At first I really didn't believe it. When I heard that Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas skipped a visit to the White House for political reasons, I really thought it was a joke.
Then I found out it wasn't.
Thomas it turns out is a staunch Conservative and raging Republican, and has a keen interest in politics, but he claims today's move had nothing to do with picking sides.
It's become a tradition. Some months after the Stanley Cup is awarded, if it's an American team, they're received by the President at the White House. It's got nothing to do with politics, it's just a harmless tradition that most players look forward to.
After all, how often do you get a chance to meet the most powerful man in the world and walk around his house for a few minutes? It all happens pretty fast, so there's no time for politics, it's more a respect thing. The President respects your accomplishment and the players acknowledge that respect by showing up.
But not Tim Thomas. Nope. He issued a statement later in the day witch basically said that he's pissed off at all government, both parties, and he exercised his right as an "individual" to stay away.
What an asshole and what a shame.
Today, instead of the story being the Boston Bruins visit to the White House, the story became Tim Thomas "not" visiting the White House.
He's joined the club of all those half brain Hollywood actors who pull politics into places it doesn't belong - and to make matters worse, Thomas is a self confessed mega-fan of American idiot Glenn Beck.
And what good can come of today? I don't think there are too many people praising Tim Thomas for his balls today, but I bet there's a whole whack questioning his commitment to his teammates.
The guys he won the Stanley Cup with. The reason and only reason they were at the White House today.
Last night was a great example of why religion can be so bloody stupid, especially when you take it out of the mind and heart, where it belongs, and put it on the playing field.
For the past week the Tim Tebow God shit has been off the richter scale because of their surprise victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I would hope that no one other than those who may have suffered a brain injury really thinks that God had anything to do with it, but the God circus that it created was unbelievable, most notably the John 3:16 connection.
What it did, mostly in the United States of course, was escalate the debate on whether someone should be criticized for overt displays of faith in public.
Personally, to the extent that Tebow does, I think they should be. In fact I find it so horrifically self absorbed that it borders on creepy.
Especially during a game.
As ridiculous as I find it to thank the Lord after a game, at least the outcome has already been decided. During a game is sickening, and that's what Tebow has continuously done, overtly prayed on the sidelines during the game like God is going to take sides while the ball is still in the air.
I know Godians will argue that thanking the Lord after a game is more for their physical safety than anything else, but what's your excuse during the game?
Last Saturday, during the game Tebow must have been praying for a so called miracle, praying that God would help the Broncos win... and wouldn't you know it, as coincidence and nothing else would have it, he got his way.
But this started a shit storm of God talk that I'm sure had millions of the weak minded actually thinking there was connection, and worse than that, promoting it.
Ironically all it does is back fire on them, and it will every time. Because it leads to this question, where was God last night?
If He was so instrumental in Tebow's accomplishments to date, where the hell was He last night when the Broncos were getting their balls handed to them?
How the hell does He all of a sudden not show up? It's not like He was working on a famine, drought or atrocity somewhere because those are still going strong around the globe.
Who knows, maybe He only hands out only one football miracle a day... and it was used up on the San Franciso 49ers.
As someone who has live his entire life in Southern Ontario and who as seen and felt the affects of political correctness, I'm totally blown away with the unchecked bigotry in Quebec that has engulfed the Montreal Canadiens.
When I first heard that there was an issue because newly named coach Randy Cunneyworth couldn't speak French I thought it was a joke... because none of it made sense.
A coach's number one priority is to communicate with his players and there isn't one member of the Canadiens who speaks French only. In the dressing room, where a large measure of a hockey team's fortunes is determined, Cunneyworth has no problem delivering whatever message he has.
You'd think that's all a true Hab fan would care about.
But no, it's become a huge issue and the flames were fanned by a shockingly bigoted French media that claimed "the coach of the Montreal Canadiens should speak French, not only for cultural reasons, but to keep an open dialogue with the media."
It's not Randy Cunneyworth's job to communicate with the French media, its French media's job to communicate with Randy Cunneyworth.
I'm willing to bet there isn't one member of the French media that can't speak English, yet they make an issue of language through blatant intolerance, and the scary thing is, they're speaking for a lot of wing nuts.
There have been pre-game demonstrations outside of the Bell Centre by staunch Quebec language kooks. People who could care less about Randy Cunneyworth or the Montreal Canadiens, but people who are more concerned with cleansing their society.
And this was before the Habs plunged into their current losing streak.
It was highlighted again this week when the Habs traded Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames for power forward Rene Bourque.
Considering their roster of pip squeaks Bourque was exactly what the Canadiens needed but that didn't matter to the bigots. As one Montreal reporter stated, "Bourque is a good player, but Montreal was hoping for a good "French" player".
You see, Rene Bourque has a French name, but he can't speak the language, so that too has become an issue. I'm sure if Bourqe performs, his language won't ultimately matter, but the fact that it's even talked about is disturbing.
And rivaling the bigotry in Montreal is the stupidity.
The days of having the French market cornered are over. Under a draft system, the only control you have is when it's your turn to pick. You take the best player or you take the best player who can speak French?
Would these people prefer a lesser player simply because he speaks their language? Some actually would and they make no bones about it.
They argue that the French language in Quebec must be preserved and protected - but when they apply it to a hockey team that really only needs to win games - they expose themselves for what they are.
There could be a very interesting development in Toronto radio over the next few months that could not only see the demise of am 640 as we know it, but also an escalation in the sports radio wars.
Even if Bell Media and Rogers hadn't bought MLSE, it's no secret that Corus Radio wanted out of the hockey business. It never turned into the revenue generator they thought it would, and what money it did make was not enough to off-set the cost of running other day parts on the station.
When am 640 was MOJO, it made sense to have hockey. A guy's station with guy talk married to hockey play-by-play and hockey talk. Back then the station actually had an identity, something it has sadly lacked since somebody came up with the brilliant idea to drop the guy theme and adopt a mish-mash of something-or-other.
Since then, the station has done virtually nothing forcing Corus Radio to pour huge amounts of money down a bottomless pit.
But that could all change in imminently. Sources tell me that Bell Media has inquired about purchasing the 640 frequency from Corus Entertainment and using it for TSN Radio, currently occupying the shitty 1050 signal.
This could be a lucrative way out for Corus. Rather than continuously feeding a dead dog, or switching to an all-traffic format (which has been discussed). they can grab a few million off Bell and then use the am 640 studios as a production studio or maybe even a studio for where the business is really going, an internet station with super low overhead.
Give the room to Mike Stafford and let him go wild!
Bell is committed to a sports format and it makes a lot of sense now that they've grabbed a piece of MLSE. They'll have content they don't have to pay for, but it's hard to sell that content when 1050 on your dial virtually disappears in many parts after sun down.
It's a technical thing. For reasons that are beyond my explanation the lower you go on the am band the better the signal and the ones up the dial go all fuckin' weird at night.
In this case, 640 is beyond huge. When we were doing the MOJO thing we'd get calls from places like North Bay. 640 would instantly put TSN Radio on an even playing field with The Fan when it comes to reach.
It makes sense on so many levels. Even if Corus wanted to renew their hockey contract, they couldn't because the guys who now own the team own their own radio stations. The content on their own properties is worth way more than they'd ever get from Corus.
But more than anything else, it represents an attractive option for Corus. Over the past couple of years I've heard inklings about a desire to literally flip the switch "off" at 640. Unless you have niche programming like all sports or all news and are prepared to throw lots of money at it long term, am signals are useless.
Unless of course you have one that somebody else wants.
It's been quite the week for Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers. Last Thursday night he was the victim in the banana tossing incident, and then last night he's accused of calling Sean Avery a "faggot" during an on-ice skirmish.
Needless to say this has prompted quite the reaction, including a demand from the The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for an apology.
Others can't believe that after the insult that Simmonds suffered last Thursday, he could turn around and say such a thing to somebody else.
On the surface, there's no dispute. Throwing a banana at a black man is wrong and so is calling somebody a "faggot." But beyond that is one worse than the other and can you really compare them?
Yes to the first question and no to the second - and I base it on two facts. Wayne Simmonds is black and Sean Avery isn't gay.
There's no question that Simmonds shouldn't have said what he said, but it was in the heat of battle and obviously wasn't something meant as a direct hit so to speak.
Guess what; a lot of guys call each other "faggots." It's stupid and childish and insensitive but it's a cheap way to insult a guy's manhood. I'm convinced that 99 percent of the time, the same guy who would call another player a "faggot" would never dream using the "N word", or in Simmond's case "honky or whitey."
That doesn't make it OK but during a hockey game and with trash talk coming hot and heavy, for some reason calling a straight guy a "faggot" doesn't seem to carry the same weight as throwing a banana at a black man.
Do you agree?
Simmonds could have saved himself a lot of grief by choosing his words more carefully and calling Avery something that most definitely could not be argued.
It would be great if the city of London could find out who threw the banana on the ice at the John Labatt Centre Thursday night.
You've probably heard the story by now, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers, one of the few black players in the NHL had the banana thrown in his path during the shootout. He scored anyway. Good for him.
It was either a coincidence or a racist act but when you play the law of averages what are the chances of it being a coincidence? Zilch.
It was a despicable act by a despicable person. I'm sure you've met one somewhere along the way. I have. Several. They're the type who moves out of Brampton because there are too many brown faces in their kids school pictures.
They don't like their gracious East Indian neighbours on the right, but tolerate the big mouth white guy on the left who always seems to have his car up on blocks.
They absolutely hate curry, even though they've never tried it. You get the picture.
I hope they find out who threw the banana for a couple of reasons. First of all to embarrass the asshole (if that's possible) and secondly so the city of London can deal with it.
As it stands the city looks bad. This story has made news all over the world now and it's not really what you'd expect out of a Canadian city let alone an affluent community like London.
This is the type of stuff that happens in the States, or so we think. But more and more that's not the case. You'd think that the more diverse a community becomes the more tolerant people become because they get used to it.
Call me a dreamer.
There could be one saving grace in this for London. They might find out that the culprit was a Wings fan from Michigan. It would lessen the blow for the community, but it would still be a sad statement on mankind.
Having said that, it would be nice if someone who was sitting near this loser would come forward. I'm sure there were a few Londoners in that group.
I'd love this creep to be caught and then I'd love to ask him a few questions. Like why?
Is in black people in general who you think are apes, or is it just hockey players?
Is it OK for black people to play baseball and football? Would you throw a banana at them?
Was this pre-meditated or do you usually bring fruit to hockey games?
Of course I would ask this serious of questions while attempting to control the urge to slap the bastard upside the head.
And there would be one last question.
Did you not have any regard for the feelings for Wayne Simmonds, how it might affect him, embarrass him or hurt him?
But that's probably the best part of this whole story. Wayne Simmonds handled it with class and intelligence. He handled it like a man.
A lot more than we can say about the unidentified scum bag who was lurking in the upper deck.
Well that seals the deal for me. Like most Canadians I felt this obligation to pull for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup final, even though I found very little about this team I liked.
And that was before the last two games. The last two games that have seen that jerk-off Maxim Lapierre pull the finger thing on Brad Marchand, and then last nights disgusting hit on Nathan Horton by some imbecile named Aaron Rome.
Oh yea, that's it baby. I've become a staunch Bruins fans now, and I absolutely loved last night's demolition of a team that is every bit as stupid as it is talented.
Bad enough that Lapierre lit a spark under the Bruins, last nights hit on Horton provided the ultimate rallying cry for Boston.
I wouldn't trade Horton for anyone on the Canucks. Because remember, separated the Sedin's are probably even bigger pussies than they are together.
That may have been the dirtiest open ice hit I've ever seen. You want to talk about having respect for each other, you want to talk about being aware of the recent problems with concussions in the NHL, you want to talk about basic human decency, Aaron Rome failed on all counts last night.
I was uncomfortable with the Canucks going into these playoffs for several reasons, but I kept trying to be the good old Canadian guy and I tried to buy into the "bring the Cup back to Canada thing."
But deep down I don't like the Sedin's. I don't like Roberto Luongo. I can't stand Lapierre and I can't over-look the attitude of most Vancouverites who hate everything Toronto.
Deep down I wanted Chicago to score the over-time goal in game seven. Then I wanted Nashville to rise up and knock them off. The San Jose series was 50/50, but after last night's incident, I'm Bruins all the way.
This is another big test for the NHL's farcical disciplinary committee. What Rome did last night should put him out of the playoffs completely. And part of next year too.
What he did was vicious, heartless and cowardly.
Go get em' Bruins. They have more Canadians on thier team anyway.
It's been a bad month for Howard's on Toronto radio. First of all my bud and former colleague Humble Howard got the bag, and today it happened to Howard Berger at the Fan 590.
Berger had been on the Fan as a hockey reporter since 1988 but today they decided he was no longer useful.
I'm not going to beat around the bush, Howard Berger was one of those love him or hate him type of guys. It seems for every fan he had, there were as many or more detractors. I don't know why, I liked the guy, and I still do.
Who knows, maybe part of the problem was jealousy. I mean really, the guy's job was to go to every Leaf game, home and away, for the past 23 years. (insert joke here)
But you know what I mean, while the average Joe had to pull on his boots and sweat out a long day, Howard's job was to watch hockey games and talk about them... and oh yea, he got the summers off.
Now tell me that isn't every man's dream job.
I don't know if it was Howard's style, his delivery or what he said, but he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and that's being played out today on twitter as a pack of weasel goofballs piss all over the guy on what has to be a tough day.
I don't understand it because I liked what Howard did, and whenever I listened to the Fan (which I do rarely now) I liked it when Howard did his thing. I liked what he had to say, I liked his perspective.
I liked how he treated me when I did the sports beat and our paths crossed.
But now he's gone. After 23 years what seemed like a good idea all of a sudden turned into a bad idea.
I would have thought with Rogers hot on the trail of Maple Leaf rights; Howard's job would have been solidified. Instead he becomes expendable.
Hang in there Howie. Who knows, maybe somebody else will give you a call? But then again, speaking from experience, maybe they won't.
Big business sure is funny. Read between the lines and the people of Winnipeg were somewhat blackmailed today.
Interesting that the sale price has been agreed upon, they hold a news conference and talk about the future, but they claim the sale won't be complete until certain conditions are met by June 21st and the biggest condition is season ticket sales.
Gary Bettman and the crew from True North Sports attempted to leave the impression that 13 thousand season tickets had to be sold in order for this thing to get the final stamp of approval.
That's bullshit of course. There's no way they're turning this thing around and there's no way it won't be approved. Today's season ticket declaration was a feeble attempt to scare people into opening their wallets.
Having said that, the pricing seems fair. Amazing that the highest ticket price in Winnipeg will be 129 dollars while in Toronto its something with a three in front of it - and chances are, this Winnipeg team will probably be better than the Leafs.
Today's other key observation from his reporter deals with the little general Gary Bettman. He seemed uncomfortable almost bordering on disappointment. He doesn't want the NHL in Winnipeg and no matter what he says; his body language will always give it away.
This is a great day for Canada, but a stinker for Bettman.
Interesting that the little general kept repeating that today's move won't work unless the fans support the team, but never says that about Tampa, Florida, Columbus, Nashville, Dallas, the Islanders, Carolina and that debacle in Phoenix.
One more thing - if they don't name this team the Winnipeg Jets they're crazy.