By Kevin Adshade
Hockey fans who made a habit of watching local NHL hero Colin White on televised games will now have to stay up a lot later if they hope to catch White in action; the 11-year veteran of the New Jersey Devils signed with the San Jose Sharks this week and will now ply his trade in California, some 3,000 miles and four time zones away from Pictou County.
If nothing else, the scenery will be better than anything he could find in a dreary, crime-ridden city like Newark, New Jersey, where the Devils' new home rink was built a couple of years back. Which would you prefer: the mountains and Pacific coast of northern California, or anyplace in New Jersey?
Whether White can help a perennially underachieving team like the Sharks make it over the hump will only be determined through time. Maybe Joe Thornton (Mr. 'Til April) can learn a thing or two about playoff grit from a veteran, war-hardened defenceman like White. Probably not, but miracles happen every day.
The Devils have apparently opted to go in another direction, as the cliché goes. The Devils were bad for most of last season, although they put on a furious late-season charge and almost grabbed a playoff spot. Still, with Martin Brodeur's best years behind him now, maybe the Devils decided to get younger and cheaper.
White, who will turn 34 in December, won two Stanley Cups with the Devils, as local sports legend will always show (New Jersey also lost the 2001 Cup final to the Colorado Avalanche, but losses in the Stanley Cup final are best forgotten) – and while he may have wished to have spent his entire NHL career in one uniform, that is something that doesn't happen very often anymore – if Wayne Gretzky can be deemed expendable, anyone can, so it's not something to be ashamed of when a team decides to move on without you. It's like when you get dumped by a girlfriend: sure, it hurts like a punch in the face, or like a kick someplace worse than that, but it's not the end of the world because you can still find someone else who'll want you for what you are.
One could do much worse than a winter spent in San Jose.
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If there's one thing that could be described as a microcosm of the Toronto Blue Jays' 2011 season, it is their habit of giving up late leads and losing in painful fashion. It was there for all to see again on Thursday afternoon in Tampa. The Blue Jays' bullpen squandered late leads not once, but twice, in a 7-6 loss that went 12 innings. The Jays aren't really that bad of a baseball club, playing a mostly entertaining brand of baseball for their fan base, which seems to grow flatter and more underwhelmed as every season passes. Their relief pitching has cost them an armful of games this season, and when you're trying to keep up with the big-spending (and well-run) teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the margin for error is small indeed.
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NFL training camps are underway, with the threat of losing all or part of the 2011 season no longer an issue as owners and the players got a deal done, wisely unwilling to sacrifice $9 billion for a work stoppage. How brilliant of them.
On to football: as all of you must have heard by now, the Browns have lost their starting punter for the season to an Achilles heel injury. The punter in Cleveland is usually a key part of the offensive playbook, what with them having to punt all the time, so this one could put a huge dent in their Super Bowl aspirations. I expect the Bears, Packers, Falcons, Eagles, Steelers, Patriots and Jets will be good teams this season but no one knows for certain – chemistry gone stale or injuries to a vital player or two can derail the train quite fast.
Kevin Adshade is a columnist for The News