– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosnethal, the Red Sox are expected to part ways Friday with manager Terry Francona. Because it’s a mutual split, Francona won’t be fired–the Red Sox simply won’t exercise his options for 2012 and 2013. He’ll be free to sign with any other club as soon as the paperwork is finalized. It’s a sad, knee-jerk reaction to a failed Boston season. The Cubs and Nationals, who appear to have managerial openings this winter, could be in play for Francona’s services.
– On Impact Wrestling, Hulk Hogan dropped a bombshell and announced his retirement:
– Red Wings’ owner Mike Ilitch said that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised him that Detroit will be the next team to move to the Eastern Conference. Ilitch spoke to the Detroit News in an interview. “The commissioner (Gary Bettman) promised me I was next. We even had a meeting over lunch this past season, and he had all his people here, and he goes, ‘Yeah, I promised Mike he’d be the next one to go in the Eastern Conference.’ So I expect to be in next year. Jimmy D (Devellano) is on the phone every other week reminding them.” The Blue Jackets and Predators, who are also looking to be moved to the East, won’t be happy about this, but they’ll have to bite their tongue unless the NHL decides to totally revamp their current divisions this summer.
– Red Wings’ D Brendan Smith has been suspended for the three remaining pre-season games, as well as five regular season games for his hit to the head on Blackhawks’ F Ben Smith.
– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) has been getting “bumped and jostled” as much as any player during scrimmage, but remains wearing a white helmet, meaning he isn’t cleared for contact. The implication is it was as physical at it could be without being considered contact.
– The Capitals have re-signed F Jason Chimera to a 2-year/$1.75M contract worth $1.8M and $1.7M annually. Chimera, 32, recorded 10 goals, 16 assists, 26 points and 64 penalty minutes in 81 games with the Capitals last season.
– The Islanders have signed D Steve Staios to a 1-year/$800K contract. The deal can reach up to $1.2M in bonuses, and rises to $1.6M if the Islanders win the Stanley Cup.
– The lawyer for Chris Moorhouse says his client had no idea that throwing a banana peel on the ice towards a black hockey player could be seen as racist. Faisal Joseph says Chris Moorhouse was caught up in the drama of a tense game featuring his favourite hockey team and threw the fruit in hopes of preventing the winning goal. Moorhouse has admitted to throwing a banana at Flyers’ F Wayne Simmonds, but Joseph says his client was unaware of the racial overtones of his actions. Joseph says Moorhouse is “mortified” and deeply remorseful for the incident and fears it has clouded the reputation of his family and home town. Moorhouse has been charged under Ontario’s Trespass to Property Act and faces a maximum fine of $2K. London police say Moorhouse’s alleged actions did not meet the test for a hate crime or a mischief charge.
– ESPN’s Marc Stein reiterated that if significant progress toward a deal isn’t made in the next 72 hours, that the cancellation of the entire NBA season is a “certainty.” The NBA has denied this, but there’s no question that this weekend is a make-or-break for the NBA. David Stern is threatening that the owners’ offers will only get worse after this weekend, and if the players don’t accept these declining offers, the season will be cancelled. It’s too soon right now for the owners to scrap the full season and lose a full year, but we’re getting very close. Stay tuned.
– Among the NBA owners’ proposals for a new CBA is a so-called “Carmelo rule,” which would prevent teams from signing or extending a player acquired by trade, unless that player is acquired before July 1 of the final season of their contract. Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk writes, “The ‘Carmelo rule’ would force teams to do what Utah did with Deron Williams — trading him a year out — or risk losing him for nothing.”
– Lakers’ G Kobe Bryant’s rumoured deal with Virtus Bologna is “on the verge of collapse” due to scheduling conflicts. Virtus Bologna hoped to play as many games as possible, in the biggest arenas possible, during the 40 days Kobe would be under contract. Italy’s governing basketball association, however, denied the request for a special schedule. The deal no longer seems likely, but it isn’t totally dead just yet.
– Zack Ryder was recently interviewed by Sam Roberts of NotSam.com and spoke about the popularity of his Z! True Long Island Story video series. After his former ‘Edgehead’ gimmick ran its course on SmackDown a few years ago, Ryder said he was getting “zero” television time and had to take matters into his own hands to get exposure. Ryder says he hated having long hair back when he was an Edgehead – and his current “Broski” character is “100% him.” Ryder says whatever he’s doing is working, because he’s been featured on RAW in recent weeks and is getting the biggest push of his career.
When asked about whether he’s gotten heat from WWE management over his YouTube videos, Ryder said, “There wasn’t any trouble, but I was definitely kind of hesitant and kind of scared. But at the same time I was like, listen, they’re not doing anything with me, so if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out swinging. All or nothing, this is my last shot. I wouldn’t say it paid off, but it’s finally been recognized.”