It appears as though the only way the NHL can lose on this year’s Stanley Cup final is if the series becomes a boat race for the Detroit Red Wings.

This heavily-hyped finale lived up to expectations in the television ratings department south of the border, posting a six-year high for American viewership in Game 1 of the series. More than 2.3 million viewers tuned in to Versus to watch the Wings beat Pittsburgh 4-0 on Saturday, representing an increase of 157 per cent over the opening game of last year’s Cup final.

To put that in perspective, that’s the second-largest audience ever for a program on Versus, surpassed only by Lance Armstrong’s final ride at the Tour de France.

>> As the B.C. Lions get set to kick off training camp later this week, the health of the franchise continues to improve. It was only six years ago that the Leos couldn’t give tickets away to get fans in B.C. Place, but that has changed dramatically under the stewardship of Bob Ackles and Wally Buono.

The Lions announced yesterday the season ticket base is up once again, with more than 24,000 football fans already on board for each of the nine home games. That number should increase last year’s average attendance of 32,456, which means the Leos have nearly doubled their live audience since Ackles returned to the club he left for the NFL in the mid-1980s.

>> Major League Baseball has considerably toughened its drug-testing policy this year, but it still has a long way to go in order to catch up to the one in Japan.

Former Colorado Rockies’ infielder Luis Gonzalez has tested positive for amphetamines while playing for the Yomiuri Giants and he’s not getting off easy. The Japanese league has suspended Gonzalez for an entire year for trying to cheat the system, a far more severe penalty than the 50-game suspension awaiting a player that tests positive in the majors.

I’m all for cracking down on those who challenge the integrity of the game by trying to gain a competitive advantage through chemical enhancement, and I hope (although I doubt) other leagues will follow suit by beefing up their own policies in order to dissuade cheating.

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