Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Smorgasbord 5-10

  • We've heard the saying about the NHL before that it "is run by Canadians, for Canadians." No better example of that is that of the 39 referees currently used by the NHL (the list does include Don Koharski and Rob Schick who have retired) all but 5 are from Canada (4 if you consider that Chris Ciamaga is from Loserville...er...Buffalo as city that likes to think it is Canadian) and none from outside of North America. Of the referees still working, only Dennis LaRue is NOT from Canada and has only worked three games so far in the second round, seven for the entire playoffs including tonight's games. Does the NHL really think that only Canadians are qualified to officiate their games? There isn't a single European official working NHL games despite just over 25% of the players in the league being from outside of North America. We are fans of diversity for the sake of diversity, but almost 90% of the referees being from one country in what is an international sport is a joke.
  • And speaking of pulling the race card, Michael Wilbon did not disappoint when he attempted to tackle the "acceptance" of fighting in hockey. You might remember Wilbon's slur from almost two years ago when he was caught up in the David Beckham (who wants out of MLS now) hoolpa that soccer had passed hockey in America. Wilbon has also defend the decision to ignore hockey by stating that only 1.5 million people, as compared to over 5 million, bother to watch the sport on U.S. National television. We've already submitted to tomorrow's Wilbon chat the following question "We weren't surprised to see you pull the race card off the bottom of the deck in last week's chat in regards to fighting being an accepted part of hockey but not other sports, most notably basketball. But Michael, you've said yourself that soccer has passed hockey in terms of popularity in the United States. You've also defended the decision to ignore hockey by saying something along the lines of "when 5 million people watch instead of 1.5 million, then we'll pay attention." So how can you really say that the American public approves of fighting in hockey when so few people tune to watch it in the first place and you consider soccer a more popular sport? Isn't this a classic example of "people voting with their feet" or more specifically their remote controls and entertainment dollars? Furthermore, every four years when the Winter Olympics come around, the Olympic hockey ratings far outpace anything the NHL ever does. People know that the gloves aren't going to be dropped in an Olympic game where it is always a distinct possibility in an NHL game. Again, people vote with their remote controls and time and again, will chose hockey that they know does not have the indiscriminate violence. Race has nothing to do with it." We fully expect Wilbon to duck the question which is why we're throwing it out here.
  • Of course, we would be very remiss if we attempted to this Smorgasbord and not comment on the situation in Phoenix with the Coyotes. Boy has this turned into a prime mess. Rather than bore you with a recounting of the details as we know them so far, we happen to think that this is a grand game of chicken for Gary Bettman. It should not be forgotten that he holds the final trump card in this whole process in that he could revoke the Coyote franchise, leaving Jim Balsillie holding an empty bag. The only potential remedy to that is a court in the U.S. or Canada ordering the NHL to give Balsillie a franchise which would be a judicial overreach of the highest order. (Though we wouldn't be too surprised to see that.) Al Davis has shown that a league other than Major League Baseball cannot prevent a franchise relocation so any votes on relocation and territorial claims are downright moot. We have to say though, it would help Bettman's PR case if he was willing to let everybody know what his objections to Balsillie really are.
  • The worst part about the Coyotes going bankrupt are the self-appointed hockey purists who insist that this failure is an indictment on Bettman's "Sun Belt Plan" and salary cap. First of all, their debts didn't just start piling up after the salary cap was instituted four years ago. Secondly, the anti-cap forces conveniently forget to mention the unprecedented salary floor that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for. So while Phoenix has 27th overall payroll, they are forced into a position of spending $$$$$ they don't have in the first place in order to come into compliance, partially defeating the purpose of a cap in the first place. As for the failure of Bettman's "Sun Belt Plan," we have to chuckle at the self appointed hockey purists who seem to think that increasing the number of teams in Canada is a great idea. Why? Well the self-appointed hockey purists also rake Bettman over the coals for losing ESPN as a television partner for the league. Do these people honestly think that a smaller footprint in the Southern part of the United States and more Canadian Franchises will make the league more attractive to U.S. broadcasters like ESPN? The answer to that is no, the NHL would NOT be more attractive U.S. broadcasters like ESPN with more Canadian franchises simply because ESPN has no reach in Canada and even if they get airtime on ABC, Canadian TV ratings do not count in the United States. Finally why did the franchise move from Winnipeg to Phoenix in the first place? Because the small Canadian market wasn't profitable. So how could another small Canadian market be profitable? This is madness and the best answer to this problem is contraction or a move to Kansas City.
  • Though we would not be surprised in the least to find Caps fans counting on Phoenix moving to Hamilton (or somewhere else) as the basis for cooking up their own hair-brained realignment schemes where the Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes are all shipped out to Western Conference or Northeast Division and the Caps are magically placed in a Division with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and the Rangers and Islanders.
  • Enough about hockeynow. Let's bust up the Natinals! They carried a three game winning streak into today's game but couldn't overcome crummy pitching today and saw their streak snapped. We were really hoping for a sweep of he Diamondbacks because Arizona fired their manager before the series even started. We have to say, even with winning today's cripple fight, the new guy does not seem to be much of an improvement over the old guy because the Natinals remain by far the worst team in Major League Baseball. While the Cleveland Indians have a slightly worse winning percentage (.344 to .345) the Natinals have played three fewer games than Cleveland and can anybody really think the Natinals would win 2 of those 3 games? Winning two one run games this weekend is a good sign but the Manny Acta's best hope of winning, and keeping his job, is simply out slugging everybody which is very tough to do.
  • We have to admit, we're intrigued by these Brett Farve to Minnesota rumors. First of all, did anybody really think this guy would stay retired? Though we do think he is providing a valuable lesson/service for every other professional athlete in demonstrating how not to handle the end of your career. However, as long as there are media types and NFL teams willing to stroke his ego and give him the attention he clearly craves, this is going to continue. No amount of interceptions or poisoned locker rooms will ever get the message through to him.
  • Finally this week, the Caps season will hopefully come to a merciful end tomorrow night in Pittsburgh so the Penguin Scum fans can continue to do their superiority dance over another rigged outcome. If by some miracle...er...mistake there's a Game 7, it would be on Wednesday night in D.C. Though right now we aren't likely to attend it. The Natinals are in San Francisco until Wednesday and get Thursday off to recover from the jet lag. The day off also gives Stan Kasten time to invite more Phillies fans to D.C. for the four game weekend series starting on Friday featuring a day-night doubleheader on Saturday to make up for the rainout on April 15th.
  • And as since the first day of this blog, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and gloating to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com. Just a word of caution though, all death threats will be forwarded onto the appropriate authorities.

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