By Michael Felger
A top-ten for your Monday perusal:
1. Fraud of the Month award goes to Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, who on Sunday blasted the league over its handling of the Islanders-Penguins brawl that netted 346 penalty minutes and 10 ejections on Friday in New York. Lemieux said the league failed to send the proper message by not handing out tougher suspensions. We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players,'' said Lemieux.
This from the man who employs Matt Cooke.
Funny how we didn't hear these comments after Cooke sent Marc Savard to the hospital last year. Funny how we didn't hear them after Cooke viciously boarded Columbus' Fedor Tyutin last week. Funny how Lemieux continues to sign Cooke's checks.
2. And some people still believe LeBron is a more dangerous player than Kobe? Please. Is there any question what Bryant would have done with those two free throws on Sunday?
3. Anyone who deluded themselves into believing the Bruins were an elite team should have been set straight this weekend, when they were rocked in a pair of games by the Red Wings. The aggregate score was 10-3. The shots were 70-51. Lidstrom. Datsyuk. Zetterberg. Bertuzzi. Holmstrom. Rafalski. That's what a true Stanley Cup contender looks like.
The Bruins, meanwhile, still look like two-and-done fodder. That's for now. The trade deadline is two weeks from today.
4. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I expect a big year from Jonathan Papelbon. He made a conscious effort a few years ago to change his mechanics so as not to throw out his arm. The reason he did that was to make it to his walk year. Now that he's here, something tells me he's going to open it up.
5. Interesting decision by NBC not to roll video during a discussion about fighting in the NHL during the Bruins broadcast on Sunday. The stated reason was that they didn't want to "celebrate'' it. Sigh. Then why spend two segments talking about it?
A more important question is why the league continues to be ashamed of itself. Here's an idea: Stop trying to sell the sport to people and places who don't get it and, frankly, don't want to get it. Focus on those of us who DO love the sport, and give us what we want. And that includes fighting.
6. Remember all those people who said last year that Tiger Woods would be able to brush off his fall from grace and continue to dominate pro golf? Over 12 months later, it still hasn't happened.
7. I keep getting emails that say things like this:
-- Steven Stamkos through Feb. 14 as a rookie in 2008-09: seven goals.
-- Tyler Seguin through Feb. 14 as a rookie in 2010-11: Nine goals.
Hey, whatever makes you feel better.
8. I know Logan Mankins is going to be upset if and when the Pats apply the franchise tag to him, but there's got to be at least part of him that would like to call the Pats' bluff and play a season under the tag. That's because the franchise number for offensive linemen this year is 10.7 million. That's an absurd number for a guard, but because tackles are used to compute the number for all linemen, Mankins benefits. Again, over 10 million, guaranteed, for one season to play guard. That's more than the franchise numbers at cornerback (9.5 million), defensive tackle (7 million), running back (8.1 million) and receiver (9.5 million).
So if I were Mankins I might be tempted to say: You want to pay me 10 million guaranteed to play guard for one year? Go right ahead.
9. It's just fun writing bad things about LeBron. So it took him 21 shots to score 22 points in a have-to-have-it game . . . with a point guard checking him?
10. Go Huskies!
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