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.
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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