Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss Maple Leafs defenceman Paul Ranger, Floyd Mayweather, the Washington Capitals' decision to let Alex Ovechkin participate in the Olympic torch relay and the Washington Redskins' nickname.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Paul Ranger. Ranger was a top-four defenceman for Tampa Bay when in 2009 he asked for a leave of absence from the team and for his salary to be withheld. He didn't come back. After two years he resurfaced to help coach his old bantam triple-A team in Whitby. And last year he asked Toronto for an AHL-only contract and excelled. Now he's a Leaf. He won't say what specifically kept him away, but he talks about how strong he feels inside, how the mental side of the game is so important and how proud he is that he's come this far. We're not hard to root for people in this business, but I'll say this: for Paul Ranger it's not hard to make an exception.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Floyd Mayweather Jr., the only breakout star left in the dwindling attraction that is boxing. Money Mayweather was at his best Saturday night in Las Vegas putting on another clinic of both pugilism and commerce winning just about every round against the capable 'Canelo' Alvarez and taking home a guaranteed purse of $41.5 million to boot. Mayweather was as slippery as ever in the Super Welterweight title bout, nearly impossible to hit, counter-punching, utilizing his incomparable hand speed. The only downfall to the one-sided win was one of the ringside judges, C.J. Ross, myopically scored the fight a draw. Anyone who watched from around the world knew better.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to simple common sense, which the Washington Capitals showed in the not-insignificant matter of Alex Ovechkin and the Olympic torch relay. The Capitals are allowing Ovechkin a quick trip to Greece to carry the torch from Mount Olympus even though it will occur only two days before the team opens – eight time zones away – in Chicago. Washington might have a travel-weary captain against the Blackhawks, but my guess is this conspicuously proud Russian will be energized by the torch honour. Ovechkin had a slow start to his Hart-winning 2013 season. This Olympic hors d'oeuvre is the thing that might light a fire under him.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to the growing number of voices calling for the Washington Redskins to find a new nickname. Recently the chorus of those crying for change added two prominent American journalists: Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Christine Brennan of USA Today who, among others, said they will no longer use the word in their work. More significantly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appears to be changing his tune, talking about the "need to be listening" and to "do the right thing." Many, including Goodell, have pointed out that the Redskins name represents an important piece of the NFL's history. But history is exactly where that name belongs.