Tag Archive | "belichick"

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Chapter 19: The purple revolution in New England

Posted on 30 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

“You guys will write great stories and can put it in way better words than I can. We’ve always believed in Joe. For Joe to come out and have this kind of game, on this kind of a stage, three weeks in a row…[Andrew] Luck’s a pretty good quarterback, [Peyton] Manning’s a pretty good quarterback, [Tom] Brady’s a great quarterback; all those guys are great players. But Joe’s a great quarterback. He’s proven that, and he’s not just proven that this year, he’s proven it for five years.”

– John Harbaugh (January 20, 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

IF REVENGE IS A DISH best served cold, then at least the elements and the weather in New England would cooperate accordingly. What could provide a better stage for a tale of vindication in Charm City than the Baltimore Ravens returning to Foxborough for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game?

It was like a Steel Cage Match.

Tom Brady vs. Joe Flacco. Ray Lewis and The Last Ride. Bill Belichick and the Patriots with yet another chance to make America groan by going to a sixth Super Bowl in 13 seasons in New England. There were no shortage of stories to be told.

When the Ravens boarded their happy flight for Baltimore from Denver two hours after the miraculous win over the Broncos, they were unsure of their destination for the final step toward Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The Texans, who had whipped them in Houston back in October, were visiting New England the following afternoon. The Patriots, led by Tom Brady’s three TD passes, dispatched of the Texans in a 41-28 win, but lost tight end Rob Gronkowski with a left wrist injury.

A huge weapon for the Patriots was gone before the Ravens even had to assemble the game plan.

By late Sunday afternoon the travel plans were made for a trip that the Ravens knew all too well. They were heading to Foxborough. For more than 40 players and the entire coaching staff, it was back to Gillette Stadium 52 weeks later – 364 days after the most disappointing day of their lives. The Lee Evans drop. The Billy Cundiff kick. The cold, empty feeling in that locker room and Ray Lewis telling them to go make someone smile. The quiet flight home. And those long days afterward, when you just wanted to pull the blankets over your head in the morning because you still couldn’t accept that you lost that game.

It’s not one of those days you quickly forget.

Motivating players was not going to be an issue for head coach John Harbaugh this week. Calming them down, however, might be.

On Sunday night, in the middle of the Texans-Patriots game, Brendon Ayanbadejo fired the opening salvo via his Twitter page:

Are you watching the game pats vs. texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It’s a gimmick.

Then, he followed with: New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight

Then: You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl

Then: In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, “lets hurry n snap it” = bitchassness

And finally: 18-1 …a reference to the Patriots losing in the Super Bowl to Giants in 2008

Ayanbadejo is no stranger to the back and forth of social media, yet his controversial stand on social issues were always consistent and relatively polite given the forum. But, something about watching the Patriots play the Texans in Foxborough clearly rubbed him the wrong way. And with his fingers on the trigger of his mobile device, and filled with emotion given the outcome and his role, he simply fired off his thoughts.

By lunchtime on Monday, Ayanbadejo had issued an apology on Twitter:

I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize.

One thing he was correct about was that the Patriots were going to try to snap the ball before the Ravens were ready. Harbaugh was more diplomatic. “They look to create advantages for themselves, and they do it with tempo a lot of times,” he said. “ It’s not just the fact that they go fast sometimes. They force you to line up. Sometimes they’ll force the defense to show their hand because you have to defend the play. If you don’t, they’ll run the play. You saw last week they got Houston in some tough situations, and it was big plays for them. It usually results in a big

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Caps & Other Hockey Thoughts on the Eve of the Stanley Cup Finals

Posted on 29 May 2012 by Ed Frankovic

Now that it has been over two weeks and the dust has settled on another crushing playoff defeat, Capitals fans can look forward to the Stanley Cup Finals and the exciting things to come for their team following it. This Caps off-season will be like no other in the recent past because General Manager George McPhee not only has to select a new coach, he has two first round choices in the 2012 NHL draft (11th and 16th overall picks), and he also has a lot of salary cap room to work with for the first time since perhaps the summer of 2008. With the Alexander Semin departure freeing up $6.7M on the books and Dennis Wideman’s $3.5M hit expiring along with some other smaller contracts that have ended (see Mike Knuble and Tomas Vokoun), GMGM has some flexibility to reshape the team and hopefully fill the holes that has prevented the club from advancing past the second round of the playoffs over the last five years.

So with that as a stage setter, here are 10 thoughts on the Caps, the NHL, the Memorial Cup, as well as my Stanley Cup Finals prediction:

– With the Finals starting Wednesday (8 pm on NBC), Tuesday was media day at “The Rock” in New Jersey. One of my favorite quotes of the afternoon came from Kings coach Darryl Sutter when he was talking about what turned it around for his club after it struggled during much of the regular season. He began by talking about guys starting to understand his system but then focused on center Mike Richards ability to find his game again in mid March after suffering a concussion earlier in the campaign. He then said the addition of Jeff Carter from Columbus at the trade deadline was the final piece needed since it allowed him to spread the offensive wealth. Specifically, he was talking about Kings superstar forward Anze Kopitar, who was having a hard time scoring goals. “At that position, you can’t be great all by yourself,” said Sutter. That excellent quote, which explains a lot, could easily be uttered by several other teams in the league who struggle to win consistently without two true scoring lines (see the Caps and Alexander Ovechkin).

– It is always tough to watch the playoff round following the one in which your team is eliminated and that was truly the case this spring once Washington was bounced by the Rangers in seven games. I fully expected the Caps to knock off the Rags but the bounces did not go the Capitals way at all in games three and five and Henrik Lundqvist was superb in net. Coach John Tortorella also received excellent play from defensemen Michael Del Zotto and forward Marian Gaborik in that series. Against the Devils, it was a different story and New Jersey dominated the Blueshirts before dispatching them in six games. Del Zotto was terrible against Peter DeBoer’s club and Gaborik disappeared like Jimmy Hoffa. On Frozen Blog’s John Keeley, before the Devils series against New York, penned a super blog on Lou Lamoriello’s club. John was spot on about the Devils talent and style of play and had the Caps beaten the Rangers, I don’t think they would’ve have been able to defeat the three time Stanley Cup Champions, but I sure would have liked to have seen Dale Hunter and company try!

– Speaking of Tortorella, there is no doubt that he is a super hockey mind but his abrupt and abrasive press conferences following playoff defeats became a hot topic in the Washington and then the New Jersey series. It got so bad that super NHL Network analysts’ Kevin Weekes and Craig Button finally called him out on it. Everyone knew Torts was trying to deflect criticism of his club and put the heat on himself, but the Rangers bench boss clearly took it too far. However, the man who has a very classy side, as was displayed on HBO’s 24/7 series, smartly changed his ways and was insightful and more patient with the media even while his team lost the last three contests to give away a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. He was even more revealing and truly honest this past Monday during his club’s breakdown day. He talked about how certain players get what the team is trying to do while others do not. He said it would be up to the organization to get rid of those not on board. You can’t be much more up front than that and it was certainly refreshing to hear a truthful assessment of a team following their defeat with no excuses offered (such as Phoenix blaming the referees in the Western Conference Finals). Kudos to Tortorella, who also FULLY endorsed assistant coach Mike Sullivan for any NHL head coaching opening. Well done John, I was tough on you this post season but you’ve gone way up again in my book with your late playoff changed ways with the media, who work hard to promote the game many of us truly love. Perhaps I’ll take a cue from Torts and go easier on the referees next season??!! On second thought, I will have to think a little bit more on that one. 😉

– As for Sullivan, it is rumored that Calgary is the leading destination for the former Boston Bruins bench boss given his past relationship with Flames GM Jay Feaster in Tampa. Many once fired coaches learn and improve the second time around (see Bill Belichick and Joe Torre) and “Sully” seems to be the hot prospect this spring. I imagine the Capitals have strong interest in the New York assistant too given that the style Washinton played under Hunter is similar to what Sullivan and Tortorella were using in New York. With all of the moving pieces McPhee has going on this summer it will be interesting to see if Washington’s GM sets up his roster first before picking a head coach (the patient route that New Jersey took last summer with DeBoer) or he selects a coach and shapes the roster to fit the new coach’s style. Put me in the first category as I think the Capitals need to play a style like they played this post season. They need to continue to be responsible in their own end. Now if GMGM adds some offensive talent, and there is no doubt he has top six forwards in mind, then the club can be more aggressive offensively like New Jersey and Los Angeles are doing now, but both teams still have a STRONG defensive foundation at the root of their respective systems.

– When it comes to defense, I have to wonder what the heck happened to the Pittsburgh Penguins this spring?! That club was most people’s pick to go to and win the Finals this June but Coach Dan Bylsma’s squad fell flat on their faces. The Pens clearly lost their focus down the stretch and their play away from the puck, especially in their own end, was just awful. They had the most talented roster in the Eastern Conference and laid an egg in the first round. It is more proof that you have to be responsible defensively if you want to win the Stanley Cup and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and company seemed to have forgotten all of the good defensive lessons former coach Michel Therrien taught them before being dismissed during their 2008-09 Cup winning season. Wide open hockey does not work in the post season, plain and simple, just ask the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers and they will confirm that axiom.

– After Hunter left his post here in Washington, he immediately went to sit in the press box and watch his London Knights battle for the Memorial Cup, which is the championship tournament featuring a pre determined host city and the three winners of Canada’s top junior leagues (the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMHJL), and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)). London won from the OHL, Edmonton represented the WHL, while the defending Memorial Cup champs, the Saint John Sea Dogs, represented the QMHJL. The host city, Shawinigan, was the fourth club. The host Cataractes ended up defeating Hunter’s club in overtime of the final game to capture the Cup in a 2-1 thriller. Both goalies (Michael Houser of London and Gabriel Girard of Shawinigan) were impressive in the final match as were several other already NHL drafted players. Jarred Tinordi (Montreal), Austin Watson (Nashville), and Brandon Gormley (Phoenix) really stood out for me and seem poised to have good NHL careers. Russian Krill Kabanov (Islanders), who had one crazy junior career, did some nice things as well but it remains to be seen if he turns out to be an every day NHLer. The undrafted player that was high on my radar was Max Domi of London, son of former Leafs and Rangers tough guy, Tie. The 17 year old, who is draft eligible in 2013, was all over the ice with his speed and tenacious play. He isn’t big right now size wise, but he plays large and I have to think many teams will be very interested in him next June.

– Stan Galiev, of the Caps, played again for Saint John in the Memorial Cup, and the 2010 third round pick seems to have a bright future. He projects to be a top six offensive player but personally I think it would be wise for Washington to let him get at least a year in Hershey to properly develop and gain size and confidence.  The Russian forward will definitely help the Bears next season, who will not have former AHL Calder Cup MVP Chris Bourque back next year. Bourque, who very recently became a first time father, was traded on Sunday to Boston for center Zach Hamill. Hamill was the 8th overall pick in the 2007 draft and is still just 23 years old. He should help Hershey next season, as well.

– After last February’s NHL trade deadline I asked an NHL scout, with over 20 years in the business, why Tampa didn’t get a goalie this season when it was clear that it was their biggest hole and was certain to prevent them from making the playoffs despite the great goal scoring year Steven Stamkos was having. The scout said something that was quite telling. “It is not as easy as it seems to find what you need.” I expect Tampa to go after Vokoun or some other veteran goalie this summer to go along with youngster Dustin Tokarski, who won the 2008 Memorial Cup with Spokane.

– By the way, that scout’s quote is clearly relevant to what McPhee has been dealing with when it comes to second line center. GMGM knows he needs a center, but he’s been unable to get one for many reasons. As I said above, this summer might be his best chance, given the flexibility he finally has in terms of salary cap room. However, it takes two to tango and you can bet that other GM’s may not be willing to give what the Capitals desperately need without getting something significant back. Recent history shows though, that getting the superstar player while sacrificing lesser players, draft picks, and prospects is a recipe for success. Los Angeles, who did that to get Richards and Carter, and New Jersey, who did the same in acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk, both went that route and have been rewarded with a shot at the Cup. Pittsburgh did the same when it plucked Marian Hossa from Atlanta back in 2008. So it seems to make sense for GMGM to be aggressive and try and hit the home run on the center position this summer by giving up some assets to finally get an elite player to complement Nicklas Backstrom up the middle and alleviate some of the pressure on Ovechkin.

– Finally, I am going with the Kings in five games in the Stanley Cup Finals. Los Angeles is just rolling right now and my only concern with them is their eight day layoff. I can’t see their power play continuing to struggle the way it has to date in the post season. I love the way the Devils play the game and Zach Parise is one of the best players in the NHL right now. However, I think they are over matched in this series and if they don’t win game one, then this thing could be over quick. However, if New Jersey holds serve at home against a LA squad that is perfect on the road this post season, then anything can happen. That is why they play the games. Enjoy!

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Harbaugh issues statement regarding Patriots, Belichick “asterisk” comments

Posted on 01 May 2012 by WNST Staff

John Harbaugh just released this statement after the social media fallout of comments on 98 Rock this morning:

“While on the 98 Rock show this morning to talk about the run to honor O.J. Brigance and raise funds for ALS research, I answered a question about playing within the rules and referred to the perception that the Super Bowl championships won by the Patriots and Saints have a stain. My reference was to the perception out there that came as the result of the league’s actions.

“I could have been more clear that I was referring to those viewpoints. I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill (Belichick) and Sean (Payton) both know that.

“There has been some distortion about what I said.

“The original tweet indicated I pointed the finger at Bill Belichick and mentioned Bill’s name. I did not. I have so much respect for Coach Belichick and the job he does and has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career. I called him to remind him of my respect for him. I also reached out to Tedy Bruschi, who rightfully defended those Patriot players and coaches on ESPN, to tell him that I agree with him that the Patriots earned every victory.”

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Are you headed to New England this weekend?

Posted on 05 January 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s no secret that this is our favorite time of the year. The Ravens are in the playoffs, with the possibility of surprising the NFL and shocking the world, and we’re headed to New England this weekend for drinks, smiles, cheers and some postseason, chilly football in Foxborough. If you (or someone you know or love) is headed to the Ravens-Patriots game this weekend, please share this blog and have them join our Facebook group called “I’m going to New England this weekend.”

We are finalizing all of our party plans today and will announce it all via WNST AM 1570, our Twitter feed (@WNST) and on our group Facebook page over the next few days.

We still have seats left on our 2nd Miller Lite Purple Playoff bus as well.

If anyone needs me directly, I can be reached here (nasty@wnst.net) or on Facebook at Nestor J. Aparicio.

As our baseball owner once said: “I’m a very available individual…”

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More on Baltimore’s Jim Schwartz: The Lion King

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Perhaps you heard my reunion last week with Arbutus native and Mt. St. Joe grad Jim Schwartz, who has beeen a regular for years on our Friday afternoon shows on WNST. If you missed it, it’s in our audio vault. The new coach of the Detroit Lions was featured over the weekend with a magazine-style piece in The Boston Globe about his roots to Bill Belichick among other things. It’s a good read.

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Talk of the Town

Posted on 15 September 2008 by stevenlink

Wow, what a week in sports. But before I get to that, I want to first send my condolences and wishes to anyone who has family or friends in the Houston area. Also, my wishes go out to those persons affected by the horrible commuter train accident that occurred this past weekend.

And speaking of the situation with Houston, here’s, My Take about the talk of the town right now which is the Ravens-Texan’s schedule change and how it affects the Ravens:

I want to state a disclaimer beforehand that I do not know exactly what went on with the NFL’s decision about the Ravens-Texans game…all of this is pure speculation.

The last natural disaster the NFL had to deal with was that of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Saints. The NFL decided to move the Saints’ opener of the 2005 season to the Meadowlands in New Jersey against the New York Giants.

In comparison, what occurred this week with Ravens-Texans game and the Saints-Giants game are two completely different situations. Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 and the home opener for the Saints was scheduled for September 18, 2005. The NFL was able to coordinate with the teams, the cities, and the networks to move the game to New York. For this situation the NFL only had 2 weeks to prepare for the game to be moved and it was not until September 10th that the path of Hurricane Ike was determined definite.

I know there are a bunch of reasons and also conspiracy theories out there as to why the game was not moved and how much of a disadvantage it is for both teams. Such as, why didn’t the NFL just move the game here to Baltimore for Monday night? It’s a good argument. The Orioles have an off day as they are about to travel to Toronto, and even if the Orioles did have a game, there would be more than enough space for the fans to park on W. Camden Street (you know, the street running perpendicular to the main Eutaw Street entrance across from Pickles). But the problems still remain about getting proper police protection, security, network personnel and equipment to Baltimore in such a short time. Preparations for our Sunday ritual are made months and months ahead of time.

Now, I am not saying that NFL was 100% correct with its decision; rather I think it did the best that it could do. The NFL tried its hardest to keep the game at Reliant Stadium for the Texans to have their home opener there. We can all agree that the last thing the NFL wanted to do was move the game to a different location. It also would have been great to see the game moved to a college campus in Texas because we know they have an abundance of them. However, again, people will have to make new arrangements that cannot be done in less than a week’s time. Plus, I especially believe the NFL does not want to have the game played at the UTEP football stadium after the…how can I put this delicately…the tainting of the hill. This is a huge lesson for the NFL and how, (like school systems prepare for snow and other inclement weather), it needs to have its own plan to prepare for situations such as this. Apparently the NFL did not think ahead after its dealings from Katrina, but hopefully it will learn from this instance. I mean come on, if Major League Baseball had a contingency plan with the Cubs-Astros game and moved that series up to Milwaukee, so why didn’t the NFL have one as well?

The Ravens and the Texans are at a huge disadvantage because of the game change. I know people did not predict the Ravens to do well this year, but what if we are doing well by the time our bye was scheduled? “Experts” are wrong all the time about their picks. The absence of our bye week will probably break our season at that point due to injuries and fatigue. Losing our bye is going to be detrimental to our season, but let’s not forget that real life and real people will always outweigh the risk and reward of a sporting event.

Your take: Do you think the loss of the Ravens’ bye depletes any chance they had at a winning season this year?

2 Minute Drill: Oh Maryland, my Maryland, why do you only show up against opponents that are favored against you? That was quite a game by the Terps upsetting Cal. Turner had a great game, as did the entire running game. Now maybe Maryland was looking ahead last week when they lost to MTSU, but that that is still no excuse. This team should be 3-0 right now and atop the ACC. If they had dominating performances against Delaware and MTSU, who knows, maybe they would be in Top 25? Okay maybe not, but they’d have a really strong case to be there, especially with a win like that over Cal. Again, I want to make the point that I want Coach Friedgen and the Terps to do well, but this win shows me that the coaching staff did not have the ears of their kids and did not motivate them enough for the previous two games. Ralph thought this was going to be the best team he ever had because of the amount of seniors he has on his roster. It should not be that difficult to motivate a team that consists of over 20 seniors. But maybe last week’s game was a wake-up call for the players and coaches?? Great win for them though, especially since not that many thought they could pull an upset like they did (including me). Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going and trounce the Eastern Michigan Eagles this coming weekend.

The Ohio State Buckeyes again got smashed on national television. The Trojans completely dominated that game on both sides of the ball. My question is why didn’t we see more of Terrell Pryor? I don’t believe having Terrell Pryor at quarterback throughout the game would have changed the overall outcome because in the second half the Trojans easily game-planned around him, but it would have made the game much more interesting. Poor Todd Boeckman was setting prey for USC’s defense whenever he went back to pass. The defense sure brought the pain for that guy. And maybe Jim Tressel finally needs to get rid of the sweater vest he sports. Maybe he should put in a special order from Bill Belichick’s hooded sweatshirt collection.

And speaking of Belichick, his new quarterback Matt Cassell did one of the best impressions of Trent Dilfer I’ve ever seen. Manage the football game and do not turn the ball over. It looks like the Patriots are going back to the game plan they had when Corey Dillon was their running back. However, it looks like, at least at this point, that Lawrence Mahroney may not be the bruising back Dillon was and instead that roll may be held for Lamont Jordan. This team is still my favorite for the AFC East until it shows signs that its wheels are finally falling off.

The ending of the Chargers-Broncos game was ridiculous. However, you have to give out some respect points to Ed Hochuli for admitting that he blew the call, literally. When he blew the whistle early it stopped the play and because it was a passing play, the ball was given back to the Broncos where the ball landed. Norv Turner and the Chargers have had the worst luck so far this season. First it was the last second touchdown by the Panthers and now this. But Mike Shanahan did give the Chargers the chance to still win the game by allowing them to stop his team’s two-point conversion and the Chargers could not and therefore they deserved to lose that game.

The Redskins did a great job of exploiting the Saints rookie cornerback Tracy Porter. The Saints’ two starting corners already were scratched for the game and the injury to Aaron Glen was the turning point of that game. As soon as they put in Porter, Santana Moss put on his professor hat and started schooling the kid about how not to cover a wide receiver in the NFL. And it was great listening to Coach Billick in the booth during the game. He did an excellent job of critiquing both teams. My favorite line he said yesterday was when he was talking about the Redskins in the first half, “Now I know I am the poster-child for this because I was the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens for 9 years, but you can’t just score field goals when you are in the redzone. You have to punch it in there.” So isn’t an exact quote, but it is pretty close to what he said and it got a good laugh out of me.

Romeo Crennel, the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, tried his best impression of rookie head coach Jim Zorn last night with horrible clock management. Crennel actually surpassed Zorn with his blunders because at least Zorn has an excuse; it’s his first time coaching a position other than a quarterback. The clock management at the end of the first half was simply horrific for the Browns. After the Browns’ quarterback Derek Anderson ran the no huddle QB sneak for a first down resulting in 8 seconds left on the clock with no timeouts, they should have just kicked the field goal to get some momentum on their side. Then he decided to use his two final timeouts at the end of the second half before the 2 minute warning which was a wasted effort that you cannot fault him entirely for. But at that point in the game, you just knew that whatever the Browns did, they were going to lose the game regardless. And why was Kellen Winslow on the sideline for the final two plays of the game? That decision had me scratching my head too. That was a winnable game by the Browns, and while I know the players could have performed better, I believe they would have won had the coaching staff also called a better game.

And finally, Towson University started off conference play with a tough loss to Richmond Saturday, losing 45-14. Towson’s quarterback Sean Schaefer had a rough game but according to Towson University’s release, Schaefer “became the sixth player in CAA history to reach the 9,000-yard mark in career passing yards. In his career, he has now completed 809 of 1,268 passes (.638) for a school record 9,145 yards and 58 touchdowns.” http://www.towsontigers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=101455&SPID=12497&DB_OEM_ID=21300&ATCLID=1581565. So a big congrats goes out to Sean and his record setting performance.

Sayonara Bmore, I’ll get back at you next time.

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Harbaugh and Hockey

Posted on 13 September 2008 by Ed Frankovic

Harbaugh Making a Stand?

So I caught some sports news tonight on Comcast and John Harbaugh stormed off from the media to end his daily press conference this afternoon out at 1 Winning Drive. It appears that the constant questions about who is playing and who is hurt are getting to our new head coach. In Harbaugh’s defense he has been consistent in not answering these questions at all and has stated so to members of the media, from what I’ve seen and heard. Personally, I think it is a GREAT decision by Harbaugh to keep mum on injuries and anything pertaining to who is playing where and how much. Giving out that information can hurt your competitive advantage. So I say kudos to Harbaugh for standing his ground and not discussing injuries or playing time or anything strategic ahead of time because it can help the Ravens against their upcoming opponents. I rarely see Bill Belichick discussing injuries and that has worked for New England as well (of course some guy named Brady doesn’t hurt to have on your side either). So as fans of the team are you okay with Harbaugh not discussing these things? Can you live with the lack of information and uncertainty on various players in a football crazed town? I certainly am and have no problem with him drawing a line in the sand with the local press. After all, he is getting paid to win games, not be nice with the media, right Mr. Bisciotti?

Hockey Talk and Season Coming Soon

To all of you hockey starved fans out there, hang in there, training camp starts up next week with the first part of each teams’ camps focused on the rookies and young prospects. The veterans start skating officially later next week (although many Caps are in town skating at Kettler Iceplex daily already, and in case you hadn’t heard Nicklas Backstrom sprained his ankle Thursday and will likely miss at least some of camp). If you have access to the NHL network they are showing many of the NHL rookie games this week each night so tune in to get your first look at some future NHLers. Also, the Caps rookies will be playing the Flyers rookies at 3pm at Kettler Iceplex on Thursday, September 18th. I plan on attending and providing some information on how the young guys are developing as well as any info I can pick up about the big club. The Caps open their regular season Friday, October 10 in Atlanta and are home the next night against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7pm. I expect the Caps to have lots of sellouts this year so get your tickets while you can.

Other hockey tidbits: The Blackhawks have traded former Caps forward Robert Lang to the Montreal Canadiens for a second round draft pick in the 2010 draft…Tampa Bay forward Vincent Lecavalier, who hurt his shoulder in the last Lightning game against the Caps last season, says he will miss the first four Tampa preseason games but will return for the final two games…Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes signed a seven year, $58M deal with the club on Thursday, September 11.

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