Since I hand out not so meager measures of grief in these rants, you may wonder if I ever am on the receiving end of gratuitous commentary about my
endeavors. Well, I am.
Last week, I made some reference to the "Pleistocene Era" and received a note from #1 son who is a PhD candidate in Evolutionary Biology. Here is his
entire note from which you can gather the warm and familial tone by which I receive such correction:
"The Pleistocene is an "Epoch" - small time subdivision. The Cenozoic is an "Era" - very large time subdivision, as in "the Mesozoic Era was the Age
I was also mildly - and far more politely - rebuked yesterday by the loyal reader who signs himself as the "Dispossessed Son of Western Pennsylvania"
for passing over so cavalierly the Steelers' win over the Patriots last Sunday. OK, let me be very clear about this and let me justify these remarks
by saying that Bill Belichick said virtually the same thing. On Sunday, the Steelers dominated the Patriots in every phase of the game and only a
meaningless late TD by the Patriots brought the game to a two-touchdown deficit. Time of possession can be a very misleading statistic; but in the
case of that game on Sunday, it speaks to the domination of the Steelers. They had the ball for 42:58; the Patriots had the ball for 17:02.
haven't mentioned anything about the NHL for a while for several reasons. The most important one is that the NHL continues on its journey to
self-immolation with the work stoppage. The league says they are losing less money by not playing than they would if they played the games under the
terms of the agreement that just expired; the players have dispersed to the ends of the Earth to play hockey in foreign leagues in order to make about
60% less money than they would if they had their old NHL contracts in force. The last count I saw was that 231 NHL players were playing somewhere in
Europe at this time and that most have signed contracts there which the players may terminate if the NHL season starts up so that they can come back
here to play for more money. The league has given teams the go-ahead to book concerts or other events in their arenas up through the week before
Christmas, which has to mean that the league is not anticipating any immediate movement in the negotiations that might result in a hockey season
breaking out anytime soon.
If you recall, the NHL Players Union has said on various occasions that they will never accept a salary cap or "cost certainty" or anything that ties
player salaries to league revenues. I know that "never" is a long, long time - quick, cue Johnny Mathis here - but here is a perspective for you. Mike
Danton of the St. Louis Blues pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an attempt to hire someone to murder his agent; Danton is about to be formally
sentenced in the case but reports say that the plea bargain calls for him to spend between six and eight years in prison. At the rate these
negotiations are going, he may not miss a game for the Blues during that incarceration.
One NHL player who is an Alaskan native has signed to play for the Alaska Aces in the ECHL - that is the East Coast Hockey League. This entity has
grown significantly past its roots in places like Johnstown, PA, Wheeling, WV and Trenton, NJ. It now has 32 teams in far-flung places such as Alaska
and Victoria, BC. More importantly, I think, the league has teams in areas where ice hockey has no roots - and even where "ice" is not a normal
environmental condition - such as Las Vegas, NV Bakersfield, CA and Fresno, CA. Did I hear someone ask why this is interesting?
The NHL has been criticized for expanding into markets where there is no tradition of hockey and no innate fan base there to energize the community
around a hockey team. I too have criticized the NHL for this kind of expansion but not because of the economic reasons, which I know are based
completely on short-term greed and have no regard for the long-term health of the game. However, here is some evidence to suggest that hockey teams
can survive and maybe even turn a small profit in non-traditional hockey areas such as Bakersfield and Fresno in a situation where salaries are
The ECHL names a Player-of-the-Week. There is a team called the Pee Dee Pride playing somewhere in the Carolinas near the Pee Dee River. Believe it or
not, the Player of the Week at the moment is Kyle Kidney and he plays for the Pee Dee Pride. You can't make that stuff up.
Charlie Walters wrote in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that some folks in that area with "NHL ties" believe that the work stoppage could be settled if
Wayne Gretzky became the commissioner of the NHL. Obviously, I have no "NHL ties"; in fact, I don't wear neckties of any kind. But if this happens, I
want to see the national media crucify Gretzky as an owner turned commissioner as they did Bud Selig. The NHL would at that point go to the head of
the class in terms of conflicts of interest. They already have an owner who is a player for the team that he owns; then they would have an owner who
is a commissioner too. What's left? How about an owner who is a referee...
Here is a take from Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post on this whole matter:
"Went to a Halloween party last night dressed in golf shoes, a cardigan and khakis. You know, an NHL player..."
Finally, here is a great line from Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Please drive extra carefully this Halloween, folks. There will be a lot of deer in the road, motionless, hypnotized by your headlights. Yes, a lot of
kids are planning to go trick-or-treating as Jeff Suppan."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon.
[Edited on 11/3/04 by SportzWriter]