Capitals

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) The Penn State child sex abuse scandal was selected as the sports story of the year by U.S. editors and news directors in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

The news broke in November 2011, with a grand jury report outlining charges against Jerry Sandusky, and the outrage that followed led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. But the aftershocks were felt long into 2012: Sandusky was convicted in June of assaulting 10 boys, and the NCAA handed down brutal sanctions in July.

In both years, the scandal was picked as the top sports story, the first time since the AP began conducting its annual vote in 1990 that the same story was selected twice in a row. The results of this year's tally were announced Wednesday.

Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles was No. 2 and the Saints bounty scandal was No. 3.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Moments after his team lost a basketball game, Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey spoke of a bigger loss.

The first-year coach of the Eagles gave an impassioned plea for government and private leaders to act soon to prevent further massacres such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last week that left 20 children and six adults dead at the school.

``The last thing I want to say is I'm really, really lucky, because I'm going to get on an eight-hour bus ride, and I'm going to arrive in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I'm going to walk into my house, and I'm going to walk upstairs, and I'm going to walk into two pink rooms with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room,'' he said, concluding his remarks in the wake of a 65-55 loss at No. 7 Ohio State.

``And I'm going to give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I've ever given them. And there's 20 families in Newtown, Conn., that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it's tragic.''

Kelsey called on political leaders to get past petty differences and accomplish something.

``I didn't vote for President Obama. But you know what? He's my president now. He's my leader. I need him to step up,'' he said. ``Mr. (John) Boehner, the Speaker of the House ... OK, he needs to step up.''

He also called for others to get involved and prevent a reoccurrence of such tragedies.

``Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches - everybody needs to step up,'' he said.

PRO FOOTBALL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - For much of his hour-long visit with the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shootings, Victor Cruz talked about football, life and young Jack, the child who idolized him.

The New York Giants wide receiver somberly recounted his meeting with Pinto's parents and brother in Newtown, Conn.

He struggled in his retelling only when asked about the family's decision to bury the child in the receiver's No. 80 Giants jersey. The father of an infant girl, Cruz stopped for a moment, and his eyes became watery.

``You never go through some circumstances like this and circumstances where a kid faces or a family faces something of this magnitude at their school,'' Cruz said. ``This definitely was the toughest by far.''

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - New York Jets' third-string quarterback Greg McElroy is getting his first NFL start Sunday, stepping in for the benched Mark Sanchez and leapfrogging backup Tim Tebow on the depth chart. Rex Ryan made the decision Tuesday to go with the team's seventh-round pick last year out of Alabama.

Ryan would not go into detail about why he chose Greg McElroy over Tebow with two games left in a lost season. He reiterated his comments from Tuesday that it was his decision - and his alone - saying it was a ``gut'' call.

``Obviously, I'm a little disappointed,'' Tebow said. ``You try to handle it the best you can.''

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologized to offensive coordinator Todd Haley for his comments following a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas last Sunday.

Roethlisberger took Haley to task over the team's inability to feature tight end Heath Miller in the second half and wondered why the Steelers didn't stay in the no-huddle offense. The quarterback says he was frustrated after Pittsburgh (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games and that he was unable to keep his emotions under control.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was fined $10,000 by the NFL for wearing Adidas at his postgame news conference Sunday.

The NFL said the fine was for ``unauthorized apparel.''

DETROIT (AP) - The daughter of a former Chicago Bears player from the 1950s is accused of illegally collecting money from an NFL pension plan years after her father's death.

Constance Helwig-Langlois was charged with fraud in Detroit. She's the daughter of John Helwig, who played defense for the Bears.

Federal prosecutors say the NFL retirement plan kept sending checks to John Helwig's Detroit-area address after his 1994 death, saying his daughter kept the scheme going until 2011, and that the erroneous payments added up to more than $200,000 over 17 years.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was voted Associated Press coach of the year after leading the Fighting Irish to a spot in the BCS championship game.

No. 1 Notre Dame is 12-0 and will play No. 2 Alabama for the national title on Jan. 7 in Miami.

Kelly received 25 votes from the AP college football poll panel. Penn State's Bill O'Brien was second with 14 votes. Stanford's David Shaw (four), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (three), Kansas State's Bill Snyder (two) and Alabama's Nick Saban (one) also received votes.

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Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is likely headed toward a hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions after it couldn't resolve an investigation of the football coaching staff's use of a scouting service.

Yahoo cited two unidentified sources in its report.

The NCAA investigated Oregon after questions arose over a 2010 payment of $25,000 to Willie Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting service. Lyles had a relationship with a player from Texas who committed to Oregon.

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Stanford coach David Shaw agreed to a ``long-term contract extension'' that will keep him with his alma mater beyond the two years left on his remaining deal.

DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) - Junior quarterback Will Grier, who threw for a national record 837 yards and had 10 TD passes in a 104-80 North Carolina state playoff win last month, will be a Florida Gator.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB trimmed his choice to five schools before choosing the Gators over North Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina State and Oregon.

NEW YORK (AP) - Texas has the most valuable college football program in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.

Forbes' college football evaluations say the Longhorns are worth $133 million, up from $129 million last year.

Michigan ($120 million) was No. 2, followed by Notre Dame ($103 million). The rest of the top 10 consisted of SEC schools. Alabama ($95 million) was sixth.

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota football coach cleared by a judge of child porn charges stemming from cellphone video of his naked children is no longer on administrative leave, but hasn't yet been reinstated atop the program.

Minnesota State University, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner had been on leave since the videos were discovered on his university-issued phone last August. A judge last month tossed out the charges, agreeing with Hoffner's assertion that the video captured an innocent family moment.

BASEBALL

SEATTLE (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels got the pitching depth they wanted. The Seattle Mariners got the power-bat they so desperately needed.

Two foes in the AL West found a way to work together when the Angels traded switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas, filling needs for both teams.

PRO HOCKEY

TORONTO (AP) - Donald Fehr and the players' association are ready to get back to the bargaining table at any time. They are just waiting for the NHL to feel the same way.

``(We aren't talking) because the owners have not indicated a desire to resume,'' the NHLPA's executive director said before a charity hockey game.

The sides haven't negotiated since Dec. 6 in New York.

PRO BASKETBALL

DALLAS (AP) - Dirk Nowitzki went through his first full practice with the Dallas Mavericks since having knee surgery that forced the 11-time All-Star to miss every game so far this season.

Following the practice, Nowitzki gave no timetable on when he might make his season debut, except to say ``maybe any time after Christmas.''

SOCCER

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Argentine journalists don't think Lionel Messi is the country's best athlete for 2012.

Argentine boxer Sergio Martinez was awarded the title of ``Olimpia de Oro,'' given to the South American country's top athlete in voting by its association of journalists.

Martinez defeated Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year in their WBC title fight.

Barcelona star Messi, who has had a record-breaking year with 90 goals, didn't even finish second in the voting. That went to Sebastian Crismanich, the taekwondo fighter who won Argentina's only gold medal in the London Olympics. Messi finished third.

SKIING

ARE, Sweden (AP) - Viktoria Rebensburg won the women's giant slalom World Cup race, breaking Slovenian Tina Maze's winning streak.

Under floodlights, the German two-time defending champion in the giant slalom clocked the best opening run and then managed to hold on in the second to win in a total time of 2 minutes, 28.94 seconds. Austrian Anna Fenninger was second, 0.62 behind.

Maze, who arrived in the Swedish resort with four consecutive giant slalom wins this season, was third, 0.91 back.

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The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

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NBC Sports

The Dougie Hamilton-Alex Ovechkin drama continued in Game 6 and the internet has thoughts

Alex Ovechkin's assist to Brett Connolly in Game 5 started when Carolina Hurricanes defender Dougie Hamilton shied away from Ovechkin's imminent check.

To start Game 6, Ovechkin tried to ram Hamilton along the boards again, but Hamilton sidestepped him to get the puck to safety.

After Ovechkin tumbled to the ice when he missed the hit, he made his way back to the bench, when he appeared to, well, you decide.

Ovechkin's mocking did not go unnoticed by the broadcast crew on NBC Sports Network or by fans on Twitter. "And there it is, that's what Eddie was talking about," chuckled Pierre McGuire as Ovechkin appeared to raise his arms like a clucking chicken.

The Hurricanes would respond with a goal to even the game 1-1, but Ovechkin answered back at 15:12 of the first period on an assist from Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen to make it 2-1 Capitals.

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The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

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USA TODAY Sports

The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

The finalists for the Norris Trophy – awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability in the position – were unveiled on Sunday. Somehow, John Carlson was not among them.

This is the second consecutive year Carlson was a deserving candidate and the second year he will not even be among the top three.

The Norris Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association -- of which I am a member so I guess you can blame us -- but make no mistake, this is a snub in every sense of the word and a major oversight that Carlson cannot get the recognition he deserves.

Ballots will be made public after the awards are given out. Until then, we are not supposed to divulge exactly how we voted, but I will tell you that Carlson was in my top three, and he absolutely should have been a finalist this year.

If you had asked me prior to the 2017-18 season who the most important defenseman on the Caps was, I would have told you it was Matt Niskanen. I saw Carlson as an offensive-heavy player whose skills in his own zone were lacking. I had to eat those words later as Niskanen was injured in mid-October and missed the next month of the season. During that month, Carlson averaged 27:47 of ice-time per game, which led the entire league. He showed he could contribute offensively, defensively, on the power play and penalty kill. There was nothing he could not do.

Suddenly, the Caps’ top pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen was replaced by Carlson and whoever he was paired with. That continued into this season.

But while Carlson has reshaped his image in Washington, his reputation as an offensive first player instead of an all-around defenseman persists, and it cost him.

There is no set standard every voter sticks to when it comes to evaluating players for the Norris. You can look at whatever stats you want whether it is Corsi, Fenwick, points, PDO, defensive zone starts, high-danger chances for -- the list goes on. Here’s why Carlson was in the top three of my ballot: Not only did he play exceptionally well, but the Capitals relied on him more in more situations than any other team relied on a single defenseman.

Carlson finished the season ranked eighth in the NHL in time on ice per game at 25:04. Burns finished just ahead of him with 25:06. Both Giordano (24:14) and Hedman (22:46) played less.

Carlson was among the top 40 defensemen in shorthanded time on ice per game with 2:35, something only Giordano (2:40) could boast among the other finalists. Carlson was also first among all defensemen in power play time on ice per game with 4:05, significantly more than Hedman (3:19), Giordano (3:19) or Burns (3:17).

There is no situation in which the Caps are not comfortable putting Carlson out on the ice and no situation in which he is not expected to play heavy minutes. He has taken a bigger role defensively as the team’s top shutdown pair of Orlov-Niskanen has had a down year. Despite the heavier defensive workload, Carlson still managed to finish in the top four in points among defensemen with 70, a career-high.

I am not here saying that Burns, Giordano or Hedman are not deserving of being finalists. In fact, Carlson did not finish first on my ballot. It seems crazy to me, however, that he did not finish in the top three this season or last. All three finalists had strong seasons, but Carlson’s season was just as good and he was more heavily relied upon. He is one of the top offensive blueliners, but that’s not all he is.

Until he manages to overcome that reputation, which persists through no fault of his own, he will continue to be on the outside of the Norris race looking in. And that’s a shame considering how good he has been.

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