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Game On! Fall sports preview

A look at some sporting pursuits that could potentially distract you from the frozen hellscape about to descend upon our lovely region

When we last left our humble protagonist (me), he was opining about the impending, soul-bleaching misery of the encroaching Autumn.

Fear not, however, as thanks to hot rock spa treatments, a bit of light electro-shock, and whiskey, I am back on Team Happy and ready for my next assignment for you fine folks:

The…sigh…Fall Sports Preview.

Fine. To the gallows we go.

To begin, I will leave the in-depth analysis of our local lads, the Greyhounds, the Cougars, and the Thunderbirds (both of them) in the capable hands of our resident sporting expert Brad Coccimiglio, as my level of expertise begins and ends with marveling at just how fast those young buggers are, and just how awful Erie’s uniforms are.

Also, no one asked.

But seriously, Brad’s training camp piece from a few days ago, is informative and entertaining and you should immediately check it out after you put up wi…enjoy my piece.

To the pros we go, then.

In hockey the Canadian teams are fresh off a historic season. In the sense that being simultaneously terrible is kind of historic, no?

Of the seven, the teams with the best chance of getting a date for the dance are likely Montreal and Calgary.

Despite the head scratcher of a trade that saw PK Subban leave for Nashville and Movie Cowboy Come To Life Shea Weber joining Le Tricolore, all chips will be placed on Red 31. If Carey Price is, ahem, right, then he is more than capable of carrying the team back to the playoffs. They also addressed some team toughness issues at forward, and added serial deserter Alex Radulov, which should be a ton of fun, if not for Montreal fans then certainly for the rest of us.

Calgary’s crazy-talented young forwards are a year more mature, and a healthy and mobile D group led by captain Marc Giordano should mean that as long as there is someone with a pulse between the pipes, they could sneak in in the West. Oh look? Brian Elliott! I didn’t see you there. So, a Calgary playoff spot then, nice!

(That one’s for you, Rossco.)

Winnipeg was a bubble team that took steps back last season.  The ongoing Jacob Trouba saga has cast a shadow on this relatively young, lunch pail team, coached by beloved dry-witted Sooite Paul Maurice. Goaltending is a dice roll, depending on which Ondrej Pavelec shows up this year, but there is a fast, skilled, gritty forward unit and Human Mountain Range Dustin Byfuglien on the back end, so some luck and some bounces and it could be a…less terrible…winter in the ‘Peg this year.

Vancouver is still living and dying by the Sedin twins and Ryan Miller, and Jim Benning seems to not quite have the whole Professional GM thing nailed down yet, so…at least the streets will be safe for another year.

Edmonton? CONNOR MCDAVID!!!! Sadly, current technology is limited and as such efforts to create clones of #97 and develop them into defensive and goaltending symbiants have not yet yielded tangible results.

The slow, deliberate, Babcock-helmed, Dubas-assisted rebuild continues. They have a prospect pool, an Auston Matthews, and a commitment to do it properly FOR ONCE IN A HUNDRED BLOODY YEARS! Ahem…at least there are snazzy new jerseys, and an outdoor game, so there’s that.

Full disclosure: I’m a fan. Like that wasn’t obvious or anything…

Ottawa is another one of those wild cards. They have great skill up front, Erik Karlsson at the back, and decent, if not particularly consistent, tending. Also, their owner made it through another year without declaring bankruptcy!

In the US, it’s the usual suspects, with Pittsburgh, Chicago, LA, SJ, and Tampa Bay, with young potential usurpers in Florida and Nashville. If Dallas finds a way to get decent tending, they should again contend along with St. Louis and the Ducks.

One of these American teams will hoist the Cup because we can’t have nice things. I’ll pick Nashville, because PK.

There is also a World Cup of Hockey in September, which should be intriguing if only for the mystery of what anthem will be played if and when Team Rest of Europe and/or Team AwesomeSauce Young Stars manage to medal. I humbly request your suggestions for team songs in the comments below.

In The NFL, starting with the AFC, the Denver Broncos will be the first defending Super Bowl champions to dress a concession worker at starting quarterback. It’s outside-the-box thinking, I’ll give it that. The Patriots will be without Tom Brady for a spell due to some tiny ball-based issue that you likely never heard about. That said, they’ll still win the AFC. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati will beat the tar out of each other in their division, suitably tenderized for the Pats come playoff time. Once again, the Raiders, Browns, and Jaguars will provide unintended comedy for our tired, cynical souls. I’d say watch out for the Bills, but…come on, it’s Buffalo. Thanks to the Cavs down the lake, they can’t even say “at least we’re not Cleveland” anymore. How tragic.

The NFC began its preseason with its unique tradition: the attempted murder of Cowboys QB Tony Romo. Combine that with Viking Teddy Bridgewater’s exploding knee cap trick and two potential dark horses are prematurely out to stud. Los Angeles has a team again. Sadly, it’s once again the Rams, which means the majority of the team’s screen time will be devoted to coach Jeff Fisher’s mustache.  The Cards will once again be a favourite, while the Packers will once again ride on the majestic winged back of Aaron Rodgers. If he stays upright, and the defence remembers how to cover, tackle, and other defency stuff, watch out for the Pack. Seattle will once again be very competitive, led by Perfect Human Prototype Russell Wilson. Your also-rans include the Niners, Eagles, and…I hate say it, but…the Lions.

I’ll take The Pack over the Pats (It’s 1997 ALL OVER AGAIN BABY!) because I’m a ridiculous homer without a shred of journalistic integrity.

In golf, The Ryder Cup returns in all of its highly-charged, quasi-jinogistic glory. This time around the US has as good a chance as it has in recent memory, with the recent play of Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth. The Europeans are in tough, seeing as Rory McIlroy has returned to human form, and Team Europe was unable to find a way to annex Australia before the event, so that Jason Day could play for them. Pity.

Thus concludes my look at some sporting pursuits that could potentially distract you from the frozen hellscape about to descend upon our lovely region.

So enjoy the fading light, steel yourselves, consider layers, and wear bright colours.

Thanks for reading.