deficits will be relatively easy for them
In the west Vancouver and Calgary are one and two points out of the last Pacific Division playoff spot respectively. Two and three points ahead of those teams is another Pacific playoff spot that either (or both) teams could secure with consistent play.
3. New team wins the Stanley Cup…
Since the 2005 lockout, seven different teams have won the ten Stanley Cups. This year the Stanley Cup winner will be a team that has not won since in the Salary Cap era (starting in 2006). Six of the top ten teams in overall league standings have not won a Stanley Cup in the last decade and one of these will be the new champion. The 2016 Stanley Cup champion will be one that has not won in the last decade.
4. The Golden State Warriors do not win their second straight NBA championship
The Golden State Warriors began the NBA season with an amazing twenty five game winning streak. Experts are predicting that Golden State could set a new NBA record for the most wins in a season.
Come June all these great streaks and predictions will mean nothing when Golden State does not repeat as league champion. Why won’t they win? There are two main reasons. First, it is hard to maintain a winning streak. Since the playoffs began in May 2015 the Warriors have been almost unbeatable. While good teams make their own luck through hard work and talent, sometimes they win by luck too. Eventually you don’t win every close game.
Secondly the NBA has many elite teams. The Golden State Warriors are one of seven teams that have a winning percentage higher than 60%. If one of the other teams gets hot in the playoffs they may become as unbeatable in June as the Warriors were in November and December.
5. Toronto Blue Jays will NOT make the playoffs
Sorry to break it to you so early in the year – but the Jays won’t repeat the magical run they did in 2015. Only four of the ten teams that made the 2014 playoffs were in the post season again in 2015.
On paper the Jays have done nothing to improve their roster to start the new season. Instead they have lost two starting pitchers, a backup catcher and two veteran relief pitchers. Only one starter has been signed to replace the five players who are gone. Perhaps more importantly the new team president’s first move was to push out the General Manager of the year Alex Anthopolous. Team presidents are usually behind the scenes over seers, but new Jays President Mark Shapiro made it clear from day one he was a hands on leader.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it-was not something Jays President’s motto when he took over job. When the team misses the 2016 playoffs he will wish he had left the winning management team in place.
6. EASTERN TEAM WINS THE GREY CUP
Four of the last five and the last three Grey Cup champions have all come from the Western Conference. Since the turn of the century the West has won 10 Grey Cups the East has taken five (four of those are Montreal) CFL championships. Trends that began last year will continue in 2016 and we will see an Eastern Conference Grey Cup champion. In 2015 three of the top five teams in the CFL were in the Eastern Conference. One of those teams, Ottawa, Hamilton or Toronto will be Grey Cup champions.
Check back in 52 weeks to see how accurate these predictions were.