Big Buff’s big beef…Jets Nation loves its team…Joey Bats’ big ears and other stuff

I cannot survive in a 140-character world, so here are more tweets that grew up to be too big for Twitter…

Big Buff is no fan of three-on-three shinny.
Big Buff is no fan of three-on-three shinny.

Well, now, wasn’t that a fine bit of bluster that Dustin Byfuglien delivered on Saturday.

If you missed it, Big Buff has a big beef with National Hockey League gimmickry, specifically three-on-three overtime. It might be the one thing the Winnipeg Jets jumbo-bodied defenceman likes less than doing interviews.

It’s terrible,” he harrumphed in the aftermath of some Tampa Bay Lightning OT tic-tac-toe that dealt the Jets a 4-3 loss at the Little Hockey House on the Prairie. “It ain’t hockey. It’s stupid.”

Geez, Buff, tell us what you really think.

It strikes me as rather odd that Byfuglien would pooh-pooh a bit of pond hockey, because he’s the ultimate freelancer. I mean, if not for the boards surrounding the freeze, we’d probably never see the guy again. He takes more detours than a lost dog. But he’d rather play five-on-five, or four-on-four, to break a stalemate.

I have a better idea: If it’s deadlocked at the end of regulation time, let’s give each outfit a point, turn out the lights and send everyone home. You know, just like they used to do.

By the end of this NHL crusade, Dustin Byfuglien will be 31. There’ll be 30 candles on Andrew Ladd’s birthday cake in December. Both, therefore, are diminishing assets and, in captain Ladd’s case, the decline from front-line forward status might be rapid. Although still useful workers, it would be folly for Grand Master Kevin Cheveldayoff to offer either man a contract greater than five years in length. It would be equally follysome to allow them to arrive at unrestricted free agency. It seems to me that it has become a matter of when, not if, one or both are moved. I wouldn’t expect anything to happen prior to U.S. Thanksgiving, but between then and the trade deadline all bets are off.

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 6: The Winnipeg Jets salute the fans after defeating the Boston Bruins 2-1 in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 6, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Jets Nation loves its Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets are No. 69—with a bullet! ESPN the Magazine recently released the findings from its annual fan-fueled poll which ranks 122 franchises in the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the Jets jumped 28 spots in overall fan affection/satisfaction, going from No. 97 a year ago to 69th. They’re ranked 20th in the NHL pecking order, fourth among the seven Canadian franchises. What you like most about your Jets is team ownership, head coach Paul Maurice and the Little Hockey House on the Prairie. What you dislike most is ticket prices and bang for your buck.

Am I being old fashioned if I expect a game story to include the five Ws—who, what, when, where and why? I ask that because apparently facts have become an option for today’s sports scribes. I read a Ken Wiebe gamer in the Winnipeg Sun, for example, and it did not include the final score of the joust between the Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning. Nor did it mention what sport he was writing about. Over at the Winnipeg Free Press, meanwhile, my main man Ed Tait wrote a gamer on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers-Ottawa RedBlacks grass-grabber and, like Wiebe, he failed to tell us what sport he was writing about. Tell me I’m picking nits, but it seems to me that those are rather significant details that ought not be ignored. Yo! Boys! It’s the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League. Get it in your copy! (Aside to editors at the Sun and Freep: Get a CP Style Guide and get with the program.)

Well, this is guaranteed to take the starch out of Don Cherry’s collars—for the first time in 98 years, less than 50 per cent of NHL players are good Canadian boys. Of the 680 lads on rosters during the first couple weeks of this season, 49.7 per cent were from Planet Puck. The other 50.3 per cent come from countries that wear face shields.

big earsThis is apropos of absolutely nothing, but my what big ears you have, Jose Bautista. Seriously. That’s some kind of wing span on Joey Bats. I never realized it until I watched an interview with the Toronto Blue Jays right fielder following their ouster from the Major League Baseball playoffs. I later learned that, as a child in his Santo Domingo neighborhood, his chums called him El Raton—The Rat—because he was straw-thin and had those big ears. Jose is in Don Mossi’s league. The former big league pitcher had a set of all-world ears. Probably the best ever.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.