NHL promises thunder, lightning

Phil Jackman

October 06, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time: Two Minutes.

The Washington Capitals, who open their compact 84-game, six-month season tonight in Winnipeg, are talking a tough game, off-season acquisitions supposedly making them a more aggressive club.

"I think you'll see more hitting from us," says captain Kevin Hatcher, who at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds last hit someone in Juniors.

While on the subject of hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning moves across the bay to the former Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg this season and with its opener against the Florida Panthers Saturday will set an NHL attendance record (28,000).

That seems only fitting after the way baseball has given the area the runaround with regard to a baseball team (Giants, White Sox, etc.) taking up residence. The big bubble is going to be called the Thunder Dome. Lightning, Thunder, get it?

* Joe Savage is my kind of guy -- and soon he could be yours, too. Joe's a 5-11, 230-pound fireplug from England who's one of 16 entries in a pay-per-view promotion entitled "The People's Choice. World Heavyweight Superfights" coming up Dec. 3.

It's the usual cast of characters, this epic scheduled for Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, Miss. The immediate recognizable names are Tony Tubbs, Tyrell Biggs, Bert Cooper, Michael Dokes, Bonecrusher Smith, etc., with some interesting additions:

Daniel "No Mirrors Please" Dankuta is the heavyweight champion of Transylvania. King Ipitan hails from Nigeria and is unbeaten, 10-0. Yevgeni Sudakov, Russian champ, beat Riddick Bowe as an amateur.

Joe Savage, though, is the gent to watch in this 15-bout elimination tournament, which carries a $1 million payoff for the winner. Savage is the British Bare Knuckle champ, winning all of his 41 bouts by knockout. He must be elusive also, because "knucks" is illegal in Great Britain, forcing Joe to ply his trade in warehouses, empty lots, barges and even a bar or two.

* A couple more ballparks closed the other day, one bringing back memories, the other registering a goose egg. For all its innate ugliness, the early-American bathhouse architecture of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium grew on you after awhile and the hot dogs were the best in the league, even better than Boston.

Strange, but when I think of the place, football comes to mind with those NFL preseason doubleheaders that used to draw 83,000, Jim Brown rushing for 100 yards before halftime and the Browns winning about 95 percent of the time. The place was built for the 1932 Olympics, but someone forgot to tell the IOC.

Arlington Stadium in Texas just never had a chance. It wasn't even a good minor-league park, which was OK because the Senators who fled Washington in 1971 were the first tenants. Windy, hot, characterless and still in the middle of nowhere.

* Some are gasping at the fact that The New York Times, the other day on the op-ed page, ran a piece detailing a seven-point plan by nefarious promoter Don King to stabilize and improve boxing. Think about it: Who would know more about what is wrong with boxing than one of the chief perpetrators?

One of the things Don says he wants is a distancing of the promoter (himself) from judges and referees. Next he'll be saying he no longer wants WBC president Jose Sulaiman as a roommate at the big shows in Las Vegas.

* Hey, baseball fans, the Diamondbacks, Saguaros, Scorpions, Solar Sox, Rafters and Javelinas are already toiling in the Arizona Fall League, which concludes with playoffs at the beginning of December. Orioles coach Davey Lopes is managing the Javs while Paul Carey, John O'Donoghue and Mike Oquist are there working on things.

* By getting the wood put to them by Penn State the other night, the Turtle Down The Road fell to No. 2 in total offense behind Nevada in NCAA statistics. The Terps are still nearly 30 yards better than Florida State with its 360 yards per game average, however. Want to bet on the game Nov. 6?

* If we didn't all know and love Wade Boggs dearly, one might hint that "Chicken Man" sat out the final game of the season for the Yankees to preserve his .302 average, the 11th time he has batted over .300.

* Nick Price, PGA Tour golfer of the year, was born in South Africa, grew up in Rhodesia, lives in Florida and he's giving up his British passport so he can represent Zimbabwe in the Dunhill Cup in Scotland next week. The guy probably knows more national anthems than anyone but the band leader at the Olympics.

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