– Newsday is reporting that the Islanders will not be able to sign pending UFA D Christian Ehrhoff after talks broke down between the two sides this afternoon. According to a couple of sources with knowledge of the situation, GM Garth Snow sent out a mass email to see if he can deal Ehrhoff’s rights elsewhere, but since time is of the essence (12pm Friday), a deal is very unlikely. Ehrhoff will test the free agent market and should see upwards of $5M annually.
– F Paul Kariya has announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. His last appearance in the NHL came with the Blues in 2009-10. Kariya missed the entire 2010-11 campaign due to post-concussion symptoms. He retires with 402 goals and 989 points in 989 career games with the Blues, Predators, Avalanche and Ducks.
In addition, F Todd Marchant has also retired. Marchant will stay with the Ducks as the director of player development. The 18-year veteran spent the last six years with Anaheim, including its 2007 Stanley Cup winning team. He leaves the Ducks as their franchise leader in short-handed goals (eight), eighth in post-season appearances (52) and ninth in regular season games played (421). He finished his career with 186 goals, 312 assists and 774 penalty minutes in 1,195 games.
– The Panthers have signed F Tomas Kopecky to a 4-year contract. GM Dale Tallon said, ”Tomas is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed. He is a hard working player who is tough to play against, and recorded career highs in both goals and assists last season. He is a versatile player, who can play any forward position, has good vision at both ends of the ice and will immediately make an impact in our lineup.” Florida acquired the rights to Kopecky on Monday for a 7th-round pick in the 2012 draft. The impending UFA scored 15 goals and 42 points in 81 games last season for Chicago.
– The Rangers have bought out F Chris Drury. The buyout is worth $3.7M this year and $1.66M next year. The 34-year-old Rangers captain played four seasons in New York, totalling 62 goals and 151 points in 264 games with the team. He was due to earn $5M during the upcoming final season of a 5-year/$35.25M deal. Drury was limited to 24 games last season because of two broken fingers and knee surgery.
– The Lightning have signed G Dwayne Roloson to 1-year/$3M contract. The 41-year-old posted an 18-12-4 record with a .914 SV% and a 2.59 GAA after being acquired from the Isles.
– The Canadiens have traded the negotiating rights to D James Wisniewski to the Blue Jackets for a conditional 2012 7th-round pick. If the Jackets sign him, the pick becomes a 2012 5th-rounder. Wisniewski, an impending UFA, recorded 10 goals and 41 assists in 75 games last season with the Islanders and Canadiens.
– The Canadiens have signed D Yanick Weber to a 2-year extension. Weber played 41 games, netting 1 goal and adding 10 assists last season.
– Canadiens’ D Roman Hamrlik has rejected a 1-year offer from the team and will test free agency.
– The Canucks have signed D Andrew Alberts to a 2-year contract extension. Alberts, 29, appeared in 42 games in 2010.11, recording seven points (1-6-7) and 41 penalty minutes. The 6’5”, 209-pound defenceman led Canucks blueliners in hits with 113. In the 2011 playoffs, Alberts played in nine games, collecting six penalty minutes.
– The Hurricanes have signed F Chad Larose to a 2-year/$3.4M contract. Larose will earn $1.5M next season and $1.9M in 2012-13. His annual cap hit will be $1.7M. The 29-year-old scored 16 goals and 15 assists in 82 games for the Hurricanes last season.
– The Sabres have re-signed F Nathan Gerbe to a 3-year/$4.3M deal with an average cap hit of $1.43M per season. The 23-year-old just completed his first full season with the Sabres and posted 16 goals and 15 assists in 64 games.
– The Stars have re-signed D Brad Lukowich to a 1-year/2-way contract. Lukowich played in 67 games last season for the Texas Stars, the NHL team’s primary affiliate. He had four goals and 23 assists in the AHL and played in five games for the Stars.
– According to Dmitri Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy, G Simeon Varlamov is being offered $2M a season to sign in the KHL. SKA Saint Petersburg has tried get him to sign, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl controls his KHL rights. Lokomotiv reportedly has no intentions of trading Varlamov’s rights, though. If Lokomotiv is blowing smoke, then Varlamov could sign with Lokomotiv, then be dealt to SKA and have him be offered more money. Meanwhile, the Capitals gave him a qualifying offer, and $2M is probably not too much more than what the Capitals could offer him.
– The Avalanche have signed F David Jones to a 1-year contract. Jones is coming off his most productive season, setting career highs in points (45), goals (27), assists (18) and games (77). He also set a franchise record with three overtime goals. Before last season, the 26-year-old Jones had to deal with one big injury after another. In 2008-09, he missed a chunk of the season with a shoulder ailment. The following season he tore his ACL and sat out the final 55 games.
– The Lightning have re-signed F Adam Hall to a 1-year/$600K contract. Hall had seven goals and 18 points for the Lightning last season.
– The Blazers will make an $8.8M qualifying offer to F Greg Oden (knee), according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Oden has appeared in just 82 games total since entering the league in 2008-09, so it’s a lot of money to lock up. That said, the potential and upside is enormous. The 23-year-old averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 21 games in 2009-10 before missing all of last season. There’s currently no clear timetable for his return.
– The Warriors have picked up the 4th-year option on F Stephen Curry for the 2012-13 season. The 23-year-old is the cornerstone of the franchise, so the move was a no-brainer. He averaged 18.6 points, 5.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 threes last season.
– The Bucks have exercised the 2012-13 option on G Brandon Jennings. Jennings’ scoring average (16.2) and field goal percentage (39.0) both rose during his second year in the league, but his assists dropped from 5.7 to 4.8 and he missed 19 games after playing all 82 as a rookie.
– Mets’ OF Carlos Beltran acknowledged Tuesday night that he would be open to waiving his NTC if it meant playing for a contender. Beltran has a .281 average with 11 homers and 53 RBI, but most important, has remained healthy. The 40-39 Mets are above .500 for the first time since early April, and they’ll need to decide whether they’re in buy or sell mode come the trade deadline. Stay tuned.
– The Cardinals have released RHP Ryan Franklin. He began the season as the team’s closer, but blew a save on Opening Day and has gotten worse since. The 38-year-old allowed nine home runs and 44 total hits in just 27 2/3 innings this season.
– Yankees’ SS Derek Jeter (calf) took batting practice, ran the bases and fielded ground balls Wednesday. He took four sessions of batting practice, totaling 43 swings, and ran seven times from home plate to first base, once from first to second and twice from second to third. “[I expect to] do the same thing [Thursday]. You just keep continuing to pick up the intensity, and we’ll see what happens from there.” He remains out indefinitely, but based on his progression now, a mid-July return looks reasonable.
– Marlins’ RHP Josh Johnson (right shoulder) has been shut down for 10 days following a clean MRI from Dr. James Andrews. Johnson was given a cortisone shot and will resume his throwing program in 10 days. Barring setbacks, he’ll return in late-July/early-August.
– Red Sox’ RHP Clay Buchholz (lower back strain) told reporters on Wednesday that he is unlikely to return before the All-Star break. He’s been on the DL since June 17, and felt renewed discomfort Tuesday while trying to throw a bullpen session. He’s been asked him to rest up for a couple of days before attempting to throw again. Expect a late-July return.
– Mets’ 3B David Wright (back) is hoping to begin playing in rehab games in one week’s time. Wright has been performing baseball-related activities since early last week, and began swinging a bat on Wednesday. Barring setbacks, he should be ready to return to the lineup around the All-Star break.
– The Mariners have placed LHP Erik Bedard (sprained left knee) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 28. Bedard has had a surprising year, posting a 3.00 ERA and 85/26 K/BB ratio through 15 starts. It’s a tough break, but at least it’s not another setback to his left arm.
– The Nationals have signed LHP J.C. Romero to a minor league contract. He was released by the Phillies last Friday after being designated for assignment earlier this month. The 35-year-old has a 3.86 ERA and 10/12 K/BB ratio over 16 1/3 innings this season, but remains a lefty specialist. He’ll report to Triple-A Syracuse for now, but a call up to the big club looks imminent.
– The Rock has Tweeted his reponse to CM Punk’s promo this past Monday night on Raw:
“CM Punk: it’s simple business – The Rock is the main event at Wrestlemania cause it draws more money in one night, then u will in lifetime.”
In addition, former WWE star JBL has posted his first video blog on Facebook, where he talks about the late Eddie Guerrero, Punk leaving WWE next month and more. You can watch the video blog over at Facebook.com. JBL also shared some more of his thoughts regarding CM Punk’s upcoming WWE departure on Facebook after finally getting to watch the promo. JBL tweeted on Tuesday:
“I haven’t watched a wrestling program since well before I left WWE 2+ years ago. Heard about CM Punk’s promo and watched it this morning-WOW! That was awesome, as good as I have ever seen. I worked with CM when he first became champ-really enjoyed it and really happy to see what a stud he has become. When you can put doubt as to whether shoot or work-you have done your job very well!”
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross has updated his blog, which you can read in its entirety over at JRsBarBQ.com. JR talks about a number of topics, including the premiere of Shawn Michaels’ new hunting show, his online BBQ store, the Shawn Michaels – Bret Hart DVD project he is a part of, a top UFC fighter suspended for steroids and much more. He also spoke at length about CM Punk’s memorable shoot promo from Monday’s RAW. Here’s what JR said:
“CM Punk’s show closing promo on MNR is still seemingly the talk of the wrestling biz. It was the best promo that I’ve heard on TV in years. Can’t say it was the definitive ’best ever’ but it ranks among the best that I can recall. Steve Austin, who cut some memorable promos in his day, was extremely impressed with Punk’s work as were several other great promo men such as JBL and Mick Foley.”
“Normally when a talent is extremely passionate about a topic or an issue and speaks from their heart and not from a memorized document, the promo has a fighting chance at being stellar.”
“The first thing that must be in place for a promo to be great is that it must be natural ala from the heart and not from memory plus the talent must believe in what they are saying and not simply verbally filling time. Every promo must have a reason for taking place much akin to why most matches occur especially on PPV or in TV main events”
“Talking on a wrestling show should be special, and that means all talk, and with the special meaning that all talk should have a purpose. Too much talk for talk’s sake waters down the product, slows the process and disconnects with many viewers especially when it is obvious that the talents that are talking are not skilled and/or are simply reciting what they’ve memorized.”
“Punk says that he is leaving after the MITB Ladder Match PPV in Punk’s hometown of Chicago in July. He also says he’s leaving WWE with the WWE Title. Those two elements certainly should make for some compelling TV on Monday Night Raw. Whether Punk wins or doesn’t win the WWE Title is a hill I choose not to die upon but Punk staying in WWE is something that I personally hope happens in some shape, form or fashion. punk has as much to say about that eventual decision as anyone and as we have seen if one can predict what Punk’s going to do next then take those instincts to Vegas and make some big money.”
“Punk’s promo was reminiscent of the Attitude Era but it was totally PG. PG can be edgy but it doesn’t need to travel an uncreative, low road to be attitudinal or cool.”
– WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton participated in an interview with Phoenix, Arizona based rock station 98KUPD promoting this week’s SmackDown tapings. Highlights from the interview are as follows.
Orton discussed his past issues with drug abuse, including an incident in 2006 where he overdosed, stopped breathing and his wife called an ambulance to save his life. Orton said he and his family discuss the bad choices he’s made in WWE’s upcoming DVD release, Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator. “I was ashamed of it for a long time, but now talking about it and getting it off my chest—when my in-laws and mom watches it, they’re going to cry. My wife talks about when I stopped breathing and the ambulance came.”
Orton noted his recent concussion at a live event in Spain, saying the Raw taping the day after was “the biggest blur” and that he “couldn’t focus or concentrate.” He said it was the sixth concussion he had suffered, which had WWE worried. He said it was three years since his previous concussion, and that he had suffered some “bad ones” earlier in his career.
Orton was broached on the subject of not being able to say he’s a wrestler, but rather, a “WWE Superstar.” Orton added, “Honestly, a lot of things we’ve talked about thus far in this interview, they’d be upset with. I’m not like, ‘eff it,’ but I try to be real.”
Orton shared a story of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson trying to get him in trouble prior to WrestleMania. Orton said he gave his opinion on The Rock during an interview with ESPN—that he wasn’t buying his return speech about returning to WWE and never leaving again. Orton said Johnson called management and claimed the WWE Superstar slammed him and Triple H in the interview. Orton feels Rock mentioned Triple H to grab their attention even though he didn’t criticize “The Game” in the interview. Orton said he had “got in trouble” and “made Vince mad” for his statements. He feels the interview was “blown out of proportion” and that Johnson should have confronted him over his remarks, rather than complaining to Vince McMahon and management.
Orton said Cena is “light years” ahead of everyone in WWE on the microphone, including The Rock. Orton then criticized Cena’s wrestling ability by laughing at his in-ring style. “When I watch him, I feel he’s a little stiff, hard to move, robotic. It certainly hasn’t hurt him. I’m much better than John Cena, but on the mic, he’s light-years ahead of all of us, including The Rock.”
Orton knocked the actresses who have portrayed his wife on television. “Both those women were actresses. Not even actresses. They were like models who couldn’t act; it was awful. (hosts laughed) It actually ruined both segments because they couldn’t act,” Orton said.
Orton brought up Chris Jericho, who said he is missed as a locker room leader. When asked about Downfall on ABC, Orton said he doesn’t think Jericho received permission from WWE to host the game show. He said there was some conflict over the matter, but Jericho is the type to approach Vince McMahon. “Jericho is type of the guy to go in Vince’s office and tell him this is what he’s doing and tough. A lot of newer, younger guys are intimidated by Vince. They’re scared to knock on his door. Jericho—I miss him being around—would go tell McMahon what’s going on.”
Spured on by the hosts, Orton levied some unflattering remarks towards WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly after saying he worked a brief romance storyline with her a few years ago. “I would be a method actor, and actually sleep with her. I could name a few method actors in WWE. Like, ten guys.” The hosts tried to pry names from Orton, who tried to deflect from the topic by joking that it’s all the big guys on the roster. Orton and the hosts continued to joke about who Kelly has or hasn’t slept with throughout the show.
Several other minor topics were discussed including his baby oil look, whether he’s defecated in the ring, wishing there were more wrestlers like Sheamus, Mark Henry being difficult to work with, and more.
– WWE star Alberto Del Rio spoke with the Miami Herald this week to promote next year’s WrestleMania 28. Here are some highlights:
The Origin of His Character: “Alberto Del Rio is something Vince McMahon and I created. We created this character. He came up with the idea of the scarf, the cars and everything. However, I developed the character from guys from the movies like ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Godfather’ or guys who I hated during my life.”
“I was like this before WWE. I wore these kinds of clothes. I like to have nice cars when I was in Mexico, and in the United States, it’s the same. It doesn’t matter that I have a character on TV. Of course I don’t have as many cars as Alberto Del Rio, but the way I handle myself is somewhat similar.
Adjusting To The WWE Style: “A lot of people helped me adjust to the style, including Steve Keirn, Dusty Rhodes, Norman Smiley. Those guys helped me in FCW because in Mexico we wrestle on the right side, and here we wrestle on the left side. That was the main issue because, essentially, wrestling is the same everywhere. That particular area and transition were kind of hard, but in the end everything worked out well.”
WrestleMania 28: “It is going to be great. This WrestleMania  was incredible, but I’m pretty sure next year’s WrestleMania  will be awesome. All the things we have here in Miami, it’s going to be a great event. They are going to be bringing in guys like The Rock and superstars from the past. So it’s going to be great.”
“I’m going to be defending my WWE title at WrestleMania because I see myself as champion in a few months. John Cena, I’ve worked with him in the past. I’ve never had a program with him. I think that is the way I’m going now.”
– Former WWE superstar Trevor Murdoch, partner of the late Lance Cade, recently had a series of tryout matches with WWE and told Pitch.com that he will be returning to the company soon after being released back in July 2008. Unfortunately for Murdoch, his chance to return to WWE has fallen through – and he’ now considering quitting the industry entirely as a result. He wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday:
“Well I got a call from Johnny Ace saying they weren’t going to go threw with my contract. He told me “budget cut’s”. I say bullsh**. I think I’m done with pro wrestling. Anybody know of any job opening’s?”
– Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN reports that the Seahawks have “done due diligence” on free agent QB Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson’s name has come up in rumours because he’s familiar with new OC Darrell Bevell’s offence, as Bevell was the OC in Minnesota. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Trent Dilfer have both suggested Jackson as a fit for the Seahawks.
– 49ers’ C Eric Heitmann (neck) is unlikely to play football in 2011 after undergoing surgery recently to repair a ruptured disc in his neck. It will be Heitmann’s second lost season in a row, as he missed 2010 with a fractured left fibula and the neck complications. His timetable is set at 6 months, though that seems a tad optimistic. His agent says Heitmann’s “hopes are to play as soon as he’s cleared.”
– Linda Hogan appeared on the KQRS morning show on Wednesday to promote her new book. Linda spoke about a number of topics, including recent allegations by the Ultimate Warrior that she and Hulk Hogan had an “open marriage.” She denies that claim and says based on what she’s heard, Warrior is gay.
“It’s shock value. There’s no truth to it as far as I’m concerned. As far as my life and what I’ve done and where I’ve been, absolutely no truth to it at all. I don’t even know that guy. I’ve seen him behind the scenes at wrestling events back in the day. He’s never been to our house. My kids don’t know him. I’ve never met him other than hi or bye at an event. The truth is I don’t know what my husband said to him. I don’t know what they did behind the scenes. I wasn’t even aware what my husband was doing in our marriage behind the scenes recently. In fact, the rumor is that Warrior is gay.”
Linda was also asked about comparing herself to O.J. Simpson’s late wife Nicole during a recent interview, when she said Hulk Hogan was physically abusive towards her and didn’t want to wind up [dead] like Nicole Brown Simpson.
“No disrespect, I’m not comparing myself to her, I was comparing the situation. I put that message in my book. That’s what I wrote the book for was to put that message out to women that you have a decision. If you’re living in a marriage with abuse, and it can come in the form of infidelity, lying, and physical abuse, and as it escalates throughout the years, you tolerate some and it gets a little bit worse, and you tolerate that and it becomes the norm.”
– Former TNA star Jay Lethal recently conducted an interview with Online World of Wrestling Radio. The highlights:
The possibility of joining WWE: “I would say yes, Only because I can honestly say that anyone that is a pro wrestler in my generation you became a pro wrestler because of one reason and one reason only and thats because of WWE. ECW was big WCW was big but I think for my generation it was WWE that made you want to become a professional wrestler and why would you not want to get a chance to work for the company that made you love this business, so I would have to say yes.”
Speaking with Randy Savage for the First Time & what Randy Savage thought of the impression: “The first conversation we had lasted for five minutes. It was a three way call because I did not believe that it was it was really the macho man, as the guy was trying to get me to believe it was really him. He told me he liked the stuff, he didnt see it on TV, but saw it on youtube, I didnt think I offended him, I think I annoyed him, as this fan was calling him, as I am a fan of Macho Man, its very weird to have a fan call you, just to talk.”
The famous promo with Ric Flair on Impact: “After the segment, I got to the locker room first and I was so nervous that my hands were numb and I was waiting for Flair to come back through the curtain, cause I didnt know what he thought of it, I dont know if he thought it was good, before flair came back everyone was applauding because they liked it, I thought they just thought it was funny, but when Ric Flair came back through the curtain he had the biggest smile that I have ever seen in my life, I walked up to him and hugged and then I knew it was okay.”
Who he thinks made the decision to release him from his TNA Contract: “I dont know who makes the decision, but I can only speculate that it came from dixie carter herself, as the owner of the company, it had to go through to her at some point. All I know is that at some point as the owner of the company, in time it has to come through you.”
Receiving the Phone Call about his release: “I was called by Head of Relations Terry Taylor while at a Baseball game. I should have seen it coming, as I hadnt been on TV in five months. It wasnt like hey Jay Lethal, you messed up, I honestly believe it was we have nothing for you. We kept you long enough with getting paid, its just now time to clean up and make some cuts.”
Being a part of TNA Destination X: “I was originally was suppose to be apart of the Destination X PPV, even before I was release. After I was release I was also scheduled to be apart of it, but that fell through.”
– TNA star Kurt Angle looks to make history next summer, as the Olympic gold medalist from the 1996 summer games by returning to the Olympic stage next summer in London. Angle spoke with the Zoo Today website regarding his chances of making the United States Olympic team. Angle, who will be 43 next summer, is realistic about his chances of competing with the top amateur wrestlers in the world, many of whom are more than 15 years younger than him.
“I definitely think I will be an underdog,” Angle said. “I am not going to be one of the guys picked to make the team and definitely not one of the guys picked to win a medal. When I was in the Atlanta Olympics I was already a world champion so there were high expectations when it came for me to perform. A lot of people didn’t know about the broken neck because I simply didn’t want anyone to know about it at the time.”
Angle said trying out for the Olympics while in his 40s will be challenge, but it also adds something to his quest.
“It’s kind of like a Rocky Balboa underdog story, because like Rocky if I get to the Olympics I have nothing to lose. One advantage I’ll have is that I’ve been through it all before but for me not having the pressure this time round to win the gold medal will make it a better experience. I can enjoy it this time and enjoy the training. I won’t be in a place where I say ‘Oh gosh I need to go to the gym today’. I can kind of enjoy it and have a passion for it this time.”