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Browns circle back in search of coach

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Browns circle back in search of coach

CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns have circled back in their coaching search after a wild weekend out West.

Now into their second week looking for the team's sixth full-time coach since 1999, Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are assessing the candidates they've already interviewed and setting up meetings with others on their radar.

On Sunday, the Browns eliminated Oregon coach Chip Kelly as a candidate because of his hesitancy about jumping to the pros, a person with knowledge of the team's meeting with the 49-year-old told the Associated Press. The Browns questioned whether Kelly ``was committed to coming to the NFL,'' said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.

The Browns met for seven hours in Arizona on Friday with Kelly, and were closing in on a deal when he agreed to keep scheduled meetings with Buffalo and Philadelphia.

At the end of a whirlwind 48 hours, the Browns backed off from Kelly, who has decided to return to Oregon, two people with knowledge of his plans told the AP.

It's the second time in two years Kelly has flirted with leaving college before choosing to stay with his supersonic Ducks, who have gone 46-7 with a high-scoring, warp-speed offense he designed. He has taken the school to four straight BCS bowls.

At this point, there doesn't appear to be any front runner to fill Cleveland's coaching vacancy. Last week, the Browns are known to have interviewed former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Penn State coach Bill O'Brien.

Marrone, who had two meetings with the Browns and was believed to be high on their initial list, was introduced as Buffalo's coach Monday and O'Brien returned to Happy Valley.

The Browns could be expanding their search beyond U.S. borders.

The team is expected to interview Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, whose resume includes extensive time as an NFL offensive assistant, most recently with the Miami Dolphins in 2004. The 56-year-old has been with Montreal since 2008, leading the Alouettes to two CFL titles in his five seasons.

Trestman coached Cleveland's quarterbacks in 1988 and was the team's offensive coordinator in 1989.

The Browns have not scheduled an interview with Trestman.

Haslam said last week that he would be willing to wait a month to find the ``right person'' to coach the Browns, who fired Pat Shurmur last week after a 5-11 season. Cleveland has lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons - the second-longest run of futility in league history.

Haslam is determined to find a strong leader to take over his team, bring stability to the franchise and win championships. There's a chance the billionaire businessman will try to convince Alabama's Nick Saban to come to Cleveland and be that guy.

The 61-year-old Saban, who will lead the Crimson Tide in Monday night's BCS title game against Notre Dame, went 15-17 in two years with the Dolphins before taking over at Alabama. There's been speculation Saban would consider returning to the pros - for the right job.

``I don't have any unfinished business in the NFL,'' Saban said at Saturday's BCS title game media day. ``It's not something I'm concerned about. It's not even anything I want to do.''

Saban worked in Cleveland as an assistant under Bill Belichick from 1991-94.

There's another Kelly who could draw the Browns' interest - Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly.

Kelly insisted he's not thinking about anything other than beating `Bama, but that could change once the season ends, and especially if he's hoisting a Waterford crystal football over his head amid a blizzard of confetti.

Kelly knows NFL teams may come knocking on his door, but he insisted he's content coaching the nation's No. 1 team.

``I think from my perspective I've got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever,'' he said. ``I just look at the place that I'm at and thankful for the opportunity that I have.''

Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is believed to be among the candidates the Browns intend to interview.

The 60-year-old Arians remained in a Baltimore hospital on Monday after being admitted with an undisclosed illness before the Colts' playoff loss to the Ravens. Arians did not coach in the game after suffering flu-like symptoms a few hours before kickoff. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said tests on Arians have been negative.

The Colts went 9-3 under Arians, who served as the Colts' head coach after Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts have already given permission to Chicago and Philadelphia to speak with Arians about their coaching vacancies. He was an assistant with the Browns (2001-03) and Haslam, a former minority owner with Pittsburgh, is familiar with him from his seasons working as the Steelers offensive coordinator (2007-11).

It's possible the Browns may approach other A-list candidates, including former NFL coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher.

However, neither has given any indication they're ready to leave cushy jobs as TV analysts and return to the coaching grind. Gruden is under contract to stay on Monday Night Football, but his name always surfaces during the offseason and has long been attached to the Browns because of his Ohio roots.

Haslam was forced to deny a report in November that he tried to entice Gruden to take the coaching job at the University of Tennessee with the promise of an ownership stake in the Browns. Haslam is a graduate of the school and a booster.

The Browns also must hire a general manager or player personnel director, but won't do that until they find their next coach.

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Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

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USA TODAY Sports

Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

The mood in the Capitals locker room following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday was one of frustration. Forty minutes of strong play from Washington amounted to nothing because of a disastrous opening first period in which the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

No one in the locker room was more frustrated than Braden Holtby.

"Obviously you don't want to go down three," he told reporters after the game. "That's on no one else but me. The third goal, especially the third, fourth goal, that's the difference in the game. I thought we played a really strong game against a really good team. We should have got a better result and that's on me why we didn't."

Tampa scored three goals in the first off of only eight shots. For the game, the Lightning managed to pierce Holtby four times off of only 19 shots.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE LIGHTNING

Frustration seemed to boil over on the fourth goal when a normally stoic Holtby was visibly upset after allowing Nikita Kucherov to beat him on a breakaway in a play similar to what we saw in the All-Star Game.

See for yourself:

"The key to getting better is learning from your mistakes and obviously I didn't do that," Holtby said. "I was just trying to play it patient. I wasn't trying to cheat towards that move and he came at it a different way. That's on me for not recognizing it. That's not a goal I can give up in that situation after our team battled the way they did, especially in the third."

The frustration Holtby feels likely is not the result of one goal, but the culmination of a recent slump that continues to plague the Vezina winner.

Holtby has lost four straight starts and has given up at least four goals in each of those games.

While Holtby was quick to take the blame for Tuesday's loss, head coach Barry Trotz was quick to defend his netminder.

"No one takes the loss," he said. "We all take a loss. I take a loss, the group takes a loss and Braden's part of the group. ... He's had a little tough stretch. It's no different than, we've got guys that haven't scored in 15, 20 games. It's no different than a player."

The challenge now is overcoming that slump.

For a slumping skater, Trotz could try different line combinations or play someone in different situations over the course of the game. Getting a starting goalie out of a slump, however, is more difficult. Most of the work has to be done in practice with the hope that it will carry over into the next game.

"You analyze how the goals are going in, what you're doing differently," Holtby said. "There's always some stuff that you can't control and stuff that you can and it's focusing on those contrallables that you can make a difference at. Like the first goal in Chicago, the last two goals here, those are goals that I could and should stop. You get to practice the next day and you focus on that and work hard until you figure it out so you don't do it again."

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Part of the problem in Washington is that team defense is the Caps' biggest weakness. For most of the season, and even in years past, Holtby has made up for much of the team's mistakes on the backend. Now that he is slumping those mistakes become much more glaring and costly.

"The goaltenders in this league are erasers," Trotz said.

Lately, Holtby has not been able to erase those mistakes.

But the team has already moved to address the defense. Brian MacLellan added a puck-moving defenseman in Michal Kempny to help the team get the puck out of the defensive zone more quickly. Waiving Taylor Chorney could also signify another move may be coming before Monday's trade deadline.

As for Trotz, even during the slump, he made clear his confidence in Holtby has not wavered.

"He has been a rock since the day I've been here the last four years and he's been an elite goaltender and I look at him that way."

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

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USA Today Sports

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Kouka scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States with a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shotoout, while Francouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.

Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't beat Francouz.

RELATED: OVECHKIN HAS LITTLE DESIRE TO WATCH 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS