In Toronto, Richard Griffin cites MLB sources as saying that the Blue Jays' bid for Japanese P Yu Darvish "was over $50 million, barely edged out by the winning bid of $51.7 million reported to be posted by Rangers GM Jon Daniels." Griffin writes fans "should take heart that the Jays are no longer perceived as whining poor boys of the AL East, that ownership is ready to compete." Grffin: "Now just do it" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote Monday "illustrates what we've discovered the past two offseasons: That the Rangers have the cash to compete in the free-agent market. No longer is Daniels simply playing Texas Hold 'em with prospects as chips." If the "past four seasons are any indication, Daniels and his staff have a tendency to win most of the bets they place." Daniels "played the process like a poker pro" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 12/20).
IF YOU BUILD IT... New Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan said of the football market in Jacksonville, "People are going to come. Contrary to what the press says, we have not had a blackout in the last couple years. We are going to sustain that." Khan said of the NFL's possible expansion overseas, "I think there will be a market. The idea of possibly two teams overseas makes sense. ... England likely is a good spot" ("NFL Podcast with Peter King," SI.com, 12/20). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote Khan is "setting the right tone." He is "creating enthusiasm, but being as honest as possible about loyalty being a two-way street between the organization and the fans." Frenette: "Khan appears to be a breath of fresh air. If he's as good as he sounds, it should be a fun, interesting ride" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/20).
DEEP WATER: In Toronto, Dave Perkins writes it "appears the Montreal Canadiens have gone off the deep end." Perkins: "Who else hires a new coach (Randy Cunneyworth) on a game day with now five consecutive road games looming on either side of the Christmas holidays? Further, when the inevitable complaining arises from the usual sources that Cunneyworth can’t speak French, the owner, Geoff Molson, comes out with a wishy-washy statement that pretty much dismisses Cunneyworth as a permanent candidate and sends the Habs fishing in shallow waters only for a French-speaking coach" (TORONTO STAR, 12/21).
TIME TO STEP UP: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan wrote Sabres Owner Terry Pegula "ought to be mad" about the team's 16-14-3 record, and it is "time he did something about it." Pegula "needs to shake things up." There is "no culture of accountability in that operation." Sullivan: "This is the 15th year of [GM Darcy] Regier and [coach Lindy] Ruff. It's a culture of contentment, in which people become too comfortable, and it trickles down to the players" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/20 ).