BERGEVIN GETS THE LAST LAUGH ON HURRICANES
Tom Dundon turned 50 Sunday.
We can imagine that the birthday cake tasted a little sour. Dundon's milestone birthday came hours after he had been publicly humiliated by Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, who pulled off a coup by doing nothing at all.
Dundon owns the Carolina Hurricanes lock, stock and barrel. He's a type: the brash American billionaire who, having gamed a system that was designed by and for guys just like him, decides that he's a genius.
When the Carolina Hurricanes signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet for a preposterous US$6.1 million a week ago, the move had Dundon's fingerprints all over it. Sure, Don Waddell is the Canes' GM, but Dundon is a control freak and a former frat boy, exactly the type to think it would be great fun to get a little revenge on a French-canadian GM.
Now it's Dundon with egg on his face, while Bergevin contented himself by waiting until the last possible moment to release a statement that was as terse as a Hemingway short story: “Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision.”
Not only was Bergevin terse, the Canadiens pointedly refrained from any silly $20 bonus stunts or Twitter trolling, leaving that to Dundon and the Hurricanes.
Dundon and Waddell undoubtedly thought Bergevin had no choice but to match the offer to Kotkaniemi, creating cap problems for the Canadiens
— a splendid bit of revenge for signing Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet two years ago.
Bergevin not only had a choice, he had a better option. He took the first-round pick he received from Carolina as part of the compensation for Kotkaniemi and effectively flipped it for Christian Dvorak, a consistent young centre for the Arizona Coyotes who is both cheaper and better than Kotkaniemi at this stage of his career.
So the Canadiens improved, at least in the short term, and the Hurricanes have a US$6.1 million youngster on their roster with no clear role. At centre they already have Aho on their top line, with Vincent Trocheck as their second line centre and Jordan Staal on the third line. That would appear to relegate Kotkaniemi, a five-goal scorer last year, to the wing.
Because we're fond of the young man, we would like to see Kotkaniemi succeed. But Dundon has proven what we already knew — that making freight loads of money in subprime car financing in a hustler's paradise like Texas doesn't make you a genius. It just makes you rich.
DEATH OF A BOXER
Her name was Jeanette Zacarias Zapata. She was 18 years old. She came all the way from Mexico to box in Montreal. And she died last Thursday from injuries sustained in a match against Terrebonne's Marie-pier Houle at IGA Stadium.
With seconds left in the fourth round, Zapata was hit with a barrage of punches from Houle and went into convulsions while still on her feet before the ringside physician got to her side.
I wasn't at the fight. Fans who were there have told me that Zapata, a native of Mexico, was badly outmatched, that she didn't know how to properly defend herself. There appears to be no video of the fight, but still photos show her taking a left jab, then a left uppercut, then a clubbing right hook. No doubt it all happened too fast for the referee to intervene. Initially, it appeared her condition was stable, but at some point, it grew worse and she died in hospital, with her husband at her side.
In the wake of her death, promoter Yvon Michel (who was in a similar position three years ago when former world champion Adonis Stevenson was left in a coma after a bout in Quebec City) referred to her death as an accident — which is, frankly, an exaggeration, given the manner in which bouts are arranged.
There will be a coroner's inquest. The coroner has to look hard at the circumstances and the practice of bringing in opponents from all over the continent to serve as foils for local fighters.
Some of these professional opponents acquit themselves well. More are hopelessly outmatched — overweight, out of shape, lacking skills. Such bouts are arranged by the promoter, who should have some idea of their condition and skill level and of any recent knockouts. (Zapata had been knocked out in May but was cleared to fight here after a neurological exam.)
The coroner also has to ask some hard questions about why the matchmakers reached out for someone whose skills weren't up to the fight and why boxing continues to resist calls for headgear in the ring — headgear that might have saved Zapata's life.
Heroes: Jamie Lee Rattray, Brianne Jenner, Natalie Spooner, Anne-marie Desbiens, Vernon Adams Jr., Eugene Lewis, Jake Wieneke, Carlos Alcaraz, Félix Auger-aliassime, Leylah Annie Fernandez — and last, but not least, Marie-philip Poulin. Zeros: Tom Dundon, Don Waddell, Yvon Michel, Markus Lehto, Geoff Molson, Francisco Lindor, the New York Mets, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Claude Brochu, David Samson — and last, but not least, Jeffrey Loria. Now and forever.