The NHL's free agent frenzy got off to a slow start Monday, but things have certainly picked up the last few days: Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje to Philly; Chris Pronger and Mike Peca to Edmonton (via trades); Pavol Demitra to LA; Miro Satan to the Islanders; Adam Foote to Columbus; Jarome Iginla and Markus Naslund re-signing with their teams; Glen Murray and Brian Leetch to Boston. And on and on. Check out Sportsnet.ca's FA tracker to catch up.
Meanwhile, the Leafs sit silently, hoping to get oft-injured, past-their-prime guys like Jason Allison and Eric Lindros to take hometown discounts like Jeff O'Neill did. It's becoming increasingly apparent by the second that the Leafs are going to be lousy this year. They blew it by not buying out anyone last week when they had the chance to clear some room under the salary cap. If there's a plan there, I'm not sure I see it. Perhaps they're hoping to slog through this season and wait for next year, when some prime talent will become unrestricted FAs (Joe Thornton, for one). Don't get me wrong, I'm psyched hockey is back. It just sucks that my team doesn't appear to even be trying to put a contender on the ice.
The NHL has yet to finalize a cable deal for the 2005-2006 season, but it looks like there will be some interesting possibilities. Comcast is reportedly looking to transform its Outdoor Life Network (known as the home of the Tour de France) into a sports network to rival ESPN, and NHL hockey would fit in quite nicely (as would NFL football). After ESPN declined to renew its NHL contract, other bidders have stepped up and now ESPN may be interested again. Definitely bears watching (no pun intended).
- So the Red Sox held on to Manny Ramirez in probably the smartest non-move of the baseball trade deadline. And of course, he came in and drove in the game-winning run on Sunday to drive the fans wild. Deb and I are going to the Sox-Royals game tomorrow afternoon, so that will be fun.
- Rafael Palmeiro was a lock for the Hall of Fame until news broke this week that he tested positive for steroids. And Palmeiro, who at a Congressional hearing in March adamantly denied using 'roids, now faces possible perjury charges for lying to Congress. He issued a statement yesterday saying he accidentally injected the steroids, but it was reported today that the substance in question is stanozolol, which must be injected and is the same 'roid that sprinter Ben Johnson was using during the 1988 Olympics. Either he's amazingly arrogant or amazingly stupid. Wow.
- Had a blast Sunday afternoon at a gathering of my fellow Webnerdz. My man Cable Elk hosted the proceedings at his place in Allston Rock City, where we enjoyed excellent BBQ and beer while the kids ran amok in the yard. Always fun to see Lee, Briggy, Dr. Doobs and OJ and their respective spouses.
- Holee crap, Six Feet Under killed off Nate Fisher. There are three episodes left in this, the show's final season, so no doubt Nate will return as a ghost as many characters do on the series. But damn, didn't see that coming.
- A scary scene in Toronto yesterday when an Air France plane burst into flames after landing, but miraculously, all 300-plus on board got out alive. An illustration of why you should always pay attention to the evacuation instructions they give at the beginning of every flight.
- Looks like Chappelle's Show ain't coming back, which is a damn shame.