All about sugar daddy

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Not sure which is worse, the idea of the NHL having another team for the rest of the country to hate in Southern Ontario or the notion of keeping teams in useless southern U.S. markets.

The dream has always existed that the NHL would eventually return to its Canadian roots with a salary cap in place and the Canadian dollar skyrocketing. But most people thought that would be good news for places like Winnipeg and Quebec City, which lost its teams during some of the league's darker financial days.

Instead, a rich owner from Ontario is looking at taking the Nashville Predators to Hamilton, of all places, and that brings mixed feelings.

On one hand, we'd rather see the NHL in Hamilton than in Las Vegas. On the other, many people west of Sudbury are already sick of the excesses enjoyed by people in the Centre of the Universe.

Let's face it. If you are getting beat out for an NHL team by Hamilton, a drab city with Craps Coliseum for a venue and a place that has barely sustained a CFL team for the last 30 years, you have to be worried.

Now before all you Hamiltonians start with the nasty e-mails, let's not forget that malevolent, I'd Rather Be 1-9 Than From Winnipeg salvo emanating from your city last summer. Yeah, we remember that one.

Truth is, the Hamilton area has two things Winnipeg doesn't have: A huge population base in the surrounding area and boatloads of expendable income. Those are obviously attractive attributes to Mr. Moneybags Jim Balsillie.

Unfortunately Winnipeg's attributes -- a much better arena than Hamilton and an endorsement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman -- are simply not enough to attract a sugar daddy of its own.

END OF AN ERA: It's a sad day for sports in Winnipeg, now that the Blue Bombers have agreed to sell out to David Asper and become a privately owned team for the first time in their history.

Don't get us wrong ... the new stadium plan sounds peachy and Winnipeg could well be the envy of every team in the CFL. But the Bombers are part of the fabric of this community and they have been run by its citizens since before anyone every heard of the CFL, or the NFL for that matter.

Now that will change and, for better or for worse, it will mean the end of a golden era when everyone felt a sense of entitlement to their football team. Now, all that entitlement sits in Asper's hefty wallet.

BOOOORING: Blue Bombers training camp this year has been dullsville. No Charles Roberts trade requests, no competition from out-of-shape ex-NFL running backs, no fireworks of any kind. Good news is today is cut down day and in this new salary cap era that means some reasonably big names are likely getting the heave ho. That's sure to stir things up ... Of course, boring is the latest trend in sports. The NHL playoffs were so dull we can barely remember what happened and the NBA final had all the intrigue of an episode of Teletubbies (what lasted longer, the NBA final or Kobe Bryant's latest trade request?). No names won the Masters and the U.S. Open, there was no contender for a Triple Crown in horse racing, and don't even get us started on the Super Bowl, featuring the sweet stylings of old Rex Whatshisname. It's no wonder TV ratings are lower than next year's season of the Sopranos, which reportedly will be 13 episodes of blank screen ... Patrick Kane, come on down. You're next contestant on Players The Blackhawks Will Find a Way to Screw Up ... Sammy Sosa reached No. 600 this week. And by that we mean the 600th person to ask him if he is actually still playing. There's so much indifference to sluggers (and suspected juicers) reaching milestones in America's pastime you'd think they were playing hockey ... Tiger Woods and wife Elin Nordegren became parents of Sam Alexis Woods this week. Reportedly, a half dozen men's events have already offered the bambino sponsor's exemptions and Vegas immediately began taking odds on whether or not the Tiger cub will win a golf tournament before Michelle Wie ... Note to the Calgary Flames: 1985 called. They want Mike Keenan back.

Ted Wyman is the Sun's sports editor. Got a note, quote or anecdote? Send it to thehitparade@wpgsun.com or phone 632-2794.

QUICK HITS: Let's start off with perhaps the greatest quick hitter of all time, Yogi Berra, who delivered yet another nugget when asked to be commencement speaker to Saint Louis University's Class of 2007: "The most important things in life are the things that are least important." ... From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "So how will history rate Mariners pitcher Jeff Weaver -- 0-6 with a 10.97 ERA -- throwing a three-hit shutout Wednesday night? Somewhere in the realm of Jed Clampett striking oil with a shotgun blast and Lyle Lovett getting Julia Roberts to say "I do." ... Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel looking ahead to see young Sam Woods explaining to her father why she flunked a math test: "Conditions weren't conducive to scoring well. The room was too drafty, the desks were too hard, and Sally Mickelson said I was using an inferior pencil." ... San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune what it's like to play with pitcher Jake Peavy, who has a 9-1 record and a 1.98 ERA: "You can almost put out a lawn chair and enjoy the show." ... Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, speculating that Alex Rodriguez will opt out of his New York Yankees contract after this season: "His asking price reportedly is 30 million bucks a year and a buxom blond to be named later." ... Dan Daly of the Washington Times on San Antonio's Robert Horry winning his seventh NBA championship: "Let's see, he's won two rings with Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston, three with Shaquille O'Neal in L.A., two with Tim Duncan in San Antonio. The man is the Forrest Gump of professional basketball." ... ESPN.com's DJ Gallo on swimmer Amanda Beard's less-than-pleasing nude magazine appearance: "At the very least she looks better in the photos than did the subjects of Playboy's disastrous July 1984 issue: Women of the East German Olympic Team." ... Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg on John Daly and his wife blasting each other with allegations involving sex, heavy drinking and violence: "Add a wildly barking dog and Daly with no shirt, and we've got us an episode of COPS." ... From Jerry Greene of the Orlando Sentinel: "A spokesman says Phil Mickelson has been told not to play golf for at least two weeks. And, for his own good, did someone tell him to shut up." ... The Tonight Show's Jay Leno on the undramatic NBA final: "The finals are always the second-most suspenseful time of the year for NBA players. The first is Father's Day." ... Another from Dan Daly: "Basketball's TV numbers are alarming. After all, the last time they were this bad, the league could at least blame it on the peach baskets." ... Finally, from Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "The NFL has given permission to two of its coaches, San Francisco's Mike Nolan and Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio, to wear suits and ties on the sidelines next season. The league also gave Bill Belichick the OK to upgrade his game-day wardrobe. The Patriots coach will now wear cutoff shorts, a tank top and one of Jim McMahon's old headbands."


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