Friday Ramblings – May 22, 2015: Leafs Make a Splash, Lions Win the Draft and Sam to the CFL

I know it has been a long time but with the Jays stuck in their usual mediocrity and everything else quiet, I wasn’t inspired.

Also, check out my other blog on WordPress, The Ass-piring Writer http://theasspiringwriter.wordpress.com/. It’s my views on film and television.

So, anything new in Leafs-land?

Brendan Shanahan just proved to all doubters that he is the right guy for this job. The Leafs were the most unattractive destination for a coach in the entire league because of the pressure, media scrutiny and current roster. The one thing that the Leafs has as an advantage is money. Before the salary cap, they would rate in the top five in salary. They are not afraid to spend and that is exactly what it took to convince Mike Babcock to come to Toronto. An eight-year deal is incredible because now he and Shanny (who played for Babcock during his final year in Detroit) can build this team together. With Babcock’s international experience in building a team, the Leafs don’t even need a true GM. Whoever they do hire will be a young, capologist or numbers guy who they can lean on for input. Babcock will have a big say in who is signed and traded and with eight years to build, I hope to see at least a finals appearance (which would probably get a Babcock statue erected outside the ACC). The Leafs went from a laughing stock to a respectable franchise again. This is the biggest free agent signing they will make in the next two to three years and it was a doozy. Way to be Shanny, this should keep that great head of hair from going grey, at least for a little while. One other note on the character of Mike Babcock, he has scheduled a press conference with the Detroit media today to say his goodbyes and thanks to the organization he spent 10 years with. Class act all the way.

The NFL Draft was fairly uneventful this year but once again the Lions made a great move and fleeced the Denver Broncos. By agreeing to give the Broncos the 23rd pick, the Lions got the Broncos 28th pick (used for OG Laken Tomlinson), as well as a 5th round pick, a 2016 5th rounder and OL Manny Ramirez. They used the majority of their picks to address their defense by taking CB in the 3rd and 6th rounds, a DT in the 4th and then grabbing stud Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah in the 2nd round, a FB in the 5th and another OT in the 7th. So overall, they got 3 offensive linemen, 2 cornerbacks, 1 defensive lineman, a full back and a running back. That is a very complete draft and not only I think that, the Lions got some of the highest grades from many of the writers and analysts covering the draft. They also signed veteran WR Lance Moore and a few undrafted free agents so with all of those additions and Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, this has been a great off-season despite losing Suh. I feel very good about their chances of making the playoffs going into training camp but that will all rely on one person: Matthew Stafford. In 2015, he needs to shit or get off the pot.

Good news in the CFL today as Michael Sam has signed with the Montreal Alouettes. If you remember, he was the first openly gay college football player and he came out right before last year’s draft. He fell to the 7th round and was drafted by the Rams, released and eventually signed to the Cowboys’ practice roster. This will be a great opportunity for him to get consistent snaps and show a lot of people whether or not he is an NFL calibre player. I don’t think he got a fair shake the first time around so now he has the chance to be a starter in a “professional” league (hehehe – well, he is getting paid) and if he does well enough hopefully he will end up on an NFL roster next season. If not, the CFL has been good to a lot of NFL cast-offs including Doug Flutie so maybe he can sustain a career and even win a Grey Cup. At least the ring is the same size.

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