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The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

October 25, 2022

Speaker:
Are you ready? Let's go. From AMI Central, now circling in the neutral zone. Here's a pitch on the way, 36 yards for the win.
This...
Here comes a big chance, the shot.
Is...
Is this the Tiger?
The Neutral Zone.
Home run. This is as good it gets.
Now here's your host, two-time Paralympian, Brock Richardson.

Brock Richardson:
So, last week I was whining about my tetanus shot and this week I have a weird question. Off the top of the program, you are indeed tuned into The Neutral Zone. Don't need to flip your dial. I just got started in a very weird way. And I am indeed your host, Brock Richardson and I am alongside Cam Jenkins. Cameron, how are you?

Cameron Jenkins.:
I'm doing okay, Brock. Looking forward to a bit of sports talk today. It's always nice talking sports talk with the men and women of The Neutral Zone.

Brock Richardson:
I couldn't agree with you more. And also joining us is Josh Watson. Josh, how are you?

Josh Watson:
I'm doing well, Brock. I had a nice weekend of sports watching. Looking forward to discussing it all with everybody here. So, it's going to be a fun afternoon.

Brock Richardson:
Yes, I agree with that as well. So, I told you I had a weird question and the story goes like this. I was at Yorkdale Mall over the weekend and first, before I tell you the story, I'm going to shout out Jeff Ryman and Aaron Ryman, who got married this past Friday and so congratulations to them for that. And it was a pleasure being a part of their wedding and watching them do their vows. Megan and I were feeling very not so... We were feeling a little nostalgic because it just happened to us that we got married. So, cool to be a part of someone else's story as well.
But on Saturday I was walking Yorkdale Mall, I went into the showcase. And in the showcase they had a bag of something, which I didn't know what it was. I turned to my wife and I said, "Hey, what is that?" And she said, "It's a bag with a pickle in it." I puzzledly looked at her and was like, "Okay." And I said, "Is it dill? Is it sweet? What is it?" She said, "Well, this particular one is sweet, but there's dill in it." She said, "Do you want one?" And I was like, "No, I don't." So, taking a little bit of a poll, would you eat a pickle in a bag? Yes or no. Josh, start with you.

Josh Watson:
Well, there's a slightly disturbing lack of context here as to was this in a refrigerator or not? I'm going to go with no.

Brock Richardson:
So no, on the refrigerator. It was literally just on the shelf in a plastic-sealed container. Then it said like pickle in a bag. That's literally what it was called and it had different flavours. And she asked me... I love dill pickle and all kinds of pickle, but she asked me and she's like, "Would you try it?" No, I wouldn't, so I'm right there with you. Cameron, having a little more context. Would you eat this? Yes or no?

Cameron Jenkins.:
Absolutely not. I am not a dill pickle fan whatsoever. I like, I think they're called Yum Yums and that's about it. So, that's a definite no on the pickle in a bag. Who puts a pickle in a bag? Put it in a jar.

Brock Richardson:
That's what I said.

Josh Watson:
Just a weird concept.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Put it in a jar for gosh. Darn.

Brock Richardson:
That's exactly what I said. I don't know. Let's see if this will actually work. Marc Aflalo, our technical producer. Would you eat a pickle in a bag?

Marc Aflalo:
Was it a zip lock? Was it sealed properly? Was it someone that left it there? It really depends.

Brock Richardson:
No, they sealed this. This is literally a thing. If you go into the showcase, you will see and they're all over apparently. Because I asked the lady, I'm like, "Do you sell these?" And they're like, "We do." And it's in this pretty little packaged thing that they sell. I thought it was weird. Totally.

Marc Aflalo:
No for me on the pickle in a bag.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Who the heck puts a pickle in a bag? Come on.

Josh Watson:
Weird.

Brock Richardson:
It's unanimous, no thank you to the pickle in the bag. Let's move on to our headlines for this week.

Speaker 9:
Neutral Zone headlines.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Golden State Warriors star, Steph Curry took to the microphone in the middle of Golden State's championship rings ceremony to make an impassioned plea in support of Brittney Griner as the WNBA star spent her 32nd birthday in a Russian prison. When Steph took the mic, he made the following statement. "We want to continue to use our platform and the opportunity to shout a very special member of the basketball community. Brittney Griner's birthday is today, she's 32." Curry told the crowd on opening night before the defending champions hosted LeBron James in the Los Angeles Lakers.
We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray. It's been 243 days since she was wrongly incarcerated in Russia. We hope that she comes home soon and that everybody's doing their part to get her home. Now in case you need a refresher, Brittney was convicted August 4th after Russian police said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Her defense lawyers said she had been prescribed cannabis for pain. The WNBA star said she had inadvertently packed them and had no criminal intent.

Brock Richardson:
This year marked the 27th season that Gregg Popovich has been the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Because of that, we thought we would share some interesting stats regarding this. In that same time span, the league as a whole has gone through 294 head coaches, which is approximately three coaches per team during that 27-year span. I think there's certain coaches that when you hear their name, you hear stature behind that. You know that Gregg Popovich has been around the game for a long time and it is very nice to see that there is longevity in coaches and that the players don't always get the say in firing their coach.

Josh Watson:
More history was made in sports this week, but if you're a Cleveland Guardians fan, it might not be so good. They were recently eliminated by the New York Yankees and the guardians have now lost 11 straight elimination games and have gone without a championship for 74 seasons. This is now a record for the longest drought in North American sports.

Cameron Jenkins.:
And that's certainly longer than [inaudible 00:07:21].

Josh Watson:
Well yes, that is true. Very true. I feel bad for Cleveland sports fans. They just seemed to get the wrong end of a lot of these things. Cleveland looked like they had a great baseball team this season. Unfortunately, they just came up short.

Cameron Jenkins.:
The Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Schneider is no longer the interim manager of the team. That tag has been removed. He is now the manager and will be here for the next three seasons with a club option for the fourth one. It's nice to see that he's going to be back. I think that it's going to be very fruitful for him to be over the next three years. I think he's got a great rapport with all of the managers. The only thing I think a lot of people were concerned about is when they did lose in the playoffs this past year or a few weeks ago, they were concerned a bit about his decisions that he made. I guess we'll go find out over the next two to three years whether or not he was a good choice or if they maybe should have gotten a more experienced manager.

Brock Richardson:
When you have an over 600 winning percentage over your half a season, I'm pretty sure that warrants at least a shot. I agree with you Cameron. I'm not necessarily sure that all fans were totally on board with this, but it seems the vast majority of them were. Let's check in on our Twitter poll questions. Let's look at last week's, which the question was, which Canadian team has the best chance to win the Stanley Cup? 33% of you said Calgary. 29% of you said Edmonton. 24% of you said Toronto and 14% of you said other. This week's question is, with the NBA season off and running, how do you believe the Toronto Raptors will do this coming year? Make the playoffs, miss the playoffs, win at least one round or win the championship? You can cast your votes at our Twitter handles coming at you right now.

Speaker 9:
And welcome back to The Neutral Zone AMI broadcast booth. And we are set to get this ballgame underway. The first pitch brought to you by Brock Richardson's Twitter account @neutralzonebr. First pitch strike. And hey gang, why not strike up a Twitter chat with Claire Buchanan for The Neutral Zone. Find her @neutralzonecb. Now there's a swing and a chopper out to second base right at Claire. She picks up the ball, throws it over to first base for a routine out. And fans, there is nothing routine about connecting with Cam and Josh from The Neutral Zone, @NeutralZoneCamJ and @JWatson200. Now that's a winning combination. And this organ interlude is brought to you by AMI Audio on Twitter, get in touch with The Neutral Zone type in @AMIAudio.

Brock Richardson:
Our guest today is Dean Brokop, the director of the Paralympic Foundation of Canada, and he joins us today to talk about a unique event called the ParaTough Cup. Dean, thank you so much for joining us today. It's nice to have you back. We had you on the audio program many moons ago and it's nice to have you on our video podcast.

Dean Brokop:
My pleasure. Happy to be here and great to see you.

Cameron Jenkins.:
So, maybe we can start by... If you can give us a little bit of background on the Paralympic Foundation of Canada and what that is and what's your role as director?

Dean Brokop:
Sure. So, the Paralympic Foundation of Canada is the philanthropic arm of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Essentially we are set up and our focus is on raising additional funds to support the Paralympic movement in Canada. We're a separate entity to the Canadian Paralympic Committee, but we are very tightly linked and work with CPC to raise funds to support their strategic objectives and high priority activities. As director, I essentially oversee the foundation and all of our activities and operations, which vary from working with our donors, major donors, smaller donors, running events, which we're going to talk about in a second and which we haven't been able to do for a number of years, but it's fantastic being able to do so again, supporting other parties who often run events on our behalf. And, it's a rewarding job in being able to support the Paralympic movement this way.

Josh Watson:
Now as we mentioned in the opener, we are here to talk a little bit about the ParaTough Cup. For those that might not be familiar, can you give us a little bit of a background on what exactly it is and what we can look forward to?

Dean Brokop:
For sure. The ParaTough Cup is a corporate challenge event and we started it in 2017 really as a way to... Well, we created it as a fundraising event and it turned into so much more than that because it's an event in which we invite corporate teams to participate. So, teams of six individuals to come out and play Parasport. At this point in time, many people have now seen Parasport, they've had a chance to watch the Paralympic games, but fewer have had a chance to try it. And trying Parasport, it's one of the ways when you truly understand it, you get to experience how great it is, how much fun it is, but also how hard it is.
So, we did that. We created this event where teams come out and participate and we've tried a variety of sports, but the core sports we do are wheelchair basketball, everybody loves and knows sitting volleyball. And something in the last couple of years or more recently, we've tried to do our event at venues that can host us on real ice to be able to do para ice hockey.As Canadians, most Canadians love hockey, and so the ability to bring that to the event really helped take things up a notch.

Cameron Jenkins.:
As I understand you just finished one of these events in Vancouver, BC. Can you maybe tell us how that one went?

Dean Brokop:
It was fantastic. Just on Friday, so just a couple days ago, we had our third event in Vancouver. Third ever ParaTough Cup in Vancouver, but our first ParaTough Cup in nearly three years. It was fantastic, it was great to be back there. We host the event at the Richmond Oval, which was obviously used for speed skating during the 2010 games. It's transitioned into an amazing community facility that has basketball courts, and volleyball courts, and a running track and ice. And so, we were able to have those teams with us participate in those sports. And as well we built in as one of the... Basically, teams go to an activity station for 30 or 40 minutes, they rotate to the next station, to the next and to the next. And so, we have the three sports, but as our fourth activity, we've created what we call a fireside chat.
For one of the stations, they get to catch their breath, they get to sit down and they get to learn a little bit more about Paralympians. One of the really great features of this event is we've always had Paralympians join us not to participate in the sports, but to act as the coaches and to act as the referees and the officials and really flip things around and have them impart their wisdom and experience on people. And so, to be able to put a few athletes on the stage for 30, 40 minutes, to have them tell stories of their life, of their sporting career, of the Paralympic Games, it's fantastic. To have watched them a couple days ago and to watch people enthralled, no one looking at their phones, everybody enthralled in the stories that they were hearing, I think leaves people with really that much more of a meaningful experience.
One thing to send them home with sore arms, which we do because they're playing wheelchair basketball, they're using their arms in a different way. I think para ice hockey was something we heard from many people, "That was a true eye-opener." Because the experts, those that we are so fortunate to watch at the games and they represent Canada, they're good and they make it look really easy. The reality is it is far from easy. And so, when you put people in a sled and just balancing is tough enough, let alone propelling themselves from point A to point B. It really leaves people in a great place of having been able to experience something that they likely haven't before and sends them home and certainly talking about it to their friends, to their family. Ultimately if we're able to do that, then we're exposing more people to Parasport and how great it is.

Brock Richardson:
We're joined by Dean Brokop, who is the director of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation of Canada and he's here today talking to us about the ParaTough Cup events. I'm joined by Josh Watson and Cam Jenkins, of course, I'm your host, Brock Richardson.

Josh Watson:
Now you mentioned that the Para Cup was just held in Vancouver. I'm wondering is it the same no matter what city it's in and if not, what slight differences would people expect depending on where it is?

Dean Brokop:
That's a great question. In a perfect world we'd love it to be the same. I won't lie. We think we have a really great model here with the sports of wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and para ice hockey. But finding those perfect facilities across the country are not necessarily always so easy. So, our next event is in Montreal, November 3rd, about a week and a half from now. That perfect facility has been a more elusive for us there. So, we're hosting at Tomlinson Field House at McGill University, a great field house, but we don't have access to real ice. So, what we'll be doing there is... You pivot, you modify, so we have got access to sleds on wheels. We'll still expose people to para ice hockey, strike out the ice part, but giving them the experience of being in a sled and what it's like.
Otherwise, Josh, we've tend to... In Toronto, we're fortunate to host the event at Mattamy Athletic Center, which is the former Maple Leaf Gardens. So, we have access to ice, I see a Maple Leaf sweater there over your shoulder, Cam. And in Calgary, we're looking at a facility there that's a fantastic facility with both ice and courts. Really excited to get back to it. It's been a long couple of years prior to this past Friday, the last ParaTough Cup was in Toronto in March of 2020, March 5th. Literally, one week before most things shut down for most people and the world was a very different place then and none of us realized what was going to be upon us. I recall that we took the best precautions we could at that time. We got some extra hand sanitizer and some nitrile gloves and went about our business. But little did we know that a week later we'd be going home with our computers in tow and not returning to the office for quite some time.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Now, what is the favourite part about running these events for you?

Dean Brokop:
I know that very clearly because I experienced it on Friday. It's being back out there. There is nothing that can replace being present with people and seeing the faces and hearing the hooting and the hollering and the squeals of delight when they're playing sitting volleyball and hit a decent shot. It's great to be out and engage with people. And technology has been wonderful for all of us over the last couple of years and allowing us to connect like we are today. But there is still something that can't be reproduced in being in person with people. So, that's the biggest and most important part of it for me. It was great for myself, for my team, and for everybody involved to be reminded of that because it's been a long two and a half years, and so, knock on wood, we can continue to be present in the community again and we'll take the precautions necessary, but it's important to be out there.

Josh Watson:
For anyone who does want to learn more about either the ParaTough Cup or the Paralympic Foundation of Canada, where are they best to look for that information or who should they speak to?

Dean Brokop:
The ParaTough Cup, we've actually got a separate website for that to keep it really simple for people, so paratoughcup.ca will tell you everything you need to know about the activities in each of the cities. From there you can link or go directly to paralympicfoundation.ca for more information on the foundation and what we do and all we're aspiring to.

Cameron Jenkins.:
And Dean, just one more question from me. Do you see with the ParaTough Cup, are you going to branch out and do anything more with that or any other events that you have planned moving forward?

Dean Brokop:
I think we really wanted to see how we do. In a sense, it's like getting back out there again and honestly, we weren't certain how people were going to take to public events of this nature and being close. I will tell you though that I think there's a lot of excitement for it. The Montreal event in 10 days is sold out and has been for a couple of weeks. A lot of organizations work differently now and people aren't together in an office every day. And so, events like ours provide an opportunity to team build, to be with your employees, your staff, your teammates in a different setting.
Although I think we need to see more than the one event we did in Vancouver. What I did see there and in lead into Montreal, there's a lot of excitement for that. So, I think there may be an appetite to build on this and it would be great to do so. When we last did the event in 2020, we were firing at all cylinders with events in four cities. We had just crossed a million-dollar mark in funds raised from the event since its inception in 2017. We'd love to just get back on that horse and add to the total.

Brock Richardson:
For me, I'm curious to know what you deem as a success. Now, let me frame this a little bit better because it's easy to say that we ran this event in Vancouver, it went well, everyone's excited because we haven't been around people in a long time. But aside from that, how do you yourself walk away and go this was a successful event and can you speak to that a little bit?

Dean Brokop:
For sure. The success is gauged in two ways by myself. One is, we are doing this to raise funds to support ParaSport in Canada. Part of the success is evaluated in that manner. Vancouver raised $70,000, from our perspective, that's a success. We have even higher aspirations for Montreal, Toronto and Calgary and hoping to reach $100,000 each in those cities. So, that leads to success. However, the money is great and the money's important, but the experience provided to those participating to me is as important. If we raise a bunch of money and don't send people or don't provide a great experience and a meaningful experience for people, then we didn't really achieve what we set out to.
I'm really confident and I'm thrilled that from what I saw in Vancouver, we did that and the feedback we've heard, we did provide that. That's important. We want to make sure that those attending have a great experience and that they do go home knowing more about Parasport, hopefully they know a little bit more about a few Paralympians that they heard from and had a chance to meet. What will that lead to in the future? Lead to them engaging in the Paralympic games when they see them on TV or they stream them. Parasport's fantastic to watch and follow regardless of what sport it is. So, building more fans and ultimately building more support for Parasport in Canada. That's the ultimate goal.

Brock Richardson:
Here, here to everything you just said. To shine the light on Parasports. And that's what we aim to do here at The Neutral Zone and being a former of Paralympian myself and just having athletes as my co-hosts is something that we've always strived to do. We love having the Paralympic Foundation of Canada on just to tell us what's going on. We had you on the first time-

Dean Brokop:
Absolutely.

Brock Richardson:
... When this whole thing was going on and I thought, you know what, with the video podcast, let's kick this out again and see what we can do. Dean, thank you so much for joining us today. We greatly appreciate it and best of luck with future events.

Dean Brokop:
Thanks so much for having me. Really appreciate the support.

Brock Richardson:
That's what we're here for and we appreciate you just as much. That was Dean Brokop, director of the Paralympic Foundation of Canada. If you want to get ahold of us by voicemail regarding this interview or anything else you've heard on the program, here's how you can do it.

Speaker 9:
Hey, if you want to leave a message for The Neutral Zone, call now. 1-866-509-4545. And don't forget to give us permission to use your message on the air. Let's get ready to leave a voicemail.

Brock Richardson:
All right, so I've got to put a bow on a conversation we had off the top of the program because listen, our producer, technical producer, Marc Aflalo, brought up a very good point and this is no secret that we prerecord this. Just before Dean came on, after we finished the headlines, Marc said, "Nobody asked the important question of what was the price of this pickle?" And it resulted in chaos during-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Pickle in a bag.

Brock Richardson:
... It's one pickle and it was like $5.

Cameron Jenkins.:
It's one pickle.

Brock Richardson:
$5 for-

Cameron Jenkins.:
One pickle in a bag.

Brock Richardson:
... And Marc said he would never do it, never. Not for $5. And then he got all detailed about it, which I'll spare everyone the detail.

Cameron Jenkins.:
$5 for one pickle in today's prices? That's brutal. I can buy a bag of M&Ms for $5 and get a lot more food out of that, if you call M&M food, which you don't, but-

Josh Watson:
You can buy a couple jars of pickles.

Cameron Jenkins.:
... I was going to say, get a couple of Strubs dill pickles and you'll get a lot more than one flipping pickle.

Brock Richardson:
Fair enough, fair enough. Listen, this is why I bring up these random questions off the top of the show because it brings out our personalities, it makes Cameron laugh, it's just wonderful.

Cameron Jenkins.:
It makes me laugh.

Brock Richardson:
Our manager of AMI audio is probably shaking his head and going, "Really? They're talking about pickles right now. This is what..."

Cameron Jenkins.:
Supposed to be a sports show and talking about pickles in a bag for $5.

Brock Richardson:
Listen. Don't worry, Andy. I'm about to make you really smile because we're going to talk about your favorite team in the whole wide world, which we didn't get to last week and that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. We covered every other team except for the Toronto Maple Leafs. So, I figured-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Man you're really digging it into Andy though. That's not his favourite team.

Josh Watson:
I was going to say we're going to be cancelled.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Pretty much. Pickles and Maple Leafs. That's going to get us in trouble.

Brock Richardson:
Almost too much. Almost too much.

Josh Watson:
We have a lot of fun around here.

Brock Richardson:
It's good to do what we do and we enjoy it. Anyways, enough pickle. Enough about Andy Frank, let's talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don't really know where to start with this. So, let me start with what do you guys make of this team so far, Cameron?

Cameron Jenkins.:
Well, if you're a Maple Leafs fan and you want to be even-keeled, do not go on social media until late April or May of next year. That's probably the biggest advice I have if you're cheering for the Maple Leafs. But, it's just unbelievable because they win a game and then everything's great and then they lose a game and then the sky is falling and it's just... It's unbelievable. Maybe it's every sports team in Toronto, but it seems a lot more like just the Toronto Maple Leafs being that way. I don't see other ones doing that personally, but it just seems to be with the Maple Leafs and they get a person that's now...
Well, Muzzin, he's hurt so the sky's falling again because him out as a defenseman and then while the sky was already falling because of the two goalies that we had and Matt Murray's out. But now all of a sudden it's great because we can have other people up and you get Jason Robertson in and then he scores two goals including the overtime winners. It's such an emotional rollercoaster ride if you're a Leafs fan or follow the Leafs. All I have to say is if you're a Leafs fan, good luck and stay off of social media.

Josh Watson:
Fair enough. Judging by the silence, Brock, I'm going to assume you want me to chime in next. So I will. I did not know what to make of our goal-tending situation with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, whatever he wants to be called this year. It seems to change apparently. Having said that, I am quite pleasantly surprised with Samsonov so far. He seems to be doing very well now that he does not have to necessarily split time equally with his other counterpart. We saw Erik Källgren last year, we know what he is, we know he's a capable backup for a game here and there, which is, I think, what we need. But it will be very interesting to see how long Samsonov can carry the ball, so to speak.
The forward and defence group. I'm not sure what to make of either, although I think they are a lot more sound than people will give them credit for. Particularly the forward groups, I think are fine. I found it interesting that Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds, thank you, are just getting into the lineup. Having said that, seeing people like Zach Aston-Reese and Victor Mete and some of these others crack the lineup has been very interesting and brings a little bit of an interesting note to it. Overall, I'm sure Cam you probably brought this up during your talk, but I don't think it matters what happens in the regular season as long as they make the playoffs.
I personally don't care whether they're first in the division or eighth place in the conference as long as they get in because I think that is where you're going to see a change, hopefully. I would like to see Jordie Benn healthy and in the lineup because I think he would've been a great replacement for Jake Muzzin, but apparently he is injured. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens with this team. I am hoping to see some maturity from the likes of Matthews, Marner and Nylander. I think that was something that was lacking last year. And I really hope to see that this year, some of the silly plays need to stop, some of the taking plays off at the wrong times needs to stop. I understand you're not going to give 100% every single game. There's so many of them that you can't-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Got to pick your spots.

Josh Watson:
... Exactly. But some of the spots that were picked last year were the wrong spots.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Wrong spots. No, totally. I agree.

Josh Watson:
Let's be honest. It will be very interesting to see what happens.

Cameron Jenkins.:
I think the first line, Matthews and Marner and Bunting, right now they seem to still be wanting to try to find the groove that they had last year and so far, unfortunately, they haven't found it. Matthews, he's still getting points, he's just not getting the goals. He's getting a lot of assists. Marner, I think he's playing even more better defensively than he has before as well. So, I think that the top line, although they're not scoring as much, I think that they are finding ways to still contribute and that's playing better defensively or getting the assists. Right now John Tavares man, he seems to be on fire, which is nice to see as well.

Josh Watson:
Totally okay with that.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Like you were saying with Simmonds getting slotted in, that was just because of the Winnipeg game and they needed some toughness and that's why they ended up putting him in because they weren't sure because of what happened last year. The fourth line is still a problem for the Maple Leafs. I think the third line is very good. Second line seems to be humming, especially with Robertson. Man, I don't want him to go back down to the AHL. In goal, Samsonov, but here's where... This is why Toronto Maple Leaf fans have mental health problems is because they're judging Samsonov after three games. They're saying, "He's 3-0 and a 927 save percentage and la di da di da." But it's only three flipping games. Come on.

Josh Watson:
Exactly.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Who cares? Let's see after a couple of months or whatever. Don't start judging him... Yes, it's great that we've won three games. It's nice that he has a 927 save percentage, but just even keel, Leaf fans, even keel.

Brock Richardson:
I got to say, when the season started and we had both Murray and Samsonov healthy-ish-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Ish.

Brock Richardson:
... There was no goalie I could point to and go, "There's my starter." Both of them I'm like, I don't know, it depends who steps forward. And to me, a hockey team requires a goalie so that everyone can point to it and say, "There is my starter." That I could never point to with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now obviously the decision's been made with Murray missing five weeks at the minimum, but I could never point to this team and go, "There's my guy right there." And that to me is the problem. And then I laugh at the Maple Leafs and I say, because when you heard about-

Cameron Jenkins.:
But why is it a problem, Brock. He's a 3-0 with a 927 save percentage buddy.

Brock Richardson:
... Because I don't-

Josh Watson:
Because he could turn into a pumpkin.

Brock Richardson:
... I'm not willing to ride this roller coaster that every Leaf fan does because guess what, three games as you guys point out, great, wonderful. But it's not the end of the season. And we'll see. And that's the problem. And then I laugh at Toronto and when Matt Murray went down, Ottawa basically said in the media gently, "We knew because he spent half the time in Ottawa injured." So, news flash, if you knew that as the senators, why did the Maple Leafs think they could be the bringer of change in a guy's injury history? You get injured once, you're more susceptible to that, Josh.

Josh Watson:
That's easy. The reason that they thought Matt Murray could be saved is because he was in Sault Ste. Marie with Kyle Dubas. Kyle thinks he can rescue everybody that played for him up there.

Cameron Jenkins.:
At the end of the day, like with Dubas, he's the man in charge. So, he wants to be able to hire somebody that he has familiarity with and who he feels is going to be able to help him. And I'm so glad that we didn't end up getting Campbell again at five years and 5 million. Look what he's doing at Edmonton right now. He had one good month last year, Campbell, month and a half and then he wasn't good for the rest of it. So, I totally understand why Dubas did what he did as far as the two goalies, why he chose them and Samsonov, it seems like he may, it's only three games, settle down Leaf fans. But he may be the answering goal because all you need is average goaltending and the offence is going to take care of the rest for the Leafs.

Brock Richardson:
Cameron's drinking the same Kool-Aid as the Leaf fans are a little bit there. That's what-

Cameron Jenkins.:
God, no.

Josh Watson:
My only concern has been the Arizona game. We've seen Montreal be Arizona, we've seen Montreal beat Arizona. Ottawa-

Brock Richardson:
Ottawa was the other one.

Josh Watson:
... Sorry, did I repeat Montreal twice? I probably did. I've had a head cold this week. At any rate, we've seen Montreal beat them. We've seen Ottawa beat them, Toronto did not and they did not look good losing to them. So, that is where I have concerns. If we play down to the level of our competition, that's a major issue. And is that a personnel issue? Is that a coaching issue? I don't know, but games against the Arizona Coyotes like that cannot happen again. I don't care if it's the first five games of the season or the last five.

Cameron Jenkins.:
It's one game.

Brock Richardson:
I saw-

Josh Watson:
It's one game that can start a trend.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Or over an 82-game schedule. Everybody has bad games, even like the best of teams end up getting spanked by a team that may be not as good. And that happens every season. You don't want to see it to be a trend, but that's what I'm talking about the mental health of the Maple Leafs fans is that they go against Arizona, they lose and then the sky is falling and everyone sucks on the Maple Leafs. The truth is somewhere in between that they're great and they suck and maybe they're just pretty good and maybe that's the middle ground.

Brock Richardson:
I spoke to a PA announcer, Mike Ross on the weekend and I saw him in person and I said, "Hey Mike, I'm sorry you were subjected to that Arizona game." And he said, "Why did you remind me, my scar was just getting healed over again." That coming from the PA announcer of the Toronto Maple Leafs who also does the morning reading show on AMI audio so check Mike and Corinne Van Dusen at 8:00 AM every morning. There's a little plug for you. I don't know what to make of this team. I have no idea. Play your 82 games, tell me where you are at that point and then we'll see what happens. That to me is where we are with the Toronto Maple Leafs and I got to be honest, and I said this to the audience last week and I'll say it again, we're not going to be talking a lot as producer of this program. We are going to give the Leafs some due, but we're not going to be talking a lot about them because it is just going to be a soap opera/rollercoaster ride.
I think there are some other intriguing stories in Canada which will keep you apprised of what's happened in Toronto, but that's not going to be our main focus this season because I think if you pin every Leaf fan down and you say, "Tell me what you want." And they're going to say, "After 82 games, that's what I want." And I think a lot of Toronto Maple Leafs fans share your sentiment. Josh, we don't care. Just finish in the playoffs and see what you do there. And I'm prepared for the first-round disappointment if we get to that as well. It'd be interesting to see how the season goes, but hold on and buckle up and tune into The Neutral Zone for all kinds of Canadian content for the NHL because that's what we're here to do. I don't know. My next point on the script is how much pressure should the GM and president feel this year? Either of you want to comment on that, Josh.

Josh Watson:
I think there is or should be definite pressure on both Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas, especially because they are the architects of this team. They are the ones who signed the core of Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander, Morgan Rielly to those contracts. And as a result of those contracts, we have to piece together the rest of this lineup. And I'm not saying the rest of this lineup is weak, I'm not saying that they're not going to manage. We've seen it before where we've gotten into the playoffs with bits and pieces and castoffs and reclamations and all these things, but this is now a number of years of the "Shanna plan" and what do we have to show for it? That is my question.

Brock Richardson:
It's words on a paper in my opinion.

Josh Watson:
Exactly. So, it's time for this core to actually show what it can do in my opinion. And it's time for us to not just be happy making the playoffs, it's time for us to win multiple rounds of the playoffs. I'm not satisfied with just winning the first round. I never have been. Your goal every year should be to win the Stanley Cup. And if it's not something's wrong.

Brock Richardson:
I'll put it very bluntly and I'll say the following, put up or shut up this year. And I know that sounds very... Well, that's abrasive, but that's where I am at with this organization. You have the talent allegedly, show it to me. Do your job or shut up and go somewhere else and let younger people do what they have to do because after this season, if they don't win at least two rounds, this core to me and my allegiance to this team is going to be real called into question because it already is called into question. When I say things like, we're going to keep you abreast of the Maple Leafs, but that's not where the focus is going to be all season. It's because I and we can't keep beating a dead horse and saying, they went on a 10 game winning streak. They're looking good and then they lose in the first round. That's where I am at with this totally Cameron, and I want to wrap on the Leafs and move on to the NFL, but I want to give you the last thoughts here, Cameron.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Well, the pressure is on for Dubas and for the Shanny Shanna plan. But saying that, I think Dubas is a really good GM and I think that Maple Leaf sports and entertainment, if they were to let him go, I think they would really regret it. You also have to remember that over this period of time, this is when COVID'S happened, but before COVID happened, that's when Dubas signed these contracts for Marner for Matthews. And that's when he thought that he was going to end up having more money to spend. And now because of COVID, it's been flat for what, the past three years and maybe next year might go up as far as a salary cap, more than a million bucks.
So, I think Dubas has done fine and especially during COVID when it's either been a flat cap or only gone up a million dollars. I think Dubas has done very well trying to find people on the outside edges or the fringes in order to be able to make the team as good as he can make it. I would give him maybe in another three-year extension, personally Dubas when the cap goes up and let's see what he does with that money when he has more money to spend. Because I just think it would be really bad if Maple Leaf sports and entertainment let Dubas go. I just think they would end up regretting that.

Brock Richardson:
All right. Let's move on to the NFL and we've talked a lot about Tua Tagovailoa and his concussions to this season thus far, he was welcomed back against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Josh, I have a two-part question for you specifically. Before going into the game, what was your expectation? Let's start there. And then when you watched the game, what did you think?

Josh Watson:
Well, going into the game, I wasn't convinced that he should be playing yet, I'll be quite honest. And it has nothing to do with where I want the team to finish or anything other than the fact that this is a young man. Eventually he's probably going to end up married, he's probably going to end up having kids. And I want him to be able to have a life after football. With the two concussions that he took so close together, I worry about that quality of life after football. I really do. So, going into the game, hearing that he had not only passed through concussion protocol as far as the NFL was concerned, but that he had also been cleared by multiple neurologists in multiple cities tells me that okay, he does value his health and he did take more than enough precautions.
So, if you're going to come back then I have the same expectations I would have for you if you were starting any other game.I expect you to manage the offense, I expect you to win the game and I expect you not to put the team in jeopardy. Going through the game, I enjoyed it. They won 16 to 10. I was very happy with that, as you can imagine. But I will tell you quite honestly, every time that man took a hit, I cringed because they interviewed him before the game and they talked to him about are you going to make any changes? And he said, "Yes. I'm going to try to get the ball out faster. I'm going to try to make better decisions. I'm going to try to avoid those collisions that caused me to be concussed." He hasn't learned yet how to slide. He took so many-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Now, in your opinion, Josh, did he do any irresponsible plays? Did he try to run and then they had to tackle him?

Josh Watson:
... Yes, multiple times. He looked around and he said, "There's nobody open, but I can run." And he ran and instead of sliding, he went head first, shoulder first into the defender. And I'm just watching him going, "Are you kidding me right now? You're not supposed to do that. That's how you got hurt in the first place." But he hasn't learned and I'm really scared that his career is going to be significantly shortened because he hasn't learned how to do this. I remember watching a guy like Robert Griffin III who was in Washington and in Baltimore, same thing.
"I'm a running quarterback." Well, that's great. You make a real nice easy target because those guys that are hitting you are probably a hundred pounds heavier than you and they leave a mark. So, until he learns how to protect himself, the only option is going to be for him to get rid of the ball. And last night he didn't demonstrate that he can do that. He still tried to make something out of nothing and that's going to take a long time to work out of him, if he survives that long.

Brock Richardson:
Cameron quick comments, and then I'll wrap with my comments.

Cameron Jenkins.:
I just think that he's got to think of himself first and foremost, but when you're looking at a new contract that's probably going to be 100 million plus, money takes over at the end of the day. So, Tua is going to think about that. He's played a certain way for so many years, does he even want to change the way he plays would be my question. Even though he's gotten concussed a couple of times, because he might blow it off as, "Well, I've been playing football for so many years and this is the first time or that's happened. It's just an anomaly and I'm going to keep playing the way that I play." It must be really hard to change. And it is, it's hard to change no matter what you're doing. It's hard to change and why would he when it's gotten him to here on a possible contract that's going to be 100 million plus.

Brock Richardson:
I think it was pretty telling to me when he finished the game and the reporter talked to him and said, "How did you feel the game went?" And his response was, "I need to change the way that I play. I did some things I shouldn't have done and I need to change the way that I play." My question is, aren't you having that conversation before you step on the field and not after you lead with your head multiple times, which is the thing that you got in trouble with in the first place. As Josh pointed out, that is like, "What are you talking about?" To tell the reporter after a game you won, "I need to change up the way that I do things."
Isn't that part of the reason you were cleared, out of the concussion protocol because you sold them in all your testing and you said, "Well, I can do this and I'll be okay and this'll be fine." But then you go and you run like a bull in China shop at times and you don't know how to slide. You slide feet first, not head first. Even if you're sliding down a set of stairs, no one teaches you to slide head first down a set of stairs because that's-

Cameron Jenkins.:
It's more fun going down head-first in stairs.

Brock Richardson:
... I know it is, but it's stupider.

Cameron Jenkins.:
Have you seen the YouTube videos of kids doing that?

Brock Richardson:
Yes. And I just made a word up, I said stupider-

Cameron Jenkins.:
Stupider. I noticed that.

Brock Richardson:
... On our podcast, but it totally is. Whatever. I just think as a young quarterback, he needs to make better decisions and what I saw, I didn't see it, the better decisions that he needs to make. With that, that is the end of our show for this week. I would like to thank Josh Watson, Cam Jenkins. I'd also like to thank our technical producer, Marc Aflalo, our manager of AMI audio is Andy Frank. Tune next week because you just never know what happens when you enter The Neutral Zone. Have a great week and we'll talk to you next week. Be safe. Be well.