Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Still not into the NHL Playoffs?

It's getting too late for you to jump on the bandwagon.

True, it's only the first round, but already, the NHL has begun to reach back into the days of yore, and bring back that true essence of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There have been exciting finishes (like the Hurricanes win in game 4 on Tuesday-more on that in a minute), wonderful performances by individuals, and most of all, hatred.

I know hate is an ugly word, but it is appropriate and pure in the playoffs. It just is. There are those that don't like it, but it's part of the game. Best of all, the ugliness translates into bone-crushing hits, nose-t0-nose discussions after whistles, and remarkably, very few actual fights.

And that's ok.

People who do not understand the game should not try and change it. Fighting has always been, and likely always be, and accepted part of the game. Believe it or not, fighting is actually far safer than the alternative. If fighting is banished from the game, then players will find other ways of retaliation. The end result will be stick infractions--and that's more of a crime than a penalty in a game. I would prefer to guys who are in a "disagreement", to drop the gloves, and settle it with bare hands, than have those same two using their sticks like axes. My NHL has grit, toughness, and fights. It also has speed, agility, grace and skill. I hope it stays that way forever.

Davidson guard Stephen Curry will announce his decision to stay in school or turn professional on Thursday morning. I don't have any info on this, but my hunch is that he will return to school. My reasons: 1) He wants to earn his degree, something which his family does support. Doing so at Davidson will be impossible if he goes pro, because Davidson does not have summer classes. 2) He loves the college game right now. He has enjoyed taking that program to new heights, and there is still more room under that ceiling. 3) He doesn't need the money, as his father's NBA career has more than provided for him, and his brother Seth. And 4), he's not physically ready. Sure he can bulk up, and learn on the job if he goes pro, but Curry wants to play. His body is not NBA ready right now, and while his jumpshot may be, other NBA guards might be able to wear him down, even in limited minutes.

Selfishly, I want him to stay, and if he decides to go pro, I will certainly wish him the best. Stephen Curry is the kind of player any coach would want, and the kind of kid any parent would be proud to call their own. Personally, I like Steph, and hope he makes the decision that is best for him.

We'll have a one-on-one chat with Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson on Thursday night's show. I had the chance to sit down with him on Wednesday, and as always, he's engaging and fun to talk with. Be on the lookout for that on Sports Night!

Mike Solarte

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