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The Usual Suspects

Summer's end at rink Add to ...

Seems like it was only yesterday that Usual Suspects was talking about the end of the NHL season. Wait, it was only yesterday.

For the elite players in the game, a very brief summer ended this week as Olympic orientation camps began opening here and in Europe. On Sunday, 46 Team Canada invitees head to Calgary for their get-acquainted session in those $135 jerseys. They'll be joined in the shadow of the Rockies by a small army of their closest media pals. Print, TV, radio - it's a feel-good story as per diems, travel budgets and expenses are finally opened up again to allow saturation journalism a workout.

Free at last, free at last … it's yesterday once more as pack journalism competes for the latest sliver of news. From the TV panels to the blogging kingdom, the rollicking media will stress the utmost importance of the scrimmages, practices and so on in determining the eventual lineup for Canada in the Vancouver Olympics next February. Who played well with whom? What defence partners shine in the hazy warmth of August? Is Sean Avery dissing anyone's girlfriend?

But Craig Button of the NHL Network reminds Usual Suspects, not so fast. Who could have foreseen the starring line from the gold medal team in 2002 that featured Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla and Simon Gagné. "Jarome wasn't even on the invited roster list for the 2002 Olympic orientation camp," Button says.

"Even leading into the selection process in December of that year he wasn't a sure bet. Then we all saw that he was a force in Salt Lake City that year. So we have to be patient and let the process unfold over the next five months, not just the next five days."

Camp organizers are going out of their way to defuse the media hype, insisting that press types call next Thursday's Red-White contest a "scrimmage," not a "game." Can't have people getting confused. When it comes to nervous insurance underwriters of expensive NHL players, scrimmage has a lower liability premium than a game. So, scrimmage: Good. Game: Bad. Repeat after us.

Nate Time Stories

Ah, the modern age of athletic communication. You'd think that Nate Robinson, late of the New York Knicks, would want to keep a clean police blotter - at least until he signs as a free agent with some, er, trusting soul. But not our Nate. Robinson was arrested by Gotham gendarmes Tuesday for driving with a suspended licence. No big whoop - his licence has been suspended five times in the past 14 months. Just to make sure everyone knew that he was no serial suspension type, Nate put his arrest on Twitter as he waited for cops to process his latest transgression.

"Cops pulled me over cuz my windows were 2 dark (but my windows were down) lol how funny is that," Robinson wrote to adoring (?) fans. When the action dragged, a petulant Robinson tweeted once more. "I am still pulled over and its been 35 min they have me sit in my truck like i dnt have s#*+2 do lol."

Usual Suspects would have booked him for the two LOL references alone. Apparently, someone else got to our tweeting hero and suggested ragging on New York cops might not be the smartest career decision. Suddenly Nate's early tweets were zapped, replaced by "To All My Tweeps: I was irresponsible earlier when I tweeted about being pulled over ... I apologize to the Knicks, my family and fans ... I also want to thank the NYPD especially the arresting officer. He was fair and helped process me quickly."

And here's $25 for the policeman's benevolent fund - LOL.

And Another Thing

Finally, Gerry Dobson of Sportsnet kindly reminds us that his network has been showing the English Premier League matches live every Saturday morning since 1998, with Soccer Central following the game since Year 2. "We are also Toronto FC rights holders and have been since Year 1. In fact this year, we televise … more TFC games than any other network."

We're also reminded that ESPN lost the UEFA Champions League North American television rights to Fox Sports. So, Sportsnet/Setanta Canada - not TSN - are showing all UEFA Champions League games. You are now free to move around the soccer pitch.


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