Panthers make a significant change

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Panthers make a significant change

From Comcast SportsNetCHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers owner Jerry Richardson sat down in his office Sunday night with Marty Hurney and posed two questions to the franchise's longtime general manager: Why are the Panthers 1-5 and when are they going to get better?Hurney said he couldn't give him an honest answer for either question.The following morning Richardson made the tough decision to fire Hurney, who has been with the team since 1998 and the GM for the past 11 years.The move came one day after star quarterback Cam Newton expressed his frustration following Carolina's fourth straight defeat, a 19-14 loss to Dallas.Hurney took full responsibility for the team's failures."Words don't keep your job, actions do," Hurney said. "The bottom line is we were 1-5. We're 1-3 at home."We laid in egg in front of the Giants on national TV (a 36-7 loss) and came back the last two weeks and lost against teams we felt like we had a good chance to beat. It can't continue to go this way," he said."Marty made every effort to bring success to the Panthers and took the team to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games," Richardson said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we have not enjoyed the success we hoped for in recent years. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Marty and will always appreciate the way he tirelessly served the organization."Richardson spent most of Monday in meetings and talking to people around the league he confides in.Hurney said he doesn't expect his replacement will be named until after the season, but he's not completely sure.There's a chance Richardson could bring in an older, more experienced former general manager to advise him on the direction of the franchise and give him an honest evaluations of the players in the interim.One of the people Richardson's trusts the most is former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi. He's also close friends with the Rooney family in Pittsburgh.In the meantime, Brandon Beane, the team's director of football operations, will handle day-to-day football matters until a new GM is hired. And coach Ron Rivera said when it comes to personnel decisions he'll have final say in matters for now."If a decision has to be made involving the football team and players, it will all stop with me," Rivera said, who added he was surprised by the move.Rivera said at this point no assistant coaches have been fired, but he wouldn't rule that out."We're all being evaluated," Rivera said.Hurney said he fought for his job, but in the end couldn't blame Richardson. Hurney added he thinks the Panthers need more leadership."I think we need somebody to step up in the locker room and take hold," he said. "I think there are people capable of that. I think we need some players to step up and say enough is enough."Newton experienced virtually no losses before becoming a pro, and he was the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year. But this season has been a struggle, and he seemed at a loss for solutions Sunday."Well everybody's looking at it, it's not just me," he said. "(We) try to find ways to keep games close and whether it's me, I don't know. Whether it's the coordinator, I don't know ... but we've got to find a way to change that."Hurney regrets not winning a Super Bowl in Carolina -- they lost 32-29 to New England for the 2003 title -- and the team's inability to post back-to-back winning seasons."I hope this change starts accomplishing the direction to those goals," Hurney said. "I am responsible for everybody in coaching, the players, the scouts and everybody in football operations. After six weeks, we are 1-5 coming off a 6-10 season."Hurney was general manager when the Panthers went to the Super Bowl and the NFC championship games in the 2003 and 2005 seasons, as well as winning the NFC South in 2008.Hurney was well liked and respected within the organization, but his personnel decisions in the draft and in free agency were routinely criticized by fans tired of the Panthers' losing ways.Defensive end Charles Johnson, the team's highest-paid player, said on Twitter: "Marty wasn't the reason we are losing! ... Unbelievable!"Carolina's last playoff victory came in 2005 when it reached the NFC championship game before losing at Seattle. The Panthers appeared to turn things around in 2008 when they won the NFC South and earned a first-round bye before getting upset 33-13 at home by the Arizona Cardinals. They haven't been back to the playoffs since.Hurney's philosophy has been to build through the draft and re-sign proven players rather than going after high-priced free agents. But the team wasted a number of high draft picks through the years.The personnel blunder that angered fans most was giving 34-year-old quarterback Jake Delhomme a five-year, 42.5 million contract months after he turned over the ball over six times in the playoff loss to Arizona.Delhomme started 2009 with a five-turnover game against Philadelphia and was cut after the season. Delhomme cost the Panthers 12 million against the salary cap in 2009 even though he was no longer on the roster.Eric Shelton, Dwayne Jarrett, Jimmy Clausen and Everette Brown were all drafted in the second round, but failed to meet expectations. Brown, in particular, was a costly choice in 2009 because the Panthers gave up their first-round pick the following year to San Francisco to get him. Brown lasted only two seasons in Carolina.Hurney also was criticized for giving big contracts to keep the team's core intact following a 2-14 season in 2010.He did well with first-round draft picks Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, Jonathan Stewart, Chris Gamble and Newton, last year's No. 1 overall pick.

Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

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Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the World Cup of Hockey and Team Canada crowned as champions, the final few Bruins players involved in the international hockey tournament will be filtering back into regular training camp.

It was a brilliant tourney for Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, especially while forming the World Cup’s best forward line with Sidney Crosby. Marchand was one of the leading scorers and had the clutch game-winner in the decisive game.

As a line they combined for a ridiculous 25 points in six games and it was Marchand who scored a couple of the biggest goals in the biggest games against Russia and Team Europe.

“They did it all of last season for us, so I’m not shocked. They played well throughout the entire time they played there, so I’m really happy for them,” said Ryan Spooner. “It’s been kind of a weird camp. We’ve been missing a lot of guys, and to get all of those guys back is huge. They’re the leaders of the team, so to get them back is good.

“Marchand around the room is a funny guy, so he’s definitely missed. We miss them all.”

Zdeno Chara was a force for the surprising rag-tag group of players on Team Europe and led them to the best-of-three final series against Team Canada. Now that it’s over, the B’s teammates are looking forward to all three joining fellow World Cup participants Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak and David Backes at camp probably at some point next week.

“It does [feel like training camp], but it will be nice to get those guys back,” said Adam McQuaid. “They are big parts of this team. We’re looking forward to having those guys back, for sure.”

That also includes getting their coach, Claude Julien, back as well after missing his presence while he served behind the Canadian bench with Mike Babcock and Barry Trotz. He’ll be rejoining the Bruins over the next couple of days, and getting through preseason road games against Detroit and Philadelphia before making some tough decisions on cuts at main training camp.

That’s when things will officially start getting back to normal for a training camp that’s felt like something was a little missing over the first few weeks of getting ready for the season. 

Friday, Sept. 30: It's all Bruins in World Cup final

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Friday, Sept. 30: It's all Bruins in World Cup final

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while taking a nap this afternoon so I can watch the 1:30 am replay of tonight’s Bruins/Red Wings game on the NHL Network.

*Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara scored the goals at the World Cup’s decisive game on Thursday night, and No. 63 got the clutch game-winner late in the third period for Team Canada. Then he watched as linemate Sidney Crosby won the MVP for the tournament in what could be perceived, from a Boston point of view, as a largely Canadian-based hockey media fawning over Sid the Kid once again. Look, he was the tournament’s leading scorer, but last night’s heroics probably should have tipped the scales toward the B’s agitator getting the World Cup hardware.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm seeking an eight year deal from his team. That could be another contract negotiation to watch closely if you’re a Bruins fan.

*Zach Werenski, one of the D-men the Bruins were trying to trade up to get two years ago in the first round of the draft, is looking like he might be NHL-ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

*Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is holding out with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and just wants to get paid like the rest of his teammates.

*Marian Hossa says he still wants to play hockey when he’s 42 years old, or close to the age that countrymen Zdeno Chara is right now.

*Here are some preseason college hockey storylines with the world of NCAA hockey about to start up in force.

*A judge has ruled that the family of the late Derek Boogaard may pursue a lawsuit against the NHL over the death of their son.

*For something completely different: “Tex Ryan” takes his jokes to open mic night and I’m fairly this is Toucher and Rich skewering the Buffalo Bills head coach. And rightfully so.