– In his much-anticipated return, Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) scored two goals and two assists Monday night in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. Sid the Kid hadn’t played in an NHL game in almost a year (61 games), not that you could tell or anything. He was on the ice for 15:54 minutes, won 14-of-21 faceoffs, blocked a shot, registered a hit, and took eight shots. There’s no rust to be shaken off. Welcome back, Sid!
– Sabres’ D Tyler Myers (broken wrist) will miss the 4-6 weeks because of a broken wrist. Head coach Lindy Ruff said, “It happened just on an awkward play, nothing you would ever notice. Just one of those freak-like incidents.” The often benched defenceman has two goals and four assists in 19 games this season.
– Maple Leafs’ F Matthew Lombardi (shoulder) has been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder. Lombardi will not require surgery (yet), but if he does, will likely be sidelined several months. He’s currently expected to miss 3 weeks. Lombardi was hurt while taking a faceoff in the second period of the Leafs’ 4-1 loss in Nashville last week.
– Panthers’ F Mikael Samuelsson (groin) might be able to play at some point next week. ”We’re taking it really slow and obviously I’ve never done it before. I think I need that time. I started to use my left side (upper thigh or groin). I haven’t done that in the past. We’re getting there, give me one more week or something like that.” Florida will play against Carolina on November 29, Los Angeles on December 1 and San Jose on December 3.
– Sharks’ F Ryan Clowe and Sabres’ F Patrick Kaleta have each been fined $2500. Clowe receives the fine for slashing Stars’ D Stephane Robidas Saturday night in Dallas, while Kaleta gets it for high sticking Coyotes’ D Derek Morris Saturday night.
– The Flyers will unveil a new Winter Classic jersey that will be worn on January 2.
– The NHL and NHLPA don’t plan to begin negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement until after the All-Star break. The current CBA will expire on September 15, 2012. Commissioner Gary Bettman said, ”We don’t even talk about it right now. We have a new executive director of the union (Donald Fehr), who is going through is learning curve, and he has told us that he won’t even be ready to talk to us until after the All-Star Game. We have labor peace, this is our seventh season of labor peace, we’re having a great season, so we’re not talking about it, we’re not focused on it, we’ll deal with it down the road.” Early indications are that the NHL CBA negotiations should go a lot smoother than the NBA’s is currently going, or the NHL’s went in 2004-05.
– Tigers’ ace RHP Justin Verlander was named the American League MVP by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Verlander also won the AL Cy Young Award this year. The 28-year-old posted a dominant 24-5 record, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250/57 K/BB ratio in 251 innings this season for the AL Central champion Tigers. Red Sox’ OF Jacoby Ellsbury finished second in the MVP balloting, Jays’ OF Jose Bautista finished third and Yankees’ OF Curtis Granderson finished fourth.
– According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Rangers have signed RHP Joe Nathan to a 2-year contract with a club option for a third year. Nathan, 37 on Tuesday, made his way back from Tommy John surgery this season, posting a 4.84 ERA and 43/14 K/BB ratio over 44 2/3 innings this season. He will take the closer’s role from RHP Neftali Feliz, who will be in the starting rotation. The Rangers came close to making the move during spring training this year. Feliz, 23, has been one of the best closers in baseball over the past two seasons, but he has the chance to be much more valuable to the Rangers in the long-term as a member of their starting rotation.
– According to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler, the A’s are “very willing” to trade RHP Andrew Bailey. Bailey, 28 in May, ia under team control for at least the next three seasons. He posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 41 1/3 innings this season, saving 24 games. Oakland’s asking price is young, cost-controlled hitters. The Reds have already expressed legitimate interest.
– According to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto is scheduled to dine with free agent LHP C.J. Wilson on Monday night in LA. It’s not known if manager Arte Moreno will be present at the dinner, but DiGiovanna writes that he has established a relationship with Wilson from bargaining sessions for baseball’s new CBA. Dipoto had dinner with Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, last week at the GM’s meetings in Milwaukee. Wilson is scheduled to visit with another GM in LA this weekend and two or three teams on the East Coast next week.
– According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the Orioles have signed Korean RHP Chong Tae-Hyon. No word on the exact terms, but MyKBO.net believes he’ll get a 2-year/$3.2M contract. Tae-Hyon, a 33-year-old submariner, had a 1.48 ERA, 16 saves and a 39/25 K/BB ratio in 54 2/3 innings for the SK Wyverns last season and tops out at around 85 mph on his fastball. He will be the first player ever to make the jump from the Korean professional league to MLB.
– Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. was told that he is no longer under consideration for the vacant Red Sox managerial position. Tigers’ third base coach Gene Lamont will be brought back for a second interview with ownership while Blue Jays’ first base coach Torey Lovullo remains in the mix. Bobby Valentine interviewed for the job on Monday and is quickly emerging as the favourite. GM Ben Cherington previously said that he would like a new manager in place by Thanksgiving, but he is no longer providing a target date.
– Major League Baseball and its players’ association have called a Tuesday news conference to announce a new labour contract. The sides were working Monday to sign a memorandum of understanding on the 5-year deal, which replaces one set to expire December 11. The agreement, which will be drafted into a formal contract, includes blood testing for human growth hormone, a rise in the minimum salary to $480K and luxury taxes on both amateur draft signings and international free agents coming to the major leagues. It modifies the luxury tax on high payrolls and changes compensation for clubs losing major league free agents.
– ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reports that the Bears have “revised” QB Jay Cutler’s (thumb) timeline, and he could potentially play in Week 16 or 17 of the regular season. Per Nichols, the Bears became more optimistic after Cutler consulted a hand specialist on Monday morning. He will still require surgery, but it may not ended his season totally. “They’re saying he could be back for the last game, maybe even last two games of the regular season,” reported Nichols.
– The Chiefs have placed QB Matt Cassel (fractured right thumb) on the IR, ending his season. Cassel, 29, finishes with a 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio, as his numbers across the board taking massive hits after losing ex-OC Charlie Weis. Cassel has a $5.25M salary in 2012 and could be released–either way, he’s not the solution in KC. QB Tyler Palko, one of the worst backups in the league, will finish out the season for the injury-decimated Chiefs.
– A league source tells PFT that Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson will miss “at least” one game with his high left ankle sprain. Coach Leslie Frazier said Monday that the Vikings were holding out hope Peterson would be able to practice on Friday, but that’s unlikely–Monday’s MRI revealed “some ligament damage,” so despite the “Grade 1″ label, it’s cause for concern. Peterson’s recovery timetable is going to depend on swelling and related factors that are unpredictable.
– Browns’ coach Pat Shurmur ruled out RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring) for Week 12 at his Monday press conference. It’s the third straight Monday Hillis has been ruled out, meaning he’s probably still a way’s away from returning. Sunday will be the sixth consecutive game he’s missed, and seventh of the season.
– Raiders’ coach Hue Jackson said Monday that RB Darren McFadden (foot) will not play until he is 100% healthy. The Raiders are in first place in the AFC West with both the Chiefs and Chargers falling.
– According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, it would require a “miracle turnaround” for Norv Turner to stay on as the Chargers’ head coach in 2012. ”It will take a miracle turnaround for Norv Turner to be the coach beyond this year,” said Acee on NFL Network’s Around the League segment on Monday. The Chargers have lost five straight games and are in last place in the AFC West. ESPN’s Jerry Rice also blamed Turner for the Chargers’ 2011 collapse on SportsCenter Monday. “Norv Turner is one of those coaches that just can’t you over the hump. I played under this guy.” The Bolts appear headed for their second straight playoffs-less season.
– NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that the Lions are still optimistic about RB Jahvid Best (concussions) returning for the season’s stretch run. ”They want to have him as a part of their attack down the stretch, and think they will,” La Canfora said on Around the League Monday. Best did return to the sideline as a spectator for Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. He also has been in attendance at practice. He could return in time for the playoffs.
– On Monday’s RAW, when WWE was showing one of the Twitter on-screen graphics, the image got fuzzy and briefly showed a URL to a Youtube channel – “It Begins 2012.”
The URL revealed a cryptic video of a young student talking about something big occurring on Monday, January 2nd, 2012 – when RAW is live from Memphis, TN. The boy who was narrating the video said:
“Come my people and shut thy doors about thee. For a power should come to punish the meek for their inequity. For on the second day of 2012, a familiar force shall arrive to claim what is his. And it will be the end of the world as you know it.”
The text “It Begins.” then appeared. A second promo featured Kane’s mask on fire, which could be a teaser for Kane’s return to his old-school persona.
– Regarding John Morrison’s contract status with WWE, his original deal has expired but has agreed to an extension through the end of November. His last announced appearance takes place at next Monday’s Raw SuperShow in Columbia, South Carolina. Dave Meltzer indicated during Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio that Morrison’s feelings towards WWE are somber. “His heart is broken,” said Meltzer.
– At the end of Monday’s RAW, we saw the breakup of the Awesome Truth duo – as The Miz viciously attacked R-Truth and left him laid out. According to a WWE source, there’s a “big reason” behind the beatdown on R-Truth. This comes on the heels of this report yesterday about one of the participants in Sunday’s Survivor Series main event recently failing a WWE Wellness test.
– WWE ’12 has broken the record for the most pre-ordered WWE video game ever. The previous record holder was SmackDown vs. RAW 2008, which was released on six platforms. WWE ’12 is only available on three platforms.
– During a recent interview with the NY Daily News to hype the new WWE ’12 video game, CM Punk made some controversial comments about The Rock – and his “Hollywood megastar” ego.
“You know, the thing about that is, he’s not around. It doesn’t help morale when the guy goes right from his limo to the dressing room to the dressing room to the ring. He’s very bourgeois Hollywood.”
Punk thinks The Rock is back to help his own career and make sure WrestleMania is a success – without allowing any of WWE’s younger stars to benefit from his return.
“He came back, he did WWE Raw after that. He said he was never gonna leave. And the next time we saw him is a month later. Yeah, it does bother me. A little hello would have been nice. He could have run by with his own entourage.”
According to Punk, The Rock has made little effort to interact with the rest of WWE – and it’s caused a lot of resentment in the WWE locker room. When asked if Rock was a diva, Punk said that would be an insult to WWE’s Divas.
“I can’t say that. At least the WWE Divas say hi to me in the halls.”
– Triple H was interviewed by The Morning Buzz over the weekend and spoke about WWE’s recent obsession with Twitter, working closely with Vince McMahon at WWE headquarters and his appearance this summer on Shawn Michaels’ hunting show. Regarding WWE’s working relationship with Twitter, Triple H said,
“You have to be at the cutting edge of that technology at all time. Kids today, they don’t watch TV like they did before. TV is almost a background device now. They’re on their phone, on their laptop, on their ipod… so that social media stuff becomes so important… Twitter and YouTube and Facebook are all just avenues to keep people involved in your product.”
HHH went on to say that while the company is embracing Twitter as a positive, equally it can also be a negative. He revealed that just the other day during a talent meeting he told everyone to be careful with their Tweets.
“I said, ‘Guys, it’s not like your texting somebody. You’re putting it out to the entire world. If you wouldn’t say it on TV, don’t say it on Twitter.’”
He cited NFL football players making stupid comments every other week, and said the catch twenty-two is controlling it. When asked about his new office role and working closely with Vince, he said he’s learned over time that when Vince is going nuts and yelling at people then it’s OK, but when you come up to him and he’s silent, then that’s very bad. Hunter also talked about his relationship with The Rock describing it as “unique” with “professional tension and weirdness.” He says they get along great today but aren’t buddies and never hung out back in the day.
“We had such a professional rivalry, no matter what we did, it’s like screw him, I can do better than that.”
He closed the interview by talking about Shawn Michaels and appearing on his hunting show earlier this year. He joked:
“Shawn has gone from The Heartbreak Kid to being like Ted Nugent. He’s out there with high powered weapons, with the one googley eye, just shooting every furry thing that wanders by. He’s been dying for me to go on [his show]… I just don’t get sitting in a tree saying nothing waiting for a deer to wander by so I can cap it in the head… We used crossbows [to catch Alligator's] and much to Shawn’s chagrin I caught the biggest Alligator, but yeah it was an awesome experience and I had a lot of fun.”
– It was announced on Monday’s RAW that former WWE champion Alberto Del Rio will get his rematch against new champion CM Punk next week on RAW.
– Chicago Tribune writer Luis Gomez is not happy with how WWE has handled the CM Punk angle, including his win at Survivor Series last night. In his weekly column, Gomez noted that Punk’s title win didn’t have a big buzz like it did when he won earlier in the summer. He also noted that the angle was hurt by WWE bringing him back so soon. Gomez said:
“WWE’s best storyline in years has already been botched, and many of the casual fans who came back because of Punk have gone back to watching football on Mondays.”
– WWELiveTour.com has removed Kevin Nash from all events he was advertised for, including next week’s tour of Yokohama, Japan.
– Despite being advertised as the special guest star of Monday’s WWE RAW, actor Jonah Hill did not appear. No word yet on why he was not there.
– Also advertised for RAW but not there was Brodus Clay. This is the third straight week where he’s been advertised and hasn’t returned. Recently, the “Michael Cole Challenge” was scheduled for RAW and was delayed three weeks as well.
– Financial website SeekingAlpha.com is reccomending that investors avoid WWE stock because the product is “dated.” SeekingAlpha wrote:
“WWE’s product is dated when compared to the various mixed martial arts formats available to the public. Overall weakness in the economy has not been helping matters, either.” Jim Cramer recently described WWE as a ‘wasting asset.’ I agree with that, and with Cramer’s opinion that there is no reason to own WWE. Avoid it.”
– Knicks’ F Amare Stoudemire (back) recently declared himself 100% healed, however, officials for the Drew Gooden charity game on Sunday said Amare was absent because of a back issue. His agent, Happy Walters, said Monday that Stoudemire is not injured again. “He is fine. He’s working out.”
– Jazz’ F Andrei Kirilenko (broken nose/shoulder) will reportedly miss up to one month. AK47 is currently playing for CSKA Moscow and suffered the injuries over the weekend.
– The NBA players have filed a “consolidated complaint” in Minnesota after withdrawing the lawsuit in California. David Boies believes that the consolidation should allow the players to “expedite the case” and added that “if we had not done this, the courts would’ve done it.” Players listed as plaintiffs: Steve Nash, Ben Gordon, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Baron Davis, Rajon Rondo, Sebastian Telfair and Anthony Randolph, but there are 14 players in total.