Best realignment of NHL would put the newest teams in the same division

Phil Jackman

January 27, 1993|By Phil Jackman

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If it's true, as reported in the Montreal press, the NHL is considering realigning its divisions once expansion teams in Miami and Anaheim take it to 26 teams, the idea has merit if it's carried off right.

For example, instead of having the new kids on the block and recent expansion teams like Ottawa and San Jose languishing along with 4-44-3 and 6-41-2 records, respectively, place the have-nots in the same division. This way, they would be given a bona fide shot at winning at least half the time.

There is precedent for the move. The six expansion teams that doubled the league size in 1967 were tossed in one loop while the old-guard six remained in the other. It worked out very well, no city being required to suffer through a totally ignominious season.

* Here it is still January and if you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: What, pray tell, are the Orioles going to do for a fifth starter? Talk about tilting with windmills.

First off, of more earnest concern to Bird fans should be what the club is going to do for a third or fourth starter once the season has been going about two weeks. Odds are that half of the proposed four-man rotation will be having difficulties with injury, ineffectiveness or bad luck and manager Johnny Oates will be scrambling to get someone out there who can go six innings.

At the same time, one of the everyday players will be hitting a snappy .147, enemy base runners will be literally jogging to second base, Cal Ripken's bat speed will still be at the 65-mph range and one of last year's hot-shot outfielders will have returned from outer space. See how ridiculous it is to go into a dither over a fifth starter?

* When Duke lost again the other day, the headline read: "Krzyzewski goes down to defeat." Think things are a little out of whack with regard to college hoops and their all-powerful and too-influential coaches?

* My world came tumbling down momentarily the other day upon learning that Kimchee, former co-handler of one of the world's truly great athletes, wrassler Kamala, is actually Steve Lombardi. Steve, as most mat fans know, doubles as the Brooklyn Brawler, who is presently on a 600-match losing streak in the WWF.

Speaking of the grunt-n-groan set, champ Bret "Hitman" Hart defends his title Feb. 20 at the Cap Centre against Bam Bam Bigelow. Kamala vs. Kimchee is on the undercard.

* There's something very strange about the just-concluded soap opera involving the Washington Bullets and Bernard King, which raged for what seemed like forever until the ballclub released the one-time scoring machine last week.

The Bullets moaned about how King has had virtually no contact with the team while recovering from knee problems, suggesting that he might have been of some benefit to their young players if he had been around.

At the same time, after six years, the team should have known that Bernard is for King, first, last and always, and it figures that they would want to keep him away from their young, impressionable players. Indeed, what of a beneficial nature could be expected from this headstrong, self-absorbed ballhog?

King has now worn out his welcome with five NBA teams as well as the University of Tennessee and you will kindly note how many teams are rushing to sign him up these days.

* The game program at Super Bowl XXVII Sunday costs $10, and among the contributing writers is Jay Leno. "The Tonight Show" host writes: "NBC is televising this year's game and it is the network that years ago brought you the famous Jets-Raiders game that was cut short for the movie 'Heidi.' Remember that one? The executive who made the decision is still working at NBC. I haven't met him, but then I don't get down to the boiler room much."

* Come on, NBA, let bygones be bygones. Instead of getting the job with the Fort Wayne Fury of the CBA after guiding a team to first place in the defunct Global Basketball League, Rick Barry's successes should be landing him a big-time job. Rick's selfless attitude would no doubt be beneficial to young and veteran players alike.

* Georgie Pindell (12-2) of Annapolis doesn't figure to have a stroll in the park on the boxing card at Martin's West Feb. 10. He'll be in against Pedro Saiz in a co-featured eight-rounder, and he's unbeaten through 14 fights while being brought along slowly. Saiz fought nine four-rounders before moving to sixes and finally arriving at the eights.

* Note to Washington Redskins season ticket holders: Owner Jack Kent Cooke promises to have the playoff ticket money you forwarded to him last October for the two non-existent playoff games in RFK Stadium back to you before ground is broken on his new stadium (sometime late this year).

* The two featured races New Year's Day at the Southwell track in England were "The Hair of the Dog Claiming Stakes" and "The Hung Over Maiden Claiming Guaranteed Sweepstakes." Imagine the handles those folks could hang on bowl games if the colleges over there played American football.

* After Riddick Bowe disposes of Michael Dokes at Madison Square Garden (and on HBO) Feb. 6, plans call for him to take on Ray Mercer in May, then perhaps Tommy Morrison in August.

"Morrison would be a good fight," insists Bowe's manager, Rock Newman. A better idea might be to have the two-thirds heavyweight champ take on all three the same night, the "challengers" alternating rounds.

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