Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
After a brief flurry of hope, it turned out that the NHL owners weren't so much interested in negotiating as in running focus groups, so the NHL lockout is still firmly in place and will be for the foreseeable future. Players want to play hockey (albeit without their paychecks being slashed). Fans want to watch hockey. Near-arena businesses are desperate for hockey. But the owners have the game held hostage, so without hockey we remain.
The players really have no leverage here; they can't threaten to not play, obviously. About all they could do is go play somewhere else, so it makes me wonder: what would a breakaway, rebel league look like?
This new WHA wouldn't want for coverage. ESPN would probably pick up the TV contract -- they've started televising KHL games, so they clearly are desperate for content of any kind. The media would go nuts to cover it, especially at the beginning, as the scads of NHL talent would be re-allocated like a real-life fantasy hockey draft. Cities like Quebec City and Seattle would have a shot at having a pro hockey team in town. It'd be immensely entertaining and always teetering on the edge of disaster, just like a good hockey game itself.
It'll never happen, of course. All but five NHL teams own or operate their own arenas, so it'd be a major struggle to find places for the WHA teams to play. Nobody but eccentric Candian billionaires, and possibly someone desperate in Seattle, would dare own a team that's likely to fold any minute. The NHL itself would threaten to blackball anyone - player, referee, coach, or otherwise - who worked with the league. Every player currently in the minor leagues would have to choose between the WHA and the NHL, a recipe for trouble both in the original WHA and now. The entire sport would be in an uproar for years, and the whole thing would damage hockey, perhaps irreparably.
Still, it'd give us hockey back. And a rebel league is the only leverage the players might have. So, if there are any eccentric Candian billionaires out there reading, please call up these guys and see if you can't make an offer. It's the first step towards getting hockey back.
*On with the links:
*The World Series hasn't even started yet, but the Twins silly season is in full swing. Twins writer Jim Crikket constructs a plausible scenario in which Joe Mauer is traded to Boston, while Nick Nelson thinks that even at an absurd price, the time might be right for Zack Greinke in Minnesota. (And if both these moves happened at the same time, I'm guessing St. Paul would burn and the internet would explode.)
*Dan Jenkins is, in a way, the patron saint of sportswriting, so I can't tell you how happy I was when Grantland printed a "director's cut" of Jenkins's first long-form piece in Sports Illustrated, from way back in 1963. It's funny and descriptive and in many ways perfect, and the real shame of the whole thing is that a thing like Dan Jenkins can only come along once.
*Sports on Earth profiles the great Verne Lundquist, and one of his best qualities - his ability to let a moment speak for itself.
*Joe Posnanski looks at Chiefs fans cheering when Matt Cassel gets hurt, and talks to someone who's stopped going to games, and wonders: are we reaching a tipping point, on the other side of which nobody is going to attend NFL games?
*The Vikings are playing in London in 2013, and reportedly may play there once per year while the new stadium is under construction. The Vikes Geek is, well, not at all happy about this.
*And finally: in ten years, when some kicker makes a 79-yard field goal, this is going to look pretty quaint.