You’ll have to watch a televised special to find out who the winners are. Or just wait until we tell you who won after the special. Whichever.
The 2014 Gold Glove finalists were announced, and it only took Rawlings 40 minutes to do it through Twitter! That’s because they include the team and player handles for everyone, and there are quite a few finalists at each position. A singular list would have been nice, but you can’t have everything in the social media age, I guess. Well, you can, because we’re making said singular list for you. Because we care about ease of use.
Remember, 25 percent of the vote now comes from select advanced stats folks, instead of just coaches and players. That didn’t stop Miguel Cabrera from being nominated for a Gold Glove at first base thanks to his bat, though, but hey, maybe he won’t win because of it and that will be an improvement.
The chase for Connor McDavid has turned ugly as a league-wide scandal threatens to derail the modern NHL as we know it.
I never intended to become an investigative journalist, but then again, I didn’t intend for a lot of things to happen in my life.
Sure, I thought it was strange that fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs were throwing their jerseys onto the ice. Jerseys cost a lot of money and the Maple Leafs rarely do anything that would ever make their fans want to get rid of theirs. It’s not like the club has spent the last decade-plus in mediocrity, and the general appreciation level of the fans for the coaching staff and management group is something rarely seen in the league today.
But still, things seemed amiss. It felt like something was up but I couldn’t prove that something was up.
That is until I received a piece of electronic mail that would forever shake the league to its core.
On Monday morning, I received a piece of evidence from an anonymous tipster that implicates the NHL and Toronto Maple Leafs in a scandal that, to my knowledge, is unprecedented. The league might never be the same again.
Details below. On to this week’s McHockey Watch!
Connor McStats through Oct. 22
Connor McDavid has fallen below his goal-per-game pace, which has the scouts concerned and could result in his draft stock falling. Through 10 games, McDavid has only scored nine goals and totaled 29 points. He had an average night on Wednesday, only scoring four points (goal and three assists) against the Niagara IceDogs.
Awarded weekly to the team trying its hardest to fall into the McDavid sweepstakes.
The Winnipeg Jets scored six goals in their first game! And then scored two goals … over their next four games … while allowing 13.
Surprisingly, they lost all four of those games.
Fortunately they snapped the skid on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, which … well, they were the Connor McFront Runner of Last Week, so, yeah.
A lot of people have been comparing the Jets situation in Winnipeg to a honeymoon coming to an end. Well, I disagree.
While the honeymoon comparison is an acceptable metaphor, I think the Winnipeg Jets are much more like a small child. They start out really cute and everybody is excited about what it’s going to become! It’s first steps are like the moon landing and every moment is a treasure.
Annnnnnd then it grows up. And it smells kinda bad. And everything it does is kinda disappointing. And you really wish it would stop using the decorative hand towels like that…
Awarded weekly to the team that suffered the NHL’s most demoralizing loss.
The Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers appeared in the inaugural Connor McMatchup of the Week on Friday night. The Panthers came away with a 1-0 victory and got two points closer to drafting Jack Eichel, while the Sabres got zero points closer to becoming the worst team in the league.
Now, I know this loss wasn’t a “blow out” in the traditional sense, but it was still a blow out, like in the way that it made me wanna blow out my brain— I mean, my brazen opinion of Sabres fans.
These fine folks need to be praised for putting up with this shit, because it was rough.
Awarded weekly to the team that just doesn’t need McDavid’s help, and definitely won’t get it anyway.
Well, check this out. After two frustrating years devoid of winning, the Nashville Predators have jumped out of the gate with a 4-0-2 record and lead the Central Divison.
Is it because of a healthy diet of Peter Laviolette jam? The exquisite no look passing of Mike Ribeiro? The one goal scored by James Neal!?
It’s clearly because the Predators infused their stout defensive system with the beautiful flow of Olli Jokinen:
Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
God, does that man have a beautiful head of hair.
The Connor McNeed To Rig The Draft Lottery: Toronto Maple Leafs
Awarded weekly to a bad team that’s not quite bad enough to actually land McDavid in the draft … unless of course the lottery balls go their way.
One of the strangest developments this season is that Maple Leafs fans have already started throwing their jerseys on the ice. Over the span of four home games, there have been two instances of fans throwing their sweaters in apparent protest.
Even more strange is that the Maple Leafs have more wins than there have been jersey tosses.
But still, it doesn’t make any sense why Maple Leafs fans would be throwing their jerseys onto the ice seven games into the season. Except it does and I’ve figured it all out.
Think about this:
– What happens when a fan throws their jersey onto the ice? Other fans start throwing their jerseys on the ice.
– What happens when fans collectively start throwing jerseys on the ice? The players get kinda sad a little bit.
– What happens when the players get kinda sad a little bit? They start underperforming at work.
– What happens when they start underperforming at work? They start losing games.
– What happens when they start losing games? They get better odds in the draft lottery.
– What happens when the Maple Leafs get better odds in the draft lottery? They draft Connor McDavid with the first overall pick.
Hmmm. If all those fans throw their jerseys onto the ice, then I guess they’ll be in the market for a brand new Maple Leafs sweater, won’t they? And what better jersey to get than one with “McDavid” on the back of it.
It’s all coming together. It was in front of us the whole time: The Maple Leafs organization are the ones throwing Maple Leafs jerseys on the ice. They’ll get McDavid and they’ll sell a boat load of new jerseys. It’s a flawless plan.
Don’t believe me? I think this picture speaks for itself.
Unfortunately, this scandal extends far beyond the reaches of the Toronto boarder. Based upon my sources, several other teams have already started discussing this strategy.
The Anaheim jersey ended up on Anaheim ice near the end of regulation on Wednesday night. Coincidentally, the opponent was the Buffalo Sabres who just happened to be HOSTING CONNOR MCDAVID THAT VERY SAME NIGHT.
Coincidence? Yeah, sure. Stay woke people.
The Ducks, Maple Leafs and NHL would not respond to my requests for comment.
Awarded weekly to the team that, as of right now, has the best chance of landing Connor McDavid in the 2015 Draft.
I hear y’all are interested in what them fancy stats are gonna say about the Avalanche this season. Well, have I got a fancy stat for you:
That’s the number of goaltenders the Avalanche have had on the active roster this season and it’s why they’ve become the front runner for a rise to the top! Of the Draft!
Coming off a year were the metrics indicated that above average goaltending aided the Avalanche in winning the Central Division, many anticipated that the team would plummet back to reality. Well, that’s been the case thus far, and boy, is plummet a great word to describe what’s happened.
Semyon Varlamov injured his groin last week, which forced the team to call-up rookie goaltender Calvin Pickard. Then backup goaltender Reto Berra sustained a neck strain against the Ottawa Senators, which forced Pickard into action mere hours after joining the team. In total, Pickard spent 2:46 as a backup goaltender in the NHL before being forced to play.
No pressure, dude!
The Avalanche ended up blowing a 3-1 lead against the Senators and then went onto lose their next two games, allowing at least three goals in each contest. Fortunately Varlamov is expected to come back for Friday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, because 420 wouldn’t look as good in Colorado if it started showing up as the Avalanche’s goals against average.
The Connor McMatchup Of Next Week
Set your DVRs/PVRs!
Sunday, Oct. 26, the Avalanche will be traveling to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. The game begins at 3 p.m. ET (take THAT East Coast bias) on Altitude and TSN 3.
If you have / see / hear a Connor McDavid McHockey Moment this week, be sure to pass it along in the comments section, by tweeting me @mattbrigidi, or by emailing me at email@example.com.
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Sporting Lisbon looked set to hold on for a 3-3 draw with Schalke, despite playing with 10 men, but then in stoppage time, the referee whistled them for a handball in the box and pointed to the spot. The problem? The ball hit the defender’s face, not his hand.
Sporting were understandably irate. Schalke were fortunate and, after converting the penalty, won, 4-3.
But Sporting weren’t just irate. They were deluded enough to think that a bad call was worthy of a rematch and have appealed UEFA to get the match replayed or at least be granted a point for the draw that they didn’t get.
“Schalke 04 have been asked by UEFA for their position on the matter and will submit this shortly while taking into consideration the protection of the club’s own interests,” Sporting said.
Schalke have not yet responded, presumably because they are working on how to craft their message of “LOL.”
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Fred Hoiberg has a system and he uses it well. The Cyclones are our No. 11 team.
Iowa State just keeps getting better and better. As Fred Hoiberg enters his fifth season as the king of Ames, the Cyclones have made yearly progress on their way to becoming one of the better programs in the country. Even as Iowa State loses the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year in Melvin Ejim and an incredible point guard in DeAndre Kane, Hoiberg has the Cyclones set up for what could be their most balanced and well-rounded team yet.
Hoiberg has found his niche in spreading the floor and playing fast. It’s a fun system to play in, so there’s no wonder he’s been able to augment the roster with star transfers every season. First it was Royce White, then Will Clyburn. Kane came over from Marshall last season and might have been Hoiberg’s most successful transfer ever. This year’s team welcomes three more impact transfers to surround the core of a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season.
Bryce Dejean-Jones is Hoiberg’s latest game-changing transfer. Dejean-Jones led UNLV in scoring and assists last season while finishing third in rebounds. He’ll be stationed at the off-guard spot for the Cyclones where his all-around game should make him one of the focal points in Hoiberg’s offense. Hoiberg is hoping he can maintain his scoring punch (13.6 points per game last season) while improving his efficency (42.7 percent from the field, 32.3 percent from three).
Hoiberg’s other big-time transfer won’t be eligible until December, but he gives the Cyclones a dimension they’ve never had. That’s rim protection. Jameel McKay originally signed with Marquette before deciding to go the JUCO route and eventually transferring into Iowa State. At 6’9, he projects as the starting center and a key shot blocker for a team that typically finds itself undersized in March. If McKay is as good as many people think he could be, that won’t be an issue anymore.
For all of the new additions, the players who return from a very successful team last season provide a great foundation. It starts with Georges Niang, who returns after breaking his foot in Iowa State’s round of 32 victory over North Carolina last season. Much has been made of Niang’s offseason body transformation. He was already a versatile offensive force, averaging 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season. If getting in better shape helps him out defensively, Niang is a threat to win Big 12 Player of the Year.
It isn’t often a program can lose players the caliber of Kane and Ejim and be expected to remain one of the best teams in the country, but that’s what Hoiberg has done. Iowa State is going to be very good. If history is any indication, the Cyclones are only going to continue trending upward. Whether Iowa State can end Kansas’ 10-year strangle hold on the Big 12 or finally break through to the Final Four remains to be seen, but there’s no question this program will continue to go in the right direction as long as Hoiberg is around.
Projected starting lineup
PG Monte Morris, sophomore
SG Bryce Dejean-Jones, senior
SF Georges Niang, junior
PF Dustin Hogue, senior
C Jameel McKay, junior
Key reserves: G Nazier Long (sophomore), G Matt Thomas (sophomore), F Abdel Nader (junior), C Georgios Tsalmpouris (freshman), G Clayton Custer (freshman)
How the Cyclones can go deep in March: The offense keeps humming while the defense takes a step up
Hoiberg has become one of the best college coaches in the country by making the Cyclones unstoppable offensively. Iowa State has finished No. 6 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings each of the last two seasons, and the potential is there for another great offense. This should be an unselfish team that runs much of its offense through Niang and Dejean-Jones, with Morris acting as the heady floor general entering his sophomore season.
Morris could be really good. Last season as a freshman, he finished the season with 134 assists compared to just 28 turnovers. He only took 69 threes, but he made over 40 percent of them. With enough talented scorers around him, Morris should settle nicely into his role as the lead distributor and could possibly become one of the better facilitators in the country.
Dustin Hogue is another key returning cog. He’s only 6’6 but often played center last season for an ISU team lacking size inside. He’s a great rebounder, tying for the team lead with 8.4 rebounds per game. He also finished with an incredible 61.5 effective field goal percentage that ranked No. 29 in the country last season.
With shooters Naz Long and Matt Thomas on the bench and Northern Illinois transfer Abdel Nader adding front court depth, Hoiberg should be able to bring on waves of talented offensive players. The question, then, is can anyone here play defense?
In Hoiberg’s four seasons, Iowa State has averaged a defense that places No. 95 in the country in KenPom’s rankings. That’s not going to cut it in March when the Cyclones will have to get stops in crunch-time instead of trying to out-gun everybody.
McKay could be the game-changer in that equation. ISU has always lacked a rim protector under Hoiberg, and that’s exactly what McKay projects to be. Iowa State better hope he can live up to the hype.
How Iowa State can lose early: The transfers aren’t as good as expected
The transfer narrative around Iowa State is so easy to latch on to when Hoiberg has found so much success that way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean every class is going to be able to live up to the impossibly high standard set by Royce White, DeAndre Kane and others. Kane was truly a monster last season and the assumption that Dejean-Jones can just step in and have a similar effect requires a pretty big leap of faith.
Even if Dejean-Jones is good (and he was very good at UNLV), it seems likely that he won’t be the machine Kane was. Similar worries could potentially be attached to McKay or highly-touted freshman center Georgios Tsalmpouris. For Iowa State to take off, these guys have to be as good as everyone assumes they’re going to be. Hogue, Niang and Morris are battle-tested under Hoiberg. Everyone else must buy in quickly.
The only other potential issue here is simply that the Big 12 is awesome once again. Kansas is a top five squad that has reloaded without Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Texas and Oklahoma have each been ranked in this countdown. Baylor and Oklahoma State might take a step back, but those won’t be easy games. Juwan Staten is going to go bonkers all year for West Virginia.
Kansas has dominated the Big 12 so thoroughly under Bill Self that Iowa State might have an easier time making the Final Four than winning the conference. It’s a trade-off they would surely take. The important thing here is that the program’s success the last few seasons appears sustainable. So long as Hoiberg keeps rejecting the NBA, Iowa State is going to be competitive every season. This might end up being their best one yet.
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Tom Watson enjoys his baseball — especially that played by American League champion and World Series contender Kansas City Royals.
Tom Watson emerged from his post-Ryder Cup bunker to cheer in-person as his hometown Kansas City squad went 1-1 in their World Series tilt with San Francisco.
Watson may have had a feeling of deja vu on Tuesday night when the Royals were “Euro’d” by the Giants, 7-1, in Game 1, as the skipper of Team USA looked on. The leader of the 16.5-11.5 losers to the Europeans last month in Scotland, who sat through a public rebuke from a certain southpaw after the shellacking, was at least able to enjoy a next-day 7-2 comeback from his favorite nine.
Phil Mickelson will blame the KC loss on Tom Watson being in the crowd
Watson, a regular in the stands at Kauffman Stadium even as he prepared for the Ryder Cup, likes the team so much that he and an eclectic group of business and sports honchos tried but failed back in 1999 to buy the Royals (h/t Pete Madden). But, boy can the eight-time major winner hit a golf ball off home plate!
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The last thing Toronto FC needed as they prepare for yet another postseason-less offseason was some more egg on their face. But, being TFC, of course they couldn’t wait until the offseason. So maybe it’s not surprising that their most promising, young defender has been sold, and wait, there’s more…
Doneil Henry has been sold to a club in Cyprus (or Europe) and had been on loan at Toronto indefinitely. #TFC#MLS
To recap quickly: Doneil Henry was not only sold to a club in “Cyprus (or Europe)” — because just “Cyprus” wasn’t vague enough — but he’s apparently BEEN PLAYING ON LOAN at TFC for some UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME. But there’s a reason that no one seems to have any answers: It’s because no one seems to have any.
I was told the team Doneil Henry has been sold to is not clear because his representatives did the deal with Toronto FC & Kia Joorabchian.
If the name Kia Joorabchian rings a bell, that’s because he’s the same unlicensed player agent who was involved in the Carlos Tevez transfer that got West Ham in so much trouble. It should also be noted that MLS had to be complicit in every step of this process, as they are the ones who would need to approve any deal as the original contract holders. So, yeah, it’s a dumpster fire.
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After Thursday’s game against the Broncos, the Chargers will play the Miami Dolphins for Week 9 before their bye. They’re sitting at 5-2 on the season and probably have the luxury of letting Mathews sit out to fully heal from his injuries. It also probably helps that rookie Branden Oliver is playing very well in his absence. Oliver has 72 carries for 316 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
Fantasy Impact: Mathews was struggling before going down with injury, too. He had 23 carries for just 71 yards and a touchdown before sustaining his injury. That said, he never really got an opportunity to get going. If fantasy owners have kept him around, he’s worth holding for now but a return after the bye week does seem the most likely at this point.
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If a free agent doesn’t want to sign with the Lakers because of Kobe Bryant, team president Jeanie Buss seems quite alright with that.
The Los Angeles Lakers have long been one of the NBA’s destination franchises, but recently, the team has had a tough time finding star players to pair with Kobe Bryant. There’s been speculation that the future Hall of Famer’s dominating presence has scared off prospective free agents, who recognize the role Bryant has in Los Angeles.
Lakers president Jeanie Buss responded to that idea Thursday, calling any player who’s afraid to play with Kobe “a loser” during an appearance on Sportscenter.
“Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” Buss said.
Everybody knows Bryant’s reputation as an intense, critical leader, but earlier this week, ESPN.com published a lengthy feature detailing the Lakers’ struggles to build a team around the aging superstar. One of the primary themes of the article was Bryant’s presence discouraging other players from wanting to play in L.A.
However, Buss doesn’t agree with the many anonymous sources used by ESPN, and said as much Thursday.
“I read the story,” Buss said Thursday. “I don’t agree with any of it. If there is somebody that’s on our payroll who is saying things like that, I’ll soon get to the bottom of it, and they won’t be working for us anymore.”
Bryant, 36, is in the first year of a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid player in the league. The Lakers signed the deal after losing their other superstar, Dwight Howard, to the Houston Rockets in a borderline unprecedented move. Los Angeles then failed in its attempts to sign stars like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh over the summer, and now projects as one of the weaker teams in the Western Conference.
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