NHL eases restriction on curve; apparently Ricci in by a nose
has changed the image on his mask to reflect his move from Tampa Bay to Carolina where he will backup Cam Ward this NHL season. Last season, Grahame’s mask featured a woman in a bikini reclining on a beach. His new one will feature a bikiniclad woman — there seems to be a theme here — leaning on a race car. “I figure I’m in NASCAR country,’’ he told the Raleigh News and Observer, “I might as well get used to it.” There is no word on whether Grahame has bought a pick-up truck with a rifle rack . . . I love hearing Edmonton Oilers fans sing our national anthem, but I hope the team is no longer paying Paul Lorieau for the whole song . . . One of the Houston Texans’ cheerleaders — a woman named Summer — is a rocket scientist. I’m thinking, if she’s so smart, why isn’t she cheering for the Colts instead of the Texans? . . . I really hope the report that Roger Clemens has used performance-enhancing drugs is not true. I like to think Clemens is just your average 44-year-old man who can throw a baseball 100 times at 95-plus m.p.h. every fifth day . . . The NHL has increased the amount of curve allowed on a stick from half an inch to three-quarters of an inch. In a related story, Bobby Hull says he is contemplating a comeback . . . Apparently rumours are not true that Pam Anderson forwarded the name of her plastic surgeon to George Brett when she heard his bust had been stolen from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Whenever I watch Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears play, I see not only a great linebacker but also the man who introduced many of us to Paris Hilton a few years ago when she watched Monday Night Football from his suite at Soldier Field. Who knew at the time she would provide so much fun for so many? . . . It’s a long season, but I’m wondering if the New York Islanders are now wishing they had signed goalie Rick DiPietro to a 15-minute contract . . . David Beckham may join the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, a British newspaper called The People reported this week. This would be the first time the league has signed a high-profile, over-the-hill star since Freddy Abu joined D.C. United in 2004 . . . Was that an NHL preview on TSN the other night or a mini-series? . . . I thought Tie Domi did a decent job on TSN’s NHL preview and again during the Leafs-Ottawa seasonopening game. There was even a moment when I thought — hoped? — Domi might throttle that smug Darren Dreger . . . Texas Rangers manager Buck Showalter was invited to team owner Dan Hicks’s home the other night to have supper with Hicks and general manager John Daniels. During the meal, Showalter was given three choices: 1. resign; 2. be fired; 3. eat his spinach. Showalter chose No. 2 . . . Jay Leno, after nine Iranian weightlifters tested positive for steroids: “Know what we call nine failed drug tests in the United States? We call it a major league baseball team.’’ . . . From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “How come it’s ‘splenectomy’ and not ‘spleenectomy’? Whichever, Chris Simms’s surgery went spleendidly.’’
Many self-proclaimed experts and at least one website, pinnaclesports.com, have picked the Buffalo Sabres — at 8-1 odds — to win the Stanley Cup. I’m sticking to my earlier prediction of Calgary (14-1), even though civic officials in Toronto (36-1) apparently mapped out a parade route after Thursday’s win in Ottawa. Among the other Canadianbased teams, Ottawa is 9-1, Vancouver is 21-1, Montreal is 22-1 and Edmonton appears to be a great buy at 23-1 . . . I wonder if Pete Rose is sorry he picked San Diego and Minnesota to meet in the World Series . . . From Toronto comedian Frenchie McFarlane (come[email protected]): “The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the season with three teenagers in their lineup, but, then, so did Rep. Mark Foley and look where it got him.’’ . . . Mark Whicker of the Orange Country Register, on news that Lakers coach Phil Jackson will miss the pre-season after having a hip replacement: “Most of us would rather have hip-replacement surgery than watch NBA exhibitions.’’ . . . Syndicated columnist Norman Chad says Alex Rodriguez — a.k.a. K-Rod, E-Rod and A-Fraud — is getting a bum rap from Yankees fans: “If A-Rod were to discover a cure for cancer, Yankees fans would complain that (a) that’s not what he’s paid to do and (b) that doesn’t wipe out his .133 batting average against the Angels in last year’s ALDS.’’ . . . Richard Oliver of the San Antonio Express-News, after Russian chess grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik stomped out of Game 5 of the world unification series last week when competitors were told they had to share a bathroom: “He was a king without a throne.’’
Dan Daly of the Washington Times, after the University of Phoenix, widely known for awarding degrees over the Internet, purchased the naming rights to Arizona Cardinals’ new stadium. “It’s an unusual move, sure, but one that should help the Cards attract free agents. Now, instead of just throwing money at players, they can offer them a doctorate.’’ . . . From Calgary contributor Jeff Funnekotter: “Delta just named a jet after New York Mets’ David Wright. This may usher in a whole generation of product placement such as the Goodyear Barry Bonds Blimp, the Terrell Owens Hot Air Balloon and Jose Theodore’s School of Marriage Counselling.’’ . . . From the social file comes word that Eva Longoria has dumped Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. He is expected to bounce back . . . The New York Post reports that Lance Armstrong is dating Ivanka Trump, daughter of The Donald. It must be sooo cute when they go out and she is riding on the handlebar . . . Brooks Melchior of sportsbybrooks.com, after the Atlanta Braves took two of three last weekend from Houston to end the Astros’ playoff hopes: “This marks the first time the Braves have knocked a team out of the playoffs since 2001.’’ . . . NBC’s Conan O’Brien, after Arizona State students belonging to the Campus Caucasian Club were asked to change the name of their group: “They are going to rename it ‘The golf team.’ ’’ . . . Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, on Terrell Owens’s return to Philadelphia this weekend and the choice fans will have to make: “Will it be Jackass Number Two at the local theatre or Jackass Number One at Lincoln Financial Field?’’ . . . I hope I enjoyed the Rolling Stones last night and I hope you did too.
Huskies running back Scott Stevens