Toronto Sports: Weekly Mailbag for Sunday, August 3rd, 2014


More from Toronto Sports

Every Sunday, we take the time to answer your questions. These questions can cover anything in the Toronto sports universe and we look forward to the challenge of answering them.

Here are the top questions for this week.

(As always, you can send your questions to:

Q. Are the Buffalo Bills really coming to Toronto? Come on. You guys are crazy. Stay away from my Bills.

Amanda, Buffalo

CHRIS: Hello Amanda,

While the rumours continue to swirl around the Bills coming to Toronto, I highly doubt it will happen. The reports of the group conducting a feasibility report are quite common for perspective owners looking to make a bid. But in terms of the team moving to Toronto in the near future, it means nothing. There are many hurdles that make this move very unlikely.

The Bills’ lease with Ralph Wilson Stadium isn’t up until 2022 – that would be one hurdle. After that, moving the team would have potential legal repercussions with the Western New York area. But before all of that, the ownership group would have to come up with approximately $1.5 billion to buy the franchise, just shy of $900 million to build a new stadium, plus potential fees to the Western New York area. The group would probably be looking at over $2 billion to move the team – that’s a pretty penny for any group of bidders!

All of that is before mentioning the black eye this would leave on the NFL. We all know how the NFL feels about that as well.

In other words, it is a very, very complicated situation that seems highly unlikely at this point. I think the team moving to Niagara Falls, NY is the most realistic option if Western New York doesn’t have a location.

Thanks for sending us a message, Amanda!

WILL: Football isn’t really my thing so Chris is the guy to answer this question. From what I understand, however, any move to Toronto would be expensive and won’t happen for several years anyway. Any prospective owner would have to build a new stadium so Toronto isn’t a quick fix destination for the Bills or the NFL. If the team is struggling right now, other potential destinations like Los Angeles might make more sense since they already have facilities available for use.

Q. You guys offer a lot of different excuses for why no one wants to see the Toronto Argonauts. Here’s the real reason: they suck. Why would anyway want to see a bad team play bad football?

Tim, Hamilton

PAUL: Tim, I see that you’re from Hamilton, so it’s fair to say you’re not exactly the most objective of people when it comes to commenting on the Argos. Regardless, I’m not angry. Heck, you’ve got enough problems to deal with, not least being a Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan.

The reality is you guys have a chip on your shoulder and an inferiority complex when it comes to the Argos, and Toronto in general. (I’m not even from here, but I can still see that!)

You try to claim you’ve won 15 Grey Cups in your history, when the truth is it’s only eight. The other seven were won by previous franchises. And even if you did get to include all 15, you’d still be behind the Argos 16, which, by the way, were all won by the same franchise.

Okay, I’m sorry. This is going a little off the rails now. What were we talking about again?… Ah, yes, that’s right! Why does no one want to watch the Argos play? To be fair, Tim from Hamilton, it is an issue in Toronto and I’ll admit, as an unapologetic fan, it concerns me.

Part of the problem is that the Argonauts are competing against six other professional sports teams in Toronto. There’s just too many options these days for people. It also doesn’t help that the Argos are perceived as not being a particularly “trendy” option amongst the younger generations.

So what’s the solution? Look, the Argonauts are never going to be as popular as they used to be, even as recently as the 1990s. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t have a future in Toronto (especially after securing their new partnership with MLSE), with part of the solution involving finding a new stadium to play in ASAP. As much as I enjoy going to cover games at the Rogers Centre, the optics don’t look good when you’ve a got a half-full stadium.

Whether it’s BMO Field or somewhere else, finding a place that is a bit more intimate will help, with old and new fans alike going to games to check out the facilities. After that, it’s up to the team to take advantage of this novelty factor and build on it.

WILL: As I said earlier, football isn’t really my thing, but Paul pretty much nailed it. Toronto is a city full of distractions (as opposed to smog) so the Argos have a real tough time creating attention for themselves. Ryan, one of our writers, wrote an excellent piece on this very problem, which you might want to read.

Q. I was hoping the Toronto Blue Jays were going to make a big trade on deadline day, but they did absolutely nothing. Do you think this will hurt them in September? October?

Al, Brampton

CHRIS: Hello Al,

Although many fans were disappointed that the Blue Jays did nothing on deadline day, I think the front office is comfortable with what they have. The returns of Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind could provide a nice boost come September/October.

The other side of the coin is that we don’t know the situation with ownership. Many reports said that they did not want to fork out any extra cash needed to make a trade, essentially handcuffing Alex Anthopoulos to what he could do. Whether that is true or not is a whole different story. But based off of their activity on deadline day, I’d say it was true.

I know it’s rough for Jays fans to see the entire AL East make moves, while the Blue Birds just sit still. But with who they have coming back internally, trading away promising prospects like Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, Mitch Nay and Roberto Osuna for rental players might not have been a good decision by Toronto for the long haul.

Thanks for your question, Al! Let’s hope the Blue Jays can make a push for October baseball!

WILL: I understand the frustration coming from many fans concerning the team’s inactivity on trade deadline day – we even saw Jose Bautista express disappointment – but I think this ignores three important facts. First, the Jays did make some minor moves in advance of the trade deadline. They claimed Nolan Reimold off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and they traded for Danny Valencia from the Kansas City Royals. In other words, they weren’t completely inactive. Second, Lawrie, Lind, Encarnacion and Brandon Morrow will all be returning to the lineup soon – those are big names to keep in mind. Why trade if help is already on the way? Finally, we know what this Jays team can do when playing to their full potential. If they could somehow regain their form from May and early June, that should be enough to see them make a long and healthy playoff run.

Q. What’s going on with the Toronto FC! One minute they look playoff bound, now they’re on the skids! Come on, guys!

Rick, Malton

PAUL: Rick, Rick, Rick. Calm down my friend.

It’s going to be okay. That panic you feel is the natural default setting for TFC fans, who are used to seeing their team fail. (Seven seasons without a playoff appearance will do that to a set of supporters.)

However, you’re in luck, because I’m here to talk you off the ledge! (Which, by the way, doesn’t count if you only live on the first floor. In which case, you’re just being an attention seeker.)

First, keep in mind that Toronto FC are currently in a playoff spot. Second, they still have games in hand on the majority of the teams around them.

And if that doesn’t help, consider that they have already matched their points tally for the whole of last season. Look, I don’t know about you, but it’s just great to still see TFC in contention at this point of the year. As long as the likes of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley do their job, the team will finally break their playoff duck.

Now, Rick, go back inside, take some Valium and watch a re-run of yesterday’s 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact.

Q. Who’s really in charge in Toronto – Nonis or Dubas? To me, it looks like the Leafs have two very different personalities at the top.

Kelly, Toronto

CHRIS: Hello Kelly,

While the Maple Leafs front office situation looks hazy on the surface, I think most of the decisions will be made by committee this season.

This is Kyle Dubas’ first NHL job, so I think Brendan Shanahan will try to ease him into things as much as possible. If there is a comparison I could draw to lay a blueprint of what to potentially expect, I would look back on how franchises like the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks all incorporate guys like Dubas to provide an alternative perspective towards team decisions.

What I mean by this is that for example, Stan Bowman was groomed within the Blackhawks organization before becoming the GM. He then surrounded himself with hockey minds like Scotty Bowman, Norm Maciver and Pierre Gauthier. These minds all provide alternative perspectives that help create optimal hockey decisions.

Same thing in Los Angeles where Dean Lombardi has Rob Blake, Mike Futa and Nelson Emerson to help out. In Detroit, Ken Holland has guys like Mark Howe, Ryan Martin, Chris Chelios and many more. Many of these management figures have a track record of success and create continuity within the organization. To be blunt, a winning culture is immersed throughout the organization – something Toronto has not had in years.

To sum it all up, who they bring in – or keep for that matter – to help Dubas will be more worth watching than Dubas himself in my opinion. The upper management team of Shanahan, Cliff Fletcher, Dave Nonis, Dubas and Jim Hughes will have to be one cohesive unit if this team is going to thrive. As cliché as it sounds, all of these “gold-standard” organizations in the NHL are only as successful as the group of people running them. The Maple Leafs will be no different in my opinion.

Hope this helps shed some light on the Leafs’ upper management situation. Thanks for the question, Kelly!

WILL: I call trick question. The real answer, of course, is the media. Their microscopic focus on the team seems to drive everything in this town. Regarding the idea of a large and balanced management team, Brian Burke tried this. He put Nonis below him and kept Fletcher on board. In fact, despite his apparent eagerness for the camera, Burke was known to love a large management team for the diversity of opinions it provided. Unfortunately, in a market like Toronto, I don’t think this is the right approach. There’s constant pressure to compete fed in large part by the media so any missteps along the way immediately get magnified and overblown. We saw this happen to Burke and now we’re potentially seeing it happen to Nonis with the arrival of Dubas. I think Toronto really needs one strong figure at the centre – a Conn Smythe, Harold Ballard or Pat Quinn – for better or worse. Any type of diversified management structure is simply another distraction for the media to exploit. In might work in small markets, but the centre of the hockey universe calls for something different.

That’s it for this week. We’ll have more answers for you next week! There’s always something to discuss in the world of Toronto sports.