FOXBORO -- Nothing was at stake in thePatriots' regular-season finale last year against the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots had already clinched the No. 1 overall seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. So their game against the Dolphins was a glorified scrimmage. And personnel decisions made by Bill Belichick that day indicated that.
Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was inserted mid-drive early in the second quarter and then replaced again by Tom Brady before halftime. The effort by the coaching staff was to give Hoyer a feel for being subbed in on the fly. Belichick said on Friday there would be no such whimsical exercises in Sunday's season finale against Buffalo. "If this were a game that has literally no bearing on the standings that's one thing," Belichick acknowledgd. "I wouldn't say we're really in that situation this time."Every game's important and there's important things in each game and we'll prepare for this game just like we have the last 15," Belichick added. "That's the best wayI can put it. We'll prepare for this game like every one of the others."In other words, the starters go until the game's secured.
PHOENIX -- Robert Kraft drew some scoffs from the media horde surrounding him on Monday when he relayed Tom Brady's intentions for the remainder of his playing career.
"As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he'd be willing to play six, seven more years," Kraft said. "At the level he performed, there's no one that would be happier than I . . . and our fan base."
Brady put together an MVP-caliber season in 2016 at the age of 39, and he figures to be one of the best at his position during his age 40 season. And judging by his comments during Day 2 of the league meetings here, Kraft wouldn't be surprised if Brady could keep things going well into his mid-40s -- unprecedented as that would be.
"In some ways, you think about, I think there's one player at the age of 40 who had one good year. Favre for the Vikings. But he didn't do so well before," Kraft said. "I think Tommy's sustained excellence is just unbelievable. It's a lifestyle. He's in training now. It's not like he's stopped. He works out.
"I remember after our first Super Bowl in , going down to the training room in the old Foxboro Stadium, three days after we won, and he's in there with the music blaring, working out.
"He's really dedicated and the thing that's amazing about him, to this day, he hasn't changed as a human being in terms of how he relates to people, but also in terms of how he works out. The only thing that's probably changed is how he eats, his diet. I'm not sure avocado ice cream is right for me, but if I could look like him and perform half as well, I guess I'd do it."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.
*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?
*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.
*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.
*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.
*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box.
*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.
*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.
*For something completely different: getting to know new CSNPhilly.com baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.