NHL Free Agent Season Officially Begins

Even though the pickings are said to be slim expect a lot of general managers to be busy come Thursday when the . The biggest name up for grabs is without question Ilya Kovalchuk who was traded at last year’s deadline from the Atlanta Thrashers to the New Jersey Devils. There is a lot to like about this 27 year-old who totalled 85 points though some would say that he didn’t do much in the post season to help the Devils. Another big name in veteran forward Patrick Marleau who had a monster year with 44 goals was recently re-signed with the San Jose Sharks. That no doubt was crushing news for the other 29 general managers who wanted to sign this premier player. Over in the Southeast Division expect rookie general managers Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers) and Rick Dudley (Atlanta Thrashers) to make moves in an attempt to get their teams back in the playoffs next season. A lot of elite goalies are available such as former Shark Evgeni Nabokov who won 44 games last season with a sparkling 2.43 GAA. Also available is Michael Leighton who resurrected his career in posting a 2.83 GAA. Other goalies such as former St. Louis Blues Chris Mason and former Washington Capitals Jose Theodore are also up for bids.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Anaheim Ducks: Forward: Teemu Selanne
Defenceman: Aaron Ward

Atlanta Thrashers: Goalie: Johan Hedberg
Defenceman: Pavel Kubina
Forward: Colby Armstrong

Boston Bruins: Forward: Miro Satan

Buffalo Sabres: Goalie: Patrick Lalime
Defenceman: Henrik Tallinder
Defenceman: Toni Lydman

Calgary Flames: Goalie: Vesa Toskala
Forward: Craig Conroy

Carolina Hurricanes: Forward: Ray Whitney

Colorado Avalanche: Forward: Marek Svatos

Chicago Blackhawks: Forward: John Madden

Columbus Blue Jackets: None

Dallas Stars: Goalie: Marty Turco
Forward: Jere Lehtinen
Forward: Mike Modano

Detroit Red Wings: Defenceman: Brett Lebda
Forward: Kirk Maltby
Forward: Jason Williams

Edmonton Oilers: Defenceman: Jason Strudwick
Forward: Mike Comrie
Forward: Fernando Pisani

Florida Panthers: None
Los Angeles Kings: Defenceman: Sean O’Donnell
Forward: Alexander Frolov

Minnesota Wild: Forward Owen Nolan
Forward: Petr Sykora

Montreal Canadiens: Defenceman: Marc-Andre Bergeron
Forward: Glen Metropolit

Nashville Predators: Goalie: Dan Ellis

New Jersey Devils: Defenceman: Paul Martin
Forward: Ilya Kovalchuk
Forward: Rob Niedermayer

New York Islanders: Goalie: Martin Biron
Defenceman: Freddy Myer
Forward: Doug Weight

New York Rangers: Forward: Oli Jokinen
Forward: Vaclav Prospal

Ottawa Senators: Defenceman: Andy Sutton
Defenceman: Anton Volchenkov
Forward: Shean Donovan

Philadelphia Flyers: Goalie: Ray Emery
Goalie: Michael Leighton
Forward: Aaron Asham

Phoenix Coyotes: Defenceman: Derek Morris
Forward: Robert Lang
Forward: Matthew Lombardi
Forward: Lee Stempniak

Pittsburgh Penguins: Defenceman: Sergei Gonchar
Defenceman: Jordan Leopold
Defenceman: Jay McKee
Forward: Bill Guerin
Forward: Alexei Ponikarovsky
Forward: Ruslan Fedotenko
Defenceman: Mark Eaton

San Jose Sharks: Goalie: Evgeni Nabokov
Forward: Manny Maholtra
Forward: Jed Ortmeyer

St. Louis Blues: Goalie: Chris Mason
Defenceman: Carlo Colaiacovo
Defenceman: Mike Weaver
Forward: Paul Kariya

Tampa Bay Lightning: Goalie: Antero Nittymaki
Defenceman: Kurtis Foster
Forward: Alex Tanguay

Toronto Maple Leafs: Defenceman: Garnet Exelby
Forward: Wayne Primeau

Vancouver Canucks: Goalie: Andrew Raycroft
Defenceman: Willie Mitchell
Forward: Pavol Demitra
Forward: Kyle Wellwood

Washington Capitals: Goalie: Jose Theodore
Defenceman: Joe Corvo
Defenceman: Shaone Morrison
Forward: Brendan Morrison
Forward: Scott Walker

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Big Upset at Wimbledon

Wednesday saw a huge upset at Wimbledon as the 12th seeded Czech Tomas Berdych defeated Roger Federer 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, and 6-4 at Centre Court at the All England Club. In recent years Federer has dominated at Wimbledon by winning six times and finishing second in the last eight years. Federer who has also won 16 Grand Slam titles hit only 44 winners on the day compared to Berdych who executed for 51. Remarkably this is the first time Federer has failed to make the Wimbledon finals since 2002. “It’s really tough to show this crowd how I’m just feeling right now,” Berdych said after the win. “It’s amazing to play on this stadium to play such a great player as Roger is, and come here and be here as a winner is just really amazing.”For the first time since Novemeber 10, 2003 Federer dropped to number three in the ATP rankings.

Thomas Says LeBron is a Knick

Current NBA hall of famer and former New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas believes that it would be great for the league if pending free agent LeBron James signs with the New York Knicks. Thomas who in his day led the Detroit Pistons to a couple of NBA titles was not hesitant on elaborating on his remarks in why James shouldn’t go back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I think that the interest in him in New York and in the league and everything else would just take the NBA to a higher level,” Thomas said. “It’s the biggest stage.” During his time as the Knicks Coach Thomas was the target of constant criticism as he led the team to a disappointing 33-49 record in 2007 and an even worse 23-59 the following season. He is convinced that James who completed his seventh season in Cleveland can handle and thrive with the pressure of New York. Only 25 years-old and entering the prime of his career there is no question that every team will be after him come Thursday when free agency opens up.

Joel Zumaya Fractures Right Elbow

An MRI revealed on Tuesday that Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya suffered a fractured right elbow but his career is not in jeopardy of being over. This 25 year-old who has one save and a 2.58 ERA dropped to the mound in devastating pain after injuring himself throwing an eighth inning pitch on Monday in a game the Tigers would win 7-5 against the Minnesota Twins. “It felt like my elbow exploded,” Zumaya who has a history of shoulder problems said. “I felt a loud and disgusting pop. It was like someone took a hammer and shattered my elbow.” The club found the MRI news “The best bad news you can get” even though he will be gone for the season. It’s been estimated that he will need about four months of rest for the elbow to heal and a decision hasn’t been made regarding future surgery. “When I felt my elbow go, I instantly thought my career was ending,” Zumaya said. Right away a hush fell over Target Field when he went down in pain and it drew comparisons afterwards to when San Francisco Giants Dave Dravecky broke his arm when pitching against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium. “He’s worked his fanny off to get back,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s just a crying shame. That’s everybody’s nightmare, manager, anybody else, to see someone go down like that. But he’ll do it (pitch) again.”

Jennifer Capriati in Trouble Again

On Monday it was announced that former professional tennis player Jennifer Capriati is on her way to recovery ever since accidentally overdosing on prescribed medication. Capriati who took the world by storm as a 14 year-old by becoming the youngest semi-finalist at the 1990 French Open is a former number one ranked tennis player. She has won three majors, two Australian Opens and one French Open between 2001/02 along with a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.
In 2003 Capriati had her final big tennis highlight when she reached the US Open semi finals where she lost to Justine Henin. Her career was full off off-court troubles including being arrested in 1993 for shoplifting at a Florida mall. Capriati who was listed as being in stable condition in a South West hospital also got into trouble in the 1990’s for marijuana procession.
Details are still sketchy but Capriati was rushed to the hospital on Sunday morning from Singer Island in West Palm County. “In response to an outpouring of concern and support shown by Jennifer’s fans and friends worldwide, we would like to acknowledge that Jen is recuperating at a South Florida hospital from an accidental overdose of medication prescribed to Jen by her personal physician,” spokesman Lacey Wickline said.

Carlos Goes Crazy in Chicago

On Monday Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was still playing the waiting game regarding pitcher Carlos Zambrano and his wild outburst on Friday when he tried to go after teammate Derrek Lee. Currently Major League Baseball and the players union are still investigating the matter. After the ugly first inning incident which saw Zambrano pacing the dugout and screaming at his teammates manager Lou Piniella disciplined him by sending him home. It has also been determined that when or if he comes back that he won’t be in the starting rotation. Since the incident Henry has been in contact with Zambrano’s agent Barry Praver but neither the general manager nor Piniella have been in contact with the pitcher. “I think until something gets rectified, the less conversation the better,” Piniella said. Since signing a lucrative 91.5 million five year deal three years ago he has been less than stellar. This year he has an unimpressive record of 3-6 with a 5.66 ERA. Henry said that if he returns then Zambrano who surrendered three first inning runs which led to the tirade must mend fences by apologizing to his teammates. “The last few years, when he hasn’t pitched as well, there’ve been some other instances that I don’t think he would have been referred to as the ideal teammate,” Hendry said. ‘That’s for him to rectify with his own teammates and how they handle him. That wasn’t the first instance where the best teammate wasn’t exhibited.” The General Manager wouldn’t comment if he would be trying to trade his disgruntled pitcher or force him into taking anger management. Apparently Zambrano was upset because he didn’t think his teammates were going all out in that first inning against the White Sox. He was especially mad at his first baseman Derrek Lee for not diving on a hit down the line by Juan Pierre.

Frustrations in Tampa Bay Rays’ Camp

Frustrations boiled over in the Tampa Bay Rays dugout on Sunday afternoon as third baseman Evan Longoria got into a heated nose to nose argument with outfielder B.J. Upton. Longoria approached Upton after the fifth inning and questioned his effort in going after a drive hit by Arizona Diamondbacks Rusy Ryal which ended up being a triple. Right away after being questioned Upton who more or less jogged after the ball pointed his finger at Longoria’s face before the two were separated. This is obviously a frustrated Rays team who were held to only two hits in what was a 4-2 loss. “B.J. came in off the field after that particular play and everybody saw it, and some guys were not really pleased and certain things were said,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He was set up on the other side-in other words a right-handed hitter he set up in right center field and the guy pulled it into left center. He just did not run as hard as he possibly could have after the ball that was obvious.” With July right around the corner this is a struggling ball team who are 12-19 since May 23 and have gone from first to third in the American League Eastern Division. According to Longoria the altercation is a done deal and no longer something to talk about. “We’re trying to win games and guys are going to have differences of opinion,” he said. “I just wanted to know what was going through his head. The bottom line, we’ve talked about it and it goes no further than today.” This near punch up occurred a couple of days after Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had his wild outburst in the first inning of their loss against the Chicago White Sox. “It’s something that happens in the course of a Major League season,” Maddon said about the altercation. “It’s just one of those moments that happened to us, and now it’s up to me to handle it properly.”