$0.02: NHL would lose the most right here in U.S.
Nowhere will the pending NHL season cancellation be felt more than in the United States. Thats right, not even Canada.In the U.S., remember, we have the NFL. We have baseball, our national pastime. We have March Madness and the NBA playoffs. We even have golf.If our fifth choice falls through, it aint nothin but an ice cream cone on the ground. We get another. In Canada, as far as true-to-life sports fans are concerned, hockey is the first and only choice. The irony is this: Hockey is everything to Canada and much less to the U.S., but American money largely drives the NHL. Proud and storied franchises leave Canada for greener pastures in the U.S., no other reason. You cant tell me the Winnipeg Jets flew south to become the Phoenix Coyotes because they decided Phoenix was a better place to be a hockey team. No, they did so because Phoenix is a better market to run a pro sports franchise, to build a big business.Todays pending season cancellation (the latest news is that the two sides agreed on a salary cap but are still reportedly $12 million apart on what the cap would be) would devastate Canadas hockey fans, but it would be felt more in the U.S. because of the finances involved. Canadian fans would come back the next year, the next day, the next hour, that play resumes.In the U.S., we might not see a promising hockey following for a decade or more. Cities might lose their franchises because of the inevitable reduced fan base which translates into a bad place to be in the hockey business. Even in a place like Tampa Bay, where the defending Stanley Cup-winning Lightning plays, there could be long-lasting harmful effects. We could see the NHL champion playing in an empty arena.Im sure the Canadians absolutely love the fact that their pride and joy is in the hands of Americans. But it is what it is and we shall find out today what exactly it is …Bode Miller last week wrote in a syndicated column that runs in newspapers around the world, including the Denver Post, that he might quit the U.S. Ski Team after the 2006 Olympics and start his own World Cup-level team. He said he thinks he could get Barilla (the pasta giant that sponsors him) to foot the bill initially, and that he and the rest of his teammates would get a salary and have time to party, instead of racing all winter long. He also said hes been thinking about trying to start his own ski circuit, one that would compete with the World Cup. He gave as his reasoning the fact that he dislikes the way the U.S. Ski Team markets and treats its athletes.The guys pretty out there, no doubt about that, but his comments were similar to some I got from Daron Rahlves back in October when the World Cup clan was training at Copper. If Im the U.S. Ski Team, heck, Im doing all I can to promote Bode and the bunch, to appease the best and deepest team of skiers the U.S. has had in decades …Two quick-hitters from the hardwood here: Allen Iverson scored 60 points the other day, and leads the NBA in scoring. I dont think we can ever forget how amazing that is, considering hes only 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds … Duke has beaten North Carolina in mens hoops 15 of the past 17 games between them, and everyone everywhere calls it the best rivalry in college sports? Cmon …In parting, would you like to know why NBA retirees Karl Malone and Reggie Miller are taking it on the chin for never winning a title? Because they played in the same era as Michael Jordan. Someday Jordans name will be like Babe Ruths, but not yet. We are, however, seeing some of his final immediate impacts on the league say their goodbyes.Devon ONeil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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