Nick Kypreos has learned it doesn't pay to mess with Manitoba.
The hockey analyst was musing Wednesday with cohort Doug MacLean on Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 about the persistent rumours they're hearing that Winnipeg will receive (or take back possession of) the Phoenix Coyotes franchise the instant the siren sounds on the final 'Yotes playoff game.
According to Kypreos, both men's sources were different people. Both sources said it was a done deal. Ergo, a little fire behind the smoke.
"I didn't say that it was happening," Kypreos told Usual Suspects. "I said we were hearing the same thing from different sources. We had Wayne Gretzky on, and he said that it didn't look good for Phoenix, too. Next thing, my e-mail is filling up like crazy."
No sooner had Kypreos's conversation ended than the well-used Manitoba-or-bust machine cranked up like a balky lawn mower. Wire services promoted the story that the Manitoba capital should polish up the Golden Boy for the arrival of NHL tenants. The NHL's denial machine, too, was wheeled into place for its tacit nothing-to-see-here comments from deputy commissioner Bill Daly. And Kypreos was alleged to be one of the many toying with the fragile feelings of Winnipeg's hockey heart. Yikes.
"We were just talking about it," Kypreos lamented. "That's why we didn't call the NHL about it. We weren't saying it was a scoop or anything."
Nick, the Winnipeg heart will hear what it wants to hear.
BONDS MARKET COLLAPSES
Speaking of dragged-out processes, have we had enough of Barry Bonds's needle and the damage done?
The case was a collateral product of fine work done almost a decade ago by The San Francisco Chronicle (and a subsequent book Game Of Shadows) on the BALCO drug-cheating scandal. Bonds was tripped up by the hapless Marion Jones and her track-and-field pals who sipped the same sarsaparilla as baseball's home-run king but couldn't keep quiet about it.
Due to the seven-year lag in prosecuting Bonds, his partial verdict Wednesday (yes to obstruction, no to perjury) has long been an afterthought in the court of public opinion. Mainstream media yawned. Baseball's famously vindictive writers, who had made it clear they consider Bonds a no-go for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for reason of a melon the size of a pumpkin and biceps like cable on the Golden Gate Bridge, had also rendered the judgment moot.
When the verdict arrived, Bonds became the latest iteration of O.J. Simpson, an innocent man in the dock but a pariah outside the doors of the courthouse. Free to walk the land (and even that O.J. messed up) as a cautionary tale about justice's foibles.
THE FAKE BLACK HOPE
This did not prevent some from trying to hijack Bonds's sorry tale of atrophied testicles and vindictive lovers.
Comparing Bonds's trial to the persecution of boxer Jack Johnson in 1913, William C. Rhoden (who is black) wrote in The New York Times: "Now the government has invested eight years and millions of dollars to go after another prominent, powerful black man with a vigour that suggests there is more in play than the altruistic goal of protecting the integrity of a grand jury."
So what about Roger Clemens? Husky white guy who used to pitch in Toronto? Being pursued about lying to and obstructing a U.S. Congressional investigation into whether he used performance-enhancing drugs?
Rhoden sniffs that Clemens's case is a different category of vigour: "The government was virtually forced to go after Clemens, who loudly denied allegations of drug use by his former trainer during a Congressional hearing."
Please. (Rhoden also declines to wade into why Latino baseball star Rafael Palmeiro, who apparently lied to Congress about his drug use, was never pursued by legal officials.)
Rhoden's j'accuse is ironic in that Bonds, like Simpson, chose to live much of his life keeping the black political community at arm's length. Both men married white women. A more tepid symbol of black pride would be hard to find. No matter to Rhoden that blacks were being lynched in Johnson's time and elected president in Bonds's time. So if Bonds is Johnson, that makes Clemens who? Jake LaMotta?
Many hoped Barack Obama's election as U.S. president would end the rote racial analogy. Apparently not.
HE SAID WHAT?
The what-was-he-thinking award this week goes to John Steigerwald, who found a way to blame San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow for having his head fractured by L.A. Dodgers fans during opening day in Los Angeles.
The former TV anchor wrote in the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter: "Maybe someone can ask Stow, if he ever comes out of his coma, why he thought it was a good idea to wear Giants gear to a Dodgers home opener when there was a history of out-of-control drunkenness and arrests at that event going back several years."
Steigerwald goes on about 42-year-old men wearing baseball jerseys, etc., but you catch the drift.
The Observer-Reporter said, as of noon Wednesday, the column had received eight times more response than any other item in the history of its website.
An editorial in the paper explained: "This newspaper cannot fire Steigerwald because he is not an employee. As for an apology, or an explanation of his views, that's up to the writer, whose views are not those of the Observer-Reporter. … We do not spike columns simply because we don't agree with them. We do not remove them from our website simply because people demand us to do so, sometimes, as has been the case these past few days, in a disturbing and threatening manner."
MAKE A HASH OF IT
NDP Leader Jack Layton no doubt has them already, but here are your official NHL hashtags of the first round, courtesy of the league: #WasNYR / #PhiBuf / #BosMtl / #PitTBL / #VanChi / #SJSLAK / #DetPhx / #AnhNas.
Example Tweet: "Bob Brooke will be in the lineup tonight for @thenyrangers #WasNYR #NHLPlayoffs"
We feel hipper already.