– According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins #1 priority this offseason is re-signing D Sergei Gonchar. There are reports, however, that Gonchar wants a three-year deal without giving the Pens a hometown discount. Gonchar is supposedly looking for $5M annually. The paper notes that one other player wanted to stay but didn’t take a discount in recent years: D Ryan Malone, who was shipped off to the Lightning two summers ago.
– The Canadiens are working with F Tomas Plekanec on a multi-year deal worth roughly $5M annually.
– The Avalanche have re-signed D Adam Foote, 38, to a one-year deal. “This organization is definitely heading in the right direction. Having a young group like we did last year come together and compete at a high level was very special. We’re looking to carry that momentum into next season.”
– The Rangers have acquired D Jyri Niemi from the Islanders for a 6th-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft. The 19-year-old Niemi played in 50 games with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League last season. He had eight goals and 21 assists with a plus-9 rating.
– Despite the firing of coach Mike Brown, the Cavaliers have held onto their three assistant coaches – Chris Jent, Melvin Hunt and Mike Malone. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the three didn’t get fired so that the Cavs had some kind of stability and structure to see F LeBron James and his teammates through this transition period. The most important of the three coaches is apparently Jent, who has been working directly with James on his shooting since 2006.
– The NY Times reports that Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson does not have interest in coaching the Nets or Bulls. “I have not entertained any conversations about that right now. So I just can’t imagine it. Not to say that it’s beyond your wildest dreams, that it never would happen. The strangest things do. But it’s just not part of my conscious thought right now.” Jackson’s contract expires July 1.
– Hornets’ GM Jeff Bower says the club has yet to make a formal offer to any candidate for its open coaching job. Bower says the team has had discussions with many impressive candidates and will issue an official update when the process is over and an agreement has been reached. He says any other information should be considered unreliable. A person familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity that Celtics’ assistant Tom Thibodeau is the Hornets’ leading candidate. New Orleans has interviewed eight people for the opening, including Blazers’ assistant Monty Williams and former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.
That said, the Hornets have reportedly offered Celtics’ assistant Tom Thibodeau the head coaching job. Thibodeau has been waiting for this opportunity for several years, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t take it. He’s a defensive specialist, and also appears to be a “player’s coach.” Stay tuned.
– Pacers’ G A.J. Price (fractured patella) has undergone surgery and will miss the next four-to-six months. Price was injured Saturday night while playing in a charity game in New York. The second-year guard averaged 7.3 points, 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds in his rookie season with Indiana.
– As reported earlier, Carlito — real name Carlos Colón — was released from his WWE contract last Friday due to his first violation of the company’s Wellness Program and subsequent refusal to enter a rehabilitation facility. Company sources indicate Colón did not actually fail a drug test. Rather, management felt he was “unfit to perform” after arriving to the Air Canada Centre for last week’s Raw taping. He was told he needed to enter rehab, but refused, denying he had a problem. Hence, officials felt they had no choice but to cut ties with him.
Regarding the problem in question, his father, Carlos Colón, Sr., revealed in an interview with primerohora.com that his son has developed a painkiller addiction. The elder Colón said his son started using them recently in order to cure debilitating back pain, but his use had spiraled into abuse.
“I want to clarify that, contrary to internet and message board rumors, he did not test positive for marijuana, cocaine, heroin or any of those drugs. He was tested because they suspected he was abusing painkillers and it proved to be true. Painkillers are somewhat of a necessary evil for pro wrestlers because of the pain and the constant travel. He started taking one or two when he broke his arm years ago and then it seems he went out of control when he started having issues with his back. He needs help.”
He said his son’s lingering back pain was due to the execution of his finishing maneuver, ‘The Backstabber’ (double knee backbreaker), as he’s forced to endure the brunt of 200 to 300 pound wrestlers on his knees each time he utilizes the attack. He never sought medical attention for his back pain, and thus his reliance on painkillers increased. Interestingly, Colón also said that should his son enter rehab and successfully complete the program, he would get his job back.
“Eddie (Primo), Orlando (cousin of Carlito, known as Tito Colón in FCW) and I are doing everything we can to pressure him into going to rehab and admit he has a problem. This is something that he needs to admit to himself and improve and get out of that situation.”
The late Eddie Fatu (a/k/a Umaga) was similarly released by WWE last June after refusing to enter rehabilitation due to a perceived problem with painkillers. The combined effects of painkillers, tranquilizers and a muscle relaxant ultimately resulted in his death last December at the tender age of 36. The abuse of painkillers has triggered the passings of a number of wrestlers under the age of 50 including Test (33), Rick Rude (40), Brian Adams (44) and Louie Spicolli (27), among others.
Colón reportedly asked WWE for his release three years ago due to frustration over the direction of his character, but was ultimately talked into staying. There was speculation at the time that he was bound for TNA. Considering he’s no longer affiliated to WWE, such speculation has once again resumed. According to sources inside TNA, there is said to be no interest in the ex-WWE star at this time. He is expected to resume working for his father’s Puerto Rican based Wrestling Council promotion, where he is an eleven-time Universal Heavyweight Champion.
– Jim Ross also wrote the following on his blog regarding Randy Orton’s shoulder injury:
“Randy Orton’s apparent shoulder injury, I can’t be sure if it is a shoulder or the seriousness of the injury, really had a profound affect on the PPV. The Orton-Edge match ended as best it could by most standards. Orton, obvious and excruciating pain gutted it out to his credit. After this match the show seemed to valley somewhat until the final bout.
“If, big if, it is Randy’s shoulder, it won’t be the first time that RKO has suffered shoulder issues. Officials will know more Monday regarding Randy’s status. Hopefully this will be a deal where Orton’s off for only a brief period of time and won’t require any surgery to tighten up the shoulder. OU, now Minnesota Viking running back, Adrian Peterson had the same issues his freshman year at Oklahoma but surgery took care of his issues and he did not miss that much time…
“I sure hope that Randy Orton is going to be O.K. as losing him especially hurts. Randy hit me with a text late Sunday night and he’s not even sure what the verdict will be until tomorrow. Raw is going to be an especially compelling, two hours of live TV Monday night.”
According to F4WOnline, there’s a lot of speculation that Randy Orton’s shoulder injury actually took place prior to Sunday’s Over The Limit pay-per-view, but kept the injury under wraps hoping it would heal without him missing any ring time. Orton was seen favoring his arm backstage after his match at Saturday night’s live event in Cincinnati. Orton is seen clutching his arm at the conclusion of the match. After further aggravating the shoulder at Over The Limit, Orton went ballistic backstage and wrecked the trainer’s room.
– WWE superstar Batista, who is parting ways with the wrestling promotion, is training for a possible career in MMA. WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross commented in his blog at JRsBarBQ.com about the news that Batista would be following in Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley’s footsteps. He wrote:
“I’ve heard some rumblings that when Batista gets healthy that he might try his hand in the MMA world. This rumor is FAR from official but I do know that Batista has been doing some MMA training and has a bona fide interest in the genre.”
“This would be a huge challenge for Batista if he indeed attempts to compete in MMA at a high level which, again, is not a done deal.”
– F4WOnline reports that Ted DiBiase suffered a concussion very early in his match with R-Truth this past Sunday night at Over the Limit when Truth slapped him across the face and knocked him loopy. Despite this, DiBiase continued to work, taking several more bumps before the bout was prematurely concluded. DiBiase is expected to be kept out the ring for a weeks so he can heal. He did not compete at last night’s Raw taping in Toledo, Ohio.
– Monday’s episode of Raw featuring John Lovitz as guest host drew a 3.11 cable rating, down from last week’s 3.4. The show averaged 4.5 million viewers, with a 3.07 in hour one and a 3.15 in hour two. Considering the fact that WWE put on a pretty loaded show with Bret Hart being named the new RAW GM, Batista’s official farewell and the Fatal 4 Way qualifying matches, a 3.1 has to be considered disappointing.
– WWE champion John Cena posted a few messages on his Twitter page this morning regarding Randy Orton’s shoulder injury, Batista “quitting” WWE, and Shawn Michaels’s retirement. Here’s what Cena said about:
Randy Orton’s Injury: “I do not know Randy Orton’s condition so I really don’t want to speak on his behalf although I do hope he is well. I have said it time and time again about him, he is one of the best I’ve ever seen.”
Batista “Quitting” WWE: “As for Batista, I never know how permanent ‘quitting’ really is. The only two I’ve seen quit, and truly not come back yet are JBL and HBK.”
After a number of fans jumped on Cena’s remark that Shawn Michaels “quit” WWE, Cena clarified his comment by saying, “Sorry, outpouring of tweets are correct. HBK did retire, which isn’t as angry as quitting.”
– RAW superstar John Morrison has not been on television as of late because he is still dealing with an ankle injury. No word yet on when he’ll be back in action.
– Zavr Peygumbari, the crazed Mickie James fan who threatened to blow up WWE headquarters after Mickie James was released, was in court today to face the charges filed against him. He applied for an “accelerated rehabilitation” probation program. If he is accepted into the program, he can be put on probation for up to two years and if probation is completed, the charges would be dismissed. Zavr is due back in court on June 22.
– Here’s the updated schedule through June 28th:
- May 31: Ashton Kutcher
- June 7: A-Team movie cast (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley)
- June 14: Mark Feuerstein of USA Network’s “Royal Pains”
- June 21: Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune host)
- June 28: Kloe Kardashian
– A source tells Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Astros aren’t looking to trade RHP Roy Oswalt right now. Jackson reports that the team’s stance might change if they continue to languish in the standings into the summer, but even the brightest optimist has to recognize that as pure delusion. This isn’t to say that they should deal Oswalt right now, but they shouldn’t pass up the right deal if it is presented to them tomorrow, next week or next month. Granting Oswalt his trade to a contender should be a top priority for a franchise that is in dire need of young talent.
– White Sox’ SS Omar Vizquel is unsure whether he will continue his career after this season. “It’s hard to play in the role that I am when you’re used to playing every day. It’s hard preparation, sometimes you feel disappointed, sometimes you’re sad. Your mental process is different. You take different ways to prepare and I don’t know if I can do it another year. I could probably do it because physically I feel pretty good, but mentally it takes a toll on your body. It makes you doubt sometimes. I don’t think I want to go through that process again.” Vizquel, 43, said the only way he would considering coming back is if he has a strong finish to the season. He is currently batting .200/.245/.222 over 45 at-bats this season.
– Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has not confirmed that RHP Stephen Strasburg will be called up on June 4. ”That hasn’t been decided yet. There are factors that will be involved when we announce it. And even when we announce it, it’s not going to be settled on until after a couple days after he starts his last start in Triple A.”
– New York-New Jersey will host the Super Bowl in 2014. The decision was made Tuesday after a ridiculous three rounds of voting. New York beat out two other warmer regions — Tampa Bay and South Florida — for the right to hold the NFL’s championship game.
– Hulk Hogan is suing Post Cereals, the maker of Cocoa Pebbles cereal, after they allegedly used his likeness in a commercial. In the “Cocoa Smashdown” commercial, a cartoon character resembling Hogan wrestles Fred and Barney (of the Flintstones cartoon) but then gets smashed by baby Bamm-Bamm. According to the federal lawsuit, Hulk “is shown humiliated and cracked into pieces with broken teeth, with the closing banner, ‘Little Pieces…BIG TASTE!’” He also claims that he has been harmed by “the unauthorized and degrading depictions in the Cocoa Smashdown advertisements.” The lawsuit says Post Foods never sought or received Hogan’s permission to use his likeness and ignored Hogan’s requests to discontinue the ads.
– TNA announcer Jeremy Borash was a guest on the “Right After Wrestling” radio show last night and spoke in-depth about TNA iMPACT! leaving Monday nights and returning to Thursdays.
“I think it’s definitely a different era. It would have been nice to re-capture the competitive spirit of being on Monday nights, but at the end of the day, it was just more of an inconvenience. Perhaps being back on Thursday nights, we can prosper and thrive. At the same time, I would have liked to have stuck it out a little bit longer on Mondays, especially at a point where there were very exciting programs that we did produce. There are a lot of things about the Monday Night Wars that we could have taken part in and really brought some popularity to the idea of it again.”
Borash was also asked about the online reports that TNA will be letting go 15-20 superstars in coming weeks in order to save money.
“I don’t know if you look at it as roster cuts. You don’t say anything or we don’t hear anything about when we spend more money to hire people. When you say ‘roster cuts,’ it obviously invokes an ‘oooh’ kind of feeling to it. At the same time, we have 60-something people under contract, so I think it’s a natural evolution of business. Sometimes you do have to trim the fat. The programs are being written differently where less people are being featured more prominently.”
Borash also spoke also responded to criticism that “Total Nonstop Action Wrestling” and “TNA” are terrible names for a wrestling promotion. Many have pointed out that the name is grammatically awkward and the letters “TNA” conjure up images of what the acronym is most commonly known for – “tits and ass.”
“We have years of promotion invested in it and it’s definitely something, you know – what it is, Total Nonstop Action – they are three easy-to-remember letters. Whether you like it or you don’t like it, it’s stuck around and it’s definitely made us three easy letters to remember.”