FOXBORO -- Ryan Fitzpatrick's helmet was on the ground a few yards away, but he walked right past it. It could wait. He marched over to Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes and wanted to have a word.
Spikes was flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter of New England's 37-31 win over Buffalo when he drove Fitzpatrick into the ground, separating the Bills quarterback from his helmet.
"We aren't going to back down from anybody," Fitzpatrick said of his reaction to the Spikes hit. "I think that Spikes is an emotional player. I think he's a punk at times and took a cheap shot at Scott Chandler in the first game and was doing a lot of talking and hitting out there. He's not one of my favorite players, not high on my list. I think that's all just mentality and I think it's important that you don't back down from anybody."
Spikes was fined 21,000 when he hit Chandler in Week 4 and knocked the tight end out of the game with a concussion.
BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox will be without center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for the next few days, as he is placed on the paternity-leave list to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
Rusney Castillo, who was sent to Pawtucket in the second week of the season, has been recalled to take his roster spot. Castillo has a slash line of .241/.302/.317 with the PawSox, with 1 home run and 13 RBI in 37 games.
Bradley is in the midst of a breakout season with the Red Sox, hitting .331/.409/.601 in 50 games with 9 homers and 37 RBI.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while blaming both the zoo and the parents in Cincinnati. Is it okay to do that, or does everything in life have to be all or nothing?
-- Dan Rosen says Sidney Crosby has a twinkle in his eye as he returns for, and wins, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
-- Tim Panaccio has a few thoughts on the sad passing of Philadelphia Flyers legend Rick MacLeish at the age of 66.
-- It looks like Ken Hitchcock will be back once again as head coach of the St. Louis Blues despite their fall in the Western Conference Finals.
-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gives a number of scenarios for potential expansion, including waiting another year before doing anything.
-- A good Players Tribune piece on hockey dad Matt Cullen preparing with the family for the Stanley Cup Finals with the Penguins.
-- Jacques Martin, currently serving as a member of Mike Sullivan's Pittsburgh coaching staff, is appreciating his first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
-- Joel Ward wants to see the NHL retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22, similar to Jackie Robinson's No. 42 permanently retired by all Major League Baseball teams.
-- Ken Campbell says that the San Jose Sharks won’t be in a panic after dropping Game 1 to the Penguins.
-- So Ulf Samuelsson will be a head coach in the AHL next season for the Charlotte Checkers. Teams might want to stock up on the foil
-- This goal call by Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi for Nick Bonino’s game-winner in Game 1 is pretty damned awesome.
-- For something completely different: Bernie Sanders attending the Warriors/Thunder Game 7 on Monday night, a week before the California primary, might qualify as a savvy political move, but it’s also pretty clear that he's a big basketball fan. Did you see footage of that textbook old-man jump shot while Sanders was waiting for primary results a few months ago? Ball don’t lie.
Another once-valued Boston Bruins asset might be heading out the door with nothing coming back in return.
Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, according to a report out of Russia. The deal will become official after his entry-level contract with Boston runs out on June 30.
Khokhlachev, 22, was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft and spent the last three seasons as one of the Providence Bruins' leading scorers. In that time he appeared in only nine games in Boston, with no points and a minus-4.
At the start of last season's training camp, Khokhlachev said he’d never been given a legitimate chance by the Bruins at the NHL level. But “Koko” also never exactly crushed his chances in preseason, or during his regular-season stints with the parent club.
The belief is that Khokhlachev’s camp would have rather the Bruins traded him, as his family had settled in the Toronto area over the last few years. But he was, in essence, forced to go to Russia since the Bruins would continue to hold his NHL rights as a restricted free agent.
According to sources close to Khokhlachev, the last straw came when the Bruins signed a European free agent -- 28-year-old Finnish center Joonas Kemppainen -- before last season and gave him more than four months to prove himself at the NHL level. It was the kind of audition that Khokhlachev never felt like he received during his time in the Bruins organization, despite posting 59 goals and 168 points over the last three years in the AHL.
Clearly, there are still questions about whether the 5-foot-10, 181-pound center is a “tweener” -- not big enough or fast enough to score at the NHL level. And it looks like those questions will go unresolved as Khokhlachev returns to Russia for the foreseeable future.