- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

DETROIT (AP) | Don’t count Tiger Woods among those glued to their TVs during the Stanley Cup Finals.

The world’s top golfer appeared via teleconference yesterday, promoting August’s PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit.

Woods was asked whether he was rooting for Detroit or Pittsburgh.

Woods started to laugh, then landed a zinger.

“I don’t really care. Let’s talk about the Dodgers,” the California native said. “I don’t think anybody really watches hockey any more.”

Ouch.

But the improved television ratings for this year’s finals doesn’t seem to match Woods’ assessment.

The Penguins’ victory over the Red Wings on NBC drew the best overnight rating for a Game 3 of the Cup finals in six years. Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win on Wednesday night earned a 2.8 national rating and an 18.2 rating in Detroit, beating out the 15.9 rating for the Pistons’ matchup with the Boston Celtics in the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals.

The combination of Games 1, 2 and 3 have made this the highest-rated and most-watched opening games of the finals since Detroit faced Carolina in 2002.

“The National Hockey League has enormous respect for Tiger Woods, for all his accomplishments and for his work with the community,” NHL spokesman Frank Brown said. “We think he’s a great golfer.”

Howe’s he doing

Red Wings legend Gordie Howe has been a presence during the Stanley Cup Finals - and all season long - showing up at games and even practices.

“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be here all the time,” he said. “I really enjoy watching practice.”

Away from the rink, the 80-year-old Hall of Famer spends much of his time caring for his wife, Colleen, who suffers from Pick’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder that causes dementia.

Howe, when asked how his wife is progressing, said the situation was “not very good.”

“It’s sad. She hasn’t said a word the last couple years, and she’s getting thinner,” he said. “She’s tough, but it’s been a tough stretch.

“The doctor has said, ‘I don’t want to scare you, but there’s no cure for it,’” Howe said.

The legendary tough guy, whose “Gordie Howe hat trick” in a game means recording a goal and an assist and getting into a fight, made waves at a recent appearance at Joe Louis Arena by carrying a dog - a little one.

Like Paris Hilton might have.

The tiny “teacup” dog is named Rocket after Canadiens great Maurice Richard.

“When I was in Montreal once, he said, ‘What’s your dog’s name?’ I said, ‘Rocket.’ He said, ‘You son of a gun, naming a dog after me.’”

New rivalry

The Penguins-Red Wings matchup is the first time since the 1909 World Series that teams from Pittsburgh and Detroit have met in the championship game or series of any of the four major sports.

The Pirates beat the Tigers in seven games in the only previous title decider pitting the Steel City and Motor City, which are separated by 210 miles and have rich athletic histories.

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