Wakeup Call: Matt Cooke takes out another star

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Wakeup Call: Matt Cooke takes out another star

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, February 14.

BASEBALL
Mariano Rivera knows whether or not he'll play beyond 2013 . . . but he's not telling you. Yet. (AP)

Well, this is different: Francisco Cervelli, one of the players named in the Miami New Times article, admits that, yes, he's actually heard of Biogenesis of America LLC, and, yes, he consulted with them. But, of course, he didn't take any PEDs, no, no. (AP)

As for players who actually got caught with their hands in the PED cookie jar, the Padres' Yasmani Grandal plans to make his apologies this weekend. (AP)

And the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz made his yesterday. Very quietly. (CSN Philly)

Pete? Pete who? (NBC's Hardball Talk)

He looks a lot different with short hair. And Tim Lincecum says he feels a lot different -- a lot better -- at this early stage of spring training. (CSN Bay Area)

Johnny Cueto feels better, too. (AP)

The Rays are trying to figure out ways to keep Evan Longoria feeling better. (AP)

The Mets insist the worst of their financial woes are behind them, and that their modest 83 million payroll is that low simply because they don't have many good players. Well, they didn't say that, but . . . (AP)

Yes, that's right, Robin Ventura declined his contract option this offseason. But that doesn't mean he wants to stop managing the White Sox. (CSN Chicago)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Connecticut sure made its last-ever regular-season meeting with Syracuse a good one. (AP)

And it's reason for the Orange to start worrying. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

It wasn't the clash of the titans it usually is, not with North Carolina just sort of stumbling along this year, but Duke is still happy with the 73-68 win over its arch-rivals. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The Big Ten is putting its teams on a cupcake-free diet. (AP)

Hitting a defenseless opponent in the head may get you kicked out of the game if the NCAA institutes a proposed rule change. (AP)

The Merry Maids should do housecleaning as thorough as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. (AP)

New coach Brett Bielema has his first player arrest to deal with at Arkansas. (AP)

GOLF
Here's a little break in the monotony of the qualifying round: Daniela Holmqvist uses a tee to extract what she thought was potentially fatal venom from a spider bite on her ankle at the Women's Australian Open . . . and then continued playing. Alas, she shot a 74 and didn't make the cut. (AP)

We might still have belly putters if only Ernie Els and Webb Simpson hadn't won majors in consecutive months last year. At least that's whay Els thinks. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
The Senators lose star defenseman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, when his left Achilles is cut by the dastardly Matt Cooke's skate blade during Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Ottawa. (AP)

Mike Milbury thinks it was just an unfortunate accident but knows that "a lot of people are going to start yakking . . . about Matt Cooke this and Matt Cooke that." And sure enough, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray fumed after the game: "It's Matt Cooke. What else should I say? Watch the replay." (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

You have your upper-body injuries and your lower-body injuries. But those head injuries are another matter entirely . . . and that's what the Avalanche's Erik Johnson has to deal with. (AP)

All the Blues had to do to break their five-game losing streak was get out of St. Louis. (AP)

You can go home again, right, Alexei Ponikarovsky? (AP)

Right, Andrew Brunette? (AP)

As expected, the Blue Jackets make Jarmo Kekalainen the first European GM in NHL history. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Shaq and Kobe are pals again. Now we can all sleep at night. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Derrick Rose says if he has to sit out the year in order to get completely healthy, then he'll sit out the year. Good news, eh, Bulls Nation? (CSN Chicago)

This isn't the Pro Bowl; players actually like participating in the NBA All-Star Game. But, like his NFL brethren, 'Melo says he has an injury that may force him to miss it. Unlike his NFL brethren, it's a real one. (AP)

Come on, Clippers. You score 46 points in the first quarter, you really should finish with more than 106 for the game. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Jason Garrett insists that all those moves which seemed to diminish his powers as Cowboys coach were collaborative decisions with everyone, him included, in on the discussions. (AP)

But Mike Florio wonders if Garrett isn't a dead man walking, even at this late date of the offseason. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

At the other end of the security spectrum, the Vikings pick up Leslie Frazier's option for 2014. (AP)

Johnny Knox, released by the Bears Tuesday, is calling it quits. (AP)

Terrell Suggs made a miraculous recovery from a partial Achilles tear. Now he may go without surgery to fix the partial tear of his right biceps. (CSN Baltimore)

The NFL's movers and shakers, including Robert Kraft, come together in a tribute for Steve Sabol, the late president of NFL Films. (CSN Philly)

Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

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Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

BOSTON – It was an excellent night for the many varied Bruins prospects in the preseason opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The B’s eventually dropped the game in a 3-2 shootout loss at TD Garden, but not before some of their young players showed exactly what they can do.

“For sure it’s a lot of fun. Coming in here everybody’s a little nervous, but it was, once you’re out there, it’s just fun. It was good to see the young guys out there,” said former University of Denver standout Danton Heinen, who scored the tying strike in the third period on a redirect. “It was definitely adjusting. You don’t totally know what to expect and then once the game went on I kind of felt a little more comfortable. We started playing better as a team.”

Former first-round pick Jake DeBrusk set up the B’s first goal with Jimmy Hayes by executing a nifty give-and-go at the Columbus net, and young skaters Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik made the initial transition passes that led up to the goal. In the third period Danton Heinen redirected a Brandon Carlo point shot from the slot area, and scored in his first career game played at TD Garden in an impressive show of hand-eye coordination.

Carlo, Czarnik, DeBrusk, Zboril and Heinen all had strong performances on the score sheet and at both ends of the ice, and that’s exactly what the Bruins coaching staff wanted to see with NHL jobs potentially up for grabs in main camp.

“A lot of young players in the lineup, I won’t go through all of them, but I thought quite a few of them acquitted themselves well,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “They were given opportunities to do that. I think some of them certainly took advantage of it, and did a nice job.”

It was good that the young players stepped up and made a nice impression in the preseason debut because the veteran players will cut into their opportunities once the World Cup of Hockey crew gets sprinkled into the mix starting this week. 

Haggerty: Marchand signing is Bruins' biggest win in years

Haggerty: Marchand signing is Bruins' biggest win in years

BOSTON -- It’s no understatement to say that Brad Marchand's eight-year, $49 million contract extension is one of the Don Sweeney's and Cam Neely's biggest recent victories.

It’s also undoubtedly a big win for Marchand: He gets what he wants; i.e., staying with a Bruins team that drafted and developed him from a rookie fourth liner into an impactful 37-goal scorer over the last six seasons.

“Boston has become my second home. I absolutely love it there. I’m very excited about what’s ahead for our team,” said Marchand to reporters in Toronto, where he's still representing Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey. “I really believe in our team and our group and what we’re working towards. It’s a place that I’m very excited about being for the next number of years and potentially my whole career.

“We’ll talk more about everything after the tournament, but for now I just want to thank everyone who’s involved in the negotiations, my agent, and their team. I’m just very happy that everything’s done now and we can move forward.”

Marchand, 28, clearly gave the B's a hometown discount. Had he gone to free agency, he probably could have gotten $1 million more per season than the $6.125 million average annual value of the deal he agreed to.

As for the Bruins, they were able to lock up one of their most important core players for the balance of his career.

Marchand scored a career-high 37 goals and 60 points last season and is continuing his ascendency toward elite player status by tearing up the World Cup of Hockey this month on a line with Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron. The threat of him being wooed to Pittsburgh by Crosby, a fellow Nova Scotian, could have been very real had the Bruins dragged their feet in negotiations. But that wasn’t the tenor of the talks.

Let’s be honest: The way things have gone the last couple of years, it was very easy to envision the Bruins massively overpaying Marchand, given his expected value as a free agent. Or seeing Marchand and his agent, Wade Arnott, stringing them along before jumping to the highest bidder with the B’s left holding nothing, as was the case with Loui Eriksson.

Instead, Sweeney and Neely closed the deal . . . and at a team-reasonable rate. For that they deserve the kind of credit they haven’t enjoyed much of over the last couple of years as they've essentially dismantled an aging former Cup team while still trying to stay playoff-caliber.

“You’re going to have [free-agent defections] at every team," said Sweeney. "There will be [exiting] players. That’s just the way the league is built, parity, and being able to fit people in and out depending on how their roles are, and what you have in the pipeline to be able to take the place of players that are going to depart. That’s just forces of nature of the league itself.

“[But the] motivation was there from the get-go to try and find a deal with Brad . . . [You] realize that other players have left and the opportunity could be out there for him, and he’s very cognizant. He makes you very cognizant of it when you’re going through it.

“It’s a process that takes a long time to get through things. Great communication with their representatives -- with Brad’s representatives -- and it just felt like we would try and get to a good end point. The timing was obviously hard on Brad today, wanting to focus on the World Cup but, when you have a chance to get to the finish line you have to cross it. But it’s rightfully so not to take any attention away from what he’s doing right now because it’s important to him, but as was the contract to have it in place for all the parties. We got to the finish line and it’s really good for Brad and it’s really good for the Boston Bruins.”

It’s true Marchand might be a much different player by the time he’s 35 or 36 at the end of the deal. But it’s also true that a rising NHL salary cap will make this contract much more palatable as the years go by. The duo of Bergeron/Marchand is the most important, meaningful asset the Bruins have, and they needed to keep them together as a scoring, defending and special-teams threat every time they take the ice.

Marchand might not ever score 37 goals again like he did last season, but it’s no stretch to expect him to be around 30 or the foreseeable future. He has more short-handed goals than any other NHL player since joining the league in 2010-11, and the attitude and charisma he plays with on the ice is the kind of things that puts butts in seats.

Those players get paid and they get teams into bidding wars in the rare instances that they make it all the way to unrestricted free agency. So the Bruins scored a big victory in not allowing it to get to that point with a homegrown player who's come a long way from his early days as a detested agitator around the NHL.