Redskins

Hornets announce name change to Pelicans

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Hornets announce name change to Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Hornets owner Tom Benson is changing his team's nickname to the Pelicans and said the switch will create a bond with the city that could lead to a championship.

The Hornets announced Thursday they are going ahead with the name change. The NBA still has to approve it, but Commissioner David Stern has said he wouldn't object to any name Benson chose. The league is expected to expedite the change at the start of next season.

The new color scheme is blue, gold and red, a departure from the Hornets' teal, purple, gold and white.

The Hornets have been in New Orleans since moving from Charlotte for the 2002-03 season, although they were relocated temporarily to Oklahoma City from 2005-2007 due to Hurricane Katrina. Benson, who also owns the Saints, bought the team last spring.

The nickname Hornets "didn't mean anything to this community," Benson said. "The pelican represents New Orleans, just like the Saints. They have incredible resolve. If they can do that, the team can do the same."

The brown pelican is Louisiana's state bird and has become identified with efforts to restore Louisiana's coast, which has been damaged extensively by the 2010 BP oil spill and erosion from Katrina and other storms. Images of the pelicans covered with oil were plentiful after the oil spill.

The brown pelican was taken off the endangered species list in 2009.

"We're raising an entire generation to be very mindful to what happened to our coastal restoration," said Rita Benson LeBlanc, Benson's granddaughter and vice chairman of the board for the Hornets and the Saints. "Give it time, and I think everyone will be inspired (by the name change). It's for a greater purpose."

The team also unveiled five new logos. The primary one has a red background with the words New Orleans and pelicans written in white, a red pelican's head and bill, a gold basketball and crescent and a red fleur de lis at the top.

"It's a strong looking logo. that's what I was most worried about," coach Monty Williams said. "I was hoping it was dynamic and strong, and when I saw the colors and the angles of it, I thought it was great. It's going to be great to see kids around the city in their pelican jerseys and hats."

Benson owns the rights to the name Pelicans, which was the nickname for a former minor league baseball team that played in New Orleans for more than 70 years.

"When kids grow up, they're going to identify with New Orleans Pelicans here," said New Orleans head of basketball operations Mickey Loomis, who also is the Saints general manager. "It's really New Orleans' team. I think from the very beginning for Mr. B when he bought the team, he just wanted to make sure that I'm a local owner and this is a local team."

The Hornets are New Orleans' second NBA team. The Jazz played here from 1974-79 before leaving for Utah, and current Jazz owners have said they had no interest in giving up the name so New Orleans could have it back.

There is a small campaign in Charlotte to "bring back the buzz" to North Carolina.

Before they were the New Orleans Hornets, the franchise was located in Charlotte from 1988-2002 - then George Shinn moved the Hornets to the Big Easy. The Bobcats are doing market research to find out if the name change is worth it. Charlotte has hired Harris Interactive, a nationally prominent polling company, to survey current Bobcats customers and the Charlotte sports market to get their input on possibly changing the name.

"We are aware of the impending change regarding the team nickname in New Orleans," said Bobcats president and COO Fred Whitfield. "We are currently in contact with the NBA and conducting our own due diligence relative to this matter."

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These three must step up to help the Redskins save their season against the Bears

These three must step up to help the Redskins save their season against the Bears

It's just Week 3, but Monday night's game against the Bears feels like it'll be a turning point one way or another for the Redskins.

With a win, Washington will stabilize themselves and have some hope that their season isn't heading down a dark path. With a loss, though, they'll firmly be on that path.

So, everyone on the home sidelines at FedEx Field will need to be ready for primetime. But these three especially have to bring it.

Matt Ioannidis

The Redskins signed Ioannidis to a deserved contract extension in April after he broke out in 2018. Through two games, however, the defensive lineman has yet to follow up on his standout campaign.

No. 98 was in on more than 85-percent of the snaps versus both the Eagles and the Cowboys but he hasn't registered a sack, tackle for loss or even a single quarterback hit. He's one of the many members of the front-seven who are failing to get pressure on opposing signal callers.

Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense are having major issues so far, but he'll have a solid chance of getting that unit going again if his pocket is as clean as Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott's pockets were when facing the Redskins. It's time for Ioannidis to get out of his slump and harass Trubisky on Monday.

Josh Norman

In each instance, it may not have been fully his fault, but the facts are this: Josh Norman has trailed a receiver who scored a long touchdown in both of the Redskins' first two contests of the year. He's also been beaten plenty of other times for other crucial gains, too.

A sound argument can be made that Norman has never fully lived up to his massive 2016 deal, but at least he had his moments and games in prior seasons where it felt like he came close. That's not the case in 2019 so far.

Yes, the entire secondary, from the corners to the safeties, must deliver more in Week 3 than they have up to this point. Norman, though, has to deliver a lot more. His coverage must be tighter and if he could force a turnover, it'd do him and the Redskins a lot of good.

Jay Gruden

Last week, Greg Manusky was mentioned as someone who could use a strong performance, but he came up short. This time around, the head coach is getting the call.

Gruden's teams seem to thrive in heavy adversity, and they're dealing with loads of adversity right now. That said, Gruden's teams are also horrific on Mondays and fail to make adjustments when they're most necessary.

So, which side will reveal itself when Chicago visits?

Sure, Gruden's job may not depend on this particular result, but still, he's under fire and needs to coach like his future really does depend on the score. Another loss and this city will feel like it's teetering on hysteria.

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Message received: Boyd, Stephenson know they are in a fight to keep their jobs

Message received: Boyd, Stephenson know they are in a fight to keep their jobs

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Capitals forwards Travis Boyd and Chandler Stephenson were given a very clear message in the offseason. It came in the form of the team signing free-agents Garnet Hathaway and Brendan Leipsic.

Both Boyd and Stephenson held depth roles last season, but the addition of two fourth-line players made it clear that the team was not satisfied with their play last season. Now in training camp, they find themselves in a position where they have to compete to earn the roles they played last year.

“It's a competition,” head coach Todd Reirden said at media day. “They know it's a competition. They're well-informed. It's a very clear message. No one in situations where there's competition are wondering what's going on.”

But even before camp started, both players understood what those signings meant for them and why they were necessary.

“I wouldn't sit here and say I wasn't disappointed or a little frustrated I guess watching the signings that we had here,” Boyd told NBC Sports Washington, “But at the same time I think all those signings help the team and I think definitely makes the team and this group of guys obviously a super dangerous group.”

Last season was Boyd’s first full year in the NHL. It got off to a rough start as an injury kept him out for several weeks. When he finally did get into the lineup, he struggled to stay in and found himself cycling in and out for the rest of the season. He finished the season with 53 games.

Boyd said that overall he felt he had a good season and showed he could contribute offensively with five goals and 15 assists in those 53 appearances. He did acknowledge though that the constant cycling in and out wore on him mentally which affected his play.

“There would be times where you would go a week, week and a half in between games,” Boyd said. “You don't really realize how tough that is until you're in that situation. Your ability to create offense in those situations is a lot harder because if it's your first game in a week and a half, for me personally, I probably wouldn't have came out (sic) there in the first period and been trying to make maybe some sort of a skill play at a blue line. You end up taking kind of the easy way out because it was your first game in a week and a half and you don't want to turn a puck over and then all of a sudden as soon as you turn that over a coach is like alright. It doesn't look good.”

That sentiment of the mental grind of trying to stay in the lineup was echoed by Stephenson who saw his production decline from 18 points in 2017-18 to 11 last season.

“I wasn't really just kind of going out and playing, playing freely,” he said. “Just felt like every game it was kind of a mind game for myself just with trying to stay in the lineup. Just wasn't playing and that's the biggest thing that you can't let yourself get to that point. Once you start thinking instead of just playing, it's usually not going to end well.”

If a guy like Alex Ovechkin or T.J. Oshie has a bad game, it does not come with that fear of wondering whether it means you will be out of the lineup. They can move on, but it is more difficult for Boyd and Stephenson who knew one bad game or even one bad play could be the difference between playing or getting scratched and not knowing when your next game will come.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that with so many depth players, that is not going to change this season. Even if they both do make the team, with so many depth players they are going to have to justify their spot in the lineup.

The experience of fighting for playing time last season should help both players with knowing how to deal with that mental grind, according to Boyd.

“Going in and out and playing on the fourth line was something I haven't done,” Boyd said. “I couldn't really tell you how long it's been for me there. Just being comfortable in that situation I think will help. For me, just put a little bit more effort and a little bit more focus on the practices, especially when you get into the grind of the season and once you actually get into the midpart of the season where a lot of days you can come here and really not be feeling that fresh. You might be able to sneak through a practice without really working hard or as hard as you could, but someone who's going in and out of the lineup trying to go 100-percent every day and trying to keep not only your body in that game shape, but also trying to get your mind into making quick decisions still and just trying to be ready for whenever you do get that chance again.”

First, however, both Boyd and Stephenson have to make the team which is not guaranteed.

Washington’s salary cap situation means general manager Brian MacLellan is going to have to find a way to shed salary. That means either Boyd or Stephenson, or perhaps even both players could find themselves on the move. Training camp and the preseason offer them the chance to show the team they still deserve to be in Washington.

The suspension to Evgeny Kuznetsov could also provide Boyd specifically a chance to impress.

With Kuznetsov out, Lars Eller is expected to move to the second line to replace him. That leaves an opening at third-line center.

This training camp was already important with Boyd fighting for his job. Now here is a chance to earn a third-line role to start the season and perhaps exhibit himself for the first three games until Kuznetsov returns.

“I can't even tell you how big it is,” Boyd said. “A chance to be in a role other than the fourth line if I am in that spot for these first three games, I'd love that. I'd love the chance, I'd love the opportunity. It's just a great opportunity for myself to showcase that I'm back from last year. I put on 10, 11 pounds over the summer so I've got some more weight to me this year, I feel like I'm moving well, I'm skating well I just want to go out there and, if I do get the chance in the first three games, go out there and show what I can do and hopefully show the coaching staff that hopefully I can play.”

As for Stephenson, he is taking a more relaxed approach to camp. If the pressure of staying in the lineup affected his play last season, he is determined to make sure the pressure of a competitive training camp does not drag him down.

“That'll just handcuff yourself and put you in a bad spot because you might be expecting something when it's not happening,” he said, “But for the most part, it's just a competitive camp. Come in, have fun, do what I can do and just do everything I can to stay here. I want to be here.”

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