9) There'll be no need to refer to the season using the cumbersome "1994-95."
10) The new last possible day of the Stanley Cup finals, July 1, is Canada Day.
Raising a Point
Here's a question the NBA's Eastern Conference coaches might consider next weekend when they pick the reserves for their All-Star squad: Will New York Knick point guard Derek Harper remain the best player in league history to have never appeared in an All-Star Game? Or should the coaches fill one of the seven remaining spots with Harper, who spent most of his 11-year career with the Dallas Mavericks eclipsed by frequent All-Stars Rolando Blackman and Mark Aguirre?
The case for giving Harper some sort of lifetime achievement recognition is a strong one. He's the only player in league history to increase his scoring average in each of his first eight seasons. And were it not for Harper's steady play this season, in which he has contributed his usual stout defense, timely three-point shooting and inventive playmaking, the up-and-down Knicks would be flat-out flatliners.
As of Monday, Anfernee Hardaway, Joe Dumars, Reggie Miller and Mark Price appeared certain to be the East's top four backcourt vote-getters. Given that both Hardaway and Miller can also play forward, and Kenny Anderson, B.J. Armstrong and Mookie Blaylock have already played in one All-Star Game each and figure to have many more in their futures, we urge the coaches to pick a fifth guard—and to let it be Harper.
Time on Their Side
With action on hold in the NHL, the Ontario Lottery Corporation this year added British soccer to its Pro-Line lottery. Some might frown on what would appear to be government-sponsored gambling, but as the old saying goes, it ain't gambling if you know the outcome.
The scene: Feathers Pub in Toronto. The date: Jan. 2. A British soccer fan, seeking help in doping out his picks, places a call from the pub to his brother in Manchester, England. The brother proceeds to tick off not only the winners of the matches but the scores as well. Why, asks the Toronto brother, was he so sure? "Because," replies the Manchester brother, "those games ended 40 minutes ago." It seems that this year the day after New Year's was a holiday in Great Britain, and several matches were played in the afternoon rather than in the evening, a wrinkle lottery officials failed to account for in setting the cutoff time for submitting picks. Any Canadian punters who caught on had 90 minutes to get in it and win it.
The Toronto brother tipped his drinking buddies to the scam, and together they made a dash for nearby lottery outlets. The group reportedly wound up collecting thousands, with seven bettors taking home $12,000 apiece. Nor were the habitués of Feathers the only ones who cashed in. Pro-Line sold 1,940 tickets, 1,690 of which turned out to be winners, and wound up paying out $783,000 on the soccer games, more than five times the usual total. "It was our mistake," says commission spokesman Don Pister.