The BC Lions Football Club is very saddened to announce that our owner and champion David Braley passed away peacefully this morning at his home in Burlington, Ontario.
“We share this news with the heaviest of hearts. David has been a proud and fiercely loyal owner of our team, a champion of the Canadian Football League, and a leader for whom his love of our game and our country went hand in hand and spanned decades. We share our deepest condolences with his family, friends and admirers,” said Rick LeLacheur, President of the BC Lions Football Club.
“One of his final acts of devotion to Canadian football was a clear expression of his desire that the stability of our club be maintained through a smooth transition following his passing. We will work closely with David’s estate to follow that plan.”
Also owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1989 to 1990 and the Toronto Argonauts from 2010 to 2015, Braley served as an Interim Commissioner of the CFL and Chair of its Board of Governors. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Braley was a highly successful entrepreneur with a genius for business and a generous philanthropist who made enormous contributions in the arenas of, i health, research and sport, including amateur football. Passionate about politics and public service, he served his country as a Senator from 2010 to 2013. Last year, he was named an officer of the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest honours.
“We have lost our greatest champion. All of us associated with the Lions have personally seen, time and time again, David’s selfless commitment to our club and our fans,” LeLacheur.
“But his example and inspiration, along with the direction he provided us all as his health failed, fuels our confidence in the Lions future. The BC Lions will continue to work hard to honour his memory by being the best we can be on the field, in the boardroom and in the community.”
A BC LIONS & CFL GIANT
Mr. Braley first purchased the financially-strapped BC Lions prior to the 1997 season and would be at the helm for one of the Canadian Football League’s most remarkable turnaround stories, both on and off the field.
During his induction speech at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012, Mr. Braley spoke of how proud he was going from 8,000 fans in the stands at his first game as owner to averaging 35,000 at the highest point of his tenure.
His first Grey Cup win as a CFL owner was a historic one. In 2000, the Lions flipped the switch in November and became the first team in pro football to win a championship despite finishing below .500 in the regular season. The Cinderella run was completed with a 28-26 win over Montreal in the 94th Grey Cup at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium.
Three years later, the golden age of Mr. Braley’s Lions ownership began when he and the late Bobby Ackles successfully lured Wally Buono, the CFL’s most successful head coach, to the Lions from Calgary.
The Lions finished first in the Western Division every year from 2004-2007, posting a regular season record of 52-19-1 in the process. In 2006, the franchise won its’ fifth Grey Cup and second under Mr. Braley’s ownership by taking down the Alouettes yet again, 25-14 in Winnipeg.
He would earn a third in 2011 when the Lions went from an 0-5 start to Grey Cup champions, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in front of our home fans at the newly renovated BC Place. The 2011 Grey Cup festival was also one of the more successful CFL events to date.
Along with the three Grey Cup championships and bringing fans back to the stadium, Mr. Braley’s ownership reign was also known for the Lions becoming major pillars in communities across the entire province. Prior to 2020, the club would visit an average of 140 schools per year.
A former high school player himself, Mr. Braley always believed in promoting the game of football at the grassroots level.
It was then-Hamilton mayor Bob Morrow who urged Mr. Braley to step in and purchase the struggling Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1989. That was the start of his very successful track record of owning football franchises. The Tiger-Cats would appear in the Grey Cup in his first season as owner and would then return to community ownership prior to the 1992 season.
Mr. Braley also owned the Toronto Argonauts from 2010-2015. The highlight of that tenure was the Argonauts hosting and winning the historic 100th Grey Cup. It was the fourth and final Grey Cup win as a CFL owner.
A well-known leader and innovator, Mr. Braley also spent time as Chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors and also served as Interim Commissioner from March-November of 2002 before the appointment of Tom Wright.
Mr. Braley’s success in the world of sports wasn’t just limited to the Canadian Football League. He kept soccer alive in the market by purchasing the Vancouver 86ers (A-League) in 1997 and owning them until the year 2000.
He was also a major force in bringing the 2012 World Cycling Championships to Hamilton in 2012 and was involved in Southern Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
After studying Sciences at McMaster University, Mr. Braley’s success in the business world began with General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Hamilton before he moved on to London Life Insurance.
He then purchased William Orlick Industries (now known as Orlick Industries) in 1969, and over the next several years transformed it from a small business into one of the leading manufactures of aluminum die-cast auto parts. Orlick Industries has also provided jobs for hundreds of workers in the Hamilton area.
Mr. Braley was always known for also being a champion in the world of Philanthropy, donating over $125 million to various organizations over the years.
During a remarkable ten-month stretch from August 2006 to June 2007, he gave $50 million to McMaster’s medical school and an additional $5 million for the University’s new athletic complex, which is appropriately named the David Braley Athletic Centre.
He also gave $10 million to Hamilton Health Sciences for a new cardiac, vascular and research institute as well as $5 million to St. Joseph’s Healthcare for operating rooms and kidney care.
In 2007, he was presented with an award from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association for charitable and philanthropic contributions.
Mr. Braley’s long and storied career also included politics. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in May of 2010, and would go on to serve for nearly three years before retiring from government. He received this country’s highest honour, the Order of Canada in 2019
Born in Montreal in 1941, his family moved to Hamilton in 1943. He quickly discovered his true passion for the game of football as a young child when he attended his first Tiger-Cats game at old Ivor Wynne Stadium. Love of the game is what led him to strap on the pads at Westdale High School and of course, carve out nearly three decades of success as an Owner and Governor in the Canadian Football League.
Mr. Braley is an honoured member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2012), McMaster Sports Hall of Fame (2007) and Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2006).
A total of 78 percent of all money bet on the spread at William Hill are on Pittsburgh and 68 percent of all tickets. Interesting considering that 19 of the last 25 Steelers-Ravens games have had one-score margins of victory (including Pittsburgh’s four-point win in Week 8). On the very low Over/Under total of 42.5, 78 percent of the money and 79 percent of the tickets are on the Over.
The Ravens also could activate some off the reserve/COVID-19 list early Wednesday, but according to the team site seven Pro Bowlers remain on it as of Tuesday night. That includes quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and outside linebacker Matthew Judon. Those guys are not playing. Neither is arguably the team’s most consistent receiver, Willie Snead IV.
Obviously, Jackson is the reigning NFL MVP. Both Judon and Andrews have played every game this season as well. Andrews leads the team in touchdown catches (six) and receiving yards (454) while Judon is tied with Calais Campbell for the team lead in sacks with four. Campbell is also on the list.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams and quarterback Trace McSorley came off the list Tuesday. Williams hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 15, though, and will not suit up, while McSorley presumably will back up Robert Griffin III. Otherwise, the team would have to call up undrafted Tyler Huntley from the practice squad.
Pittsburgh’s biggest name on the reserve-COVID-19 list is leading rusher James Conner, who reportedly tested positive, so the Steelers will use a committee of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland to replace Conner. Pittsburgh is the 18th team in the Super Bowl Era to start 10-0 straight up and the previous 17 were 12-5 in their 11th game.
This will be the 38th Wednesday game in league history. Assuming the rest of the regular season is played as scheduled, this would be the first season ever with a game played every day of the week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday already have had games. There’s Wednesday here, Saturday games starting Week 15 and one game scheduled on Christmas Friday.
The running backs were eligible to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list per the protocol since it’d been 10 days since their positive tests, if they were asymptotic. Even though they were eligible, it was never a sure thing either would be activated. In the end, the Ravens will play without both.
The Steelers-Ravens game was postponed three times from its original Thanksgiving night slot. Teams must still go through point of care tests Wednesday before the game is officially cleared to play, Rapoport reported.
Kaiden Guhle would never have slid past the Montreal Canadiens’s 16th overall pick at the 2020 NHL Draft. The prospect is simply too great a match. He embodies the values of the organization, how they want their players to conduct themselves on and off the ice surface, and — like Marc Bergevin often says — plays a position where you can never have too much depth.
With Guhle’s pick, the Habs stacked their defence with players who could handle a large amount of minutes in the future. The defenceman played upwards of half the games with the Prince Albert Raiders last season and it’s a safe bet that, whenever the WHL restarts, his responsibilities will only increase, which will also help his production.
Guhle scored 40 points last season for the Raiders, a respectable total for a draft-year defenceman. As his physical development continues, the Junior game will only get easier and easier for him. Hopefully he expands his offensive capabilities and flirts with the league scoring lead for defencemen in the next couple of years.
Eight voters and the EOTP community placed Guhle in their top 10.
You could expect a high first-round pick to debut even higher on the board, but due to the amount of great young talents the organization amassed, the prospect plateaued at eighth. To climb past some of the exciting names ahead of him, Guhle will have to further prove himself.
I’m a little more optimistic when it comes to the 2020 first-rounder. His upside and the many pro-like elements of his game had me confidently sliding him up the list.
History of #8
Guhle is one of the best skaters of the 2020 draft class. In time, his speed, acceleration, and agility will enable him to stop NHLers just like he stops Junior players, especially considering that his inescapable mobility is complemented by suffocating range.
The defenceman’s pure tools made him one of the better rush-defenders in Mitch Brown’s tracking project. Attackers seldom used his side of the ice to attack, and when they did, they quickly regretted it. He immediately swatted the puck away from their blades with long-range pokechecks or laid them to the ice with thunderous hits.
If the attackers managed to pick up a bit more speed against him, well they just delayed the inevitable; Guhle backed off a bit more, forming a wall at his blue-line, forcing them to dump the puck around him. In-zone, Guhle continues to bully. He plays the initiator role, jumping on puck-carriers and pinning them to the boards to allow one of his forwards to sweep in and take possession.
His effectiveness doesn’t come only from brute force, but refined technique: shuffle-steps to match the attacker’s speed, angling techniques to close down space and passing lanes, and the use of pressure points to keep them glued to the walls. Guhle’s low and athletic position gives him leverage against opponents. He applies his weight to their hips and prevents any escape.
Offensively, the defenceman scores by activating in two ways: off the rush for shots at the top of the circles and in the offensive zone for backdoor plays. In the recent Team Canada camp scrimmages, there was also more conscious effort on his part to sidestep defenders and improve the location of his shots. He picked up an assist by dragging the puck slightly to the middle before stepping wide to fire past an opponent. A forward picked up the rebound and put in an empty net.
I used to question Guhle’s stick-handling abilities, but after more viewings, the mechanics of it are relatively fine — at least NHL-average. He dribbles with the heel of his blade and rolls the puck with his top-hand (he doesn’t hack at it like many other defence-first blue-liners). His upper body is stable as he skates up-ice, so even if his shuffling movements aren’t as precise and quick as a Mattias Norlinder, the puck rarely springs off his blade when he executes difficult manoeuvres.
In other words, I have no doubt that Guhle can master the technical aspects of the offensive game. To start making use of his techniques and become at least a middle-of-the-pack offensive threat from the back-end, however, a couple of aspects of his game will need to be reinforced.
The first is awareness. Guhle simply doesn’t take in information at a high enough rate. When the puck moves to his side of the ice, he doesn’t know what lanes are open. As a result, he loses a precious second scanning the ice after getting possession, enough time for the opposing defence to move and counter his potential plays.
This is the biggest reason why Guhle resorts to so many uncontrolled plays: dumps, rims, and chip-outs. (Although Mitch Brown’s data above suggests that this problem may be overstated since the defenceman doesn’t make many controlled exits per 60 minutes, he attempts more controlled plays than uncontrolled ones. He also succeeds in making those controlled plays more often than not.)
The second element to improve is simply confidence. He was too skittish in the first two scrimmages with Team Canada. Of course, Guhle hadn’t played in a competitive game in nine months and he is one of the younger players at the camp. That being said, even considering those factors, he deferred to others too much, which affected the quality of his line’s possessions. He passed to teammates already under heavy forechecking pressure and forced them to dig pucks from the wall and come back defensively in a hurry after turnovers.
Guhle needs to expand his comfort zone, and for that he needs to try plays, even if it means a low success rate at first. Team Canada’s camp is maybe not the best setting for it as he is competing for a spot and trying to limit mistakes, but I hope to see him figure out the limits of his abilities when the WHL starts.
Once he becomes more aware and confident, new developmental paths will open up for him, like offensive manipulation, something he barely does currently.
Alexander Romanov, a defenceman whose standout attribute is an aggressive defensive game, is penciled in the top four of future Canadiens teams. Romanov may not bring much offence to the lineup, yet the organization and the fanbase alike value him as a key prospect regardless.
In his draft year, Romanov lacked the awareness and control that now make him the deadly shutdown presence that he is. His play with the puck? Very limited. The defenceman’s most common breakout tactic was rimming the disc blindly up the boards with the hope that one of his wingers stood ready to catch it. In the offensive zone, he simply smashed every pass on net with little forethought.
Guhle isn’t Romanov. He is actually a better prospect than Romanov was in his draft year, and maybe even in 2018-19.
Guhle skates with the same agility, but he is 6’3”. He plays the same physical brand of defence, but he is 25 pounds heavier, which will give him the leverage necessary to pin and drop many NHL forwards, too.
All in all, the disappointment over some of the prospects not selected by Montreal, notably Dawson Mercer, seems to have distorted the perception of Guhle for many.
Unfulfilled draft expectations shouldn’t weigh down the defenceman. He is a part of the organization now, has top-four potential, and a better chance of reaching that role than all of the other defensive prospects ranked on this list the day they were drafted by the Canadiens.
So don’t be surprised if Guhle makes Team Canada’s roster for the World Junior Championship in a defensive role, and then the following year leverages his above-average skating ability to develops into a puck-mover, earning a roster spot with Montreal in 2022.
Guhle has taught hard lessons to those who underestimate him. If you don’t closely monitor his progress, you might get stunned by how rapidly he emerges.
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