You are the publisher of the biggest, baddest sports mag on the North American block, if not the planet. The last seven days has been Christmas in July. You have the feeling that the Tour de Farce crown will be given to the only clean cyclist in France: a 12 year old baguette delivery boy from Cannes. The NBA is wracked by a gambling scandal that makes Rick Tocchet look like your Auntie Gertrude at Saturday night bingo. MLB has Barry Bonds, and his totally illegitimate claim to the game's most hallowed record. And Michael Vick is...well, Michael Vick is just sub-human and his name should forever be stricken from the record of civilized society.
The news keeps breaking, so good, so damn juicy, that you set up a special section on your website. You call it "How They Cheat" and dispatch your finest writers to dig up as much dirt as they can on each of the major leagues. Content, after all, is king.
You turn to Alan Muir, one of your top hockey guys, and say "Go get the NHL. With all of the others imploding, there has to be something we can dig up on hockey! Go get it!" And after an exhaustive investigation leaving no stone unturned, no seemy underbelly unscratched, he comes back to you, not with tales of gambling, cheating spouses, domestic violence or the once widespread abuse of a certain flu remedy. The name Bertuzzi never even comes up. No, your intrepid investigative reporter comes back to you with...sticks. Illegal sticks.
How prevalent is this offense? Go down the list of the league's top snipers and many of them -- including Ilya Kovalchuk, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne -- were nabbed last season with an illegal curve. Ask around and the belief is that as many as one-in-five players regularly break the rule, secure in the knowledge that they're unlikely to be caught.As nefarious as these allegations are, or as risky giving Brett Hull an open microphone can be, this opens a huge door for the NHL but it won't stay open for long.
So get on it Gary! Put down the marguarita! Get your marketing monkeys going! An opportunity like this only comes around once in a lifetime! Here's your chance to fulfill your wet dream, vault over the Big Three and put the NHL back on the U.S. map! "Hockey! Dodging Major Scandals Since 1917!" Just make sure you lock Marty McSorley in a closet first.
Breaking the rules: NHL [SI.com]