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New book offers what it says are hockey's 100 greatest arguments

A one-game showdown between NHL conference finalists should decide the Stanley Cup champion.

So says Bob McCown, and that's not all.

Fighting in NHL games should result in a game misconduct and more for repeat offenders, the notion that Mark Messier was the greatest leader in the history of the sport is a myth, and women's hockey shouldn't be in the Olympics.

Hey, we're only scratching the surface here.

"McCown's Law: The 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments" is in print and is guaranteed to spark debate.

This is a completely different hockey book. McCown was reluctant at first when approached by the publisher but when told he'd have free rein he opted in.

The book assumes plenty of anti-establishment positions, which is right up McCown's alley. The host of The Fan's "Prime Time Sports" radio talk show that is simulcast on Rogers Sportsnet hooked up with Globe and Mail writer Dave Naylor to produce the most interesting entry among all of the hockey books flooding the knee-deep autumn market.

"The idea was: Can we create a debate? Can we make people think?" McCown explains. "I don't expect anybody to agree with all of the arguments we pose, over even 60 per cent of them.

"We wanted to go into issues and circumstances. We wanted to go places where people haven't gone before. Some people will dismiss the book, and I expect that from people who have consumed the Kool-Aid."

The 100 arguments are substantiated and statistical info is often used to back points up, says McCown.

"Dave did an incredible amount of research to support each argument," he says. "We wanted to make sure this wasn't just a nutcase's opinion.

"Most hockey books are odes to the game. They're written by people who are hockey fanatics who are in love with the sport. They're not being critical of it in any overt way. I'm exactly the opposite. I think hockey is fundamentally flawed in so many ways."

McCown argues that a one-game Stanley Cup final would be financially viable for the NHL. If a Super Bowl-like aura emerged around it, U.S. network TV would eat it up, he says.

"A league that has all the warts of the CFL has the Grey Cup game that is annually one of the most-viewed sporting events in this country," he argues. "It has cultural significance and draws in a lot of people.

"Part of the reason in that is that my investment in time is four hours - one day - and I don't have to watch seven games, and there's no limit to what people will pay to be at an exclusive event."

A one-game NHL final at a pre-determined location with a week's worth of parties and league awards ceremonies thrown in is the way to go, he argues.

On Messier, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night, McCown argues that during the 10 years after he helped the Rangers win the championship in 1994 "his supposedly magical leadership abilities added up to zilch."

On women's hockey in the Olympics, McCown contends that it is not the mandate of the Winter Games to promote a particular sport.

"There's plenty of sports in the Olympics that have no business being there and I think women's hockey is one of them," he says.

His conclusions will spark debate, which delights him.

"The goal is not to have people agree with me," he says. "I'm just as happy if you say you disagree.

"This about creating thinking. You've got thousands of people out there who all believe hockey is a particular thing, and 99 per cent in the media are defenders of the game.

"That's one thing that has always appalled me."

In paperback, it'll be easy to discard if found objectionable. It also could spark priceless debate.

"It was an intriguing project," says McCown.

(324 pages, Doubleday Canada, $19.95)



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