By Rob Ficiur
Last week I reported that 38% of my 2013 sports predictions were correct. My 2014 predictions were researched in greater depth than ever before. (Which is a way of saying since I predicted them, most of these won’t happen).
1. World Junior Hockey Championship – In 2013, I predicted the Canadian men would win Gold. Sorry that did not work out. This year the tournament is in Finland, the only country that might be as hockey crazy as Canada. Canada will get a medal, but will go a fourth year in a row without winning gold.
2. Playoffs in Toronto – There will be playoff games in Toronto this calendar year. At the time I am writing this, the Raptors and the Maple Leafs are both in a playoff spot. However, after a great start the Leafs have a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games. The Raptors are only in a playoff spot because five of the eight playoff spots in the East are held by teams under .500. That will even out in the second half of the season. Blue Jays management assures fans that they will be competitive with the same team that was not competitive in 2013. Only one of Toronto’s four sports teams will make the playoffs this year. The most likely candidate is the Toronto Argonauts, since over half of CFL teams make the post season.
3. The Calgary Flames rebuild will blow up in their face. The team will not make the playoffs; not a hard prediction since they are 11 points out of a playoff spot at the Christmas break. Worse for the Flames is that they are not bad enough to get an elite top 3 draft pick. Franchise players are more often found in the top three draft picks than anywhere else. (Yes, they can come later, but the first three picks are usually a cut above the rest). If the draft were held today the Flames, who are 26th in NHL standings, would probably draft fifth. The Buffalo Sabres are 11 points below the Flames and playing so poorly they may not match the Flames 34 points before season’s end. The Flames will get a good draft pick, but not an elite pick.
4. Ottawa Red Blacks will have a great inaugural season in the CFL. The league’s new draft rules allowed the Red Blacks to choose a top notch quarterback (Kevin Glenn) and other starters. The team has solid management team and a new stadium. The Red Blacks will finish 7th in the 9 team CFL. Most new franchises are expected to finish dead last, but Winnipeg and Edmonton were so weak in 2013 the Red Blacks looked better than those teams before Ottawa team drafted any players.
2014 Winter Olympic Predictions. In February the world will gather in Sochi Russia for the Olympic Games. The following predictions will let you know how Canada will fare in that competition.
5. Canada won 26 medals (14 gold) in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Over the past four winter Olympics, Canada has won an average of 20.5 medals. The 2010 and 2006 games were the first time Canada won 20 medals in the winter games. While Canada may not match their all-time record of 26; they will get at least 20 medals in Russia.
6. Canada will win not win the gold in women’s hockey. The Canadian women have won the last three Olympic gold medals. In December the Canadian team made a surprising coaching change. Something internally was not right with the organization. When it comes to the games, when one goal means the difference between gold or not; sadly Canada will not win it this time.
7. Men’s Olympic hockey is the key event for many fans. In 2010 Canada won the Gold Medal at home. That was the first time that a home team won Olympic gold since the 1980 American miracle on ice. Russian hockey fans are hungering for gold. The Russians have not won an Olympic hockey gold medal since 1992; back when NHL players did not come to the games. In the four Olympics since the NHL players have played in the games, Russia has a silver (1998) and a bronze (2006). This is the games where Ovechkin, Malkin and others want to bring gold to their home land. Sorry, the Russians won’t win gold at home.
Check back in 52 weeks to see how accurate these predictions were.