Sports Outside the Beltway

Washington Capitals get goalie Huet from Montreal

This trade is a real head scratcher.

WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals have acquired goalie Cristobal Huet from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2009 second-round draft pick. The deal Tuesday comes a few hours before the deadline for making trades in the NHL.

Huet has been Montreal’s No. 1 goalie this season. The 2007 All-Star is 21-12-6 with a 2.55 goals-against average.

The Capitals’ top goalie has been Olie Kolzig, who is 21-19-6 with a 3.03 GAA.

Washington has climbed from the bottom of the NHL to within striking distance of a playoff berth.

The draft pick Montreal gets was previously acquired by Washington from Anaheim for Brian Sutherby.

This trade works out well for Washington. On the other hand I don’t get it for Montreal. The Canadiens have two very unexperienced goaltenders now, Jaroslav Halák and Carey Price. I haven’t seen Halák play but Price looked very green in the one game I saw him play against Florida. Montreal is 5th in the Eastern conference playoffs race, and only 1 pt out of the division lead. The East is pretty wide open, Montreal could win the conference though I was predicting them not to. Now I wouldn’t pick the Canadiens at all. This deal doesn’t make sense to me at present.


Vancouver trades Cooke to Washington for Pettinger

Both team’s coaches won’t have a hard time learning their new player’s name. From the Canadian Press-

VANCOUVER – Matt Pettinger is heading back to British Columbia.

The Vancouver Canucks acquired him from the Washington Capitals on Tuesday for winger Matt Cooke. Both players are leaving the only NHL team they have ever played for.

I watched NBC’s Today show this morning. So far as I know, Matt Lauer has no comment.


Ottawa Senators fire coach John Paddock

This comes with less than 20 games left in the NHL season.

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators, looking sluggish in a recent, lengthy slump, on Wednesday fired coach John Paddock.

General manager Bryan Murray will take over coaching duties for the last 18 games of the regular season. Murray was coach when the Senators advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 2006-07, but stepped aside to become GM during the summer, and Paddock was given the job as coach.

The Senators lead the Northeast Division by a point over the Montreal Canadiens, but have been shut out in their past two games. Ottawa has lost six of its past eight games and 14 of its last 21.

Murray’s first game in his return behind the bench will be Thursday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Murray has been almost as well traveled as Mike Keenan. With stops in Anaheim, Detroit, Washington, and Florida. The Senators have been a disappointment after a fast start to the 07-08 season. I still feel the talent is there for Ottawa to win the conference. A resurgent Pittsburgh Penguins look like the Senator’s biggest obstacle, that is other than themselves.


Cowboys Selling Zach Thomas #54 Jerseys

The Cowboys are selling Zach Thomas jerseys with his number 54 on them, despite that number beloning to 2006 #1 draft pick Bobby Carpenter, Clarence Hill reports.

Cowboys linebacker Bobby Carpenter still has the No. 54 jersey, as far as he knows.

The Zach Thomas replica jersey is priced at $74.99 at The Dallas Cowboys’ merchandising department is already on the Zach Thomas bandwagon, as are many Cowboys fans. But last week’s signing of the former Dolphins and Texas Tech linebacker is not going over well with everybody in the Cowboys locker room.

For starters, the Cowboys are already selling No. 54 jerseys with “Thomas” emblazoned on the back on their Web site. Thomas wore 54 with the Dolphins. The problem is that linebacker Bobby Carpenter currently wears the No. 54. According to a source, the merchandising department might have gotten ahead of itself in marketing Thomas’ jersey, considering that a number change has not been worked out with Carpenter, and that Thomas has said he would be willing to wear No. 55. Carpenter confirmed in a text message Tuesday night that he has not given his number away.

And then there’s the little matter of Thomas’ role. After signing a one-year, $3 million contract for next season, he is expected to be penciled in as starting weakside linebacker. The problem there is that Akin Ayodele has started at weakside linebacker the past two years. Ayodele is vacationing in Brazil. But according to a source close to Ayodele, Thomas’ signing is an indication that Ayodele’s days in Dallas are numbered. Ayodele does not play special teams. A team normally doesn’t keep a backup linebacker that doesn’t play special teams, especially with a $2.5 million base salary for next season.

“They will try to trade him or release him,’’ a source said. “Obviously, Akin is not going to be happy about it. He has done a good job here. Zach is not signing here unless he is starting. I just don’t foresee where they keep them both.”

So, the Cowboys have overpaid for an old dude, alienated a 1st round pick from 2 years ago and made it harder for him to crack the starting lineup, and are going to ship out a perfectly serviceable guy they paid free agent money to not long ago? Does that make any sense?


Horse racing bet makes man birthday millionaire

What a gift Fred Craggs from Yorkshire got.

LONDON (Reuters) – A British man celebrated his 60th birthday in unexpected style at the weekend when a 50 pence ($1) bet on the horses turned him into an instant millionaire.

Fred Craggs, from Yorkshire in northern England, was not even aware of his win when he walked into a branch of the William Hill betting agency to see how he had done with his accumulator bet.

When he was informed of his good fortune he was said to have turned rather pale and muttered that he had better go home to tell his wife.

His coup was selecting eight winners running at various courses around the country — starting with one called “Isn’t That Lucky” and finishing with “A Dream Come True” — at odds of 2,000,000 to one.

“This is the most amazing bet ever placed since betting shops were made legal in 1961,” William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said on Monday.

Between the British tax man and Mr. Craggs wife I wonder how much will be left for the lucky bettor.


Penguin’s goalie Conklin stops 50 in 4-2 win over NY Islanders

The rookie has been nothing short of incredible this year. From AP-

After the Pittsburgh Penguins came away as the NHL’s trade deadline winners, Ty Conklin helped them savor their big day with an eye-popping performance.

Conklin made a career-best 50 saves Tuesday night in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders — hours after Pittsburgh acquired Marian Hossa from Atlanta.

“I haven’t seen a goalie steal a game like that this year,” Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said.

Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Taffe scored first-period goals for trade-depleted Pittsburgh, and Conklin did the rest. The Penguins — still playing without an injured Sidney Crosby — were outshot 52-21, including 11-4 in the second period.

“Sometimes shot clocks aren’t indicative of the game necessarily,” a humble Conklin said.

Since coming up in December after Marc-Andre Fleury injured an ankle, Conklin has gone 17-4-5.

Conklin has a 2.19 Goals against average and a .933 save percentage. While I predicted Ottawa to win the Eastern Conference, Pittburgh is looking awfully tough to beat at this moment.


Kings for a day- Miami Heat defeat Sacramento 107-86

Only the Heat’s second win in over two months.

MIAMI – The sound you heard Tuesday night was not the scant crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena offering its approval of the Heat’s 107-86 victory over the Kings.

Instead, it was the pop of the champagne in Philadelphia, where the 1972-73 76ers were assured of another year of their place in history.

As bad as it has gotten this season, the Heat won’t be the worst team in NBA history.

Instead, broadcaster and former 76ers guard Fred Carter can retain his claim as “the best player on the worst team ever.”

With Philadelphia’s 9-73 infamy of 35 years ago out of the way, the Heat next can concentrate of shedding a different layer of shame, the franchise’s worst finish of 15-67 during its inaugural 1988-89 season.

Call it a gut feeling, but I think Miami will win more than 15 games. Not by much though.


PGA Tour cut policy revised….again

The previous change wasn’t popular. From AP-

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The PGA Tour amended its divisive cut policy, giving players on the cut line one more day of competition to separate themselves from the bottom of the pack.

Starting this week at the Honda Classic, the tour will return to a traditional 36-hole cut for the top 70 and ties. If more than 78 players make the cut, there will be another cut to the top 70 and ties after the third round.

“On the surface, that sounds like doing the same thing over again,” commissioner Tim Finchem said Tuesday. “But it’s really not, because the field spreads.”

The cut policy changed this year to avoid large fields on the weekend, which led to 5½-hour rounds and disrupted the television window. When the cut was more than 78 players, the nearest number to 70 advanced to the weekend, while the others received last-place money.

Eighteen players at the Sony Open and 19 players at the Buick Invitational were kept from playing on the weekend under the previous policy.

The new policy is inviting trouble for an entirely different reason. Now there are two cuts, one for Friday and one for Saturday. In the event of a rain delay, this delay a tournament’s fourth round from starting as all players’s final scores need to reset. Where as under the original policy, players could be just sent out again without shuffling the field.

Nothing is perfect I guess.


Yao Ming out for season with left foot injury

He will need four months off to heal the injury. From AP-

HOUSTON – All-Star center Yao Ming is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, a stunning blow to the surging Houston Rockets. General manager Daryl Morey made the announcement Tuesday, hours before the Rockets put their 12-game winning streak on the line against the Washington Wizards.

Yao was having a terrific season, averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“It is not an injury we feel he can play with,” Rockets team doctor Tom Clanton said. “I’ve made the recommendation that it be treated surgically and we are working with him to get other opinions just to be certain that that is indeed what should be done.”

If Yao chooses surgery, Clanton said, it would involve placing screws across the bone to hold it together. The second option would be to treat it with a cast and crutches. Both options involve a healing time of about four months.

Clanton would not say when Yao could play again, but said he doesn’t expect the center to miss the Beijing Olympics in August.

The Rocket GM says this won’t compromise Houston’s playoff hopes. Maybe not, but without Yao Houston isn’t likely to advance far.


Michelle Wie is back but is her golf game?

Her results in Hawaii were mixed.

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — After two encouraging rounds to start her year, Michelle Wie shot a 6-over 78 on Saturday in the final round of Fields Open to finish 20 strokes behind winner Paula Creamer.

“Obviously I’m a little disappointed with today’s round,” said Wie, who opened with rounds of 69 and 73.

At 4-over 220, she tied for last among the 74 players who made the cut.

“Felt like I was a little rusty out there,” Wie said. “I just got to keep on playing.”

The 18-year-old Wie, who started the round on No. 10 at 2 under, went double bogey-par-triple bogey to fall to 3 over heading into the turn. She rebounded a bit on the final nine, with two birdies and three bogeys, including one on the final hole.


The Stanford freshman shot a 69 on Thursday, breaking 70 for the first time since the Evian Ladies Masters in July 2006. She made the cut with two strokes to spare with a second round 73.

I’d say the jury is still out. Michelle’s results were all right the first two rounds. Houndog did however note that while Michelle shooting a first round 69, she only hit six fairways and nine greens in regulation.

Where does Michelle play next? I don’t know, but I did read she wasn’t invited to the Kraft Nabisco the LPGA’s first major. We may have to wait a while before getting chance to evaluate the state of Michelle Wie’s golf game.


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