Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the hardest sports trophy to win, the secret behind the San Antonio Spurs' success, the light heartedness of Marty Turco and some key injuries that will affect the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is down to the inevitable moment in the days ahead when someone, a coach, a player or otherwise, will declare the Stanley Cup the hardest trophy to win in all of sports. Because by virtue of simple mathematics, that is not true. The NHL has 30 teams and 16 make the playoffs. That's double the number that qualify in baseball which also has 30 teams. The NFL has 32 teams and 12 make the playoffs and in that sport, one loss and you're done. Just like NCAA basketball's March Madness that requires its champion to go 6-0 in elimination games. Is the Stanley Cup the most physically demanding trophy to win? Maybe. But the hardest to win. No way.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to the San Antonio Spurs, who bring real meaning to the word team. The Spurs lead the NBA with 61 wins and don't have a single scorer in the top 25 in the league. They don't have a single rebounder in the top 15. Their one-time franchise player, Tim Duncan, is having career lows in virtually every category. The Spurs don't have an owner that anyone could recognize. They have a general manager named Buford who nobody could pick out of a lineup. But they have a coach, Gregg Popovich, and more importantly they have a collection of 12 players who together all contribute something to this remarkable NBA franchise.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to Marty Turco. The Chicago Blackhawks goaltender hasn't started a game since mid-February, and sitting at the end of the bench can get old after a while. So during a game in Montreal this week, Turco accepted a five-dollar wager from a Habs fan who bet him the Blackhawks wouldn't score again. Turco won the bet, and then went double-or-nothing in the second period, and triple-or-nothing in the third. He got 5-1 odds on a win in overtime and paid up when he lost, writing "Turco rules!" on one of the five-dollar bills he passed through the glass. This wasn't a scandal; this wasn't Pete Rose. This, in a sports world that seems to be getting less and less light-hearted every day, was a harmless bit of fun.
Dave Hodge, TSN: This goes without saying, but thumbs down to the fact that the Stanley Cup playoffs will open on Wednesday with Sidney Crosby watching the Pittsburgh Penguins' first game in a shirt and tie. It is to be hoped that Crosby will wear a Penguins' uniform again this season, but it's more important that he's able to wear it next season. Marc Savard won't be in the Boston Bruins' lineup, and from the latest reports on his condition, the date of his next hockey game is far down on his list of concerns. And Manny Malhotra will have to watch the Vancouver Canucks through sunglasses that protect an eye that will hopefully give Manny full sight in the future. In the playoffs, some teams are hurt more than others, as are some players. Crosby, Savard and Malhotra are but three to keep in mind.