Each week, the Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This time around, they discuss the NHL All-Star Game, shootouts, Lionel Messi, and Duke University.
Damien Cox, The Toronto Star: My thumb is down to the announcement that the 2011 NHL All-Star Game will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina. First of all, did anybody miss the fact that the league didn't hold one this year? It would have been fine with them not doing it again next year. And Raleigh - how can Raleigh possibly go up to the standards that we last saw at the All-Star Game which was in Montreal and was fabulous. It was almost yesterday that we watched the Hurricanes give up a record three shorthanded goals in one powerplay. It was kind of like the hockey gods were saying "no, no, no, no". Bad idea to take the All-Star Game to Raleigh.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to the weird unpredictability of shootouts in the National Hockey League. In a league where you would expect stars like Sidney Crosby to be leading in shootout goals - and he is - we give you the next best thing...Adrian Aucoin of the Phoenix Coyotes (the 302nd-leading scorer in the NHL). Aucoin is this season's shootout shocker, the new Jussi Jokinen. How hot has Aucoin been? Well, he's scored six shootout goals, all of them proving to be winning goals for the stunning Coyotes. The good news is, a guy like Aucoin can come out of nowhere and do this. The better news? It's playoff time and we can put these strange shootouts to rest for another season.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Lionel Messi. The best player in the world - the sport is soccer, of course. He scored four this week for Barcelona as they destroyed Arsenal in a Champions League quarter-final. Yes, the title of "best player in the world", that's a movable feast, but he is somebody who can keep it for a long, long time. His coach in Argentina for the national team, Diego Maradona, said he's "playing kick-around with Jesus". Now I don't know if that is true, but there is nobody better than Messi, and hasn't been since Maradona.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is up to Duke University, not just for winning its fourth NCAA Men's basketball title under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, but for a curious controversy that developed after the thrilling two-point victory over Butler. The Duke Blue Devils returned home to Durham, North Carolina to a celebration on campus that occurred the next afternoon. Whoops - that's not supposed to happen at Duke - athletics aren't supposed to interrupt daytime classes. It was called a bureaucratic oversight, but some professors were outraged. There's a feeling that Duke has become all about basketball ahead of anything else. Good for Duke, not for breaking its only rules, but for having those rules. When they expand the NCAA Tournament to 96 schools, there might be 95 that don't.