– The Capitals have re-signed F Nicklas Backstrom to a 10-year/$67M deal. Backstrom was set to become an RFA this summer, but as F Alexander Ovechkin’s main setup man and a 101-point season under his belt, the contract will be staggering. The 22-year-old Swede stays long-term with Ovechkin, who is entering the third year of a 13-year/$124M contract. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Backstrom set career-highs with 33 goals and 68 assists this season, and his 101 points ranked fourth in the league. He has yet to miss a game over three NHL seasons. Backstrom’s contract pays him $6M for the next four seasons, with the amount gradually increasing to $8M by decade’s end.
– The Sabres have signed F Mike Grier to a one-year deal. Grier scored 10 goals and had 22 points in 73 games for Buffalo this past season. He also had a pair of goals in the Sabres’ six-game loss to Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
– The Wild have signed F Chad Rau to a two-year deal. The center ranked third in the league in goals and fourth in scoring for the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston last year.
– The Panthers have named Dale Tallon as the club’s new GM, replacing Randy Sexton less than a year after he was officially named to the post. Tallon was the Blackhawks’ GM from 2005-09 but he lost that position after Chicago failed to send offers to their RFAs prior to the deadline. Tallon managed to sign all of the players in question to avoid them from potentially becoming unrestricted free agents, but the error almost certainly forced Chicago to pay them more than they had originally intended. Tallon was demoted to the role of senior adviser of hockey operations after the incident, but he’s still one of the chief architects of Chicago’s young dynasty and is exactly the kind of leader the Panthers need to get out of their decade-long rut. It’s not yet known if Sexton will be given a new role within the organization.
– The Red Wings have signed F Mitchell Callahan to a three-year deal.
– The Oilers have signed F Teemu Hartikainen to a three-year deal.
– According to the NY Post, RHP Pedro Martinez is getting his body ready now so teams can start bidding on him a little later in the season when it becomes clearer which teams are in the race and which aren’t. Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz spoke to Pedro one month ago and at that point the righthander was working out in the Dominican Republic and Miami to ready himself. Pedro is thought to be seeking a contract similar to the one he signed last year with the Phillies. And as contending teams get desperate for pitching around late June or early July, he’s likely to find multiple suitors. The 38-year-old was 5-1 last season with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in nine starts for Philadelphia Stay tuned.
– Indians’ SS Asdrubal Cabrera (broken left forearm) has officially been diagnosed. Cabrera is expected to see a doctor on Tuesday to determine if he will need surgery.
– FOXSports reports that Yankees’ DH Nick Johnson (wrist) had a cortisone shot recently to see if it would help get through a tough time with his right wrist but it apparently kept on hurting and FOXSports is reporting that he’s going to have surgery to fix it that will probably keep him out of the lineup till July. For about two weeks, he’s had inflammation in the wrist that will go under the knife today.
– The Chicago Tribune reports that the Rangers have asked the White Sox about C A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynsi has a no-trade clause that kicks in in a month. He’s making $6M this season and is a free agent at season’s end.
– The Reds are set to sign Cuban defector OF Felix Perez. Perez was set to sign a $3M deal with the Yankees when questions arose regarding his age.
– The Brewers have placed LHP Doug Davis (pericarditis) on the 15-day DL with a heart condition. Pericarditis is an acute inflammation of the lining around the heart, a condition treatable with anti-inflammatory medication. Davis’ case is not considered life-threatening. He woke up with chest pain on Saturday and was subsequently scratched from Sunday’s start Sunday against Phillies. Davis, 1-4 with a 7.56 ERA, has not yet been given a timetable for a return, but his doctor said Davis’ condition was mild and easily treatable.
– Rockies’ RHP Huston Street (shoulder) is in Denver for examination after straining his right groin Saturday during a minor league rehab assignment for Double-A Tulsa. The Rockies’ original plan called for him to be activated on May 25 and take back his closing job shortly thereafter. Obviously that isn’t going to happen. Now it’s likely that Colorado will re-start the clock on his rehab assignment, which means he won’t close games until at least some point in June. Street, on the DL all season with shoulder stiffness, isn’t suffering from a major groin issue, but this is still another disheartening setback.
– The Nationals have purchased the contract of RHP Drew Storen from Triple-A Syracuse. Storen produced a combined four saves and 1.12 ERA over 16 innings for Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse this season. He will report to the team in St. Louis on Monday. RHP Matt Capps and LHP Tyler Clippard are a fine duo to take care of eighth and ninth-inning duties, but Storen is expected to get a look as the bridge to those two, according to MLB.com. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the Nats opted to use in low-leverage situations initially as he acclimates himself to the big leagues. The 2009 first-round pick is the closer of the future in Washington, and is the first of two major pieces of the Nats’ franchise to get called up (RHP Stephen Strasburg).
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross announced over the weekend that his “J.R.’s Family Bar-B-Q” restaurant in Norman, Oklahoma is shutting down. “At the end of the day, our business plan could not handle the shift in the economy or the rising overhead that we encountered. We make no excuses.” Ross said that he will continue to sell his line of barbecue products on his JRsBarBQ.com website as well as in grocery stores across the country, a more conservative business model that he says has “unlimited potential.” Despite this professional setback, Ross remains optimistic about his future and life in general. “Life is good…amazing days lie ahead…great health is a blessing…we have much to be thankful for … In the upcoming weeks, my professional schedule is likely to change significantly. I’ve realized that there is only so much that I can pile on my plate so perhaps this unfortunate turn of events is a blessing in disguise.”
– TMZ.com reports that Chyna will not face any criminal charges after a “friend” alleges the former WWE Diva viciously attacked her in a Los Angeles hotel room last month. The LA city attorney dismissed the charges due to insufficient evidence. Former WWE Diva Joanie “Chyna” Laurer has been accused of viciously attacking a female friend in Los Angeles over the weekend. The L.A.P.D. is investigating Chyna for battery after her accuser, Gabriella Targos, says Chyna got so violent with her she thought she was going to die. According to TMZ.com, the incident occurred Saturday night at a motel in Sherman Oaks, CA. According to the accuser, Chyna called her and told her to meet her at the motel. When she arrived, she claims Chyna immediately attacking her for no reason – punching her in the face, dragging her by her hair, beating her with a wire hanger and threatening to kill her.
– The PWInsider reports that in light of Beth Phoenix’ removal from television as a result of a torn ACL, there is talk of splitting up Lay-Cool — Michelle McCool and Layla — and having them feud with each other. It’s also been said that Melina may return to SmackDown once she’s cleared to wrestle, which is expected to take place in June.
– Cody Rhodes recently conducted an interview. The highlights:
Being a Second Generation Star: “It can be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult. I didn’t want to be my dad. I don’t want to be Dusty Rhodes Jr. I want to be Cody Rhodes.”
Being Drafted To SmackDown: “RAW was more of a variety show. Smackdown is more of a wrestling-based show. That’s my area. It gives me a chance to showcase myself. I feel I’ll do really well between the ropes. I think things are going to be changing for me along with the brand change. As a fan, I like to see the talent evolve and I need to evolve. I really wasn’t a character on RAW. It was ‘here we have our second- and third-generation superstars.’ Now, fans will have the opportunity to see who Cody Rhodes is.”
Legacy: “The point was to introduce us, as The Legacy, the same as when Randy Orton and Batista were brought in with Evolution. I don’t think it’d be totally bizarre if three, five or seven years down the road from now, you saw a Wrestlemania match with me and on the other side, Ted DiBiase.”
– Cody Rhodes donned a jacket while making his ring entrance for his match against Chris Masters, with “Uncommon” written. He then cut a heel promo and asked ring announcer Tony Chimel to introduce him as “The Uncommon” Cody Rhodes.
– Brett DiBiase (knee) had surgery on Monday in Alabama with Dr. James Andrews, reports f4wonline.com. The damage to his knee wasn’t as bad as originally thought and he will likely make a full recovery. Before the injury, DiBiase was scheduled to be called up to the RAW roster with his brother Ted.
– Hulk Hogan had a big medical scare this week after doctors thought they found an abnormality with his heart. Hogan is set to undergo another back surgery in the coming weeks and has been going through the usual battery of pre-op medical tests to insure he’s healthy enough to go under the knife. According to TMZ, doctors discovered a problem with his Electrocardiography (EKG), which monitors a patient’s heart function. Sources close to Hulk tell TMZ.com that Hogan was sent to a cardiovascular specialist in Florida for further testing. After another extensive round of medical tests, doctors were able to medically clear Hulk who was understandably “very worried” during the whole process. Hogan’s heart has been deemed healthy and he’s scheduled to undergo back surgery soon.
– On today’s episode of Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said TNA will be making a lot of budget cutbacks this week. He described the situation as “not good” and things are “going to start happening soon.”
– In an interview with IGN.com, Madison Rayne discusses how it feels to hold the Knockouts title, working with Tara, prospective talent, whether she plays video games, how she entered the wrestling industry, and more. She was also asked whether she’s disappointed not being on Monday nights anymore.
“As long as we’re still getting our spot on national TV I think everyone in the company’s got something to be proud of. But personally I think it’s a good move to go back to Thursdays. I don’t feel like we jumped back to Thursdays because we were “running scared” like a lot people have been saying. Or because we couldn’t keep up with the competitor. I don’t think it was that at all.
“Dixie Carter and the office at TNA talked to the fans and reached out to the people who were important and helped, over seven years, put us where we are. For the most part, wrestling fans are wrestling fans, so TNA being on Monday night was going to hurt both companies. Whereas if there’s a night for the other product – a separate night where TNA can shine – the wrestling fans are going to be happy because they’re going to get to see wrestling almost every night of the week now. I think it’s a good move.”
– There is heat on ODB over a comment she made online last month disparaging the Knockouts division. After watching the Apr. 12 episode of iMPACT!, she wrote on her Facebook account: “Just watched from my DVR the Knockouts match. Wow, WTF is happening to our division?” This was in reference to a teased ‘Leather & Lace’ match between Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. In another note, her contract expires later this year.
– TNA Knockout Tara (formerly Victoria in WWE) finished up with TNA at Sacrifice, losing to Madison Rayne at pay-per-view. Tara recently blogged that she was unable to come to terms with TNA regarding a new contract.
– TNA is teasing a babyface turn for Mr. Anderson following his match with Jeff Hardy at Sacrifice. Anderson put his hand out for a shake to Hardy but Hardy turned him down. Anderson cut a cocky promo before the match that was well received by the crowd, so there appears to be enough fan interest there to turn him face.
– Bucs’ TE Kellen Winslow (knee) was held out of start of Bucs OTAs Monday after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The date of the surgery is unknown, but it’s at least Winslow’s fifth on the knee in the last six years. While the procedure is described as a minor, routine “cleanup” to fix scar tissue, so many surgeries in such a small time period are certainly cause for concern. Winslow has had two knee operations since microfracture in 2007. K2 is still only 26 (he turns 27 in July), but playing at a high level through age 30 would be quite the accomplishment.
– Chiefs’ RB Jamaal Charles (shoulder) was sidelined for the start of Chiefs OTAs Monday after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. It sounds like he had a routine scope after last season. The situation is one to watch, but figures to be past him by the start of training camp in late July. Thomas Jones ran with the first-team offense Monday. Charles was the Chiefs’ MVP in 2009, so he’s in no apparent danger of losing his starting job.
– The Redskins have signed DE Vonnie Holliday, formerly of the Broncos. Holliday is 34, but was one of the most productive per-snap 3-4 ends in the game last season. The more interesting aspect of this addition is that it could be a sign the ‘Skins are still trying to trade DE Albert Haynesworth. SI’s Ross Tucker is hearing that talks between the Vikings and Redskins are still alive.
– The NBA draft lottery will be held on Tuesday, May 18th at 6pm EST — the teams most likely to land the #1 pick are the Nets (25%), Timberwolves (19.9%), and Kings (15.6%). Following that group will be the Warriors (10.4%), Wizards (10.3%), 76ers (5.3%) and Pistons (5.3%). The Kings lost two more games than the Sixers this year, thereby improving their draft odds by 10.3%. It’s no surprise the worst teams are often accused of taking a dive late in the season
– CSNPhilly.com reports that one of the Nets, Clippers, Hornets, 76ers or Bulls has contacted Woodson to ask him to interview for the open job.
– The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that the team is considering talking to one more person – a ninth candidate – before making the final decision on who will take the reins o this team and hopefully ride it to a championship. That man is rumored to be Doug Collins, who has coached the Bulls, Pistons and Wizards. The team has already interviewed Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin, former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, former Minnesota Timberwolves and current Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, former NBA coach Mike Fratello, Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, former NBA player Mark Jackson, former New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank, and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams.
– The Hawks have reportedly asked the Mavericks on Saturday if it can talk to assistant coach Dwane Casey.