[i]For those still dreaming of a Halifax team in a Canadian Football League dominated by four rich owners and without an effective salary cap, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' signing of much-sought-after quarterback Casey Printers should be a rude awakening.
Wealthy owner Bob Young of the dreadful Ti-Cats handed Printers, a Kansas City Chiefs reject, a three-year, $1.6-million contract, further evidence that even strong fan and corporate bases are not enough to keep a CFL franchise afloat without a deep-pocketed owner willing to make up the differences.
Small-market franchises in Winnipeg and Regina routinely sell out, but can't even begin to compete for talents such as Printers.
How long could a Halifax team survive in a league without financial controls? About as long as it takes to declare bankruptcy.
With the so-called Canada-Russia Under-20 Super Series about to reach its merciful conclusion in Vancouver tonight, it's interesting to note that Professor Highcollars of CBC Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry, has weighed in with his usual contemptuous dismissal of the Russians as "quitters who are scared to death out there," an observation not necessarily shared by others without a bias against European players.
A more generous assessment is that the Russians are a talented team with awful goaltending and were badly outcoached by a Canadian side perfectly prepared by New Jersey Devils-bound coach Brent Sutter. Consider giving Sutter the Russian team for three months and imagine the difference it might have made in this series.
By signing former Dalhousie Tigers coach Fabian Joseph to a three-year contract as an associate coach to head man Danny Flynn last week, Moncton Wildcats owner Robert Irving served notice that he'll remain in the hockey business long-term.
Putting Flynn and Joseph together is a master stroke, matching friends with similar philosophies, teachers with backgrounds in recruiting at the college levels. It also opened up a well-deserved opportunity for highly-respected Brad Crossley, who replaces Joseph on an interim basis at Dal after a remarkable run developing elite players with great Dartmouth Subway major-midget championship teams.
Now Crossley has a chance to match skills with many formidable university coaches, including Trevor Stienburg at Saint Mary's, Brad Peddle at St. F.X. and Darren Burns at Acadia.
As the Halifax Mooseheads close out their Quebec Major Hockey League pre-season against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles tonight at 4 p.m. at the Sportsplex, speculation continues about the immediate futures of top draft picks Jakub Voracek of the Mooseheads and James Sheppard of the Eagles at their respective NHL training camps.
The guess here, based on the managerial philosophies of Columbus's Scott Howson and Minnesota's Doug Risebrough, is that Voracek will almost certainly return to Halifax, and barring a Jordan Staal-type training camp, Sheppard may start the season in Cape Breton.
Fredericton's Matt Stairs must be wondering these days what more he can add to his tremendous 2007 season with Toronto Blue Jays to earn another contract for 2008.
As the only Blue Jay to exceed expectations this year, Stairs hit .400 for the month of August and is hitting .311 for the year with 19 home runs and 55 RBI in just 283 at bats.
Says manager John Gibbons, "Truthfully, I don't know where we'd be without him."
Still, no new contract from general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who is coming under increasing criticism from segments of the Toronto media.
The Ottawa Lynx ended a century of triple A baseball in Canada last week when they played their final game as the last team standing in minor-league baseball in this country that once had teams in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as lower classification pro teams in every province except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
The demise is consistent with a steady change in Canadians sports appetites over the last 50 years. The country no longer supports sports at less than the perceived top levels - major league and major junior hockey and major league baseball - while missing out on other great attractions such as college sports that are very often the best bang for their bucks. It's the national sports mindset in 2007 and more's the pity.
He went off on a couple of hockey and baseball tangents, but the thrust is that a Halifax team couldn't hang tough with the likes of Hamilton?
And what's this "no financial controls" stuff? As far as I know, teams are taking this salary cap seriously. Winnipeg and Sask didn't go after printers because they're happy at the QB position. Hamilton had the most room under the cap, that's why they got him.
No matter how rich your owner is (or isn't) a $4.05M cap is a $4.05M cap. It's meant to level the financial playing field, and from what I've seen so far, it's doing the trick.