*Announcements: I apologize for the long time away from my column. I have been very busy with my book, which is finished at an impressive 91,000+ words, and I am preparing for the 2nd Annual Southern Illinois Writer’s Conference. The conference is this Saturday (Oct. 30) and will give me a chance to sell my novel, so I’ll definitely be “dressing to impress.”*

And now back to your hopefully-soon-to-be-regularly scheduled column…

As I sit here, on the night the Boston Red Sox end 86 years of disappointment, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to witness (either in person or watching on television) great moments of history. Among the things I’ve seen are:

June 13, 1997- Detroit Red Wings win Stanley Cup for the first time since 1955.

June, 2001- Ray Bourque wins the Cup with the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in his 21-season career.

June, 2004- The Tampa Bay Lightning go from laughingstock to Cup contender and win Lord Stanley’s Grail for the first time ever.

October, 2004- The Southern Illinois Football Salukis become the first team in Division I-AA to remain the #1 ranked team six weeks in a row in the Gateway Conference.

St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGuire eclipses Roger Maris’ home run record.

San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds beating Maguire’s record a few years later.

The rise & fall of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The rise & fall of Eric Lindros.

Former Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy becoming the winningest netminder of all time.

Former Dallas Cowboy and now Arizona Cardinal running back Emmitt Smith passing Walter Payton’s career rushing record.

Wayne Gretzky retires from the NHL.

I could go on and on, but the fact that I have seen these great athletes perform and achieve a higher plane of existence is humbling. You tell me you didn’t stand up and clap in appreciation as Gretzky took that final twirl around the ice or when Bourque raised 32 pounds of sterling silver over his head?

In their wake is the next generation of superstars. The Kovalchuks, the Heatleys, the Hejduk’s, the Fleury’s. What will be their legacy? How far will they go? Only time can answer those questions. Most of us have seen how Peter Forsberg can stickhandle through a picket fence and watched Joe Sakic tear goaltenders to shreds.

What have we done?

Some point to the difference between needs and wants, especially considering the current CBA. Did Jaromir Jagr NEED that huge contract? Did the Rangers NEED to trade away most of their higher-tier talent?

No. Plain, flat-out no. Period, exclamation mark, end-of-sentence.

But they wanted it…

And they got it.

Blame politics, blame greedy, good-for-nothing owners and players. Point your fingers at a dismal game that was a few short steps away from being less popular than “professional” wrestling.

Truth hurts folks, and what’s been going on, or rather what’s NOT been going on, the last few months has been the b**ch slap from hell.

Somebody’s gotta take drastic measures here. I’m not talking about getting Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow to negotiate at gunpoint. I’m talking about the scrapping of a franchise or two or three. An owner has to look these guys in the eyes and say, “Either start talking or I’m closing down my team.”

Of course no sane-minded owner would threaten to do that, but it might be enough to get the attention of those two “executives.” Gee, Gary, you think years and years of living in the world of sugarplum fairies and believing all was well wouldn’t come back to bite you in the ass?

And as for you Bob, you think your NHLPA would have a little better sense of evaluating their own value? Spector didn’t offer me a huge contract to do this column, which I love doing, but I’m not that good of a writer to demand something like that anyway.

Needs and wants people…needs and wants.

We face it in our normal lives everyday. Sure, everybody WANTS that supermodel babe or dude to live out the rest of their days in wedded bliss with us. Does everybody NEED it? No.

WANT that hot new car? Sure. NEED it? Doubtful. Get my point?

This column NEEDS to end. I also WANT to end it here, so I will.

To quote those anti-smoking ads, welcome to Crazyworld.

Comments, questions, or suggestions please e-mail me at Shutout95@earthlink.net

Pete Spitler works at Southern Illinois University's radio station (WSIU-FM 91.9) as a sportsbroadcaster. He is part of a half-hour Saturday sports show called 'Sunrise Sports' highlighting SIU and local high school sports action.

You can read more of Pete's columns by going to the Penalty Shots Archives

 The opinions expressed on this page are of the author, and in no way reflect the views of the NHL, it teams or players. All material in Penalty Shots copyrighted (C) 2004 Spector's Hockey. Reproduction of this material in whole, or in part, without consent by the author or Spector's Hockey is prohibited.