Cubs

Doughty's success is no surprise to former mentor O'Donnell

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Doughty's success is no surprise to former mentor O'Donnell

Drew Doughty brought the puck up ice, never breaking stride as he knifed through the New Jersey Devils and scored on Martin Brodeur. It was an impressive play by the young L.A. Kings defenseman, and his former on-ice mentor Sean ODonnell couldnt help but smile.

Hes like a pitcher, the Blackhawks defenseman said. He wants the ball in his hands when game is on the line.

When Doughty began his NHL career in 2008-09, the Kings wanted a veteran defenseman to help the youngsters transition to the big time. Enter ODonnell, who was brought in from Anaheim to do just that. Four years later, ODonnell is impressed with what Doughty has done in such a short amount of time.

But the 40-year-old ODonnell isnt taking credit for Doughtys emergence.

Its almost like a teacher who gets a kid in Grade 5 or 6 and they go on to great things. You watch with admiration and youre proud, and youre happy you were able to help. But he was going to be a great player no matter who played with him, said ODonnell, who was out in L.A. where the Kings are preparing for Game 3 against the Devils. Hes doing things I could never imagine on the ice. Just to see that raw player when he came to L.A.; if I had a one percent influence, it makes you proud.

Doughty was already plenty talented when he began his NHL career. But it didnt hurt pairing him with ODonnell, who at the time was in his 16th season as well as his second stint with the Kings. And when ODonnell talked, Doughty listened.

Hes a very smart player, ODonnell said. He was a little bit raw when he came in and I would try to tell him, This is what this guy likes to do, or, On a 3 on 2, lets play it this way. And he just got it. He understood why. You explained it, he got it and he stuck with it.

The pro sports spotlight can be glaring on a rising star. Doughtys dealt with some heady stuff this season, from holding out during contract negotiations to signing his massive contract eight years, 56 million to trying to live up to the deal. Doughty has definitely shown his worth through this postseason. And ODonnell said Doughtys attitude helps him through the ups and downs.

I dont know if hes realizing the magnitude of what he does. He just has fun all the time, doesnt let pressure overwhelm him, ODonnell said. I talked to him a couple times: he missed training camp, hes 22 years old, and when he had a bad game people would say, Look how much hes making. I cant believe he held out. I think he struggled with that at the end of the year but now he's playing well. He just has to have fun, and now hes kind of playing with the house money.

Doughty has already done so much in his young career. Hes won Olympic gold. Hes earned a Norris Trophy nomination. And now hes on the cusp of winning a Stanley Cup. Not a bad resume for a 22-year-old. What could Doughty do in the future? ODonnell said you dont want to put pressure on the young guy, that it takes time for a good defenseman to become a great defenseman. But Doughty certainly looks well on his way.

And perhaps ODonnell should take a little bit of credit for that.

I hear him say things like, I need to be the best defenseman on the ice. Hes not cocky or arrogant. Hes just confident, ODonnell said. If hes playing way he can, he cant be stopped.

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.