Archive for January, 2009

UFC ’94 Predictions

Posted in Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, UFC on January 28, 2009 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Jan. 28, 2009
With Sean Young

Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida
Diaz has won all five of his UFC fights and is building momentum toward becoming a serious contender for the lightweight title. Th e Gracie Jiu-Jitsu brown-belt’s last foray into the octagon, last September against Josh Neer is the only decision victory of his pro career.

That same night, Guida put an impressive unanimous decision victory on his resume by out-pacing a very game Mac Danzig.

Sean’s pick: Guida. Diaz hasn’t impressed me really yet. I think he’ll find pulling guard on a beast like “the Carpenter” is a bad game plan.
Scott’s pick:
Diaz. He’s ridiculously dangerous on the ground and besides, isn’t Guida a type of cheese?

Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Parisyan was scheduled to fight Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 88 in September 2008, but a last minute back injury forced him to withdraw. “Th e Heat” – once considered a top-five welterweight suffered a brutal KO defeat to Thiago Alves in his last showing. Th ough “Stun-gun” Kim is undefeated, a controversial split-decision victory over Matt Brown at UFC 88 has him motivated to prove he can win without the judges.

Sean’s pick: Karo, I guess. Neither fighter is really exciting; I’ll probably make a beer run during this one.
Scott’s pick: Kim, undefeated and his name is “Stun-gun.” Good enough for me.

Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones
Cutting his MMA teeth on the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale, Bonnar is no stranger to adversity. But several injuries and a nine-month suspension in 2006 have kept “Th e American Psycho” inactive for long periods. His first fight in 14 months will be no easy feat. “Bones” Jones, 7-0 is a solid Muay-Thai striker with a pedigree in wrestling superior to Bonnar’s.

Sean’s pick: Bonnar. He won’t back down and trains with Xtreme Couture. Th is one is going to show what he’s made of.
Scott’s pick: Jones. Bonnar’s only claim to fame is losing to Forest Griffin, and Jones is undefeated.

Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva
Each man is 13-0, but Machida’s record hosts bigger names with victories over BJ Penn, Rich Franklin, and Tito Ortiz. Silva – a fearless striker and wrestler will look to push the pace and cause Machida to make mistakes.

Sean’s pick: Silva. Sometimes charging like a Bald Bull from Mike Tyson’s PunchOut works, this being one of those times.
Scott’s pick: Machida. Machida’s unorthodox style confuses opponents until they make a fatal mistake.

Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn
Both fighters are at the peaks of their careers and have vastly improved since Mar. 4, 2006 when they last met inside the cage. Since losing the contested UFC ’58 bout via split decision, Penn has made a successful transition to lightweight and captured the title with three dominant victories over Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk, respectively. After beating Penn, St. Pierre went on to gain, lose, and regain the 170lb title, and has destroyed his last four opponents – the most recent being a five-round battering of Jon Fitch.

Sean’s pick: Going to take a lot of heat for this, but I’ll take Penn. I think there’s a good chance his mental game, boxing and iron chin will be the difference.
Scott’s pick: GSP. Th ere are three unbeatable MMA fighters in their weight classes: Fedor, Anderson Silva, and GSP. He’ll make a mockery of a fattened-up Penn. H.

Risky business part of being an athlete

Posted in AHL, Auto Racing, Downhill Skiing, Fighting, Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, NFL, NHL on January 28, 2009 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Jan. 28, 2009

While all-star festivities in Montreal softened the attention a little, the big issue in the NHL right now is clearly fighting.

With the tragic death of Don Sanderson, an Ontario senior player, already sparking the debate, the AHL suffered a major scare last week. Philadelphia Phantoms forward Garrett Klotz had a seizure on the ice after hitting his face on the boards and then the ice during a fight.

However, Klotz was released from hospital the next morning and is expected to make a full recovery. On the other hand, the times of fighting in hockey may not.

The fact is, there are a lot of people who want to see the bare-knuckled boxing tossed from the game, and they just might get their wish if something isn’t done soon to prevent further disasters.

I, for one, am not excited about the threat of fighting’s demise. I am no different than anyone else in that I mourn death and cringe at tragedy, but if fighting is going to be removed from hockey then I want a few “problem areas” in some other activities omitted first.

Let’s start with auto racing.

Aside from being a terrible waste of time to start in one place and four hours later finish in the same spot, and being a blatant disregard for non-renewable resources, auto racing has this nasty habit of killing people.

Possibly the most famous driver of all time died because of a seatbelt malfunction, but even Dale Earnhardt’s biggest fans simply grieved and moved on.

However, since safety of people dumb enough to drive 200 m/hr while 40 other misled speedsters clip along right beside them is so important, I propose all cars to be governed at 35 m/hr.

Let’s move on to downhill skiing.

As citizens of this great society, it is up to us to protect those who are anxious to propel themselves Mach speed down a mountain wearing glorified 2 X 4’s on their feet and an orange perforated fence of plastic, the only thing between them and a 3,000-foot fall.

Paralyzed and/or dead are pretty standard fears for these people, even though they do it anyway, and we must ensure their odds of survival are first-rate.

All downhill racing must now take place on the bunny hill and the snow plough is now the only accepted form of stopping.

Lastly, let’s discuss North American football.

Even though a game consists of only six seconds of running, followed by a 45-second rest, the gruesome gridiron manages to produce exposed bones and crushed spines at a rate beyond any major sport.

“Early retirement” is not a term used in football because it happens so frequently that early is just normal.

Every pileup looks dangerous to an outsider, so from now on the NFL is twohand touch only.

If the sarcasm hasn’t poured off the page yet, my point to all of this is athletes take risks that are simply part of the game.

Before we limit bungee jumpers to sixfoot chords, force helmets onto golfers, and witness the Tour de France winner descend into Paris on a tricycle; let’s realize people choose to live such risky lives.

If you can’t take it, don’t watch. If you don’t like it, don’t play.

Call your bookie, the winner is here

Posted in Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals on January 21, 2009 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Jan. 21, 2009

In a salary cap world, the league is seeing serious parody, which has resulted in about a dozen teams who can dream of legitimate playoff runs. However, in my not-so-humble opinion, five teams have emerged as true favourites.

Here, in absolutely particular order, are the clubs most likely to engrave the Stanley Cup this spring:

1. Detroit Red Wings
When a team is the defending champs and they’ve only dropped eight decisions in over 40 games, they remain the favourite. Yes they are behind San Jose and yes they have had subject goaltending thus far, but they can score six goals with their skates on the wrong feet and this freak of nature by the name of Nicklas Lidstrom still plays for them. It’s an overstated cliché but the Wings know how to win.

2. San Jose Sharks
Though they have shown a human side lately by losing a few contests, the Sharks are every bit as good as they seem. Their defence is one of the best in the league, thanks to happily trading a couple of never-will-be’s to Tampa for Dan Boyle, and every forward is having a career year except Joe Thornton, who has a career year every year. Th e only thing that keeps me from truly buying into the Sharks is the fact they’ve been expert favourites for most of this century and they lose in disappointing fashion every May, on cue.

3. Boston Bruins
No one tried harder than me to not believe the Bruin’s hype they slowly developed over the first half. However, all you need to do is look at some of the scores in their games and it’s clear this team is for real. They kill everyone. They do it on the road. They do it on back-to-backs. They do it in every aspect of the game and there are no signs the assault won’t continue.

4. Montreal Canadiens
As I said at the beginning of the season, the Habs might be the deepest team in the league, next to Detroit. Their record since Christmas is astonishing considering the injuries. How many teams could lose an entire scoring line, the club muscle, the stay-at-home defenceman and their starting goalie all for more than a month, yet somehow hold the fourth best winning percentage in hockey? They don’t get a lot of respect because they don’t have any one player dominating the league, but they manage one of the game’s top off ences and defences and play great team hockey

5. Chicago Blackhawks
The only knock on this team is their inexperience. They have everything: superstar leaders, speed and skill throughout, a stud defenceman and two solid goaltenders, one of which has won the whole thing. Youth might keep them from other people’s favourite lists, but I believe youth provides a level of ignorance to the pressure of playoff s and, since everyone will focus on other conference rivals, they could sneak right by the expected clubs.

Honourable mention goes to Washington, who almost made my list. Apologies go to the Flames, who lost their spot on this list last weekend.

Hockey Canada: the team to beat

Posted in Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, Olympics, World Junior Hockey on January 14, 2009 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Jan. 14, 2009

When Jordan Eberle scored for Canada to tie the world junior semifinal with only 5.4 seconds left , the heartbeats for nine million square kilometres simultaneously skipped.

Canada then rolled through the resulting shootout and a less-than-dramatic gold medal game en route to yet another Canadian hockey triumph. For players and coaches, it was a highlight moment of their lives; for the fans, it was another notch on the belt for a country that remains the world’s most dominant hockey superpower.

If you listed all the tournaments Hockey Canada has won over the decades, it looks like winning is just a normal outcome for this nation, and in a way that’s true.

We never enter an event with the thought of second place, and if gold isn’t achieved, the country literally mourns in defeat.

It’s because of this that Canada continues to sit at the top of the pile. We remain No. 1 because the people here refuse to allow hockey to slip from our grasp.

We remain No. 1 because, when we falter, the country loses its collective mind.

In 1998, Canada finished fourth at the Olympics and eighth at the world junior’s, and panic tore through the nation.

Panic should be an exaggeration, because that’s supposed to be reserved for life and death, but panic it was.

A national inquiry was held to source out the reasons behind Canada’s dethroning.

How we became so slow and unskilled was being asked all around the country. The European teams and the U.S. had not just caught us in skill, but passed us.

Of course, it’s possible the sky wasn’t falling. Let’s face facts, Canada has to deal with every team’s best effort each and every time out and sometimes it’s possible for things to go the other way. If we really want to nitpick, those in charge of picking Team Canada could have decided Rob Zamuner wasn’t ‘just what this country needs’ to win Olympic gold, but GM Bob Clarke has faced his own conscious for that, we hope.

Nevertheless, Hockey Canada revamped and decided all-out dominance would be the only acceptable avenue for the future of Canadian hockey.

We could have simply conceded that hockey is an international sport, or that competing with the richer and more populous U.S. couldn’t be sustained.

Instead, however, we turned our minor hockey programs and strategies inside-out and rebuilt our stick-swinging army.

Necessary or not, it worked.

More than a decade later, we own the peak of the heap again. We are back to clobbering our foes anyway we can, and we do it with military precision.

Whether it comes in 15-0 humiliations, or last-second heroics, it seems the outcome is inevitable once again. We are better than they are, and we know it.

What really gets ‘em is they know it too.