NHL eases re­stric­tion on curve; ap­par­ently Ricci in by a nose

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - Sports - CAM HUTCHIN­SON

GoalieJohn Gra­hame

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.

Ricci

—SP Photo by Dave Sto­bbe

Huskies run­ning back Scott Stevens

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