Franson situation a damning indictment of Nonis’s tenure


The most telling aspect of the Toronto Maple Leafs week without Dion Phaneuf hasn’t been their ability to adhere to the new defensive urgings of head coach Peter Horachek, it was the report from Elliotte Friedman that Cody Franson has snubbed the team’s offer of a multi-year contract worth a reported $4.6 million per season.

Trading Phaneuf is a one-stop answer to changing the team’s culture, but Franson is perhaps the only defenceman the Leafs have in hand responsible enough to log Phaneuf’s minutes – and don’t even begin to think the team will strike it rich with a free-agent such as Johnny Boychuk.

That the Leafs have allowed Franson to become so valuable at this time and the waters possibly so poisoned after a couple of contractual battles might be one of the most damning indictments of David Nonis’s tenure as general manager. It’s a sign of how poorly this organization has managed its salary cap and how badly Nonis has misjudged things that despite the limitations of the unrestricted free agent defenceman and goaltender Jonathan Bernier – a restricted free agent — they are in some ways among the most irreplaceable Leafs.


Television. Tickets. Luxury suites. In-stadium advertising. As the revenue streams plateau for North American professional sports, advertising on uniforms is the next step so it’s understandable that the NHL and NHLPA’s joint venture World Cup of Hockey will actively consider jersey sponsorship by corporations.

In fact, I would suggest it’s something coming sooner than later, what with a new baseball commissioner – Rob Manfred – and an NBA commissioner who seems charged with considerable foresight (Adam Silver), plus an NHL commissioner in Gary Bettman who might be looking at considerable bottom-line damage due to the cratering Canadian dollar.

There’s nothing more time-wasting than raging against inevitability, and while I understand the whole sanctity of the jersey thing, the world’s most visible franchises in its most visible sport (soccer) – many of whom have rich histories and traditions of their own – have long had corporate sponsorship. The real issue for fans ought not to be the sanctity of their logo, it should be that advertising on jerseys is a forced incentive to purchase new jerseys every three or four years, since that can be the expected length of sponsorship agreements. Many fans will want to ensure they have an “authentic” jersey, which will mean a jersey with the current corporate sponsor. Pony up, folks.

The things you learn in a week hosting a sport talk-show

“From the position of the Yankees, the incentive might be to stick A-Rod on the bench and have him not reach the next level (of bonus payments) … or it might be trying to convince A-Rod to forego those bonuses if he wants to play.”

— Marc Edelman, law professor at the Zicklin School of Business, City University of New York, discusses the impending legal showdown between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez over six bonus payments due the slugger for surpassing milestone home run marks.

Listen Now: Marc Edelman on The Jeff Blair Show

“We were fortunate enough to get Bud Selig to give us a US$5-million supplement. It didn’t solve things, but it helped along the way and I would expect the Blue Jays organization would go back to the commissioner’s office as the dollar falls and consider re-establishing it.”

— Paul Godfrey, chairman and chief executive officer of Postmedia Network, suggests the declining value of the Canadian dollar will mean that his successor as Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO, Paul Beeston, ought to ask the commissioner’s office to re-implement the US$5 million annual currency equalization fund of former seasons

Listen Now: Paul Godfrey on The Jeff Blair Show

“When you’ve been a GM you always have to sit down and talk … whether it’s players or agents … and talk abut differences. I like to think the goal is always to accomplish what both sides want and my goal is to do the best I can for the players and for Tony Clark, our director.”

— Former Montreal Expos and New York Mets GM Omar Minaya discusses his decision to leave a senior vice-president job with the San Diego Padres to become an advisor to MLB Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark

Listen Now: Omar Minaya on The Jeff Blair Show


  • Forget the Vezina Trophy, it’s going to be difficult to keep Carey Price and Pekka Rinne out of the Hart Trophy race, as well. Price’s fourth shutout of the season on Saturday was his second consecutive 1-0 victory and there was a whiff of history around it since Max Pacioretty scored both in that game plus in the previous shutout on Thursday against the New York Rangers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team had back-to-back 1-0 shutout wins with the same goaltender and same goal-scorer was Nov. 11 and Nov. 13, 1954, when the Toronto Maple Leafs recorded back-to-back wins over the Detroit Red Wings with Harry Lumley in goal and Sid Smith scoring.
  • Monday night’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks is an intriguing one for the Toronto Raptors, who are second only to the Bucks in field-goal percentage during this six-game winning streak. Raptors fans are justifiably bullish on their bench – Lou Williams deserves consideration for Sixth Man of the Year, as he did in 2011-2012 when he was runner-up to James Harden – but the Bucks bench has actually been the highest scoring in the NBA this season, averaging 43.7 points per game. The Raptors are fifth at 40.2 PPG. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd may have saved his post-playing career by getting out of the mess that is the Brooklyn Nets.
  • Had some fun with my friend Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports this week after his report on the NHL’s website including “fancy stats,” beginning this month, a move that is sure to get more traditional puck heads to bury their faces in their Original Six jerseys in anger. Fair play to the NHL for not only recognizing the value of advanced statistics, but in trying to corral their dissemination. There’s money to be made in not out-sourcing those statistics.
  • Every major league season seems to have an opt-out drama, and it appears as if 2015 is Zack Greinke’s turn. The 31-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander raised some eyebrows this weekend when he offered a lukewarm response to the suggestion that the Dodgers were a better team after an off-season overhaul, although he suggested he wouldn’t address the issue of exercising the opt-out clause he has at the end of the season until spring training. David Price headlines the potential free-agent class, although many in the game believe the Detroit Tigers will make a serious attempt to extend him before he reaches free agency.

The End Game

The Raptors can record their seventh consecutive win Monday night, something they haven’t done since Feb. 27-March 8, 2000, and there is a chance they’ll look back at this run as being the most significant of the season, considering the Atlanta Hawks just finished the single greatest month by any team in NBA history. The Hawks, who are 40-8 and seven games in front of the Raptors for first place in the Eastern Conference, bettered the 16-0 mark set by the Lakers of Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in 1971 and the 17-1 March of the 2013 Miami Heat, who went on to win 27 consecutive games.

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