In case you were busy putting in place overly ambitious field-wiping plans, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Despite coughing up another double-digit lead, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took advantage of a distracted Miami team, beating the Dolphins 22-19 to record their first win of the season. "Hee-hee! Yippee!" exclaimed head coach Greg Schiano to his team after the game, "we did it for realsies, friends! We got that first win, just like I wished we would. Now I promised you a special surprise when we won, and I'm not one to let my best friends down! So here it is!" Schiano then threw open the locker-room door, revealing an entire fun forest waiting for his team in the bowels of Raymond James Stadium. "It's all there!" Schiano said with a giggle, "a petting zoo, ice cream cake, clowns, face painting! I want you guys to just go nuts! You earned it!" Schiano then dove headfirst into a bouncy castle as the party DJ he hired started blasting Miley Cyrus's Party in the U.S.A.
In a battle of talented, young Western Conference teams, the Clippers withstood a late Timberwolves flurry to top Minnesota 109-107. "Man, I felt like Liam Neeson out there," said Clippers forward Blake Griffin after the game, "you know, when he's facing down those wolves. In the wolf movie. What's that called?" Clippers guard Chris Paul replied, "Dude, that's The Grey," but Griffin was unconvinced, saying, "Nah, I think it's got 'Wolf' in the title. Wolf Day Afternoon?" Paul shook his head, and said, "No, that's Pacino, and it's 'Dog,' not 'Wolf.' I'm sure you're thinking of The Grey," but Griffin was insistent, saying, "Nah, dude, duh, we're both wrong. It's not Wolf Day Afternoon or whatever made-up thing you said. It's Star Wolf: Episode 2, Attack of the Wolves." Paul then walked away as a pleased Griffin explained, "This game was like that movie. Lots of wolves."
The Oilers agreed to terms with the free-agent goaltender Friday, signing him to a one-year deal worth $2 million. He’ll spend some time in the AHL on a conditioning assignment, then join the Oilers to compete with Devan Dubnyk for the starting job.
Four weeks into the NHL season, several teams are off to great starts. The Sharks and Avalanche have been virtually unbeatable, and the Lightning, Ducks, and Maple Leafs have also had an impressive opening month. At the other end of the spectrum, teams like the Sabres, Flyers, and Oilers are off to the kind of starts that can torpedo a team’s playoff hopes before the calendar even flips over to November.
Nothing has been as extreme as what happened last year, when the Blackhawks made it to the second half of the lockout-shortened season before suffering a regulation loss. They shattered the NHL record with their 21-0-3 start, coasted to the Presidents’ Trophy, and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Of course, not every early-season streak — good or bad — will lead to such a predictable ending. So let’s see if we can learn anything about what to expect by looking back at five of the greatest starts in NHL history, along with five of the worst.
If you’re thinking to yourself Um, that was kind of an odd group of moves to bunch together into a lede; I bet there’s some sort of connection he’s about to reveal, then you’re right, because each of those four transactions involved a team parting ways with its captain. And in what’s become an odd subplot to the 2013 offseason, that seems to be a trend around the league.
There are now eight NHL teams that find themselves without a captain, an all-time NHL record according to the Department of Facts I Didn’t Bother to Research But Sound Plausible Enough. That means we’ll see as many as eight new captains named before the start of the season. But who?
Here’s a look at the eight current captainless teams, and our best guess as to which player in each city will end up being handed the "C."
It would appear that the NHL’s firing season is upon us. We’ve already seen two GMs relieved of their duties since the lockout ended — Brian Burke’s oddly timed dismissal in Toronto, followed by Scott Howson finally being put out of his misery in Columbus. Last week, we got our first coaching casualty.
And it was a big one. Lindy Ruff had held the distinction of being the NHL’s longest-serving head coach but this month got the pink slip after more than 15 years on the job in Buffalo. If Lindy Ruff can be fired, anyone can.
So who’s next? Let’s take a look around the league at some of the coaches and GMs who find themselves on the hot seat.
With nine NHL games scheduled for Tuesday night and another four on Wednesday, it's hard to know how to allocate your attention. Here's our recommendation for the most interesting of the week's early matchups.
[Editor’s note: An old friend called and asked if he could take over today's column. He sounded really sad and desperate on the phone, so I agreed.]
In case you were too busy NOT being the greatest shortstop AND third baseman of all time, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Hey guys, future Hall-of-Famer Alex Rodriguez here. Spike asked me to take ALN off of his hands for the day, and I generously agreed. I figured I could use humor to start getting back into America's good graces after a not so great day of news for me. Hey, it's like they always say, when life gives you deer poop, kill the deer and drink the liquefied remains of their antlers. Hehe. OK, let's go.
We're going to start with my favorite sport other than baseball, and that's NBA basketball. Last night the Los Angeles Lakers of Los Angeles played the New Orleans Hornets at home. (Oh wait, I wrote Los Angeles twice. How do you erase words that you already wrote? I guess it's not technically wrong I'll leave it.) Before the game, I gave my best friend Kobe Bryant like 15 phone calls to be like, "Hey, bud, how's it going?" cuz I could really use a pick-me-up, but he must've been busy or something because he never answered. Anyway, he's a great friend, and the Lakers won, 111-106.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Miami Heat, led by 30 points and 8 boards from Chris Bosh, exploded in the second half to take down the San Antonio Spurs, 120-98. Tim Duncan attempted to gain an advantage in the paint by quoting tragic poetry, but Bosh was able to play through his constant tears and remain effective.
Less than a week before the beginning of the season, an article about the Phoenix Coyotes in the Arizona Republic had this to say about the team's personnel in net: "Mike Smith, who calls parts of his game 'a work in progress,' will be in goal when the Coyotes open the regular season Saturday night at San Jose."
It wasn't exactly a rousing outlook for the Coyotes, who lost their starting goaltender, Vezina Trophy candidate Ilya Bryzgalov, in the summer to the far richer Philadelphia Flyers. The Coyotes, who are currently owned by the league and may not be long for Phoenix unless a new buyer can be located, instead inked former Tampa Bay and Dallas backup Mike Smith to a far thriftier two-year, $4-million contract than the nine-year, $51-million deal Bryzgalov ultimately wrung out of Philly.