By Rob Ficiur
In the Jan. 5, 2016 issue of the Commentator, I made six predictions of what would happen in the sporting world in 2016. For the third straight year 50 percent of my January predictions came true.
1. No Canadian team wins the Stanley Cup… (again?) Correct
I wrote: No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993 and this tradition will continue…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.
Update: A Canadian based team did not win the Stanley Cup again. Canada did win the World Cup of Hockey – so it is the Canadian based NHL teams that are the problem, not the talent of Canadian hockey players. See prediction #2 for more whining about the state of Canadian NHL teams.
2. Three Canadian teams will make the NHL playoffs. Wrong
I wrote: 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.
Update: For the first time since 1969 zero Canadian teams made the NHL playoffs. Ottawa and Winnipeg, the two closest teams to the playoffs, finished 11 points out of a playoff berth. In simple words no Canadian team was close. Montreal, who were in a playoff spot on January 1 fell apart when all-star goalie Carey Price missed the last four months of the season.
If the NHL playoffs started today (December 19, 2016) four Canadian teams would be in the post season. Winnipeg is currently only one point out of a playoff spot, so five playoff teams is still a possibility. As positive as the future might be, we were shut out in 2016.
3. New team wins the Stanley Cup… Wrong
I wrote: 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.
Update: The Pittsburgh Penguins, who ranked 17th out of the 30 NHL teams, had a fantastic second half of the season. They defeated the San Jose Sharks for their fourth ever Stanley Cup and second since the 2005 lockout. The other three teams that finished in the final four; San Jose, St. Louis and Tampa have not won a Stanley Cup in the post lockout era. Still I was wrong and we had a repeat winner.
4. The Golden State Warriors do not win their second straight NBA championship… Correct
I said: 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. My answer is yes.
Update: Golden State almost proved me wrong. They lead the finals three games to two, but eventually lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland has the best player in the NBA. Lebron James showed that in this team sport, the best player can make the difference. He did.
5. Toronto Blue Jays will NOT make the playoffs… Wrong
I wrote: 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.
Update: The Blue Jays had their second playoff season in a row. After the 2015 Jays went to the final four, expectations were higher this year. Once again the Jays made it to the final four, and were eliminated. In 2015 being one step away from the World Series was felt like we climbed an impossible mountain, this year it felt like we had not gone forward. Same result, but this one tasted bad.
6. EASTERN TEAM WINS THE GREY CUP Correct
I wrote: 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… 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.
Update: In 2016 the top four CFL teams were in the West. Ottawa led the Eastern conference with a losing record of 8-9-1. All that did not matter on Grey Cup Sunday. Ottawa defeated the 14-1-1 Calgary Stampeders in overtime to win their first Grey Cup since 1976.
Next week I will make my predications for 2017.