With it being close to Christmas, and with this being likely my last edition of this column before the year 2017, let me bring up my wish list.
No, I am not asking any of you to buy me anything. Instead, I am talking about some of the things I hope will happen in 2017 that could bring me, as a sports fan, more joy in the new year. So let’s begin.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs: For my favourite NHL team, I hope they are able to acquire a top pairing shut down defenceman. With a roster full of talented youth, such as Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly among others, there are bound to be mistakes made. These players take risks and sometimes those risks can lead to turnovers. They need a defenceman who can, on occasion, bail them out and neutralize dangerous opportunities in the defensive zone. The Leafs need to encourage their young players to use their talents to the full extent, and having someone who can mitigate risks and take some pressure off of goaltender Frederik Andersen would be the best way to do just that.
As well, I hope the fans and sports media ease up a bit on the pressure on Auston Matthews. Since his four-goal performance, in the Leafs’ first game of the season, fans seem to have a high expectation of Matthews. When he was in his 13 game goal drought, it seemed to me like a lot of fans were questioning if the team really should have taken him over Patrik Laine. I thinkeveryone needs to remember that he is 19 years-old. As of press time, he has 12 goals and is tied for second on the team in points. To be a point away from leading your team in scoring in your very first season is an impressive feat, I think. He is not likely to come in and win us a Stanley Cup, single handedly, so let’s give him a chance to grow.
For the Toronto Blue Jays: First off, I think it goes without saying at this point that the Jays need to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion. I think I have stressed that point enough in two editions of this column this year.
As well, in two straight seasons, the Jays have made it all the way to the American League Championship Series (ALCS). I hope they are finally able to make it back to the World Series in 2017. It seems like such a long time ago that the Blue Jays were champions in 1992 and 1993. The Jays have given fans lots of optimism, coming so close to the MLB championship in the series, but still coming short. It is time for them to take the next step.
Those are my hopes for the new year for my two favourite sports franchises. Sports Santa, I hope you are reading this.
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