My record as a prognosticator is not good. Back in 1963, I remember telling friends that those four lads from Liverpool had a pretty good beat and great haircuts, but would never make it big with a silly name like the Beatles. The Leafs, I predicted, would win at least five Stanley Cups in a row after taking the top prize in 1967. There would be long-lasting peace in the Middle East, I remember saying. The Internet? It'll never catch on, was my 1994 assertion.
So it comes with great surprise that on the eve of the Stanley Cup final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings, I hearken back to a column written in mid-October last year, as the NHL season was just beginning when the prediction was there in black and white (you can look it up) that the L.A. Kings would win the Cup.
"Kings poised for NHL crown" was the headline on the Oct. 17 column. The words posited a logical scenario where the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, the improving defence led by Drew Doughty and a passel of offensive stars, led by Anze Kopitar and the summertime acquisition Mike Richards, would allow the Kings to finally put it all together.
" ... the biggest blockbuster hit in Hollywood (next June) could be Stanley himself on parade down Wilshire Boulevard" was how the column ended.
So how did that work out? For most of the season, it looked — as usual — like a prediction about as accurate as the ones detailed in paragraph one above. The Kings were so-so all year, scaring only their coach, Terry Murray, who was eventually fired mid-season while the Kings sat in the middle of the Western Conference pack - or lower - for most of the year.
But after Darryl Sutter took over as coach just before Christmas, the Kings started looking like a contender. In the final week, they squeezed into the final playoff spot in the West and then started playing like the Habs of 1959 or the Oilers of 1983. Now, here they are in the Cup final and playing the sixth-best team from the Eastern Conference, the Devils.
How predictable, right?
• Comedy writer Jim Barach: "Tiger Woods says he can win on the PGA Tour into his 50s. The only question is whether he can do it in his 30s and 40s."
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: "Donovan McNabb is reportedly trying to get into shape by throwing balls in the ocean. Just like Tim Tebow, only on purpose."
• Currie again: "Sharp Electronics of Japan introduced the Cocorobo vacuum that not only drives itself, but can talk. Lately, mine keeps saying, 'If you think I suck, try watching Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.'
• Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle: "From MLB: No decision on the A's, no decision on the future of the designated hitter, no decision on Pete Rose. But Bud Selig and his crew are about to make a momentous decision on banning the move where the pitcher bluffs a pickoff throw to third, wheels and bluffs to first."
• Financial news from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Talk about astronomical: Houston's Astrodome cost $35 million in 1965 to build. It would cost $70 million to demolish it now."
• Blogger Chad Picasner, after Indians reliever Chris Perez got a standing ovation from the home crowd after ripping the team's poor attendance: "Afterwards, Perez graciously thanked the fans - individually."
• Headline at SportsPickle.com: "Lone awake juror to decide Roger Clemens' fate."
• Len Berman of ThatsSports.com, on Tommy John's 69th birthday: "Do young people know he was a pitcher and not an orthopedic surgeon?"
• Ostler again: "Russian government officials, reeling from the country's poor performance at the Winter Olympics two years ago, have banned vodka and wine for athletes and others during the Olympics at four Russian hospitality houses. Or, as they are now called, rehab centres."
• New Orleans Saints plan to leave an empty seat on team flights and in meeting rooms to honour suspended coach Sean Payton. Wrote Scott Ostler: "If you want to honour Payton on team flights, offer a bounty for tripping the flight attendant when she comes down the aisle with the drinks."
• Blogger Gary Bachman: "Michael Vick and his fiancée, Kijafa Frank, are set to marry on June 30 in Miami Beach, Fla. The couple are registered at PetSmart."
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: "A jersey worn by Babe Ruth sold for $4.4 million. Apparently it still has a mark on it from when the Babe was hit by a pitch from Jamie Moyer."
• Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post: "Los Angeles Lakers teammates Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are co-owners of a horse that is to race for the first time today at Hollywood Park. With those two in his stable, the horse is doomed to finish last: It'll be too soft for its size and it won't be willing to pass anything."
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