Hous­ton ends its cham­pi­onship drought, it’s about time Toronto does ... Crazy to think how good Matthews will be when he hits his prime ... Habs are bad be­cause they don’t draft well ... Jays let Bautista go

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS -

As the Hous­ton Astros won the World Se­ries, it wiped out a 22-year drought be­tween ma­jor league cham­pi­onships in that city: The last time Hous­ton won some­thing that mat­tered pro­fes­sion­ally, that NBA ti­tle came in 1995, the sea­son be­fore the Toronto Rap­tors were born. Why do the Rap­tors fig­ure here? Be­cause in the sea­sons that have fol­lowed the Rock­ets vic­tory, Toronto is one of the few sport­ing mar­kets in North Amer­ica to go cham­pi­onship free for towns that par­tic­i­pate with teams in the NHL, NBA and Ma­jor League Base­ball.

From the time the Rap­tors were born, Chicago leads all of pro sports with eight pa­rades from the three ma­jor sports, dis­count­ing Su­per Bowl wins in this equa­tion be­cause there is no NFL in Canada.

Los An­ge­les has won seven cham­pi­onships. New York, Mi­ami, Bos­ton, San An­to­nio and Detroit have all won five. If you in­clude Su­per Bowls, Bos­ton had had 10 pa­rades, New York has had seven.

Not only has Toronto not won a big league ti­tle since the Joe Carter home run in 1993, there has not been Toronto par­tic­i­pa­tion in any fi­nal since the World Se­ries. In all, 21 dif­fer­ent cities have cel­e­brated since the Rap­tors gave Toronto a root­ing in­ter­est in the NBA, 25 if you in­clude the NFL.

In fair­ness, the Ar­gos have won the Grey Cup four times since the birth of the Rap­tors and Toronto FC could well win the MLS Cup this soc­cer sea­son. But from the main­stream, noth­ing. No cham­pi­onships. No fi­nal­ists. No pa­rades.

It isn’t time for this. It’s over­time.

THIS AND THAT

Aus­ton Matthews

is 20 years old. I keep re­peat­ing that to my­self, over and over. This is just the be­gin­ning. His game has ex­panded enor­mously from Year 1 to Year 2 in the NHL. Most for­wards hit their primes some­where be­tween the ages of 22 and 26. Crazy to think of what he’s go­ing to be when he grows up ... In the 2007 NHL draft, the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens

Ryan wound up with McDon­agh, Max Pa­cioretty

P.K. Sub­ban and with their first three picks. In the 10 drafts that have fol­lowed, the Cana­di­ens did not come up with a sin­gle player the equal of the three from 2007. It’s no mys­tery why this team is so av­er­age: The ta­lent sim­ply isn’t good enough ... So who saw this com­ing? Ron Hain­sey

be­ing the best garage sale free agent sign­ing of the sum­mer ... What the Leafs need, other than the ob­vi­ous (de­fen­sive pres­ence, de­fen­sive sense, neu­tral zone in­tel­li­gence) is some­one with a heavy shot from the point. Their best slap­shot shooter may be Ro­man Po­lak,

who prob­a­bly shouldn’t be dress­ing most

Con­nor McDavid nights .... scored a hat trick on opening night for the Ed­mon­ton Oilers and had ev­ery­one giddy but has only scored two goals since then. And the Oilers have a prob­lem they may not be able to solve. They

Leon Drai­saitl need to play

with McDavid for ul­ti­mate pro­duc­tion. But they need Drai­saitl at cen­tre on the sec­ond line, for depth pur­poses. What they need, re­ally, is another Drai­saitl and that’s not com­ing and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily avail­able.

So who saw this com­ing? Ron Hain­sey be­ing the best garage sale free agent sign­ing of the sum­mer.

HEAR AND THERE

Nazem Kadri

was the sev­enth pick in the 2009 NHL draft. Eight years later, he’s the sev­enth lead­ing scorer in his draft class. Makes him a value pick ... The real bonus

MICHAEL PEAKE/TORONTO SUN

Could Aus­ton Matthews and the Maple Leafs fi­nally bring a cham­pi­onship to Toronto? Only time will tell.

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