Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the comments of Ilya Bryzgalov, the future of Danny Watkins, the nerve of Dan Hamhuis and Nicklas Lidstrom's nomination for the Lady Byng Trophy.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is down to Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for his thumbs-down to Winnipeg as a place to call home after his team was eliminated in four games by the Detroit Red Wings this week. Bryzgalov said he'd pretty much rather be anywhere next season than Winnipeg, which he really didn't have to say since, unlike a lot of the Coyotes players, he has a choice as an upcoming unrestricted free agent. But the reason Winnipegers should be happy Bryzgalov won't be relocating with the team, if it moves north, has nothing to do with what he said and everything to do with how he played against the Wings.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Danny Watkins, the fireman from Kelowna, who is about to begin the most unforgettable week of his life. This is draft week in the National Football League and just about everybody in the know says that Watkins, the giant of an offensive lineman from Baylor, will become just the fourth Canadian to be drafted in the first round. For any Canadian football player, just getting to the NFL is a long-shot. But for Watkins, who didn't begin playing football until he was an adult, this is both of the culmination of his career and the beginning of a new one. We don't normally follow offensive lineman. Running backs do. But this is one I'm going to be following for some time. Maybe you will, too.
Bruce Arthur, TSN: My thumb is down, way down, to Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks. Earlier this season, Hamhuis suffered a pair of concussions, and talked about how a third concussion might force him to retire. So naturally, once the Canucks fell behind 5-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of their first-round series, Hamhuis took a run at the head of Chicago's Dave Bolland, who was in his second game back after missing 17 games with a concussion of his own. Make no mistake: this was headhunting of the most vile and baffling kind. Hamhuis knows how bad concussions can be, and he either didn't think or didn't care. Either way it was despicable, and it tells you a lot about what's wrong with the NHL these days.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is up to the hockey writers who have chosen to nominate Nicklas Lidstrom for the Lady Byng Trophy. Now, why don't I just wait and say 'thumbs up' to Lidstrom for winning the Lady Byng? Because I might wait forever. That's what I've been doing ever since it made sense that a defenceman of Lidstrom's calibre who rarely visits the penalty box is the perfect choice for an award that values the ability to play within the rules. In fact, he has spent 30 minutes or less in the penalty box in 15 of his 19 seasons. Marty St. Louis won the Lady Byng last year, and he might win it again, unless the voters realize it's time to give it to Lidstrom just once, before he retires.