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SILVER CLIFF… As I have recently mentioned, we are in the dog days of the hockey off-season. And it has pretty much been an exercise in boredom. Outside of the occasional (like daily) look at who is still left in the NHL free agent pool, all is quiet on every front you can think of. It is so quiet you can hear a mouse pass gas. The biggest thing going on right now is this hot trend known as the Ice Bucket Challenge. It is sweeping through the NHL, and it is a “viral” thing picking up speed every day. It is all for a very good cause, though. It has turned into a fun way to raise awareness of and research funds for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Its origins trace to Yonkers, NY, and a man by the name of Patrick Quinn. Then it started to gain momentum when former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS two years back and is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate verbally, decided to kick it up a notch. It is sweeping the nation now, and the NHL component is that you fill a bucket with water and ice, dump it over your head while taking a video of it, challenge three friends to join in, and then pledge to donate $100 to ALS research. The interweb is now flush with short video clips of NHLers taking and then making the challenge.
If it were between 90 and 100 degrees out, I guess it would be refreshing. Still an immediate shock to the system, but for a great cause nonetheless. The two experiences I can think of relative to this are from when I was in my twenties and had taken up rock climbing. With a friend at the Cheyenne, WY, Air Force base, I used to go out there, spend a day with him on each end of the trip, and then head for the mountains. We would park my vehicle at a predetermined place, put on our backpacks, and head into the canyons five to six miles and set up a base camp.
When we got up in the morning, we would pick out a peak, and that was the destination for the day. The camp would usually be at about 7k feet of elevation, and the peaks we were headed to were between 12 and 13k. We usually tried to camp near streams, which were normally fed by glacial melt in the summer—in other words, ice cold. Bathing was accomplished by standing on rocks (using biodegradable soap) and going to it. It was a “needles shooting up into the skull” experience. In fact, the water was cold to the point that while brushing my teeth once in one of the streams, my plastic toothbrush snapped in two. Luckily, I caught the business end for use on the remainder of the adventure.
When I was heavily into cycling, I would ride from my residence near the Two Harbors Lighthouse down to the “Castle” restaurant and back. I think it was a good 25 mile or so workout. On hot days—you know, that two to three week window in the summer months—I would often stop at Stony Point, park my old reliable Raleigh Touring Bike, walk over to the rocks, and dive in. Yup, that was a definite “waker-upper” and refreshing as well. Very awesome. Good old ice-cold Lake Superior.
In these parts, the iconic former Minnesota Twin Kent Hrbek has been tireless in his fundraising efforts for ALS. He has been one of the driving forces behind fundraisers here, with the Blizzard Tour being a favorite. This is the disease that took his father from him. My father worked for years with “Herbie’s” uncle, his dad’s brother, and obviously the loss was devastating to all family and friends. At any rate, I’m thinking that I am probably not going to dig into the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer, opting for a nice, “warm” financial donation instead…
SOME WAGERING OPERATIONS have already set odds for the 2015 Stanley Cup tournament. I am not into wagering or going to casinos as a form of entertainment, but I’m not protesting those things either. Rather, I have always thought that these places, the casinos and sport books of the world, probably do their homework quite carefully when it comes to setting odds for professional sports. They stand to lose quite a bit if they don’t, eh? So, within a magazine given to me by my nephew, The Hockey News’ issue of the “Greatest Teams of All Time,” I perked up a bit when I saw a full-page ad from a wagering site named Bodog.net.
I’ve heard of them before but know nothing of them. So with interest I looked over the page. They have the following, with team and Cup odds listed: Blackhawks at 6/1. Pengwah at 15/2. Bruins at 10/1. Kings at 12/1. Blues at 14/1. Detroit and Vancouver at 16/1 each. The Shark at 18/1. Then a plethora of teams at 20/1, including the Wild, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and the Rangers. It goes on from there for all 30 clubs. Okay, please insert Tim “Tool Time” Allen quizzical caveman sound effect HERE. What the duck, I’m sitting there thinking. There has to be a reason for these odds, and I am certain they must have been developed to favor “the house.” But hold on there, Baba Looey!
I don’t think the Hawks did much to help their cause this off-season—Brad Richards? The Kings should be in the Pengwah’s spot. I look at the Blues as being slightly better than the Bruins if Brian Elliott plays like a true number-one goalie. Detroit and the Canucks at 16/1?? I know the Wingies had a lot of injuries to deal with and the Canucks had the Mad Hatter, John Tortorella, behind the bench, but neither are moving up that much, even if the Nucks did sign Ryan Miller. I place the Wild at a 10/1 stance, I look for the Rangers to take a step back due to personnel losses, and Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto? Please! Put down that cheap bubbly they hand out for free at the casinos and come back to Earth. I’ll iron this out for you next week. Until then… PEACE
Marc Elliott is a sports opinion writer who splits his time between Minnesota and his hometown in Illinois…