The Hamilton Bulldogs released their schedule and list of participants to open this year's training camp.
Twenty-six forwards, 11 defencemen and five goaltenders will report for medicals and physicals on Friday at the Brossard sportsplex.
Just 15 players from this year's camp saw action in Hamilton last season, with only two defensemen suiting up for the Bulldogs in 2011-12. Twenty-six-year-old Frederic St-Denis is the veteran of a very young defensive corps at this year's camp.
The Bulldogs also announced that St. Denis, goaltender Cedrick Desjardins and forward Aaron Palushaj have signed AHL deals, enabling them to avoid NHL waivers.
The first five days of on-ice camp will be in Sherbrooke, QC, before the team heads to Trenton, ON,for a community skate on Friday Oct. 5.
The following Saturday the Bulldogs play their first pre-season game in Cobourg against the Toronto Marlies.
The Dogs then head homeward to finish camp, before the season begins on October 12.
For numerous basketball purists it must have been agonizing to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder play last season. Here was a team who ranked dead last in assists per game, committed the most turnovers, and had the lowest assist to turnover ratio in the league. Yet they were still able to finish with the second best record in the Western Conference and managed to beat not one, or two, but three former NBA Champions who in the last 15 years had won ten NBA titles between to reach the NBA Finals. What made it even more infuriating to purists of the game was that the Thunder’s playoff success was not due to the team playing well, but rather the opposite. Both the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers played terribly allowing a team with a rather simplistic and predictable offense to simply steamroll them while the San Antonio Spurs, who started the Western Conference Final series with a two games to one lead simply folded under the pressure.
Only the Miami Heat had the insight and the common sense to figure out the way to shut down the Thunder and it did so by rather simple roster adjustment. Instead of having their star Lebron James use up much of his energy defending Thunder star Kevin Durant in the series, heat coach Erick Spoelstra had a better idea. He shifted Lebron to the power forward position placing the Heat’s defensive specialist Shane Battier to humbug Durant on the defensive end. Spoelstra, as many have already surmised knew that the Thunder’s offense primary consisted of the ball being dominated by both Durant and Russell Westbrook while their three other teammates simply stood and watched. Knowing full well that Serge Ibaka would not less see the ball let alone get any touches, he knew that Lebron would be free to aide with doubling down on Durant along with not spending energy guarding on the defensive end.
As some of my followers may know, I have had to shut down my baby of four years JT's Hoops Blog down due to malware problems. So I decided that instead of trying in vain to fix the problem and have the malware warnings the Google posts when somebody visits me continue to ruin my online reputation, I would take action. It was with great pain that I took down a site that I have worked on for nearly half a decade; however, it was all for the best. Now it is time to turn the page to a new chapter with a new name and new attitude.
Unfortunately, the arrival of Andrew Bynum can be considered as both a blessing and curse for 76ers coach Doug Collins, who has pretty much coasted under the radar with his team who were low on talent, but high in effort. Now much more pressure will be on him to not only coach this overachieving team to the post season, which he has done masterfully the last two years, but to coach a team that will be under the microscope as well. Collins will not only have something to prove to fans in Philly, the media and the league, but he will have the challenge of assuring the happiness and compliance of his new prized acquisition. Once the season ends, Bynum will be an unrestricted free agent and it will be up Collins and the front office to convince him to remain the face of the franchise for years to come.
Last season Collins had the luxury of not having to deal with a pre-Madonna star player with a huge ego making it easier to keep his players on the same page. Although there were grumblings amongst some players about their inconsistencies concerning playing time, he basically kept that team in line. Now he will have to deal a high profile NBA All Star with impeccable credentials, and who is on the last year of his current contract making it very difficult for Collins to assert dominance over. He will have his front office watching him very closely and breathing down his neck; the slightest misstep can mean him leaving the coaching seat in Philly and returning to the broadcast booth. So in effect, the arrival of Andrew Bynum can have great potential for success for Philly or become a disaster of epic proportions as things may go quite bad in a hurry.
Instead of moving forward, it seems as if San Antonio is trying to turn back the clock thinking that they still have a shot at another NBA title with Duncan back. Unfortunately that is farther from the truth as San Antonio already proved in the last three seasons that its window of opportunity to win a title had all but closed. Instead of giving the organization a sense of closure, last season phenomenal playoff performance actually has done the opposite giving management a false sense of hope with the delusion that they can still do it again. Last season was probably the best that San Antonio could have ever done and with a core of players whose average age is 34 years old, it seems that the only place the Spurs will be going is down. Although that is not to say that the Spurs will just collapse all of a sudden—they will still continue to win 50 or more games for years to come; however, by signing Duncan they did themselves a disservice as they essentially mortgaged their future on his aging and war weary shoulders. And it is such a letdown considering the fact that the Spurs have a group of young and up and coming player ready willing and able to be handed the baton.
Memphis had one of the most active off-seasons in the league as they have completely retooled and re-hauled their roster from last season making it even deeper and stronger than it has ever been before. They started by re-upping the contracts of Marc Gasol, Mareese Speights, and Darrell Arthur giving the Grizzlies possibly the biggest, deepest and most talented front court in the league. Along with strengthening the front court, they also have bolstered a glaring weakness they have had in poor perimeter shooting by adding sharp shooting guard Jerryd Bayless. Last season with the Toronto Raptors, Bayless had his best season as a pro averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting a whopping .423 from beyond the arc. Bayless’ signing might be the most underrated one as he has the potential to be an All Star and may give Tony Allen a run for his money for the starting shooting guard spot as well.
Before, the Bobcats were simply treading water hoping not to drown—they were not good enough to make the playoffs or good enough to go high enough in the draft to get a franchise changing pick. Although many shunned the Cats and team owner Michael Jordan for purposely tanking the season in order to have a stronger chance to get the number one pick which unfortunately did not happen; however what he and his GM Rich Cho did was the right thing. The Bobcats were going nowhere and would have not gone any further than they had already gotten. Fan morale was already at an all time low thanks to the rather mediocre roster so Jordan made the wise decision to blow the whole thing up and allow Cho to go about his plan build the team through the draft. In effect by tanking the team the way they did, they in effect did a reset on the team cleaning the slate and decided to start over from square one.
Qualifying for the playoffs was probably the worst thing to happen to this young Utah Jazz team. Instead of preparing to rebuild and starting from scratch, now the Jazz and their fans have the delusion that they are still a playoff team which is simply not the case. The Jazz were lucky, that is all; they were lucky enough to have the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets, who were odds on favorite to win the final spot in the West, collapsed giving Utah the room to just slip in unnoticed. Instead of taking a long term view to develop a solid core of young players whom includes Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and Alec Burks; the Jazz will be looking to continue with the roster it currently has that is extremely flawed to say the least. The team is overloaded to the hilt with big post players yet have no one in their team that can consistently hit a jump shot beyond ten feet from the hoop.
Another era of hum-drum regular season showings follow by swift playoff exits is over as the Atlanta Hawks prepare once again for a long road of rebuilding ahead. Gone is Joe Johnson, the player who has been credited for Atlanta’s return to respectability, yet at the same time, given the brunt of the blame for the Hawks’ current stagnation. His six year 120$ million contract extension may have kept Atlanta in the playoffs, but the lack of cap flexibility caused by such a big deal would have handicapped the team for years to come. It was obvious from reviewing their last two seasons that the Hawks had soared as high as they were ever going to go and they were heading for a devastating crash landing. Something had to be done to curb the rising upcoming tidal wave that would sweep the Atlanta Hawks away—fortunately for the Hawks they know have the fiscal flexibility to weather the storm.