SUN Hockey Pool

PA's free market won't come cheap

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:09 PM ET

One of the statements NHL players make when they are asked why they are so against a salary cap is they want a free-market economy where market forces determine their salaries. Translated, that means they want owners like those of the New York Rangers to be free to throw money at them.

Well, have they not seen what a free-market economy produces these days?

Without the NHL this season, the global free market sees the best of them getting no more than $3 million for an admittedly shorter season in Europe.

Most of them are playing for much less than that away from family and the creature comforts of life in North America (charter flights, five-star hotels and a generous per diem).

This season should be teaching the NHL players' association an old, if grammatically incorrect, lesson: Be careful what you wish for.

HEAR AND THERE: I might have had taken notice of Dave Morissette's proclamations about steroids in hockey if I had ever taken notice of Dave Morissette ... He said his career was ended by the presence of steroids and stimulants. More likely it was ended by the absence of talent ... They're getting new turf at B.C. Place Stadium. The Left Coasters like their new-and-improved grass now and then.

REVELATIONS: I am currently ranked 2,090,420th in ESPN's NCAA pool. I only have two teams left, so my pre-tournament goal of cracking the top million is looking iffy ... One of the great moments of spring: Driving with your window down for the first time ... A story in the USA Today said people can survive March Madness by creating a physical regimen like the basketball players. Now if I could just find a rich alumnus to help me with the new SUV handoff and some weightlifting like the cheerleader clean and jerk.

SPECULATIONS: My all beverage team at the NCAAs: Chris Ceasar (Iowa State), Corey Brewer (Florida) and Alex Popp (Minnesota). Captain is Brooks Foster (North Carolina) ... It was news this week that NASCAR is close to having a race in Canada. If you've been on Decarie Blvd. heading north the Friday of a long weekend, you know they've had one for years.

SOME ACTUAL NEWS: Golfweek named America's best golf courses in its March 5 edition. Included were the top public courses in each state. The closest one to us? The Sagamore (ranked fifth best) in Bolton Landing, N.Y., (near Glens Falls) and the Links at Hiawatha Landing in Apalachin, N.Y., (near Binghamton), ranked sixth. Vermont National, in Burlington, Vt., is ranked fourth in that state.

JUST WONDERING: So, no NHL draft for Ottawa. When will it come this way again? Who knows, when you consider we had to wait behind Raleigh, N.C., to get it the last time ... Mark McGwired got all weepy at the Congressional hearings. Guess he never listened to 10cc tell us "Big boys don't cry," though I guess that would have to be amended to "Big boys, not even ones inflated on 'roids, creatine, HGH and designer drugs, don't cry."

LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: Besides all that beer money now lost, not having the NHL draft here means we don't get to hear 29 general managers or head scouts thank Ottawa for its hospitality ... Barry Bonds told the media "you finally brought me and my family down." No, Barry, cheating in just about every aspect of your life did that ... McGwired sounded like a guy trying to cover his butt in front of Congress when he refused to "talk about the past." Covering his butt is what he should have done when he went in that bathroom stall with Jose Canseco.

NAPKIN NOTES: It's easy to dismiss the impact of the general manager on Canada's national men's hockey teams. Picking 23 great hockey players in Canada is like finding 23 great basketball players in the NCAA's Sweet 16. All you have to do is open your eyes. But don't underestimate the importance of Wayne Gretzky's presence in getting players to overachieve. When they look in his eyes, they don't want to let him down.

PARTING SHOT: Another of the bad things about this year's draft being postponed/cancelled? Leafs fans will have to wait even longer to know the names of a bunch of players they'll never hear of again.

CYBERSPACED (the way emails should be): pro@TPC17th/buttclench.com


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