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''We put a proposal on the table to really make a shock and to have the owners think 'hey, this is something we can work with.'"
-- Craig Rivet, Montreal Canadiens defenseman
"It is a serious proposal and certainly they showed a recognition of the economic problems that the game is facing and certainly we're appreciative of that."
-- Bill Daly, NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer
Without getting into the somewhat complicated league system here in Sweden, you could say that the regular season is over for Podes and his Växjö Lakers. They finished in fifth place (13-9-8 in 30 games), just outside of the top-four which will advance to Superallsvenskan ("The Super All Swedish") where teams will face the top four teams from Allsvenskan Norra. Podes played 17 games and racked up 12 points (7-5-12), good enough for seventh place in team scoring (he's no Miikka Männikkö...). He also had 30 penalty minutes, 41 shots on goal and was plus-1. I'll send you more news as Växjö gets on with the spring league!
I was wondering what you thought of the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh? I feel that is one of the best places to see an NHL game today. I mean who else can say that Gretzky, Lemuiex, Lafleur, Roy, and Orr all skated on the same ice as in use today? It will be a sad day when the Pens get a new arena. The boxes are located way up high leaving the fans seats closer to the ice.
I noticed in your last column that one of your readers wrote in to object to the "one, two, three, fourteen" translation of the opening count-off in U2's "Vertigo." You would think Bono & Co. would be smarter than that -- and it turns out that they are. The "quatorce" is not an error; it is intentional. "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" is U2's fourteenth album. Given that this is the first line on the first track of the CD, the count-off serves as a nod to astute U2 fans.
Pittsburgh, Pa. (by way of Section 214, Row M, Hartford Civic Center)
Here's a story idea for you as the NHL talks focus on salary cap vs. luxury tax. Send a reporter to Wisconsin. Start him in Green Bay, where the team operating in the NFL's smallest market can be as or more competitive than teams in New York and Chicago and can hold onto its marquee quarterback. Then send him to Milwaukee, where the Brewers will never be more than a glorified farm team for the bid spenders. That, it seems to me, is the difference between a luxury tax and a salary cap.
In your interview with AHL commissioner Dave Andrews, he said that the shootout feedback from coaches was not so positive. This sounds to me like a reason to use it! Coaches don't like it because they can't control what the player does in a shootout. It comes down to skill of the player vs. skill of the goalie. I know it takes away from most that is hockey (the toughness, the teamwork etc), but it also takes away from the 'Americanization' of hockey, i.e. the over coaching. I consider it winning one back for the good guy.
I play in a men's hockey league here in STL, and the other night I couldn't believe what I saw. Keith Tkachuk, Jamal Mayers, Jamie Rivers and a smattering of other Blues players playing in our "advanced" league. Are you kidding me?!?! While most NHL stars are in Europe competing against world-class players, these guys are playing against local attorneys, CPAs and insurance salesmen. No wonder the Blues never win! As you can tell, there's no bitterness from this season-ticket holder. Or maybe I'm still bitter over a Red Sox-clad Tkachuk running up and down the aisles at Busch stadium during the World Series making a fool of himself. Point is (yes, I have one) the minute they resume playing and Tkachuk pulls on the Bluenote, he's the man. THAT'S HOCKEY BABY! Thanks for the open ear.
Joshua A. McKee
A tragic thing happened last night for music and hockey fans. Darrell Abbott, formerly of Pantera was shot and killed in an Ohio nightclub. I don't know if you're into the heavier music that Pantera played, but the band was big Dallas Stars fans. They held a celebration party when they won the Cup, and the Cup ended up in their pool. Darrell was an amazing guitarist and a passionate hockey fan, and will be sorely missed.
Let's just hope that the Blue Jackets trade away half their team to get Nils Ekman from the San Jose Sharks, and that they finish last during the future shortened season. That way they can pick up Sidney Crosby in June and make him play on the first line with Rick Nash. Doesn't a Crosby, Nils and Nash trio sound good to you? Now only if they can get their hands on Scott Young...
I've been to two baseball games since 1994, and they were work-related events I couldn't avoid. I love hockey for the reasons you so eloquently outline every week in your column. My love started with the Columbus Owls, and continued through the Hartford Whalers, all the way to my Columbus Blue Jackets (I consider them mine because of the outrageous price I paid for PSLs and season tickets). I find myself, now at age 40, very indifferent to sports, especially baseball and hockey. I don't miss the Blue Jackets. I am more than likely going to cancel my season tickets for next year, and have already made plans on how to spend my refund for the 2004-05 season.
John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is firstname.lastname@example.org.