32 Thoughts: Where will the reeling Canucks go from here?

The Hockey Central panel take a look at the Vancouver Canucks and attempt to shed some light on why this organization is struggling so far this season.

• Sports organizations are changing what they search for in front office hires
• The ramifications of a possible Pittsburgh Penguins sale
• How the NHL is dealing with positive COVID tests

Let’s start with Vancouver.

This is what I think is going on: When you start a season, you try to prepare yourself for all outcomes.

A. “We could be good”
B. “We’re going to battle for the playoffs”
C. “We know we’re going to be bad, but we’re going to make the best of it”
D. “Oh God, I hope we avoid a worst-case scenario. I’m going to pray to my deity this will happen to someone else.”

For the Canucks, unfortunately it’s “D.”

Organizationally, the franchise is reeling from top-to-bottom. They were expected to contend in the unpredictable Pacific. Instead, they are seventh, six points out of a playoff spot, returning from an 0-3 road trip where they were outscored 19-6. Ownership met Monday, and Francesco Aquilini met Tuesday afternoon with GM Jim Benning. A change at the position was not expected, and that didn’t occur.

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Under Aquilini ownership, a top-level management change isn’t made without a ready replacement. Dave Nonis to Mike Gillis. Gillis to Trevor Linden. The Canucks haven’t had an in-season coaching change since Marc Crawford replaced Mike Keenan during the 1999 All-Star Weekend.

I don’t sense any kind of management/coaching search from the organization over the last few weeks. Benning/Travis Green was to be their combo for the next two seasons. Absolutely, that could change and no one can feel safe. You can sense uncertainty throughout the organization from four provinces away.

I periodically spar with Vancouver’s extremely passionate online fanbase, but you can’t blame them now (I’ve seen all of your hot dog-costume memes in reply to the report of the meeting). Everyone is scrambling; this was supposed to be a breakthrough year.

Several of our Vancouver-based Sportsnet compatriots — with a much better grasp of market dynamics than mine — are saying they believe fan reaction during Wednesday’s return versus Colorado could determine course of action. That’s insane. Certainly, a cratering of ticket sales affects change, but to base moves on one night’s festivities is awful process and doomed to fail.

The ownership meetings on Monday were very much about, “Ok, we didn’t expect this. If it doesn’t change, we’re going to have to do something. What’s that going to be?” In the short term, more than the GM or the coach, it’s going to be about fixing on-ice. Part of that is practical, part of that is a desire to inform the players that they have to share in the blame. There are several problems to address, but no greater mystery than what has happened to Elias Pettersson.

According to our daily Sportlogiq report, Pettersson is tied for sixth in the league in cycle chances with 28. Other than that, he’s a stunning non-factor. Two seasons ago, he had 24 goals from the slot in 68 games. In 2021-22, he’s got 0 in 16. He’s simply too good for that. It’s never solely on one player, but his descent from the usual eliteness torpedoes Vancouver’s attack.

The Canucks have been working for some time to build up his play and confidence, but there are no answers so far. I’m not in their room, but that sounds like the largest frustration point among the team — adding to the tension in the room, on the bench, on the ice and throughout the organization. They are thinking about trades, but this is the time vultures circle and you’re thrown anvils instead of life preservers.

You work in an office environment long enough, you know when things are nearing DEFCON 1. They’re not there — yet — in Vancouver. But the events of the last 48 hours mean we’re headed down that road if things don’t get better.

32 THOUGHTS

1. If the Canucks do eventually consider any changes, it comes at a time when organizations are extremely nervous about the challenges of properly vetting candidates for current/future openings — and consequences for failing to do so. Anaheim and Chicago absolutely cannot afford mistakes. The league office holds major influence in these decisions, and I’m not sure that’s going to change much. But I can see more and more teams turning to outside entities in search of fresh perspectives, or to make sure they aren’t missing anything. It’s extremely common outside the NHL, and inevitable within.

One influential name many of us wouldn’t know is Mike Forde, executive chairman of Sportsology, billed as bringing “a wealth of strategic, performance, creative and technical expertise to help your organization realize its full potential.” Last April, The Ringer’s Yaron Weitzman billed him “The NBA’s GM Kingmaker.” A former Premier League executive with Bolton and Chelsea, he created his current business at the start of 2014. It has a worldwide reach among several different sports. New Jersey’s parent owners, Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, is one client, which meant Forde had a role in the process that led to Tom Fitzgerald being promoted to full-time manager. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis used Forde to oversee the NBA Wizards’ GM search in 2019. “Mike was recommended to me by (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver,” Leonsis said via email. Forde taught him “not to be bound by doing the same old things in the same old ways. We took our time to build a leadership group with complementing talents and skills. Traditionally, front-office searches look for the ‘one great person,’ and I approached the process thinking about how to bring together great people around ‘one big goal’ of winning a championship.”

Interestingly, both of those situations resulted in promotions for internal candidates, Fitzgerald with the Devils and Tommy Sheppard with the Wizards. “Everyone says, ‘Well, that was a long process to get someone who was in the building,’” Forde said on this week’s podcast. “Actually it was a great process because (Leonsis) could say, ‘I looked around, I spoke to multiple people, I saw where the market was, I saw what our needs were, and hired two or three different people around (Sheppard), built a braintrust that hopefully now is going to take him in year three to great success.’ That’s the silhouette of the future for me and it starts with the curiosity of the owner.” That’s the thing that intrigued me most about Forde’s work. It’s not simply “We have to get rid of the old,” because that doesn’t always make sense and, in the media business in particular, it’s led to terrible mismanagement. It’s “we have to find the new and merge it with the old that still works.” It’s early, but the Wizards currently lead the NBA’s Eastern Conference and the Devils, who are fun to watch, show real signs of progress. That Dawson Mercer looks terrific.

2. Forde isn’t crazy about Sportsology being called a “search firm.” If anything, what he wants to do is ask owners to slow down the process when they search for someone new. He says that, for example, the average coaching/GM search in the NFL lasts 17 days. “(What we do is) less about coming with the latest piece of wearable tech or face-recognition technology, it’s about suspending judgement,” he says. “And in 17 days it’s pretty impossible to suspend judgement, do a deep dive to learn best-practices, next-practices etc., and then come out the other side. So what happens is people go, ‘I want to move past x individual, I think I’m going to take some time,’ and they get pushed into the next thing which is to go to a Super-Bowl winning program, find a number two and hope by osmosis that creates success.” His experience is “you have more time than you think.”

3. “The first thing is, can you just allow the owners to take a deep breath?” Forde adds. “To not listen to the media, not listen to agents, not listen to other executives, to say you have to hire someone in three days.” The Wizards took four months “just to understand what the future could look like before (Leonsis) decided on the front office. Not everyone has the luxury of that time, but they certainly have (some) time. We’ll encourage ownership groups: stop, stand still. Don’t think there’s a unicorn at the end of this, one person who’s going to run it to change the future of the franchise. It’s probably going to be built around several people in a braintrust. We go through different phases of transformation. It might be re-imagining strategy, re-imagining the front office, re-imagining the type of people that could work for that franchise, re-imagining a target operating model or different processes, it could be re-imagining anything that could do with data or technology.”

I loved his take on five-year plans. “In our experience, that is four years of trying things and then in the fifth year, you throw a lot of things at the wall and see if it sticks. Right? The challenge of an owner is, when they hear that — and an owner said it to me in a different sport last year — I’ve had two of these guys before, now I’m eight years in and I’m still where I was on day one. So how can your business plan as a GM fit the needs of the business, not this sort-of utopia four or five years from now?” He also says head count has zero correlation to winning, and refreshingly, has little time for the analytics vs. eye-test debate, because he doesn’t think either is the most important skill. “The people who do this job successfully year-after-year…their ability to communicate up and down a vertical is non-negotiable.” MLB Oakland’s Billy Beane, immortalized by Brad Pitt in Moneyball, had the gift of being able to translate the information he considered valuable to the people who needed to understand it.

4. Earlier this week, the NHL’s Executive Inclusion Council commissioned a voluntary demographic study of the league-wide workforce in order to gain a better understanding “and appreciation” of who works in the business. In addition to diversity of people, there’s also diversity of thought and experience. When I first joined Hockey Night in Canada and watched practice with the Garry Galleys, the Glenn Healys, the Kelly Hrudeys, the Greg Millens and the Craig Simpsons, that’s where I realized how little I knew. How much there was still to learn. To intuitively “see” things that happened. It’s really important to look for fresh blood, but I still think about making a critical decision for a hockey team without that intuition.

“Let’s qualify this,” Forde says. “Do I think there’s a baseball president who could run an NBA team at a leadership level? Yeah I do, absolutely I do. Do I think there’s a leading NFL person who could add value at a leadership level in European soccer? Absolutely, because I think 80 per cent of the mechanics of the job are very similar. You’re building teams, you’re hiring people, you’re managing a process, you’re managing the owners, you’re managing the media, there’s a lot of similarities. Now, there are thunderbolt moments in every calendar year of each sport where you are required to have knowledge that creates a competitive advantage. But I do believe that building this commitment to (intellectual) diversity into the management is really important. If we have 10 people, do we want the top four ranked people to be from outside the sport? Probably a bridge too far…But the challenge is this bias, which is unless you know and have put the time in and grinded around the league — you can’t have value. And that is not true in our experience. Because we have seen people move between sports, come from outside of sports and come in and add huge value…Six or seven years ago, the NBA was very linear in its thinking about where it could get a competitive advantage. It was, ‘Go to the next generation of people who had been trained in the some way as the last generation, and ask them to do the future job better.’ Which really produces the same results.”

Last summer, the Dallas Mavericks hired Nico Harrison as their GM. Prior to that, he was at Nike for 19 years. “I don’t think we as a business could have recommended that three or four years ago,” Forde said. The next generation of owners are “coming into this world asking different questions, expecting different answers. They are prepared to challenge the status quo.”

5. The Pittsburgh sale has ramifications around the league. I’m very curious to see if it gets to $900M. That would be a big number. No one has ever confirmed it, but there were rumours a couple of years ago that previous sale attempts fell through because the NHL said nothing less than $750M. That was before the new US TV deals and should the Penguins get to $900M, you have to wonder if we could see more sales. Fenway Sports Group wasn’t the only bidder, so there’s interest. Also curious to see if Fenway sees the Penguins as the final piece of the puzzle with their other properties — the MLB Red Sox, Premier League Liverpool — to create their own streaming platform.

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6. It looked weird to see Detroit’s Dylan Larkin pulled mid-game due to COVID protocol on Tuesday night. But, unfortunately, it happens. Most famous was Justin Turner during Game 6 of the 2020 World Series, before he controversially returned to the field during the Dodgers’ celebration. Tomas Nosek (then with Vegas) was pulled during a game last February. The reason Ottawa was temporarily shut down — as opposed to other COVID situations — is that enhanced protocols, such as testing every day as opposed to every three days, were not slowing the spread. That’s why doctors made the call; the virus could not be contained.

7. The number of false positives had players and teams very frustrated, but doctors fought hard against cutting the amount of testing. They argued it is still the best preventative measure against cancelling games or withdrawing from the Olympics. Additions to the protocols included an expedited procedure to confirm a false positive; recommending increased use of MESA point-of-care tests because of their increased accuracy (that’s in the United States for now, with “similar options being explored for the Canadian clubs); and point-of-care tests to be administered pre-game when teams have multiple positives.

The league continues to resist salary-cap exemptions for teams who are forced to play shorthanded or are in extremely tight spots because of positive cases. One of my suggestions (not that they’re going to listen) is to treat it like a bonus overage, meaning it could come off a team’s cap next season if there’s no room now. St. Louis asked for that possibility because Scott Perunovich’s bonuses meant there wasn’t room to call him up from AHL Springfield until Monday. The 2020 Hobey Baker winner was lighting up that league, but had to wait longer than anyone wanted to get his NHL reward.

8. Teams are starting to ask players who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to consider a booster. Before the season, the idea of a booster was a real hot-button topic. Clubs were concerned a good chunk of players would say no. I think that’s softened, but we will see where it goes. On the Olympics, I don’t see three postponed games as threatening NHL participation in Beijing. If this continues to happen, that’s when you’ve got reason to worry. A positive COVID case in China means a three-week quarantine. That would dissuade me more than making up games. The NHL long lists are 55 names per country (56 for Canada with Carey Price’s special status), but someone was saying that there are 150 names for some countries when you consider the possibilities if the NHLers don’t go.

9. I think Montreal would consider adding a puck-moving defender.

10. Boston remains Tuukka Rask’s top priority, but the timeline for a return isn’t set.

11. Andrew Brunette’s going to get a long runway in Florida.

12. This year’s Russian free agent to watch is right-shot winger Andrei Kuzmenko. Sixth in KHL scoring (28 points in 25 games) for perennial power St. Petersburg. Never drafted, he will be 26 in February. There’s a lot of interest.

13. New IOC president Luc Tardif said Tuesday that the decision on whether China’s men’s hockey team competes in the Olympics will be made Nov. 25. If removed, Norway would be the replacement, as the highest-ranked nation not currently in the field.

14. There are approximately seven teams who have indicated interest in being the next “Amazon team” should the prime service wish to produce another series. Some organizations have said it is not for them, but seven would be a promising number. As long as it doesn’t interfere with production of more Yellowstone episodes, I’m all in favour.

15. When it comes to Connor McDavid and John Tortorella, I completely disagree with Tortorella’s position on the issue (more on McDavid in a moment). What’s frustrating, however, is the way in which strong opinions are so voraciously shouted down in hockey. The greatest studio show in sports television history is Inside the NBA. If Tortorella said what he said on that show, everyone would laugh. Even if they ripped him, it would be in a fun way.

16. As for McDavid, there’s a concern about in-arena attendance — and not just in hockey. I don’t think we really understand yet where this is going, but it’s clear that fans are not returning in-person at the anticipated level. During the 2005-06 lockout, the NHL took a long look at its on-ice product, a move that wasn’t universally praised at the time, but history judges very favourably. I’ve said it many times, I think McDavid deserves many, many more calls against him than he gets. He’s a mugging victim every night. The question I’d be asking if I was the NHL is this: if we want to get more people into the building, are we going to have to give our fans reason to believe star talents will be given more of an opportunity to succeed? I know it’s sacrilege, but if I was concerned about the business, I’d be making sure this was a talking point.

17. The best line so far about attendance? Someone pointed out to me that the NHL has already surpassed last year’s numbers, and did so on Oct. 22. I thought that was really funny.

18. During last Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada, Craig MacTavish said that if Toronto hadn’t taken Joseph Woll, the Oilers were going to. The Maple Leafs took him 62nd overall. Edmonton was next. Woll won his first NHL game that night.

19. That was a great scene, especially for Woll’s family — but the best thing this week was seeing Kevin Hayes return and score.

20. There are some interviews from a few weeks ago I updated and wanted to include. The first was with interim Chicago GM Kyle Davidson. I was struck by Davidson’s confidence during his introductory media conference. Normally, interim hirings step gently, tiptoeing into the news cycle. Not Davidson, and I wondered if he believed he might permanently keep the job.

“Nothing I’ve been told is to that extent,” he replied. “I have been granted full autonomy, authority and confidence from Danny and Rocky (Wirtz). I do have the internal belief that I have what it takes to take over (during such a difficult time). That’s the approach I’ve taken personally. I’m going to do the job as if it is mine. If I didn’t, I’d be doing a disservice to our team and organization. I’m going to learn what needs to be learned, and in good time, do what needs to be acted upon. Trust your gut, trust your instincts, believe in yourself.” Have you always had that self-confidence? “Developing the experience to share my opinion and make my stances known happened over time. (When I arrived in) Nov. 2010, it was all about learning and finding my way. Where can I be most useful? You grow in confidence as you gain insight. There’s a point you feel you come into your own. But you don’t know how big a role you can play until time comes. I feel comfortable with where I’m at, that I can execute.”

21. Davidson did not want to discuss what changes we will see in the organization in the aftermath of the Kyle Beach investigation. “That’s something I will leave to ownership and that leadership group,” he answered. “Those changes will be rolled out in a formal setting; specific announcements of the steps being taken.” As for how he leads during this time, Davidson replied, “We are still processing what happened. It’s not something that goes away in days or weeks. You have to give people their space. But we are in the middle of a season, so other people in the organization are working on the fallout and repercussions — while I will be dealing with the roster and what is going on on the ice.”

22. Okay, the roster. Dylan Strome scored his first goal of the season in the Blackhawks’ last game, a 2-1 victory over Arizona. He played five of 12 games under Jeremy Colliton, averaging 13:37. He’s played all three under Derek King, averaging 11:17 (a double-minor against the Coyotes kept him to 8:51 that game). In prior trade talks, they were looking for a prospect or a draft pick in exchange. At some point, there will have to be a Marc-Andre Fleury decision. “It’s hard to describe where anyone is, because we’ve given them a blank slate — completely wiped away,” Davidson said. “Let Derek King find his way. It’s way too premature to draw conclusions with any one player. In the near term, and maybe over several months, too, I really want to evaluate on and off the ice. The future environment off-ice extremely is important to me, it’s integral to the success we eventually have. You don’t fully grasp what you have until you are there and get information. I have to figure out what I believe is the best from that knowledge.

23. On Connor Ingram’s right arm is a tattoo of a cross and a ring. On Oct. 24, as he made his NHL debut in Minnesota, his father, Brent, and mother, Joni, tried to contain their emotions 600 kilometres away in Imperial, SK. Brent wears a necklace with the cross depicted on Ingram’s tattoo. Joni wears the ring. The tattoo reads: “Never Alone.” Ten months ago, Connor Ingram felt very differently. Last January, while the Predators were having a rough weekend on-ice in Dallas, losing 7-0 and 3-2 to the Stars, Ingram, the team’s taxi-squad goalie behind Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, was having a terrible time off of it. He missed the team bus to go to the rink, showing up 10 minutes later than everyone else. Upon arrival, Ingram went right to goalie coach Ben Vanderklok. “(Ben) asked, ‘What’s going on?’ I told him, ‘I can’t do this.’ I didn’t want to play hockey. After listening to me, he said, ‘Let’s get you on a plane, there’s a program for this, something in place to help.’”

24. Ingram was consumed by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but didn’t realize it at the time. “This is the kind of OCD you do not hear about,” he said. “You hear about repeatedly washing hands or being incredibly organized. My apartment is a disaster, I’m not one of those people. Mine was different. I had a compulsion with sexually-transmitted diseases. I’ve never had one, but I’d spend countless hours researching wikipedia. I had 10 blood tests within a year…I was in a fully-committed relationship so it wasn’t possible for me to have one, but when you’re in a relationship, it is very hard to explain.”

On Jan. 24, Ingram voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. He spent 40 days there. “I’d never heard of anyone out there in the world going through what I was. I explained everything to a therapist. She said, ‘You have OCD, that’s what this is.’” It was like a thunderbolt hit him. “It was nice to put on a label, to know what it is. Now I know there’s a reason for what I’m going through. The world works in mysterious ways — there was another person in Malibu with me…to have that person sit across from me and tell me their story, it was amazing. I was in tears, because I’m not the only one. People need to talk about it. What I went through is something a lot of people go through. As a man, we don’t talk mental health a lot. I want people to know they shouldn’t be scared to talk about it, because there’s someone out there who understands. There’s someone out there who is going through the same thing.”

25. Ingram credits Predators assistant GM and director of hockey operations Brian Poile for staying with him in his Dallas hotel room that January day where the goalie asked for help. As travel details were being finalized, Poile made sure to keep Ingram company. “I remember that morning Connor being vulnerable and coming to us genuinely asking for help, and our entire team — players and staff being there to embrace him,” Poile said. What did you say? “The details of that time with Connor is his story to share. At that moment, I simply wanted to give Connor compassion, let him know we sincerely cared about him as a person, and we were there to help him and his family any way we could. In professional sports, we sometimes forget these are young men, some of them not fully developed physically or mentally. In many cases, they leave their homes and families in their prime development years to chase their NHL dreams. These young men devote the majority of their days and years to hockey, and in some cases at a significant compromise to the other areas of their life, to become exceptional at the game they love. The Predators are truly a family and we care deeply about our players. We are actively making efforts to commit people and resources, to help our players with their mental health, both for their on-ice performance and more importantly to help them better navigate life off the ice.”

At the start of the program, Ingram was not allowed to communicate with anyone. FaceTime with his parents began about a week in, and “you could see a change in Connor,” Brent Ingram said. “We are so proud of him. You’ve got to give that kid credit, at 23, to realize that things weren’t quite right. He’s definitely more positive about things. He’s happier, regained his passion, enjoying everything more than he did before.” Ingram re-joined the AHL’s Chicago Wolves last April, playing five games before injury. The numbers weren’t great (3.48 goals against, .899 save percentage), but the attitude was much improved.

He didn’t have a great reputation for staying in shape, and there were rumours about alcohol consumption. When Ingram played in Sweden at the start of the 2020-21 season, he missed a flight home because he’d been out partying with teammates the night before. “(Alcohol) definitely became a coping mechanism, but I’m not a person who would wake up and make a screwdriver to get myself straight, nothing like that,” he said. “But one thing about OCD is you do things to completion, so instead of one or two drinks, I’d have 10. Drinking is one of the things pointing me in the direction of things are not right, I’m losing control.” Ingram went back to Imperial for his brother’s wedding, then returned to Nashville in July. He’d usually stay in Saskatchewan until the annual Roughriders/Winnipeg Blue Bombers CFL Labour Day game. Not this time. “I re-assessed everything. Who I was, how I approach things,” he said.

26. He also credited teammate Mark Borowiecki, very open about his own mental health challenges, for helping him navigate things. In the air on a flight from Winnipeg to Minnesota on Oct. 23, Ingram was notified he’d be making his NHL debut the next night against the 4-0 Wild. “I didn’t really have time to get nervous to be honest,” he laughed. “That was the best thing about it.” The difficulties of border-crossing during COVID made it impossible for Brent and Joni to attend, unfortunately. But you can imagine the pride they felt as their son stopped 33 shots in a 5-2 win. “(Joni) was famous (at WHL) Kamloops,” Brent Ingram laughed. “You could never find her, she’d be wandering around, needed to be by herself. The joke was she made as many saves as Connor did during the game, so was dangerous to sit next to. But if Connor was strong enough after all he’s been through to enjoy the moment and relish the game, she could do it too. We’re so proud of him. He’s got a saying, ‘It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going.’”

27. Ingram is currently at AHL Milwaukee, and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in the NHL. “I’m never quick to judge people. You don’t know what they are going through. They could be having a bad day. I guarantee somewhere there’s someone going through the same things you are. No one should go through it alone, there’s always someone willing to listen and relate to you. I know it’s hard to ask for help, but that stigma is going away. People have to know there is no shame in asking for a hand.”

28. A few final Jack Eichel notes: he visited Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon last summer in Nova Scotia; was really impressed how the community respected their space. At the Sabres’ last Christmas party, his gift (from Victor Olofsson) was a photo of Daniel Stern from Home Alone with the name “Eichel” atop it. That’s Eichel’s favourite movie, which makes it even funnier. Finally, one executive pointed out Eichel’s salary goes up almost $3.5M with the tax difference between New York State and Nevada.

29. Atop my Hall of Fame “need to get in” list are Daniel Alfredsson and Rod Brind’Amour. The Sedins should be shoo-ins next November.

30. One fun thing about this season is the return of the “Nov. 1 Stat.” Many in the sport count American Thanksgiving as the true test of who will compete for the playoffs and who won’t. The loser point makes that too late, for me. You fall behind early, it’s waaaaaaay too hard to catch up. From 2005-06 until 2018-19, just nine of 59 teams who were at least four points out after games on Nov. 1 came back to make the playoffs. This year, that challenge falls to Arizona, Chicago and Montreal. (In COVID-shortened 2019-20, eight teams were below that line: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Minnesota, the Rangers, Ottawa and San Jose. The Red Wings, Kings, Devils, Senators and Sharks weren’t going to make it. The Blackhawks were hanging by a thread, while the Rangers and Wild climbed into the race. No guarantees, but maybe two of them.)

31. NHL job opportunities: Philadelphia (link) and Boston (link).

32. Angelo Mosca wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens was a regular event of my formative existence. I saw him beat Sgt. Slaughter for the Canadian title, battle Ivan Koloff in Russian chain matches and, if my memory isn’t failing me, he headlined the last card there before the WWE took over the market — a six-man tag with Buzz Sawyer and Jimmy Valiant against The Assassin, Paul Jones and Kamala. Years later, I was covering a CFL Hamilton-Toronto game in Hamilton, and someone was loudly cheering for the Tiger-Cats in the press box. But no one was going to tell Mosca to be quiet. RIP to a legend.

Note: A few of you reached out to ask if the blog is ending. No, that’s not the case. I appreciate your interest, don’t like how it’s been a month, and will commit to getting it back on a weekly basis.

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