The NHL and it's players met for 48 hours this week without Goodenow and Bettman, in the futile hope that a framework for an agreement could be reached without the two polarizing figures. No dice. Unfortunately, all the owners, not just Bettman, want a salary cap and the players, the new "coalition of the bribed and coerced," has been forced into supporting the belief that the NHL doesn't need one. Which means one of two things will happen. Either an impasse will be declared and players will inevitably cross picket lines or a couple of franchises will go bankrupt and the players will have to give in or face further job losses.
The NHLPA is, at this point, merely prolonging the inevitable when they make the salary cap issue a "non-starter." The Toronto Star's Damien Cox makes the point (in ESPN.com) that the players overrated their value in the overall North American market. Maybe they thought people in the U.S. would beat down the doors of Gary Bettman and pressure the NHL to return. Hockey fans in the U.S. are saying, "Wake me when you have an agreement."
Four To Watch - Inagural edition
Today Debuts a feature in which I pick four key contests in sports for the upcoming weekend and comment on each. During the football season, it will be a mix of college and pro football games. From Conference Championship Week until the start of the college fooball season, it will be whatever 4 games (or weekend series in the case of baseball) are of importance that particular weekend. So here's this week's Four To Watch in chronological order:
- #18 Cincinnati at #3 Wake Forest (Interconference game. Saturday, noon Central on ABC) - A rare late-season non-conference tilt that should be a dandy. Will Cincinnati beat a major conference team? Will the Demon Deacons continue their Carolina hangover? No and no, but it will be close.
- #11 Texas at #21 Oklahoma. (Big XII game. Saturday, 2:45 pm Central on CBS) - Texas's first true test of how they will respond to the loss of leading scorer and rebounder P.J. Tucker comes at the Lloyd Noble Center against Oklahoma. Time for some in Texas's stacked freshman class to step it up and prove they belong on a college floor.
- Atlanta Falcon at Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Championship. 2:00 pm Central on Fox) - Two talented quarterbacks, two top defenses, and a contrast in styles. It has all the makings of a classic. Even without Terrell Owens, the Eagles still have enough to get to the Super Bowl. Expect Brian Westbrook to be a factor running and recieving for the Eagles. His versatility is something Atlanta hasn't ever faced.
- New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC Championship, 5:30 pm Central on CBS) - The consensus among football analysts, many of whom are shell-shocked after picking Indy last week, is that New England will win the game. Considering the Patriots will have Corey Dillon, who didn't play in the Pats' Week 8 loss to the Steelers, and unfinished buisness (winning a 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years), I think this time conventional wisdom is right on.
(ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any money you lose picking with me, because my info is as good as any phone tipster, which is to say, it's not really based on any handicapping knowledge. If you can't stay away from the sports book, you probably need help.)
Take care, God bless, and please continue to help the tsunami victims.
Monday: Let the Super Bowl hype begin!