Monthly Archives: February 2010

Best and worst of 2010 Olympics

Now that the Olympics are over, it seems like a good time to look back at both the good and the bad moments of the Winter Games.

After the first week, it seemed like the Olympics were going to be a dud. People were calling it the worst ever, and the Canadians seemed to be choking during their events.

But the second week gave us lots of memories, and captured the imagination of people across the globe.

With that said, here are the five worst moments of the Games, and the ten best.

Worst

5. The Opening Ceremonies: 75 per cent as good as other Opening Ceremonies

Pretty much the entire opening ceremony can be here. It was long, the performances were horribly lip-synched, and it took Wayne Gretzky about two days to get to the outside cauldron to light the Olympic Flame.

Even Nelly Furtado’s butt couldn’t make the opening ceremonies that exciting (give her credit for trying though).

But the worst moment came when the big idea of having four giant pillars rise out of the floor so four of Canada’s greatest athletes could light the Olympic Flame at once. But one of the pillars didn’t rise.

So, we waited. And waited. And waited some more. I think they’re still waiting.

In the end, only three of the athletes were able to light the Flame.

But this was one of the main things people pointed to in the first few days when most they called it the Worst Winter Games ever.

4. Fence around the Olympic Flame

This was one of the great decisions by the Canadian Olympic Committee. Let’s spend tons of money on a huge outside four-pillar Olympic torch that will be a huge attraction, but then put up a chain link fence around it so no one can actual take a photo in front of  the flame.

At least the committee reversed the decision, after about a week and a lot of media and public pressure. Who says they don’t learn from their mistakes?

The optics of the whole thing was brutal, and was one of the main stories of the first few days of the flame. Not good.

3. CTV coverage, announcers

Look, I get it. Brent Butt is back with a new show. Even though I’ve seen the commercial about 200 times, I still don’t actually know what it’s about.

Regardless, that commercial is probably the least annoying thing about the CTV coverage and its announcers.

Personally, it seems to me that the TSN guys can’t wait to get back to Toronto. I’m sure Jay Onrait is tired of pretending to smile every time he talks to those three ditzy girls from E Canada. And do I really need MTV personalities talking about all the stars they’ve seen?

The announcing was brutal. In the first few days, it was excruciating to watch. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, it felt as they were trying to jinx the Canadian athletes.

It’s to the point that we watched more American coverage than Canadian coverage. I know a lot of other people who switched to other stations because of how bad CTV was.

Finally, the coverage by the Canadian was so bad that the Olympic committee had to put out a press release asking announcers to not hug Canadian athletes. (Read the story about it here).

It got better as it went along, but the CTV gang just didn’t have the knowledge to pull off some good quality television.

2. Luging accident

It created a couple of small storms of controversy. There were debates about whether the luging track was too fast. Some athletes said making it easier wasn’t a good thing.

But really, the focus should have always been on Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian 28-year-old luger who lost his life in a training accident the day of the Opening Ceremonies.

Whether it was because of the course, or driver error, the fact is a person lost their life training for a sport. That is something that should never happen.

1. Saying a course was a killer

A few days after the accident, I was watching some downhill skiing. There were so many accidents, it actually became a story on its own.

During of the crashes, one of the announcers said “This course is a killer.” Followed by something among the lines of “And it’s killing their Olympic dreams.”

It was in bad taste, especially after what happen to Kumaritashvili the week before. Someone should have been suspended for that comment, but it didn’t even become news.

To me, this was the worst moment of the Olympics. What happened to Kumaritashvili was a tragedy, but it was an accident.

This was just stupid, and in really poor taste.

Favourites

It wasn’t all bad. As with most Olympics, the personal triumph stories that come out can be enough to make people cry. There were a few of those at these games. Here are the top 10.

10. Men’s ice hockey

Yes, they won gold in a great overtime game. But there are always a few sticking points for me when it comes to men’s hockey. One is the fact that it’s NHL players. I find it harder to care about whether players making $7 million a year win a gold medal, versus someone who had to get a second job to pay for the extra training so they could have a chance to even compete for a medal.

Second is that it dominated so much coverage. On days when we won a few gold medals, the main story would still be the men’s hockey game, which has a disgrace for other athletes who have worked just as hard.

Finally, we lost one of seven games. With the way people were going on about how bad we were, you would think we lost all three round robin games. But in the end, we won six of seven! That’s a pretty good record.

If Canada had lost the gold medal, would it really mean any less? Would it have meant we weren’t the hockey superpower anymore? I’d argue no, since we won five of the last six world junior championships, we’ve been in the finals of six of the last seven world championships, and the Canadian women have won the last three Olympic gold medals. Losing one game wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

9. Record number of golds

Canada has set several records at these Games. Canada has won more gold medals at these Olympics than it has at any other Olympics. Canada has also won more gold medals than any other country in winter Olympic history.

That’s pretty good, considering people were ragging on Canadian athletes after the first week for their “Own the Podium” strategy. Most people thought it wasn’t working.

A week later, we’re top three in medals, first in gold, and the envy of most other nations. That’s pretty good.

8. Gold, silver in same bobsled event

In most events, Canada is lucky to win one medal. Every once in a while, we’ll get a silver and a bronze, or something like that.

But Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse, Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown did something I’ve never seen Canadians do. Win gold and silver in the same event.

It was a great thing to watch, and one of those moments I’ll remember for years.

7. Ashleigh McIvor

She captured the spirit of the Olympics, and the hearts of many of the men.

Winning gold in downhill skiing. McIvor was one of those names that came out of nowhere, but everyone fell in love with. There’s always one or two like that, and this year it was Ashleigh.

6. Figure skating gold

Here’s some words of advice for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. In the next few weeks, you’ll be inundated with requests from advertisers.

Don’t do what Jamie Sale and David Pelletier did after 2002. They decided to wait a few months before making any decisions. By then, advertisers weren’t as interested. I think they advertised for Crest toothpaste, and that was about it.

Scott and Tessa, don’t do what they did. You’re two of the darlings of these Olympics. Sign those contracts in the next little while, or else you’ll be missing out on a lot of money.

5. Jon Montgomery wins gold

It wasn’t so much the fact that he won gold that put Jon Montgomery in this spot, it was watching the celebration. It was exuberant without being over the top. He celebrated the same way many of us thought we would if we ever had the chance to win a medal.

He was excited. He walked around with a pitcher of beer. He was smiling the whole time. There were no pre-rehearsed answers during interviews.

Sometimes, you get winners where they don’t even smile that much. Almost like they have a “been there, done that” attitude, or they’re thinking of what their next goal would be.

Montgomery wasn’t like that. He seemed genuinely excited, and it showed. It made us feel like we were celebrating with him.

4. Bilodeau gold

This was such a big moment because it immediately took so much pressure off the rest of the Canadian athletes.

For the past two years, every commercial talked about how Canada had never won a gold medal on home soil. If Alexandre Bilodeau doesn’t win that medal in the first few days, the pressure would have built every single day.

But Bilodeau won gold, and the rest of the Team Canada had a little less pressure.

Except for the men’s hockey team.

3. Curling domination

So many people have been into curling at this Olympics, more than I ever remember hearing about.

Part of it has to do with the players that are there. There have been plenty of stories about how hot the players are (Bill Simmons has even gone as far to call Canadian skip Cheryl Bernard The Curlgar).

It also helps that because the Games are in Canada, the curling matches are on throughout the day, so more people tune in.

Finally, we had two different teams in the gold medal games. How could there not be lots of people loving it?

It also made for a great Olympic moment when everyone started singing O Canada during one of the men’s matches.

Isn’t it time for co-ed curling? This is probably one of the only sports when the men and women are on the same level. And it would be nice to have another sport where Canada dominates.

2. Women’s ice hockey

One of the best stories of the Olympics, and way more important than the men.

Yes, I know the competition pool is shallower than the men’s, but the women dominated like no other team has during the Olympics. They outscored their opponents 41-2 in the round robin. In the playoffs, they outscored their opponents 7-0, including the 2-0 gold medal win against the archrival Americans.

In scoring 48 goals, they set an Olympic record for most goals by a women’s team.

And the best of all was their celebration, when they went back on the ice with cigars and beere. Yes, a lot of people were upset, but for reasons that make no sense.

The 1972 Canadian Summit Series team went back on the ice to celebrate with cigars and beer. Brian Kilrea, hall of fame coach, celebrated every single win with a cigar. As we mentioned, Jon Montgomery celebrated by carrying a pitcher of beer around the streets of Vancouver.

The only thing different is the gender. If the Canadian men’s hockey team celebrated their win with beer on the ice, no one would say much.

So I say the women don’t have any need to apologize. They’ve only done what so many have done before. And it’s improtu celebrations such as this that make the Olympics so much fun.

1. Joannie Rochette

Easily the top story of the Olympics. Joannie’s mother died of a heart attack soon after arriving in Vancouver, and a couple of days before the skate.

Joannie decided to stay and skate, and did a great routine that full of emotion. She had the audience, announcers and television viewers in tears afterwards.

Even though she only won bronze, she was chosen to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies.

It took guts to do what she did, and to do it as good as she did. It goes down as the most memorable moment of the Games.

Agree or disagree? What was your favourite moment?

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This year’s NHL all-stars

Because of the Olympics, there was no all-star game this year.

But that shouldn’t stop me from coming up with my own list. Maybe this isn’t quite official, but I’m going to follow NHL rules for it. So that means it will be the Eastern conference against the Western conference, three goalies, every NHL team must have at least one player on the roster, and each side will have three goalies, six defencemen and twelve forwards. However, I’m not going to break players up for a rookie versus sophomore game.

So here is the official Ryan Coke Experience’s unofficial 2010 NHL all-star team.

Eastern conference

G – Ryan Miller: The player most deserving to be here.

G – Martin Brodeur: Tied for league lead in shutouts, and tied for second in wins.

G – Tomas Vokoun: A losing record, but that’s because the team can’t score. Leads the league in save percentage, saves and tied in shutouts.

D – Mike Green: Despite not being named to Team Canada, leads defencemen in goals, assists and points.

D – Tomas Kaberle: Surprisingly third in the league in assists.

D – Chris Pronger: The most hated d-man in the league, but still a force.

D – Tobias Enstrom The easiest choice for the Thrashers representatives, but does deserve to be there.

D – Zdeno Chara: Having an off-year, but needed to choose someone from the Bruins.

D – Joni Pitkanen: Same as Chara. Had to choose a Hurricanes player. Pitkanen is the choice.

F- Alex Ovechkin: Leads league in goals and points.

F- Sidney Crosby: Surprise leader for goals.

F – Nick Backstrom: Fourth in the league in points.

F – Steven Stamkos: Getting really good, really fast, despite Barry Melrose doing everything to screw him up.

F – Marian Gaborik: Imagine how many points he would have if he played with half-decent linemates.

F – Martin St. Louis: Great comeback season by St. Louis. Maybe the Habs trade rumours should be for this guy instead.

F – Mike Fisher: Could have been Alfredsson in this spot, but I wanted to reward Fisher for his career year.

F – Evgeni Malkin: You think he’s having an off-year, but he is 13th in the league in points.

F – Ilya Kovalchuk: This guy should be near the league leaders in goals every year. Will be interesting to see where he signs.

F – Zach Parise: I thought the Devils were going to play low-scoring games. What’s up with his 61 points?

F – Tomas Plekanec: The Habs representative. Having a career year in a contract year.

F – Matt Moulson: Tough choice. Leads the Islanders in goals.

Western conference

G – Jonathan Quick: The surprise goalie of the season. Leads league in wins.

G – Evgeni Nabokov: A crazy 34-7 win-loss record.

G – Ilya Bryzgalov: Where would the Coyotes be without him. Among the league leaders in almost every category.

D – Duncan Keith: He’ll be making these all-star teams for the next 10 years.

D – Drew Doughty: Like Keith, except change the number to 15.

D – Lubomir Visnovsky: Edmonton’s representative, but deserves to be there. Has 32 points, and only a minus three on the worst team in the league.

D – Marek Zidlicky: Top 10  in the league in points.

D – Nicklas Lidstrom: Slow start to the year, but still getting it done. Has 35 points and is a plus 20.

D – Shea Weber: Booming shot. Has 11 goals and 35 points.

F – Henrik Sedin: Proved he could play great even without his twin brother.

F – Joe Thornton: Leads league in assists, but needs to prove he can do something in the post-season.

F – Patrick Kane: Quietly in the top ten in points.

F – Dany Heatley: Slowed down from the beginning of the year, but easy to see why the Sharks traded for him.

F – Brad Richards: 66 points so far this year. Underrated player and leader.

F – Andy MacDonald: Needed someone from the Blues.

F – Anze Kopitar: Leading the Kings to the playoffs.

F – Ryan Getzlaf: Thought he would have more goals than 17 at this point, but still getting it done by being more of a playmaker.

F – Rick Nash: Pretty good when 28 goals and 57 points is a bit of an off-year.

F – Jarome Iginla: Calgary’s representative, but starting to slow down.

F – Mikko Koivu: Top 25 in points, top 15 in assists, top 10 in faceoffs, and one of top leaders on the team.

F – Paul Stastny: Has 54 points for the surprising Avalanche team.

Never made it: Roberto Louongo, Marc-Andre Fleury, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Corey Perry, Loui Eriksson, Patrick Marleau, Sergei Gonchar, Alexander Semin

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Questions I want answered on Lost

With Lost now underway, I’ve been thinking about some of the past seasons.

While people have been hoping for answers to their questions, I’ve been thinking of questions that’s been around for a while that seemingly has been forgotten.

I’m not talking about more recent questions, such as who is the Black Smoke (answered), who exactly is Jacob (not answered) or how old is Richard (not answered, but safe to say, he’s very old). I’m thinking of questions that have been hanging around mostly since the first season.

They’ve answered some of the biggest ones (such as how what caused the plane crash).

And there are some I couldn’t really care about (such as what was up with the black horse Kate used to see all the time).

I understand some of the answers will take some time. But despite all the time travel that has been prevalent in the show, there’s not actually much time left as there’s not many episodes to go.

So here are the top 20 questions I want answered on Lost.

Why did Dharma still do food drops after everyone was dead?

Remember this? For some reason, a plane would fly overhead and drop food for people in the hatch. There were all sorts of different types. But why would Dharma do this when everyone from there was dead? Unless this was a plot hole to explain why Hurley wasn’t losing any weight, it doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t the people off the island know that everyone on the island was dead? Especially since there was a submarine, and new recruits always going to the island. Obviously, this stopped at some point.

Why did Charlie want to baptize Aaron?

Poor Charlie. He could never seem to do any right. But he was set on having Aaron baptized, although Claire didn’t want it, just because he saw it in a dream. Charlie even went so far as to kidnap Aaron to get him baptized. Claire got angry, and left Charlie. Although she did get Aaron baptized by Mr. Eko at the end of the episode, they never did explain why it was so important to Charlie.

What happened to Walt?

One of the problems with having kids on a show that doesn’t follow current real time is the kids grow too fast. Remember, on the island, it’s still 2004. Walt is supposed to be the same age (about 13), but in reality, he’s around 20 years old. Thankfully, time travel can help with that now. Anyways, Walt is off the island, older, and we have no idea if he knows if his dad is dead. What is he doing? Did he tell anyone about the island? What’s his role in everything?

What did all the secret messages in the hatch mean?

When Desmond was in the hatch with Kelvin, it was shown that Kelvin would allow the blast doors to be activated so they could work on a map that could only be seen under a black light. Why? It was obviously all in vain, since the hatch was blown up anyways. It was a map to all the different Dharma stations, but why the need to put in on a wall under a black light. It makes no sense.

What ever happened to Annie?

Annie was Ben’s childhood friend when he was youngster on the island. She was the only one to remember Ben’s birthday, and gave him wooden dolls that Ben kept for his entire life. Ben seemed to care a lot about Annie. Did she die in the gas attack? Did she act differently after Ben was shot? Did she leave the island? Did Widmore have her killed?

Why does Desmond time travel?

Ah yes. Desmond. The love-sick guy who was determined to re-unite with Penny, his long-lost girlfriend. He spent years on his own pushing a button. He tried to sail around the world. He was in the military. Oh yeah, and he travels through time for reasons no one knows. Everyone else needs to be on a time travelling island to do it, but Desmond seems to go through it routinely off the island. Why him and no one else?

Why did birds die when Walt was around?

This is my generic way of asking what made Walt so special. Walt was special, without a doubt. We’ve been told this numerous times. In fact, the flashback episode in the first season was titled “Special.” He was so special the Others wanted him, because Jacob said Walt was special. Getting the idea? In that flashback episode, we saw strange happenings when Walt was around, such as a bird flying into the window. Walt’s stepdad almost seemed scared of Walt, saying strange things happen when he’s around. So I go back to the beginning. What’s so special about Walt?

Does Hurley ever find out the Libby was in the psych hospital with him?

This seemed like an intriguing storyline until the writers killed Libby off. Libby told Hurley that she was a psychologist, but turned out to be a patient in the same psych ward. Apparently, Hurley never noticed. Maybe Hurley can find out now, since dead people appear on the island all the time.

Why does Widmore and Ben want to kill each other?

Something happened so that the two of them hate each other. Ben has been one of the leaders on the island, and Widmore has left (or been kicked off) the island for some reason. They don’t like each other, and seemingly never have. Does it have to do with Ben being cured of a gunshot wound as a boy, even though he was an outsider? Does it have to do with Ben bringing Alex (Danielle’s baby) to camp with him? Who knows. But they have a long-standing feud, and Widmore seems to be a lost plotline so far this year. But this leads to the next question…

What were the rules they were talking about breaking?

After Widmore had Alex killed, Ben said that Widmore changed the rules of the games. What rules? Did they have a deal they wouldn’t harm one another’s daughters? That they wouldn’t change the timeline? Was it just a set of gentlemanly rules?

Why did the Black Smoke let Mr. Eko and Locke go the first time?

We now know that the Black Smoke is Jacob’s friend, the Man in Black. We know he can uproot trees and kill people pretty easily (he was responsible for killing the pilot in the very first episode). The first time Mr. Eko saw the Black Smoke, he faced it down. The Black Smoke showed some images of Mr. Eko’s life, and then let him go. The next time, the two met, the Black Smoke killed him. The first time the Black Smoke met Locke, he let Locke go. The second time, he tried to grab Locke and drag him into the jungle. Why kill people sometimes, and let people go at other points. There must be a reason. I want to know what that reason is.

Why did Sun and some others not go back to the past?

When going back to the island, the Oceanic 6 all went back in time. Except for Sun. Yes, not everyone went back in time. But all of Oceanic 6 did except for Sun. It doesn’t make sense why she stayed in the present and the rest went to the past. If there was one question that never gets answered, I would guess this one would be it. It may fall to the wayside as something needed to move the plot forward. I wonder if they’ll even try to explain it.

Why could no one have babies on the island?

This used to be such a big deal. Women who got pregnant on the island died during childbirth. It’s the reason the Others brought Juliet to the island. It was a cause of concern for Claire for a while. Sun was worried about her baby, about whether she was impregnated on the island by Jin, or off the island by her ex-lover. But none of it mattered. Claire’s baby was all right, Sun had her child off the island and Juliet found love on the island in the form of Sawyer. Was this something that always affected women on the island? Was it a result of the bomb? Or a result of the poisonous gas used by the Others?

What about the healing powers on the island?

Most people think of Locke and the fact he could walk once he got to the island when they think of the healing abilities (or him being shot by Ben and immediately being able to walk). A few may think of Rose and her cancer being cured. Even Jin’s sperm turned into healthy swimmers once he made it to the island. But others were not so lucky. Boone’s injuries didn’t heal when he was crushed. Shannon never recovered from her gunshot. Ben’s back never healed on its own. Why did some people get healthy and others not? Did you need to be injured off the island in order to recover on the island?

Why did the Others need to kidnap certain people?

The Others had a list. They kidnapped people from the plane crash of Oceanic 815 for some reason. Mr. Eko was on the list, but fought them off. They took some other people, such as Cindy, the flight attendant (who joined the Others, which leads to another question: Why?). Was it to keep the Others strong? To be able to fight what they thought were evil? Did those people have special skills they needed? So many questions, so few answers.

Why did the Others kill the Dharma workers?

At some point, the Others and the Dharma workers got involved in a bitter feud that led to the Others gassing the workers and killing them all (except for Ben). Although things were always testy, what happened between the two groups that led to such a destructive end (called The Purge)?

Who were Adam and Eve, the two dead corpses?

Probably the second biggest question from the first season, after how the plane crash. Adam and Eve were found at the caves, and they looked to be pretty old (just skeletal remains). But nothing has been mentioned of the corpses since. Now, with time travel playing havoc with everything, it is quite possible they could be the remains of two of the Oceanic 815 survivors. If that is the case, my money would be it being Rose and Bernard. Who knows if they flashed back to the present with the rest of the cast after the bomb went off. If it’s not them, it’s time for the writers to figure something out.

What is the sickness? Did Danielle’s team have it?

Ah yes, the sickness. It comes up every once in a while. Not as much as in the first two seasons, but enough to keep us coming up with theories. The latest part was whether Danielle’s team had it when she killed them all (and whether the sickness was caused by the Black Smoke). But in the early seasons of the series, it consumed people on the island, to the point they gave vaccine to Claire and her baby so Aaron wouldn’t get it. It was enough to keep Desmond wearing a hazmat suit every time he ventured out of the hatch. Was there a sickness? And if so, what was it?

Why was Claire’s baby so important to everyone?

An unborn baby had more storylines in the first season than Boone and Shannon combined. The Others wanted the baby. Danielle stole the baby. A physic told Claire to go to the States because Aaron couldn’t be raised by anyone else (he knew the plane was going to crash). What did he see? Why did everyone was Aaron so bad?

What do the numbers mean?

The obvious number one question. Those numbers, 4 8 15 16 23 and 42, have shown up everywhere. Lottery tickets. Soccer jerseys. The hatch. The transmitted message. Etc. What do they mean? I saw a spoiler that could explain it (I won’t say it here), and it wasn’t very detailed, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it’s explained on the show. If they can explain it at all.

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CTV Olympic coverage doesn’t deserve a medal

If there were medals given out for Olympic coverage, CTV would finish off the podium.

The network’s coverage has been horrendous so far, leading to some of us to choose to watch the Games on NBC instead.

It’s not like there was one or two things. In fact, I was looking forward to CTV being the Canadian broadcaster. They own TSN, Sportsnet, RDS, AChannel and OLN. If they couldn’t showcase a certain event on one station, they had plenty of others to choose from.

But the whole thing has been a disappointment.

To start, the announcers are pretty brutal. Only the anchors from TSN show any ability to do a good job at broadcasting the Games. The rest are pretty bad. For example, they seem to want to jinx the Canadian athletes, especially before the first gold medal, with statements such as “He has all the pressure of Canada on his shoulders as he prepares to jump.”

It got to the point that my wife is watching figure skating on NBC because they’re doing a much better job.

Brian Williams, former CBC guy, actually referred to CTV as CBC at one point.

In the men’s hockey game featuring Canada against Norway, the score was close in the first (a 0-0 tie, before Canada opened up and won 10-0). Johnathan Toews got nailed with a bodycheck by one of the Norwegians. I mean, just plastered. Of course, there was never a mention of it again, not even a replay. But when a Canadian player laid out a Norwegian with a solid hit, it was replayed numerous times.

I understand they need to cater to Canadian fans, and will be biased toward Canada. But this is a little much. Give credit where credit is due, no matter what team it comes from.

Finally, there’s the online portion. At a house the other day with no cable, we wanted to watch the men’s moguls online (the one where Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first ever gold medal on Canadian soil). First, we had trouble getting the server to stop freezing. Then, we had to watch it with no sound because it wasn’t working. Finally, when it was up and running, CTV would run ads about very 45 seconds…

Even in the middle of a run. And since commercials run about 30 seconds, and each run takes about 30 seconds, there were times when we missed runs completely because of the ads. There were times we had no idea who was racing, or where they finished, or what was happening.

CTV has blown its coverage of these Games.

So how long before the Olympics go back to CBC?

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My all-star Survivor team

So this week starts what could be the most interesting all-stars edition of a reality show.

Normally, I find these all-star editions to be a little dull. The first one on Survivor was pretty brutal, and the Fans vs. Favorites was horrible because there were too many stupid players. Nothing destroys a season of Survivor more than stupid people. Stupid moves are fines (for example, trusting the wrong person). But to do the wrong thing all the time is just sad.

But this time they brought some of the greatest players in the game together, called Heroes vs Villains. These are all smart or strong players.

But some of them leave me shaking my head. I think if you’re going to do this, then you shouldn’t have previous winners on, or people who have been on it twice.

So here are some former contestants that should have been on, one from each of the previous editions (minus the All-Stars editions).

Season 1: Gervase Peterson

This one was tough. I eliminated Rudy, Sue and Rich because of the fact they’ve been on twice already. I really wanted to choose Kelly Wiglesworth, who was part of the final two with Rich. But I don’t think she played enough of a strategy game.

So I decided to go with Gervase because he played a good social game. People loved him, and he would be a fun guy to have on Survivor. One of the good things about the show at the beginning was the fact it wasn’t all about alliances. Half the show would be about them actually surviving. Gervase brought a lot of fun to it, and it would be interesting to see how a fun guy would do nowadays, especially with all the strategy. Jenna was a good example of this. She was a fun person in the first season, but turned into a strategist when she came back for the all-stars. Would Gervase be the same?

Season 2: Michael Skupin

Sure sure. Everyone remembers Colby and Jerry. But to me, none of that tribe would have stood a chance had Skupin remained in the game. He was the first player to ever leave the game without being voted off.

For those who don’t remember, Skupin was the king of the jungle in Australia. He made himself a spear and actually killed a boar with it. He was in a challenge where the other team had to put weight on a pole he held across his shoulders: The contest ended when the pole snapped.

Skupin’s Survivor quest was finished when he fell into a fire and burned himself pretty badly. I have no doubt that he won have won the whole thing had he stayed in the game.

Season 3: Frank Garrison

Frank is probably best remembered as the guy who imitated an elephant. But he was a man who brought a lot to the game.

Most of his time was spent arguing with his younger tribemates, whom he didn’t belong with. He worked hard, and believed his word was enough. With him, there was no backstabbing, no lies, no deceit. But because he could be trusted, a lot of people would probably make deals with him, wanting to go to the end.

Season 4: Hunter Ellis

This is the season that gave us Boston Rob, but he’s already been on twice. So the next best choice would be Hunter Ellis. He was the leader of a tribe that couldn’t keep it together, and was the third one voted out., thanks to Boston Rob (Rob wanted to keep people he could control, which wasn’t Hunter). The former Navy aviator was strong, smart and (for the women) eye candy.

But being voted out third doesn’t matter. He could have been a strong player, and could have won quite a few immunities. I think voting out Hunter so early is one of the reasons why some of the stronger players lost so early, leaving the door wide open for four week finalists.

Season 5: Erin Collins

The worst season of Survivor in history (even Jeff Probst called it the worst season of the first 10). I ended up not caring about anyone in the final 8. Most people, even hardcore fans, probably don’t remember Brian Heidik, who won, much less most of the other players (give Brian credit though, he never received one single vote during any of the tribal councils).

So if you had to take someone, I’d go with Erin Collins. She was stuck in a numbers game, but was well-liked enough that the other team kept her around as long as they could. Plus, she would be eye candy for the fellows.

Season 6: Heidi Strobel

Her best friend on the show, Jenna Morasca, won the whole thing. But Heidi had played a good game up until she lost when the final five were three guys and two girls.

She also peeled off her clothes for peanut butter, and later posed in Playboy, so she deserves to make it to an All-Stars edition.

Season 7: Andrew Savage

One of the best seasons of the show, and probably the best one since the first season. (Notice how the seasons are now getting better, while seasons 2-5 weren’t very good? Chalk that up to better players and a better cast selection). Savage was another one of those players who got the short end of the stick after a merge because he was too good.

But Savage was well-liked, focused on getting rid of the weak players to make his own tribe better. He would be a good strong competitor for this game, and deserves to be back.

Season 8: All-Star edition, so no one can come from this one, because that means they would be on more than two seasons.

Season 9: Twila Tanner

This goes down as the second most stupid season of Survivor ever. It was guys versus girls, and the weak guys kept voting off the strong guys, so they kept losing all their challenges. At the merge, the guys were outnumbers, and were picked off one by one. And then when it was one guy left and six girls, the girls turned on each other. Then, they were so bitter at one another, they voted for the guy to win the million dollars.

So choosing someone from this season was kind of tough. I decided to go with Twila because she was the runnerup. And that’s pretty much the only reason. Eliza and Ami went on all-star editions, and the winner can’t be on the tribes according to my rules. So Twila it is.

Season 10: Ian Rosenberger

This is the season that gave us Tom, one of the most dominating players ever in the game. He’s back as part of the Heroes tribe this season, but because he won, he’s not eligible for this exercise anyways.

So that leaves Ian, probably the best player to not make the final two. He was strong, likeable, and honourable. He had a chance to go to the final two, but made Tom keep his promise to vote out Ian. He definitely deserves another chance.

Season 11: Rafe Judkins

This was a tough one, because so many of the good players have already been on it more than once. But Judkins played the game shrewdly. His original alliance was falling apart because his tribe kept losing, and then he was mixed into the other tribe. But he helped convince someone to turn on their tribe, and that was the start of his alliance dominating the game.

He did make a classic Survivor mistake. At the final three, he told Danni that she didn’t have to take him to the final two, and that any previous promises were null and void. Danni took Stephanie instead, and Rafe was a little upset about it. But he kind of brought that onto himself.

Would he make the same mistake twice? Probably not, and that would put him into a dangerous position in an all-star game.

Season 12: Terry Deitz

Every once in a while, Survivor seems to want to stay in the news by starting off seasons with gimmicks. They rarely work, such as the case here. 

At the beginning, they divided the players into four tribes: old men, young men, old women and young women. Not very exciting stuff. They stopped it after the first episode.

But Terry turned out to be one of the most dangerous people never to make it to the finals. He found the hidden immunity idol, but never had to play it because he won five straight individual immunity challenges (and three of the last four reward challenges).

Season 13: Brad Virata

Honestly, I would much prefer Yul to be here. With all due respect to guys like Rich and Todd, I would argue Yul was actually the best person to ever play the game. He kept his word and his alliance strong, despite being down eight members to four at one point. He was a strong competitor, and a brilliant strategist.

But, because he won, I can’t use him in this genre. I also can’t use Ozzy, Parvati or Penner because they were on a later all-star edition. So I decided to go with Brad Virata. A strong player whose big mouth got him into trouble (pretty much saying it would be every man for himself when the merge happened), Brad would be an underdog in an all-star edition. But as Parvati showed, even the underdogs can win an all-star game since the big guns go after one another.

Season 14: Cassandra Franklin

I wasn’t a big fan of this season, mostly because of the Haves vs the Have-nots portion at the beginning of the season. It created some pretty lopsided results, which is never a good thing.

So because of my attention not being fully into this season, it’s hard to choose someone who should be there. Most would take Yau-Man, but that can’t happen since he’s been on the show twice already. So I decided to take one of the two finalists.

One wasn’t really worthy more than the other, but I went with Cassandra instead of Dreamz because of Dreamz broken promise to Yau-Man. Yau-Man gave the car he won to Dreamz if Dreamz would give him immunity at the final four (he didn’t). I think that would affect the rest of the cast, making it an easy decision when it’s time to vote someone out at the beginning on an all-star edition (similar to Johnny Fairplay in the Fans vs Favourites season).

Season 15: Peih-Gee Law

It’s hard to compete against one of the top three Survivor players of all time (Todd). But Peih-Gee had done a good job, winning a few immunity challenges and being a smart social player.

She also proved to be a bit of a drama queen, as she got upset that she wasn’t taken on reward challenges. That would make for some good television in an all-star edition.

At one point, she won two immunities and a reward challenge in three weeks, showing how tough a player she is.

Season 16: Joel Anderson

The Fans vs Favourites produced more stupidity in one season of Survivor than every other season combined. Blindsides, the fans tribe voting out their strongest players at the beginning because of alpha male issues and one guy giving up his immunity at tribal council only to be immediately voted out.

It was no surprise that the favourites ended up dominating.

So it was difficult to choose someone from the fans tribe to represent this season. Erik gave up his immunity necklace, so he’s out. Chet whined and eventually asked to be voted out, so he’s no good.

I decided to go with Joel because he’s strong, and did have a good head for the game. He was lacking in the social aspect, and was voted out because Cirie didn’t want the weaker players to go since she would be one of them. But I think he would learn from his mistakes, and not be blindsided again.

Season 17: Jessica Kiper, aka Sugar

It always amazes me how personal some contestants can get on this show. Any time there’s the final vote and the jury votes for one person because they’re mad at the other one because they got outwitted, that’s just silly. Admit you got beat, and move on.

This season was probably a bit harsher than any other one, especially on Sugar. There were a couple of people who were on the show who purposefully tried to be the “bad” guy (to the effect they appeared petty instead). But when Sugar kept outlasting them, they got upset and would openly insult her. Sour grapes much?

Anyways, Sugar ended up outlasting most of them to make it to the final three, where she didn’t get one vote, despite the fact she deserved it. She figured out the hidden immunity challenge, she aligned herself with the right people when the time was right, and played a good social game.

The final thought on this season was that it produced a lot of good players. Besides Sugar, and Bob (the winner), other great players included Ken Hoang and Matty Whitmore. Of course, in the Survivor world, it’s better to bring Randy into an all-star edition instead of someone who actually deserves it more.

Season 18: Stephen Fishbach

It’s not too often that both finalists deserve to win the million dollars, but that definitely was the case in Season 18. Although J.T. won thanks to his tenacity and southern charm, Stephen was just as deserving for playing a smart game. He was the brains behind the alliance, and without him, J.T. could not have won.

As you can probably tell by now, it’s not necessarily brawn that makes someone deadly at this game, it’s a combination. They need to have two of smarts, brawn and social game. If you have only one, you won’t make it very far. Stephen had the brains and some of the social game, but that fell to J.T., who had all three.

Season 19: Russell Hantz

Without a doubt the best strategist in the game since Yul. Although he nearly cost himself the game several times. Burning others’ socks and emptying their water canteens to make them weak may have caused his tribe to lose several challenges.

And in the end he fell to the ultimate Survivor curse: The moment you get cocky and think you have the game all figured out, you get voted out. That’s what happened in the end.

But he was smart enough to find three hidden immunity idols (two of them with no clues), which helped him stay in the game on several occasions. He was smart enough to align himself with people loyal enough that they would never even consider getting rid of him.

Overall and thoughts about this season

• An interesting thought: Wouldn’t it be fun if they decided to bring back all those who were the first to be eliminated each season. I wonder how many great players never had a chance to compete because they were gone too quickly. One season had two captains choose teams, with the final two eliminated without ever actually doing anything. Bring them all back, and let’s see if any of them are any good. (Maybe that could be the next all-star edition: the first eliminated against a tribe of winners).

• One of the problems with the way Heroes vs Villians is set up is that so many of the contestants come from the last few seasons. The first 10 season are hardly heard from, which is a shame. It’d be nice to have someone from every season, and really, this is the only year you could actually do it before the tribes would get too big.

• Seriously, how do the Heroes tribe lose anything this time round? Have you seen the list of players? They have Rupert, James, Colby, J.T. and Tom (plus Amanda and Stephanie for the girls). That team should be able to dominate, unless a few of them have had hip surgery in the last few years.

• But I swear, if these people don’t get rid of Cirie after four weeks, then all these people deserve to be called stupid. She plays everyone every time, despite not doing anything in challenges and being weak around camp. The Heroes should hopefully be smart enough to see through her right away.

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Gainey finally gone

Oh happy day. Bob Gainey is finally no longer the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

This is something I’ve wanted for more than a year, culminating in a giant post back in December, listing 23 things Gainey has done wrong in his tenure as Habs GM (you can read it here).

To summarize it, Gainey has made mistakes in drafting, free agency, trades and hiring coaches.

Of course, this decision comes about 10 months too late. It would have been better if he stepped down before he put this team into salary cap hell. It’s going to make the job that much harder for the replacement.

The Habs next season has about $10 million in salary cap space. But they need to sign Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Tomas Plekanec, Glen Metropolit, Sergei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, Maxim Lapierre, Mathieu Darche and Matt D’Agostini. And that doesn’t include Marc-Andre Bergeron or Paul Mara.

Throw on top of that the fact that many are predicting the salary cap is going to decrease next year, and it doesn’t look good for the Habs.

Look at what several of those players will be getting. Pleks will sign for about $4.5 million a year. Price will want a long-term contract that pays him about $4 to $5 million a year on average. Halak thinks he’s the #1 goalie, and will want to be paid like it (and has a very good agent). But say he gets $3 million a year.

That already brings the cap to the max, with six players still to sign, and most of them around the $1 million range or higher. Even if they were replaced with young players on the farm, they would be making the league minimum, and would still put the team above the salary cap.

Let’s be honest here. Except for one year, this team has never really improved since Gainey took over. Our farm team may be winning games, but most of them struggle when they get called up to the big club. The Habs can’t win in the playoffs. They can’t score 5 on 5. There’s an argument about who is the true #1 goalie. There’s no consistency on the ice. No one knows what the direction is for this team.

Let’s face the facts. Gainey got an extra pass because he was a great Habs player. A lot of fans remember him from the late 70s to the mid-80s, leading the Canadiens to several Stanley Cups. But that doesn’t mean he’s a great GM.

So now the team is looking for a new general manager. My guess would be one won’t be announced until the summer. But if I could make a suggestion: Who cares if the new GM knows how to speak French or not. Let’s just hire the best available person. I’d rather have a guy who can get this team to contend for the Stanley Cup and doesn’t know French instead of someone who can speak it but the team struggles every season.

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Superbowl prediction

Today is the greatest Sunday on the year. Next Sunday will be the saddest as there will be no football.

Of course, all you gamblers out there know the Super Bowl is probably the biggest day for bets. Besides the actual game, there are hundreds of props out there. Some of them carry over into other sports (for example, will one of the runningbacks have more rushing yards than a certain basketball team).

So before getting on to my picks, I thought I would give a list of props, and what I thought would happen:

What team will score last in the game: New Orleans. They’ll be down, and will need to score quickly, while the Colts will need to run out the clock.

Will the team that scores last win the game: No. The Saints last score of the game will be: A touchdown.

Team to score last in the first half: Indianapolis

What team will have the most turnovers: The Colts. The Saints are good enough to cause other teams to fumble the ball.

Team to have the most first downs: The Colts. They move the ball slow and steady, while the Saints go for 70-yard bombs.

Will there be a score in the last two minutes of the first half: Yes.

How many times will CBS show Kim Kardashian: Who cares?

How many times will CBS show Archie Manning: No idea. Is he related to Peyton somehow?

Will both teams make a field goal of over 33 yards: No. Most field goals will be closer, or they’ll be long tries. Not middle of the pack field goals.

Which team will win the coin toss: The Saints.

Who will the Superbowl MVP thank first (God, parents, teammates, coach): Teammates.

What colour will be the Gatorade that is dumped on the winning coach: I think you get the point.

There are hundreds of other types of prop bets. But on to my prediction:

New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts, Colts favoured by 5 1/2

The Colts have a distinct advantage because they were at the Super Bowl a few years back. They know how crazy the week leading up to the game is, but also know how to make sure it doesn’t get the better of them.

The Saints on the other hand, will have some extra pressure on them. The hopes of a nation seem to rest with them. A lot of people are talking about how New Orleans needs this win after Hurricane Katrina. That’s some extra pressure not needed on a team, especially if they get down early.

I expect the Colts to jump out to a quick lead due to Peyton Manning, then wind down the clock every time they get the ball. The Saints will come alive in the second half and make a game out of it, but they won’t be able to complete the comeback.

Colts to win.

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Quick bag of sports stuff

Lots of sports stuff going on. Here are some quick hits on some of them.

Kovalchuk traded to the Devils

Ilya  Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils for Johnny Oduya, rookie Niclas Bergfors, junior prospect Patrice Cormier and a 2010 first-round draft pick. The Devils also get defenceman Anssi Samlema, and the two teams swap second round draft picks.

Not a good deal for the Atlanta Thrashers. Know how I can tell? My wife had never heard of any of the players heading to Atlanta. She follows hockey enough to probably know half the players in the league. So if you’re trading one of the top three goal natural goal scorers in the league, you should get something back that other people have heard of.

So the Thrashers didn’t get any immediate help. The draft pick will be in the late 20s. And by swapping second round picks, the Devils will draft higher in the second round.

Plus Cormier is the kid who is suspended in the minors for that wicked elbow last month. It took Steve Downie a few years to recover from being known as a dirty player (to the point that this season is his first one that is memorable for something other than his suspensions).

After screwing up this trade and the Marian Hossa one a few years back, Atlanta general manager Don Waddell needs someone else to handle big deals for the team.

Sports Illustrated cover too sexual?

So U.S. downhill skier Lindsey Vonn has posed for the cover of Sports Illustrated in their Olympic preview.

It’s a nice picture. Obviously posed, but it appears as if she’s skiing.

Now some are suggesting that it may be a sexualized picture. They’re not directly coming out and saying it. But they’re suggesting it (read this Vancouver Sun story for comments about it).

But there’s nothing wrong with the photo. Is it really any different than a picture of Michael Phelps in his swim trunks with eight gold medals around his neck?

She’s an athlete, posing for a photo for a sport doing what she would do if she was actually participating in said sport. Nothing sexual about it.

Who will light the Olympic torch?

No one has come out and said who will be lighting the Olympic torch. There’s been some suggestions. Some say Trevor Linden, but that is only a popular choice in the Vancouver area.

Others think Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky. But they’ve only played in one Olympics combined, and never won the gold as a player.

Donovan Bailey has also been suggested, but this is the winter Olympics, so they should stick to a winter sport. David Suzuki is the #1 choice at this online poll, but I think it should be an athlete, or have a link to it.

Betty Fox is a popular choice. I could see her being the choice, simply because of the fact her son is a true sport hero.

Other suggestions include Kerrin Lee-Gartner and Joe Sakic (probably the best hockey choice). I think Elizabeth Manley should be considered.

The Olympic committee won’t announce the decision until the person actually goes up to light it.

I have a suggestion.

Why not have a duo light the flame?

Either Nancy Greene and Barbara Ann Scott would be a good choice.

Greene won a gold and silver medals at the 1968 Olympics. She also won six Canadian ski championships and the U.S. championship three times. Since retiring, she spent much time working at advancing the sport.

Scott won the gold medal at the 1948 Olympics, and won the North American Figure Skating Championship from 1945 to 1948. Since the Olympics were cancelled in 1940 and ’44 because of the Second World War, and Canada only won three gold medals combined in the first four winter Olympics, it’s quite possible Scott is the oldest surviving Canadian gold medallist.  

So why not have both of them light it? They’ve both done so much for amateur Olympics, both are former gold medallists, and both are deserving.

Hopefully, the committee makes a better decision than in 1988, when a 12-year-old schoolgirl was chosen to light the flame.

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