Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?


Chip Scoggins wrote an NHL column in the paper this week, the upshot of which was, "Hey, the season is so short that the regular season actually matters this year, isn't that great?" Left only partly mentioned, though, is that next year - assuming Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs can control themselves - the regular season will go back to 82 dull, drab, ho-hum games. This week, though, the NHL also approved a fairly dramatic realignment, one that puts Minnesota in a division with traditional rivals Chicago and St. Louis, geographic grudge match Winnipeg, and a history-based grudge match with Dallas. And best of all, the first two rounds of the playoffs will at long last again be a (mostly) intra-divisional affair. This is wonderful because more than anything, the two things that create rivalries in sports are a) geographic proximity and b) playoff history.

Part a is why college hockey is more exciting to watch than the NHL, a lot of the time; part b is why Todd Bertuzzi is, after all these years, still universally hated in Minnesota, and why the words "Dan Cloutier" still bring a smile to Minnesota hockey fans' faces. So yes, next year's NHL regular season might be a little bit boring. And the next one after that could be, too. But I'm hoping that the Wild get a playoff series or two with the Jets during that time, or the Blackhawks, or the Avalanche, and pretty soon, more and more of those regular-season games will start to feel like Gopher-Badger showdowns or Gopher-North Dakota wars, and we'll see columns in the paper about how the NHL, despite the 82-game schedule, still has pro sports' best regular season. And hopefully, other sports will take a lesson from hockey, because I couldn't be more excited about this setup.

*On with the links:

*Here's a semi-heartbreaking story about former North Carolina coach Dean Smith, who has a disease that's robbing him of the memories of everything he accomplished, and is making him unable to remember his old players - something that's just as hard for the players themselves.

*Charlie Pierce writes about Providence College and the birth of the Big East, and the death of the Boston Phoenix, and really both of these articles are equally good and I can't decide which one you should read first.

*And now, a reminder that umpire Angel Hernandez is just the worst.

*I'm not sure what my favorite part of this video of a double-fake shot in a squash tournament is: the shot itself, the British commentator failing to find the correct words to express enjoyment of the shot, or the fact that there is apparently a channel, somewhere in the world, called "Squash TV."

*And finally: Watch a Greek player hit the post four times with a single attempt at goal.

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Monday (Gophers vs. UCLA thoughts) edition: Wha' Happened?