NFL’s strength of schedule: Raiders finally No. 1

The Raiders will see both of these quarterbacks in 2014. (USATSI)
The Raiders will see both of these quarterbacks in 2014. (USATSI)

The Oakland Raiders haven’t had a successful season since 2002 and if the NFL’s 2014 strength of schedule is any indication, that streak is prone to proceed for an additional yr.

Based on 2013 records, the Raiders will play the toughest schedule within the NFL subsequent season. The Raiders will play a total of 9 video games against 2013 playoff groups, plus a game in opposition to the 10-win Arizona Cardinals.

The Raiders schedule is as near a murderer’s row as an NFL schedule can produce. Oakland performs all four teams that played in the NFC and AFC Championship games and that includes three games in opposition to the two groups that have been within the Tremendous Bowl.

Oakland might have it powerful, but they don’t seem to be the only ones taking part in 9 games against 2013 playoff groups. The Broncos may also play a complete of nine games in 2014 against teams that made the playoffs in 2013.

The eight toughest schedules in the NFL belong to the eight groups in the AFC and NFC West. The two divisions will play one another in 2014. The two divisions mixed to send five of their eight teams to the postseason in 2013.

It pays to be within the AFC South in 2014. The four best power of schedules subsequent season belong to the the 4 groups in that division. Going into 2014, Indianapolis has the best energy of schedule, adopted by Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville.

The Colts 2014 opponents have a combined 2013 document of 110-146. The Raiders 2014 opponents have a mixed document of 148-108.

In any case of this power of schedule speak, the plain question right here is: Does strength of schedule actually mean something?

Going into the 2013 season, the Carolina Panthers had the hardest power of schedule. After the 2013 season was over although, the Panthers had only played the 17th most tough schedule.

Loads of that had to do with the fact that Carolina performed the Falcons twice. Going into 2013, the Panthers strength of schedule was calculated using the Falcons 2012 record of 13-three. After 2013, it was calculated utilizing the Falcons 2013 report of 4-12.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up playing essentially the most tough schedule in 2013, however before the season, they have been only projected to play the 17th hardest schedule.

Here’s the 2014 power of schedule for each NFL crew (Mixed 2013 file of all sixteen opponents, mixed winning share)

1. Oakland Raiders: 148-108,578

2. Denver Broncos: 146-110,570

three. St. Louis Rams: 144-111-1,564

T-4. San Diego Chargers: a hundred and forty four-112,563

T-4. San Francisco 49ers: a hundred and forty four-112,563

6. Seattle Seahawks: 143-112-1,561

7. Kansas City Chiefs: 143-113,559

eight.Arizona Cardinals: a hundred and forty-116,547

9. New York Jets: 132-122-2,520

10. New England Patriots: 131-123-2,516

11. Atlanta Falcons: a hundred thirty-124-2512

12. Miami Dolphins: 129-one hundred twenty five-2,508

thirteen. Green Bay Packers: 128-126-2,504

14. Buffalo Payments: 127-127-2,500

15. Chicago Bears: one hundred twenty five-127-four,496

sixteen. Detroit Lions: 124-128-4,492

17. Washington Redskins: 125-one hundred thirty-1,490

18. Dallas Cowboys: one hundred twenty five-131,488

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 123-131-2,484

20. Philadelphia Eagles: 122-133-1,479

21. Minnesota Vikings: 121-133-2,477

22. Carolina Panthers: a hundred and twenty-134-2,473

T-23. Cincinnati Bengals: a hundred and twenty-136,469

T-23. Pittsburgh Steelers: a hundred and twenty-136,469

T-23. New Orleans Saints: 119-135-2469

T-26. Cleveland Browns: 119-137,465

T-26. New York Giants: 119-137,465

28. Baltimore Ravens: 117-139,461

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 116-one hundred forty,453

30. Houston Texans: 113-143,441

31. Tennessee Titans: 112-one hundred forty four,438

32. Indianapolis Colts: one hundred ten-146,430

Here is a hyperlink to an inventory of every opponent each group will play in 2014. The time and dates of each game will be launched in the spring.

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NFL’s strength of schedule: Raiders finally No. 1

 

The Raiders will see both of these quarterbacks in 2014. (USATSI)
The Raiders will see both of these quarterbacks in 2014. (USATSI)

The Oakland Raiders haven't had a successful season since 2002 and if the NFL's 2014 strength of schedule is any indication, that streak is prone to proceed for an additional yr.

Based on 2013 records, the Raiders will play the toughest schedule within the NFL subsequent season. The Raiders will play a total of 9 video games against 2013 playoff groups, plus a game in opposition to the 10-win Arizona Cardinals.

The Raiders schedule is as near a murderer's row as an NFL schedule can produce. Oakland performs all four teams that played in the NFC and AFC Championship games and that includes three games in opposition to the two groups that have been within the Tremendous Bowl.

Oakland might have it powerful, but they don't seem to be the only ones taking part in 9 games against 2013 playoff groups. The Broncos may also play a complete of nine games in 2014 against teams that made the playoffs in 2013.

The eight toughest schedules in the NFL belong to the eight groups in the AFC and NFC West. The two divisions will play one another in 2014. The two divisions mixed to send five of their eight teams to the postseason in 2013.

It pays to be within the AFC South in 2014. The four best power of schedules subsequent season belong to the the 4 groups in that division. Going into 2014, Indianapolis has the best energy of schedule, adopted by Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville.

The Colts 2014 opponents have a combined 2013 document of 110-146. The Raiders 2014 opponents have a mixed document of 148-108.

In any case of this power of schedule speak, the plain question right here is: Does strength of schedule actually mean something?

Going into the 2013 season, the Carolina Panthers had the hardest power of schedule. After the 2013 season was over although, the Panthers had only played the 17th most tough schedule.

Loads of that had to do with the fact that Carolina performed the Falcons twice. Going into 2013, the Panthers strength of schedule was calculated using the Falcons 2012 record of 13-three. After 2013, it was calculated utilizing the Falcons 2013 report of 4-12.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up playing essentially the most tough schedule in 2013, however before the season, they have been only projected to play the 17th hardest schedule.

Here's the 2014 power of schedule for each NFL crew (Mixed 2013 file of all sixteen opponents, mixed winning share)

1. Oakland Raiders: 148-108,578

2. Denver Broncos: 146-110,570

three. St. Louis Rams: 144-111-1,564

T-4. San Diego Chargers: a hundred and forty four-112,563

T-4. San Francisco 49ers: a hundred and forty four-112,563

6. Seattle Seahawks: 143-112-1,561

7. Kansas City Chiefs: 143-113,559

eight.Arizona Cardinals: a hundred and forty-116,547

9. New York Jets: 132-122-2,520

10. New England Patriots: 131-123-2,516

11. Atlanta Falcons: a hundred thirty-124-2512

12. Miami Dolphins: 129-one hundred twenty five-2,508

thirteen. Green Bay Packers: 128-126-2,504

14. Buffalo Payments: 127-127-2,500

15. Chicago Bears: one hundred twenty five-127-four,496

sixteen. Detroit Lions: 124-128-4,492

17. Washington Redskins: 125-one hundred thirty-1,490

18. Dallas Cowboys: one hundred twenty five-131,488

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 123-131-2,484

20. Philadelphia Eagles: 122-133-1,479

21. Minnesota Vikings: 121-133-2,477

22. Carolina Panthers: a hundred and twenty-134-2,473

T-23. Cincinnati Bengals: a hundred and twenty-136,469

T-23. Pittsburgh Steelers: a hundred and twenty-136,469

T-23. New Orleans Saints: 119-135-2469

T-26. Cleveland Browns: 119-137,465

T-26. New York Giants: 119-137,465

28. Baltimore Ravens: 117-139,461

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: 116-one hundred forty,453

30. Houston Texans: 113-143,441

31. Tennessee Titans: 112-one hundred forty four,438

32. Indianapolis Colts: one hundred ten-146,430

Here is a hyperlink to an inventory of every opponent each group will play in 2014. The time and dates of each game will be launched in the spring.

 

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Jessica Aguilar: More Than 7 Years of Work Will Finally Pay Off at WSOF 8

Jessica Aguilar is ready to seize WSOF gold. |

 


Jessica Aguilar and Alida Grey will battle over the inaugural World Series of Combating strawweighttitle on Saturday night time, as the a hundred and fifteen-pound abilities collide at WSOF8

live on NBC Sports Network from the Seminole Laborious Rock Hoteland On line casino in Hollywood, Fla.

The highway Aguilar has traveled to succeed in this level has been anarduous one, although such effort has so far yielded impressiveresults through 20 professional outings. The former Bellator fighter is 16-4and rides a seven-combat win streak into her WSOF debut.

“It’s been seven and a half years of arduous training to get my firstworld title shot,” Aguilar mentioned throughout a current media conferencecall. “All of the exhausting work and people hours are finally going to payoff.”

While lots of her strawweight friends have joined the UFC toparticipate on “The Ultimate Fighter 20,” Aguilar determined to takeher skills to the WSOF after Bellator folded its women’s divisionlast summer season. “Jag” mentioned she is assured in her alternative and is nowlooking forward to blazing a path for girls contained in the WSOFdecagon.

“I’m going to give every thing I at all times give and leave everythinginside the cage,” stated Aguilar. “I’m just excited and grateful.We’re going to mix it up. I’m going to go in there and dance andhave enjoyable and present some moves out there.”

Though Grey is a relative unknown in the MMA world, the formerOlympic judo alternate stated that she is ready for this massiveopportunity despite the significant leap in competitors.

“It hasn’t been overwhelming getting ready for this struggle,” saidGray. “I watched Jessica battle earlier than I turned professional. I instructed my coachI’m able to take these caliber of fights, and this summer time we madethe determination that I used to be going to professional. I know there are a lot ofpeople on the market who don’t know my identify. She’s out there and he or she’swell identified. She’s No. 1 ranked. But come Jan. 18, individuals will getto know me.”

Three of Gray’s 4 victories have come by means of knockout,including a vicious October finish of SoanniaTiem that presently owns almost 20,000 views on YouTube. Withsuch firepower at her disposal, the 36-12 months-old could look to keepthe struggle standing, especially given Aguilar’s sturdy submissionskills.

“I think we’re each very well-rounded fighters. I’ve beenpracticing my stand-up,” said Grey. “My judo is going to be therenaturally. I’m very honored to have been picked for this battle. I’mgoing to deliver the battle to Jessica, and I hope all people’s readyfor this.”

One particular person surely ready is Aguilar, who will come into the scrapwith the added weight of being the bookmakers’ favourite. Meanwhile,Gray relishes the prospect to prove those same bookmakers incorrect.

“I feel my benefit is that I'm the underdog,” said Grey. “I’mgoing in there with nothing to lose.”

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Zahir Belounis: French Soccer Player Trapped in Qatar Finally Given Exit Visa

zahir

Zahir Belounis will finally be allowed to leave Qatar. A number of weeks in the past we posted a story about the plight of the French soccer participant, who wasn’t allowed to go away the tiny Gulf State following a dispute over pay with his club crew. Qatar has a coverage where “exit visas” are required to go away the nation and Belounis was denied one for almost two years. It left Belounis near destitute and considering suicide.

Wednesday Belounis’ brother Mahdi tweeted out information that Zahir was given a visa and will arrive in Paris on Friday.

That is finally some optimistic information from Qatar, which has triggered all kinds of controversy since it received the correct to host the 2022 World Cup back in 2009. The problems of human rights violators and trendy-day slave labor used to construct the billion dollars price of stadiums and infrastructure in the the country stay unresolved. Anticipate the  scrutiny from Western  journalists – these not handed out free journeys, anyway — to increase as we slowly inch closer to 2022.

Related: ESPNFC’s Phil Ball Accepted Free Journey to Qatar, Wrote Puff Piece, Irritated American Journalists
Associated: Qatar’s World Cup Stadiums Resemble A part of the Female Anatomy, and Are Being Constructed by Modern-Day Slaves

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Robbie Lawler looking ‘Ruthless’ once again, but will he finally realize his potential? (Yahoo Sports)

robbie,lawler,looking,ruthless,again,finally,realize,potential,yahoo,sports

For years, Robbie Lawler was mixed martial arts’ can’t-miss prospect who saved missing.

A rising star within the early days of the UFC’s Zuffa era, Lawler was hyped onerous as the subsequent huge factor.

But after practically a decade spent roaming from promotion to promotion as the man who by no means fairly lived as much as his potential, Lawler has develop into 2013’s best MMA redemption story. And with a win over highly touted welterweight Rory MacDonald on Saturday night at UFC 167 in Las Vegas, that lengthy-ago forecasted crack on the gold just would possibly come along in any case.

“I never lost sight of my objectives,” stated Lawler (21-9, 1 no-contest). “I never stopped considering I could attain the top. It was just a matter of getting my head in the best place.”

Lawler was barely 20 years old when he made his UFC debut with a unanimous-choice victory over Aaron Riley at UFC 37 in Could 2002. A pair of knockout wins in his next two fights established that he had thunder in his fists, and his fights were nights to circle on your calendar.

The young star rode with the game’s scorching camp of the moment: Miletich Combating Techniques in Bettendorf, Iowa. Run by the primary UFC a hundred and seventy-pound champion (the present welterweight title, known as light-weight at the time), Pat Miletich, the camp featured future UFC Hall of Famer after which-welterweight champ Matt Hughes, inaugural UFC 155-pound champ Jens Pulver and two-time heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.

Robbie Lawler (R) is pushed away from Bobby Voelker. (USA Right now)

 

The sky appeared to be the limit as Lawler gained his first seven profession fights, six of them knockouts in six minutes or less.

“You do not respect what you’ve got when it all comes to you real fast,” Lawler said. “I went from nothing to every little thing unexpectedly.”

But issues quickly modified. An upset loss to Pete Spratt at UFC forty two was his first taste of defeat. That was a string of three losses in 4 fights – together with a memorable face-plant knockout by the hands of Nick Diaz – and his UFC run was over just because it began.

Hughes, for his half, stuck with his good friend by the down occasions. However he did not sugarcoat what was occurring.

“He was a young child,” Hughes stated. “He was in his teenagers for his first combat in the UFC, or his first struggle for sure. It was good for him to mature [after leaving the UFC] and to determine that combating is a fairly good gig.”

Asked to pinpoint what went incorrect, Lawler says there was never a particular reason.

“There was by no means this massive ‘Behind the Music’ sort of low point,” mentioned Lawler. “I don’t spend an excessive amount of time trying back anyway, simply ahead. All I ever needed to do was hold combating.”

That he did. Lawler continued on his merry way. At times, he appeared like a world beater, together with a formidable performance in profitable the Elite XC middleweight title from Murilo “Ninja” Rua in 2007, and in spotlight-reel Strikeforce knockouts of Melvin Manhoef and Matt Lindland.

Other occasions? Nicely, there were losses to the likes of “Babalu” Sobral and Tim Kennedy. A loss in his remaining Strikeforce struggle to Lorenz Larkin in 2012 did not elevate large expectations for his UFC return after Strikeforce folded, either.

However Lawler knew this was his last probability on the huge-time. He left the gym he co-owns with Hughes in Illinois and joined one of the sport’s premier camps, the American Top Team in South Florida.

“That made all the difference on the earth,” said Lawler. “I used to have to worry about being the man in cost. Now I can simply focus on my battle and have my coaches care for the remainder.

 

Rory MacDonald has received his final 5 UFC fights. (USA At this time)

“I know you’ll be able to’t fight without end, and there is solely so long you can do this,” Lawler continued. “I do not battle for my legacy or for the glory or something like that. The suggestions from the fans is sweet, do not get me improper; it is a good feeling having them you on their aspect. However I am motivated by making a great dwelling for my family, and that’s what made me get severe about this.”

 

That angle has shown each inside and outdoors the cage. Lawler has put himself in place for Comeback Fighter of the 12 months in 2013 by dropping vintage “Ruthless” bombs on both Josh Koscheck, who Lawler knocked out at UFC 157, and in beating a game Bobby Voelker, who Lawler polished off in a July struggle.

Exterior, Lawler, who used to be infamous for dodging fans and giving reporters one-phrase answers, has grasped that combined martial artists who master the PR sport and treat the fans proper make more money than those who don’t.

“The very fact is, he is getting mature now,” Hughes mentioned. “He is seeing the bigger picture. He knows that doing the PR and stuff shouldn’t be an enormous deal, and he’s getting it completed.”

So Lawler heads to Las Vegas this week with an opportunity he by no means might need imagined. Again when the UFC was celebrating its tenth anniversary, Lawler was the golden youngster and a future champion. As the UFC celebrates its twentieth anniversary, Lawler is again within the image.

And with a win over the UFC’s current welterweight golden child in MacDonald, Lawler could discover his likelihood to prove the prognosticators right in spite of everything.

“This the battle I needed,” Lawler mentioned. “I want to problem myself. I don’t want any easy fights. Rory’s legit, Rory goes to deliver it, and I plan on bringing it right back to him. He is an awesome fighter, but right now he’s the man who’s in the best way of my objectives.”

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Gareth Bale finally sold to Real Madrid and it’s even FIFA 14 official

Spurs have finally, formally offered 24-yr-outdated winger Gareth Bale to Real Madrid after months of toes dragging and false alarms with sooner or later left in the summertime transfer window. And to totally show that the transfer is real, EA Sports produced a short teaser video exhibiting Bale, who signed a six-12 months contract, as a member of Actual Madrid within the upcoming FIFA 14 game. Now the only question that also remains is whether the deal marks a new world document switch price.

The English press are reporting that the deal is value a report €100 million ($132 million), while the Spanish press are convinced that Real Madrid paid €91 million ($one hundred twenty million). Within the latter stages of the melodrama that this story grew to become, there were reports that Actual Madrid needed to maintain the deal below the €94 million ($124 million) threshold that they set upon buying Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 so Ronaldo wouldn’t really feel like he was being usurped because the star of the group. The truth that the final number hasn’t been made crystal clear by the normally boastful Spanish giants appears telling.

Whatever the ultimate total is, it’s loads and it is sufficient to get Spurs to reluctantly let go of their best participant — a man who scored 26 targets in all competitions for them last season. The deal was announced following their 1-0 loss to Arsenal in the north London derby on Sunday. From Spurs’ official assertion on the transfer:

Chairman, Daniel Levy commented, “Gareth was a participant we had absolutely no intention of promoting as we look to build for the future. He’s a participant whose profession we’ve got fostered and developed and he was only a yr into his new 4 12 months contract.

“Such has been the attention from Actual Madrid and so nice is Gareth’s need to join them, that we’ve got taken the view that the player will not be sufficiently committed to our marketing campaign in the current season.

“We’ve got, subsequently, with nice reluctance, agreed to this sale and do so within the data that we have an exceptionally strong squad to which we’ve got added no fewer than seven high internationals. More importantly, we’ve an immense group spirit and a dressing room that is hungry for fulfillment.”

As Levy famous in his statement, Spurs weren’t simply wasting time as they dragged out the Bale deal. They used the summer season properly and signed what appeared like a full squad of recent players value greater than €100,000,000. The hope is that instead of being depending on one participant, they are going to develop a extra balanced team that can problem for a place within the prime four after developing just quick final season. The seven new players whose value will be predominantly negated by the sale of Bale are: Paulinho from Corinthians, Nacer Chadli from Twente, Roberto Soldado from Valencia, Etienne Capoue from Toulouse, Vlad Chiriches from Steaua Bucharest, Christian Eriksen from Ajax and Erik Lamela from Roma.

As for Actual Madrid, they now have a dilemma they’ve grown used to in determining easy methods to use all of their stars and their overlapping skills whereas preserving inside turmoil to a minimum. Though Spurs didn’t need to promote and Bale is a really proficient young player, it’s extremely doable that they received the higher end of this settlement.

(Getty)

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Chelios, Niedermayer, Shanahan elected to Hockey Hall of Fame; Shero finally gets call

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced a five-person Class of 2013, as first-time candidates Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer joined holdover Brendan Shanahan as player inductees; Canadian women’s legend Geraldine Heaney; and Fred Shero, the legendary (and legendarily Hall of Fame snubbed) coach of the 1974-75 Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers.

Scott Niedermayer, Defenseman

(New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks)

From the Hall:

Scott Niedermayer grew up in Cranbrook, British Columbia, and was a member of the Kamloops Blazers 1992 Memorial Cup championship team. Selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1st round (3rd overall selection), he went on to play 13 seasons with the Devils from 1991 to 2004, winning Stanley Cups in the 1995, 2000 and 2003 seasons. In 2005, he signed as a free agent with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks where he was a two-time first team All-Star during his six seasons, as well as being a key part of their 2007 Stanley Cup winning team. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP that season. On the international front, Scott also won gold at the World Junior Championship in 1991, gold at the World Championship in 2004, and gold at two Olympic Games in 2002 and 2010.

The smooth-skating defenseman joins former blue-line mate Scott Stevens as representatives of the Devils’ defensive stranglehold on the NHL for a 13-year span.

Chris Chelios, Defenseman

(Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Atlanta Thrashers)

From the Hall:

Chris Chelios, a native of Chicago, Illinois, after two successful seasons with the Wisconsin Badgers (1981-83), joined the Montreal Canadiens and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 1984-85 and was also runner-up as Rookie of the Year to Mario Lemieux. He was part of the 1986 Canadiens’ Stanley Cup winning team and won the James Norris Trophy as Defenceman of the Year in 1988-89. Traded to Chicago in 1990, Chris went on to play nine season with the Blackhawks and was a five time first or second team All-Star and two-time Norris winner. Chelios continued his career in 1999 with the Detroit Red Wings, winning Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008. He finished his 26 year playing career at the age of 48 with the Atlanta Thrashers and Chicago Wolves in 2009-10.

The definition of “warrior” on the ice, his training prowess and dedication to the game were legendary.

Brendan Shanahan, Winger

(New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers)

From the Hall:

Brendan Shanahan was born in Etobicoke, Ontario and after two seasons with the London Knights (OHL) was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 1st round (2nd overall) in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. A member of the New Jersey Devils for four seasons, Brendan was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Blues in 1991. He player four seasons with the Blues and had back to back 50 goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94 – being named a 1st team NHL All-Star in 1993-94. Brendan went on to play two seasons in Hartford before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 1996, where he played nine seasons winning the Stanley Cup on three occasions (1997, 1998 and 2002). Signed as an unrestricted free agent by the New York Rangers, he played two more seasons before retiring in 2008. Representing Canada internationally on numerous occasions, he was a member of Canada’s 2002 gold medal winning team.

Shanahan might have had to wait in first-year ballot jail for a year, one assumes because of his role in the NHL’s Dept. of Player Safety. But he was a prototypical power forward and a key player on those Red Wins championship teams. Along with Niedermayer and Slava Fetisov, the only Devils draft picks to make the Hall.

Geraldine Heaney, Defense/Coach

From the Hall:

Gerladine Heaney was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and grew up playing hockey in Toronto Aeros – an association she would remain with for 18 seasons. As a member of Canada’s national team she won seven IIHF World Championship gold medals and was named the IIHF World Women’s Championship’s Best Defenceman in 1992 and 1994. A member of Canada’s 2002 gold medal Olympic team, Heaney also won silver in 1998.

She becomes the third woman to be elected as a player.

Fred “The Fog” Shero, Coach

(Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers)

From the Hall:

In the Builder Category, Fred Shero was elected. Shero began his coaching career in 1959-60 with the St. Paul Saints, and progressed up the ranks with a career culminating in nine seasons in the National Hockey League. His Philadelphia Flyers won Stanley Cups in 1973-74 and 1975-76, and he also took the New York Rangers to the final in 1979, where he also had the role of General Manager. In 734 NHL regular season games coached, his teams had 390 wins, 225 losses and 119 ties. Shero passed away on November 24th, 1990.

As has been noted numerous times, Fred Shero was a huge snub for the Hall of Fame until this year.

Among the snubs for his class were Rob Blake, the veteran defenseman who some felt could round out this class in his first year of eligibility; Eric Lindros, whose short span of dominance in the NHL during an injury-plagued career remains a point of controversy; and Jeremy Roenick, one of the best American-born players in NHL history but one that never won a championship or a major award in the NHL.

And of course legendary three-time coach of the year Pat Burns, whose absence from the Hall renders much of this pointless.

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Boston Bruins finally win the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes

Getty Images Jarome Iginla has decided to join the Boston Bruins.

No, seriously this time. Iginla signed a 1-year, $6-million deal with the Boston Bruins on Friday, bringing his bizarre saga with the team full circle.

Back in March, Iginla was practically a Bruin. The Calgary Flames captain had requested to be moved as that team entered a rebuilding phase, and GM Jay Feaster had a deal in place with Boston for two prospects in exchange for Iginla. The trade was reported in the media; Boston GM Peter Chiarelli felt Boston had “won the sweepstakes.”

Insert scratching record noise here: Iginla refused to waive his no-movement clause for Boston, even though the Bruins were one of his preferred destinations. Instead, he forced Feaster to deal him to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“This kind of stuff happens all the time. It shouldn’t, but it does,” said Chiarelli back in March. “That was a good player; that was a real good player.”

The Bruins reacted by trading for Jaromir Jagr, who used to be a star for the team that had just stolen Iginla from Boston’s clutches.

Things got surreal when the Bruins and Penguins met in the Eastern Conference Final, with Iginla having the opportunity to prove he made the right decision by picking the Pens over the B’s.

“I knew Boston was a great team,” Iginla said before the series. “It was one of those situations when I (chose Pittsburgh) that I knew there was a big possibility we’d be in this situation, and here we are. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

He didn’t score a point in the 4-game Bruins sweep, going minus-4, and Milan Lucic said Iggy’s choice lit a fire under them.

Ouch.

Well, if you can’t beat’em, join’em, apparently.

The Bruins had a need on right wing, with the losses of Nathan Horton and Jagr (one assumes) to free agency. Daniel Alfredsson had been a possibility before he signed with the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead, it’s Iginla that finally joins the Bruins, potentially has the top line winger.

Oh, and the best part: Chiarelli somehow convinced him to make the contract performance based. According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, Iginla has a $1.8 million base salary, $3.7 million games played bonus, $500,000 goal scoring/team playoff performance for a total of $6 million.

That’s genius.

Will those fans that booed Iginla as a Penguin cheer for him now? Was the humbling sweep the penance he had to pay? Have Bruins fans lost some respect for Iggy through that ordeal, and then when he disappeared in the conference final?

So when does Jagr become a Penguin …

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Blackhawks finally crack Tuukka Rask, as Bruins defense lets him down

Getty Images BOSTON – Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final featured 11 goals, back-and-forth action and wild swings in momentum. It was the most entertaining game of the series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins.

Unless your name is Tuukka Rask and your job is contingent on not allowing the glorious catharsis of pucks entering nets.

“It’s not fun,” said Rask, after the Chicago Blackhawks’ 6-5 overtime win to even the series at 2-2.

“We battled back many times. Didn’t make it easy on ourselves. At the end of the day it was a one-goal game.”

True, the margin was a single goal, as it was in Game 1’s triple-overtime classic and Game 2’s tightly played sequel. But the six goals allowed by Rask equal his goals allowed in his previous five games, and it’s the first time he’s allowed a 6-spot since Jan. 31.

“It’s a 10 goal game after three,” said Rask. “Neither team was playing that well defensively, so it becomes ‘attack, attack.’”

Chicago’s attack was in stark contrast with their punchless Game 3 effort. They score on second-chance efforts on Rask, crowded his crease and screened him on shots that were finding their way through the Bruins defense in ways they hadn’t in previous games.

“Sometimes games like that happen, that are out of character for us and for them,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

What was out of character for the Bruins: The way they hung Rask out to dry. While his rebound control wasn’t as sharp as in previous games, Boston’s support for its netminder was glaringly nonexistent during Game 4. When Zdeno Chara is a minus-3 and was on the ice for five goals, something’s gone amiss.

“I felt they got a lot of second opportunities,” said Rask. “It’s not on anybody. It’s things that happen. Tough breaks.”

That said, the defense admitted they didn’t bail out Rask enough in Game 4.

“We could have helped him a little bit more,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

It was an odd game for the Bruins, who had shown incredible defensive poise in the previous two games – “it wasn’t a Bruins type of game,” said Coach Claude Julien.

They have two days to regroup before Game 5 back in Chicago. Two days to figure out how mistakes were made and Rask was exposed by six Blackhawks goal-scorers.

“It hasn’t been like this in a while. We don’t really like … that,” said Boychuk.

“I don’t think we played our best game tonight. A lot of different reasons. I think our decision making wasn’t very good at times. Didn’t think we were moving the puck as well as we had been in the past.”