Wednesday, July 10th, 2002
EVENT #1: SAKU KOIVU'S RETURN AFTER ILLNESS
Cool: It took Saku Koivu only 7 months to get rid of an abdominal
form of cancer. Supported by a mass of fans, he helped the Montreal
Canadiens surpass its limits as a team and brought a whole new meaning
to the word determination. Just like Mario Lemieux, he challenged
the odds and won respect worldwide. He also got married this summer. After
pain and tragedy, life does indeed return some favors.
Fool: NHL radio and television commentators who mentioned that Koivu's
return was the only reason why fans still supported and enjoyed going to
the Molson Centre despite a weak, disorganized team.
EVENT #2: CANADIAN GOLD RUSH IN SALT LAKE CITY
Cool: Canada Hockey waited for a gold medal for half a century. Nothing
more is needed to be said. Although Wayne Gretzky has been scorched
a few times during the Olympic adventure, captain Mario Lemieux, Jarome
Iginla, Joe Sakic, and goaltender Martin Brodeur paved
the way to glory. Same high for Canadian women, who faced and won over Americans
in a thrilling ride from start to finish. It was Canada's National Sport
Fool: The male hockey specialists who are still convinced that real
hockey is just another men's club.
EVENT #3: PETER FORSBERG RETURNS AND BLASTS PLAYOFFS
Cool: The most complete player in the NHL is back. After a spleen
removal in 2001 and also ankles surgeries, he jumped off the 2001-2002 boat.
But while battling a strained left foot, he made an unexpected comeback and
totaled 27 points in 20 games during playoffs. Feared by opponents for his
striking force and scoring magic, just beware: Forsberg's career is far from
Fool: Some rumors have been spread on the fact that Forsberg did not
sit out due to health reasons but because of terrorism, based on the fact
that European players are well-known for their fear of flying.
EVENT #4: BAD REFEREES, INJURIES, AND VIOLENCE RISE UP
Cool: The fines given to coach Michel Therrien for his
throat-slashing gesture towards the Boston Bruins bench after Richard
Zednick's fall off Kyle McLaren; Islanders GM Mike
Milbury showed a tape of bad calls during the Isles' playoff series against
Toronto. Fines for both Therrien and Milbury: $30,000. Why is it Cool?
Because rules are rules.
Fool: Kyle McLaren, for clotheslining the Habs' Richard Zednick; the
Leafs' Gary Roberts for checking the Isles' Kenny Jonsson;
and Darcy Tucker for injuring Micheal Peca. Blood, flying sticks,
and fists, sorry, no space left -- it could take a few pages to put an entire
list of all the violent aspects of hockey this year.
EVENT #5: COACH SCOTTY BOWMAN RETIRES
Cool: Obviously, the best coach in NHL history left the spotlight after
winning his ninth Stanley Cup this year. He was a man who got respect, fame,
attention, and demanded his players to give everything they had. He is a
man who will never be forgotten.
Fool: The fans who believe he's going to retire COMPLETELY from the
EVENT #6: NHL BRINGS NEW PROTECTIVE INSTALLATIONS FOR FANS
Cool: The NHL will set up new protective nets in all the arenas by
the 2002-2003 season, above the glass behind each goal and the protective
glass along the ice surface will be raised to a minimum of five feet above
Fool: The NHL, who only reacted to young Brittanie Cecil's
death on March 18th, 2002, after she was hit by a puck during a Blue
Jackets/Flames game. Columbus center Espen Knutsen, responsible
for the deflective puck, still can't cope with this matter.
EVENT #7: JOSE THEODORE WINS OVER PATRICK ROY
Cool: Jose Theodore won Veniza trophy (best goalie) and Hart
trophy (NHL MVP) to his surprise. He was expecting Vezina, but not really
Hart. His smile said it all. The Montreal Canadiens are still under negotiations
with him and should not let a French-Canadian goalie slip out of Montreal.
Fool: Canadiens No. 2 goalie Jeff Hackett, who mentioned earlier
in the season that Theodore still had a finger on the rookie switch and could
not be considered otherwise.
EVENT #8: HURRICANES CREATES ITS FAN CLIENTELE
Cool: With Ron Francis as a captain, this powerful team showed
no mercy against the Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. It has
now a strong playoff experience and fans are now fighting for tickets. All
of that in a place where hockey has been considered a lost cause: basketball,
football, and racing were the profitable sports until this year.
Fool: NHL specialists who assured the 'Canes were already dead before
the playoffs have even started. They did not think about EErik Cole
and Jaroslav Svoboda.
EVENT #9: JAROME IGINLA IS OUT OF THE ORDINARY
Cool: Although he made a successful season beginning (and joined Team
Canada at the Olympics), Jarome was not considered to jump in the first rank
for points. He finished with 52 goals and 96 points, earning the Lester B.
Pearson Award (voted on by the players for most outstanding player) and the
Maurice Richard Trophy (most goals).
Fool: Deceived Jagr, Steve Yzerman, and Sakic fans, who silently
watched as Iginla made it all possible this year.
EVENT #10: A TRIBUTE TO NHL'S MARK BAVIS AND ACE BAILEY, LOST IN U.S.
Cool: The Los Angeles Kings always counted on Director of Pro
Scouting Ace Bailey, who played 10 years in the NHL before joining
former teammate Wayne Gretzky in L.A. As for Mark Bavis, he played
in East and American Leagues before retiring and joined the Kings'
scouting staff two years before. Bailey and Bavis were good friends, good
co-workers. Cool guys.
Fool: Whoever thought that September 11th U.S. attacks only touched
the country's economical pipeline? Bailey and Bavis were killed while being
passengers on the second flight which hit the World Trade Center on that
fateful morning. Regardless of what topic you discuss, September 11th will
be a sad, sad day for this country. Forever. It is a national grief, supported
by entire nations, which will always be impossible to overcome.