Again, this never happens to me so I’m going to whine about it.

Brian Donohue is a math major at the University of Virginia and he got himself quite the Christmas present. According to a report on Jan. 7 from United Press International, Donohue’s mom put a lottery ticket for the Dec. 22 drawing of Bank A Million in his stocking. He checked the numbers a few days later and — yes — his digits matched, meaning he won $1 million. He plans to use some of his winnings to help pay tuition, which in the U.S. means he’ll be broke by April. I found a ticket in my stocking and the best I got was $2, not even enough to super-size the Happy Meal.

Anyway:

Hey, why not?

The Kontinental Hockey League in Russia employs three-on-three, sudden-death overtime during the regular season, like almost every other league on the planet. One team decided to pull a stunt on Jan. 7 and it worked.

Vityaz was playing CSKA that evening with the game going into a bonus frame tied at 3-3. Two minutes in, Vityaz got possession of the puck and headed up ice with the goalie making a break for the bench to bring on an extra attacker, creating a four-on-three. Now, teams in overtime will try to hang on to the puck as long as they can to get a good shot but in this situation, it was like a power-play. A gutsy situation like a power-play but one which worked, nonetheless, as Vityaz managed to put one past the CSKA goaltender.

You could imagine Vityaz fans screaming all sorts of fruitful, encouraging swear words at their TV sets when this happened but you could also imagine Vityaz fans calling the head coach a genius after it worked. You think Vityaz will try this trick again anytime soon? Probably not, but they may have started a trend: get the puck, rag it in your own end to allow the goaltender to race off for the extra man, go on the rush, set up a play and score.

It’s like putting your hand in liquid nitrogen and slamming it up against a wall — you’ll only try it once or twice but when it works, it shocks everyone.

Who wants Evander Kane?

Not I, but there are apparently some teams who think he’s worth another shot.

Kane is now an unrestricted free agent after the San Jose Sharks cut him loose following what the team said was “breach of his standard player contract” and “violation of the AHL (American Hockey League) Covid-19 protocols.” So what did Kane do? Well, we all remember how he tried to hand in a dodgy proof of vaccination slip to the team in order to return to action. That got him a 21-game suspension, followed by an immediate demotion to the San Jose Barracudas, the team’s AHL squad.

But now the National Hockey League is investigating how he got across the border when he was supposed to be in isolation. You see, Kane apparently tested positive for the ‘Rona on Dec. 21, and under AHL protocols, any player who gets a positive test must isolate for 10 days. Kane reportedly landed in Vancouver on Dec. 29. That’s why the Sharks cut Kane loose and the NHL agreed, saying it was a proper termination. The NHL Players Association has filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf, which was expected because this is the first time a player has been released due to Covid-19-related issues.

We’ve been hearing that the Edmonton Oilers have made advances on whether Kane could be a fit with their organization and I read another report from the National Post about the Toronto Maple Leafs sniffing around. Here’s what could complicate things, though: if Kane’s grievance is successful, he could theoretically have two NHL contracts, those being with any team that signs him soon and the remainder of the seven-year, $49-million pact he had with San Jose. If the Sharks win, they won’t have to pay him a dime and he’ll get whatever he accepts from any other team. The grievance could also see him get a buyout of whatever’s remaining on the Sharks deal.

It’s messy, no matter what happens.

And finally …

Good Idea: Ending a soccer match on time.

Bad Idea: Ending a soccer match before time expires. Twice.

Yes, this actually happened during a match at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon on Jan. 12 and it’s one of the most shambolic, farcical things I have ever seen.

Mali was playing Tunisia in a group game that day in the city of Limbe and Mali ended up winning 1-0, but that’s not the issue. The issue is referee Janny Sikazwe of Uganda killing the game before time expired. The first instance happened in the 86th minute when Sikazwe decided to call a halt to proceedings, causing the Tunisian bench to understandably jump up in protest. Once Sikazwe realized he screwed up, he restarted the game … only to blow it dead again with 15 seconds remaining in regular time. No stoppage time, no nothing. The Tunisians really lost their formaldehyde this time and surrounded the officiating crew to emphatically tell them they disagreed with the decision.

Now, one theory being floated is because there was a cooling-off period to allow the players to get some refreshment late in the second half — that took around seven minutes — Sikazwe forgot to stop his watch and the time rolled on, meaning he would have looked at his watch and saw that more than 90 minutes had been played. I … don’t know about that. Tournament officials decided to restart the game — during the post-match press conferences, of all times — and the Malians returned to the pitch. The Tunisians didn’t, giving the decision to Mali in the end.

What an absolute gong show and you can be sure there were plenty of questions for the Confederation of African Football to answer.

Until next time, folks … remember to check your watches.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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