By the time that you read this, there will be less than two days remaining in 2010. Time flies, whether you're having fun or not, it seems.
This means that there's only one column left to write before the new year begins, but yet, so many topics left uncovered. So, consider this week's column as a 'lightning round' of sorts, and let's see what we can get in under the wire:
In case you're looking for something to get with Christmas money or a make-up gift for that friend who didn't like your Christmas sweater selection, allow me to recommend "The Making of Slap Shot," a real page-turner of a book by Canadian author Jonathon Jackson.
Given some of the salty nature of the dialogue, it may come as surprise to find out that the screenplay was written by a woman (Nancy Dowd). How the story evolved from experiences of her brother's exploits as an educated player in the low minors to a feature film starring Paul Newman is covered, as well as pages of little tidbits on production to where some of the actors are today.
When I heard about it, I requested a review copy because I thought that it would be a good fit for the many hockey lovers in the region, and I wasn't disappointed.
You could say he really captured the spirit of the thing.
It can be found on amazon.com for about $16.
This is the way it had to end, Brett Favre. Either the last play of his career is going to end with him looking like roadkill on a hastily prepared college field in the freezing elements, or worse, gunslinging it around in a meaningless game at Ford Field against the Lions.
It's not even a good mercenary job now that the NFL has fined him $50,000 for not being "candid" in the investigation of his communications with Jets eye-candy-for-hire Jenn Sterger.
The good news for the Vikings is that because of Tuesday night's win at Philadelphia, Sunday's game in Detroit will not be for last place in the NFC North. But if the Lions do win, both teams will be tied at 6-10 and clearly going in vastly different directions.
Going back to the book review portion of the column: No book I know of has come out yet chronicling the 2010 Minnesota Vikings. But I guarantee you there will be a few good ones.
Another fringe benefit of the Vikings' win is that it locks the Bears into the No. 2 seed in the NFC (barring a mind-boggling win by the lowly Panthers over the high-flying Falcons in a game that will be decided before the Bears and Packers kick off). It means that the game will probably be meaningless for Chicago (well, in the standings anyway) and could lead to the resting of some Bears starters.
Resting starters in Week 17 is kind of lame (though it's relatively common in any other sport in a similar situation), but if that means no Julius Peppers Sunday, I'm all for it.
This Packers team is still dangerous, well, at least the half that isn't on injured reserve. With a win Sunday, Green Bay would probably be heading to Philly for another playoff game against a team it already beat on the road once, whose quarterback, though good, might not be healthy. They played the No. 1 seed to within three points on the road. Who knows what Bears team (or version of Jay Cutler) you'll get on any given Saturday or Sunday? The NFC West champ is going to be as easy an out as they come in the playoffs. New Orleans is the only team in that bunch that really scares me.
Then again, Mike McCarthy scares me too. After the fourth or fifth loss by four points or fewer, can you really call it an accident?
Got to wrap it up, you say? Well, here's a few 'columns in a paragraph' to finish 2010 with.
- Nice attendance (had to be at least 1,500, I figure) for both nights of the MacInnes Holiday Classic. I'm sure the relative lack of other events played a part, but it's always nice to be around a buzzing building like that.
- Rain is predicted in Pittsburgh Saturday for the NHL Winter Classic that may delay or scrub the event. With this, plus the Big Chill at the Big House and the Heritage Classic between Montreal and Calgary in February, are we heading toward a day in which half the NHL schedule is outdoors?
And considering the charmed nature of the weather in these things (none has ever been postponed), would it be a bigger news story if one of these was not played than if it was?
- I'm pleased with the Tigers' offseason acquisitions and cautiously optimistic they can get to the playoffs with this bunch. Right on schedule, I'm getting excited about Opening Day, which is three months from Friday.
- WCHA picks will resume next week as teams return to conference play. Until then, celebrate safely and have a blessed 2011.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.