Biggest problems facing four major sports

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Biggest problems facing four major sports

Between the four major sports -- there are plenty of problems.
What are the most pressing issues for the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB?
On Wednesday's Sports Tonight, Bob Ryan looked at the biggest problems for each sport.

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

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Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

Olynyk staying active, hopes to continue recent success on the boards

TORONTO – Kelly Olynyk has a diverse skillset, one that has made him a fixture in the Boston Celtics’ rotation.

Boston has come to expect him to provide some offense and good playmaking, but lately he has given them what they desperately need – rebounds.

While this is still Boston’s greatest weakness, the recent play of Olynyk when it comes to the boards provides a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, rebounding won’t be such hindrance to this group.

Boston (37-20) will certainly need that tonight as they take on the Toronto Raptors, a team that got a lot stronger with the addition of Serge Ibaka – another really good rebounder – from Orlando shortly before the trade deadline.

As for Olynyk, he attributes his recent success on the boards as just being more active once the ball is in the air.

In addition, he’s tired of hearing about how bad the Celtics have been on the boards.

They come into tonight’s game ranked among the league’s bottom-10 in just about every rebounding statistical category of note.

* Rebounds per game (41.2, 28th in the NBA)

* Rebound percentage (.479, 27th)

* Defensive rebound percentage (.747, 29th)

“We’ve struggled rebounding all year,” Olynyk said. “I’ve focused my game of late to help shore up that. It’s just a matter of being more active, put your work in early, get the initial contact and get guys off.”

In Boston’s last eight games, Olynyk has averaged 7.0 rebounds per game while still scoring at a decent 13.6 points per game clip off the bench.

For the season, he’s averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Of course, you can’t count on Olynyk to take on the lion’s share of the rebounding for the Celtics.

But to his credit, he’s finding a way to do a better job on the glass of late compared to how he has fared overall this season.

And by doing so, it gives Celtics Nation hope that the team’s front office made the right decision to keep this group intact rather than go out and trade for a rebounding big man.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has expressed concern that adding a player whose strength was rebounding only might do more harm than good due to its impact on an offense that ranks among the league’s best this season.

Olynyk echoed similar sentiments.

“We’re second in the East now, a couple games back and on a good roll with great chemistry. Everybody likes each other, playing for each other,” Olynyk told CSNNE.com. “That’s a rarity sometimes. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it."