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Monday, June 2, 2008
Tiger Woods zings the Stanley Cup finals

Associated Press

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT -- Don't count Tiger Woods among those glued to their TVs during the Stanley Cup finals.

The world's top golfer appeared via teleconference on Monday, promoting August's PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit.

Woods was asked if he was rooting for Detroit or Pittsburgh.

Woods started to laugh, then landed a zinger.

"I don't really care. Let's talk about the Dodgers," the California native said. "I don't think anybody really watches hockey any more."


But the improved television ratings for this year's finals doesn't seem to match Woods' assessment.

The Penguins' victory over the Red Wings on NBC drew the best overnight rating for a Game 3 of the Cup finals in six years. Pittsburgh's 3-2 win on Wednesday night earned a 2.8 national rating and an 18.2 rating in Detroit, beating out the 15.9 rating for the Pistons' matchup with the Boston Celtics in the NBA's Eastern Conference finals. The combination of Games 1, 2 and 3 have made this the highest-rated and most-watched opening games of the Cup finals since Detroit faced Carolina in 2002.

"The National Hockey League has enormous respect for Tiger Woods, for all his accomplishments and for his work with the community," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said. "We think he's a great golfer."


HOWE'S HE DOING: Red Wings legend Gordie Howe has been a presence during the Stanley Cup finals -- and all season long -- showing up at games and even practices.

"If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't be here all the time," he said. "I really enjoy watching practice."

Away from the rink, the 80-year-old Hall of Famer spends much of his time caring for his wife Colleen, who suffers from Pick's disease, a degenerative brain disorder that causes dementia.

Howe, when asked how his wife is progressing, said the situation was "not very good."

"It's sad. She hasn't said a word the last couple years, and she's getting thinner," he said. "She's tough, but it's been a tough stretch.

"The doctor has said, 'I don't want to scare you, but there's no cure for it," Howe said.

The legendary tough guy, whose "Gordie Howe hat trick" in a game means recording a goal and an assist and getting into a fight, made waves at a recent appearance at Joe Louis Arena by carrying a dog -- a little one.

Like Paris Hilton might have.

The tiny "teacup" dog is named Rocket after Canadiens great Maurice Richard.

"When I was in Montreal once, he said, 'What's your dog's name?' I said, 'Rocket.' He said, 'You son of a gun, naming a dog after me."


STEEL CITY-MOTOR CITY SHOWDOWN: The Penguins-Red Wings matchup is the first time since the 1909 World Series that teams from Pittsburgh and Detroit have met in the championship game/series of any of the four major sports.

The Pirates beat the Tigers in seven games in the only previous title decider pitting the Steel City and Motor City, which are separated by 210 miles and have rich athletic histories.

In the 99 years since the World Series that featured Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, Pittsburgh has won 11 championships: The Pirates in 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979; the Steelers following the 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979 and 2005 seasons (the last one in Detroit no less); and the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

Detroit's 21 champions were the Tigers in 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984; the Lions in 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957; the Pistons in 1989, 1990 and 2004; and the Red Wings in 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998 and 2002.


CLEARY TRIES TO MAKE HISTORY: Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary has an entire Canadian province pulling for him.

If the Wings are able to win the Stanley Cup, it is believed he would be the first player from Newfoundland to win the trophy.

Family friend Douglas Moores and his son, Ian, were on hand at Joe Louis Arena on Monday to watch Cleary possibly make history.

"It would be the second coming" if Detroit were to win, said Douglas Moores, whose son played youth hockey alongside Cleary.

Both were part of a contingent of giddy Cleary supporters from Newfoundland wearing autographed No. 11 jerseys in the arena ahead of the game.


ONE-TIMERS: The Penguins called up D Alex Goligoski before Game 5 in case Kris Letang had any difficulty returning to Detroit from Monday's funeral in New Brunswick for his friend, 21-year-old Vancouver Canucks rookie Luc Bourdon. "We didn't want to take the risk. If something happened at the morning skate or this afternoon, we didn't want to get caught with six defensemen only," said Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien. ... Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had nothing but nice things to say about Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby ahead of Game 5. "He's a young player, and yet he's mature way beyond his years," Babcock said. "And to me, he's been excellent in this series and very competitive." ... Detroit-area police agencies were preparing for potential celebrations should the Red Wings claim the Cup Monday night. In suburban Royal Oak, police officers from different agencies were being called in to assist with crowd control ahead of the game, deputy Police Chief Chris Jahnke said. Jahnke said he anticipated "a celebratory crowd," but added, "if there are individuals who decide to act up ... we're going to arrest those people so it doesn't ruin it for everyone else." ... Who owns the longest point-scoring streak among players in the Cup finals? Young Detroit stars Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk or Johan Franzen? Nope. How about Crosby? Also a no. It's Detroit D Brad Stuart, who has managed a goal and five assists in five straight games dating to the Western Conference finals clincher against Dallas.


AP Sports Writer Larry Lage and Associated Press writers Jim Irwin and Ben Leubsdorf contributed to this report.