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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on the Steelers, Pats, ECHL, Wayne Gretzky, NHL plus more..

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posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 06:38 PM
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 of Dinosaurs."

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?

Here's why:

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 "reasonable".

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]

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 06:18 PM

Originally posted by SportzWriter
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.

He'd be better named for a basketball player...

"And Kidney dribbles up the lane, streaks under, and drops it in the bucket for the pees...."


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