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Gary Kubiak in hospital after collapse

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Those in touch with Gary Kubiak’s family said Monday morning that the Houston Texans coach is “feeling good” after he collapsed at halftime of his team’s game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.
Kubiak, who has been at a Houston hospital since Sunday night, was treated with an IV medicine — tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) — designed to break up blood clots, per medical sources.

Doctors are conducting tests Monday to determine whether he could have suffered a stroke.

The Texans are uncertain when Kubiak, the team’s coach since 2006, will return. They said in a statement released Monday that the coach will remain in the hospital for at least the next 24 hours.

“Our primary concern is of course with Gary’s health and well-being,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said in the statement. “There have been so many people throughout the city and across the country that have reached out to express their love and support, and we are thankful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Gary is alert, coherent and in good spirits. He is continuing to be evaluated and monitored.”

The 52-year-old Kubiak fell to his knees and grimaced when he collapsed, but he never lost consciousness.

Kubiak lay on the ground for several minutes and was surrounded by medical personnel, including Texans head trainer Geoff Kaplan. After a few minutes, Kubiak sat up and spoke with those surrounding him before eventually being strapped to a stretcher and taken off the field.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over in the interim. Houston led the Colts 21-3 at halftime but wound up losing 27-24.

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Vince Wilfork has torn Achilles

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New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has a torn right Achilles tendon and is likely out for the season, a league source confirmed Monday morning. The injury had been reported earlier by The Boston Globe.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed Monday afternoon that Wilfork’s season is likely over.

“It doesn’t look too good for Vince,” Belichick said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “I think he’s got a pretty serious injury, and it’s probably unlikely that he’ll be able to play again this year.”

Earlier in the day, Belichick said only that Wilfork was undergoing tests and that he didn’t know much more than that. A few hours later, he went public with the news.

“Very disappointed for Vince,” Belichick said. “He’s worked hard to prepare for the season. He’s a true professional, gives us great leadership on and off the field. Great example for the younger players as well as the veteran players. He has a real commitment to the team and to winning.”

Wilfork left the Patriots’ 30-23 win against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter, limping off the field on the Falcons’ first possession. He did not return.

He was later taken to the locker room on the back of a cart.

“We’ll just have to see how things come together for him,” Belichick had said earlier. “Obviously if he’s not there, everybody will have to pull a little bit more weight on their end.”

Belichick was seen speaking with Wilfork’s wife, Bianca, outside the team’s locker room after the game.

Wilfork, one of the team’s captains, is a perennial Pro Bowler and vital cog to the team’s defense, particularly against the run.

“Clearly, there are no Vince Wilforks just standing around out there on the corner waiting to sign with the Patriots or some other NFL team,” Belichick said on WEEI. “He is a special player, one of the very best at his position. There’s no way that you would replace him with one guy — that’s totally unrealistic. But we’ll try to do what we can to make our team as competitive as possible with the 46 guys we put out there against Cincinnati this Sunday.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Patriots allowed 4.1 yards per rush with Wilfork on the field over the past five seasons, which is ninth-best in the NFL. When Wilfork was off the field, the Patriots ranked last in yards per rush allowed (5.0).

The Patriots have been thin at defensive tackle since training camp started in late July, in part because Armond Armstead opened on the non-football injury list after undergoing surgery for an infection. Armstead remains on the non-football injury list, leaving the Patriots with Wilfork, fellow veteran Tommy Kelly and rookies Joe Vellano (undrafted) and Chris Jones (sixth-round pick from the Houston Texans claimed on waivers) at defensive tackle.

“Obviously Vince is a huge asset to our team not only on the field, but off the field,” fellow defensive captain Jerod Mayo said. “And he’s a great leader, he demands double-teams in the run game, and he also coordinates some of the rushes in the passing game as well.”

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Caps get 2015 Winter Classic

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The Washington Capitals will finally get to host a Winter Classic as promised three years ago by the NHL.

A source confirmed to ESPN.com on Friday what local media first reported, that the Capitals will announce Saturday they are hosting the outdoor game on Jan. 1, 2015.The source told ESPN.com that no opponent or venue has been chosen. The D.C. area has several potential sites to host the game, including Nationals Park, RFK Stadium and FedEx Field. This season’s Winter Classic is Jan. 1 at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., between Detroit and Toronto.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, in announcing the 2011 Winter Classic game between the Capitals and Penguins in Pittsburgh, promised during his state of the union address before the 2010 Stanley Cup finals in Chicago that in exchange for participating, Washington would also get to host a game within two or three years.

Last year’s lockout postponed the Winter Classic in Detroit by a year, which obviously pushed Washington’s plans a year ahead as well.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who has lobbied to host the game for several years, is expected to make a formal announcement Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

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Alex Ovechkin talks playoff failures

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin knows full well that his playoff failures are adding up.

The two-time NHL MVP also knows what that means for the way people think about his career.

“Nobody remember losers,” the Russian wing said Tuesday. “Everybody remember only winners.”

During a 15-minute session with reporters a day after Washington’s 5-0 home loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 ended their first-round Eastern Conference series, Ovechkin avoided putting the onus on himself for his team’s latest quick exit from the playoffs.

Ovechkin’s comments came on the heels of his criticism of the officiating in the series, where there was a clear disparity in penalties between the teams.

“The refereeing … you understand it yourself. How can there be no penalties at all [on one team] during the playoffs?” Ovechkin told a reporter in Russian. “I am not saying there was a phone call from [the league], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings. You know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.

“I don’t know whether the refs were predisposed against us or the league. But to not give obvious penalties [against the Rangers], while for us any little thing was immediately penalized.”

Against New York, Ovechkin scored just once in seven games after leading the league with 32 goals in the regular season, including 23 in the final 23 games to lead Washington to the Southeast Division title.

Asked Tuesday how frustrating it was to fail to put the puck in the net at all after scoring in Game 1, Ovechkin replied: “In the playoffs, it doesn’t matter if you score or not. You have to win. Team success is the most important thing out there. … I didn’t score and we lose. I score, we lose. … Everybody have to make a difference.”

There is, though, a correlation between Ovechkin’s scoring and Washington’s success.

During this regular season and postseason, the Capitals won 20 of 25 games when Ovechkin scored at least one goal, but only 10 of 30 when he did not.

Washington defenseman Karl Alzner acknowledged in a quiet locker room Monday night that “it’s hard to overcome” the kind of poor production Ovechkin had this postseason.

“We were very, very fortunate coming down the stretch that he was scoring almost every game. And if he wasn’t scoring, it was usually his shots that were setting up the next goal. And so you take it for granted, sometimes, when you kind of expect that it’s going to go in every time when he shoots the puck,” Alzner said. “And then [the] playoffs is just a different animal.”

It certainly is for Ovechkin and the Capitals. This is a team, for example, that earned the Presidents’ Trophy for most standings points in the league in 2010, but lost in the first round to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens. A team that was swept in the second round in 2011. A team that wasted series leads of 2-0 and 3-2 against New York this season.

With Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green leading the way, the Capitals have played in nine playoff series — and won only three. They’ve never made it past the second round during that span. In seven Game 7s, they’re 2-5, including 1-4 at home.

Alzner has been around for three postseasons. He was asked if he questions the club’s ability to make a deeper run.

“It’s funny you ask that,” Alzner began, with a bit of a chuckle. “A little bit.”

Hearing his own words, Alzner continued: “I don’t know if that’s the right mentality.”

And then he completed the thought: “I’m sure it’s not the right mentality.”

When a similar question was put to Ovechkin on Tuesday — does he harbor doubts about achieving significant success in the playoffs? — he returned to a theme he repeated often.

“It’s not, like, one player,” Ovechkin said.

He went on to acknowledge he made mistakes, but quickly noted that others did, too, and concluded: “One guy can’t win the championship.”

And, yet, Ovechkin made clear he thought one guy was responsible for the Rangers’ series victory: goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who shut out Washington in Games 6 and 7.

Was it really as simple as that? Lundqvist stole the series?

“In my mind, yeah,” Ovechkin answered. “In my mind, it was Lundqvist. They have great team, no doubt about it, but Lundqvist was unbelievable. Just unbelievable.”

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Sidney Crosby won’t play in Game 1

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has not recovered sufficiently from a broken jaw and will miss at least the opening game of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup playoff quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Crosby told reporters after the team’s morning skate Wednesday that doctors had not cleared him to play after his last checkup Tuesday afternoon, and he does not have a timetable for his return to action.

Crosby suffered a broken jaw after being struck by a deflected puck in a game against the Islanders on March 30. He has been practicing with the team while wearing a protective shield around his jaw and said earlier this week that he feels like he’s ready to play but needed a doctor’s approval.

“He said everything looks good,” Crosby told reports. “He just wasn’t prepared to clear me to play. Obviously I would have loved the chance to play tonight, but that’s not the way it is.”

Crosby, who was leading the NHL in scoring when he was injured, said he doesn’t know when he’ll next visit with medical staff. Game 2 of this series is set for Friday night in Pittsburgh.

“I’ll just wait and see,” Crosby said. “He didn’t give me a date. He’s waiting until he feels comfortable.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that the team has been preparing for both possibilities and that Crosby’s absence doesn’t dramatically change the team’s preparation for the Islanders.

“We’ve played a lot of hockey without Sid in our lineup,” Bylsma said. “We’ve been playing and preparing for with or without Sidney Crosby in our lineup. If you’re talking about the impact of not having one of the best players in the game in your lineup, certainly you’d like to have him in there.

“But we’ve played the last segment of our season without him, and we’ve been practicing that way for this week, and we’re ready to go for Game 1.”

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NHL finalizing 6 outdoors

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The NHL is in the final planning stages of its much-anticipated series of outdoor stadium games next season with six outdoor contests set to take place in football and baseball stadiums across North America, sources familiar with the plan confirmed to ESPN.com Tuesday.

The series will start with the annual Winter Classic, recently confirmed for Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1, 2014, and will continue with games in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Vancouver.

The league hopes to unveil the additional games in the next two weeks.

The details of the various games — significant undertakings for the NHL and the teams involved — remain fluid and there remains the potential for change based on team approval, licensing and contractual issues with the various facilities.

Among the new games will be the first outdoor regular-season game in California, with the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings set to do battle at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25.

That game will be the first of three outdoor games planned for the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

The ambitious plan would latch onto the media and fan attention in the New York area during Super Bowl week by having the New York Rangers play two outdoor games at Yankee Stadium — against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26, and New York Islanders on Jan. 29.

The Rangers will be the visiting team for both games, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

The final two outdoor adventures would take place during Hockey Weekend Across America, which runs Feb. 28 to March 2. The Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field on March 1.

That game would mark the second time Chicago will have hosted an outdoor game, with Detroit in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in 2009. Pittsburgh also has hosted a Winter Classic in 2011 and played in the first one in Buffalo in 2008.

A day later, on March 2, the Canadian-based Heritage Classic will return for its third go-round (second as a full-fledged NHL event) with the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Ottawa Senators at B.C. Place. The last Heritage Classic was held in Calgary between the Flames and Montreal in 2011.

Canadian broadcaster TSN reported similar information regarding outdoor game plans Tuesday evening.

As ESPN.com’s Craig Custance reported earlier this month, NHL chief operating officer John Collins has indicated the league was looking at putting on multiple outdoor games, in addition to the annual Winter Classic.

There are some concerns about diluting what has become the league’s signature event. It also will be a challenge to meet the standards and expectations set in previous years, especially with the undertaking of multiple outdoor games.

“We set the bar pretty high on all these. If you’re going into a market that’s had [a Winter Classic], the bar is high,” Collins told Custance. “If you’re going into a market that hasn’t had it & they’ve seen it, they’ve heard about it and they want to experience it. The bar is possibly even higher for them.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings were scheduled to play at the “Big House” at the University of Michigan this season in the Winter Classic, but the game was postponed by the NHL lockout. The two teams will play there next Jan. 1, the NHL has confirmed.

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Stars trade Jaromir Jagr to Bruins

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The Dallas Stars traded Jaromir Jagr to the Boston Bruins for a pair of prospects and a conditional draft pick on Tuesday.
The Stars had been talking to Jagr’s camp for three weeks about a possible extension but over the past few days had second thoughts with the team fading in the standings.

Dallas received forwards Lane MacDermid and Cody Payne along with a conditional second-round pick in the 2013 draft.

The pick will become a first-round selection if Boston advances to the Eastern Conference finals in this year’s playoffs.

“Jaromir Jagr produced as a consistent scorer for our team all year and we would like to thank him for his contributions to our hockey club,” Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said. “With our eye to the future, we have acquired some valuable assets that we believe strengthen our organization.”

Boston Bruins forward David Krejci said he was trying not to think about the possibilities for Boston as the team heads into a matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

“He was the best for a long time, and he’s still one of the best right now,” said Krejci, who was just 4 years old when Jagr made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990. “It’s good to see him still do well at his age. I had posters of him when I was a kid. He was obviously my hockey idol.”

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Lightning fire coach Guy Boucher

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher on Sunday.

Assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix will share coaching responsibilities for Sunday night’s game at Winnipeg.

“Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise.”
Tampa Bay is next to last in the Eastern Conference with a 13-17-1 record. Boucher was hired as the Lightning’s seventh coach on June 10, 2010.

Boucher’s dismissal came one day after the Lightning fell behind by four goals in the first period of a 5-3 loss at Ottawa.

The Lightning appear headed toward missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals during Boucher’s first year.

Tampa Bay entered this season with postseason aspirations after adding goalie Anders Lindback and defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle. Lindback and team captain Vincent Lecavalier have been among the players sidelined by injuries.

Boucher’s hiring was Yzerman’s first major move as GM. Boucher had only one year of professional coaching experience, none on hockey’s highest level. But Yzerman was not deterred from making him the league’s youngest coach, saying the 38-year-old had adapted to the players, personalities and level of play he encountered at every stage of his career.

Boucher was a junior league coach for three years before taking over the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal’s top minor league affiliate. He led Hamilton to the second-best record in the AHL then turned down a chance to coach the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Eruzione jersey scores almost $660K

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Miracles are apparently worth a lot of money.

The jersey worn by Mike Eruzione, the captain of the 1980 U.S. hockey team that shocked the Russians 33 years ago in the famous “Miracle On Ice” game, sold for $657,250 on Saturday night. The stick Eruzione used in the game was purchased for $262,900 in an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in New York City.

Other items Eruzione sold through the auction company included his jersey worn in the gold medal win against Finland ($286,800), the warmup suit he wore during the gold medal ceremony ($26,290), Eruzione-used Team USA gloves ($53,775) and used pants ($26,680).

“There was definitely a lot of interest,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage. “The ‘Miracle on Ice’ is clearly one of those moments where you remember where you were. It transcends sports and has become part of pop culture.”

The auction house estimate for the jersey of at least $1 million wasn’t realized, but Eruzione’s stick was only projected to go for around $50,000.

Heritage, which has 18 other Eruzione items that it will sell on Sunday, also sold a game-used goalie stick from U.S. goalie Jim Craig signed by the “Miracle on Ice” team for $32,265.

Other sales of note included vintage New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox items:

• A $1,150 Yankees signing-bonus check endorsed by a 17-year-old Mickey Mantle sold for $286,800.

• Two checks related to the Yankees’ purchase of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox sold for $95,600.

• A 1927-28 Lou Gehrig game-worn Yankees jersey sold for $717,000 while a Gehrig-worn cap from 1930s sold for $191,200.

• Curt Schilling’s famous bloody sock from Game 2 of the 2004 World Series sold for $92,612.

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Sabres fire coach Lindy Ruff

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was fired on Wednesday after the team’s latest slow start to the season and amid growing criticism from the fan base.

The announcement was made on the team’s Twitter account and confirmed by Sabres spokesman Michael Gilbert on Wednesday. Ruff was relieved of his duties shortly after the team held a 90-minute practice, and one day after the Sabres were booed several times by their home fans during a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

The Sabres (6-10-1) have gone 4-10-1 since opening the season with two wins.

With a 571-432-162 record, Ruff was the team’s winningest coach. In his 16th season, he was also the active leader among NHL coaches with the same team.

The Sabres, who play at Toronto on Thursday, have not yet named a replacement. General manager Darcy Regier was scheduled to address reporters later Wednesday.

The news came as a surprise only because Sabres management, including team president Ted Black, had spent much of the past week voicing its support of Ruff. Team owner Terry Pegula was also regarded as a big fan of Ruff’s.

Pegula, however, was running out of options in his bid to turn the Sabres into Stanley Cup contenders, an objective he made clear upon purchasing the team two years ago. Ruff’s firing comes nearly two years to the day Pegula formally took over as the Sabres’ owner on Feb. 22, 2011.

Ruff was becoming increasingly aware that his job was on the line. Last week, he described the Sabres’ struggles as being “his mess,” while adding that he wasn’t done trying to clean them up.

On Wednesday, he abruptly cut short his availability with reporters by hinting that changes were coming because “it isn’t working the way we’re going.” He didn’t specify what those changes might be.

Under Ruff, the Sabres made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons and eight times overall. That included a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999, when Buffalo was eliminated by Dallas in six games.

The Sabres, however, haven’t been the same since they reached the Eastern Conference finals — losing both times — in both 2006 and ’07. Buffalo has missed the playoffs in three of the past five seasons.

 

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