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Top stories of 2010, No. 6: Bruins’ playoff collapse vs. Flyers

12.26.10 at 10:41 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’€™s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 6: The Bruins’€™ historic playoff collapse against the Flyers.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. Ravens
No. 8: Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath
No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’€™s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

In 2010 the Bruins did not take a traditional path to the playoffs. There was the 10-game losing streak, a record-breaking home losing streak, a shortage of offense (the B’€™s ranked second-worst in the league in total goals scored in regular season), and just a general sense of dejection surrounding the so-called Big Bad Bruins. But you’€™ve got to give the guys credit for defying their critics down the stretch. The B’€™s won four of their final five games, gathering points in all of them, to not just secure a playoff spot, but also jump up to the sixth seed.

‘€œI knew we had it in here but we just had to bring it out,’€ forward Mark Recchi said back in April. ‘€œI never had any doubts about the guys. You know, I just know what is in here. That was the frustrating part, because you know what is in here and you know we can get it through a couple more notches and we just weren’€™t doing it consistently. We would do it some nights, but it wasn’€™t a consistent thing and that was our problem all year.’€

Things came together at the right time for the Bruins, and they knocked off their first-round playoff opponent, the Sabres, in six games. Suddenly the Bruins found themselves hosting an Eastern Conference semifinal series against Philadelphia.

‘€œI think that was probably a good thing for us where we hit some adversity like that where we hit such a low,’€ forward Milan Lucic said. ‘€œI mean, for us to overcome that and end up where we are now we found a way to come together and do that. It is what helps a lot of teams ‘€” to be successful is to go through some adversity and with everyone pegging us out, the media was all over us, the fans were all over us to just walk up to bat and do some good, it was just a good thing for us to see and pull through and stick up for each other.’€

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Read More: marc savard, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask

Michael Vick on MVP: ‘I would take … myself’

12.25.10 at 11:29 am ET
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Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, considered by many to be a co-favorite for NFL MVP along with Tom Brady, was asked after practice Friday who he would select if he had a vote.

“You put me on the spot,” he said, before smiling and saying: “I would take … myself.”

Brady leads the NFL with a 109.9 passer rating. Vick is third at 103.6. He also has rushed for 613 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vick spent Christmas in 2007 and 2008 in a Kansas penitentiary serving an 18-month sentence related to an illegal dogfighting ring.

“I’m just blessed to be here,” Vick said. “I spent two Christmases in Kansas, and that was by far the toughest thing I’ve had to do. Each and every year I reflect on that, and I think it will always make the holiday season more gratifying.

“[I’m] just thankful for a lot, thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been given, thankful for the blessings, and hopefully they’ll continue to come.”

Read More: michael vick, Rumor Mill, Tom Brady,

Sabres’ Derek Roy out for season

12.25.10 at 11:24 am ET
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Center Derek Roy, the Sabres’ leading scorer, will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left quadriceps tendon. Roy, hurt on a check by Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov during Thursday’s game, will have surgery in the couple of days and recuperate the next 4-6 months, the team announced.

In 35 games, Roy has 10 goals and 25 assists for a team-high 35 points. He also leads Buffalo forwards in ice time (20:03 per game).

Read More: Derek Roy, Rumor Mill,

Top stories of 2010, No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries

12.25.10 at 10:51 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 7: The Red Sox‘ injury-plagued lost season.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: The Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. the Ravens
No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

The 2010 Red Sox season was supposed to be predicated on two traits: pitching and defense. All offseason long, Theo Epstein raved about those qualities as the team signed Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and John Lackey while letting Jason Bay sign with the Mets.

There was only one problem with Epstein’€™s plan. He could not have factored in the most important characteristic of the 2010 squad: injured, early and often.

Within the first two weeks of the season, the Red Sox already had suffered their first casualties of the season when two-thirds of their outfield went on the disabled list. Things would only get worse, as the team lost three starting pitchers to the DL, four catchers were sidelined and two of the most reliable and productive members of the lineup, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, missed large parts of the season.

Things became so bad that they were almost laughable. The Red Sox led the league in total trips to the DL with 23, and finished fourth overall with over 1,050 games lost to the DL and more than $20 million lost due to injury. Their 89-73 record look that much more impressive considering the Red Sox lost most of their most important players rather than just a slew of no-names.

Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka each missed five or more starts and those in the bullpen suffered myriad injuries. Victor Martinez missed just 23 games on the disabled list, a relative victory for a team of the walking injured. A torn thumb muscle forced Youkilis to ride the pine for over 60 games and Pedroia’€™s broken foot kept him out for more than half the season. Cameron, the most disappointing of the new acquisitions, managed just 162 at-bats. But the biggest exemplar of all the injuries and frustration of the 2010 season was Jacoby Ellsbury.

With Cameron’€™s addition, Ellsbury was supposed to take over left field duties and potentially become an even scarier threat on the base paths. The 26-year-old, who had led the league in steals in back-to-back seasons with 120 combined steals, was drawing very favorable praise during spring training.

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Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, kevin youkilis, Mike Cameron

Top stories of 2010, No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath

12.24.10 at 8:13 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our third entry in the countdown is No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath.

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

The Bruins carried themselves through a good portion of the 2009-10 season undaunted, just waiting to take on their next opponent. In Bill Belichick terms: They were playing their season one game at a time.

The team was riding a season on the back of young netminder Tuukka Rask, who had the B’€™s in not just the playoff hunt, but in good postseason standing with just several months remaining on the regular-season schedule.

But on March 7, the Bruins made a trip to Pittsburgh that will live in Boston sports infamy.

The Penguins were a good team ‘€” a team that boasted one of the biggest names in modern-day hockey in Sidney Crosby. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-1 lead late in the third period when Bruins center Marc Savard was set up for a quick wrist shot in between the faceoff circles in the Penguins’€™ zone. After Savard got the shot away, Penguins left wing Matt Cooke skated in on Savard and put a shoulder into his blind side, catching the side of Savard’€™s head and neck. The shot came from almost behind the Bruins center, and after the puck had already been released.

Savard hit the ice hard and didn’€™t move for minutes, except to open and close his hand. Meanwhile, Bruins players skated at Cooke, seeking some form of redemption for the swipe. But when referees held up any extra physicality, no further push was made by either team to reconcile what had happened. The game ended in a 2-1 Penguins victory, but the Bruins had lost much more than just the game itself.

For weeks, analysts and even teammates discussed the hit and whether or not it was legal, or should have drawn a suspension, while Savard suffered the effects of a major concussion. Ultimately, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell ruled that the hit on Savard was not worthy of a fine or suspension, that Cooke’€™s hit was technically legal (it was not penalized by the on-ice officials).

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Read More: Boston Bruins, marc savard, matt cooke,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jets owner Woody Johnson backs Rex Ryan

12.24.10 at 7:54 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY FRIDAY:
No games scheduled

SATURDAY:
NBA: Pacers at Celtics, 2:30 p.m. (ABC; WEEI)

SUNDAY:
No games scheduled

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Jets owner Woody Johnson threw his support behind coach Rex Ryan in the wake of the foot-fetish video that was made public this week, insisting his “respect has not diminished one iota.” Said Johnson: “We’re going to make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But once we’ve made a mistake, I think we’re pretty good at trying to make remedies and trying to cure and trying to correct what we’re doing. … We’re going to work on trying to make ourselves an organization that doesn’t have, preferably, any incidents.”

Johnson also called Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to apologize for comments by his special teams coach following the incident on the sideline two weeks ago.

“You wish some of these things hadn’t happened,” Johnson said. “But I’m very proud of the organization. I think the organization responded very responsibly in every case. The culture that I’m looking for is starting to develop.”

‘™¦ Five Ohio State football players, including quarterback Terrell Pryor, were punished for selling personal awards, but their suspensions won’t begin until next season, leaving them eligible for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Arkansas. At ESPNcom, Pat Forde speaks for most columnists when he writes that the ruling “defies common sense.” In The News-Herald of Northern Ohio, John Kampf writes that Pryor is leaving a legacy, but it’s not a good one.

‘™¦ Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com was at Wednesday night’s Central Florida-UMass basketball game, and he writes about the gutsy effort of UCF’s Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, who overcame an injury to help his team improve to 11-0.

‘™¦ Colts receiver Austin Collie, placed on IR after repeated issues with concussions, should consider retirement, writes Bob Kravitz in The Indianapolis Star.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 24, 2004, the Red Sox re-signed catcher Jason Varitek and named him captain. Who was the last player to serve as team captain before Varitek?

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Read More: Marcus Jordan, Rex Ryan, Terrell Pryor, Woody Johnson

Titans receiver Randy Moss denies calling radio show to complain about coach Jeff Fisher

12.23.10 at 7:38 pm ET
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Titans wide receiver Randy Moss denied the accusations that he called into the 4-Hour Lunch on 104.5-FM and complained to the hosts about head coach Jeff Fisher, the Tennessean reported on Thursday. Many listeners thought that a caller named ‘€œWoody’€ was Moss calling in to talk about Fisher because his accent sounded similar to that of the wide receiver.

Moss, however, denied reports that he ever called in to the station, and told Fisher himself in a private meeting between the two that it was not him.

‘€œThat is not me, that is not my M.O.,’€ Moss told the Tennessean on Wednesday. ‘€œI would never do an individual like that. ‘€¦ I conduct myself and carry myself as a man, so if there is something I need to say to you, I’€™ll say it to your face. I wouldn’€™t go through no radios and try to hide and stuff like that.’€

Moss said that the accusations were brought to his attention by head strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson. Moss said that he had not heard the interview with the radio station.

Read More: Jeff Fisher, Randy Moss, Rumor Mill, Tennessee Titans

Five Ohio State football players suspended first five game of 2011 for receiving improper benefits

12.23.10 at 12:34 pm ET
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Five Ohio State football players have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 NCAA football season, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, for accepting improper benefits, ESPN  reports. A sixth player must sit out for the first game of the 2011 season as well for receiving discounted benefits in violation of the college rules.

The improper benefits included selling awards, gifts and university apparel, as well as autographs, in exchange for tattoos. All of the players will be eligible to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Arkansas.

The NCAA announced the suspensions on Thursday, and that the players must repay money benefits ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 to a charity. Along with Pryor, other players reprimanded were Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey, and Solomon Thomas. Jordan Whiting will sit out the first game of 2011 and pay $150 to a charity.

Players were punished for selling items such as 2008 Big Ten championship rings, football jersey, pants, shoes, and sportsmanship awards.

‘€œThese are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university,’€ NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said in a statement released by the NCAA.

Read More: Ohio State University, Rumor Mill, terrelle pryor,

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton could be traded after 2010 season is over

12.23.10 at 11:51 am ET
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After starting every game this season until last week, quarterback Kyle Orton said that he isn’€™t pleased with the Broncos, and, according to the Denver Post, could in all likelihood be traded after the culmination of the NFL season. Orton lost his starting job last week due to injury, and rookie quarterback Tim Tebow took over. But the Broncos have named Tebow the starter for the remaining two games of the regular season, despite Orton being healthy enough to play.

‘€œI’€™d love to play it out,’€ Orton told the Post. ‘€œIt wasn’€™t my decision. There was nothing I could do. ‘€¦ The way it was presented to me was he’€™ll be the starter the rest of the season and that’€™s just how it goes.’€

For the first half of the 2010 season, Orton was on pace to set the single-season passing record for the Broncos, who were at the time hovering near a .500 record. Since then, the Broncos have ended up in last place in the AFC West with a 3-11 record.

Tebow, in his first career start, threw for one touchdown and ran for another on in the team’€™s 39-23 loss to the Raiders.

The Broncos may get a new general manager to join John Elway in a newly-constructed front office, and will decide the future of Orton beyond this season.

Read More: Denver Broncos, Kyle Orton, Rumor Mill, Tim Tebow

With Paul Silas as head coach, Bobcats could pursue former Hornets guard Baron Davis

12.23.10 at 11:38 am ET
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Now that Paul Silas is back in the driver’€™s seat in Charlotte, this time coaching the Bobcats instead of his former team, the Hornets, the coach would like to bring back one of his former players in point guard Baron Davis, Yahoo! Sports reports. Davis played for Silas while he started in Charlotte with the Hornets.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Michael Jordan, the majority owner of the Bobcats, is considering a trade that would send guards D.J. Augustin and Matt Carroll, as well as forward DeSagana Diop to Los Angeles in return for Davis, the current Clippers guard.

Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Clippers have been trying to trade Davis for a number of years, and have even included Davis in deals with center Chris Kaman, league executives said. Silas immediately becomes the underlying factor if Jordan and the Bobcats decide to pursue Davis as a trade option.

Read More: Baron Davis, Michael Jordan, Paul Silas, Rumor Mill