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This Weekend's Panthers-Blackhawks Games
First NHL Regular-Season Games In Finland
IMPACT QUESTIONED: In Detroit, Chris McCosky writes under the header, "Swedish Opener Makes No Sense For The NHL." The Blues and Red Wings are playing two games in Stockholm on Friday and Saturday, and there is "nothing to be gained, from a business standpoint, by playing games abroad" in Stockholm, Helsinki "or wherever." McCosky: "How can the NHL be thinking global when it is struggling in its main market? There is no chance the NHL is expanding to Europe. There isn't going to be any spike in merchandise sales over here" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/2). The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ethan Skolnick wrote there is "some international marketing benefit" to playing overseas, but that "comes with the debasement of the product through the creation of an inequitable schedule." The NHL "needs to sell its product to this country first." The L.A. Times' Helene Elliott wrote the "real motivation ... is business," as Finland and Sweden are the "top-ranked countries in terms of overseas visitors to NHL.com." Meanwhile, the Hartford Courant's Paul Doyle wrote it is "not a terrible idea to spread the NHL brand to Sweden and Finland," but "forcing four teams to shift training camp overseas and open their schedule in another part of the world seems unfair to players and fans" (LATIMES.com, 10/1).
Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote the "cry about high-payroll teams" making the MLB postseason is "both hysterical and mistaken." Anyone who "cries that baseball's sky is falling hasn't been watching or keeping track of playoff developments in recent years." The four teams that played in the ALCS and NLCS two years ago were the Red Sox, with the "second highest-payroll that year," and three teams -- the Indians, D'Backs and Rockies -- that were "in the bottom third of the payroll standings." The NL playoffs "will have the teams with the sixth (Phillies), seventh (Dodgers), 12th (Cardinals) and 17th (Rockies) payrolls." Chass: "Why are those cries being wailed this year? I think the explanation is pretty evident. It's the Yankees. ... No one said anything when the Yankees didn't make the playoffs last year with the major leagues' highest payroll" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 9/30).
SECRET AGENT MEN: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith Thursday conducted a "conference call with a total of 30 agents." A source said that the call "was supposed to be kept confidential," but "word of the conference call was leaked." Some of the agents are "blaming Jack Bechta," a contributor to NationalFootballPost.com, "which reported that the call would be occurring" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 10/1).
BEGINNER'S LUCK: In California, Randy Youngman wrote PGA Tour execs "got lucky," as the Tour "merely dodged another potential PR embarrassment, because the two right guys" -- Phil Mickelson, who won the season-ending Tour Championship and Tiger Woods, who won the FedEx Cup title -- came out on top. The system "still is badly flawed," and if the system worked, Tiger Woods "certainly would be the one to endorse it" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/1).