Sim­mons

Steve weighs in on Leafs’ Rielly, the Jays and more:

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This is how long a shot it is for Mor­gan Rielly and the Nor­ris Tro­phy. In his ca­reer, this be­ing his sixth NHL sea­son, Rielly has not re­ceived a sin­gle vote for the award as best de­fence­man. Not one.

And in most sea­sons at least 20 dif­fer­ent de­fence­men get rec­og­nized with a top-5 vote of some kind.

The jump from no votes to award-win­ning to­tals is not un­prece­dented but is quite un­usual for Nor­ris win­ners. Nor­mally, in the cases of Drew Doughty, Dun­can Keith, and even the leg­endary Nick Lid­strom, they knocked on the Nor­ris door for sev­eral sea­sons be­fore win­ning the tro­phy as top de­fender. Vic­tor Hed­man fin­ished third be­fore he won last year, as did Brent Burns the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

Cal­gary’s Mark Gior­dano, who is 1-2 with Rielly right now in NHL con­sid­er­a­tion, has re­ceived Nor­ris votes in each of the past five sea­sons.

Only once in a com­plete 82-game sea­son of late has a de­fence­man, Erik Karls­son, gone from get­ting no votes pre­vi­ously to an even­tual Nor­ris Tro­phy win.

If Rielly, who didn’t win his all-star play-in vote, hap­pens to ex­cel in the sec­ond half of the sea­son the way he’s played the first half, he will be a fi­nal­ist for the big award. The odds are against him win­ning it. His­tory makes him a long shot.

THIS AND THAT

I don’t know if I’ve come across any­one I en­joyed talk­ing base­ball with more than Rus­sell Martin, given away to the Los An­ge­les Dodgers. He loved to ex­plain things. He wel­comed good ques­tions. He liked to de­bate. Away from groups, un­like most play­ers, he gave ex­pan­sive an­swers. Can’t speak for any­one else but I will miss hav­ing a sta­ple voice like his in the Blue Jays club­house. And, yes, he took pride in be­ing an ac­com­plished Cana­dian on a Cana­dian bigleague team ... The Rap­tors have never had an MVP can­di­date. Chris Bosh came the clos­est, fin­ish­ing sev­enth in vot­ing in 2007. DeMar DeRozan was eighth once. The high­est Vince Carter fin­ished was 10th, same as Kyle Lowry. Kawhi Leonard should be top 5 this sea­son, in a mix that in­cludes James Harden, Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo, Kevin Du­rant and An­thony Davis. Best player on best team should help Leonard’s cause ... The Maple Leafs have not had an MVP in 64 years — Ted Kennedy — and the award was ques­tioned at the time. Doug Gil­mour placed sec­ond in Hart Tro­phy vot­ing in 1993 and fourth in 1994, while Cur­tis Joseph was fourth in 1999 ... Josh Don­ald­son and Ge­orge Bell are the only Blue Jays to win MVP awards ... In a rather small Cana­dian Foot-

ball League, six Ar­gos have won the most out­stand­ing player award. You know the names: Doug Flu­tie, twice. Pin­ball Cle­mons, Con­dredge Hol­loway, Chad Owens, Da­mon Allen and Bill Sy­mons.

HEAR AND THERE

Can you imag­ine be­ing in the meet­ing with Mark

Shapiro and Ed­ward Rogers? “So what’s the plan?” Rogers asks. “We’re go­ing to pay Troy Tu­low­itzki $37 mil­lion to go away. We’re go­ing to give Josh Don­ald­son to the In­di­ans and Steve

Pearce to the Red Sox and get next to noth­ing in re­turn. We’re go­ing pay the Dodgers $16.4 mil­lion to take Rus­sell Martin off our hands. And we’re go­ing to sign no­body of sig­nif­i­cance and even­tu­ally we’ll call up Vladimir

Guer­rero Jr. Is that OK?” ... This is Con­nor McDavid’s fourth NHL sea­son and al­ready he has ac­cu­mu­lated 96 more points than the sec­ond high­est scorer from his 2015 draft year. The next three scor­ers are Jack Eichel, Mikko Ran­ta­nen and Mitch Marner. The only down­side is team per­for­mance. The Oil­ers prob­a­bly need 49 points in 38 games — that’s a 105-point pace — to make the play­offs and that may not be pos­si­ble ... The Rap­tors need an out­side shooter. Not sure Pa­trick

McCaw fits the bill ... What the Ve­gas Golden Knights did in their first sea­son was im­prob­a­ble and nearly im­pos­si­ble. But what might be more im­pres­sive is what they’re do­ing right now in their sec­ond sea­son, af­ter an early fall-off. What Ge­orge McPhee, Kelly McCrim­mon and Ger­ard Gal­lant have built here is movie wor­thy. Is

Brad Pitt avail­able to play McPhee? ... On any day or night in Amer­ica, you can turn on your tele­vi­sion and see some bas­ket­ball Hall of Famer talk­ing about the

NBA. If it’s not Charles Barkley, it’s Shaquille O’Neal,

it’s Tracy McGrady or Scot­tie Pip­pen or some­body who was great. But turn on a Cana­dian tele­vi­sion and watch hockey, and there’s not a Hall of Famer to be found any­where among colour men. Oh, Ray Fer­raro and Craig Simp­son and Jeff O’Neill and Dave Poulin were de­cent enough play­ers. Leg­ends they were not.

SCENE AND HEARD

There was noth­ing I liked more than get­ting an e-mail or a tele­phone call from Jim

Tay­lor, the gi­ant Van­cou­ver sports colum­nist, who passed away this week. It was like hear­ing from one your he­roes or your teach­ers. It al­ways made my day. Tay­lor was a re­mark­able fig­ure, funny in per­son, fun­nier in print, nat­u­rally gifted as a word­smith, trusted enough to write books about Wayne Gret­zky and Wal­ter Gret­zky, in love with sports and in love with me­dia. Man, I will miss those calls and those notes and ev­ery­thing about him. Jim Tay­lor was 82 ... The Blue Jays didn’t ex­actly get value from the Dodgers for Martin. They got mi­nor-league depth. The pitcher, An­drew

Sopko, is con­sid­ered a bet­ter prospect than short­stop

Ronny Brito. But nei­ther are any­thing close to sure things ... John Gib­bons isn’t quite ready to re­tire. He’s moved from San An­to­nio to New Mex­ico, has some calls out, and is hop­ing to stay in base­ball in some ca­pac­ity ... Depart­ment of brain cramp: Last week I listed the most ex­cit­ing play­ers in the NHL and some­how missed Elias

Pet­ters­son. Apolo­gies to the en­tire Pet­ters­son fam­ily and friends ... Men’s ten­nis at its best had Roger Fed­erer, Rafael Nadal, No­vak Djokovic and Andy Mur­ray at the top of their games. Mur­ray now will be the first to re­tire. Soon, all four will be out of the game. Im­pos­si­ble to ever re­cap­ture an era such as this one ... It’s a month be­fore catch­ers and pitch­ers re­port to spring train­ing and

Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are still look­ing for a place to play ... This is how the rule should work: If a goal is scored more than 10 sec­onds af­ter an off­side is missed, the goal should count. This go­ing back half a minute busi­ness to find an off­side goal bor­ders on the lu­di­crous.

AND AN­OTHER THING

Lit­tle known foot­ball fact: The Ar­gos came close to hir­ing for­mer Bills quar­ter­back

Frank Re­ich as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in 2012 when

Scott Mi­lanovich was hired as head coach. Re­ich, like Mi­lanovich, played QB at the Univer­sity of Mary­land. When Re­ich got an NFL job, Mi­lanovich in­stead turned to

Mar­cus Brady, who is now Re­ich’s quar­ter­back coach with the In­di­anapo­lis Colts ... Lit­tle known foot­ball fact II:

Mike May­ock, who went from tele­vi­sion to take the gen­eral man­ager’s job with the Oak­land Raiders, played one game for the Ar­gos in 1981 ... For all the de­tail foot­ball teams put into ev­ery as­pect of oper­a­tions, leav­ing lit­tle to chance, it’s rather amaz­ing the Chicago Bears were elim­i­nated from the play­offs on a bouncy missed field goal by a kicker who was ter­ri­bly in­con­sis­tent all sea­son long ... One more fact you can’t live with­out: Kliff

Kings­bury, the sur­pris­ing new coach of the Ari­zona Car­di­nals, was the third string quar­ter­back in Win­nipeg in 2007 ... The birth­days of Muham­mad Ali and Joe

Fra­zier were a week apart in Jan­uary. Ali would be 77 next week, Fra­zier 75 had they lived this long ... Not sure why this took so long but

Rocket Is­mail is be­ing in­ducted in the Col­lege Foot­ball Hall of Fame. He last played col­lege ball in 1990 ... The vol­ume in Heaven will need to be turned down just a touch: Brian Hen­der­son has ar­rived. Con­do­lences to all ... Happy birth­day to Con­nor McDavid (22), Mike Pal­ma­teer (65), Kelly Hrudey (58) Ce­sare Ma­ni­ago (80), Lawrence Robert Shreve bet­ter know as Ab­dul­lah the Butcher (78), Jeremy Col­li­ton (33), and Joan­nie Ro­chette (33) ... And hey, what­ever be­came of Jonas Hoglund?

CLAUS AN­DER­SEN/GETTY IM­AGES

Mor­gan Rielly ranked sec­ond in NHL scor­ing by de­fence­man, with 46 points, head­ing into yes­ter­day’s games.

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