Swing 'n' a prayer for NHL fans

BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

Canadian Puck-Luck Dinner Prayer:

Dear Lord, I pray for

Wisdom, To understand Bettman

Patience, To forgive Goodenow

Love, To accept players' selfish moods

Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength

I'll just beat 'em to Death.

Amen, and pass the baloney!

---

GETTING A HANDOUT

Sri Lankans who pretended to be members of the national handball team in a bid to get into Europe are being sought by police.

German taxpayers funded the trip as part of an exchange program, not realizing Sri Lanka doesn't have a handball team.

All 23 Sri Lankans vanished from their hotel after suspicions were aroused when they failed to score a single point against a team of amateurs.

It was obvious they weren't athletes.

German officials say their whereabouts remain unknown -- although some people believe they were last seen playing defence for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

So it's all starting to make sense.

BENDING OVER BACKWARD

The Court of Arbitration for Sport spent almost 12 hours listening to Paul Hamm and Yang Tae-young argue over who deserves the Olympic all-round gymnastic gold medal.

Maybe they could just get it over with and have them flip for it.

QUEER EYE FOR THE DUMB GUY?

From the dumb-heads-without-borders file comes word that young Nigerian soccer players have been told to stop wearing hair braids, dreadlocks and earrings. Many of Nigeria's top footballers, including captain Jay-Jay Okocha and top striker Nwankwo Kanu, have their hair braided.

Government Information Minister Otunba Olusegun Runshewe castigated the trend, saying on national TV: "Our youths are now taking after our great football stars ... don't forget that in the developing world the braiding of hair and earrings have a sense of homosexuality."

And don't forget that government information ministers in the developing world wouldn't know a Nigerian homosexual from an infidel dog in Baghdad if it bit them in the crass.

PAPER TIGER

Syndicated columnist Norman Chad, on why he doesn't like the NHL players' lockout prospects: "Nobody watches you on TV. The only thing that could lower NHL ratings is if you replaced the hockey puck with a soccer ball. Frankly, NHL players have all the leverage of a PETA member at a cattle ranch."

CAPITOL IDEA

The No. 1 reason Major League Baseball decided to move the Montreal Expos to Washington:

The city is already used to having Bush-league teams.

HEAD GAMES

Jeremy Roenick wants the Philadelphia Flyers to pay his $7.5 million US contract for the 2004-05 season, claiming he's still suffering from a concussion.

The Flyers agree he ought to have his head examined -- but not because of a concussion.

READERS' SOAPBOX

"Peterborough just finished hosting the Mann Cup for Canadian lacrosse supremacy with our Lakers beating the Victoria Shamrocks 4-2 in games," Mark Williamson of Peterborough writes. "Great action. Guess what? I never saw one word about it in your paper. Lacrosse. It is said to be the closest a person can come to committing an indictable offence without being charged. Maybe Todd Bertuzzi should check it out." (We ran six items in eight days on the tournament. We checked. Guess Todd isn't the only guy who's sorry now.)

NO PUCKER POWER

"Hockey Night in Canada has been a tradition in our household for more than 40 years," Man Who Sleeps On Couch Too Often writes. "But, as much as I would hate spending my Saturday evenings going out to the shows with my wife, when the game resumes many of us won't come back." (Keep talking like that and the only show you'll be seeing is in your wife's doghouse.)

SMART 'N' SASSY

"I had a better basketball team at the fight than they had in Athens." -- Boxing promoter Bob Arum on all the NBA stars who showed up to watch Bernard Hopkins knock out Oscar De La Hoya.

HEY FANS!Do you have a quirky sports item? Include your name and city and e-mail it to me at: bill.lankhof@tor.sunpub.com or fax it to: 416-947-2454

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