Front Runner

Front Runner

(Getty Images)
As with the DPOY argument, it is about time there is a non-QB winning the award this year. In the preseason I wanted someone to break the dominance of the passers of the ball, and I thought it could’ve been Justin Jefferson. Unfortunately, he got injured, but the MVP should still go to a “receiver” of the ball. 

That player should be Christian McCaffery. The 27 year old Running Back is having s stellar season with the 49ers and is arguably their best player. The half-back has had his 17 game touchdown streak halted this season, but he already has 13 TD’s this season and looks unstoppable, as do the rest of his team.

(Getty Images: Christian McCaffery)
The MVP award has traditionally gone to QB’s over the years and you’d have to go back to 2012 when there was a non-QB winner, and that was a RB in the great Adrian Peterson.

Factually, the award will be handed to Lamar Jackson, Brock Purdy, or even Dak Prescott before they even consider other stars like McCaffery, Bland, or Lane Johnson purely based on position.

(Getty Images: Adrian Peterson)
To put that into perspective, it’s like having a PB&J sandwich and thanking the bread for the flavour. Purdy has been good, Jackson fine, and Dak okay, but McCaffery has been the most consistent player in the league. This might just be a pity article, another one swept under the rug, but it is high time the MVP actually goes to the Most Valuable Player. Happy Holidays!
An Expected Firing and An Unexpected Replacement

An Expected Firing and An Unexpected Replacement

Photo Credit: nhl.com
Lane Lambert being fired from an underperforming New York Islanders team was not so much of a surprise, but HOF goalie Patrick Roy as his replacement? That was a huge shock from the Isles and 81 yr old president/GM Lou Lamoriello as his firing of Lambert was definitely due…

Lambert’s record with the Islanders in one and a half seasons was 61-46-20. This isn’t a terrible record, but it isn’t great when factoring in the talent on the Isles. The team barely made the playoffs last season with a 42-31-9 record (93 pts) and the team rode off Lambert’s message as they consistently came back in games and were led by Ilya Sorokin’s tremendous play. This season has been a different story. The team has had incredible highs (an 11/12 game point streak, a top PP unit, a scoring tear throughout December), but that has been marked by lots of inconsistency (on both ends), losing streaks (7 games in November, 1-6-0 in their last seven), a horrendous PK, and their inability to hold leads. In addition, their defense has given up way too many shots (35 a game), which is absolutely unacceptable. Sorokin hasn’t been himself so far (13-11-9, 3.21 GAA, .908 SV), but the Islanders’ porous defense has completely left him to dry in the majority of games.

Lambert also had some mind-boggling choices with his lines. After F Casey Cizikas got injured and was placed on IR, he separated his 2 best forwards, Barzal and Horvat, and moved Barzal down to the 3rd line while moving Simon Holmstrom to the 1st line. Remember, this is not an insanely offensive team like Edmonton, who can separate McDavid and Drasitatl. The Islanders are a bottom 10 team in goals per game (2.93). Another example is the treatment for Pierre Engvall. 27 yr old Engvall hasn’t been anything to write home about (5-9-14 in 41 GP), and was benched twice this season by Lambert after turnovers in the previous games. A much older and slower Matt Martin inexplicably lost the Isles a point in Nashville and stayed in the lineup the next game. It was those choices that made fans want Lambert gone multiple times throughout the season.

Photo Credit: theScore.com
Lamoriello went with Patrick Roy as the Isles’ new head coach (notice that there’s no “interim” next to that). Roy was known as a fiery, passionate, and strict coach in his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche and the QMJHL. He had a 130-92-24 record with the Avs and won the Jack Adams in the 2013-14 season while he finished 524-255-66 with Quebec and won a Memorial Cup and QMJHL Championship. The new coach was arguably the best goalie in NHL history, as he was an 11x All Star, won 3 Vezinas, 5 William Jennings, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006. Islanders fans should hope that this hiring can lead to a spark and the team climbing back into the playoff race after falling into 6th place in the Metro Division. Furthermore, Roy can potentially help Ilya Sorokin regain his form after a mediocre performance throughout the regular season.
Long Term Vision For The Visionary

Long Term Vision For The Visionary

Photo Credit: 411mania.com
On the latest edition of Monday night Raw, Seth Rollins defeated Jinder Mahal to successfully defend his World Heavyweight Championship, but he potentially suffered a loss much greater than any title defeat. According to Wade Keller of PWTorch.com, Rollins had a real knee injury during the match, which required medical attention and caused him to limp visibly backstage. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, there will be an MRI where the results will determine the extent of the damage done to Rollins knee. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select stated the WWE would have more information regarding the injury very shortly once the MRI results came back. It would be disastrous for WWE and the man himself to lose their workhorse champion for any length of time, much less have to go into WrestleMania 40 without one of the competitors that would provide the foundation for a major plot point on the show. It is impossible to avoid envisioning what WrestleMania might look like without The Visionary, even in the absence of an official diagnosis or an estimate of how much time Rollins may miss.
Photo Credit: wrestlingjunkie.usatoday.com

CM Punk was widely expected to face the world champion at WrestleMania ever since he first entered the ring at Survivor Series in Chicago, when he was greeted by the cheers of his local audience and simultaneously infuriated Rollins to the extent of a screaming fit. Little clues here and there have continued to sow the seeds for the confrontation, and a heated promo showdown between the two further raised the anticipation for the match at WrestleMania.

Until Rollins provides an update, this is all pure speculation. However, if he is forced to miss the biggest show of the year, Triple H and WWE Creative will have to find a replacement for both CM Punk and the World Heavyweight Championship, which The Revolutionary would probably have to give up in that case. Because he hasn’t yet main event WrestleMania, a story he hopes to wrap in Philadelphia, and because of his enormous star power, Punk probably remains a crucial piece in that equation.

Photo Credit: wrestlezone.com
Speaking of CM Punk finishing his story at WrestleMania, there is someone else who’s story could greatly benefit if Rollins is sidelined for the big event. Rumors have been circulating that The Rock will face Roman Reigns in an incredible dream match when he enters the ring for the first time since 2013. This may take Cody Rhodes out of the main event title scene. This rumor could set up The American Nightmare to be finishing his story elsewhere, for perhaps a different title at WrestleMania… Cody Rhodes is the most obvious and sensible superstar to replace Rollins should he be held out due to injury. As one of the company’s faces, Rhodes is a work horse who continues to make appearances long after the show concludes. It makes sense to put him in a position where he can challenge Rollins for the title if necessary, and it also gives Rhodes the opportunity to finish out his story by winning the title that his father, Dusty Rhodes, was never able to win. Additionally, it sets up an easy feud with a returning Rollins, who can object to his opponent winning the championship and even go so far as to say that The Visionary’s lack of opportunity to complete his own story is the only reason Rhodes was able to finish his.
Photo Credit: f4wonline.com
Seth Rollins has done everything that you want to see a champion do in the WWE. He works every Monday night on RAW, frequently leaves the building as the main event attraction, attends all of the live events, and has successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship more times in the last month than Roman Reigns has successfully defended his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in the previous six months. He is what you would call a fighting champion. He has dedicated himself to his character on film, is among the best workers in the business, and has earned this title of champion. It would be a huge disappointment for a guy who fought his way back to the top of the card to possibly have to give it up, as he did ten years ago following a devastating knee injury that occurred during his first heel turn and forced him to miss the biggest show of the year. Rollins has earned the chance to see his title reign through to its conclusion with one of the main matchups at WrestleMania, just as much as Punk, Rhodes, and even Drew McIntyre have earned the right to finish their storylines and see their respective dreams come true. Whether or not he’ll get to do that, only time will tell.
ENOUGH SAID!

ENOUGH SAID!

(Mike McCarthy [left], Jerry Jones [right])
Twenty-Eight years. That is how long the Dallas Cowboys have not seen the promised land of a Super Bowl title and we can now officially say twenty-nine. I am a fan of the Cowboys for the better part of a decade and it is getting frustrating with the lack of success.

First, they had a QB with no protection, then they got protection but no targets, and finally, they got targets and lost the QB and are stuck with Dak Prescott. Let’s be real here, Dakota Prescott will never win a Super Bowl and will never be considered a great player and there lies the issue. 

(Failed Dallas QB Dakota Prescott)
“America’s team” should have the best of all positions and staff. Settling with Prescott has set us back at least five years because of the structure that will need to change. Every time the Cowboys do make it to the playoffs, they act like a deer in the headlights; scared and shocked.

First, a pass was given because of Covid, Micah Parsons was unwell but played anyway, next it was the penalty fiasco with Randy Gregory and Terrance Steele, then Mike McCarthy’s crap play-calling using Zeke as the center AND NOW it’s Dak Prescott with his best Jameis Winston impression.

Mike “play-caller” McCarthy is a huge problem. Has the ego of Don Shula and the talent of Rex Ryan. There is no reason he should be the head coach next year. There are rumors currently that no decision will be made until after Tuesday morning whether he stays or goes.

(The last Cowboys championship team including Michael Irving [far right])
Confirmed targets for replacing the failed HC are Mike Tomlin, Dan Quinn, Bill Belichick, and a wild card pick in Jim Harbaugh if/when Jerry Jones pulls the trigger.

Dallas have put themselves in a terrible position this offseason because of Prescott’s contract package and the no-trade clause. It still hurts to see that Dallas could have drafted Jordan Love and went against that decision to pay Dak a contract he was never worth.

If I was Jerry Jones, I’d take the hit on his contract, get McCarthy as far away from Dallas as possible, trade DeMarcus Lawrence, and fix it with Trey Lance, Mike Tomlin, and Aaron Donald. 

NHL Midseason Player Award Predictions

NHL Midseason Player Award Predictions

Photo Credit: espn.com
The regular season for the NHL has nearly reached the halfway point as many NHL teams have played close to 41 games so far. There have been lots of surprises from many new players and the usual bunch (McDavid, Pastrnak, Draisaitl, Matthews), which has created an exciting award watch for NHL fans. With that in mind, here are my predictions for each NHL award through the midpoint of the year…

Art Ross Trophy/Hart Memorial Trophy

There have been lots of different participants in the Art Ross/Hart Trophy race so far compared to past years. J.T Miller, Quinn Hughes (a defenseman!), Sam Reinhart, Elias Pettersson, and Filip Forsberg. Artemi Panarin and David Pastrnak have looked like beasts this year as they both have 55 points. However, 2 players are running ahead of everyone else: Nathan McKinnon (22-43-65 pts) and Nikita Kucherov (28-39-67 pts). Both of them have 42 more games to play and it will be exciting to see who finishes with more points. On a Lightning team that hasn’t played up to their standards (19-17-5, 5th in Atlantic), the 30 year old superstar Kucherov will heat up even more as the Lightning find their stride and narrowly beat McKinnon to win the Art Ross. With that being said, the Lightning are barely standing tall with Kucherov going off, so who knows where Tampa would be without him? Give him the Hart too!

Winner: LW Nikita Kucherov (TBL)
Runner-ups: C Nathan McKinnon (COL), LW Artemi Panarin (NYR)

Photo Credit: thespokesman-review.com

Calder Memorial Trophy

Out of all the rookies this year, the most dazzling one has been superstar Connor Bedard. He has looked great for a struggling Blackhawks squad as he has been scoring at a near point-per-game pace (15 goals, 33 points in 39 games) and was the clear front-runner for the award. Over the weekend, Bedard had to leave a game vs the N.J Devils with a fractured jaw and was placed on IR. The star can still win the Calder, but it will definitely be a closer race than it originally was. D-man Luke Hughes has been solid for the Devils, as he is 3rd among rookies in assists (16) and points (23), and has been red hot lately. D-man Brock Faber has been solid for the Minnesota Wild as he has been playing over 20 minutes a night and has a plus-minus of +9 (T-1st among rookies). Furthermore, Jackets center Adam Fantilli is having a nice rookie year as he is 2nd in points (24) and 3rd in goals (11). Typically, fractured jaws take 4-6 weeks to play, so Bedard can definitely still be in the thick of the race if he returns by early-to-mid February. Even while missing several weeks, he will win the Calder in his opening season as a Blackhawk.

Winner: C Connor Bedard (CHI)
Runner-ups: D Brock Faber (MIN), D Luke Hughes (NJD)

James Norris Trophy

There have been many candidates in the mix to receive the Norris Trophy. Evan Bouchard, Victor Hedman, Charlie McAvoy, Adam Fox, Josh Morissey, and Rasmus Dahlin are deserving players for the award. However, 3 of them have separated from the rest: Noah Dobson, Cale Makar, and Quinn Hughes. Dobson has taken strides in both sides of his game this season, as he has scored at a point-per-game pace (32 assists, 38 points in 39 games), has a +20 plus/minus, and 89 blocked shots. In addition, he is one of the leaders in TOI through the NHL (26:33) as the Islanders have dealt with many injuries to their d-line. For the Avs, Cale Makar has continued to be one of the best defensemen in the game with 47 points (35 games), 64 blocked shots, and a 24:34 TOI. The frontrunner in the Norris marathon is Quinn Hughes. Hughes showed steps of a breakout the last 2 seasons, as he had 68 and 76 points respectively. The d-man has been tremendous and vital to a surprising Canucks squad that is one of the top teams in the NHL to date. He has 49 points in 39 games (10 G, 39 A), a +26 plus/minus, and 24:33 TOI. As long as Vancouver and Hughes keep rolling, he will be taking home some hardware!

Winner: D Quinn Hughes (VAN)
Runner-ups: D Cale Makar (COL), D Noah Dobson (NYI)

Photo Credit: apnews.com

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy

Sam Reinhart (28 goals), Zach Hyman (25 goals), and Brock Boeser (24 goals) being three candidates for the Maurice Richard Trophy has been a pleasant surprise to watch this year. All of them have sustainable paces, but it won’t lead to any hoisting of a trophy. Auston Matthews is in the lead with 30 goals despite playing in only 36 games and is in contention to win another Maurice Trophy. He has been a prolific goal scorer for his entire career, as he’s only scored under 40 goals in 2 of his 7 seasons (excluding this season). Nikita Kucherov definitely has a chance, as he is in line to win the Art Ross/Hart with his outstanding play for the Lightning. However, Kucherov won’t be winning 3 trophies as Matthews will heat up and take his 3rd Maurice Trophy in the last 4 seasons.

Winner: F Auston Matthews (TOR)
Runner-up: LW Nikita Kucherov (TBL), C Nathan McKinnon (COL)

Vezina Trophy

Just like most of the other awards, this year’s Vezina race is different from the previous few years. Star goalies like Ilya Sorokin (12-7-8, 3.17 GAA, .909 SV%), 2022 Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin (16-8-0, 2.76 GAA, .908%), last year’s Vezina winner Linus Ullmark (13-5-2, 2.74 GAA, .917 SV%), and Jake Oettinger (11-7-2, 2.93 GAA, .901 SV%) have struggled or not performed to their career standards. This has paved the way for new goalies to enter the mix. Jeremy Swayman (11-3-4, 2.43 GAA, .922%), Connor Hellebuyck (20-6-3, 2.27 GAA, .921 SV%), and Cam Talbot (14-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .923 SV%) have had incredible performances throughout the year for their respective teams. Adin Hill (10-2-2, 1.93 GAA, .933 SV%) was having an unheard-of start for the Golden Knights that was similar to Ullmark’s season last year before he got injured. Hill is supposed to return next week, which would boost his chances of winning the Vezina if he stays healthy the rest of the way. However, the Bruins won’t be getting back-to-back Vezina winners as Hellebuyck will keep the Jets soaring to the playoffs with his 2nd Vezina of his career. Since Swayman plays in more of a time-share and an amazing defensive system, Hellebuyck will get more starts if he stays healthy and his chances of winning the trophy should only increase if this standard continues for the rest of the regular season.

Winner: G Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)
Runner-ups: G Jeremy Swayman (BOS), G Cam Talbot (LAK)