Brandon Prust shows how much easier PR is for players with impromptu game of road hockey

16 Oct

I hate to open this post talking about the difficulties of the owners, but on the public relations front, they do face a few. For one thing, when it comes to being young and handsome, and thus, likable, the players have that angle on lock. For another, their fabulous wealth makes empathy difficult.

And Monday, when they dropped some of that fabulous wealth hiring professional dishonest-phrase-inventor Frank Luntz to help them overcome some of these difficulties, documents leaked that made them seem even less sympathetic. Longing for your love, making the big play and tendering a new offer Tuesday afternoon was just wisdom.

Meanwhile, all the players have to do is drop in on a youth hockey practice. Or, even easier, tweet an open invitation to play a little road hockey, as Brandon Prust did Tuesday.

Brandon Prust, 1. Jeremy Jacobs, 0. (Although if Jacobs tweeted an invitation to play road hockey with him I'd be there in a second.)

Fellow Montreal Canadien Colby Armstrong joined the game, as did plenty of fans. A slough of cameras and media showed up as well, which Prust didn't seem to mind.

So, did Prust's decision to break out of the orange ball have anything to do with the aforementioned PR battle? Or was it just "an innocent idea," as he told Montreal radio station CJAD 800?

Maybe he was just really bored? He is presently unemployed, after all, a concept he's fully embracing, judging by his look.

But considering he retweeted Boomer Esiason claiming the owners' offer was just an attempt to publicly pressure the players right before he headed out, I'm going to assume Prust was at least a little aware. He was also hardly flattering in his characterization of the owners' negotiations up to this point or their intentions with this most recent offer. From CJAD:

"I'm sure the Fehr brothers are looking over it with their crew right now to see the inside and outs of it and i'm sure they`ll get back to us as soon as possible with their findings.  I saw some quotes from Don and obviously they're optimistic that they want to do some real negotiations now."

And while Prust agrees, he says it's too soon to tell if it's an offer the NHLPA will be willing to accept. "We'll know more later today when we start talking and we get our updates from Don, but it's good that there's movement but it's also something that's going to look good for the owners and everybody's going to want to say that everyone's on the owners side so it's tough to say right now."

He seems somewhat aware of the public relations battle, don't you think?

It sounds like everybody had a lot of fun. Here's hoping Prust's next game of hockey happens on ice.

Tags: Brandon Prust, CJAD, fabulous wealth, Fellow Montreal Canadien Colby Armstrong, Frank Luntz, , , Jeremy Jacobs, lock, Longing, , , road hockey
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All quiet on hockey front 4 weeks into lockout (Yahoo! Sports)

12 Oct

Team Quebec's Eric Belanger, of the Edmonton Oilers, is slowed by Team Montreal's Jason Pominville, of the Buffalo Sabres, during an exhibition hockey game Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Quebec City. Some locked-out NHL players have organized a players' tour to raise funds for local charities. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)

NEW YORK (AP) -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman still hasn't spoken to players' union chief Donald Fehr since a brief meeting Wednesday, but negotiators on both sides are back in contact as the lockout drags on.

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As it turns out, Krys Barch’s lockout tweets are surprisingly musical (VIDEO)

12 Oct

Late last month, Krys Barch sat down in front of a fire, 8 OV deep, cracked open a bottle of Porte, and took to Twitter for an epic rant about the lockout. It was a divisive moment, heralded as a rallying cry for some and criticized as a whiny and off-putting diatribe by others.

But one thing nobody called it: inherently musical. And, as it turns out, it sort of was. Youtube channel The NOC gave a section of Barch's rant the "Music twideo" treatment, setting his musings to a sweet acoustic tune sung by New York based singer Michelle Ferreira. The results? Surprisingly moving.

Granted, it helps to have Ferreira singing the crap out of Barch's words, but seriously, until the she hits the phrase "work stoppage", you'd think these lyrics were written by Aimee Mann or something.

If the whole hockey thing doesn't work out, Barch might want to consider a future in songwriting. He's got the chops.

Frankly, if this lockout drags on into next year, I hope Barch and Ferreira cut an album together. They could be the next She and Him, or The Swell Season, or even Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney

Tags: Barch, , Krys Barch, , moment, , nobody, Porte, rant,
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The A’s have it! Oakland seizes AL West title from Texas on season’s final day

03 Oct

The wild, wild AL West came to an end in one of the wildest ways possible on Wednesday: The Oakland A's, who started the season as an afterthought, erased an early four-run deficit and blew out the the Texas Rangers in a 12-5 victory in front of an Coliseum crowd that was threatening  to take off into orbit. It almost did, too, as Coco Crisp squeezed the final out in his glove, securing the franchise's first division title since 2006. The A's will advance to the ALDS against an opponent still to be determined while Texas faces the reality of their collapse putting them into Friday's do-or-die play-in game.

The win caps one of the most improbable comebacks in regular season history. The A's trailed the Rangers by a season-high 13 games at the end of June and were a garden variety .500 squad at the All-Star break. They soon caught fire, though, winning 12 of 14 to start the second half and were somehow able to overcome Bartolo Colon's drug suspension and injuries to pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to keep the comeback bid alive.

Even still, the A's needed a frantic burst of winning to blast through the crack that the two-time defending American League champions kept open. They were five games back with nine games remaining and Elias says the A's are the first team in baseball history to erase such a deficit to win a division or league. How'd they do it? They split a four-game series in Texas last week, swept a weekend series against Seattle and blitzed the Rangers in three straight must-win games to start this week.

Are you ready for the postseason?
Follow @bigleaguestew, @KevinKaduk and the BLS Facebook page!

Tags: Coliseum, deficit, , , , , wildest
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Dominant U.S. stretch Cup lead to 9-4 (Reuters)

29 Sep

Team Europe golfer Ian Poulter (R) of England shakes hands with U.S. golfer Bubba Watson after winning their match on the 18th green during the morning foursomes round at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - Though Tiger Woods continued to struggle, the United States tightened their grip on the 39th Ryder Cup as Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson earned the first point of the afternoon in Saturday's fourball matches. Left-hander Watson and Cup rookie Simpson beat England's Justin Rose and Italian Francesco Molinari 5&4 to give the home team a commanding 9-4 lead over holders Europe in front of energized crowds at Medinah Country Club. Watson sealed the win with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 14th, but U.S. ...

Tags: , Bubba, , , , ,
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$9 Vanderbilt Football Tickets 10/27/2012

29 Sep
Front Row Football Tickets has some discount tickets available to see the UMass Minutemen at Vanderbilt Commodores game at Vanderbilt Stadium on 10/27/2012. We have a total of 16 seats available in section K row 41 for only $9.00 - first come first served.

These and More Vanderbilt Commodores Football tickets available at: Vanderbilt Commodores Football tickets
Tags: , , Minutemen, , , ,
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Column: A silhouette recalls why Ryder Cup matters (The Associated Press)

25 Sep

European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal poses with the trophy at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) -- Every time a European player reaches for a club during the Ryder Cup, it's almost as if Seve Ballesteros were still looking on. A year after his death, the Spaniard's fist-pumping silhouette is emblazoned front and center on their golf bags, a reminder to a new generation why this event came to matter so much in the first place.

Tags: Ballesteros, , , Ill, , , , , , , silhouette
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Chase Watch: Chasers take the top seven spots at New Hampshire

23 Sep

In the season's first race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 12 Chase drivers all finished in the top 13. On Sunday, the second race of the Chase, the stranglehold at the front of the field loosened just a little bit.

This time, all 12 Chase drivers finished in the top 18, including in the first seven positions. However, six of those seven drivers at the front were the top six entering Sunday's race. And the drivers that finished in 17th and 18th were Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr., who were in 8th and 9th place after Chicago, respectively.

So that means the Chase right now is essentially divided into a top half and a bottom half. None of the bottom half are out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but if the drivers in that top half continue to clog the top 10, well, there won't be any room to make up any ground.

1. Jimmie Johnson 2096 points, (2nd place on Sunday): Johnson did exactly what he needed to do to blunt Hamlin's gain from Sunday's victory, finishing second and getting a lap led bonus point. He's at the top of the heap heading into Dover, where he's won four of the last seven races.

2. Brad Keselowski, 2095 points, (6th place): Yeah, Keselowski lost the points lead to Johnson, but crew chief Paul Wolfe's decision to take two tires on the team's final pit stop meant that the the team went from 10th to fourth after the stops cycled through. It's a decision that could loom large later in the year.

3. Denny Hamlin 2089 points, (1st place): With Sunday's win, Hamlin gained eight points and one spot in the standings on the points lead. Now, his next task is to maintain the gap between he and Johnson at Dover, where Hamlin's last three finishes are 16th, 18th and 19th.

4. Tony Stewart, 2086 points (7th place): After starting third, Smoke darted to the lead early, but faded to the back of the top 10 after the race's competition caution at lap 40. He crept back into the top 5 for a few brief moments and made up two spots after pitting during the race's final caution flag.

5. Kasey Kahne, 2081 points (5th place): Kahne finished a spot ahead of where he qualified and almost exactly where he ran most of the day. It was an appropriate result and enough to maintain his gap to first place.

6. Clint Bowyer, 2081 points (4th place): Rawhide's car went from too loose to too tight over the course of the race and felt he didn't have enough rear grip to contend for the win. But like Kahne, he hung around the top five all day and stayed tied with him.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr, 2070 points (13th place): Junior ran around the back of the top 20 for most of the day and was close to going a lap down when two of the race's debris cautions came. Like Keselowski, Junior and Letarte took two tires on the final green flag, which gave Junior a couple spots of track position.

8. Kevin Harvick, 2065 points (11th place): Harvick was solidly around 10th for most of the day, typically a "good points day." However, it's notsomuch of one when you lose seven points to the points lead.

9. Biffle, 2063 points (18th place): Where were the Roush cars? Biffle wasn't a factor all day, though the racing that he had with Truex late in Sunday's race was some of the closest and most compelling all day.

10. Truex, 2062 points (17th place): Truex hung around with teammate Bowyer for the early stages of the race, but faded late. And it was a costly fade too, as Truex lost 13 points to the top spot.

11. Matt Kenseth, 2061 points (14th place): Flatline's Zestfully clean car was Zestfully not in contention for the win. He stayed out to lead a lap during two green flag pit stop cycles. Woo!

12. Jeff Gordon, 2051 points (3rd place): Here starts Gordon's march back into title contention! What? He only made up two points on the points lead? Yeah, it stings when the guy you're trying to make up acres of space on finishes second.

Tags: , , , Greg Biffle, , Jimmie Johnson, martin truex jr, , New Hampshire Motor Speedway, , stop, ,
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The All-22: Whose line is it anyway, Chris Johnson?

23 Sep

It's almost hard to believe that in 2009, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson became the sixth running back in NFL history to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season. Back in 2009, Johnson was the league's ultimate game-changer -- a speedy, hard-to-stop dynamo who electrified on nearly every play.

But as is often the case with running backs, that didn't last too long. After amassing 2,006 rushing yards on 358 carries and another 260 yards on 43 catches, Johnson's totals on the ground started to erode in a big hurry. In 2010, he ran for 1,364 yards on 316 carries, and he fell to 1,047 yards on 262 carries in 2011. His yards per carry average plummeted from 5.6 to 4.3 to 4.0.

Through two games of the 2012 season, Johnson's totals are far more worrisome -- he has just 21 rushing yards on 19 carries, good for a 1.1 yards-per-carry average, and the on-field view confirms what the stats say. Right now, for whatever reason, Chris Johnson is not performing at an NFL level. Asked why that was this week, Johnson seemed to imply that the fault lay with his offensive line.

"I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame," Johnson said. "I wouldn't think so, but I'm not the guy to sit here and be the guy that points fingers and things like that. It's just a situation where I'm going to be only as good as my line's going to be. So we've got to work together and get better together."

Unfortunately for Johnson's case, even a cursory look at the tape shows that he's not running with any sense of urgency. He's exhibiting very little burst, and his aversion to contact is kind of disturbing.

On the Titans' first offensive play against the Chargers, Johnson was tripped up by linebacker Donald Butler and safety Eric Weddle after a two-yard gain. The Titans' offensive line cleared a hole over the middle with a combo block, but Johnson was unable to stretch that blocking into a big play as the best backs are able to do.

Next time he got the ball, Johnson went down after a one-yard gain when linebacker Shaun Phillips tripped him up with an ankle tackle.

The Titans set their blocking to San Diego's overload left-side front, but Johnson couldn't make it go. He then ran straight into the pile for no gain, and didn't get another carry until halfway through the second quarter.

When he did get another chance, with 6:28 left in the first half, Johnson had what would seem to be an ideal situation. The Chargers had a front aligned perfectly for the delay play the Titans were planning -- there was a huge gap set up, and there was a lane clearly established.

As Johnson took the ball, his blockers set the edges where they needed to, and he hit the hole (hell, it was a two-lane road at this point).

Johnson had several options as the defense converged upon him -- he could blast through safety Aari Bigby, who had come down from a two-deep shell to play the run fit role, or he could zip to his left through the hole established by guards Fernando Velasco and Leroy Harris, and tight end Jared Cook.

Sadly, Johnson did neither of those things.

As Bigby closed on a run fill, Johnson tried to cut left and gain what should have been at least a few extra yards. But once again, a graze tackle took him down.

It's as simple as this: The eye in the sky doesn't lie, and that eye tells us that the Tennessee Titans are providing Chris Johnson with at least acceptable blocking -- certainly enough to do more than what he's doing. The great running backs are great because they make more of plays than they are given. It's easy to blame a like when a back struggles, but it's not always correct. In my opinion, the major issue with Chris Johnson -- and it is an issue that will plague the Titans until it is somehow corrected -- is that Johnson himself can't or won't shake and break contact for extra gains.

I'm reminded of the Shaun Alexander I saw in 2007, when the former Seattle Seahawks star showed what a running back who doesn't want to get hit looks like. It's not a pretty picture.

There's no question that Johnson is a dynamic player in theory, but at this point in his career, he's totally ill-suited for the demands laid on any feature back.

Tags: , , , , , , offensive line, ,
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Golf-Tiger lands first blow in East Lake ‘duel’ with Rory (Reuters)

20 Sep
ATLANTA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods delivered the best possible response to suggestions earlier this week that he is intimidated by Rory McIlroy as he outscored the world number one by three shots in the Tour Championship first round on Thursday. Playing with the mop-haired Northern Irishman in the final pairing in front of huge galleries at East Lake Golf Club, Woods birdied two of the last four holes for a four-under-par 66 to burst into a share of the lead. ...
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