Capitals

Rebuilding Bills will continue to play in Toronto

Rebuilding Bills will continue to play in Toronto

TORONTO (AP) The Buffalo Bills and Rogers Media announced a new agreement Tuesday that will keep Rogers Centre as the team's second home.

Buffalo will play one regular-season game at the home of the Toronto Blue Jays for the next five years, and the new contract also includes one preseason game in 2015.

The existing five-year deal - which was worth $78 million - expired when Seattle posted a 50-17 win over Buffalo Dec. 16. But an extension had long been expected despite lingering attendance problems. Only 40,770 fans attended the Seahawks' win, far short of a sellout. Some 53,000 fans had been expected.

It was not a good day for the Bills, all around. With 5:20 left in the game, fans in one end zone began chanting ``Let's Go Blue Jays!'' Of course, it was fine by Seattle, which rolled to its third of what would be six consecutive wins.

``This was exciting for us,'' Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the time. ``We looked at it like a little bit of a bowl-game situation.''

There was a halftime show, as well, so perhaps Carroll was on the right track with that theory. Organizers went so far in a bid to drum up support by having Korean pop star PSY perform his hit ``Gangnam Style'' after the second quarter ended.

Buffalo, which finished 6-10 and underwent a coaching change this month, is just 1-4 in regular-season games in Toronto, and some players have spoken out about the deal, worried that taking away a home game from the Buffalo region is somewhat counterproductive.

``Yeah, I did call it a joke,'' Bills center Wood said at the time. ``It stunk that we were up there. And I was heated when I said it was a joke. And I'm not going to sit here and retract all my statements because that's what I meant and what I felt.

``Those non-Bills fans that go to the game are just cheering for plays as opposed to cheering for a team. And that kills you.''

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams concurred.

``It's very similar to a road game, but also I understand the business side of things,'' Williams said then. ``I don't think you'd find a guy in here that wouldn't agree that they would much rather be in Ralph Wilson Stadium.''

Wood understands how playing in Canada's financial capital and largest city benefits a small-market team such as the Bills by generating additional revenue and luring fans to attend the team's games at Orchard Park. He emphasized he wasn't criticizing Toronto as a community, because he enjoys makes numerous trips there.

``I love the city of Toronto for eating and for pleasure,'' Wood said. ``But the game just has a different feel. And it's not a whole lot of fun to play in at this point.''

The Bills recently extended their lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., for 10 years, which should solidify the franchise's short-term future.

After the season ended with a 28-9 win over the New York Jets, Buffalo fired coach Chan Gailey, replacing him with Doug Marrone. Buffalo lost three of its final four games.

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'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

RALEIGH — T.J. Oshie shuffled out of the Capitals locker room, hunched over, half dressed, his face a mask of anguish and pain, his right arm pinned against his body. 

He made it to the X-ray room at PNC Arena on his own, two medical staffers at his side, moaning as he entered to learn his fate. Moments later, his teammates came off the ice at that same spot, 2-1 losers to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series. 

Players clomped past in various states of frustration and distress. Nicklas Backstrom smashed his stick against a wall and, when it only half broke, finished it off with one last theatrical whack. 

It was a perfect summation of Washington’s visit to Raleigh, where it arrived with a 2-0 series lead and left tied 2-2 with a critical Game 5 back home at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Oshie will not be with them. He will be out “for quite some time,” said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. Carolina forward Warren Foegele nudged Oshie from behind as both skated near full speed and he crashed hard into the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. 

Oshie yelled out in pain and lay on the ice for several minutes. He was helped off the ice and Foegele received a two-minute penalty for boarding. That did not sit well with Oshie’s teammates, who failed to score on the power play. They thought the play deserved more – a major penalty, for sure, and supplemental discipline by the NHL Department of Player Safety. They didn’t get the five minutes. They might get a suspension when the league looks at the play.   

“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s an extremely dangerous play and (Oshie) will not be with our team for a while.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Did you see that? What did you think? I was on the ice, I watched the puck, so I didn't see what happened there, but if you think it's not a dirty play, you have to watch it again."

The frustration was understandable. Oshie had 25 goals in 69 games this season. He missed 11 with a concussion in November before returning. On Thursday, he’d moved up to the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and he’s been a staple on the second line much of the season. He is as skilled a player as there is on the Capitals and has a goal and an assist in the series. 

“It’s always tough. He plays the game so hard,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with [Oshie] is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team - whether in or out. It doesn’t matter. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that guys want to fight for.”

Carolina didn’t agree with the Capitals, of course. Foegele called it “an unfortunate play” where he was just trying to lift Oshie’s stick and he lost an edge and careened into the boards. It doesn’t matter now. With the series now even, Washington will have to build on a much better game than it played Monday night in a 5-0 loss, but without one of its best players. On Friday they can begin figuring that out. On the plane ride home Thursday night they were still trying to process what happened to Oshie. 

“We have all those meetings. GMs make meetings with referees and watch the video and it's two minutes?” Ovechkin said. “We're players and we have to go out there and play, but those guys have to make a decision. They can't be afraid. If the guy hurt, it's a dirty play, it has to be not two minutes. It has to be different call."

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'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

The Capitals were incensed by Warren Foegele’s shove to the back of T.J. Oshie in Game 4 on Thursday that sent Oshie dangerously into the boards and knocked him out of the game. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, does not know what all the fuss is about.

“You see a lot of hits that are way, way worse than that,” Brind’Amour told the media after the game.

Oshie entered into the offensive zone with the puck and Foegele came in on the backcheck. Oshie had a good position on the puck, blocking Foegele out with his back. Foegele responded with a cross-check to the back of Oshie that knocked him over face-first awkwardly into the boards. Oshie appeared to strike the boards with his right shoulder and was doubled over in obvious pain as he slowly made his way off the ice.

Ovechkin was so angry that he followed Foegele and continued yelling at him after he went into the penalty box.

But Brind’Amour did not see it as a dirty play.

“I think [Oshie] just went in awkward,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't know the extent of the injury or whatever. Barely hit him I thought, really. He gave him a little shove, but it certainly wasn't what we've been seeing out here.”

In fact, Brind’Amour did not think a penalty was going to be called at all until Oshie stayed on the ice.

“There wasn't a penalty being called and then obviously he crashed into the boards hard and that's when the arm went up because he stayed down,” Brind’Amour said. “You don't like to see that, but I think more than anything he just was not ready for the hit.”

For those of you keeping track at home, Brind’Amour took issue with two consenting players fighting one another, but a cross-check to the back leaves a guy doubled over in pain and, well, he just was not ready for the hit.

Right.

Of course, you can file this away under, “What is he supposed to say?” It’s not as if Brind’Amour would come out and bury his own player for an illegal hit. He is going to defend his guy. Having said that, there were probably better ways to handle the injury of an opposing player rather than diminishing it quite as much as Brind’Amour seemed to.

“We've got way more injuries than they do,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't worry about their team.”

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