Jets highlight the ‘new’ NHL season
So much is new on the eve of the 2011-2012 National Hockey League season that the league should consider adding an initial: The NNHL — the New National Hockey League.
There’s a new defending Stanley Cup champion after the Boston Bruins stunned Vancouver in a riotous finish to the old season last June.
There’s a new sherrif in town as the retired Brendan Shanahan, a great player and a great thinker, has been given the task of meting out punishment this season.
There’s a new emphasis on reducing concussion-related injuries, especially since the NHL brass gnashes its teeth every time it watches the Pittburgh Penguins and sees superstar Sidney Crosby sitting in the pressbox, wondering if he’ll ever be the same again — wondering if he’ll ever play again.
There are new uniforms and new rookie flashes (hey there, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins . . . you’ve already got more than enough names, but Oilers’ fans will probably find a new flashy nickname for you fairly soon) and new coaches and new TV deals.
But, the biggest of the ‘new,’ is really bringing back the old: The Jets are back in Winnipeg.
If this NHL season is remembered for only one thing, it will be the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg and assuming the late, great name from the city’s World Hockey Association days of 1972-1978 and the NHL version from 1979 to 1996.
Economics of the day forced the Jets to move to Phoenix, where they became the Coyotes, but Jets fans never gave up hope.
Many were ridiculed for that fantasy (“yeah, the Jets will come back to Winnipeg when I win the lottery three times in a row”) but, in the spring and early summer of 2011, it all came together.
CBC kicks off the new season with a TV doubleheader Thursday, Oct. 6, with a couple of classics: Montreal vs. Toronto and then the Crosbyless Penguins at Vancouver.
TSN will do the majority of TV hockey again this year.
A regional Jets network will beam almost all their games to fans in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario.
Ratings, if pre-season numbers carry through to the season, will be spectacular.
The Jets are not a Cup contender, but they might lead the league in merchandise sales.
The new, military look to the Jets’ logo has been controversial — but extremely popular.
It all may lead to the NHL doing something else new: Dumping a few sadsack southern franchises and bringing the NHL to where it belongs: Quebec City, Hamilton . . . perhaps even Saskatoon.
The Jets will show the NHL that ‘new’ makes a lot of sense.
• NBC’s Jay Leno: “Since Rick Perry has been governor of Texas, 234 criminals have been executed. That’s the difference between Texas and California: In California, those criminals would have been given tryouts for the Raiders.”
• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho: Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young says he has an imposter who is posing in the community as him. If you suspect you see a Vince Young imposter, ask him the throw a pass; if it’s accurate, he’s a fake.”
• Perisho again: “The NFL sent a memo to all teams warning of fines if players fake injuries during a game. The memo was prompted by a legal threat from professional wrestling.”
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Two-dozen players from the 2010 Fresno State football team have been linked to welfare fraud. There are similar stories on CFL teams, except without the fraud.”
• Currie again: “The Cleveland Browns have started 12 of the last 13 seasons with a loss. There haven’t been this many failed openers since I was dating.”
• Reader Don Dellinger, in a question to Washington Post.com columnist Norman Chad: “Now that Tiger Woods appears to be a non-entity on the weekends of majors, do you think he’ll start wearing his signature power-red shirts on Fridays next year in an effort to make the cut?”
• Ex-Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister says he’s living in his parents’ basement and can’t make his child-support payments, despite playing five seasons into a seven-year, $55-million contract he signed in 2004. Quipped Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Just guessing here, but he probably wasn’t an economics major at Arizona.”
• Perry again: “Leo Nunez, the Marlins’ 28-year-old closer, it was discovered, is actually 29-year-old Juan Carlos Oviedo. In other words, he was already a player to be named later.”
• Comedy writer Tim Hunter, on the oddity of an entire country setting aside a season to celebrate with drinking: “Germany calls it ‘Octoberfest.’ We refer to it as ‘football season.”
• Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil, to Canadian Press, after seriously cutting a finger and a thumb in separate kitchen accidents barely 18 months apart: “I’m scared of a butter knife right now.”
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