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McHale back with Rockets after daughter's death

McHale back with Rockets after daughter's death

HOUSTON (AP) Houston coach Kevin McHale has rejoined the Rockets after almost a month away from the team, and two weeks after the death of his daughter.

McHale took a leave of absence on Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra ``Sasha'' McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus. She was 23.

``It's been a while,'' he said. ``Hopefully it's the right time. I don't know there ever is a right time. I don't know if there is a playbook about this, but I'm excited to be back.''

McHale will coach the Rockets on Saturday night against the Mavericks.

Houston went 7-6 under interim coach Kelvin Sampson while McHale was out.

McHale said he spoke with Sampson daily, watched each game and tried to stay plugged into the team as much as he could while he was away.

``It was hard. I don't want to get into the whole thing, but it was hard because your mind is a million miles away, but yet you're still watching games and you're still pulling for the guys so hard and you want them to win,'' he said. ``A lot of times that hour of the day (talking to Sampson) was sometimes the best part of the day.''

The second-year coach and Hall of Fame player complimented the job Sampson and the rest of the staff did while he was out. He said he felt bad that he had to leave this young team, which was trying to fit new pieces together, just when the season was starting.

``There just was a ton of adjustments to be made, and I thought they did a really good job of making adjustments,'' he said of his coaching staff.

McHale never directly addressed his daughter, but he did note that he appreciated the support he received from various people around the league during this difficult time.

``I've heard from a lot of people (and) that's been tremendous,'' he said. ``I had a lot of guys that I didn't know that well that really reached out, and I spent a lot of time talking to them. It's a terrible situation ... it's incomprehensible. But it meant a lot.''

The Rockets are paying tribute to McHale's daughter by wearing a green and purple band on their jerseys and a patch of the same color with her initials on their warm-up shirts. Green was her favorite color, and purple is the color that represents the fight against Lupus.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

TAMPA—Head Coach Barry Trotz skated the hot lap prior to Wednesday’s Game 7 at Amalie Arena, taking over the superstitious tradition from captain Alex Ovechkin.

Why the change?

The Caps lost Game 5 here on Saturday. And when the Caps lose on the road—the only place where the morning-skate-starting hot lap takes place—a new skater is selected.

The weird tradition began in the first round at Nationwide Arena in Columbus when Jay Beagle grew tired of waiting for the ice to freeze over following a fresh Zamboni cut. Beagle's teammates implored him to wait a little longer for the ice to cure, but he grew impatient and took it upon himself to kick off the skate by racing around the rink, a la the fastest skater competition at the All Star Skills competition.

Ovechkin took it over prior to Game 6 in Pittsburgh because the Caps had lost Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena.

Ovechkin proudly carried on the tradition as Washington won three in a row—Game 6 in Pittsburgh and Games 1 and 2 of this series vs. Tampa Bay.

Following the Caps’ 3-2 defeat in Game 5 here, though, it was expected that a change would be made.

And on Wednesday morning the baton changed hands, with the least obvious of all the Caps busting his 55-year-old hump around the rink much to the delight of his players and assistants.

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