You know it's a slow weekend in the NHL when the top story is Dick Tarnstrom's arbitration update.
It's even slower in Leafs country, but as the countdown to Labour Day begins and after that, some real news -- can't wait to see those line combinations -- we make do with ... hockey fights, and what one of the shills on the weekend's Hockey Enforcers broadcast called, "history in the making", which, come to think of it, was the same thing they said about Lingerie Bowl I.
Perhaps the only thing about this one that's more historic than the $200 top ticket was the $24.95 pay-per-view charge.
The Star's Chris Zelkovich was not amused, but I suspect that anyone fool enough to lay out that kind of money got exactly what they wanted. And I wonder if Zelko's reaching a bit by pinning the tail on the NHL donkey for this one -- no one gets after King Football for the aforementioned Lingerie Bowl, Super Bowl day's babes-in-skivvies PPV.
No, what Hockey Enforcers may well illustrate -- besides another illustration of the bar being set a little lower, that is -- is the increasing marginalization of hockey fighters under new rules brought in by the NHL to open up the game. This is niche programming.
As Scott Burnside puts it, NHL general managers in this new era are "asking themselves whether they can afford $450,000 on a player whose contributions are limited to five or six minutes a night, a large portion of which will be spent trying to batter an opponent senseless." And at least in Chicago, the Blackhawks are spending their money in different ways -- like hiring an Olympic gold medalist speed skater as a training camp instructor.
More skating. Less fighting. Is it as simple as that?