The best sports reporter in Canada these days isn’t even a sports reporter. His name is Rick Westhead, who is actually a business reporter for The Toronto Star. Among Westhead’s recent scoops were revelations that executives with the NHL Players Association were being investigated for e-mail violations, that the CFL was thinking of hiring the son of fast-food wizard George Cohon as its commissioner and that the CFL will ultimately collect much-needed revenue from a company willing to pay to have its name attached to the Grey Cup game. Westhead is living proof that you don’t need to sniff jocks and hang around batting cages or dressing rooms to dig up good sports stories. You can stay detached and do the job quite well.
•The best owner in professional sports is in Dallas. No owner treats players with more class and consideration than Mark Cuban, who supplies his Mavericks with luxury limousines, chartered flights, massage therapists and so on. Oh, and he pays them megabucks, too. He gets carried away with his support, granted, but he motivates his players and they may just pay him back this season with the NBA title.
•The best off-season acquisition in the CFL was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ recruitment of quarterback Timmy Chang. All right, so maybe it’s been the only off-season acquisition in the league, but, hey, it really is a good one. Chang seems made for the CFL. He set passing and rushing records at the University of Hawaii under coach June Jones and offensive co-ordinator Mouse Davis, both of whom were employed by the Argonauts in the 1980s, when they helped QB Condredge Holloway become a CFL superstar.
•The best hockey talk available is on The Score, where anchor Steve Kouleas and an array of experts — the most entertaining of which is former NHL coach and player Steve Ludzik — dissect the sport in rapid-fire fashion. These guys keep you awake with some boat rocking and even the occasional piece of new information. That’s what Hockey Night in Canada is supposed to do during its intermissions, but Don Cherry seldom does any more and someone ought to prevent Scott Morrison from wasting more time on the airwaves. He’s as exciting as a traffic jam.
•The best idea in professional sports is to move the CFL’s schedule up by a month, starting in 2008. Regular-season games would begin in early June and the championship game would be in October, and then no one would have to freeze during Grey Cup week, even if they felt like partying outdoors.
• The best player in the NHL these days is Roberto Luongo, who is leading the Vancouver Canucks to, I figure, the Stanley Cup.