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Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

There are hockey fans -- and then there are hockey fans.

Steve Williamson of Orlando, Fla., recently completed his quest to see 30 NHL games on 30 consecutive nights in 30 cities.

He spent $7,000 on the odyssey, traveled 30,530 miles, crossed the border into Canada four times and told ESPN.com that he took 35 airline flights, a few train rides and “used a lot of rental cars.”

A road trip with thrills and chills

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“I wanted to do the trip early in the season so that the weather wasn’t an issue,” said Williamson, 49.

“Luckily, all my plane rides went really smoothly.”

The American Airlines Center in Dallas was his favorite from an architectural standpoint -- “it had had sort of a swanky feel to it” -- but Montreal’s had the best atmosphere “without a doubt,” he said.

His choice for best food went to the United Center in Chicago, and he said Phoenix had the best beer.

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The trip “was a dream of mine that has been completed,” he said, but added: “If the NHL were to expand, I would consider doing it again.”

Trivia time

During Phil Jackson’s 12-year career as an NBA player, he led the league only once in a statistical category. What was it?

Stop crying

The Baltimore Ravens came as close as any NFL team this year to beating the 12-0 New England Patriots on Monday night.

The Ravens lost, 27-24, in the closing moments of a ragged fourth quarter that included several disputed calls that went the Patriots’ way, prompting the Ravens to complain bitterly after the game.

But their protests reveal more about the Ravens than the officiating, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston said.

“It’s a misguided team and the players constantly complain like a bunch of babies,” he wrote.

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The problem, he added, was that the Ravens “didn’t make enough big plays. They hurt themselves with penalties and a lack of discipline.”

TV titan

The Patriots-Ravens game also was the most watched basic cable telecast of all time, according to SportsBusiness Daily.

ESPN had 17.5 million viewers for the game, surpassing Disney Channel’s telecast of “High School Musical 2" in August, which drew 17.2 million viewers. ESPN also is owned by Walt Disney Co.

The game also drew a 13.0 cable Nielsen rating, up 51.2% from an 8.6 for the comparable Panthers-Eagles game last year.

Soccer scraps

What would you pay for David Beckham’s food scraps and dirty dishes?

After the soccer star and the rest of the L.A. Galaxy visited New Zealand recently, those purported items went up for sale on the New Zealand auction website TradeMe.co.nz.

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Among the items listed were a half-eaten corn cob and a French fry the seller claimed Beckham dropped while eating on a Wellington street.

There also was a Coca-Cola bottle he supposedly held -- “some Coke is left inside it,” the seller claimed -- and a knife and fork one seller said he used at a restaurant.

Caveat emptor.

Space race

The space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off today on a 12-day mission carrying some unusual cargo -- three green flags from Daytona International Speedway.

The racing flags will travel more than 1 million miles in space in conjunction with the 50th running of the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Feb. 17, and the 50th anniversary of NASA in 2008.

After Atlantis returns, one of the flags will go to the NASCAR race winner, another will hang at the speedway’s Daytona 500 Experience exhibit in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the third will go to NASA.

Trivia answer

Personal fouls. When the Lakers coach played with the New York Knicks in the 1974-75 season, Jackson racked up 330 fouls in 78 games, or a whopping 4.2 fouls a game. Maybe that’s why one of his nicknames was “Action” Jackson.

And finally

Despite being ranked No. 1, some Ohio State players said they don’t expect their team to be tagged the favorite when the Buckeyes play Louisiana State for the college football championship Jan. 7. (LSU is already listed as a 4 1/2 -point favorite.)

“In all likelihood we will be the underdogs,” offensive tackle Kirk Barton told the Columbus Dispatch, “because we know that pretty much everyone on Earth hates us. So that’s cool.”

james.peltz@latimes.com


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