Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just a note -- an abbreviated version of yesterday's post appeared today in the Toronto Sun's sports section as the "Letter of the Day". Unfortunately, they chose to leave out the "Al Strachan is a dope" part, but it's their paper, not mine. Also, for whatever reason, the letter doesn't appear in the online version of the paper. Odd.

So ... when do I receive my complimentary hot cocoa sampler box for my efforts?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Al Strachan took the time to open his mouth this weekend on the subject of NHL players and drug use. Now, far be it from me to say Al doesn't know as much about this problem as say, World Anti-Doping Association president Dick Pound ... but okay, I'm guessing Al Strachan doesn't know as much about this problem as Dick Pound.

I'm basing that on a couple of things. One, Pound has spent pretty much his whole career fighting doping, while Strachan is pretty much just a dope. Two, Al says Pound's claims are "outlandish" and "unsupportable". Okay, I'll bite -- where's your proof of that, Al? Where are your studies that fly in the face of Pound's own evidence and published reports of the practice, including a Sports Illustrated story from eight years ago.

What seals it for me is this question from Strachan:

What should a sick hockey player do about a serious cough or cold that is affecting his game?

Strachan goes on to say that New York Rangers star Jaromir Jagr has been battling a cold for two weeks because he's too scared to take something that will make him test positive for the upcoming Olympics. The Rangers' doctors can't help him, Strachan says, because Jagr says, "What can they do? They cannot give you any strong medicine because they drug-test you."

Here's a crazy thought -- how about phoning up the WADA folks and asking them what's out there that won't get Jagr banned? Couldn't Dick Pound himself clear this up pretty quickly? Couldn't just about any decent doctor? Is the Rangers' medical staff that disinterested in getting Jagr back to full health that they can't do a little research?

Actually, I'm surprised they didn't just ask Strachan himself. I mean, he'd have to know, right? He knows more about doping than Pound.

Friday, January 27, 2006

According to a few New York sportswriters, former New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Phil Esposito has interviewed for the soon-to-be-vacant New York Islanders GM position.

I happen to like Esposito, although I mainly know him through his broadcast work for the Lightning and his awful Steelhead Beer commercials. A serious note to the owner of that brewery -- you're not fooling anyone, man. Paying a bunch of older hockey players to pal around with you smacks of paying the cool kid in school to sit with you at lunch. Not that I did that or anything.

Still, making a run at the job only makes sense. It's high-profile, has an interested and deep-pocketed owner and hell, the winner is guaranteed to come off as a genius after Mike Milbury bumbled through his 10-year tenure like Foster Brooks in a crowded liquor store.

One more thing -- does anyone else hear Rodney Dangerfield say, "So don't tell 'em your Jewish!" every time Charles Wang's name gets mentioned?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tiger Woods has just purchased $38M worth of real estate for he and his wife on Jupiter Island. I'm not sure why people find these stories so fascinating -- he bought a house. So what if it has 37 bathrooms or eight kitchens?

Of course, people will also now start talking about how Woods is greedy or full of himself. Look, man, he made the money -- he can spend it however the hell he wants.

And would you want this sort of coverage of these sorts of things in your life?

Frazer acquires hamburger from local restaurant

BARRIE -- Wayne Frazer has completed a $6.80 purchase of a Whopper value meal from Burger King in downtown Barrie, Ontario, which for Americans is located in Canada.

Frazer, who grew up in southern Illinois, moved to Barrie in 2004 when he was shanghai'd married.

"I'm close to the Burger King," Frazer said Thursday. "I grew up near St. Louis not too far away from a Burger King, and I miss the BK. Being in Canada ... there's a bunch of restaurants, but they aren't Burger King."

The transaction marks the first Whopper combo vale meal sale in Simcoe County history to a former small-town Midwestern newspaper editor.

Frazer's new meal includes a 6-square-inch cheeseburger, several onion rings and a Diet Coke, perhaps leaving enough calories for an apple fritter. Records show the Whopper came with three pieces of lettuce, two tomato slices and extra cheese.

The Whopper was sold to three companies, each with a common Barrie address that belongs to The IceBox Sportscards and Collectibles, the selling agent for Frazer. He and his wife, Michelle, are listed as two of the company's principals.

Barrie, a gorgeous area north of Toronto considered among the nation's most likely areas to be sucked into Toronto, is home to several current and former NHL players and some beavers.

Frazer, who turned 35 last August, has a cheeseburger in his freezer which was recently assessed at $2.50. He and his family have also purchased burgers from Harvey's, Lick's and Wendy's, although the fries now suck there.

He said he likely also would keep continue buying food from The Keg, a somewhat-exclusive restaurant in Toronto with a teriyaki sirloin that he said is "better than that shoe leather crap they foist on you at Outback or Lone Star."

Courtesy SFNS (SportsFilter News Service)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's a familiar story -- a National Hockey Player skates up from behind and sucker-punches a fellow player, who lays motionless on the ice while the rest of the arena wonders how seriously he's injured.

But we're not talking about the now-infamous Todd Bertuzzi attack on Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore two years ago. Everyone has watched the video and knows that Bertuzzi is back skating for the Vancouver Canucks while Steve Moore continues his recovery from a broken neck and wonders if he'll ever play again.

No, we're talking about an incident that happened just this Friday, one that very few NHL fans have seen. It was just as disgusting, just as unwarranted and just as badly handled by the NHL brass.

In the first period of Friday's Hurricanes-Islanders game, Carolina's Justin Williams was called for interference after he banged into New York's Eric Godard. It was not a particularly vicious hit, although Williams did get his stick up a bit.

In retaliation, Godard skated all the way across the ice and blasted Williams in the back of the head with a punch that left the Hurricane incapacitated. For his indiscretion, Godard received a whopping double-minor for roughing and charging, and Williams got up a few seconds later and skated to the penalty box.

The incident was reviewed by the NHL, which handed down a two-game suspension. That's right -- two measly games.

But why would this incident draw such an insignificant penalty? These circumstances are almost exactly the same as the Bertuzzi assault -- player skates great distance to deliver a sucker-punch to an unsuspecting victim. Only the outcome is different, as Williams is apparently all right.

The answer is that it takes a life-threatening or career-ending injury for the league to hand down any sort of stringent penalty. We hear about "The Code", the NHL's unwritten law to handle this sort of thuggery, and that law was applied.

Mike Commodore of the Hurricanes slashed Godard the second period, and in the third Aaron Ward took a dangerous boarding penalty for driving Godard into the dashers from behind. Does the NHL consider what took place later in the contest part of the sentence for Godard's ignorance? If so, why?

What action would the league have taken if Ward had paralyzed Godard? And would the NHL not have been partly responsible for not having removed Godard from the game after his offense?

In fact, if Godard returns and again sucker-punches an opponent but this time causes grievous injury, is the NHL not partly liable for allowing a known offender to work in its workplace? Certainly a lawyer could make that case during a civil trial.

This was an opportunity for the league to step up and put the hammer down on such activity, It could have sent a clear message to the small element of its own that considers it acceptable to try to injure fellow players.

Instead, the NHL again put its head in the sand. Hopefully fans will remember this act of cowardice when another player ends up like Moore -- out of the game simply because the league failed to police itself.