Could the Chris Bosh’s Golden Experience Help His Toronto Raptors?

September 2, 2008

by Navin Vaswani… Chris Bosh knows a lot about losing; he is, after all, a Toronto Raptor (zing!). After his trip to Beijing, and a crash course in how to kick serious international basketball ass, Bosh is coming home with a gold medal. And he is most deserving.

Bosh ended up playing an important role on the Redeem Team, and was written about extensively during the games. He was by no means the focal point on what was one sick, wicked, and nasty team, but CB4 checked his ego at the door and is a big reason why the Americans are back on top of the basketball world.

Check out some of the kind words our resident hoops superstar received here,

Bosh is a rudey. It’s good to see him finally getting some recognition outside of Toronto. He deserves it.

It looks like CB4 is returning to Toronto with a lot of confidence from his Olympic experience. That should bode well for the Raptors, as the Jermaine O’Neal era is set to begin this October. A frontcourt of Bosh and O’Neal, with Andrea Bargnani coming off the bench or playing some small forward? I must admit, I like the sound of that.

Just pray that O’Neal is healthy, people.

Just. Pray.

BT’s NHL Season Preview: Edmonton Oilers

September 2, 2008

by Bryan Thiel…

Preface: So, to go along with the theme of September and the opening of training camp, I’ve decided to do my own, 30-part, team-by-team preview of the NHL.

There’s just one catch.

I figured, that as NHL Community Leader, I should be doing my best to integrate the community. Therefor, at the end of each preview, you’ll have the Community Leaders’ opinions of my season previews. They’ll tell you whether they agree, disagree, think I’m a lunatic, or anything else they’d like to say.

With that, this week is the Northwest Division—meaning Minnesota, Colorado, Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, and we’re starting with the Oilers.

The Oilers are long removed from the days of Kurri, Messier, Gretzky, and Anderson, and they’re just a few years removed from the Ryan Smyth era.

With that said, the Oilers are looking to integrate youth into, what has been, a fairly average roster over the past few seasons, relying mostly on grit and effort to get them through games.

Although the lockout has introduced a new weapon to the Oilers’ arsenal—the shootout—the Oil are determined to move forward in the right direction under new owner Daryl Katz, and build a contender through cost certainty, exciting young players, and their old-school brand of hockey.

Roster Additions: Gilbert Brule-F (Trade), Lubomir Visnovsky-D (Trade), Erik Cole-F (Trade), Ryan Polutny-F (Trade), Jason Strudwick-D (F.A.)

Roster Subtractions:
Joni Pitkanen-D (Trade), Geoff Sanderson-F (F.A.), Marty Reasoner-F (F.A.), Dany Syvret-D (Trade), Matt Greene-D (Trade), Jarrett Stoll-F (Trade), Raffi Torres-F (Trade)

How did 2007/08 Go?
41-35-6, 88 points, ninth in conference, fourth in Northwest.

2008/09 Goal: Third (or higher) in division, seventh or eighth in conference.

Let’s Break’er Down!

Last year was a rough year for Kevin Lowe.

Following an outstanding playoff run in 2005-06, the team tailed off and posted a disappointing 2006-07, while they watched as the disgruntled Chris Pronger raised his first Stanley Cup—as an Anaheim Duck.

Following their lowest point total since the mid-90s, Kevin Lowe was determined to shake things up. At the draft he was able to land Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson for Joffery Lupul and Jason Smith, and within the opening weeks of free agency, Lowe had already signed Mathiew Garon, and attempted to acquire Michael Nylander.

If not for some second thoughts (or whatever happened) from the Nylander camp, then the Swedish centre could have been an Oiler.

Disgruntled at how players were wanting out of Edmonton, Lowe began making big-money pitches for restricted free agents—namely Tomas Vanek and Dustin Penner—and we all know how that ended up.

But with all of the fireworks that emanated from last season, Lowe again sought out a different way to shake up his team. This year that route was through the trade market.

A brand new point of view

The place on the Oilers’ roster with the most new faces is up front with the forwards. Out are Jarret Stoll, Geoff Sanderson, Raffi Torres, and Marty Reasoner, and in their places are Erik Cole, Ryan Potulny, and Gilbert Brule.

Both Brule and Potulny are younger players who still have yet to find their place in the game. In Philly, Potulny saw flashes of success—including 12 points in 35 games in 2006/07—but he never stood out enough in the Flyers system, and began tumbling down the depth chart, almost akin to Dany Syvret in Edmonton.

Brule meanwhile, has been the epitome of a bust so far in his NHL career.

Drafted sixth overall in 2005, Columbus was confident they had found a player with the ability to play alongside Rick Nash. Following a four-point, seven-game audition in 2005-06, the Jackets were encouraged by what they saw, but still returned him to the Vancouver Giants for seasoning.

Over the next two seasons, though, Brule was awful. In 142 games, Brule was only able to gather 28 points—and had only nine last year, in 61 games—for a minus-24.

Although it’s hard to expect anything more than 10 or 20 points this season, Edmonton is hoping that Columbus was just giving up on a player who took a little longer to develop than they wanted. After all, Brule is only 21—so he could very well come back and make Columbus rue July 1, 2008.

In Erik Cole, the Oilers know exactly what they’re getting, thanks to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. The former Hurricane is a tough-as-nails player who’ll stop at nothing to get on the ice. Remember, he somehow recovered from a broken neck at the hands of Brooks Orpik to play in the finals that season.

Aside from being gritty and hard-working, Cole can also find his way around the scoresheet—he’s had three straight 20-goal seasons, including a 30-goal season in ’06 after only 60 games.  If not for injuries, Cole could very well be flaunting three straight 60-point campaigns around right now too.

But the biggest thing about Cole?  He’ll help protect Edmonton’s young centers.

It may surprise you to know that of all Edmonton’s centers, only Sean Horcoff is over 24 heading into this season. Granted, that means that their only really established scorer down the middle had 50 points in 53 games last year in an injury-shortened effort.

But that also provides shootout wizard Sam Gagner, Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano, Mark Pouliot, Brulet, and Potulny (and possible Rob Schremp) with plenty of playing time, and plenty of room to improve.  Expect both Cogliano and Gagner to crack the 50-point barrier after coming close last season.

The wings of the Edmonton Oilers offer a little more muscle than flair with the Stortini’s and the Moreau’s, but if Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson are able to provide some consistent secondary scoring and Dustin Penner (who actually improved in his first season with Edmonton) can up the production to 55-60 points, these Oiler forwards are pretty dangerous.

CSSR or USSR? Wait—what’s the difference?

Coming into this season, the Oilers have an assortment of foreign and North American talent that could form into a fairly foreboding blue line.

First of all, I don’t care if Lubomir Visnovsky is undersized. A guy who puts up 40 points in a down-year, can put up a plus mark in four of the five seasons with the Kings (last year being the exception), and makes me think of drinking every time I try to spell his name is someone I want on this team—especially to compliment the stay-at-home presence of the ever-dependable Steve Staios, whose early years were mind-numbingly bogged down with terrible teams.

After that, we come to Mr. Separated Shoulder himself, Sheldon Souray. Granted, the Oilers aren’t paying his salary for him to show up for 26 games a season—but when Souray is in the lineup, he drastically changes the Oilers’ powerplay, with five of his 10 points last season coming with the man advantage. If Souray can be healthy this year, then the Oil’s PP unit gets a boost, and Mathieu Garon will have some help clearing out the front of his net.

Both Tom Gilbert and Denis Gregeshkov played excellently last year for the Oilers.  While both of them are on the way up, Ladislav Smid is looking to rebound from a rough ’07-08—and Theo Peckham may be looking to move up the pecking order of the Oilers’ defense, now that Syvret and Matt Greene have been sent packing.

I’m not here to “Garon”-tee anything

I won’t lie—I always love it when a goalie plays his way back into the spotlight.

So last season when I watched as Mathieu Garon emerged from the desolate landscape of Los Angeles, landed in Edmonton, and proceeded to assert himself as the starting netminder.

I loved all 47 games of it.

I’m sure Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers didn’t, but we’ll get to him in a minute.

The crazy thing about those 47 games, though? 26 of them were wins. That’s a winning percentage of 55 percent, which is just two percent less than Martin Brodeur’s 57 percent.

Brodeur played in 77 games. Assuming Garon plays in 60 games—and doesn’t lose steam—he’d be on pace to land himself in the neighborhood of 33 wins—tying the Oilers with Calgary at 94 points.

The question then becomes whether Garon can shoulder the load for that much of a season, but one thing is for sure—Garon gives the Oilers the best chance at winning games since the 2006 incarnation of Dwayne Roloson.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Dwayne Roloson, and there was a time (back long ago when I first thought Toronto should start rebuilding—say, 2006) that I thought the Leafs should make a ply for Rolo.

He’s great as a tandem goaltender—ask Manny Fernandez. Rolo’s always posted great numbers—2.60 GAA and a .909 save percentage for his career—but aside from that run in 2006, he’s never blown anyone away as a starter. Now at his age (soon to be 39), the questions may start to arise as to whether Rolo can handle the backup job, depending on how he performs.

That’s where J.D-D. comes in. Although 24 is still fairly young for a goalie, J.D-D. is starting to show that he’s ready to jump to the NHL—a good thing for him, and a bad thing for Rolo.  If the Oil were to let J.D-D. back up Garon now, then they’d be prepared in the event that both Rolo and Garon bolted this-coming offseason.

That’s just my two cents, though.

So what does all of this mean?

The Oilers relied heavily on the shootout last season.  Many people thought that because of the NHL’s Random Outcome Generator, the Oilers benefited from some timely goaltending (Garon was 10-0 in shootouts, stopping 30 of 32 shots) and scoring, and earned a batch of extra points that weren’t necessarily theirs.

Well, deal with it. In the next few years, we’ll probably see two or three teams make the playoffs based on shootout stats—and you know what? Those will probably be the teams that make it to the Conference or Cup Finals—that’s just how things go.

But as far as the 2008-09 Oilers go, I don’t think they’ll need the shootout as often. Something tells me these Alberta boys are going to be just fine.

And now for something completely different—introducing Faiz-Ali Virji!

While Bryan’s preview is very good, he does come up short on the Oilers goals for the upcoming season. Unlike past season, Edmonton has a very good chance at winning the division, and I think that a division finish worse than the second place would be considered a disappointment.

The Oilers also have the potential to stop being the fringe eighth place team, and should at worst be in sixth place.

Gilbert Brule will probably start the year in Springfield, as the Oilers will want to take it slow with him, making sure that he can develop properly. If however, he shows up to training camp this year as the player he is supposed to be, he could make the team on the fourth line—which in the Oilers’ case is will still be a good line that will chip in more often than others.

I do agree with the analysis on the defence, and that it will be one to be reckoned with this season. A healthy Sheldon Souray will be a huge plus to the Oilers, and should have all the fans who were calling for his head—I admit, I was one of them—quiet down and jump on the bandwagon.

I also agree on goaltending, and think Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers will push both Roloson and Garon to play their best hockey.

Second in the Northwest is definitely a good prediction, and I too think these Alberta boys shall be just fine.

Well that’s it for the Oilers. Expect the next part of the preview—depending on which Northwest rep gets back to me first—to come at some point tomorrow.  Stay tuned!


Mick Foley Agrees To Join TNA!

September 2, 2008

by Adam Wright…

Since leaving the WWE, rumors have been swirling about this. Last week it was reported that those rumors are indeed true!

Hardcore Legend Mick Foley has agreed to terms with rival company TNA.

The details of the deal have not yet been released. It is unsure at what capacity Foley will be apart of the company.

His contract with the WWE expires at the end of August. The last time we saw Foley on television was during the much talked-about segment with Edge. During this segment, Foley urged Edge to find The Edge that he once called the best pro-wrestler in the business.

Edge got the message loud and clear. After attacking with Foley, he layed him on a table and jumped on him, off a ladder. Foley indeed un-leached the inner Edge.

Now the legend is off to TNA. Foley is mostly remembered for extreme matches. He has put his body on the line countless times, causing several injuries. Nobody will forget his match against The Undertaker in the brutal Hell in a Cell.

We know him as Mankind, as Dude Love, but most famously, as Cactus Jack. His days in ECW and WWE will not soon be forgotten.

A possible TNA debut could be during the Pay Per View “No Surrender” on Sept. 14.

As a WWE fan, I would like to say good luck to Foley.

“Bang, Bang!”

HELLO!!! DINA…Raptor Dance Pak Hopeful

September 2, 2008

by James Borbath… Dina is the most attractive guest we have had here so far, she is also quite smart and talented as well, from having got to know her a bit in working on this blog. She is looking to become a member of the Raptors Dance Pak for the upcoming season. I thought I’d give you the chance to help make her dream come through. She is 23 years old and a student going for a Masters Degree at York University. I noticed a couple of the regular readers of this blog had joined her facebook group and decided to offer her the chance to come to Dino Nation Blog to do an interview so my readers could get to know her. She agreed to do it. Which is always nice when an attractive girl says yes to you….of course for an interview. But Dina is a smart young lady like I said.

Some background on Dina in her own words

I would like the fans to know, last time I’ve danced like this when it was on the argos, I was doing a double-major, working at 3 jobs, volunteering in a lab so that I could get into the masters program that I am in now, was in a relationship and I still found time to have fun and commit myself to the team. this year I am doing my masters (lab work is mainly molecular physiology and I will be teaching anatomy labs at the university), and I know that as hectic as my life is going to be I can commit myself to whatever I put my mind to and I’ve found that balance in my life between school, friends, and fun.

Getting To Know Dina ( From Raptors.com)

Sign: Cancer

Favourite Music Artist: Coldplay

Favourite Movie: Vanilla Sky

Favourite Food: Sushi

Favourite Place To Shop: Guess

Best Thing about a Raptor Game: The Crazy Fans

Favourite All Time Raptor: Muggsy Bogues

I admit this interview was a bit more of a challenge for me. But I hope I asked some good questions. I tried to have some fun but at same time ask some serious questions too. Who knew watching those cheerleader reality shows would pay off for me. In fact I asked Dina if she watched those type shows as well and asked her if they were anything like her experience with the Raptors.

I have watched these shows, most recent one I’ve seen was the try-outs for the dolphins and one of the girls was talking about how she stopped dancing for awhile because of school and that made her realize how much she wanted to get back to it and that’s exactly how I feel. I danced for the Argonauts back in 2006 (for those who watch - remember a girl getting hit by a player? That was me ) and seeing as how I haven’t danced much since (at first because of school, than
the injury) it just made me realize that I belong up there, entertaining the crowd dancing for fans, having fun! This is an exciting experience that I am very lucky to be a part of.

One of the things I have noticed is women seem to have a different attitude from men in try-outs. When men try out for a sports team it is highly competitive and kill or be killed. On these shows I have noticed women don’t seem to have that approach. I expressed those thoughts to Dina and here is what she had to say.

Clearly it is a competition, you are either chosen over someone else or someone else is chosen over you and you end up not being on the team, but I don’t feel like I have to beat anyone, I just try to do the best I can and if that will be enough than that’s great.

As an ex-football player I can’t understand that from a sports persepective. But this is one of the things that make men and women different. I do agree that in general people can only do the best they can and live with that. But as a man you just have that “EYE OF THE TIGER” approach to try-outs. Maybe women have that too but they just express it differently.

One thing that a man trying out for football or basketball does not have to worry about is their appearance. Trying out for something like this is about dancing sure but looks matter a lot. Having dated a few attractive women in my day ( IT IS SO TRUE ) I know first hand how fragile some females can be about their appearance. I asked Dina if that element was anything that concerned her.

Well, I’m a confident girl so if I’m not chosen my confidence level wont crush. My confidence comes from knowing that I have a lot to offer that goes beyond the physical. I am proud of who I am, but no matter how you look there will always be someone else prettier than you, skinnier than you, taller than you…so women have to work on their inside just as much, so that their confidence will come from
within and they’ll know that they have something to offer that other girls don’t have. I knew what I was getting myself into, so it’s not a hard experience for me, I see who my “competition” is but at the end of the day I’m sure we all have much to offer. The fans have to also consider that this is about dance skills, communication skills and personality just as much as looks, after all we are going to be representing the team wherever we are .

I would like to think Men would consider all the other things Dina mentioned but I am not convinced. But I am sure the women will factor that stuff in. But confidence is something that is very key to have for all women. I have to remember that in the search for my next girlfriend. But I am to busy searching for Nathan Jawai to start that search. But this is about Dina not me. So what made Dina want to get into this whole thing and why should she win over anyone else?

I wanted to do this because I have been a fan for a while and I practically grew up in a dance studio. I’ve been dancing since I was a little girl, so it would be awesome to dance and cheer for my favorite team on the court.

I’ve danced for years and taught different cardio dance, aerobics and
body-conditioning classes for quite a while now but last year I’ve herniated a disk in my back while snow-boarding and was told it was best to stop all these activities for a while and focus on muscle strengthening and rehab. The pain was slowly going away until I got into a car accident and messed up my back again so I had to take it slow one more time and it was so hard to do for several reasons

  • 1. it was my life passion
  • 2. dance and aerobics is what kept me in shape…
  • 3.that was my main income to help me pay for school
    ( I was doing a double major in biology and kinisiology - honours program at the time)

    I worked a lot to get to where I am now in life and now that I am doing better I just can’t wait to get back to dancing and getting my life back to what it was.

I can only speak for myself but as someone who has faced my own set of challenges, I admire the determination of Dina. I like a good story and the Dino Nation Blog has been lucky to tell a few of them. So hopefully Dina is successful, if she is what does she hope gain form it.

It’s gonna be a wild experience. The more people you meet, that’s more people you can interact with and learn from, we all have something that can enrich someone else’s life. I hope to get the opportunity to reach and help more people. I have a lot to give and this might be an opportunity that can open doors for you when it comes to exposure, meeting new people or helping others

Now in this blog I have always said I don’t consider myself a basketball expert. But as far as dance goes I haven’t got a clue. But I do think it requires a lot of talent and ability just like it would to play a sport. I asked Dina to educate me and you on what it takes to be a dancer:

Dance is definitely physically demanding:

1. you need a lot of endurance and aerobic capability to be able to keep your body in motion for that long

2. You need muscle strength to keep your movements sharp and make your turns or jumps look good

3. you need body plasticity to not look like a robot and make the dance entertaining

4. you need your balance and flexibility for technique…

Have you ever heard the term “ a dancer’s body “ ? there’s a reason why Dance will condition your body to look that way, it makes you work damn hard!

I would agree it looks hard. Dina is a fan of Toronto Raptors so I asked her for what her favourite moment or memory was as a fan of the Toronto Raptors. Here is what she said:

The season of 2006/2007 is probably my favorite season because we won our own division and that was the first time. That was the season when Mo Pete made his miracle shot to win the game.

That Mo Pete moment inspired perhaps the greatest Chuck Swirsky call of all time. Just wanted to say all the best to Moe P and the people of New Orleans. Moe as I have wrote before was one of my all-time favorite Raptors as well. I think have asked enough serious questions. So the next few are more about having some fun so here we go.

I thought I’d ask Dina what ex-Raptor or current Raptor does she think she could team up with and win “Dancing With The Stars” the popular T.V show:

I don’t know who is a great dancer but Anthony Parker would make for a good partner because :

1. He’s a good player, he has the athletic capability to learn
moves and perform them with a style.

2. He is involved in the community, got a sportsmanship award, and seems like an interesting guy you would enjoy spending your time with. If you have fun with what you do, and you truly enjoy the time you spend doing it, you are more likely to be successful at it.

I also wanted to help out our male readers. Many men have had the problem of not being able to balance watching the game and having a women in your life. So I asked Dina to give our male readers some help on how they can get to watch or go to the Raptor game and still have a happy girlfriend or wife. Dina was up to the challenge of helping you guys out. Here is her advice:

COMPROMISE! If she likes the ballet, the opera, musicals, watching the stars or whatever other girly thing that makes you cringe, explain to her that you are willing to join her and enjoy her company, not because you like the ballet o so much but because you like to see her happy, and then ask, “so how important is it for you to see ME happy ? … so I got these raptors tickets … “

There you go free relationship it advice and it is pretty good advice at that. Obviously we don’t know the outcome yet but successful or not. I wanted to get Dina’s overall thoughts of her experience as far as what she has learned from it:

I have learned that there are so many great and dedicated people out there, fans are amazing! I can’t believe how many people wrote to me and told me they’ve voted for me, it feels great to know that there are people rooting for you. Regardless of the outcome this experience has been great and if I don’t make it than next year I’ll be back for auditions, this time armed with food and drinks (something I forgot about in the heat of the moment this time … ).

I want to be honest about this. I told Dina when I first contacted her that personally I wasn’t that interested in this. I was doing this more for my readers and it is something I felt would be good for the blog. But having had her answer my questions and getting to know her story a bit, I now do care. I may even vote for her myself. After all I did want to be a guest judge and never got invited. Think I joked about this in a past blog. But seriously, I am pulling for Dina and if you have been impressed enough to support her I will give you the info to do so. She has the Dino Blogger’s endorsement for what it is worth.

Vote For Dina and Check Out her moves on Raptors.com

You can vote each day on Raptors.com

(Winner Will Be Selected Sept 9th)

I want to thank Dina for talking the time out to talk with me. Hopefully the support of the Dino Nation Blog can help her out. If it does I will feel like Steven Colbert. He has the Colbert Bump I will have the Dino Nation Blog bump. I have said to Dina that if she is successful I would welcome her to stop by and visit us through out the season. She was interested in doing that. Even if she doesn’t end up successful maybe we can find Dina a way to still visit the blog and help the Dino Nation Blog with a female point of view on the Raptors. That is my story and I am sticking too it. But it was great to have her here and I wish her the best of luck. Maybe this season we will get to see Jack Armstrong give a little on air TSN …. HELLLLOOOO for Dina. So good luck Dina and hopefully you loyal readers of Dino Nation Blog will support her and help her out.