– Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet is reporting that F Ilya Kovalchuk is close to signing a contract with the Kings. A source close to the situation said that the major problems that was holding the deal back have been corrected and that Kovalchuk was close to signing a long-term contract with the Kings. Stay tuned, as Kovalchuk was the major UFA in the NHL in the off-season.
– F Bobby Ryan and the Ducks remain at a standstill for a new deal. Ryan is an RFA and has already turned down a 5-year/$25M contract and a 4-year/$18.6M deal from the Ducks according to GM Bob Murray. Some NHL team could make Ryan an offer and then the Ducks would have to decide whether or not to match it or take the compensation. Ryan had 35 goals and 64 points last season so a lot of teams have to be interested in that kind of production from a 23-year-old. Expect the Leafs to be serious bidders.
– The Wild have signed F Mikko Koivu to a7 -year/$47.25M contract with a full no-trade clause. Koivu wanted a seven year deal and the Wild obliged as he could have left as a UFA at the end of next year. Koivu thought he was worth at least $7M per season as a UFA and the Wild gave him close to that to keep him in a Wild uniform until the 2017-18 season. Look for Koivu to average a point a game next season.
– The Hurricanes will retire F Rod Brind’Amour’s number 17 on February 18. The Hurricanes will host the Flyers, Brind’Amour’s second NHL team. He played three seasons for the St. Louis Blues and then eight-plus seasons with the Flyers before finishing the last 10 seasons of his career with Carolina. Brind’Amour finished his NHL career with 452 goals and 1,184 points in 1,484 games. Congratulations to Brind’Amour on an outstanding NHL career.
– F Pavol Demitra has signed a one-year contract with Yaroslavl of the KHL. Demitra was a big disappointment last season for the Canucks as he managed only three goals and 13 assists in 28 games. The 35-year-old Slovakian heads to the Russian League like many veterans who look to end their career with a lot of money and not a lot of pressure by playing in the KHL. It could be the last the NHL hears of Pavol Demitra.
– The Red Wings have re-signed D Derek Meech to a 1-year deal. He played in 49 games for Detroit last season, with two goals and four assists. He has 16 points in 126 career NHL games.
– The Canadiens have signed F Alexander Avtsin to a 3-year contract. Avtsin is a highly regarded 19-year-old prospect who managed to score six goals and nine points in 30 games with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL. Avtsin has been to the Habs prospects camp the last two summers. Keep an eye on him in training camp because he could surprise.
– The Capitals have re-signed F Jay Beagle to a 2-year deal. The 24-year-old Beagle played in seven games with Washington last season, scoring his first NHL goal Nov. 23 at Ottawa. He had 16 goals and 19 assists in 66 games for the American Hockey League champion Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ top minor league affiliate.
– The Bruins have signed recently acquired F Gregory Campbell and D Adam McQuaid to 2-year deals, and D Andrew Bodnarchuk and F Jeff LoVecchio to 1-year contracts. Campbell, a 6-year veteran, had two goals and 15 assists in 60 games for the Panthers last season. McQuaid has played in 19 NHL games, all last season with Boston. Bodnarchuk played in his only five NHL games after being called up by Boston from Providence of the AHL on April 3. LoVecchio played in 79 games for Providence the past two seasons but has no NHL experience.
– D Brendan Mikkelson has accepted a 1-year qualifying offer from the Ducks jj=ust a few hours before it would have expired. He will make $687,500 next season.
– Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan reiterated that his team is not interested in free agent WR Terrell Owens. When Shanny last shot down T.O. rumours, he qualified his dismissal with the words “right now.” He reaffirmed Thursday that he “made a commitment relative to T.O., that we were not gonna go in that direction.” Shanny’s stance is an important one for Santana Moss, who would have lost the No. 1 receiver role had the ‘Skins reunited Owens and Donovan McNabb.
– Dolphins’ NT Jason Ferguson announced his retirement from football on Thursday. Ferguson re-upped with Miami in March shortly after explaining that his football future was a “toss up.” The 35-year-old was not only coming off a torn quadriceps but also facing an eight-game suspension to open the season. A favorite of Bill Parcells, Ferguson was a prototypical, and often unsung, run-stopping nose tackle for the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins over the past 12 seasons. Randy Starks and Paul Soliai will hold down the middle of Miami’s defensive front.
– Warriors’ coach Don Nelson said Thursday he’s hoping to convince the new owners of the Warriors to let him coach for one more year. Fans are calling for Nellie’s firing and we’re guessing the new ownership won’t have any sentimental feelings about the end of the road for Nelson.
– The Heat have officially signed F Mike Miller to a 5-year deal. He’ll be a 3-point specialist off the bench and was one of LeBron’s targets since the moment he realized he was leaving the Cavs.
– Warriors’ owner Chris Cohan reached an agreement Thursday to sell the franchise for a record $450M to Celtics’ minority partner Joe Lacob and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber. Lacob and Guber beat out three other finalists, including Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who had been considered the favorite to buy the team from Cohan. Ellison has a personal fortune of $28B, according to an annual survey by Forbes magazine, and is the sixth-richest man in the world.
– The Rockets have re-signed F Luis Scola to a 5-year/$47M deal. Scola averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds last season and will spend time at both center and power forward again this year. He’s yet to miss a game in his three-year career.
– The Magic have matched the 3-year/$19M offer sheet from the Bulls for G J.J. Redick.
– WEEI reports that the Rangers have once again began monitoring Red Sox’ 3B Mike Lowell. The Rangers now have an opening at first after their trade with the Mariners. In 80 at-bats so far this season, Lowell is hitting .213, with two homers and 12 RBI.
– ESPN reports that the Mets are considering a trade for Astros’ RHP Brett Myers. He has a mutual option for $8M in salary next year but $2M buyout. Myers is 6-6 with 89 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.41.
– Phillies’ 2B Chase Utley (thumb) had his cast removed on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Utley will wear a brace on his hand for the next three weeks. He thinks he will be able to return action quickly after that. “We still have to be smart about everything. We want it to heal. That 5- to 6-week [post-operation] period is apparently how long it takes to heal properly. At that point, I think we’ll have to play it by ear, but that’s when I’d like to start getting back into it.” Utley is targeting a 6-week recovery time as opposed to the 8 weeks doctors originally suggested. That would have him back in mid-August.
– The Padres have placed RHP Mat Latos (strained left side) on the 15-day DL. I knew the Padres were going to find a way to stash him on the DL, as he’s tossed a lot of innings this season and they were looking for ways to limit that. “I held my sneeze walking down the [dugout] steps and felt a little pull,” Latos said. Sure. Look for Latos to return as soon as he is eligible on July 24.
– The Twins have placed 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 8. Morneau tried working out on an elliptical machine Thursday, but was still feeling some “fogginess.” He suffered the concussion after taking a knee to the head while sliding into second base last Wednesday. It’s a very tough blow for the Twins, who are quickly losing ground in the AL Central.
– The Orioles have placed C Matt Wieters (strained right hamstring) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 10. Wieters suffered the strain a few days before the All-Star break. It’s a pretty routine injury, so he should be ready to go once his stint on the DL is up, but the O’s couldn’t afford to open the second half with only one catcher. Wieters has a .672 OPS and six homers in 77 games this season.
– The Mets have transferred 1B Fernando Tatis to the 60-Day DL.
– Cubs’ RHP Carlos Zambrano has reported to the Cubs’ spring training complex in Arizona to begin working toward a return. Big Z has not been throwing for the past few weeks, focusing instead on team-prescribed anger management therapy. He is a reliever now, so he should only need about 10 days to build the necessary endurance. Look for him to return to the Cubs’ bullpen by early August.
– The Braves have placed LHP Eric O’Flaherty (viral infection) on the 15-day DL.
– The Cardinals have placed OF Nick Stavinoha (right shoulder strain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 12.
– The Dodgers have placed OF Reed Johnson (sore lower back) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 9.
– The Royals have transferred RHP Gil Meche to the 60-day DL.
– The White Sox have signed OF Jeremy Reed.
– Eric Bischoff has posted a new blog on his official website explaining his time away from TNA this month, Hulk Hogan’s health following his recent back surgery, Batista doing MMA and more. Here are some highlights of what he said about:
Taking Time Off From TNA: “The 4th is a special holiday for us as it is not only our favorite national holiday, but it’s also my wife’s birthday, (and now our new anniversary) as well as the anniversary of my fathers passing 10 years ago. My friends and family from around the country have started coming out to our place in Cody as a sort of unofficial ‘friends and family reunion and it has become a big part of our lives over the last 10 years.’”
Hulk Hogan’s Back Surgery: “Just hung up with Hulk. His recent back surgery seems to have gone well and for the first time since I’ve known him, it sounds like he is taking his doctors advice and giving himself some down time to heal properly.. I get on him like his mother sometimes, as every time he previously had a back surgery, the first thing he would do the minute he was feeling better was go down to the gym and see if the surgery worked by pushing weights around. His spirits are way up, he’s feeling great and looking forward to what’s coming up.”
Batista Doing MMA: “Not so sure about Bastista’s move into MMA. Unless he has some amateur wrestling or legitimate kick-boxing background that I am unaware of, sounds like a quick payday, but not so much of a long term plan. It takes years to develop solid wrestling skill as well as punching/kicking technique. At 40 years of age, it’s a hell of a lot of catching up to do when you are in there with fighters half your age who have been on a mat or in a dojo all their lives. That said…like Dave a lot and wish him the best.”
– Regarding rumors of TNA having an interest in JBL, he is definitely not going there. He and Dixie Carter are friendly, and they had previously courted the former WWE champion prior to their Monday night debut earlier this year, but Layfield has been happily retired since losing to Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 25 in 2009.
– There is a great deal of speculation about Chris Jericho possibly departing WWE, or at the very least taking a leave of absence, when his contract expires this September. His game show “Downfall” on ABC, according to Jericho’s twitter, will resume filming episodes this fall, and now he has also released a list of UK tour dates for his band Fozzy. As you can see, two of the shows fall on a Monday night and Jericho is (for now) a member of the Raw roster. Moreover, the schedule is extensive and would require him to be out of the country for an extended period in the month of October:
10th – Cardiff, Millenium Hall
11th – Sheffield, Corporation, a Monday night
13th – Edinburgh, Studio 24
14th – Belfast, Spring & Airbreak
15th – Dublin, Button Factory
16th – Manchester, Club Academy 3
17th – Leicster, Leicster Academy
18th – Norwich, Waterfront, a Monday night
19th – Southampton, Taylors
20th – Yeovil, The Orange
The last time Jericho left WWE in August 2005, he did not return to television until November 2007, having arguably the best run of his entire career.
– CM Punk is expected to be kept out of the ring for another month. He had floating particles in his elbow which was causing it to lock up. He underwent minor surgery as a result.
– WWE is currently working on a new theme song for MVP.
– Though Vince McMahon made the call to pull Finlay from television due to his advancing age, 51, he is being booked to appear on live events to work with younger talent. Many feel rookies working with rookies does no good, but Finlay, as well as Goldust, can be solid teachers in the ring at house shows.
– Talk is spreading fast in many circles about a new promotion based in Florida that has already signed close to 40 wrestlers, all of whom have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements to prevent them from speaking about it. The group is said to be run by Pete Karoftis, a former independent promoter in Florida, and Sean Davis, a Florida independent wrestler. The interesting part to all this is that the financing for the operation is said to be coming from Milton Wilpon, a member of the Wilpon family that owns the Mets baseball franchise.
The wrestlers’ contracts offer benefits packages that neither WWE or TNA currently offer. The company is trying to keep the names close to the vest as there are names being talked with whose WWE contracts are expiring or who are under contract to TNA, including one major TNA name whose deal is set to expire shortly. They are also going after several top ROH names. Names that can be confirmed so far include Too Cold Scorpio, Sean Waltman and Vader. Shane Douglas, Justin Credible and Sabu are among the other names being talked with. The group is said to be in favor of unscripted interviews, little in the way of writing out the shows and trying to give it a more legit sports feel.
Marc Valeri – firstname.lastname@example.org
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