THE LYING GAME
Injuries are common in the NHL playoffs. So are false injury
The gamesmanship of the NHL playoffs began even before the games,
when Islanders center Alexei Yashin was held out of New York's
final four regular-season matches, and several practices, with
what the team called an "injured groin"--a catchall phrase that in
hockey parlance might translate to "broken toe" or "wrenched
neck." "If a team says it's a guy's foot, it's probably his
shoulder," says Red Wings forward Kris Draper of the NHL's widely
accepted practice of dissembling about the disabled.
Perhaps Yashin, who struggled in New York's first two postseason
games against the Maple Leafs, really did have a groin ache.
("I'm not allowed to say," he says.) Perhaps Leafs center Robert
Reichel really did miss a game with a "leg injury." Perhaps
Devils center Joe Nieuwendyk really did have a "stomach virus"
when he sat out the opener against the Hurricanes. There's no way
to know. The league's official injury list features more
misdirection than a David Copperfield show. At week's end the
Avalanche's Milan Hejduk was out "indefinitely" with an
"abdominal strain." Avalanche coach Bob Hartley kept telling the
media, "As soon as we know anything, you'll be the first to
know," which invariably broke everyone up.
The motive behind the mendacity is clear: Teams don't want
opponents to know where their players are most vulnerable. "I
won't necessarily try to injure a guy if I know where he's hurt,"
said the Canadiens' fang-toothed forward Doug Gilmour last
Friday. Then he paused, and he chuckled. "But will I give him an
extra shot where it hurts? Sure."
April 28, 2002
When the Stars were playing the Avalanche in the 1999 playoffs,
Dallas intelligence revealed that Colorado's Peter Forsberg had a
bum left shoulder. "We knew he had it, so we gave him that extra
little bump," says Mike Keane, then a Stars forward. Forsberg had
surgery after the series.
The NHL's policy requires teams to announce the "approximate
nature" of the injury, but it also has a loophole that you could
drive a Zamboni through: If a team fears that revealing an injury
might endanger a player, it may "provide a more general overview
of the player's status."
"Teams can basically say whatever they want," says NHL spokesman
Frank Brown. "They just have to say something."
How different things are in pro football, the other major sport
in which an injured body part might be legally attacked. The NFL
makes teams file two comprehensive injury reports a week, hits
insubordinate clubs with fines of up to $25,000 and does it in
the name of what spokesman Greg Aiello calls "maintaining the
integrity of the game." Integrity means making sure all the high
rollers know what's up. "[Disclosing injuries] eliminates
opportunity for someone to benefit from inside information, as it
might relate to gambling activities," Aiello says.
The NHL, which attracts little betting action, preaches no such
honesty. Sometimes, though, people get their lies crossed. In
last year's postseason, Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman declared
that Steve Yzerman was nursing a sore leg, only to have Yzerman
tell reporters, "I have a broken finger." After the playoffs
Yzerman revealed he'd also had a fractured right fibula.
Whatever the facts about this year's injuries, the truth won't
prevail until after the playoffs. In the meantime we can only
hope for slips such as the one in 1990, when Islanders center
Brent Sutter missed practice during a series against the Rangers.
Sutter had been bashed to the ice several times in the previous
game, but when reporters asked what ailed him, he fell silent and
excused himself to huddle with the team trainer. Moments later he
returned. "I have a cold," he announced. --K.K.
THOR HEYERDAHL 1914-2002
Thor Heyerdahl, the famed Norwegian adventurer, died last week
of a brain tumor at age 87. He was best known for his book
Kon-Tiki, which chronicled the 1947 voyage that he and five
companions made aboard a primitive balsa raft, sailing from Peru
to Polynesia. They covered 4,950 miles in 101 days, subsisting
primarily on fish and rainwater. Heyerdahl made the trip to
support his theory that Polynesia was settled by South
Americans, not Asians, as the conventional wisdom had it. While
most anthropologists today regard Heyerdahl's theory as
unlikely, the excursion resulted in a classic adventure
narrative that has sold 30 million copies and has been
translated into 67 languages since its initial publication in
1950. Here's an excerpt:
"When the storm rushed up over the horizon and gathered about us
for the first time, strained anticipation and anxiety were
discernible in our looks. But when it was upon us in earnest, and
the Kon-Tiki took everything that came her way with ease and
buoyancy, the storm became an exciting form of sport, and we all
delighted in the fury round about us which the balsa raft
mastered so adroitly, always seeing that she herself lay on the
wave tops like a cork, while all the main weight of the raging
water was always a few inches beneath. The sea had much in common
with the mountains in such weather. It was like being out in the
wilds in a storm, up on the highest mountain plateaus, naked and
gray. Even though we were right in the heart of the tropics, when
the raft glided up and down over the smoking waste of sea we
always thought of racing downhill among snow drifts and rock
Days between Andrew Cassels's previous NHL playoff appearance and
April 17, when the Canucks' center ended what had been the
league's longest postseason dry spell.
Outs that Mariners designated hitter Ron Wright made in his first
three big league at bats, on April 14, when he struck out and hit
into both a double and a triple play; Wright was sent to the
minors after the game.
Minutes that cyclist Hugues Richard needed to ride up the steps
of the 1,063-foot-tall Eiffel Tower, breaking his record of 36
Price, in U.S. dollars, of the best ticket to a Maple Leafs home
game in the Stanley Cup finals, the highest in the league.
No-hitters thrown by Spalding University pitchers in a
doubleheader against Berea College on Saturday.
PRO-Keds: Sneaking Back
NBA legends Tiny Archibald and Jo Jo White aren't coming out of
retirement, but the sneakers they made famous are. After a
17-year hiatus, PRO-Keds are back, though you're more likely to
find them on the shelves of upscale urban boutiques than on the
feet of pro athletes. Rather than try to compete with
cutting-edge kicks, Keds is aiming to cash in on retro appeal, a
fitting approach for the company that, in 1916, produced the
first mass-market sneaker. PRO-Keds, with their distinctive blue
and red stripes near the toes, were unveiled in '49 as a
basketball shoe. Although never as popular as Converse's Chuck
Taylors, they found favor with '70s jukesters such as Archibald,
White and Pistol Pete Maravich. Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, catcher
Johnny Bench and defensive end Mark Gastineau also strutted in
their PRO-Keds, as did seminal rapper Kurtis Blow. The new
PRO-Keds (left) look much like the old ones; only their aura has
changed over time. "Now it's more of a fashion statement than a
performance statement," says PRO-Keds marketing spokeswoman
Victoria Baluk. "It's about an attitude." We're just glad to be
reminded of Tiny and Jo Jo.
Nike's "The Secret Tournament" World Cup commercial
SYNOPSIS A giant cage in the belly of a freighter is the site for
a "secret" three-on-three tournament between 24 of the world's
best soccer players. There's only one rule: first goal wins.
BACKGROUND Director Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) shot the
spot on a set in Rome in December. Play unfolds on real grass,
which was often replaced during the monthlong shoot, and under
the watch of tournament master Eric Cantona, the 35-year-old
French soccer legend who struts malevolently atop the cage
wielding a metal-tipped cane. The spot's stylishly grimy look is
all Gilliam. "He likes things kind of dirty," says Glenn Cole, a
creative director at Nike's ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, "the
stuff you can find in an abandoned lot." You can't find players
like these--the group includes Brazil's Ronaldo and France's
Thierry Henry--just anywhere, though; at times Gilliam simply let
them play as cameras rolled. The result: unscripted gems like a
prone Roberto Carlos flipping the ball over his head and into the
BOTTOM LINE This should be a hit in Europe and South America,
where the players are household names, but the quick cuts may
disorient U.S. viewers. The arresting finale--Henry leaping off of
Italy's Francesco Totti for a tournament-winning header of
questionable legality--sets up a rematch; there's already one in
26.2 Miles, Above the Sea
GREAT SCOTT: It took Englishman Lloyd Scott, 40, 128:29:46 to
finish the London Marathon in this 1940s diving suit, a feat he
performed to raise awareness of leukemia, which he learned he had
in 1987. Scott, a former pro soccer goalie, says the rubberized
canvas suit, complete with lead-lined boots, weighs 120 pounds.
Ogden Phipps, 93, who won two Eclipse awards as the U.S.'s top
thoroughbred owner, and another as a breeder. Phipps, who owned
1989 Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer and Buckpasser, the '66
Horse of the Year, also won seven U.S. Court Tennis titles in the
'30s and '40s.
By the White Sox, Comiskey Park deejay Joe Stephen, for playing
Whitesnake's Here I Go Again over the P.A. system as Indians
pitcher Chuck Finley warmed up on April 16. Earlier this month
Finley's wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was jailed for allegedly
battering him. Kitaen famously slithered over the hood of a
Jaguar during the 1987 Here I Go Again video, which she filmed
while dating Whitesnake singer David Coverdale.
Paul Gait, after 12 seasons in the National Lacrosse League.
Paul, 35, and his twin brother, Gary, gained fame in the late
1980s and early '90s when they led Syracuse to three NCAA titles.
This year they played together for the Washington Power, and Paul
had 54 goals in 16 games to win league MVP award. He is the NLL's
second alltime goal scorer, with 397. Gary, with 447, will play
To coach West Virginia's men's basketball team, ex-Richmond
coach John Beilein. The school has had four coaches in 10 weeks,
including Gale Catlett, who resigned on Feb. 14 after 24 years;
interim coach Drew Catlett; and Dan Dakich, who was there for
eight days before returning to his job at Bowling Green.
On April 15 by the Class AA Altoona (Pa.) Curve, "Ode to Enron
Night: A Taxing Promotion." For that night's game the Curve hired
CPAs to field tax questions and help fans file returns. The nod
to Enron came when tickets were fed into a paper shredder on the
field and replicas of Enron stocks were sold.
Last Thursday at 6 a.m., SI's Pete McEntegart settled in to
experience 24 hours of the Yankee Entertainment and Sports
Network (YES), the first U.S. network devoted to a single team.
6:18 a.m. On Yankees Magazine, head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham
describes off-season changes to the field, which include a
12-inch layer of sand and some brand-new bluegrass.
6:56 a.m. On YES Network Magazine, centerfielder Bernie Williams
strums his guitar and says, "It's one of the few things I do off
the field that I really enjoy."
7:07 a.m. Comedian Billy Crystal, on an interview show, traces
his fandom to a day at the Stadium in 1956.
8:48 a.m. A peat repeat: Cunningham's at it again on Yankees
9 a.m.-12 noon Yankees Encore, a replay of the previous night's
7-1 win over Baltimore. Alfonso Soriano hits leadoff homer, just
as he did last night.
12-1 p.m.Yankeeography: Lou Gehrig. The narrator says the Iron
Horse, who led fan voting for baseball's All-Century Team, could
"possibly be the most underappreciated Yankee ever."
1-6 p.m. Simulcast of radio show hosted by Yankees sympathizer
Mike Francesca, who in an interview with Joe Torre says, "All
your guys hitting at one time--that would be nice to watch!"
6 p.m. Pregame show. David Wells is making his first start in
home pinstripes since 1998. Host Fred Hickman calls it a "second
7:17 p.m. Soriano rips leadoff single.
8:35 p.m. Ex-Yank David Cone enters booth, updates fans on his
10:04 p.m. Yankees win! (8-4.)
11:16 p.m. Soriano leads off on Yankees Encore. Yup, he singles
1:53 a.m. Yankees win! Three W's in 14 hours. No wonder so many
3:30 a.m. After a Bowflex infomercial and another on buying
houses with no money down, something useful: an ad for speed
reading. You could absorb the Yanks' 384-page media guide in
4 a.m. An infomercial claims Americans suffer from "brain
6 a.m. Yankee Classic featuring Paul O'Neill's three-homer game
in '95. Alas, I'm asleep. At least I know the Classic will air
again. And again.
Tuxes and tennis shoes. That was the dress code at the April 17
benefit for the Arthur Ashe Institute at New York's
Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Sopranos papa James Gandolfini, actors
Stephen and Billy Baldwin, Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn and
ex-Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez turned out to fete ex-Met
Rusty Staub and Def Jam Records cofounder Russell Simmons for
their community involvement. After a banquet guests swatted
balls in a batting cage.... You probably know Robert Urich, who
died of cancer last week at 55, as the star of the TV drama
Spenser: For Hire. You may not know about his life as a jock. A
football, basketball and track standout at Toronto (Ohio) High,
Urich won a football scholarship to Florida State, where he was
an offensive lineman.... Once, they exchanged vows; now NASCAR
driver Jeff Gordon and his wife of seven years, Brooke, are
trading paint. Last month Brooke filed for divorce, citing
Jeff's "marital misconduct." She wants a settlement to include
the couple's $9 million oceanfront home in Palm Beach, Fla., and
use of several boats and a private jet. Jeff has countersued,
saying he shouldn't have to split their estate because of the
life-threatening nature of his work. Brooke's lawyer Jeff Fisher
called the three-time NASCAR champ "arrogant and selfish,"
saying that "the element of risk is irrelevant." Is there a link
between Gordon's personal woes and his career-worst winless
streak of 17 races? Gordon isn't talking.... This year's list of
celebs at the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters included actress Leelee
Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut), who chatted up Andy Roddick. Sobieski
is in France filming the miniseries Les Liaisons Dangereuses,
which stars Catherine Deneuve and in which Sobieski's character
plays tennis. According to her publicist, Sobieski came to Monte
Carlo "to check out some form."
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice,
says that she aspires to be commissioner of the NFL.
"Gehrig could be the most underappreciated Yankee ever"
They Said It
Spanish golfer, recalling the reaction that Arnold Palmer got
from the gallery at this year's Masters: "Listening to the
ovation they gave him on the first tee, I was getting--what do
you call it?--chicken pox."