– Red Wings’ D Nicklas Lidstrom (lower-body injury) is expected to be ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night. D Jonathan Ericsson (appendix) and F Pavel Dastyuk (foot) are likely to be game-time decisions. F Kris Draper (groin) is doubtful.
– According to sources, the Habs have officially offered F Alexei Kovalev the captaincy position for next season. The team is not expected to bring back current captain F Saku Koivu. The Habs have a one-year/$6-$7.5M. The Canadiens have also offered D Mike Komisarek a multi-year contract worth $4M per season, but the pending UFA is holding out for $6M per season.
– Hurricanes’ F Rod Brind’Amour, 39, will play out at least the final two years of his contract. Hurricanes’ GM Jim Rutherford said Thursday that his goal was to bring back the coaching staff intact for next season. Rutherford said a final decision would not be reached until he met next week with team owner Peter Karmanos Jr., but it’s likely Paul Maurice will return as head coach and Ron Francis will remain as associate head coach. Tom Rowe and Kevin McCarthy are assistant coaches and Tom Barrasso the goaltending coach.
– Athletics’ OF Matt Holliday could soon be on the trading block. SS Bobby Crosby is also believed to be available, as the Rays, Royals and Mets are rumoured to be interested.
– According to the Denver Post, multiple sources now maintain that Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle won’t make it through the weekend. Then again, if the Rox go out and sweep the Padres at Coors Field, we could all be signing a different tune on Monday. Stay tuned.
– Cubs’ RHP Carlos Zambrano was suspended by Major League Baseball for six games. Zambrano will not appeal the decision and will miss one start because of the suspension, which begins Thursday. He bumped into umpire Mark Carlson during his tirade Wednesday after being tossed from the game for disputing a call. It’s unclear who’ll start in his place at this point.
– Following an MRI on his ailing right hip, surgery may be an option for Phillies’ RHP Brett Myers. The MRI revealed fraying and possible tearing in the labrum of the hip. He’ll seek a second opinion before making a decision, hoping to the avoid the procedure. “It is possible that Brett will not make his next start. That decision as well as any decision on a possible DL stint or surgery will be determined at a later date,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. Myers is 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 10 starts for the Phillies this season.
Myers said, “First I am going to get a second opinion. . . . I am going to explore every option I need to to keep pitching, but if he tells me, ‘It’s over, you need to have [surgery] now or you could cause damage,’ I will have it. I have to. It’s a no-brainer.”
At this point, surgery remains the most likely option. The Phills, in any case, are unlikely to re-sign Myers this offseason. Stay tuned.
– RHP Eric Gagne has signed with the Can-Am League. He is still eyeing a return to the Dodgers.
– The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Packers’ WR Donald Driver, who skipped OTAs on Thursday, has joined Packers’ FS Nick Collins in “taking issue with his contract.” Driver has been a trooper for the Packers and is still a viable No. 2 receiver, but he’s wrong to think he’s underpaid. 34 and in decline, Driver will collect $6.1M this season.
– Broncos’ RB Brandon Marshall has moved his hip surgery rehab away from the Broncos’ Dove Valley facility in hopes of the team extending his contract. Marshall, who formally approached the team about a new deal last week, is in the last year of his rookie contract and has developed into a top-ten NFL receiver. But he’s likely facing a suspension to open the season and the new coaching staff hasn’t been receptive to individual players’ gripes. The Broncos “are not willing to redo his deal,” according to the Denver Post. Marshall’s agent claims that his client is not a holdout.
– Internally, multiple sources are under the impression that Jeff Hardy has not signed a new contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Matt Hardy posted a blog on his MySpace account last week seemingly hinting that his brother had struck a deal, but he never directly said that was the case. In a follow-up blog, Hardy basically said he enjoys getting a rise out of wrestling websites trying to figure out what he writes.
He wrote: “One that most of the wrestling newsites translated as having something to do with Jeff and the WWE. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Time will tell. Although I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed them picking up the story and trying to decipher it. Plus, it made my blog the #1 myspace blog for a couple days-good press and publicity, thanks guys! It’s no secret I love putting pieces of info out there that allow people to interpret it how they wish. And no, no one made me take it down for letting “the cat out of the bag” HAHA. Here is the original text for those who missed it (and yes, you must highlight it to see it)..”
One source said it’s possible he will agree to a short-term extension that would keep him working for the company temporarily until some of the other top stars return to television, but that was simply speculation on his part.
– In an interview with the Associated Press, Ric Flair says the chances of him wrestling again are very likely.
Flair said, “I would like to, but I’m not going to do anything to rock the boat. I’m in the same kind of shape I was last year when I retired. It’s hard to stay away from something you like so well, especially when you still feel like you can do it. If I did wrestle, it would be overseas, it wouldn’t be here.”
Flair currently serves as an “ambassador” for Ring of Honor and thinks the promotion’s young talent has a lot to offer.
“I do like working with the young guys and talking to them a lot,” Flair said. “They’ve got some great kids. It’s very professional. I wouldn’t put my name somewhere I didn’t think was professional.”
Still, as much as Flair likes being around the action, he still has the urge to walk that aisle and wrestle again. “In my gut, I do,” he said. “Do I think I will? Yes. I’m not going to take no easily. Like I’ve said, I haven’t retired, they retired me.”
“If Brett Favre can come back every once in a while, certainly I can.”
– Jim Ross has posted another blog, which you can you read in its entirety at JRsBarBQ.com. Here are some highlights:
Friday’s SmackDown: “This week’s Friday Night SmackDown is without question wrestling heavy. I think that’s a good thing. Of course with all the current talent rosters lacking depth many will complain regarding who loses and why but that is simply the nature of the beast when talent depth is what it is. I also think that too much is made about won-loss records and not enough about match quality and ever improving story telling within the confines of the ring. Individuals who continue to refine their skills, perform aggressively and consistently will eventually get what they earn and deserve.”
Ric Flair Wrestling Again: After talking to Ric Flair Monday, I have no doubts in my mind that he hasn’t wrestled his last bout. I don’t think that his next in ring wrestling outing will be for WWE but internationally Ric has many lucrative offers that a 60 year old man with somewhat staggering, personal financial obligations likely cannot pass up. The sums of money being purported surrounding these proposed bouts is serious money. These bouts could theoretically run into 2010. I am not generally in favor of Ric stepping back in the ring for multiple dates in other’s rings wrestling who knows who at this point but I also can understand the financial obligations that Ric has and “getting whole” so to speak at this stage of his game has credence. Ric shared his potential schedule with me and he’s going to rack up tons of frequent flier miles in addition to earning major bucks.
WWE’s Upcoming “Hog Pen” Match “The revisiting of the “Hog Pen” match at Extreme Rules in New Orleans will be a sight for sore eyes. I was indirectly a part of such a mess that included live hogs and their manure many years ago in a match between HHH and Henry Godwin. I was to do an interview but kept from being drowned in hog feces. There is a photo of me in bib overalls &rubber boots covered in hog waste and mud floating around somewhere. Not one of the most stellar memories of my broadcast career. I do remember HHH suffering a nasty cut that had to be immediately attended to due to the prominent risk of infection because of the environment of which he was grappling. I think that event might have been an “In Your House” PPV in the old arena in Hershey. Pa.”
– After getting some good publicity out of the now-infamous Denver Nuggets debacle, WWE may be facing some bad publicity stemming from nude photographs of Matt Striker leaking online. Yes, nude photos of Matt Striker. The story is that he sent someone pictures he took of himself which included full-frontal nudity, and the person he sent them to decided to leak them out to the net. They have been picked up by a few celebrity gossip blogs and a quick search on Google will take you to them, although I strongly advise against it.
WWE, under the guise of Linda McMahon, is toning down to PG-rated television more than ever now that Linda has become a member of the Connecticut State Board Of Education. The company is telling everyone that there is to be no blood, very little sexuality aside for some comedy bits, no threatening of serious violence, and a more clean and wholesome family product because they don’t want these things to be thrown back in Linda’s face by any political enemies.
Interestingly, Striker’s announcer deal with WWE is much better than most of the wrestlers because he is not labeled as an independent contractor and has more benefits, and that deal may now be on the line. One member of the roster says that Striker has a tendency of wearing very little clothing and it‘s his M.O. WWE has yet to react to the issue, and there’s a chance the whole thing may blow over as just a blip on the radar.
Striker was a social studies teacher at a high school in Queens, New York while training for his WWE career which began in 2005. He is currently the color commentator for ECW on Sci-Fi.
– Last night, Bobby Lashley took part in a chat session with FightHype.com. Lashley is currently training for his fight against Bobb Sapp on June 27th. Here’s what Lashley said about:
Haters in WWE: “I believe there were people there who didn’t want me there and they were able to use their power there and get me out. And I wanted to fight!”
Working With TNA: TNA really wants to work with me and they give me the opportunity to travel and train, so I may do TNA early in my career.”
WWE Stars Who Could Do MMA: “Right now, I think Shelton Benjamin. He’s an athlete who could learn the skill. For the lightweight division, I would love to see Jamie Noble.”
Who He Likes for Lesnar vs. Mir: “I’d rather not say. I think it will be a great fight for the fans. I know Frank is ready. I’ve talked to him personally. I know Brock is training hard. The fans will get their monies worth in this fight.”
His Strategy Against Bob Sapp: “I said I was going to go right at him so I’m going to go right at him! That’s our plan. Some people like to go away from him, but I’m going to go toe-to-toe with him and see if he can stand it. I want to bang with him!”
– Bulls’ G Derrick Rose had a ‘D’ changed to a ‘C’ on his high school transcript just as he was applying to college, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday. It’s still unknown who changed the grade (and then changed it back after the college transcripts were sent out), but it’s probably just a coincidence that Ferris Bueller also lived in Chicago. What is not a coincidence is that this story broke on the same day that the NCAA’s suggestion that someone other than Rose took his SAT test became public.
– James Harden has reportedly cancelled all workouts with teams picking outside of the Top 5 in the NBA Draft, and is rumoured to be the target of the Thunder at No. 3. Harden is said to be confident he’ll be taken by the Thunder at No. 3 or the Wizards at No. 5, with the Thunder wishing to develop point guard Russell Westbrook instead of taking a flier on Ricky Rubio, who could balk at playing in OKC.
– Wizards’ G Mike James has picked up his player option for the 2009-10 season. He will make $6.7M next season.
– The agent for former Hornets’ G Jannero Pargo, now a free agent, continues to speak with the Hornets about a possible return to the team. Pargo, despite an offer from the Hornets last summer, signed instead with Dynamo Moscow, a one-year/$3.8M deal in the Russian Super League.
– Free agent F Walter Herrmann may return to Spain. Reports say that the club Pamesa Valencia is rebuilding after losing three key players and that club president Manuel Llorente wants to bring Herrmann back. Herrmann played four seasons in Spain after beginning his career in his native Argentina. The Pistons traded for Herrmann in December 2007 in a deal with Charlotte that helped clear the contract of F Nazr Mohammed, who had fallen into a limited role.
– As reported earlier, Raven, 44, returned to TNA this past Monday after a long absence. He was said to have come back in better condition then when he left in early 2008. Towards the end of previous stint in TNA, he was dealing with a thyroid condition as a result his excesses of the past, which caused him to balloon in weight no matter how much he exercised. His medical problems have since been cleared up and his weight is back under control again.
– Former WWE superstar Elijah Burke is working for TNA, but has not yet been offered a contract.