Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss Kyle Lowry's All-Star blessing, Coach Q, unheralded undraftees and leaving the NFL playoffs alone.
Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star: My thumb is up to the 14 NBA coaches who decided this week that raptor Kyle Lowry doesn't deserve to be on the All-Star team. They're wrong, of course. Badly wrong. According to reports, the player who pipped Lowry for the last bench spot was Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson. Lowry is out-averaging Johnson in every statistical category - including rebounds - and Johnson is seven inches taller. In making this mistake, however, those coaches have done Raptors fans a huge service. From here until the end of the season, Toronto not only has the best point guard in the East, they now have the most motivated point guard in the East.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks, who this week moved up to No. 3 on the all-time list of coaching victories in the National Hockey League. It's impressive enough to make the top three. It's even more impressive when the only coaches ahead of you in wins are named Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour. Quenneville, for some reason, doesn't get a whole lot of attention, doesn't make a lot of headlines, rarely gets mentioned for coach of the year, which he won once more than a decade ago. But here he is behind a nine-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time Cup winner. And nobody else. Yeah, he's an all-time great. And when have we ever said that about Joel Quenneville?
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens, for impenetrability. Scrivens stopped a record 59 shots in a shutout of the Sharks, a dash of good news in a city unaccustomed to seeing a goalie make 59 saves in a week. Scrivens' stellar game underscored the notion that goalies don't need pedigree. Undrafted out of Cornell, Scrivens once played in the East Coast Hockey League. Ex-Calgary Hitman netminder Martin Jones of the Los Angeles Kings, also was undrafted and played in the Coast as did the Rangers' Cam Talbot, out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Another thing they have in common: among NHL goalies with at least 12 starts, they are one-two-three in save percentage.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to the likelihood that the NFL playoffs will be expanded to include 14 teams, up by two from the current 12. Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones delivers the argument for more playoff teams this way: "How exciting is it for fans of a .500 team to see that team in the playoffs with a chance to win the Super Bowl?" Well, here's what's more exciting - two teams like Denver and Seattle, with 13-3 records, showing off their season-long excellence at the Super Bowl. Jerry Jones needs to improve his team, not the League. But the guy in charge of the league, Roger Goodell, supports the idea of more playoff teams, thus more playoff games - get ready for wild-card "week".