Clip and save this line if you want, but I sincerely hope I’m wrong on this one. Craig Hartsburg has decided to start Steve Mason in goal against the Americans at the World Junior Tournament today (11 a.m., TEAM 1040) despite his less than stellar outing against the Finns. True, Mason has won all three of his starts, but he hasn’t looked as sharp as we’ve come to expect from a Team Canada goaltender. I still think Jonathan Bernier should be backstopping our guys today, but like the rest of Canada, I hope Mason proves me wrong. As is the case every year, the real second-guessing only occurs if Canada doesn’t return home with a gold medal.
•Former Vancouver Giants superstar Gilbert Brule was demoted to the AHL by Columbus this week, but don’t conclude that he’s simply one of those players that never makes the jump from junior to the NHL. While Brule has not enjoyed much success with the Blue Jackets early in his pro career, the North Van native has far too much upside to write him off at a mere 21 years of age. Brule isn’t one of those kids who produced in the amateur ranks because he was bigger or older than everyone else. He can skate, pass, shoot and hit and has always been one of the hardest working players on the ice. Though it might not look like it now, I firmly believe Brule will be a quality NHL player whether with the Blue Jackets or whatever lucky franchise can pry him out of Columbus.
•Seems as though more players are starting to realize that the CFL is a pretty decent way to make a living. B.C. Lions defensive lineman Aaron Hunt has talked to a couple of NFL teams, but says he’ll forego working out for them if he can get a contract extension done with the Leos. Teammate Korey Banks already balked at a lowball offer from the Minnesota Vikings, as he would’ve basically been taking a pay cut to change leagues. The NFL pays much better if you make it, but more players are starting to realize that without any money up front the risk of flying south often outweighs the reward.
•Some very interesting matchups on Wild Card Weekend in the NFL playoffs, including the resurgent Redskins in Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Washington is the hottest team in the NFC with four straight wins, but the Seahawks are a dominating 7-1 at home this season. Though the Redskins are fueled by the death of former teammate Sean Taylor, the Hawks and their raucous crowd should advance to meet the Packers in Green Bay next week.
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Mix equal parts college athlete, sports fan and broadcaster. Shake vigorously. Serve chilled Monday-Friday on the TEAM 1040 from 6-9 a.m. or online at thetoulbox.blogspot.com