CFL training camps are opening, which means professional oddsmakers are preparing for the season, as well. And they’ve established the Toronto Argonauts as 2.5-to-1 favourites to capture the Grey Cup.
Then come the B.C. Lions (at 3.5-to-1), the Calgary Stampeders (4.5-to-1), the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5.25-to-1), the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-to-1), the Edmonton Eskimos (10-to-1), the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10.5-to-1) and the Montreal Alouettes (11-to-1).
• The Argos won’t win (clip and save) because tightlipped Rich Stubler will have a difficult time making the transition from defensive co-ordinator to head coach, because Kerry Joseph is overrated and not nearly the quarterback he is generally perceived to be and because, once Joseph starts slumping, support for Michael Bishop will grow and a divisive QB controversy will plague this team. . .The Ticats will improve significantly because QB Casey Printers is healthy and with the team from the season’s start and because new general manager Bob O’Billovich has recruited some exceptional, underrated talent. . .The Als have been correctly assessed as underdogs by the oddsmakers because QB Anthony Calvillo is on the down side of the hill and because new head coach Marc Trestman has no CFL experience. . .The Riders cannot repeat as champions because they lost their outstanding head coach, Kent Austin, to U.S. college football. . .The Stamps will win the Cup because they will have the CFL’s premier player in QB Henry Burris and because they fired a clueless head coach, Tom Higgins, and replaced him with intelligent, innovative John Hufnagel, a CFL maven who will follow in Austin’s footsteps with first-year head-coaching success and who tutored the likes of QBs Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia and, in the NFL, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.
• In the NHL, word’s spreading that forward Marion Hossa will not re-sign with the Penguins in the off-season and will join either the Montreal Canadiens or the Vancouver Canucks, both of whom can meet his contract demands easier than Pittsburgh can. . .The Pens will, however, re-sign forward Ryan Malone and defenceman Brooks Orpik and keep them from exploring the free-agent market for long. . .In Toronto, the new front-runner to become the Maple Leafs’ new general manager is ex-New York Rangers GM Neil Smith. . .In the NBA, the Raptors soon will trade point guard T.J. Ford, possibly to the New York Knicks for their first-round draft choice (sixth overall) or to the Los Angeles Clippers for forward Corey Maggette. . .And, for baseball stuff, please check out my latest MLB Report, exclusively here.