Sunday, January 21, 2007

Déjà Vu!

There's a first time for everything, and over the past 2 or 3 years, there have been many of those in the world of sports. Last year, the Detroit Tigers established themselves as a legit World Series contender. Prior to that, the NHL followed a growing trend in American sports, by instating a post-lockout salary cap.
Another league that has a salary cap, the MLS, recently took measures to avoid the salary cap. Billed as the Beckham rule, any team in the league may sign one player whose contract is exempt from the salary cap. And the league's most powerful, influential club, the Los Angeles Galaxy, were the first to take advantage of that rule, signing its namesake, former England captain David Beckham, for $250 million over 5 years. But contrary to popular belief, this isn't the first time big-name foreign stars. And no, I'm not talking about the now defunct US Soccer League, one time host of stars such as Johan Cruijff and the infamous Pele. Andreas Herzog, Champions League winner with Bayern Munich and two-time World Cup participant with his native Austria, signed with the Galaxy on a one year deal in 2004. Another two-time World Cup participant graced the Home Depot Center. Hyong Myung-Bo, captain of the 2002 South Korean World Cup side, played with the Galaxy the year previous to Herzog's signing. Even a World Cup winner has played in the MLS. Youri Djorkaeff lifted the World Cup with France when the country hosted the competition in 1998. He scored 12 goals through 45 appearances with the New York/ New Jersey Metrostars, now renamed Red Bull New York, in the 2005-2006 season. Question is, will Beckham's signing bring in an exodus of waning stars from Europe, as has happened with players such as Figo, Baptista and the De Boer twins in the Qatari and Saudi leagues? It remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Low Do You Go?

Well, Dany Sabourin got his 4th start of the year. If only he had played that well in the other 3 games, the canucks would be cruising right now. Despite taking the shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, he had 33 saves in the game. And he was just 40 seconds from his first win of the year. Then the league's best team showed why they are just that. Puck Luck. A shot from the point cannonballed around the slot bouncing 3 times before cruelly looping over Sabourin and in to the net. In the prevailing shootout, only Morrison scored for the canucks, before Ales Kotalik stole the game from the Canucks with a nifty shootout goal, digging the puck high into the net. I would be saying it wasn't all bad, but in reality, the only thing that was bad was Drury's game-tying goal. Naslund's point streak is a five, the tempermental Jan Bulis has 3 points in as many games, Bieksa continued his impressive run of form with an assist on Naslund's goal and former Sabre, Taylor Pyatt also had his 3rd point in 3 games after breaking his thumb at the mercy of Jeff O'Neil's stick . But best of all Sabourin had 33 saves against the league's highest scoring team. I wouldn't be ashamed of that. The only worrying thing is that the Sedins are pointless in 3 of the past 4 games, but with almost a week off, I look forward to them running the LA Kings over in the first of a four game seasonal series.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Real Inauguration

Around 3 years ago, I saw an LA Galaxy game, against the Chicago Fire. That's nice, I hear you say, but there's more to it than it sounds. While we were climbing our way up to the seats, I saw a man wearing a Leeds United jersey. Even back then, there were in the Championship (one league down from the top for you non-soccer fans.
Fast-forward about 2 and a half years, and I found myself at a Peterborough Phantoms game. But where's the link?, you ask. Well at this game, there was a guy wearing a Manitoba Moose jersey. I was equally shocked to see this as the Leeds shirt in LA, because despite the billing of UK hockey fans as extremely passionate, you wouldn't expect to see a minor league sweater outside some old, converted warehouse in this corner of industrial England.

Well, that theory was proven right at the intermission, as I overheard a chat about Pascal Leclaire in the hockey shop. Sure, he was riding a hot streak at the time, but this is Pascal Leclaire, who for the first portion of his career was only a back up to Marc Denis in Columbus. Well, congragulations go to whoever it was that said that British hockey fans are passionate and knowledgable. They are also the the only fan group to have their own official little organziation, something they relish hanging over the heads of sides like Russia and Sweden. It remains to be seen if US soccer fans are as passionate about their games as is the case with hockey here in britain, but with the imminent arrival of Becks on the Hollywood block, all could soon change...