TERRE HAUTE —
Eavesdropping, as I often do, at a couple of sporting events recently, I heard conversations that warmed my heart.
At both the Rose-Hulman baseball game recently and the Terre Haute North-Terre Haute South girls tennis match a week ago, I heard spirited arguments involving — the NHL playoffs.
I’m not alone, I wanted to cry out. I refrained from hugging the debaters, but I felt like doing so.
Both arguments, coincidentally, involved the Red Wings vs. the Coyotes, and neither one involved Rosie Secrest, to my knowledge Terre Haute’s most avid Red Wings fan. There were even people arguing in favor of the Coyotes who weren’t just haters from Chicago (where true Blackhawks fans, Dave Kaye used to remind me, refer to the team from Detroit as the “Dead Things”).
I’m writing this in anticipation of watching Game 7 of that series earlier this week. As much as I liked it, however, there were two other series — San Jose vs. Colorado and Vancouver vs. Los Angeles — that kept me up far too late and far too often prior to that. I found myself rooting for whichever team was trailing in Sharks vs. Avs or Canucks vs. Kings to keep those series going as long as they could.
Vancouver is one of my favorite teams to watch anyway, so I’m looking forward to the Canucks’ second-round series against the Blackhawks, which should feature a lot of spectacular plays, a lot of fantastic skating and quite a bit of bad blood, probably from the first faceoff.
I haven’t been distracted at all from my NHL experience by the NBA’s first-round playoffs for a couple of reasons.
First, all 16 NHL teams in the first round had a legitimate chance to win their series. What turned out to be the only one-sided series of the eight sidelined the team — the New Jersey Devils — that I’d picked as my Stanley Cup darkhorse. The NBA? At least five of the eight series were all but over before they started.
Second, in watching the NHL games I can witness 10 guys on the ice going so hard at all times that they rarely play more than a minute without rest. Switch to an NBA game and you see 10 guys on the court, but eight of them are probably watching the other two go one-on-one. Has anyone broken a sweat in an NBA game in the postseason so far?
So you guys go on and watch LeBron James win his first championship — if he doesn’t, who gets blamed? Shaq? Jamison? — in ridiculously easy fashion. I’ll stick to Versus (and CSN, as long as the Blackhawks stay alive), keep a little excitement in my life, and look forward to the 2010-2011 season of the L.A. Kings (love that young nucleus of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown).
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• Soon to work — Although conference tournament assignments have yet to be handed out, three Wabash Valley umpires have already been assigned to college softball regionals.
My neighbor Mike Papinchock will be crew chief at the junior college World Series and is also an alternate for an NCAA Division III regional.
Doug Keller of Paris is a crew chief for a Division III regional, and Sally Keller of Paris will be working an NCAA Division II regional.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.