So, Ken Hitchcock replaces Davis Payne behind the bench in St. Louis and one career coach is back in the NHL, where most who step behind the bench aspire to ply their trade. But there are only 30 such jobs in the league, so head coaching lifers go where the next opportunity/challenge presents itself. Some, like Hitchcock, get multiple chances at the NHL level to make a difference in various cities. Others never make it back or simply choose another direction. And while their coaching journeys are not intertwined directly, this tale has a distinct Blues thread running through it.
Recently we seem to have had some especially spectacular and even tragic defeats. But, of course, in sport we don't devote much extended contemplation to those who lose -- unless, of course, they should come back and win.
The story should not be told with regret. It should be all about the flair and resolve of a champion, rising to the occasion as never before, and Novak Djokovic certainly came through mightily in that regard. It seems more likely, though, that the story of the Australian Open final was the curious disappearance of Andy Murray.
There's an old story about a jazz saxophonist who had stardom written all over him. He had the touch, a gift; anyone could see that. But somehow, things just didn't work out. Must have been the nerves. Every time he hit the big time -- New York, New Orleans, Chicago -- he bombed horribly, and he never did fulfill that promise.
History was made last Friday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, when the world's top eight players took part in the quarterfinals of the same tournament for the first time since the ATP Tour starting the rankings in August 1973.
Two years are tattooed on the English sports consciousness like scarlet letters of anguish and self-pity. One is 1966, the first and only time the Three Lions hoisted the World Cup. The other is 1937, the last time a British player won at Wimbledon.
For all the tradition coursing through Wimbledon -- the lords and ladies in the Royal Box, the queuing for grounds passes, the Pimm's cups with side orders of strawberries and cream -- this may be the most hidebound ritual of them all: Everyone in Great Britain becomes irrationally optimistic at the prospect of a homegrown male winning the tournament for the first time since Fred Perry in 1936. And then, when the player doesn't prevail, the entire country reacts with disproportionate anguish. When Tim Henman reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2002, a headline in the Daily Mirror read: NO PRESSURE, TIMBO, BUT CHOKE NOW AND WE'LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU. When Henman fell to eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt, the next day's headline was NATION OF LOSERS. Even the staid London Observer once described rooting for British players at Wimbledon as "a national spasm of patriotic agony."
Sometimes, sports has an awesome eye for irony. In tennis, the best one right now is this: The great hope of British tennis more closely resembles former British public enemy No.1 -- John McEnroe -- than any of the proper and refined players of the United Kingdom's sporting past.