Sabres’ Kyle Okposo hospitalized in ICU; team ‘very concerned’

The Sabres are very concerned for forward Kyle Okposo, who is hospitalized and in intensive care with an undisclosed ailment.

WGR-AM 550 in Buffalo first reported Tuesday Okposo has been in the hospital undergoing multiple tests to determine the cause of an illness he’s been dealing with since March 28. Okposo is in in-patient care in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital, The Buffalo News confirmed.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma offered few details, including a diagnosis, while meeting with reporters Wednesday following the team’s morning skate.

Stamkos, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15, remains on the 4-6 month timeline he was initially given after tearing a lateral meniscus in his right knee and undergoing arthroscopic surgery. Though he still hasn’t ruled out getting back on the ice before the regular season ends on April 9, the team is still unable to update his return timetable.

He’s progressing well, general manager Steve Yzerman said, via the Tampa Bay Times. He’s doing well, but can’t give a return date yet.

Stamkos, 26, was tied for second in the NHL with 20 points when he got hurt. No stranger to the injury plague, he missed most of the 2013-14 season after breaking his leg in early November and missed seven weeks late last season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

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Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth collapses in net without contact

Saturday’s game between the Flyers and Devils was suspended early after Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth collapses in net.

Neuvirth went down without any contact.

Neuvirth, 29, had made six saves while on the ice for the first 7:37. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and replaced in net by rookie Anthony Stolarz, who was called up earlier in the day. Neuvirth was conscious and moving on the ice.

The Flyers scored the first two goals of the game and held a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. The Flyers went on for a 3-0 victory and Neuvirth was credited with the win.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Neuvirth was awake and alert and was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital for observation. The team would provide more information on his condition on Sunday.

The Stars have been really bad at drafting hockey players for a long time. Actually, that’s not entirely true. From Mike Modano to Jarome Iginla to Jamie Benn, the Stars have selected some great players. They just never get two in the same draft. They’ve never drafted two 500-point scorers in the same year, and we’re going back to 1967 here. That’s pretty remarkable.

They also haven’t drafted a goaltender who became a consistent starter in the league since Marty Turco in 1994. There’s no one else in Modano’s class, but he’s the best player in franchise history.

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Senators’ Erik Karlsson ruled out Thursday vs. Bruins

Ottawa will be missing it’s captain when it fights for a playoff spot.

Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Bruins with a day to day lower-body injury, coach Guy Boucher announced.

The USA Today report says NHL players will boycott if USA Hockey attempts to use replacement players for the Women’s World Championships, which begin Friday in Plymouth, Mich. The governing body has reportedly been reaching out to potential replacements for several days with little luck.

I don’t know of any player who told USA Hockey, yes, Anya Battaglino, the head of the National Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association, told ESPN.com Friday.

The women’s national team players have been at odds with the governing body for more than a year over compensation and other issues.

The men’s World Championships will be held in France and Germany from May 5-21.

But the latter question is one that will probably go unanswered, because Draisaitl will be handcuffed to McDavid, and head coach Todd McLellan will likely throw away the key, because the success the two have found together makes it clear that it’s at least somewhat of a symbiotic relationship, and Edmonton needs to do whatever it can to put McDavid in a position to succeed, and to keep him happy.

The real trouble and not-so-quiet-anymore question the Oilers will have to answer is how will they flesh out a roster that has committed such a large chunk of its cap space to a relatively small group of players.

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Bob Costas introduced Nelly in the worst possible way at 2017 NHL Winter Classic

Nelly entertained the masses at NHL’s 2017 Winter Classic, but whatever excitement there was for his performance was immediately killed by Bob Costas.

The NBC broadcaster’s introduction of one of St. Louis’ favorite sons went horribly wrong Monday.

First of all, it’s not even hot. This is the Winter Classic. They are playing hockey outside because it is so not-hot in here. It would have at least been tolerable if he said It’s getting cold in here, so keep your clothes on, but even then it wouldn’t be enjoyable to listen to.

Drafting the guy who was the captain of the franchise’s two championship teams in nearly 50 years is a pretty good start. Bobby Clarke (No. 17) had 1,210 points and later helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final three times as general manager. They also added Dave Schultz (No. 52) in this draft.

There really is only one option here. Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang from the 2005 draft have been fantastic for the Penguins, but Mario Lemieux is one of the three best players of all time and has probably meant more to the franchise (both during his playing days and after) than any draft pick has in any sport. Doug Bodger (No. 9) also played more than 1,000 games and, most importantly for the Penguins, they fetched goaltender Tom Barrasso in a trade with the Sabres.

Patrick Marleau (No. 2) is the greatest player in franchise history and owns many all-time team records, including games (1,493) and goals (508). Scott Hannan (No. 23) played more than 1,000 games as a sturdy defenseman. Bonus points because while the Sharks didn’t draft Joe Thornton (No. 1), they did steal him from the Bruins in 2005.

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Jason Pierre-Paul says it’s possible for the Giants to go undefeated in 2017

The New York Giants finished 11-5 in 2016 and made the playoffs, but they’re thinking much bigger in 2017. Jason Pierre-Paul thinks even a perfect season is within the realm of possibility.

I feel with the players we have, as long as we work together we’ll be undefeated,” Jason Pierre-Paul told the New York Post.

That’s a bold statement by any stretch and even more so considering the schedule that the Giants will have to contend against. The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East in 2016 with a 13-3 record, but New York handed Dallas two of those three losses.

Giants players aren’t worried about a repeat performance from the Cowboys in 2017.

It’s over with, Giants safety Landon Collins told ESPN. They’re not going to win, I can tell you that much.

New York got a bargain when Adams, who was projected to be a top-three pick, fell all the way to No. 6. He’ll have the opportunity to contribute immediately for a team caroming deep into the valley of a long rebuild. He could be the brightest spot on a bad Jets team in 2017.

The Toledo back is facing a major jump in competition but stood out as one of the nation’s most explosive and inconsistent runners in college. Hunt failed to follow up on an incredible sophomore campaign in which he ran for more than 1,600 yards and eight yards per carry, but his 2016 proved he can be a versatile addition after making 41 catches out of the backfield. That’ll be useful for a Chiefs team with conservative quarterback Alex Smith behind center for at least one more season.

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The crowd exploded when this happened

The game had really been a disappointment up until this moment. Team USA was already pretty weak if you’re a 15-year-old who was hoping to see Kobe and Shaq make the trip. But all of that washed away when Carter didn’t just put Weis on a poster, he etched the image into stone.

The crowd exploded when this happened. Cheering and screaming was almost endless. It was a cacophony or realization that we’d all just seen something that might never happen again. The clip was replayed over, and over, and over again on the screen in the arena each time being met with more applause.

Brady played himself, of course, in Seth MacFarlane’s film about a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear which stars Boston’s own Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg’s character, John, and Ted, the talking bear, seek out Brady as a sperm donor.

The guy did a fantastic job, Clark said, via USA Today’s Bryan Alexander. The funniest thing about having Brady on the set was the stir he created with the crew and other cast members. It was like having the president visit the set.

Unless you’re a Patriots fan or a Broncos fan, Tom Brady basically owns your team. He has a winning record against every other team in the NFL, and the only reason he doesn’t have a winning record against the Patriots is because he plays for New England. If you’re a Patriots fan, you’re probably thrilled about this, and Broncos fans are probably proud that their team has held up so well against Brady. But for everyone else, this is probably pretty annoying.

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Trent Williams is a vegan now and convinced other Washington linemen to change their diet too

It takes a lot of food for an NFL offensive lineman to stay over 300 pounds, but Trent Williams isn’t convinced that has to include meat and animal products. After watching a documentary, the five-time Pro Bowler decided to go vegan and he’s convinced some other Washington offensive lineman to join him.

Williams, 29, told Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post that Netflix’s What The Health gave him a better understanding of the link between diet and disease. The documentary also convinced guard Arie Kouandjio to go vegan and tackle Isaiah Williams to commit to a pescatarian diet.

I didn’t see a chance for them to win a Super Bowl at the time, and for the work I was putting in, it wasn’t worth my time to keep on beating my head against the wall and not going anywhere.
Where have we heard all of this before? Go back to 1999 when Barry Sanders retired, perfectly healthy and probably with another season or two of greatness in his legs.

The Lions actually sued Sanders to recoup $5.5 million of bonus money from his contract, which is probably the same amount of money the Ford Family spent on Thanksgiving dinner that year. Sanders offered to pay the money back if they would release him, and his agent tried to get them to trade the legendary running back. But it was fruitless. The Lions held fast in their shittiness; Sanders’ NFL career was over.

Megatron’s career is over too. Thanks, Lions.

But the good feelings couldn’t last, because Dan Snyder’s operation is driven to drama and dysfunction like flies to trash. McCloughan got fired amid an ugly power struggle, leading to Bruce Allen taking the reins. Cousins is almost certainly on the way out after the team failed to sign him to a long-term deal he’s stuck playing under the franchise tag for the second straight year. Several key pieces are left in free agency, and offensive coordinator Sean McVay took the head coaching job with the Los Angeles Rams.

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2014 NFL draft was one of the best ever, unless you’re the Browns

Conventional wisdom in the NFL says that you need at least three years to properly judge a draft class. Sure, giving out grades right after the fact is always fun. But there’s a lot to be said for waiting to see the players actually take the field before we can truly see if they pan out or not.

Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg are good starters, but Pugh missed five games with injury and the middle of the line collapsed without him. The right side was a turnstile all year, but the Giants brought back right guard John Jerry and hope that another 2015 draft pick, Bobby Hart, can hold his own at right tackle. They also added free agent signee D.J. Fluker, who can play either right guard or tackle.

With the individual talent up front, there really aren’t many excuses for the line to be as poor as it was last season. A lot of the Giants’ offensive problems can solve themselves if the line just does a better job protecting Manning and opening up holes for Perkins.

With respect to Manning, there’s really not much doubt who the real face of the franchise is here. Odell Beckham Jr. has taken the league by storm since arriving in New York in 2014, and he has a good chance to be this generation’s most iconic athlete. An incredible player and magnetic personality, Beckham is must-see TV.

However, it’s not a one-man show in the Giants’ receiver corps. They have quietly built a strong supporting cast around Beckham. Brandon Marshall was brought in after the New York Jets cut him, and despite some struggles with the Jets’ motley crew of QBs throwing him the ball last year, he can still play at age 33. Sterling Shepard turned in a strong rookie year with eight touchdowns, and with Marshall in town, he can thrive in his more natural slot position. As far as starting receivers go, that’s a pretty good trio of talent the Giants can boast.

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NFL games will no longer feature those awkward erectile dysfunction drug commercials

NFL broadcasts are definitely going to better in 2017 than they have been in a long time. How do I know this with the season still more than two months away? Because the endless ads for boner pills will no longer be lurking at every commercial break encouraging you to ask your doctor how you, dear older man, can get better at throwing a football through a tire or emasculating those of us who don’t have twin bathtubs in the backyard.

If you want a reliable receiver to move the chains on third-and-short or on the goal line, Boldin is your guy. Matt Stafford, in his one short year with the veteran, trusted him to convert the crucial third downs for the Lions. By my count, he had 41 of the Lions’ first downs and converted 20 of them on third down. Of those, 10 of them were on third-and-short.

Boldin is a free agent, and even though he’s already 36, there are still a few teams that I think he’d fit. The Baltimore Ravens are one. They drafted defense for the vast majority of their picks this year, so getting a wide receiver like Boldin could be useful for Flacco. The Kansas City Chiefs released Jeremy Maclin this offseason, and Boldin could serve as an underneath option opposite of Tyreek Hill. The final option could be the Minnesota Vikings. He could be their third or fourth wide receiver and could help Laquon Treadwell learn the nuances of the game.

Sometimes it feels like the Washington NFL franchise is allergic to organizational stability. In 2015, they won the NFC East title, found their franchise quarterback of the future, and had a highly regarded general manager, Scot McCloughan, building a rock-solid roster. Head coach Jay Gruden helped develop Kirk Cousins into a good quarterback, a fortunate turn of luck for a franchise still reeling from the Robert Griffin III flameout.

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Chiefs hire Brett Veach as their new GM after a bizarre offseason

The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t expect to have a new general manager in 2017, but they had to find one once they surprisingly parted ways with John Dorsey. On Monday, the Chiefs announced that co-director of player personnel Brett Veach will be their next general manager.

Eli, when you look at Eli, it’s kind of like when you look at LeBron [James], Harrison said. I’m not saying they’re the same, but look at Eli’s numbers. If any other quarterback would have those numbers, it would be an amazing year. But it being Eli, no one is respecting it much like we do LeBron. LeBron could average 30 [points], 15 rebounds and 12 assists and it’s like he didn’t do enough.’

Harrison’s comparison came when discussing the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2017 list, which Manning was not included on. It makes no sense [that Manning wasn’t on the list] when at the same time we’ve got rookies from last year … which I guess makes sense if you go off the year alone.

That’s not so much of a hot take as it would have been if Harrison was trying to call Manning the best player in the NFL, or some type of freak athlete. Because overall, James and Manning are two very different athletes.

Chicago paid out the nose for the opportunity to draft a passer with just one season of starting experience under his belt. The Bears gave up three draft picks to move from No. 3 to No. 2 overall to select Trubisky, who stood out as a third-team All-ACC pick at North Carolina. He’ll have to outplay Mike Glennon to earn a spot behind center, but since the former Buccaneer has only thrown 11 passes the past two seasons, there’s a good chance the rookie can rise to the top of the depth chart.

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