SUN Hockey Pool

NHL playing rinky-dink game

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media in New York, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2012. (ANDREW...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media in New York, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2012. (ANDREW KELLY/Reuters)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

Gary Bettman is like one of those shell game dudes you see working the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Thatís what the NHL has become, a shell game. Winnipeg to Phoenix. Quebec City to Denver (both remain troubled franchises). Hartford to Carolina. Atlanta to Winnipeg. The Islanders from Uniondale to Brooklyn.

It wonít be long before teams in Phoenix, Florida and Columbus relocate. Itís like going to Woodbine and trying to pick a horse. You need a program.

Hereís my problem with the Islanders moving to Brooklyn: Itís another example of a league attempting to use a venue (Barclays Center) as the main attraction in marketing a team, which never works, at least not for long.

Fancy, new arenas donít stabilize franchises. There has to be a market for the sport. Has anyone stopped to think that perhaps there simply arenít enough hockey fans in the New York City area to support three NHL teams?

The New Jersey Devils have a spanking new arena, but they still struggle to sell seats.

Brooklyn is the epicentre of basketball, for Peteís sake and, from what I understand, most of the hockey fans who live there support the Rangers.

Itís no wonder the NHL has an image problem. What other league spends as much time talking about relocation and ailing franchises?

The bottom line is this: Hockey is the No.4 sport in the U.S., and there are too many teams south of the border.

IT'D BE AN ACT OF A DESPERATE LEAGUE

As for Toronto getting another NHL team: This is like a watching an organ grinder with a drunken monkey. Painful.

Yes, I believe the GTA could support another franchise. But moving teams to markets with existing franchises, to me, smacks of desperation.

A second team in Toronto would make the NHL look bush league.

IF BEEZER WERE COMMISH ...

This is my NHL dream: Fewer games. Fewer teams. Wider ice (failing that, 4-on-4). The Stanley Cup presented in April, or May at the latest. Something done to speed up the game on TV (high definition helped, but not enough). Playoffs that include top European teams. Journalists who donít kiss the ass of general managers.

Yes, I do live in a fantasy world.

COMING CLEAN CAN BE DIRTY

I remain steadfast in my contention that the good that Lance Armstrong has done for cancer awareness offsets his lying and cheating. And if Iím Lance Armstrong, Iíd never admit to doping. That may be morally misdirected, but look what coming clean did for Ben Johnson and the Charlie Francis-coached athletes who admitted drug use at the 1989 Dubin Inquiry. Aside from being vilified and ostracized, Johnson and some of his teammates, most notably Angella Issajenko, were stripped of their world records. Meanwhile, other track athletes from the same era, who were later implicated in doping, continued to deny taking PEDís and held on to their records.

WHILE I'M AT IT

-- Lakers PA announcer Lawrence Tanter was snubbed by Dwight Howard when he tried to get aa fist pump from the NBA star prior to a recent game. Thatís terrific. Iíve got a news flash for announcers and journalists who want to be loved by pro athletes: Wake up. Theyíre not your friends. Youíre just some clown they have to deal with.

-- The biggest culprits for the Armstrong mess are the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The fact he was alledgedly tested 218 times during his career without a positive result tells me that these organizations were either incompetent or compliant. Or both.

-- One question for anyone who thinks Ozzie Guillen would be a good choice to the manager the Blue Jays: Are you insane?

WEENIE OF THE WEEK

Itís somewhat telling that after Fenway John Farrell jumped ship, few Blue Jays tweeted to lament his departure. Frankly, most didnít even mention it.


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