Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hockey Rabble: June 5

I want to send sympathies to the family and friends of Dick Stewart. The longtime Duluth hockey supporter died Monday night at the age of 92, just nine days after he lost his wife of 63 years, Maxine. Stewart was a fixture at UMD hockey games, listening on the radio after his eyes failed him, but rarely missing a game. It became a tradition for the UMD students to chant his name as he waved his trademark winsock during a break in game action. UMD players, boosters, and fans will all miss Stewart's presence, and his loss is a huge one for the Duluth hockey community. Services are pending.

Buddy Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey scoops that Hill-Murray forward Charlie Sampair has committed to play college hockey at UMD. Sampair had 30 goals as a senior for the Pioneers as they finished second at the state tournament. Sampair was drafted into the USHL by the Indiana Ice, but it's expected he will play for UMD in the 2012-13 season.

The Stanley Cup Final is going to end on cable Wednesday, when the Los Angeles Kings finish off a sweep of the New Jersey Devils. I'm not complaining about the sweep, because it's the first Cup Final sweep since Detroit beat Washington with relative ease in 1998. It's the first time since 2007 the series has failed to go at least six games. However, the fact that the NHL cut a television deal with NBC that allows its signature event to end on a cable network that doesn't have great reach is a loss for hockey fans. You don't see World Series games on TBS. The NBA Finals don't air on ESPN or TNT. What American pro sports championships are decided on cable? MLS, the WNBA, Major League Lacrosse, etc. Nice company, NHL.

(I get the NBC Sports Network idea here. Obviously, it's a huge get for a growing network. I don't doubt that, and in most years, this won't be an issue at all. However, this is one of those years where it looks like a potential problem. I want NBCSN to grow as much as anyone -- ESPN badly needs someone who can compete for eyeballs and rights packages to slow their monopoly on things -- but I don't believe putting Stanley Cup Final games there is the right way to get that growth.)

That said, there aren't enough words to describe what the Kings did to the Devils on Monday. Holy smokes. Liam McHugh called it a "soul-crushing" defeat on the postgame show, and that's about as good as I can do. I don't Jersey is at all a threat to win four straight, but it will be interesting to see if the Devils can put together a good performance Wednesday.

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