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Utah to hang replica Majerus sweater from rafters

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Utah to hang replica Majerus sweater from rafters

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) University of Utah officials will honor the legacy of Rick Majerus by hanging a replica of his trademark white sweater from the rafters at the basketball arena where he coached from 1989 to 2004 and regularly led the Utes to the NCAA tournament.

A moment of silence will be held at Utah's next game Wednesday and players will wear black patches in honor of a man Utah athletic director Chris Hill remembered as a ``basketball savant.' Majerus died Saturday in Los Angeles while awaiting a heart transplant. He was 64.

``To retire his jersey and put a No. 1 up there, it just doesn't make any sense,'' Hill said Monday.

The replica sweater will be created to fit in with the select names already hanging from the rafters.

``We want people to know it's Rick,'' Hill said. ``You'll know it's a sweater, but at the same time it won't diminish anybody else who is out there.''

Majerus had been invited back previously to be inducted into Utah's Hall of Fame but the timing wasn't right last year as he was coaching at Saint Louis and his health had taken a turn for the worse. Hill said the induction is still planned for a man who led the Utes to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in 25 years with four schools.

``His career exploded during his time here and the University of Utah's recognition exploded following his wake,'' Hill said. ``We are pleased to have the opportunity to have worked with somebody that was one of a kind.''

Hill said he hopes to sit down with former players, coaches and supporters to discuss other ways to recognize Majerus, especially since there are plans to expand the Huntsman Center and upgrade facilities.

He also is working with the athletic director at Saint Louis, where Majerus most recently coached, to have him inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

``'Essentially he was a genius and a savant in basketball,'' Hill said. ``He died way too soon at 64 and many of us maybe knew that day was coming.''

Hill said he knew by the fourth game of Majerus' tenure at Utah that he was a great coach because of his passion and planning - even if he sometimes couldn't find his own shirt in his messy office.

``Somehow he was able to make it happen,'' he said.

Hill said he intends to attend Majerus' funeral Saturday in Milwaukee.

Current Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who played five years in Milwaukee and also coached at the NBA level there, remembers seeing Majerus at practices and training camps.

Krystkowiak called Majerus a ``basketball junkie,'' living out of a Marriott near campus so he wouldn't be distracted by rent and coaching players he saw as an extension of his own family.

``Rick did it his way,'' Krystkowiak said. ``He wasn't interested in making everybody happy, but if you were part of that basketball fraternity, then he had a special way to touch everybody.''

Krystkowiak, 5-2 in his second season as Utah coach, recalled a vivid dream he had involving a healthy Majerus a year ago.

It wasn't long after that he spoke with Hill and the coach's longtime friend, Jon Huntsman, about bringing Majerus back to honor him.

``I fly all over the country, recruiting and doing various things and I'll run into people with my Utah gear on and it's unbelievable the people who want to know where Rick is,'' Krystkowiak recalled. ``If you think about Utah basketball, he's the first name that comes to mind.''

Though they weren't able to bring Majerus back for a special game, he said his passing will inspire and motivate everyone involved with the program.

``We're going to represent the program in grand fashion,'' Krystkowiak said, while adding that he doesn't believe anybody can live up to what Majerus did during his run at Utah.

``It's really beyond words what he did basketball-wise,'' Krystkowiak said of Majerus' 323-95 record with the Utes.

Sophomore center Dallin Bachynski said Monday that he regrets not ever having the chance to meet Majerus.

``Even though he's passed, he's still a big part of what (Utah) is now,'' he said. ``He drives us forward, drives coach forward. It's one of the things as a team we want to do - play so we kind of respect what he did. Not play to get the amount of wins he got, but the way he did it, the kind of people that we are... (that) is the way we respect his memory.''

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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