Game Day: Crennel, Pioli stand tall in tragedy


Game Day: Crennel, Pioli stand tall in tragedy

MIAMI -- Some quick hits on the dawn on Week 13 . . .

An immeasurably sad crime in Kansas City on Saturday. There will be endless debate about whether or not the Chiefs and Panthers are doing the right thing by playing on Sunday. My overriding feeling on that is that, whatever the Chiefs players think is the right thing to do is the correct thing to do. But there is no "right" answer. None of it is "right". I wouldn't disagree with anyone who feels the game should have been postponed out of respect to the family of the slain girlfriend of Jovan Belcher and Belcher's family. If that was their wish. However, at this point, it's probably best to get the football game out of the way. Postponing it would merely create a maudlin media circus out of the crime. There will be more important things for the Chiefs players, coaches and staff to attend to this week and the sooner they can get to those the better.

Police in Kansas City reported that GM Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel intercepted Belcher when he arrived at the Chiefs' offices andprevented "further violence."Both men showed what kind of people they are by intervening in the situation. It was brave for them to do so but, knowing them as I do, they would never have considered doing anything but that, despite the fact Belcher was clearly dangerous and unstable given the events of the day.

Parallels have been drawn between Jim Harbaugh's controversial quarterback call in San Francisco and the decision Bill Belichick made in 2001 when he turned the reins over to Tom Brady. On the face of it, they're similar: The starter got hurt; the backup got the job and remained in place. But the similarities end there. In the case of Alex Smith, the supplanted starter, you have a quarterback the Niners have been angling to replace despite Smith's efficiency and success. Prior to Belichick taking over in New England, Bledsoe was an untouchable. And ownership had rewarded Bledsoe with a massive, 10-year contract just months before he went down in the season's second game. Meanwhile, Smith has played about as well as he could since the start of 2011. In the Patriots' case, Bledsoe was in decline and had played poorly throughout the 2001 preseason and the first two games of 2001. Brady submitted weeks of competent play before Bledsoe was ready to return and reclaim -- as Bledsoe put it -- "my job." Kaepernick had one good start while Smith was still recovering from his concussion then another good start after Smith was cleared to play.

Is San Francisco making the right call? What we haven't seen is probably what made Harbaugh feel confident in his decision: Practice reps by Kaepernick that made his upside unmistakeable in relation to Smith. Kaepernick has a higher ceiling. Smith is a good NFL quarterback. But he isn't likely to win games for you on his own. He's a cog in the machine. The dual threat ability of Kaepernick to run, to move, to create and be a more explosive thrower than Smith tips the scales. Kaepernick is bound to have a bad day and make mistakes Smith wouldn't because Smith -- by dint of having been in the league longer -- has already learned how to handle some situations Kaepernick hasn't yet encountered. There will be pressure on Harbaugh when Kaepernick falters to decide whether he rides out the missteps or goes back to Smith. Personally, I don't think it's an awful thing if Harbaugh goes back to Smith later. There's a perception -- often espoused by former quarterbacks -- that the position requires a commitment from the sidelines and that a quarterback can't play while looking over his shoulder. I kinda think competition is good and it should sharpen the focus of whoever is on the field, not serve as a distraction. If Smith or Kaepernick play scared because they may get the hook, do you really want them to be your quarterback anyway?

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”