– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion-like symptoms) has suffered a setback in his ongoing recovery and is out indefinitely. Crosby said Monday that he is feeling “much, much better” than he did after being levelled by big hits in successive games Jan. 1 and Jan. 5 that triggered his 10-month absence from the game. He also said he felt worse only a few weeks before the Penguins opened training camp in mid-September. Crosby had two goals and 10 assists through eight games, and his comeback appeared to be a major success until he experienced headaches following a 3-1 loss to Boston on December 5. After sitting out a pair of road games as a precaution, Crosby was expected to return to practice Monday. But instead he sat out the training session and told reporters after that he won’t practice or play until he is symptom-free.
“Frustrating, I don’t think that even describes it.”
“It’s much different than previously going through that stuff. I’m way better off than I was dealing with this stuff 10 months ago or whatever it was.”
“I just figured it was better to be cautious here and not take any chances. That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m not (feeling) bad. And I’m not happy about watching. But I’ve got to make sure with these sort of things that I’m careful.”
– The Kings have fired head coach Terry Murray and replaced him with John Stevens on an interim basis. The Kings have a 13-12-4 record, but their offence has been their big downfall this season. The Kings are last in the NHL with just 65 goals scored, and only F Mike Richards and F Anze Kopitar have surpassed the eight goal mark.
– Oilers’ F Taylor Hall (shoulder) has been given permission to participate in contact drills. Hall might be available for Thursday’s game. Hall has seven goals and 18 points in 22 games in 2011-12.
– Jets’ D Tobias Enstrom (broken collarbone) has begun to participate in contact drills. Enstrom won’t play on Tuesday. He has six points and 10 penalty minutes in 11 games this season.
– ESPN reported late Monday that there is yet another increase in momentum from the NBA’s side to make a deal with the Clippers for Hornets’ G Chris Paul. The NBA and the Hornets are hoping to reportedly re-engage the deal, while the Clippers have “moved on.” Unreal. The league tried to backtrack and undo their original mistake of cancelling the Hornets/Lakers/Rockets three-way, but they just won’t give up. The league was asking for far too much in return for Paul, and the Clippers wisely ended negotiations. There have been rumors that Paul would stay an additional year in L.A. to help make it worth it to the Clippers to hand over so many assets a two-year rental, but it’s still not worth the trouble.
– Magic’ F Dwight Howard appears to have softened his stance on demanding a trade after meeting with the new CEO of the Magic. ”If it is meant for me to stay here, I’ll stay. I love this city. There is no place I’d rather be but Orlando. I just want to make sure we have the right things here so we can win a championship. I’m all about change. If you’re willing to change and you’re willing to do what it takes to win then, you know, you got me.” Howard is still a serious trade candidate, but could end up playing out the season for the Magic.
– Grizzlies’ G Tony Allen took to Twitter on Monday night and appeared to confirm a trade that would send G O.J. Mayo to the Pacers for G Brandon Rush and F Josh McRoberts. A few minutes later he called it a “false alarm.” ”Well I know everybody done heard about the trade!! wanna take this time 2 Welcome my new teammates :: b rush and josh mc roberts!!” There’s no mention of Mayo in the tweet, but it is widely believed that was the deal the two teams were discussing.
– The Clippers have claimed G Chauncey Billups off waivers from the Knicks. This could bring a new element to trade talks for Chris Paul. The NBA has also let Billups know that he’s fully expected to report to the team. The league sent Billups a memo letting him know that he’d be in breach of his contract if he doesn’t show up. He threatened to retire after being waived by the Knicks, and also said he did not want any team to claim him so he could pick his new team. He’d likely become the new starting point guard if he does choose to play.
– The NBA has instituted a concussion policy similar to the one used in the NFL. Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher will lead the NBA concussion program and be consulted on all return-to-play issues. Bucks’ G Carlos Delfino missed much of last season with a concussion symptoms and it appears that players will have to pass a series of tests before being allowed to return to action.
– The Clippers have reportedly matched the Warriors 4-year/$43M offer sheet on F DeAndre Jordan. As expected. F Chris Kaman’s expiring contract is expected to be moved to get some salary cap relief.
– The Knicks are believed to be interested in Cavaliers’ G Baron Davis. Davis’ back injury could keep him out for several weeks and linger all season. He’s getting more opinions on the injury and could still be waived, traded or bought out.
– The Pacers will use the amnesty provision on G James Posey. Posey had about $7M remaining on the last season on his deal, but he’ll now be waived. If unclaimed, he’ll become a UFA.
– The Mavericks have officially signed F Vince Carter. He’ll come off the bench for Dallas.
– Grizzlies’ F Marc Gasol announced on his Twitter page that he has reached a tentative agreement with the team.
– Spurs’ G Gary Neal (appendectomy) underwent surgery on Monday and will be sidelined indefinitely. Neal won’t do any physical activity for a week and will then be examined to determine a timeline for his return.
– The Pistons have waived G Richard Hamilton. Hamilton had a very successful nine-season stint with Detroit (2002-2011), helping the team make six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals (2003-2008), two trips to the NBA Finals (2004, 2005) and an NBA Championship in 2004. The 33-year-old averaged 14.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 55 games (39 starts) last season.
– The Wolves signed rookie F Derrick Williams. Williams led Arizona with per-game averages of 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in 2010-11. He scored in double figures 37 times and posted 13 double-doubles.
– The Bulls have re-signed F Brian Scalabrine. Scalabrine played in 18 games last season with the Bulls, averaging 1.1 points and 0.4 rebounds.
– The Mavericks have re-signed F Brian Cardinal. Cardinal averaged 2.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 10.8 minutes in 56 games last season.
– Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that WR Greg Jennings (knee) suffered only a sprain, and it’s “safe to say” he should be ready for the playoffs. Jennings’ official return timetable is 2-3 weeks. Great news for the Pack. Jennings was on pace for 82.3 catches, 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns.
– The Dolphins have fired head coach Tony Sparano. The Miami Herald reported this would happen on Sunday. Sparano went 29-31 over the greater part of four seasons in Miami. He finished second in the NFL Coach of the Year voting during his first year on the job (2008), but the Dolphins’ continued to regress. Owner Stephen Ross is expected to keep GM Jeff Ireland for now, though that could change in the offseason–both Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden have been rumoured replacements. Secondary coach Todd Bowles will finish this season as the Dolphins’ interim head coach.
– Jets’ coach Rex Ryan revealed at his Monday press conference that FS Jim Leonhard (torn right patellar tendon) is a season-ending injury. The 29-year-old’s future is now in jeopardy. He’s also unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2012 season. While Pro Football Focus graded Leonhard as just the 22nd best safety in football through the season’s first 14 weeks, it’s a huge loss for the Jets.
– Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) has been officially diagnosed as a grade one high ankle sprain. It’s the least severe degree of sprain, but is still likely to prevent Roethlisberger from practicing this week. He should be ready to play this week.
– According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Cubs are “definitely in the mix” for free agent 1B Prince Fielder. The 27-year-old has also drawn interest from the Blue Jays and Mariners, and the Rangers are said to be considering making an offer. Fielder owns a .929 career OPS and slugged 38 home runs this past year for Milwaukee. His contract demands are likely in the $200M range.
– According to ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine, the Brewers have signed 3B Aramis Ramirez to a 3-year/$34-37M deal. Ramirez, 33, registered a superb .871 OPS with 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 149 games this past year for the Cubs.
– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Red Sox are still eyeing free agent RHP Ryan Madson. No surprise, given that Boston plans to stretch out RHP Daniel Bard into the rotation. Madson’s chances of landing a big contract are fading.
– The Pirates have acquired 3B Casey McGehee from the Brewers for RHP Jose Veras. The Brewers will now go with 3B Mat Gamel at first base. McGehee could play first or third, but will have to wait until there’s a result from the arbitration-eligible 1B Garrett Jones. McGehee, 29, batted just .223/.280/.346 with 13 home runs, 67 RBI and a .626 OPS over 600 plate appearances this season. He projects to make somewhere around $3M in his first year of arbitration.
– The Dodgers and OF Tony Gwynn, Jr. avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 2-year/$2M contract. He’ll earn $850K in 2012 and $1.15M in 2013. Gwynn, 29, batted .256/.308/.353 with two homers, 22 RBI, 22 stolen bases and a .660 OPS over 340 plate appearances as a fourth outfielder. The new contract covers his remaining arbitration years.
– The Blue Jays have signed RHP Jesse Litsch to a 1-year/$975K deal, RHP Dustin McGowan to 1-year/$600K contract and C Jeff Mathis to a 1-year/$1.5M contract. Litsch was 6-3 with one save in 28 appearances last season. In 75 innings pitched, he allowed 69 hits and 28 walks with 66 strikeouts and an earned run average of 4.44. Litsch struggled early in 2011 as part of the Jays’ rotation but re-emerged down the stretch as a long-relief option after the team recalled him from Las Vegas (AAA) in late July. McGowan, who returned late last season after missing almost two full seasons due to recurring shoulder problems, finished with an 0-2 record in four starts. Mathis was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels on December 3 to serve as the team’s back-up catcher. All three were arbitration-eligible.
– The Cardinals have avoided arbitration with OF Skip Schumaker by signing him to a 2-year contract, and have non-tendered INF Ryan Theriot. Schumaker, 31, batted .283/.333/.352 with two homers and 38 RBI over 95 games in 2011. Theriot, 32, batted just .271/.321/.342 with one home run, 47 RBI, four stolen bases and a .662 OPS over 483 plate appearances this past season. The Astros are among the teams who could have interest now that he’s a free agent.
– The Blue Jays have acquired OF Ben Francisco from the Phillies for LHP Frank Gailey. Francisco, 30, had a .244 average with six homers and 34 RBIs in 100 games for the Phillies this past season. Over parts of five major-league seasons with Cleveland and Philadelphia, Francisco has a .260 average with 45 home runs and 174 RBIs. Gailey, 26, split time between single-A Dunedin and double-A New Hampshire this year. He went 5-6 with a 3.41 earned-run average in 45 relief appearances.
– FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rockies are making an “aggressive push” for OF Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer has a 3-year/$25M contract offer on the table from the Twins. He batted .284/.346/.459 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI over 584 plate appearances this past year for Minnesota.
– According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the D’Backs have agreed to terms with RHP Takashi Saito. Saito, 42 in February, posted a 2.03 ERA and 23/9 K/BB ratio over 26 2/3 innings this past season.
– The D’Backs have non-tendered LHP Joe Saunders. They were discussing a multi-year contract with Saunders as recently as last week. The 30-year-old figured to make $8-9M in his final year of arbitration. He posted a 3.69 ERA and 1.31 WHIP across 33 starts this past year for Arizona, though he finished with a career-low strikeout rate. He’ll draw plenty of interest on the market.
– The Dodgers have non-tendered LHP Hong-Chih Kuo. He underwent elbow surgery in October and was set to make between $2-3M in his third year of arbitration. Kuo missed significant time with an anxiety disorder this past season, posting a 9.00 ERA and 36/26 K/BB ratio over 27 innings. The 30-year-old is one year removed from being one of the most dominant relievers in the game, so he should draw plenty of interest.
– The Rockies have signed C Ramon Hernandez to a 2-year contract. He hit .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs last season with the Reds.
– The Blue Jays have claimed RHP Jim Hoey off waivers from the Twins. The 28-year-old appeared in 26 games for the Twins last season, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.47 ERA. He also appeared in 33 games for the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, posting a 1-3 record with nine saves and a 3.83 ERA.
– As we’ve been reporting in recent weeks, the cryptic “It Begins” promos that have been airing on RAW are building up to the WWE return of Chris Jericho. Despite Jericho vehemently denying that he’s the man behind “It Begins,” sources have been strongly pushing the scenario of Chris Jericho making his big return on the January 2 RAW Supershow from Nashville, Tennessee. To update this story, the very latest is that Chris Jericho will be wrestling at the Royal Rumble, although it’s unknown at this point whether he’ll have a singles match or be part of the 30-man battle royal.
This is where things get interesting. Looking past the Rumble, WWE currently has Chris Jericho penciled in for a WWE Championship match against CM Punk at WrestleMania. While a lot can change between now and April, the seeds have already been planted for a Jericho vs. Punk feud. The two have been taking shots at each other on Twitter for months, with Jericho claiming stars such as Punk stealing his moves and ideas, and Punk poking fun at Jericho’s stint on Dancing with the Stars.
– At the conclusion of the 2011 Slammy Awards, Kane reemerged, once again masked. The Big Red Monster locked his hand around the neck of John Cena and left him laying with a devastating chokeslam. One reason for Kane resurfacing with a mask is because WWE officials are looking to set a new Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people wearing costume masks” at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, Florida. Original plans called for the record attempt to take place during a Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara match, but with both superstars currently injured, Kane is WWE’s next best bet. The current record was set May 10, 2011 during a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim when roughly 25,000 fans donned red Lucha masks during a designated ten minute time period.
The latest on Kane is that he’ll be back in time for the Royal Rumble and he’ll be wrestling as a heel on the RAW brand. As to whether he’s really bringing back the mask, WWE creative is said to be currently undecided on the issue.
– Check out the 4th installment of the cryptic “IT BEGINS” promo videos from RAW:
– Legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel denied the assumption that he is upset with Lilian Garcia returning to WWE as SmackDown ring announcer.
“Not true; glad she’s back! But what is true is that you need to look in the mirror to see who the real bawbag is! BLOCKED!”
The WWE Hall of Famer added in regards to possible “heat” between the two: “Heat? That’s an NBA team that plays in Miami! Happy for Lilian and her WWE return!” The assumption is based on Finkel appearing annoyed when asked about Garcia’s return during last Monday’s WWE.com live chat. He also agreed with a fan’s remark that he should be brought back as a ring announcer.
– The following is a list of winners fromthe 2011 WWE Slammy Awards:
Tell Me I Did Not Just See That: Jim Ross dancing during the Michael Cole Challenge.
Holy **** Moment of the Year: Big Show and Mark Henry collapse the ring at Vengeance.
Pipebomb of the Year: CM Punk.
Divalicious Moment of the Year: Kelly Kelly winning first WWE Divas title.
OMG Moment of the Year: Triple H tombstoning the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27.
Trending Star of The Year: Zack Ryder.
Game Changer Moment of the Year: The Rock challenges John Cena to a match at WrestleMania a year in advance.
A-Lister of the Year: Snooki.
Superstar of the Year: CM Punk.
– WWE Classics On Demand, WWE’s subscription video on demand television service, is being discontinued. AT&T U-verse subscribers received postcards today stating the service would be discontinued on January 1, 2012. The postcards read, “the service is being discontinued by WWE.” WWE.com, however, is running a video preview for January, built around rebellious wrestling personalities such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman. WWE Classics On Demand, formerly known as WWE 24/7, launched on November 2, 2004.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, who had a rap battle against Michael Cole on Monday’s Slammy RAW, tweeted the following about forgetting some of his lines during the segment:
“I apologize 4 the worst segment of tv I’ve ever killed. Had a rap thought, lost it. Won a Slammy!:)
“@JerryLawler …. sorry I embarrassed the team. huge brain fart! Cole’s face made me go blank. rap career dead!! #sauceit!”
“Michael Cole ur damn fool. King beat u like Gov Mule. I should call Raw ur not in my class. U kissed kings feet now u can kiss my ass! Whew.
– Former WWE Women’s Champion Chyna is advertised as a Los Angeles Porn Star Escort on the website MyPornStarProvider. The website says to contact them for rates, which have been disclosed as $3,500 for the first hour; $1,500 each additional hour; $10,000 for 24 hours; $20,000 for a 2-day weekend.
– Former WWE diva Stacy Keibler appeared at the Spike TV Video Game Awards in Los Angeles over the weekend. Hulk Hogan and his son Nick were also in attendence. The leggy girlfriend showed off a new, brunette look at the awards show and was without her Hollywood movie star boyfriend, George Clooney.
– Jeff Hardy defeated Jeff Jarrett in a cage match at Sunday’s TNA Final Resolution PPV to became the new #1 contender to the World Heavyweight Title. As per the match stipulations, either Karen Jarrett or Jeff Jarrett must be fired from TNA. Impact Wrestling GM Sting will make the announcement on this week’s Impact Wrestling (taping tonight in Orlando) as to which Jarrett is leaving. According to the PWInsider, it will be TNA founder Jeff Jarrett that’s taking time off. Jarrett is headed to India next week to head up TNA’s new promotion in that country and his firing on Impact will be his exit from the TNA storylines.
– Former WWE talent Harry Smith will be among the troupe of wrestlers traveling to Mumbia, India this week to tape the first footage for TNA Wrestling’s planned debut on the television network Colors. California based independent wrestler Joey Ryan announced Monday on Facebook that he will participate in the project. He wrote, “Beginning this week, I will be working for TNA Impact Wrestling on their upcoming India project. I want to publicly thank David Lagana and Jeff Jarrett for the opportunity.” Canadian based independent tag team Bollywood Lions—Gurv Sihra and Harv Sihra—have also signed on for the project. Gurv wrote on Facebook, “Excited to announce that my brother Harv and I have been signed on to take part in TNA Wrestling’s upcoming project in Mumbai, India! Very blessed and fortunate for this opportunity!” Other talent reportedly scheduled for the project include Abyss, Alissa Flash, Arya Daivari, Chris Masters, Chavo Guerrero, Cliff Compton, Jimmy Rave, Luke Gallows, Matt Morgan, Nick Dinsmore, Shawn Daivari, Sonjay Dutt and Zema Ion.
– TNA Knockout Tara has posted a new video message to her fans and heaped praise on fellow knockout Sarita. After catching one of their fans paying each of them the same compliment, Tara talks about what sets Sarita apart from the rest of the women in wrestling today:
“I think of her as hands down, the toughest, most disciplined female in the history of professional wrestling,” Tara says. “The girl had facial paralysis—half of her face was paralyzed. If that was me, I’d be in a hospital. She puts on a mask and wrestles. A couple of weeks ago at a match in Mexico, she dove out of the ring and landed on her head on the cement. She was taken off on a stretcher. After that, I would have been at home in bed eating ice cream. Where was she? Competing in a bodybuilding contest—first place.
“So if you’re going to write Sarita a letter, don’t tell her she has a great butt. Tell her she is one of the toughest athletes to ever compete in our business.”
– Miami (FL) RB Lamar Miller will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility with the Canes and enter the 2012 NFL draft. Miller recorded 1,272 yards and nine rushing scores on 227 carries (5.60 YPC) in a breakout 2011 season. Listed at 5’11/212, Miller is expected to be in the mix as the second running back to be drafted. Miller was timed at 4.3-flat in the forty-yard dash during his time on Miami’s campus. He’ll likely be a 1st-round pick.