Friday, June 12, 2015

Pool Report: The Lazarus Effect

We’re down to a best of three series in what might be one of the most closely contested Stanley Cup Finals in memory.

And if you caught that shot from game four of Jonathan Toews so utterly gassed he had to be physically held up by a teammate on the bench, you know these guys are giving it their all.

But some people still aren’t happy.

The same people who are never happy. Network executives. Namely one Mark Lazarus of NBC Sports, who believes more people would be interested in the game if the players –- shaved.

As anyone who has ever produced a TV series knows, at some point there’s going to be a long and painful discussion with the network about your lead character’s hair.

It’s too long, too short, would look better swept to the Left and could definitely benefit from highlights. All pointlessly subjective of course, with no consideration for the talents of the actor/actress being assessed; a lame encounter confirming suspicions that most network execs should work in a beauty parlor.

Given his lack of hockey experience, (Mr. Lazarus’ sport of choice is quail hunting) one assumes his desire to razor throats merely reflects the method by which he rose to the top of his corporate heap.

In fact, his only real connection to the game is that he began his career working on “Ryan’s Hope” and “All My Children”, shows favored by many NHL players as they drift off for their afternoon pre-game naps.

It’s my understanding that the hockey playoff beard first appeared because of how hard it is to shave a face covered in stitches. And like baseball managers never stepping on the baselines, it has remained a tradition.

An honored tradition, Mr. Lazarus can’t understand because it doesn’t fit his image of what NBC Sports content should look like.

That would be the familiar Olympic athlete image NBC has fostered where everybody is a fresh faced kid from a small town in Nebraska who has overcome all odds to compete but is now further burdened by a grandmother dying of Cancer.

So I’m willing to bet good money the beards stay and it’s unlikely the Cup winning team will comprise the contestants on next season’s “Celebrity Apprentice”.

I’d be just as willing to wager that by Monday or Wednesday evening a lot of prize booty will be on its way to Saskatchewan, where resident hockey guru Will Dixon now leads the pool by a full 40 points.

Chris Sheasgreen and Barry Kiefl continue to give chase, but I fear they are already fully outdistanced.

More next week.


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