I know I've been a bit tardy on deadlines this week, but you can bet I'm being extra-punctual with this week's 52 52 52. Since I'm spending all of Sunday traveling to an undisclosed location in Central America (I shit you not), I'm going to have to make this entry a bit brief. So sorry to our neighbor to the North, which makes the cut as the 52nd state right ahead of Puerto Rico. After all, they had the Expos way longer. If that doesn't make them deserving of this bizarre weekly series of mine, I can't imagine what would.
Canada boasts the second tallest peak in North America, with its 19,551-foot Mount Logan beating everyone except Alaska's Mount McKinley. So fuck yeah for America and its 1860s territorial purchases from the Russians! It's a catchy refrain, you've got to admit.
And now for some fast facts regarding everybody's favorite highpoint in the Yukon Territory that may or may not be named after Wolverine...
1. OK, OK, it was really named after Sir William Edmond Logan, who didn't even have the decency to have an adamantium skeleton. Nah, he was just a geologist. And not even a geologist with retractable claws.
2. It's pretty fucking cold up at the summit. On May 26, 1991, it got as low as -108 degrees (and of course I mean Fahren-fucking-heit) up there, which is the coldest natural temperature ever recorded outside Antarctica. So, um, pack a jacket.
3. Apparently former Prime Minister Jean Chretien once wanted to rename it after the even more former Prime Minister Pierre Troudeau, who is most famous for this one time his wife ran off to have sex with the Rolling Stones for two weeks (not that there's anything wrong with that). However, the name change failed due to opposition from, and I'm quoting here, "Yukoners, mountaineers, geologists, Trudeau's political critics, and many other Canadians." I really think they could have just said "everybody in Canada except for maybe a couple of Quebecois jerkoffs", but what do I know? I'm not Wikipedia...not yet, anyway.
Speaking of Quebecois jerkoffs - and I should stress I have nothing personal against Quebec, except that as a proud France-hating Brit I really do have to hate France's bastard offspring on principle - this week's article comes from the Montreal Gazette. Sure, I maybe should have gone with a newspaper from the Yukon Territory, but the only articles I could find were all about me striking it rich in the Gold Rush of 1898. Man, I miss The Yukon Trail, another exciting game from MECC! Not that I'm advertising, you understand.
Anyway, Pat Hickey has the floor on something or other NHL-related. No, please, stick with me. This might just be worth reading anyway.
You would think that a couple of U.S. lawyers would have a firm understanding of freedom of speech, but National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and his right-hand man, Bill Daly, trampled all over the First Amendment to the United States Constitution this week.
Conversely, you'd think that a random Canadian sports columnist would have a piss-poor grip on the Constitution. *SPOILER ALERT* This article is going to prove just that.
The folks in the NHL front office brought an end to the most entertaining hockey story of the offseason when they ordered Anaheim general manager Brian Burke and his Edmonton counterpart, Kevin Lowe, to stop sniping at each other.
The who and the what now?
In case you came in late, Burke accused Lowe of driving up the price of business in the NHL by giving offer sheets last year to restricted free agents Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner.
Huh...that sounds...potentially...maybe...ever so slightly...no, sorry, I can't really go ahead and call that "interesting." I tried though.
Lowe countered by calling Burke a "moron" and suggested that Burke had little to do with Anaheim's Stanley Cup victory in 2007.
OK...now we might be getting somewhere. I must admit I like that Lowe merely said Burke had "little" to do with it instead of nothing. As far as insults are concerned, you've always got to concede a little if you want to gain a lot. That's just basic insult theory.
You couldn't make this stuff up.
And who would want to?
(Admittedly, if Arli$$ was still on and I was about 20% more hackneyed than I actually am, I might just have made an "other than the writers of Arli$$?" joke there. But thank goodness we don't live in this hellish alternate existence.)
Daly said the feud was bad for business, but he missed the essential point - people were talking about the NHL and the buzz around the water cooler was more interesting than waiting for Mats Sundin to make a decision on his future.
Who was talking about this? I mean, I don't want to underestimate the importance of hockey in Canada, but this made absolutely zero impact in the United States. Now, I'm not trying to be an American supremacist here, I'm just pointing out that this supposed business-boosting brouhaha (how you like my alliteration now?) made nary a dent in the country where a good 75% of NHL franchises are located.
Also, wasn't this supposed to be about free speech in some way? Eh, I'll just point out that private organizations such as the NHL have the right to moderate the speech of its employees within certain limits. If our resident law student wants to expand, he's more than welcome, but at its most basic - this is in no sense a free speech issue. Which, judging by the fact that Pat Hickey completely forgot about it after the first sentence, might be something he realized as well.
Wrigley on ice: The NHL seems determined to make an outdoor game as much a part of the annual landscape as season-opening games in Europe.
And why not? It's easily the best idea they've had in years. Well except for that awesome gap year the NHL took a few years back. Really made fans appreciate what they had for so long taken for granted.
It shouldn't come as a surprise because NBC, the U.S. television rightsholder that doesn't pay for the rights, wants an encore for the successful game this year in Buffalo.
The fact that NBC wants anything to do with regular season hockey is an immensely good sign, and yet somehow I get the sense Pat Hickey is not pleased.
The next edition of the game will be played at Wrigley Field and will feature the Chicago Blackhawks against the Detroit Red Wings. There's no word yet on how the NHL will deal with those fans who watch games from the roofs of neighbouring buildings.
Wait...is that his objection?
Tale of two countries: You might recall that Oren Koules and Len Barrie, the new owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning, had trouble finding someone to finance their purchase of the team. They came up with one-quarter of the $200-million purchase price and former owner Bill Davidson was so anxious to cash out that he's holding an IOU for the balance.
An IOU? It's really true - in every single way, billionaires are like seven-year-olds. Or characters if fifties sitcoms. Kind of a mix really.
The situation is quite different here in Canada, where Darryl Katz was able to secure a $100-million loan to complete his purchase of the Edmonton Oilers. The 6.37-per-cent interest rate is considered high for this type of purchase, but it's hardly usurious.
Ooh, somebody's got a vocabulary. What an insufferably portentous auctorial fellow! I say, wot?
Huh...I broke into a British accent for a second there. Weird.
Katz was able to find money because the strong loonie - it's actually a weak U.S. dollar - has made Canadian NHL teams more viable and the resource-based economy in Edmonton is booming.
I'm sorry, but when your country's favorable economy can really be described in terms of "the strong loonie", how the fuck do you expect anybody to take you seriously? I mean, sure, your economy might not collapse in the next ten years, but at least nobody laughs when they hear the word "dollar." Well, at least not in terms of how it sounds.
Salary cap update: It's a tossup which team is in the worst position vis-a-vis the salary cap in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks.
For fuck's sake - is Los Angeles just incapable of supporting a sports team? I mean, we all know the Lakers are going to fold within six months of Jack Nicholson kicking the bucket.
The Kings are $12 million below the $40-million floor and they have been non-players in the free-agent market. They do have some restricted free agents like Jarret Stoll and Patrick
O'Sullivan to sign, but they might be forced to overpay just to meet the minimum.
Nice formatting. And shouldn't there be more than two sentences of vague "analysis"?
The Ducks are one of four teams that are currently above the $56.3-million cap. They have overspent by $2.4 million and it can't all be Kevin Lowe's fault.
Oh, I'm sure this Burke guy would beg to differ. I cannot wait to talk about this at those Central American water coolers!
There's another sentence, but it's boring. Fine, you asked for it...
Other teams over the cap are the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames.
I think this article needed more discussion of dating Madonna. I mean in a theoretical sense. Do you think it would help or hurt to like her music? Wait, what am I thinking? Got to save shit this profound for the next column...