NFL head coaches get their walking papers

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NFL head coaches get their walking papers

From Comcast SportsNetTAMPA, Florida (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired head coach Raheem Morris on Monday after he posted a 17-31 record over three years, including a 10-game losing streak to end the current season. The team announced the change one day after the Bucs lost their final game of the season to the Atlanta Falcons, 45-24. The 10-game winless streak was the longest in a single season since 1977, when the Bucs lost 12 in a row to extend the longest losing streak in National Football League history to 26 consecutive games over two years. At 32 years old, Morris was the league's youngest coach when he was hired in January 2009, replacing Jon Gruden after Tampa Bay lost the final four games of 2008 to miss the playoffs following a 9-3 start. Morris guided the team to a 10-6 mark in 2010, with the Bucs narrowly missing the playoffs. The team also had a strong start to the current season, posting a 4-2 record with wins over playoff-bound Atlanta and New Orleans, before collapsing. "In these things it is not just one thing, but I will point to just the progress of the team and where we're at," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said at a news conference. "Again, you can't point to one thing or another. You look at totality of the situation when making your decision." While injuries did contribute to the season-ending slide, so did inconsistent play -- starting with quarterback Josh Freeman. He threw for 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions after tossing 25 TD passes and being intercepted just six times in 2010. The Bucs turned the ball over a league-leading 40 times compared to 19 last season. The defense also surrendered a franchise-record and league-high 494 points and the Bucs lost eight games by double-digit margins and allowed 31 points or more seven times during the season-ending skid. Glazer said there's no timetable for naming a successor.

Rams fire coach Spagnuolo, GM Devaney
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Rams fired coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney on Monday, a day after the team wrapped up a 2-14 season that matched the worst record in the National Football League. The Rams made a six-win improvement last season and played for the NFC West title in the finale, but were just 10-38 overall in three seasons with Spagnuolo and Devaney calling the shots. Devaney had joined the front office a year earlier in 2008; the Rams were 12-52 in his four years as GM. He said in a statement Monday that while the record was disappointing, "I wouldn't trade that time for anything." Owner Stan Kroenke fired both men with one year remaining on their contracts, and with fan interest dwindling. The Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis was little more than half full in the later part of the season. "No one individual is to blame for this disappointing season and we all must hold ourselves accountable," Kroenke said in a statement. "However, we believe it's in the best interest of the St. Louis Rams to make these changes as we continue our quest to build a team that consistently competes for playoffs and championships." Kevin Demoff, vice president and chief operating officer, said the search for both positions should be concluded in the next few weeks and that it didn't necessarily matter which position was filed first. Names of potential replacements for Spagnuolo began to surface weeks ago as the season unraveled, with former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden mentioned as natural fits. Demoff said a report that Fisher had already been scheduled for the first interview was "100 percent false." But he added that Fisher was a "potentially attractive candidate." The Rams will have the second pick of the NFL draft in April, the fourth time in five seasons the team has had the No. 1 or 2 selection.

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

CHICAGO – The Bruins aren’t ever going to shy away from big, strong centers with a willingness to play on the physical side, so it was no surprise they selected big French-Canadian center Cedric Pare in the sixth round of the NHL Draft Saturday at the United Center.

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The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Pare was described as “a project” by Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley, who said that he’s looking forward to the big-bodied forward playing a top-six role in the QMJHL next season. Pare had five goals and 16 points in 64 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs before posting three points in 18 playoff games. Bradley said the Bruins hope to see more offense as he gets more exposure as a player.

“Pare is a developed kid that we got in the sixth round. He went to the Memorial Cup and we’ve seen good things from him. We think we got good value there,” said Bradley. “He plays with a lot of energy and I think his skating is undervalued. Over the course of the year he really picked it up with his skating, and his stride has lengthened a little bit. We just like that he plays with energy and he scored in the Memorial Cup despite playing a limited role.

“He was playing on the fourth line last year. I think this year he’ll be playing on one of their top lines as a top-six forward and he’ll get a lot of ice time...hopefully get some good development there.”

Pare indicated that the Bruins had shown interest in him throughout the season and he had an idea the Black and Gold might call his name in the later rounds. While there’s always room in the B’s prospect cupboard for a big-bodied center that plays with plenty of energy, it remains to be seen if Pare was worth using a sixth-round pick on when there are plenty of big-bodied hockey players out there willing to play with energy and aggressiveness. 

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

CHICAGO – It was thought the Bruins might swing for the fences with Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger, particularly if they traded down in the first round, but they ended up filling their goalie quota on Saturday in the fourth round of the NHL Draft at the United Center. The B’s selected University of Maine-bound Jeremy Swayman with the 111th pick in the draft after an impressive run for the Alaska native at Sioux Falls as a junior hockey player.

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The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Swayman posted a 2.90 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 32 games for a poor Sioux City junior team, but distinguished himself with his size, athleticism and competitiveness as the rare goalie prospect to come out of the great state of Alaska. Swayman was eating breakfast in his Alaskan home while watching himself get drafted by the Bruins. Needless to say, he was pumped as he readies for his first season in Hockey East.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this and just to kind of have the notion of, your work has paid off in a small area of time or a small trinket, it’s very worth all of the hard times and tough times, and kind of working at everything for it. It’s kind of a token back and just an incredible opportunity for sure,” said Swayman, who said he models his game after Braden Holtby while also envying Tuukka Rask’s flexibility. “I would describe myself as a challenge goalie. So, a competitive goalie just kind of fighting through traffic at all times. Being able to see the puck from anywhere on the ice, whether there is a screen in front or a point shot and, of course, a point blank shot. Again, I trust my ability on my skates. I have good feet. I can stay up longer than most goalies in situations where they would have to slide. So, I can stay up and cover more net on a backdoor pass, per say. I also like to cut down the angle a lot.”

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley admitted that Swayman wasn’t the first choice of everybody at the B’s draft table, but said the scouts were confident making him the pick after another goalie was taken off the board before him. There were three goalies taken in the fourth round, including Prince Albert netminder Ian Scott taken one pick before the B’s selection, so it’s difficult to tell which other goalie Boston had their eyes on.

Clearly, the hope now is that Swayman follows in a proud tradition of stud Black Bears goalies that include Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Scott Darling, Mike Dunham and Garth Snow, and that the B’s have drafted a new goalie of the future with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in the AHL.

“He’s a goalie that [Bruins goalie coach] Bob Essensa had really liked, and had scouted him. Most of our staff was on board with the goalie. We targeted another goalie, but he just went before our pick,” said Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley. “We heard good things from [the University of Maine] staff there, and we did our due diligence on him. We’re happy with him.”

It remains to be seen how Swayman develops in college, but the B’s hope it’s a steady, ascending development like that of McIntyre after they drafted him prior to his starring run at North Dakota.