Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the Canadians taken in the NFL Draft, Steve Nash of the Suns, Joel Ward of the Capitals, and the Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to the three Canadians who were selected in this week's NFL draft - Windsor's Tyrone Crawford to the Cowboys, Toronto's Philip Blake to the Broncos and Ottawa's Christo Bilukidi to the Raiders. It wasn't that long ago that Canadians were almost as rare in the NFL as ... well, rouges. But as the sport of football continues to grow in Canada, that has definitely changed. With five players drafted in the past two years alone, there will likely be at least 15 Canadians in the NFL this coming season. Not necessarily good news for the Canadian Football League. But a very good sign for Canadian football in general.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Steve Nash, still Canada's greatest athlete at 38, not just for having another MVP-like season for the Phoenix Suns, but for how it all came to an end on Wednesday night with the genuine emotion between player and his fan base. This kind of feeling doesn't happen often anymore. The Suns didn't win the game or make the playoffs but Nash received standing ovation after standing ovation throughout the night, with fans saying thanks for his 10 seasons in the desert. Nash, with no plans to retire, is a free agent this summer. He hasn't said where he wants to play next year so I'll inquire for him: why not Canada?
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Joel Ward for his casual grace in dismissing the racist comments directed at him via Twitter. Ward said he wasn't going to let the hateful spew ruin his day after he scored a Game 7 overtime goal for the Capitals against the Bruins, combating the taunts with the pitch-perfect response. This is not really a Boston story, even in the context of the city's turbulent racial history. This is a story of social media, our great unexpurgated democracy where all voices - even the cranks - seem to carry equal weight. Ward counter-attacked with an unconventional weapon, one beyond the incendiary capability of 140 characters. He shrugged.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to the near-certainty that Nicklas Lidstrom will never see his name on the Lady Byng trophy. It's an award that is apparently reserved for forwards with low penalty totals, never mind that Lidstrom's time spent in the penalty box is always remarkably low for those who play defence, and hardly high by any standards. Florida defenceman Brian Campbell is a Byng finalist this season - he'd be a worthy winner, but how ironic if a defenceman other than Nick Lidstrom beat the Byng curse against blueliners. Maybe one day it'll be called the Nick Lidstrom trophy - one way, the only way, apparently, to put his name on it.