Sunday, January 07, 2007


Hence the name

**Mock Surprise Dept. -- look what Chris Selley ran across while reading the NYT Magazine:
[WADA head Richard "Dick"] Pound is not a stereotypical Canadian, if you think of Canadians as reticent, nor is he very lawyerly: he assembles whatever facts he can gather, but when they’re not attainable, sometimes just makes them up.

Take the ruckus he caused when he charged that one-third of players in the National Hockey League, or about seven per team, were using illegal performance enhancers. Sitting in his office, I asked him how he came up with that estimate. He leaned back in his chair and chuckled, completely unabashed to admit that he had just invented it. “It was pick a number,” he said. “So it’s 20 percent. Twenty-five percent. Call me a liar.”

Making shit up -- for the children! Also, if you're tempted to click through to the NYT story to see if there's more evidence for "20% or 25%" than there was for "one-third", don't bother, you'll be disappointed.

**Standings Watch: I think most Oilers fans are aware of this (some quite acutely), but there's basically no measure by which the Oilers are presently one of the eight best teams in the conference.

Tyler is fairly optimistic in his Halfway Report today -- mostly in a reasonable "their destiny is still in their own hands" sense -- but at this moment, the Oilers are not good. They have 3 wins in the past 30 days: the home win v. MIN on the late Stoll/Horcoff goals; the road win v. PHX on the late Sykora goal; and Tuesday's pasting of Florida.

K-Lowe is managing the team like Nuke LaLoosh fupitches. Long term extensions for Moreau and Staios -- and signing the 1969-born Roloson for 3 years -- indicate an effort to sustain whatever it was that worked last postseason. And yet when he dealt their best player (yeah, under duress), the return was almost entirely for the future. He's brought in three guys to replace the contributions of Samsonov, but only Reasoner to replace the contributions of Peca, Dvorak, & the injured Moreau.

I'm not burying them, far from it. I picked them before the season to finish #8.5 in the conference, and I'm sticking with that for now. But it's Thousand Yard Stare time right now.

**"Can we rasta-fy them by 10% or so?" -- Although I quite like the game, and have for 25-odd years, I'm glad that the NHL isn't afraid to try or propose changes to make the game better. I've liked some changes, and disliked others; yet more have been proposed, and I like some of them, and dislike others. For the most part, I'm skeptical of Gary Bettman's power to either improve or destroy hockey in any significant, lasting way, so I don't mind the little changes -- you never know what will really work well.

So with all that said, I'm just gobsmacked that this "upgrade" to the hockey jerseys is really happening. Why, why, why indeed. Why? Never in my life have I heard a fan or player make a negative comment about hockey jerseys (sweaters) in general.

I assume that the idea (besides "collecting a bunch of sponsorship dough from Reebok/CCM") is that they will augment the perception among non-fans that hockey players are athletic -- perhaps replacing the perception of them being, err, "goony" -- and that in turn this will make NHL hockey more popular as a whole.

I think this is unlikely, and even setting aside the "backlash factor" from existing fans, is more likely to do harm than good, but then again, I don't know who it is they're targeting, so maybe they really are ad wizards.

The other problem, though, is the backlash factor. When the NHL is deciding where to move the Panthers, or who will replace Bettman, things will be good: there's not a lot of ways to go wrong. A new style of jerseys? Not so much. They have to be stylistically appealing to a lot of existing fans. They have to work well enough to minimize complaints from the players. And probably toughest of all, they have to create an overall image for the NHL that is an improvement, which will presumably be tough -- for all we know the existing jerseys do more to promote a favourable image for the NHL than skates & ice, Gretzky, or any other damn thing.

(Sub-hed reference: if the new jerseys really suck, I might buy one just so I can get the name POOCHIE on the back.)

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