– Former NHL F Bob Probert was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he passed away from a heart attack in July, 2010. Probert’s brain was studied at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy in Boston and he was the second NHLer to be diagnosed with damage, the first being former Blackhawk Reg Fleming. Probert is 5th all-time in penalty minutes in the NHL and his penalty minute totals were boosted by numerous fights. Dr. Robert Canu said, “How much is the hockey and how much is the fighting, we don’t really know. We haven’t definitely established that the skills of hockey as a sport lead to a certain percentage of participants developing CTE. But it can happen to hockey players, and while they’re still relatively young.” Stay tuned as this story is far from over as hockey and football players are the likeliest to have brain damage due to the collision sports they play.
– Panthers’ G Tomas Vokoun isn’t sure what his status will be with the club beyond the balance of this season. Florida GM Dale Tallon said last month that contract talks will be put on hold until the 2010-11 campaign is complete. Vokoun reportedly hasn’t decided one way or another what he’d like to do.
– Rangers’ F Marian Gaborik (concussion) remains out indefinitely, but is hopeful he’ll return sooner rather than later. “I wasn’t out there for a good week or so but my legs were pretty good. It’s probably a day or so with no headaches, but the last time I skated [on Friday] I felt pretty good but it got worse afterward. I’m hopeful. I’m looking forward to feeling better.” He has missed four games after briefly blacking out when he was hit by Penguins’ D Brooks Orpik on February 13. Gaborik played two full games after suffering the injury before leaving a contest on February 20 against Philadelphia.
– Citing two sources, TMJ 4 Milwaukee reports that free agent ILB A.J. Hawk will re-sign with the Packers on Thursday. He was cut Wednesday to avoid a guaranteed $10M salary, but will reportedly fly back to Green Bay on Thursday and sign a 5-year contract. Hawk apparently never even considered other teams; after his release, he could’ve immediately begun taking free agent visits around the league. If the report is correct, the Packers may wind up parting ways with MLB Nick Barnett.
– The Texans declined tenders to SS Bernard Pollard, LB Zach Diles, OG Kasey Studdard and DL Tim Bulman, making them UFAs. Pollard led Houston in tackles last season on the league’s worst pass-defence last season. Diles and Studdard combined to make 36 starts over the past two seasons, but Studdard lost his job last year and Diles apparently wasn’t deemed fit for Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 scheme.
– According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Rangers’ president Nolan Ryan is expected to discuss the final details of a contract extension with GM Jon Daniels on Thursday. Ryan said last month that working out an extension with Daniels would be a “priority” during the early part of spring training, so we wouldn’t be surprised if they wrapped something up quickly. His current contract runs out following the 2011 season.
– According to Andy Martino of the NY Daily News, the Mets could release LHP Oliver Perez if he doesn’t show “significant improvement” in Thursday’s appearance against the Cardinals. Manager Terry Collins has insisted that this isn’t the last stand for Ollie. Perez allowed four runs and three walks in two innings of work against the Braves on Sunday and really, one solid performance shouldn’t be enough to save his job. It would be shocking if he lasts the entire spring with the team.
– WWE superstar Triple H spoke to the New York Post this week to discuss the release of his new movie, The Chaperone. Here are some highlights of what The Game said about:
Being Part of the McMahon Family: “Vince McMahon runs the WWE. I’m married to his daughter seven years. We live in Connecticut with three girls — 4½, 2½ and 6 months … Both McMahons love the grandchildren. Come around all the time. Take them to school. Their house even has sleepovers. ”
Linda McMahon In Politics: “I did appearances and campaign rallies for my mother-in-law. She’s [Linda] great and staying politically involved. Lieberman’s not running again so she can try once more in 2012.”
The Toll Wrestling Takes On The Body: “I’m 41. Still wrestling. It’s very physical. I’ve had injuries, like torn quads off my biceps and thighs. People believe the sport’s fake and nothing hurts. Listen, it [hurts] when a 350-pound guy jumps on you. Ten years from now I want to be able to pick up my kids.”
His Role In WWE & Wrestling In General: “I’m also a WWE executive. I’m a wrestling fan. As a boy I watched it on TV with my father. At 20, I met a guy and the rest is history. Right away you get a flashy trick name so you’re a superhero come to life. Nobody pays $20 to see his next-door neighbor. Wrestling’s made me rich. Very. But everyone’s surprised that a wrestler can be not only talented but also articulate. Listen, we’re theater actors. Bad guy versus good guy. It’s a show. We’re onstage telling a story through our actions.”
– Hulk Hogan (back surgery) returned to TNA Wrestling at last Thursday’s TNA iMPACT! taping in Fayetteville, North Carolina wearing a back brace due to his numerous surgeries. Hogan was telling people he’s not dealing with as much pain as he has in the past. Monday on Twitter, a fan asked him about the possibility of wrestling one final match and he said that he would like return to the ring by the end of the year. A company source reports that Hogan discussed returning to the ring at last Thursday’s taping.