I have a recommendation for the new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Actually, I have several, not the least of which is that Barry Melrose should be hired as head coach on the condition that he keeps wearing those suits on the bench. However, this one concerns a new potential season ticketholder.
See, since Eldrick Woods is going to have a lot of time on his hands in Florida while he rehabs his knee, I think the new ownership should offer him season tickets, so that he can have something nicer to say the next time someone asks him about hockey (If I'm not mistaken, the Lightning are the closest NHL franchise to his home in Florida).
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't wish ill on Eldrick, I'm not celebrating his injury at all, and his performance this weekend was remarkable, to say the least. However, as long as he continues to show disrespect to hockey, he can suffer the small indignity of my calling him by his given name.
Moving on, there's been some talk lately on TV about Becky Hammon (a former guest commentator with my former employer) choosing to suit up for Russia in the Olympics when USA Basketball bungled things up (given what I've seen of the U.S. women's hockey program, I'm shocked, shocked that a U.S. sport federation could bungle something like that).
Now, while I'm sure that Bill Simmons is likely to compare this situation to Sgt. Slaughter becoming an Iraqi sympathizer in 1990-91 leading up to Wrestlemania VII - not that there's anything wrong with that; I'd enjoy reading that column - I'm reminded of one of my favorite athletes that I had an opportunity to work with when I was at CSTV: Nicole Corriero.
Nicole, as you may recall, is a tremendously talented player, who holds the NCAA single-season record for goals. She also has one of the best senses of humor I've ever seen, as exemplified by this article from the Harvard Crimson her senior year. She also has the ability to do something that I never thought possible: she got me to root for Harvard (yes, when I covered the 2005 Women's Frozen Four, deep down, I was hoping for Harvard to beat Minnesota during the championship game, but apparently, Harvard only wins when I don't want it to happen).
But anyway, I wrote this article about Nicole in 2005, and if you read it, you'd be inclined to agree that Nicole got as raw a deal from Hockey Canada as Becky Hammon got from USA Basketball, if not more so. She also had much more of a case to play for Team Italy at the Torino Olympics than Becky has to play for Russia. However, she chose not to.
In addition to being talented, funny, and charming, Nicole Corriero is a class act all the way. I can't say the same of Becky Hammon.
Of course, the Russians I should probably be writing about are Nikita Filatov and the other prospects who will be selected in this weekend's NHL Draft. I had previously written that I expected the Kings to take Filatov, but that was based on the lack of star forward prospects, and the Kings will likely be drafting for impact, which makes it more likely that they'll get one of the big defensemen to join JMFJ in the d-corps.
I was reminded by this by reading the excellent NHL Draft Preview materials over at Hockey's Future. I highly recommend D.J. Powers' article on the top current collegians available for the draft, particularly since she's been great at picking players who get drafted despite not appearing on the Central Scouting rankings (Ryan Maki comes to mind). There's also a very handy list of the college commitments of draft-eligible players, which I wish I'd had last year when I covered the draft for CSTV.
HF also has the Rangers going for a blueliner, and that sounds about right. The problem is that unless the Rangers trade up, there's not too much that they can do with this pick in terms of the 2008-09 season. They still probably go D, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade the pick, either to move up and get someone who can help immediately (because the blueline needs help), or to move down, get the player they want, and have an extra shot at getting the next Ryan Callahan or Nigel Dawes.
Finally, it's also been reported that the Rangers have shown interest in Blake Wheeler. I think Blake would be a great fit, as a hardworking winger who can get physical when the situation calls for it. Having interviewed Blake a couple of times, I also think he'd do well with the New York media. Plus, it'd be the best of both worlds for me: the Rangers can acquire a college player without screwing up his signing and development.
Will it happen? We'll have to wait and see.