Brazilian soccer fan declared brain dead

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Brazilian soccer fan declared brain dead

From Comcast SportsNet
SAO PAULO (AP) -- A Palmeiras fan was declared brain dead on Tuesday, the second casualty from a confrontation involving nearly 500 people from rival groups last weekend. The Sao Camilo hospital said the 19-year-old fan remains on a ventilator but will not recover after receiving head injuries in the fighting on Sunday. His name was not immediately released by the hospital. On Sunday, 21-year-old Palmeiras supporter Andre Alves died after being shot in the head in the confrontation. Two other fans remain hospitalized, a 17-year-old with head injuries and a 23-year-old who was shot in the hip and needed surgery. The announcement that the fan was brain dead came as authorities decided to close the headquarters of the rival fan groups involved in the fighting -- Palmeiras' Mancha Verde and Corinthians' Gavioes da Fiel. The Sao Paulo state football federation indefinitely banned them on Monday from entering stadiums. Authorities seized computers and other material that could bring more information about those involved in the fight, and detained several members suspected of participating in the confrontation. Iron bars and other possible weapons used in the brawl were also seized. Police said one of Alves' brother, a vice president at the Mancha Verde, was shot in the leg during another fight last year. The confrontation on Sunday raised concerns about escalating fan violence in Brazil, and authorities said they will have to take action to keep the fighting from spreading with the country staging the 2014 World Cup. Corinthians' stadium will host the World Cup opener in 2014. "We are against this type of violence because everybody loses," said former Palmeiras player and current club director Cesar Sampaio, who attended Alves' funeral on Monday. "We have to take a stance to try to put an end to this right now." There hadn't been a death linked to fan violence in Brazil since early last year, when a Corinthians supporter was killed after reportedly being ambushed by Palmeiras fans. Police believe Sunday's fight came in retaliation for that death, and Palmeiras supporters are already using social media networks to say they will avenge this weekend's killing. Police were investigating reports that Sunday's fight was set up on the Internet. The Mancha Verde released a note saying the group was ambushed by the Corinthians supporters, but the Gavioes da Fiel denied the allegations. The fans used iron bars, pieces of wood and rocks in the confrontation which lasted several minutes until riot police arrived to intervene. It happened several hours before the match between Corinthians and Palmeiras, several kilometers from the stadium. There had been few incidents involving fan groups in the past few years, but several have been reported in recent months, including some between Corinthians and Palmeiras fans. About a week ago, a 28-year-old fan of small club Guarani died from head injuries after fighting with Ponte Preta supporters in the city of Campinas, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Sao Paulo. The death prompted authorities to ban the teams' fan groups from stadiums. The same measure was taken by authorities in the northeastern city of Salvador because of recent incidents involving Bahia fans. There were also fights in Goias state and in Rio de Janeiro recently. Other South American nations have had to deal with fan violence. One man was killed and dozens were injured in two separate incidents in Colombia earlier this month.

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him.