Boston Bruins

Wakeup Call: Crawford may be ready for Opening Day

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Wakeup Call: Crawford may be ready for Opening Day

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, November 13:

AUTO RACING
NASCAR docks Jeff Gordon 25 points and fines him 100,000 for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer, but will allow him to race in Sunday's season finale. (AP)

BASEBALL
Looks like Carl Crawford might be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

At last, a player the Dodgers don't want to sign. (Hardball Talk)

Nationals, Schmationals; Jimmy Rollins says the N.L. East still goes through Philadelphia. (CSN Philly)

No surprises here: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper win their leagues' respective Rookie of the Year awards. (AP)

Jeremy Affeldt is staying in San Francisco. (AP)

The Manager of the Year award is baseball's equivalent of the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher's post at Hogwarts. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon -- 16 games in 24 hours -- too much even for a fanatic like you? Here, here's the guide to the games you can't miss and the ones you can skip. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Oh, and here are some tips for getting through the whole thing. (College Basketball Talk)

The AP voters still think Connecticut -- despite losing its Hall of Fame coach and five underclassmen after last season -- is pretty good. (AP)

The NCAA Tournament, or at least a portion of it, is going back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since John Kennedy was president. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Mike Leach says there's "no truth" to Marquess Wilson's charges of physical and mental abuse at Washington State, claiming they're the complaints of a disgruntled player. (AP)

If Derek Dooley's days are numbered at Tennessee, as many believe, no one's said anything to him. (AP)

Meanwhile at Arkansas, John L. Smith -- who describes himself as "the most optimistic guy you can imagine" -- still thinks he might return as the Razorbacks' coach. (AP)

It only took a few hours for Jimbo Fisher to issue the requisite apology for using the word "retarded" in describing Florida State's No. 10 spot in the BCS standings, which is probably some sort of new speed record. (AP)

In more apology news, Tommy Tuberville says he's sorry for hitting graduate assistant Kevin Oliver -- and most likely even more sorry that video of the incident went viral -- after Texas Tech had trouble getting the right personnel on the field during its 41-34 win over Kansas. (AP)

But Bo Pelini's not apologizing for the verbal confrontation he had with safety Daimion Stafford during Nebraska's win over Penn State. He says he was only trying to calm Stafford, who was upset after the Cornhuskers had given up a touchdown. (AP)

The Big East is happy (or so it claims) with the decision to stick with six bowl games in the new playoff system because, in the words of commissioner Mike Aresco, "it gives us an opportunity to compete." (AP)

GOLF
Here are your candidates for PGA Tour Player of the Year: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedecker, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner. (AP)

HOCKEY
Want to know why the lockout drags on? Because Gary Bettman, says a source, "has a date in mind to end it, and we're not there yet." (CSN Philly) Let's just hope that date isn't Thanksgiving 2014 . . . and, with Bettman (and his puppeteer, Jeremy Jacobs), you never know.

Once we get there, though, Steve Fehr and Bill Daly think a deal can be finalized pretty quickly. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Lakers say they're excited -- and a little bewildered -- that Mike D'Antoni is their new coach. (AP)

One guy who's happy to see D'Antoni land on his feet: Jeremy Lin (CSN Houston)

One guy who's not happy that Mike Brown lost the job in the first place: LeBron James. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Speaking of James, that was quite a second-half show in the Heat's win at Houston. (AP)

Wonder if Gary Bettman has a date in mind for Andrew Bynum's return? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Steelers won a game but lost a quarterback Monday night, while the Chiefs lost even more dignity with a series of ridiculous celebration dances in the midst of losing their eighth game in nine tries. (AP)

Separated shoulders are bad enough. The Steelers can't be happy to hear that Ben Roethlisberger's is "unusual". (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Nor can the Eagles be happy to hear that Michael Vick's concussion is "pretty significant". (AP)

Hold your horses: Andy Reid's departure from Philadelphia -- already presumed by a large cross section of fans and media -- ain't a done deal. (Pro Football Talk)

A lot of people are asking why the Bears left Jay Cutler in Sunday night's game after he'd been concussed, but they insist they acted properly. (AP)

Alex Smith actually threw a touchdown pass after he suffered a concussion in Sunday's tie with the Rams, but the 49ers removed him from the game when he told them he did it with blurred vision. (AP)

Pete Carroll's so happy about the Seahawks being 6-4 that he's given them the whole bye week off. (Pro Football Talk) Wonder what he would have done if they were 7-3 . . . ?

Mike Holmgren puts the kibosh on rumors of his replacing Jason Garrett in Dallas, though he never specifically says he would turn down the job if the Cowboys came calling. (AP)

Pretty soon, some replacement refs are going to put up a big billboard that reads: "Miss us yet?" (Pro Football Talk)

Actually, though, it's the replay assistants who are messing up. (Pro Football Talk)

Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise

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Morning Skate: Sorry, Shaughnessy but young B's are on the rise

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while appreciating that Brad Marchand is willing to say something is “an absolute joke.” There are not enough candid players in the NHL like good, ol' No. 63.

*So FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Bruins are “a lowly number four nowadays” in the power rankings of the big four Boston sports teams. Certainly, Danny is technically correct in saying that the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics are ahead of the Bruins in terms of the Boston pro sports zeitgeist and that they dominate the sports conversation.

But Shaughnessy points to the Bruins doing nothing to improve themselves last summer as some kind of reason behind their low position among the other Boston sports franchises, and that’s not really a factor. The problem right now is that the Bruins are extremely young and still a couple of years away from returning to true Stanley Cup contention as a result. 
Once Charlie McAvoy is a few years into his career, some of the other Bruins prospects are in the NHL for good and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask are still at the back end of their prime, the Bruins will once again be a Cup contender that’s pushing their way back into the championship conversation that commands the attention of the Boston fan.

Would Shaughnessy have been more satisfied with the Bruins if they spent bad money on a big free-agent contract as they did with Matt Beleskey and David Backes in back-to-back years, or if they traded premium prospect Brandon Carlo for hired gun Matt Duchene? That would be the kind of “big splash” move that a bad management group would make to appease the casual fans that don’t truly understand what the B’s are going with their draft-and-development plan.

This Bruins outfit is still a playoff team while they’re building back to that Cup-worthy level. They were playing a much more exciting, entertaining brand of hockey once Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien last winter. This isn’t a lowly team unworthy of the fans’ attention, or more importantly their sports dollar. This is much more about the all-time greatness of the New England Patriots, the deserved excitement for a Celtics team that is truly going for it after being in the Bruins current “building it back up” phase for the past few years and a playoff-level Red Sox team that really has no competition in the summertime.

This isn’t about what the Bruins aren’t doing right now. This is about what the Patriots and Celtics, and to a lesser degree the Red Sox, are doing right now. It's as simple as that in a local sports landscape that’s cyclical and constantly in motion.  

*What a great Facetime hit here from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ray Ferraro with Jay and Dan now that they’re thankfully back to their rightful home in Canada. The technical difficulties really make the whole thing come together.  

*Congrats to Jonathan Drouin for making a commitment to the city of Montreal that goes well beyond being a player for the Canadiens.

*Lots of prayers and well-wishes to Hingham, Mass., native and New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle after his stunning cancer diagnosis. Anybody that knows the Boyle family knows how courageous they are, and how much love and support that Brian will have at a time when he’s going to need every bit of it. I also included a link to a New York Post Q&A with Boyle where he talks a bit about his father’s miraculous battle with cancer as well.   

 *John Chayka is trying to bring with him a new chapter to the history of the Arizona Coyotes, but it’s seemingly always an uphill battle there.

*Nobody should have any problems with the contract extension handed out to Mikko Koivu by the Minnesota Wild.

*For something completely different: Are we seriously living in a world where the Juggalos are marching for their rights?

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30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

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30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Memphis Grizzlies. 

Memphis is no different than any other NBA team when it comes to making changes.
 
It’s an inevitable part of the NBA.

 
There are changes, and then there’s losing Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to free agency.
 
They didn’t lose the face of their franchise.
 
They lost its backbone.
 
And when you throw in the departure of Vince Carter, the Grizzlies are getting younger and more athletic and maybe just as significant, further removed from the physical, rough-and-tough brand of basketball they played for years.

You’ll have to go to YouTube to see Grit-and-Grind anymore.
 
Still, this isn’t all that surprising when you consider they brought in a new coach last year, David Fizdale, who came from Miami but also spent time on the bench as an assistant in Atlanta and Golden State.

Those teams played a more position-less, free-flowing brand of basketball compared to the Grizzlies.
 
So what we’re starting to see now is a Memphis team that will eventually look and hopefully play, more akin to what their coach envisions.
 
While the DNA of this team has changed dramatically, the Grizzlies will still be among the teams battling for one of the last playoff spots in the West this season.
 
They return Marc Gasol who still ranks among the best centers in the NBA. They also have point guard Mike Conley Jr., who unfortunately still holds the title for the best veteran player to not be named to an NBA All-Star team.
 
He’s coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and shooting (45.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent on 3’s) along with 3.5 rebounds, also a career benchmark.
 
In addition, Conley’s 6.3 assists per game were just 0.2 assists away from tying his career best in that category.
 
But for Memphis to surprise many and extend its playoff run to eight years in a row, the Grizzlies’ inside-outside tandem of Gasol and Conley, will need help.
 
A healthy Chandler Parsons would be a huge boost.
 
One of the more versatile wing players in the league, injuries have left Parsons a shell of the player that he once was.
 
He has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely due to injuries, so it’s hard to imagine Memphis will be banking on him to be healthy enough to make a major impact on the team this season.
 
They added Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, both from Sacramento, to the roster this season.
 
Both come into training camp competing for a starting job.
 
The Grizzlies also have high hopes for 6-9 forward Rade Zagorac, a second-round pick in 2016 acquired from Boston who spent an additional year overseas before coming over to the NBA.
 
The new faces will be critical to the success of Memphis in those post Grit-and-Grind era.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Ben McLemore (Sacramento); Tyreke Evans (Sacramento).
 
Key losses: Zach Randolph (Sacramento); Tony Allen (New Orleans); Vince Carter (Sacramento).
 
Rookies of note: Rade Zagorac; Ivan Rabb; Dillon Brooks.
 
Expectations: 33-49 (fourth in the Southwest Division, 11th in the West).
 

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