For Bettman, nightmares abound

Updated: March 23, 2004, 1:28 PM ET
By Ray Ratto | Special to ESPN.com

The NHL eases toward awards season soon, which can mean only one thing:

Lots of snotty references outside the hockey community viz. Todd Bertuzzi.

But because the Bertuzzi Affair has already drawn sufficient comment, we needn't go there -- much.

Besides, we already know most of the real winners. The best rookie is Andrew Raycroft, game, set and match. The coach of the year is Darryl Sutter, even after Saturday's breach of etiquette. The MVP is Colin Campbell, for getting the Bertuzzi punishment right.

The rest of it ... well, there is a home version of our game. In the more metaphysical realm, however, there are these items:

• The Philadelphia Flyers: Threat or menace?

• Still Too Old (And Good) After All These Years: The Detroit Red Wings.

• The Feel Good Stories Of The First Half: The Atlanta Thrashers, Brian Boucher and Steve Yzerman.

• The Feel-Good Stories Of The Second Half: The Montreal Canadiens, Jarome Iginla, and international rules.

• The Feel-Best Stories Of The Year: Steve Sullivan and Alexei Zhamnov get out of Chicago.

• If You Build It, They Will Go Somewhere Else Anyway: The honeymoon for the Coyotes in their new building lasted one game.

• Well, At Least Petty Cash Is Doing Well: The league spent $750,000 to have a report done showing that they lost $270 million last year.

• Mr. Hasek, There's A Mr. Goodenow On Line Two: The Detroit goalie returned $3 million of his salary this season because he stopped playing.

• On The Other Hand: Jaromir Jagr hasn't given back a cent in years.

• What Exactly Is It You Don't Get About Bad P.R.? Wade Belak gets an eight-game suspension for going to left field with Ossi Vaananen's head a week after the Bertuzzi thing ...

• And What's Your Excuse? Mark Messier gets two for trying to do with Martin Strbak's intestines what Mel Gibson offered to do to Frank Rich's at about the same time.

• And You Don't Read The Papers Either? Our Darryl gets a pair for sending the noted Quaker Krzysztof Oliwa onto the ice to do a quick head-count of whatever Nashville Predators happen to be handy.

• And Wait, There's More: Chris Pronger kicked Ville Nieminen, Donald Audette kicked Sven Butenschon, and Ronald Petrovicky kneed J.P. Dumont -- also after the Bertuzzi incident.

• Gary Bettman's Worst Nightmare: The Countdown Clock on The Hockey News web site (only 175 shopping days and 20 hours before picket lines form outside your favorite Sharper Image).

• Gary Bettman's Second Worst Nightmare: That Tampa Bay-Nashville Stanley Cup final.

• Gary Bettman's Third Worst Nightmare: That ABC notices that the Stanley Cup final is between Nashville and Tampa Bay, and tells Bettman to take it up with Oxygen and the SciFi Channel.

• And On April Fool's Day, God Slept: The New York Rangers traded 10 players, and when they were done, they still had way too many Rangers.

• And Suddenly, The Hammock Stirred: Toronto traded for the retired Calle Johansson.

• Penn And Teller Never Did It This Well: The disappearances of the Ducks and Wild so soon.

• Look, It's Just Fun To Say The Name, All Right: Antero Niittymaki.

• From The Marketing Department: Let's call the playoff teams The Sweet 16, and then record Shayne Corson's response.

• Also from the Marketing Department: Nothing makes for a more colorful experience at the rink than to have all the visiting teams wear white. Didn't that stuff go out with Ted Lindsay?

• It's March So It's Time To Play . . . : Who Hates Their Goaltending?

• Scoring Isn't Down, No Matter What You Say: The view from the Penguins' end of the ice.

• The Hell It Isn't: The view from the Hurricanes' offensive zone.

• And While We're At It: Go with God, Glen Hanlon, John Torchetti, Tom Renney, Mike Kitchen, Gerard Gallant, and the mother if them all, Rick Bowness.

• And Finally: Make that 175 days and 19 hours.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com