Sports Outside the Beltway

NHL Faces CBC Anger Over NBC

Playoff scheduling by the league has raised the ire of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and many Canadian hockey fans.

It’s bad enough the Toronto Maple Leafs mismanaged and misplayed themselves out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers were both too lousy to qualify for the post-season doesn’t please many Canadian hockey fans either.

But now, to add insult to injury, Saturday’s Ottawa Senators-Pittsburgh Penguins game has been shifted to the afternoon to appease NBC.

No Hockey Night in Canada featuring a Canadian-based team. Instead, we get the trap-happy New Jersey Devils against the also-ran Tampa Bay Lightning.

NBC only bothers televising National Hockey League games in the afternoon, and it wants this game because Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is the game’s marquee attraction. He’s young (just 19), successful (the NHL regular-season scoring champion) and plays hockey with a reckless abandon that endears him to fans everywhere.

One would think that this decision would be a no-brainer for the NHL suits, and league commissioner Gary Bettman. This season, the CBC is paying the NHL $65-million for the rights to broadcast hockey games. And the CBC has also extended its contract with the league for six years at a total of $600 million.

NBC pays nothing for the rights to broadcast NHL games. Instead it has a profit-sharing agreement with the league. Which begs the obvious question of why the NHL would bow to NBC’s request, rather than side with the CBC, which is paying the league all those millions.

Its hard not to blame the Canadians for being mad, their big teams aren’t in and now they can’t watch one of the few Canadian Teams in the playoffs as well as one of the best players in the game. Hockey Night in Canada is their Monday Night Football and they feel its a god given right to have the best teams (or the teams they want to see) playing. Unfortunatlly the league sees reality, the game is at critical mass in Canada. They don’t have to invest in Canada to attract fans in Canada it part of the Canadian gene make up, butthe NHL does need to invest heavily in the US to get the game fan base growing and the way they see doing that is getting the msot exciting young players in the game on US broadcast TV. The NHL need NBC (not vise versa), NBC can choose from a host of sports that would pull in simialr rates and make jsut as much money. Its a choice the NHL was willing to make as they try to become a big sport again, even though it may not work the have to try it.


Aaron Would Rather Golf Than Watch Bonds

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hank Aaron stated he will not be in attendance at any Giants game as Barry Bonds approaches his home run record.

Aaron said he wouldn’t attend if Bonds were within reach of the record when the San Francisco Giants play at Atlanta from Aug. 14-16.

“I’d probably fly to West Palm Beach to play golf,” Aaron was quoted as saying in Moore’s column. “Again, it has nothing to do with anybody, other than I had enough of it. I don’t want to be around that sort of thing anymore. I just want to be at peace with myself. I don’t want to answer questions. It’s going to be a no-win situation for me anyway. If I go, people are going to say, ‘Well, he went because of this.’ If I don’t go, they’ll say whatever. I’ll just let them make their own mind up.”

I can’t say I blame Aaron because outside of San Francisco the mere mention and association with Bonds can arise great ire with many fans. Plus when the Commissioner of Baseball isn’t even going to go, why would you waste your time?


Diver Sets New World Free-Diving Record

I have to admit this is pretty impressive.

William TrubridgeThe 27-year-old from Hawkes Bay reached an unassisted free-dive depth of 81m, shaving a metre off the previous record set by Czech diver Martin Stepanek in 2005.

Trubridge achieved the feat yesterday in his adopted homeland of the Bahamas. In setting the record, Trubridge retrieved a tag – attached to a descending rope at a depth of 81m – without the assistance of fins, ropes or weight belts.

He had been building up to the unassisted free-dive world record for the past two years, and was ecstatic at having achieved it.


Frank Thomas Pillow Night

Last week Canadian Officials censored a commercial featuring Blue Jay Frank Thomas hitting a kid with a pillow (video link).

Frank Thomas’s prodigious talents hitting home runs throughout his illustrious 17-year Major League Baseball career have been well celebrated.

However, the sight of Mr. Thomas, nicknamed the Big Hurt, swinging a pillow at a child in a commercial for the Toronto Blue Jays is not being as well received, at least by officials who regulate advertising on Canadian private television.

To win approval for unrestricted airing of its commercial, the American League club had to revise the original 30-second spot, which features a carefree Mr. Thomas in a pillow fight with a couple of young boys who are hopping on a bed.

The Blue Jays counter with their resposne to the censorship at the hands of Canadian Officals by adding a Frank Thomas Kids Pillow Night in September for the first 5,000 kids 14 and under. Nice job by the ball club countering another example of a stupid government policy, because in realtiy the commercial is pretty funny.


Breaking: Pacman Jones and Chris Henry Suspended

According to ESPN, Pacman Jones has been suspended for the entire 2007 season and Chris Henry is suspended for the first 8 games of the 2007 season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed out the first suspensions under his discipline policy, banning Adam “Pacman” Jones for the entire 2007 season and Chris Henry for eight regular-season games.

The two players are suspended without pay for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and engaging in conduct detrimental to the league on numerous occasions, the NFL announced.

After they serve their suspensions, each player must apply for reinstatement.

“We must protect the integrity of the NFL,” Goodell said. “The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”

It’s good start for cleaning up the image of the sport by the Commissioner and I hope they take a long hard look at reinstatement. Now we just wait for the Player’s Union response.


Wonderlic Results Season

Half the fun of the NFL Draft is when the player’s Wonderlic scores get leaked out to the media because you get gems like this.

David Irons, he of the undying Irons brothers and their genre-defining interview, may want to bring his own shoes to the NFL Draft. More specifically, the ones labeled ‘L’ and ‘R’ that denote which foot to put them on.

Irons tied with Weber State safety Bo Reed for the lowest score on this year’s Wonderlic: a four.

Here’s the Wonderlic sample test for you to flex your mental power.


NHL Draft Lottery Results

It appears the Chicago Blackhawks have won the NHL Lottery thus making the first 14 picks of the NHL draft order look like this:

1 Chicago Blackhawks (moved up from 5th spot)
2 Philadelphia Flyers (moved down from 1st spot)
3 Phoenix Coyotes (moved down from 2nd spot)
4 Los Angeles Kings (moved down from 3rd spot)
5 Washington Capitals (moved down from 4th spot)
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Columbus Blue Jackets
8 Boston Bruins
9 St. Louis Blues
10 Florida Panthers
11 Carolina Hurricanes
12 Montreal Canadiens
13 Toronto Maple Leafs
14 Colorado Avalanche

Picks 15-30 will be settled after the palyoffs.


NHL Playoff Time – 1st Round Edition

Its time for Stanley Cup Playoff and will bring some of the most intesnse hard fought games of any post-season in any sport, so here’s a quick look at the teams looking for Stanley Cup glory.

Eastern Conference
(1) Buffalo Sabres v. (8) New York Islanders
The Islanders put together a strong finish to be the last team to make the playoffs thanks to a shootout victory, while greatly improved with the acquisition of Ryan Smyth will suffer greatly without #1 goalie Rick DiPietro. The only risk to Buffalo would be losing goalie Ryan Miller, with the offensive talent the team has goaltending is the only portion of the team that could hurt them.
Prediction: The offensive assault will be too much for the Islanders, Buffalo in 5

(2) New Jersey Devils v. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning
This series comes down to Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur vs. Lightning Forwards Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. While Brodeur has the ability to carry a team on his back, but after playing 78 games this season he could breakdown at some point, the key for the Lightning will be making him work hard every game.
Prediction: Lecavalier and St. Louis come through, Lightning in 7

(3) Atlanta Thrashers v. (6) New York Rangers
A talented team, deep bench, playoff experienced players, and experienced coaching make the Thrashers a dangerous team these playoffs. Ranger’s Sean Avery can get under anyone’s skin as well as a playoff experienced goalie can help the Rangers down the stretch. The question for Atlanta is if their playoff rookie goalie can stand up to the pressure.
Prediction: Sean Avery does more harm than good, Thrashers in 6

(4) Ottawa Senators v. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins come in with some of the best young players in the game and a young goalie. The Senators bring in a veteran skilled team with a history of playoff failures to over come.
Prediction: Old age and guile beat youth and good looks, Senators in 5

Western Conference
(1) Detroit Red Wings v. (8) Calgary Flames
The Flames have the best home record in the league, but finished 8th in the Conference cause they can’t win on the road, not a good sign when you don’t have home ice advantage. Despite having on of the top players in the league and solid defense they lack what ever it takes to win at the other guy’s place. The Red Wings again put together one of the best teams in the league (even though the Cap was supposed to bring them back to erath). The Red Wings playoff hopes rest on the shoulder of Dominik Hasek and Todd ‘Sucker-Punch’ Bertuzzi.
Prediction: The Dominator does it again with some offensive help from his friends, Red Wings in 7

(2) Anaheim Ducks v. (7) Minnesota Wild
While the Ducks were the early favorite this season some of the luster off their shine is gone (especially when you lose to the Kings 4 times). However the ducks are backed up by 2 solid goaltenders, 3 forward lines that can hurt you, and 2 of the best defensemen in the game. Minnesota can throw some great offensive talent and goaltending back at anyone, they just don’t have enough to match up every shift against the Ducks
Prediction: With great pain in my gut, Ducks in 6

(3) Vancouver Canucks v. (6) Dallas Stars
Solid lines and improved defense help the Stars, but playoff history hold a dark cloud over goaltender Marty Turco’s head. Vancover plays a disciplined game and can exploit errors; however they will lean heavily on the Sedin Twins for offense while Roberto Luongo will danc eon his head to keep them in games.
Prediction: I go with goaltending and that will be Roberto Luongo, Canucks in 6

(4) Nashville Predators v. (5) San Jose Sharks
The Predators will lean heavily on Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg (who is one of the best playoff performers in history) to guide the fortunes of the team, which includes staying healthy. The Sharks are one of the best power play teams in the league and one of the best at holding a lead when scoring first, to win Nashville will have to score early and stay out of the box. However, both team’s fortunes will rest on who finds the right goal tender to ride through the series.
Prediction: The power play will prove to be too much for Nashville, Sharks in 7

My advice…grab a chair and a beer sit back and enjoy what should be some exiting playoffs thanks to the ‘New NHL’.


Angels-Indians in Milwaukee

After the Indians-Mariners was snowed out for four games, MLB decided the best solution was to have the Indians host the Angels in Milwaukee.

After snow wiped out Cleveland’s series against Seattle for the fourth day in a row Monday, the Indians moved their next series against the Los Angeles Angels to Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

The teams will play a three-game series beginning Tuesday in the ballpark, which unlike Jacobs Field, has a retractable roof. The opener and Wednesday’s game will be played at 7:05 p.m. ET, with Thursday’s scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

On Sunday, baseball officials considering moving the Angels’ series to Anaheim., Calif., but then decided on the switch to Milwaukee. Indians players packed for the trip at midday.

The biggest hurdle to moving the game to Anaheim was the Angels are scheduled to be in Boston the day after the 3-game series wrsp up versus Cleveland, so Milwaukee was the best location availble with the ability to handle the bad weather.


Martin Brodeur Breaks Wins Record

Congrats to Martin Brodeur who has set a new standard for wins by a goalie in one season (From Yahoo!).

– Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils had a record-setting night against the worst team in the NHL.

Brodeur surpassed Bernie Parent, Philadelphia’s stalwart Stanley Cup-winning goalie, for wins in a season with 48 and the Devils clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 3-2 win over the Flyers on Thursday night.

“I think with him being an icon as far as goalies for the Flyers, to go into Philly and do it here, I couldn’t write it a lot better than that,” Brodeur said.

While some retired stars want to see their records stand forever, Parent said before the game he was rooting for Brodeur.

“This is his year,” said Parent, his retired No. 1 hanging from the rafters. “He’s played fantastic hockey. It couldn’t have happened to a more fantastic individual.”

Parent sent a personal note that Brodeur said he would read at home.

Brodeur was booed when he was introduced as the first star of the game, and the Flyers made no acknowledgment of the record.

Parent, who turned 62 on Tuesday, could be bumped from first to third by the time the season is over. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo had 46 wins entering Thursday night’s game against Colorado, and he still had two more games left.

I will say that with the new rules for the NHL which has led to the elimination of ties has greatly assisted the breaking of this record, but of course the salary cap makes it harder to put together a dominating team as well. However, its great to see the record holder not being mad about his record being broken and actually rooting for the guy to do it. Its a fine example of putting the game ahead of yourself, which is lost by so many players today. Of course the Philly fans acted in a way ot fulfil the expected stereotype (minus getting arrested or throwing things at Santa) and the Flyers showed absolutly zero class in ignoring the breaking of a long time NHL record. I don’t care if your guy had the record, show some class. This isn’t the first time this has happened this season, the Nashville Predators were equally as classless when Mike Modano became the all time leader in goals for American born players.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.