Picking Splinters: Catchin’ Up With the Mail

After a long weekend, the magic mailbag’s a little backed up. Let’s dive in and catch up, shall we?


What do you think of Donovan McNabb saying the Redskins can’t win without Albert Haynesworth?

Joe G.

Trick question, the Redskins cannot win with or without Haynesworth.

P.S. No, seriously. — Joe

Well, aren’t you persistent, Joe? Fine. McNabb is no fool. I suspect he’s taken the temperature of the locker room and sensed that his teammates think head coach Mike Shanahan is taking his treatment of the titanic defensive lineman a little too far. As a quarterback, you’re a leader and you want your teammates viewing you as such. If they see McNabb sticking up for a fellow player, maybe they’ll feel that he’ll have their back too.

As for whether or not the ‘Skins actually need Haynesworth on the field to win? I don’t think they do. There was a time when Haynesworth was an elite NFL player. Now he’s an out of shape grouse who would rather whine than show his coach what he’s really capable of. If the Redskins can’t win without a player that’s given 50-percent effort in the pre-season, they were never going to win anyway.


What’s your take on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract fallout? Did the NHL stick it to the players association yet again?

Wayne G.

Believe it or not, I think the NHLPA made out just fine in this deal. Even without Donald Fehr serving as the new head of the union they managed to stop the NHL’s investigations into several previous player contracts and made sure Kovalchuk’s contract went through.

You could make the case that the NHL won a huge victory simply by getting the NHLPA to renegotiate a portion of the league’s collective bargaining agreement two years ahead of time, but the changes really won’t affect the majority of NHL players. It’s just a handful of players that are signing contracts to “play” into their 40s and fewer who will make more than $5.75 million over the three highest-paid years of their contract. Those were the only changes made and right now they would only impact about 50 players at most in the league. There are about 690 NHL players. It’s simple math to see where the majority lies.

If I’m the NHLPA I’m much more concerned about cases like Cristobal Huet, who was banished to Switzerland instead of the minor leagues simply because he signed a contract offer. When the team realized Huet wasn’t worth the price compared to other players, they shipped him out. Somehow the NHL sees this as valid management of the salary cap. I think the NHLPA would see it as the Blackhawks breaking their contract. Expect that point to be addressed when the CBA expires in 2012.


With one win to their name, folks are talking about Boise State as though they’re going to be BCS champions. Can we bring this back to Earth and get people to realize it will be a Big Ten-SEC final this year?


Nick S. and Jim T.

It may well be another Big Ten-SEC clash for the BCS title, but right now Boise State has the easiest path and they already have a big win under their belt. Taking down the Hokies in their first game, while Alabama was mopping the field with San Jose State and Ohio State mauled Marshall should earn the Broncos bonus points in my book.

Now, if Kellen Moore and Co. can earn a win against Oregon State, they can pretty much cake-walk to a top-three finish in the polls. Sure, the Broncos could slip up against Louisiana Tech or Nevada or another WAC opponent, but what’s more likely? Boise State losing in the WAC or Alabama losing in the SEC? Boise State doesn’t have to be the best team in the country to earn a BCS title shot, just in the top two.

Now, if the several schools from the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big East, Pac-10 and Big 12 finish unbeaten, Boise could get crowded out. But until then, I think the Broncos actually control their own destiny.