On the first full day of spring, the haze of the crystal ball should begin to clear. Several teams vying for a spot in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have big games in the next four days—a few having more than one.
But what is the fun if you cannot look dumb? Two months ago at that link, I wrote, “Phoenix will not leapfrog four teams with more means to make the playoffs.” They did that and more, taking hold of the top spot in the Pacific Division. And still had time to plummet back back out of the playoff picture.
Who knows what will happen? But mark the following games on your calendars for Tuesday through Thursday—after they conclude, the way the cards fall will be pretty clear:
March 20, Phoenix Coyotes @ Dallas Stars: Phoenix is trying to hold onto a playoff spot and the Stars the division lead. The two teams trailing them by a single point (L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks, respectively) are better on paper and have more success to build on. They are both also trending more positively than whichever team loses this match-up.
March 20, San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings: San Jose plays the night before at home vs. the Anaheim Ducks. If they can take the short flight and beat the hot Kings, they are back to being the Sharks we know. Depending on what happens earlier that night with Dallas and Phoenix, either could officially take over the Pacific Division lead or fall out of the top-10.
March 21, Detroit Red Wings @ New York Rangers: The Red Wings are in a tough battle with the Nashville Predators to get an extra game with the best home ice advantage in the league in their almost inevitable first-round matchup. New York is trying to hold off the hottest team in the NHL for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
March 22, Nashville Predators @ Pittsburgh Penguins. Both teams should collect wins in their contests before this date. Nashville has almost no chance to catch the St. Louis Blues, but will have difficulty holding off the Detroit Red Wings for the last seed offering home ice advantage once that team gets healthy. Pittsburgh could catch or fall further behind the New York Rangers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
March 22, Vancouver Canucks @ Dallas Stars: Dallas could find themselves dropped from the third seed to the 10th depending on this game and their March 20 contest. Vancouver must play this game the night after what promises to be an emotional contest against their nemesis Chicago Blackhawks. If they win both, they will probably be able to take over the top seed, and at the least will see their short-term struggles come to an end.
March 22, Colorado Avalanche @ Phoenix Coyotes: Colorado is only in the top-eight of the standing because the NHL is the only system that punishes teams twice through scheduling—forcing them to play an extra game a week and through their official spot in the standings. If they lose to a team they are battling with, they will have fewer games to make up the ground. But a win here allows Phoenix to either get on a roll or rebound, depending on the result of their March 20 contest.
March 22, St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings: L.A. plays tough opposition down the stretch, and none are better than the St. Louis Blues. They defend better than the Kings used to before the Jeff Carter trade. If L.A. can score like they have been since that move against this team, they not only should make the playoffs but be a contender for the Cup when they get there. If the Blues lose, questions will resurface about their road prowess (just seventh in the Western Conference) as they try to hold off the Vancouver Canucks for the top seed. If they win—the night after a game in Anaheim—they are definitely the best team in the Western Conference.
Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith
The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.
Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.
The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):
“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.
“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”
Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats.
Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.
“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.
There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.
The New World of Sports Betting in the United States
Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.
That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.
With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.
There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.
As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.
As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from NJGames.org.
The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.
The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.
Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.
As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.
The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.
Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.
According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.
The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”
The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.
“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.
“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”
Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.
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