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Colts VP Telesco hired as Chargers' GM

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Colts VP Telesco hired as Chargers' GM

SAN DIEGO (AP) San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos didn't hesitate to reach outside the organization to hire Tom Telesco from the Indianapolis Colts to replace fired general manager A.J. Smith.

Spanos said Wednesday that he was struck by Telesco's vision for building the Chargers, who behind Smith and coach Norv Turner took a tumble from four straight AFC West titles to missing the playoffs for three straight seasons.

``There's going to be a change in culture, there's going to be a change in process. It was needed here. It was time,'' Spanos said Wednesday. ``That's the most important thing to me.''

The 40-year-old Telesco, who was chosen over a field of candidates that included Jimmy Raye, the Chargers' director of player personnel, becomes the youngest GM in team history. He was given a four-year contract.

Telesco spent the past 15 seasons with the Colts, most recently as vice president of football operations. He had a hand in the moves that helped the Colts go from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 and the playoffs this year, including taking quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in April's draft.

At the end of the 2012 season, the Colts' roster featured 36 new players from the end of the previous year.

Telesco certainly will have some work to do with the Chargers. After Turner was fired, he said he believed the Chargers were more than a year away from returning to the playoffs.

``There's a great history of this Charger organization and our goal here is to create a culture and a foundation for consistent winning and we're going to get there,'' Telesco said.

``I talked to Dean Spanos and raved about Tommy,'' Colts owner Jim Irsay said.

Irsay said the Colts interviewed Telesco last year for the GM job that went to Ryan Grigson, ``and he was right there with Ryan.''

Before beginning the task of rebuilding the Chargers, Telesco will lead the search for a new coach to replace Turner, who was fired along with Smith on Dec. 31 after the Chargers finished 7-9.

Hiring Telesco could give an inside edge to Bruce Arians, the Colts' offensive coordinator who went 9-3 as interim head coach while Chuck Pagano underwent treatment for leukemia.

Arians was released from the hospital Wednesday. An illness caused him to miss Sunday's playoff loss at Baltimore.

Telesco said he hasn't spoken with any candidates, including Arians.

``In regards to Bruce Arians, we just got finished playing a playoff game on Sunday and we were all Colts all the way through. So, I've had no discussions with people on anything of the future. It was all Colts-based,'' the new GM said.

The Colts have given at least three teams permission to speak with Arians: the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

The 60-year-old Arians, a prostate cancer survivor, has said he'd love a shot at being a head coach. As a member of Pittsburgh's staff, he won two Super Bowl rings and made another Super Bowl appearance. He has mentored Luck as well as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Telesco said he has no parameters on a candidate's experience.

However, the Chargers could lean toward an offensive-minded coach in an attempt to help straighten out Philip Rivers, who committed 47 turnovers the last two seasons combined, including 22 in 2012. San Diego is expected to keep defensive coordinator John Pagano, Chuck's brother.

Spanos said request letters have been sent to other teams regarding coaching candidates, including teams in the playoffs.

The Chargers' wish list could include offensive coordinators Mike McCoy of Denver, Tom Clements of Green Bay, Rick Dennison of Houston, Greg Roman of San Francisco or Jay Gruden of Cincinnati.

``We're looking for a teacher, No. 1, a coach who can communicate ... and we're looking for a leader. The head coach is basically the CEO of the players and the coaching staff. It's a big operation. It doesn't matter to me what area he comes from, whether it's offense or defense experience.''

Telesco, who played wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio, worked as a summer intern at the Buffalo Bills' training camps from 1991-94. After graduating, he got his first NFL job as a scouting assistant with the Carolina Panthers. He spent three years with the Panthers, including 1997 as an area scout.

He joined the Colts in 1998 as an area scout, a job he held until 2000. He was a pro scout from 2001-03, director of pro scouting from 2004-05 and director of player personnel from 2006-11.

The Colts won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season and reached the NFL's title game again following the 2009 season, losing to New Orleans.

``I was lucky enough to work for an organization where we had a lot of success,'' Telesco said. ``We had a standard that we worked with that I know works because we saw it work. It worked with the Carolina Panthers; it worked with the Buffalo Bills. So we have a plan in place that I know works. There's been a lot of tweaks to that plan over 20 years, of course. I've started at the very bottom and up until last year, worked up to the No. 2 person, so I've seen all the different angles of an organization, from bottom up.''

Indianapolis was eliminated from the playoffs by the Chargers following the 2007 and `08 seasons.

``I know from the outside, when I was with the Colts, we had a lot of problems with San Diego,'' Telesco said. ``So there was always a very high opinion of this team.''

While Smith let the roster slip, particularly on the offensive line, Telesco said it's ``certainly nice'' that the Chargers have an established quarterback in Rivers.

The new GM said the Chargers will be a draft-driven organization that will use free agents to supplement the roster.

Spanos and Telesco said they'd both like to have Raye return to the Chargers. Raye didn't return a call seeking comment.

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AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly ready for his second chance in Game 5

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Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly ready for his second chance in Game 5

ARLINGTON — Devante Smith-Pelly will skate onto the ice at Capital One Arena tonight and the crowd will roar. They will chant “D-S-P!” and give him an ovation and he will try to keep a stone-faced focus, though it will be hard.

Not bad for a player who was cut in February, passed on by 30 other NHL teams and banished to the minors after a disappointing season and a salary-cap crunch. But that is life as a Stanley Cup playoff folk hero. After scoring seven goals with 19 points during last year’s postseason, including the game-tying goal in the decisive Game 5 of the final series against the Vegas Golden Knights, Smith-Pelly bought himself a lifetime of good will. 

Now, an injury to T.J. Oshie gets him another chance with the Capitals. Smith-Pelly will be in the lineup tonight when Washington hosts the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series (8 p.m., NBC). 

“I don’t know if weird is the word. It’s a business,” Smith-Pelly said. “It’s hard to go through something like that. I missed the guys a lot. I still kept in touch with pretty much everyone. It was just going there and doing what I had to do and waiting for a shot. It’s unfortunate that [Oshie] had to get hurt.”

Smith Pelly had just four goals and four assists in 54 games this season and was held out of several preseason games to get his conditioning where it needed to be. When the Capitals traded for forward Carl Hagelin on Feb. 21 they needed salary-cap space to make the move, according to general manager Brian MacLellan. He chose waiving Smith-Pelly over Dmitrij Jaskin. 

When Smith-Pelly cleared waivers, Washington sent him to AHL Hershey so he could play and be ready if needed again. That didn’t seem likely when the playoffs began and the salary cap was no longer an issue. MacLellan said the team had no immediate plans to recall Smith-Pelly just so he could sit. 

But the Capitals wanted him to stay in game shape in case injuries struck – and they finally did on Monday in Game 4. T.J. Oshie is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Smith-Pelly got the recall and is in the lineup tonight at right wing on the fourth line. It is another chance for a player who was once a second-round draft pick, but has been let go by three previous organizations (Anaheim, Montreal, New Jersey) and found himself on tenuous ground with the Capitals. This isn’t how he wanted it to be. But now he’s back. 

“I wasn’t really thinking too much about it. I was watching the games and cheering the guys on,” Smith-Pelly said. “I wasn’t really sure. I definitely didn’t want to get a chance by someone else getting hurt. That’s for sure. So I don’t know. It’s kind of a weird spot. I’m focused on playing the playoffs there and helping the team there. I wasn’t really thinking about too much about what would happen.”

News and notes

Still no update on Oshie other than he’s out indefinitely, according to coach Todd Reirden. He will obviously not play in Game 5 after crashing into the boards following a nudge from behind by Carolina forward Warren Foegele. … Reirden’s lineup changes include Carl Hagelin moving to right wing on the second line and Chandler Stephenson joining Smith-Pelly and Nic Dowd on the fourth line. … After a nice first playoff game, rookie Jonas Siegenthaler will start with John Carlson, who moves to his natural right side. He'd been starting games on the left with Nick Jensen.  

Game 5 lineup

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Carl Hagelin

Andre Burakovsky – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly

Chandler Stephenson – Nic Dowd – Devante Smith-Pelly

 

Jonas Siegenthaler – John Carlson 

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik – Nick Jensen 

 

Braden Holtby 

 

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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Maple Leafs pull ahead of Bruins, Avalanche eliminate Flames

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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Maple Leafs pull ahead of Bruins, Avalanche eliminate Flames

Thursday's games gave us another tied series with the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, a slugfest between the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets, and the San Jose Sharks avoiding elimination at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Friday's games pushed the Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination, and the Colorado Avalanche eliminated the Calgary Flames in the Saddledome.

Here are all of Friday's results.

Maple Leafs take 3-2 series lead with 2-1 win over Bruins

Frederik Andersen and Tuukka Rask were sharp for the first two periods, but Auston Matthews broke the scoreless tie with a controversial goal 10 minutes into the third period. Boston challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood. Matthews now has four goals in the last three games of the series.

Kasperi Kapanen gave the Leafs the game winner on a 3-on-2 just two minutes later.

The Bruins battled back to make it 2-1 with a backdoor feed for David Krejci, but they couldn't force a tie to send the game to overtime. Should the Leafs hold on to win, not only would they reverse their two-year trend of losing in the first round of the playoffs, they would win a series for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Avalanche extinguish Flames, win series with 5-1 victory

The upstart Avalanche had four players hit three points in their Friday night upset over the Flames. Mikko Rantanen continued his punishing pace with two goals in the game, including the opening and closing goals.

Colin Wilson also notched a two-goal night, and Philipp Grubauer held steady with 28 saves.

This is Colorado's first series win since the 2007-08 season, and the Flames became the second first seed to be knocked out of these playoffs, as the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week.

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