THANK­FULLY, REAL HOCKEY SEA­SON HAS AR­RIVED

The Drumheller Mail - - SPORTS -

Care to com­ment? Email bru­ce­pen­ton2003@ya­hoo.ca The Na­tional Hockey League sea­son, which takes about as long to un­fold as it does a baby to grow from the time of con­cep­tion to birth, gets un­der way this week and fans across Canada can only hope there’s more ex­cite­ment this win­ter than there was in the just-com­pleted World Cup of Hockey. Fans north of the bor­der are gen­er­ally happy that Canada, coached by Mike Bab­cock, skated off with the World Cup ti­tle, which shocked no one. The tour­na­ment’s be­stof-three fi­nal was won 2-0 by Canada over a team from Europe — NHL play­ers from coun­tries other than Rus­sia, Swe­den, Fin­land and the Czech Repub­lic — but there were empty seats in the Air Canada Cen­tre in Toronto and TV ratings were re­port­edly abysmal. But the cream rose to the top, no doubt about that. Sid­ney Crosby, whose rel­a­tively blah play this time last year led some peo­ple to sus­pect he was on the down­side of his ca­reer, got his game into high gear last spring to lead the Pen­guins to the Stan­ley Cup, and then car­ried on bril­liantly dur­ing the World Cup to so­lid­ify his status as the game’s best player. He was the tour­na­ment MVP, al­though a strong case, too, could have been made for Brad Marc­hand of Bos­ton, who skated on a line with Crosby and scored the win­ning goal in the last minute of the clinch­ing game. Bar­ring in­jury, Crosby, now 29 and fully in his prime, should once again win the NHL scor­ing ti­tle, but he will have com­pe­ti­tion. Fans in Western Canada sali­vate at the thought of a full sea­son for Con­nor McDavid of the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers, and fans in On­tario can’t wait to see if Aus­ton Matthews of the Leafs, the No. 1 pick in this sum­mer’s draft, is the real deal or if the hype ma­chine got over­ac­tive, as it of­ten does in the Cen­tre of the Uni­verse. What might hap­pen over the next nine months will be more closely an­a­lyzed in com­ing col­umns, but one thing that won’t hap­pen is a clam­our­ing by fans for an­other World Cup. Man, that was a bor­ing two weeks. The reg­u­lar sea­son, when they start play­ing for real, can’t get here soon enough. • Greg Cote of the Mi­ami Herald: “Team Canada beat Team Europe to win the World Cup of Hockey. Now if Canada could only end that pesky 23year Stan­ley Cup drought.” • RJ Cur­rie of sports­deke.com: “The phrase ‘I am go­ing to put you to sleep now’ refers to: a) a Tem­pur-Pedic mat­tress slo­gan, b) a Bill Belichick in­ter­view.” • Dodgers broad­caster Vin Scully, about what he will do in re­tire­ment, from SI.com: “When you’re (re­tir­ing at) 89 and they ask you what your plans are, I’m go­ing to try to live! … I’m look­ing for a much smaller house and a much larger medicine cabi­net.” • Head­line at The­Kicker.com: “Co­caine em­bar­rassed to be found with Greg Hardy.” • Com­edy writer Alex Kase­berg, af­ter Pats QB Tom Brady was spot­ted sun­bathing nude in Italy with his su­per­model wife while serv­ing his De­flate­gate sus­pen­sion: “In a re­lated story, play­ers all over the league be­gan de­flat­ing foot­balls.” • Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Mets signee Tim Te­bow hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the Florida In­struc­tional League. Wit­nesses swear they saw sparks com­ing off Te­bow’s home­made bat, Won­der­boy.” • Greg Cote again: “Kevin Gar­nett an­nounced his re­tire­ment, sur­pris­ing an­a­lysts who thought he’d re­tired years ago. Gar­nett’s prime re­tired in 2007.” • Nor­man Chad of the Washington Post, peer­ing in­side the di­ary of QB Tom Brady, sit­ting out a four-game sus­pen­sion: “Gronk’s got my back — he’s been stick­ing pins in a Garop­polo voodoo doll; just got a text that the kid sprained his shoul­der.” • Brad Dick­son of the Omaha World-Herald: “Re­port­edly some Olympic swim­mers may have had an ad­van­tage due to a cur­rent in the pool. As far as ad­van­tages go it’d be tough to top the blow­hole in the top of Michael Phelps’ head.” • RJ Cur­rie again: “The World Curl­ing Fed­er­a­tion de­cided all curl­ing brush heads must use one ma­te­rial, come from the same source and be one colour, based on ex­haus­tive tests. Call it a broom with a re­view.” • An­other one from Kase­berg: “A Ger­man goal­keeper was ar­rested af­ter let­ting in 43 goals in one match. He was charged with loi­ter­ing and im­per­son­at­ing Don­ald Trump at the de­bate.” • An­other one from Dick­son: “North­west­ern has a rep­u­ta­tion as an aca­demic pow­er­house. My favourite play on Satur­day night oc­curred when the team called time­out to cor­rect the ref­eree’s gram­mar.” • Dwight Perry again: “Fer­rari claims it’s com­ing out with the fastest con­vert­ible ever. No word about top-end speed, but your wal­let goes from $2.2 mil­lion to zero in just 3.5 sec­onds.”

Bruce Penton

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