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THN.com Playoff Blog: Speak up!

John Tortorella, who coached the USA at the World Championship, was let go by the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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John Tortorella, who coached the USA at the World Championship, was let go by the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

• I think comedian George Carlin is one of the great minds of our time. And one of my favorite bits of his centers around the needless softening/wimpification of language. That was on display again Tuesday, when the Tampa Bay Lightning sent out an e-mail announcing head coach (and preferred target of this space) John Tortorella “will not return” to the team.

I suppose it was just too hurtful to say the guy was dismissed. Perhaps the next franchise that fires a coach can do the Bolts one better and issue a press release that reads, “Coach X will be coaching the team next season (in spirit only).”

• Hey Tiger Woods: Up your nose with a rubber hose, you hockey-hating goof. But thanks for reminding some of hockey’s truer believers that the sport has a long battle ahead to stay relevant in the United States.

I mean, if the majority of Americans are like you and would rather follow a baseball franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since Bobby McFerrin topped the music charts with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” surely it’s fair to expect Gary Bettman and the NHL’s chief apologists – who’ve maintained there’s nothing wrong with the league for, oh, about the entire history of the league – to own up to the worrisome truth.

Speaking of worrisome: Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final drew a poorer TV rating than the debut airing of a Mixed Martial Arts card on CBS.

Now, some of you are probably wondering how a league with the NHL’s history can be out-observed by an organization (EliteXC) that isn’t even the acknowledged leader in its field?

It’s simple, really – the MMA industry already markets its featured performers better than the NHL does.

When you can get people interested in somebody named Kimbo Slice – who sounds like a late-night infomercial for a juice making product to me – in a matter of weeks, it is but another example of modern sports fans’ need to connect with their favorite athletes on an emotional level.

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To their credit, neither Mr. Slice nor EliteXC could care less about him saying something that might wind up serving as a motivational tool for his opponent to tack up on a bulletin board. For them, it’s all about eyeballs watching, tickets selling and wallets emptying.

And that’s something the ever-humble, average NHLer would be wise to learn from, especially if he wants the league’s average salary to continue to rise.

• Let me see if I understand this correctly: Predators co-owner William Del Biaggio III (I refuse to call him ‘Boots’) just got hit with his third lawsuit in less than a week, and Ducks owner Henry Samueli is facing unseemly allegations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – yet Jim Balsillie can’t get a sniff in his efforts to join the Old Boys’ club of NHL owners?

That’s outrageous, and not in a Lionel Richie mid-80s catchphrase kind of way. Let Jim in!

Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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