Capitals

FAMU head coach Joe Taylor steps down immediately

FAMU head coach Joe Taylor steps down immediately

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor announced Thursday he's stepping down immediately.

Taylor leaves with two games remaining in his fifth season at the school in which was disappointing season for the Rattlers. Defensive coordinator Earl Holmes, a Tallahassee native, will be the acting head coach for Saturday's homecoming game against North Carolina Central and the season finale in Orlando on Nov. 17 against league-leading Bethune-Cookman.

Florida A&M (3-6, 3-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) is out of contention for a MEAC championship.

Taylor, 62, told his players last Saturday of his plans to retire at the end of the season, but subsequently changed his mind to leave immediately and eliminate any distraction to the team in its final two games.

``My life has really been enriched because of this profession,'' said Taylor, who spent 40 uninterrupted years coaching after his playing days at Western Illinois. ``It's the greatest profession in the world.''

One of the most successful coaches in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, Taylor had experienced only two losing seasons in 25 years before he replaced Rubin Carter as Florida A&M's head coach on Dec. 31, 2007 when he signed a five-year contract at $225,000 per year. Carter was fired in November 2007 after a disappointing 3-8 season in his third year at the school.

Taylor concludes his coaching career with a 233-96-4 record that includes a 35-19 mark in five seasons at FAMU. He came to Florida A&M five years ago after spending 16 years at Hampton (Va.) where his teams were 136-49-1. He had previously also coached at Virginia Union and Howard University.

``You don't retire to look for a job,'' said Taylor, who plans to remain in Tallahassee.

Taylor has written an autobiography that is scheduled to be released at the end of the month and he already has three book tour stops scheduled to promote it.

Holmes, 39, starred at Florida A&M University High School before moving to Florida A&M. A middle linebacker, Holmes was drafted in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, two in Cleveland and three with Detroit as a playe. Holmes then spent two years as a high school coach in Lake Mary before joining Taylor's staff five years ago.

``This season hasn't turned been what we thought it would turn out to be,'' Holmes said Thursday. ``But that's adversity and you've got to play through that. At the end of the day the game must go on.''

Florida A&M athletic director Derek Horne said Holmes would be a strong candidate in the school's coaching search.

``We want to encourage him to go ahead and be a part of the program,'' Horne said.

The new next coach will be the school's ninth since the legendary Jake Gaither retired in 1969. Gaither's teams were 204-36-4 with six National Black College championships in 25 seasons.

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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