I'm back. Finally. Thanks for hanging around and waiting for me. . . .
While I was away, I was afraid that the drag strip through Valleyview (aka the Trans-Canada Highway) and the race track over the Halston Bridge would disappear. It turns out there was nothing about which to be concerned. Vroom! Vroom!! . . . Headline from TheOnion.com: Referee sheepishly picks up flag after angry glance from Peyton Manning. . . .
If you're like me, you're wondering how much Hockey Canada is sweating now that its money machine (aka the national junior team) is just one of five or six medal contenders at the World Junior Championship. Sure, Canada may win gold, but our national junior team is lacking in speed and skill, and that's never a good thing on the world stage. . . . You have to wonder if declining registration numbers and the rising cost of playing at the minor hockey level are starting to have an impact on our game at the major junior level. . . .
"Notre Dame suspended running back George Atkinson III from the Pinstripe Bowl for texting during a team meal, but the Irish easily beat Rutgers, anyway," notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. "Win one for the Twitter?" . . . One more from Perry: "A 'nickel back' in an NFL game is: a) An extra DB inserted during obvious passing downs; or b) What the vendor gives you back when you fork over $10 for a beer." . . .
Be thankful you aren't a sports fan in the New York City area. The Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Mets and Yankees . . . is even one of them decent? . . . Whoops! There goes another NFL head coach. . . . The WHL's trade deadline arrives on Friday and you know there is a lot of nervousness in the dressing room of the Kamloops Blazers. When you are last in a 10-team conference, the veterans know they shouldn't be buying green bananas. . . .
Phil Mushnick, in the New York Post: "Geez, now Chris Berman's a redhead. That should help reduce his image of a TV clown." . . . Defenceman Nelson Nogier of the Saskatoon Blades, whose father Pat is a former Kamloops Blazers goaltender, isn't likely to play again this season. Nelson, 17, has had shoulder surgery after being injured in a fight in Edmonton on Dec. 15. . . . Nelson was to have played on Team Cherry in the Top Prospects Game on Jan. 15 in Calgary. Wonder what Cherry will say when he hears that one of his players was injured in a fight. . . . Kris Hogg, a former Blazers forward who is from Sicamous, drew a 14-game ECHL suspension earlier this week. Hogg, now with the Utah Grizzlies, struck an opponent in the face with his stick. . . .
You will recall that the Vancouver Canucks honoured former star Pavel Bure by retiring his number (10) prior to a Nov. 2 game. Bure spent part of the weekend at a sports collectible gathering in Langley where a promoter charged $94 per autograph. More than 300 fans paid the freight. . . . In case you are wondering why all those college football bowl games are on TV, think about this for a moment or two: The Rose Bowl averaged 18.6 million viewers, while the average for the Fiesta Bowl was 11.2 million. . . . Meanwhile, Team Canada's 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Switzerland on Thursday drew an average viewing audience of 1.6 million to TSN and the Winter Classic on CBC on Wednesday had an average audience of 3.57 million viewers. . . .
"The literary world was profoundly saddened this week by news that maybe Alex Rodriguez isn't going to write a book after all," writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. "Saving The Times from having to make a decision about whether to put it on the fiction or non-fiction Best Seller List." . . . "The airline industry is set to lift cell phone restrictions on commercial aircraft," notes Richmond blogger T.C. Chong. "Does that mean I can text the woman behind me and ask her to tell her kid to stop kicking my seat?" . . .
On the morning of Dec. 23, gasoline in Kamloops could be had for $1.109 a litre. That afternoon, it jumped to $1.219. The next day, the price came down one cent. And you thought The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was a work of fiction. . . . "You know he's got a lot of pain tolerance if he's got tattoos on his eyelids," Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told the Fort Worth Star Telegram in reference to forward Renaldo Balkman. . . .
"Bruins forward Milan Lucic was reportedly physically assaulted in downtown Vancouver while ordering gourmet poutine," scribbles RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com. "It's shocking. There's gourmet poutine?" . . . "Pope Francis has been named 2013's Person of the Year by Time Magazine," notes Currie. "Hmmm. I was sure he'd win the Papal's Choice Award." . . . One more from Currie: "It was reportedly -53 C with wind chill when the Winnipeg Jets hosted Buffalo on New Years Eve. MTS Centre hasn't seen cold like that since the Olympic curling trials when Kevin Martin shook hands with John Morris." . . .
Janice Hough (aka the Left Coast Sports Babe), after Mayor Rob Ford filed re-election papers in Toronto: "Not sure about the citizens of Toronto, but this is excellent news for comedy writers." . . . Hough, after five NFL head coaches were fired earlier this week: "They're dropping faster than Taylor Swift's boyfriends." . . . Mike Hegan, who played first base and outfield during a 12-year major league career, died Christmas morning at the age of 71. In Jim Bouton's legendary book Ball Four, Hegan said the toughest part of being a major leaguer was "explaining to your wife why she needs a penicillin shot for your kidney infection."
(Gregg Drinnan is sports editor of The Daily News. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org, gdrinnan.blogspot.ca and twitter.com/gdrinnan. Keeping Score appears Saturdays, except when it doesn't.)