SPORTS TALK: Who’s having more fun than the Carolina Hurricanes?

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What a great day for journalism on May 7.
Two reporters for Reuters in Myanmar, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were released from prison near the capital of Yangon after spending more than 500 days locked up.
Their crime? Apparently reporting on the Rohingya Muslim crisis in the country. They had been convicted of violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years behind bars … for merely doing their jobs and reporting what was going on.
Thankfully, they were given a presidential pardon, which was the right thing to do. So the next time you hear a journalist wax poetic about press freedom and how someone said something mean to them and it was an attack on them, remember these two souls. They were put away for doing their job.

Anyway …

Bunch of jerks, right?
Seems the Carolina Hurricanes are everyone’s favourite team right now. Why not? They seem to be having too much fun doing what they’re doing.
After sweeping the New York Islanders in round two of the NHL playoffs, they got the weekend off before getting back to work on May 6 to prepare for the Boston Bruins, who dispatched the Columbus Blue Jackets in their semifinal.
So what do you do during the morning skate? Easy – you talk about what you did on your weekend off. Seriously, Mark Armstrong, a reporter with the ABC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, was covering the practice and wrote that the Hurricanes, while gathered at centre ice, were talking about what they did on their time off.
How loose do you have to be to talk about that? This is a team which had to scrape its way into the post-season and here they are talking about down time.
They’re also having plenty of fun with what Don Cherry called them earlier this season in relation to their post-game celebrations during the regular season: a bunch of jerks. It’s even on the front of a T-shirt and it’s printed on the towels the team hands to each fan prior to a home game.
I’m a huge Don Cherry fan but this is one time where it would have been appropriate to simply shut his mouth and let it take its course.
The one thing where Cherry has it right is about the team being front-runners – I’m going to love seeing what happens when this team hits the crapper again, like they did before making the playoffs.
No one even remembered Carolina had a team until this season and when things go south again, you think the fans will still show this kind of support?
It’s fun, though.

Football … bloody hell
The title of this refers to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment after Manchester United’s improbable win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final. The Red Devils scored two goals in the game’s final five minutes to win 2-1 after being down 1-0 for nearly the entire game.
Fast-forward 20 years and we saw two of the most incredible comebacks ever seen on a soccer field in consecutive days in the Champions League semifinals.
It all began with Liverpool and their great escape against Barcelona on May 7. Barcelona came into the game with a 3-0 advantage on aggregate (total goals scored, which determines the winner of each two-game match-up in the playoffs) and Liverpool needed to do the same just to send the second game into extra time.
Naturally, Liverpool goes out and pumps four past Barcelona to win it on total goals, 4-3, and did so without the services of Mohammed Salah, easily their best striker. The scenes at Anfield were something to behold and, to be honest, I was cheering for the Reds a bit.
We then go to Amsterdam the next night where Tottenham Hotspur went into their second leg against Ajax needing to score at least two goals; they lost at home in the first game, 1-0. Ajax scored first to dig the hole a bit deeper and then got a second to make it 2-0 in the game and 3-0 on aggregate. Surely there would be no great escape like there was the night before, right?
Terrible foreshadowing, I know.
Cue Lucas Moura of Spurs scoring all three of Tottenham’s goals to come back and tie the total goals at 3-3, which was good enough to see Spurs through to the final. Now, if you’re wondering how that happens, here’s the rule: if the total goals score is tied, the team that scored the bigger number of goals away from their home stadium is declared the winner. Screwy rule but that’s soccer for you.
Anyway, it’s Liverpool and Tottenham off to the final, which is being held in Madrid, Spain, on June 1. Batten down the hatches – it’s a battle of the Scousers versus the Lilywhites in merry Madrid.
Football … bloody hell.

And finally …
Good Idea: Seeing Tottenham and Liverpool win.
Bad Idea: Not getting to see it live.
As a parting thought/shot, it really sucks that I didn’t get to see any of the theatrics and drama in person. How amazing was the atmosphere in both of those stadiums? As much as I give soccer players the gears, it does produce some true magic and those two games were magic of the highest order.

Until next time, folks …

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