A DISAPPOINTING RETURN. To the great consternation of many of my friends, I am a hockey fan. This comes from my father, who was a high school hockey coach whose team used to win the championship of Central Massachusetts every couple of seasons, thereby earning the right to go to the state tournament in Boston and get wasted by some squad made up primarily of players who would go on to join either a) the Boston College Eagles, or b) the Winter Hill mob. Or, occasionally, both.

I had high hopes for this year's Stanley Cup finals, despite the overwhelming empirical evidence that the National Hockey League is run by marmosets. (Q: How shall we cement our dwindling support within the general public? A: I know. Let's make the sport freaking DISAPPEAR for a year and see if anyone notices. Nobody did.) Edmonton and Carolina were both talented clubs suited ideally to the new, free-skating NHL. So, for two-and-three-quarters periods, the two teams put up a rip-roaring Game One. Then an Edmonton defenseman checked a Carolina forward into his own goalie, Duane Roloson, who almost single-handedly had gotten the Oilers to that point throughout the playoffs. Roloson got knocked unconscious, blew out a knee in the process, and was lost for the rest of the series. His replacement bungled in overtime and set up the Carolina gamewinner. Then the Hurricanes blasted the Oilers, 5-0, in Game Two, and what might have been a great playoff final pretty much went up the spout. Why do I think the Democratic Leadership Council has a hand in this?

--Charles P. Pierce