Kind of surprising that the NHL would sign off on allowing four players to experiment with the new Thermablades during regular season games. Potentially an unfair advantage for that group of skaters, no?
I guess it's in keeping with a league that shamelessly tampers with their product, engages in asinine pre-season publicity stunts and gives a big fat screw-off to the most financially viable hockey region in North America in exchange for cycling through a litany of failed franchises in markets where the game has a marginal following.
Can you imagine the NFL giving a handful of players the privilege of being the only ones to use a new set of lighter and more protective pads or a new brand of stickem' that made one-handed catches the norm? How about a half dozen NBA players given the chance to experiment with flubber-like shoes in game situations?
On the other hand, NHL players seem to be relatively well-behaved compared to their counterparts in the NBA and NFL. What's the point in slinging mud at other pro sports leagues? Isn't the ranking of various sports' respective screw-ups getting old? Perhaps, but comparison is at the heart of observation.
Plus, for most people there's something uniquely appealing about the fact that all the success and material wealth in the world doesn't prevent those at the very top from blundering into monumentally self-destructive situations. Probably some of the old "not despite but because of" theory in there as well.
Michael Vick is to be banged up for 23 months for his role in financing a dog fighting ring and putting down half a dozen of the poor beasts who had the audacity to not have learned the art of killing to a sufficiently competent degree.
I was a bit surprised at the amount of time he was given however, especially considering how sentences for vehicular homicide are often in the same range or even lower. There really is almost nothing like the death of helpless animals to unify public opinion and create a sense of urgency in the justice system.
The Vick announcement comes following an NBA player (Jamaal Tinsley of the Indiana Pacers) getting shot at outside a downtown bar. Can't really imagine why that would happen. He only packed a group of his mates into three luxury cars and was likely loaded down with jewelry valued at four to five years of work at a menial job for some of those who didn't take kindly to the show of wealth.
That of course doesn't justify a confrontation (impossible to know how it played out) or use of firearms. Though Tinsely's brother was carrying a gun and squeezed off a few shots as well. Not that he had any reason to think such a situation would arise...
Somehow can't imagine a group of NHL good ol' boys rolling into a downtown bar in Toronto or New York decked out in bling, expensive threads and with a sneering entourage looking to let everyone know who's in charge. Wait a minute...I can.
But like with most things, it's about degrees. Because of a different vibe and perhaps fewer desperate people with nothing to lose, I can't see the same thing happening to a bunch of hockey players.
Beer bottles, fists and the odd fool looking to spark a situation that could result in a lawsuit is another story.