– Bears’ QB Jay Cutler (left knee) will have an MRI on his left knee Monday and it is believed that he suffered a torn MCL in Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Packers. Cutler is coming under heavy fire for not gutting it out and getting back in the game, but perhaps a torn knee ligament will get some to cut him some slack. That said, Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers played with a torn ACL in the 2008 AFC Championship Game. A torn MCL does not always require surgery and Cutler will likely be fine for training camp.
– The Colts presented a contract proposal to QB Peyton Manning’s agent Tom Condon on Thursday, sources tell ESPN.com. This is the first time the two sides have discussed terms for Peyton’s next contract. It was reportedly a more lucrative offer than the4 -year/$72M contract that Patriots’ QB Tom Brady signed in September. The two sides need to complete a deal by March 3, at which point players will not be allowed to sign a new contract unless there is a new CBA in place. Bottom line, Manning isn’t going anywhere.
– Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer will demand a trade from the Bengals, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Palmer is reportedly even willing to “play the retirement card” if he doesn’t get his wish. He’s due $50M over the next four seasons, with none of it guaranteed. Barring a massive restructuring, no one is going to trade for him. If Palmer stays in Cincy, he’s at least likely to get one more season as the starter while they groom a new quarterback.He’s obviously grown frustrated with the Bengals’ struggles and wants out. Mortensen suggests that Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll, Palmer’s former college coach, could have interest.
– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) will miss the 2011 All-Star Game, and F Evgeni Malkin (left knee/sinus infection) is unlikely to play either. An official announcement is expected in the coming days. Crosby is said to be improving and should be able to resume physical activities slowly in the next few days.
– Capitals’ D Mike Green and Canucks’ F Ryan Kesler have been named the alternate captains for Team Eric Staal, while Blackhawks’ F Patrick Kane and Lightning’ F Martin St. Louis have been named the alternate captains for Team Nicklas Lidstrom.
– Islanders’ G Evgeni Nabokov has decided that he will not report to the club after being claimed off waivers on a 1-year/$570K deal.
“I think I’m going to stay home for now, I’m sticking with my decision. It’s nothing against the Islanders and their organization. It’s nothing to do with that. It’s just that I’m at the point in my career where I want to help a team win in the playoffs. I don’t see how I could help the Islanders or what I could do for them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And I hope they understand that.”
“I understand the rules. We’re not stupid, we knew what was going on before we made the decision. But I made this decision because the goal was to play with Detroit.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just hope they will understand where I’m coming from. That’s all. Detroit was willing to give me that time. I’m not sure if other teams would be ready to give me that time. So that’s why I made my decision. Detroit was willing to wait while I got ready. With the Islanders, if I went there, I would need a week or two to get ready and then the season would almost be over.”
“Right now, that’s right. I was surprised they picked me up. I was like, ‘Wow, what’s the point?’ ”
Nabby apparently hung up the phone when Islanders GM Garth Snow called on Saturday. According to a Newsday report from Katie Strang, owner Charles Wang and Snow held a press conference today and gave their timeline of the events over the last 24 hours. Snow got Nabokov’s phone number from his agent Don Meehan, and then called to welcome him to the organization. Nabokov hung up and then Meehan immediately called Snow to let him know that Nabokov was talking on multiple lines and accidentally hung up. Meehan said that Nabokov would call back, but didn’t yesterday. Wang left Nabokov a voice message but that call was not returned until today. Nabokov spoke to Snow during the first intermission today and Snow stated they would talk later. Nabby responded with,
“I want to clear something up. Everybody wrote that Garth Snow left me messages. I have no messages on my phone from him. I didn’t talk to him. So I want to clear that up. He may have tried to reach me but there’s no message from him. I still haven’t talked to him.”
Right now, the Islanders’ options are minimal. They can either keep him and hope he changes his mind (unlikely), or they can suspended him for not reporting, meaning he still won’t be playing for the club anyways. He won’t get paid, and he won’t be allowed to play elsewhere. This option is also unlikely. They can try and hold onto him and hope someone trades for him, or if no one bites, this scenario plays out until the end of the year and everyone parts their own way. The Islanders could appeal to the NHL to “toll” the contract, which essentially means push it to next year. In that case, Nabokov would then “owe” the Islanders a year and Nabokov would not necessarily become a free agent on July 1. Or, they can put him back on waivers.
In order to trade Nabokov, here is what would have to happen: the Isles would inform the league they intend to trade Nabby. Before any trade could be completed, though, the NHL would go to any other clubs that put in an original waiver claim (Red Wings) and ask whether those teams have interest in acquiring Nabokov for the $3,375 waiver price. If an original claimant wants Nabokov, they get him automatically. If more than one original claimant wants him, the team lowest in the standings on the day he was put on waivers gets the player. In that case the Isles cannot execute the trade, original waivers claimants take precedence. If the Isles were the only team that put in a claim, the Isles still are not free to trade Nabokov–Nabokov must clear waivers any time he is being traded or assigned. In that case, any of the 29 teams can put in a claim on Nabokov. If more than one team puts in a claim, the team lowest in the standings gets him. In this waiver scenario, there is no priority given to a team that originally claimed Nabokov the first time he was on waivers. If placed on waivers again, Detroit would almost definitely claim him again, so the odds of Nabokov ever clearing waivers in order to be traded by the Isles are pretty much zero. Keep in mind that he has a no-movement clause and can’t be waived or traded without his permission.
– F Peter Forsberg skated for 45 minutes on Saturday as he attempts to make his final comeback in the NHL. Forsberg, 37, last played in the NHL in the 2007-08 season as he has tried to overcome foot and ankle problems the last few years. “I want to be sure this time if I am going to be good enough. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I’m going to try to do it as soon as possible, but I think it’s going to take some time at least.” Forsberg is scheduled to take part in a full team practice on Sunday. Forsberg is capable of putting up numbers, but his risk of injury is through the roof. Stay tuned.
– Bruins’ coach Claude Julien said that F Marc Savard (head) did not exhibit concussion-like symptoms after leaving Saturday afternoon’s contest against Colorado in the second period. Ex-Boston D Matt Hunwick hit Savard into the boards and he did not return to the game as the Bruins wanted to be cautious with him given his history of problems. Savard appeared rattled after the hit and will travel back to Boston for further evaluation. His status for Monday night’s game in Los Angeles is uncertain at this time.
– Red Wings’ F Pavel Datsyuk (hand) and F Dan Cleary (ankle) are set to return to the Detroit lineup after the All-Star Game. The duo are looking to play on February 2, which will be the first game after the break. The Red Wings only play once more before then, so their return is imminent.
– Rangers’ F Vaclav Prospal (knee) remains out indefinitely with no timetable for his return. He took part in Saturday’s morning skate and said his surgically-repaired knee is getting stronger, though. Prospal has been taking lubricant shots for his ailment. Coach John Tortorella said, “He had another shot the other day so there’s some swelling but the soreness is gone. After the All-Star break, we’ll see how it reacts and go from there.”
– Speaking Saturday for the first time since his dual knee surgeries, Blazers’ F Brandon Roy (knee surgery) said he hopes to return this season. Roy underwent surgery on Monday and was already doing some light shooting on Friday. He was walking without crutches Saturday and said that some parts of his knees felt better immediately after surgery. Roy, however, admitted that the doctors are going to force him to be extremely patient with his return. Although there is no official timetable, Roy was tentatively expected to miss 3-6 weeks following the scopes.
– Heat’ F Chris Bosh (sprained left ankle) admitted Saturday night that he still can’t even jog on the ankle. Bosh’s sprain may be more serious than originally suspected. It has already been a full week since he turned the ankle and apparently isn’t close to a return. Coach Erik Spoelstra said that Bosh must practice before the power forward returns to action. With a pair of back-to-backs on Thursday/Friday and Sunday/Monday without a Saturday practice scheduled, Bosh is in danger of missing another full week.
– WWE creative has discussed reuniting Randy Orton and Edge as a tandem after the Royal Rumble. The duo is scheduled for a dark match at this Tuesday’s SmackDown taping in Cincinnati, Ohio against WWE Champion The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. Orton and Edge formed an alliance known as Rated-RKO in October 2006 to challenge the team of Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The group captured the World Tag Team Championship in November 2006 and officially disbanded in May 2007, after Edge moved to the SmackDown brand.
– According to the WO, many have attributed Michelle McCool’s high-ranking status in WWE to her real-life relationship with The Undertaker. The two, who are now married, became a couple in late 2007 and she has been arguably the most spotlighted — and criticized — female competitor in the organization ever since. McCool herself is well aware of her critics as she frequently brushes them off on Twitter. John Piermarini, a former writer with WWE, recently started a blog recalling numerous behind the scenes stories which occurred during his two year stint with the organization. He reveals that he was the exclusive writer of Lay-Cool and adamantly denies McCool receiving preferential treatment due to her relationship with The Undertaker. Piermarini wrote,
“Vince McMahon appointed me the exclusive writer for LayCool. Not because she got that special privilege but because we asked for it. Let me take this time to say Michelle McCool gets zero favors because she is married to Undertaker. Michelle McCool accomplished everything she got because she was the best.
“If you need to blame someone you need to blame me because I was the one who would push hard for anything Michelle got on TV. Michelle could wrestle and Michelle could talk, a lot of MALE Superstars can’t do that and Michelle would have been successful with or without Undertaker. There were a lot of people who wanted to see Michelle fail and she fought that the entire time I was there.”
In addition, Piermarini recently started a blog recalling numerous behind the scenes stories that occurred during his 2-year stint with the organization. Highlights include:
Piermarini says he originally proposed that Mason Ryan fill Sheffield’s powerhouse role in The Nexus shortly after “The Cornfed Meathead” fractured his ankle. Vince McMahon, however, rejected the idea.
Vince McMahon views Skip Sheffield as a potential number two babyface, behind John Cena. He remains sidelined after suffering a compound fracture of his ankle in August.
Piermarini says the original concept of the Uso brothers was to present them as the opposite of the stereotypical Samoan wrestler—educated, intelligent and wear boots. “Usos would essentially have been the Russell Simmons of the WWE. That preppy hip-hop style,” he says. Piermarini attributes their lackluster push in the organization to Vince McMahon not understanding hip-hop culture, and thus couldn’t comprehend the appeal of the brothers Uso. He also says they fell victim to bad timing due to The Nexus debuting shortly after them.
– Triple H revealed during a recent interview with RXMuscle.com that his and Stephanie’s third daughter’s name is Vaughn Evelyn. She was born in late August. Their other childrens’ names are Aurora Rose (born in 2006) and Murphy Claire (born in 2008).
– Former WWF and WCW talent Sidney Eudy (aka Sid Vicious) was arrested Friday in Memphis, Tennessee after police pulled him over for driving without wearing a seatbelt. The officer noticed a bag containing 18 grams of marijuana sitting on an armrest of Eudy’s car. Eudy was charged with marijuana possession, driving without a license, and not wearing a seatbelt. He was released on $1K bond.
– WWE Hall of Famers Eddie Guerrero, Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka have been confirmed for THQ’s WWE All Stars video game.
– Former WWE talent Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac) discussed reaching rock bottom when he attempted to commit suicide in his hotel apartment in Mexico City.
“I was in Mexico for three years. When I was there, things got really bad…I got in a heated argument that turned into physicality with my girlfriend [Alicia Webb]. I ended up striking her back. I always told myself that I would die before I would hit a woman. So when I did that, I was overcome with guilt and shame. I had no tools to handle it. The only thing I could think of was take a whole bottle of Valium or what was left of the bottle. It was probably around 400 milligrams of Valium.
“I hung myself from the roof of my apartment. It was the darkest moment of my life, or one of them, to get me to do that. It was a lot of build up that I didn’t know how to deal with.”
Webb, known to wrestling fans as Ryan Shamrock during her time in WWE in 1999, found him.
“I was dead. She got me down, which I don’t know how she did it. She is like superwoman. I swear. She did CPR and all that. She kept me alive for 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. Then I was really on life support for three days.
Kevin Nash was there by his side the next day and helped check him into The Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas, a leading psychiatric hospital. He stayed there for four months, where he conducted some much needed soul searching.
Waltman also discussed his last stint with TNA Wrestling, noting that the main reason he is no longer with the company is because he contracted Hepatitis C. Certain athletic commissions prohibit him from wrestling. He said he would return to the organization, but strictly for a paycheck.
“Then try to last as long as I could before I go %$#$ing crazy because their writing sucks so bad. I was on my show, and somebody was talking about it. I told them they dip their pen in $%^& before they write their shows. I have a relationship that is deeper than wrestling in WWE. Honestly, TNA it would strictly be for the paycheck. I really don’t feel any emotional equity with those people at this point.”
The outspoken wrestler feels that for the organization to succeed, they need to get rid of Vince Russo as a writer.
“I like Vince Russo the person. I love him as a human being. Supposedly to my face, he likes me, too, but they don’t want me there because I’m always saying something sucks when it’s the #$%^. They would rather bury their head in the sand than do something correct or listen to somebody else’s input. Everyone is so defensive there. To me, I don’t care whose idea it is. If it’s a good idea, then lets do it. I don’t care who gets credit for it…”
The former member of the New World Order and D-Generation X also gave his take on WWE’s The Nexus faction. He feels the group is more similar to the nWo than DX.
“There would be no DX, if it wasn’t for the nWo, in my opinion. It closely resembles the nWo stuff with the mob mentality and the simple looking logo on the shirt. It’s kind of like let’s make it look less like nWo while copying it completely.
“I like Wade Barrett a lot. I think he has tons of potential. Just to put a guy like that, who is unproven or have any emotional equity with the fans as heel or babyface, it’s hard. It was an effective angle, and they are still getting mileage from it.
“They had to resort to that as a result of having a shallow roster. The people bought into it to a certain extent, but there was never a revelation that was a bigger mastermind until the CM Punk thing. That’s better to me, and I see it going in a different direction. I’m not sure if I like it much with all the initiation stuff and guys getting beaten up in the ring. I never liked that. In real life, especially in a street gang, who would do that? Nobody.
“I hated it in the nWo. They only did it in WWE really. They didn’t really do it much when we were in WCW. We didn’t beat our own guys up. It’s retarded. Sorry. Now they have this Mason Ryan guy. I hated that. That’s the writers.”
– According to the WO, Kurt Angle left TNA Wrestling’s ongoing European tour to return to the United States after doctors were forced to induce labor on his fiancée, Giovanna Yannotti, several weeks early. Angle was the special guest referee for the Jeff Jarrett and Matt Hardy vs. Shannon Moore and Mark Haskins match in Lyon, France. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist received a phone call while on tour that Yannotti was forced into emergency labor due to health complications. The baby, Giuliana Marie Angle, was born prematurely Saturday at 5.5 pounds and 18 inches long. Yannotti remains in intensive care. Angle confirmed pulled out of the tour Saturday, writing on Twitter:
“To my fans, especially in Europe. Sorry I had to pull from the tour. Giovanna, my fiance’, had complications with her labor. I came home To be with her and my beautiful new daughter Giuliana is doing fantastic.
“I will be staying at the hospital until Giovanna is able to leave. She won’t be able to leave until the doctors clear her condition. Thank u all for ur support.”