Any fan who has watched their favorite sports team relocate from their city knows the loss and heartbreak it brings. Especially when that team says goodbye for the final time at home. It is like saying goodbye to a friend, and can feel like a death.
The Expos said goodbye to the people of Montreal on October 3, 2004, after two years of ownership by Major League Baseball, leading to their move to Washington D.C.
Wind the clock forward almost ten years. The Mets and Blue Jays are playing two games at Olympic Stadium on Friday and Saturday to wrap up Spring Training. These two days in Montreal gave the city a chance to honor the 1994 team, which was the best in baseball before the strike that cancelled the rest of the season and World Series, and remember the good times before the Expos relocated.
It also brought up a reoccurring rallying cry from fans who used to cheer on the now Washington Nationals: The demand for another franchise to fill the void the old one left behind.
Cleveland, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hartford, Seattle and Montreal. Just a couple of cities one could name off the top of their head, who over the past 20 years, lost a beloved sports team to relocation. A few have got their wish. Many still wait for that day to come.
Cleveland and Winnipeg are the lucky ones.
The most shocking had to be the Browns. A franchise that defined the National Football League in it early year, was moved by Art Modell to Baltimore after the 1995 season. Cleveland, a blue collar city that like its rust belt neighbors Buffalo and Pittsburgh, identified itself with the Browns.
The city went three season until the league gave it an expansion franchise, of course named the Cleveland Browns, and resumed football in 1999. But of all the final games played by a soon to be relocated franchise, no game had a more "funeral feel" than the final game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
The Winnipeg Jets saw their team relocate to Phoenix a year after the Browns moved to Baltimore. Both Winnipeg and Quebec City, who lost the Nordiques the year before, constantly campaigned to get their teams back, no matter what it took.
The people of the Manitoba got its wish when True North Sports bought the Atlanta Thrashers and moved them back to Winnipeg in 2011. Nordique fans are still waiting for their day to come.
Speaking of hockey, the Hartford Whalers were another NHL team that relocated in the mid 90s. The Whalers moved to Raleigh, were renamed the Hurricanes, but got to keep "Brass Bonanza."
The most polarizing city has to be Seattle. The Emerald City lost the Super Sonics to relocation thanks to city and state politics, which is the case for most of teams moving, and saw Kevin Durant and company move to Oklahoma City and become the Thunder.
Seattle has come close to getting an NBA team again. When the Sacramento Kings seemed to be on the move, but the owner voted down the move. The struggle continues for Sonics fans.
One of the worst things that could happen to a persons favorite sports team is them moving to another city. Events like the one we saw in Montreal over the past two days bring back memories and emotions from the fans a team like the Expos left behind a decade ago.
There will be editorials arguing why Montreal deserves a second chance at a Major League Baseball team, and public demonstrations by fans might be held, but it's a struggle that this city and other ones like Seattle will continue to deal with for years to come.
Can baseball work again in Montreal? Well, it took over three decades for Washington D.C. to get another MLB team at the people of Montreal's expense.
The world's most famous arena is once again hosting the country's most famous conference basketball tournament. Perhaps, the former most famous basketball tournament to be more specific.
Of all the conference tournaments that happen in March, the Big East tournament has been the most noted one over the years. Taking place at Madison Square Garden, showing off some of the best talent in college basketball. The tournament has had everything. The excitement, the intensity and the atmosphere made it stand out.
From just watching the first few games in this years tournament, this current Big East conference, which is now reserved for only basketball, seems to be missing something. Something that had made this tournament in particular, different than the others.
That missing piece are the schools that went away when the old Big East split up.
The history of the conference has always centered around the names connected to the schools. In college basketball, some coaches are bigger stars than their players.
Men like Jim Boehiem, Rick Pitino and Tim Calhoun were the big names associated with the Big East. Other guys like Jamie Dixon, Bob Huggins and even Mike Brey became well-known names in college basketball over the years.
Rivalries like Syracuse-Georgetown highlighted the Big East schedule. Pittsburgh and West Virginia had their "Backyard Brawl" with Interstate 79 and just under a 90 minute drive separating them.
But all of this is gone.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse's move to the ACC was an early sign that the Big East was about to break up.
West Virginia saw the warning signs and bailed a year earlier than the Panthers and Orange for the Big 12.
Notre Dame followed Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC.
Louisville is spending a year in the ruins of what used to be a part of the Big East in football and basketball, the American Athletic Conference, before moving to the ACC in the fall.
Connecticut is stuck. Marooned on that misfit island that is the AAC with no place for their basketball program to go.
The seven Catholic schools, four of which that founded the original conference, have moved on, kept the Big East name, brought in Xavier, Creighton and Butler to fill the void the five former members left, and continue to host their tournament at Madison Square Garden. For some, it is easier to move on than it is for others.
This weekend in Manhattan will have a different feel. To know that Syracuse and Connecticut, two of the original founders, are not there. The games are not on ESPN like they have been in the past. The conference needed a new television contract, and landed with FOX Sports, with all the conference games being shown on FOX Sports 1. Making it a tougher task for some to locate the channel number on their cable.
Life after the breakup has reached this stage, the big stage in which the Big East always shines. The conference is still well known, and has a possible number one seed in the NCAA Tournament in Villanova. But there will be an emptiness felt for some time by the schools who left that put Big East basketball on the map.
Those are memories we can all look back on. More recent ones like the six overtime game between founding schools Syracuse and UConn in the 2009 quarterfinals, or the 2011 tournament in which the Huskies were a nine seed, and needed to win the Big East championship in order to make the dance. UConn did win the conference title and topped that with a National Championship.
New memories will be made in this new era of the Big East tournament. Seton Hall got it started with a buzzer beater win over top-ranked Villanova Thursday afternoon.
But the Big East and its conference tournament will never be the same.
It's been almost three years since the Atlanta Thrashers were sold and moved to Winnipeg and renamed the Jets. Not as sad as the Whalers moving to North Carolina, but still, another forgotten, short-lived franchise.
If you have watched the past two episodes of 'How I Met Your Mother' closely, you might have noticed something about the jersey Robin is wearing.
The Robin character is Canadian and of course loves hockey as well as Tim Horton's and Alan Thicke. While the character has always been seen in a Vancouver Canucks jersey in past episodes, the past two episodes shows her sporting the original white jersey of the departed Thrasher minus the logos.
We can only assume a few things. They were no longer allowed to wear an officially licensed NHL jersey on the show, the Robin character realizes that the Canucks are in disarray, or she is trolling Atlanta, since Canada got another pro team out of the move.
A 'How I Met Your Mother' post without any major spoilers. You're welcome.
Welcome to "3 Quick Thoughts."
Here are three things on my mind, right now, that need written somewhere. This is good.
1. PITT basketball is very lucky. Very "your fingertips might've been on the ball when the horn sounded or maybe not" lucky. If you're Newkirk, you do not get that call at Syracuse or North Carolina.
The Panthers are still alive to receive a bid for the NCAA tournament. The bubble did not burst, neither did PITT move off of it.
They need to beat Notre Dame/Wake Forest in their first game on Thursday to limit the stress they will be feeling on Selection Sunday. If they lose to the Irish or Demon Deacons, then they might be NIT bound. They have come a long way since the CBI Tournament in 2012. #CBIncredible.
2. Lamar Woodley got released? You're kidding, right? Anyone who has heard, read or seen at least on thing about the Steelers since Jason Worilds signed his transition tag deal last week knew Woodley was gone. Pittsburgh moves forward without him, and most people should be content. It is gonna cost the Steelers financially, if you want to find any negative in this.
3. Leave the NHL overtime alone! There is no need to tamper with it again. It is just a relief that the debate of changing the point system did not come up.
3-on-3 hockey in a double overtime period? I used to play summer leagues that were 3-on-3. It was a way to keep us in shape for the actual season, and we did it on the Olympic ice rink at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center at times.
You should have the fourth overtime be a 1-on-1. Remember the scene in D2: Mighty Ducks when Bombay and Stansson play posts? Classic Disney drama, yes. Just have Crosby and Ovechkin play 1-on-1, right? Dim the lights in the arena too, while you're at it.
Do they even play hockey in Iceland? Whatever. Enjoy the extra hour of sunlight, people.
"What a beautiful mess! What a beautiful mess I'm in."
Diamond Rio once said that in a song. It is also the best way to describe the Pittsburgh Penguins two games out of the Olympic break.
The beauty of the Penguins mess lies within the standings. This team is currently at the top of the conference and division standings. Their 14 point lead in the Metropolitan is astonishing. When the regular season wraps up, this team will be either a one or two seed in the conference going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
From a vague distance, this team looks like one that is in the drivers seat with an easy path through the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. When you get a little closer, you see a team that may not have a long playoff with its current roster that has a couple holes to fill.
The mess is the list of injuries that keep accumulating for the Penguins. Kris Letang's stroke and Paul Martin's broken hand thins them out defensively. First line winger Pascal Dupuis' torn ACL in his knee might keep him out the rest of the season and Beau Bennett's setback was hard to hear as well coming out of the Olympics. Those injuries seem to be catching up with the Penguins over the past few games.
With the NHL trade deadline upcoming on March 5 at 3 p.m. ET, fans are hoping that General Manager Ray Shero will make a move that will help improve the roster, but not mortgage too much of the franchises future. Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks tops a lot of wish lists with the fanbase and some reports say that the Penguins are still pursuing him. So the next 72 hours will be intriguing to watch as the deadline nears and if Shero can pull off another big deal.
Diamond Rio has not released an album since 2009. The same year the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup.
"What a beautiful, what a beautiful mess I'm in."