The NHL and its players have finally agreed upon something. They don't cheetah. I mean, cheat. Sorry, the beer and juice maker who's "interested" in resurrecting the Rough Riders popped into my head there for a sec. Poor ol' Ben Johnson.
Anyway, the league is pretty jacked that there were no positive drug tests among the 1,406 administered under the NHL's new anti-doping program. The program targets steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. However, they didn't test for stimulants or human growth hormone and the tests were anything but random.
Basically, the NHL told the players back in August, here's the list of banned substances we'll be testing you for. Testing begins in January.
Five months? Geez. Not exactly random, is it? Imagine if the Olympics did that. Hey, congratulations on your gold medal, Ben. Report for urine testing in five months. You think he fails that test?
I'm not suggesting that a single NHL player took banned substances. Of course, I don't have to. Bryan Berard and Jose Theodore already proved that the cheat---, errrrrrr, I mean the victims of circumstances beyond their control, are out there. Berard tested positive for steroids. Theodore for a drug that masks steroids. Both were Olympic tests.
Yes. Those same tests cleared all other Olympic calibre players, roughly 150. That's a good sign. However, those players had just come off a lockout year when they were unavailable for anything, let alone peeing in a cup. When hockey returned, the Olympic calibre players were well aware the Olympic lab guys would come a-knockin'. And even the Olympic testing fails to go after HGH.
It's tough to argue with World Anti-Doping Chairman Dick Pound's response to yesterday's news. Pound has already said that up to a third of NHL players may be using performance-enhancing drugs if you include the full range of drugs, most of which they don't test for. This, of course, enraged the NHL. Pound won more friends today, saying the NHL is fooling the public when it says it has a serious testing process.
I agree. Pound's "33 per cent" prediction may one day be proven inaccurate but that day is not today. Until the NHL has something even remotely resembling a state of the art testing procedure, it should probably stick with the usual, "The tesing isn't perfect but we're trying to do all we can." Any bragging and trash talking about yesterday's results comes off as foolish and ignorant.
Outstanding to see Claude Julien back in the NHL so quickly. He was hired as coach of the New Jersey Devils today. His work in Montreal drew mixed reviews. But I just like to see good guys land on their feet. Watch for Guy Carbonneau to get Julien's old gig soon. Carbonneau and Bob Gainey got plenty of kudos this season but keep in mind they didn't have Jose Theodore letting them down every night. Cristobal Huet made them look awfully good.
The buzz out of Boston is that Mike Sullivan will be back as Bruins' head coach. Apparently, he and new Bruins' GM Peter Chiarelli have hit it off. Certainly, they have a lot in common, both around the same age at former Hockey East guys.