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Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as new coach

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Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as new coach

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski's first head coaching job will be with the team he loved as a kid.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina's offensive coordinator, has been hired by the Browns as their sixth full-time coach since 1999. It's the third stint in Cleveland for Chudzinski, who worked with the Browns previously as an assistant.

The Browns hope the first-time head coach can end years of despair and constant losing, and maybe resurrect a franchise that has made just one trip to the playoffs in the past 14 years.

The team confirmed Chudzinski's hiring with a release Thursday night and said he will be introduced at an 11 a.m. news conference at the team's facility in Berea on Friday.

Chudzinski will be the Browns' 14th coach in team history. He replaces Pat Shurmur, another first-time coach when he was hired, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 5-11 season. For the past two years, the 44-year-old Chudzinski has worked with talented Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

When owner Jimmy Haslam embarked on his coaching search last week, he pledged to bring back the ``best person for Cleveland.''

After meeting with at least seven other candidates, Haslam, who bought the Browns this summer, decided along with CEO Joe Banner that Chudzinski, was ready.

Known simply as ``Chud,'' Chudzinski coached tight ends in Cleveland for Butch Davis in 2004, and then came back to the Browns in 2007 and was offensive coordinator for two seasons under Romeo Crennel.

Chudzinski, who was never embarrassed to acknowledge he rooted for the Browns while growing up in Toledo, Ohio, interviewed with the team on Wednesday. He was viewed by many as a longshot for the job, not because he wasn't qualified, but Haslam figured to make a big splash with his first coaching hire.

However, Chudzinski wowed Haslam and Banner during his meeting and the team decided it was time to end their search after nearly 10 days.

It's not yet known whom Chudzinski will bring in as his coordinators. There are reports he may hire former San Diego coach Norv Turner to run his offense.

In his first season in Carolina, Chudzinski turned Newton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, loose and the Panthers set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345). Carolina also scored 48 touchdowns after getting just 17 in the season before Chudzinski arrived. The Panthers jumped from last in the league in total yardage to seventh, the biggest improvement since 1999.

Following the season, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before returning to Carolina.

Newton continued to develop in his second season with Chudzinski. The Browns could be counting on him to improve Brandon Weeden after his uneven rookie season.

After his first stint on Cleveland's staff, Chudzinski spent two seasons as San Diego's tight ends coach, working with perennial Pro Bowl standout Antonio Gates.

Taking over the Browns offense in 2007, Chudzinski helped the Browns win 10 games - the most since their expansion rebirth in 1999 - and had four players make the Pro Bowl.

However, in 2008, the Browns struggled on offense and a six-game losing streak led to a 4-12 finish and Crennel's firing. The Browns finished 31st in offense that year.

Chudzinski went back to the Chargers for two more seasons before he was hired in Carolina.

On Thursday, former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was brought to Cleveland for a second interview and he appeared to be the frontrunner. The Browns were also expected to meet again with Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

But in the end, the Browns decided to go with Chudzinski, who has no head coaching experience but is regarded as one of the league's brightest up-and-coming coaches.

The hiring won't cause Cleveland fans to dance in the streets, but it is in keeping with Banner's past of hiring a coach without a meaty resume.

When he was in Philadelphia's front office, Banner went outside the box and hired relatively unknown Andy Reid, who spent 14 seasons with the Eagles before he was fired after this season.

The Browns can only hope it goes as well with Chudzinski.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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