The owners and players of the NHL met at Chicago O'Hare Airport for talks without the union leader or the NHL Commissioner. Lots of people thought
this could produce something positive and that these two individuals had become the biggest stumbling block to a negotiated settlement.
Well, the talks happened and the pro forma statements about how valuable it is to keep lines of communication open have been made and both sides say
that it was important to be sure that everyone involved understood the severity of the problems that have caused this work stoppage to happen. Is it
Well, the talks will not be happening today; the parties have gone home and the parting statements went something like this:
"We remain divided philosophically and have scheduled no further talks." (Players' rep)
"We clearly have some strong differences of opinion that we've had for some time." (Owners' rep)
"Chicago was a good place to meet because it is easy to get to O'Hare Airport from most other cities in North America."
Imagine for a moment that the NHL and the players settled this dispute tonight. I know that is "magical thinking" akin to believing that Santa Claus
could actually visit every house on the planet in a single night, but indulge me here for a moment. Assuming that it would take four weeks to finalize
the agreements and gather the teams together and go through whatever kind of training camp might occur, that would let the season start on February
19th. Even with a bastardized schedule that minimizes any outrageously long road trips, teams will probably average 7 games every 2 weeks; so in order
to have a season that is 42 games long (half the regular season) that would make the regular season end on May 14th. If they shorten the schedule to
35 games, it would end on April 30th. Then the multi-level playoffs would begin and run into July. Not looking good, folks...
If they shortened the season much below 35 games, it would be possible for the two teams in the Stanley Cup Finals to play almost as many playoff
games as they did in the "regular season". Wouldn't that tell you something about the criticality of regular season NHL games?
Over in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony and Vince Carter seem to be the latest versions of "Teflon Players". Carter has admitted dogging it in Toronto and
has been a pouter and an underachiever for at least two seasons now. At last count, he led the Eastern Conference in All-Star votes from fans. I
understand that the All-Star Game does not mean a damned thing and the fans should see whom they want to see, but none of his antics and
underachievement seems to have damaged his reputation.
Carmelo Anthony is in a similar place. Yes, he had a wonderful first season and led his Denver team to the playoffs for a cameo appearance. He pouted
his way onto the US Olympic team by playing the "disrespect card" where he immediately found his way to Larry Brown's bench for most of that debacle.
Then they found some of "a friend's" marijuana in his backpack during a bag inspection at an airport. Then the Denver teams started the season
sluggishly and got its coach fired. Then he appeared in an underground video that glorified the drug dealers in his old neighborhood. Has this hurt
him? Well, his jersey is the top seller in all of the NBA.
Do you understand now why the NBA is having marketing problems? They market stars and not teams or rivalries and these are the stars that are at the
top of the hit parade currently. It is hard to market them to a broad segment of America - namely the segment that has and controls the spending of
the majority of the discretionary funds.
The Georgetown basketball team is undergoing a major facelift under new coach John Thompson III. Recently, they took Syracuse - a legitimate Top 10
team - to overtime before losing by 5 points. Brandon Bowman is one of the leaders of this Georgetown team and he was asked after the game if the fact
that the officials called a tight game had hurt the Hoyas' defensive effort. Said Bowman:
"You feel like your arms have been decapitated, but you've got to play through it."
Memo to Brandon Bowman:
If you think arms can be decapitated, please do not contemplate a major in anatomy.
A few weeks ago, I told you that Mike Pilgrim had left the University of Cincinnati and I suggested that his name uniquely qualified him to go to
Plymouth College. Did he take my advice? Of course not. Mike Pilgrim will play for Seton Hall and will be a pirate. How's that going to work?
Dave Renwick made a tad over $1M carrying Vijay Singh's golf bag around the PGA Tour events last year. Now he says he was miserable all that time and
is ready to give up that gig. That has to tell you something about the personality and the private demeanor of Vijay Singh that does not show when he
is smiling for the cameras at the trophy presentation ceremony after a tournament. I read somewhere that Singh has made over $40M in his career
playing golf. I don't play golf but everyone that I know who does play golf does it for enjoyment so how can a lifetime of playing golf, which also
presents you with $40M in earnings, make you a person who is "difficult to get along with"?
Maybe this is an example of a maxim that a former secretary of mine often used:
Beauty is only skin deep, but "the ugly" goes through to the bone.
Finally, the Carthage College Redmen in Kenosha, Wisconsin just named Cory Everts as assistant baseball coach. That got me to thinking; I'll bet that
Carthage College would never invite Kato Kaelin to be their commencement speaker.
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon