Wednesday 27 June 2007


I haven't been a tennis fan for years. It would be easy to say it's got something to do with the fact that the petulant, tantrum-throwing behaviour that takes place in the game would get a person's teeth rammed down their throats in many other sports. Yet many of the most famous on-court whiners and abusive little punks haven't played for years. Despite much of their loathsome antics, some of those players of years gone by seemed to have personalities that resonated more than the bland crop of today. In fact, I don't truly know if there are any McEnroes or Connors of today in terms of vitriol spewing tirades against judges, opposing players and fans. It's been that long since I've paid any attention.

While I remember some of those early '80's Wimbledon classics between the likes of Borg and McEnroe, when Wimbledon rolls around now, it evokes images of the village of Wimbledon itself, not the classic tennis tournament played every June.

About ten years ago I was at the tail end of a backpacker's trek around the world that had spiraled out of control, lasting beyond the usual 6 months or so and turning into a life-altering 5 years. I landed in London after some hazy, barely remembered antics in Eastern Europe and set about securing a near certainty when it comes to a job for the modern-day drifter/filth that aimlessly wanders the globe: a pub job in London.

The village of Wimbledon is lovely and fittingly quaint for the yanks who show up every June. The train station is at the bottom of of a hill that exits onto the main street. By the time you've hiked to the top of the hill you've almost seen it all.

I took a bus to the address of the job I had found in one of the traveler's weeklies. The Jenny Lind was a seedy looking place in the middle of a housing estate, miles away and a far cry from the picturesque village I had left behind.

I stayed there for a few weeks and then high-tailed it to another job back in London, having appropriately enraged the scum that frequented the joint to the point that I would have been beaten before long.

Before I left I wandered the 15 minutes or so to the actual Wimbledon tennis grounds, a fairly unremarkable looking location that was half-way between the village of Wimbledon and the white-trash outpost where I was stationed. Once again I was reminded of how the very posh stands right next to the very poor and downtrodden in much of London.

As for this year's tournament, the headlines in the sports pages hold as much interest for me as the lives of those who frequented The Jenny Lind.

Monday 25 June 2007

Saturday 23 June 2007

Basille vs. Bettman

The disrespect being shown to Basille on the potential purchase of the Predators is downright bizarre.

Here is someone who is offering way over market value to an owner hemorrhaging tens of millions of dollars a year. Someone who is taking the appropriate steps to show that in fact he can operate a franchise and it can be supported in Hamilton.

This is an important issue for the league, yet because of juvenile posturing the fools decided not to officially discuss the issue at the recent NHL board of governors meeting. They should be addressing the issue as soon as possible and not putting it off until September. At least there are some owners who seem to recognize the logic in helping Basille relocate the franchise to Ontario, if anonymous sources in various articles are to be believed.

Yet Bettman's pathological, demented urge to continue looking for opportunities in U.S. cities that will become failed franchises down the road is blinding him. How can he not see that this would be good for the league in so many ways? The rabid excitement and success of the team in Ontario (at least financially) could be a model for Americans to see what an NHL team can do for a community.

If he continues getting jerked around and obstacles are thrown in his way, it would serve the fools right if he pulled out and nobody stepped forward as another potential owner.

How deep are his pockets? A rival league started by Basille would be the most righteously satisfying eventuality if the real "clowns" in the NHL don't wake up and realize what an asset he can be for everyone interested and associated with the game.

Friday 22 June 2007

NHL Draft: Chicago takes Kane 1st overall

Chicago has taken Pat Kane 1st overall in the NHL draft. No surprise as he was rated in the top 3 by most scouts, associations and journalists.

It will be interesting to see if he carries through with his claim that he does not want an agent representing him.

Some may see this as a sign of a strong-minded player who doesn't take grief from anyone. Others may see it as hyper-sensitivity and an inability to understand which battles are worth fighting.

As an 18 year-old about to be plunged into the heady world of professional sports in a big American city that actually cares about hockey, the last he thing needs on his mind is the added worry of going it alone when negotiating his 1st contract. Of course, the presence of an agent does not alleviate all worry and time associated with such an undertaking but it certainly relieves some of the burden.

One of the most oft-used cliches when trying to mentally prepare someone who is about to be shafted is "it's nothing personal," to which I have often responded "everything's personal." However, in this case I believe Kane and those around him should step back and consider talking to some experienced people who have the knowledge, contacts and track records associated with representing NHL players. The only reason no agents came knocking earlier is that, well, he may have been going through a slow period of development. Similarly, once he is playing in the league a stretch of poor play may result in changing reactions from fans, management and those who cover the game.

This is just the way it works. Nothing personal...

NHL Draft

The claim by Toronto Maple Leafs manager John Ferguson that he plans on rebuilding the team through the development of young players somehow doesn't jibe with the trade he has made to acquire goalie Vesa Toskala.

But Ferguson really has nothing to lose regarding his credibility or future. If the Leafs don't have a winning record 10 or 20 games into next season, he will no longer be general manager of the Leafs.

5 or 10 years down the road Leafs fans may be looking with dismay at the 3 draft picks that were sacrificed to get Toskala and forward Mark Bell, who was also included in the trade.

A tacit admission by Ferguson that the deal he made to bring Raycroft on board at the same time last year hasn't panned out. Raycroft didn't seem overly bothered by his average play last year and the fact that he was yanked in the most important game of the season. Perhaps having some competition for the top job will spur him on to performing better. Or, perhaps not.

At least someone's protesting...

The lack of interest from the mainstream media in the potential purchase of Manchester City by former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra has been disappointing.

Thaksin is a former 3rd world dictator who, according to many, has the blood of thousands on his hands. The ways in which he acquired his billions have been questioned by many. Censorship and press freedom took severe hits during his time in power. There were numerous scandals involving millions and he and his family were enriched beyond comprehension during his time in power.

And yet the shameless desire for salvation at any cost by Manchester City means apparently this thug will soon be the owner of an English Premier League team.

At least some people are crying foul.

Idi Amin and Pol Pot could have been courted as buyers for struggling NHL franchises during the 1970's.