Eh Game

  • Quarterback Henry Burris of the Ottawa Redblacks hoists the Grey Cup Sunday in Toronto, which drew almost 4 million viewers. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
    Quarterback Henry Burris of the Ottawa Redblacks hoists the Grey Cup Sunday in Toronto, which drew almost 4 million viewers. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

    How can it be?

    How could one of the most exciting Grey Cup games in 104 years, a game that featured overtime and an upset of historic proportions, be watched by fewer people than the previous year? How could it draw the lowest Grey Cup ratings in 11 years?

    But before you get all The-CFL-is-on-its-deathbed on us, let’s take a look at the possible reasons for a 10 per cent drop in audience from last year — as well as some hopeful signs for the future.

    Even without getting philosophical, the raw numbers aren’t bad. According to Numeris overnight ratings, the game was watched by an average of 3.6 million viewers on TSN and another 254,000 on French-language RDS.

    In the grand scheme of things, that’s more than any Stanley Cup playoff game has attracted since 2015 and is among the most-watched sports events of the year, around the

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Grey Cup audience down, but there are hopeful signs
  • Watch Vince Carter make this faraway fan's day

    Vince Carter pays another visit to his old Toronto stomping ground on Wednesday night, but as far as Monday in Memphis, it was all about another visitor: a young woman from China whose longtime dream of meeting him was finally realized.

    At 39 and into his 19th season, Carter’s having a solid season as a key reserve for the Griz, even pulling out the odd vintage Vinsanity dunk and being mentioned as a possible for February’s All-Star slam dunk throwdown. But the former Air Canada’s Hall of Fame resume can be measured in other ways, like this one: a 14-hour flight by a fan, and an invitation to come down to the court to meet up face to face.

    Read More »from Watch Vince Carter make this faraway fan's day
  • Biggest losers to win major sports championships

    Quarterback Henry Burris #1 of the Ottawa Redblacks hoists the Grey Cup following the 104th Grey Cup Championship Game. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
    Quarterback Henry Burris #1 of the Ottawa Redblacks hoists the Grey Cup following the 104th Grey Cup Championship Game. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

     

    The CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks won the Grey Cup on Sunday night with a thrilling overtime victory over, despite having a losing record (8-9-1 in the East Division) during the regular season. Ottawa became the first team in CFL history to win its conference with a sub-.500 record.

    The Redblacks, however, aren’t the only CFL team to win a championship despite a losing record. Both the Calgary Stampeders (2001) and B.C. Lions (2000) won their respective titles with an equally bad 8-10 record. In honour of the Redblacks’ underdog victory, here are the biggest losers to win a major championship:

    1938 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

    L-R) Jack Shill, Carl Voss, Cully Dahlstrom and Harold 'Mush' March of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate in the locker room after they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the 1938 Stanley Cup Finals on April 12, 1938 at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)
    (L-R) Jack Shill, Carl Voss, Cully Dahlstrom and Harold ‘Mush’ March of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate in the locker room after they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the 1938 Stanley Cup Finals. (Photo by B
    Read More »from Biggest losers to win major sports championships
  • CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge in Toronto on Nov. 25, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz photo)
    CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge in Toronto on Nov. 25, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz photo)

     

    The CFL and NFL differ in the number of downs and size of the field, but they’re also apparently far apart on the matter of concussions in football.

    While an NFL executive admitted to Congress this year that there is a link between football and degenerative brain injuries, CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said Friday in his state of the league press conference that the jury is still out on the matter.

    Orridge told reporters that there’s no proof football plays a big role in the high rates of CTE among former players.

    “The league’s position is that there is no conclusive evidence at this point,” he said, noting that concussions in the CFL had dropped from 50 to 40 this year.

    “We continue to work with (the medical world) and monitor the progress that they’re making in terms of getting a greater understanding of whether or not there is a linkage.”

    Orridge also said he couldn’t comment on

    Read More »from CFL boss: 'no conclusive evidence' on link between football, CTE
  • 104th Grey Cup logo BMO Field

    It’s been said that a rising tide lifts all boats.

    But there’s reason to wonder if the sudden rise of Major League Soccer’s fortunes in Canada might be punching a few holes in the boats of the Canadian Football League.

    While soccer has many light years to go before it can come close to challenging the CFL on television, there are signs that at least in Canada’s biggest city it’s threatening to do some damage.

    No doubt a few heads turned at CFL headquarters when the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference final between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC averaged 595,000 viewers on TSN and 429,000 on French-language RDS.

    In addition, after Montreal’s 60,000-plus Olympic Stadium sold out in no time for that game, there were fewer than 1,000 tickets remaining for Wednesday’s rematch at BMO Field next Wednesday.

    That’s the same BMO Field where the CFL is expecting a sellout for Sunday’s Grey Cup game, but was still almost 2,000 seats short as of Friday despite having months to flog the

    Read More »from On Grey Cup eve, rise of MLS casts shadow over CFL's place in Toronto
  • Calgary Stampeders' Osagie Odiase wears the No. 31 jersey of his fallen teammate and roommate Mylan Hicks in a team practice. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal photo)
    Calgary Stampeders’ Osagie Odiase wears the No. 31 jersey of his fallen teammate and roommate Mylan Hicks in a team practice. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal photo)

    It’s a morning ritual that helps Osagie Odiase get through the day.

    But the Calgary Stampeders defensive back would give anything to make the need for that ritual totally unnecessary. If only he could somehow magically erase the tragic effects of the senseless gun play that ended the life of his teammate and housemate.

    A 23-year-old man, a product of the mean streets of Detroit, playing football in Calgary where guns are rare, cut down for no understandable reason.

    Every morning before he leaves for practice, Odiase stops by the achingly empty room of Mylan Hicks. A room where a closet light burns day and night as an memorial to a fallen teammate. A room that contains an empty bed covered in football jerseys and a playbook.

    “It’s like a little memorial in his room,” says Odiase, a 25-year-old Californian who will play in

    Read More »from Calgary Stampeders' Grey Cup hopes inspired by teammate lost to senseless tragedy
  • Mackenzie Hughes poses with the trophy after winning a playoff round at the RSM Classic golf tournament, Nov. 21 in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
    Mackenzie Hughes poses with the trophy after winning a playoff round at the RSM Classic golf tournament, Nov. 21 in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

    Flying first class more often is just one of the many little luxuries that lies ahead for PGA TOUR rookie Mackenzie Hughes.

    The Canadian golfer from Dundas, Ont., won the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga., on Monday; he was the last man standing in what began as a five-man playoff on Sunday night and due to darkness, ended with four players vying for the title early Monday morning. Hughes sealed the deal in an unexpected fashion, the only golfer of the four left to hole his par putt – an 18-footer from just off the green on the third playoff hole.

    “I played four years at Kent State in Ohio, so I am pretty familiar with playing in the cold and trying to keep warm,” said Hughes of the frigid, windy conditions the players faced. “I kept telling myself: ‘You are Canadian and this is nothing compared to some of the stuff you’ve

    Read More »from Mackenzie Hughes' path to PGA triumph marked by hard work, watching Friends
  • Everything appeared to be in order for possibly the greatest night in Canadian pro soccer history.

    Montreal Impact and Toronto FC ready for playoff game. Check.

    More than 61,000 soccer-mad fans in their seats at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Check.

    Penalty box lines in place. Uh, wait a minute.

    Well, actually wait 40 minutes as Major League Soccer’s big night in Montreal turned into a rather big embarrassment. And the Moe-Larry-Curly attempts to rectify the situation only made things worse.

    The problem, somehow overlooked until just before kickoff time, was that the grounds crew preparing the Big O for the MLS Eastern Conference final had left both penalty boxes somewhat short of regulation. Actually, a lot short of regulation.

    “There was a mistake of about close to two metres on each side,”  a somewhat embarrassed Impact executive vice-president Richard Legendre told

    Read More »from Bad penalty box paint job mars glorious night for MLS in Montreal
  • Dominic Oduro of the Impact celebrates his goal with teammate Ignacio Piatti (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images Photo)
    Dominic Oduro of the Impact celebrates his goal with teammate Ignacio Piatti (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images Photo).

    MONTREAL – Had it not been for the tremendous first leg between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC, Tuesday’s MLS Eastern Conference final first leg would have been remembered for the game where we all literally watched paint dry.

    But after a 3-2 game that sets up a grandstand second leg in Toronto next Wednesday, the 30-minute delay where the penalty areas were repainted are for now just a colourful footnote – at least until the league levies a fine on the organizers for an inexcusable mistake – that served to only further amp up the tension on a memorable night in Montreal.

    It was almost a redux of last season’s 3-0 night at the Saputo Stadium, where the Impact brought a swift end to TFC’s first ever playoff game. But as good as Montreal was at closing down TFC in the first half and taking a 2-0 lead into the halftime break, it was a few minutes where the focus slipped

    Read More »from From painting lines to narrow margins, Impact takes 3-2 lead over TFC
  • Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores on James Reimer of the Florida Panthers as Michael Matheson tries to break up the play during the first period at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 17, 2016 in Toronto. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
    A resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs team has boosted ratings this fall.  (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The fall of 2016 may be grabbing headlines for a lot of negative stuff, but it’s shaping up as a pretty good one for Canadian sports networks.

    Basically, everybody who broadcasts hockey to football to basketball to soccer is having a strong autumn.

    Since hockey rules, we’ll start with Hockey Night In Canada, which saw ratings take a huge dive last season as every Canadian team hit the skids — some of them right out of the gate. Unofficial ratings for the prime-time games this season are averaging just over 2 million, up about eight per cent over the first six weeks of the 2015-16 season. The late game (758,000 average) is off three per cent, but overall that’s a gain for Rogers.

    As long as teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers continue to look like contenders those numbers should hold, if not grow.

    Last weekend’s CFL division finals each

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Ratings Report: November shaping up as a good one for sports networks
  • A crowd of 60,000 is expected at Montreal's Olympic Stadium for Tuesday's first leg of the MLS East final against Toronto.
    A crowd of 60,000 is expected at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium for Tuesday’s first leg of the MLS East final against Toronto. (Getty Images file photo)

    The sporting rivalry between the cities of Montreal and Toronto is eternal but with one city’s hockey team perpetually stuck in neutral, it’s taken their respective soccer clubs to bring back some relevance to the historical animosity.

    On Tuesday night at the Olympic Stadium, upwards of 60,000 fans will pack the place as Toronto FC visits the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference Final as the 401/Autoroute de Souvenir Derby achieves must-watch status in Canadian sporting circles.

    Last season’s 3-0 win for Montreal in the knockout round was more of false start in that regard but with both teams peaking at the right time, this season’s two-legged series could

    Read More »from Impact, TFC set to take Montreal-Toronto antipathy to a higher pitch
  • Genie Bouchard - Aug. 28 and Saviano
    Bouchard and Saviano have parted aways again, which leaves the Canadian searching for a coach for the third off-season in a row (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

     

    For Genie Bouchard, today is almost like Groundhog Day.

    Finally back at her home base in Miami for the first time since before the US Open more than three months ago, Bouchard should shortly begin preparations for a new season that will be the most important one in her still-young career.

    As she does, it’s very much like déjà vu all over again in the Bouchard universe.

    Eh Game has confirmed that the 22-year-old Montrealer and longtime mentor Nick Saviano have once again called it a day.

    That’s not news that will come as a major shock. But there has yet to an official announcement from either side.

    Exactly two years ago, on this very Monday in November after Bouchard returned from a high-rent exhibition event put on by British mogul Richard Branson on Necker Island, she and Saviano split after a season that saw her reach a career

    Read More »from As another coaching search begins, Eugenie Bouchard faces a challenging 2017
  • Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman reacts on the mound against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning of an American League wild-card baseball game in Toronto, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
    Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman reacts on the mound against the Baltimore Orioles on Toronto, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

     

    With the Blue Jays’ 2016 season wrapped up, Marcus Stroman has once again taken his talents from the pitching mound straight into the audio booth.

    Toronto’s star pitcher, who is no stranger to the recording studio, has teamed up with Mike Stud for a second time, dropping a few bars on the rapper’s latest single, ‘Shine.’ Stroman had recently been dropping hints about another foray into hip-hop on social media and on Sunday night, fans got a taste of the pitcher’s walkout music for next season.

    WARNING: Video below contains offensive language

    Sunday night’s release marks Stroman’s second shot at moonlighting as a rapper. He made his hip-hop debut with Mike Stud last winter on a

    Read More »from Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman joins Mike Stud on another rap track
  • “Clock malfunction” was the official explanation. The Raptors had another one.

    “That was just a bad call,” said Terrence Ross, after his two-dribbles-and-shoot heave appeared to beat the buzzer force overtime in Sacramento, then was ruled no good after a long replay review.

    Referee Mike Callahan ruled that Kings’ Demarcus Cousins had deflected the Raptors’ inbounds pass to Ross with 2.4 seconds left on the clock. The clock on the floor didn’t start until Ross touched it, though, and thus a disparity that in the referees’ reckoning allowed him too much time – in effect, Ross didn’t beat the buzzer after all and the Kings were 112-109 victors.

    From the Toronto Star:

    “First of all, the trigger was a clock malfunction,” [Callahan] told a pool reporter. “We had the ball deflected, and the clock didn’t start.”

    Of course the Raptors weren’t having anything of it.

    “I knew I had at least two seconds,” Ross said. “I knew I could take a dribble and still get it off. I don’t know how a tipped ball

    Read More »from Raptors' Terrence Ross crying foul after buzzer-beater ruled no good
  • Mackenzie Hughes, of Canada, reacts to his putt on the first green during the final round at the RSM Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
    Mackenzie Hughes, of Canada, reacts to his putt on the first green during the final round at the RSM Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

    When headlines and sports highlights shows trumpeted the name Mackenzie Hughes this week, most Canadian golf fans headed to the internet to find out exactly who he was.

    It’s a task they’re familiar with after wearing out search engines when unheralded amateur and native son Jared du Toit took the lead at last summer’s Canadian Open.

    Compared with du Toit, though, Hughes is a grizzled veteran of professional golf, with five years under his belt. Granted, almost all of that has been on golf’s minor league circuit, from the Web.com tour to the PGA Tour Canada to the Latin American circuit.

    But his dominance at the RSM Classic through three rounds and his surviving the Sunday’s five-man playoff shouldn’t really have come as a surprise to those who’ve been paying attention. They wouldn’t be

    Read More »from Canadian upstart Mackenzie Hughes showing that he belongs on the PGA Tour
  • Two exhausted tennis players meet at the net after a draining semi-final at the ATP Tour Finals. (Mark Greenwood/IPS/REX/Shutterstock)
    Two exhausted tennis players meet at the net after a draining semi-final at the ATP Tour Finals. (Mark Greenwood/IPS/REX/Shutterstock)

     

    It would almost have been poetic justice for the outsider who may well end the 2016 season as the No. 3 player in the world to spoil a potential season-ending match because the only two ahead of him, to decide who will be No. 1.

    But Milos Raonic couldn’t get there. Not quite.

    After a three-hour, 38-minute epic that eclipsed the previous marathon record at the ATP Tour Finals by some 18 minutes, Raonic went down to the man who has been on the other side of the net for most of his disappointing losses this season – hometown favourite Andy Murray.

    The 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9) Murray victory was a physical crusher for the winner, and an emotional crusher for the loser. The tennis was very good sometimes, absolutely inspired at other times, nervous at most times, tense and draining at all times.

    The stress and strain was apparent on both faces throughout (TennisTV.com/photo illustration)
    The stress and strain was apparent on both faces throughout
    Read More »from Milos Raonic comes up just short in thrilling ATP Tour Finals semi against Andy Murray
  • Jaromir Jagr enjoying playing hockey now more than ever

    Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (right) in action versus Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday at ACC. (Courtesy: Canadian Press)
    Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (right) in action versus Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday at ACC. (Courtesy: Canadian Press)

     

    Watching Jaromir Jagr is a spectacle in itself, even viewing him partake in a morning skate is something to behold as he did prior to the Florida Panthers’ 6-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

    While the merits of an early practice session on game day have been questioned, the 44-year-old was on the ice even though he wasn’t required to be.

    Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant has given Jagr carte blanche to prepare however he wants.

    “I don’t coach him, he does thing,” said Gallant, whose final five NHL seasons as a player overlapped Jagr’s entry into the league in 1990-91. “He plays a team system and he knows how we want him to play.  He comes to the rink and if he wants to take a day off, he takes it, he doesn’t take many of them, he gets himself ready to play games.

    “You don’t gotta coach Jaromir Jagr.”

    This is the respect one gets when they

    Read More »from Jaromir Jagr enjoying playing hockey now more than ever
  • Report: Yankees ' seriously looking' at Encarnacion after McCann trade

    TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 8: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a solo home run in the first inning during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 8, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
    Edwin Encarnacion would be a powerful addition to the Yankees. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

     

    The big-budget New York Yankees just became a little more lean – and that might spell bad news for their rivals north of the border.

    Less than 24 hours after dealing catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros in a three-player trade that will save New York $11.5 million per season, the Yankees have reportedly turned their attention to free-agent sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Beltran, sources tell Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

    The Yankees’ level of interest in the pair remains unknown, and as many as a half dozen teams – including the Toronto Blue Jays – are believed to be angling for Encarnacion, arguably the top offensive player on the market this winter.

    During an appearance Thursday on Sportsnet’s Tim & Sid, Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, conceded “the door is still open” for a Toronto reunion, but said his client is prepared to stay unsigned through the Winter

    Read More »from Report: Yankees ' seriously looking' at Encarnacion after McCann trade
  • Leafs' Marner stuns with magnificent goal

    Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores on James Reimer of the Florida Panthers as Michael Matheson tries to break up the play during the first period at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 17, 2016 in Toronto. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Mitchell Marner scores on James Reimer of the Florida Panthers during the first period at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 17, 2016 in Toronto. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

     

    Auston who?

    Forget about Matthews for a moment. Leafs rookie forward Mitch Marner has become the one to watch and a catalyst for Toronto’s offence. Last night against the Florida Panthers, the 19-year-old first round pick in 2015 showed his nifty mitts with a gorgeous goal. The beauty was Marner’s seventh of the season, helping Toronto to a lopsided 6-1 victory.

    Said Marner of his goal: “I was committed to going on the backhand (on the goal), I think a lot of people thought I was going to do that and at the last second I wanted to try to make a move and see what happened.”

    Long suffering Leafs fans can finally rejoice in knowing the future’s in (Marner’s) good hands.

    Read More »from Leafs' Marner stuns with magnificent goal
  • Raonic gives a thumbs up to the crowd after defeating Dominic Thiem 7-6, 6-3 in their round-robin match at the ATP Tour Finals Thursday in London. (From TennisTV.com)
    Raonic gives a thumbs up to the crowd after defeating Dominic Thiem 7-6, 6-3 in their round-robin match at the ATP Tour Finals Thursday in London. (From TennisTV.com)

    As Milos Raonic accurately put it after it was over, Thursday’s match between the 25-year-old Canadian and 22-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem at the ATP Tour finals in London was more than just a regular round-robin match.

    It was, for all intents and purposes, a knock-out quarter-final. And after Raonic’s fairly routine 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory, he became the first Canadian ever to reach the semi-finals at the year-end championships.

    He also – at least temporarily – becomes the No. 3-ranked male tennis player in the world.

    “Yeah, I did a lot of things quite well today. I stepped up when I had an opportunity in the tiebreak. I stepped up at the beginning of the second set and the end of it. There’s a lot definitely to be proud of, playing under that kind of pressure, ’cause I really wanted to get out of the group stages and I

    Read More »from Milos Raonic becomes the first Canadian to reach the ATP Tour Finals semis with win over Dominic Thiem