If the NHL doesn't return for 05-06 or goes with replacement players for '05 the NHL will never regain the status of a major sport and will have to fight arena football for news space or go the way of indoor soccer..... Steinbrenner did not want to shell out the extra $40 million to the league for Beltran but how much is it going to cost him to get a good center fielder to replace a Bernie Williams who's skills are rapidly declining. How much will it cost if the Yankees don't win it all or don't even make the playoffs. This could be the year that neither the Yanks or Bosox don't make the playoffs. Yankee and Sox pitching are both suspect, however the Orioles seem to lack a closer to make a run for it.....Watching ARod play I am amazed that he is considered one of the greats of the game. I can't remember one crucial Yankee game that he has come up big. Granted he is playing a new position but fast balls seem to bother him. Sure he will hit a lot of homers but how many will be game breakers and no way will he break DiMaggio's record for most homers in a season by a right handed batter, 46.....So now we see the campaign themes of 2006. The Republicans would like to get private Social Security accounts, restructure the Income Tax, drill for oil in Alaska, make permanent the Bush tax cuts and the Democrats would love to topple Tom Delay from congress.....You know the NHL is in trouble when Larry Brooks is writing baseball stories for the NY Post. Larry is without a doubt the premier hockey writer. Has been on target throughout this whole fiasco.....Now that negotiations have broken down does this mean that the players offer to cut their salaries by 24% get erased or is it firmly etched in Bettman's plans never to be discussed anymore.