Sunday morning homily XII

The hounding circus that is known as Wayne Gretzky will make its only stop in Tampa this week. With the Phoenix Coyotes in town on Tuesday to play the Lightning, any hockey fan (myself included) worth his or her salt will be considering a way to try to get The Great One's autograph.

How much of a circus is it? Here are some of the rumors surrounding the team's arrival -- the team is staying in Sarasota; the team is staying in St. Petersburg; the team is staying in Miami and will fly in on Tuesday; and Gretzky never stays with the team.

To focus solely on Gretzky, though, would be a huge mistake. The team is loaded with players and personalities worthy of autographs:

~ Provided he travels with the Coyotes, Grant Fuhr, a member of hockey's hallowed hall, is the goaltending coach.
~ Top-shelf fan favorites Shane Doan, Georges Laraque and Jeremy Roenick seldom disappoint when it comes to signing.
~ Darren Pang, who's probably gained more fame as an announcer that he did as a goaltender, is personable and pleasant with a pen.
~ And, with any luck, grumpy old farts Curtis Joseph and Owen Nolan might even deign us worthy of scribbles.

As for Gretzky, I reached out to the team's front office in a bid to get a puck signed. Though we have Gretzky's autograph on a New York Rangers jersey, it's my belief that our autographed puck collection, now nearing 1,200 in total, is incomplete without one from him. Unfortunately, I've yet to hear back.

Comparing apples to dust

Where in the world does Montreal's punch-drunk thug Aaron Downey believe he even has the right to comment on Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby?

It seems that after Crosby fell to the ice after taking a stick to the chops in a game against Montreal, Downey, a personal punching bag for most of the NHL's enforcers, yapped at Sid the Kid.

Stand up, Downey said, and take it like a man.

Funny thing, though, about Downey. My last visual image of him came after he got smoked on a legal hit by Calgary's Robyn Regehr that left him a woozy and wobbly mess needing the assistance of four people to leave the ice.

Yeah, maybe that's the reason for Downey's bout of the blah-blah-blahs -- he's suffering suffering from post-concussion syndrome. If that's the case, perhaps he needs a seat -- permanently -- until he fully recovers.

In a way, the B's traded Joey, again

The Boston Bruins, in a bid to help salvage a disappointing season, shipped Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, two of the three players they received for Jumbo Joe Thornton, to Calgary for Andrew Ference and former BC Eagle Chuck Kobasew.

Though I have to give Boston's Peter Chiarelli credit for improving the team through the trade, and perhaps erasing some of the sting for such a lopsided trade loss, I believe it's going to take more than swapping role players for the Bruins to make any kind of run toward the playoffs.

Granted, I hope I'm wrong here, but I doubt it.

Speaking of trades

I don't know what it is, but I look forward to this time of the hockey season. I love to follow the trades, consider the rumors and watch the moves that any team makes to either push for the playoffs or, by virtue of a season lost in November, prepare for the future.

Here, in Tampa, the Lightning are reportedly looking for defensemen. Excuse me, but what team isn't?

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