A 46 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2012
SPORTS Pro hockey
Sharks remain Nylund remains a Leaf at heart undefeated ‹ from page 43
The Bayside Sharks continue to be the biggest fish in the Okanagan Springs tier 2, division 1 rugby pond after an impressive 36-5 win over Cowichan at South Surrey Athletic Park Saturday. The win keeps Bayside undefeated through three games this season and, thanks to bonus points for tries scores, the Sharks hold a narrow one-point edge over the Vancouver Rowing Club in the standings. The two sides will square off in a showdown for first place this Saturday (Feb. 25) when the Rowers pay a visit to South Surrey. Game times are 11:30 a.m. for the third division teams, 1 p.m. for the seconds
and 2:30 p.m. for the first division sides. “We’ve earned one more bonus point than them and that’s the difference between first place and second right now,” said Bayside coach Pat Kearney. “Both of us were unsuccessful in qualifying for the premier league in the fall but we both want to be back there next year.” Against Cowichan Saturday the Sharks started slowly before breaking loose for 24 unanswered points in the second half. Spencer Thorpe sparked the Sharks with a pair of tries from his wing position while other majors came from flanker Gurvinder Kalar, scrumhalf Cody Rockson and fullback Corey Wood. Peter Clifford rounded out the Bayside scoring with one try and three conversions.
Blackhawks, the Maple Leafs demanded compensation. The matter was taken to an arbitrator who ruled Chicago had to surrender Jerome Dupont, Ken Yaremchuk and a 1987 fourth-round pick (Joe Sacco) to Toronto. Other teams watched the Nylund saga with interest and when it became clear that neither team was ruined by the transaction, NHL officials became more accepting to free agency. Nylund’s move opened the door for countless other NHL players and today, free agency is a common way of doing business. In fact, free agency has become a force in the sport that television channels dedicate large blocks of airtime to cover the first day of signings every July. Nylund, however, downplays his role in creating the annual summer free agent frenzy. The circumstances were right for him at the time but he no regrets about his days as a Maple Leaf. “I was always happy to be a Leaf and I was proud of that,” he said. “They were my favourite team when I was growing up and I was thrilled to be drafted by them. My heart still bleeds blue even though Toronto hasn’t done so well in recent years. I’m still a Leaf at heart.”
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Nylund was 22 years old in the summer of 1986 with just 218 games played. The “double eagle” clause kicked in and he was suddenly free to make his choice of where to play in the NHL — if any other teams knew he was available. “It’s so much different now than it was then,” Nylund recalls. “There was no speculation about potential free agent signings because most of the public didn’t know who was a free agent. Now the names are out in the media long before free agency begins and it’s almost like a shopping list is set up for the general managers. Players, teams and fans all know who is available so there are no surprises.” One of the teams that was aware of Nylund’s abilities and his availability was the Chicago Blackhawks. The Leafs had swept the Blackhawks out of the playoffs in the spring of 1986 and Nylund had played a prominent role in that success. Edmonton and Philadelphia also kicked the tires but Nylund thought Chicago was the team that best suited his talents. The Blackhawks were a physically intimidating team loaded
with tough players such as Steve Larmer, Dave Manson, Al Secord, Troy Murray, Curt Fraser and Doug Wilson. Given the physical nature of his play, Nylund saw Chicago as the best fit for his talents. “I really liked the way Chicago played,” he says. “They were a tough, physical team and they played as a pack. I thought I could slide into that pack and fit in with that style of game. I wasn’t known as a fighter but I didn’t take any crap out there and I think that was the kind of style of player they were looking for.” Of course, being paid in American dollars didn’t hurt either. “The biggest advantage with Chicago’s offer was the difference between the Canadian dollar and the U.S. dollar,” Nylund recalls. “It was something like 42 per cent back then so it was quite significant and I don’t think Toronto was willing to pay it. Contracts were not all in U.S. dollars then so if you were traded from a Canadian team to a U.S. team it was a real bonus while the other way it cost you. That’s why nobody wanted to play in Canada back then.” When Nylund signed with the
Published on Feb 24, 2012