– The Maple Leafs are reportedly targeting Ducks’ F Ryan Getzlaf. GM Brian Burke has shown a willingness to acquire slumping, but young stars. Getzlaf is only signed through 2012-13 before becoming a UFA. In exchange, the Ducks are rumoured to be interest in D Luke Schenn. With GM Bob Murray saying the entire team is on the trade block, the Ducks will surely be sellers at the trade deadline. Stay tuned.
– Blue Jackets’ F Rick Nash said that if the team presents him with a trade scenario, he would be open to waiving his no-trade clause. The Jackets are already well out of the playoff race with half a season left.
“This has definitely been the toughest season of my career. It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating. It’s been a tough year up to date for everybody in the organization. But you can’t look back. You have to look forward.”
“It’s what comes along with being a captain. When you win, you get a lot of praise. When you lose, the captain deserves some of the blame. He’s the one who is supposed to have everybody upbeat and ready. Saying that, it’s easy to have an opinion when you aren’t in the dressing room and you don’t see what goes on.”
“I’ve put all my trust and loyalty into this organization. I’d have to trust them 100%, whatever their decisions are.”
“That’s a tough question to answer in a situation like this. I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket. The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that — like you said, all speculation — but if they don’t want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it’s going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract.”
– Oilers’ F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (left shoulder) is out 3-4 weeks. There’s some speculation that his shoulder is dislocated, but that hasn’t been confirmed. RNH has 13 goals and 35 points in 33 games, and was on track to become the first rookie since Blackhawks’ F Patrick Kane in 2007-08 to reach the 70-point mark.
– Panthers’ F Krys Barch has been suspended 1 game for his remark towards Canadiens’ D P.K. Subban. Barch reportedly asked Subban if he “slipped on a banana peel” following Subban’s fight with Panthers’ D Erik Gudbranson. This comes after a fan who threw a banana peel at Flyers’F Wayne Simmonds during the preseason. Subban didn’t even hear Barch’s remark, but an official did and threw Barch from the game. Barch later called Subban to explain what happened and to tell Subban that he didn’t intend for his comment to have any racial undertones.
– The Philadelphia police department has released a surveillance video of a brutal attack following Monday’s Winter Classic game in an effort to identify the three suspects involved in the beating of two men wearing New York Rangers jerseys outside a South Philadelphia cheesesteak shack. The video shows three suspects wearing Philadelphia Flyers jerseys beating and kicking the two victims outside Geno’s Steaks in South Philly at 7:15 p.m. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, one of the victims was an off-duty Woodbridge, N.J., police officer, who was taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the attack. The second victim was the police officer’s son. According to the website, Broad Street Hockey, one of the suspects identified himself on the site’s Facebook fan page and admitted he took part in the attack, but then backtracked. A source told ESPNNewYork.com that he later denied his involvement to police but will be interviewed Thursday.
– The Warriors have “emerged as aggressive suitors” for Magic’ F Dwight Howard, sources tell Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Warriors are reportedly willing to take Howard as a one-season “rental” while trying to get him to sign long-term. They’d likely have to give up either G Steph Curry or G Monta Ellis and also take back F Hedo Turkoglu’s bloated contract. The Nets, Lakers and Mavericks also in the mix. The trade deadline is March 15.
– The Kings have fired head coach Paul Westphal, and assistant coach Keith Smart will take over as head coach after signing a 2-year contract. Sacramento’s five losses this season have come at an average of 19.6 points. Westphal leaves with a subpar 51-120 in two-plus seasons. Smart’s plate is full in Sacramento.
– Spurs’ G Manu Ginobili (broken hand) is expected to be out for 6 weeks following successful surgery. This is a slightly shorter than the initial 6-8 week timetable.
– Nuggets’ F Kenneth Faried scored his first career NBA shot yesterday on a beautiful no-look behind-the-back alley oop from G Rudy Fernandez. Here’s the video:
– Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino could be headed to Miami this April for WrestleMania 28. According to the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, someone in WWE creative recently brought up the idea of bringing in The Situation to do something with Zack Ryder at WrestleMania 28. At this point, it’s unknown if WWE has reached out Sorrentino, or whether or not there’s any interest on his part or what his role at WrestleMania would be. He could appear in a backstage segment, he could be in Zack Ryder’s corner or even work some sort of tag team match like his Jersey Shore co-star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi did at last year’s show.
– In the days following Chris Jericho’s “surprise” return to WWE this past Monday on RAW, new details are emerging surrounding Jericho’s negotiations with Vince McMahon, his segment on RAW and what’s planned for the former Undisputed champion in the months ahead. Jericho flew to WWE headquarters in Stanford, CT several weeks ago and met with Vince McMahon to plot his return, all while claiming that he would never work with WWE again. The cryptic videos hyping Jericho’s return were the idea of WWE’s Social Networking Department. Internally, several people felt the videos were a little too “out there” – but they still went with the “It Begins” campaign.
While Jericho’s unique segment on RAW left many fans wondering what Jericho was going for, longtime students of the business saw that Jericho is a master at working the crowds and was able to manipulate the fans without saying a word. Jericho will be feuding with WWE Champion CM Punk in the coming weeks, leading up to a match at WrestleMania 28. There is no word yet on exactly how long Jericho is back for but there was speculation going around that he will be involved in a major program after WrestleMania 28 with a match at SummerSlam.
– Earlier this week, Randy Orton updated fans on the status of his back injury. He tweeted:
“… I herniated a disc (leaked disc fluid) between my L4-L5 in my lower back. Had som estrength loss in my left lower leg. Time off is to let the inflammation go down, and try and strengthen the muscles int lower back”
The injury is legitimate and is believed to have happened on the 12/19 RAW when Wade Barrett put him through a table. Orton’s rehab is said to be going well. The WWE website has an article up with quotes from Orton’s doctor, Chris Amann, who says the pain and weakness in Orton’s leg is subsiding and a full recovery is expected. In a sign of how much WWE values Orton’s services and views him as one of their franchise talents, his current contract has him locked in with WWE through 2019.
– After going on a very colorful rant against the Ultimate Warrior Wednesday night and challenging him to an MMA fight with $100,000 on the line, Kevin Nash has some more nice words for his former co-worker in WWE and WCW. Nash apparently didn’t get his point across the first time around – and wrote the following early Thursday morning:
“@UltimateWarrior You should watch your mouth,You know your a b*tch .You want nothing to do with me.You ran out of your gym to avoid me.”
“@UltimateWarrior You want to go pussy name the place and time. If not shut your d*ck sucker and forget my name. b*tch make me 100k richer”
– WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross was asked by a fan on Twitter when he’ll return to full-time announcing in WWE. Ross replied, “most likely never,” because “WWE likes what they hear” with the current announce teams on RAW and SmackDown.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE tag team champion Evan Bourne is in hot water after he revealed that R-Truth’s recent Wellness policy violation and suspension were a result of them smoking synthetic marijuana (“spice”) together. Even though Bourne and Truth are believed to have “partied” together, Bourne was suspended back on November 1st, while R-Truth’s suspension was not announced until after he main evented Survivor Series with The Rock, John Cena and the Miz.
Triple H, who is not a fan of Bourne, confronted him several weeks ago and blamed him for the news getting out. There is a company policy that WWE talent is not supposed to express frustration with the company publicly – and Bourne has done so several times on Twitter in recent months. Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon is said to be a backer of Bourne’s, feeling that he is a unique act and brings something different to the WWE roster. However, eEven with Stephanie’s support, there is fear within WWE that Bourne could be “the next Paul London” – a guy with tremendous talent who is going to have his spirit broken and will be chewed up by the system. With Bourne’s Wellness violation and the heat on him related to R-Truth’s situation, it’s somewhat surprising that the tag titles have not been taken off Air Boom already.
– According to F4WO, with the contracts of many top TNA superstars set to expire in the next year or so, there have been various reports about WWE’s interest in these talents. Courtesy of PWTorch.com, here is a breakdown of the rumored names and WWE’s interest level:
Rob Van Dam: WWE is interested in bringing him back.
James Storm and Robert Roode: WWE was interested in bringing in Beer Money together as a tag team, but there’s not much interest bringing them in as singles wrestlers.
Samoa Joe: Despite Steve Austin’s strong endorsement of Joe last year and Joe’s longtime friendships with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, there is little-to-no interest from WWE.
Matt Morgan: The general feeling is that Morgan will jump to WWE when his TNA contract expires next year.
Bully Ray: WWE is interested. No word on Devon.
The Pope: Officials were interested early last year when he was being pushed but not so much anymore.
Ink Inc.: There may be some interest in bringing back Shannon Moore down the road but Jesse Neal is viewed as a developmental prospect at best.
– “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who has been confirmed for WWE Network’s upcoming Legends’ House reality series, indicated on Twitter that former Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man is on the program as well.
“I just spent 3 hrs in the gym. To live in a house with HTM. Serious??? HOW MUCH???” he tweeted Wednesday.
Filming for the program begins next month in Tampa, Florida.
– Former WWE Diva Maryse was a guest on the Hit The Ropes radio show Wednesday night. Highlights from the interview are as follows:
What she’s been up to recently with House of Maryse: “Well, I have been working on House of Maryse for about a year and a half now, so you know I’m very excited about it and I’m hoping we will be launching in the summer. Hopefully June or July. So basically House of Maryse is all of those little things that I love. You know I’m a girl and when it comes to fashion and you know lingerie, make-up, shoes. It’s just something that I love so I decided to create lines about it, something that would be creative and made by me. So I think it’s something my fan’s would love to have access to…. it will be available world wide at HouseofMaryse.com and available in 400 stores in the states also.”
Other goals: “Well I’m in LA and being in LA, like they say I surround myself with a lot of good people and a good team and it’s so important. That is one of the elements you need when you out there, and I love acting, I love being a character. I mean if you watch my character on TV, you’ll know I have so much fun with it. Now it’s like- I wanna play other characters, you know it’s like a TV show. I’m done with that one, I want another one. So I’m ready to play different character. So yeah, of course, acting is like my main goal and I’m working really hard on it and it’s awesome.”
Thoughts on current Divas Division: “Oh, right now I wish management would give them more time, because like I said, I think there’s a lot of potential. It’s hard to perform and give everything that you have, it one or two minute match every week. So the girls need to get the microphone, you need to be able to get time to talk so people can relate to them and like I said they need more time, that’s for sure. More time on TV.”
Her feelings on her release: “Well, you know I had six fantastic years with the WWE. I, you know, if I would have to do it again I would do it. I mean it’s a big part of my life, I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve been learning so many experiences and you know there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like performing in front of the WWE fans. Any job you could do, you could imagine like performing for the WWE Universe. But I mean, I had fun and now it’s kind of like, next chapter of my life. Like what would I want to do, I have other dreams, I have other stuff I wanna work on and it was impossible being under contract with WWE. Now I’m free, I’m free to do whatever I want. But I had a good time, but now it’s like next. I want better, I want bigger and I’m working towards it. So it’s all positive stuff, it’s all positive.
The school girl that was Maryse: “Well, I remember the I was involved so many things. I even did hockey for about three years. Then I moved to cross country and I really used to be involved in all of those sports. It’s funny because people couldn’t imagine me doing that. Tall, blonde looking girl, everyone said I was a model, and couldn’t do sports. I was very involved in sports and very athletic. Then when I got to be 18-19-20 I kind of calm down and got more into hair, fashion, make-up. But in college I was very athletic with the boys.”
– According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, OF Manny Ramirez plans to work out for MLB teams later this month. Ramirez, 39, was reinstated from the voluntary retirement list last month, but he’ll still have to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive PED test before being eligible to play. He’ll need to settle for a 1-year contract with incentives.
– The Angels have begun preliminary discussions about multi-year contracts with the agents for 2B Howie Kendrick and INF Erick Aybar, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. GM Jerry Dipoto said, ”At this point, it’s something we’ve begun to explore and will continue to explore. There is no timetable, but certainly, it’s something we’re interested in pursuing.” Kendrick made $3.3M in 2011 while Aybar earned $3M, but both players should see sizable raises in their final year of arbitration. DiGiovanna speculates that they would each command something close to a 4-year/$30M contract.
– Angels’ 1B Kendrys Morales (broken left ankle) is undergoing a series of tests in Colorado this week to determine whether he will be able to intensify his rehab. GM Jerry Dipoto said, ”We’ll find out if he can step up to the next level and start more rigorous baseball activities. I wouldn’t say Kendrys’ 2012 season hinges on the answers we get this week, but the optimism we already feel could be enhanced.” Morales has been jogging on a “de-weighted” treadmill and hitting off a tee in Arizona, but the real test will be when he begins more intensive baseball activities. The 28-year-old hasn’t played in a professional game since fracturing his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate following a game-winning grand slam on May 29, 2010.
– Tigers’ 1B Miguel Cabrera was given a $500 fine and one year of probation Wednesday on his February DUI charge. Cabrera also had his license suspended for six months. The 28-year-old was arrested last February in Florida when police found him standing next to his vehicle, drinking from a bottle of scotch. He got into an argument with the officers and was clubbed in the knee several times after threatening violence. Cabrera posted an excellent 1.033 OPS in 161 games last season for the AL Central champion Tigers.
– According to ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine, the Cubs have spoken to eight AL teams about OF Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is owed $54M over the next three years, but the Cubs are telling teams that they are willing to eat half of that. The 35-year-old batted .244 with a .759 OPS in 2011. He’s a better fit for an American League team than an NL club because he would be able to DH.
– The Yankees announced Thursday that they were unable to reach a deal with Japanese INF Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Yankees secured exclusive negotiating rights for Nakajima last month with a posting fee around $2M, but the two sides were an unlikely match from the very beginning. The 29-year-old will return to the Seibu Lions while the Yankees are expected to re-open talks with free agent DH Eric Chavez.
– MLB.com’s Matthew Leach reports that Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan is “taking a leave of absence,” not stepping down from his post for good. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier that Duncan was resigning, but the Cardinals released a statement late Thursday night clarifying that the longtime pitching coach has simply “asked to take a leave of absence to attend to his wife Jeanine as she continues her treatment and rehabilitation (from August brain surgery).” The Cardinals will likely have bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist fill the vacancy for the time being.
– Rangers’ RHP Mike Adams (hernia) underwent surgery on Wednesday. The 33-year-old is going to be behind the other pitchers in Rangers camp when spring training opens, but he’s expected to be back to 100% by Opening Day. Adams posted a superb 1.47 ERA and 74/14 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings between San Diego and Texas last season.
– The Marlins have officially acquired RHP Carlos Zambrano and cash considerations from the Cubs for RHP Chris Volstad. The Cubs will cover $15M of Zambrano’s $18M salary for 2012. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Big Z received 24 days salary ($2.4M) from his 30-day suspension at the end of last season. Zambrano also waived his $19.25M vesting option for 2013 and will become a free agent next winter. He will receive a $100K bonus if he wins comeback player of the year in 2012. The 30-year-old should benefit from a change of scenery.
– The Mariners have signed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma to a 1-year/$1.5M contract. Iwakuma can also earn another $3.4M through performance-based incentives. The 30-year-old posted a strong 2.42 ERA and 90/19 K/BB ratio in 119 innings last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles and should fit nicely at the back end of the Seattle starting rotation. The A’s attempted to acquire Iwakuma last offseason but ultimately failed to work out a deal after offering up a $19M posting fee.
– The Athletics have officially signed OF Coco Crisp to a 2-year/$14M contract with a club option for 2014. Crisp, 32, batted just .264/.314/.379 with eight home runs in 136 games last season, but led the AL in stolen bases with 49. He’s likely to open the 2012 season as the starting center fielder.
– The Dodgers have re-signed RHP Mike MacDougal to a 1-year/$1M contract with a club option for 2013. MacDougal was resigned to accepting a minor league contract last winter from the Dodgers, but pitched his way to a nice raise after posting an impressive 2.05 ERA and 41/29 K/BB ratio in 57 innings last season. The 34-year-old will be a middle reliever in 2012.
– ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and the Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport report Patriots’ OC Bill O’Brien and Penn State have reached an agreement that will make O’Brien the successor to Joe Paterno as head coach. ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms O’Brien will continue to in his role with the Patriots throughout the playoffs. O’Brien will have his hands full rebuilding trust in the Penn State program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
– The Chargers have fired DC Greg Manusky and promoted LB coach John Pagano to DC. Manusky’s defence finished 16th in the NFL rankings while placing 13th versus the pass, but the team imploded down the stretch. Pagano will be Norv Turner’s fourth defensive coordinator in six years. He’s been with the Chargers for 10 years, including the last six as LBs coach.
– Jillian Hall stated in her newly released shoot interview with RF Video that while she has had no official discussions with TNA Wrestling officials, Tara had been persuading her to join the Orlando based organization. Hall, however, does not feel she is in shape to continue wrestling full-time since she gained a lot of weight due to her pregnancy last year.
– Oklahoma’ QB Landry Jones announced that he will stay in school for a fifth year in 2012. OU’s all-time leading passer with 12,389 yards and 93 touchdown passes, Jones holds 21 records in total for the Sooners. Projected for the middle of the first round early in the season, he suffered a slip during the final stretch of the season.
– South Carolina’ WR Alshon Jeffery will forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL draft. Jeffery is rumoured to have battled weight problems during a junior season that saw his stat line fall from 88/1,517/17.2/9 in 2010 to 49/762/15.5/8. Jeffery closed his college career strong with 148 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown catch in the Gamecocks’ Capitol One Bowl victory over Nebraska. He still projects to be a 1st-round pick.
– Michigan State’ DT Jerel Worthy will forego his junior season and enter the 2012 NFL draft. Worthy posted 30 tackles, 10.5 for loss, with 3.5 sacks as part of the Spartans’ fifth-ranked defense. Worthy is expected to be a first-round pick.