Let me open this column by saying that my heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of the horrible acts of terrorism that happened on Friday night in Paris.
One of the things that has always made me proud to be a Canadian is how we always seem to support those who have gone through dark times or tragedies regardless of whether they are close or far away.
That is why I was especially proud when arenas across the country held a moment of silence to honour the victims, even a Minor Midget ‘AAA’ game that I happened to be covering in Lindsay. As well, there were candle light vigils being held around the country.
It never ceases to amaze me how we as a people can step up and support those dealing with pain, even if we don’t directly know them. It is also comforting to know that regardless of the hard news that we deal with every day, that many Canadians continue to show a great compassion.
Now, I do hope that these attacks do not put a damper on Canada’s, and even a Scugog church’s , plan to support Syrian refugees.
I believe most of those applying to enter our great country as a refugee are, by very definition of the word, victims of not only the civil war that has ripped apart their country, but of ISIS attacks as well. Just like every plan, there are risks, but we as Canadians cannot just be stuck looking over our shoulders worrying that there may be an attack here. We need to help.
Just like supporting the victims in Paris, we cannot just turn a sudden blind eye to those who are also going through their own hard times, just because there is a possible security threat. Plus, looking at the country’s lengthy process to screen potential refugees, it looks pretty solid.
New Song Church has started an initiative to sponsor refugee families, and have already seen immense support from a Port Perry High School group as well as the Care and Share permaculture garden at the fairgrounds. I would hate for an initiative like this to loose steam because of fear.
From what I have experienced from being in and around the North Durham area for many years, there are many compassionate and caring people so I hope the population will be as accepting if or when someone from outside our borders eventually wants to enter the community that many call home.
For now, I would leave the border security worries with the members of our Federal Government that have been tasked with just that.
Recently it was reported that the Maple Leafs are among many teams taking interest in KHL defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. The fan in me is slightly excited about the possibility of getting a high profile free agent, but at the same time, as a precaution, I think that we shouldn’t get too excited yet.
A similar situation happened a few years ago. Some fans may remember a player by the name of Justin Schultz. In 2012, Schultz was a prospect from the University of Wisconsin who could have a pick of teams interested in him, which included Canadian teams Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. He chose the Oilers. Since then, I believe we can say Schultz has been a bust.
Cast as an offensive option for the Oilers, over the past three seasons Schultz has averaged eight goals per year. This year, through nine games he only has one assist. His defensive stats aren’t much better, with his best plus/minus stat for a full season being minus 17, and the worst being a minus 22.
Now I know that this is only his fourth NHL season, and that the Oilers have been a laughably bad team in the past few years, but this situation proves two things. One is that not all hyped players turn out to be successful in the big league. The other is that putting a supposedly great player on a bad team doesn’t always improve that team. It really is a similar situation to Zaitsev. The Leafs are a team that has not had a great last few seasons and are chasing a potential star d-man.
There is also a situation currently going on this season similar to Schultz, with high profile defenceman Mike Reilly signing in Minnesota before the start of this season. In a few years, we will know if that situation works or if he too is a young free agent bust like Schultz.
This is not to say that the Leafs shouldn’t be chasing a potential star, but that fans and management need to temper their expectations.
The Leafs don’t have a great track record with free agents. Being a Toronto sports fan, I have seen the team sign so many free agents that end up turning into busts. This list seems to be endless, from Tim Connolly, David Clarkson, and Jeff Finger to Colby Armstrong and Mike Komisarek.
Now, Zaitsev’s record looks good, with 13 points in his first 22 games, but given the above facts, a caution flag needs to come up. The Leafs need to know what they are getting into before they jump into another potentially dangerous contract situation. Fans need to be open minded to the fact that a potential first line defenceman in the KHL may not be a top tier defenceman in the NHL.
Leaf fans let’s hope, regardless of what happens, that Shanahan and company know what they are doing
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy