A Deal Sealed In Blood
The Bible says, "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." (The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians 1:3.) That warning comes too late for one father, Colorado Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix, who last week traded the son, 27-year-old left wing Eric Lacroix, to the Los Angeles Kings. "Everybody made me understand when we did the trade that I could not be the dad," said Pierre. "I had to be the G.M."
Pierre should have thought of that before he acquired Eric from the Kings in a trade two years ago. A disruption of the Avalanche's harmony was almost inevitable. It happened early this season when punch-less Colorado, the Stanley Cup champion just two seasons ago, got off to a 1-5-1 start.
Reports that Eric was a disconcerting presence in the dressing room began to appear in the media. Worse, so did the implication that he was a snitch for his father. Were Eric an all-star performer, perhaps his presence and his $700,000 salary ($400,000 below the NHL average) would have gone un-scrutinized. But he isn't and never has been. While he's a bulldog of a player who missed only one game with the Avalanche, Lacroix didn't have even one assist in seven games in 1998, extending his streak of pointless games from last season's playoffs to 14.
Several Colorado players—including captain Joe Sakic ("Eric's a great guy") and backup goalie Craig Billington ("Eric was one of the greatest team players I've ever played with, and I'm not kissing ass when I say that")—spoke in Eric's defense. Certainly it was never proved that he was reporting back to his father. But whatever advantage Eric could give the Avalanche on the ice was not worth the liability he was off the ice.
Sir Donald Bradman was the Babe Ruth of cricket. One of Australia's most revered sportsmen, Bradman set a world record of 334 runs in a match against England in 1930. Only six players have surpassed Sir Donald's total, and it still stood as the Australian record when Aussie captain Mark Taylor took up the bat in a Test against Pakistan on Oct. 16.
Taylor, 34, a national hero known as Tubsie, had endured a horrendous slump that had some observers whispering "has-been" before he rounded back into form earlier this year. Against Pakistan he completed his comeback spectacularly. Taylor scored 334 runs, tying Brad-man's Australian record. Then he did something really astounding. He declared the innings closed, foregoing any chance at the world record of 375, set by Brian Lara of the West Indies in 1994, and walked off the field.
Picture Mark McGwire sitting out the rest of the season after tying Roger Maris with his 61st home run. Picture Michael Jordan scoring 100 to tie Wilt Chamberlain's single-game NBA record and then—with minutes on the clock—taking to the bench. As London's Mail on Sunday put it, "Not a soul who has ever played, watched or generally loved the game would have demurred had Taylor opted to resume his innings."
Taylor saw things differently. "It will be nice to be bracketed with Sir Donald," he said. "It will be my only chance to be compared with him."