Friday, January 23, 2009

WRT's This 'n' That

A weekend's opinions at All-Star Break, from the Wild Road Tripper

Last week was not a good week for your blogger here. Due to my illness at the beginning of the week, I was unable to complete a road trip, for the first time in my life, due to the flu, one version or another of which has been parading thru the Twin Cities community like a perennial Torchlight Parade for about two full months now. It manifests itself in various ways, wherever 'it' (the virus) can get an edge.

Well, folks, that nasty bug cost me a cool $500 in lost airfares, rental car (I already had rented it), hotel and game tickets to the Minnesota Wild-Chicago Blackhawks game at the United Center last Monday night. I couldn't even get out of bed to make it to a TV set to watch the Versus telecast, as we have no toilet on the main floor of our home. I had to listen to Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid, laying in bed, waiting for Kevin Falness (Wild Radio 'personality', to use the Russo-ism) to talk during breaks in order to visit the loo. I saw highlights later on "NHL: On The Fly Final" to do the rest of that game blog entry.

Note to self: Start taking 'Airborne' a week before getting away on road trips...

OK, a few thoughts about items in the NHL news:

News Item: NHL players will be suspended one game if they do not participate fully in All-Star activities once selected, according to the League.

There are indeed two sides to this, despite what Gary Bettman thinks. Bettman's side is only one side (the sponsors paid to attach their corporate names to a star-laden event), but when a player is legitimately hurt, and that player's medical needs are unable to be met while travelling (in some cases) up to 3,200 statute miles, one way, just to keep Gary Bettman happy? Sounds like Paul Kelly (NHLPA chief) and Mr. Bettman need to go to a nearby Montreal brasserie (bar) and hash this out like true keepers of the Game do...dropping the gloves and hoping Referee Marc Joanette or Linesman Pierre Racicot, two Laval-area 'boys from the neighborhood' (they grew up one block apart,) step in before the Chief beats the snot out of Bettman.

Seriously: There has to be a compromise for this somehow. If players are hurt (and three, including Sidney Crosby, are) then why have them around, away from their teams' medical staffs, not being able to get off their feet and heal? Where's the justice in that, not only for the players but for their teams (and the other teams that have to beat them to get in the playoffs?

There are some serious questions, with far-reaching implications, to be answered here. And, for the sake of the game, they need to be answered soon. Before this gets out of control.

News item: Canucks, NHL working to improve travel situation

This article tells what Wild players have known for years; that the NHL scheduling staff should have been taken out and flogged long ago. (Just kidding, no harm meant, let's not get violent here!)

Seriously: Any schedule that calls for trips like the Wild's recent semi-transcontinental journey (at Colorado, Boston, Philadelphia and Columbus), the Wild's 15 sets of back-to-back games (8 of which are home-and-away), their upcoming 6-game, 10-day Western Odyssey, Feb. 27-March 8 and the ridiculous scheduling of the weekend of March 20-22, when the Wild play in Newark vs. the New Jersey Devils, then go home to face Edmonton, then return to the Hudson for games vs. the Rangers at MSG on March 24 and then vs. Richard Park and the Islanders March 25 at Nassau Coliseum is an embarrassment to the League and a detriment to its' fan base. By the time the final game is played April 11 at Nationwide in Columbus, the Wild will be absolutely gassed.

How about 'greening up' the NHL, Mr. Bettman? Adopt a plan where teams don't have to play the next night after traveling more than 750 air miles? And get two days off after travelling two time zones or more? The human body needs time to adjust to the shifting sands of time, and Father Time and Mr. Sandman don't work just for the Vancouver Canucks. One-game 'home stands' in the middle of road trips are a waste of jet fuel, teams' physical resources and, most importantly, money.

Help save the Planet. Help your Western teams survive in the most far-flung of the four major North American team sports. Save your teams some money. Fix the schedule, Mr. Bettman.

News Item: Predators may buy own tickets to ensure NHL funds

The old rhyme comes into play here:

"Monkey see, Monkey do,
Monkey does the same as You."

The Nashville Predators, 256 seats per game short of reaching the NHL-mandated 14,000-seats sold per-game average in order to qualify for a full share of the NHL's revenue-sharing agreement, are going to use their own funds to buy tickets and give them away to middle Tennessee charities.

This is not a new practice, folks. The Ottawa Senators were doing this for years, at least until a few years ago when the Sens finally starting going to the playoffs consistently. Other teams, including the Edmonton Oilers and the entire Southeast Division (at least until Ovie arrived in DC,) have also benefited from this unique pool arrangement.

This comes on the heels of several reports out of Phoenix that the Coyotes are on the verge of bankruptcy, a point conveniently trotted out whenever the Coyotes are brought up these days.

Seriously: I wish the other, more successful owners would tell Bettman to quit subsidizing his 'Southern initiative' and keep the NHL in more successful markets, like in areas that were not effected by the 'War of Northern Aggression.' Winnipeg has an NHL-ready arena, NOW, and a nearly 1 million fan base to draw from. Yes, it would still be like it was, the 'Green Bay' of the NHL, but hey, it IS the NHL, it WOULD be in Canada, and you wouldn't have to spend all your efforts into teaching some poor kid in the desert what the meaning of 'Power Play' is.


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