The Vancouver Canucks believe they improved this season and given some of the pieces they’ve put in place, they can sell that story.It might pale in comparison with Game of Thrones, but we still take pride in presenting the most exciting 900 words in sports entertainment, the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports:• The Vancouver Canucks believe they improved this season and given some of the pieces they’ve put in place, they can sell that story.The next question is improved in relation to what. Colorado and Dallas were the two wild-card teams in the West this season and both have emerged as potential powerhouses. Most fans know about the Avs, but Dallas has been a revelation in these playoffs. In addition to the, er, stars, they’ve identified at least three difference-makers in their lineup in Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Roope Hintz; a classic shutdown centre in Radek Faksa and an emerging power forward in Jason Dickinson. Of those five players, Faksa is the oldest at 25.True, some of the teams in the West figure to be entering a down phase in the next couple of seasons, but the eight teams that made the playoffs in 2018-19 don’t look to be going anywhere in the near term.In their closing news conference, Canucks general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green studiously avoided any mention of making the playoffs next season.There was a reason for that.
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, back, pats Adam McQuaid, right, on the back as he sits on the bench with Artemi Panarin, left, of Russia, and Pierre-Luc Dubois, centre, during the second period.
DARRYL DYCK /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
• Liked this from John Tortorella, the world’s most interesting coach, on his team’s chances against the Bruins. The Columbus bench boss noted the Blue Jackets’ first-round victory over Tampa was, remarkably, the first playoff series win in the franchise’s 20-year history. He then served up this gem.“It’s a case of satisfaction. Are we satisfied with that, a team that hasn’t won a playoff series. What’s our mindset? We’ve got to be through patting ourselves on the back for winning a round and get ready to play.”After dropping the first game to Boston, the Blue Jackets head back to Columbus with the series tied 1-1. Somehow they don’t look satisfied.
Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants eludes the checking of the Victoria Royals’ Logan Doust at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
Darren Stone /
Victoria Times Colonist
• Giants owner Ron Toigo compares Bowen Byram with another pretty good defenceman from Cranbrook, Scott Niedermayer, and that might sound like so much hype if the kid didn’t remind you so much of, well, Scott Niedermayer.Friday night, in the Giants’ series-clinching win over Spokane, Byram scored the game’s first goal, a short-handed beauty, while controlling both ends of the ice.He skates like Niedermayer, sees the game like Niedermayer and has Niedermayer’s hockey IQ. That doesn’t mean he’ll be Niedermayer in the NHL. It means at this level, you can legitimately make that comparison.The Rangers, who own the second pick of the NHL draft, have Kaapo Kakko rated first overall and Byram second ahead of Jack Hughes.It’s doubtful the Devils will pass on the American-born Hughes in the top spot, which leaves Kakko for the Rangers. It gets interesting after that with a number of mock drafts having Byram going somewhere between three and six.All we can say if there’s five players better than Byram in his year’s lottery, that’s a helluva draft.
A Seattle Seahawks fan is seen prior to the start of the first round of the NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Joe Robbins /
• One note on the Seattle Seahawks draft-day wheeling and dealing in which GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll turned four draft picks, including two first-rounders, into 11 picks by continually trading down.The Hawks ended up with two picks in the second round, three in the fourth and two in the sixth, but the larger point is teams who have confidence in their player personnel department — see Patriots, New England — live off these kind of moves.Under Schneider’s watch the Hawks have drafted players like Tyler Lockett, Russell Wilson, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the third round or lower. The problem is they haven’t been as successful in the last three drafts. After making the playoffs last season as a wild card, the Seahawks are at a crossroad. A big draft this year keeps them relevant. They might have trouble winning eight games if this year’s crop doesn’t deliver.
Solomon Elimimian of the B.C. Lions.
Darryl Dyck /
THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES
• Seen this played out too many times over the years but it seems Solomon Elimimian has reached a point where his age and production, coupled with his salary, doesn’t fit with the Lions’ direction and he’ll be moved.That’s the way of the CFL and this moment comes for virtually every veteran, especially if he’s an import. But while he might have been deserving of a more dignified exit, take a moment and appreciate everything the kid from Crenshaw, Calif., has done for this franchise.He leaves as a first-ballot hall-of-famer, the greatest linebacker in Lions history and one of the greatest linebackers in CFL history, period. But, as good a player as he was, he was an even better person and his story — born in Nigeria, raised in South-Central L.A., in a remarkable family, eight years in the CFL as an absolute terror — passes into Lions lore.Pro football is a cruel, unforgiving game and Elimimian knows that as well as anyone. But, for everyone who’s a fan of the CFL game, take a moment and appreciate this singular man.
Ken ‘Kato’ Kasuya, who started working with the B.C. Lions when he was 13 and never left the CFL team, died Wednesday at the age of 53. Heartbroken players, coaches and friends gathered in Surrey Wednesday to share stories about the loyal equipment manager who they called a true Lion legend.
Colin Price /
• And finally, in the days after his death there was an outpouring of unsolicited testimonials that spoke to the kindness of Kato Kasuya and his impact on the game in B.C.In his role as the Lions’ equipment manager Kato routinely supplied high schools around the Lower Mainland with the Lions’ old gear. He lent his expertise, experience and, most importantly, his connections to the programs at Simon Fraser and the University of B.C. There are countless stories of Kato donating Lions paraphernalia to fundraisers, to kids, to fans.Someone posted this on Twitter: “I never met him but somehow I felt I knew him.”Someone else sent me an email describing an encounter he overheard between Manny Arceneaux and Kato during a Lions practice.“Kato, you a good man,” Arceneaux said in his distinctive Louisiana drawl.There were so many in the football community, Kato’s community, who felt that way. You hope he knew that.CLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.