Mario and Rory
Have we all had enough of discussing the City of Pittsburgh and its hockey team?
Okay, here's a little more on Mario Lemieux, but we also want to touch on Rory Fitzpatrick.
Mario, it's fair to say, has taken the gloves off, and maybe its something he should have done a long time ago.
He has formally told the hockey world and the local community that he's willing to listen to offers for the Penguins from outside Pennsylvania.
He's finally going to use the leverage he has.
See, local politicians have only been too happy to use Lemieux against himself for years. Instead of ever out-and-out rejecting the Pens and their arena dreams, they just kept stringing Lemieux along, knowing that as a resident of the city he desperately wanted to keep the team there.
If Lemieux had opened the bidding to non-Pittsburgh suitors five years ago, either the city would have met his demands for a rink or the Pens would have moved, realizing that the public and political support for the hockey team just isn't there.
Now, having wasted so much time, Lemieux is finally going to use the threat of moving the team to get the politicians in Pittsburgh to commit to something.
It'll have to happen fast. This team, if its going to move, will want to have a new home by the spring.
If the people and politicians don't want the team, fine. As a taxpayer myself, I wouldn't want to give a red cent to an NHL team.
But if that's the case in Pittsburgh, the Pens may move.
Interestingly, the hardening of Lemieux's attitude has also brought Waterloo businessman Jim Balsillie back into the bidding.
Balsillie has fired off a letter to Lemieux apologizing for any bad feelings caused last week when he terminated his purchase agreement to buy the Pens and offering to get involved in the new "Plan B" process.
Given that Lemieux dismissed Balsillie's efforts as "unequivocably dead" last week and said the club plan's to keep the Blackberry king's deposit, remoured to be $10 million, it'll be interesting to see if these two men end up talking turkey again.
Nothing on this front is likely to happen until towards the end of January when the 30-day window for appeals on the Pennsylvania Gaming Board's decision of this week has expired.
But enough of the Pens.
Rory Fitzpatrick has roared into second place in the Western Conference balloting for all-star defencemen, and here's why I like it.
First, it shows hockey fans have a sense of humour. Sometimes, one is left to wonder whether that's the case. The attack ads on Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer are a hoot.
Second, it does highlight the ridiculousness of the all-star voting process and, by connection, the all-star game itself.
The game is an anachronism at best, no longer truly relevant today, at least not in its current format.
Anybody remember the last all-star game? Who won, who lost?
Anybody remember last year's season-ending all-star team?
The Hart Trophy? Yes. The Calder? Yes. But nobody pays attention to who is or isn't an all-star anymore.
In my mind, it all went out the window the year Chris Nilan became an "all-star," and ever since then the league has been scrambling to make this a relevant event again.
To me, Rory Fitzpatrick is as good a fit as anybody.