Mike Babcock, John Tortorella, and Todd McLellan named NHL coach of the year finalists

Given the years Mike Babcock, John Tortorella, and Todd McLellan had at the helm of their respective teams, it’s no surprise they were named as nominees for the NHL’s coach of the year award.

On Wednesday, the trio were nominated for the Jack Adams Award — the reward for the NHL head coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.”

The nomination is the third for Babcock, and his first as the head coach of the Maple Leafs. With first overall pick Auston Matthews leading the team, Babcock and Toronto were treated to an Eastern Conference wild card spot. The Maple Leafs were the NHL’s last-place team last year with 69 points, and Babcock elevated them this year to a 95-point finish.

Tortorella’s Blue Jackets swept the league with a 16-game win streak back in December, a far cry from Columbus’ abysmal start to the season prior. After finishing with 76 points last season, the Blue Jackets had their first 100-plus point season in franchise history, ending the 2016-17 season with 108 points.

Rounding out the nominees is McLellan, a bit of a surprise pick but quite deserving nonetheless. The Oilers got back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons thanks to a 103-point finish for second place in the Pacific Division. Last year, Edmonton finished with 70 points and 31 wins.

The Jack Adams will be awarded at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 21.

The tension in the Russ-KD cold war finally boiled over on Feb. 11 when Durant made his highly anticipated return to OKC. With the Warriors starting to pull away in the third quarter, Westbrook and Durant began jawing at mid-court.

You can see Westbrook yell “I’m coming!” repeatedly as the teams head to the bench. This was a weird night in general and the entire NBA community was probably glad when it was over.nike_redskins_1331

Browns get ultra-productive kicker Zane Gonzalez in the 7th round of 2017 NFL draft

Zane Gonzalez had one of the most prolific collegiate careers ever for a kicker but didn’t get drafted until the final round, making him a steal for the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL draft when the team selected Gonzalez with the No. 224 overall selection.

In the last 12 years, punter Bryan Anger and kicker Roberto Aguayo are the only two specialists taken in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Neither lived up to the billing.

Anger underwhelmed in Jacksonville before emerging in Tampa Bay in 2016, while Aguayo struggled as a rookie, missing four of his first season field goals and finishing his rookie season last in the NFL in field goal percentage at 71 percent.

The linebacker out of Tennessee almost entered the draft in 2016, but instead returned for his senior season. He played in only four games before a labrum tear in his shoulder sidelined him for the rest of the season and required surgery. He decided to forgo a medical redshirt and set his sights on impressing teams at the combine.

He wasn’t able to participate in all of the drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he still met with teams and the media to make his case. Fortunately, he was coming off back-to-back 100-tackle seasons and had enough film for NFL scouts to analyze despite his final season being cut short. The linebacker recorded 240 total tackles, 8.0 sacks ¡ª 6.0 sacks in 2015 alone ¡ª and three turnovers during his time at Tennessee.
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Limited Kids Wendell Smallwood Jersey The versatile linebacker is aggressive despite his size and will be a good representative of the team both on and off the field. The former Vols captain knows that his position requires him to be a strong and vocal leader, a challenge he embraces.

he’ll be playing at the highest level in the world.

Authentic Rene Robert Jersey Lawson is a strong but undersized defensive end at 6’2 and 260 pounds. Normally that would make him a candidate to play as a 3-4 linebacker as an edge rusher. But his stiff hips put that kind of flexibility up in the air — even if he did grade out well at the NFL Draft Combine. He’s got good straight-line speed but may struggle if asked to drop into a coverage role.
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That concern is washed out by his aggressive pass-rushing style. Lawson’s speed and power allow him to rip through blockers with an array of attacking styles. He can hand-battle with offensive tackles, spin through them, or straight up run past them with a deceptive speed rush along the edge.

Now, he’ll be playing at the highest level in the world. But it took a lot to get Ross there, even when it felt like he may not play football at all. This is his story.

The first time he touched the ball in high school, it was a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD
When Ross was just 14 years old, he was set to return the opening kickoff in his first football game. He asked his coach what to do when he got the ball. His coach simply said, Run, and do not let anybody tackle you!

The other guy returning asked the coach what to do if they kicked it to him, to which the coach responded, Give it to [Ross].

Ross ended up taking the kickoff back 100 yards, and it was the start to what has been a remarkable career on the gridiron.

I was ecstatic, honestly, Morgan said. I understood that I was in a position where I wasn’t going to be getting the money or praise as some of the other people coming into the program. But that didn’t really bother me.

Morgan was excited to compete for a role on the Golden Bears. From that day forward, he had one focus: Be the hardest-working person, and make the biggest impression that I could every time.

Which NFL teams had the most No. 1 draft picks?

The Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams have each picked No. 1 in the NFL draft seven times, stunning everyone who Googled this while expecting to learn the Cleveland Browns actually ranked first all-time in something. Im afraid the Browns cant even win at being terrible.

A few things:

Instead, the Patriots and Texans wont square off until Week 3, a 1 p.m. ET game on CBS.

If that were Romo-Brady, Im not sure only 25 percent of the country should see that game. Heck, that game maybe could have been kickoff if Tony signed early enough,North said.
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The Patriots and Texans faced off twice during the 2016 season. First, the Patriots dominated in a 27-0 blowout win in primetime on Thursday night. Then, the two teams played a more competitive game in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Texans defense was strong enough to pull the upset — if they had a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler under center. Romo would have been a big upgrade.

North put together a similar scenario for the Broncos.
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If Romo went to the Broncos,North pointed out, all of the sudden that Cowboys-Broncos game [Week 2, 4:25 p.m.] becomes a whole different animal.

So instead of impacting the NFL schedule, now Romo gets to call the games — and we get to watch Tom Savage and Trevor Siemian under center for the Texans and Broncos.

2017 NBA Playoffs predictions: SB Nation picks the 1st-round series

The 2017 NBA Playoffs begins on Saturday when the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Indiana Pacers at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. That kicks off the first round, which will feature eight series spread over two weeks. The entire playoffs will last until mid June until a champion is crowned.

The first-round series this year offer some intriguing matchups, as well as others that should be lopsided. Barring a disaster, the Golden State Warriors will beat the Portland Trail Blazers, after all. The other seven series at least offer a shred of doubt, especially with the ongoing struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rooney joined the Steelers in 1955, following his graduation from Duquesne University. He worked for his father in the team’s front office and was integral in the hiring of Chuck Noll as the Steelers’ head coach in 1969.

Under Noll, and Rooney’s leadership, the Steelers won four Super Bowl championships from 1974-79.

The Rooney family established one of the most consistent and stable franchises in the NFL. Noll remained the team’s head coach until 1991 and was replaced by Bill Cowher, who was the coach for 15 years before Mike Tomlin took over. Since 1969, the Steelers have had three head coaches and played in eight Super Bowls with six championships.

When Joe Johnson put the Jazz up by five after hitting a floater with a little more than a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Clippers called a timeout. As everyone walked back to their respective huddles, Chris Paul threw a mini tantrum. He spiked the ball, punched the air, and stomped his feet while yelling at his players.
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The former high school running back and quarterback has played multiple defensive positions in college.

His career as a chef will have to wait as Magloire continues to prepare for the NFL Draft. He has realistic expectations for the draft, which runs from April 27-29, knowing he wont hear his name until the third day.

The former high school running back and quarterback has played multiple defensive positions in college. After transferring from Arizona Western, Magloire began his Arizona career at safety before being moved to weakside linebacker. Hes also seen time at middle linebacker and believes his versatility is something teams will like.

Dayan Viciedo Limited Jersey I moved around a lot, said Magloire, who sees himself as a weakside 4-3 linebacker. I can be inside at linebacker, but then youll see me on the edge covering the slot man-to-man and then back at linebacker. Youll see me all over the field.

Dale Hunter Limited Jersey Im a linebacker, but with that new breed of linebackers, everybody wants a three-down player. Thats what I am.

Ive played a lot of different defenses, but its all the same stuff. Every team has sub-packages. Ive shown I can play a lot of different schemes.

Hello, and welcome back to my series, A division-by-division tour that allows me to avoid writing daily 1,000-word features that roughly translate to, Look, its only April, I dont know. The idea is that these individual players work as a proxy for their entire teams — as these players go, so go their teams.

If you think its a stupid concept, note that I selected Jarrett Parker for my pick for the Giants, and both he and his team are struggling. Also, if you dont like the idea, give me some time. Its only April. My columns can get better. Small sample.

Former Ravens tight end Todd Heap accidentally kills 3-year-old daughter

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Todd Heap tragically killed his daughter Friday in an accident at the family’s home in Mesa, Ariz.

Heap, who was a two-time Pro Bowler for the Ravens, was moving his truck in the driveway when he struck and killed his 3-year-old daughter.

Mesa police said, via the Arizona Republic, the accident occurred about 3:45 p.m. She was later pronounced dead after being transported to a hospital.

Authentic Carl Banks Jersey Police say Heap exhibited no signs of impairment. Hill appears to be a promising option moving forward, but odds are that this is Stevens job again. And he has a hell of a receiver duo. Michael Gallup and Olabisi Johnson combined to catch 104 passes for 1,898 yards and 18 touchdowns at a clip of 11.5 yards per target last year Gallup was responsible for a majority of that, catching at least four balls for at least 91 yards in each of the final eight games of the year. He peaked with 22 for 339 in games against Fresno State and Air Force.

Being able to run helped to settle the QB situation a bit. Dalyn Hawkins had 53 carries for 203 yards (3.8 per carry) through five games but erupted for 716 yards (6.6 per carry) the rest of the way, and the emergence of Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey Jr. allowed CSU to lean on the ground game. Once opponents had to compensate for that, the Rams went deep.

Heap was a first-round pick from Arizona State in 2001 and spent his first 10 seasons with the Ravens before finishing his career with a two-year stint with the Cardinals. Heap, who caught 499 passes for 5,869 yards and 42 touchdowns, was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2014.

Police will continue to investigate the girl’s death. She was the youngest of five children Heap has with his wife, Ashley.

Kawann Short won’t play under franchise tag after signing 5-year, $80 million deal with Panthers

For the past several seasons, the Vikings have had to fix their offensive line. That happened this offseason with the addition of tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. Hopefully. That leaves guard as an area of improvement for the Vikings, but not their only need.

Jeremy Maclin Mens Jersey The team brought in running back Latavius Murray, but he never consistently performed like a lead running back in Oakland. Would the Vikings take someone like Joe Mixon? They also need to find a defensive tackle because Sharrif Floyd’s future is undetermined.

Jarius Wright Mens Jersey That foundation paved the way for a breakout 2015 season; Short recorded a career-high 11 sacks to earn an invitation to the Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro honors for the NFC Champion Panthers.

But he wasn’t immune to the team’s post-Super Bowl hangover. Short notched just six sacks last fall, but remained a key presence on the team’s defensive line.

His journey from unheralded high school player to $80-million man is an impressive one. Short had just one college football offer after playing at Central High School in East Chicago, Ind. He attended Purdue University, where he developed from fringe FBS player into a three-time All-Big Ten standout.

He’ll have the chance to build on a decade of improvement as a football player with the Panthers in 2017 and beyond. Short’s solid run from 2015-16 made him one of the league’s most attractive young free agents. Now he’ll be a key part of Carolina’s defense for years to come.

Pirates fans can play Super Mario Bros. on new right field LED screen

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a few upgrades to PNC Park and, holy crap, fans can play Super Mario Bros. in right field.

There aren’t many games that would entice me, as a fan, to get out of my seat and entertain the masses. But this wins. The touch screen is huge (11’0 high and 136’0 long), and the actual moving around makes it seem like the player is accomplishing a workout too.

Millions of dollars were spent during the offseason in improvements to the field, and the LED screen was made to keep the old-school feel of the park, while making the necessary upgrades.

Charlie Hoffman quietly dropped a shot as Rory McIlroy ended a disappointing, up-and-down day with a par on 18. While McIlroy was posting a third-round 1-under 71 that included four birdies, a bogey, and a double, 18-hole leader and 36-hole co-leader Hoffman was making his fourth birdie of the day, on No. 13.

That birdie gave Hoffman a two-shot lead over Sergio Garcia, who also made birdie on the 13th, but a bogey on 14 followed when Hoffman’s par putt came up short. As it looks now, McIlroy will have to wait until next year — again — to try to complete the career grand slam, while Garcia (tied with Justin Rose at 5-under) is very much still in the running to win his first major.

Though Jordan Spieth, who put on a show all day, will certainly have something to say about that after coming from 10 shots behind Hoffman to start the day to within two strokes of the frontrunner after posting a nearly flawless 68.
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Steph Curry went on Carpool Karaoke and belted out Disney classics

Stephen Curry joined James Corden for a little “Carpool Karaoke” and there was really only one obvious answer for what they should sing: “No One Knows,” from Moana.

Corden gave Curry the choice of song based on what the Warriors’ star listens to in his car — but Steph said that he only listens to stuff his kids like — which means lots of Disney.

Curry really threw himself into the performance. The pair blended some of Steph’s NBA flair into the performance by chewing out mouthguards for the second verse.
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Then Curry and Corden flawlessly pivoted to some Frozen, which included acting out the character roles. In the end it was super cool and proves that Steph is the ultimate sports dad.
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One year ago the Tar Heels had just suffered the most crushing loss these young players had ever faced. It would have been easy to have that bother them, or let the hangover continue into 2016-17, but they didn’t.

That leaves six quarterback options — maybe seven, depending on how teams view Bengals’ backup AJ McCarron — in a league filled with hungry franchises. The Texans, Jets, and Browns have gaping holes at the top of their depth charts. The Broncos, Bears, and 49ers fall on the second tier of neediness. Teams like the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Cardinals are in bad-to-decent shape for 2017 but have big questions about the future of their positions.

Jared Goff was sacked a whopping 26 times over his seven starts to end the Rams’ 2016 season. The first-overall pick averaged just 155.6 passing yards per game over that span, and the Rams went 0-7. Of course strengthening the offensive line was going to be a priority for Los Angeles heading into the offseason.