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'Normal couple stuff' before Chiefs murder-suicide

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'Normal couple stuff' before Chiefs murder-suicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) As investigators search for a motive to help explain why Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself, a discordant picture of the couple began to emerge.

Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had lived apart briefly earlier in the year but had gotten back together by Thanksgiving, according to a friend of Perkins.

Brianne York, 21, said Sunday the couple, who had a 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, argued about ``normal couple stuff'' but that her friend was ``really happy about being a mom.''

When she learned Saturday that Belcher had fatally shot Perkins at the couples' home, York said, she thought someone must have been mistaken.

Afterward, Belcher drove about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium, where he thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel for all they'd done for him. Belcher then fatally shot himself in the practice facility's parking lot, police said.

Sunday found Crennel on the sidelines, bravely holding together a team in turmoil. The Chiefs rallied to a 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, breaking an eight-game losing streak.

``It was tough,'' said quarterback Brady Quinn. ``It was an eerie feeling after a win, because you don't think you can really win in this situation.''

York, who met Perkins while taking classes at the Blue River campus of Metropolitan Community College, said the women bonded during their pregnancies. York has a baby boy who was born months before Perkins gave birth to Zoey.

``It doesn't seem that that would be the end of their story,'' York said. ``It just seems like if things didn't work out, they would have gone their separate ways. I would never have thought that this would be how it ended.''

York said that sometime after Halloween Perkins had gone to visit her family in Texas. Perkins also briefly stayed with her cousin, who is married to Chiefs player Jamaal Charles. Belcher and Perkins met through Charles, York said.

A message left for Charles and his wife through an assistant was not immediately returned.

York said the root of the argument was that Belcher, ``sometimes he would just be down in his man cave or whatever,'' and Perkins wanted to spend more time together as a family.

``They ended up wanting to try to work it out,'' York said, ``and the next time I went over and visited she told me everything was good and things were better, so I thought everything was fine.''

Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp reiterated Sunday that the couple had argued recently but he could provide no additional details.

At the couple's former home, people could be seen coming and going Sunday. ``Can you all respect grieving?'' said a man who answered the door at the couple's home. A short time later, at the same time the Chiefs were playing, two men loaded bags into a car, and two women drove away.

Attempts to reach various members of Perkins' family in Austin, Texas, were unsuccessful.

Neighbors in the newly built Kansas City subdivision where the couple had lived since April were stunned by Saturday's violent events.

Kristen VanMeter, 31, lives near the couple and said also she had taken community-college courses with Perkins. VanMeter said the couple threw ``a lot of parties'' but said she heard nothing unusual the morning of the killing.

``It's a surprise,'' she said. ``There had to of been something that triggered it.''

Belcher's mother, who was staying with the couple, called 911 after her son shot Perkins. Snapp said 911 tapes are not public records in Missouri.

Shawn Martin, vice president of the neighborhood homeowners association, said she wasn't aware of any problems that preceded the shooting.

She described the parties at the home Belcher and Perkins shared as ``nothing more than any other young couple'' would have.

After having the baby, Perkins was taking the fall semester off school. York said Perkins planned to return in January and wanted to become a teacher.

Police said Belcher's mother was living with the couple, but York said she just made frequent visits, sometimes lasting a couple weeks at a time. She doesn't know who will care for the baby now.

``They just seemed really happy around each other, and I just don't understand where things went wrong,'' York said.

York said the only other stress Perkins mentioned was whether Belcher would stay with the Chiefs.

``She was a really good person to be around and a lot of fun,'' York said. ``She was somebody you could call when you were down and she would talk you through it. She would lift you back up and make you feel happy again if you were sad or upset.''

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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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