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Norwegian Olympic-hopeful Alexander Dale Oen, 26, dies in Arizona 05.01.12 at 11:39 am ET
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Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died in Arizona Monday. (AP)

Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen, one of Norway’s top swimming prospects ahead of this summer’s London Olympics, died Monday night after collapsing in his Flagstaff, Ariz. bathroom. He was 26 years old.

Oen was in Arizona with his Norwegian teammates for a training camp. He had participated in a light training session earlier and played golf earlier in the day, according to the Norwegian swimming federation. Oen was found by his teammates on the floor of his bathroom after they became suspicious when he took an unusually long time in the shower. He died from cardiac arrest.

Oen was well-known in Norway for finishing first in the 100 breaststroke in last year’s world championships in Shanghai just three days after extremist Anders Breivik went on a rampage in which he allegedly massacred 77 people, many of whom were children. Oen dedicated his victory to the victims of that massacre.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg addressed Oen’s death on Twitter, tweeting: Alexander Dale Oen was a great sportsman for a small country. My thoughts go to his family and friends.

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Lakers center Jordan Hill charged with allegedly choking girlfriend 05.01.12 at 10:29 am ET
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Lakers' center Jordan Hill is facing felony assault charges in connection with a Feb. 29 domestic dispute. (AP)

The Lakers have already lost Metta World Peace for the first few games of the playoffs due to a seven-game suspension, and now one of the players helping to replace him will have a plate full of off-court distractions. Lakers center Jordan Hill has a scheduled court date on Tuesday in connection with a felony assault charge stemming from a Feb. 29 argument with his girlfriend, Darlene Luna. Hill, who was playing for Houston at the time, is accused of shoving and choking the 28-year-old Luna when, according to court documents, the two got into an argument about their future.

Hill did not answer many questions about the charges following practice on Monday.

“I can’t speak on it right now,” Hill told reporters after practice. “I’m going to let my attorney, my agents take care of that. Unfortunately, it happened at this time, but I’m going to keep my head up, keep working, keep playing.”

The 6-foot-10 Hill was traded to Los Angeles in March for Derek Fisher and a first-round draft pick. Hill did not play significant minutes for the Lakers until stepping in for World Peace in the Lakers’ 114-106 win over the Thunder on April 22. The former eighth overall draft pick recorded 14 points and 15 rebounds in 35 minutes of action in the game and followed that performance with an eight-point, eight-rebound showing through 30 minutes of play in Los Angeles’s regular season final against the Kings. Hill played 24 minutes in the Lakers’ Game 1 win over the Nuggets, putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds. His availability for Game 2 is unknown.

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Metta World Peace blames elbow on ‘erratic passion’ 04.26.12 at 12:14 pm ET
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Metta World Peace called his elbow to James Harden's head the result of "erratic passion." (AP)

The Laker formerly known as Ron Artest is still making headlines after he was handed a seven-game suspension for elbowing Thunder sub James Harden in the head. Metta World Peace, who has been suspended nine times for a total of 102 games through his 14-year career, said after a Lakers practice on Wednesday that he did not mean to elbow Harden so viciously and blamed the elbowing on passion.

“I was just way too emotional,” he said. “It seemed like anger but it was a lot of passion involved. But it was erratic. It was erratic fire, it was erratic passion. It was way too much.”

Despite his acknowledgement that his passion was out of control, World Peace struck back at some former NBA players, including Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson, who criticized World Peace for the elbowing.

World Peace responded on his Twitter account Wednesday night, tweeting:

Shaq ,How can u comment on elbows.. What about the punch you threw at brad miller. And the elbows at dikembe and the prizbilla concussion?

Can magic johnson,jon barry and steven A compare my accidental elbow to the Luis scola face step and the Blake griff take down..?

The tweets have since been removed from his account. Later on Wednesday, World Peace posted a five-paragraph item on his website, ronartest.com, meditating on referees and emotions on the court.

The referees’ jobs are hard because they have to control the game and emotions, World Peace wrote. The refs have to be aware of the two teams and if there are any bad feelings between the teams… They also have to be aware of the players on the floor, and the aggressive nature of players and player tendencies.

You have to expect one of the asteroids or shooting stars to be more powerful or more strategic at the point of impact… You most definitely have to be passionate, first and foremost.

Artest will miss one regular-season game and six playoff games due to his suspension. Harden missed the final regular-season game of the season but has been cleared to play in the playoffs.

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Report: NFL initiates talks to suspend Pro Bowl 04.26.12 at 11:38 am ET
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The Pro Bowl is supposed to be a showcase of the NFL’s top talent, but in recent years, the game has been more of a lackluster obligation than a competitive exhibition. As such, according to an ESPN report, commissioner Roger Goodell is leaning toward suspending the 2012 season’s Pro Bowl. Another ESPN source expects the Pro Bowl after 2013 to be a thing of history.

According to the report, if the game is suspended players still will vote to name the season’s top players and teams will still have to honor Pro Bowl incentives in the players’ contracts. Players named as Pro Bowlers could be honored in some fashion during the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

On Thursday morning, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that the NFL is in discussion with the NFLPA about the Pro Bowl, as he tweeted: Re reports on Pro Bowl, we have been in discussions w/the NFLPA about Pro Bowl’s future. No decision has been made on this season’s game.

The Pro Bowl is scheduled at an awkward time. For the past three seasons, it has been played the week before the Super Bowl, meaning that any players selected to the Pro Bowl who play for a Super Bowl team cannot compete. Players who are available to play at the time are usually just beginning their offseason, meaning some do not play due to injury, fatigue or other obligations. The games have been lacking in defense, as teams combined for 75 or more points in each of the past three Pro Bowls. This past season’s Pro Bowl was a 59-41 shootout.

The 2012 season’s Pro Bowl has been scheduled for the week before the Super Bowl, but according to ESPN sources, a site has not been set because of the game’s “precarious status.” For the last two seasons, Aloha Stadium in Honolulu played host to the Pro Bowl.

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Ubaldo Jimenez suspended five games for throwing at Troy Tulowitzki 04.03.12 at 9:41 am ET
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Ubaldo Jimenez was suspended for five games after hitting Troy Tulowitzki in a spring training game. (AP)

Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was suspended for five games and fined by Major League Baseball for hitting former teammate Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch during a spring training game Sunday. Tulowitzki was hit in the elbow in the first inning of the game and did not return. X-rays on the elbow were negative.

Tulowitzki and Jimenez had a feud earlier in the spring after Jimenez told the press he had been unhappy in Colorado before the Rockies traded him to Cleveland last summer. Tulowitzki responded via the media by telling The Denver Post that it was time for Jimenez to move on. The Rockies said Jimenez intentionally threw at Tulowitzki Sunday, but Jimenez denied those assertions.

“He was calling me names,” Jimenez said. “I already said I didn’t want to hit him. I had five walks. It’s not the first time somebody (was) hit.”

Cleveland manager Manny Acta said he expects Jimenez to appeal the suspension. The 28-year-old is slated to fill the second spot in the Indians rotation this season despite a rocky start in Cleveland during which Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA. In six years with Colorado, Jimenez went 56-45 with a 3.66 ERA and was named to the 2010 All-Star Team.

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Andrew Bynum benched late in Lakers win 03.29.12 at 11:10 am ET
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Andrew Bynum was the latest Laker to be benched this week. (AP)

Lakers stars are earning plenty of bench time lately. One game after coach Mike Brown benched Kobe Bryant, center Andrew Bynum rode the pine late in the Lakers’ 104-101 win over the Warriors Tuesday. Bynum was benched for most of the fourth quarter and some of the third quarter after he missed a 3-pointer with 10:05 left in the third quarter and 14 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Bynum recorded just seven 3-point attempts in his seven-year career.

The shot seemed to be the final straw in Bynum’s game that led Brown to bench Bynum, but Brown refused to elaborate on the specifics of Bynum’s benching following the game.

“If I don’t feel like he’s playing the right way, I’ll take him out the game,” Brown said. “I didn’t feel like he was playing the right way. I didn’t feel like we were playing the right way as a club when he was on the floor. That’s why I took him out the game.”

Bynum’s behavior did not improve on the bench. He refused to join the team in huddles during timeouts and mocked taking the shot on the bench shortly after Brown pulled him from the game. After the game, Bynum said he would not change the way he approaches three-pointers following the benching.

“I guess, ‘Don’t take 3s’ is the message, but I’m going to take another one and I’m going to take some more, so I just hope it’s not the same result,” the infrequent three-point shooter Bynum said after the game. “Hopefully I make it.”

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Canadiens fire general manager Pierre Gauthier 03.29.12 at 10:46 am ET
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The Canadiens fired general manager Pierre Gauthier Thursday morning. (AP)

The end of the NHL’s regular season is approaching, but it came a bit early for Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier, who was fired on Thursday morning while Montreal sits in last place in the Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens made the announcement via the team’s Twitter account, tweeting: Pierre Gauthier has been relieved from his duties. The search for a new General Manager[sic] is underway.

The move ends Gauthier’s two-year tenure as general manager for the Canadiens. Gauthier took over the position on Feb. 8, 2010, when he made the jump from assistant general manager to GM after former general manager Bob Gainey was fired.

Gauthier has been involved in plenty of controversy this season. When the Canadiens went 1-7 in their first eight games, he fired assistant coach Perry Pearn just hours before an Oct. 27 game against the Flyers.

In December, Gauthier fired coach Jacques Martin and replaced him with Randy Cunneyworth. The move drew criticism from the Montreal fanbase since Cunneyworth does not speak French. Gauthier later apologized for upsetting fans by hiring the monolingual coach.

“I’m sorry if we upset people,” Gauthier told reporters Jan. 2. “Because that certainly wasn’t our intention.”

Then, in the middle of a Jan. 12 game against the Bruins, Gauthier traded the outspoken Michael Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames after Cammalleri told the media that the Canadiens played with a “losing attitude.”

Gauthier has worked for the Canadiens since 2003, when he joined the organization as the director of professional scouting.

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MLB investigates London Olympic Stadium as venue for European games 03.29.12 at 10:14 am ET
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North Americans and Europeans have long been partners in nearly every aspect of international life, including sporting events. Of North America’s four major sports leagues, three (the NBA, NFL and NHL) have used Europe as a host for some of their games.

Now, Major League Baseball is looking to expand its reach to Europe as well. MLB has at least two prospective locations for a show field in Europe: London’s Olympic Stadium and a new stadium that is being built in the Netherlands.

According to Clive Russell, MLB International’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, MLB has done measurements of London’s Olympic Stadium in an interest to see how the venue would work for baseball after it is downsized following this summer’s Olympic Games.

The facility is built to accommodate 80,000 spectators for the games, but will be turned into a 60,000-capacity venue suitable for a variety of purposes following the conclusion of the 2012 Olympics.

“That [London] stadium, the way it’s built, actually is big enough for a baseball game,” Russell said. “It’s not perfect, but it has some real potential. … It’s tight and there would be some struggles with sight lines.”

MLB also is looking into a stadium in the Netherlands expected to open in 2014 that has 3,000 permanent seats but could utilize temporary seating for 25,000 fans.

“Right now, they’re the front-runners,” Russell said. “If you build it, we will come.”

This news comes as MLB wraps up another series in Japan, with the Mariners and Athletics splitting two regular-season games at Tokyo Dome.

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Canucks confirm Daniel Sedin has concussion 03.27.12 at 12:37 pm ET
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Daniel Sedin is out indefinitely with a concussion. (AP)

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Monday that star left winger Daniel Sedin suffered a concussion after receiving an elbow to the head from Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith in a March 21 game. This was the team’s first public confirmation of the injury.

“He’s got a concussion, and when we have something more to say, we’ll say it,” Vigneault said Monday. He did not have a timetable for Sedin’s return.

Keith was suspended for five games for the hit. The missed games will cost him $149,688.

Sedin is the leading goal-scorer for the Canucks with 30 goals and 37 assists in 72 games this season. He plays on a top line with twin brother, Henrik, who leads the Canucks in points with 13 goals and 60 assists in 76 games. In the aftermath of Daniel’s injury, Henrik said he thinks referees need to increase punishment during games for hits like the one that injured Daniel. Keith received a two-minute elbowing penalty for the hit during the game.

“On the ice, the referees should have an easier time giving out a few more minutes for the dangerous hits, I think — elbows, boarding, charging and that kind of stuff,” Henrik said. “They’re going to injure players. Players are going to respect that more, maybe, than a one or two-game suspension, because if you hurt your team in a game and you lose because of a stupid play, that’s going to hurt more in front of your teammates than, maybe, a one or two-game suspension.”

Vancouver is 2-1 in Daniel’s absence and has six games left in the regular season. The Canucks already clinched the Northwest Division title, thus earning a spot in the playoffs.

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Saints bounty program specifically targeted Cam Newton, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner 03.21.12 at 7:00 pm ET
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The NFL released more details about the inner workings of the Saints bounty system on Wednesday, revealing that the league’s investigation found New Orleans specifically targeted quarterback Cam Newton in addition to Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.

Rodgers, Favre and Warner were all identified as specific targets when the original announcement of the league’s findings was made March 2, but Newton is a new addition to the list of targeted players.

As a result of the investigation, multiple penalties were levied against the Saints, including an indefinite suspension for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a one-year suspension for head coach Sean Payton and a six-game suspension for assistant head coach Joe Vitt.

According to the release, Williams and Vitt not only ran a bounty program; they admitted to intentionally misleading NFL investigators in 2010 and continuing to run the program.

Wednesday’s release from the NFL also revealed just how much Payton knew about the program while it was operating. According to the investigation, Payton received an email before the team’s opener in 2011 that stated “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers(sic).” The release states that when asked about the email, Payton said it referred to a bounty on Rodgers. That statement contradicts Payton’s comments from earlier this year in which he claimed he did not know about a bounty program within his team.

The release also states that Payton was made aware of the league’s bounty investigation in early 2010. Payton said he told Williams and Vitt to “make sure our ducks are in a row” ahead of an interview with league investigators. The release states that Payton said he never asked the coaches what happened in their interviews, did not ask if a bounty program was in place and did not give any instructions to discontinue the bounty program.

The report says general manager Mickey Loomis told Payton in January 2012 that the league reopened the investigation, and Payton “took no action to ensure that any bounty program was discontinued.”

The league maintained in the release that Saints ownership remained ignorant of the bounty program.

“There is no evidence that Saints ownership had any knowledge of the pay-for-performance or bounty program. There is no evidence that any club funds were used for the program. Ownership made clear that it disapproved of the program, gave prompt and clear direction that it stop, and gave full and immediate cooperation to league investigators.”

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