Curran: Haynesworth just another personnel whiff

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Curran: Haynesworth just another personnel whiff

Almost two weeks ago, the Patriots heaved their highest-priced cornerback overboard two days before a critical AFC game. Leigh Bodden and his 4 million contract left and the Patriots lost to Pittsburgh.Two days after another Patriots loss, we have another release. Albert Haynesworth, pitched as a low-risk, high-upside acquisition at the end of July, is gone.
Albert's getting canned -- first reported by Ian Rapoport of The Boston Herald --comes less than a day after Bill Belichick's dubious claim that Haynesworth sat the final 24 minutes of Sunday's game because his spot in the rotation never came up. That was a crock. Haynesworth's final play as a Patriots was on a 10-yard Brandon Jacobs touchdown run on which Giants guard David Diehl got Haynesworth turned and -- instead of fighting the block -- Haynesworth tried to swim through it, making the hole for Jacobs to waddle through even larger. There are unconfirmed reports of Haynesworth and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson arguing intensely on the sideline after the play. That argument was said to have been quelled by Jerod Mayo and Bill Belichick. A source told me that, later in the half, Haynesworth approached Belichick to apparently further explain himself and Belichick dismissed him with a wave of his hand. If only Belichick were so easily able to wave away all the problems he's dealing with. The moves the Patriots have made since the end of the lockout have been blunderiffic. Acquiring Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis andChad Ochocinco -- nearly12 million worth of washed-up players. Then banishing Bodden, a move that brings the tally to 16 million. The Patriots released secondary players James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather and Darius Butler -- three guys who were far from All-Pro -- and still have found a way to get worse in pass defense. Go back a little further and see that two of their second-round picks from 2010, Jermaine Cunningham and Ron Brace, are on the field as much as you and I. See that their third-round pick, wideout Taylor Price has caught exactly two passes and played in three games in his career. The Patriots had another third-rounder to screw up in 2010, but they traded a third and a fifth to Oakland for pass-rusher Derrick Burgess. Burgess is now fishing somewhere in Mississippi. I'm sure the Kraft family is quite affluent, but wasting 16 million onnon-performing employees will cause an eyebrow to rise when it comes time to look at budgetary decisions. Haynesworth is far from the worst personnel move of the last few years. But his failure shines a light on the fact Belichick and his personnel caddies swung and missed so badly on what the team could expect from Haynesworth and do as a defense. He was supposed to be a 4-3 beast for the Patriots, buddied up inside with Vince Wilfork, crushing the pocket back in the face of the quarterback where Andre Carter and perhaps Cunningham would clean up with sacks. Hand in the dirt, go kill the quarterback and all that. None of it's really happened. The Patriots continue to be the league's worst defense. And Haynesworth was better than neither Kyle Love nor Gerard Warren. According to ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss, Haynesworth played 133 of 561 snapsin six games. He was inactive for two. He had six tackles. Messages to Haynesworth haven't been immediately responded to.

Eriksson named Lady Byng finalist for 2nd time

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Eriksson named Lady Byng finalist for 2nd time

Patrice Bergeron will have some Bruins company at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas at the end of the month of June.

Loui Eriksson was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy on Saturday afternoon along with Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Florida Panthers pivot Aleksander Barkov. It’s the second time in his career that Eriksson will be named a finalist for the award given annually "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."

The Swedish winger finished his best season in a Bruins uniform with 30 goals (third on team) and 33 assists for the second most points (63) on the team along with 12 total penalty minutes through 82 games played. Eriksson was excited to once again be a finalist for the award, and to be lumped in with a couple of the NHL’s best players in Kopitar and Barkov.

“It is a great honor to be considered for the Lady Byng Trophy, an award that has been won by some of the best players of all time,” said Eriksson, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after three seasons in Boston. “There are many deserving candidates so to be named one of the finalists with Anze Kopitar and Aleksander Barkov is very exciting for me. Thank you to my teammates and the coaching staff and I appreciate all those who voted.”

The last Bruin to win the Lady Byng Trophy was Rick Middleton back in 1981-82, and Eriksson is the first B’s finalist for Lady Byng in more than 10 years.

Belichick seemed to enjoy Faulk's draft-day Deflategate protest

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Belichick seemed to enjoy Faulk's draft-day Deflategate protest

FOXBORO -- When Kevin Faulk's name pops up in a Bill Belichick press conference, it's no surprise that a smile crosses the Patriots coach's face and a complimentary comment crosses his lips. Faulk helped Belichick and the Patriots win three Super Bowls and he's a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame this year. 

When Faulk's name pops up in a Belichick press conference one night after protesting Deflategate on a national stage during the second day of the NFL draft? You can expect much of the same. 

"Love Kevin," Belichick said when asked about Faulk wearing a Tom Brady replica No. 12 jersey underneath his suit jacket while announcing New England's second pick of the draft on Friday night. "He always makes good decisions. Looked sharp out there."

As part of an NFL initiative that had former players announce picks for their teams this weekend, Faulk was asked to announce the No. 78 overall selection, which was made on North Carolina State offensive lineman Joe Thuney.

"With the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL draft," Faulk said proudly, "the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select . . . Joe Thuney."

Brady is facing a four-game suspension, which was reinstated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week. He and his lawyers have a little over a week to petition the Second Circuit for a rehearing. 

When Belichick was asked about the latest Deflategate news on Saturday, he declined to comment, opting to focus on the draft instead. 

"I’ll talk about the draft," he said. "You good on that?"

The Patriots draft was of course affected by the Deflategate punishment issued by the league. They were the only team to begin the draft without a first-round pick, but Belichick said that the absence of that choice didn't neccessarily alter the team's philosophy going into the weekend. 

"No. You control what you can control," he said. "What we had, we tried to do the best we could. That’s how we approach it, whether it is picking guys or moving positions or trading into next year, whatever it was, we just tried to make the most of it. We traded up, we traded down, we [acquired a fourth-rounder in 2017]. Not saying it was great or anything, we just tried to do the best we could."

Bruins will select 14th overall in first round

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Bruins will select 14th overall in first round

The Boston Bruins basically had a three percent of moving up into the top three of the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday night, but they didn’t strike it draft rich when it was all said and done up in Toronto.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney in attendance representing the Original Six franchise, the Black and Gold were the first team logo selected in the draft lottery meaning they will own the 14th overall pick in the first round for the second straight summer.

Instead the Toronto Maple Leafs will select first overall after putting together the worst record in the NHL last season, and the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets won the lottery to move up into the second and third slots in the draft.

This marks the sixth time in franchise history that the club has owned the 14th overall selection in the NHL Draft. The Bruins drafted Jake DeBrusk 14th overall last summer in Florida at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Stephane Quintal 14th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, Normand Leveille 14th overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Douglas Halward 14th overall in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft and Terry O’Reilly 14th overall in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft.

Based on finishing with the highest point total of all non-playoff teams for the second straight season, the Bruins owned a 1.0% chance of winning the 2016 Draft Lottery overall and a 3.4% chance of securing a top-three pick.

The 2016 NHL Draft will take place on June 24-25 at the First Niagara Center home of the Sabres in Buffalo just a couple of months from now, and the Bruins also own the first round pick of the San Jose Sharks that will end up somewhere in the 20’s based on the fact they’re still currently alive in the playoffs.