Keeping memory alive

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

A lot of people around these parts seem to take offence to the Phoenix Coyotes honouring players from the Winnipeg Jets era, as they did Thursday night with Dale Hawerchuk.

It's hard to understand why that kind of gesture, which acknowledges the rich history the franchise established before it flew south, would bother Winnipeg fans.

True, Hawerchuk never played a game with the Coyotes and Phoenix fans wouldn't know the difference between him and Mark Kumpel, but some people in that organization still understand what history means to a hockey franchise.

Hawerchuk, like Bobby Hull and Thomas Steen before him, deserves to be honoured by the team that employed his considerable services. He was a superstar who earned his Hall-of-Fame credentials in a Winnipeg Jets uniform.

And Thursday night he was inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honour while wearing that old No.10 Jets jersey. The fact that there was a No.10 Coyotes jersey as well was simply tying the past to the present.

Obviously, Hawerchuk appreciated the gesture. If he didn't, he wouldn't have agreed to be at the game. And his comments to the Phoenix fans went right over their heads and made a beeline for fans in this Canadian Prairie city.

"I played for the emblem on the sweater, not the name on the back," he said.

Yeah, it sucks that the Jets left town and headed for the desert.

But let's not hold it against the organization for keeping the memory alive.

NO COMPETITION: Wouldn't the World Women's Hockey Championship be more exciting if they just made it a best-of-seven between Canada and the United States? It's a testament to Manitoba hockey fans that this event has been so good to this point because the games have mostly been duds. Out of nine games played so far, seven have been shutouts and five were decided by seven goals or more. Obviously, the rest of the world is trying to be competitive, but at this point seven teams in the tournament simply have no chance of winning. The other two -- Canada and the U.S. -- will meet twice over the next four days in the event's only two truly meaningful games. For the sake of the local faithful who have been so patient to this point, let's hope they are a couple of barnburners.

ICE GIRL GATE: Two members of the New York Islanders Ice Girl crew claim they were spit on and slashed at by members of the New York Rangers during a break in play recently, according to a report on Deadspin.com. The fetching females were cleaning the ice when one of them skated past a Ranger player on the boards and said her "back suddenly got wet." Another said she was working in goalie Henrik Lundqvist's crease and when her squeegee touched his stick he tried to slash it out of her hand. We feel bad for the girls, but the good news for the NHL is the league finally found a way to make the front page of the New York papers.

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 The Late, Late Show's Craig Ferguson, anticipating some great upcoming action: "America's pastime is back. Big sweaty guys grabbing their crotches, yelling, swinging the bats. That's right, the new season of The Sopranos starts this weekend." ... Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press, on a South African rugby player named Bryan Habana planning to race a cheetah as a fundraiser for endangered felines: "If the cheetah loses, it has to buy dinner. If Habana loses, he has to be dinner." ... Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post, on a post-game melee in Crete where four soccer fans nearly chewed off a man's ear: "A hearing date hasn't been set." ... Sun Media's Eric Francis on Ohio State making it to the NCAA basketball championship game: "The last time the Buckeyes won the college hoops title was 1960, with little-used player Bob Knight sitting on the bench, as opposed to throwing it." ... Allan Muir of SI.com, on Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars passing Joe Mullen to become the NHL's top American-born goal-scorer: "That's about as relevant as Larry Walker surpassing Terry Puhl for career home runs by a Canadian." ... From Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune, on baseball players wanting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier: "Barry Bonds indicated he might want to wear (Jackie) Robinson's No. 42 that was retired by baseball for all teams. And wouldn't that be a perfect arc for baseball -- from the man who broke the colour barrier to the man who broke the flaxseed barrier." ... Another from Rosenbloom: "The Bears say they will use the shotgun more. What, is Tank's Uzi empty?" ... From Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: "LeBron James is having a 35,000-sq.-ft. house built in suburban Cleveland that will include a six-car garage, a recording studio, a bowling alley, a casino, a 63-foot-wide movie theater, a sports bar, a two-story closet and a barber shop. What, no golf course?" ... From Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Alfonso Soriano, baseball's first 40-40-40 man: 40 homers, 40 steals, 40 errors trying to impersonate a centre-fielder." ... From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Dodgers have turned their ballpark's right-field pavilion into an all-you-can-eat section. Ticket price includes unlimited dogs, nachos, sodas, peanuts, popcorn. It's Lasordaville! Even the tickets are edible. Look for it by mid-season: The left-field pavilion will be converted into the Liposuction Section." ... From Dan Daly of the Washington Times: "A judge ruled that a Bears fan cannot legally change his name to Peyton Manning -- which he promised friends he'd do if Chicago lost the Super Bowl to Indianapolis. Judge Katherine McCarthy said the change might infringe on Manning's privacy and suggested an alternative: Trent Dilfer." ... Finally, another from Ostler: "Pacman Jones will have his meeting with NFL Commish Roger Goodell on Tuesday. Just in case Pacman gets hit with a big fine, he's bringing a Hefty Bag full of dollar bills."


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