The Sunday Notes. The usual collection of thoughts, dots and shots.

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Doug Armstrong won a Stanley Cup as the assistant general manager in Dallas, and 20 years later won a Cup as the GM of the St. Louis Blues.

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It doesn’t often happen that way for NHL executives.

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Ken Holland won his Stanley Cups in Detroit and still is trying to find the right mix with the top-talented Edmonton Oilers. Steve Yzerman built the two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning, but left before he could celebrate those titles and has since struggled to find anything resembling success with the Detroit Red Wings.

Don Waddell struggled in Atlanta to make sense of the historically weak Thrashers but has become a staple of common sense with the Carolina Hurricanes.

There are seven current GMs in the NHL who are now with their second teams. Brad Treliving of the Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas of Pittsburgh are the most recent members of the two-team club. Ron Francis had a terrific second season in Seattle after a dubious first one with the Kraken. Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello is the only manager in the NHL to have worked the GM job for three different teams.

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There seems to be no correlation between a GM having success in one city and then translating that success to another.

Second-team GMs Treliving and Dubas will be among the most watched and discussed in the coming years with both men looking to establish themselves in new places. Both of them looking to get to the difficult place that Doug Armstrong and Ken Holland have already been.


It is almost impossible to assess what Alek Manaoh managed on Friday night in Detroit. Yes, he kind of looked like Manoah. But give the Blue Jays credit in the bigger picture: The return was carefully crafted. The idea was clearly to bring Manoah back against one of baseball’s weakest-hitting teams. That’s the confidence lift here. The Jays play Arizona, San Diego, and Seattle after the all-star break. By then, we’ll get a better sense of where Manoah is at … This is how quirky a season it has been for the Blue Jays: Kevin Gausman is among the elite pitchers in baseball, and yet the Jays are only 10-9 in games in which he has started. Yusei Kikuchi is not among the elite pitchers in baseball, but the Blue Jays are 12-6 in Kikuchi’s 18 starts. The Tampa Bay Rays, by the way, are 14-3 in Shane McClanahan’s starts this season … Gausman, like just about everybody in baseball, is on a pitch count. The number is right around 100. And in my head, I can hear Roy Halladay still, claiming that strikeouts waste too many pitches. Would Gausman, using Halladay’s thought, last an inning more each start if he struck out fewer batters? … It’s great for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and baseball fans that he’s back in the Home Run Derby. It’s a kid-like event for the kid-like Guerrero. The Derby got him to the all-star game. His play in the first half, while better of late, should not have earned him a spot on the American League team. He has been more face and name than performer through the first half. Another Canadian, Josh Naylor, probably should have been given Guerrero’s place on the AL team … My pick to the win the HR Derby: Randy Arozarena. He seems to love big-stage moments and the Derby is one of them … Dave Stieb is the only Blue Jay to ever throw a no-hitter. But former Jays David Wells, David Cone, Halladay, Jack Morris, and Phil Niekro all threw no-hitters either before coming to Toronto or after leaving. By the way, Roger Clemens, strange as it sounds, never threw a no-hitter.

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The concern with the signing of Tyler Bertuzzi: He has missed an average of 32 games in each of the past three seasons. He has played more than 70 games in only two of his six NHL seasons … The flip side: Bertuzzi scored five playoff goals and had five assists for the Boston Bruins in seven games. In their career, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner have never bettered that … If I’m Sam Lafferty and good friends with Max Domi, I’d offer him No. 28 for the coming season. I know Domi doesn’t want the number and Tie Domi doesn’t want Max wearing 28 – “It’s his story, not mine” – but if I was Max and knowing how close he is to his father and how close his family happens to be, the legacy play would be worth it for me. I would do it out of respect for my father’s career … Everywhere I go, somebody’s talking about the next contract Matthews or Nylander will sign. And oddly, under similar circumstances, nobody asks much about Pascal Siakam’s contract with the Raptors. His deal is up next year too, but it doesn’t seem to obsess people the way the Matthews or Nylander talk does … Bertuzzi, Domi, and John Klingberg all signed one-year free agent deals with the Leafs. Which begs the question: Why is a coach or a general manager in the last year of his contract considered a lame duck when if a player makes a similar determination, he’s thought to be betting on himself? Shouldn’t everybody in sports be betting on themselves every year? … The Leafs have next to no salary cap space to use and still find themselves thin on defence, maybe thin at centre. Listed among their Top 6 defencemen is Mark Giordano, who turns 40 before next season begins, and he really struggled in the post-season.

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What happened to all those trades Masai Ujiri insisted were available after he passed on them at the deadline? Anybody know? … This is the NBA. You don’t just ask to be traded, the way Damian Lillard has asked out in Portland. You ask to be traded to Miami and that is all … Players of similar quality, Erik Karlsson and John Gibson, want out from their NHL teams. They just haven’t directed management to deal them to only one team … Victor Wembanyama says he will not play for France in this summer’s World Cup of Basketball, which is good for Team Canada. Canada is in Pool H along with France, Latvia, and Lebanon … With Fred VanVleet gone, it appears Scottie Barnes will become the Raptors’ new point guard. He’s certainly not old style for the position, but he has a little Magic Johnson in him should he grow into himself … Bo Bichette deserved to be the starting shortstop for the American League all-star team. He’s playing himself into a conversation to be listed among the best Blue Jays ever — although it’s so very early in his career and he’s still so young. Roberto Alomar is alone on my list as the best Jays player ever. After him, you go to pitchers Stieb and Halladay and slugger Carlos Delgado and shortstop Tony Fernandez … Only five players drafted in the 2022 NHL draft played as rookies this season, and combined they managed to score just five goals … Cuban outfielder Adolis Garcia, who was basically given up on by the St. Louis Cardinal a few years back, is having a monster season at age 30 with the Texas Rangers … Happy to see Bob McCown has gone home and will be even happier when we can hear his voice again … There’s a reason why people aren’t listening much to sports radio anymore. It’s not very good. I actually heard a young announcer on the Blue Jays station talking about Toronto being a difficult place to land free agents and then failing to mention that Gausman, Kikuchi, George Springer, Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios (traded for, then bought out of free agency), Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier were all signed as free agents or pending free agents, which is only about $127 milllion worth of the Blue Jays’ current payroll.

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Alex Anthopoulos left the Blue Jays following the 2015 season. mostly because he didn’t want to work alongside Mark Shapiro. It was a gutsy move at the time, especially walking away from a huge late offer from Edward Rogers to stay with the club and then following that saying no to a surprisingly large offer from TSN to remain in Canada.

Just over two years later, Anthopoulos was hired by the Atlanta Braves, who had missed the playoffs four years in a row and hadn’t won a post-season round of any kind in 16 seasons. This is Anthopoulos’ sixth year in Atlanta now. The Braves have the best record in the National League this season. Since leaving Toronto, Anthopoulos has won a World Series (2021) and lost a World Series, while working with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.

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The Braves have not missed the playoffs since Anthopoulos arrived in the South. They have won 23 playoff games in all in that time. The Blue Jays last won playoff games in 2016, with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion, all of them essentially Anthopoulos players, leading the way.

The Shapiro-Ross Atkins teams — constructed by them, even as Anthopoulos left a gift named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. behind and his remaining staff pushed for the drafting of Bo Bichette against the wishes of the front office — has seen the Jays reach the wild card position twice in six seasons. Their post-season record to date is 0-4. That’s games played. Not series played.

Ed Rogers was right in going hard after Anthopoulos. The sentiment was correct. Rogers was wrong to try to pair him with Shapiro. Anthopoulos didn’t need a partner or a politician alongside him, then or now.

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When Vernon Adams threw six interceptions against the Argos on Monday, I couldn’t stop thinking of my friend, the late Jim Hunt, who wrote all kinds of CFL football back in the day. Chuck Ealey, a religious man who played quarterback for the Argos, once had a terrible afternoon, tossing five or six interceptions himself. When asked about it post-game, Ealey explained it by saying it was “God’s will.” Without missing a beat, Hunt from the back of the pack around Ealey’s locker, said: “Can’t God read defences either?” … Bill Manning is the president of both Toronto FC and the Argos, which is a strange combination in itself. The defending Grey Cup champion Argos are just about the best team in the CFL. TFC is just about the worst team in MLS. So is Manning doing terrific work or terrible work here? The team that loses sells tickets. The team that wins does not … What’s in a name? Since changing its name to Elks, the one-time great Edmonton football team has a 7-30 won-loss record and 0-5 already this season … Why do I always feel like I’ve been through some kind of emotional ringer every time I watch Bianca Andreescu or Denis Shapovalov play tennis? These are almost like personal therapy sessions for those playing and those viewing from home … It’s great that the Canadian Open tennis tournaments will pay women and men the same purse money from 2027 on. What isn’t so great: Why is it taking four years for this to be accomplished? … Interesting choice the Leafs have made in hiring John Gruden to coach the Marlies. Not the famous Gruden, this one had Bruce Cassidy, Brian Sutter, and Steve Ludzik among his professional coaches and worked as an NHL assistant the past five seasons for Jim Montgomery and Barry Trotz … Happy birthday to Terry Puhl (67), Willie Wilson (68), Jack Lambert (71), Kevin Nash (64), Jake Sanderson (21), Sonny Weems (37), Zach MacEwan (27), Alan Ashby (72) and Jim Harrison (76) … And hey, whatever became of Chad Owens?

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