Red Sox

Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game

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Chara plays to win, even in an All-Star Game

KANATA, Ont. Zdeno Chara said he didnt have to say a thing to anyone on his team in the third period before they turned on the after-burners and scored six goals en route to the 12-9 victory over Team Alfredsson at the NHL All-Star Game Sunday at Scotiabank Place.
Well, maybe the Bs captain was stretching the truth just a little bit.
Just ask Jarome Iginla about Charas intensity when the exhibition game was still in question during the third period. Thats when the 6-foot-9 defenseman turned more winning machine than man, and perhaps thats a little something Iginla hasnt had enough of in Calgary lately.
I gave that one away near the end and Chara asked me if I was playing on their team for that one shift, said Iginla with a smile on his face. Once you get out there, you dont really like to be scored on.
Chara wanted to win. Hes competitive. He thought I gave that pass up on purpose instead of sending our guys 2-on-1 . . . I gave them a 3-on-2 at our blue line. I assured him it wasnt on purpose.
Once Chara had that assurance, the rest was up to him to finish off the perfect All-Star weekend in an NHL setting where he had four wonderful seasons at the beginning of his NHL career. Chara popped the game-winning goal in the third period from the right faceoff circle after stepping into the play, and made it a storybook weekend all-around. Everything on Sunday was supported by Charas 108.8-mph slapshot that electrified the Skills Competition crowd, and left him with a smile on his face knowing an All-Star weekend cant be much better for him.
That was my first shot, I think, of the game, said Chara. Its nice to score in the All-Star game. I was surprised I was open and put it in the net. I was more focused on staying back and not being something Im not. I enjoyed myself. The city of Ottawa and the organization did a really great job.
We had great teams, lots of fun with the draft and with the guys inside the locker room. You cant ask for anything better, right? Its a break so we treated it that way. We wanted to enjoy ourselves and have fun . . . most of all, we wanted to put on a good show. We wanted to play and show the skills when theres a time to show them, and when theres a time to relax and take a break then do that.
Bruins coach Claude Julien watched up close and personal as Chara assisted in directing the entire weekend of All-Star events, and showed the kind of intelligence, strength and surprising charm that everyone in Boston already know the Bs captain possesses. Hes become one of the NHLs most recognizable stars in terms of stature and presence, and All-Star weekend simply helped hammer that point home.
Youre always proud of your guys. Zee was a great ambassador just like the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson was, said Julien. For both teams I dont think you could have picked better individuals for people that could have been ambassadors. They took their jobs seriously and really did their homework well.
Chara and Alfredsson are both modest. They have the kind of athletic ability where they could make more of it, but they always put others in front of them. Even when he was picking other guys for competitions he would always put himself last after the others. Thats what makes Zee pretty special. Hes a great guy team and a guy that really cares. Not just as a person, but even as a player. With a guy thats strong like that and big like that, if he didnt respect the players he played against there would be a lot of injuries. Hes tapered his game to the point where hes still effective, but hes not dangerous.
The All-Star weekend was supposed to all about Alfredsson, and the classy Senators captain got his due. But the once-favored son of Ottawa that eventually defected to Boston certainly made the weekend his as well.

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

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The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

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Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE