So far, the NHL seems just as determined as ever to maintain the rules standard in the post-season. That's a very good thing, and the quality of play has so far been very high and very entertaining......Hmmm, funny how Georges Laraque couldn't do a darn thing to help Sidney Crosby being hit and battered by the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of their playoff series. That's why it is just so laughable when fans and analysts alike trumpet the acquisition of players like Laraque as so important when, in reality, they are nearly completely unimportant. . .Big step for Wayne Gretzky to essentially acknowledge he's brought too many friends and pals to the Phoenix Coyotes. That said, The Great One has so many friends its hard to imagine the team can find somebody to come in as GM that Gretzky doesn't know. Don't know about every executive in the game, but I do know that Detroit assistant GM Jim Nill has earned his shot. . .The Spin received a lot of replies to the suggestion that Mats Sundin should evaluate how much he can help the Leafs by taking a smaller salary in his new contract. The dumbest replies were those that argued Sundin shouldn't have to take less because his boss had given inflated contracts to Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina, among others. That's like arguing that Sundin shouldn't take less because Steve Thomas was shafted by the Leafs back in 1987. You deal with the situation now, and going back again to review the mistakes made before doesn't help anybody. Besides, taking less in salary would make Sundin the hero in this city he's never been, and surely there are tangible benefits in that. . .Nice to see TSN's Bob McKenzie fire right back when Jeremy Roenick trotted out the old "you never played the game" line during an on-air discussion the other night. "I'm going to lose every single argument if Jeremy uses that line all the time," said McKenzie. Truth is, hockey players only fall into that line of rationale when they can't logically argue the point. . .Speaking of playoff broadcasters, does HNIC have a better asset than Kelly Hrudey? Nice to see a man with honesty not simply parroting the McLean-Cherry agenda. And Hrudey never falls back on the "you never played the game" line. . .Nice that Rick DiPietro has been cleared to play. But right now, he can't help the Isles more than the inspirational Wade Dubielewicz. . .Amazing that nobody other than the Islanders really wanted Sean Hill as a free agent last summer. . .
NFL Roger Goodell made a bold step by suspending Pacman Jones and Chris Henry this week. Now let's see him apply the same discipline to the next coach or assistant coach that gets in hot water. And what would Goodell have done with Ray Lewis?. . .Sorry, I'm just not going to feel bad for Don Imus. All he did this week was make himself more famous, and anybody who says something so ignorant deserves to be fired. And don't trot out the argument that rap stars say worse things all the time. If Imus wants to spew crap and then sell it as a CD, let him do it. . .There's only one sure fact about the upcoming NFL draft. With Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland owning the first three picks, two of the three will screw it up. . .Amazing. The San Francisco Giants don't have a starting position player under the age of 31. And Barry Zito isn't looking like such a hot idea after all. The greatest commentary on Barry Bonds' bogus piece of history will that he will do it playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. . .
BACK TO THE FACE-OFF CIRCLE
Hold any opinion you like on the future of Leafs GM John Ferguson. But the fact he has done his job under extreme scrutiny while dealing with the birth of a child during the season and the serious illness of his famous father without complaining once about any of it tells you something of the man's character and integrity. . .Glad that Chicago won the NHL draft lottery. It shows that no matter how any team might try to tank it to get their hands on John Tavares, there's no guarantee it will work. . .You wonder if the MLSE board of directors will notice that while the Leafs haven't even made the Stanley Cup final since 1967, the small market Sabres have been there twice, almost won it all in 1999 and are a favourite to take it all this spring after surviving bankruptcy and a serious loss of ticket-buying fans for several seasons. . .You'll see a lot of outstanding hockey competition this weekend at the Ontario Women's Hockey Association provincial championships in Mississauga and Brampton, a lot more than you saw during the women's world championships, that's for sure. . .Interesting debate on the length of overtime after the Vancouver-Dallas game this week. One full period of traditional OT followed by four-on-four seems to be a reasonable compromise. Hockey after 80 minutes of play ceases to be all that interesting.