Eh Game

  • Call it patchwork.

    In his first regular-season game as captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Max Pacioretty certainly led by example on the ice.

    In front of a stellar goaltending performance by Carey Price who stopped 36 of 37 shots, Pacioretty’s two goals, including the insurance marker into an empty net with 31 seconds remaining in regulation, paced the visitors to a 3-1 opening night victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

    Alex Galchenyuk scored the winning goal with under eight minutes remaining in the third period, whacking in a long rebound to break a 1-1 deadlock.

    Pacioretty did not want to focus on his new title but after deflecting the initial questions on the matter, did acknowledge that the sensation he experienced prior to the game was unique in some way this time around.

    “Definitely at first (coming out on to the ice), I felt different,” said Pacioretty, who was formally introduced as the team’s 29th captain on Sept. 18 after being voted into the role by

    Read More »from Pacioretty strong in regular-season debut as Montreal Canadiens captain
  • Tokyo? Withdrawal.

    Wuhan? Withdrawal just before her first-round match

    Beijing? Retirement early in the second set of her first-round match.

    Hong Kong? Withdrawal.

    Genie Bouchard's Asian swing, which under normal circumstances would have been an opportunity to build on the momentum regained during the US Open, is officially a disaster.

    The 21-year-old from Montreal tried, but both in Wuhan and in Beijing suffered recurrences of concussion symptoms, in the wake of the notorious locker-room accident at the US Open Sept. 6.

    Unless she looks for a wild card at one of the final WTA Tour events of the season the following week in Luxembourg or Moscow, her season from hell is done. The Hong Kong tournament will take place next week.

    There are smaller events – $125,000 WTA tournaments, and ITF events with smaller prize money (two of them in Canada) remaining on the schedule. But Bouchard's year-end ranking in 2014 is simply too high to be eligible to compete, even if she had an interest.

    In

    Read More »from Eugenie Bouchard out of Hong Kong tournament; season likely over
  • “Just like the old days,” says Tex Thomas with a big smile as he slips a Toronto Blue Jays baseball hat into a red bag and hands it to the middle-aged man. A return to the playoffs as the American League East Division champions has the city buzzing and businesses like Pro League Sports booming.

    "It's been unbelievable,” Thomas said a couple of days after the Blue Jays clinched their first division title in 22 years. “The phone hasn't stopped ringing since they clinched the division title. People are looking for just about everything.

    "On Thursday morning, I picked up 28 AL East Champs T-shirts, the exact ones they were wearing in the clubhouse after they won, and 18 were gone about an hour after I opened the store."

    To quote the late Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again for Thomas, who opened Pro League Sports – an apparel and memorabilia store in The Beach on Toronto’s east side – in 1991. That was the year the Blue Jays went to the American League Championship Series but were

    Read More »from Blue Jays' return to the playoffs has Toronto buzzing and businesses booming
  • When David Price takes the mound to open the ALDS on Thursday, he may be pitching in front of a smaller-than-expected audience. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)When David Price takes the mound to open the ALDS on Thursday, he may be pitching in front of a smaller-than-expected audience. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    Sportsnet has been on one heck of a ratings ride the past couple of months thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays (you thought maybe it was the World Poker Tour?)

    But that baseball-infused ride may be slowed by a couple of speed bumps.

    The network's push for record ratings may be stalled this week thanks to a playoff schedule that is anything but Sportsnet-friendly. With two afternoon games to start the Jays' first playoff series in 22 years, ratings will almost surely suffer.

    Oh, they're still going to be good. Witness last weekend's disappointing series in Tampa Bay, which still averaged 1.5 million viewers per game.

    But unless every baseball fan in Canada decides to call in sick or take vacation days Thursday and Friday, the numbers won't be where they would be had the games been scheduled in prime time.

    The opener of the best-of-five ALDS against Texas will be played at 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, a time when soap opera addicts and shut-ins are the only ones watching TV. Game 2 is slated

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Blue Jays playoff schedule doesn't help Rogers
  • Milos Raonic has always played the tournament in Tokyo, Japan during this week on the ATP Tour calendar. And it has been very, very good to him.

    From his first appearance in 2010, when he qualified and put in an impressive performance in losing 6-4, 6-4 to Rafael Nadal to the last three editions, when he has reached the finals three times, it’s clearly a surface and environment that suit him.

    This year, though, Raonic opted for the competing tournament in Beijing for the first time, a tournament that offers twice as much prize money albeit the same number of ranking points as Tokyo because both are 500-level events.

    BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 03:  Simona Halep of Romania and Milos Raonic of Canada hold Chinese fans at the China National Tennis Centre on October 3, 2015 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 03: Simona Halep of Romania and Milos Raonic of Canada hold Chinese fans at the China National Tennis Centre on October 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

     

    Some of that decision might be sponsor-related, which is understandable; Raonic’s clothing and shoe company, New Balance, has a far more aggressive presence in China than in Japan. And Raonic was the star attraction at the company’s junior clinic late last week.

    Read More »from No. 5 seed Milos Raonic shocked in the first round of Beijing by Viktor Troicki
  • Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

    In honour of the Toronto Blue Jays' return to the postseason for the first time in 22 years – Game 1 of the ALDS is Thursday at home against the Texas Rangers – here are 22 stats that tell the story of how they got there.

    • 93 – The Blue Jays's 93 wins are the franchise's most in the regular season since 1993. We all know how that season ended.

    • 48 – They wouldn't have reached that lofty win total without their incredible second half surge, winning 48 of their final 71 games.

    53 – The fans at Rogers Centre sure had plenty to cheer about this season, celebrating 53 home wins. Only the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers had more with 55.

    13 – A huge reason Toronto won the AL East was their 13-6 head-to-head record against the New York Yankees.

    11 – The Blue Jays ran off not one, but two 11-game winning streaks this season. The first was from June 2 through June 14 and the second from Aug. 2 to Aug. 13.

    37 – No team in baseball had more blowout (by five or more runs)

    Read More »from Blue Jays by the numbers: 22 stats that tell the story of 2015
  • After three consecutive days of practice in Beijing, there was every hope Genie Bouchard's return to tournament play Monday would be without incident.

    BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 04:  Eugenie Bouchard of Canada holds a Chinese fan during a visit to the Mercedes both on day two of the 2015 China Open at the China National Tennis Centre on on October 4, 2015 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 04: Eugenie Bouchard of Canada holds a Chinese fan during a visit to the Mercedes both on day two of the 2015 China Open at the China National Tennis Centre on on October 4, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

    Unfortunately, that was not the case as the 21-year-old was forced to stop, down 2-6, 1-1 in her first-round match Monday against No. 13 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

    Clad in basic black, Bouchard returned to the court Monday for the first time since Sept. 4, when she suffered a concussion at the US Open. Her return lasted under an hour. (TennisTV.com)Clad in basic black, Bouchard returned to the court Monday for the first time since Sept. 4, when she suffered a concussion at the US Open. Her return lasted under an hour. (TennisTV.com)The 21-year-old took the main stadium court at the China Open with a vastly different look than Bouchard fans are used to.

    In sharp contrast to her usually colourful Nike attire, she was clad in serious-looking basic black – right down to the shoes – with only a white and purple visor and a new pair of pink earphones as colour as she looked to finish a difficult season on a positive note.

    It wasn't overly hot in Beijing – 23C at game time even if the city appeared to be having a particularly noxious smog day – and the humidity was under 60 per cent. But Bouchard had already asked for an ice towel by the second changeover as coaching candidate Thomas Hogstedt looked on,

    Read More »from Eugenie Bouchard's return to action in Beijing is brief, ends in tears as she retires against Andrea Petkovic
  • Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry, right, drives to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, left, as Wesley Johnson, back, watches during the second half of a pre-season NBA basketball game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday October 4, 2015. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry, right, drives to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, left, as Wesley Johnson, back, watches during the second half of a pre-season NBA basketball game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday October 4, 2015. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

    VANCOUVER – Dwane Casey warned that his team’s offensive execution isn’t where it needs to be.

    In general, he was right. The play was sloppy at times, the ball movement lacking, but the Toronto Raptors still handled the Los Angeles Clippers 93-73 in their preseason opener Sunday afternoon at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

    Kyle Lowry was the exception to Casey’s caution, scoring a game-high 26 points to lead Toronto to the win. The focus at training camp has been on defence, and the team will be happy with only allowing 73 points to the Clippers.

    Lowry arrived at camp noticeably slimmer than he had been at any time in his Raptors tenure. He was especially dangerous driving to the hoop and earned 12 free throws, making 11, even though he was nursing a sore groin.

    The Raptors took a 40-34 lead into halftime and pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Los Angeles 37-28. Both teams rested their starters in the fourth and Toronto's most recent draft picks Norman Powell and Delon Wright saw

    Read More »from Kyle Lowry looks great as Raptors beat Clippers 93-73 in preseason opener
  • When they say that tennis is the sport for a lifetime, it's not just a cliché.

    As the Canadian teenagers were making a name for themselves in Madrid, Spain, winning the junior Davis Cup title and taking bronze in the girls' junior Fed Cup, players 70 years their senior were also bringing home the hardware in Umag, Croatia.

    Westmount, Que.'s Rosemarie Asch, a member of the Canadian Olympic ski team in Oslo in 1952, swept the titles in the 85-and-over category at the International Tennis Federations's super-senior world championships.

    Asch's women's doubles title was one of three titles earned last week in Umag, Croatia, at the site of the annuel ATP Tour event. (photo courtesy of Richard Asch)Asch's women's doubles title was one of three titles earned last week in Umag, Croatia, at the site of the annuel ATP Tour event. (photo courtesy of Richard Asch)

    The 84-year-old (she turns 85 Nov. 15) didn't just win, she dominated. In the women's singles, she didn't lose a game in posting three match wins in the round-robin portion. In the final, she rolled over Monique Giffard of France 6-0, 6-1.

    The Canadian barely broke a sweat in rolling through the draw and winning the 85-and-over singles title at the ITF world super-senior championships. (Photo courtesy of Richard Asch)The Canadian barely broke a sweat in rolling through the draw and winning the 85-and-over singles title at the ITF world super-senior championships. (Photo courtesy of Richard Asch)In women's doubles, Asch teamed up with Erzsebet Szentirmay of Hungary to drop two more bagels, this time on Marj Niccol of Australia and Marlis Jennis of Germany. 

    In the mixed doubles, Asche teamed up with legendary

    Read More »from Montreal's Rosemarie Asch sweeps three titles at the ITF super-seniors world tennis championships
  • Being the No. 1 seeds can sometimes be a curse more than a blessing. But the Canadian junior Davis Cup squad, led by US Open junior doubles champions Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, withstood the pressure even if they needed the deciding doubles match against Germany in the final Friday to get it done.

    They lifted the junior Davis Cup for the first time in Canada's history after defeating Germany 2-1. The 2010 squad, led by Filip Peliwo, reached the final but couldn't take that final step.

    Here's the winning moment.

    Meanwhile, the Canadian girls' team, led by Blainville, Que's Charlotte Robillard-Millette and Mississauga, Ont's Bianca Andreescu, shook off the disappointment of their semi-final loss to Russia on Friday and rebounded to win the bronze against Russia.

    It was after midnight in Beijing, where Vasek Pospisil was practicing in advance of the China Open. But he was on the job.

    Read More »from Canada wins junior Davis Cup in Madrid for the first time in history
  • DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, and DeMar DeRozan (The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese)DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, and DeMar DeRozan (The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese)BURNABY, B.C. – After burning out a bit down the stretch last season, Kyle Lowry is back looking fitter than ever. After missing significant time with a groin injury early on, DeMar DeRozan is eyeing a return to All-Star form. After signing a four-year, $64 million deal, Jonas Valanciunas is working to break out in his fourth year in the NBA.

    And after a busy offseason following a humbling first round playoff sweep, the Toronto Raptors believe the comprehensive changes they've made will allow their core players to achieve their individual goals, and in turn, power the team to group success.

    The Raptors open their seven-game preseason schedule Sunday in Vancouver against the Los Angeles Clippers. There are plenty of new faces on the team this year, making this past week's training camp and the upcoming exhibition games extra critical.

    Marquee free agent signing DeMarre Carroll is set to join Lowry, DeRozan, Valanciunas, and Patrick Patterson in the starting lineup, while Cory Joseph

    Read More »from Raptors look to use preseason to mesh old with new and build identity
  • When we reported just before the US Open that experienced coach Thomas Hogstedt was in the mix for a tryout with top Canadian Genie Bouchard, we were told that while he was keen and ready to come on board, Bouchard and her team had reservations.

    Those reservations seemed to have abated and Hogstedt is indeed by Bouchard's side, as she (hopefully) prepares for a return Monday in Beijing, China against Andrea Petkovic.

    Here they are on the practice court Sunday (photos courtesy of Tatiana Kulickova).

    Clearly this is a short-term experiment, as Bouchard wraps up her star-crossed season. The 21-year-old Canadian went the "coach who has taken players to the top of the game" route already this year, with Sam Sumyk. And no doubt she learned that the coach might have an illustrious resumé, but that doesn't mean that the chemistry will be there or the fit is right.

    A 52-year-old Swede, Hogstedt was a great junior (the 1981 junior US Open champion) and a serviceable pro.

    But he has made his

    Read More »from Eugenie Bouchard working with noted coach Thomas Hogstedt in Asia
  • The sexual harassment investigation of Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut snowballed quickly this week, with Wednesday night's news that he was being investigated for comments towards one woman and stepping down while the investigation proceeded (a rare move in the sports world), Thursday's news that two further women had come forward with complaints against him, and Saturday's news that Aubut has officially resigned his post.  The Canadian Olympic Committee has accepted his resignation, but says they're going to continue investigating his actions, a vital step to both analyze exactly what happened here and hopefully find ways to prevent it from reoccurring.

    Aubut's exit is a big change for the COC, as he'd been a member of the committee since 2000 and officially assumed the presidency in 2010, so he's played a significant role in shaping Canada's current approach to the Olympics. However, his resignation's the best possible news for the organization at this time. This

    Read More »from Marcel Aubut resigns amidst sexual harassment scandal, COC investigation goes on
  • DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors (The Canadian Press/Marta Iwanek)DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors (The Canadian Press/Marta Iwanek)

    BURNABY, B.C. – Count DeMarre Carroll among the many that would like to see the NBA give Vancouver another shot.

    The Toronto Raptors have brought their training camp to the city for the second straight year and will open their preseason schedule at Rogers Arena against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. It's afforded Carroll, who signed a four-year, $60 million free agent contract with the Raptors in the offseason, the opportunity to visit Vancouver for the first time. Like most tourists that come through the city, the 29-year-old Alabama native is very impressed with what he's seen so far.

    "This city is great. I heard it was a beautiful city and the people here are nice. What I look for (in a city) is good restaurants, a good vibe, nice scenery. I feel like [Vancouver] has all of that," said Carroll. "I think this city really needs an NBA team, and hopefully it gets one soon."

    Over 14 years have passed since the Grizzlies packed up and moved to Memphis, leaving Vancouver after just

    Read More »from Raptors' DeMarre Carroll a big fan of Vancouver training camp experience
  • TORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson will be named American League MVP. Pitcher David Price has a strong case to be the AL Cy Young winner. Both players, along with other superstars like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, were crucial to the best Blue Jays season in a generation, and a long-awaited postseason appearance.

    But baseball is a team game, and over a grueling 162-game season a winning team needs contributions from everyone on the roster. Case in point, in Wednesday's AL East-clinching win over the Orioles while Bautista was hitting his 40th home run of the season, infielder Ryan Goins quiettly became the first Blue Jays shorstop to ever get five hits in a game.

    The Blue Jays have a lineup with several household names who, deservedly, are getting a lot of credit for this team’s success. Here are five other players who flew slightly under the radar, but were vital to the team’s first division title since 1993.

    Marco Estrada, SP

    Estrada entered the season

    Read More »from Blue Jays' unsung heroes deserve credit for ending 22-year postseason drought
  • Frank Lampard, New York City FC, and Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)Frank Lampard, New York City FC, and Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

    VANCOUVER – It didn't matter whether the roof was open or not (it was), Saturday was a perfect night for star-gazing at B.C. Place.

    Unfortunately, a thrilling encounter between the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York City FC will be remembered for two dubious penalty decisions, rather than the terrific 90 minutes of back-and-forth action, and an especially wild finish.

    A NYCFC side that featured Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, and David Villa in the starting lineup came away with a 2-1 win, after Villa converted a controversial 95th minute PK. Late into stoppage time Lampard dribbled into the box, and while Matias Laba appeared to win the ball with a last-ditch challenge at the edge of the area, referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot. It was a crushing blow for the Whitecaps, after Pedro Morales’ 88th-minute penalty kick goal – a call that also raised a few eyebrows – had cancelled out Lampard’s 29th-minute strike.

    "The first goal in any game is crucial and New York got the first goal.

    Read More »from Controversial late penalty dooms Whitecaps as they lose to NYCFC 2-1
  • Vancouver Whitecaps 1, CD Olimpia 0 (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)Vancouver Whitecaps 1, CD Olimpia 0 (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

    VANCOUVER – As Club Deportivo Olimpia piled on the pressure with the clock winding down, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson opted to add two natural centre backs to the mix, inserting Christian Dean in the 78th minute and Tim Parker in the 85th minute, as his team fought to hold on to a 1-0 lead.

    "They seemed to be putting bigger players on, and mine were smaller," said Robinson. "I was worried on set plays, because they're a big team. Part of the reason I made certain substitutions at certain times, I wanted to get certain players some minutes. Credit to the boys for the way they defended."

    There were a number of nervy moments late, but with Dean at left back and Parker playing as a holding midfielder alongside the starting centre back tandem of Kendall Waston and Diego Rodriguez, Kianz Froese's 42nd minute goal stood as the winner for the Whitecaps in a vital 1-0 victory over their Honduran opponents in a Group F CONCACAF Champions League game Wednesday night at B.C.

    Read More »from Whitecaps hang on for 1-0 win over CD Olimpia in CONCACAF Champions League
  • There hasn't been even a whisper of news, health updates, or reassurance for Genie Bouchard's many fans from her representatives since they outlined the sequence of events in the women's locker room at the US Open 10 days ago.

    Bouchard suffered a concussion in the accident, after she reportedly slipped and fell on the wet floor in the trainers' room on her way to an ice bath Friday night.

    She withdrew from her women's and mixed doubles matches Saturday and, after a dramatic arrival at the US Open site the following day, during which she looked really stricken, Bouchard withdrew from her fourth-round singles match against Roberta Vinci of Italy.

    Since then, nothing, beyond one of the ESPN television commentators noting last Friday that she was still in her New York hotel room, not yet healthy enough to travel home. Eh Game can confirm that she is back in Montreal now, though, recuperating.

    No updates on Bouchard's various social-media accounts, either - Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

    Read More »from Eugenie Bouchard has withdrawn from next week's WTA Tour event in Tokyo
  • The Toronto Blue Jays are the gift that keeps giving for Rogers. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of Rogers' bank accounts growing every time Josh Donaldson hits a home run or David Price spits out his mouthpiece.

    Not only is attendance soaring and TV ratings threatening to outdraw Hockey Night In Canada, but audiences on Rogers' Sportsnet 590 The FAN are venturing into uncharted territory.

    Since the Jays remade themselves at the trade deadline, the FAN's audience share of its target demographic (those aged 25 to 54) has soared from 3.0 to 5.6 -- an 87 per cent increase. But that's just fans wanting to have their say or hear the latest tidbits from the station's growing coterie of baseball yakkers.

    The games themselves are making Jerry Howarth a household name. During the 7-11 p.m. period, when Jays games are typically on the radio, audiences have exploded. The FAN's audience share in that time slot has jumped from 4.3 to 12.3 -- a 186 per cent increase.

    And the playoffs

    Read More »from The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Blue Jays impact being felt across Rogers world
  • Milos Raonic will be back next week at the ATP Tour stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, while Vasek Pospisil will back in action in Metz, France.

    Meanwhile, there's a WTA Tour stop in Quebec City, and a $15,000 Futures tournament that's being played at the Aviva Centre in Toronto, home of the Rogers Cup.

    With the comebacking Aleksandra Wozniak getting a wild card only into the qualifying, and top seed Madison Keys receiving a wild card into the main draw, there were two other slots in the 32-player draw going to Canadians.

    Sharon Fichman is already out after a 6-0, 6-1 to the No. 5 seed, Germany's Annika Beck, in the first round Monday night.  Françoise Abanda, whose ranking dropped from No. 317 to No. 374 with the loss of the ranking points gained by qualifying at the US Open a year ago (seems like an eternity), faces No. 2 seed and defending champion Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia in her first-round match Tuesday night.

    The former top-70 player is trying to get his career back on track in Vancouver.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)The former top-70 player is trying to get his career back on track in Vancouver. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    In Toronto, Frank Dancevic continues his "back to basics" tour

    Read More »from First Serve - Canadians on the pro tennis tour this week