– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion/neck) will officially return to play on Thursday. In his first return attempt back in November, Crosby had two goals and four points, and finished with 12 points in eight games before going down again. It’s an enormous boost for the Pens, especially given how good they’ve been even without Crosby in the lineup.
– F Sean Avery announced his retirement during the After Show segment of Watch What Happens Live. Host Andy Cohen posed a viewer question to him regarding his future.
“Sean, what are your thoughts about your hockey future?”
Avery, 31, responded by saying,
“I am officially retired; I threw my skates in the Hudson [River].”
He later added,
“No, that wasn’t a joke, yes I’m retiring at end of season and its OK.”
If true, the announcement would close out a tumultuous final season for Avery spent with the Rangers and their AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale. After being waived by the Rangers earlier this season, Avery was assigned to the Whale before re-joining New York on November 5. In 15 games with the Rangers this season, Avery scored 3 goals and registered 21 penalty minutes. As a member of the Whale he scored 2 goals and had 1 assist to go with 39 PIMs in seven games, though he was also a healthy scratch for several games with the team. Avery last played for the Whale on January 27 and was not on the team’s clear-day roster, making him ineligible for the AHL postseason. He has been told he no longer needs to report to the team.
In 580 games across parts of 10 seasons with New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Detroit, Avery has 90 goals and 157 assists to go with 1,533 PIMs. His most productive season came in 2006-07 when he totaled 18 goals, 48 points and 174 penalty minutes in 84 games split between the Kings and Rangers.
– Panthers’ F Krys Barch spoke out about headshots in the NHL:
“I don’t know why you try to correct what’s working. The hits are always part of the game. I had a twitter account a few years ago and you look at guys going over to Iraq and Afghanistan and they’re doing it for their country and they’re not getting compensated near as much as we are so why do we have to take less risks than them? That’s part of the sport. We get paid huge money to do it and most of the time you get paid big money it comes with a lot of risks involved and we’re compensated. We know that risk when we step on the ice so you go along with it, so everybody just shut up! These guys are going overseas spending nine months away from their wives and kids and risk their lives and do it for x amount of dollars, and we’re going to sit here and cry because one guy’s making $5M and he’s out with a concussion then shame on us. Shame on us, that’s what I think.”
– Lightning’ F Vincent Lecavalier (broken hand) might be able to return late next week. ”I’m hoping. I want to play as soon as soon as possible but I have to be smart, too.” Lecavalier still isn’t able to shoot the puck, so clearly he’s not 100% just yet.
– Saints signed WR Marques Colston to a 5-year contract. The Saints were “working feverishly” to re-sign him, and that Colston “badly” wanted to remain in New Orleans. Since the Saints were expected to enter free agency with roughly $7M in cap space, he’ll earn a low base salary in 2012 before seeing his numbers steadily increase. Colston will turn 29 in June.
– The Bears have acquired WR Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins for a 2012 and 2013 3rd-round draft pick. It’s a great move by the Bears, who re-unite Marshall with QB Jay Cutler. The ‘Fins receiving corps is now very thin.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter has shot down the Texans as a potential suitor for free agent QB Peyton Manning. Schefter reports the Texans have “no plans” to pursue Manning despite two Monday reports that suggested otherwise. The Texans are believed to be high on Manning’s wish list, but aren’t willing to turn the page on QB Matt Schaub (Lisfranc surgery) as he rehabs. The Texans can be expected to pay Schaub’s $500K roster bonus on Saturday.
– Cowboys released CB Terence Newman. The oft-injured 33-year-old didn’t stand a chance of seeing his scheduled $6 million salary after being toasted routinely throughout the final two months of the season. The Cowboys will use the cap savings to target free agents Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr. Newman may have to take an incentive-laden deal on the open market.
– The Eagles have signed RT Todd Herremans to a 3-year/$21M contract extension. The deal includes $11M guaranteed, and locks Herremans up through 2016, when he will be 34. Herremans was switched from left guard to right tackle late in training camp last season and allowed just four sacks. LG Evan Mathis appears next on their priority list.
– The Giants have signed CB Terrell Thomas to a 4-year/$28M contract. The deal includes $11M guaranteed and an option year. Thomas is recovering from second torn right ACL. He has yet to resume sprinting, but is tentatively expected to be ready for training camp. CB Aaron Ross is now unlikely to be brought back. Thomas graded out as just the league’s 60th best corner by Pro Football Focus in 2010 before missing all of 2011.
– The Chargers have released LT Marcus McNeill. McNeill was one of the league’s more durable left tackles before signing a 6-year/$48.9M extension in October 2010, but has appeared in just 20 of a possible 32 games the past two seasons. He underwent two knee surgeries last offseason before a neck injury sent him to IR in November. He had a $10.5M salary for 2012.
– The Chargers have re-signed C Nick Hardwick, 31, to a 3-year/$13.5M contract.
– Braves’ 3B Chipper Jones has clarified that the comments he made Monday about an early retirement were in jest. ”I don’t know if I can make it through this year,” Chipper joked with a couple of reporters on Monday. Those comments were taken out of context, unfortunately. “It was tongue and cheek. I was kidding. I just got done playing eight innings with three at-bats. I was a little tired. I wasn’t by any means suggesting I couldn’t make it through the season. If I didn’t think that I could, I wouldn’t be out there.”
– According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, the agent for Angels’ SS Erick Aybar has arrived at Angels camp to engage in long-term contract negotiations. Aybar is currently scheduled to become a free agent five days after the conclusion of the 2012 World Series. The 28-year-old batted .289/.322/.421 with 10 home runs and 59 RBI in 605 plate appearances last year for Anaheim and would likely attract quite a bit of interest on the open market.
– D’Backs’ manager Kirk Gibson told reporters Tuesday that he plans to push SS Stephen Drew (right ankle) “pretty good this week” to test the status of his ankle. Drew has been limited to only light jogging and weight room workouts since arriving in Diamondbacks camp due to lingering concerns about the ankle fracture that he suffered last July. If the 28-year-old is unable to appear in a Cactus League game soon, the Snakes will have no choice but to rule him out for Opening Day.
– TNA executive Eric Bischoff posted the following on his Facebook page late Monday night ripping TNA employee Jeremy Borash:
“Just had a beer here in Nashville. Bartender asked me I worked for the boss ‘Jeremy Borash.’ When I asked ‘WTF’ that was supposed to mean, I was told emphatically that Jeremy has represented himself as an ‘owner’ of TNA. Jeremy is a low rent bit player who should be fortunate he has a job.”
In response to Bischoff’s burial of Jeremy Borash, TNA star Brutus Magnus tweeted the following:
@JeremyBorash is 1 of the hardest working & loyal people TNA has ever had. Aren’t ppl supposed to be MORE mature as time goes on, not less?
– Owen Sound Attack’ F Mike Halmo has been suspended indefinitely by the OHL for his hit on Sting’ F Nail Yakupov on Saturday.
– The infamous headbutt by France’s Zinedine Zidane on Italy’s Marco Matterazzi has now become a sculpture. Check it out:
– The Rock tweeted the following message on Tuesday morningregarding Monday’s RAW:
“Cleveland – thank U for an unforgettable & record setting night. Biggest sell out crowd in WWE history. #RockConcert2012.”
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the NFL is taking away millions in salary-cap space from the Cowboys and Redskins for illegal front-loading of deals during the 2010 uncapped year. According to PFT, teams were warned “at least six times” they would face “serious consequences” for using the uncapped year as an opportunity to dump salaries. The Reskins will lose $36M, while the Cowboys lose $10M. Dallas was reportedly $4.7M under the $120.6M cap while Washington was in better shape at $31.3M under. The franchises have the option of splitting the damage over 2012 and 2013, but either way, their offseason shopping will be negatively affected.
Following the salary hit, the Redskins have released FS O.J. Atogwe. Atogwe was a candidate for release because of his unguaranteed $3.4M salary for 2012. The move will count as $0 in dead money against the cap. The 31-year-old endured an injury-plagued season, but has seen his stock drop tremendously following a benching late-season.
– The 49ers have signed WR Randy Moss to a 1-year contract. Moss remains a speed threat, but with QB Alex Smith’s weak arm, the combo may not work out too well. Head coach Jim Harbaugh plays a run-first offense, to make matters worse.
– ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Manning will meet with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and Titans coach Mike Munchak within the next three days. Unlike the visits to Denver and Arizona, the meetings with Philbin and Munchak will take place away from team headquarters. The Denver Post also reports the Texans “recently inquired” on Manning, and are one of six teams “considered alive” in his pursuit. The report comes after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel claimed that Manning would visit the Texans, though it makes no mention of a potential visit. According to the Post, the Broncos, Cardinals, Titans and 49ers are the other teams still in the race for Manning. The 49ers had yet to be credibly connected to Manning, and are still widely expected to re-sign free agent QB Alex Smith.
– The Giants have signed CB Terrell Thomas. Thomas is working his way back from the second torn right ACL of his playing career. He has yet to resume sprinting, but is expected to be ready for training camp. CB Aaron Ross is now not expected to be retained. Thomas graded out as just the league’s 60th best corner by Pro Football Focus in 2010 before missing all of 2011.
– PFT reports that the Saints are “working feverishly” to re-sign WR Marques Colston ahead of Tuesday’s free agency period. Per PFT, Colston “badly” wants to stay with the Saints. New Orleans is working with less than $7M in cap space. As such, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports hears Colston will re-sign in the “high $7M” range.
– Former NFL WR Terrell Owens got flipped over a wall during a recent AFL game. The 38-year-old tweeted afterwards:
“Got another road victory!! Wranglers regrouped n 2nd half!! I got flipped over 4 the 1st time, I enjoyed it!!”
– Yahoo Sports’ Jason Cole reports that WR Vincent Jackson will receive interest from the Bucs, Bears, and Bills once free agency opens on Tuesday. The Redskins’ cap penalty may have eliminated them from contention. PFT reported Sunday night that Buffalo is $30.8M under the cap.
– A “number of NFL sources” tell CSN Chicago that the Bears are considered around the league to be the favorites for free agent LB Mario Williams as Tuesday’s 4PM ET signing period approaches. Williams would form the NFL’s most dominant bookend duo in the league across from Julius Peppers. It’s believed that Williams is ahead of WR Vincent Jackson on the priority list. The Chargers, Patriots, and Titans are also in the mix.
– The Texans have informed RT Eric Winston of his release. The move clears $5.5M in base salary. Winston hasn’t missed a start since his 2006 rookie season, and has been a big part of the team’s zone-blocking scheme. The 28-year-old graded Winston as a top-six right tackle last season by Pro Football Focus. He was 11th overall in PFF’s rankings.
– According to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, the Raiders will formally release OLB Kam Wimbley and TE Kevin Boss on Tuesday. Wimbley will hit the market as a 28-year-old pass rusher with 16 sacks over the past two seasons. Boss is let go just six months after the Raiders gave him a 4-year/$16M deal. He caught just 28 passes for 368 yards his first season in Oakland.
– The Cardinals have released LT Levi Brown. Brown was set to make $17M against the cap during the final year of his rookie deal. The move clears roughly $14.5M in cap space. The 5th-overall pick of the 2007 draft, Brown has started all 16 games each of the past four seasons, but frequently graded out as one of the league’s worst tackles.
– The Rams have released CB Ron Bartell. Bartell was on the books for $6.2M next season. A broken neck limited him to one game in 2011–he’s still rehabbing, and isn’t guaranteed to be 100% for training camp. Bartell does plan to play in 2012, however, and has been informed he’s at no extra risk of injury going forward. A 2nd-round pick in 2005, Bartell was the Rams’ longest-tenured defensive player.
– John Cena goes old-school as the “Master of Thuganomics” raps his true feelings about The Rock at Raw on March 12, 2012:
John Cena tweeted the following late Monday night after RAW:
He didnt need em on his hand he had lyric sheet, and then they were on jumbotron, but @therock is back! And #WM28 its on! Best v Best 4/1/12
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I take nothing personal. Truly glad to see @therock back! He needed that tonight #WM28
He had fun! I had fun watching it, like i said, i just want to beat the greatest of all time at #WM28 not some dude whos nervous. No excuses
It is what it is. #riseabovehate Music stand wont save him on #4/1/12
– According to the PWTorch, there continues to be a lot of speculation regarding The Miz’s role at WrestleMania 28. Miz, who successfully defended the WWE title against John Cena in the main event of last year’s show, is rumoured to be involved in this year’s Rock vs. Cena match in some capacity. WWE is said to have a storyline ready for The Miz after WrestleMania and his recent losing streak is part of the buildup to that angle.
– CM Punk has responded to Chris Jericho’s promo from RAW, which has been dubbed, the “CM Drunk” promo. Jericho got very personal with the WWE champion, revealing to the WWE Universe that the reason CM Punk lives a straight edge lifestyle is because his father was a drunk. Punk responded to the events that transpired on RAW with the following tweet on Monday night:
“I don’t want any sympathy. Save it for Chris. Shit just got next level.”
“I will hurt you. Everybody has skeletons in the family closet. Keep my father out of it.”
– On Monday’s RAW, Chris Jericho appeared on the titantron while CM Punk was in the ring and got very personal with the WWE champion – saying that he knows a secret about Punk. Jericho told Punk and the world that the reason Punk is straight edge is because his father was an alcoholic. Jericho told Punk that alcohol is in his DNA, Punk has covered himself with tattoos to mask that pain. He said he’s going to take Punk’s title and drive him to a dark place where he finally gives in and drinks. Jericho’s reference to CM Punk’s father being the reason for his straight edge lifestyle can be traced back to a promo that Punk cut back in 2003. Check out this video of CM Punk (with Colt Cabana) from indy show WrestleRave ’03. It’s one of his best promos ever and an early look at a young wrestler with greatness ahead.
– On Monday’s RAW, the Undertaker made an error during his in-ring promo with Shawn Michaels, incorrectly stating that WrestleMania is taking place on April 21st.
– Next week when RAW Supershow takes place from Philadelphia, John Cena will wrestle Mark Henry. Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker will have an in-ring confrontation and The Rock will also be there.
– WWE confirmed on RAW that WrestleMania 28 will feature a 12-man “Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Long” tag match., with the winning GM getting control of both RAW and SmackDown. On Monday’s RAW, several participants for the match were revealed:
Team Laurinaitis: David Otunga (Captain), Mark Henry
Team Long: Santino Marella (Captain), R-Truth, Kofi Kington
– On Monday’s RAW, Zack Ryder and Eve had a backstage segment where Ryder invited Eve to dinner. Eve apparently stood Ryder up, as Ryder posted several tweets late on Monday night while he was waiting for her to arrive for their date.
“Waiting on @EveMarieTorres to show up for our date. It’s gonna be #SSSIIICCCKKK”
“So I guess @EveMarieTorres isn’t coming. #worstnightever”
Eve later apologized:
“Soooooo sorry… Something came up.Promise I’ll make it up to u? ”
WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix chimed in:
“@ZackRyder waited for @EveMarieTorres for hours?? He clearly is hung up on the wrong Diva.”
Phoenix expressed interest in Zack Ryder to Eve on RAW, but Eve told Beth to back off, despite the fact that she clearly “playing” Zack.
– After several weeks off television, the Funkasaurus Brodus Clay made his return to WWE RAW on Monday night from Cleveland. Clay Jinder Mahal in a matter of seconds, continuing his undefeated streak. With Brodus Clay’s absence from television, one might think he’d return with some tweaks to his character, but the only thing that changed about Clay was his waistline. Clay appears to have dropped weight and was moving around better than his previous appearances. In a sign that there could be an angle in the works for the Funkasaurus act, the Bella Twins called out Clay’s dancers after RAW, calling them wannabes. The Bellas tweeted on Monday night:
“Looks like Brodus Clay’s girls are stealing the Bella Pose up on the ring… #bellawannabes”
– One of the most influential masked wrestlers of all time, Mexican lucha libre legend Mil Mascaras is the latest name announced for the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2012. Mascaras was announced as a Hall of Fame inductee when WWE was in Mexico City, Mexico last October, but not acknowledged on WWE.com until today.
– CM Punk recently spoke to Luis Gomez of ChicagoTribune.com regarding the production of his WWE DVD project. Punk told Gomez that the final day of filming will likely take place at April’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, which takes place in his home town of Chicago:
“I think (WWE) wanted to do a ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ DVD. I was like ‘Who gives a s*** (about the road to Wrestlemania)?’ The pay per view after Wrestlemania is in Chicago. That was a no brainer to me – coming home. The last day of filming will probably be the pay per view. I’ll get my sisters in there and (Colt) Cabana.”
– Shawn Michaels flew out to California over the weekend to tape footage for WWE’s Legends House reality show. According to sources involved in the show’s production, Michaels took the legends fishing and had dinner with them.
– Add Mick Foley to the list of WWE personalities who think there is legit heat between WrestleMania 28 opponents The Rock and John Cena. Foley tweeted over the weekend:
“I believe there has been genuine tension between @JohnCena and @TheRock for a long time. #anythingcouldhappen“
– Jim Ross says it’s ’100% rumor’ that he will be handling announcing duties for the Hell in a Cell Match between The Undertaker and Triple H at WrestleMania 28. The WWE Hall of Famer responded to a message on Twitter stating that Undertaker wanted him to call his match.
– Former WWE star Billy Gunn celebrated one year of sobriety last week. His wife wrote Saturday on his Twitter account:
“*HACKED BY YOUR WIFE* Congrats on your ONE YEAR Sobriety! One day and one step at a time! you got this baby!! love you!”
Gunn, whose real name is Monty Sopp, has admitted to drug use in interviews. His lengthy tenure with WWE ended in 2004 following a visit to a rehabilitation facility.
– Video has surfaced of Balls Mahoney vomiting after being hit in the head with a chair by Marty Jannetty during a match at Friday’s Pro Wrestling Syndicate Super Card 2012 event in Rahway, New Jersey.
– Dolph Ziggler appeared on sportstalkNETWORK to discuss tonight’s Raw SuperShow in Cleveland, hosting WWE Download, Vickie Guerrero, The Rock returning to WWE and more. Highlights are as follows:
Being a WWE Superstar: “I’m never truly satisfied with anything and I never will be and that’s why I’ve been lucky to get this far but it is everything and even more… our roster and even guys not even on the main roster work so hard tirelessly to put on a great show for the fans and it never ends and there’s no off-season.”
If there is competitive rivalry between he and The Miz since they both hail from Ohio: “Absolutely and we love it! We’re buddies but we also bust each others chops and we push each other as much as we can. We both want to be ‘the next guy’.”
Backstage resentment of The Rock being in the main event at WrestleMania XXVIII: “I’m going to take advantage of that one way or the other and get some eyes on us that we normally wouldn’t have – we’re going to stretch out to different genres and different age groups of people who have seen The Rock in the movies or Disney and they don’t know what it’s like to see a WWE show and their going to see the greatest show and the biggest WrestleMania of all time. So I see that as a positive – as an opportunity – The Rock is coming back and give us somewhat of a rub and more eyes are going to see me steal the show at WrestleMania in Miami on April 1st.”
– Former WWE star Carlito said of Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder on Twitter:
“Ziggler has actually gotten pretty damn good! I don’t get the whole Zack Ryder thing but I’m happy for him.”
– Former TNA Wrestling talent Chase Stevens is backstage at today’s Raw SuperShow in Cleveland, Ohio as company officials are “taking a look at him.” The three-time NWA World Tag Team Champion has received favorable reviews for his work in Nashville, Tennessee based promotion Showtime All-Star Wrestling.
– Braves’ 3B Chipper Jones indicated Monday that he is thinking about retirement following the season. ”I don’t know what next year entails. I don’t know if I can make it through this year.” Jones, who turns 40 in April, acknowledged that this has been the most physically challenging camp of his career, especially in regard to his balky right knee. The future Hall of Famer’s contract includes a $7M club option for 2013 which vests automatically at $9M if he plays at least 123 games in 2012.
– The Nationals will debut a new eight-pound burger on their menu this season, it’s called “The Strasburger.”
“Weighing eight pounds total (including toppings), the StrasBurger is a monstrous all beef burger (combination of ground brisket, chuck and short ribs). The burger is served on a large burger bun with our secret sauce, American cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, pickle chips and served with a cone basket of fresh cut fries and a pitcher of your choice of soft drink. This signature dish is the perfect entrée to share at this affordably-priced family restaurant.,” according to the D.C Sports blog.
– CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that “there’s no evidence of ongoing talks” between the White Sox and Blue Jays involving RHP Gavin Floyd. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports heard Monday that the Jays were “still in pursuit” of Floyd and had been discussing a trade with the Pale Hose since the start of spring training. But perhaps there’s no fire to that smoke. Floyd, 28, posted a 4.37 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 193 2/3 innings last season. He’s owed $7.5M this year.
– Indians’ RHP Roberto Hernandez Heredia, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has agreed to a deal to have false identity charges against him dropped in return for completing a work program in his native Dominican Republic. Hernandez was placed on baseball’s restricted list after he was arrested in January on false identity charges. He hopes to received a judicial pardon in order to return to the United States and pitch for the Indians this season, but it’s not clear whether the arrangement of a work program could alter the timeline.
– Angels’ 1B Kendrys Morales (ankle) ran the bases for a second straight day Monday with no apparent issues. Morales ran from first to third three times and home to first once. Barring any setbacks, he could be ready to play in a game by the middle of the week. Manager Mike Scioscia said he isn’t sure whether he will start out playing by minor league games or jump right into Cactus League action. The 28-year-old hasn’t played a professional game since shattering his lower left leg jumping onto home plate following a game-winning grand slam on May 29, 2010.
– According to WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox will pursue Cuban OF Jorge Soler. Soler is still trying to gain residency in the Dominican Republic, and must do so before being granted free agency by Major League Baseball. The 20-year-old has also drawn interest from the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, White Sox and Indians, among others.
– A’s OF Jason Pridie has been suspended 50 games for a second violation of the minor league baseball drug policy. Details weren’t provided, but Major League Baseball’s release said Pridie was suspended for a drug of abuse. Pridie, on the roster of Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento, signed with the Athletics in the offseason after spending 2011 with the New York Mets. The 28-year-old Phoenix native hit .231 in 101 games last season with four homers and 20 runs batted in.
– Rapper Rick Ross tweeted a picture of a new strain of marijuana, called “Linsanity OG.”
– Check out this guy who got a $75 Michael Jordan-inspired haircut:
– The Warriors are preparing to make a play for injured F Andrew Bogut (ankle), sources tell the Contra Costa Times. For any deal, though, G-State would need to take back F Stephen Jackson’s bad contract. Bogut is expected to miss the rest of the season.
– Hornets’ F Emeka Okafor (knee) is still getting testing and consulting with different doctors. The Hornets have provided no details on the extent of Okafor’s injury, but coach Monty Williams has called it “strange.” The fact that Okafor is still getting tests without a firm diagnosis suggests he remains out indefinitely.
– Spurs’ G T.J. Ford (neck) is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team, and says his playing career is over. Ford has had multiple neck and spine issues in his career, and sustained another scary “stinger” on Wednesday. Although the Spurs haven’t confirmed, he’ll officially retire shortly. During eight seasons with the Bucks, Raptors, Pacers and Spurs, Ford averaged 11.2 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
– The Clippers and Blazers are discussing a trade that would send G Jamal Crawford to L.A. in exchange for G Eric Bledsoe and F Ryan Gomes, sources tell CBS’ Ken Berger. Crawford was also linked to the Bobcats Monday. Crawford would add to an already crowded Clippers’ backcourt.
– Grizzlies’ F Rudy Gay (concussion) has officially been diagnosed with a concussion. The severity is unknown, but he’ll now have to pass the NBA’s concussion protocols and be symptom-free before being cleared to play.
– Sixers’ F Spencer Hawes (Achilles) played three-on-three on Monday and “appears on target” to return on Wednesday. Hawes will have his minutes limited upon his return.
– Check out this beauty dangle by Flyers’ F Claude Giroux on Saturday night, essentially ending the Leafs’ season:
– Paperwork is being finalized that would see F Alexander Radulov return to the NHL this season and the NNHLPA said they would agree to bypass waivers for the Russian forward if he decides to return to the Predators. The Predators drafted him 15th overall in 2004. After two seasons in the American Hockey League, he joined the NHL club and finished the 2006-07 campaign with 18 goals and 19 assists through 64 games. The following season, he scored 26 goals and added 32 assists in 81 games. In 2008, the 25-year-old left to play for Salavat Yulayev in the KHL. Radulov still owes the Predators another season on his entry-level contract. If he comes back for the remaining NHL schedule, it would satisfy the final season of his Predators’ contract worth $980K. He would then become a RFA. With 14 games remaining on their schedule, the Predators are fifth in the Western Conference with 87 points.
– Check out this Sens’ anthem singer forgetting the lyrics:
– The Blues signed former 1st-round pick F Jaden Schwartz to an entry level contract Monday. The 19-year-old recently completed his sophomore season at Colorado College of the NCAA, leading the Tigers with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 30 games.
– Ducks’ F Teemu Selanne scored a goal in the third period of Monday’s game, and now has more points than any other Finnish player in the history of the NHL, passing Jari Kurri. Selanne now has 1,399 points and has sole possession of 19th place in the NHL’s all-time points list. He is 10 points shy of Dale Hawerchuk, who sits in 18th place.
– Kentucky’ F Anthony Davis’ mom showed up to a game, wearing a mask to support her sons unnecessary unibrow:
– Gamma Rays has produced a commercial called Getting Fit, featuring UFC’s Brittany Palmer:
– The following announcement was sent out on Tuesday morning by Vince Russo’s booking agent, Bill Behrens (SHOWBIS@aol.com):
BABY FACES, BLADE JOBS and BOOKING
Everything you wanted to know about writing a professional wrestling show but were afraid to ask.
A SEMINAR HOSTED BY VINCE RUSSO
During the years of 1995-2012, Vince Russo was one of the most controversial figures in the history of sports entertainment/professional wrestling, while serving as the head writer of all three major wrestling companies, WWE, WCW and TNA.
During that tenure, Russo wrote over a thousand televised wrestling shows–which achieved some of the highest ratings of all time– while also having a hand in helping create some of the biggest stars in the history of the business. From Stone Cold Steve Austin to “The Rock”, Russo has written for just about anybody who’s anybody in the world of sports entertainment/pro wrestling.
Whether it was in front of the camera, or behind the scenes, Russo has played an influential part in helping to bring the drama of the squared circle to the forefront of American pop culture.
Now, in this limited engagement and for the first time ever, Russo is going to bring the “behind the curtain” aspect of his job, into the spotlight, by sharing his craft and experience with wrestling fans around the world. In his ground-breaking seminar entitled, “Baby Faces, Blade Jobs, and Booking, “, Russo is going to share first hand, what it takes to be a successful writer in the world of sports entertainment/professional wrestling.
Just some of the topics Russo will be covering in this no-holds-barred presentation:
· Where to get your start in writing for a professional wrestling organization.
· How to use the experience you’ve built to get in the door of one of the major companies
· How to create larger-than-life personas and personalities
· Writing effective dialogue for specific characters
· How to format a wrestling show
· How to generate new ideas 52-weeks out of the year
· How to present and sell your idea to a talent
· How to create a successful working environment between talent and writer
· Dealing with egos
· Overcoming writer’s block
· Avoiding the pitfalls of politics
· How to generate ratings
· The difference between “writing” a show and “booking” a show
Baby Faces, Blade Jobs and Booking; nothing will no longer be sacred!!
– According to the Sports Business Journal, the Patriots have “approached WR Chad Ochocinco about restructuring his contract.” The Boston Globe reported Tuesday Ochocinco could return to New England under a restructured deal, and then be subject to release. He’s likely to test the free agent market.
– The Indianapolis Star reports that contract talks between the Colts and free agent LE Robert Mathis are “warming up considerably.” Re-signing Mathis and WR Pierre Garcon were the Colts’ priorities entering free agency. After Garcon rejected a 5-year/$35M contract offer, the focus has shifted to Mathis, 31.
– The Union-Tribune San Diego considers free agent RB Mike Tolbert “likely” to leave the Chargers in free agency. Beat writer Kevin Acee suggests free agent DB Corey Graham could be targeted to replace Tolbert on special teams. San Diego’s 2011 Special Teams Player of the Year, Tolbert is also a bowling-ball short-yardage runner and one of the league’s top pass-protecting backs.
– The Steelers have released WR Hines Ward. A 14-year Steeler, four-time Pro Bowler, and the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, Ward’s no longer has the speed or quickness to separate from secondaries. At 36, Ward will likely need to find a 1-year deal somewhere if he intends to keep playing.
– The Washington Post reports the Redskins are “making plans” to sign a “high-profile” free agent wide receiver in March. The Redskins no longer have a proven receiver on the roster, but they intent to rectify the issue via free agency. WRs Vincent Jackson and Pierre Garcon are considered the top targets, as is Marques Colston.
– The NY Daily News confirms the Jets are interested in bringing back free agent WR Braylon Edwards as a replacement for WR Plaxico Burress. Released by the Niners in December after battling knee and shoulder injuries, Edwards will only be pursued “if he’s healthy and the price is right.”
– SI cover girl Kate Upton recently shot a Carl’s Jr. commercial. It’s…fantastic. Enjoy:
– The Cardinals and Saints will open the NFL’s 2012 preseason in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5, the league announced Wednesday. The Cardinals, who tied the New York Giants 21-21 in the inaugural Hall of Fame Game in 1962, will make their fourth appearance and first since 1986.
– Former Colts’ Vice Chairman Bill Polian has joined ESPN as an NFL analyst. Polian makes his debut March 12 and will appear throughout the year on several ESPN shows, including SportsCenter. Polian spent 24 years as an NFL general manager with the Bills, Panthers and Colts. He drafted four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning and built Indianapolis into a team that went to the playoffs 11 times, won eight division titles, two AFC titles and a Super Bowl. In January, he and his son, general manager Chris Polian, were fired by Colts owner Jim Irsay in a major shake-up that included firing coach Jim Caldwell and his staff. At ESPN, Polian will focus on the NFL draft, free agency and other business-related issues.
– According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, MLB is expected to announce expanded playoffs on Thursday. Commissioner Bud Selig pushed for expanded playoffs to begin this season, but was upheld due to scheduling conflicts. Under the terms of the new CBA, there will be two wild card teams in each league instead of one. The two wild cards will then play each other in a one-game playoff, with the winner advancing to the Division Series. It will be baseball’s first playoff expansion since 1995 with the addition of a second wild card team from each league. Had the scenario been played out last season, both the Braves and Cardinals would have made the playoffs in the National League, while the same would have happened in the American League with both the Rays and Red Sox.
– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Cardinals have signed C Yadier Molina to a 5-year/$75M contract extension. It’s a big contract for the 29-year-old, but Molina is widely regarded as the smartest and best defensive catcher in the league.
– Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard (left Achilles infection) will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing a procedure to have stitches removed from an infected area of his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon. Howard was also put on antibiotics to combat the infection. The Achilles repair remains intact, but the new wound must heal before he can resume his rehab. Howard was previously “ahead of schedule,” but may not be ready until May now.
– Rangers’ C Mike Napoli told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday that he plans to test the free agent market. The Rangers discussed a long-term deal with Napoli this winter but settled on a 1-year/$9.4M contract. “I’d love to be here, but I’ll test the market. Every player plays to get to free agency. But it’s not something I’m going to worry about. That’s why I have my agent.” He batted .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in 113 games last season for Texas.
– Mariners’ OF Franklin Gutierrez (chest) was diagnosed Wednesday evening with a partially torn right pectoral muscle and will miss the next 4 weeks. He suffered the injury while making a throw Tuesday in Mariners camp and flew to Seattle on Wednesday morning for a full examination from team physicians. The 29-year-old could even be out until late May.
– The D’Backs and C Miguel Montero announced Wednesday that they have tabled extension talks until after the season. Montero had previously informed the club that he would cut off talks on March 20, but the extension for Cardinals’ C Yadier Molina at 5-years/$75M is likely going to drive up his price. Montero is due to make $5.9M in 2012 before hitting free agency next winter.
– SS Miguel Tejada told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he wants to return to the Athletics. The A’s lost 3B Scott Sizemore (knee) for the season, so an opportunity for a minor-league deal could be there. “I would love it. Tell Billy to give me a call. I don’t want big money. I just want to play.” Tejada, 38 in May, batted just .239/.270/.326 with four homers and a .596 OPS over 343 plate appearances with the Giants last season before being released in September. He could be added as a depth move.
– Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia indicated Tuesday that OF Mike Trout is likely to begin the season in the minors unless there’s an injury. OF Vernon Wells is still owed 3-years/$63M, and the only way to even consider trading him is to boost his value by giving him regular playing time. OFs Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter are projected to play center and right, respectively, while OF Bobby Abreu, 1B Kendrys Morales (ankle) and 1B Mark Trumbo (foot) are all fighting for playing time and time at DH. “You never know where you are at the end of spring training — somebody could be banged up, and an opportunity presents itself. Mike is certainly on the depth chart.… We’re excited about his potential. He’s advanced for his age, but he’s not the finished product.”
– Braves’ RHP Tommy Hanson (concussion) threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time this spring. Hanson suffered a Grade 1 concussion in a one-car accident early last week, but was cleared to return to the mound after passing two imPACT tests. He likely won’t face hitters until Friday.
– Angels’ 1B Mark Trumbo (stress fracture in right foot) was cleared for running and full baseball activities following a CT scan Tuesday. Good news. He’ll now be able to ramp things up pretty quickly and continue his adjustment to third base.
– Angels’ 1B Kendrys Morales (left ankle) plans to begin running the bases next week in Angels camp. Morales has progressed recently from straight-line running to zig-zag cuts, and soon he’ll test his left ankle on the basepaths. “Every day I’m feeling better. My strength is getting better, I’m getting better push off my legs, and I’ve had no next-day soreness.” He’s on pace to be ready for Opening Day.
– Pirates’ RHP A.J. Burnett (right eye) is flying to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night t0 be examined. Burnett injured his eye during a bunting drill in Pirates’ camp Wednesday. Burnett was seen joking around afterwards, so the injury is likely minor.
– According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, MLB plans to immediately investigate the Rangers’ signing of Dominican OF Jairo Beras, who was inked to a 1-year/$4.5M contract. Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press reported early Wednesday morning that the Rangers had signed him, however, MLB was under the impression that Beras was 16 years old and ineligible to be signed. Stay tuned.
– Free agent LHP Justin Dowdy, 28, has been suspended for 50 games under baseball’s minor league drug program for refusing to take a test. The suspension will start when he signs with a big league organization. Dowdy has been in the minors since 2001. 17 players have been suspended this year under the minor league drug program.
– Tiger Wood’s former coach Hank Haney says that Tiger had previously considered leaving the PGA tour to join the military like his father did.
“I was beginning to realize that his sentiment ran deep, and that as incredible as it seemed, Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL. I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about, it was clear that he had a plan. After finding out that the Navy SEAL age limit is 28, I asked Tiger about his being too old to join. ‘It’s not a problem,’ he said. ‘They’re making a special age exemption for me.”‘
“Tiger did two tandem parachute jumps, engaged in hand-to-hand combat exercises, went on four-mile runs wearing combat boots, and did drills in a wind tunnel. Tiger loved it, but his physical therapist, Keith Kleven, went a little crazy worrying about the further damage Tiger might be doing to his left knee.”
Tiger then spoke with Haney about quitting golf altogether.
“One morning I was in the kitchen when he came back from a long run around Isleworth, and I noticed he was wearing Army boots. Tiger admitted that he’d worn the heavy shoes before on the same route. ‘I beat my best time.’
“I thought, wow, here is Tiger Woods, greatest athlete on the planet, maybe the greatest athlete ever, right in the middle of his prime, basically ready to leave it all behind for a military life.”
Tiger Wood’s agent Mark Steinberg responded to Haney’s comments.
“Because of his father, it’s no secret that Tiger has always had high respect for the military, so for Haney to twist that admiration into something negative is disrespectful. The disruptive timing of this book shows that Haney’s self-promotion is more important to him than any other person or tournament. What’s been written violates the trust between a coach and player and someone also once considered a friend.”
– The Undertaker’s time away from the ring has included surgeries on both his shoulder and hip. He was lighter than ever before when he showed up backstage at last week’s Raw SuperShow, estimated at 275 to 280 pounds. The belief that he would retire following his WrestleMania XXVIII encounter with Triple H is largely gone since it’s not being hinted. Peers expect him to continue wrestling for a few more years if he’s able to compete once annually.
– At Tuesday’s SmackDown tapings, it was announced that Cody Rhodes will defend his intercontinental championship against Big Show at WrestleMania 28. This apparently puts an end to the rumored Big Show vs. Shaq and Cody vs. Goldust matches. With Cody vs. Big Show set, here’s the updated card for WrestleMania 28:
John Cena vs. The Rock
WWE Championship Match: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
World Heavyweight Title Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Intercontinental Title Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
– WWE has yet to follow up on Kharma’s appearance last month at the Royal Rumble because she has not fully recovered from giving birth on December 31, 2011 and isn’t ready to work a full-time schedule. Nonetheless, her return to the squared circle is on the horizon. When asked on Twitter this week what she was doing, she replied, “Working hard to come back at my best.” She was then asked when she would be returning to WWE and said “Soon.”
– Former WWE Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield wrote the following on Twitter regarding a potential return to WWE:
“Sorry, WWE has never asked about coming back more than a one off- happy coaching kids in Bermuda! Gotta make a difference-or try at least!”
– WWE officials have expressed interest in acquiring Jay and Mark Briscoe, but they are both under contract to Ring of Honor.
– According to the PWInsider, the latest word internally on the planned WWE Network is that it will launch in November during sweeps. No official launch date has been set, but the company definitely wants it to air before the end of the year. November is also when WWE plans to debut a new show featuring only Crusierweight wrestlers. Talents who had been in touch with WWE about working the show were told that plans to sign anyone were pushed to the fall. WWE is looking for wrestlers in the 200 lb range.
– Stars’ F Vernon Fiddler does a fantastic impression of D Kevin Bieksa, and head coach Alain Vigneault can’t contain himself on the bench. Check it out:
– Canadiens’ legend Jean Beliveau remained in hospital Wednesday, two days after suffering a stroke. Team spokesman Donald Beauchamp said there was no new information on the 80-year-old Hall of Famer’s condition. The family has requested privacy. The former star centre, who won 10 Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, was admitted to hospital after having the stroke Monday evening. The NHL team said Beliveau was being examined and undergoing treatment.
– Wild’ F Mikko Koivu (shoulder) will not participate in contact drills for at least another 2 weeks. Koivu’s previous timetable was shorter, but the Wild changed it consulting with another doctor on Tuesday.
– Lightning’ F Vincent Lecavalier (fractured hand) is expected to be 10 days away from returning. He’s eight games away from 1,000 in his career.
– Former Cal QB Joe Ayoob set a paper plane record at 226 feet and 10 inches. What a toss–check it out!
– Saints’ QB Drew Brees completed 23-of-39 passes for 307 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions as the Saints crushed the division-rival Falcons 45-16 on Monday Night Football in Week 16. Brees was just 75 yards from Dan Marino’s single-season passing record at halftime, and couldn’t get a shot at breaking it because of big special teams and defensive plays in the second half. Brees now has 5,087 passing yards and a 41:13 TD-to-INT ratio on the season. The Saints have clinched the NFC South, but will need the 49ers to lose to the Rams for a first-round bye.
– The 49ers have waived WR Braylon Edwards. Edwards signed a 1-year/$1.6M contract in August, but never panned out for the team. He finishes his Niners’ career with 15 catches for 181 yards and no touchdowns in nine games.
– PFT reports that Saints’ WR Marques Colston will not take a hometown discount from the team when he’s eligible for free agency in 2012. QB Drew Brees will likely get the franchise tag, so there’s a chance Colston tests the free agent market after getting an under-valued contract extension in 2008. He’s on pace for his fifth 1,000-yard campaign in six seasons and figures to target a contract worth at least $10M annually.
– The Rams intend to hire Jon Gruden as their next head coach, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee says that if Chargers’ GM A.J. Smith is fired, he’ll replace Billy Devaney in the same capacity with the Rams, bringing Gruden with him. If the Chargers end up keeping Smith and firing head coach Norv Turner, however, Gruden could be on his way to San Diego. Stay tuned.
– Ducks’ F Devante Smith-Pelly (left foot) suffered a break in his first metatarsal bone while blocking a shot in Monday’s 8-1 win over Finland in the IIHF World Junior Championship, knocking him out of the rest of the tournament. DSP, 19, is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. He had three goals and two assists in 26 games for the Ducks after making the club out of training camp.
– Flyers’ F James van Riemsdyk (hip) is reportedly dealing with a hip injury that could require surgery at the end of the year. According to reports, JVR has a cam impingement in his hip which has been giving him problems since the beginning of the season. He’s also suffering from a knee injury that was “banged up a few games ago.” GM Paul Holmgren, however, denied both of those injuries. He has nine goals and 10 assists in 29 games this season, but has struggled with three points in his last 10.
– Maple Leafs’ head coach Ron Wilson’s contract extension is reportedly a 1-year deal.Wilson hasn’t made the playoffs during his tenure with the Leafs, however, the team has been in a rebuild. It’s far to say that Wilson hasn’t accomplished anything, but the extension allows the Leafs to gauge where they are with him for one more year.
– Rangers’ D Marc Staal (concussion) was involved in contact drills during Monday’s practice. “I did some battle drills down low, took some hits. It was good. Obviously I didn’t feel great after two days off, physically, but I felt good enough to start doing drills.”
– Rangers’ C Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended 66 games by the Venezuelan Winter League for shoving home plate ump Dario Rivero Jr. in the face Friday after striking out. The full VWL schedule lasts 66 games, meaning the 33-year-old is done for this season and won’t be invited back next winter either. It’s not yet known whether the Rangers plan to issue further discipline.
– Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York heard from sources that the Yankees aren’t likely to bid for RHP Hiroki Kuroda. Kuorda is thought to be seeking a contract worth around $12-13M annually, which would make the deal closer to $17M because of the Yankees’ luxury tax threshold. The 36-year-old is also drawing interest from the Red Sox, so it’s possible that New York is simply trying to make Bosotn overpay for Kuroda and have them bid against themselves. Kuroda posted a 3.07 ERA and 161/49 K/BB ratio in 202 innings this past season.
– Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times speculates that talk of the Rays acquiring free agent veteran DH Jorge Posada “sounds like much more of a backup plan.” The Rays already have three catchers on their depth chart, with OF Matt Joyce as their primary DH. Posada is also drawing interest from the Orioles and Phillies. The 40-year-old hit .235/.315/.398 in 387 plate appearances this past season for the Yankees.
– MASN’s Roch Kubatko suspects that Orioles’ RHP Jim Johnson will open the 2012 season as the closer. The O’s were believed to be moving him to the rotation, but that plan may be on hold until 2013 spring training. Johnson, 28, had a 2.67 ERA in 91 innings this past season for Baltimore, recording nine saves in nine chances.
– WWE announced the following on Facebook: “It’s official! WWE Raw’s record-breaking 1,000th episode will take place July 23, 2012 on USA Network! RSVP for this historic night on Facebook for future updates!”
– WWE’s website has a new article up on Alberto Del Rio’s injury from last week’s RAW. Del Rio has a groin tear and will need surgery. WWE doctor Chris Amann told the website:
“We were able to look at an MRI, and it appears as though he has a groin injury that’s severe enough to require surgery. Fortunately for Alberto, the surgery is minimally invasive and the recovery time is usually 4-6 weeks.”
– Sean “X-Pac” Waltman has commented on his weekend drug arrest. Waltman tweeted on Monday:
“I read what has been reported about me. I learned the other day that I had a warrant over something that happened months ago. I was never in jail. I did get my pic taken & printed.I want to elaborate more, but I should talk to my lawyer about what I can say.”
– The Rock wrote the following on his Twitter last night, wishing John Cena a Merry Christmas:
“@JohnCena Merry Christmas. I have a special gift for you. My size 15 boot. #GuessWhereItGoes?”
– Brodus Clay has (again) been announced to make his Raw debut next week.
– WWE has filed to trademark the phrase “WrestleFest” for use in video games. WrestleFest was the name of the popular early 1990?s WWF arcade game.
– The following is a quote from UFC fighter and training partner of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, Tim Hague. In the following quote, Hague describes his experience serving as a training partner of the former WWE Superstar.
“Was pretty surreal. Best training, and best group of guys I’ve ever trained with. WAR LESNAR. Because I need to get better at everything, and being able to work with Pat Barry and Cole Konrad one-on-one was unreal. Working MMA with Brock and five other legit UFC level HW’s every day is something I don’t get up in Edmonton. I’m not gonna give away any of his strategy, but he is scary strong, and scary conditioned, and if he gets the jump on a takedown, you’re going down, or you’re blowing out a knee or something haha. I just went there for a week to be a [heavyweight] dummy for Brock and the guys, I was slightly outta shape, but know what I have to do to be better next time. I wasn’t paid or nothing, didn’t ask to be and felt like I should have paid them to be there. I don’t know who’s better (Lesnar or Konrad), they both made me their b*tch on the mats, and Cole’s boxing is great as well. I got invited back for a full camp, and I’m chomping at the bit to make that happen.”
– TNA Champion Bobby Roode spoke with Phil Strum of the Poughkeepsie Journal this week about his role as the new TNA World Champion. Roode said he thrives on pressure and plans to be a long-term champion:
“It’s just an opportunity to prove to everybody that I’m worthy of being the world champion. Getting into this business, everybody dreams about being a world champion. There’s a lot of pressure that comes along with it, but I thrive under pressure. I’m good at pressure. I’ve had the belt for a couple of months and I plan on keeping it.”
Roode also commented on his long path to the TNA Title and the the culmination of years of hard work:
“I think, obviously, you learn along the way. I’ve learned a lot. I came from humble beginnings in Canada getting my feet wet in the business. It’s been a long transition. I’m a real student of the game and being in this spot right now allows me to perform in main events and travel around the world representing the company.”
– TNA has released the latest “Before The Bell” video preview for the upcoming Genesis pay-per-view o January 8th. The show features a double main event of Bobby Roode vs. Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle vs. James Storm.
– TNA Knockout Tara is backstage at tonight’s RAW in Chicago. She wrote on Twitter:
“WWE Raw is in Chicago tonight. Can’t wait to see some of the gang! Super excited to see @EveMarieTorres . I miss her so much. SLUMBER PARTY!!!!”
– The Islanders have re-signed F John Tavares to a 6-year/$33M extension. He will earn $4M in 2012-13 when his new deal kicks in and $5M the following year. The contract will then garner him $6M in each of the next four campaigns. The star forward registered 29 goals and 67 points in 79 games in last season.
– The Bruins have re-signed F Brad Marchand to a 2-year/$5M contract. The 23-year-old will earn $2M in 2011-12 and $3M in 2012-13. Marchand enjoyed a breakout season, recording 21 goals and 20 assists in 77 games in his full season last year. He also finished with a plus-25 rating and 51 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he added 11 goals and 19 points in 25 games en route to a Stanley Cup win.
– The Jets have re-signed D Zach Bogosian to a 2-year/$5M contract. He will make $2M this season and $3M next year. The 21-year-old struggled last year with 17 points and a minus-27 rating in 71 games.
– According to TSN, the Kings have no intention of paying RFA D Drew Doughty more than the requested $6.8M of F Anze Kopitar’s contract. It’s believed Doughty wants a minimum of $7M annually, but the Kings are offering 7-years/$47.6M contract worth $6.8M annually. The Kings are reportedly getting hotter on the situation, given that training camps are opening soon, and the team may soon pull their offer off the table by the end of the week.
– Leafs’ F Matthew Lombardi (concussion) scrimmaged with teammates for the first time earlier this week. It’s the first time the 29-year old Montreal native has skated since October 13, 2010 before skating for the first time in mid-August. Lombardi must re-attain maximum conditioning while continuing to remain symptom-free from any concussion-related issues.
“It’s definitely nice to get out there. [It’s] not really a real game, but just skate with the guys and make some plays, pass the puck around—it’s nice to get out there.”
Lombardi missed 80 games in Nashville last season because of the concussion, and also missed the final thirteen games of the 2004 playoffs with Calgary with his first concussion.
“It’s getting better. I’m definitely not where I need to be in terms of my fitness, but with every day we’re pushing it a little bit more and I’m getting work done in the gym and obviously pushing her on the ice. It’s coming real good.”
“That’s my goal. I want to keep getting better and be in there as soon as I can.
“I wish I could have a date and have that in mind, but obviously training camp is coming pretty quick here. We’ll see how it progresses the next few days and go from there.”
In seventy-eight games with Phoenix two seasons ago, he registered a career-high 53 points along with 19 goals.
– Jets’ D Dustin Byfuglien not only agreed to take a Breathalyzer test when police boarded his boat on Aug. 31 but passed the test. The Minnesota native refused to provide a urine sample, however, which has led to criminal charges being filed against him. Minneapolis-based lawyer Mitch Robinson said Byfuglien and three passengers aboard Byfuglien’s boat were pulled over on the evening of Aug. 31 by Hennepin County sheriffs because the craft’s navigational lights weren’t on. It was 8:15 p.m. and still dusk, not completely dark, when the boat was stopped by police, Robinson said. After a routine inspection of the vessel, police asked Byfuglien if he’d been drinking and the All-Star defenseman told them he had consumed one drink, Robinson said. Byfuglien agreed to a preliminary breath test and the reading registered a blood alcohol level of .03, well below Minnesota’s legal limit of .08. Under state law it is a gross misdemeanor to refuse such a test and Byfuglien was taken to a local police station and held for about three hours before being released.
– Leafs’ RFA D Luke Schenn remains confident a new contract will be signed soon. The Leafs and the 21-year-old continue to progress in negotiations. It’s believed that Schenn is asking for a similar contract of Rangers’ D Marc Staal, which sits at $3.9M annually, however, Bogosian’s 2-year/$5M contract may slow talks.
“It’s obviously going to be kind of a last minute thing. All I know is my agents and [Brian Burke] and the Leafs management are working on it everyday.”
“I think it’ll get done at some point. I think I was kind of in this situation before with my entry-level contract. I think it was actually a couple days before the regular season that it got done so it’s not too unfamiliar territory. No reason to stress out about it because I think both sides want to get it done.”
Entering his rookie season in 2008-2009, Schenn didn’t come to an agreement on an entry-level contract until October 7, two days before the regular season opener in Detroit. The Saskatoon native is coming off a year in which he set career-highs in goals, assists, points, and minutes played.
“Obviously you meet with [Meehan] and he meets with the Leafs management. You just go over what’s been talked about. It’s not like you’re calling every hour to see what’s happening. There’s only so much to report I guess every so often. The key is to just be patient.”
– Capitals’ F Alex Ovechkin has entered camp 10 pounds lighter this offseason. This year, he began his training regimen in the final week of July in order to get leaner. The official team roster lists him at 225 pounds now, while playing at 234 last year.
“It was kind of a strange one. I get back home, like my phone starts killing me, saying, ‘Did you see that? Did you see that?’? I said, ‘What happened? What happened?’ They say, ‘You look fat.’ I think people was a little bit scared with what was happening to my body. But my body’s perfect right now. You can ask Nemo [Mark Nemish].”
“Alex is our captain. He’s here early. He looks to be really in great shape,” Washington owner Ted Leonsis said last week. “He tried something different last year. He wanted to work his way into shape so that he was peaking into the playoffs. And he’s going to try something different this year. We’ll see. The results will speak for themselves at the end of the season.”
“I already know he’s in shape,” Nemish said Monday. “I can tell. We’ve worked several times on the ice, and without doubt he’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him.”
– The multimillion-dollar lawsuit arising from then-Canucks’ F Todd Bertuzzi’s 2004 sucker-punch on former Avs’ F Steve Moore is scheduled to go to court late next year. Tim Danson, the Toronto lawyer representing Moore, says Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has scheduled to start hearing the case on September 24, 2012, if Bertuzzi is still playing in the NHL. If Bertuzzi has retired, Danson says the lawsuit, which seeks more than $40M in damages against Bertuzzi and the Canucks, will begin on October 22, 2012. Playing for Vancouver on March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi punched Colorado’s Moore from behind then fell on him and pushed his head into the ice. Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae and a concussion and has not played since. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assault in criminal court and was sentenced to one year of probation and 80 days of community service.
– The Flyers have signed D Blake Kessel to an entry-level contract. Kessel, 22, played the last three seasons at the University of New Hampshire, scoring five goals and 22 assists for 27 points in 39 games as a junior last season. Kessel is the brother of Leafs’ F Phil Kessel and a cousin of Flames’ F David Moss. In addition, his sister Amanda is a forward for the US Women’s National Team and plays at the University of Minnesota.
– Cassie Campbell-Pascal told me she’s starting to get the coaching bug. She hasn’t pursued any opportunities yet but it’s something that she can see herself doing in the future, most likely under the Hockey Canada umbrella.
– Updating a previous item, former WWE and TNA wrestler Matt Hardy was arrested at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport once again this week in North Carolina and charged with DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). TMZ.com has published the police report (.PDF) from Matt Hardy’s arrest and the details are just unbelievable.
Matt Hardy was at the airport on Monday afternoon when police received several phone calls from concerned drivers who said Matt’s car “almost hit two drivers three separate times.” When an airport police officer spotted Hardy, the wrestler’s car, “swerved into the curb and then back onto the road.” Once Hardy was pulled over, the officer claims Hardy was asked to step out of the vehicle. Matt proceeded to open his door and get out of the car – WITHOUT PUTTING IT IN PARK. The police report reads, “The vehicle rolled forward and I yelled for him to put the vehicle in park.”
Hardy was observed to have “slow and slurred speech, sleepy eyes and a very lackadaisical demeanor.” He was asked to walk in a straight line but – “after taking two steps, Mr. Hardy lost his balance and failed to stay on the line.” He was given a second chance but only made it “two or three steps” before failing to remain “heel-to-toe” and lost his balance again. Hardy took another field sobriety test where he had to stand on one leg. “He was unable to hold his leg up past 1 second.” Hardy took a breathalyzer test – which showed that he had zero alcohol in his system.
Cops then called in a “Drug Recognition Officer” to perform even more tests – and they determined Hardy was under the influence of “Central Nervous System depressants” and arrested him on the spot. Hardy’s blood was taken for drug testing – and those results are not in as of this writing.
Hardy is due back in court [for this offense] on November 30. Shortly after the arrest, Matt Hardy’s girlfriend Reby Sky tweeted, “F*ck this.”
WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross was asked on Twitter what he thinks about Hardy’s latest DWI arrest, saying:
“Really, what’s left to say?”
– According to F4WO, WWE officials are reportedly trying very hard to get The Rock to wrestle at Survivor Series in November. Original plans called for The Rock to appear at the 25th anniversary show and participate in some sort of angle, but not wrestle until WrestleMania 28. Something has changed in the past 2 weeks and now WWE is ready to jump the gun and give away Rock’s in-ring return 6 months before his showdown with John Cena next April. As previously reported, there has been talk of doing a best of 3 series between Rock and Cena. Whether or not The Rock will wrestle at Survivor Series has been a controversial topic behind the scenes in WWE this past week.
– WWE has changed the structure of their creative staff with a “home team” and “road team” initiative. Road teams will travel to each week’s television tapings while home teams will work at company headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut to develop future shows. WWE creative head Stephanie McMahon, a mother of three children, and Brian Gewirtz will reportedly stay at home to avoid going on the road on a weekly basis.
– The official website of the New Orleans Arena is advertising Edge for next month’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event taking place October 2: “Witness the Superstars of both Raw and Smackdown live under the same roof for a PPV extravaganza live event featuring: John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, Edge, Rey Mysterio, John Morrison, The Big Show and many more Superstars live!” WWE paid tribute to the “Rated-R Superstar” following last night’s SmackDown taping in Toronto, Ontario with “Edge Appreciation Night.” He also hosted “The Cutting Edge” with World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton and Mark Henry during the taped show. He is also advertised for next Tuesday’s SmackDown taping in Dayton, Ohio.
– Many people speculated that Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, who participated in Tough Enough and guest-hosted an episode of Monday Night Raw last November, would have a WWE contract waiting for her if she opted for a professional wrestling career. She, however, says that’s not the case. Fakih was asked yesterday on Twitter when she would be going to WWE and replied, “WWE doesn’t seem interested in me maybe @TNA or mud wrestling might be LOL.”
– In an interview with BoxingScene.com, heavyweight boxing contender Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett announced that he’s heading to train at WWE’s developmental territory at the end of October. Barrett, whose professional record is 35-9-2 (with 20 knockouts), recently scored a unanimous decision win over rival David Tua last month, will be heading to Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa for two weeks next month and will later return for a two month period. Barrett told BoxingScene.com:
“I gotta call [WWE senior director of talent relations] Ty Bailey this week and go through some of the particulars, but I know whatever it’s gonna be, it will be a lot of hard work. I told him I will commit 110% and put my best foot forward with everything that I do.”
The 40-year-old is a friend of John Cena and recently told Boxing Scene that he’s interested in fighting David Tua once again at WrestleMania 28 – and would do so inside a steel cage.
– According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, some top-tier agents are pushing to expedite the dissolving of the NBPA. Wojo writes that agents becoming extraordinary frustrated with Billy Hunter’s tactics and seem primed to take the next step with or without his blessing. The agents are reportedly getting closer to pursuing a petition in an effort to decertify, and 30% of NBA players would be needed in order to bring the motion to a formal vote. Agents have been pushing Hunter on this issue since long before Tuesday’s meeting. Stay tuned.
– The Giants have signed WR Brandon Stokley. Entering his 13th year, Stokley caught 31 passes for 354 yards in 11 games for the Seahawks last season.
– Free agent WR Terrell Owens (ACL surgery) told TMZ.com that he still plans to play football this season. ”It’s just a matter of time. When you got faith in God … everything’s possible.” Owens, soon to be 38, isn’t a locker room character, but a team that’s desperate or riddled with injuries is sure to take a gamble on him by November.
– Saints’ coach Sean Payton says the Saints are targeting just a 4-week absence for WR Marques Colston (collarbone), meaning he would return in Week 6. Payton added that Colston now has a plate protecting the fracture while it heals. The Saints are optimistic that Colston can beat a normal recovery time from this injury, but it’s still unlikely.
– Bears’ MLB Brian Urlacher has temporarily left the team due to his mother’s passing in Arizona. Urlacher is currently making funeral arrangements. “My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you.”
– The Marlins have begun negotiations toward a multi-year contract extension with INF Omar Infante. Infante has posted a decent .279/.320/.375 batting line in 134 games this season, but has been solid defensively and won’t eat much salary. He made $2.225M in 2010 and is making $2.5M here in 2011.
– Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that it’s doubtful LHP Jonathan Sanchez (left ankle) will return this season. Sanchez hasn’t pitched since spraining his ankle on August 16. He was able to throw off flat ground on Tuesday, but the season is quickly winding down. The 28-year-old made $4.8M this season and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter.
– Phillies’ ace RHP Roy Halladay pitched his 20th career shutout Wednesday as the Phillies beat the Astros 1-0 to become the first team to clinch a postseason berth this year. It’s the eighth complete game for Halladay this year but the first shutout. It was also one of the quickest games of his career, lasting barely more than two hours. Halladay allowed six hits, walked one and struck out seven in his 18th victory. If he can maintain his current 2.34 ERA, it would be the lowest mark of his career.
– Yankees’ RHP Pedro Feliciano (right shoulder) underwent rotator cuff surgery on September 8. Rather than opting for surgery at the beginning of the year, Feliciano has missed all of this season and would be in danger of sitting out all of 2012. They didn’t get a single pitch out of that t 2-year/$9M contract.
– Dodgers’ OF Andre Ethier (right knee) underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery Wednesday. The 35-minute procedure was done to clean up the wear and tear behind his right patella. Ethier, 29, batted .292/.368/.421 with 11 homers and 62 RBI in 135 games this season.
– Mets’ LHP Johan Santana (shoulder) has cancelled his scheduled Thursday outing at Low-A Savannah. Santana was scheduled to go four innings, but it’s a playoff game and Santana felt wrong interrupting the Single-A club’s flow. He’ll throw a simulated game Sunday instead. The Mets are no longer expecting him to return to the majors this season.
– Cardinals’ OF Matt Holliday (inflammation in right middle finger) will be shut down for the next 4-5 days. St. Louis visits the Phillies this weekend for a huge four-game series. Holliday won’t return to the lineup until next Tuesday at the earliest, and could be in danger of missing the rest of the 2011 regular season. He’s got a strong .915 OPS, 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 120 games this year for the Cards.
– FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reports that Saints’ WR Marques Colston (broken collarbone) broke his clavicle in Thursday night’s NFL opener. Glazer puts Colston’s timetable for return at 4 weeks, but it will likely be longer. Colston, who made an impressive return from offseason microfracture surgery, recorded 81 yards in the season opener.
– The Panthers have signed SS Charles Godfrey to a 5-year/$27.5M extension with $12.M guaranteed. Godfrey, 25, has picked off seven passes and forced six fumbles in 43 career starts. Voted a team captain on Friday, Godfrey’s role will expand this year, playing some corner in Carolina’s nickel package. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 76th-ranked safety of 85 last year, and was 77th in coverage.
– Flyers’ D Chris Pronger (foot/back) took to the ice for a 25-minute skate on Friday and he was able to take some slap shots, but isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for the regular season opener. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Having not skated and done anything on the ice in four and a half months, you have to take it slowly and see how you feel day to day. I felt pretty good out there, but usually the first time on the ice is when you feel good _ and then it’s day two, three, four and five where you’re a little suspect, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.” He added that his surgically repaired right hand felt completely healed, but he’ll probably need a couple weeks before he will be able to practice with the team.
– Canucks’ F Ryan Kesler (hip) is not sure when he will be able to play following off-season surgery. Kesler told NHL.com on Friday that there is “not a chance” that he would be able to play right now, but his status for the regular season is still unclear. “I’m telling the truth when I tell you I don’t know. To be honest, right now if you ask me if I’ll be ready for the start of the season, the way I feel right now I’d say no. But things change just like that.” Kesler had a similar procedure in January 2007 and he was able to return 10 weeks after surgery, but said this tear is bigger so a longer rehab may be required.
– Blues’ F David Backes has been named as the 20th captain of the team. Backes recorded 31 goals, 31 assists and 93 penalty minutes in 82 games last season. He’s fresh off a 5-year extension signed last November that pays him $4.5M annually.
– The Avalanche have signed D Kyle Cumiskey to a 1-year/2-way contract. The deal is worth $708K at the NHL level and $105K at the AHL level. Cumiskey recorded one goal and eight points in 18 games last season with the Avs before suffering a season-ending concussion.
– In a new interview with Chris Yandek of CYInterview.com, Triple H responds to his wrestling critics who believe he has received preferential treatment and greater opportunities on WWE TV, because he is married to Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie. There have been claims that he held wrestlers down, keeping them from achieving more success in the WWE and receiving more opportunities to shine on the company’s television programs. Now working in creative and behind the scenes, he responds to the question if believes working in talent development is his chance to show he wants to see other guys get over.
“I know what I accomplished in this business. I know why I accomplished it. I don’t. Critics and what people say about this or that or my marriage [to Stephanie McMahon] or any of that stuff is crap. It’s mostly started by people that are either jealous or angry that they failed where other people succeeded. I mean, that’s a common, I was told it when I started in the business.
It’s a common saying in this business, you can make friends or you can make money. You can have buddies or you can get over. Which one do you want? You know, and they don’t come together. And I think, I don’t, I never look at it that way. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I’ll put my body of work up against anybody in the business. I’ll put my drawing power up against anybody in the business. That’s irrelevant. It’s people’s opinions”
Triple H follows up by stating what he believes the WWE Product lacks today with the newer wrestlers in the company. He explains what these guys need to be successful.
“We’re a victim of our own success. There’s no place for guys to go and figure out how to do this. We have to teach them kind of and get them up to speed to speak. Even when you get guys off the independent scene, they are very much independent wrestlers and then the independent scene will, so these guys are the greatest guys in the world and you bring them up and they flounder on the big stage. They can’t. They can’t. It’s a completely different animal and a completely different world and you have to, it’s relearning and re-teaching. That’s the biggest, I think, struggle we have is getting these guys there.
But listen, at the end of the day, you just have to find guys with the right charisma and they have to be the ones to put that charisma out there. Nobody told The Rock how to be The Rock…Work rate is important, guy’s skill in the ring is important, but at the end of the day it’s about charisma. It’s the ability to draw fans to arenas and the guy that draws the most fans to the arena for whatever reason, positive or negative, he’s the top guy.”
He does believe the WWE product could be bigger than the 7.0 ratings that were put up during the WWE Attitude Era:
“Do I think it can ever get that big again? History can repeat. I say without a doubt. I think it can be even bigger…What tomorrow brings, no one knows.”
Finally, Hunter talks about winning the majority of vintage wrestling auctions from his mentor “Killer” Kowalski. He says they are working on a real WWE Hall of Fame for people to see all the historic wrestling items.
“I think I was gone on the road for SummerSlam, but I had somebody at the office bid online and I got I think like 99 percent of everything wrestling-wise, which I’m glad I did. I just didn’t want that to go to somebody that just hid it away somewhere. I wanted the world to be able to see how great he really was. And do I think they’ll ever be a hall of fame? Yes. I think they’ll be a physical hall of fame. That’s something we’re working on. It’s definitely in the works. It’s just a matter of when, where. Is it a traveling hall of fame? Is it a permanent place? There’s a lot of questions and thoughts on it and we’re in the process of collecting things to put in there. But the Kowalski stuff for me was as much a legend in this business was also a very personal thing for me.”
– A Florida judge refused Nick Bollea’s request today for an early release from his five-year probation sentence for reckless driving, according to the St. Petersburg Times. He did, however, say he probably would grant the request less than a year from now. Bollea, son of Hulk Hogan, is serving probation after pleading no contest to reckless driving with serious bodily injury stemming from his automobile crash on August 26, 2007 that severely injured Nick Graziano. Bollea will not be registered as convicted felon if he successfully completes all the terms of his sentence.
– SHIMMER Champion Madison Eagles has earned the number one position in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s fourth annual “PWI Female 50? list, which ranks the top 50 women’s wrestlers in North America from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. She succeeds Michelle McCool, who ranked No. 1 in last year’s list. Pro Wrestling Illustrated attributes their decision to ranking Eagles as the top women’s wrestler in North America with the following:
“This year’s list was unlike any other in the four-year history of the “Female 50.” For one thing, there was no obvious frontrunner in either WWE or TNA. Last year’s number one, Michelle McCool, retired after a few lackluster months. The WWE Divas title dropped in prominence and was held for a significant amount of time by Brie Bella who, while improved, doesn’t exactly conjure thoughts of Sensational Sherri or Trish Stratus.”
Mickie James and Madison Rayne were also considered for the top spot, but for a variety of reasons, were ultimately deemed not worthy.
“So we made a bold decision. We looked to the indies. Two possible candidates were SHIMMER champion Madison Eagles and WSU champion Mercedes Martinez. It was a difficult choice to make,” the magazine explains. “Fortunately for us, Martinez and Eagles faced off in March for Eagles’ SHIMMER title. Eagles managed to win a terrific match, which proved to be the deciding factor in our decision.”
PWI also explains how the “Female 50? was determined: “To determine this list, we evaluated each woman’s innate wrestling ability, accomplishments during the past year, physical strength and conditioning, quality of opposition, charisma, and title success.” Some women’s wrestlers contracted to WWE and TNA, such as Nikki Bella, Rosa Mendes, Tamina and Brooke Tessmacher, were left off the “Female 50? because PWI felt they did not earn a spot over some of the independent talent listed. The magazine explains, “While being on WWE’s or TNA’s global platform helps your chances, it doesn’t mean you get a free passage onto the “Female 50.”
1. Madison Eagles
2. Mercedes Martinez
3. Mickie James
5. Madison Rayne
6. Cheerleader Melissa
7. Beth Phoenix
10. Sara Del Rey
11. Eve Torres
12. Angelina Love
15. Kelly Kelly
16. Serena Deeb
17. Velvet Sky
18. Ayako Hamada
21. Brie Bella
22. Angel Orsini
24. Daizee Haze
25. Nikki Roxx
26. Gail Kim
29. Christina Von Eerie
30. Portia Perez
33. Nicole Matthews
34. Rachel Summerlyn
35. Jessicka Havok
36. Brittany Force
37. Kellie Skater
38. Tina San Antonio
39. Melanie Cruise
40. Cherry Bomb
41. Sassy Stephie
42. Tasha Simone
43. Alicia Fox
44. Amber O’Neal
45. Allison Danger
46. Kacee Carlisle
47. Brittany Savage
49. Melissa Coates
50. Jessica James
– TNA Women’s Knockout Champion Mickie James was asked on her official website if she would ever return to WWE.
“This is a tough question that I often get asked and usually avoid answering. I can’t say that I never will or would go back to the WWE.”
“I honestly never intended on leaving until I retired. However we don’t choose our destiny. We just live it. I am very happy at TNA and am enjoying my time here for as long as it lasts. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow inside and out as a performer, artist, and a woman. One really never knows what tomorrow holds. That’s why you make the most of every moment. Good, bad, or indifferent, and own it like only you can.”
She also gave her thoughts on the WWE Hall of Fame:
“To be inducted in to the Hall of Fame is a huge honor for any one person in this industry. It not only gives you credibility as the mark you made in the pages of history to the fans, but notoriety for the path you paved for everyone who followed in your footsteps.”
– Suns’ President and CEO Rick Welts has announced that he will resign to be with his partner in Sacramento. ”The most important thing for me is to get my personal and professional lives better aligned. This isn’t one of those departures to see greener pastures.” He dismissed the idea that he was pressured to leave because of his sexuality (Welts announced that he is gay four months ago), saying, “These guys have been tremendously accommodating and any other inference than that is absolutely crazy.” The Suns have promoted Jason Rowley to executive VP and he will handle Welts’ duties on an interim basis.
– Keegan Bradley carded a final round of 2-under-par 68 and won the PGA Championship by a stroke in a three-hole playoff with Jason Dufner. Bradley posted three birdies and two bogeys on his first nine holes and was two strokes off the lead. On the back nine, an eagle on the par-5 12th gave him a share of the lead, but on the par-3 15th, he chipped down the green and into the drink. The ensuing triple-bogey dropped him five strokes off the lead, but he bounced back nicely with consecutive birdes. Then, Jason Dufner dropped three strokes in his final four holes to create a playoff. On the first playoff hole, both men stuck their approach shots within a few feet. Dufner missed his birdie attempt while Bradley made his, giving him a one stroke lead. The second playoff hole saw Dufner three-putt from 50-feet for a bogey, while Bradley two-putt parred the hole. Dufner closed the gap with a long birdie putt at the final hole, but Bradley sunk a par putt for the win.
– Giants’ DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) will return to practice with the Giants Monday. The Giants offered to put incentives in his contract, but he turned them down, saying they were unfairness. Now, he’ll play out the season on his $3.125M base salary. Umenyiora says his decision to return was influenced by his feelings for his teammates, coaches and the fans. All of the contract extension leverage is now with the team.
– Saints’ WR Marques Colston (knee) returned to practice Sunday. Colston missed nearly a week and half while waiting for the irritation and swelling in his surgically knee to subside. He expects to play this week against the Texans, which will be his first real test.
– Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan acknowledged Sunday that TE Chris Cooley (knee) is questionable for the start of the regular season. Asked if he was confident Cooley would be ready for Week 1, Shanahan replied, “I don’t know.”
– Jaguars’ RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee) finished his first practice feeling good after taking a hit Saturday. ”I love it. I kind of got that feel back getting hit. Today was no soreness, no setbacks. No nothing.” He insists “there is no pain at all” in his surgically repaired knee, and it feels better right now than it did at this time last year. He’s says he’s determined to prove wrong those “fantasy football gurus who have never stepped on the field before or ever been in the locker room.” MJD will not play Friday night against Atlanta, but expects to be ready for Week 1 against the Titans.
– 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized Saturday night that the team hasn’t named a starting quarterback. ”So far, it hasn’t had a chance to be clear-cut, yet. So we’ll continue to practice.” Harbaugh added that the 49ers would add a veteran quarterback if the “right person” became available. Rookie Colin Kaepernick isn’t quite ready to start full time, but Smith’s job is in jeopardy.
– In the latest issue of WWE Magazine, World Heavyweight Champion Christian opens up on Edge telling him had to retire, why he doesn’t mind being overlooked, how his body is holding up these days, and more. Christian recalls his conversation with Edge telling him he would be quitting wrestling.
“He told me as soon as he got the news. I did what any friend would, and tried to comfort him. It’s hard when you’re at the level he is and you’ve done the things he has done, and it’s not your choice to walk away. Ultimately, you want to be the one to say, “OK—it’s time to hang it up.” I think that’s what troubled him the most.
“But I kept positive and told him he did do things on his own terms. His final match was at WrestleMania XXVII in front of 70,000 people. He walked to the ring as the World Champion and walked out as World Champion. I don’t think there’s a better way he could have ended his story than that.”
WWE Magazine notes that Christian is one of remaining talents from the ’90s. He is asked whether he sees himself as a veteran or a rookie.
“I’m definitely a veteran. No question. And it always makes me laugh when the younger guys tell me they remember where they were when I contested a certain match. It makes me feel old, but it’s cool to hear that. Honestly, veteran or not, I feel better now than ever. My body’s holding up, I feel good physically and mentally. If anything, Edge’s departure has inspired me to work harder. It’s opened my eyes and made me realize that, hey, this thing could end at any second. Stop wasting time. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it now.
Christian was also asked about the widespread belief that he doesn’t get enough respect for all that he’s done for WWE.
“It’s funny, I do think I’ve been somewhat overlooked, but I’ve always viewed that as a challenge. Everyone else seems to get more upset about it than I do. I never doubted that my talent would shine through in the end, no matter what. I believe I am one of the best and I work to prove that every night I go out there. The question has always been, “Will my time ever come?” It’s always been, “When will it come?”
“Edge moved on and won many titles, but you can’t compare us. We are two different people with two different paths. I never asked why I didn’t get what he did; I looked at it as, “What can I do to step up and make myself better?” And every night, I go out into the arena thinking, “Tonight, they’re going to know how good I am.”
– WWE creative had not finalized the script for tonight’s SummerSlam pay-per-view event as of this morning, though it was expected to be finished by the afternoon. As of a few days ago, two different conclusions to the WWE Championship Match between John Cena and CM Punk had been drawn. The match finish was reportedly decided upon today.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross wrote the following on Twitter on Sunday night regarding why he was not ringside for WWE’s SummerSlam pay-per-view:
“I’m at Summer Slam on Twitter duty & not broadcasting. Booker’s working w/ Cole & King.
I am at SUMMER SLAM but backstage and not at ringside. Booker adds Smackdown representation not that Cole wouldn’t have. I’m twitter man.
I’m tweeting tonite..not broadcasting. Just happy to be here.
Game time decision to use Booker to rep Smackdown on tonite’s Summer Slam & to work with King & Cole. I’m happy for Booker.”
– WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel appeared on Right After Wrestling. The highlights:
What was the initial plan for SummerSlam in 1988: “To the best of my recollection, SummerSlam came around 1988 and then the Royal Rumble came in soon after. It was always the second biggest event we were going to produce. The WWE worked on producing pay-per-views from the ’80?s through the ’90?s until now. When we first started with WrestleMania, pay-per-view was just at the cusp of its origin. And we needed something else that would whet the appetite of the consumer after WrestleMania and that’s where SummerSlam came into play.”
The Fink’s favorite SummerSlam moments: “As far as my favorite match at SummerSlam that would have to be SummerSlam ’91 where Bret Hart faced Mr. Perfect. Not only was it one of the best matches in SummerSlam history or in Madison Square Garden in NYC, but it was truly one of the greatest matches off all time.”
Being a veteran in WWE, how he feels about the ‘fourth wall’ being broken down with this CM Punk angle: “I wasn’t initially comfortable with it but it’s cutting edge. I had mixed emotions to it. Some people have had their jaws drop over the past previous weeks. So although I had mixed emotions about it, I’m actually digging the hell out of it now!”
– According to ProWrestling.net, Hulk Hogan and TNA Wrestling head writer Vince Russo engaged in a heated argument last Sunday at Hardcore Justice regarding the finish to the World Heavyweight Championship Match between Sting and Kurt Angle. Hogan later grumbled to colleagues that Russo doesn’t know anything because he was never a wrestler. The two former World Heavyweight Champions made up at the following day’s Impact Wrestling tapings.
There was, however, noticeable tension among the organization’s high ranking officials in the days that followed. Several employees feel it did more damage to a locker room already low in morale. There has also been internal complaints regarding Eric Bischoff as many wrestlers feel he’s arrogant and snobbish. His criticisms over in-ring performances fall on deaf ears because some wrestlers don’t respect his opinion regarding their craft. An Eight-Man X Division Gauntlet Match that was originally taped on Tuesday was re-shot the following day because Bischoff didn’t like it.
– Josh Rimer has reported that Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) may not be ready for the start of the season. Crosby is continuing workouts but is not 100% yet. The report is not from an official source, but information regarding Sid’s recovery has been scarce. Stay tuned.
– Mets’ SS Jose Reyes (hamstring) is not expected to return from the DL next week when he’s first eligible. He’s yet to test out his hamstring since being placed on the DL a week ago. Given that it’s the second injury to the same hamstring in just over a month, the Mets would be wise to take it slower with him this time. There’s no timetable at this point for his return, but late August or possibly early September seems likely.
– Marlins’ OF Logan Morrison intends to speak with the player’s union to see if he has grounds to file a grievance against the Marlins for optioning him to Triple-A New Orleans. His agent said, ”We are going to, with absolute certainty, explore this and contact the union and make sure Logan’s rights are protected. It doesn’t seem like everything adds up here.” Wes Helms was released at the same time that Morrison was demoted after advising him not to attend a team-related function before Saturday’s game. Florida says both decisions were based on on-field performance, though GM Larry Beinfest said that Morrison “needs to concentrate on all aspects of being a major leaguer,” essentially admitting that it was for reasons outside of his performance. Morrison was batting .249 with 17 homers (second on the team) and 60 RBI (third).
– According to the PWInsider, when WWE announced its second quarter financial results last week, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon announced that The Rock will be appearing at “multiple” pay-per-view events aside from WrestleMania 28. The Rock announced last month that he’ll be appearing at the 25th anniversary of Survivor Series in November to confront John Cena, who he will wrestle at WrestleMania 28. Aside from those events – WWE is planning for The Rock to appear at next year’s Royal Rumble and SummerSlam events, as long as his movie schedule allows it. WWE was very pleased with The Rock’s impact on WrestleMania 27 drawing over $28M for the company and are hoping to book him on as many big shows as possible over the next year.
– WWE is looking give “Stone Cold” Steve Austin a big role at next year’s WrestleMania – although it still remains unlikely that he will wrestle a match.
– According to the PWInsider, as the head of WWE’s revamped talent development program, Triple H has a lot of influence over which talents are signed and featured on WWE television. It’s been reported that Triple H is serious about introducing new talents through ‘coming soon’ vignettes, as we saw with the first two people signed under Triple H – Sin Cara and Kharma.
Now -Triple H is said to have his sights set on a new objective – rebuilding WWE’s tag team division. WWE is looking to recruit tag teams from other promotions, including Ring of Honor’s Kings of Wrestling & Brisco Brothers as well as TNA tag team Beer Money, when they become free agents. Regarding the recent WWE tryouts for the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli), the latest word is that the KoW will be introduced as a tag team, not singles wrestlers.
– Following the WWE releases of Melina, Vladimir Kozlov and DH Smith last week, the talent is expected to get paid until November and will have no-compete clauses.
– The WWE Championship unification match between CM Punk and John Cena is expected to get a lot of time at Sunday’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. With less than a week to go, only four matches have been announced – leading many to see SummerSlam as a “one-match show.”
– Following a several year hiatus, “The Informer” is once again featured in WWE Magazine. Though the monthly column largely consisted of made-up stories, it would at times correctly predict future storylines. The feature is now branded as “WWE gossip” and appears to be a mashup of kayfabe and legitimate backstage tales. Highlights from the October 2011 edition are as follows:
“Would a certain A-list Hollywood celeb please stop calling our offices in hopes of landing a Raw guest-star slot? You had your chance already, pal!”
“I hear a top-level, WWE Hall of Fame-bound Superstar suggested that Natalya use the double sharpshooter at 2010?s WWE TLC.”
“During a recent photo shoot, a Superstar demanded that the makeup artist stop touching up the Divas and focus her attention on him!”
“A source tells us that The Rock isn’t the only Attitude Era Superstar planning to step in the ring in 2012. Hint: There’s an “E” in his name.”
– WWE.com’s bio on referee Mike Chioda made mention of deceased wrestler Chris Benoit, who is considered persona non grata within the organization. He recalled November 29, 2004, when he and a fellow official declared contrary decisions in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship; Chioda saw Benoit pinned for the three-count while Edge tapped out simultaneously. The Benoit mention has since been removed. Meanwhile, WWE.com’s bio on referee Jack Doan says Benoit’s match with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania X-Seven is one of his most memorable moments.
– Edge stated in a new interview promoting his four-episode guest-spot on the Syfy series Haven that he would be appearing at SummerSlam. The former World Heavyweight Champion is scheduled to appear at Summerslam Axxess this weekend, but did not specify whether he would be appearing on the pay-per-view broadcast. Edge told TVDoneWright.com:
“I basically started shooting Haven directly from Extreme Rules when Christian won the title. So it basically took up the entire summer. I have an appearance at Summerslam and after that it’s some serious outdoor time. Kayaking, mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, dog hiking, and whatever else I can find before winter hits.”
When asked if he intends to return to WWE, even in a non-wrestling capacity, he replied,
“I’m sure I’ll make appearances from time to time like (Shawn Michaels) does. I’m not interested in commentating, but maybe at some point something behind the scenes if it didn’t involve the crazy travel. My days of over 200 days a year on the road are over.”
The Rated-R Superstar also says has some WWE appearances scheduled in Paris, France to promote a movie he shot last year for WWE Films, Bending the Rules (to be released in January 2012). He adds,
“Beyond that I think it’s time to find out what retirement is really like and catch the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam on their current tours.”
– Mike Pavone, Executive Vice President of WWE Studios, has been removed from his job. His exit from WWE Studios comes just a week after it was announced that its “That’s What I Am” movie was a losing proposition – to the tune of $3.3M.
– Despite previous reports, Mark Caranno has not been moved from WWE talent development to working directly under Triple H.
– The Wrstling Press recently interviewed the only man to ever hold championship gold in both WWE & the UFC–Brock Lesnar. The highlights:
Being A WWE Wrestler: “These guys, they just don’t have another life. When they go home, they really can’t get out of tune with their on-stage persona. There’s really no time. I think the biggest thing is there’s really no downtime for the human body to recover, and more importantly, for their mind to recover where you’re constantly on the road, and in a program where you can’t get outside to take an outside look at what’s going on — guys resort to all kinds of extracurricular activities.”
How His Time In WWE Helped Him In The MMA World: “I’m not stupid — without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I’m drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe.”
– The Patriots have signed LG Logan Mankins, 29, to a 6-year contract. A three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro (2010), Mankins has never missed a start due to injury in his career and is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in football. The Pats will again field one of the NFL’s top front fives this season.
– The Eagles have signed WR Steve Smith to a 1-year/$4M contract with $2M guaranteed. Smith was expected to re-sign with the Giants, but team doctors believed his surgically repaired knee was too iffy to make the gamble on. The Eagles’ doctors, however, believe Smith could return by midseason. He’ll probably open the season on the PUP list.
– The Saints have shut down WR Marques Colston (right knee) because he developed “irritation and swelling” in his surgically repaired right knee. According to the Times-Picayune, he’s been sidelined “considerably longer” than than both Colston and Saints coach Sean Payton expected. “It’s getting better. We’re just trying to be patient.” Colston missed his sixth straight day of practice Wednesday and looks doubtful for the preseason opener.
– Last month Steve Austin made headlines when he said WWE should sign TNA star Samoa Joe when his contract expires later this year. Austin tweeted: “WWE should sign @SamoaJoe as soon as his TNA contract is up. One of my favorite workers in today’s game. Needs a full green light.” Now, it appears that Stone Cold might get his wish – according to sources, Samoa Joe has been talking seriously about jumping to WWE as soon as he can.
– Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke has posed nude for animal activist company PETA, and the “sophisticated” campaign will be unveiled in Miami on Saturday – Hulk’s birthday. A rep of Hogan’s says:
“The photos at the exhibit are very sophisticated and classy and just give the illusion of nude or the perception of nude, but of course, to get these shots, the shoot itself is fully nude.”n
– The Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting that TNA wants both Matt and Jeff Hardy to first enter rehab, but both have refused.
– The Marlins have placed SS Hanley Ramirez (sprained left shoulder) on the 15-day DL retroactive to August 3. He’ll be eligible to return on August 18.
– Rays’ RHP Alex Cobb (ribcage) is set to undergo season-ending surgery. Cobb has some “blockage” near the first rib on the right side of his body. He’s fully expected to be ready for the start of spring training next February. The talented 23-year-old posted a 3.42 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 52 2/3 innings this season.
– Orioles’ RHP Jake Arrieta (right elbow) will undergo surgery Friday to remove a bone spur and will miss 2-3 months. Arrieta could have been given multiple cortisone shots for the rest of the season and came back to pitch, but he’s dealt with the issue for a while and has decided to have the operation. He’ll be allowed to have a regular offseason regimen with the hopes of being 100% for training camp.
– Dodgers’ SS Dee Gordon (right shoulder) will be placed on the DL. Gordon had an MRI Wednesday that revealed only a bruise, but the club is playing it safe. Manager Don Mattingly said, “He’ll go on the disabled list just as a precaution, just to make sure it totally goes away. He’ll be back to baseball activities in a few days. We kind of thought he’d be a week, but we wanted to make sure he’ll be fine when he comes back.” Gordon is batting just .234/.248/.270 with 12 steals through 30 games.
– Pacers’ F Danny Granger criticized the owners for not knowing how much David Stern got paid on Wednesday, calling him “probably the most powerful guy of all the professional sports.” ”I feel like he’s playing with fire a little bit. He’s taken such a hard stance on things. I read that he finally said he’d take a salary cut. Nobody knows how much he makes, though. That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard. We’ve got 30 owners putting their faith in him to get the deal done and nobody knows how much he’s getting paid.”
– UFC president Dana White announced on Thursday that Brock Lesnar’s ongoing health problems related to the stomach illnesss diverticulitis have returned and he is being forced to pull out of his upcoming fight at UFC 131 on June 11th. Lesnar had been scheduled to fight Junior Dos Santos in fight that would have determined the next challenger to Cain Velasquez’ Heavyweight Championship. Shane Carwin, who got choked out by then-champion Brock Lesnar last July, will now face Dos Santos next month.
Lesnar, who might need to undergo “life changing surgery” in the near future, says his career is not over and vows to return to the cage once again:
“I’m not retiring. This isn’t the end of my fight career. I believe there’s a solution to every problem. This isn’t the end of Brock Lesnar. This is a speed bump in the road.”
Lesnar is being treated once again at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the same facility that treated him back in 2009 when he first battled diverticulitis. He insists this most recent bout with the stomach illness is not as serious as last time (when he was fighting for his life) – but the condition was preventing him from training for the Dos Santos fight.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, with the WWE roster growing increasingly thin due to retirements, injuries and people taking time off, WWE is aware of the situation and looking at ways to strengthen the RAW and SmackDown rosters. Aside from elevating younger talent and building new stars, WWE is also interested in bringing back several superstars who are currently working on other projects outside of wrestling. WWE’s creative team regularly discusses how to incorporate former superstar Dave Batista into storylines, and another superstar who is expected back with WWE in the coming months is Chris Jericho. Now that Jericho’s run on Dancing With The Stars has concluded, most within WWE believe his return is imminent. John Morrison (neck surgery) is seen as a factor that could result in Jericho returning to WWE television sooner than later.NHL
– Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers said he’s “leaning heavily towards coming back” to coach the team next season. Rivers’ has been rumoured to want to spend more time with his family, but the C’s have one more run in them–Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are all under contract while Ray Allen said he doesn’t plan on opting out of his deal. He remains one of the best coaches in the NBA.
– The Lakers are “very interested” in Rick Adelman as Phil Jackson’s replacement, sources tell ESPN.com. Adelman has a strong reputation for handling veteran teams well, and his offensive schemes are similar to Jackson’s. He’ll be up against in-house candidate Brian Shaw, ex-Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and possibly Jim Clemons. The Cavs have already said they won’t allow the Lakers to talk to Byron Scott.
– F Kevin Durant, G Derrick Rose, F LeBron James, G Kobe Bryant and F Dwight Howard were named to the 2010-11 All-NBA first team Thursday. James was a unanimous selection while Rose is on the team for the first time. The second team consists of G Russell Westbrook, G Dwyane Wade, F Dirk Nowitzki, F Pau Gasol and F Amare Stoudemire, while the third team has G Chris Paul, G Manu Ginobili, F Zach Randolph, F LaMarcus Aldridge and F Al Horford.
– Celtics GM Danny Ainge said he will extend the $5.9M qualifying offer to RFA F Jeff Green. The Celtics plan to get younger, faster and more athletic this summer, and signing Green would be a step in the right direction. He projects as a backup once again right now, but the C’s figure to make a bunch of moves this offseason.
– Beat writer Alan Hahn suggests that Knicks’ G Landry Fields may lose his starting shooting guard job next season. Hahn speculates that Fields doesn’t fit as a starter on a team looking to compete for a championship, and mentions free agents G J.R. Smith and G Anthony Parker. Fields is penciled in as the starter for now, but he’ll almost certainly have competition.
– Predators’ D Shea Weber, who can become an RFA on July 1, said that he will re-sign with the team. ”It’s going to get done. Obviously, this is a place I love to play, and you saw how close we were this year to getting to the conference finals, and possibly further. This is a place I want to be, and it’s going to be a matter of time before something gets done.” Weber’s potential return to the team will be huge. He made $4.5M this season and should be in line for a multi-year deal.
– The Predators have had contact with former F Alexander Radulov at the World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. Radulov left the team three years ago to play in his native Russia in the KHL, with one year remaining on his Nashville contract. He spoke to the assistant GM Paul Fenton on Wednesday and said he could get out of his KHL contract. GM David Poile relayed the conversation to the media as follows: “What Paul said to him today was very simply, ‘You made lots of money. Is money an issue?. You’re the leading scorer in the league, your team won a championship. You think you’re one of the best players in the world. Are you going to come over to the best league and show that? Or are you going to stay in a secondary league.’” Adding a player with an offensive upside like Radulov could be what pushes the Preds to the next level in 2011-12.
– Avalanche’ F Peter Mueller (concussion) has not been medically cleared to play again yet, but the club brass are hopeful that he will be fine for training camp. GM Greg Sherman and executive adviser Joe Sakic expressed the same optimism that Mueller had earlier this month when asked about his status. Stay tuned.
– F Alexander Frolov has reportedly signed a 3-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, according to the team’s website. His 1-year deal with the Rangers in 2010-11 did not work, as Frolov struggled on the ice with just seven goals and 16 points in 43 games as a fourth-liner before suffering a torn ACL, a sprained MCL and a torn meniscus in his right knee.
– Yankees’ 3B Eric Chavez (bruised left foot) had the walking boot removed on Thursday afternoon. He was originally diagnosed with a broken bone in his left foot, but recent tests have revealed that he only suffered a bone bruise. That may speed up his recovery time a bit. “We’re hoping for just a few weeks. When I went and saw the doctor, it was about as good a diagnosis as I could get.”
– The Mets have placed 1B Ike Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise) on the 15-day DL. Davis was walking around in a protective boot after leaving Tuesday’s game with the injury. It’s not yet known how much time he will miss.
– Mets’ LHP Johan Santana (left shoulder) threw off a mound this week in Port St. Lucie, Florida for the first time since he underwent surgery. He was able to throw 15 pitches from the front slope of the mound without any problems. It’s a huge step for Santana, who had been throwing off flat ground from 150 feet. The Mets are hoping to have the former Cy Young Award winner back by July, but they won’t push him.
– Mets’ RHP Chris Young (right shoulder) has opted to undergo surgery to repair a re-tear of the anterior capsule. He’ll go under the knife on May 16 and will miss the remainder of the season with the start of next year likely in question, as well. Young has posted a 1.43 ERA in eight starts over the last two seasons for the Padres and Mets.
– Dodgers’ SS Rafael Furcal (broken left thumb) is expected to begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Albuquerque. He will only bat left-handed initially to allow more time for his thumb to heal. He’s likely to spend over a week taking at-bats in the minors. The shortstop has been on the DL since early April.
– According to NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, the Vikings have not held internal discussions about the possibility of acquiring Titans’ QB Vince Young this offseason. Young was initially connected to the team back in late January, but since he’s participating in offseason workouts with Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson, rumours have re-surfaced.
– Saints’ WR Marques Colston (right knee) revealed that his post-season surgery was microfracture in nature. It’s the same knee Colston had scoped in late December. The procedure repaired cartilage around Colston’s right kneecap, similar to the microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009. He recovered in time for training camp two years ago, and he claims to be ahead of that schedule this time around. It’s the fifth known knee surgery of Colston’s five-year career, so his long-term health is in question. Colston is entering a contract year.
– Packers’ TE Jermichael Finley (right knee) wrote on Twitter Thursday morning that his surgically repaired knee “feels brand new already.” Finley tore his right lateral meniscus last October, and it appears as though he’s ready to go. Finley, soon to be 24, can turn this already potent Packers offence into an even more dynamic threat if he can stay healthy.
– 49′ers’ GM Trent Baalke suggested Thursday that CB Nate Clements would have to restructure his contract to stay with the team this season. Asked if Clements would be back, Baalke replied, “You’d have to ask Nate. Honestly, I can’t tell you right now.” Clements is due a non-guaranteed salary of $7.25M with another $7.95 M available in “likely-to-be-earned” incentives. They can release Clements at the beginning of the new league year without paying him. He’ll need to take a significant paycut if he wants any chance of returning next season.
– Free agent RB Cedric Benson told Sirius NFL Radio that he believes he deserves a big contract this offseason. ”I think I’m deserving. I just hope a couple teams feel the same way. It would be nice if it would be the Bengals.” Benson, entering his age-29 season, could be in decline after his poor 2010 season (despite seeing a career-high 321 carries).
– Free agent CB Ike Taylor suggested Thursday that he will give the Steelers first dibs on re-signing him once the league year begins. ”I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page. The ball’s in their court … I’ve been in Pittsburgh longer than any other city since I was born. That’s home to me. Steelers Nation is crazy.” Beat writer Scott Brown notes that Taylor is “father-son close” to owner Dan Rooney, and the Steelers are “too smart to try and lowball him.”
– TNA star Ric Flair Ric a few radio appearances this week and as usual with the Nature Boy, there are some newsworthy items to report. During an appearance on Mark Madden’s radio show on Tuesday, Flair said he wants a shot at Sting’s TNA World Heavyweight title some time this summer. This comes just days after reports that Hulk Hogan is training for an in-ring return and wants to challenge Sting at Bound For Glory later this fall.
Flair also appeared on radio station WFNZ’s afternoon show “The Drive” on Tuesday and discussed a number of wrestling-related topics , including his decision to attend Shawn Michaels WWE’s Hall of Fame induction in Atlanta last month. Flair said TNA had “no problem” appearing at WWE’s Hall of Fame ceremony and he plans on attending next year’s ceremony in Miami. Flair also spoke about his highly-publicized meltdown that took place during TNA’s European tour earlier this year. After widespread reports that Flair was left behind by TNA following a dispute over TNA being unwilling to advance Flair money. Here’s what Flair said about the situation:
“When you work for WWE, you are used to funds being available for you, if you think I am going to spend my own money, you are out of your mind. With Vince…like any other company that grows, you have growing pains, financial growing pains.”
“When you agree to go overseas, you assume you are going like any other company and very simply, I wasn’t informed differently. I said, ‘Hey I need some money while I’m here. I’m not blowing up my credit card. Just pay me what you owe me every night’ and they don’t do that. I wasn’t told in a very nice way so I stayed in the hotel for another day. I’m not knocking. I think TNA is great, just they have growing pains.”
Flair also claimed during an endorsement for the Tampa Orthopedic and Pain Clinic that he has wrestled 100,000 matches—which equates to one match per day for 274 years.
“I broke my back in a plane crash, wrestled 100,000 matches and been world heavyweight champion 16 times. Thanks Tampa Orthopedic & Pain for keeping The Nature Boy Stylling and Profiling, Whooo!!!”
– Bruins’ F Marc Savard (concussion) has been diagnosed with yet another concussion. Savard sustained the injury when he was smashed into the end boards by former teammate Avalanche’ D Matt Hunwick on Saturday. He also missed the first 23 contests of the 2010-11 season because post-concussion syndrome stemming from a Grade 2 concussion he suffered on March 7, 2010. The severity of the concussion is not yet known and is considered out indefinitely.
– Blues’ F Andy McDonald (concussion) skated with his teammates for first time on Monday morning from Colorado. He took part in the full session after being sidelined due to concussion symptoms since December 4. “It felt great. It was nice to be back out there with the guys, nice to have a goalie to shoot against and nice to have someone to pass you the puck – not that (trainer Ray Barile) doesn’t pass the puck well.” McDonald could be close to returning following the All-Star break if he can continue to take positive steps forward in his recovery. Stay tuned.
– According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Padres have signed 1B Jorge Cantu. This one closed fast after the Padres were willing to give him a guaranteed major league deal. Cantu, 29 later this month, batted just .234 with a .647 OPS against lefties last season, but should be a good platoon partner with 1B Brad Hawpe.
– Saints’ WR Marques Colston (knee, wrist) will undergo a pair of arthroscopic surgerys this offseason. He could miss OTAs, if there are any. The concern is that these will be Colston’s 5th and 6th known surgeries since March of 2008, and the knee operation is the fifth of Colston’s NFL career. Colston enters a contract year in 2011. He’s certainly still playing well enough to be more than worth his $3M salary, but it’s definitely something to think about long term.
– According to ProWrestling.net, Chris Masters, who has been largely relegated to WWE Superstars since his return to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2009, is reportedly scheduled for a push following the Royal Rumble.
– Abdullah the Butcher and “Bullet” Bob Armstrong are under consideration for induction into the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania XXVII weekend. Abdullah’s unpredictable, ultra-violent style served as inspiration for numerous wrestlers and he still continues to compete on the independent circuit in a career that has now spanned seven decades. Armstrong is the patriarch of the Armstrong wrestling family; he has four sons (Scott, Brad, Steve and Brian), all of whom became wrestlers.