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The upside of a lockout

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Today was supposed to be the first day of the National Hockey League season. But instead of arenas all over the North America prepped with bunting and brightly colored ice, they sit empty. Read on.


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• Did you know the NHL was in the midst of a lockout? Me neither. OK, I did, but it really doesn't matter, as I am one of those hockey “fans” that pick up the sport around playoff time. You know, when fighting disappears and the game is played with a flow and rhythm unmatched in professional sports. But the lockout did have one positive aspect recently. Former Spokane Chiefs coach Mike Babcock (pictured) had the time to visit the city, drop the first puck at a Chiefs game and speak with the local media. We have a link to Jess Brown's story below but there was one aspect of the story that really caught my eye. It was near the end. Babcock, who now coaches the Detroit Red Wings – I guess I should write “will coach the Detroit Red Wings when the lockout ends” – was looking for a new assistant. He ended up with Bill Peters, who, like Babcock, coached the Spokane Chiefs, winning the Memorial Cup title in 2008, the same year Babcock's Red Wings were winning the Stanley Cup. The connection reminded me, once again, of how small some sporting communities are. Like those hard-to-get-out-my-head Banner Bank commercials say, when it comes to sports, we are all in some way connected. Whether it is through the teams we root for or the ones we played on, if you sit down with another sports fan, no matter who they are, you can probably find some way your lives intersected on the field, court, stands or course.

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• Washington State: Going into last week's game with UCLA, the California Golden Bears were tarnished. But the 43-17 win over the Bruins has buffed up their image a bit heading into Saturday night's game at Washington State. The Cougars hope they can follow Cal's formula for earning respect by beating up the Bears. Christian Caple has the story in today's S-R, following up on a live chat he had yesterday along with a post-practice blog post and this morning's post. … Christian also has his Pac-12 picks and his weekly pick 'em contest. … Plus, as a bonus track, Christian adds this blog post on basketball coach Ken Bone's press conference yesterday.

• EWU: It's Thursday so Jim Allen has his Big Sky notebook in advance of Saturday's big game in Bozeman.

• Chiefs: We will not disappoint you. Here is the link to Jess' feature about Mike Babcock, and her blog post covering similar territory. … The Chiefs are off to a sizzling start, with Mitch Holmberg scoring again in their victory.

• Preps: Thursdays also mean the Prep Page, with Greg Lee's weekly column – this one on the WIAA's most-recent attempt to rejigger the classification problems – joined by his notebook, a Jim Allen feature on Mt. Spokane's successful start to the girls' soccer season (the Wildcats' six seniors are pictured) and coverage of Wednesday's prep action.

• Seahawks: Tom Brady has been an NFL icon for years. But he's never had to deal with Seattle's 12th man before. He will Sunday. How he and the New England offense handle it may decide the game. … No, how the Hawks do in the red zone. No, how their defense handles New England's tempo. No, injuries. … Former NFL star defensive lineman (and centerpiece of George Plimpton's classic “Mad Ducks and Bears”) Alex Karras died yesterday. I had an encounter with Karras when I was playing baseball at UC Irvine and appeared in an episode of Battle of the Network Stars, catching a baseball-hitting contest in front of former American League umpire Emmett Ashford. Mr. Karras thought I was a wise-ass. He was right.

• Mariners: Nothing from the last-place M's (sorry for rubbing it in) but last night's two comebacks from teams I hoped would both just lay down and give up (the A's and the Yankees) were fun to watch – in a Halloween macabre sort of way.

• Sounders: Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann is almost ready to get back on the pitch in real action, though when that will happen is still not set.

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• The golf course was fun yesterday. The weather was great, the company outstanding and the grass thick, lush and bright green. How did I play, you ask? Well, I had six pars. That's what I'm remembering from yesterday. The final score? Who cares. I had six pars. For me, that's a lot. So that's what I'm remembering, not the slog over the final three holes or the stupid water hazard or the bunker from hell or the handful of topped … Hey, I had six pars. Until later …


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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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