– According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Penguins’ F Jordan Staal has rejected a 10-year contract extension from the team. Staal’s agent, Paul Krepelka told Pierre LeBrun, ”He is not prepared to enter into a contract extension at this time.” McKenzie tweeted that Staal has indicated that he doesn’t want to sign an extension with the Pens at this moment. GM Ray Shero said he had no intention of trading his two-way center earlier this week, while Staal had stated that he wanted to remain with the organization. Staal, 23, scored 25 goals and 25 assists in 62 games with the Penguins in 2011-12. He led the team in playoff scoring, notching six goals and three assists in the Penguins’ six-game series loss to the Flyers. Staal is entering the final year of a 4-year deal with an AAV of $4M.
– The Canadiens have reportedly filed for salary arbitration with G Carey Price. RDS hockey reporter Renaud Lavoie reported on Twitter that the move is no indication that salary negotiations with Price and his representatives aren’t going well, but the move does prevent other NHL teams from signing the 24-year-old to an offer sheet. Price had a 26-28-11 record last season with a 2.43 GAA and .916 SV%. He signed a 2-year/$5.5M contract with the Habs in 2010.
– Devils’ impending UFA F Zach Parise’s agent, Wade Arnott, is expected to have an informal chat with GM Lou Lamoriello at the NHL Draft this weekend, however, it doesn’t appear as though anything will happen until afterward. Arnott said he expects to talk with Parise on Monday to see where he plans to focus his attention prior to testing free agency. That situation would give the Devils about six days to try to re-sign him before he can listen to offers from 29 other teams.
– According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Islanders’ impending UFA F P.A. Parenteau appears likely to test free agency on July 1. Parenteau scored 18 goals and 49 assists in 80 games.
– The Predators have signed F Brandon Yip to a 1-year/$750K contract. The 27-year-old had seven points in 25 games with the Predators, and he played in all 10 playoff games with two points.
– The Ducks have signed a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League beginning in the 2012-13 season. The Ducks were most recently affiliated with the Syracuse Crunch from 2010-12. Executive vice president and GM Bob Murray said,
“We are excited to be affiliating with the Admirals in a great hockey market such as Norfolk, Virginia. We look forward to working with the Norfolk organization and continuing the winning tradition the team has created at Norfolk Scope Arena. We would also like to thank the Syracuse Crunch and its fans for their support over the last two seasons.”
The Admirals were affiliated with the Blackhawks from 2000-07 and the Lightning from 2007-12. They won their first Calder Cup championship in 2012.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, despite having two Wellness Policy strikes against him, Randy Orton will be pushed back into a main event spot when he returns from his current suspension. Orton has been very vocal about wanting to be a heel, but WWE continues to push him as a babyface because the feeling is that World Heavyweight champion Sheamus is not strong enough yet to carry SmackDown live events as the top good guy. Orton is also frustrated over WWE banning his punt kick, which was done to prevent concussions.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Brock Lesnar will be back on television before August 13 then to hype his match with Triple H at SummerSlam, with some people expecting him to appear at the 1,000th RAW celebration on July 23.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there is concern among WWE officials that Vince McMahon’s mockery of Jim Ross’ affliction with Bell’s palsy in a backstage segment on the June 11 Raw SuperShow could cause backlash for the organization. The Creative Coalition, which formed a multi-platform, nationwide anti-bullying alliance with WWE, “be a STAR,” would appear hypocritical by conducting business with an organization that practices what they preach against. McMahon’s mockery segment struck a nerve with former WCW announcer Mark Madden, who went on Twitter to blast the WWE chief.
McMahon mocking Ross’ Bell’s Palsy last night was unforgivable. Wut a scumbag, pure& simple. Just a twisted, emotionally crippled jerkoff.
McMahon wasn’t mocking a stranger. Ross is one of WWE’s most valued employees ever. Ross’ big sin: He knows more about wrestling than Vince.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, following a recent concussion, Alberto Del Rio was pulled from his World Heavyweight title match against Sheamus at No Way Out just days before the show. A #1 contender’s match was held on the June 11th “go home” RAW and Dolph Ziggler went on to challenge Sheamus instead. According to the report, Del Rio was actually medically cleared to wrestle by No Way Out, but WWE had no way of knowing he’d be healthy in time. The talent roster is already stretched very thin with so many top names out of action (Orton, Mysterio, Jericho), but the company is taking concussions very seriously erred on the side of caution by replacing Del Rio with Ziggler. The night after the pay-per-view, Del Rio wrestled Santino in a comedy match on RAW. The idea was to get Del Rio back in action without him having to face a stiff worker (like Sheamus) in his first match back after a concussion. Del Rio will now likely get his World Heavyweight title shot against Sheamus at Money in the Bankon July 15th. Like last year, there will be two Money in the Bank ladder matches on the card.
– Chris Jericho revealed in an interview with Fighting Spirit Magazine that Fozzy is his top priority since he’s done everything he can possibly do in professional wrestling.
“When I was a kid I had two dreams, I wanted to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band and I wanted to be a wrestler, and I’m very fortunate that I got to do both at the highest level. At this point in time, 100 percent of my focus is on the band, and the mass of momentum that we’ve got over the last couple of years from touring and playing, and the reputation we’ve earned. I wanted to make the most of it, and take Fozzy to the next level,” he says in the interview.
“I’ve done everything I could possibly do in wrestling. It’s been great, but now Fozzy is kind of growing to be at the level where I am in wrestling, and Fozzy is what I wanna do. Wrestling will always be there, and if I decide to go back, it’s great. But after all these years of hard work with the band, to get some of this momentum behind us is a very rare thing.”
Three days remain on Jericho’s 30-day WWE suspension due to denigrating the Brazilian flag at a WWE live event in São Paulo on May 24; he is scheduled to return on Monday’s Raw SuperShow. He referenced the lyrics to a 3 Count song in his latest suspension countdown message on Twitter:
“Get up on your feet Put your hands together Sing along with 3 Count We’ll party up forever…”
– Rey Mysterio’s 60-day suspension for his second violation of WWE’s Talent Wellness Program expires on Monday. WWE has yet to advertise Mysterio for any upcoming events.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE announced on RAW last week that a legend would be competing on RAW each week. Vader was the first surprise legend and by all accounts, had a solid match with Heath Slater. On this week’s show, there was no returning legend in action, despite appearances from Mick Foley and Roddy Piper. WWE has reportedly abandoned the storyline of a legend wrestling on RAW each week. Instead, a former General Manager will be brought in each week to host RAW and SmackDown. Mick Foley is this week’s host and Vickie Guerrero has been confirmed for next week.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there will likely be two briefcases on the line at Money in the Bank this year.
– According to the PWInsider, WWE is currently in the process of re-packaging Tensai. After his recent attack on Sakamoto two weeks ago, their association is likely over. Sakamoto is expected to start wrestling within the next few months. He’s been wrestling since 2003 and was trained by former WWE star Taka Michinoku at his Kaientai Dojo school in Japan.
– Vince McMahon issued a directive to WWE scouts recruiting athletes as prospective talent; they must meet a size requirement of 6’2? and 240 pounds. The WWE chief is concerned that many of his top-tier talents are approximately 200 pounds, thus small by his standards. His remark to Daniel Bryan on last week’s episode of Raw Supershow where nobody would believe him to be a WWE Superstar if he was spotted in a grocery store was based on his frustration with his roster’s lack of sufficient size. McMahon believes many of his top stars are not reaching the masses because they don’t possess ‘the Superstar look.’
– At Wednesday’s Florida Championship Wrestling event at the Orlando Armory in Orlando, Florida, posters were placed advertising Evan Bourne for their next event at the venue on July 25. He is advertised for a meet and greet. Bourne is recovering from a serious car accident in March, where he broke his foot in four places and dislocated it in five. He issued an update on his health last week via Twitter: “More xrays taken today! My bones look good in the right light. Physical therapy starts next week….finally!”
– Speaking to The Fight Club Chicago, former WCW and ECW star Scotty Riggs weighed in on the Chris Benoit double murder and suicide and why he believes that Vince McMahon feels Benoit is a blackeye to WWE.
“I still believe that what happened, the tragedy with Chris and Nancy and Daniel… I knew them well. [I] Used to eat dinner with Chris and he would get on his cell phone and he would be on the phone with Nancy and he would give me the phone and I’m like what and he goes, ‘Nancy wants to say hello to you. She loves you.’
“I had a great relationship with the family. So whatever happened in that period of time, I still don’t think it’s the Chris Benoit that all of us knew. It might have been that physical person, but the mental person… whatever was going on with him mentally, I just don’t think that was him.
“Verne Gagne a lot of people knew him from AWA and this wrestling historian, basically is in a retirement home. Killed a roommate, something of the sort. Never got the publicity because he wasn’t high profile at that time. But he had no recollection of it. Didn’t remember doing it and they basically gave him a free get go. Basically did the same thing, took another persons life. Whether it’s your family or whether its a person or anything of that sort. Scott Hall, he’s had his demons, found out what he did early before he started wrestling when he took a life, but how it affects you. You see how it’s affecting him, his demons and his life now.
“But with Chris, no one ever saw what was happening in his mind. You saw glimpses of things that maybe might make you question, but no red flags that would make you think he’d do that. So for people who really, really respect him as a wrestler… The fans will never forget Chris Benoit. Wrestlers who knew Chris Benoit as Chris and as a guy who was there as a friend will never forget him and so he’ll be remembered.
“I think WWE, Vince McMahon will never acknowledge him because of there quote, unquote family PG status right now. They just won’t do it. To them its a black eye. Vince, he’ll deny everything and he’ll just sweep it under the rug and only let the good be seen. He’ll get rid of the bad, pretend it didn’t exist. He does that with everything and everybody and always has. It’s unfortunate.”
– WWE creative writer Michael Hayes has replaced John Laurinaitis as the matchmaker for live event shows.
– California-based wrestler Buggy Nova has apparently signed a developmental contract with WWE as she made her Florida Championship Wrestling debut at Wednesday’s Summer Slamarama event in Orlando, Florida, according to multiple attendees. Buggy, who possesses an “alternative” look, participated in a Diva swimsuit competition as well as a dancing contest. Byron Saxton emceed the competitions and announced her as Natalie—her real name. Buggy was first evaluated by WWE officials at the January 16 Raw SuperShow in Anaheim, California. She was invited to the following day’s SmackDown taping in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she wrestled AJ in a tryout match before company brass. She was evaluated the following month at a SmackDown taping in Fresno, California, where she once again faced AJ in a private match. Buggy is 22-years-old and billed at 5’8? and 135 pounds. Trained under the Ballard Brothers, she has been wrestling on the independent circuit since 2009.
– The WWE No Way Out YouTube.com pre-show match featuring David Otunga vs. Brodus Clay peaked with 43,855 viewers. The previous month’s Over the Limit pre-show match with Kane vs. Zack Ryder peaked at 44,049 viewers.
– John Laurinaitis has been removed from the talent roster page on the WWE website.
– Former WWE superstar Goldust (aka Dustin Rhodes) says he will not be at the 1000th episode of Raw.
– If elected this November, Linda McMahon would be one of the wealthiest United States Senators. According to financial disclosure reports, Linda and Vince McMahon were together worth between $90-350M. The McMahons are believed to be much closer to 350 than 90. Vince & Linda recently took out a loan of between $5-25M from Morgan Stanley to build their investment profiles.
– “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner is the latest addition to WWE.com’s Alumni section (view his profile). WWE.com writes of Steiner: “Scott Steiner is not only an accomplished tag team competitor, but he is also one of the most physically impressive and imposing Superstars of all-time.” Promoting the page via Twitter, website director Joey Styles acknowledged Steiner’s obscenity-laced Twitter page but would not link to it:
Welcome Scott Steiner to WWE dotcom! (OMG! There is no way in hell that I am linking to his profane Twitter page!) wwe.com/superstars/sco…
– WWE Hall of Famer Tammy “Sunny” Sytch plans to relocate from New Jersey to her boyfriend’s residence in Connecticut and indicated via Facebook that would be interested in working at the sport entertainment organization’s Stamford-based television production studio. She wrote Thursday:
“Hmmm just had a thought…. I’ll be living in Connecticut soon… I think I’ll make a call and work in the studio….hmmmm.”
A fan then pleaded for one final WWE run, reasoning that she’s ‘hotter’ than Vickie Guerrero. The remark offended Sytch, who wrote back:
“Than Vickie?? Of all people you have to compare me to her???”
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE continues to hire more employees for the WWE Network. One of the top ongoing projects is converting old tapes to the digital format. As reported earlier this week, WWE is currently considering a subscription-based “premium channel” model (similar to HBO, Showtime) for the WWE Network.
– WWE, The Creative Coalition and the Brooklyn Cyclones will join forces for Anti-Bullying Night at MCU Park next Wednesday. David Otunga, Zack Ryder, Natalya and Lilian Garcia will be on hand to spread the message of the “be a STAR” anti-bullying campaign before the Cyclones game. In addition to the pre-game presentation, WWE Superstars and Divas will be signing autographs on the concourse and Lilian Garcia has been announced to sing the National Anthem. During the game, fans will be asked to use their social media tools to spread an anti-bullying message and take the official “be a STAR” pledge by logging onto www.beastaralliance.org to put an end to bullying through proper channels and communication, while also creating a bully free-environment for everyone.
– Former WWE Champion JBL published the following video on Wednesday highlighting his Seven Summits adventure. JBL’s first challenge will be climbing Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe.
– The Nets and Mavericks are believed to be the front-runners for UFA G Deron Williams, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. He writes that D-Will has not decided yet, and that “money is not going to be the deciding factor.” Williams reportedly likes the Nets’ franchise and the direction they’re headed in, and will not base his decision on whatever happens with Magic’ F Dwight Howard. Per Broussard, if Williams chooses not to re-sign with the Nets, the team is expected to explore sign-and-trade opportunities.
– Bulls’ G Derrick Rose (knee surgery) is “ahead of schedule,” according to Dr. Brian Cole. ”This was part of the plan established before surgery. He’s ahead of schedule.” D-Rose is still projected to miss 8-12 months.
– UFA G Chauncey Billups (Achilles surgery) is “far ahead of schedule” in his rehab. Billups shot down a LA Times report that he wouldn’t be ready to play until January. “I’m excelling at an unbelievable level. I plan on being ready by training camp. I’m planning on playing all 82 games.” Billups didn’t rule out a return to the Clippers, but he said he would entertain “any other offers” as well.
– The Rockets may have discussed a trade involving F Samuel Dalembert and their No. 16 pick in the draft, but the deal is “not happening,” according to beat writer Jonathan Feigen. ”[The Rockets] would like to move a pick, but they also like Sam’s contract.” Dalembert has a $6.7M team option for 2012-13, after which he’s a UFA. Houston is expected to be active in the trade market over the next week.
– UFA G Raymond Felton said Thursday that the Blazers, Knicks, Suns, and Nets are in play for his services. ”You’ve got a lot of teams, you know, different things that can happen. So we’ll see what happens. You’ve got the draft coming up, and a lot of crazy things can happen during free agency – that’s just the way of the business.”
– Braves’ RHP Brandon Beachy (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on Thursday morning. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure at his clinic in Gulf Breeze, Florida and deemed it a success. Beachy is out for the remainder of the 2012 season, and will likely return sometime after the the 2013 All-Star break. The 25-year-old posted a sparkling 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 81 innings this year.
–Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd said Wednesday that SS Troy Tulowitzki (groin) could be out 8 weeks. ”That’s what we are planning on and will adjust off that. Like any club, we are built around our best players. Even if we were having an average year rather than a bad year, losing him would be problematic.” Tulo is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Thursday to remove scar tissue from a nerve in his groin. Tulowitzki was placed on the DL on May 31. He is hitting .287 this year with eight home runs and 27 RBI.
– Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel said Thursday that 2B Chase Utley (knee) could come off the DL next week, barring setbacks. Utley is 5-for-23 (.217) with High-A Clearwater during his rehab assignment and has begun playing second base in recent days. His 20-day rehab window comes to a close in early July, but he appears to be ahead of schedule at the moment.
– According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays’ RHP Joel Peralta has been suspended 8 games for excessive pine tar on the inside of his glove. Peralta will appeal the punishment and is available for Thursday night’s series-finale against the Nationals. He was ejected Tuesday after umpires found excessive pine tar on the inside of his glove. That glove was confiscated and sent to the MLB offices in New York City.
– Red Sox’ OF Carl Crawford (sprained left UCL) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. Crawford will likely be inserted as DH before he plays the field. He’s likely to need most of his 20-day rehab window, which places his return right around the All-Star break.
– D’Backs’ GM Kevin Towers said on Arizona Sports Radio 620 that he hopes SS Stephen Drew (ankle) will be activated from the DL next Wednesday. Drew is batting .250 (8-for-32) with two homers over his first eight rehab games with Triple-A Reno without incident. The 29-year-old is going home for a few days following a death in the family, but he’s expected to play rehab games with Double-A Mobile on Sunday and Monday before getting the day off Tuesday. He should be back on Arizona’s roster next Wednesday against the Braves, barring setbacks. Manager Kirk Gibson recently said that Drew could be used as a part-time player initially.
– Red Sox’ OF Jacoby Ellsbury (dislocated right shoulder) took six minutes of batting practice on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park. Ellsbury hit a ball off the top of Fenway’s distant center field wall during the session. He should be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment by early next week and could be back in the starting lineup next weekend.
– Red Sox’ RHP Andrew Bailey (thumb) has begun mound work. Bailey is throwing his entire repertoire in bi-weekly bullpen sessions, and should soon be cleared to face live hitters. The 28-year-old is hoping to join the bullpen shortly after the All-Star break.
– Nationals’ RHP Drew Storen (right elbow) is scheduled to face live hitters Friday for the first time since surgery. Storen began mound work earlier this month and is now throwing at about 85-90%. He’ll likely need to throw a few BP sessions before his minor league rehab assignment. He remains on track to return around the All-Star break.
– Reds’ OF Drew Stubbs (strained left oblique) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday with Single-A Dayton. Stubbs is likely to play in minor league games all weekend before returning to the lineup early next week. He’s been on the DL since June 6.
– Orioles’ LHP Jamie Moyer can opt out of his minor league deal with the Orioles if not promoted in the next few days. Moyer has allowed just four runs (three earned) in 16 innings at Triple-A Norfolk since signing that contract. He struggled mightily for the Rockies earlier this season and seems doubtful to fare much better against AL East teams, but the O’s may decide to give him a look. The 49-year-old is in his 25th MLB season.
– The Blue Jays have acquired RHP Sean O’Sullivan from the Royals for cash. The 24-year-old was 5-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 17 games, including five starts, for Triple-A Omaha.
– Vikings’ WR Percy Harvin has returned to Minnesota’s practice after a brief absence following his request to be traded. Harvin said Thursday afternoon that he has no plans to hold out of training camp. ”I’m really clueless on the crazy reports. Had a great (practice) today … To all my real fans and real Vikes fans see u at Mankato.” Harvin was on the field Thursday for the final portion of minicamp at Winter Park, taking part in all of the drills. The fourth-year Vikings star said Tuesday that he’s upset with the team about issues he refused to explain. He was present for Wednesday’s walk-through but missing at the afternoon workout. Harvin also tweeted Wednesday night that he and coach Leslie Frazier are now “on the same page.” Frazier suggested after Thursday’s practice that the Harvin soap opera “should be behind us.”
– According to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, 49ers’ WRs Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss are atop the depth chart at wide receiver entering training camp. Maiocco writes “Without fail, every teammate and coach had glowing praise (for Moss)” adding that the offseason “could not have gone any better” for him. WR Mario Manningham now projects as the No. 3.
– A federal judge dismissed Broncos’ LB D.J. Williams’ complaint filed against the NFL in an attempt to overturn his 6-game suspension. Facing the ban for allegedly providing a “non-human specimen” in a drug test, Williams was fighting to have the suspension overturned before training camp. The eight-year vet followed Brewers’ OF Ryan Braun’s approach, saying the was a “chain-of-custody procedural errors” in the handling of his sample. The suspension is now expected to stand.
– Dolphins’ RB Reggie Bush believes his role is the Fins’ new offense is “going to be a little different from last year.” Last year, Bush was used as an inside runner, and posted a career-high 216 rushing attempts for 1,086 yards. Under new head coach Joe Philbin, Bush is expected to return to his “hybrid” game. RB Daniel Thomas will likely have the early-down touches.
– ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano believes Redskins’ WR Santana Moss still “retains a chance” to be the team’s No. 1 receiver this season. Graziano originally believed Moss would be limited to slot duties, but after speaking with coaches, now writes that Moss is projected as the starter opposite WR Pierre Garcon.
– Falcons.com expects the team’s running game to be distributed “on a more by-committee basis,” as per head coach Mike Smith’s wishes. RB Michael Turner’s rushing attempts are going to drop significantly, while Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling will see more touches. Atlanta also wants to open up the passing game, where Turner may not be a major factor.
– Check out Italy’s Mario Balotelli working hard on his pushups:
– Early pay-per-view buyrate data is in for TNA Slammiversary 2012 and this year’s show appears to have been a major success. In what has to be seen as a strong sign of momentum for TNA, Slammiversary did around 14,000-15,000 buys, early double last year’s show (estimated 7,500 buys) and way up from the average TNA PPV, which usually sells around 7,000-10,000 buys.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Chris Sabin (torn left ACL) will require surgery and will miss 6-9 months. Sabin suffered the injury during the Ultimate X match on last week’s Impact Wrestling. Sabin had just returned in March after being out of action for 11 months due to reconstructive surgery on his right knee.
– According to the PWInsider, former WWE star Luke Gallows is backstage at tonight’s Impact Wrestling event in Orlando, Florida and scheduled to work a dark match.
– Juventus has re-signed Sebastian Giovinco on Thursday, paying Parma $14M. The 25-year-old signed a 3-year contract with the Serie A champions, tying him to the club until June 30, 2015.
– England GK Robert Green has signed a 2-year contract with QPR. The 32-year-old is with England at Euro 2012 as a backup to Joe Hart and has won 12 caps for his country. He played six years at West Ham, but decided to leave the club, which earned promotion to the Premier League this season.
– Norwich City has signed MF Andrew Surman to a new 3-year contract. The 25-year-old joined Norwich from Wolverhampton in 2010, and had four goals last season as the Canaries finished 12th in the English Premier League.