Antigonish - September 7, 2011 - September has arrived, bringing with it not only the start of a new school year, but the arrival of new seasons for both the NFL and NHL! With NFL action set to begin this Thursday featuring a dream matchup between the past two Superbowl champions, football fans can be forgiven for being just a little excited!
As a diehard Indianapolis Colts fan, however, my football fever is muted just a bit by disturbing news out of Indianapolis with regards to Peyton Manning’s ongoing neck issues, which have him ruled out for the opening week and quite possibly well beyond! With Manning’s ironman streak set to expire at 227 starts (2nd to only Brett Favre amongst NFL quarterbacks), the Colts banner playoff run may come to a screeching halt as well, as perhaps no player is more critical to his team’s success than Manning is to the Colts.
Look for the Colts to move to a max-protect offense mode to try to provide more time for emergency sub Kerry Collins, whose movement skills in the pocket resemble closely that of the three toed sloth.
For those of you like myself who cannot help but participate in the addictive and wonderful world of fantasy football, it is advisable to hold off on starting any Colts in the short-term, as the offense seems likely to morph from a Porsche to a John Deere with the downgrade at QB. In more positive news for the fantasy oriented, Chris Johnson has returned from the land of contentious contract disputes, and looks primed to resume his role as one of the league’s most electrifying runners.
For those of you who have not yet held their fantasy drafts, he is a sure bet to be a top three selection along with Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. His return, along with Manning’s absence and the collection of perhaps the league’s best group of skill position “triplet talent” in Houston in WR Andre Johnson, the aforementioned Foster and QB Matt Schaub signal an unfortunate but seemingly likely changing of the guard in the AFC South, which has been dominated for years by the Colts.
As for Canada’s favourite sport, I am proud to report that I had the opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup this summer, courtesy of brother in law Dennis Bonvie, who is currently a Pro scout for the league champion Chicago BlackHawks, but who is likely better known for holding Professional Hockey’s career penalty minute record.
The Cup paid its 3rd visit in as many years to Nova Scotia recently courtesy of Boston's Brad Marchand, whose hometown of Halifax was treated to a parade one week ago. Not bad for a so-called “have not” province!
The big news in the NHL is of course, the status of Sidney Crosby, who is without question the league’s best and most marketable player. Crosby updated his status with a news conference today, and while his long term prognosis appears to be positive, there is currently no timetable for his return, a scary prospect for league officials and fans alike, not to mention his fantasy owners. "Sid the Kid's" back to back concussions, along with the recent deaths of three former NHL enforcers have NHL policies and practices with regards to concussions and fighting squarely in the crosshairs, and while there is no conclusive evidence connecting the recent tragic deaths of Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak to concussions, speculation is rampant.
As Eliotte Friedman points out in his recent article for CTV sports, “during an Inside Hockey segment from last season on concussions, Dr. Robert Cantu, who created the "Grades 1, 2 and 3" concussion severity formula, said he believes one in every four fights results in a concussion.”
Statistically at least, it would seem that there could possibly be a connection between the enforcer role and long term concussion related issues such as depression and painkiller addiction. Whether or not this is the case, it is sure to be an issue that the league pays close attention to in the coming months.
As for Crosby, his uncertain health status seems likely to result in his being drafted a bit later than say, #1 overall, a spot he has made his home since his career began. Until further news with regards to a timeline for his return is released, he will likely relinquish his top pick perch to the other current generational talent in the league, Alex Ovechkin, who looks to rebound from another early playoff exit along with the rest of his Washington Capitals.
In the meantime, enjoy Thursday evenings start to the NFL season, and happy drafting!