Saturday, November 20, 2004

HOCKEY: WHO CARES

Welcome to my weekly NHL lockout update for this Saturday. I thought I'd try and write up these things to coincide with Hockey Night in Canada--- er, excuse me, Movie Night in Canada-- as sort of a replacement for the real thing.

Well, this sport continues to lurch. Bob Goodenow had his big meeting with the agents to try and sway them all over, and well, anyway, it seems to have worked. A lot of media monkeys (I call them monkeys because their job seems to consist of eating bananas and swinging from trees) were suggesting that some of these agents were rebels who wanted to see a deal done and were threatening to raise a big stink. So get your hopes up again, fans, the agents will help save the day!

Well, the agents are now on the same wavelength now. They were told in detail what the union is doing, and though they'd like a deal done, these agents don't want a salary cap either. And the message seemed to be the usual from Goodenow. So now the agents are just going to wait it out along with everyone else.

Still, the agents are getting killed. They stand to emerge from this whole mess as big losers. Right now they are losing tons of money and are doing the best they can by placing players in gigs in Europe. Some of the gigs pay well but most of them pay CFL-type salaries. A lot of these player agents are having to take pay cuts to stay in business.

For fans around here, it looks as if the initial shock has worn off, and fans have definitely moved on with their lives and are following other sports. Even the sportscasts have started to reflect this mood as they are basically ignoring the NHL. Basketball highlights now dominate every sportscast in this market, and on weekends it's basically all football. If we hear about hockey, it's about how the OHL's London Knights have won yet again, or someone else signed with a European club, or that a former player has died or something like that. Basically it's back-of-the-sportscast type stuff, second-tier sports news. Really, who cares about the NHL. That's one less sport to follow for me. So I'll devote my time to following other sports.

Regarding TV and radio, some media outlets have been affected more than others by the lockout. TSN's lineup has been completely decimated. Their whole lineup was basically hockey, curling and football with three downs. Well, their CFL coverage is over, they've lost the curling rights to the CBC, and as for hockey, they're now stuck showing reruns of classic games. And the lockout has wiped out Sportscentre's bread and butter: trade news. Their news department has nothing to cover in the way of deals, other than to announce player signings in Europe and the state of the labor negotiations. They have no rumors to report. It's really sad.

Just think about the carnage that will happen if these numbskulls scap the season: TSN will need to cancel the big trade deadline special and have to figure out what to replace the whole freaking Stanley Cup playoffs with. Billiards? Cheerleading competitions?! Bodybuilding!! Man, TSN is a MESS.

Sportsnet's getting by on hoops and junior hockey right now, but their staff of NHL hockey guys also have little to say or do these days. And Leafs TV/Mojo 640 have been completely decimated. All they do these days is talk about the lockout.

But fortunately the Raptors and the CFL have been bailing the other sportscasts out, especially in Toronto. In the Toronto market, Global TV's sportscasts with Jim Tatti and Don Martin have gone on, business as usual, covering the other sports. It's almost as if they don't care: no NHL? No problem! Here's the NBA highlights!

Same with the FAN 590, which also has a policy these days of completely ignoring the NHL labor situation. Tune in to the FAN, and talk about other sports predominates these days. And they have lots of play-by-play basketball and football on the station. You know, it's not so bad after all. There's lot of sports going on out there to follow, and a lot of craziness and zaniness to follow.

NBA - ALMOST AS INCOMPETENT AS THE NHL

The NHL isn't the only league with problems. The NBA has problems of its own: namely, its primadonna star athletes who like to get into fights with fans in the stands and stuff like that.

Uh, someone should tell the NBA that we already have one sport where players routinely get into fights. We don't need the same thing happening in the NBA. And can I say one word about Indiana's Ron Artest? The guy is a headcase. And that's being polite. The NBA should kick him out of the league after what happened last night in Detroit. Enough said.

And the Raptors have returned to their prehistoric ways, they're now on a five-game losing streak. And with the rumors flying about a potential deal on the table with Portland, the Raptors fans are hoping Vince Carter and his crybaby ways will be gone from the scene fairly soon. We still don't know where and when Carter will be shipped off- there are stories now that other teams may want into the act. Maybe Indiana has called up and said "here's a deal idea for you: Vince Carter straight-up for Ron Artest."

Anyway Carter was booed several times during that game at the Air Canada Centre against Seattle last night. The sooner Carter goes, the better for basketball in Toronto. He needs to be shipped, pronto, to anyone who'll take a fat salary off of Toronto's hands.

THE CFL- LONE BRIGHT SPOT FOR SPORTS FANS

Tomorrow, the BC Lions take on the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL Grey Cup game in Ottawa, a game expected to draw big numbers on CBC TV.

I think the reason the game will draw big numbers is partly because it's a good matchup, and partly because fans in Canada are a little bit starved for some decent Canadian sports action. Right now all they've got is the CFL. That's the only league out there providing good news at the moment. This week Vancouver officially lost its Molson Indy race and next week the Montreal Expos formally announce their name change to become the Washington Nationals. (Montreal fans were buffeted again when Vladimir Guerrero won the AL MVP- another great player who got away) . So sports fans need a shot of some good news, and they want to see a big game on Canadian soil, for once, for a change. The CFL is bound to provide that excitement.

Toronto fans have been excited all week. The Argos have been dominating the sportscasts in town and if they win the Grey Cup I would imagine the city will go nuts, more so than even in 1997.

Last night on TVO they were talking about the Grey Cup game in Ottawa and they interviewed Tony Gabriel- who only beat the Sask. Riders in 1976 with that touchdown catch. What a barrel of laughs that was for me to see those old '76 highlights; I wanted to throw a shoe at the television set. (Still bitter, etc.)

After this week it'll be back to watching the NFL for me. And hopefully Global will give up on showing us the crummy Buffalo Bills and show us some games involving real teams. The Bills stink.

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