Morning Skate: Friday, March 30


Morning Skate: Friday, March 30

A look at two traditional Canadian NHL franchises (Montreal, Toronto) in the dumpster this season as the playoffs near. Thats a tough blow to the national Canadian media outlets.

Bruce Arthur from the National Post says that the Canadiens are having a tough time living up to their past, but their past is probably part of the problem for a franchise that needs to be humbled a little bit.

Washington Post scribe Katie Carrera writes that Alex Ovechkin says the Capitals are back on track after their victory over the Bruins on Thursday night. Color me as not quite convinced.

Frustrated Leafs fans start a "lets go Blue Jays" chants at the Air Canada Centre during another blowout loss for Toronto. That is starting to get ugly.

Ray Ratto and Drew Rewenda are both firing verbal volleys at each other on the Sharks postgame show after another underachieving performance for the San Jose Sharks. Sorry, but the Sharks have been the poster boys for underperformance in the NHL over the last 10 years and the argument they dont have enough offensive firepower is laughable to me with names like Thornton, Marleau and Couture.

The Vancouver Sun quotes Canucks GM Mike Gillis as saying that Daniel Sedin will be ready to go once the playoffs start.

For something completely different: Will Ferrell announces plans for Anchorman 2 and then talks about it with Dan Patrick on his radio show. Thanks to Ken Fang for bringing it all together.

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”

Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls


Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls

Tonight’s pregame number is 133. That’s the total number of made 3-point field goals made last season by the players starting for the Bulls tonight. Whatever the Bulls reasons for signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were this offseason, floor spacing was not one of them.

Wade’s career mark of 28.4 percent from distance is the third-worst percentage among active players with 600+ career attempts, while Rondo’s 28.9 career 3-pt FG% is seventh worst. And, for what it’s worth, the new-look Bulls shot 31.8 percent from beyond the arc (21st in the NBA) this preseason, while hitting 7.7 3-pointers per game. 

Despite allowing 15 3’s last night vs the Nets, perimeter defense should once again be a strength for the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics were fourth in the NBA with an opponent 3-pt FG% of 33.6. They were 38-15 when holding opponents to eight or fewer 3’s. 

With the NBA continuing to trend towards more 3-point shooting, it will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg’s offense looks this season, and especially tonight vs the Celtics.