A few unrelated updates…

Kirby at 80%

Last month, I talked about Kirby’s car accident and initial recovery – I am happy to report that Kirby is doing very well, and is returning to a lot of his old ways. He’s been taking stairs almost as quickly as before, has been doing his head tilts more often, and is generally more alive. This morning he even crawled under the bed, something he hasn’t done since before the accident. We recently “handed down” a duvet for Kirby & Quigley to use on top of their doggy beds. A couple of shots:



 

Dell redeems themselves, a little

Last week, I talked about my horror story with Dell – they shipped me a dud, then refused to accept it as a return because I had it for longer than 21 days. After disputing the charges with my credit card and complaining to the Texas Better Business Bureau (mostly about going back on what they promised me the day I called support), Dell has reluctantly agreed to accept the computer as a return and process my refund. So, just a little advice – if you find yourself in a tough spot with Dell, you just need to play a little hardball. They rely on the fact that most people *won’t* fight back and will instead just accept that they are stuck with their computer. I can tell you that I would have had a lot of fun abusing their support policies if I had been forced to keep that doorstop. My mom is quite happy with her Mac, and I am confident that it will last her longer than the Dell would have – even if it wasn’t DOA. So if you’re thinking about a new computer, please think twice about a Dell desktop or laptop, and if you need any help convincing yourself to go Mac, feel free to contact me.

 

NHLPA kills realignment

And at the beginning of December, I talked about the proposed NHL realignment – which I thought was a done deal. The official statement from the NHLPA is, in technical terms, a smelly pile of crap. His two main reasons are:

  • it may lead to more cumbersome travel for some teams
  • playoffs are imbalanced because of different sized divisions

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

On the first point. These guys are making millions of dollars to play a sport two or three times a week, and a slightly different travel schedule is going to be noticeable? It’s not like they’re flying JetBlue, going through TSA, and paying baggage fees. Let’s say it means at the high end that a player spends 10 more hours on a charter jet over the course of a season. This really qualifies as undue hardship and unfair working conditions? I do not envy them – having done my fair share of travel over the past year and a half, I am not denying that travel is hard on these guys. But Bill Daly stresses that while there may be some teams today that have an easy schedule and would travel slightly more under realignment, most teams would actually travel less. Perhaps the NHL board should have worked harder to provide a sample schedule – hell, I could probably figure out how to do that. But the NHLPA should have reserved the right to reject the schedule, not the entire realignment concept, if it *did* in fact turn out to mean harder travel for the average player once an actual schedule was determined. Instead they threw out the baby, the bath water, and the entire house.

And on the second point. To a degree I understand – 6 divisions of 5 teams each means that every team has an equal opportunity to win *their division.* But should we really be fighting about whether the 5th-place team in a 7- or 8-team division should have a better chance of reaching the post-season? Shouldn’t we be more focused on bringing the best teams into the playoffs, than coddling the worst teams and finding a way to sneak them in? One of the things I hate most about the current playoff formats is that the conferences still make it unbalanced and there is plenty of inequity today. A team in the Western Conference might make the playoffs with 80 points while a team in the Eastern Conference doesn’t make it even though they had 90 points. And while it hasn’t happened, you *could* have a situation where the winner of a division finished with less points than the 8th-place team in their conference. How craptacular would that be? I like the proposed format better, but what I would really like to see is that playoff seeding is judged based on overall league performance. I shouldn’t be seeded 3rd because I won my crappy division but finished in 6th or 7th place in the conference. Fehr says that the new playoff format would be inequitable but I think there is already plenty of inequity today – this would by no means be worse, it would just be different.

It’s funny that Fehr makes statements about “drawbacks” that are quite ambiguous and could be argued both ways, but completely ignores touching on things that make realignment so plausible. The two that stand out to me:

  • Every team would play every team at least once in each other’s building. This season the Stanley Cup Final re-match only occurs once, in Boston. That game happens to be going on right now. So Vancouver fans don’t get to see the Stanley Cup Champions this season. Which is probably better for the city in the event that they lost the game, but that’s a different story. There are plenty of other cases – for example, some teams won’t see Sidney Crosby OR Alex Ovechkin this year. And that’s a real shame for fans of the NHL that are interested in more than just seeing their own team on skates.
  • Teams like Detroit would play more games in their own time zone, which means they would have a better impact on their fan base. Since they are in the Western Conference, most of their games are against Western Conference teams, almost all of which are in the Pacific time zone. Detroit is in the Eastern time zone, which means 7:30 away games actually start at 10:30 local time. How many kids today do you think get to watch an average Red Wings away game?

I could probably talk about this all day. But there’s a great match-up on TV right now that, because of the current haphazard alignment and schedule, will only happen once this year.

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