Friday, June 8, 2018

A Change Of Heart Regarding Alex Ovechkin

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I hope that you enjoyed watching this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were exciting and fun and included just about everything you could want in a playoff season.

I'm a Sydney Crosby fan, which by default means that I haven't been a fan of Alex Ovechkin. At times I've been very critical of Ovechkin and have even mocked, even going so far to call him "Ovechloss".

My dislike of Ovechkin stems from the Semi-Finals of the 2010 Winter Games that were held in Vancouver, Canada. Canada throttled Alex's Russian team and an upset Alex brushed aside reporters as he stormed off the ice.

I was upset at what a poor sport he was.

Ovechkin Had Grit And Determination This Year

Fast forward 8 years and especially to this year's NHL Playoffs and a very different Ovechkin showed up on the ice. He had the passion, drive and type of play that was necessary for his Wsashington Capitals to win their first Stanley Cup in the team's 44 year history.

What surprised me most was his leadership. Alex became a true captain and leader. He was a shining example of what it took for the team to reach the pinnacle of it's sport.

When the Chips Were Down Ovechkin Was At His Best

What made Alex Ovechkin unbeatable this year was his leadership when his team was down in a series. In fact, the Washington Capitals were behind in every series, yet they found a way to win. Alex was more determined the bleaker things looked and he delivered a winning message to his team every night.

I grew to respect Ovechkin this year and even like him as a player. I couldn't help wanting them to win the Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals and their fan base deserved to win the Stanley Cup. They were the best team on the ice through 4 series. They showed the greatest determination and resolve of any of the sixteen teams that made the playoffs.

A Great Celebration

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I've watched many celebrations in my lifetime. Alex's and his team's celebration tops them all. The raw emotion that Ovechkin showed last night was incredible to see. He was like a kid in a candy store. You could see how much winning the Stanley Cup meant to Alex. All the years of not reaching that pinnacle came pouring out of Alex and it was great to see it.

All of Alex Ovechkin's hard work, determination and willingness to change parts of his game, were on display this season and for that reason, I've had a change of heart regarding how I feel about him. I now respect and like the player. I never thought that I would say those words..."I like and respect Alex Ovechkin" but it was Alex's attitude and great all around play that made me change my mind about him.

Alex, you are no longer Ovechloss. You are Alex Ovechkin, one of the greatest players in NHL history and a Stanley Cup champion.

Thank you for providing me with so much joy watching you play this season. It was truly memorable!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Decision To Fire Tracy Claeys Was The Right One

The Minnesota Gophers fired Head Coach Tracy Claeys on Tuesday after a relatively successful campaign for the team! The firing comes on the heels of a Tracy Claeys tweet in support of his team's boycott of the team a couple of weeks ago.

Sportmentary believes that the Gophers made the right decision to fire Claeys.

Public Reaction

After Tracy Claeys Tweet in support of his team that was boycotting the University of Minnesota and it's decision to suspend 10 players who were suspected of sexual assault was not popular in the community.

The community reacted harshly to both the team's boycott and Claeys tweet. The public was upset at what it perceived as incentive behavior towards victims of sexual assault.

A coach is a leader and that leader needs to guide young men in both football and life. It would be nice if a coach didn't have to worry about molding his players' moral behavior. The reality is that young men are impressionable. A coach can do a lot to set the tone of expected behavior.

Trays first reaction should have been to explain the situation to the team and explain that the type of behavior the players exhibited (illegal or not) was not the type of behavior that the team or the university condones.

Claeys failed to be a leader when he reacted like a little boy (like his players) and took to Twitter to voice his opinion.

While I might be wrong, the players' initial boycott was demanding that the team rescind its suspensions of the 10 players. Later it seemed it was amended to boycotting the lack of due process.

That type of behavior by his players should have been nipped in the bud immediately. Instead of waiting until the public backlash, Claeys should have immediately condemned sexual assault. 

Actually, Claeys probably shouldn't have been tweeting at all.

I might be wrong yet another time but I believe that the nature of the investigation and the reasons for the team suspending the ten players is confidential. The alleged victim always has privacy in a Title IX investigation.

It should also be noted that the determination of misconduct in a Title IX investigation is much lower than a finding of guilt in a court of law.

Readers should read the transcript of the alleged conduct of the players to determine if they think the players conduct was deplorable. I know as a parent of two girls, I expect much more from the Gophers and its former coach.

Did the reaction of the public have an effect on the university's decision to fire Claeys? You betcha! Their was a huge campaign to fire Claeys. His popularity had dwindled to next to nothing. The team didn't have much of a choice but to fire Claeys.

It's a shame because Tracy seemed to be taking this team in the right direction. I'm glad the decision to fire Claeys didn't come down to wins and losses.

Claeys Was An Employee Of The University OF Minnesota

Its important to note that Claeys was an employee of the University of Minnesota. His first duty is to his employer. Before tweeting his support for his players and their questionable and scandalous behavior, he should have checked in with his bosses.

Claeys never did that. He must have believed that his loyalty to his players came first. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong Mr. Claeys. Like other employers if the university is being condemned and criticized by the public (taxpayers), they will react accordingly.

Claeys put his employers in a very tough decision. They could have supported a coach that was very popular with his players but they chose to yield to public pressure.

I don't have a false belief that the University of Minnesota fired Claeys solely based on moral grounds. I think it had a lot to do with the public outcry against Tracy and the U and the Athletic Director's desire to bring in his own guy.

That is life. The university will always do what it can to preserve its reputation which was at an all-time low before this situation.

In the end, no matter the reasons for Claeys firing, the university made the right decision in firing Tracy Claeys.

Monday, January 2, 2017

What Should The Vikings Do With Adrian Peterson?

What should the Minnesota Vikings do with Adrian Peterson in regards to the 2017 season?

For his part, Adrian Peterson said he would like to return to the Minnesota Vikings for the 2017 season. Peterson wouldn't say if he would take a pay cut to remain with the team.

Pay Cut or Gone

For me and I'm sure many Vikings fans, the answer of what to do with Peterson is an easy one. If Peterson refuses to take a pay cut, the Vikings should move on from him. 11.75 million dollars (the amount the Vikings would have to cough up if Adrian returns for 2017 is too high a price for the Vikings to pay.

Peterson hasn't played much in the last few years. From his suspension to injuries, Peterson isn't the same running back that he was earlier in his career.

Peterson will also be 32 heading into the 2017 NFL season. That's a an elderly running back in NFL terms. I don't believe that Peterson has many more 100+ yard games in him, even with a shored up offensive line.

Offensive Line Issues

The offensive line had major issues in 2016 which basically rendered the Vikings running game useless. Sure there were numerous injuries to the line but I'm not convinced that a healthy line will be the answer.

The Vikings need to spend lots of money on the offensive line and other positions. Having Peterson making 11.75 million would hamper the team's ability to make the necessary changes that are needed to make the Vikings a playoff team.

How Much of a Pay Cut Does Peterson Need to Take for Vikings to Keep Peterson?

I'm not sure how much of a pay cut is necessary for Peterson to take to make it possible for Minnesota to want to keep him. The team has a better handle on that but I would think two to three million would make sense.

Will Peterson be willing to take that much of a hit? He might not have a choice. I don't believe that he would be able to command a high salary at this point in his career with other teams.

His body of work the past few seasons is sketchy and his age will be a major issue.

I'm sure that there are teams that will believe that he has a few good seasons left and if their team has a top rated offensive line, they might be willing to take a gamble on him.

As mentioned earlier, I just don't see other teams paying 11.75 million for Peterson.

Adrian will have to decide if he wants to take a pay cut to stay with the Vikes or if he wants to take a pay cut with another team. If Peterson is serious about returning to the Minnesota Vikings, he will take a pay cut to remain a Viking.

Even if Peterson is willing to take a pay cut, there are no guarantees that the team will still keep him. The team may be more ready than ever to enter the post Adrian Peterson era!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In a Word - Fired, Retiring & Resigning

This was the week of coaches being fired, a player who retired and a coach who will be resigning his position. Sure there were other stories that will be recapped but the week was definitely dominated by the fired, retiring and resigning.

In a Word is weekly recap of the week's major stories (Each story recapped in one word).

Now on to our In a Word Sports Recap for the week starting 12-26-16.

Rex Ryan - Fired

Rob Ryan - Booted

Alabama Crimson Tide - Clemson

Clemson Tigers - Alabama

Jorge Alves - Dream

Columbus Blue Jackets - Winning

Trent Baalke - Sacked

Mike McCoy - Canned

Chip Kelly - Sacked

Gary Kubiak - Resigning

Steve Smith Sr. - Retiring

Oakland Raiders - Ouch!

Washington Redskins - Out

Detroit Lions - In

Green Bay Packers - North

Centennial Classic - Austin Matthews

Monday AKA Black Monday could see more coaches being handed the pink slip!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sportmentary's Favorite Sports Moments of 2016

As we get ready to say goodbye to 2016 and ring in the New Year, Sportmentary looks back at his five favorite sports moments of 2016.

While his favorite professional sports teams weren't successful in 2016 (Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Twins), his backup favorites came up big time.

Sportmentary looks forward to 2017 and hopes that it will bring Sportmentary's home town some big league success.

Let's get to the list:

5) Clemson Tigers Demolishing Ohio State Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semi-Final)

Sportmentary rates this as one of his favorite moments probably due due more to Ohio State losing the game and being knocked out of the playoffs than Clemson winning. Sprotmentary is not a fan of Ohio State and that's a gross understatement.

Sportmentary is excited that this moment marks the end of 2016 in sports (well at least from his perspective. Now college football fans can look forward to a rematch of last year's championship game between Alabama and Clemson.

College football fans deserve to have a game that features the nations top two teams!

4) Minnesota Wild hiring Bruce Boudeau

Minnesota Wild fans have been looking for a momentous moment for a long time. That momentous moment came during the offseason when the team hired a top notch coach in Bruce Boudreau.

Bruce brings a ton of experience to the Wild. He's greatly respected in the NHL. It was time for the Wild to ante up and hire one of the greatest coaching catches of the offseason.

Sportmentary doesn't want to jinx his favorite NHL club but it's looking like Bruce has made a difference already!

3) Peyton Manning retiring as a champion

Sportmentary has been a big fan of Peyton Manning throughout his career (and John Elway during his career).

While Peyton wasn't the Peyton of old, it didn't matter to Sportmentary. Seeing Peyton lifting the Lombardi Trophy while his baby brother Eli pouted was priceless!

2) St. Louis Blues being knocked out of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs (Western Conference Finals) by the San Jose Sharks.

Sportmentary thinks that the St. Louis Blues are a bunch of goons that are coached by their goon coach who is devoid of NHL character.

Many NHL fans will disagree with that statement but if you're a Minnesota Wild fan it would be very hard to disagree with that statement. Sportmentary remembers the playoff series in 2015 between the Wild and Blues and how Ken Hitchcock went goon style by playing the goon Steve Ott.

That move backfired on the Blues but the fact that Hitchcok would resort to such a low has stuck with Sportmentary!

1) Pittsburgh Penguins Winning 2016 Stanley Cup

One of Sportmentary's favorite hockey players is Sidney Crosby. He is the greatest player of his generation. Sidney has brought home two Olympic Gold Medals to his nation, won two Stanley Cups (with Pittsburgh's Finals victory) and has represented the sport with class like hockey greats that preceded him.

Pittsburgh is a class organization that is owned by a class guy in Mario Lemieux. Hockey is fortunate to have an organization like Pittsburgh int he league.

Sidney is the anti-Ovechkin and Sportmentary doesn't like Ovechkin and thinks he's overrated. Crosby is a champion and Ovechkin is a want to be. Sidney is a leader and cares about winning. Ovechkin cares about padding his goal scoring stats.

Sportmentary will take a Crosby over an Ovechkin any day of the week!

As you've just read, Sportmentary's favorite moments often have as much to do with his most hated teams (players) losing as they do with his favorite teams and players winning.

The year ahead should provide sports fans with great moments and Sportmentary is looking forward to seeing what those moments are!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Miscommunication by Vikings?

After Sunday’s game, Xavier Rhodes made it abundantly clear that some players on the defense including himself decided to do things their own way during the first half of their game against the Green Bay Packers.

By Monday, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Xavier Rhodes and others were saying that this rogue (My word, not theirs) behavior only occurred on one play.

Now these guys are saying it’s all a “miscommunication” (KFAN radio), even the things that Rhodes said post game about the defense deciding to do things their way.

I don’t believe that this was a miscommunication. I don’t believe that what Xavier Rhodes said after the game was a miscommunication. I don’t believe Mike Zimmer when he says this is a miscommunication. I’m not going to be hoodwinked into thinking that all this is a miscommunication.

I think that the Vikings brass circled the wagons and tried to downplay what occurred on Sunday. I believe that the Minnesota Vikings have a bunch of renegade players that have become tired of their coach’s message.

I believe that Mike Zimmer has lost his team. I believe that his message has become stale and I believe that he’s lost the ability to control his players.

I think it’s sickening that the team is trying to pass a bunch of horse manure as something else to its fan base. The Vikings fan base has endured decades of heartbreak and their team losing games that they should have won.

The team is always full of excuses and wishy washy communication. The Vikings fan base grew to like Mike Zimmer because he seemed to be forthright and tell things the way they were. Now Mike Zimmer is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

I’m not going sit here and believe his garbage or his team’s garbage. I’ve grown very concerned about Mike Zimmer’s ability to make the Vikings the dominant team in its division.

I’ve also grown to think that the Vikings defense has some players who are/will be a cancer to this team. I’m becoming sick of the garbage this team seems to bring in. I hate when my team loses and plays like amateurs. I’m sick of my team losing to the Green Bay Packers but most of all I’m sick that the team’s fan base is made to look like a fools.

Mike Zimmer will now need to impress me and convince me that he’s the right guy for the job. I hope that the Vikings ownership feels the same way. I hope that they will evaluate Zimmer, play by play and game by game going forward.

If this team has more slip ups, plays like fools again and has players who go rogue, Mike Zimmer should be fired. I also believe that the team needs to evaluate what occurred on Sunday and decide it the rogue players belong on the Vikings.

I’m not willing to totally give up on Mike Zimmer just yet but my patience as a fan is wearing thin. I’m very unhappy how the last two weeks played out. I think the team made a ton of mistakes and looked utterly confused on the field.

Mike Zimmer needs to turn this ship around and do it fast or they will continue to be a mediocre team for a long time! 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Has Mike Zimmer Lost His Team?

Life entering the 2016 season for the Minnesota Vikings was full of promise. While the 2015 season ended in a disastrous loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs, the Vikings were entering 2016 as division champions.

The team's defense was on the rise and the team was set to play at their new U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings and their fans were praising their new savior, Mike Zimmer.

Then the second half of the season and the last two weeks saw the Vikings' supposedly great defense implode. 

Norv Turners Departure

We will probably never know what caused Norv Turner to bail on his offense and the Minnesota Vikings. The team has been mum on what really happened.

Looking at things now (post Packers debacle) it might have been the beginning of the end for the club. Norv Turner was thought to be among Zimmer's most trusted relationships and he bailed, likely because of differences the two had.

Norv Turner is a well respected offensive coach. The fact that he came to town and failed and then bailed might have something to do with the team's head coach.

This is just a guess and is not based on facts but maybe Mike Zimmer's ego and doing thins his way and only his way might have caused Turner to cut his losses.

The same thing might be happening with the team's defense.

Vikings Defense Bails on Mike Zimmer's Game Plan

Mike Zimmer's defense and in particular Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman bailed on Zimmer's defensive game plan in the first half. 

By the start of the second half the game was over for all intents and purposes due to the mutiny that occurred with Minnesota's defense.

Sure the team reverted to Zimmer's defense in the second half and were able to do a better job but the damage was done.

The defense showcased their disdain for their head coach and it was on display for the TV viewing public to see. What took place on Sunday is embarrassing.

For Vikings fans it is just another chapter of what can go wrong for their team will go wrong. The Vikings may be a cursed team.

Just when we thought the Vikings had turned the corner another putrid chapter has been written for this franchise.

Shame on me for having faith. Shame on me for believing in this team. The team continuously sticks a dagger in the backs of their fans but you know what, I will be back next year doing the same old thing; Hoping, believing, cheering being disappointed, witnessing the impossible and crying!

What Now?

Vikings ownership needs to take a close look at what hapenned in the last two games and with Norv Turner. To have your defense defy the head coach is unacceptable.

The team needs to decide if they will release a player or two or fire the head coach. Mike Zimmer did turn around a franchise that was a joke. The team had no hope before he came to town.

Zimmer has also been faced with numerous injuries that were out of his control and did have an impact on the failure of the team.

He's done a lot for the franchise but what's transpired the past two weeks shows me that there are players that wanted to send a message to Zimmer, ownership and the team's fans regarding their head coach.

Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman are complete and utter clowns. Zimmer made Rhodes into the player he is and Rhodes threw him under the bus on Sunday. I can't see how you could have Rhodes playing for Zimmer going forward.

Terence Newman was another person who was considered to be among Zimmer's most trusted relationships and he stuck a knife in Zimmer's back on Sunday!

While it might be too premature to fire Zimmer, it's becoming clear to me that Mike Zimmer might not be the answer for this franchise and if the Vikings do stcik with Zimmer, he should be on an extremely short tight leash.

I believe that if Zimmer returns and the Vikings miss the playoffs next season, he should be terminated. 

Vikings fans have no idea what happened after going 5-0 to start the season and what happened on Sunday but from an outsider things look bleak and troublesome.