Capitals

Veteran Chiefs lineman Lilja announces retirement

Veteran Chiefs lineman Lilja announces retirement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Veteran offensive lineman Ryan Lilja, who helped block for Peyton Manning during the Colts' Super Bowl-winning 2006 season, announced his retirement Monday.

Lilja said he was going to ``hang it up'' after the Kansas City Chiefs finished a 2-14 season with a 38-3 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Lilja had played guard his entire career until injuries along the Chiefs' line forced him to play center the majority of this season.

``I'm ready to shut it down and move on with my life,'' said Lilja, who grew up in Kansas City and starred for Kansas State before signing with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2004.

Undersized by NFL standards, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Lilja was waived by the Chiefs and quickly claimed by Indianapolis, where he became one of Manning's most trusted blockers. He played in 11 games the year the Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.

He returned to Kansas City three years ago, and would have become a free agent.

``I think I'm done,'' Lilja said while cleaning out his locker Monday. ``I've made a ton of dynamite relationships, but I think it's time I shut it down.''

The 31-year-old Lilja said he had a feeling before the season that this would be his last, and a series of injuries - including a nagging back injury that forced him to miss a game - served to reassure him that walking away was in his best interest.

He wound up starting 104 of 111 career games over eight seasons.

``Physically, you kind of hit a wall,'' said Lilja, who started 104 of 111 games over eight seasons. ``Your body tells you to start thinking about it.''

Lilja had never played center until this year, when a season-ending injury to Rodney Hudson moved him to the middle of the Chiefs' patchwork offensive line. Lilja had his struggles, too, with several botched handoffs and a few cases of costly miscommunication.

Still, his willingness to take on a new role impressed his teammates.

``I can't say enough about how professional he is,'' right tackle Eric Winston said. ``This organization is going to miss him and the guys in the locker room are going to miss him.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

capture_dsp.png
NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.