Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Well This Throws A Wrench Into Things

Surely if you're here and you have the patience to read the header of this blog, you know what the whole point of it all really is. This is a running account of my adventures and journeys to see all 122 teams in the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA play a home game. The goal is to get it all done by the time I'm 55, and with 41 teams down, I've made some significant progress in my years, but there are still some outstanding issues. I get asked a number of questions about my plans and my adventures and there are two that show up more than any others.

1) If a team builds a new arena, do you have to go see that team again? Yes, I do.

2) What happens if a team moves?

That second one is slightly more complicated. Well, the answer isn't really all that complicated -- yes, I need to see them again -- but for record keeping purposes will I have to assume that there is suddenly 123 teams to keep track of? If I haven't seen that initial franchise, well, I guess not, and it appears I won't have to answer that question just yet, but it appears I may have my first test on question No. 2 today, with the announcement that the True North Sports Group has agreed to a deal to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers. While the franchise is not officially on the move to Winnipeg, Manitoba just yet -- that can't be formally done until the board of governors approves the deal on June 21 -- most parties involved seem to expect that that will be the case from the NHL, to the Atlanta Thrashers, to even the more comically social media savvy players.

So, with a team likely moving to Winnipeg and out of Atlanta, I'm sure the big concern for all of you is, "I wonder what this means for David Kalan." Don't worry, I'm going to tell you. I've thought about this often because earlier this year it appeared painfully obvious that I was going to have to account for a team moving this summer, although I didn't expect it to be a hockey team. Of course, that move wound up not happening, and possibly do to some, uh, outside resistance. But that move wouldn't really have been so bad because a) I've been to Sacramento before and feel no real need to go back, and b) a cluster of three NBA teams in the Los Angeles/Anaheim metropolitan area would have made for a convenient and fun little swing through southern California.

This move is completely different because Winnipeg isn't near, well, anything really, but it does actually excite me somewhat because I now have a reason to go there, and I like being able to see new cities. It is somewhat unfortunate in that had the Thrashers stayed in Atlanta, I have several friends I could stay with whereas I know no one who currently lives in Manitoba. There is the chance however that I could try to tack Winnipeg onto the beginning of a Western Canadian hockey tour that I am planning on doing at some point, one that would take me from Calgary to Edmonton and then to Vancouver via a train that goes through the Canadian Rockies which are supposed to be, you know, gorgeous. It's worth noting of course that Winnipeg is some 824 miles from Calgary, roughly the same distance from New York City to Chicago, so taking it onto that trip could be ill-conceived, but how often am I in Western Canada anyway?

Either way, there is some sadness here for the Atlanta organization and its fans, though I suppose they'll always have a memory of Dustin Byfuglien lifting the Cup in his Thrashers jersey after being traded by the Blackhawks last summer, or Lil Jon dining with it. Byfuglien, incidentally, hails from Roseau, Minnesota, which is just 116 miles or so from Winnipeg.

So, in the end, with this news breaking it looks as though I'll have to add Winnipeg's MTS Centre onto my list of arenas, which given what it looks like, actually should be pretty cool when I finally get there, though it will be interesting to see a game there if, for no other reason, it only holds a little more than 15,000 people. And if I do manage to put Winnipeg onto my Western Canadian hockey swing, it will be particularly fun to go through each city and see the differences before winding up ultimately in Vancouver, which, if none of you have noticed, is also in the hockey news these days because it's hosting Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

And it's hosting it tomorrow.

Yeah, the Stanley Cup Final, one of my all-time favorite things to watch or experience kicks off between the Canucks and Bruins Wednesday night, and while some mediocre sportswriter is giving you the ins and outs of some meaningless statistics, fan-related angst and video game predictions, there really is nothing quite like just sitting down and watching the game. Personally, I'm of the mindset that Vancouver is just too good and will take the series in six games, but Boston is certainly no slouch of a team after pulling off a gutsy Game 7 win over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night.

If nothing else a good, hard series between these two will be a great distraction from the messiness of Mets land, where, despite two wins in a row now, things have kind of gotten sticky due to some comments from the man in charge right around when he's selling a chunk of the team to a guy that, despite his great name, could probably use a little better fashion sense when he's playing poker. Many are hoping David Einhorn will stick around long enough to get majority ownership and end the Wilpon regime, or at least long enough to continue the flood of Ace Ventura jokes.

Another particularly awesome aspect of the whole thing is that if Vancouver finally wins its first Stanley Cup, it will likely do so in large part due to the efforts of Ryan Kesler and Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The upshot of that, is that Canada will finally get its vaunted Cup back for the first time in 18 years, but doing so would require the charge being led by an American and two Swedes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they'd be plenty happy and the Canucks roster is still made up of a vast majority of Canadians, but relying on the Americans to get your achievement would still be pretty fun -- almost as fun as knowing that Qatar, which famously and quite possibly corruptly beat the U.S. for the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is doing so largely on the basis of ideas that are not just being stolen from America, but being stolen from American television. That's right. Qatar's plan to block out the sun during its insanely hot summers is essentially lifted from The Simpsons, which on a side note, after re-watching this episode from the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" Saga, I am still convinced was the greatest show in history in its prime.

So yeah, I'm excited about the Stanley Cup Final. I hope you are, too.

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