Q&A: Would Nik Wallenda ever consider crossing the 405 at rush hour? That may not blow him away as much as the Windy City walk Sunday

If you’re putting it into sports terms, Nik Wallenda is looking for a wire-to-wire victory Sunday night in Chicago.

By all true measurements, the 35-year-old high-wire wonder performs professional athletic feats of endurance, strength and agility on his game day. He just may trick you into thinking he’s got a dare-devil-may-care attitude, which is completely counter to his faith-based way of living and training.

He’s already done a live TV crossing over Niagara Falls in 2012, and then traversed 1,500 feet over the Grand Canyon in 2013. Wallenda’s latest multi-million-viewer challenge (Discovery Channel, 4 p.m.) starts with walking over the Chicago River on a 15-degree incline, the steepest angle he has ever tried. He estimates that will take about 12-to-15 minutes, depending on the Windy City winds and how long he really wants to enjoy the view. The second part is a blindfold walk, a two-to-three minute pace on a 100-foot wire that is some 500 feet high.

WALLENDA-CST-091814-5.JPGThe last two TV performances were visually stunning, but lacked one interesting element that this one adds – a good ol’ crowd of folks below and in neighboring buildings able to cheer (or jeer) him on, as if he was at Wrigley Field. City officials have asked for complete cooperation from the spectators, including an ordinance not to have barbeques on the balcony while all this is going on.

“That’s no fun, I was going to stop by as many barbeques as I could on the way up,” Wallenda said. “There are all these restrictions about making noise, and such, and I appreciate that, but we’re in a city and I expect to hear sirens, and cars and crowds screaming.

“I get goose bumps thinking about the roar of the crowd. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. It’s not like I need complete silence. I’d probably be a bad golfer. I don’t know, I’ve never tried.”

Retiring to a life on the links someday isn’t in the Wallenda DNA. The seventh-generation acrobat who describes himself as an “Extreme Funambulist” on his Twitter account, doesn’t plan to be doing any social media while he’s above the Chicago skyline. Although, that added element of don’t-walk-and-text didn’t come up in our Q-and-A:

Q: Are safety nets over rated? In your line of work, and in general? What do you consider your safety net in life?
A: I’ve been walking on the wire since I was 2 and was trained without a net, harness or tether. Therefore undertaking this walk with a harness would actually be more dangerous for me than doing it the way I’m trained. I would definitely consider my ‘safety net’ my faith too. Faith is just another extension of my life, a huge part and probably the most important thing in my life.  Most dear to me is my faith. Continue reading

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Media column version 10.31.14 — Fox best find new serious dance partners for 2015 Series

Erin Andrews re-tweeted this photo  -- kids dressed as her interviewing Seattle's Richard Sherman. Andrews called it "awesome!"

Erin Andrews re-tweeted this photo — kids dressed for Halloween, one hass her interviewing Seattle’s Richard Sherman. Andrews called it “amazing!” We’re kind of spooked that a parent would allow this as an acceptable way to scare away evil spirits. The whole thing appeared on the Washington Post’s website, and included a costume for a kid who wanted to be Bob Costas with pink-eye during the Winter Olympics.

What made up this week’s sports media column, linked here:

B1Knv3DCIAAeO1q.jpg largeIs that John Smoltz warming up in the Fox bullpen, hoping to get a start by the 2015 MLB season? Or our binoculars as out of focus as Harold Reynold’s anaylsis?
After all the stuff we’ve digested during the just completed 2014 World Series, the Fox and baseball friends network might want to reconsider its deployment of a) Harold Reynolds and b) Erin Andrews, or else c) just run the whole event on Fox Sports 1 so fewer can find it. Go the link above for more brilliance on that topic.

What was decidedly more noteworthy in this particular spot:

== Our best Twitter keepers when it comes to instant analysis of Reynolds’ analysis during Fox’s World Series coverage: Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Oct. 27-Nov. 2 on your sports calendar — Clippers are the visitors against the Lakers in the first regular-season meeting, so where does Ballmer sit?

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer throws T-shirts into the crowd during the team's exhibition game at Staples Center last week against Phoenix. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer throws T-shirts into the crowd during the team’s exhibition game at Staples Center last week against Phoenix. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NBA: CLIPPERS at LAKERS
Details/TV: Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime Ticket, TWC SportsNet:

Adam Silver’s silver lining to swapping out Donald T. Sterling for Steve Ballmer in the NBA hierarchy is that everyone wants a piece of the new guy now in a good way. During an appearance on Jim Rome’s Showtime show recently, Ballmer tried to explain why he’s trying to get fans to commit to arriving early and helping the players get all geeked up before the game starts, even if there’s this tradition of arriving late because of difficult traffic around Staples Center:
“We’re comin’ baby – we’re committed, we’re focused, we’ve got one of the most outstanding teams and we have one of the most outstanding coaches, we’re gonna support this team, starting with me and through the fan base, we’ll be the best can be and we’re gonna get after it totally, 100, 200, 600 percent – boom – and we will have the best year we know how.”
image001There has been no rebuttal posted from the current Lakers ownership family – maybe only a subtle reminder that this is a Lakers’ home game, so not even Ballmer will get that customary courtside seat he’s been getting used to in the preseason. Ballmer’s $2 billion payoff may be personal – it’s allowed him to squeeze into a Clippers jersey (with a heavily bandaged right shoulder) and get on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine under the headline “Basket Ballmer.” Get it? The 6-foot-5 Detroit native may not be ready to ask Doc Rivers for some playing time – at 58, he’s no doubt a little Microsoft on defense. So let’s see how many Clippers fans come to this one on Halloween night dressed up as him.
The rest of Staples Center is convinced they’ll see Kobe Bryant dressed as the Black Mamba. “I think Kobe is going to have an unbelievable year,” said TNT analyst Greg Anthony. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a player whose skill set has evolved as well as his has. You go back before his injury and he had his most efficient season ever. He’s at a state in his career where he can match his intellectual talents with his athletic ability to compensate for what he’s lost individually. He is up there in years, but his skill set will offset what he has lost athletically.” So if the Lakers open against Dwight Howard and Houston on Tuesday (Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT), you’d guess Bryant would sit out the next night in Phoenix (Wednesday, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet) before this first of four meetings with the Clippers during the regular season. This game turns out to be on the wrong end of a season-opening back-to-back scheduling trap for Ballmer’s ballers, after they start Thursday against Kevin Durant-deficient Oklahoma City (Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT).

Among the national opening night matchups of note:
Dallas at San Antonio: Tuesday at 4 p.m., TNT
Chicago at New York: Wednesday at 4 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma City at Portland: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN
New York at Cleveland: Thursday at 5 p.m., TNT

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REST OF THE WEEK:

Even though both are 3-year-olds, California Chrome and Shared Belief have never raced against each other, but they will finally do so in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita (Saturday, 5:35 p.m., Channel 4) … UCLA matches up against Arizona at the Rose Bowl (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN) while USC goes to Washington State (Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network), and then the first College Football Playoff committee Top 25 poll comes on (Tuesday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN) … The Kings start a nasty five-game road trip in Philadelphia (Tuesday, 4 p.m, FSW) that includes stops in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Carolina … UCLA is told it can use Pauley Pavilion finally for an exhibition basketball game (Friday, 7:30 p.m. vs. Azusa Pacific) … and  its year three for the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix, in Austin, Tex.

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It’s Out of the Question: The NFL’s interest in L.A. (again) is on a need-to-know basis

Remember about 10 years ago, when one of the plans to bring the NFL back to L.A. included a modernized Coliseum? Neither do we. What happened to that plan?

Remember about 10 years ago, when one of the plans to bring the NFL back to L.A. included a modernized Coliseum? Neither do we. What happened to that plan?

No one questions the National Football League’s intent here — some way, some how, some day, it wants to transplant a franchise back into lucrative Los Angeles, supplement every current owners’ retirement nest egg and apologize for losing the key to this major-city restroom stall that hasn’t been occupied in two decades.

The question here has do to with its long over-due diligence.

how-to-take-a-testCheck your spam file. You may be one of the unlucky ones asked to waste valuable college football viewing time to answer an NFL-commissioned a questionnaire emailed out to a reported 2,000 “potential customers” to gauge their inner-most dreams, fears, fantasies, turn-ons and turn-offs.

Maybe Victoria Secret should have been behind this instead of Roger Goodell?

It’s a survey that, frankly, is too vague. A bit condescending. And, if you read between the lines, leaves more questions about how of a financial commitment we’re going to be blindsided with down the road.

Before we even think about taking this eHarmony relationship back to the any next level, we have some more pertinent questions: Continue reading

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Media column version 10.24.14: Considering the (un)source of the ESPN ‘hit piece’ on Kobe Bryant

JEANIEWhat made it into this week’s column, linked here:

So there was Lakers president, governor and valued Buss Family Values member Jeanie Buss at the crack of dawn this morning, invited onto “SportsCenter” and “The Herd” and “First Take,”  to give a counter-point to the ESPN piece that Henry Abbott negotiated about the life and times of the franchise as it relates to Kobe Bryant’s self-centered existence.

JEANIE2“Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team,” she said in one felled soundbite. “I read the story, I don’t agree with any of it. If there is somebody that’s on our payroll who is saying things like that, I’ll soon get to the bottom of it and they won’t be working with us any more. That is an unacceptable comment, especially when it’s anonymous. I don’t buy any of it, I don’t agree with any of it and I have no doubt that Kobe will make people regret every saying (those things)..

“I don’t like reading that kind of stuff, I don’t want to hear about it. The Lakers fans know what Kobe is about and they quickly defended him as did many other people.”

Our own first, second and third take of the ESPN “hit piece” is what we’re focused on this week, now posted.

What will be content with being included in this list of noteworthy achievements:

E102714COVERPROMO

== ESPN’s justification for putting Chicago’s Derek Rose, not Bryant, on its NBA preview issue (but note the misleading headline refer at the bottom of the cover).

cover5== Remember when Bryant was a staple for ESPN magazine covers (including the very first one in 1998, with Alex Rodriguez, Kordell Stewart and Eric Lindros? What happened there?): Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Oct. 20-26 on your sports calendar — The wildness of a World Series that no one saw coming

Kansas City Royals base runner Alex Gordon (4) takes a lead off first against San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner  during their regular-season meeting on Aug. 8 in Kansas City. The Royals swept three from the Giants. (Photo: Peter G. Aiken-USA Today  Sports)

Kansas City Royals base runner Alex Gordon (4) takes a lead off first against San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner during their regular-season meeting on Aug. 8 in Kansas City. The Royals swept three from the Giants. (Photo: Peter G. Aiken-USA Today Sports)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
110th WORLD SERIES:
GAME 1: KANSAS CITY vs. SAN FRANCISCO
Details/TV: Tuesday at Kansas City, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:

The Royals’ Salvador Perez celebrates his two-run home run in the fourth inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac on August 10 at Kauffman Stadium. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

The Royals’ Salvador Perez celebrates his two-run home run in the fourth inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac on August 10 at Kauffman Stadium. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

Before the 2014 MLB season even launched, Vegas Insider had the Kansas City Royals at a generous 50-1 odds of winning the World Series. A pre-season preview by BleacherReport.com was a bit more generous: 35-1. “The Kansas City Royals’ last World Series title in 1985 was also the last time the team reached the postseason,” the post read. “If they can avoid the offensive struggles that plagued them in the first half last year and someone steps forward at the back of the rotation, they have an outside chance to snap that playoff drought in 2014.” They struggled offensively, no one stepped up in the back of the rotation … and here they are. The Giants were 25-1 World Series favorites by Bleacher Report, but just 20-1 by Vegas. “The good news is that Matt Cain looked like an ace once again in the second half (last season) … a bounce-back season from newcomer Michael Morse could be enough to make the offense a legitimate weapon. There are a lot of questions, but if nothing else, it’s an even-numbered year, and the Giants have done pretty well in those of late.” That last assessment, at least, turned out to be legit in describing how the Giants survived without the injured Cain or Morse. All in all, a double wild-card World Series is a first since the Angels knocked out the Giants in 2002.

Giants mangaer Bruce Bochy comes out to challenge an umpires call during the series against the Royals in August. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

Giants mangaer Bruce Bochy comes out to challenge an umpires call during the series against the Royals in August. (Photo: John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)

This is also the first time two teams have been in the final round without 90 regular-season wins (in a non-strike-shortened season). There could be something to the fact that they played each other – a three-game series Aug. 8-10. The Royals, right in the middle of winning 12 of 13 from July 30 to Aug. 11, beat Madison Bumgardner 4-2 the first night, had James Shields pitch a four-hit, 5-0 shutout against Tim Hudson the next night, and capped it off with a 7-4 win over Tim Lincecum – with Greg Holland saving the first and last games. The average attendance for that weekend series: Just more than 30,000 in the 37,901-seat Kauffman Stadium. Maybe they should move this to nearby Arrowhead Stadium (79,400). Oddsmakers have made the Royals a 5-6 favorite, perhaps because of the home-field advantage afforded them by Mike Trout’s All-Star MVP performance in leading the American League to victory. So you can’t say the Angels, who helped ushered the Royals through their 8-0 playoff run, haven’t played a major part in this.

The series continues (all on Channel 11):
Game 2 at Kansas City: Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 at San Francisco: Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Game 4 at San Francisco: Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
If necessary: Game 5 at San Francisco: Sunday at 4 p.m.
THE REST OF THE WEEK INCLUDES:

USC, now the only Pac-12 team with four conference wins, hits the road to Utah  (Saturday, 7 p.m., FS1), as the 5-1 Utes come off a double-OT win at Oregon State last week … UCLA shouldn’t get altitude sickness in a game at Colorado (Saturday, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Network) … The Kings end a six-game home run with contests against Buffalo (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) and Columbus (Sunday, 1 p.m.) … and the last of the NBA exhibitions are over when  the Lakers face Sacramento in Las Vegas (Friday, 7 p.m.) and the Clippers are at Staples Center against Portland (Friday at 7:30 p.m.). Here’s how it lays out.

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It’s Out of the Question: Will Dodgers’ turning of the soil get things dirty?

Andrew Friedman, left, is Stan Kasten's pick to form the Dodgers' roster and farm system moving forward. Does that mean keeping Don Mattingly past 2015?

Andrew Friedman, left, is Stan Kasten’s pick to form the Dodgers’ roster and farm system moving forward. Does that mean keeping Don Mattingly past 2015?

The Dodgers just bought the farm.

It’s in the form of a spectacular quickclaim deed, poaching a Wall Street whiz who, with a magical hoe, will begin his plan of transforming Chavez Ravine back into a cavern of champions by calculating the best method of crop-dusting a dagnabbit dormant farm system that would have been producing bushels of pennants already if there wasn’t this water shortage issue.

By the way, if possible, could you avoid spraying weed killer on the previous general manager who’s just been put out to pasture in the process?

Apparently, your 2015-and-beyond Dodgers, the richest baseball conglomerate on the planet, are crafting Phase $$ of the Kasten Plan, where the emphasis is on raising their own playoff drought-resistant soy beans, succotash and shortstops.

Plan A no longer leans on overpaying at the trade deadline for rickety outfielders at the Red Sox R Us outlet mall, even with a credit card limit just short of infinity. Not when there’s the proven track record of how an organic crop of home-grown Rookies of the Year translates to trophies, just like the Dodgers’ Karros-Piazza-Mondesi-Nomo-Hollandsworth teams back at the turn of the century.

Breathe deep here. Smell the fertilizer?

Read more It’s Out of the Question at this link ….

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Media column version 10.17.14: Spanning Colin Cowherd’s globe, as it circles the SoCal stratosphere

"The Herd" producer Vince Kates, left, joins Colin Cowherd to discuss show topics as the syndicated radio show simulcast on ESPNU begins Thursday morning from the ESPN 710 studios in L.A. Live.

“The Herd” producer Vince Kates, left, joins Colin Cowherd to discuss show topics as the syndicated radio show simulcast on ESPNU begins Thursday morning from the ESPN 710 studios in L.A. Live.

The stuff that will be remembered for minutes, maybe even days, from this week’s media column posted here:

Colin Cowherd has a thought about the difference between a USC and a UCLA fan.
And he’ll even share it.
“I’ve always felt UCLA was international — engineering, medical school — and USC was the wealth center for kids in L.A.,” the ESPN Radio weekday morning host said from the KSPN 710 L.A. studios across the street from Staples Center. “It always felt like a USC kid was part of a Southern California family. Or at least domestic. UCLA was Pacific rim.
“Now I will say because of private donations over the last decade, USC is really elevated as an international school in the business field, communications, film schools. Reading U.S. News and World Report, it feels like USC has made big strides. The people who went there say they couldn’t get into USC now.
“So, if you take both schools by the sports, USC football guy has a lot of East Coast passion in him. He’s more willing to call and yell. L.A. may not be a ‘fire the coach’ town, but even when Lane Kiffin was here and with all the chaos, they still won 10 games because the university is uniquely imbedded in the community. UCLA basketball maybe used to be that way. You don’t get that sense of urgency at UCLA. People are very satisfied with Mora at UCLA. Even the losses are pretty good.”
Surely, he’s said this before in the course of his show, but having him assess it while on L.A. turf, outside his Bristol, Conn., surroundings, seems to make it a little more relevant.
We had some time with Cowherd during his visit this week, which ends with a show on the USC campus Friday morning — and he’s heading out before Saturday’s USC-Colorado homecoming game, because TV shows that he has to host beckon.

The stuff we’ll post here, in hopes it lasts at least a quarter of a 24-hour news cycle:

51CN431yjNL== One more Cowherd-related take, as it pertains to critics of his work, and how it may become a chapter in the new book he’s working on these days, as a follow up to the one he released last year: “You know, they’re really your best friend. Most of them are educated and are looking for an elevated experience, and the truth is, I’ve used critics through the years to become a better broadcaster. I do have thick skin. I don’t take things personally. But we’re all human. I don’t think people like reading criticism. When I was a kid, Howard Cosell was my favorite sportscaster and I decided early in life I was not going to let the media dictate what the truth is to me. Now I’m supposed to think Conan O’Brien is funny. I think Jimmy Kimmel is funner. I will use critics as a way to prove myself, too. ‘Really, you think I’m this? I’ll prove it.’ I tell young broadcasters: Believe in yourself and use critics as motivation. Don’t curl up and don’t ignore them.”
We could be critical of that comment, but …. why? Continue reading

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Play It Forward: Oct. 13-19 on your sports calendar — We confess: We’re all caught up with the Royal Family Values

Kansas City fans cheers after the Royals defeated the Orioles, 6-4, in Game 2 of the ALCS in Baltimore on Saturday. (AP  Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City fans cheers after the Royals defeated the Orioles, 6-4, in Game 2 of the ALCS in Baltimore on Saturday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB PLAYOFFS:
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:

BALTIMORE vs. KANSAS CITY
Details/TV: Game 3 at Kansas City: Monday at 5 p.m., TBS:

Royals' Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with Salvador Perez, right, after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Royals’ Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with Salvador Perez, right, after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This wild-card-deluxe, “Party Like Its 1985” Royals story just keeps getting wilder. The 6-0 run to start the playoffs is ridiculous enough to where TBS analyst Pedro Martinez said after their ninth-inning rally to win Game 2: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen more exciting baseball, and I’ve never been in a series when you’ve seen more excitement than you’ve seen today.” The story got even better over the weekend when a 50-year-old Wisconsin banker named Jerry Kuehl decided to come clean and return a banner he stole from Royals Stadium after Game 1 of the ‘85 World Series. As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he saw the Royals lose that opener, 3-1, before going on to win the series in seven games behind Bret Saberhagen. Standing near the foul pole where an eight-foot-long bunting, with an eagle beneath the word “Welcome,” started flapping, Kuehl said he grabbed the flag off the rail, put it under his jacket and hung the souvenir above his dorm room bed. Years later, guilt pangs took over. “I just considered it a novelty item at first,” he said. “Then I realized, I stole this. I never considered myself a person who steals.” After Kuehl watched the Royals win their wildcard game against Oakland, he put the flag in a FedEx box, addressed it to Kauffman Stadium, and wrote a letter of redemption confessing his crime – and included a check for $250 to Royals Charities. You think the Royals organization is mad at him now? If they make it to the World Series, Baseball Hall of Fame director Curt Nelson said he’ll consider making space for the banner in Cooperstown along with Kuehl’s confession letter. The way things are going in KC these days …

Also:
Game 4 at Kansas City, Tuesday at 5 p.m., TBS
If necessary:
Game 5 at Kansas City, Wednesday at 1 p.m., TBS
Game 6 at Baltimore, Friday at 5 p.m., TBS
Game 7 at Baltimore, Saturday at 5 p.m., TBS

ALSO THIS WEEK:

USC's Nelson Agholor  celebrates his second-half touchdown at Arizona on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC’s Nelson Agholor celebrates his second-half touchdown at Arizona on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Maybe you’ve noticed this upside down trend going on in the Pac-12: The visiting teams rule. They’ve won 14 of the 18 conference games, including all three last Saturday and all five the weekend before. So if 4-2 UCLA doesn’t know what to do with themselves after back-to-back home conference losses, a quick trip to Cal (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7 or ESPN2) may be rehabilitating. As well as debilitating for USC, the only school with three Pac-12 wins at the moment and having to play host to Colorado (Saturday, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network), looking for its first conference win. The Galaxy and Seattle Sounders start a home-and-home series to end Major League Soccer’s regular season (StubHub Center, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN), the Kings have three home games (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, the last one at noon) while the Ducks finally have their first home game (Friday, 7 p.m., vs. Minnesota), and Week 8 of college football should be highlighted by unbeaten Notre Dame’s visit to unbeaten Florida State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7). Here’s the complete breakdown.

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Q-and-A: When NBC’s Milbury wraps his head about the abolishment of NHL fighting, it may blow your mind

Mike Milbury acting as an advocate for the abolishment of fighting in the NHL might sound as likely as Tommy Lasorda coming out against cursing.
The ultra-aggressive Boston Bruins defenseman once known as “Mad Mike” had more than 1,500-penalty minutes in a 12-year playing career that ended in the late ‘80s. That stat was padded by participating in more than 70 on-ice brawls – not counting the most famous time when he went into stands to smack a defiant fan with a shoe.
But here’s the new punchline: The 62-year-old NBC Sports Network NHL analyst may be just the right voice at the right time in the sports’ evolution to start a dialogue of change.
It came on opening night of the NHL season, just before the Kings were to take on San Jose on Wednesday. On the “NHL Live” set, Milbury was asked if it was a telling sign that the rosters of teams these days that are consistently winning — like the Kings – are filled less and less with so-called enforcers.
milb“It’s telling me that it’s time to get rid of fighting,” Milbury said. “It’s telling me that it’s over. As much as I liked to get into a scrap in my day, too many issues here now involving concussions … let’s grow up and get rid of it.”
More stories are coming out about former NHL players having the same kind of post-concussions syndrome issues that medical professionals see with NFL retirees. A new book out this week by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times writer John Branch called “Boy Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard,” sheds more light on how the mental state of the former New York Rangers star deteriorated by head trauma, leading to his tragic death at age 28 in 2011.
If Milbury, also a former NHL head coach and general manager, feels strong enough to change his attitude about altercations, maybe it’s worth challenging him more to elaborate on it:

It's the Kings' Ratis Ivanas and Edmonton's Zack Stortini (R), circa 2009. Photo by Reuters.

A meet-and-greet between the Kings’ Raitis Ivanans and Edmonton’s Zack Storini, circa 2009. Photo by Reuters.

Q: What prompted you to use your TV position to take a stand on anti-fighting in the NHL at this point, even as there have been writers and others in the league perhaps saying this for some time now?
A: It’s been evolving. From time to time, I’ve had the conversation with my old boss (Hockey Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins president and GM) Harry Sinden, and I think we both have agreed that it’s not a necessary part of the game.
You hear a lot of comments about how fighting is a way of policing the game – which I’ve described in the past as logical hogwash. I think maybe many do enjoy the spontaneity of a fight as a way of getting immediate justice. But slowly and surely, it’s been eliminated as a tactic
broad-street-bullies1Back when the big, bad Flyers won (the Broad Street Bullies of the early 1970s), intimidating teams physically with their fighting, the league took steps appropriately to curb that. And since that time it’s been slowly diminishing. The recent difficulty of the enforcer to find work in the league has emphasized that.
In my era, we signed up for broken bones, bad knees and lacerations of any type. I don’t think any of us were really signing up to be mentally incapacitated in some form or another for the rest of our lives. Maybe you heard about that in boxing, but not in hockey. The overwhelming scare about concussions in our sport, and in sports in general, makes it a logical conclusion that if the behavior can be modified to protect against concussions, then we should absolutely find a way. The league has done that with cracking down on hits from behind, head shots, and a players safety committee that reviews this all the time. They’re doing the best they can to eliminate it. But they have only been nibbling at the fighting issue.

Q: And you can speak first-hand about how fighting can affect one’s health after the game?
Continue reading

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