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NHL Lockout: Are We Looking at Another 2004-05 Implosion?

NHL-Lockout

As of 12:00AM, EST no CBA has been reached between owners and players in the NHL.

Hockey fans everywhere breathe a collective sigh of, “Shit!”

We’ve done this before. The epic fail of the lockout 2004-05 resulted in an entire season of hockey being lost. But more importantly, it resulted in a spiral of a sport which was just reaching a pinnacle of popularity. There is no question that the lockout of 2004-05 had hugely detrimental results for the NHL and for the popularity of professional Hockey. The hard-working, seemingly everyman image of the NHL became one of prima donna money squabbles and general ultra-rich dude skullduggery.

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Where’s the Respect for the Phoenix Coyotes?

Phoenix Coyote Mike Smith

The Phoenix Coyotes have long been the redheaded stepchildren of the NHL. Berated, derided, bemoaned and largely ignored by NHL media proper, the only news you ever hear about the Coyotes is that their fans suck and that they are moving to Canada (I’m giving you the stink-eye, Winnipeg).

Never projected to even win a game in the regular season, the Coyotes surpassed all successes in franchise history with their performance in the post season. Third round, anyone? Pretty good for a bunch of guys, who according to the media, can’t hold Crosby’s jock to the laundromat. To add insult to injury, constant speculation as to whether the team will have an owner has lead Shane Doan (team captain) to consider offers outside of the Coyotes.

Now, with Phoenix once again being threatened with losing the team, the media piles on with doomsday predictions of Mike Smith, crapping the bed due to staff changes in the Coyotes lineup.

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Liar Liar Pants On…Oh, Wait. Maybe Not

Roger Clemens used steroids. Allegedly. Then, Roger Clemens lied about it to Congress. Allegedly. I don’t know if y’all know this, but the U.S. Congress only likes to lie to you, they really don’t appreciate it when you lie to them. Um, allegedly.

Hence, a federal obstruction charge leveled on one, rather beefy Mr. Clemens. A trial which has just ended in a mistrial. Yay for wasted tax dollars!

Roger Clemens, testing the tensile strength of the fabric of his suit, and looking snazzy with his manpurse full of roids stylish satchel, his attorney who firmly believes that three-ring binders make one look more official and some dude in a blue tie, arriving in court on Wednesday.

Why the mistrial, you ask? Apparently, while discussing a matter of instructions, away from the jury, one of the attorneys left a video playing in the courtroom. Now, this video wasn’t Spongebob, Real Housewives of East Bumblefart or even a little harmless porn. This was a video that clearly displayed written statements by Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) questioning the legitimacy and the credibility of one of the key witnesses in Clemens’ defense. These statements were made in the Congressional hearing in 2008, where Clemens denied any use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.Um, oops.

“Sadly, I have reached this conclusion,”said presiding justice, U.S. District Judge Reggie  Walton.

An earlier ruling was at issue, where no prior testimony was being allowed into evidence, including testimony from Clemens’ former teammate, Andy Pettitte.

“We’ll never know what impact that will have on how this jury decides this case, when we have a man’s liberty’s at stake. I am troubled by this. The government should have been more cautious.” Said Walton

He added, “I don’t see how I unring the bell” and keep the jury from considering what was on the video screen.

“In my view, Mr. Pettitte’s testimony is going to be critical as to whether this man goes to prison, and I can’t in good faith leave this case where a man’s liberty is at risk when the government should have assured we are not in this situation.”

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Political contributions and $200 taxi rides: Fiesta fires its CEO

We’re not talking about something of the stature of the green sport coats awarded to the winners of the Masters, but in college football circles, everyone seemed to be happy when the yellow jackets showed up in your town.

Those coats belong to the folks who run the Fiesta Bowl, one of our designated BCS bowl games; when the yellow jackets show up in town, it probably means you’re having a pretty good season and an invitation for a January trip to Phoenix could be on the way.

And as we found out this week, maybe some other goodies as well.

After a third-party investigation into his conduct wrapped up this week, the Fiesta Bowl’s board abruptly fired the guy who had built a minor bowl game into one of big ones over the last 30 years. Why was John Junker shit-canned? It’s tough to say whether the Fiesta Bowl would have gained its current stature without his apparent schemes to compensate Bowl employees for their “suggested” contributions to politicians and as much as $2.5 million in personal, potentially inappropriate or undetermined expenses Junker charged to the organization between 2001 and the start of this year.

The political contribution scheme was simple. Employees said they were never told they had to make contributions to politicos friendly to the bowl’s cause, but the practice was “encouraged.” In return, they were reimbursed for those contributions. And yes, that is illegal.

Junker apparently roared though money like the bowl game had a license to print it. The report issued by the investigators said Junker averaged more than $37,000 a month in expenses — many of which weren’t documented — and in December, 2005, he claimed $348,000 in business expenses. I’m sure the executive running a BCS game is going to have to be a little spendy in the weeks before the event, but Junker apparently didn’t like including documentation when he submitted those bills; in the report, the bowl’s controller told investigators that going through Junker’s monthly American Express bills was “taxing.”

I don’t think she was talking about the IRS, either.

When Junker was fired on Wednesday, the BCS fired an ominous-sounding shot towards Phoenix, saying the Fiesta Bowl would have to justify its future participation as a BCS game (something, I imagine, that the people who run the Cotton Bowl loved to hear, given their recent move into the Jerry Jones Dome in Dallas). Here’s a snippet, attributed by the Associated Press to BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock and Penn State President Graham Spanier, who runs the group of college presidents who oversee the BCS:

“We are deeply disappointed and troubled to learn of these findings related to the Fiesta Bowl. Unprofessional, unethical or improper behavior is unacceptable. There is no place for such activities in higher education or in collegiate sports. It is expected that all parties contracted with the BCS will live up to the highest standards. We do not wish to be associated with entities that believe otherwise. “

Tough talk, yes, and probably the appropriate response.

But wait, the BCS folks said today. Perhaps we were a little hasty. Especially after the Arizona Republic revealed that some of the BCS folks who will be investigating the Fiesta Bowl — including Hancock — had accepted gifts from Fiesta Bowl, usually involving golf and other freebies at the rather expensive courses in the Phoenix area, and from the Orange Bowl, in the form of an annual Caribbean cruise for athletics directors, conference commissioners and their spouses.

Whoops.

In that story, Hancock said he didn’t see anything wrong with letting the Fiesta Bowl pay for his rounds of golf (Hey, maybe those would have shown up in the expense forms that Junker never filed!); he also told the Republic that discussions about cutting the Fiesta out of the BCS were “premature” and chided the media for speculating about a possible replacement (which is exactly what I just did a couple paragraphs ago. Sorry ’bout that, Bill).

The Fiesta Bowl is in trouble because its former CEO couldn’t — or wouldn’t — be transparent about what he was doing to run the organization. And then a day after the BCS shouts about ethics and the highest standards, etc., we find out that some of the people who will be deciding the Fiesta’s fate had been happily receiving gifts from Junker and the bowl for years.

Does anyone else feel like they need a shower?

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Want to read all 283 pages of the investigators’ report on Junker and the Fiesta Bowl? You’ll find a .pdf here.

Lance Stephenson Follows Those That Went Before

lance-stephenson-arrestedOh Lance Stephenson, what have you done now?

It seems that Mr. Stephenson pushed his girlfriend and baby mama down the stairs in their home.

Actually, I noticed a couple of things that seem off about this whole situation.

Why, if he’s only 19, does he have a two-year-old, with his 21-year-old girlfriend?

Also, did he not realize he had everything going for him? He just signed a $700,000 one-year deal, with $500,000 for his second year with the Pacers. That’s $1.2 million for playing ball for two years, something that he loves to do.

Why is young Mr. Stephenson following the example of so many professional athletes?

Silly, stupid boy.

Why is this such a trend with professional athletes? Are we paying them too much money, attention, or adulation? I’m thinking it’s the adulation and the ego that comes from it.

Do athletes need to start taking classes in high school about how to act like contributing members of society? Scratch that, do they need to start in pre-school?

Stephenson is not new to breaking the law. At 17 he was busted for sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl inside his high school, the  same school where he won four city championships and was the leading scorer in New York State history.

He’s such a super-awesome example for our young men to follow.

Maybe if he would have had better examples when he was a young man he would be able to make better decisions now, as he’s starting his professional career.

***Update***

Apparently his girlfriend didn’t answer her phone while on a girls’ night out and he ambushed her when she came home. He didn’t mean to hurt her, it just happened.

DUH she didn’t answer her phone. She’s not supposed to.

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