Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

In NHL, it's a touch of bad luck

If the Pittsburgh Penguins fail in the Stanley Cup finals -- which begin today -- they have a ready-made scapegoat. Forward Ryan Malone.

Malone, it turns out, touched the Cup when Penguins won it in 1991 and 1992, as his father, Greg Malone, was a team scout.

"Yeah, I did touch it 'cause I never thought I'd be in this situation," Malone said during a conference call Wednesday.

Malone was looking for loopholes, saying, "At the time it was pretty heavy for myself. I never lifted it over my head. Maybe that was the secret."

Sorry, Ryan. A quick confab with those Hockey Gods confirms the folklore is quite specific. Touching the Cup before you win it is the surest way never to win it.

The second surest way? We offer Kings fans three choices for a punch line.

1. Have Marty McSorley on the ice. 2. Bring Jeremy Roenick to town. 3. Put Dan Cloutier in net.

Trivia time

Who is the oldest player to win the Stanley Cup?

Inking a deal

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have plenty of high-priced talent to throw on the ice for Game 1 today. But what gets scraped off the ice could be a moneymaker., an online gambling website, offers this proposition: "Will any member of the Red Wings staff be fined by the NHL for improperly handling an octopus during the 2008 Stanley Cup finals?"

It pays 4-to-1.

Good old Joe

Penn State Coach Joe Paterno called the reasoning against a college football playoff, "bogus," the Associated Press reported, though he didn't sound too confident one would be adopted while he was still coaching.

"I'm only going to be a head coach another 10 or 15 years, and I don't think it will happen by then," the 81-year-old Paterno said.

While that might have made Penn State officials cringe a bit -- Oh dear, is he joking? -- Joe Pa's playoff support was more than a you-kids-get-off-my-lawn rant. There have been four seasons -- 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1994 -- when Paterno has had an undefeated team that was not awarded a national title.

And, high marks for an 81-year-old guy using the word "bogus." Jeff Spicoli would be proud.

Just politics

Congressmen representing Michigan and Pennsylvania got into the Stanley Cup act with traditional bets. Mike Doyle put up lunch in Pittsburgh at Primanti Brothers Restaurant, "famous" for its sandwiches, while John Dingell offered Coney Dogs from Cheli's Chili Bar in Detroit.

Sandwiches and hot dogs? Don't go overboard on the extravagance, gentlemen.

Marine Biology 101

The Beaver County Times of Pennsylvania made a reference to the Red Wings' marine tradition: "You'll have to forgive the Penguins if they're not too concerned about squid being flung at them in Detroit . . ."

Michigan Live fired back that Red Wings fans throw octopi, not squid. Geez.

No matter what is tossed, the Penguins' Sidney Crosby said, "I don't think we're too worried about it."

Sure, until those "Sid the Squid" banners are unfurled.

Trivia answer

Lester Patrick, who was the New York Rangers GM and coach in the 1928 finals. Patrick, three months beyond his 44th birthday, inserted himself into a game when his goaltender Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury. It was his only NHL game.

Detroit's Chris Chelios, 46, is poised to spoil that bit of trivia.

And finally

Detroit Manager Jim Leyland, asked about baseball's push to speed up games, told reporters, "They want me to run to the mound. I smoke three packs a day and they want me to run back and forth to the mound?"

The Tigers are 20-28. Seems as if Leyland needs fewer Lucky Strikes in the dugout and more on the mound.


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