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The Unsung Heroes

The View

On Sunday, February 7th the favoured Kansas City Chiefs were easily defeated in Super Bowl LIV by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many lauded the great Tom Brady for orchestrating the upset, and there’s no doubt he was a big part of it - what more can you say about a man who has appeared in 10 Super Bowl games during a 21-year career (47% of the time) while a storied hockey franchise like the Toronto Maple Leafs have appeared in exactly zero Stanley Cup Finals in the past 53 years (0%)?

It’s my strong (and somewhat educated) opinion however, that the MUCH bigger factor in the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl was the heavily injured offensive line of the Chiefs.


I’m sure many of the armchair quarterbacks who read this are saying things like, how dare he say that a bunch of guys whose names few people even know are more important than Tom! The truth is however, that even though most fans of the game can probably name 90% of the league’s starting QB’s and only 1% of the O-linemen, missing 60% of your starting O-line, in most cases, is much worse than missing your starting QB. My guess is that if KC had their entire O-line healthy but were missing QB Patrick Mahomes, the game would have been closer. They may still have lost, but it would have been closer. That’s how important your O-line is.

Good offensive linemen, just like key people in many other sports, are the oh-so-important, unsung heroes of football.

In hockey, the same can often be said about the guy that works in the corners and goes to the front of the net. During a recent three week stretch in late January/early February those aforementioned Maple Leafs won 9 of 10 games, and all you really heard about in the news were the names Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. Two star players for sure, but if you actually looked at most of the goals the two scored or set up during that stretch you’d see a guy named Zach Hyman placed right in front of the goalie, taking a beating from the opposition and truly helping make those goals happen. Yes, the same Zach Hyman that leads the entire NHL in ‘Puck Battles Won’ - a stat not quite as sexy to fans as ‘Goals Scored’.

I’ve often laughed out loud in recent years when I’ve seen some supposedly ‘knowledgeable’ Leaf fans write things on social media such as, “Why are they still playing Hyman with Matthews?” Haha. I’d love to hear what Auston Matthews would have to say about that because most truly knowledgeable hockey people realize that an unsung hero like Hyman is a big part of the reason for Matthews’ success.

In harness racing it’s the grooms that we usually call the unsung heroes - and it’s often true that they don’t get enough credit. I actually wrote of that very thing in this space in our November issue, suggesting that caretaker names be added to programs and post-parades, etc. But when recently watching and then reading about this year’s O’Brien Award winners, I was not only thinking about the mostly unmentioned grooms, but also the breeders, who are quite often unsung heroes as well. And then I thought about the dams of the winning horses, and some of the sires - some people know who the sires of the star horses are but very rarely do we make note of the dams.

Therefore, I’d simply like to use the rest of my column this month to congratulate the grooms, breeders, sires and dams who are connected to this year’s 12 equine winners. You’re all O’Brien Award winners too!

(Bettors Delight - Sammys Magic Girl)
Br: Hanover Shoe Farms / Groom: Ashleigh Hensley

LAWLESS SHADOW (Shadow Play - Ladycino)
Br: Seelster Farms / Groom: Emma Marie Peirson

(Donato Hanover - Windsong Soprano)
Br: White Birch Farm / Groom: Nadia Carrières

ON A STREAK (Cantab Hall - Habits Best)
Br: Fredericka Caldwell Groom: Randy Cudney

LAURAS LOVE (Betterthancheddar - Fit N Bad)
Br: Winbak Farm / Groom: Gracie Mae Barr

TATTOO ARTIST (Hes Watching - Stylish Artist)
Br: Tara Hills Stud / Groom: Giselle Loder

SORELLA (Muscle Hill - Kadealia)
Br: Elmer Fannin / Groom: Anette Zackrisson

PEMBERTON (Wheeling N Dealin - Dayshifter)
Br: Christine & Brenda Walker / Groom: Brenda Walker

SO MUCH MORE (Big Jim - Ladysai)
Br: Doug MacPhee / Groom: Don Beatson

CENTURY FARROH (Mach Three - Beachy Girl)
Br: Century Spring Farms / Groom: Dustin Boyd
U.S. Grooms: Misty Miller (NJ) & Paula Smith (IN)

HEY LIVVY (Donato Hanover - Nevis Bi)
Br: M Biasuzzi Stable / Groom: Sandi Lawrence

PERFETTO (Majestic Son - Perfect Prelude)
Br: Seawind Amg Stbs / Groom: Laura Trask

Dan Fisher
[email protected]

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