Diving into the prediction game is risky. It’s quite possible that none of them will materialize in 2023 (especially the Stanley Cup winners!). The exercise, I remind you, only serves to fuel the discussion. On that note, happy new year everyone!
1. Thomas Bach will play Vladimir Putin
To increase Russia’s influence, the Kremlin is betting big on sports. The organization of the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 Soccer World Cup are examples of this.
This is why the expulsion of Russian teams and athletes from numerous international competitions since the invasion of Ukraine offends Vladimir Putin. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, even stripped the Russian president of a decoration, the Order of Olympic Merit.
But this firmness will not continue this year. Bach is already speaking in thinly veiled terms about the participation of Russian athletes in the Paris 2024 Games, he said last month, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Political interference”! You think you are dreaming when you read these words. Even Putin must be stunned that his dirty war in Ukraine is being so nicely labeled by the IOC president.
Three days ago, Bach ruled in favor of maintaining the sports sanctions against Russia and Belarus, as well as the holding of international competitions in these two countries. But he did not specifically mention the participation of his athletes in the Paris Games. I think he will be in favor if they are designated as “neutral” athletes.
No doubt Bach would like us to believe that the banning of the Russian national anthem and the country’s flag during the Games constitutes a real sanction, a big joke in today’s context.
In the IOC, the guts and principle against Russia only lasted for a while. And the day that Bach authorizes the presence of Russian athletes in Paris, Putin will win an important victory.
2. Professional sports won’t give much thought to the environment.
On November 15, the Canadian hosted the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Center. The team then played one game in Columbus, returned to Montreal for two games, returned to Columbus, from there to Chicago, returned to Montreal for one game before heading west.
That’s a lot to travel on the team’s charter plane. Could the NHL better plan its teams’ travel for environmental reasons?
Unfortunately, it will take time before this issue becomes a priority in the NHL. The reality is even worse in Formula 1. The great circus moves briskly from one continent to another during the calendar.
In 2022, for example, seven races were held successively in Italy, the United States, Spain, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Canada and Great Britain. Alas, engines, this is all very poorly thought out!
Fortunately, Formula 1 has adopted an action plan to better plan air travel. The idea, according The Guardian, is to “expedite” the schedule. Given the contracts with the different promoters, all this will take time to become a reality.
3. The Super Bowl at Las Águilas
Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles … if quarterback Jalen Hurts stays healthy. Victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
4. Rory McIlroy Masters Tournament
Tiger Woods remains the most influential player on the PGA, but Rory McIlroy has become his true spokesman in 2022. His leadership is exceptional in Tour affairs.
Next April, McIlroy will win the Masters for the first time in his career, the only major missing from his draw. (And speaking of hunting, I don’t think Carey Price will embark again in 2023 on a public operation to defend the rights of hunters as he sees them.)
5. Tennis: three predictions for the price of one!
A. Félix Auger-Aliassime will win a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. In the majors, it will be more difficult. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will focus all their energies on inflating their record and the competition will be even more fierce.
B. We will witness the strong comeback of Bianca Andreescu. After difficult seasons, she will recapture her style from 2019 when she won the US Open.
C. Leylah Annie Fernandez will gradually regain her 2021 momentum. But given her recent struggles, a foot injury has dropped her from 13me at 40me To qualify in the world ranking, it will take time. She will be one to watch in the second half of the season.
6. The Stanley Cup to the Toronto Maple Leafs
Don’t you believe in it? I understand you a little. But they have a lot of talent in attack and, above all, they are thefun to see play. Of course, they will potentially have to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins to continue their run. Difficult, but certainly not impossible.
7. Action in the CH
Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes will be active as the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline approaches. Several players will be on the market: Sean Monahan (yes, yes), Jonathan Drouin (an interesting risk for a team with ambitions), Evgenii Dadonov (but who will want him?), Joel Edmundson (there could be an escalation)…
The duo at the helm of CH’s hockey operations will continue to prepare for the future, a decision that deserves applause. A champion team is based on patience.
8. MLS: transition season
Yes, a transition season in Major League Soccer. Not on the sports level, but on the side of the television contract. There will still be games on traditional TV (a minimum of 14 from CF Montreal to RDS), but an Apple TV subscription will be necessary to not miss a thing, the “MLS Season Pass”, the cost of which is yet to be revealed. .
How much fans Will CF Montreal and other teams pay this bill? The answer to this question is not clear, but in the short term the league will suffer in terms of reach. The new TV deal is bold and shows an interesting vision for the future. But it comes maybe two or three years ahead of time.
9. Shane Wright or Juraj Slavkovsky?
Who will be the best between the two young attackers? The debate will certainly not be resolved by the end of 2023. The CH, I remind you, took Slafkovsky first in the last draft, leaving the Seattle Kraken to grab Wright in fourth place. And you know what ? Logan Cooley, selected third overall by the Arizona Coyotes, could become the best player in this cohort.
And speaking of the Coyotes, they’re in for a big win on May 16 when Tempe taxpayers vote in favor of their new amphitheater project. And if, by surprise, the idea was rejected, the Coyotes would land in Houston, and not in the city where we all would like… or almost!
10. Teams will spend even more
At a time when we think professional teams can’t give their star players better contracts, Major League Baseball proves otherwise.
Here are three deals signed in recent weeks: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees ($360 million, 9 seasons); Carlos Correa, New York Mets (315 million, 12); Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres (280 million, 11 years old).
Oh yeah, all of these players will be in their 40s when their deals run out. Have they performed well in the previous two or three seasons? Probably not ! I would add that Correa’s contract is not yet official, as doubts persist about an injury to his right leg.
But these very legitimate fears about the performance of older players won’t stop pro teams from spending again in 2023.