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The Blue Toro Interview: Leafs Hall-of-Famer Darryl Sittler

Darryl Sittler

Darryl Sittler is a former Leafs captain who enjoyed a Hall-of-Fame career, while playing 16 seasons in the NHL.  He is best known for scoring 10 points in a single game, a record that stands to this day.

Playing for the Leafs was a dream-come-true for Mr Sittler, who grew up in Southern Ontario.  He spent 12 years with the Leafs and during that time, scored 414 goals and added 567 assists (including playoffs.)    

Since retiring, the former eighth overall draft pick has remained active in the community.  We caught up with Mr Sittler to ask him what he’s up to these days, his career highlight and what he expects from the Leafs this season.

BT: Mr Sittler, thank you for taking the time to speak to us.  We know you’re still involved with the Leafs, but maybe you could start off by explaining what exactly you do for the organisation.

Darryl Sittler: Well, Wendel Clark and I are both former captains of the Leafs and our organisation has good corporate partners, so we do some PR work, including visiting suites.  MLSE has a charity team-up foundation, which raises a lot of money, so me and Wendel sit on that board.

We also go out and get involved in the community and give out cheques to people who need them, to help kids play sport.  And finally, we come to a lot of the Leafs games and help cheer the team on.

BT: It sounds like it must keep you quite busy. How long have you been involved and what else do you do with your time?

Sittler: I came on board with the Leafs organisation in 1991, so I’ve been involved since then, but it’s not a full-time thing.  I have a place in Florida and a cottage on the lake up North, so I try to relax there as much as I can.

I’m involved in the mining industry and sit on some boards for the Toronto stock exchange and I also do public speaking and represent some other companies.  So as much as it sounds like working for the Leafs takes up a lot of my time, it doesn’t, but it’s enough to keep me busy and I enjoy it.  It’s nice to represent our alumni.

Darryl Sittler 2

BT: You retired in 1985, so obviously a fair bit of time has passed.  However, is there anything in particular that you still miss about playing?

Sittler: Initially when you retire, you miss the camaraderie.  You’ve played it all your life, so you miss being with your teammates and experiencing the highs and lows.  You definitely miss all of that pretty quickly.

After a while though, you realise that’s one part of your life that you enjoyed and were successful at, but you go on to accept where you are.  Now, I’m getting towards the retirement stage.  I’m going to be 63 in a couple of weeks, so I make sure I enjoy the quality of life that I have and the opportunities that are still there to make a half-decent living and be a part of the community.

BT: I’m going to guess it would be easy to point out the 10-point game as the highlight of your career, but for you, is that the best moment of your time in the NHL or is there another memory that stands out?

Sittler: Well, in 1976, which was the year I had the 10-point game, I was also fortunate enough to play for Team Canada in the Canada Cup.  I scored the overtime goal to win the championship, so I think that was the highlight of my career, as well as representing my country.  You’re with the best twenty players in Canada, going up against the top players in the world.

BT: Just finally, what are you expecting from the Leafs this season?

Sittler: There’s so much parity in the league.  Obviously we were successful in a shorter schedule last season.  I think the way we played against the Bruins in the playoffs has created a lot of expectations not only for the coaches and the management, but the fans as well.

We just have to hope we can continue on from there.  We have a young team and we’ve acquired a couple of guys in the summer, David Clarkson and Dave Bolland, who should help.

We’ve also acquired a new goalie in Jonathan Bernier, who should give us some more depth in goal.  So yes, the expectations are high, but the league has a lot of parity.  We’ll need to get off to a good start and rely on our goaltenders to keep us in the game every night.

BT: Let’s hope they can do that.  Thanks again for speaking to us.  I appreciate your time.

Sittler: No problem.  Enjoy the season!

Photo credit: http://torontomapleleafsatoz.blogspot.ca

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

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Leafs Ben Scrivens gets caught out by his wife

Thanks to social media, poor Ben Scrivens can’t go anywhere these days.  There he is, just innocently enjoying himself at a catwalk modelling event, before being busted by his wife, Jennifer Scrivens:

Let’s just hope the Leafs backup goaltender doesn’t get caught out as easily by opposition players next season.

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook

 


Blue Jays: Four reasons Yubel Escobar does and doesn’t deserve to be booed

Yunel Escobar after home run

There’s no denying Toronto sports fans have a reputation for booing athletes who previously played in their city.  Some deserve it (Chris Bosh), some don’t (Lyle Overbay) and others, we need to just let it go after nine years. (Vince Carter.)

In any event, we shouldn’t be too surprised that Blue Jays fans have been booing Yunel Escobar, who is currently in town with the Rays for a three-game series.

The question is, does he actually deserve to be booed?  In all honesty, yes and no. Here’s why:

1) HIS TALENT

There’s no denying Escobar has superior talent.  However, for every highlight reel clip created, he has just as many ‘brain-fart’ moments. (That’s the technical term in case you’re wondering.)

For example, the clip above displayed Escobar’s power at its best, as he blasted a grand-slam home run for the Blue Jays.  However, one of the more common complaints usually associated with his time in Toronto, was how he didn’t take full advantage of his explosive hitting power.

2) HIS CELEBRATION ON VICTORIA DAY

After hitting a two-run homer on Monday against the Blue Jays, Escobar pounded his chest with his right fist and flashed his arms wide in a safe sign as he crossed home plate.

On the one side, maybe you shouldn’t be acting like this after all the problems you caused in Toronto last season.  In fact, maybe Escobar shouldn’t be doing this at all, given his reputation in general.  (Remember how relieved the Braves were to get rid of him when he was traded to the Blue Jays?)

However, sport is all about emotion.  Be honest, if you were getting booed by 30,000 people every time you came to bat, wouldn’t you want to respond in kind? (I’m afraid I live by the motto that two wrongs do make a right.)

3) SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS

Yunel Escobar signing autographs

Despite everything that’s happened, isn’t it nice that Escobar still takes the time to sign autographs for the fans?  Seems like a generous and stand-up thing to do, despite getting booed by the fans.

On the other hand, it’s pretty much part of the unwritten job description for a professional athlete.  In fact, who does Escobar think he is, arrogantly going around offering his autograph to everyone? (Yes, that’s right. We’re only at number three and I’m already struggling to come up with decent reasons.)

4) THE HOMOPHOBIC SLUR

Yunel Escobar

This was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to Escobar leaving town and becoming the main reason/excuse for fans in Toronto to boo him.  But was the intent of the message as sinister as a lot of people believe?

Call me an idiot, naïve, or whatever the hell you want, but I reckon this was a cultural mistake.  I genuinely think Escobar has grown up in the type of environment where this type of language is used (and accepted) regularly.

I refuse to believe he fully appreciated how much of a backlash this would cause.  Also, as has been pointed out before, it is almost like the guy was being thrown under the bus to distract the fans from a season that turned into a disaster after the All-Star break. Are you really telling me no one from the Blue Jays saw the message before the players stepped out onto the field?

However, this still remains as the toughest one to defend on Escobar’s behalf.  There are no circumstances when gay slurs should be used in professional sports.  With the possible exception of any scenario where the two athletes involved in a slanging match are both gay. In that case, it’s just ironic.

So there you have it, four reasons why Blue Jays fans should and shouldn’t boo Escobar.  I won’t hold my breath as to which scenario is likely to be more prominent during todays game at the Rogers Centre…….

Photo credit: @www.mysanantonio.com

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Blue Jays: The Story behind Steve Delabar’s tattoo

Steve Delabar right elbow tattoo

Although the Blue Jays lost 4-3 to the Rays last night (including Kelly Johnson, who predictably followed the lead of other former Jays players, by hitting a solo home run), one of the bright spots was Steve Delabar.  The pitcher came in for one inning and didn’t give up any runs or hits.

However, the fact Delabar is even pitching at all, is pretty astounding in itself.  Look no further than the tattoo on his right elbow in the picture above, which covers a surgery scar.

In 2009, while playing for the Brockton Rox of the Canadian-American Association, Delabar suffered a fractured right elbow.  The injury was so bad, he had to have a steel plate and nine screws embedded into his elbow to stabilize it during surgery.

Steve Delabar x ray scan

When you look at that x-ray, the fact the former Seattle Mariner has a fastball that averages in the mid-nineties, is phenomenal.  It’s just a pity other pitchers on the Jays staff haven’t responded as well to surgery.

(Not that I’m naming names or anything………….Dustin McGowan!)

Photo credits: atomicbolt & www.brobible.com

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


The Blue Toro Interview: Argonauts Chad Kackert

chad kackert

Argonauts running back Chad Kackert was born in California and went to college in New Hampshire.  After going undrafted in 2010, Kackert participated in training camp for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was ultimately released.

Kackert eventually signed for the Argonauts in 2011, but found himself sixth in the depth chart.  However, as a result of hard work and perseverance, things finally came together last season, with Kackert becoming starting running back after the controversial release of Cory Boyd.

The move proved to be a success, with Kackert helping his team reach the 100th Grey Cup, where he was named MVP in the Argonauts 35-22 victory over the Calgary Stampeders.  In the first of Blue Toro’s new series of interviews, we sat down with Kackert to ask him about his off-season, last year’s Grey Cup and how close he really was to joining the NFL.

BT: Chad, thank you for taking the time to speak to us. How has your off-season been going?

Chad Kackert: The off-season’s been good thanks.  I’ve just been training and making a move up here. I’ve now got my own place in Mississauga, near where we train and I’m just getting settled in.

BT: Jim Barker said you having several offers from the NFL, before ultimately deciding to resign with the Argonauts.  How tough a decision was it?

Kackert: It was a really tough decision actually.  It involved a lot of back and forth, but when it came down to it and the offers were on the table, it was really about going where people believe in and trust you. Ultimately, there was no question on where that was.

BT: I have to ask, what was the experience like of winning the Grey Cup last season?

Kackert: It was kind of surreal actually.  It seemed to happen really fast.  We made the playoffs, and after beating Saskatchewan to guarantee a home playoff game, we thought we had a real opportunity to do something special.

It was really exciting.  We were 9-9 and who knew what was going to happen. And then everyone seemed to come together for that second period of the Edmonton game, when we set the playoff record for points in a quarter.  It was pretty much right there that we set sail, which I guess is a fitting term for an Argonaut! (Laughs)

After that, we knew we had a tough match up in Montreal, but we went there and took care of that.  Then, when Ricky (Ray) took the knee, I thought: ‘Wow, we’re going to the Grey Cup in Toronto!’

That week leading up to the game seemed a little longer, just getting ready for it all.  I actually had time to enjoy the build up.  Then, when it came down to it, for the first time I think since high school, when I ran out onto the field I just decided: ‘I’m going to have fun tonight.’

This wasn’t about winning a job or about making the playoffs or winning the East.  We were getting to go and play football for the last time this year, so I had to take advantage of it.  I think that’s how everybody felt, so we went out there and kept sailing and the rest was history.

Chad Kackert and Mark Cohon

BT: In terms of how you got to this point, I recently shared a photo from a few years ago where you were sixth on the depth chart.  I know you always have to have belief in yourself and a lot of mental fortitude, but was there ever a point where you were close to giving up? 

Kackert: Well, it was definitely tough.  The long story is that I got picked up by Jacksonville and I was last on the depth chart there.  I had a lot of good feedback, but I was still cut.  Then I went to Calgary and got cut again.

At this point, I then found myself coming to Toronto, where I thought I was wanted, and I was sixth on the depth chart! I was thinking: ‘My God, this isn’t like college’. (Laughs) I mean, I knew I had work to do, but then I was dealing with a hamstring issue and I didn’t think I could run.

I thought maybe I’d done enough in the first preseason game, but then I went on the field in Winnipeg and ran around and could feel the hamstring given me some problems.  However, they said I had to still give it a go and play, no matter how good or bad I felt.

So I went and played, but luckily it held up and I had a touchdown run at the end of the game.  After that, things just opened up and since then it feels like it’s just been destiny.

BT: I’m sure you don’t want to look too far ahead at the moment, but have you given any thought about your future after you finish playing? Do you think you’ll stay in football or do you have any other plans and ideas?

Kackert: I’ll be honest, it’s kind of all up in the air. I do know I want to keep my family and the ones I love, close. Again, I want to be where I’m wanted and I’m sure it’ll all sort itself out.

BT: Just finally, can you give fans a little bit of an insight into what you like to do in your spare time, whether it be hobbies, relaxing, or whatever.

Kackert: It actually changes a lot, depending on where I am.  At the moment, because I’m living on my own, I have a little bit more free time. More recently, I’ve been learning how to cook.  I’ve also been teaching myself Polish, partly because my girlfriend’s parents are from Poland.

Outside of training, I’ve actually been watching Lost.  I’ve got three episodes to go in the final season.  I don’t know how it ends, but I’m looking forward to it, so that’s one great way to waste time!

Other than that, I’m just cooking, but also keeping my place clean and trying to keep my mind fresh.  Right now, I’m also transitioning back into studying the plays and getting ready for training camp.

BT: Sounds like you’re definitely keeping yourself busy.  I can’t guarantee you’ll like the way Lost ends, but overall, it is a great series.  Good luck with the new season and thanks a lot for your time.

Kackert: My pleasure.

Photo credits: www.argonauts.ca

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Leafs: Joffrey Lupul attends Yacht party in Cannes

Joffrey Lupul at Allen Yacht Party

You pretty much know you’ve made it in life, if you find yourself at a yacht party in Cannes on the French Riviera.  To say it’s tough to get an invite, is an understatement.

It normally requires you to be rich, famous, talented and good looking like, say, P Diddy. (Well, I guess three out of four isn’t bad.)  As such, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised that this ‘exclusive’ list now includes  Joffrey Lupul .

The Leafs winger was lucky enough to be invited to Paul Allen’s yacht party in Cannes.  I just hope he remembered to follow the required etiquette for such events.

I could be bitter about Lupul getting to go to such an exclusive party.  However, the guy deserves the chance to unwind after all his recent injury woes, combined with the way this season ended for the Leafs.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is reportedly the 53rd-richest person in the world and I guess when you have that kind of money, you don’t worry about much. How else can you explain Lupul being allowed to take charge of his yacht, despite not having the appropriate licence:

Joffrey Lupul in charge of the yacht without a licence

When you’re in the company of the rich and famous, it must be tough to stand out from the crowd.  However, Lupul was up to the challenge, proving that his talents extend beyond an ability to stay upright and hit a puck:

Joffrey Lupul playing piano at the Allen Yacht Party

There’s no denying that the ability to play the piano is a pretty cool talent to have.  However, I’ll be much more impressed if Mr Lupul continues to make sweet music on the ice next season.

Photo credits: @JLupul

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Top Toronto sports fan of the week: Leafs fan Zara

I appreciate reaction is often mixed towards our showing attractive women who apparently support one or more of Toronto’s sports teams.  Some people like it.  Others?  Not so much.

As such, Blue Toro have rebranded this feature as the ‘Top Toronto sports fan of the week’.  This way, it will be clearer what to be expect, and readers can then decide for themselves if they want to ’read’ the article or not.

This week, we introduce Zara, who lives in Toronto and appears to be a Leafs fan.  However, s0mething tells me you won’t care too much about this:

Zara 4
Zara 6
Zara 5
Zara 2
Zara 7
Zara 1

Yep, Zara’s definitely a Leafs fan.  For some reason, that last photo clinched it for me……

For anyone who’s interested, you can follow Zara on Twitter @Zara9lives and on Tumblr at http://zaramansion.tumblr.com/

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Leafs: Why did Phil Kessel play so well against the Bruins?

People have been wondering how Phil Kessel was able to play so well against the Bruins during the playoffs (including four goal and two assists), especially after previously struggling against his former team.  Well, it turns out the Leafs winger is actually the latest version of the terminator:

Like Arnie, I just hope Kessel strives to uphold the motto “I’ll be back”, for next season.

Credit: @BuzzFeedCanada

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Blue Jays: Mark DeRosa’s wife Heidi DeRosa

Just when it looked like the Blue Jays were finally turning their season around, they run into the Yankees.  I’m not sure which is worse: the Blue Jays failing to meet expectations or the Yankees getting the job done with the likes of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay.

Anyway, I think Jays fans need cheering up, so how about some photo’s of Mark DeRosa’s wife, former fashion model Heidi Miller?  Yes, I thought you might like that.  (Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.)

Heidi Miller 6
Heidi Miller 5
Heidi Miller 3
Heidi Miller 4
Heidi Miller 2
Heidi Miller 1

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the ‘research’ for this article.  In fact, I wish it was Mark DeRosa who had retired from his profession instead of his wife.

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook


Top Toronto Athlete sightings of the week

As part of Blue Toro’s on-going/never-ending quest to provide interesting content, welcome to our new weekly feature: Top Toronto Athlete sightings of the week.

As regular readers know, we often feature public shots of athletes who ply their trade in Toronto.  However, rather than producing random blogs discussing these various sightings, we thought it would make more sense to collate them into a weekly feature.

As such, we now present our inaugural column.  Please feel free to contact us with your feedback, constructive or otherwise:

1) JAMES REIMER

James Reimer with a Blue Jays fan

Removing whatever doubt was left that James Reimer never stops smiling, here he is taking the time to pose with a fan, despite dealing with the fallout from the Leafs game 7 meltdown.  Mind you, now that we know who the goaltender is going home to every night, I think we’d all have a permanent smile on our face under those circumstances.

2) JOFFREY LUPUL

Joffrey Lupul at the vampire weekend concert

Meanwhile, Joffrey Lupul appears to be doing his best to avoid the spotlight, which might explain why he went under the cover of darkness to attend the Vampire Weekend Concert last night.  However, he still couldn’t avoid the fans. If his left fist and expression on his face are any indication, the winger appears close to lashing out at somebody.

3) JOE EPPELE

Joe Eppele at Real Sports for game 7

Argonauts offensive lineman Joe Eppele was at RealSports Bar with some friends on Monday night to watch the Leafs game against the Bruins.  They all seem quite happy, so I’m assuming the photo was taken sometime before the last two minutes of regulation.  Either that, or they just don’t care.

4) BRETT LAWRIE

Brett Lawrie being Brett Lawrie

While this isn’t what you’d usually term as a social sighting, we felt obliged to share this photo of Brett Lawrie.  I’m sure plenty of women out there can empathise with how much of a pain it is when you’re preparing to go out and you’ve misplaced your makeup mirror.

5) JOSE BAUTISTA

Jose Bautista and a couple of fans

This picture actually comes from last weekend, when Jose Bautista went out for a meal in Boston.  How do we know he’s in Boston? Look no further than the guy not bothering to stand up for the photo, basically embodying the arrogant sense of self-importance normally associated with Boston sports fans.

6) RUDY GAY

Rudy Gay at H&M in Baltimore

Quick quiz: Why do you think the Raptors Rudy Gay looks less than happy? Is it because; a) He’s in Baltimore, b) He’s shopping at H&M or c) The Grizzlies have clearly shown they don’t need him.

7) R.A. DICKEY

R A Dickey receives an honorary doctorate

Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey received an honorary doctorate from Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto earlier this week, i.e. he didn’t actually put any time or effort in to earn it.  This led to questions about if his Cy Young award was also an honorary one, given the way he’s performed at times this season.

8 ) DION PHANEUF

James Liles meets Dion Phaneuf

And finally, I’m not saying fan James Liles is pissed off with Dion Phaneuf, but here’s a photo that was taken when he ‘meet’ the Leafs captain.

If you have any tips or information about any of Toronto’s sports teams, please email me at Englishpaul@hotmail.co.uk

You can also follow us on Twitter @bluetoro_ca and like us on Facebook