Blackhawks Confidential

Fighting and fussing remains in fashion year-round in the NHL

fights.jpgFighting has not gone out of fashion in the NHL. To the contrary, there are nothing but clenched fists, bad blood and haymakers flying all around the place.
Although it's still technically summer as Labor Day looms, nothing gets you more prepared for another NHL season than some reckless head-butting and unquenchable hatred.
Some Canadian regions haven't been this close to firing on the U. S. since the war of 1812 when the British Empire was in charge and still smoking about that road loss to America in the Revolutionary War.
Read the comment sections of fans about the NHL opposing a move to Hamilton, Ontario, and there are charges in Canada that the league is trying to keep hockey strictly in the U. S. and away from the evil (define as unprofitable and obscure) influences of Canada.
I would ask these Canadians, of course, if they could pick out Hamilton on a map any more than they could Saskatoon (another forlorn burg hungering for NHL games).
You can spot Hamilton by eye easily, I guess, by looking for all the smoke, since steel and heavy manufacturing buttress the economy. I say we already got Pittsburgh and who needs two heavy smokers in the NHL now that Denis Savard and Steve Larmer are gone.
Hamilton is the ninth largest metropolitan area in Canada, which gives us plenty more obscure land to choose from with so few Canadian teams in the NHL. The same could be said, of course, about Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet, who has no less than 11 goalies listed ahead of him on Yahoo's NHL fantasy list of the top 100 players.
Sounds like a sure Stanley Cup winner to me.
Yahoo's Puck Daddy even tried to pick a fight with the Blackhawks by saying Roberto Luongo's new 12-year deal with Vancouver is a more reasonable length than the four Chicago gave Huet.
Fights are breaking out all over. Please join us and swing as needed.
Balsillie vs. Bettman. Balsillie vs. all NHL owners (especially those guys he called crooks and convicts). Canadian fans vs. Bettman. Canadian fans vs. U. S. arrogance. DirecTV vs. Comcast. Direct TV vs. spurned NHL fans. DirectTV ego vs. Comcast ego.
Phoenix vs. Hamilton. Toronto vs. Hamilton. Buffalo vs. Hamilton. NHLPA militants vs. NHLPA moderates. Predictions of another lockout coming vs. predictions of continued compromise.
There are fights up and down the street and spilling over into the alleyways. Just another day in the NHL.
Patrick Kane vs. cabbie was only a minor undercard for these heavyweight main matches. Kane battled over 20 cents. These guys are fighting over the many millions at stake in every one of the aforementioned conflicts.
Canadians haven't figured out a way to blame Bettman for one of its precious teams failing to win any of the last 15 Stanley Cup championships. But they are working on it. They do blame the NHL for looking the other way when Quebec City and Winnipeg ran out of gas in Canada and no one was willing to stop their extinction north of the border.
And now that the NHL is balking at going to Hamilton, it's become a national outrage to those bastions of hockey tradition who think the U. S. has gutted the game.
Of course, some famous Canadians think Jim Balsillie is dead wrong to be arguing Wednesday in a Phoenix courtroom with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about being the one to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton.
"I don't think Hamilton is the right place to put a team," Hall of Famer Phil Esposito told the Toronto Star. "Toronto can afford another team, I have no doubt, but not Hamilton. It's too close to Buffalo for one thing and that arena (in Hamilton) needs $200 million of upgrades.
"Ridiculous. You can't play there. Whether you like him or not, Bettman is trying to do the right thing here."
Traitor talk. Esposito might face a hanging in Canada in some quarters. As soon as he's done golfing.
Esposito believes sun and slapshots are compatible, having established the Tampa Bay club. Phoenix or Hamilton? Like millions of Canadians living in Arizona, Esposito chooses Phoenix.
The Hamilton Spectator provided an online play-by-play from the Phoenix courtroom Wednesday afternoon. Balsillie's up, Balsillie's down. The NHL unloads a right cross and takes it on the chin with a Balsillie upper cut.
All that's certain is that nothing definitive was decided. More legal briefs required. More hours to bill the suckers who have too much money to leave well enough alone.
DirecTV is threatening to run away from a Comcast price increase that would make NHL games on Versus unavailable to millions of its subscribers. Some see it as a ploy that will reach settlement later this month.
Some see it as further proof the NHL is a minor sport with no more than a niche audience, and losing millions of viewers on DirecTV without a riot out of the fan base will again prove that point.
Sports Illustrated's Allan Muir is lamenting that a hothead militant such as our old buddy Chris Chelios is being permitted to help force out moderate Paul Kelly as Players Association executive director and warning that this means a lockout will be on the agenda again in a year or two.
"Kelly simply wasn't militant enough to suit the mood of the small cabal determined to extract revenge on the NHL for the perceived injustices of the last CBA," Muir wrote. "Chelios--and was anyone surprised to see this Hall of Fame-caliber malcontent front and center for this debacle?--said as much on Monday afternoon.
The collective bargaining agreement ends after 2010-11 unless the players exercise their option to extend it one more year. You see, wars are already being fought that are still a year or two down the road.
By then, Balsillie and Bettman may be nearing their final arguments.



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Dave Morris said:


Geewillikers Mike, all this fighting in hockey on and off the ice. It's enough to make ya wanna watch football. Always liked Walter Payton, ya know. Why can't people be nicer in pro sports?

As for Jim Balsillie, if he was so smart he'd just invite a bunch of NHLers to join his beer league, with him buying the beer. He'd have a stampede on his hands.

Mike Kiley said:


I even saw it suggested somewhere in Canada that Balsillie start a league there to compete against the NHL. You loonie Canadians can get your shorts in a bunch.

Dave Morris said:


Mike, you have no idea of how many bunched up shorts and loonie bins there are up here. They're even thinking of nominating Jim BallSilly for Prime Minister, eh.

Forklift said:


If they have a lockout, I just hope they decide whether to do it or not before we pay for another year of our site.

Mike Kiley said:


Even baseball players wised up to the dumbness of strikes and they have a real major-league TV deal and everything. Hockey players will show how dumb they are if they shut down the game over a beef with owners. Talk about killing the golden goose.

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