Go West, young man

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:45 PM ET

If the first team out of it tomorrow is 'Edmonton' and there are 29 teams left in the televised reverse draw Sidney Sweepstakes, who do you cheer for?

Or, maybe better phrased, whom do you cheer against?

And when the first words come out of Gary Bettman's mouth, what are you hoping to hear? Or not to hear?

The answers may tell you a lot about yourself as a hockey fan.

In the Sidney Sweepstakes, if your favourite team is eliminated first when all is revealed in reverse order of the draft, are you suddenly cheering for Crosby to end up with another Canadian team? Or not? If you're from Edmonton does the ABC rule kick in? Anybody But Calgary?

If he can't come to your hometown hockey team, would you then want to see him in one of the major markets like New York or Toronto because it would be good for the game? Or anywhere but N.Y. and T.O.?

ASK YOURSELF THIS ...

The one thing you should ask yourself when it comes to the Sidney Sweepstakes is if you can't watch him 41 games a year, how many times a year would you want to watch him?

Even if it's at the expense of your hometown team being successful in positioning in the standings and possibly in a playoff series? If he lands in the West, you could see him three or four times a season. If he lands in the East, you could watch him once every three or four seasons.

Me? I'm cheering for Crosby.

I hope he goes west because the way they play the game out here, I think that's where he'd play the best. I'm cheering small market because it'll reduce pressure on him and that's where he'd develop the best

Selfishly, I'd also like to see him some time between now and 2008.

I saw more than just about anybody of Wayne Gretzky. I want to see as much as possible of this guy. If it can't be Edmonton, I'd take Calgary.

And I'd like this event to be as big as it could be. Can you believe they weren't going to put this one on TV. And now that they will, it's going to be after the fact.

The NHL will have already failed the fans on their first day of allegedly trying to become a more fan- friendly league.

By taking the balls out of the hopper backstage in 1-2-3-to-30 order and then revealing the results in reverse 30-29-28 on TV with the results already known (and quite possible leaked), they've killed a sports spectacle better than any game they'll likely show this year.

TELEVISED, IN REVERSE ORDER

Wouldn't you like to see it televised live and in reverse order?

Like first ball out, Edmonton. Damn. But hey, the Oilers still have one more ball in there. Out next, Toronto. They're toast. Etc., etc.???

When it comes to Bettman, is anybody, other than the other GMs who think they'd save their jobs by making the playoffs, cheering for him to declare 20 teams in the playoffs instead of 16? Not me.

I know I'm not going to hear any of the things I wanted to hear most out of Bettman's mouth about changing the game.

I know I'm not going to hear him declare the intention that where there's a will there's a way and they have suddenly found the will to make the ice wider.

I know I'm not going to hear a reduction in the number of games from 82 to 72 to give the players a chance to be able to give the people paying to watch them a chance to see them at the top of their game when they do.

I suspect I'm also not going to hear going to the soccer points system of three for a win and one for a tie with no "loser points" for overtime games, etc.

KILL-THE-GAME DEFENCE

Overnight that rule changed coaching in soccer from kill-the-game defence to a go-forward game because a tie was barely better than a loss. Coaching has been the No. 1 thing wrong with the game.

Three points for a win and one for a loss would have shown somebody had recognized that fact.

Most fans expect, and have no problem with the idea of cosmetic changes like no-touch icing, eliminating the red line, the smaller goaltender equipment and the addition of a shootout in the regular season.

PLEASE

But please, please, please don't tell us that you have to resort to making the nets bigger.

One thing for sure. Hockey may have become the first sport to miss an entire season.

But by extension we have an extension.

Hockey season this year is starting in July.

Oh, and back to the Sidney Sweepstakes.

Do you want Crosby to go anywhere where, as an extension of the fans, the sports media isn't totally consumed, in the next 24 hours, with where he may be going?


Videos

Photos