Former Canisius College athletes ink professional deals

On any given weekend throughout the year, you’re bound to find college students across the country huddled together around the television, watching whatever sports game they can find. But here at Canisius, we never really planned on tuning into a game and hearing the broadcaster call a classmate’s name. 

Until now, that is. 

While most of us were off enjoying our summers (or working it away…), several former Golden Griffin athletes were busy signing contracts to play professionally. High profile athletes in their own right during their time at Canisius, Carl Hudson, Frank Turner and Steve McQuail, among several others, are making names for themselves in the pros. 

Hudson crunches Syracuse's Maksim Mayorov. The Panthers like his physical play.

Hudson, a senior defenseman for the hockey team last year, is playing for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. He began playing for the Amerks last spring following the conclusion of Canisius’ season. According to amerks.com, Hudson signed an amateur tryout contract with the Rochester Americans on March 26, 2010. He played seven games with Rochester at the end of the regular season and five more in the playoffs, picking up one assist and tallying 28 penalty minutes along the way. 

Rochester liked what they saw in Hudson, especially the physical aspect he brought to the team. Once the free agency period started this offseason, the Florida Panthers of the NHL signed the former Griff to a one-year, entry-level contract, which most likely keeps him with their minor league affiliate Rochester for another year. CapGeek.com reports the deal to be valued at up to $525,000. Hudson will be a restricted free agent when the contract expires. 

“Last season I had the fortunate opportunity of playing pro hockey in Rochester, which was a great experience,” said Hudson.  “I believe that having played a few games last year will really help me with the upcoming season since I know what to expect.” 

Hudson is the first Canisius player to sign with an NHL team.  “Canisius has really help[ed] me to mature both as a person and a hockey player, and for that I must thank everyone who I have been involved with over my four years at Canisius,” Hudson said. He hopes his signing will help attract recruits to the school. 

A four-year member of the Canisius men’s basketball team, Frank Turner is now playing professionally in Europe. On July 30, EiffelTowers Den Bosch announced they had signed the guard to a one-year deal. The club is a member of the Holland-Eredivisie, the top basketball league in the Netherlands. 

Turner drives to the hoop on an occasion when he seen without the iconic upside-down headband.

Turner is currently in his second week of preseason with the team, and says things are going well. “It took me a day to get adjusted with the difference between American and European players,” Turner said. “European players are more skilled and Americans depend more on their athleticism, so that was a big difference. 

“Another difference is practicing two times a day! The first week it had me a little exhausted but I am now adjusted and doing well.” 

Turner credits his time at Canisius with helping him make the transition smoothly. 

“Playing at Canisius helped me tremendously! Coach Parrotta and his staff prepared me very well with certain techniques and ideas of the game. My current coach here in Holland has the same philosophy offensively and defensively as the coaching staff at Canisius.” 

Turner added that this bodes well for the current Griffs, who are left in good hands. “Not only are the players prepared to dominate on both sides of the ball every night at Canisius, they are also being taught the professional game.” 

Turner was a two-time all-league selection and is the all-time games played leader in Canisius history. He also ranks fourth all-time in points and third in steals.  

McQuail makes running down a fly ball look easy with this catch near the wall

The baseball team had good news this offseason as well, when Steve McQuail was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Major League Baseball Draft. A 30th round selection, McQuail is currently playing for the Auburn Doubledays, a Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Blue Jays who play in the New York-Penn League. 

Last year as a junior, McQuail led all Griffs with a .398 batting average and 20 home runs, and set a MAAC record with 81 RBIs. 

This year, the outfielder is currently hitting .252 with the Doubledays and has hit four homers through 38 games played. 

Several notable major leaguers began their careers in Auburn, such as Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Billy Wagner, Luis Gonzalez, Kenny Lofton, Julio Lugo, and Morgan Ensberg; as well as current Blue Jays like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, and John Buck, who was named to the American League All-Star team this year.  

Other members of last year’s hockey team continue to play after Canisius. Dave Cianfrini, Jason Weeks, Josh Heidinger and Andrew Loewen are all reported to be playing in mid-level professional leagues across the country, while Dave Kostuch (who holds dual citizenship with Canada and Poland) is giving up his final two years at Canisius to play for MKS Cracovia Krakow of the Polish Elite League. 


Links: 

-Amerks’ bio of Carl Hudson
-EiffelTowers press release on Turner, translated from Dutch.
-Auburn Doubledays’ bio of Stephen McQuail

This article is the original write-up of a similar story that appeared in The Griffin, August 27, 2010

Three wide receivers you need to know

As the preseason progresses, some players raise their fantasy value, while others squander it. Here’s a quick look at players you may look like a genius for adding.

Laurent Robinson, WR, STL

I consider Laurent Robinson a must-have at this point in the season. Going into camp, Donnie Avery was the number one receiver, but many people liked Robinson better from a fantasy standpoint anyway, citing Avery’s inability to produce (zero 100-yard games last year, and topped out in week 1 with 6 receptions). With Avery sidelined for the year with a reported ACL tear, Robinson becomes the only Ram worth having on your fantasy team besides Steven Jackson.

I know that the Rams offense leaves a lot to be desired–especially while they work in a rookie QB–but Robinson is now an uncontested number one receiver on an NFL team, and that means he has fantasy value.

Looking for increased roles in the offense behind Robinson are Mardy Gilyard, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola and Keenan Burton; but I’m not sure anyone besides their family knows that they play in the NFL. Stay away.

Legedu Naanee, WR, SD

Naanee will be the second receiver in Mexico North until Vincent Jackson returns to the lineup. Jackson is suspended to start the season, and threatens to hold out even longer if his contract demands aren’t met; perhaps the entire season.

Jackson seems pretty serious. Right now, I’d pencil Naanee in to be the Chargers’ second starter for the next 17 weeks. I think Antonio Gates is still the most trusted target in the offense, but with Phillip Rivers at the helm, all things are possible.

I recommended Naanee as a pickup because I’m assuming Malcom Floyd has already been spoken for in your league. He’s the top wide out for the Chargers right now. He’s owned in only 64 percent of all ESPN leagues, but those are the smart leagues that all of you are in, right? Take Floyd if he’s there, but if not, Naanee could be a great sleeper.

Greg Camarillo, WR, MIN

Camarillo swapped letters this week when he was traded from MIA to MIN. He could start week 1 as high as number two on the Vikings’ depth chart behind Bernard Berrian, who I recommended to you last week. (Berrian is now the fourth most added player in ESPN leagues. Told you.)

Brett Favre has looked less-than-stellar thus far through the preseason, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’ll make things happen with whatever receivers he has at his disposal–and right now Camarillo looks to be one such option.

With Sidney Rice out for half the year and the status of Percy Harvin still up in the air (or flat on his face, passed out), Camarillo, Berrian and TE Visanthe Shiancoe should see increased involvement in the passing game.


Other names I’m hoping you already know (you’re behind the 8 ball if you don’t):

Devin Aromashodu, WR, CHI
-Arian Foster, RB, HOU
-Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU
-Derek Anderson, QB, ARIZ
David Buehler, K, DAL

That’s right. A kicker. He’s far from a lock, but has huge potential. Could be the first waiver wire wonder kicker ever.

Turns out throwing 100 mph is bad on the arm

Remember this guy?

So do I. I saw him pitch once. And with his most recent developments, it looks like I may get to see him pitch again.

About two months ago, he was all the rave. He was trending on Twitter and his starts were must-see television. In his first major league start against a Triple-A team Pittsburgh, he struck out 14 batters and wowed fans with blazing heat and knee-buckling hooks. The game was even broadcast live on the Internet–well, the first six innings at least.

But two DL stints later, Stephen Strasburg is yesterday’s news. Yesterday after an extensive MRI, it was revealed that Washington’s 15 million-dollar man has a torn elbow ligament and will likely need Tommy John surgery; a surgery that takes players a minimum one calendar year to recover from, usually more.

Just to spell this out: Strasburg will miss all of this year. He may also miss all of next year.

If this kid is as super-human as they say he his, he’ll be able to start throwing again next spring. Soon enough he’ll be throwing off a mound, and then he’ll work his way from simulated games to rehab starts. (Side note– what exactly is a simulated game? Is anyone else even on the diamond besides a catcher? If so, do batters swing? Or do they just stand in for pitches? Where can I watch one of these games? Or even better, where can I sign up to be a stand-in hitter? Well, not technically a hitter, but you know what I mean. Someone make this happen.) Once he begins rehabbing, they’ll have Strasburg start in the lower leagues and work his way up. But they way they talk about him in the press, I’m pretty sure he could strike out Single-A guys left-handed. If all goes according to (my) plan, he’ll be back up to Triple-A Syracuse about Labor Day next year.

I know you know what that means. Roadtrip! If the schedule doesn’t have Strasburg coming back to Buffalo, my schedule will have me going to Syracuse, or Rochester if they play the Red Wings. 

I know you’re bummed out that you no longer look like a fantasy wiz for drafting Strasburg in the second round (for your fantasy baseball team which is now doomed), but look at the bright side, you get to see him pitch again. If one is good, two is better, right? And the first time around was great. I’ll be sitting somewhere down the third base line. See you there.

P.S. I’ll bet you a hat of Dippin’ Dots at that game that Dr. James Andrews does the surgery. Any takers? Double-or-nothing Strasburg has another base hit in the game.

Teaching an old dog new tricks, Yankee style

Or maybe he’s just not that old of a dog. Whichever the case, I credit Johnny Damon’s stay in New York with showing him the light.

After being placed on waivers and claimed by his formerly beloved Red Sox, Damon announced today that he will not waive his no-trade clause, and will stay in Detroit.

He claims it’s because he loves the city he’s in and the team he’s on. But let’s face it, nobody could love Detroit right about now. You think Buffalo has problems? Detroit is to SAT as Buffalo is to daily reading quiz.

So all that leaves is the team. The Tigers have some good players. Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez could make any team in the league better. Justin Verlander’s no slouch either. But after the top players, the drop off is fast. Detroit only has five pitchers with winning records (Verlander 14-8, Coke 7-2, Thomas 5-1, Bonnie 4-1, and Zumaya 2-1), but after Verlander, the other four have only three starts between them. Damon really wants to be on a team where only one starting pitcher has a winning record?

If that doesn’t do it for you, how about this stat: Detroit has a LOSING RECORD. They currently sit third in the AL Central at 62-63, 10 games out of first (and 15 out of the wild card). The Boston Herald has Damon quoted as saying about his teammates, “They feel we can make a strong push — at least make this (AL) Central race interesting. That’s why I’m going to stay.”

Strong push? Kansas City is closer to Detroit than Detroit is to Minnesota! They’ll need a push not to fall farther behind once September call-ups arrive. Ten games is not insurmountable at this point in the season, but it would be one for the ages if the Tigers come back.

Maybe he looked in the mirror

The only logical explanation for Damon’s decision is that something must have happened to him in New York. And if it made him realize he should never go back to Boston, it was something good. He won championships with Boston, but winning it with the Yankees was different. The 2004 title may have been more important to his city, the aura of Yankee Stadium set him straight.

Maybe it was the tradition. Maybe it was the thrill of being expected to win it all every year. Perhaps the professionalism of shaving woke him up. And his arm wasn’t really that bad, he just wanted to play in front of Monument Park everyday. Heck, maybe he even fell in love with the power numbers a short porch in right provides.

Maybe he just thought pinstripes brought out his eyes. Whichever the case, the Boston chapter of Damon’s life was closed for good today. Check that–slammed shut. The most iconic figure from 2004 run just told the team he’s too good for them, and they can thank the Yankees.


In a related story, Chuck Norris released a statement today, in which he claimed the Yankees reduced him in stature. “All along I thought I was the only one who could teach an old dog new tricks, but here come the Yankees, putting me in my place. ‘Not again,’ I thought.”

Drafting your fantasy team in 20/20 hindsight

Hours removed from my third fantasy football draft this week, I offer a few pointers for those of you drafting in the near future–and some tips several of my league members learned the hard way.

  • Know how many players you start at each position- If your league starts three receivers, you probably shouldn’t wait until the fifth round to take one. Even the fourth round is pushing it. By round 5, I like to have a quarterback, two running backs and two receivers. If someone falls to you and you want to load up on one position early, that’s ok, but make sure make up for it in the next round. A tight end can wait, I’d make sure you are set on your core positions first.
  • Take a QB early- My tier of quarterbacks are: Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Schaub, Brady, and Romo (more here). After that, they start to drop off. Once you get into Favre-Flacco-Rivers-Kolb-Eli Manning-Cutler territory, you’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Plus, if you grab an elite signal caller, they should be your starter every week. You won’t need to worry about a backup until the late rounds, and you can focus on rounding out the rest of your team.
  • This is the year people actually wait on picking Bills- Every year, there has always been the one guy who goes way out of his way to pick a Bills player that he could’ve waited a good three rounds on. Last year it was the all-star who picked T.O. as his first receiver. But this year, morale is so low about the Bills that people are completely looking past them. With the injuries to both Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, you might even be able to grab C.J. Spiller on a bargain. That being said, Spiller is a second RB at best, and Evans probably won’t be more than a good third receiver. Picking the Bills D/ST is pushing it, and Trent Edwards is reach even in 2 quarterback leagues. Your best bet may be Ryan Lindell, but that’s assuming the Bills can get into field goal range.
  • Watch for runs-These usually happen when people start picking tight ends or defenses. We expect a lot of running backs in the first round. That’s not a trend to be careful of. What you need to watch for is when six people in a row take their second receiver or wipe out the top-tier of defenses. When this happens, you have two choices to make: go with the flow and get someone at that position so you don’t miss out, or pick someone else and hope for the best. Picking someone else can often work to your advantage though– if most people already have a one-start position covered (TE, D/ST, K, etc… varies by league), they won’t be picking another player at that position any time soon, and you can wait on it.
  • Wondering if your guy will fall to you? Know what the people around you have- Say you waited on a quarterback. Now you want to know if you should take Joe Flacco with your upcoming pick or wait on him until your turn comes back around. Look at the teams drafting after you. If they already have a QB, you are probably safe and you can take another RB. If not, you might want to snag your QB now before someone else does. This happened to me in my first draft– DeAngelo Williams fell to me in the second round, and while it would have been awesome to have two top-10 running backs, I passed on him for Matt Schaub because several QBs had already gone and nobody after me had a QB yet. I later asked the guy who took Williams about the situation, and he said he was hoping Schaub would have come to him, and I would have been out of luck. (Have I mentioned I’m high on Schaub this year?)
  • Go with your gut- Nowadays everyone uses nearly the same rankings. How many people showed up at your draft with the same cheat sheet from ESPN.com? So if everyone has the same information, you’re going to need a little bit of talent (luck) to win. Just because the “experts” at ESPN say you should draft a certain player at a certain spot does not mean you have to draft him. Think Devin Aromashodu is due for a breakout year? LeSean McCoy? Take them earlier. Asking yourself why the likes of Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best are ranked so high? Skip them. Don’t get crazy on me with Antonio Gates in the third round or anything, but snagging guys who have breakout years is how you win your league (and it’s great bragging material).
  • It’s okay to laugh at the guy who drafts injured players- There’s always one idiot who doesn’t come prepared for the draft and picks a bunch of guys who probably won’t see the football field this year. Suspensions and injuries are the most likely culprits. Guy who thought he was cool buying his magazine in April but hasn’t touched it since will tell you Ben Tate is going to be comparable with Rashard Mendenhall this year, and will proclaim his eminent run to fantasy glory after Antonio Bryant “fell” to him in the 13th round. Hey bud, I hear that David Carr guy could be a steal, too. Just laugh at these people, and by all means do not let them repick. They deserve it.
  • Know your bye weeks- I feel this should go without saying, but some people still don’t realize that they need to be careful of players’ bye weeks when drafting them. Be especially careful of weeks 8 and 9, where six teams are off instead of the usual four. Michael Turner, Cedric Benson, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Hakeem Nicks, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are all people I’d sign up for, just not together. They all have week 8 off, and if you draft them, so will your fantasy team. Also be weary of taking players on the same team. Taking a QB and his top receiver can be an effective strategy when deployed correctly, but don’t take two receivers from the same offensive. I like Jeremy Maclin this year, but if you already have DeSean Jackson, that’s enough Eagles at wideout. The only combo I think this would be interesting is if you had both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They could both go over 100 yards a game. Could get interesting.
  • That’s about all I have. If you read this far down the page you deserve a reward, though- Someone I feel is an emerging sleeper pick this year is Bernard Berrian, receiver from Minnesota. Sidney Rice has not been on the field yet due to a hip injury, and Percy Harvin can’t seem to keep enough blood in his head to stand up (wonder where it is…?). Brett will need to throw to someone other than Visanthe Shiancoe, and Berrian could be the guy. Not sure why more people aren’t picking up on this, but hey, that’s their problem.

Oh, and if you want to add an extra round in your draft for everyone to take a total reach pick, that could be a fun idea. I’d go with James Starks, Stevie Johnson, Tim Tebow, etc. Could be your only shot at drafting a Bill and not regretting it later.