As I peck at this keyboard, there are still about 3 hours left before the nominal drop-dead hour in the NHL negotiations. What I've been doing for the
last month or so is saving up a few snarky comments about the NHL and these labor negotiations with the intention of using them when the season is
Now there is a possibility that these egomaniacs may actually make a deal - proving conclusively that the nonsense of the last year or so of posturing
was not about "labor issues" or "economics" but about the ego of the negotiators. Well, I'm not letting them turn my notes into dross and so I'm going
to use the stuff here in anticipation of a season cancellation. And if they do agree, everyone - and I mean everyone no matter how big a hockey fan
you are - needs to ask these people what kept them from this agreement six months ago.
1. ESPN televised the Winter-X Games; the NHL has now become winter's ex-games.
2. One reason the negotiations took so long is that anything involving ice tends to move at the speed of a glacier.
3. The owners have achieved cost certainty for this year. The bookkeeping entry is:
Players Salaries = $0.00
I did read in one of the Minnesota papers - and I did not make a note of which one it was so I can't cite the source correctly - that a bar across the
street from the Xcel Center had to close for lack of business. The sign in the window reads: "Closed due to high player salaries". That kind of
summarizes how this dispute between the mouthpieces for the rich players and the very rich owners has hurt other people far more than the mouthpieces
will ever be hurt. I doubt that either Gary Bettman or Bob Goodenow is in any danger of having his home go into foreclosure.
And I want to make one other thing clear while all of this is still up in the air so no one will accuse me of piling on later. If this season is
canceled and nothing gets done over the summer, there is a possibility that the NHL might seek to use replacement players next season. Yes, I know
that won't work in parts of Canada, but remember that the Expos played some games in San Juan; there are things called "work-arounds". Now if that
ever comes to pass, I do not want even one word out of the players or their agents or the union guys about scabs taking the players' jobs. The reason
is this. I read that about 380 NHL players are currently playing hockey overseas right now; why is it OK for them to go there and take some other
player's job? They are carpetbaggers and that is not even a bit more noble than being a scab.
One more hockey note, for some reason known only to the geniuses that run Disney, they held their annual meeting in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area this
year. Whilst there, it was reported that Disney execs met with folks who might actually buy the Mighty Ducks from Disney. If you were the buyer,
wouldn't you want to know that the team you were buying actually had a league with some scheduled games before you tossed down your money?
Savannah State finished its basketball season with an 0-28 record tying them with Prairie View who had the same record in the 1991/92 season. That's a
story about futility; there's more. It seems that last year Savannah State had to forfeit 4 wins for using an ineligible player. Did I hear someone
say, "So what; that happens all the time?" Well, in this case, the ineligible player was the coach's son who was not enrolled in school but somehow
managed to attend some classes anyway. And the same coach is still there. In case you think he might have pictures of some of the Board of Trustees in
compromising situations with barnyard creatures, several of the athletic programs at Savannah State have been a bit out of bounds recently. Some
football players quit the team because a trainer/grad assistant coach was supposedly selling steroids to team members. I'm not sure if they quit over
the steroids or over the fact that they had to buy their own. And the baseball program got into NCAA trouble for holding car washes and bake sales and
the like as a way to raise money in violation of yet another dumb NCAA rule. The only reason that ESPN has not turned this "ship of fools" into a
made-for-TV movie is that the only people who can play the lead roles are the Marx brothers -- and they're all dead!
Stephen A. Smith had a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer saying that Allen Iverson wants out of Philly if they can't put a better team around him.
Of course, when he signed his contract extension for about $80M last year, that was not nearly as critical as the numbers on the document, but now it
is important. I have said for about 2 years now that the Sixers have gone as far as they can go with Iverson to a large extent because he has
difficulty sharing the limelight with any other player who comes onto his team. Name one player of any star power with whom Iverson has ever shared a
uniform for long in college or with the Sixers. I won't hold my breath. I know that the Sixers can never get "fair value" in return for him but they
will get more by trading him now than they will in another 3 or 4 years when they'll be lucky to get a box of nets for him. Notice, I did not say that
Iverson is not an elite player; he most definitely is. But he is not sufficient to win a championship by himself and he's already taken the team to
the NBA Finals once so there is no more "upside" to the Sixers keeping him in town.
It is amazing how language evolves and words take on meaning in context. Two weeks ago if I had said that Jose Canseco spent time in a bathroom stall
with Mark McGwire and injected him with some kind of juice in the butt, I would have gotten nasty notes about being homophobic. Oh well...
Finally, here is a tribute paid to SNL by Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle referring to the days when SNL was actually funny:
"Julio Franco, 46, signs with the Braves, says he wants to play until he's 50. John Franco, 44, signs with the Astros. Meanwhile, Generalissimo
Francisco Franco is still dead."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon