© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kevin Van Paassen
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, left, breaks down the wing against the Toronto Maple Leafs' Joffrey Lupul during first period NHL action in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
Fire, speed not evident this year in Penguins star
The more I follow the Pittsburgh Penguins, the more I am convinced the great Sidney Crosby needs a change of scenery, if his brilliant career is to continue at the same level of excellence that has, thus far, fashioned his career.
The Penguins management, including owner Mario Lemieux, has not protected Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. In fact, it has allowed rivals to take liberties, like vicious cross-checks to the back and neck, elbow shots to the head, butt ends and other assorted questionable hits no other superstar has been forced to endure.
The Pens never had anyone to protect Crosby and Malkin, so removing enforcers from the game does not help Crosby and, in my view, has made the situation worse.
There are other issues, which suggest a trade makes sense.
There have been rumours in recent weeks the Penguins camp is divided between Malkin and Crosby. From the way the Penguins have played so far, that is certainly believable.
Crosby is going through the motions and the fire and speed that once was a major part of his game is hardly noticeable. It is obvious to hockey fans in this part of the country, and likely in Pittsburgh as well, that for the good of the Penguins, and for Crosby himself, a change in his NHL address is needed.
For the thousands Crosby followers in this part of Canada, let’s hope a trade is made because nobody wants to watch the 2015-16 version of Crosby.
Columbus Blue Jackets video scout Scott Harris from North Tryon took in Wednesday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game between the Charlottetown Islanders and Moncton Wildcats.
Harris has fashioned a great career with Columbus and in fact was the video scout for the USA Olympic team last year under coach Todd Richards. For a while Wednesday, I thought I was at Nationwide Arena as I noticed Scott and ex-Blue Jackets play-by-play man George Matthews exchanging stories about their days in Columbus.
As for the hockey Islanders, they are ready for a strong second half and if all things fall in place, they could finish in the top eight. I was at home with the flu for the past number of days and I couldn’t find the Islanders-Cape Breton game on the radio and I know they are broadcast. Need a little help on this one.
The annual “Nooners” oldtimers hockey tournament finished during the holidays and the Whites dumped Team Red by three goals in the two-game, total-goal series. Commissioner Mike (Willis) Hennessey again recruited ex-NHL star Al McAdam but once again found themselves on the losing end. Keith (Bim) Ford potted a pair for the winners in a final where both Cory Gray (Whites) and Jamie Cudmore came up with big saves.
Live harness racing continues Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a 15-dash card.
The $2,350 open mares is interesting as the Meridian Farms-owned Barona Lilac from Darren Crowe’s Truro stable meets the best female pacers on the Island. The $2,300 top class goes in Race 14 and another Truro invader, Mach Wheel with Darren Crowe aboard, meets the likes of Forever Paradise, Smiley Bayama, Idealic Life, Tempo Seelster and Painted Desert from the rail.
Woodbine kicks of its 2016 season tonight with a 13-dash card and the $34,000 Race 2 top class has Erle Dale N leaving from the rail in the six-horse field.
Veteran P.E.I.-born horsemen Paul MacKenzie and Gary MacDonald are home for a few days visiting family and friends. These are two of the best drivers ever to come out of here.
The Prophets Football Picks
Last week, I told readers the surest bet was the St. Louis Rams over the Seattle Seahawks especially with the 13.5-point spread. Of course, I was correct.
New York Jets (10-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-8) – The Jets impressed in beating the New England Patriots. Veteran Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been razor sharp of late and they’re the better football club. Former Jets boss Rex Ryan is now with the Bills and they’ve been up and down all season. The Jets by four points.
Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) – Andy Reid’s Chiefs started 1-5 and have reeled off nine straight wins. This is a very underrated club with a smart QB in Alex Smith, who does not turn the ball over. That’s one of the problems with the Raiders and why I love the Chiefs.
Seattle Seahawks (9-6) at Arizona Cardinals (13-2) – The Cardinals pounded Green Bay last week. Arizona QB Carson Palmer has too many weapons while Seattle is one-dimensional with both big backs sidelined.
St. Louis Rams (7-8) at San Francisco 49ers (4-11) – Rams head coach Jeff Fisher wants to finish at .500 and he will easily.
Minnesota Vikings (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-5) – The Packers played like dogs in a lopsided loss to Arizona, eight sacks on QB Aaron Rodgers. Betting the Packers is like betting a boxer coming off a knockout loss. Green Bay is horrible right now and I do not think they can rebound. Take the four points and bet Minnesota.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.