Draft lottery awaits, Super A.J. returns, COVID still hitting hard

Draft lottery awaits, Super A.J. returns, COVID still hitting hard

A number of thoughts, observances, and opinions as we head towards Friday’s NHL draft lottery.

Some of these thoughts are actually salient.

Really.

Hold tight.

Tick-tock on an early Senators’ Christmas

Finally, it’s here.

There hasn’t been much of anything to get charged up about – for local NHL fans - regarding the Ottawa Senators in months.

Make that years.

Erik Karlsson gets traded, Mark Stone gets traded, the team consistently sits in the very lowest hemisphere of the standings, the organization does its best to turn off its fan base, the organization goes through hire-after-hire then fire-after fire . . . wonderful stuff for Johnny Hockey Fan who grins and bears it through three non-stop years of despair.

It’s over.

(At least for the time being.)

All Senator fan eyes are pointed squarely towards Friday.

As ESPN explains – “The NHL is going to hold a draft lottery on June 26. There will be three draws. The seven teams that aren't returning to play will take part. There will be eight "placeholder" spots eligible to win the lotteries, too. The 15 teams' involvement will maintain previously established lottery odds.”

Got it?

What you need to know as well?

Ottawa has roughly a 25 per cent shot at nailing down the top pick overall (wunder-kid Alexis Lafreniere) thanks to its own pick and the pick they inherited in the Karlsson deal with San Jose.

Ottawa’s been described as the town that fun forgot.

The fun shows up Friday.

‘Bout time.

(You can watch the proceedings on Sportsnet at 8 p.m. ET)

St. Albert Saint back in the saddle

OK, maybe he’s not a saint, but he’s a pretty outstanding individual.

After six months battling a very frightening illness, A.J. Jakubec returned to the local airwaves this week.

Pancreatitis waylaid @TheSuperAJ for half a freaking year.

The Alberta native-Ottawa resident (inside joke between the two of us, but you get it, right A.J.?) is/was irreplaceable. No one has stronger opinions and the fearlessness to voice them in this market.

No one.

He’s also a damn good friend.

The best kind.

The kind of man who checks in to see your okay and if you want to grab a pop following a layoff at work.

And regularly those invitations would come. No ‘one-shot-deal.’ If you’re a friend of A.J. Jakubec’s, you’re a friend for life.

Good old Western-lad values. He’s got them in spades.

I first met him travelling with the 67’s through Sudbury and the Soo. It was his first trip as the new play-by-play voice.

As the newcomer, owner Jeff Hunt and myself invited A.J. out for drinks the night we arrived in Sudbury (Yup, Sudbury . . . enticing, eh?). He turned us down, saying he had to study the team roster and get prepped for the following night’s game.

What a stuffed shirt.

Alas, couldn’t be more wrong. As good as A.J. is at what he does, his skills as a ‘socialite’ are on par.

We’ve had many a good time.

And each time was rich with laughter and mercurial debate. One thing I learned about A.J. – he doesn’t need to be on-air to be on.

He’s anything but dull.

In a few short years he’s injected himself (full throttle) into the Ottawa media landscape.

And these past number of months you might have been left scratching your head wondering ‘what-the-heck-is-missing-here!!??’

Simple.

A.J. Jakubec.

Welcome back old friend.

Your voice and who you are was greatly missed.

Lucky Ottawa.

Too soon? You bet

Money makes the world go ‘round and nowhere is that more in evidence than in professional sport.

Otherwise, how does anyone with a rational mind explain the heated rush to get back on the ice, or playing field, or pitch, or course during a still-fractious time?

With many of the U.S. states in crisis with COVID-19 and the disease still hanging on here in Canada, professional sports has turned a deaf ear.

Whistling past the graveyard.

Hockey, football, basketball and baseball have all proclaimed their sports will be back up and running in the ‘very’ near future. Golf is already there; auto racing; soccer too; pro wrestling never went away.

This while a flood of athletes get tested positive for Coronavirus.

Brilliant.

This is what we all want and need: sweaty, breathing-hard professionals banging into each other under ‘safe conditions.’

What’s the rush here?

Don’t understand it.