PITTSBURGH - Our long regional nightmare ended just past 8 o'clock on Saturday night.
They finally dropped the puck and started the Eastern Conference final between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. There were eight days between games for the Penguins, eight days where there was access but nothing resembling news.
You think that empty week before the Super Bowl is bad? Try eight days of nothingness in a sport where people spend time thinking of new ways to say nothing. It was about as interesting as watching playoff beards grow.
The NHL couldn't start the series any sooner because of the convergence of short semi-final series, TV demands and venue availability issues.
So we got fluff, like the barkeeper who refused to serve Boston-brewed Sam Adams during the series. (And a tip of the cap to him for recognizing how easy it was to get coverage in this vacuum). We got a too-long front page snoozer on the "new" public address announcer, who took over four years ago. Poor TV news crews went eight days without a live shot from the giant screen outside of the Consol Energy Center.
The teams were grateful for some time off to heal injuries, but who knew they'd have enough of a gap to take a Carnival cruise?
The series is finally underway, and it should be great. It's the journey that was torture.
Villain for hire
If John Tortorella, fired by the New York Rangers, can't get another NHL coaching job, there could be an alternate career path for him.
With the beady eyes, the sneer and natural arrogance, he'd be a perfect bad guy manager in the WWE.
The Pirates' relief pitchers have reinforced their self-given "Shark Tank" nickname by borrowing a 150-gallon aquarium that's in the middle of the clubhouse.
It's filled with odd-looking predatory fish, but they may all be endangered species. Clubhouses can be volatile places, and property damage after a burst of temper is not uncommon.
Once at Three Rivers Stadium, a Sunday morning argument over what type of music to play was settled quickly and decisively. Visitors found a quiet clubhouse and Jose Lind's bat embedded in one of the speakers.
A big screen TV that was in the PNC Park clubhouse a few years ago met an unhappy demise. It was pierced by an arrow, turned into a $3,000 target by one of the archery enthusiasts the Pirates had then.
Good luck to the fish.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org