Former Bruins D-man Mottau to sign one-year deal with Leafs


Former Bruins D-man Mottau to sign one-year deal with Leafs

After skating for most of the NHL lockout around Boston with other regulars like Shawn Thornton and then getting into game shape during a month-long stint with the AHLs San Antonio Rampage, a source indicated to that former Bruins defenseman Mike Mottau will ink a one-year, two-way deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs as soon as the new CBA is in effect.

The 34-year-old Mottau had some offers to play in Europe over the summer if he committed to the entire season, but the veteran defenseman held out hope on a couple of things: the NHL work stoppage wouldnt be a long one and that perhaps there would be a chance for the South Shore native to re-sign with his hometown Bruins.

Neither of those things happened as the lockout didnt get solved until January, and Mottau finally signed a veteran tryout agreement with San Antonio in December. The former Boston College Hobey Baker Award winner had a training camp invitation lined up with the Florida Panthers this week, but upgraded to the one-year contract with the Leafs when the offer presented itself.

The free agent deal with Toronto closes the book on his time in Boston after finishing last season with a pair of assists and a minus-11 rating in 36 games for both the Isles and Bruins. There was a thought that perhaps Mottau would be invited back with Adam McQuaid a physical question mark to begin the season, but instead one of Bostons Northeast Division rivals took a shot on the heady defenseman.

Mottau was caught in a tough spot by the timing of the NHL lockout, but its good that a very competent sixthseventh defenseman that still has plenty to offer will get a chance to reestablish himself in Toronto. Expect a flood of two-way deals and short term veteran signings like the Mottau deal to be announced by all of the NHL clubs once the NHL CBA memorandum of understanding is signed by both sides as soon as Saturday night.

Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day


Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

What goes through Dont'a Hightower’s mind in the minutes before he takes the field and lowers himself into a cauldron of collisions, pain and exultation?

Not a thing.

“I rest. I literally rest,” said the Patriots Pro Bowl inside linebacker. “I don’t do anything else. I sit at my locker, I don’t listen to music. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t look at film, I don’t look at notes. I’m just relaxed. Calm before the storm. I’ve done enough preparing, I’ve done enough notes, I’ve done enough of that stuff during the week. If I don’t know it by now, I don’t know it. It’s not gonna help me last minute. It’s only gonna make me play slower.”

By the time an NFL team hits the field – in the Patriots case, runs out of a giant, inflatable helmet while Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares – they are primped, polished, taped and glistening.

But what is their day like leading up to that? I asked a few Patriots to take me through their game-day prep from wakeup to anthem to give me insight into what we don’t see.  

You can hear Hightower, Nate Solder, Alan Branch, Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich detail the steps they take to get game-ready. French toast is involved. So are naps. And sock preparation.

It all builds to that moment of theater that Ninkovich says is what players truly miss when they leave the game – that feeling of euphoria.

“When we finally get to run out, that’s the most exciting time in the world,” says Solder. “The crowd wasn’t there earlier when we went out there and all of a sudden, the crowd is there. Very exciting, very fun, especially with the guys you work so hard with.”

Says McCourty, “I always think when I run out of the tunnel to look up and say, ‘Thank you’ just to be able to play.”

Listen to them tell their stories here:

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was not in any mood to start revealing his behind-the-scenes pre-kickoff routine on game-days. The air of focus he's exhibited during his media-availability periods this week continued on Friday, particularly when he was asked about his Sunday rituals. 

When a reporter wondered if there was anything in particular Belichick does before a game, he initially said simply, "No."

A follow-up about superstitions was tossed Belichick's way next. He swatted that aside as well.

"Try to play and coach good," he explained. "Goes a long way."

There you have it. An easy-step-by-step guide on how to approach a game like a future Hall-of-Famer.

For more on Patriots pregame prep, click here.