Bears

Olympic champ accused of assault

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Olympic champ accused of assault

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, September 8, 2011
UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (AP) -- Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm has been accused of hitting and kicking a taxi driver in suburban Columbus, damaging a cab window and refusing to pay a 23 fare. The 28-year-old Hamm can be heard on an Upper Arlington police video telling an officer he'd had about eight drinks, WBNS-TV in Columbus reported. As Hamm sits handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, he asks officers to let him go and says, "I don't understand. I'm gonna kill you guys." Hamm, who is working as an assistant coach at Ohio State while he trains for the London Olympics, is charged with assault and two other misdemeanors. He was charged Saturday and is free on bond awaiting a Sept. 15 arraignment, according to online court records. His agent, Sheryl Shade, declined to comment Wednesday. "We have read about the unfortunate situation involving Paul Hamm in media reports, and we are certainly concerned for Paul," USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said. "USA Gymnastics will wait for more information before commenting further." Ohio State told the station that officials were aware of the arrest and would determine how to handle the matter after it is dealt with in court. Hamm, who grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is the only American man to win the Olympic (2004) or world (2003) all-around titles. The three-time Olympic medalist missed the Beijing Games with an injury, then got a job in Chicago as a finance trader. But he quit his job last summer and announced a comeback in hopes of making the U.S. team for London. Hamm is recuperating from January shoulder surgery, but is expected to return to competition in February in what would be a boost for the U.S. men's medal hopes. Hamm returned to Ohio State, where he and twin brother Morgan earned their degrees and trained before the Beijing Olympics, earlier this summer as an assistant to new coach Rustam Sharipov. WBNS says a police report shows Hamm had fallen asleep as he was being driven home in the taxi. The taxi driver, identified by the station as Abdinasir Elmi, told a reporter that Hamm had unintentionally locked the cab door and was trying to get out through the window. He said Hamm swore at him and elbowed him in the mouth as he tried to help him open the window. Messages seeking additional details were left with Upper Arlington police spokeswomen.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?