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Should the Seahawks ship Earl Thomas out of Seattle?

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Should the Seahawks ship Earl Thomas out of Seattle?


Things have stagnated a little bit in the Seattle Seahawks front office. There haven’t been definitive answers to the departures of Deshawn Shead and Richard Sherman. Sheldon Richardson is reportedly in Minnesota, asking for more than the $11 million that the Seahawks are willing to offer. With the signing of Bradley McDougall at safety, it’s also curious as to what this front office thinks of Kam Chancellor as a Seahawk.

However, the front office needs to be serious about trading Earl Thomas.

Before fans go up in arms about letting go a long-time fan favorite, a trade would be a great boon for a team that’s looking to rebuild as fast as possible. Trading Earl Thomas doesn’t involve trading away any of the great years he gave Seattle, as it’s about trading away a player whose value is at its highest right before 30 years old. In fact, fans have to remember that Earl Thomas found coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys after a game and said “If you have a chance to get me, come get me.”

Now supposedly, the Seahawks have already reached out to the Dallas Cowboys for a trade surrounding Earl Thomas. Seattle requested the Cowboys’ 1st round 2018 draft pick and the Cowboys had subsequently denied. The Cowboys would assemble an elite defense and keep the stress off of their flourishing offensive talent. The Seahawks would’ve only received the 19th pick in return to have alongside their 18th pick.  The Hawks might be selling Thomas short, but it’s more than likely that the Cowboys didn’t want to give up more than one middle round pick.

Bottom line, the Seahawks are in a rebuild and Earl Thomas wants out. Thomas still retains a very high value, so it’s curious as to why the Hawks would even reach out for a middle 1st round pick. Should the Seahawks try to take a risk, they’d package Earl Thomas and their 18th pick and try to get a top-8 pick in return.

For example, a defensive minded team like the New York Jets could be enticed by moving down in the draft and taking on Earl Thomas. The Jets could also send back a young defensive piece or a couple of mid-round draft picks to round things out for Seattle. This would get Seattle into prime position to go after somebody like Derwin James or, should the stars align, the Hawks could be lucky enough to draft guard Quenton Nelson to help protect Russell Wilson.

Teams like the Buccaneers and the Browns could also be itching to add an elite veteran presence to their depth charts. The Buccaneers have sought veteran defensive back help in the past by signing the likes of Darrelle Revis, and are in desperate need to get the wheels of their defense rolling again.

The Browns have the valuable 4th selection in this upcoming draft, however they’re desperate to bring immediate change to a team that didn’t win a single game last year. Being able to secure Earl Thomas would add legitimacy to the front office that’s been able to land Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor this offseason. The Browns would immediately become a playoff contender.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, would jumpstart a quick rebuild by guaranteeing a shot at Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Bradley Chubb. The reason why I bring up Quenton Nelson so often is that the Seahawks have brought in new offensive coaching staff that’s looking to bolster the offensive line immediately.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Mike Solari have already worked together many years ago in Kansas City, so a relationship is already established. Schottenheimer is known for having turned the New York Jets offensive line during his tenure from 2006-2011, while Solari is known as having a huge part in constructing some of the most prolific lines in Kansas City and San Francisco.

The Seahawks have clearly signaled the end of the Legion of Boom era, and Earl Thomas is the most valuable mainstay left from that era. Moving him before this draft would show determination in a rebuild now, and would avoid the headaches involved next offseason. Fans should hope that this can isn’t kicked further down the road, and give Earl Thomas a chance to play in a place that will give him a shot at the playoffs.

Looking at the Seattle Seahawks’ recent draft struggles

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Looking at the Seattle Seahawks’ recent draft struggles


The Seattle Seahawks are known for their drafting skills. Heck, they drafted several potential Seattle Ring of Honor players in a short time span, with some of them coming later in the draft. The draft has inspired so much hope in Seahawks fans over the past few years because of this early success. Richard Sherman was a fifth-round pick, K.J. Wright was a fourth-round pick, Russell Wilson was a third-round pick, Kam Chancellor was a fifth-round pick, the list is impressive.

But, over the past couple seasons Seattle has missed on more draft picks than the Cleveland Browns. Since 2013 the Seahawks have had five drafts and 49 picks, of those picks only 10 have had any real impact as starters. They are, working backwards: Shaquill Griffin (a lot of potential, and looks like a starter for years to come), Chris Carson (looked good in a few games, and is the best running back on the roster), Jarran Reed (is a very stout run defender and has developed a good all-round game), Alex Collins (his good starts aren’t even with Seattle, he had over 1,000 yards for the Ravens last year), Frank Clark (the best pass rusher on the roster, he has 19 sacks over the past two seasons), Tyler Lockett (a true speedster, who is a return threat and has better hands than people think), Paul Richardson (a burner, who struggled with injuries before having a revival year in 2017, he is no longer with the team), Justin Britt (was moved around the offensive line until he found the center position where he is not a liability), Christine Michael (remember how quickly we wanted to get rid of him, and he still did quite well for a short spurts) and Luke Willson (a reliable second option who has been used all over the field for Seattle, he can block and catch well for someone with his speed).

You can say that the Seahawks had nowhere to go but down after Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s first few drafts, but could you have predicted how sharply they declined. Are they coaching players differently? Are they evaluating players differently? Are they just making bad decisions? I don’t know, but I hope this year is the year they turn it around.

The Seahawks are usually quite in the free agency period and they have not made waves this year with any signings. The noise has been more about who they have let go and traded, but I covered that in last week’s article.

Seattle needs to find their groove again for this year’s draft or they are wasting another year of having a franchise quarterback. Wilson won’t be around forever and the Seahawks need to focus on the next few years with the intensity the team started with when Carroll took over. The draft is in a little more than a month and I am looking forward to seeing who the Seahawks take after their inevitable trade out of the first round.

WHL Playoff Dates Set, But All The Matchups Are Not

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WHL Playoff Dates Set, But All The Matchups Are Not


Just when you thought three or four games wouldn’t make much of a difference at the end of the season, you haven’t taken a good look at the 2017-18 season as the final games wind down.

The Everett Silvertips opened the door for the Portland Winterhawks in the quest to be the US Division Champions with a loss to the Tri-City Americans 4-2 this week. That loss left the Silvertips with just two games remaining to Portland’s three and a schedule that may just take this down to the wire. Portland has remaining games against the Seattle Thunderbirds, a team that Portland has fared well in the season series with and the Spokane Chiefs, which the Hawks have also done well against. Everett on the other hand, has its next two games against the Victoria Royals, a team that is clinging to hope that it can catch the Kelowna Rockets for the BC Division title. Unlike the Hawks’ six point possibility, Victoria has just two games or four point possibility and gives a game in hand to the Rockets. The Royals are within a point of keeping second place all to themselves if Vancouver Giants lose another game or Victoria wins a game. 

Portland added to its list of hardware in the awards department with Cole Kehler getting the nod for WHL Goaltender of the Week. Kehler, who won both games in Prince George and followed up with a shutout against the Everett Silvertips, garnered his second such award this season. 

The other playoff spots in the US Division are pretty much set with Spokane unable to catch Portland following a loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds this week and the Thunderbirds are five points back of the Tri-City Americans with just three games left to attempt to make up ground, though it is highly unlikely. 

The Eastern Conference finally set its eighth seed with the Prince Albert Raiders getting into the first round of the playoffs with a loss by Saskatoon Blades to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Kings will need a miracle if they hope to catch Regina Pats for third in the Eastern Division as they sit three points back with two games each remaining. 

The Moose Jaw Warriors captured their first ever Scotty Munro trophy for best overall record after a shootout win over the Prince Albert Raiders this week, the same game which gave the Raiders the single point they needed to eliminate the Saskatoon Blades from post season competition. The Warriors who joined the WHL in 1984, have only made it to the WHL Finals once and round three once, are picked to be one of the favorites to compete for the WHL title this season. 

Speaking of the Blades, it’s another rough year for them. They have gone five straight years of missing the playoffs following the disastrous 2012-13 season where they hosted the Memorial Cup, lost in the first round of the playoffs and then had to wait six weeks for the Memorial Cup Tournament, a series in which they had a rough go at and also drew poorly at the gate leading to a loss of almost one million dollars. 

The Winterhawks announced the playoff start dates as being Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25, both games taking place at Veterans Memorial Coliseum to avoid congestion with the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center and comedian Trevor Noah. The opponent is still to be determined with two possible scenarios. Either Portland moves up to the top spot in which case they will face Seattle Thunderbirds or remain in second place and face the Spokane Chiefs. 

The mega, all-everything 2018 NCAA Tournament preview

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The mega, all-everything 2018 NCAA Tournament preview


Before we get to the teams and picks, let us take a moment to mourn the tournament Selection Show (1986ish-2018).

That’s right. TBS got the show for the first time this year, and hoo boy did they absolutely butcher it. Instead of using the tried-and-true, compact, dramatic, hour-long format, the folks at Turner went a little bit nuts.

They hosted the show in a studio the size of an aircraft carrier in front of a live audience (which added absolutely nothing), and, for reasons passing understanding, listed all of the teams in the field before unveiling the actual brackets, therefore killing all the suspense in the bracket unveiling.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the audio and video wasn’t synched up for the first segment of the broadcast, they couldn’t manage to correctly list the teams alphabetically, and all the hosts and analysts had to stand awkwardly while presenting.

Christ. What is wrong with these people?


Teams We Like:


  1. Virginia

There’s been a lot of talk this year about how there isn’t one great team in college basketball. Don’t buy it. Virginia dominated the best conference in the country, the ACC, going 17-1 during the regular season and sweeping through the conference tourney in Brooklyn over the weekend.

Their tournament struggles have been well documented, but Tony Bennett recruits and coaches the right way, and, like Mark Few was last year, he’s due.

The Cavs might not get the love and they might not have the stars, but they’ve done everything that has been asked of them this year and then some. They’re going to the Final Four.

  1. Villanova

Has the easiest path of any one seed to San Antonio, and two absolute studs in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. This is the best offensive team in the country per Pomeroy, and they feel ready to make a deep run after being upended by Wisconsin in the second round last year.

  1. North Carolina

Unlike Bennett or GQ Jay Wright, Roy Williams is money in the bank as a favorite in March. The man hasn’t lost a first round game in 28 straight tournament appearances dating back to 1989.

The Tar Heels aren’t quite the team of destiny they were last year, but they have a ton of tournament experience and are playing their best basketball of the year right now. They’ll be around.

  1. Michigan

John Beilein is the best coach in the country, and once again, he has the Wolverines dealing in March. Michigan ripped through the B1G tournament two weeks ago at MSG, polishing off Michigan State in the final, and is led by towering Berliner Mo Wagner at center.

Maybe the extra time off will have hurt Michigan’s rhythm; maybe it’s given them much-needed rest. Whatever the case, this is a team to watch.

  1. Michigan State

It’s been a harrowing, traumatic, extraordinarily disappointing year at Michigan State, and Tom Izzo’s once-shining star has been irreparably and deservedly tarnished – both by his severely underwhelming response to the Larry Nassar case and its fallout, and then by his program’s involvement in the FBI investigation.

That said, from a purely competitive standpoint, Michigan State is worth watching. They’ve flown under the radar over the last month, but have been one of the elite teams in the country all year. As for Izzo… March is where he made his legend in the first place.

  1. Arizona

If the universe has a sense of humor, the Wildcats – the team with a coach accused of lining up a $100,000 payment to sign the star freshman – will win the title.

So far, the universe is feeling pretty funny: despite the ESPN report, Sean Miller still has his job, DeAndre Ayton is still playing, Alonzo Trier came back from a PED suspension, and the Wildcats have won five straight.

They’ve got a tough road to San Antonio, but if you want to see the NCAA burn, this is your club.

  1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes haven’t played in two weeks thanks to their early-round upset at the hands of Penn State in the B1G tournament, but Chris Holtman’s team had a pretty, pretty good year to be languishing down on the five line.

  1. Xavier

Not a lot of people are going to pick the Musketeers to get to San Antonio, and fair enough. They’ve got UNC, Michigan, and Gonzaga in their region, and have never made a Final Four.

But this team has a NBA lottery pick in guard Trevon Bluiett, a Grayson Allen-lite in senior J.P. Macura, and a coach in Chris Mack who doesn’t lose early round tournament games.

They’re deserving of their one seed, and won’t go away easily – though you have to figure the psychological aftermath of their Big East tournament collapse against Providence will come into play for better or worse.

  1. Kentucky

John Calipari thinks it takes six hours to fly from Lexington to Boise, has no idea where Idaho is, and hasn’t worn a tie all week. I like where he’s at this year.

His team is playing pretty well too. The Wildcats have won seven of eight since dropping four in a row to open February, and just won the SEC Tournament for the fourth straight year.

  1. Georgia State


  1. Marshall

One of the coolest stories of the last week, the Thundering Herd won the Conference USA title to snap a 31 year tournament drought behind seven three pointers from junior guard Jon Elmore.

The Herd’s coach, Mike’s brother Dan D’Antoni, wears a t-shirt under his suit jacket and hates analytics. Let the good times roll.

  1. Providence

This team is tough as all hell. They clawed their way through two overtime games against Creighton and Xavier to reach the Big East tournament final, where they played Villanova dead even before falling in OT. As a ten, they’re badly underseeded.

  1. Virginia Tech

Everyone loves Alabama because they have an NBA player in Colin Sexton and a former NBA coach in Avery Johnson, but it’s Buzz Williams’ Hokies – who beat Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina this year – who are going to win that 8-9 game and be a threat to make noise against ‘Nova.

  1. West Virginia

I don’t think like does it justice. I adore West Virginia.

Bob Huggins had a vintage year, getting tossed at Allen Fieldhouse, and Huggie’s old-school full-on bald senior point guard Javon Carter is just about the coolest player in college basketball. Carter’s backcourt partner Daxter Miles can fill it up as well.

This team is limited – they lost three times to Kansas despite having leads in every game – but you should be rooting for this team.

  1. Gonzaga

Don’t sleep on the Zags. They pressure is off in every way after they reached the title game last year, no one is talking about them, and they sure as hell know where Boise is.

  1. Houston

Kelvin Sampson, hired by the Cougars after serving a five year show-cause several years ago, has done a remarkable job.

Houston went undefeated at home this season, and knocked off Wichita State in the American tourney before coming up a point short against Cincinnati in the title game. Michigan will be an extremely tough second round matchup, but this team is for real.

  1. Rhode Island/Davidson/St. Bonaventure

That’s right! Two at large bids for the superb Atlantic 10 this year, and all three of their teams can do damage. A couple of them will get wins, Danny Hurley’s Rams being the most likely bunch. Whichever big Northeast school hires Hurley in a couple weeks is going to have done some fine business.

  1. Loyola Chicago

They’ve got a tough ask in Miami, but the Ramblers score a gazillion points a game and have captivated Chicago by making the tournament for the first time since 1985.


Teams We Don’t Like


  1. Oklahoma

This team is 4-11 in their last fifteen and 2-8 in their last ten. They finished the season as the ninth best team in their conference.

It’d be fun to see Trae Young fill it up in his only tournament, and this team got some lovely wins early in the year, but they’ve been terrible since late January and will dispatched in short order.

  1. Arizona State

It’s much the same story here: The Sun Devils were great to start the year, and then were a sub-five hundred team in an atrocious Pac 12.

Bobby Hurley – and maybe this won’t shock you – hasn’t exactly proven himself adept at steadying his team during bad stretches. The only hope for Hurley is that his first four opponent is…

  1. Syracuse

God. Not them again, not when they’re a piffling 20-13, 8-10 in conference, can’t score, and have no elite talent.

This is the ceiling these days for Jim Boeheim, by the way, and now that Boeheim has run Mike Hopkins out of town, not only will Syracuse be irrelevant for the next five years, but they now have no coaching succession plan. Well done.

  1. Florida State

The ‘Noles inspire no confidence. They went a soft 20-11, 9-9 in the ACC, and enter the tournament having lost five of eight. The ACC is going to have a lot of teams playing into the weekend and beyond, Florida State won’t be among them.

  1. Purdue

Purdue’s star center Isaac Hass is 7’2 and looks like a stone carving of Spartacus (really, they did a side-by-side comparison at Michigan State), and that – along with point guard Carson Edwards – is about the only thing fun about the Boilermakers. This team isn’t a serious threat to win anything.

  1. Cincinnati/Wichita State

Both of these teams won a lot of games because they’re miserable to play against: the Bearcats are suffocating on defense, while the Shockers are well-coached and have a couple of difference makers in transition.

But there are obvious holes. Wichita doesn’t have any depth, and the Bearcats don’t get any easy buckets. Those aren’t recipes for deep tournament runs.

  1. Texas A&M

Another one of these teams that was great to start the year and has been straight trash for two months.

  1. Florida

A lot of people rave about the guard play, but the Gators were just a 20-12 team for a reason: no inside presence, streaky offense, and not a lot of quality wins. The SEC had plenty of okay teams, but no great ones. Which brings us to…

  1. Tennessee/Auburn

I’m not buying either one of these clubs, being led by Rick “3-6 In My Last 9 Tournament Games” Barnes and Bruce “Actively Not Cooperating Into My School’s Internal Investigation” Pearl.

Their records were good, they were good stories, and they don’t pass the eye test. Whatever the seeds say, there wasn’t a second that Kentucky didn’t feel like the favorite at the SEC tournament in St. Louis last weekend.

  1. Missouri

We’re not done with the SEC yet. Mizzou brought back Michael Porter for the SEC tournament, and watched Porter shoot 5-17 in a 62-60 loss to a Georgia team coached by a lame duck in Mark Fox.

Unless Porter shakes off the rust and figures out his teammates in a week of practice, it’s going to be an ugly tournament appearance.

  1. Duke

No one likes Duke, obviously, but the real problem with the Blue Devils this year is that they’ve underachieved.

On talent alone, Duke should be the best team in the country – and while 26-7 wasn’t a bad season by any stretch, the Blue Devils didn’t come particularly close to winning the ACC regular season or tournament championship.

They’re awfully young, and Coach K in March has been, shall we say, hit or miss over the last decade. This could be a Final Four team, or Rhode Island could punch them in the throat in round 2.


Tips and Tricks


  1. If You Don’t Trust Me…

And you have absolutely no reason to, I haven’t picked a good bracket since Bush 43 was president, Five Thirty Eight’s predictor was on the money last year.

  1. Chalk At The End

I wrote this last year, and it bears repeating: barring Kevin Ollie – for whom life is not good right now – only the very best coaches win championships.

Here are your winning coaches since 1999: Calhoun, Izzo, Krzyzewski, Williams, Boeheim, Calhoun, Williams, Donovan, Donovan, Self, Williams, Krzyzewski, Calhoun, Calipari, Pitino, Krzyzewski, Wright, Williams.

It’s not a different story with the losers. Those guys in the last ten years are Calipari, Izzo, Stevens, Stevens, Self, Beilein, Calipari, Ryan, Williams, and Few. That is to say: get your upsets in early.

  1. Speaking of Upsets Early…

Last year was an unusually quiet year in terms of first round upsets, with all sixteen of the top sixteen seeds advancing. That won’t happen again this year.

  1. Don’t Pick Teams Who Can’t Score

If only because watching a team you picked lose because they shot 26 percent from the field and posted 49 points is the very definition sports hell. Looking directly at you, Jamie Dixon.

With that, godspeed and may your champion not be upset by Middle Tennessee in the first round. It’s time for the madness.

Americans ground Hawks, who then trip Tips… But in the end maybe it doesn’t matter

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Americans ground Hawks, who then trip Tips… But in the end maybe it doesn’t matter


Following a return to home ice after the pair of wins versus the Prince George Cougars, the Portland Winterhawks were set to host the Tri-City Americans and pay homage to the legends of local hockey. The 1998 Memorial Cup Champions, twenty years after their historic win, were honored at center ice with all but a few present to witness the incredible ovation. The ceremony, lasting nearly a half hour, included a tip of the hat to Tri-City Americans head coach Mike Williamson, himself a former player of the Winterhawks and the Portland Assistant Coach at that time of the Cup win. That seemed to spark the Americans a great deal in the contest. Having been shutout twice in the past two meetings by the Hawks by a total score of 14-0, the Ams weren’t about to let starting Portland goaltender Shane Farkas get off on an easy night.

Late in the first period, the Americans scored twice, once on the powerplay to lead 2-0 at the end of one. Alex Overhardt pocketed a goal for the home squad less than thirty seconds into the second frame, but the Americans replied before the midway mark of the second period to restore the two-goal lead. A goal early in the third period by Tri-City on the powerplay, followed by a goal just over three minutes later, spelled the end for Portland’s Shane Farkas who stopped 18 of 23 shots in the game. Cole Kehler came in relief to stymie the Americans on their five shots they got on him. There was a brief spark midway through the third period as Joachim Blichfeld pulled the Hawks within three, but Tri-City ended the scoring with an empty net goal as Portland tried to run six attackers with just under three minutes remaining. The 6-2 final left the Hawks six points back of Everett, but the Spokane Chiefs, who lost in a shootout to Vancouver Giants, picked up just a single point, leaving them five back of the Hawks.

What could have been a showdown for Portland and Everett for first place the following night, ended up being one where the Winterhawks looked to see if there was still life in their quest for first in the US Division. The somewhat scrappy play seemed to sense a playoff battle in the midst and both teams played one of the more defensive matches in their season series. The Hawks opened the scoring on a rebound shot by Brendan DeJong midway through the first period. For the next forty minutes, both teams traded shots and gloves without a single goal registered. It would take until just past the midway point of the third period, when Henri Jokiharju scored on the powerplay to give the Hawks a bit more breathing room. The Hawks took a penalty late in the third which resulted in Everett pulling their goaltender for a sixth attacker, but even the six on four matchup wasn’t enough to see any pucks get past Cole Kehler who added another shutout to his total for the season and the Hawks took a 2-0 win.

The Hawks win, pulled them within four points of Everett with both squads having three games left to play. The idle Spokane Chiefs dropped to seven points back with four games left. If Spokane loses another game or is able to garner just a single point in any game, they will remain in third place giving Portland home ice in the series with Spokane. In fact, home ice will not really play into the series with Portland and Spokane due to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament running at the arena where the Chiefs play on the scheduled playoff nights. 

Regardless, Portland will open the series on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum due the Moda Center being used for the Trail Blazers and a comedian on those days. The only change that could happen in the mix is if Portland overtakes Everett for first in the US Division in which case the Hawks will then most likely face the Seattle Thunderbirds who sit five points back of Tri-City with four games left on the schedule. The current matches will see Everett vs Seattle, Kelowna vs Tri-City, Portland vs Spokane and Victoria vs Vancouver. The Eastern Conference is almost settled with Moose Jaw virtually assured of the Scotty Munro trophy with a five point lead over Swift Current in the Eastern Division. The uncertain battles are with Regina and Brandon who are separated by three points in the battle for third place and Prince Albert and Saskatoon who are separated by seven points with four games each remaining. Current matches for the Eastern Conference would see Moose Jaw vs Prince Albert, Medicine Hat vs Brandon, Swift Current vs Regina and Lethbridge vs Red Deer. 

The winners of these series’ would then move onto the second round where the teams would be re-seeded according to the points earned in the regular season.

The next games for the Hawks will be a three game in three-night US Division battle with a home and home series with Seattle, followed by their final regular season home game against the Spokane Chiefs, with both home games taking place at the Moda Center. The game versus the Chiefs will be delayed for several minutes as the teams hands out its annual awards, including the Portland Winterhawk Booster Club Memorial Trophy for Most Popular Player as voted by the Booster Club Membership.

Portland Winterhawks Grind It First And Then Grind Up The Cougars

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Portland Winterhawks Grind It First And Then Grind Up The Cougars


Two games up north in the frozen city of Prince George were hoping to provide a warm welcome for the Portland Winterhawks as they looked to make the playoff race a great deal tighter. The Prince George Cougars, already eliminated from the postseason, looked to be the spoilers in the Hawks bid. The first game saw a much tighter game for the Hawks than they might have originally suspected. 

The Hawks picked up two goals in the first period from Joachim Blichfeld and Reece Newkirk and appeared to be heading for victory lane. Late in the second period, the Cougars scored two goals in less than thirty seconds to tie up the game and send the Hawks reeling to the dressing room, trying to figure out how to turn back the rage of the cats. 

The break seemed to initially work for the Hawks as Skyler McKenzie scored early in the third period to restore the lead, following an assist by former Cougar Dennis Cholowski. However, it was a former Winterhawk in Illijah Colina, whom the Hawks had traded along with Connor Bowie to the Cougars for Cholowski, that showed his former teammates that he was the real deal and the score suddenly became knotted with three quarters of a period to go. The Cougars desperate for everything, did all they could to stymie the Hawks firepower.

The Hawks nearly doubling of shots on goal became frustrating as time and time again, the puck rang off a crossbar or post and the score remained tied. It took the utility line of Layne Gilliss, Jake Gricius and Ty Kolle to finally stick the dagger in the heart of the Cougars with a late third period goal. Despite the Cougars pulling goaltender Taylor Gauthier for the sixth attacker, they were unable to tie the game, but also prevented the Hawks from scoring the empty net goal. Cole Kehler returned between the pipes to get the victory for the Hawks, who also saw Spokane Chiefs drop a decision to Victoria which gave the Hawks a six-point lead over the Chiefs for second place in the US Division.

The following night, the two teams battled again with the same two netminders, but far from the same result. The Cougars started off the night with a goal just over two minutes into the game by Connor Bowie, marking his first ever career goal and showing a bit of the stuff that made many Portland fans fall in love with his on-ice work. The Cougars would see that lead erased six minutes later with a laser shot that blew the goaltender’s water bottle from the top of the net to the rink glass. The Hawks then blew the game wide open with a pair of goals by Skyler McKenzie one on the powerplay and one short-handed and a goal by Lucas MacKenzie to give the Hawks a three goal lead.

Just over two minutes into the third period, Layne Gilliss snuck the puck short side and two minutes later it was Kieffer Bellows who added to the Hawks lead which chased starting goaltender Taylor Gauthier from the net. Gauthier gave up six goals on thirty-one shots before being replaced by Isaiah DiLaura. 

Late in the third period, Skyler McKenzie completed the hat trick, this time with the team at regular strength to complete the game as a 7-1 mauling of the Cougars. With the win, Portland moves within four points of first place Everett with both teams having five games left to play. The Spokane Chiefs who dropped their first game to the Victoria Royals, came back to win the second game and remain six points back of the Hawks while having a game in hand on both Everett and Portland. 

Six teams have now claimed playoff spots in the Western Conference with Tri-City and Seattle within a win of claiming the last two wild card spots which they can do on Friday, or see Kamloops Blazers lose to the Kelowna Rockets who are still clinging to first place in the BC Division. 

Out east, only four teams have assured themselves of playoff berths. Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos passed the century mark in points with the two teams within a point of each other and a few games left to play. The lower spots remain undecided with Brandon and Regina within three points of each other. Regina currently holds third in the Eastern Division, but Brandon, who holds the first wildcard spot could easily flip that with a small streak of their own. The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades are in a fight themselves for the second wildcard spot which the Raiders currently own. Based on mathematical scenarios all four teams could be in reverse order by the time the regular season is over.

It’s playoff hockey time and the air is thick with excitement as the final two weekends of games are upon us.

ICE CHIPS: Saturday will feature a tribute to the Portland Winterhawks’ last Memorial Cup winning team as many members of the 1998 team will appear at Veterans Memorial Coliseum for an induction ceremony and special autograph session during the first period intermission. The game, which is being played against the Tri-City Americans, will feature Mike Williamson, current coach of the Americans and the former assistant coach of the Portland Winterhawks 1998 Memorial Cup run. 

The meaning of the Vince Lombardi Trophy

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The meaning of the Vince Lombardi Trophy


Although most fans know that the trophy awarded to the winning team of the Super Bowl – or the National Championship Game – is called the Vince Lombardi Trophy, they often don’t know the full history behind it. Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been a number of teams that have tried to capture this title, but few like the 2014 Seattle Seahawks have found success.

That’s because the Vince Lombardi trophy is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the NFL, which means this award isn’t just a participation trophy players get for making it to the big game; it’s something they have to earn through dedication, hard work, and lots of training.

But before the award became known as the Vince Lombardi trophy, it was simply called the “World Championship Game Trophy,” and the game between the rival conferences was known as the AFL-NFL Championship game before adapting to the Super Bowl title. Not as exciting as its current name, right?

So when did the switch happen?

It occurred in 1970, when the league decided to change the name of the award from “World Championship Game Trophy” to the “Vince Lombardi Trophy” after his passing.

What many fans don’t know, however, is who Vince Lombardi is, and why he’s so important to the NFL. For starters, Vince Lombardi was a legendary head coach for the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins. He was born in 1913 and became the most successful head coach to ever coach the game of football. Lombardi was the leader of his team, and during his time coaching in Green Bay, he managed to capture five national championship titles within a nine-year span. In the preseason, Lombardi had a .840 winning percentage by winning 42 of his 50 games. But it was the postseason where he became known as a legend, with a winning percentage of .900 with a record of 9-1. The one loss being to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960.

Why is Vince Lombardi still a relevant legend throughout the NFL?

Other than having his name on the Super Bowl trophy awarded each year to the winning team, Lombardi set the standard of what it meant to be a great head coach in the NFL. In other words, coaching wasn’t about just about winning, it was about building a team and teaching them how to play the sport of football. In fact, one of his many great lessons was teaching his players about the sweep – a play designed to have runners go towards the strong side of the field and keep the defensive players off balance.

Ultimately, winning is what brought fame to Lombardi, but perhaps the greatest thing Vince taught the NFL involved the three themes he used to set his standards as a coach. Themes that included:

  • Speaking during a time of war, conventionalism, and materialism – the sixties – could have easily brought unwanted attention to Lombardi and his team. That’s why he believed that in order to be a good role model and lead his players both on and off the field, they needed discipline, especially during a crucial time period like the sixties.
  • After going to West Point and being mentored by General Douglas MacArthur, Lombardi understood that leaders were born, not made. He believed leaders were justified through their hard work, and the same can be said about football players.
  • Characterization and Determination. A leader is made by their character and willpower, meaning that the two go together hand-in-hand in a virtuous cycle.

So whether you’re a Seattle Seahawks fan or a fan of another organization, you’re all connected in one way or another through Vince Lombardi – the greatest coach in NFL history. If questions arise whether or not he’s still relevant in our world today, the answer is: without a doubt. His character, along with his determined spirit, was key in his ability to teach and coach in the NFL.

Ichiro Returns To The Seattle Mariners

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Ichiro Returns To The Seattle Mariners


To kick off week three of Spring Training, the Seattle Mariners announced the signing of Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year deal, pending a physical, returning the legendary outfielder to the MLB team he originally joined in 2001 and played for eleven and a half seasons. While bringing the forty-four-year-old Ichiro “home” to Seattle is both charming and nostalgic, the move is more practically in response to early spring injuries and a perceived lack of depth in the outfield.

Projected left fielder, Ben Gamel, went down with an oblique injury and is expected to miss four to six weeks, casting doubt on who would play LF on opening day. Gamel’s injury, paired with a hand injury to right fielder, Mitch Haniger, and the continuing recovery from offseason shoulder surgery by Guillermo Heredia, who served as the team’s fourth outfielder last season, opened the way for a reunion with Ichiro.

In his 11 ½ seasons with the Mariners, Ichiro hit .322/.366/.418, while stealing 438 bases, scoring 1,176 runs, and compiling 2,533 of his 3,080 hits.

Ichiro declined somewhat with the New York Yankees, hitting .281/.314/.364 in a little over two seasons with 1,106 AB. The decline continued in Miami with the Marlins as Ichiro saw little playing time in the shadows of the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. In three seasons with the fish, Ichiro hit .256/.315/.325 and managed to join the 3,000-hit club in just 921 AB.

With the late signing, only ZiPS has updated projections for Ichiro to reflect a semi-regular gig. That projection system has the diminutive outfielder participating in 127 games, getting roughly 250 PA, and contributing a .264/.323/.344 slash line for a wRC+ of 79 and a -0.1 WAR.

Hall of Fame Career

In his first season in the majors, Ichiro electrified audiences with his speed and unconventional approach at the plate. In the era of steroids and in the wake of historic single season home run totals, Ichiro was a throwback to another era. In 2001, Ichiro hit .350/.381/.457 with 56 SB, 127 R, and a league leading 242 hits to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP. Remarkably, Ichiro would collect over 200 hits in each of his first ten seasons in the big leagues. He was also a member of the historic 2001 Mariners team that won 116 regular season games, but, alas, failed to reach the world series.

By rejoining the Mariners, Ichiro has a legitimate chance to move up as many as six spots on the all-time hit list. To be fair, by combining statistics from the Nippon league and MLB, Ichiro is already the hit king with 4,358, but “only” 3,080 come in MLB. Ichiro needs 31 hits to pass Dave Winfield, 36 to pass Alex Rodriguez, 62 to pass Tony Gwynn, 64 to pass Robin Yount, 73 to pass Paul Warner, and 78 to pass George Brett. With ZiPS projecting just 60 hits, catching Cal Ripkin, Jr. at 3,184 seems far-fetched but the others do seem to be in sight.

Ichiro Suzuki is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but the hall will have to late at least another five years, as the Emerald City welcomes him back in 2018 to help the Mariners sail through the early waves of injuries in hopes of breaking that long playoff drought. And some milestones should fall along the way.

Portland Winterhawks Play Deja Vu Weeks But Pick Up Another Shutout And Two Awards

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Portland Winterhawks Play Deja Vu Weeks But Pick Up Another Shutout And Two Awards


It was a deja vu week for the Portland Winterhawks as they battled to maintain their place in the US Division standings and, at the same time, see if they have enough to give a serious challenge to the division leading Everett Silvertips.

After blowing out the Tri-City Americans 9-0 a week ago, the Hawks came home to play three games in as many nights, all against lower US Division opponents. The Hawks had a rough home game in the week prior, but then went on to do well in two road games and that is exactly what happened into this week.

The Hawks found themselves in trouble against the Seattle Thunderbirds at home as the Thunderbirds were looking to gain some ground on the Tri-City Americans in hopes of removing themselves from the bottom of the US Division.

Seattle’s Zack Andrusiak opened the scoring in the first period which was countered by Ty Kolle, leaving the teams deadlocked at one apiece. Two goals early in the second, one scored by and the other assisted by Andrusiak put the T-Birds up again. The Hawks would come on strong in the third period with goals by Cody Glass on the powerplay, Joachim Blichfeld and Ryan Hughes to take the lead. Less than three minutes after the Hughes goal, Noah Philp scored to send the game into overtime. When that disn’t settle anything, the two teams took to the shootout. The first three rounds saw each team score one which then sent the shootout into sudden death where first goal versus first miss would determine the winner. Portland was unable to score on their shot, Seattle did and the Thunderbirds walked away with a bitter 5-4 win. Cole Kehler took the loss in one of the toughest nights of his Winterhawks career.

Just one night later and with many fans in tow, the Hawks went to Kennewick to attempt the same magic of a week ago. Shane Farkas was given the assignment in net for the Hawks where he last shutout the Americans. The Hawks struck early and often against a shaken Americans team. Two goals by Cody Glass, two by Layne Gilliss and a single by Kieffer Bellows, along with a pair of assists, was all the Hawks needed and then some as they shutout the Americans again, this time by a 5-0 score. The Hawks continued dominance over the Americans was evident throughout the night as the Hawks chased starting goaltender Beck Warm from the net in the middle of the second period, only to have Patrick Dea come in relief to an onslaught of shots himself. The only excitement for Americans fans came in the second intermission where Rusty won his second race in two years in the Dachshund Doggie Dash Race.

With that victory under their belt, the Hawks headed home to gather clothes for the long-distance travel and headed to Kent for the return battle with Seattle at the ShoWare Center which aired on local area television. The Hawks had barely hit the ice before the goals started flying. Just over a minute in, Kieffer Bellows put his team on the scoresheet which was followed by Jake Gricius and Cody Glass. In just over ten minutes the Hawks had built up a 3-0 lead and Seattle immediately called a timeout to settle the troops. Seattle finally got on the board late in the first period with Mike MacLean scoring only his second goal of the season to break Shane Farkas’ shutout string of the equivalent of three games.  The Hawks weren’t done yet as early in the second period, Kieffer Bellows added a pair of goals to give him the hat trick and the Hawks what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. Nolan Volcan picked up Seattle’s second goal of the game to cut the margin to a three-goal lead. In the third period, the Hawks broke down a bit, allowing Nolan Volcan and Zack Andrusiak to score midway through the period to make it a one goal game. Time was winding down and the Thunderbirds made the gamble on pulling their goaltender for the extra attacker. Despite pressure in the Hawks end, Ryan Hughes was able to free the puck and send it down the ice into the empty net to give the Hawks a bit of breathing space. Seattle once again tried to pull their goaltender, but he was caught before he got to the bench and a sailing shot by Brendan DeJong floated past a diving Liam Hughes into the empty net for the Hawks final goal and a 7-4 victory. Both teams scored once on each of their three powerplays and Portland outshot Seattle 38 – 36.

Right after the game, the Winterhawks headed north as they will face the Prince George Cougars in the annual doubleheader in the Spruce Capital. Following the two weekday games, the team will have a short turnaround before a pair of games at home on the weekend.

The Western Hockey League announced that Cody Glass was named WHL Player of the Week after recording ten points in four games during the past week. The Hawks also got another mention with the announcement that Shane Farkas was named WHL Goaltender of the Week after posting three win, including the two shutouts against Tri-City and a strong performance in another victory against Seattle in the always tough to play in ShoWare Center. It is Farkas’ first such award and comes as the Hawks gear up for four games this week, two against the Prince George Cougars in the annual, nearly twenty-hour trek, followed by the drive home to play the Tri-City Americans who will certainly look for revenge in the pair of losses where they were outscored 14-0 and another battle with Seattle. 

The Hawks will then play two games at home with a road game to Seattle sandwiched in between to close the regular season.

Should the Hawks emerge victorious in all or most of the games, they will close the gap considerably with the Everett Silvertips, who lead the Hawks by eight points, but give up two games in hand to Portland which could make the final weekend of play one for the ages.

Is Michael Bennett’s time close to an end with the Seattle Seahawks?

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Is Michael Bennett’s time close to an end with the Seattle Seahawks?


Late yesterday, it was reported that the Seattle Seahawks are trying to trade defensive end Michael Bennett. The news seems sudden, but a separation has virtually been in the works for quite some time. If the Seahawks can help it, it’d behoove them to hold onto Bennett.

Towards the end of the last football season, Michael Bennett had alluded to his departure by stating that he “probably won’t be back” for the Seahawks in 2018. To be honest, fans can’t blame the Seahawks. Age is the cruel beast of the NFL, and Bennett is on the wrong side of 30 years old playing one of the most grueling positions on the field.

It’s hard to assess where potential landing spots would be for Michael Bennett. Teams like the Indianapolis Colts or the Cleveland Browns come to mind as possibilities. These are teams that are immediately trying to right their own ships, and the Colts in particular are notorious for having no defense. Other potential landing spots include the Arizona Cardinals or Bennett’s former stomping ground in Tampa Bay.

It’s also tough to gauge Bennett’s value as well. It’d be nice if he could net the Seahawks a 3rd round pick, but that kind of thinking is poppycock. At most, I think a desperate team would be willing to part with a 5th round pick this year. Some teams also might be turned off by Bennett’s willingness to speak out about certain social issues. It’s ridiculous but such is the nature of today’s NFL.

From the Seahawks’ perspective, I think they’re giving Bennett due diligence in finding a place where he can comfortably play for the remainder of his career. However, here’s not much incentive for the Seahawks to find him a new home right away. The Seahawks’ biggest problem is with cap space, and not necessarily finding talent or a draft pick in return.

As far as cap is concerned, releasing or trading Bennett could only free up a little over $2 million in cap space. If the Hawks wait until releasing Bennett until after June 1st, they can free up $5.5 million in cap space. What could that kind of space truly buy?

Bennett’s contract runs through 2020 at an arguable bargain per the production he’s been giving the Seahawks. While Bennett is averaging is averaging $10 million on his current contract (not considering bonuses and non-guaranteed money), he’s not far behind the likes of Olivier Vernon and Ezekiel Ansah as far as sacks are concerned. The latter are averaging $17 million per year.

If the Seahawks were to part ways with Bennett, it’ll be a mistake especially in the short term. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters recently that he hopes to make another run to the playoffs this year, and his team won’t be able to do that with a subpar, alternative to Bennett. The Seahawks also have to answer questions in the secondary, as far more expensive questions need to be addressed in Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Plus, it’s far more important to have stability with linemen than any other position. If the Seahawks can’t immediately address a competent replacement for Bennett, then why trade?