The delay in the Winnipeg deal is really quite simple: Too many lawyers on the ice.
There are nine partners involved in the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers, not to mention two or three times that many attorneys.
When you add in the Winnipeg True North side, the National Hockey League side, what you get are enough legal minds in a room that no one can determine what day of the week it is, let alone how this deal is going to get finalized.
It will be done, just as the 2004 sale of the Thrashers got done, and that took 372 signatures on contracts that were so thick they needed to be placed in binders.
It’s one thing to agree on a price, it’s another to agree on terms when so many different parties and agendas are involved.
Another problem: It’s hard to find agreement when there is clear animosity between some of the Atlanta owners and there is definite animosity between some of those owners and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
It will all be settled, but not necessarily within the next few days or minutes.
The NHL will be returning to Winnipeg, which is terrific for Manitoba, Canada, nationalism and hockey.
And even better for a whole lot of lawyers who will be billing avidly for an elongated negotiation.
This and that
For all those convinced you build hockey teams through the draft, we offer up the Thrashers. Two No. 1 picks overall. Two No. 2 picks overall. One third, one fourth, and not a playoff game won in their history ... Three Thrasher players almost going home — Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Stuart — are all from Minnesota. And this isn’t new for big Byfuglien, who left home as a 16-year-old to begin his junior career in Brandon ... Confirm or deny: Was that Tiger Woods limping into a Toronto hospital, twice in the past month or so? Sure looked like him ... The NHL is quietly telling people it won’t realign for next season but it makes sense to move Nashville to the Eastern Conference Southeast division for Year 1 and Winnipeg to the Western Conference Central Division. And then figure it all out after that. Even if it browns off the Detroit Red Wings in the process ... By the way, what’s the point of having divisions in the NHL, other than for travel costs? They don’t really factor in the standings and frankly, they just confuse people ... On his radio show, commissioner Bettman on leaving Atlanta: “We’ll only leave the market if we have to.” ... One thing to be thankful for: There are few married veteran players on the Thrashers: When the Flames moved to Calgary in 1980, the divorce rate among players was crazy high.
Hear and there
Word is the NHL salary cap is going up and will be close to $63 million next season, which means more money for the Leafs to spend with almost no players of real quality available. The Leafs could have as much as
$20 million to play with come July ... Odds are, had the Flames not moved from Atlanta to Calgary, you’d never have heard of a Red Deer weatherman named Ron MacLean, who beat out a guy named Doug Smith, to replace Jim van Horne as host of local Flames telecasts. Van Horne, by the way, left Calgary at the time for this startup network called TSN ... The Thrashers actually sold a season ticket on Friday. No truth to the rumour the purchaser’s name was Don Waddell ... The big boys of Canadian media, Bell, Rogers, and Shaw, have apparently said thanks but no thanks to the majority share stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd ... Did the slumping Albert Pujols pick the wrong year to go free agent? It’s been a month since his last home run. Since the beginning of last season, Pujols has been outhomered by Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, 72-49.
Scene and heard
What a time to be a Brampton athlete: Tristan Thompson is expected to go anywhere between 8th and 16th in the NBA draft next month. This comes on the heels of Tyler Seguin’s coming-out party as an NHL player and Shomari Williams being the 2010 first pick in the CFL draft. Whatever is happening in Brampton right now, keep doing it ... And the lucky man is Sasha Vujacic and not because he got traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New Jersey Nets. It’s because he’s quietly engaged to be married to Maria Sharapova ... This is how you know how far the Raptors have fallen in the big picture of the NBA: Now the Europeans are saying no to them. Turkish stud Enes Kanter refused to interview with the Raps at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. That’s insulting ... Just wondering: If the Raptors don’t re-sign Jay Triano as coach, would another NBA team consider him as a head coach? I know, why bother asking ... Things I hope to do before the end of the world: Get up the nerve to eat grilled ahi tuna, play Augusta, take a slap shot that looks like a slap shot, sound like Dan Shulman and finish all the half-read books that crowd my bedroom and bookshelves ... Big stories seem to happen when I go on vacation, like Harold Ballard dying, or the Thrashers officially moving to Winnipeg. So, see you in a few weeks and enjoy all the breaking news.
And another thing
Did you know that Atlanta GM Rick Dudley played the last 30 games of his NHL career for Winnipeg, and actually had the nerve to wear the No. 99 for the Jets? Dudley scored five goals and was a minus-12 in The Peg. The Winnipeg people would be crazy not to bring Dudley north if he wants the job ... Honest, if you saw Jesse Litsch walking down the street, would you think major-league ballplayer? ... As the Winnipeg story continues to unfold, I couldn’t help but think: John Ferguson and Don Wittman should be alive to see this ... Was there ever a better wrestling couple than Macho Man, Randy Savage, and Miss Elizabeth, now both gone. The Macho Man, by the way, hit .344 in the Gulf Coast for part of one season before turning this talents to the ring ... Should Dave Cameron lose the world juniors, the OHL finals and the Memorial Cup all in one season, he should then be hired immediately to coach the Ottawa Senators. He’s perfect for the job if he knows how to lose at the most heart-breaking of times ... The only detail I care to know about the NFL lockout: Tell me when it’s over ... The notion of interleague play works wonderfully when the Mets play the Yankees or the Cubs play the White Sox. When it’s Astros-Blue Jays, forget about it ... Born this date: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Brian Pillman. And happy birthday to Tommy John (68), Walt Hriniak (68), Apolo Ohno (29) and just about nobody else you’ve ever heard of ... And hey, whatever became of Tim Cheveldae?
BOOGAARD WAS NOT A HERO
Can we please stop with the Derek Boogaard hero worship?
Yes, he was apparently a fine fellow, it not a tortured one.
But ostensibly, he died of a drug overdose for something well known on the streets as Hillbilly Heroin. He combined painkillers and booze, something addicts do regularly to get a buzz on. There is nothing heroic about that. You may want to term that accidental? That’s your call.
But as the brother of someone who lost his life to heroin, I don’t see it the same way. Clearly, Boogaard had an illness of some kind, a trouble with addiction.
For that, I sympathize.
But the addict heroes, in my world, are the ones who find a way to reform themselves, and don’t waste or lose their lives in pills, syringes and alcohol, all in the name of the getting high.
The wonder that is Jose Bautista becomes even more wondrous when you consider all that has happened this season to the Blue Jays.
Travis Snider bombed out. Aaron Hill and Edwin Encarnacion haven’t hit a home run yet and most of Encarnacion’s bombs have come with a glove on.
Fifteen-game winner Brett Cecil is pitching in Las Vegas and trying to find his arm and his head.
There is no real closer.
Adam Lind is on the disabled list.
Rajai Davis plays the outfield like he’s never been there before.
Jo Jo Reyes can’t get a break or a win. And the weirdest part of all this: The Jays are in the race.
They are alive in May, if not well.
The Yankees are imploding before our very eyes.
If the Blue Jays can ever find a way to get some production out of players who are supposed to be productive, look out.
IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
The absolute lesson of these Stanley Cup playoffs — and most — is that one game has nothing to do with the next.
One period has nothing to do with the next.
Tampa Bay and Boston play undisciplined pond hockey in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final and then tone it down to dull-coach-suck-the-life-out-of-the-game hockey and play a crazy back-and-forth Game 4.
In Game 2 in Vancouver, the Canucks pounded the San Jose Sharks and the Sharks didn’t help much by pounding themselves. The series looked over until the Sharks came back and won Game 3.
Every time you look for a hint, a piece of momentum, something, the opposite or alternative occurs.
The more we try and make sense over what’s happening, the less sense we make.
Maybe, that’s what makes these playoffs so great. There’s no script. There’s no pattern.
Stuff is just happening.