Sports Outside the Beltway

IHWC Quarterfinals Set

The Ice Hockey World Championships have completer the preliminary and qualifying round to set the flied for the knock-out stage of the competition:

Russia vs. Czech Republic
Sweden vs. Slovakia
Canada vs. Switzerland
USA vs. Finland

True to form, Russia and Canda are the favorites going into the quarters, but a hot golaie and solid play can lead any of these teams (except Switzerland) to victory. For full results follow the folloing links:
Preliminary Round
Qualifying Round
Relegation Round


Federer v. Nadal, Grass v. Clay

On one side Roger Federer world number one and unbeaten in 48 matches on grass courts, on the other Rafael Nadal world number two and unbeaten in 72 mathces on clay courts. So how do you find who is the best? Have them play each other on clay and grass at the same time.

Clay & Grass Tennis Court

Nadal won 7-5 4-6 7-6 (12/10). I have to say, that’s pretty cool.


NBA All-Star Game Bad For Business

Some took objection when I called the 2007 NBA All-Star Game a “Thug Convention” and criticized the general problems with NBA Players obeying the law. Well guess what, the Chief Executive of MGM Mirage Inc. doesn’t want the NBA All-Star Game in town again because all of the gang-bangers and thugs that came to the game (and ‘activities’ outside of the game) led to violence, scared other guests and in the end hurt their first quarter earnings.

MGM Mirage Inc.’s chief executive does not want the NBA All-Star Game to return to Las Vegas, saying Thursday that the casino’s first-quarter earnings were potentially hurt by the rowdy crowd that turned out for the league’s showcase game.

Terry Lanni made the comments after the company, which owns the most casinos of any operator on the Las Vegas Strip, reported first-quarter earnings that fell below analyst forecasts, sending MGM Mirage shares down more than 4 percent. They rebounded 2.4 percent in after-hours trading.

The company said the earnings shortfall was partially due to a partially problematic crowd that surrounded the All-Star Game in February, which fell on the same weekend as the Lunar New Year — a crucial period for bringing in high-rollers from Asia.

“The gang-bangers and others who came for purposes other than attending the game, they weren’t very good for Las Vegas,” Lanni told The Associated Press.

Lanni said there was little action on the gambling tables the day of the game.

“In talking to our casino hosts, a number of people stayed in their villas and suites. They felt uncomfortable,” he said.

Excluding Beau Rivage, which opened in Mississippi in August, quarterly casino revenues slipped 6 percent from a year ago, and table game revenue, including the baccarat game that Asian players favor, fell 7 percent.

There was a spike in arrests and complaints about rowdy behavior during NBA All-Star Weekend. Five people were shot, including three outside a strip club.

Say what you want about my opinions, but when the guy in charge of maximizing earnings and keeping the shareholders happy says that the criminal behavior associated with the NBA hurt their business it means something is wrong with the image of the league and the detrimental behaviors that league attracts.


Baseball Player Accidentally Assaults Wife

In the greatest baseball irony since Chuck Knoblauch hit Keith Olbermann’s mother in the face with a baseball, Jay Gibbons managed to assault his wife during a baseball game, while standing at home plate and batting.

The odds of such an occurrence seem insurmountable, yet Jay Gibbons pulled off the unimaginable feat: He hit a foul ball that injured his wife.

The scene occurred in the ninth inning of the Baltimore Orioles’ game against Minnesota on Saturday. Gibbons fouled a ball straight back over the screen and into the rib cage of his wife, Laura.

All one can say is….”What are the odds?”


Russians Expected To Sign NHL-IIHF Transfer Deal

It looks like one of the biggest divisions between the NHL and European Hockey is about ti be closed as Russian Hockey Authorities are expected to sign the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement.

Having failed in their bid to extort great sums of money from NHL teams with the emergence of phenoms Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, it appears Russian hockey czars are prepared to come in from the cold and sign a transfer agreement with their international colleagues, has learned.

Officials with the NHL, NHL Players’ Association and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and representatives from member nations are expected to sign a new agreement this week at the World Championships in Moscow. The Russians are expected to rejoin the fold after refusing to sign for the past two years.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the payments will be more of a fixed fee as opposed to payments made on the basis of contingencies like whether a player plays in the NHL or in the minors.

The agreement will see the NHL pay between $10-12 million annually to the IIHF. The international body will then distribute the money to member countries based on how many players are selected and brought to North America by NHL clubs. That fee is split equally among the 30 NHL clubs.

Its about time coming, the Russians have fought their players going to the NHL for years, but the , with is the best players want to play against the best players in the world (as well as make the bigger money in the NHL). The Russians have tried to use forced contracts, lawsuits, intimidation and dishonesty to get players to stay in Russia or return to Russia with the failure of those tactics to bring coninuous sucess, they have given in and signed the deal. Now we jus have to wait and see how long this relative transfer peace lasts.


Canadian Parliament Questions Hockey Canada

In another case of “Don’t you have anything better to do?”, we have the Canadian Parliament looking into the selection of Shane Doan as team captain of Team Canada for the Ice Hockey World Championships.

A parliamentary committee has summoned Hockey Canada officials to explain their choice of Shane Doan as captain of the national team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship under way in Russia.

At issue is an alleged derogatory remark by Doan toward a French-Canadian referee during a game in 2005. The Phoenix Coyotes forward denies making a slur and was cleared by the NHL.

On Tuesday, all parties supported a Bloc Quebecois motion that demands officials from Hockey Canada and Sport Canada appear before the House of Commons’ Official Languages Committee.

This wouldn’t even be an issue if the French-Canadians didn’t get bent out of shape about everything (or if Phoenix had made the playoffs). The justifcation they use is that Hockey Canada recieves government money, but if he denied the allegations of making French-Canadian slurs and was cleared by the NHL why can’t the let it go? Unless of course they are overly sensitive to any potential insult to their French-Canadian-ness.

Update: Shane Doan offered to step down as team captain, but the team wants to keep him.


The First 10,000 Game Loser

The Philadelphia Phillies are a mere 33 losses away from becoming the first professional sports franchise to lose 10,000 games, which at current pace should be sometime in June. Some proud Philly Phans already have a website to celebrate the occasion and of course sell some merchandise, it really couldn’t happen to a better city.


Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round Two

Eastern Conference
(1) Buffalo Sabres v. (6) New York Rangers
The Rangers easily won their series as Atlanta put forth the most embarrassing performance by a playoff team this year. While the Rangers dominated every aspect of their series and Avery got into the heads of the Atlanta stars, that was Atlanta and we already noted they were embarrassing this year. The Rangers’ problems start with their captain Jaromir Jagr, who while talented lacks the skill set to be a captain. At a point where leadership becomes key, as evidenced by Mark Messier leading the Rangers in 1994, will only serve to hurt them. The Sabres are just flat out good and the clear favorite in the East. A fast, talented offense leads them up front and a solid defense benefiting for trade deadline upgrades has been solid. Throw in the goaltending of Ryan Miller and this team should be in the Stanley Cup.
Prediction: Sometimes favorites do preval even if it takes a fight, Sabres win in 7.

(2) New Jersey Devils v. (4) Ottawa Senators
Despite parting ways with the 6’-9” defensive beast Zdeno Chara, the Senators looked better in the playoffs than at any point over the past few years. In fact as a whole the team looks good with strong goaltending, a defense that tied up the explosive Penguins offense, and an offensive onslaught that just battered the Penguins around the ice. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Devils as Martin Brodeur continues to amaze with his ability and I shouldn’t of doubted him as much as I did. The offense for the Devils came through against a weaker than predicted Tampa Bay defense, while they are good I don’t think they will fair as well against the Ottawa defense.
Prediction:It’s a good year for Ottawa to win in 6.

Western Conference
(1) Detroit Red Wings v. (5) San Jose Sharks
Detroit has earned from their failures of the past few playoffs. In the Calgary series they adapted their game to play against their opponent instead of sticking to a system that wasn’t working. They managed to beat the best home team in the league on their home ice and looked good doing it. They will rely heavily on a mix of skill and brute force, while depending on a talented, but old goaltender. The Sharks have the fortune of two excellent goalies to use in the series, which could pay dividends in a long series or even if one of the goalies goes cold. The Sharks absolutely stuck it to a talented Nashville team making them look like they didn’t even belong in the same building. Possessing two solid top lines, like Detroit, will put a greater importance on the ability of defensemen to join the offensive rush at key times and the ability of the third and forth lines to provide offensive input and solid play in the defensive zone.
Prediction: The combination of youth, speed, skill and size put the Sharks over the top in 6.

(2) Anaheim Ducks v. (3) Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver spent their series against Dallas flopping between looking like a contender and an over-matched minnow. Roberto Luongo’s stellar play was key to the previous serious and will be a key again in this series. However, the test of the team will be the play of the Sedin twins if they disappear for large parts of the series, it will be a quick exit for the Canucks. The Ducks easily handled the Wild in their first round match up and built up a good bit of confidence for the next round. The two defensive pillars of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will eat up huge minutes for the Ducks and for the most part will have their way with the top lines for the Cancuks as well as continued boosting of the Duck’s power play unit. While Vancouver has the better goaltender, the ducks have two solid goalies who won’t let in the easy goals and can stand on their heads when called upon.
Prediction: Talent and depth carries a team and the Ducks win in 6.


Canucks Top Stars in Game 7, Take Series

In a Game 7 that was closer than the score showed (Dallas pulled the goalie down 2-1 and Vanouver netted 2-empty net goals to pad the score), the Vancouver Canucks won thier series against the Dallas Stars in seven games by scores of 5-4, 0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 0-1, 0-2, & 4-1. One of the impressive stats for the series was Marty Turco becoming only the 13 goalie in NHL history to record 3 shutouts in a playoff series.


Detroit, New Jersey Win 1st Round Series; Dallas-Vancouver Game 7 Tonight

The New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings booked tickets to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with their Game 6 wins in their respective series on Sunday. This leaves the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks as the only teams who have not finished their 1st round series, they play Game 7 tonight in Vancouver.

The Detroit Red Wings have won thier series against the Calgary Flames in six games by scores of 4-1, 3-1, 2-3, 2-3, 5-1, & 2-1.

The New Jersey Devils have won thier series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games by scores of 5-3, 2-3, 2-3, 4-3, 3-0, & 3-2.


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