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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Best-Ever Tennis, Russian Cheerleaders and Brett Favre v. Mats Sundin

Sometimes its the little things in life that matter. Russian cheerleaders for example will bring a smile to your face. And when they happen to be brought to your attention on the same day as the greatest tennis match of all time, everything is coming up Milhouse.

Except if you're Brett Favre, who is more than obnoxious with his persistent desire to be important. We all may make decisions in life we regret, it is unfortunate in this instance that the very conundrum facing Favre is most frequently one which ends disastrously. Few things are as sure-to-disappoint as Pacman Jones or a new Will Ferrell movie, but a pro athlete set to come out of retirement rivals our most of epic letdowns. The numbers are not in Favres' favour if the Vikings think he'll be their saviour, and I think we'd all prefer if kept his musings to a simmer and made decisions behind closed doors like a grown up.

I am confident my neighbors in the US would rather watch the clinical removal of a hangnail than another sports-news clip featuring Brett Favre rumours. As a small consolation you can take solace knowing we have endured parallel suffrage in Toronto and -- although to a slightly lesser degree -- Canada. Mats Sundin is as enigmatic and annoying as the Old Boy Favre, but notably every bit as talented and potentially valuable. He's got offers from nearly a third of the league to join their club, with the Vancouver Canucks deeming a debatable top-15 player worthy of the largest contract in the league. He's not worth all that bread, but at the risk of wasting one of the best goalies in recent memory Vancouver is desperate to put a winning club in front of Roberto Luongo.

On a rather gossipy note, Kevin Lowe dropped a bomb on Brian Burke recently and I am thrilled. The saga is well documented. Who isn't interesting isn't piqued by the successive manifestations of two executives clashing through public channels? It is truly better than fiction. In The Ego and the Id (1923), Freud said, "...the ego uses borrowed forces" which fittingly meanders us to the root cause of this quarrel: Lowe broke the a gentleman's agreement in the NHL (by soliciting a restricted free agent on Burkes' team to a very generous offer sheet) effectively nailing the stones of the Ducks GM to the wall. Slighted and betrayed, Burke pushed back and the carousel thankfully continues. Sadly, their interpersonal spat doesn't go near the real problem: salary inflation in the NHL will eventually force the league into contraction (a tactic I've long been in support.) Much of what Burke preaches has merit, but the message is often muddled by his palpable infatuation with his own grandeur. This tabloid-like feud has guised the legitimate problems like salary inflation and the nature of RFA offer sheets (which do skew the market undesirably for the league and owners). Look forwards to more on this later, as it deserves it own piece.

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