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THE MOJ: Pettersson’s Vancouver future could be riding on this season

If the Canucks play well, they improve their chances of keeping him for a lot of money
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LET’S TALK…NEXT SPRING:

Canucks star Elias Pettersson recently told an NHL media contingent traveling in Europe that contract talks with the Vancouver organization will not be occurring until after the upcoming season.

“I’ve just put that on hold. I still have one more year left. I’ve been wanting to focus on training this summer and the contract will sort itself out,” Pettersson told NHL.com.

Petterson is no dummy and neither are his agents, Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The 24-year-old is coming off a career-high 102-point season and his stock is only rising. Given the fact that the salary cap will probably get bumped significantly next season, it’s understandable why Pettersson and his camp are being patient.

If you are a Canuck fan, I would be more concerned about how the team performs this season than any contract negotiations. The bottom line is that Pettersson wants to win. Vancouver did have a bump last year after Rick Tocchet took over as head coach with a 20-12-4 record. Now the question is whether or not that level of success can be maintained over the course of 82 games. The Canucks performance as a team will have a huge impact on whether or not Pettersson is willing to sign a long-term deal in Vancouver.

As for the organization, they’re in a tough spot. If the team plays well, Pettersson will no doubt be a huge part of that success and the organization will have to back-up the Brinks truck. If the Canucks flounder, where will Pettersson’s mind be at?

WHO’S IN AND WHO’S OUT?

It’s strange how sports works. As we’ve mentioned in previous columns, the Seattle Mariners were sellers on the Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline. All they’ve done since then is go on a 15-4 heater and are in a wildcard spot as I write this.

The Los Angeles Angels, meanwhile, decided to go all in an effort to show pending free-agent Shohei Ohtani that they meant business. Despite acquiring C.J. Cron, Randal Grichuk and Lucas Giolito at the deadline, they’ve gone 5-15 since. Take make matters worse, Mike Trout came off the injured list after a six-week absence only to be placed back on after one game.

But the most devastating news is the Ohtani will not pitch again this year after suffering a torn UCL in his last start with another Tommy John surgery almost a certainty. Ohtani was expected to field offers in the $500 to $600 million dollar range as baseball’s most-coveted free agent this winter but those numbers were based on him being two-way player. Now it appears Ohtani won’t pitch until the 2025 season. Ohtani will still get paid a ridiculous amount of money but the arm injury will cost him millions of dollars and perhaps the chance of becoming baseball’s first $500 million dollar plus signing.

ROURKE PART DEUX:

The CFL Scouting Bureau released its first Top-20 prospect rankings of the 2023 season and Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke sits on top of the board. The younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nathan Rourke, Kurtis Rourke and the Bobcats begin their 2023 season Friday night when they take on San Diego State.

Physically, Kurtis Rourke doesn’t have Nathan’s mobility but he is bigger than his older brother (6-4, 215 lbs. versus 6-2, 209 lbs.) and actually has a stronger arm. If all goes well this year for Kurtis, he will wind up getting a shot in the NFL. I remember Nathan telling us last year that the current Bobcat offense focuses more on the passing game than when he was there as he was asked to use his feet more.

As for Nathan, he continues to draw rave reviews for his pre-season play – generating four touchdown drives in two pre-season games. Jags head coach Doug Pederson has stated that Rourke will be the #3 quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Beathard but there’s still the possibility that he will crack the 53-man active roster. Given his pre-season performance, it’s highly unlikely that Rourke would survive being placed on the Jags practice squad, so the Jags might be forced to dress Rourke rather than lose him to another team.

TRICKERATION EXPLAINED:

The Lions third-down trick play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during last Sunday’s 34-29 loss didn’t work out too well and it left fans wondering why the call was made. Early in the third quarter and needing a long yard for a first down, quarterback Dominique Davis rolled out to his right but instead of trying to gain the edge for the first down, he threw downfield for receiver Jevon Cottoy. Unfortunately for the Leos, Cottoy was well covered on the play and the pass fell incomplete resulting in the Lions turning the ball over on downs.

As in most instances with trick plays, there was something in the game film that led the Lions to believe that they play was ‘there’ and it would work. Unfortunately, the Riders did something they hadn’t done in the past – they covered the receiver. Perhaps the best example of a play being ‘there’ was the famous ‘Ambush’ onside kick by the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints believed the play was ‘there’ because the Colts player on that side had a tendency to cheat and bail out to begin his blocking assignment before the ball was kicked.

Sure enough, the onside kick worked because of that. It was a game-changing play as the Saints scored on the ensuing drive en route to a 31-17 victory.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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