Shooting from the Lip/Tuesday edition
Random thoughts ...
Whiner of the day
Those from Detroit aren't going to like this and I'm sure my e-mail box will be full of angry letters, but some of the Red Wings (and one in particular) are coming off like a bunch of whiners over this whole Sidney Crosby-handshake thing. We were led to believe Detroit captain Nick Lidstrom was offended that Crosby spent too much time celebrating and didn't get to the handshake line fast enough after Pittsburgh's victory last Friday in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. By all estimations, it took Crosby a little more than three minutes, including being interrupted by the media, following the final buzzer to line up for the handshake, and that was way too long for Lidstrom, so he left the ice.
But it wasn't too long for most Red Wings to wait and shake Crosby's hand. If Johan Franzen and goalie Chris Osgood and coach Mike Babcock, among others, could wait to shake Crosby's hand, why couldn't Lidstrom? Hey, if Lidstrom didn't feel like waiting around, that's his business. What pushed this mess over the edge was a complaint from the Red Wings locker room after the game. Not from Lidstrom, but from Red Wings forward Kris Draper, who said, "Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand. That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that.''
I'm sorry, but Draper was so invisible in the final that I forgot he even played until I read the quote. Anyway, if I were Lidstrom, I would be ticked at Draper. In fact, Lidstrom downplayed the whole thing Monday.
Those who know Crosby know that, despite being only 21 years old, he has assumed the role as ambassador of the league and clearly has shown nothing but respect for the game and its traditions. He showed nothing but humility after the game, even going as far as to sort of defend Lidstrom for not sticking around for the handshake if Lidstrom didn’t feel like it. Lidstrom doesn't need Draper (or Henrik Zetterberg, who weighed in Monday, calling Crosby’s actions "disrespectful'') bellyaching about a player who certainly meant no disrespect. Draper not only made himself look like a poor sport, but made Lidstrom and the rest of his teammates look like one, too.
Optimism of the day
The NHL is basking in the afterglow of an exciting Stanley Cup final and now comes all the talk of how this will be a turning point for the NHL, how new fans have been attracted and how the NHL is headed for an upswing in popularity. Haven't we heard this before? Didn't we hear this when Wayne Gretzky's Oilers started to go on a dynasty tear in the early 1980s? Didn't we hear this when Mario Lemieux came into the league in the mid '80s? Did we hear this when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, which was supposed to start another hockey renaissance? But the NHL always does something -- bad TV deals, work stoppages -- to shoot itself in the foot.
And let's not automatically assume the Red Wings and Penguins, the two marquee teams in the league at the moment, are destined to win more championships. Don't you realize how hard it is to reach the Stanley Cup final? Think of this, when the Lightning won the 2004 Cup with a team full of young stars such as Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, Ruslan Fedotenko and so on, didn't you think it would win one or two more before it was all over? Funny how things never work out like you think they might in the NHL.
Controversy of the day
The SportsChix and Friends, the afternoon sports-talk show on 1010-AM, is now missing a chick. Or friend. Or whatever. Leslee Lacey is apparently no longer working at 1010-AM after a controversy involving Arbitron ratings, which are used to determine how many listeners a station has -- a number that the station can take back to advertisers. In the latest "trend,''’ 1010-AM showed a remarkable jump in listeners. So remarkable that it wasn't true.
Several people familiar with the controversy say Lacey was selected randomly by Arbitron and gave information of listening habits that caused a major spike in 1010's ratings. Media members, especially those who work in radio, are not supposed to take part in such surveys. The consequence for 1010 is it now won't appear at all in the new "trend.''
So what does all this mean? For starters, it appears Lynne Austin might be in the market for a new partner on her show. The other interesting part is a major flaw in the ratings system. How in the world does one person, even if she claims to be in a large household as Lacey apparently did, affect trends and ratings that much?
"Matt Millen is one of the best television analysts in the business and we welcome him back to the booth on Thursday Night Football,'' NFL Network president and CEO Steve Bornstein said.
Millen, who also will call college games for ESPN, will work on the NFL Network with announcer Bob Papa. The NFL Network will carry eight regular-season games, most of them on Thursday night, beginning Nov. 12. Not that many in the area care. The NFL Network and Bright House cable still don't have a deal. It was thought that when Comcast recently struck a deal with NFL Network, the dominos would fall and other cable companies, including Bright House, would work out an agreement. There are ongoing talks, but so far, no deal has been reached and it isn't known if one will be reached before football season.
The NHL ratings game
Friday night's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and Red Wings on NBC was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years. An average of 8 million people watched the game. That was the most since Game 6 of the Cup final between the Canadiens and Blackhawks averaged 9.4 million in 1973. Overall, the 2009 final averaged 5.6 million viewers for the five games on NBC -- the best since ABC averaged 5.8 million for three games of the 2002 final between Detroit and Carolina.
The NBA ratings game
Sunday night's clinching Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Magic averaged 13,992,000 viewers, making it the most-watched program of the night on television. In fact, all five games, with an average viewership of 14.3 million, were the most-watched programs each night they were on, including two games that went head-to-head against the Stanley Cup final.
Three things that popped into my head
1. If I were starting an NBA franchise from scratch, my first pick would be LeBron James. But if I had to win a seven-game series, my first pick would be Kobe Bryant.
2. Don't take anything away from Phil Jackson's 10 NBA titles just because he had Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as players. As ESPN’s Dick Vitale recently told me, "Hey, every team that wins a championship has talent. No coach wins without it. But not every coach wins with it. Phil has won and that's the bottom line.''
3. Not only did Phil Jackson break Red Auerbach’s record for NBA titles with 10, he also passed the nine championships won by legendary hockey coach Scotty Bowman.