Ah yes, trade deadline day in the NHL. I am not sure the Stars could do anything that would shake the city like the Jason Kidd deal, but on this blog, we actually prefer the hockey deadline to the NBA version. The funny part is that it seldom factors into the Stanley Cup. Remember last year? 40-some trades, and the Ducks win the Cup with only the small Brad May trade last spring. A small tinker, not a big splash.
Regardless, should the Stars do the Brad Richards deal?
My gut says no. But, I can’t deny that my hockey pants would likely go crazy if it were to go down. He is such a gamble, but his upside is the Conn Smythe. His downside is a huge millstone of a contract.
Heika looks at the pros and cons …
The Stars are looking at trying to acquire Tampa Bay center Brad Richards before today's 2 p.m. NHL trade deadline. Here are a few pros and cons about Richards:
•Only 26, and under contract for the next three seasons
•Won Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when he led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup.
•489 points in 552 regular season games and 47 points in 45 playoff games.
•Those three years under contract are at $7.8 million. Richards would become the highest paid player on the Stars.
•Struggling this season with 51 points and is a league-worst minus-25
•Is a natural center and could force some shuffling in the Stars' lineup when the team has won 11 of its last 13 games.
Here are the two links I use all day, and you should, too.
Spector’s Trade Rumors …
Ross McKeon throwing this against the wall:
YAHOO! SPORTS: Ross McKeon reports a source claims the Dallas Stars will ship a package of goaltender Mike Smith, center Jeff Halpern and defenceman Mark Fistric to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Brad Richards. It's also expected the Montreal Canadiens will have outbid the Ottawa Senators for winger Marian Hossa, shipping at least a forward (possibly Michael Ryder) to the Thrashers.
WFAA.COM: Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports Stars goalie Mike Smith has heard all the trade rumors and is learning to deal with them.
SPECTOR'S NOTE: My thanks to everyone who sent this in earlier this morning while I was catnapping. Much appreciated. I suggests both here and on my message forum that the Stars could be the front-runners as they had the depth to offer up the best package, particularly a goaltender. Smith has shown a lot of promise as a potential starter, splitting the duties in Dallas fairly evenly with Marty Turco earlier in the season until Turco got his groove back around mid-season. He's also affordable and right now that's what the Bolts would need. It'll be interesting to see if this deal happens but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. As for Hossa, expect more than Ryder to be headed to Atlanta if that deal goes down, as the Habs have a lot of promising young players and prospects they could offer up.
To the Mavs:
Jason Kidd makes Dampier look good …
A festive atmosphere that comes only when the playoffs are in sight or a future Hall of Fame point guard makes his home debut was in full fever pitch Monday night at American Airlines Center.
Naturally, Erick Dampier gravitated to the spotlight with a dominating performance that was unexpected only to the untrained eye.
Dampier had 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots – both season highs – and was the ideal supporting actor for Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Kidd as the Mavericks snuffed out the Chicago Bulls, 102-94, for their third consecutive victory.
Anybody who's been watching since Kidd arrived a week ago has seen a change in the Mavericks' only true center. Dampier knows with DeSagana Diop gone, he's going to play bigger minutes. He played a season-high 37 against the Bulls and has averaged a shade over 31 since the trade, a big increase from the 23 he averaged before the All-Star break.
He's responding with his most spirited play of the season.
"He got the game ball tonight," coach Avery Johnson said. "Damp understands that he's going to be playing more, and he's fired up about it."
On a night when the Mavericks had trouble shaking off the Bulls, they had plenty of key contributors. Kidd didn't disappoint in his first home game since the trade, flirting with a triple-double again before finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
He was the reason the crowd was buzzing, and the game had a playoff feel to it, even if it was against the 22-34 Bulls. This was the third non-playoff team in a row for the Mavericks, who face division leaders in three of the next four games.
During pregame introductions, Kidd was announced last in the starting lineup, giving fans the chance to give him a long standing ovation.
"I just wanted to make a good impression at home since we've been away awhile," Kidd said. "I'm so excited to have this opportunity and this second chance to come back and play for the franchise."
And then, he did what he does, orchestrating the offense over 100 points for the first time since his arrival. The Mavericks also had 22 turnovers, proving they have plenty to work on.
"If I was 20, I might get frustrated with the turnovers," Kidd said. "But I'm a little bit older now."
Meanwhile, Nowitzki had 29 points, and he's had at least 27 in all four games since Kidd's arrival. Stackhouse, now cemented as sixth man again with Jason Terry starting, had a season high-tying 23 points.
And yet, the Mavericks had trouble closing out the Bulls, who trailed all night but were pesky enough to slice a 17-point lead to two in the third quarter.
NFL Rumors abound …involving the Cowboys…
• The asking price for Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel is somewhere between $10 and $11 million per season. The Saints are currently the leader to land Samuel, although that could change. Samuel's price got this high because Atlanta's disgruntled DeAngelo Hall is asking for $10 million. The Giants aren't really interested because they won't pay Hall's price, but there is no doubt Atlanta will trade him for a first-round draft choice.
• The Patriots and Randy Moss really aren't close to a new contract, although the Pats believe Moss will give them the option to match whatever deal he does receive on the open market. That makes sense because the clubs pursuing Moss will be limited because he wants to play for a contender. The most interesting rumor is Moss joining the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys can pay up, and wouldn't T.O. and Moss be interesting to watch, not to mention impossible to defend?
DallasCowboys.com blog responds …
It’s a common mindset. A star player announces that he either wants to be traded from his current team and we automatically see if he fits for the Cowboys.
We all do it.
And in this case, it made sense because the Cowboys actually have a need at cornerback.
But at this point, it doesn’t appear the Cowboys have any strong interest in acquiring Atlanta’s disgruntled cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who has recently stated he will not play for the Falcons in 2008.
Hall, a first-round pick in 2004 (eighth overall), is so unhappy in Atlanta that it seems the Falcons are just as ready to ship him out.
In fact, the Falcons have called a few teams inquiring a trade, including the Cowboys.
The word is, the conversation didn’t even last long enough to see what it might cost to acquire him.
At this point, the Cowboys are focused on signing Flozell Adams and figuring out what to do with Marion Barber. And by figuring out, I’m talking about in terms of playing for a one-year tender, which tender to give him or getting a deal done right now.
The Cowboys might trade up in the draft, but it seems very, VERY unlikely that Barber will be included in that. So don’t hold off on buying those Barber jerseys.
And since we’re speculating here, word out of Indianapolis is that the possibility of Randy Moss to the Cowboys is starting to surface. Not sure if that has any legs at all, so for now, let’s keep that strictly in the “rumor category.” Sounds tempting for Jerry Jones, considering he still might haunted by not taking Moss back in 1998. But still, you wouldn’t think the Cowboys would have the cash to get that done. And T.O. and Moss together? That deserves a “wow” for so many reasons.
But I can’t see Moss actually leaving New England. He’s been able to help good quarterbacks have great seasons. But he got paired up with a great quarterback and they both shattered records and were less than a minute away from becoming the best team in NFL history. I’d say he’s figured it out enough to return for at least another year.
Darren McFadden puts up impressive numbers …in the 40, and in fatherhood…
Looking for a number that can equal $30 million, the expected guaranteed money for a No. 1 overall pick, plus possible character concerns?
That's the new math, NFL-style. When Arkansas running back Darren McFadden blazed a 4.33 40-yard dash Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, it might have been exactly what was needed to seduce a team into trading up to get him. Maybe trading up all the way to No. 1.
The general feeling is the Dolphins would have trouble trading out of the No. 1 spot for more picks to address more needs because no player had separated himself as a can't-miss, franchise player enough to make a team want to invest the $30 million to $35 million in guaranteed money the pick will get. That went double for running backs, whose durability is in doubt.
A 4.33 40-yard dash at 6- ¼, 211 pounds can create some separation, even if it was only second to East Carolina's Chris Johnson's 4.24 among running backs. Now, the only questions the 2007 Heisman Trophy runner-up has to answer are about off-the-field issues.
Nobody is likening McFadden to Pacman Jones or several members of the Cincinnati Bengals, but as Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo said, he could tell teams were taking character seriously because, ``I've answered more questions [in team interviews] about character and things I like to do in my off time than I have about football.''
After a January bar fight, McFadden was handcuffed and released. He has to take a second paternity test for a child born last autumn after the first test, which declared he wasn't the father, was found to have problems with the chain of custody of McFadden's sample.
McFadden's agent, Ian Greengross, confirmed the running back might have fathered two other kids, expected to be born in July and August, and paternity will be determined after the children are born. Greengross said McFadden has no other children.
Texas gets a nice road win …
Texas (24-4, 11-2 Big 12) didn't get much production outside of its two speedy guards, but the Longhorns put the squeeze on Kansas State with their stingy defense and improved to 8-0 in February to match a school record set in 1962-63.
Connor Atchley scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half after struggling with foul trouble for the Longhorns, who have held their last three opponents to a combined 23 percent shooting.
Texas leads the Big 12 by 1 1/2 games over Kansas and needs one win in its final three games to match the school record of 25 regular-season wins, set two seasons ago.
"They've been playing better than any team in the country," Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley said. "They're a good team. They defend. They've got a whole army."
Kansas State (18-9, 8-5) got another big night from Beasley -- 30 points and 15 rebounds -- but had trouble solving Texas' aggressive zone and lost its third straight. The Wildcats shot 32 percent and got almost nothing from second-leading scorer Bill Walker to see their 10-game home winning streak end.
Kansas State's biggest problem was shooting from the perimeter. The Wildcats were 7-of-27 from 3-point range, a mark that would have been much lower if freshman Jacob Pullen (19 points) hadn't gone 5-for-9 from behind the arc.
"They're big. They're so darn big," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "They're long and they pressure you. They're a good team."
Augustin gave Kansas State all kinds of problems at the other end.
The 6-foot sophomore seemed to get where he wanted whenever he wanted, dribbling around the perimeter, poking and prodding Kansas State's defense to open up 3-pointers and drives to the basket.
Augustin had 12 points by halftime and helped Texas to a 57-50 lead midway through the second half, scoring on a floater then a three-point play after snatching the ball from the hands of Kansas State guard Fred Brown. He also had five assists and four steals.
Mike Bacsik – celebrity …
It has been 6 1/2 months now since that fateful night by the San Francisco Bay, when, on a 3-2 count in the fifth inning, Bacsik reared back and fired an 86-mph fastball that San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds crushed into the seats -- the home run that broke Hank Aaron's cherished all-time record and that thrust Bacsik, at the time a 29-year-old journeyman, into the sort of spotlight no pitcher covets.
But a funny thing happened. Bacsik seemed to . . . well, if not embrace the moment, then at least not push it away. The goofy, talkative lefty with the bald head and the love of the television cameras became a media sensation, then a cult hero, then -- this offseason -- a bit of a cottage industry. He started doing a radio show in his home town of Dallas, and appeared on ESPN as an analyst during the playoffs.
That one moment of infamy, it seems, has been very, very good for Mike Bacsik.
"For 12 years of my career, I'm a nobody that nobody goes up to and asks for anything, and now people actually want my autograph," Bacsik said. "Hopefully, I can improve this year and maybe people will want my autograph for being a good pitcher."
The chances of that happening with the Nationals, while not impossible, have gotten longer this spring, as the franchise has beefed up the stable of pitchers in its farm system to the point where it is far less likely for a now-30-year-old journeyman with only 51 big league games under his belt to make their roster, let alone thrive there. Though he made 20 starts for the Nationals last year, going 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA, he warranted only a non-guaranteed minor league contract this year.
"In the situation we're in right now it's probably a little tougher for [older] guys to do it, because we are making progress," Manager Manny Acta said, speaking about the team's pitching in general. "And obviously, a couple of years ago the lack of talent that was here kind of helped some guys."
Bacsik said it would be "going too far" to say the Bonds home run has changed his life. "I'm not rich because of it," he said. "I'm not guaranteed a big league contract because of it. At home, I'm not treated different because of it. Have I had phone calls and stuff because of it? Yeah, maybe."
Have any of those phone calls come from Bonds himself? Bacsik is coy when asked that question. The most he will say is that he has a cellphone number for Bonds. "But it doesn't even go straight to him," Bacsik adds. "It goes to a secretary or something. And besides, Barry has enough things going on right now without me bugging him."
Levy also gave Bacsik high marks for his insight and "passion for the game," but stopped short of saying there is a future for Bacsik at ESPN. "The timing was right this time," Levy said. "But down the line, I wouldn't close the door by any means."
If Bacsik makes it back to TV, he promises never to leave his cellphone on during a live segment, the way he did during a "First Take" segment one morning. Bacsik was chatting with host Dana Jacobson when all of a sudden his phone started ringing in his pocket. He cringed, but otherwise made it through the segment until a commercial break. When they came back from break, Jacobson teased him about the ringing cellphone.
"That was just Barry calling," Bacsik deadpanned. "He signed with a team, but he made me promise not to tell which one."
With one quick sound bite, Bacsik had taken a potentially embarrassing situation -- something no one in that chair would ever wish to have happen to himself -- and turned it into a positive. Apparently, it is something he does extremely well.
Tom Hicks is selling! …or so they say…
Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has denied reports that he is preparing to sell his stake in the club just a year after buying it.
Hicks and George Gillett Jr. had been rumored to want a quick profit on the Premier League club, and The Times of London reported Tuesday that the pair let Dubai International Capital examine the accounts ahead of a possible takeover bid next month.
DIC, the private-equity investment arm of the Dubai government that competed with the American businessmen to buy Liverpool last year, declined to comment, but Hicks rebuffed the story in an e-mailed statement.
"Reports in the UK media that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the club's books in preparation for such a sale — like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda — are absolutely and categorically false," Hicks said.
"The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honor that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future."
Hicks, who also owns baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, did not elaborate upon who the parties he referred to were, or comment upon speculation that he and Gillett had fallen out over their plans for the club.
The Times had reported that Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens, would be happy to sell his 50 percent stake.
Gillett and Hicks bought Liverpool for $431 million in March 2007, which included an agreement to pay off about $89 million of debt and a pledge to build and finance a 60,000-seat stadium.
The Times said that Liverpool was now valued at more than $788 million, including an increased debt. Gillett and Hicks refinanced their Liverpool deal with a $690 million package from two banks on Jan. 25.
Tommy Hicks have a great experience at the pub …
The son of Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks was reportedly spat at and doused with beer when he went to a pub near Anfield stadium.
Tom Hicks Jr. went to the Sandon pub after Liverpool's 3-2 Premier League win over Middlesbrough on Saturday, according to the Liverpool Echo's Monday edition.
The American took photographs of the exterior before ordering drinks at the bar, where the club's most fervent fans congregate before and after matches.
The atmosphere changed when Hicks Jr. began to get recognized, the paper said, with fans directing negative chants in his direction.
"As his bodyguards got closer one fan swilled Hicks junior with a pint of lager - and given the price of a pint in the Sandon after the match that's quite a protest," wrote Liverpool Echo reporter Tony Barrett, who witnessed the exchange. "Another spat in his direction."
Fans have grown increasingly unhappy with co-owners Hicks and George Gillett Jr. over the past six months, particularly after their falling out with manager Rafa Benitez.
Hicks Jr. said he went to the Sandon with friends because he wanted to see the birthplace of the club.
"I also wanted the opportunity to have a direct talk with some of the supporters," Hicks Jr. was quoted as saying by the Echo.
"I respect that some patrons have major disagreement with us, but that comes with the territory. I did have several constructive conversations in my short visit and look forward to following up with them next time I am in Liverpool."
Tim Goodman deconstructs the Wire Ep 8 …
Time Wasting with Super Mario
What kind of save?