– The Leafs have finally acquired RFA F Phil Kessel from the Bruins in exchange for a first and second-round pick in 2010, as well as a first-round pick in 2011. The Leafs also signed Kessel to a five-year/$27M deal. Kessel scored 36 goals and added 24 assists in 70 games with Boston last season. Kessel is out until November as he underwent rotator cuff surgery in the off-season. Great move by the Leafs. Boston had no chance of re-signing him, and while Toronto did give up a lot in draft picks, they locked down a sniper for years to come. The team is now loaded with young stars in Bozak, Kadri, Stalberg and Hanson.
– The Wild have officially signed F Petr Sykora to a one-year/$1.6M deal.
– It is being reported that F Rob Niedermayer is negotiating with a KHL club for the coming NHL season.
– D Chris Chelios is trying to get the NHLPA to bring the recently fired Paul Kelly back. “There’s an awful lot of conversation going on among the players. We’re trying to figure out what happened. Players are going to have to find out how this could have happened to us again and then, obviously we’re going to have to make some decisions. There’s all kinds of questions about the process.” Of the player representatives involved, 22 of the 27 voting went against Kelly.
– The Rays are expected to open next season with a $70M payroll, about $7M too rich for owner Stuart Sternber, which is raising questions about the availability of OF Carl Crawford and OF B.J. Upton. Replacing whoever gets traded will likely be OF Desmond Jennings, who spent time in double-A and triple-A this year, hitting .318 and stealing 52 bases.
Crawford, who will turn 28 next season, has one more year left on his contract worth between $10-11M. He’s hit .303 so far this year and stolen 57 bases. Upton is arbitration-eligible this off-season, is hitting .233 with 10 homers, and has 37 steals. He’ll be 25 next season.
– According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Indians manager Eric Wedge is once again in the hot seat. GM Mark Shapiro is saying the decision has not been made on whether to keep Wedge and his coaching staff just yet.
– According to ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine, the Cubs are not shutting RHP Rich Harden down for the rest of the season. The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan heard from sources Thursday afternoon that the Cubs are calling it quits on the ’09 season for Harden, but that doesn’t appear to be the case – at least yet.
– Phillies RHP Chan Ho Park has been diagnosed with a strained right hamstring and won’t be available to pitch for another two-to-three weeks. Park will head to the Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida this weekend to begin treatment and rehab. He had a 1.93 ERA and 23/7 K/BB ratio since the All-Star break, and will be sorely missed in the middle of the Philadelphia ‘pen.
– The D’Backs are trying to negotiate a change in contract with RHP Brandon Webb. Webb would reportedly prefer to become a free-agent this winter rather than picking up his $8.5M option for 2010.
– The White Sox will shop 3B Josh Fields this offseason.
– As seen on RAW this past Monday, Lilian Garcia made a noticeable error by announcing a Triple Threat Match for the Number One Contendership to the WWE Divas Championship. There were only two Divas in the matchm though – Alicia Fox and Gail Kim. In an update, two explanations have been given from people inside WWE regarding the matter.
The first is that the match was originally written down as a three-way bout earlier that day, but plans were changed at the last minute and she was simply never told. The other is that it was indeed planned as a singles match but was deliberately told it was a three-way match so that she’d look stupid (considering she is on her way out of the company). Unlike a few of her noticeable miscues in recent months, we can confirm that she was fed the bad line on purpose as she did not make it up out of the blue.
As many wrestling fans know, WWE has a history of embarrassing talent who decided to leave the company on their own accord during their final few days. Furthermore, if the latter scenario is true, this would not be the first time in which Garcia was the butt of a joke for the guys to laugh at backstage. Her final show with WWE is expected to take place next Monday night in Little Rock and the rumored plan of her hosting Raw on her final night appears to be off the cards considering WWE already has a guest booked in Cedric the Entertainment. Hence, it should be really interesting to see how WWE handles her departure from television as more often than not, it’s not a graceful one (as Vickie Guerrero, Amy “Lita” Dumas and several others can attest to).
– Regarding John Morrison, he is well liked among his peers in the locker room, and many feel it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a top star. For the record, he is still dating Melina, who is not quite so popular in the locker room. While many feel she has improved her reputation from where it was during her previous stint on the SmackDown! brand, multiple wrestlers still accuse her of being phony.
– WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair officially announced that he’s coming out of retirement this morning on the “Grill Team” radio show based out of Sydney, Australia.
Hogan was in the studio promoting the tour when the hosts announced there was a “surprise” caller on the line – Ric Flair. After some back and forth between the two legends, Hogan made the challenge.
Hogan said, “You put your name on the dotted line and we’ll have the epic battle. Ric Flair, I’m throwing out the challenge to you, brother. Do you accept?” The Nature Boy responded, “Ric Flair accepts on the grandest level of all. Australia in search of a real legend, Ric Flair is on his way!”
Hogan then joked with the hosts, “I’ll need your attorneys to put the deal together because I’m flat broke till I get the advance from the promoters!”
– Cavaliers G Delonte West was arrested Thursday at 10 p.m. after officers pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle while carrying two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun in a guitar case. He had a loaded 9mm Beretta in his waistband, a Ruger .357 strapped to his leg and a loaded shotgun in a guitar case on his back. West is said to suffer from bipolar disorder and left the Cavs for several weeks last season for treatment for depression.
– The Nuggets have offered G Flip Murray a one-year/$1.1M deal. The word is that he would like another $800K in the deal, but the team is already $5.5M over the salary cap. If Murray doesn’t sign, G Keith Bogans is likely the next candidate.
– CBS’ Ken Berger reports that NBA referees received a formal notice of a lockout from the league shortly after 3 p.m. on Friday. The league has also stated it will use replacement officials, starting with training camp next week. Get ready for even worse officiating (if that’s even possible).
– The Rockets don’t want G Brent Barry around this year and are looking to trade him, according to Fox. If a decent deal can’ be found, he’ll likely retire and the Rockets will buy out the last year of his contract.
– According to the NY Times, Nets owner Bruce Ratner is believed to be trying to sell a majority share of the Nets to Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov. Ratner supposedly flew to Russia in July to meet with Prokhorov about buying a portion of the team. You can be sure he would love to unload this turkey. His company has already suffered $380M in pretax net losses for something it only spent $300M for back in 2004.
– The Spurs are in contract negotiations with Greek C Ioannis Bourousis.
– UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre (hamstring) told TSN that he will be ready to resume training in October and will be ready to fight in 2010.
– Roger Federer has been fined $1,500 for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the U.S. Open final.
Federer is being docked the same amount as two other players – Vera Zvonareva and Daniel Koellerer – for audible obscenity. A total of $31,500 in fines is being collected by the tournament, topped by Serena Williams $10K for unsportsmanlike conduct. She also was fined $500 for racket abuse. Canadian Daniel Nestor was docked $5K for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan.
– Former All-Pro LB Derrick Brooks, who recently signed on with ESPN2, is still a free agent and has continued to express interest in his desire to play in the NFL this season. The Saints and the Bears are rumoured to have interest.
– According to ESPN, free agent WR Matt Jones is in discussions with the Titans, Cowboy and Bears.
– The Bills have sigend CB Terrence McGee to a long-term extension.
– Former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis has been offered a position within the team.