SUN Hockey Pool

Doesn't have a clue

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Gary Bettman says he won't be stepping down any time soon as commissioner of the NHL and the salary-cap loving owners aren't likely to give him the boot.

If only we could all be so lucky to hold our jobs for that long without accomplishing anything.

Bettman is the only commissioner the NHL has ever had and he came in 14 years ago with a mandate to sell the game in the United States.

Today, absolutely nobody is watching hockey on television in the United States. Less people than ever are watching it live in places like Boston, Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles, all hot hockey markets at one time.

There are teams all over the southern states, in places like Florida, Carolina, Atlanta, Nashville and Phoenix, where people would just as soon travel to the North Pole as enter a hockey rink.

Meanwhile, in Canada, two of our teams flew south on his watch and now the league has adopted a ridiculous schedule where the Canadian teams don't even play each other every year.

NBC big mouth Brett Hull had it right when he made this comment recently: "I don't think (Bettman) really understands the game. He doesn't understand the history, and at times I don't think he really gives a hoot. All he cares about is if he's making the owners happy."

It's time for Little Man Gary to either change his focus and start bringing hockey back to its roots or simply do the honourable thing and walk away.

FAREWELL NEIL: The Western Manitoba sporting community is mourning this week following the death of Neil Andrews, a man whose passion for the games we play was an inspiration to many.

Andrews, who died last Saturday of a rare brain disease, was a fine curler -- as his two senior provincial championships would attest -- but also threw his company name behind one of Brandon's biggest bonspiels and volunteered to head up the ice crew at every major event the Wheat City hosted over the last 20 years.

He was also a baseball lover who founded the Brandon Marlins senior team when the players were all juniors and eventually led them to numerous provincial titles. His efforts there were recognized when the City of Brandon renamed the baseball stadium in his honour.

There is no consolation to his grieving family, but perhaps some small comfort in the knowledge that his legacy will be long lasting and his memory held strong by those of us who knew him.

BACK TO LIGHTER FARE: Great news for NFL football fans -- Michael Irvin has been whacked as an analyst with ESPN. Now if you want to listen to utter nonsense on TV, you'll have to go back to the Teletubbies ... Now, back to important discussions, like whether or not Britney's hair is the father of Anna Nicole's baby ... There has been tons of talk about Sports Illustrated featuring singer Beyonce on the cover but not nearly enough chatter about the fact that many of the pictures in the mag are in 3D. Very cool ... Can't wait for the round-the-clock coverage of the NHL trade deadline on Canadian sports networks this week. You haven't lived until you've spent 14 hours listening to Pierre Maguire shouting about the importance of the third-round pick Dallas acquired for a Kazakhstani prospect ... Who would have thought that a week after the Peter Forsberg trade, Scottie Upshall would still be the most productive player in the deal? ... If the San Diego Chargers were going to dive into the recycling heap to get coach Norv Turner, why didn't they just dig a little deeper and snag Mike Ditka, Don Shula or Jimmy Johnson. Hey, if Marv Levy's still in the league, those guys can be too. And unlike Turner, at least those guys win occasionally ... Tennessee Titans running back Pacman Jones took more than $80,000 to a Vegas strip club recently to toss at the dancers. Forget the lap dances, for that kind of dough, one of those strippers better become Mrs. Pacman ...

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QUICK HITS: Let's start off with T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times on the San Diego Chargers' decision to hire Norv Turner (58-82-1 career record) as head coach: "A wax likeness of Tom Landry would've been a more inspiring hire." ... Steve Rosenbloom of ChicagoSports.com on recent anti-gay remarks uttered by ex-NBA player Tim Hardaway: "Tim Hardaway, your plane is boarding -- and you have a window seat next to John Rocker." ... ABC funnyman Jimmy Kimmel on people criticizing Sports Illustrated for putting singer Beyonce on the cover when she obviously has nothing to do with sports: "What was Heidi Klum, power forward for the Atlanta Hawks?" ... Comedian Argus Hamilton, on golfer John Daly saying he has addictions to alcohol, tobacco, food and gambling: "The Nevada economy goes into recession every time John Daly gets a good night's sleep." ... When a season-low 2,640 fans showed up for a recent WHL game in his northern B.C. town, Prince George Citizen sports editor Jim Swanson saw a bright side: "The good news is none of the men in attendance is claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter." ... Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on Michael Waltrip getting busted after his intake manifold was found to contain a property associated with jet fuel at the Daytona 500: "Officials became suspicious when Waltrip's car made its qualifying run after launching from an aircraft carrier." Another from Cote: "Part of the legend of Red Sox pitching phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka is that he supposedly has a pitch called a 'gyroball.' Nobody knows exactly what it is, but it is very effective because batters cannot see the ball as it flies to the plate wrapped in Greek pita bread." ... From Dan Daly, of the Washington Times: "Finally found out what the hold-up was with Barry Bonds' contract. During his physical exam, it seems, team doctors found an unidentified additive in his air intake manifold." ... New York Mets outfielder Moises Alou on how he has managed to stay in great shape, even though he has hit 40: "I drink light beer." ... Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knocking up his ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan and currently dating Victoria's Secret model Gisele Bundchen: "And we thought Joe Namath got around." From Greg Cote, of the Miami Herald: "Barry Bonds signed a one-year, $15.8 million deal with the Giants. He said he planned to use the money to hire people to like him." ... Finally, this headline at fark.com summed the DUI arrest of Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl hero Dominic Rhodes: "Good news for the Bengals: He's a free agent."


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