Tag Archives: NBA

Flashback To A Nice Habs-Jets Overtime Game

This December 1992 game in Winnipeg was a beauty, with Andre Racicot in goal as Patrick Roy, on the bench, had the night off.

About halfway through, we also learn that someone named Gary Bettman from the NBA is in the running for top job in the NHL.

The following spring, Montreal would win their 24th Stanley Cup.

Do Referees Affect The Outcome Of Games?

Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy was on 60 Minutes Sunday night, talking about how he gambled on basketball and how he was ultimately fired from his $300,000 a year job, his wife divorced him, he did eleven months in prison, and his world came crashing down. His winning average on these bets were around 80%, and he received a lousy $2000 for every bet he was successful at. The mob, of course, made millions from this guy, and a couple of them also ended up doing time.

But what he says about the goings-on in the NBA makes me wonder if something similar isn’t happening in the NHL. Not once have I ever accused the NHL of any sort of fixing or indiscretion, but when I heard what Donaghy had to say, I made me think a little, not about referees gambling, but about how they might affect the outcome of games.

Donaghy says NBA referees have a certain relationship with players, coachs, GM’s, and owners, and they will either help or screw over certain players if deemed necessary. Allen Iverson, for instance, incurred the wrath of the referees for things he’d said, and so in turn, the refs wouldn’t call fouls on him, or call curious fouls against him, either of which threw him off his game which would directly change the outcome. And Donaghy says the referee supervisors approved of the officials punishing Iverson.

The league would favour superstar Kobe Bryant because calls in the past against him had been missed, and so Bryant was often given special treatment by the officials.

The refs in general discuss among each other who they like and dislike and how they may band together to help or hurt different individuals. Donaghy also says the league wants playoff games to be extended as it means more money, and they also want the big-market teams to advance, not the small markets.

Do you think any of the above might pertain to the NHL? Do you think the referees let things slide when it comes to Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Maybe Ovechkin deserved more than a two-game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit, but because he’s a marquee player whom fans buy tickets to see, he was given a minimal sentence. And he was hurt for the two games anyway, so the suspension was redundant.

Do you think a player like Sean Avery, who surely talks trash to not only opposing players but referees too, would be looked at closer than others, and some fouls against him are let go, and the slightest thing he does is called?

Do you think any of what Donaghy says about basketball might be happening in hockey,  if the NHL approves certain things decided upon by the referees and whether they really do want the big markets to succeed more than smaller markets. Are marquee players treated with kid gloves?  Are they doing and thinking what’s best for the sport?

Gary Bettman and the league would deny any of this ’till the cows come home. But if it happens in the NBA, certainly it could happen in the NHL.

I hardly think league brass are angels.


Jim Balsillie Is Once Again Bettman’s Boogeyman

How can we ever believe anything Gary Bettman says. All along, the commissioner has maintained that every NHL franchise is healthy, the league is doing fantastic, and there’s no need to even consider moving a team or looking at fresh markets. Now we see what’s happened in Phoenix, (Coyotes bankrupt), and the guy Bettman has wanted no part of, Jim Balsillie, has made a big time $212.5 million offer to buy the club and move to it Canada, which Bettman dreads even more than seeing a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup. (Yes, he dreads it that much). What a dilemna for Gary. A nice solid offer to solve the problems of the Coyotes, a team everyone except him knew was in big trouble, but it could go to southern Ontario, which shatters his big dream of seeing a franchise some day in that hockey market to end all hockey markets, Kansas City.

Gary Bettman should go back to his roots, the NBA, where there’s only one Canadian team to have bad dreams about, and bring in a real hockey man. (Ken Dryden?) Bettman’s vision of hockey in non-hockey markets is a distorted, unrealistic, weird dream, liking forming a yacht club in Somalia. Telling the world that Phoenix was on solid ground and not going anywhere a month ago and now in bankruptcy and accepting loans from the league to pay back rent and such, was not only completely incorrect, but a downright lie. He knew this franchise was hovering near a cliff. Is he that stubborn he couldn’t just admit it?

Let’s hope Jim Balsillie is successful in his bid to bring the Coyotes to southern Ontario. And it’s not only $212 million he’s ready to fork out, but another $17 million on top of it to the Coyotes to let them carry on until the sale is complete. And the math is so neat and precise. Subtract one team from a non-hockey market and add one to a hockey-mad area which will undoubtably add serious dollar bills to the league coffers. I did very poorly in math in school, but these numbers I understand completely.

Gary Bettman’s vision of making the NHL a kissing cousin of the NFL, MLB, and the NBA in the US was just silly to begin with. Why couldn’t he see that the TV rights weren’t going to happen like he thought, the corporate and advertising dollars were only a fantasy. Hockey in the US is only a very small piece of a gigantic pie. A franchise in Canada, not Phoenix, not Kansas City, is the only answer. Bettman has never understood this. Jim Balsillie, on the other hand, gets it completely.

All Of A Sudden, After A Long Night, There’s A New Feel To The Finals

Is it possible this could be a dream series after all?

Is it possible that one team, although badly outshot in the series, down three games to one, with one young star, Evgeny Malkin, asleep at the wheel, and the other young star, Sidney Crosby, not behaving like the new Wayne Gretzky, can now make this a real series like we all thought it would be, on the strength of Petr Sykora’s overtime goal in game five that now makes it three games to two.

This absolutey can be a series to remember, although not the way we thought it would be. We thought it could go either way before it started. But Detroit’s been too good and it should be over but it’s not. Now, Wednesday’s tilt in Pittsburgh should be a real beauty.

Although we’ve been fooled before.

 

There’s nothing worse in professional sports than a final series sweep, or even a five game series.  In a perfect world, the showcase stretches out, with drama and heartache, and ending with sheer ecstacy for one team, with one player who creates a legend for himself by hitting that ninth inning pitch into the bleachers, nailing that last second three-pointer or Hail Mary, or notching a game seven overtime goal.

It’s drama. It’s what most of us want. Not some lacklustre, one-sided four game sweep. It’s not good for anyone, except the winning team.

Now we’ve got a series. Maybe.

In the last few hours I’ve talked to people who feel Pittsburgh can now win the whole thing. I’m not sure I feel this way, but they do.

And how can this be? The Penguins have been outplayed, outshot, and outclassed. But goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is starting to play like Martin Biron did in the Montreal-Philadelphia series, which is not something I’m particularly thrilled to remember.

 

Game Note.

When Maxime Talbot tied the game up late in the third period, it was originally announced as having been scored with 34 seconds to go. So I planned on mentioning that this would be the biggest goal with 34 seconds to go since Paul Henderson’s in Moscow in 1972.

Then the official time became 35 seconds to go. So never mind.