Friday, January 26, 2007

From the sports desk

Well, I was on the sports desk Thursday night, and while there wasn't nary a hockey game for us to watch, there are all kinds of hockey-related goodies in Friday's paper. (The newspaper's strategy of putting the next day's stories online as soon as they're good-to-go should be considered a great thing for the at-the-ready blogosphere, so let's take advantage of that.)

Columnist Stephen Brunt, he of much boxing/NFL/CFL/sporting knowledge, has taken to talking puck quite a bit the past few days, and in today's piece he points out, quite rightly, that the all-star game served up a ripe opportunity for the NHL's critics to get their bellyaching in:
Thank goodness that's over.

No, those are not usually the sentiments expressed in the wake of an all-star celebration. These are by definition harmless, feel-good occasions — not the heat of real competition and not the sport at its finest, but rather an easily digestible exhibition with a little bit of showbiz thrown in....

Rare, indeed, are the occasions when such corporate schmooze fests stir debate, attract criticism or invite ridicule.

But this week, the National Hockey League all-star game got all of that, in spades.
Negativity, sure, that's nothing new, but it certainly seemed like the league took more of a beatdown than a breather over the all-star break.

Out in Vancouver, The Globe's B.C.-based sportswriter Grant Kerr offers up a double shot of NHL-related news that starts with a look at the amazing resurrection of the St. Louis Blues enacted by Andy Murray and ends with some musings on the most underworked man in hockey, Dany Sabourin.

On the TV side of things, Bill Houston has a story that reports the CBC is oh-so-close to having a deal to keep Hockey Night in Canada on its airwaves for another five-to-six years, while the day's biggest puck-related story, that of the NHLPA's decision to investigate the circumstances of union head Ted Saskin's hiring, was tackled by Tim Wharnsby and Al Maki.

That's a whole lotta hockey goodies — and to think, there weren't even any games.

Perhaps if the league's in need of a PR boost in the future, taking a hiatus may be on the agenda?


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