header
header
header
> >
#1 Posted by Dogcat250 7 months 2 weeks ago
Dogcat250
1550 Forum posts
TORONTO - As the country celebrated Canada Day two years ago the Raptors sent a small army to Manhattan, led by then general manager Bryan Colangelo, in an effort to recruit the most coveted free agent point guard on the market. The Raptors contingent - which included Dwane Casey, Jay Triano and Larry Tanenbaum - pulled out all the stops trying to sell Canadas own Steve Nash on a move to Toronto. After a two-hour meeting, highlighted by a video presentation featuring hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, the Raptors left Nash with a generous offer. Days later he turned them down, opting for less money and a better shot at a championship in Los Angeles. Colangelo went forward with his Plan B, a trade for Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry. Now the Raptors find themselves in a similar predicament, only this time the approach couldnt have been more dissimilar. They didnt send a front office mob, there was no video cameo made by The Great One. This time they left the kitchen sink in Toronto. Instead, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and head coach Dwane Casey had a quiet sit down with Lowry in his hometown of Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon. True to form Ujiri and his coach exuded confidence. Calm, cool and collected, the Raptors brass did not find it necessary to camp out on Lowrys front porch at 12:01 AM, the time in which teams were able to officially commence negotiation with free agents. Their sales pitch centred on a simple premise, one that the team had already been preaching publicly for months - they want him back. What they didnt say, and would be reluctant to admit, is that they need him back. Rightly or wrongly, the perception that players dont want to come to or stay in Canada has dogged the Raptors since their inception. After all, Nash wasnt the first player to spurn the Raptors. Theres a long history of it in fact. Damon Stoudamire was the first star to want out, followed by Vince Carter - the franchises best player - seven years later. Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh each bolted via free agency, while both Kenny Anderson and Alonzo Morning refused to even put on the jersey. The new regime intends to snuff that stigma once and for all. Along with MLSE boss Tim Leiweke and global ambassador extraordinaire Drake, Ujiri has helped empower a fan base that had lost hope prior to their arrival a year ago. "Why cant I change it," Ujiri said, challenging that perception as he was introduced as the Raptors new GM last June. "Its our job to make it better, its our job to make it good, its our job to create a winning environment and thats why Im here." With the embattled franchise finally on the precipice of turning the page and changing a culture that has beset them for the better part of the last 20 years, the stakes are much higher now than they were in 2012 when they struck out on Nash. For all the progress the Raptors made in 2014, turning heads as a result of their breakout campaign, spirited playoff run and We The North campaign, the wind could be taken out of their sails in a hurry should Lowry fly the coop, especially if he leaves for Houston or Miami. This is their first big test, one they dont intend to - and cant afford to - fail. Lowry is Torontos No. 1 priority, theyve made no secret of that. "Were going to go full force," Ujiri promised last week. And they have. The Raptors initial offer to Lowry was substantial, said to be in the $11-$12 million range annually over a four or potentially five-year term. A salary in that range would make Lowry the seventh highest paid point guard in 2014-15, not including Kyrie Irving whose max extension wont take into effect until the following season. Of course, theres more to Ujiris pursuit of Lowry than just pride. The Raptors GM would happily show Lowry, or any other player the door if he felt theyre not worth their price tag. Like any other investment, Lowry is a calculated risk but the Raptors are betting the 2013-14 version will be more of the norm than an anomaly going forward. Its because hes a player worthy of the money that Ujiri has done - and will continue to do - everything in his power to keep Lowry in a Raptors uniform. Still, the decision belongs to Lowry. The 28-year-old will take a few days to weigh his options with his family and agent Andy Miller as Raptors fans hold their collects breath. With Torontos 20th year anniversary season around the corner, keeping Lowry would go a long way in the continued saga to rewrite the franchises troubled history. Cheap Sneakers On Fire . 22. Wade averaged 26.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals while leading the Heat to a 3-0 record. The 31-year-old shot 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range en route to his 17th weekly honor. Cheap Shoes From China . has left the San Jose Sharks to become the Boston Bruins director of player personnel. http://www.cheapsneakersfire.com/ . With the team he supported as a child on the verge of reaching the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 19 years, Ba instead scored the goal that knocked them out. Authentic Sneaker Wholesale . -- Masahiro Tanaka knows that first appearance in a spring training game for the New York Yankees will be scrutinized. Buy Sneakers Online Cheap . Judging by his performance Saturday night, Cotto has plenty left in the tank. Cotto became the first Puerto Rican fighter to win world championships in four weight divisions, stopping Sergio Martinez in their WBC world middleweight title fight Saturday night.VANCOUVER, BC -- You can’t spell production without the O or the D, but the Vancouver Canucks are bending the rules of the English language these days. They’re getting plenty of production and they’re finding ways to do it without any O from any D. The Canucks are the sixth in the National Hockey League in both actual goals scored (65) and goals per game (2.96), so offence is not an issue. The Canucks have been an up-tempo hockey club playing an entertaining style based on spread scoring and a four-line attack. The surprise in all of this is that the Canucks are achieving such offensive success with one of the lowest-scoring defences in the NHL. As a group, Canucks blueliners have contributed just 32 points in 22 games. Compare that to the Calgary Flames, who’ve amassed 68 points from their defensive corps already this season. In fact, the Flames have four blueliners with more points than Alex Edler, the Canucks highest-scoring blueliner, who’s sitting with a modest eight points on the season. As of Thursday morning, 46 defencemen around the league have been more productive than Edler and 70 D-men in the NHL rank higher than the next highest-scoring defencemen on the hockey club. The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres are the only teams in the league with a top-scoring defenceman with fewer points than Edler. The lack of offence from the blue line clearly isn’t hurting the Canucks, who are 11-3-1 in their past 15 games, but even head coach Willie Desjardins is startled by the fact there hasn’t been more contributions from the back end. “To me, I’m a little bit surprised they don’t have more points -- it’s not that they don’t join the rush, it’s just that they don’t get rewarded,” the coach explained. ”We want our defence to be involved and we want to make things happen. You look at Yannick Weber’s rush. We want that. You see quite a bit on the tape. You’ll see Kevin Bieksa going through the middle and you’ll see Alex Edler up.” So, the coach is seeing many of the things he wants to see from his defencemen - he’s just not seeing their name on the scoresheet very often.dddddddddddd But, perhaps, things are changing. In their past four games, the Canucks have seven points from defencemen. Still, as a group, this defence will have to pick up the pace just to match last year’s – and remember that the 2013-14 Canucks were one of the lowest-scoring teams in franchise history. A year ago, led by Jason Garrison’s 33 points, the Canucks blueline contributed 147 points or an average of 1.79 points per game. Right now, this year’s defence is sputtering at 1.45 points per game with just seven goals and 25 assists. If Edler, Bieksa, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis are considered the top four defenders on the hockey club, that group has accounted for just one even strength goal so far this season (Bieksa, against Ottawa on November 11). All three of Edler’s goals have come on the power play. Neither Tanev nor Hamhuis, who’s now injured, has found the back of the net yet this season. Luca Sbisa is second among Canuck defencemen with two goals, but hasn’t scored since November 1 in Edmonton. But it’s not all about goal-scoring. It’s about the transition game. It’s about holding pucks in at the blue line. It’s about finding ways to get involved in the offence and, in the eyes of the coach, it’s about getting shots on goal, which, even if they don’t go in, may still produce rebounds and create scoring chances for others. “One thing we need from our back end, is we have to get more pucks through,” Desjardins said. “I don’t think [the issue is] the joining the rush. We’ve got good D that can skate and we have to use that. That has to be a part of our attack. We just have to get more pucks through.” No one in the Canucks organization is worried about the lack of offence from the blue line, but certainly the coaches are aware that it’s one area the hockey club can improve. And if that defence ever hits its stride offensively and points start to flow, there’s no telling just how dangerous the Vancouver Canucks can be. Cheap Jerseys [url=http://www.cheapauthenticnfljerseys.net/]China NFL Jerseys[/url
Log in to reply to this thread