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Digging contest was grave business

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June 12, 2016 5:10 P.M.
Gordie Howe was all smiles when he visited Kamloops more than four years ago. (Photo: Keith Anderson)

One fact about Gordie Howe’s NHL career stands out among all the rest. He had a run of 20 straight seasons in which he finished in the top five in the league’s scoring race. . . . Think about that for a moment or two. . . . Mr. Hockey last was in Kamloops on Feb. 1, 2012. At that time, I wrote this piece right here. . . . Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Do you cringe, as I do, when Gary Bettman eulogizes the hockey greats in interviews. I suspect the NHL commissioner didn’t watch one minute of Howe’s career.” . . . Headline at thebeaverton.com: Tragically Hip cancels tour after band members unable to acquire tickets. . . .

An inmate in a U.S. prison has filed a claim on Prince’s estate, alleging that the singer was his father. To which comedy writer Alex Kaseberg wrote: “Yeah. Nice try, O.J. Simpson. Stick with finding the real killers.” . . . “Eighteen two-man teams — wielding shovels, rakes and pick-axes — convened in plot 37A of a cemetery in Debrecen, Hungary, to take part in the national grave-digging contest,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The winning team of Laszlo Toth and Janos Racz needed less than 34 minutes to card the day’s first 6-under.” . . . One more from Perry: “Checking the MLB transactions wire, the Miami Marlins have released minor-league pitcher Jose Jose. No way! No way!” . . .

The other night in Ringgold, Ga., the rasslers were in town and Paul Lee, one of the bad guys, was in the ring and doing some yapping with a fan at ringside. At one point, he told the Catoosa County News, he told the fan “to sit her toothless self back down.” Patricia Anne Crowe, 59, later was charged with aggravated assault and reckless conduct after going off-script by pulling out a loaded handgun and jumping into the ring. . . . “Well, once again, it's late in a playoff series,” writes Bill Littlejohn, our South Lake Tahoe, Calif., correspondent, “and, with a San Francisco Bay Area team on the ropes, the host Pittsburgh Penguins couldn't close them out. Listen . . . is that the sound of Thunder I hear?” . . .

“After months of study, a team of Australian researchers has declared opaque couche — a brownish hue — the world’s ugliest colour,” reports Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post. “In a related story, a certain NFL team will now be known as the Cleveland Opaque Couches.” . . . “Plans have been unveiled in San Francisco for the world’s first cannabis-friendly gym,” Hamilton notes. “Patrons who join the gym will be encouraged to work on their pot bellies.” . . .

Reports have the NHL on the verge of announcing that it will be expanding to Las Vegas. If you are a regular viewer of NHL games, I’m sure you will agree that the last thing the NHL needs is one more team. . . . A Thursday tweet from Randy Turner (@randyturner15) of the Winnipeg Free Press: “TV ratings in U.S. for playoffs with all American teams have been shockingly abysmal. So expanding to Vegas sounds like the NHL thing to do.” . . . You may have seen video of the brawl between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles the other night. It happened after Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura drilled Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a fastball that was clocked at 99 m.p.h. As Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones told USA Today: “(Ventura) has electric stuff and the talent is all there, but between the ears there is a circuit board off balance.” . . .

Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong, after Aqib Talib of the Denver Broncos was injured at a Dallas nightspot: “He claims he was so inebriated that he didn’t know how he got the bullet wound in his leg. ‘I wish I’d thought of that,’ said Plaxico Burress.” . . . Torben Rolfsen, the host of The Rolfsen Report on TSN 1040 Vancouver on Saturday mornings, noted that Talib “says he was too drunk to remember what actually happened. Sort of like last season for Green Bay Packers fans.” . . . “Guy Lafleur doesn't like the big playoff beards, saying they wouldn't fly in his day,” reports Rolfsen. “I guess not; with all the cigarettes, they would have started a brush fire.” . . .

“The Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Pro-Am tournament in Calgary will be back in 2017,” notes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “Mr. Hockey would have liked it to be played at the Saddledome — next to the Elbow River.” . . . Currie, again: “Police think Aqib Talib shot himself in the leg, but the Denver Broncos star said he’d been too drunk to recall. There’s a first: an accidental shooting where the victim was loaded.” . . . Headline at SportsPickle.com: Aqib Talib and Plaxico Burress walk into a bar. . . .

You might remember that the 2015 Pan Am Games were held in Toronto. We found out the other day that they ran a deficit of $342 million and hard-drives from computers used by some of the pooh-bahs were destroyed. That — the hard-drives, not the deficit — should raise some eyebrows somewhere. . . . Here’s what Harold Reynolds, an analyst for the MLB Network, offered up when outfielder Kyle Lewis was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the free-agent draft on Thursday: “He's 20 years old. That's what stands out. Most people are 21 at that age.” . . . You can’t make up stuff like that.

(Gregg Drinnan is a former sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post and the late Kamloops Daily News. He is at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and twitter.com/gdrinnan. Keeping Score appears here on weekends, except when it doesn’t.)

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