Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot as Puck

Greetings Friends,

When I look at the little weather icon on my toolbar and I see 33 degrees, I think, jeez, I should be in a sweater and socks. But, 33 degrees Celsius is hot as, well, you know. I'll get used to the metric system soon enough. It hasn't even been a year yet.

Seeing as it's hot enough outside to spontaneously combust like one of the drummers from Spinal Tap, it's only fitting to talk about hockey. Yeah, it's the shortest off-season in all of professional sports, but it is my favourite game, despite all my bitching.

Speaking of bitching, my favourite newspaper, The Bitch and Fail, has partnered up with TSN for Why Not Canada?, a missive running in both the paper and on Sportscentre, asking the NHL to reconsider the Canadian cities it abandoned in the mid-90s due to a pathetically weak Canadian dollar and a much more robust American economy. Now that the tables have turned and it's Canada with the strong currency and the smokin' economy, people in places like Quebec City and Winnipeg are once again clamouring for NHL teams.

The former Quebec Nordiques have enjoyed success as the reincarnated Colorado Avalanche, but the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes are currently the dog's breakfast of the NHL. From Wayne Gretzky's disastrous coaching efforts to financial ruin, you would think the city of Phoenix would want to unload the team to the highest bidder. Not when Gary Bettman, the nebbishy little hobbit from Queens, is pulling the strings. As NHL commish, Gary Bettman has been hell-bent on sticking teams in the most bizarre of American cities, thinking he's bestowing a gold mine of culture on places like Nashville, Raleigh, Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami. The Florida franchises have had some degree of success, but the lustre has certainly faded. And when you introduce hockey to regions where high school football games are played before crowds of 50,000 and people worship at the altar of NASCAR, you're taking a big time risk trying to get the yokels to follow a little black disc made of Vulcanized rubber, sliding up and down on a sheet of ice. Not surprisingly, Bettman refuses to give up.

I have to give TSN and The Bitch and Fail credit; they've done their homework, bringing in a University of Ottawa economist and chatting up potential owners to showcase how much better things are in the Great White North now, as compared to 15 years ago. I have to agree. Based on my own situation, I have to admit that I am very lucky to be living in Canada right now. I am gainfully employed, I have health insurance, and I'm no longer tortured by the monthly unemployment figures and home foreclosure stats. Things are good here, and I believe they will continue to improve. That being said, the nebbish is still intent on dangling carrots in the faces of Canadian hockey fans, even though the numbers are overwhelmingly in our favour. He spit in the face of BlackBerry mogul Jim Balsillie, who literally begged to take the Phoenix Coyotes off his hands, and coyly suggests that fans here not hold their collective breath waiting for the moving trucks to arrive. It must be nice to be such a little man sitting in such a big chair, thinking he knows best. We shall see...

R.I.P. Bob Probert: NHL tough guy, Bob Probert, died of an apparent heart attack Monday, at the age of 45. Although his career was fraught with drug and legal problems, he was one of the best enforcers to ever play the game. It's always sad to see anyone leave the party way too early, but here was a guy, who by all accounts, got his shit together and redeemed himself for all his misdeeds. He leaves behind a wife and 4 children, and a legacy of being one of the toughest competitors in the NHL, along with being one of the most gentlemanly. He will be missed.


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