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American NHL players may boycott World Championships to support U.S. women’s team

The NHL players’ association released a statement Friday saying its members fully support the United States women’s team in its ongoing labor dispute with USA Hockey, but some players appear to be willing to go further to back the cause.

Hockey agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday about rumors in NHL circles that American players might boycott the upcoming World Championships to show their solidarity with the women’s team, and USA Today Sports later confirmed such discussions have taken place.

Anybody losing their top player, it’s obviously a gigantic hole, Boucher said. But we’ve had games without Erik. We were playing it tight, and we have to play the same way. We don’t have the same breakout abilities. We don’t have the same taking the rush abilities, the transition into the offensive zone and all that … the power play … but I think as a team, our game won’t change. We’re playing the same way. We’re expecting our players to buy in.

Karlsson previously missed two games with a foot injury but returned Monday to record a goal and assist in a shootout loss to the Red Wings. He added another goal in Tuesday’s win over Detroit but failed to finish the game.

Karlsson leads the Senators with 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) through 77 games and ranks fourth in the NHL in average ice time at 26:50 per game.

Ottawa can clinch the postseason with one point against the Bruins or losses by the Lightning and Islanders.

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MLB trade rumor grade: Zach Britton to Indians?

Over on Roster Resource, they’ve helpfully tallied up the needs of every contender. The Rays are looking for a setup man or a closer, the Red Sox were looking for a setup man, and the Royals were looking for all sorts of things that they’ve since acquired.

They need their players to get healthy, but once they do … yeah, it’s a pretty complete roster. The lineup is complete. The rotation is so complete, it has six pitchers in it. And we all know about the bullpen, which helped them come within a single game of winning the World Series. They don’t need to dump prospects to improve the team.

But, just hear me out on this one: What if they could take their super bullpen and make it a super-duper bullpen? Makes you think.

When Gray struggled mightily last year, the A’s were struck by the Fear of Grieve, and it must have been absolutely jarring. Young, talented pitchers disappear all the time. What if it happened to Gray? What if it already happened?

He improved, and his trade value soared. There are monsters under the Let’s Make a Deal box. The A’s would like the year’s supply of Turtle Wax and not mess with the box this time.

The Braves don’t have a window of contention that’s easily defined. They have prospects knocking on the door (Ozzie Albies, Lucas Sims, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara, Ronald Acuna), but the best hitters are hyper-advanced for their age, which means they could struggle in the majors for three years before anyone would even think of panicking. And the best pitchers are pitchers, which is super risky. The Braves might have the best collection of sad, young pitcher tales over the last decade, so you don’t need to tell them.

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Sidney Crosby responds to criticism from Senators owner Eugene Melnyk

Sidney Crosby doesn’t have much to say about Eugene Melnyk.

The Senators owner openly criticized the Penguins captain during a radio appearance on Friday, calling him a whiner and demanding a lengthy suspension after Crosby failed to draw a penalty for his slash of Senators defenseman Marc Methot on Thursday.

When asked about Melnyk’s censure during Pittsburgh’s morning skate on Sunday, Crosby wasn’t interested in discussing it.

I’m just going to leave it, Crosby said. He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s just leave it. It was four days ago.

The slashing incident left Methot with a grotesque finger injury that will sideline him for weeks. While the play may have deserved a penalty, it’s unlikely a suspension would be carried out.

For all of the great players this franchise selected in the late 1980s/early 1990s, they were kind of spread out across several drafts. The first draft for the franchise after joining the NHL was actually its best.

The Nordiques took a 1,000-point player with each of its first two picks as an NHL franchise with Michel Goulet at No. 20 and Dale Hunter at No. 41. Then the fourth pick at No. 83 was Anton Stastny, who had 636 points in 650 games. That’s a heck of a welcome to the NHL draft.

Pickings are slim here. Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek are the only players the Blue Jackets have drafted with more than 400 NHL points. The Nash and Voracek drafts were largely whiffs other than them, so it’s either a one-man haul or 2006 when they selected Derick Brassard, Steve Mason and Derek Dorsett. We’ll take Nash here.

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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos resumes skating for first time since November

Steven Stamkos has made a small but important step toward his anticipated return.

The Lightning captain on Tuesday resumed skating at the team’s practice for the first time since having knee surgery in November, completing skating and shooting drills with the help of assistant coach Brad Lauer.

It’s a difficult thing for him to be dealing with now in this situation, Bylsma said. Very, as a coach and a person, concerned for him and his situation.

He’s seeing our doctors and done some tests.

The Sabres later said in a statement that Okposo was under the care of team doctors as he deals with symptoms of an illness.

Out of respect to Kyle and his family, we will have no further comment at this time, the team said.

Okposo, 28, last played March 27 vs. the Panthers — his second game since returning from a seemingly unrelated rib injury. The NHL veteran, who signed with the Sabres as a free agent this offseason, originally started feeling ill during the game, which was played in Buffalo, and has not practiced with the team since.

He was not in the lineup for Buffalo’s game Wednesday night and has been ruled out for the team’s remaining two games this season.

He’s sick and ill, Bylsma said. (I’m) very concerned.

Patrick Marleau, LW ( Signed with Maple Leafs ) — For a 19-year veteran who will turn 38 before the start of next season, Marleau sure had his suitors. And in the end he got the term and money he was looking for from the Maple Leafs in the form of a three-year deal worth $18.75 million ($6.25M AAV).

Marleau played 1,493 games with the Sharks, missing only 31 in his career, and was the longest-tenured player for a single team in the NHL. He’s betting big that one of its youngest rosters is ready to win now, and the Leafs are betting he has plenty left in the tank to help them do it.

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Blues lose F Robby Fabbri for season with torn ACL

Blues forward Robby Fabbri, one of St. Louis’ leaders in goals with 11, will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee, the team announced Sunday.

The injury comes as the Blues, who fired coach Ken Hitchcock last week, are two points outside the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Worse, they open a five-game trip Monday against the Flyers and play 15 of their next 20 on the road, where they are 8-13-1 this season.

The Blues recalled forwards Kenny Agostino and Magnus Paajarvi from Chicago of the AHL to help replace Fabbri, who was tied for fifth on the team in goals though he hadn’t scored since having a hat trick Dec. 28 against the Flyers, a run of 16 games.

The Blues said Fabbri is expected to be ready for the start of training camp next season.

Babcock is widely regarded as the best coach in the league, yet he has never been named Coach of the Year. That may change this year.

Babcock spent much of his coaching career leading insanely good Red Wings teams; now he’s leading one of the NHL’s youngest teams into the playoffs.

Not many expected young stars Matthews, Marner and Nylander to be contributing so much this early. Babcock has them playing like vets.

Alexander Radulov, RW ( Signed with Stars ) — The Stars continued their bold offseason overhaul, inking Radulov, the top available UFA forward, to a five-year, $31.25 million contract ($6.25M AAV). Radulov, 30, is not short on talent, scoring 18 goals and 54 points in his first season in North America since leaving the NHL on sour terms in 2012. That doesn’t seem to scare Dallas, which has added a starting goalie in Ben Bishop, a top-four defenseman in Marc Methot and bolstered its center depth with the weekend signing of the underrated Martin Hanzal. All four players are on the wrong side of 30 and come with caveats, but the Stars look vastly different after a disappointing year.

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Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth released from hospital after collapse

Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth has been released from the hospital following a scary incident in the Flyers-Devils game Saturday night.

According to the team, Neuvirth is resting at home and all diagnostic testing came back normal. He will be reevalutated Monday.

Neuvirth collapsed in the crease without any contact early in the game as the teams prepared for a face-off near center ice.

Those poor Flyers. A few months following Crosby’s first career hat trick that came at the expense of the Broad Street Bullies, his encore performance in the city of Brotherly Love was similarly heartless. Just 46 days after that milestone, Crosby and the Penguins were back at Wachovia Center and the then-19-year-old made his hat trick seem like just a warmup. The Penguins defeated the Flyers, 8-4, and Crosby had a hand in six of those scores, racking up a goal and five assists (his first five-assist game) and the first six-point game of Crosby’s career.

Prior to sustaining that concussion early in 2011, it seemed more likely than not Crosby would factor into the scoring every time he touched the ice. Not only did he record 66 points in 41 games, but he was held scoreless in only six of those.

Included in all of that was a 25-game point streak from Nov. 5-Dec. 28, a 50-point outburst that featured 26 and 24 assists. Over the 25 games, Crosby recorded 16 multi-point games, six multi-goal games, two hat tricks, five three-point games, and two four-point games. He took 98 shots, scoring on a remarkable 26.5 percent of them. Taking 570 shifts over those 25 games, Crosby recorded a point on nearly nine percent of them. It was truly an unheralded offensive stretch for this era of hockey.

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Jets owner Woody Johnson’s U.K. ambassadorship approved by U.S. Senate

Jets owner Woody Johnson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Johnson, a major contributor and fundraiser to the Republican party, switched his allegiance during the 2016 primaries from Jeb Bush to Donald Trump as Trump secured the GOP nomination, notes. Johnson donated $1 million to President Trump’s inaugural committee, per the New York Daily News.

Christopher Johnson, Woody’s brother, will take over day-to-day ownership duties with the Jets. Christopher, along with Woody, attended the NFL owners meetings in March, as Trump promised to appoint Woody to the ambassadorship shortly after being sworn into office in January.

Woody Johnson becomes at the least the second NFL owner to serve as a U.S. ambassador, as late Steelers owner Dan Rooney was the ambassador to Ireland under President Barack Obama.

If that doesn’t happen, if Kirk doesn’t sign a long-term contract — which I hope he does — that tells if not, we gotta go to work, Williams said. We gotta search long and hard to find that guy. But at the same time, we got a capable backup here in Colt McCoy, who can hold the fort down for a while or even take it the long distance.

The team could also target a quarterback in the 2018 NFL draft, which is expected to be loaded at the position.

Cousins has been a reliable and consistent starter for Washington these past two years, and he won’t be easy to replace. If he plays at the same level this season and then walks away from Washington, the team may soon regret not working out a long-term deal with him.

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Scary video emerges of ex-NFL DT Brian Price running through glass door

Brian Price was a standout defensive lineman at UCLA, being named a First-Team All-American and winning the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, both in 2009. He left college to play in the NFL where he was drafted in the second round by the Buccaneers.

According to the Buffalo News, McDermott disclosed that his starters will go about a quarter, give or take, against Minnesota at New Era Field.

Watkins, who suffered a minor ankle injury during practice on Sunday, underwent a second surgery on his injured foot in January and has been rehabbing this offseason. The Bills are expected to use caution when sending their former fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft onto the field to avoid further injury.

Buffalo opted not to pick up Watkins’ fifth-year option on his rookie contract in May, given the former Clemosn star has battled a litany of injuries throughout his first three seasons in the NFL.

Watkins, 23, hauled in 60 receptions for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015 before injuries caused his production to drop the following year. He was limited to just eight games last season and finished with 28 receptions for 430 yards and two scores.

After the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Monday, Washington released a statement from team president Bruce Allen, airing out contract negotiations.

It felt like one of those moments when you’re younger and you try to tell on your sibling first, thinking your parents will take your side. Because Allen disclosed what the team offered Cousins, he and the franchise expected everybody to look at Cousins and say they tried, what’s your problem? and that’s not the case at all.

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Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi evaluated for concussion after leaving practice field

Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is being evaluated for a concussion after exiting the team’s Monday morning practice early, according to coach Adam Gase.

During the Dolphins’ first day in full pads, Ajayi was having a productive workout until he took a hard hit from his teammates. The third-year rusher was seen walking with team trainers to the locker room and did not return to the field.

I will know more this afternoon, Gase said in a press conference after practice, via USA Today. I didn’t go get a full debriefing on everything today so far. I usually give it a couple of hours.

Ajayi rushed for 1,272 yards, which ranked fourth in the NFL, and eight touchdowns in 15 games for Miami last season. The 24-year-old’s breakout performance earned him Pro Bowl honors for the first time since being selected out of Boise State in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The 49ers are projected to have plenty of cap space to sign a quarterback next season. Plus, their quarterback depth chart isn’t very inspiring. They’re heading into the 2017 season with journeymen Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, as well as third-round pick C.J. Beathard.

If Cousins doesn’t end up in San Francisco, he will still be a hot commodity. He will need to have another strong season this year, but even if he doesn’t, he can blame any dip in his numbers on the departure of several familiar faces. This offseason, Washington lost another offensive coordinator (Sean McVay, now the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams), and its top two receivers (DeSean Jackson and Pierre Gar?on).

If Washington doesn’t tag Cousins a third time and that’s unlikely given the $34 million price tag that would go with it it can still try to extend him next offseason. But the team would have to shell out big money.

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Chris Johnson is back with the Cardinals on a 1-year deal

Chris Johnson’s claim to NFL Combine fame went down in flames this spring. His claim to NFL fame won’t be so easy to extinguish.

The veteran tailback will continue his professional career after re-signing with the Arizona Cardinals on a one-year deal. On Thursday, the team announced the signing, which was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Johnson burst onto the NFL’s radar in the spring of 2008 by setting a combine record with a 4.24 second 40-yard dash. That speed was enough to assuage concerns about his ability to be a full-time tailback in the pros, leading the Titans to select him with the 24th pick of that year’s draft.

Danny Morrison, who had served as the Panthers’ president since 2009, also resigned in February.

There has been conflict between Richardson and Gettleman dating back to the team’s decision to rescind Josh Norman’s franchise tag, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

It wasn’t Gettleman’s first controversial move. That was the decision to trade linebacker Jon Beason to the New York Giants back in 2013. The team also cut wide receiver Steve Smith prior to the 2014 season and moved on from running back DeAngelo Williams in 2015.

The team has decisions looming on extensions for tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis.

Before coming to Carolina, Gettleman spent almost three decades in NFL scouting departments. Gettleman was hired by the Panthers in 2013, and Carolina made the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.

The Panthers begin training camp in eight days.

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