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NHL, NBA could put a stop to tanking

Sometimes, we overlook the simplest ideas that make sense. You know the orange plastic bags that look like pumpkins and are ideal for collecting leaves? It was an uncomplicated yet brilliant concept. The same goes for Velcro and zippers and long-stem grill lighters and … you get the point.

Since my idea to invent triangular, sealable Baggies that would be used to store leftover pizza slices has gone nowhere, allow me to introduce the following format that should be used for determining draft order in the NHL and NBA:

The team with the highest winning percentage at the time it’s eliminated from postseason contention gets the first pick overall. The second-best team that fails to make the playoffs would get the second pick, and so on. The worst team would receive the last pick before playoff teams, or near the middle of each round.

Make sense?

The incentive of an improved draft position would force teams to make an honest effort to reach the postseason, which should be the minimum standard in professional sports. Teams in contention that fall short of the postseason would be rewarded. The top pick the following year would improve its chances of taking the next step.

Teams that flounder around the bottom of the standings because they have poor players or incompetent general managers would be penalized. It would force them to build better teams that can compete for the postseason. If they make the playoffs, it’s a success. But if they come close and miss, they win a prize for giving it their best shot.

It would put more pressure on franchises to succeed. It would make for stronger, more competitive leagues and better balance. It would create more excitement in late-season games involving poor teams and inject stakes into otherwise meaningless games. Every contest would matter on some level.

And it would all but eliminate tanking.

Draft lotteries were implemented because teams started losing intentionally late in the year to improve their draft positions. The weighted lottery system was designed to curb the practice and make more teams eligible to select elite players usually found early in the first round. But losing continued to pay dividends.

Teams these days brace their fans for terrible seasons knowing they will be rewarded the following year. It’s not how professional sports were designed. The people paying most are fans who purchased season tickets under the guise their favorite teams would make an effort to compete when, really, it was all just a show.

Just so you know, this isn’t specifically about the Sabres. It’s about them and any other franchise that purposely patches together inferior rosters with the idea that losing today means winning tomorrow.

The Sabres appear to be trying to develop players on the fly. If they lose, well, they lose. They believe a few miserable seasons will be quickly forgotten if they turn around the franchise. It’s a big if, by the way, but at least they warned their fans.

The Philadelphia 76ers, despite their win Wednesday over the Heat, are one of several teams taking a similar tack in the NBA. The Sixers did almost nothing to improve in the offseason. The upcoming draft is considered one of the deepest in years. The worse they play this year, the better their chances of landing an elite player.

You can’t blame them. Instead, blame the rules.

In professional sports, winning should be the goal. That’s why they keep score. It’s a simple concept that’s often overlooked.

Miller could appeal to Avs

The Avalanche will likely let the legal process take its course, but it’s difficult to fathom them keeping goaltender Semyon Varlamov if accusations against him in a domestic-violence case are remotely true.

Varlamov faces kidnapping and assault charges after his girlfriend told police he kicked her, threw her to the ground, stomped her and dragged her out of his bedroom by her hair. He has been released on $5,000 bail. His agent claims he’s innocent.

The 25-year-old goaltender has played a major role in Colorado’s great start. He has a 7-1-0 record with a 1.76 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. He will be allowed to travel but has been ordered to stay away from his girlfriend.

You can’t help but wonder if Varlamov’s legal problems could lead the Avalanche to turn their attention toward Ryan Miller. I’m not suggesting the two sides are talking, but Miller would be a good fit on a team with postseason aspirations.

Chamblee backpedals

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee admitted he crossed the line a few weeks ago when he compared Tiger Woods violating golf rules to cheating on a fourth-grade math test. Chamblee drew the comparison in a piece that appeared on

“In comparing those incidents to my cheating episode in the fourth grade, I went too far,” Chamblee told the Associated Press. “Cheating involves intent. Now, I know what my intent was on that fourth-grade math test. But there’s no way that I could know with 100 percent certainty what Tiger’s intent was in any of those situations. That was my mistake.”

Chamblee didn’t realize when writing the piece that he was flirting with a potential libel lawsuit against him. He could have suspected Woods of cheating without any trouble, but he couldn’t conclude Woods cheated without having factual evidence. It may look like a fine line but, when it comes to journalism, it’s a huge difference.

He should have followed the advice of his editors. They tried telling him to change the piece, but he refused to listen.

FAU coach breaks bad

So much for any “Say no to drugs” lecture Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini may have given over the years.

Pelini, the brother of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis resigned immediately after they were presented with evidence from FAU administrators showing they were doing drugs. They were escorted off campus by security after meeting with Athletic Director Pat Chun and admitting their involvement.

No charges are expected but, apparently, the proof was indisputable.

“It was an emotional meeting, but once I articulated all the facts I had, they tendered their resignation,” Chun told the Sun Sentinel. “There wasn’t a high level of debate.”


Devils winger Jaromir Jagr on not being the all-time leader in game-winning goals after initially being told he was: “I didn’t know I was, so I didn’t know I wasn’t.”

Stats Inc.

20 – Career RBIs in the postseason with the bases loaded for Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, who has two grand slams and six hits in eight at-bats.

1 – Victories this season in First Niagara Center for Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

0 – Victories this season in First Niagara Center for Sabres coach Ron Rolston.

Quick hits

• The Florida State-Miami game this weekend marks the first time since 2004 that they meet when both were ranked in the Top 10. Said Seminoles defensive back Terrence Brooks on opposing players talking trash: “I really wish teams would be quiet and play football. … It’s kind of like those commercials you see – messing with Sasquatch.”

• Why the hubbub over the Orlando, Fla., man who is $13 million richer after twice winning the state lottery? According to Forbes, he wouldn’t have cracked the Top 100 highest-paid athletes for 2013. Tiger Woods is expected to earn $78 million, including $65 million from endorsements, this year.

• Charles Barkley is capable of saying just about anything, but he’s incapable of referring to the NBA team in New Orleans as the “Pelicans.” It’s not because it’s offensive to pelicans, but because it’s offensive to him. “I’ll never say that silly nickname for that team in New Orleans,” Barkley said.