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Packers all-time leading receiver Driver to retire

Packers all-time leading receiver Driver to retire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) No other uniform would fit Donald Driver.

The Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday morning, with a public ceremony planned for Feb. 6 at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

``I've always said I never want to wear another uniform. I've always said that I owe it to the fans to retire as a Packer,'' Driver said. ``I feel like I can still play, but if I can't play for my organization, then I can't play for anyone else.''

Driver finishes his 14-year career as Green Bay's all-time leader in yards receiving (10,137 yards), catches (743) and 1,000-yard seasons (seven), and is third behind Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe with 61 touchdown receptions. A four-time Pro Bowler, he was Green Bay's MVP in 2002 and was part of the team that won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season.

Only Brett Favre played more games in a Packers uniform.

``All 14 years. Every day,'' Driver said in an interview on ESPN's ``Mike & Mike'' when asked what his favorite memory is. ``That's a special place to walk out of, and that's something I'll never forget.''

Drafted by Green Bay in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, Driver became one of the most popular and prolific Packers. He had six straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2004-09, averaging 14 yards per catch during the stretch. He made at least one catch in 133 straight games from 2002 to 2010, another franchise record.

He's one of only 18 wide receivers in NFL history with 700-plus career catches and 10,000 or more receiving yards in 200 games.

``It was a pleasure to share the field with you for 4 years! Great player, tremendous person. (hash)retire80,'' offensive guard T.J. Lang said on Twitter.

Aaron Rodgers added, ``Thanks for the memories quickie, you will be missed (hash)Packer4Life.''

Quickie is Driver's childhood nickname.

Green Bay fans have a close bond with every Packers player, but they had a particular soft spot for Driver. They loved his bright smile and infectious laugh, and were moved by his story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Growing up, Driver and his family were so poor that he, his mother and siblings sometimes spent the nights in a U-Haul. He and his brother stole cars to get money, and Driver sold drugs, too.

Packers fans embraced him - his jersey is a popular sight at Lambeau Field, right up there with Rodgers' No. 12 and Clay Matthews' No. 52 - and he happily returned the love. He's been active in the community throughout his career and said that won't change. His annual community softball game will be played June 16.

``That's my second home,'' Driver said. ``I'm born and raised in Houston, Texas, but Wisconsin is always going to be a home for me, and I'll always be back.'

Though Driver had said he hoped to play until he was 40 - he turns 38 on Saturday - his retirement was hardly a surprise. He had restructured the final year of his contract to come back this season, but played only a bit role in the offense with Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb ahead of him on the depth chart. Driver's eight catches for 77 yards were his lowest totals since his rookie season, and he was inactive for four games, including the NFC wild-card, his final game at Lambeau Field.

Though coach Mike McCarthy didn't say as much during their postseason meeting, Driver knew he wasn't in the Packers plans for next season.

``I just kind of knew in his eyes,'' Driver said. ``When you've known a guy for so long and you're friends, it's hard for him to tell you that they're not going to bring me back. I just kind of looked at him and I just kind of knew that that's what they were going to do.''

And that made his decision easy.

Minnesota reportedly had interest in Driver, and he said he thinks there would have been other teams that wanted him, too. But he wasn't going to play for anyone besides the Packers, a decision supported by his wife Bettina and their three children.

``Do I feel like I can still play? Yes,'' he said. ``But at the end of the day, I owe it to the fans to put the cleats up. I promised them years ago that I would never wear nothing but green and gold, so I owe it to them to walk away.''

Driver also didn't want to put the Packers in a tough spot, having watched them go through their messy divorce with Brett Favre.

``I just wanted to make it easy on the organization, not put any pressure on them,'' Driver said. ``Just be able to walk away on my own terms and not have them say, `We're not going to bring you back.'''

Instead, the Packers are hosting his retirement party next week. Driver's formal announcement will be made in the Lambeau Field Atrium, and there are a limited number of free tickets for fans available on a first-come, first-served basis.

``I'm happy with the decision I made,'' Driver said. ``It will be a little tougher on Feb. 6. I'm going to get emotional. I'm trying not to get too emotional today, but Feb. 6 I know will be emotional.''

While Driver may be retiring, there will still be plenty to keep him busy. He's got a book coming out in September, and will appear on ``Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition.'' The ``Dancing with the Stars'' champion is also exploring possibilities in broadcasting, and would be open to a hybrid of sports and entertainment, similar to what former New York Giants linebacker Michael Strahan has done.

But no matter what he does, he'll always be part of the Packers.

``It means the world. Not too many guys get to play for one organization,'' Driver said. ``What I feel like I've done on and off the field has truly been a blessing.''

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Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

WASHINGTON -- You've got to lose sometime. The clock finally struck midnight on the Capitals' point streak on Friday as Washington fell 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens. A sleepy first period gave way to an onslaught in the second where Montreal scored four of its five goals.

The loss was the Caps' first regulation loss since Oct. 14, ending a streak of 13 straight games with at least a point.

Here is how the Caps lost.

Ovechkin’s hit

Early in the second period, it would be fair to call this a lifeless game. The score was tied at 0 with neither team generating much in the way of offense. There were no real highlight plays, highlight, nothing. It was just...blah.

Alex Ovechkin changed that.

Just over four minutes into the second, Ovechkin obliterated Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin with a heavy hit.

Drouin was slow to get up and immediately headed to the locker room. Those type of hits can be momentum-changers, but it is not always the hitter that gets that momentum boost. In this case, it seemed to wake up Montreal and not the Caps.

About two minutes after the hit, Phillip Danault would score the first of four goals the Canadiens would score in the second period. All four goals came in a span of 8:20.

It's hard not to draw the connection between the hit and the immediate response from Montreal on the scoresheet.

Defensive zone turnovers

Defensive zone turnovers are very dangerous in hockey. When a team has possession of the puck and is trying to break out, players head down the ice ready to transition from defense to offense.

In the second period, the Caps and Canadiens were locked in a board battle off a faceoff in Washington's defensive zone. John Carlson kicked the puck up near the blue line and T.J. Oshie stepped in. It looked like he was going to get the puck out or at least that's what his four teammates thought. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were already out of the defensive zone and both while Carlson and Kempny began skating up after them. Tomas Tatar and Ben Chiarot continued battling for the puck on the boards and prevented Oshie from getting it out. The puck squirted away from the boards and Montreal took possession. The Caps thought they had the puck on the breakout, but the defense suddenly found itself out of position thanks to the turnover. Tomas Tatar passed to Danault who was all by his lonesome in front of the net and he made it 1-0.

It wasn’t just that one moment. Puck management was an issue all night long for the Caps and it cost them again about five minutes later.

Now down 2-0, the Caps shut down an offensive zone possession for Montreal and had taken away the puck. Lars Eller attempted a stretch pass from the defensive zone right up the middle, but Tatar batted the puck down with his stick and Nate Thompson picked up the puck right behind the blue line and took it right back in to continue the offensive pressure. Less than 20 seconds later, Jordan Weal backhanded a shot that hit off the post and bounced off Samsonov to barely trickle over the goal line.

Out of gas

Lengthy streaks can be exhausting for teams and it certainly looked through 40 minutes like the Caps were just out of gas.

Montreal played well, but each goal in the second seemed to take more of the wind out of Washington's sails until there wasn't much left in the second period.

Through the first 40 minutes, the Caps were being outshot 30-18 in shots on goal and 50-36 in total shot attempts. The team rallied somewhat in the third period with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scoring to make things interesting, but there was not enough time or energy left for Washington to mount a real comeback.

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Karl-Anthony Towns gets technical foul for frustration with Mo Wagner

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Karl-Anthony Towns gets technical foul for frustration with Mo Wagner

Mo Wagner became the NBA's leader in charges drawn Friday night, and his activity during the first half helped him get under Karl-Anthony Towns' skin. 

After Wagner attempted to draw yet another charge on Towns, the Minnesota big man finished a layup on the drive and laid the ball in Wagner's lap when the foul went uncalled. 

Towns received the technical foul as the Wizards continued to play a strong first half against one of the better offenses in the league on the road. 

Towns has been on a mean streak this season. He got in an epic brawl with Joel Embiid earlier this season and got into it with Rudy Gay just a few nights ago. He's demonstrated that he's a player you can get to, and Wagner did just that early on. 

The Wizards' defense has seemingly responded to Wagner's activity, so we'll see if they can keep it up to supplement one of the league's best offensive units. 

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