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If Red Wings Win Tonight Against Blackhawks,
Stanley Cup Finals Will Likely Start Saturday
TAKING CHARGE: FANHOUSE.com's Eric McErlain wrote playing Stanley Cup Finals Games One and Two on "back-to-back nights probably isn't ideal for the players, but it sure beats the heck out of dropping a one-week break into the midst of the playoff season." The NHL has "made a simple calculation: would the complete disappearance of the Stanley Cup finals from broadcast television in the U.S. cause more damage to the league than adjusting the schedule to the benefit of the rights holder? Cleary, they've decided the latter" (FANHOUSE.com, 5/25). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes unless the Red Wings "bail him out with a series-closing victory tonight," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "could be staring at a long layoff -- maybe even six days -- between the conclusion of the conference finals and the start of the championship series." That is "insane, especially when the NHL finds itself in a direct championship series battle with the NBA." Bettman, "in some ways, is at the mercy of NBC." But "isn't it time that he and the rest of the league grow a backbone and tell all who care to listen that the NHL is never stronger than when it more vigorously advocates its marketing strengths?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/27).
WATCH & LEARN: YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote the NHL is "currying a lot of good will lately." Ratings are "up appreciably, for one thing," and "more people are watching hockey on television than we've seen in years." ESPN writers like Bill Simmons and Gene Wojciechowski who "don't really have any reason to care about the sport and feel they haven't been given one in a good, long time are writing the equivalent of puff pieces on how wonderful the sport seems to them all of a sudden." But Wyshynski noted if the Stanley Cup Finals do not start until June 5, "we're looking at a ridiculous television-influenced decision" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/25).
SOMETHING'S MISSING: In Toronto, Gary Loewen wrote it "seems like weeks" since the Penguins and Capitals "battled in a thrilling playoff series." The conference finals, "by comparison, have been Dud Lite" (TORONTO SUN, 5/26). Also in Toronto, Garth Woolsey wrote Red Wings-Blackhawks, a matchup of two Original Six teams, has a "traditional feel, but there's no substitute for having a Canadian team still alive at this point in the Stanley Cup playoffs" (TORONTO STAR, 5/24).
Daly Says NHL Salary Cap Could Drop
By As Much As $2.5M For '09-10 Season
Helton (l), France Lead Meetings Between
NASCAR Execs, Team Owners, Drivers
NO SOLUTIONS PROVIDED, YET: FOXSPORTS.com's Lee Spencer noted the "overwhelming response from the competitors was that the open dialogue was valuable, yet no one provided concrete solutions." It is "unlikely that any advances will come to the car before" the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and "perfecting the product must be the first step." Spencer: "Only time will tell how responsive the sanctioning body truly will be. Still, there is a sense of comfort knowing the lines of communication are open" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/26). But ESPN's Marty Smith said, "Ultimately, the biggest thing that came out of this, though, was the fact that NASCAR held it at all. It's certainly not their typical style of ruling. It's been a dictatorial style forever. The fact they held this meeting was huge for everybody." ESPN's Dale Jarrett: "In talking to the drivers, they felt like this was the best meeting they had been a part of. A lot of things were talked (and) they felt like that they were going to get a lot of results" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 5/26).
REPAIRS NEEDED: In Birmingham, Doug Demmons wrote if they "really want to know how to improve the sport, NASCAR should invite fans to the meeting." Fans likely would suggest that there are "too many boring races at boring, cookie-cutter tracks," and that "no one knows from week to week when the race starts." In addition, while ticket prices "have come down out of economic necessity," they "don't need to be jacked back up when the economy starts to improve" (AL.com, 5/25). ESPN.com's Terry Blount suggested six improvements for NASCAR: Greater emphasis on winning; allow adjustments to the car; shorter races; "make qualifying meaningful;" "double-file restarts for lead-lap cars;" and "don't allow Cup drivers to compete for the Nationwide title" (ESPN.com, 5/26). FOXSPORTS.com's Spencer wrote under the header, "NASCAR Needs To Talk About Its Problems" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/26).
DRUG TESTING A HOT TOPIC: The AP's Jenna Fryer noted "drug testing was a main topic" of yesterday's meetings. The "secrecy and lack of an official list of banned substances led many drivers to worry their careers could be put in jeopardy by a failed test for a simple prescription." Driver Mark Martin said, "If you're taking something as prescribed, I don't think you're going to lose your career. I feel much better now than I did before the meeting." France indicated that he was "confident the issue had been adequately addressed" in both meetings (AP, 5/26).
NASCAR Has No Plans
To Settle With Mayfield
POP QUIZ: NASCAR Sunday during the rain delay at the Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 "randomly drug-tested 10 crew members from 10 teams," an "apparent tweak to the first three months of in-season testing." NASCAR waited until after the scheduled start of the race "to inform teams and ordered individuals to report for testing at the end of the race." But because rain delayed the start, crew members "were seen entering the infield care center, where the tests were conducted" (AP, 5/24).