Take a peek at some interesting early April observations
Here’s your weekly Saturday tids, bits and thoughts of local and regional happenings:
—- No one outside of Bishop Guertin is shedding any sympathy tears for the Cardinals girls basketball program which, as reported this week, lost two key players in the title runs of the last two seasons, Aaliyah Forman and Ava Owens. Many coaches, etc. who have seen potential program building blocks in their school systems leave to go to the private education world, be it Guertin or other spots, certainly won’t shed a tear. Those moves have been going on in communities for years all over the country and are a fact of life. And, ironically, locally in last few years some student athletes have gone from private to public. So please, let’s not compare the news value of that to what happened when Forman and Owens announced their departures.
Now the Forman-Owens story is highly interesting because (a) it impacts a highly successful program and could change the short-term landscape of Division I; (b) college scholarships were already offered and you wonder what now happens to them, and how they may have impacted these moves, and (c) they are both repeating their junior years, which clearly signals an academics component to the move which is something we all tend to forget about when colleges swoop in with their offers.
And it the spotlight tends to hit more when it’s basketball, as a couple of players can really impact things. Nashua North and South have suffered their own prep school losses in the last five years and that has also been news. The trend continues.
—- Can someone please explain how a February through April football league can fold before the regular season ends? Yes, we will miss the Alliance of American Football (AAF) league. It was fun in February, lost its luster a bit in March, but still provided an option to kee p football in the living room post-Super Bowl. But what happened? The downfall of these leagues has always been when there wasn’t a television contract involved, but this thing was on CBS, NFL Network, etc. Doesn’t it make sense to go into a venture like this one knowing you have more than enough capital? The league got a massive infusion of money from Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon, but once he realized how expensive it was to own and operate an entire sports league, he pulled the plug. But that begs the question: Why not get all your dollar ducks in a row BEFORE you start? It’s always amazing how billionaires can make so many financial misteps when it comes to sports.
— Rivier University’s athletic department – as well as the whole school – is mourning the loss this week of late Riv and Bishop Guertin chaplain Br. Paul Demers. He was a big Raider fan, and his memory was honored prior to a Rivier men’s volleyball sweep over Wentworth at the Muldoon Center, as Raider players wore impromtu black armbands on their jerseys, reportedly using trainers tape or a sharpie.
“An incredible man with a passion for everything Rivier athletics and Rivier University,” one observer said in an on-line post.
“As we move towards the end of the semester, there will be additional opportunities to recognize Brother Paul’s life and his contributions to the Rivier University Community,” Raiders coach/assistant athletic director Craig Kolek said in an email.
—- Stanley Cup hockey is next week, and we’ve got just the perfect thing to get you in the mood Sunday at Conway Arena. It will be The Golden Skate Challenge with the Merrimack High School varsity taking on the Merrimack Police Department at 11:20 a.m. All proceeds for the event (tickets are just $3), put on by the Merrimack Hockey Boosters Club, will benefit Special Olympics of New Hampshire. Last year the event raised $1200. Enjoy and remember to dress warm.
—The Manchester Monarchs will begin their playoffs next week, and you have to wonder if and when their playoff run ends, what happens next. Remember, the ECHL team is up for sale and, that can always be a dicey thing. You would hate to see that sports entertainment option leave the area, like the Lock Monsters/Devils did in Lowell, but the business of sports is the business of sports. The business: The Monarchs are reportedly next to last in attendance in the ECHL, averaging just over 2,400 fans a game. What a far cry from the early AHL days (early to mid 2000s) when the franchise was the top minor league draw in the country, just below 10,000 fans a night. Ouch.
— I second the motion by colleague Hector Longo in saying good job by the 10-person senior committee established by the New England Patriots which selected the late Leon Gray for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Gray teamed with John Hannah to provide one of the best tackle-guard combos in the history of the NFL, especially back in 1976. Of course, it was also memorable that Hannah and Gray were part of one of the bigger holdouts in franchise history in 1977, back in the pre-free agency days when that was a player’s biggest recourse.
As for the modern era inductee (finalists yet to be announced), the guess here is that Richard Seymour will be the one, as he was a finalist for Canton two months ago.
Of course the fact Gray is called a member of the “early era” of players really hits home for some of us who remember him. Double ouch.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org