Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Paging Mike Barack. Shawn Bradley on line one... Help me out here -- doesn't El Paso still have the rights to Boh?... Thing is, Manute is just the kind of player Ken McRae likes best: defense first...You know who must be loving this? Kyle Reeves & Todd Lalonde. And Terry Ruskowski & Pat Dunn. Remember them?

But seriously folks... I guess it's a sign that hockey has truly arrived when fans in the Southwest can pinch their nose and say a stunt seems bush league. When did we get so high and mighty? The CHL is a bush league (unpleasant though the word might be, it's still accurate. Kinda like "goon"). This promotion is worthy of Mike Veeck (if not Bill -- at least Eddie Gaedel provided a competitive advantage).

If you haven't noticed, business is tough right now, in the minors and the NHL. Anything that gets the CHL attention helps keep the sport you love alive. Anything that sells tickets to a minor league hockey game helps players continue their careers. I don't know if Indy will break its own all-time CHL attendance record, but I betcha 1000 people who've never seen the Ice before will check it out. And another 10,000 will say, "we have a hockey team in Indianapolis?" That's called publicity.

Look, they could have just had Bol come in, sign autographs and drop the puck -- but doing it this way, and taking the conceit as far as it can go, is what's driving all the coverage. Am I the only person who happened by at 2am to find it was the FRONT PAGE story? (not a righthand headline, the main feature). This thing made the TV news in Los Angeles, a newspaper in Hawaii, at least five ESPN broadcasts (Sportscenter, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, NHL 2Nite and between-periods of the Flyers-Panthers game) and the local sports talk.

Still not convinced? Maybe you should educate yourself about the the real reason Manute Bol does this kind of stuff. And as far as the integrity of the game goes, is it really any different from this heartwarming football tale?

The bottom line is, the guy's not gonna play. What he's doing is pretty much the same thing as a Hanson Brothers appearance, where they "run" the back-up goalie and pie a "referee." At first I thought Indy would really have to clear a roster spot for him, but now I kind of doubt it. How would you count his appearance fee, for charity or otherwise, against the cap? And how would McRae break it to the healthy scratch? "Randy, you're a great offensive player, but that .038 shooting percentage? We've got a guy who can beat it."

On the other hand, if he can keep his balance, this is a man who beat the Fridge in boxing. Ideally, Amarillo would bring in Mike "Tree" Varhaug to fight him, though ya gotta figure Screwy would have happily engaged him. At 225 lbs, Bol is heavier than the listed weight of every active player in the CHL except Neil Posillico, Mike Johnson, Craig Johnson, Anthony DiPalma, Scott Mahar, Paul Fioroni, Barry McKinlay and Scott McCallum. And he's still a stringbean!

Funny thing is, Bol will be the second-most colorful player in the Northeast this weekend. That's right, hide the Manic Panic -- the Memphis RiverKings have brought back Luch Nasato.

Dear Miss Manners, My hockey team has the best record in the league. But I really felt the squad could use a chippy veteran with a little skill, someone who could kill penalties and make my checking line an even bigger pain to play against. So what's the appropriate gift for Taylor Hall, scotch, beer or a cigar? Sincerely, Brent Hughes.

A little bonus epilogue material for Zamboni Rodeo. Good luck, Burty... Nice story here about former WCHL defenseman Jamie Sokolsky. Ditto this little takeout on CHL superfan (and former Ice Pirates minority owner) Brian Slagel...I'm guessing Don Cherry has never been to West Virginia. I'm also guessing he's more worried about getting footage for another DVD than he is the state of hockey.

Austin's STP Fuel Line, which finished last year 1-2-4, is 36-67-93 in the league scoring race. Doubt anyone on the 9-0 Bats is too concerned... And how weird is this -- the guy who leads the CHL, Chris Peach, is 298th -- last -- in plus/minus. One reason why: 12 of his 13 assists (and 1 goal) are on the PP. And San Angelo has allowed seven shorties...5-1, 1.57, .936 is supposed to be impressive? Hell, that'd only be third-best in our league.

And finally, personal to Larry Linde: if you really need to find Manute a pair of skates, the Philadelphia 76ers' Todd MacCulloch got his custom-made in Winnipeg. He wears a size 19 sneaker.

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