Yes I know yesterday was Selection Sunday. And I know that March Madness is what’s on top of everyone’s mind right now. And deservedly so. However, there were three stories this weekend that deserved the spotlight as well. So, we’ll let you in on those in case you got caught up in Bracketology.
Marty Catches Patrick: Martin Brodeur – already one of the best goalies in NHL history, cemented that fact Saturday night in New Jersey’s win over the Canadiens. With the win, Brodeur tied former Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy with 551 wins – the most in NHL history. He also wound up catching the great Roy in Montreal – his hometown.
Brodeur, despite his greatness, has never really gotten the credit he’s deserved. Had he played in Montreal, for instance, he’d be a bigger name than he is right now. But, he plays for the Devils, and has done so his entire career. New Jersey takes a back seat to the Rangers, and up until the mid 1990′s they took a back seat to the New York Islanders as well. Even with their Stanley Cup victories, the Devils were always like your little brother – looking for attention.
It’s too bad this story didn’t get more attention, because it certainly deserved it. And, there was a time that it certainly would have. Before the NHL started having labor problems in the early 1990′s, the league enjoyed a much higher profile.
But then the lockout of 1994 came. Instead of taking advantage of the fact that its most popular team (the Rangers) had just won a Stanley Cup) the owners decided to be hard liners and lock the players out. Fans discovered they didn’t miss hockey as much as they thought they would
By the time the league had the lockout that wiped out an entire season earlier this decade, fans had pretty much written off the game. The NHL didn’t help themselves by taking its television package to Versus, which will never give the league the kind of profile that ESPN did.
Now, you can tell me all you want about how Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have helped put the NHL back on the map. but they would never have had to had this league stopped shooting itself in the foot.
And a moment like Brodeur catching the legendary Roy would certainly have gotten more attention than it wound up getting.
Wade Serves Notice: It was only a couple of years ago that the NBA was trying to re-create the Magic-Larry-Michael Era in the form of LebronJames, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. It seemed like a smart move to make, considering that Wade led Miami to the 2006 NBA Championship. At that time, he deserved to share the platform with Kobe and Lebron.
Staying on that platform proved to be difficult for Wade. Injuries cut him down just when his star was seemingly shining at its brightest. But injuries are in the past, and so is losing.
Wade poured in 50 on Saturday in a triple overtime win by Miami over Utah. It was the tenth time this season that Wade has scored forty or more points. Wade is averaging thirty points a game this season, which just happens to lead the league. And, Wade is the main reason why Miami has gone from lottery team to the #5 seed (if the playoffs were to start right now) in the Eastern Conference.
So, you can talk all you want about how much Kobe and Lebron deserve consideration for the MVP award. My vote – right now – would go to Wade. Not that James or Bryant are undeserving. But, is there a player more valuable to his team than Wade? I don’t think so. Kobe has Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (he also had Andrew Bynum before his injury). James has Mo Williams. Who does Wade have? MiachaelBeasley? Nice player with loads of potential, but he’s clearly not there yet. Shawn Marion was such a disaster they dealt him to Toronto for a Jermaine O’Neal that could very well be considered past his prime.
Make no mistake, the Heat would be a lottery team again without Wade. If that doesn’t scream MVP at you, I don’t know what does.
Lefty Tames The Blue Monster: It was an adventure at times, but Phil Mickelson won his second tournament of the season by winning at Doral. The one shot victory over Nick Watney was entertaining to watch, because not only was it Lefty in the lead. But, it was Lefty at his riverboat gambling best.
You need to look no further at what happened on the par-5, 605 yard 12th hole. A hole in which Mickelson hit his tee shot so badly that he had to play his second shot right handed. A second shot that backfired, as it caught a tree and only went about thirty yards.
Mickelson was lucky to make bogey on that hole. It should have opened things up for Watney, but he bogeyed as well. Watney hit his approach into the bunker to the left of the green. He’s normally a pretty good bunker player, but he needed two shots to get out of the sand trap. That was pretty much all she wrote for the young man nicknamed Rube after Rube Walker of Major League 2 Fame.
The television executives had to be happy with what they saw this weekend. A victory for Mickelson. Plus, Tiger Woods well enough for NBC’s cameras to track him holy by hole.
We’re only a few weeks away from The Masters. You;d have to think Lefty is among the favorites to win, just based on the way he’s played this year (two wins and three top tens overall). As for Tiger, he hasn’t quite looked like the Tiger of old (his short game is betraying him right now), but would anyone be shocked if it’s Tiger and Lefty in the final pairing on Sunday at Augusta?
I wouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be, either.