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Wharnsby: University goalie crashes NHLPA charity game

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

The locked-out NHL players didn’t say anything intstructive about their labour impasse at a charity game Wednesday night in Toronto, which left Ryerson University goalie Louie George the most compelling story of the night.

Three things were clear from the RBC Charity Challenge that was fronted by NHLPA members P.K. Subban and Steven Stamkos at the new Maple Leaf Gardens on Wednesday.

First, after the game the players’ responses to questions about the 95-day-old NHL lockout and the ongoing vote to authorize the NHLPA executive board to file the disclaimer of interest – if the players chose that route – were well scripted.

There were no Evander Kane-like brush fires to put out (see his Twitter photo from earlier this week) and there were no more verbal darts tossed in the direction of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The players obviously didn’t want to take away from the charity game’s cause, raising money for grass roots hockey.

Secondly, Eric Lindros must be a lousy coach. His Team Subban was badly beaten. Only a late-game comeback made the 13-10 affair appear closer than it was before a sellout of 2,600 at $30 a seat.

“I don’t know if it was all his fault,” Team Subban goalie Martin Biron said, jokingly. “Maybe [assistant coach] Rob Zamuner was to blame, too. I do know we needed a timeout there when we got down early.”

The third development was the guy who had the most fun was Louie George. Who is Louie George? He is a 25-year-old, fifth-year goalie with Ryerson University.

Earlier this week, he switched on his computer to find an email from Ryerson head coach Graham Wise. The message read that the NHLPA needed a fourth goalie for its charity game, was he interested?

“It didn’t take me long to answer that one,” George said. He spelled Biron in the second period, played well and enjoyed the experience.

“It was so much fun,” George continued. “This is something that I’ll never forget.”

George found P.K. Subban, Brad Boyes, David Clarkson, Joffrey Lupul, Chris Campoli and the others on Team Subban extremely welcoming.

“I sat beside Tom Kostopoulos in the dressing room and he could not have been nicer,” George said. “He asked a lot of questions and wanted to know how my season was going.”

Was there much chatter in the dressing room about the lockout among the NHLPA members?

“They talked about it a little, but not much,” George said. “Mostly they were catching up with each other, finding out what they have been up. How much they have been working out or skating. That sort of stuff.”

Predictably, George said he supports the players in their dispute with the owners. Back home in Waterloo, Ont., George has skated with some pros in the summertime.

The Ryerson hockey team is on a break right now. In fact, during some informal morning skates George has played out in recent sessions with his teammates. But he returned to his natural position the past couple of days once he found out of his evening with the pros.

“I think so,” George replied, when asked if this was an experience he can build off when his league resumes in the New Year.

“These guys are so fast. They’re threats from much farther out than I’m used to. I had to be ready.”

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Veronika Zemanova Barbara Schoeneberger

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30 Thoughts: NHL opts to play waiting game

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

The NHL doesn’t believe the NHL Players’ Association is truly ready to make a deal so barring a change, it’s just going to sit tight.

As we wait for this hockey lunacy to get sorted out, here is my best attempt at a bias-free blog on where things stand.

We have killed a lot of trees and wasted a ton of bandwidth arguing about the ongoing vote into the possibility of decertifying the NHL Players’ Association. I get mixed messages about how serious the players are about going down this road. There are some who really want to do it.  But there are others who want no part of it unless the NHL cancels the season.

Should that apocalyptically stupid scenario actually occur, the last three months will seem like a kiddie party compared to what happens next. The players and owners will really go for the jugular. But as one source said Wednesday: “We need an external push.”

A legal threat could be just that, as it was in the NBA one year ago. Another, of course, is the true deadline for cancelling the season. As of yet, the NHL refuses to reveal that information, although it’s probably around Jan. 15 at the latest.

I don’t believe either constituency supports a lost season. The players want to play and the owners do, too. But the biggest problem is that they don’t trust each other and the path is littered with poison.

As infuriating as all of this is, it’s better they’re not meeting. The breakdowns of the past two weeks are proof that the NHL and NHLPA should not be anywhere near each other unless they’re both serious about making a deal. You can blame who you want, be my guest. But the truth is this: the desire to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement was not 100 per cent there on either side. Collapses only make things worse, so it sounds like the NHL is making a change in strategy.

I don’t know if the league underestimated NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr or just received horrible intel on him. But it did not recognize two very important things.

First, Fehr’s idealogical beliefs are very strong. You may consider his CBA history lessons boring or irrelevant. But he doesn’t. More importantly, he convinced the players how much it mattered and they rallied behind him.

There’ve been times during this process when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s supporters have taken issue with my position that he has disrespected the players. That’s fair comment and those people are correct to point out that the players, especially on Twitter, have disrespected him, too. But the fact is that some of the NHL’s negotiating moves helped Fehr gain a greater buy-in. There is no doubt in my mind the vast majority of the players want to play. But some of Bettman’s decisions accomplished the reverse, pushing the NHLPA in the opposite direction. It was counter-productive.

The second thing the NHL missed was Fehr’s history of waiting until the last second to make deals. Whatever mistakes the league made in this process, it wanted to be playing by now. We’ve talked about the Proskauer Rose playbook and how this is all scripted by “the law firm that’s ruining sports.” But I really believe this has gone further than Bettman wanted it to, which is why he looks so frustrated. Now Fehr is controlling the tempo and has convinced his constituency that the owners will make final concessions at the end. A lot of players don’t like how long this is taking yet they seem to believe that.

Hence, the NHL’s change in strategy. It’s going to wait.

When Ron Burkle (Pittsburgh), Mark Chipman (Winnipeg), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay) joined the fray two weeks ago, the NHL was upset its decision to raise the make-whole amount to $300 million wasn’t received well by the players. Again, everyone can argue who is right and who is wrong. But those owners really thought that was going to be a significant move towards getting an agreement done. It didn’t happen and, angrily, that offer was pulled from the table. 

I have had no correspondence with Bettman or deputy commissioner Bill Daly for this blog. However, after several conversations with other NHL executives, my opinion is if those two had reason to believe that putting the make-whole provision back on the table and moving in the players’ direction on contracting issues would lead to an NHLPA vote on their latest proposal, they’d be at the bargaining table immediately to find a way to do it. But they don’t believe that’s a possibility. What they see is a repeat of New York City, where these things are offered and the players say, “Thank you … and we’ll see what else there is.”

Bettman and Daly won’t take that risk. You can argue whether or not they are right or wrong to hold that position. But I think that’s where we are. The NHL doesn’t believe the NHLPA is truly ready to make a deal. So barring a change, it’s going to sit tight.

30 THOUGHTS

1. After hearing Kyle Turris’ reported thoughts about Finland, I thought he was joking, not trying to be harmful, and that he forgot two things. First, people don’t like it when you make fun of their countries, even if not meant maliciously. Second, right now, when it comes to hockey, people don’t have much of a sense of humour about anything.

2. Next apology? Evander Kane, who tweeted this photo early Wednesday morning. Oof. It’s a good thing people aren’t prone to overreacting on Twitter.

3. Winnipeg Jets teammate Ron Hainsey had a lot of interesting things to say about Kane. He’s a big fan. Hainsey believes Kane is a phenomenal talent, joking that “I can’t lift 230 [pounds] once and he does it over-and-over again as a warmup.” The thing, though, is Kane is 21 and impulsive and needs people around him to make sure he thinks things through. Clearly, that didn’t happen here. 

4. I really hate filling this with lockout-related items, so sorry in advance. But there’s some stuff to go over. Let’s look at some of the sticking points. In the aforementioned NYC negotiations, the NHLPA dropped a demand that, starting in Year 2 of the new CBA, its amount of the financial pie was protected from dropping below the previous season’s. But it did ask for a cap on escrow. I just can’t see the owners going for that at all, even with the 2012-13 schedule on the line.

5. I think the $300-million make-whole is back on the table if the NHL gets a 10-year agreement with an out after eight (as requested by the players).

6. We’ve heard Fehr’s arguments that 10 years is too long because too many players entering the league will be subject to a CBA they didn’t vote on. To me, the bigger question is what’s better for the players — that philosophy or business partners confident that they can sign a decent-sized contract with the NHL and not have to worry about another work stoppage?

7. NHL owners are going to have to move on the five-year max contracts (seven for your own free agents). I know I mentioned it last week, but the effects of Vincent Lecavalier on the Tampa sale and Ilya Kovalchuk on the continuing New Jersey situation have these guys totally spooked. Yes, it’s their own fault and they know it. That’s why they’ve got to go six and eight.

8. The one I’m really having trouble pinning down is the amnesty buyout. It’s very difficult to get a read on what’s going to happen here because word is the commissioner is absolutely against anything that doesn’t count against the salary cap. But you look at the possibility of a $60-million ceiling next season, see where some teams are and say, “This isn’t possible without one.”

9. One possibility: when Ken Hitchcock was hired by St. Louis, he was still owed about $1.3 million by Columbus. The Blues can’t pay him $1 and have the Blue Jackets cough up $1,299,999. There is a formula the league uses where the new team must pay market value, where you look at the salaries of other coaches with his level of experience.

10. So what if you tried that? Well, Wade Redden has played 994 NHL games. If you add up the combined 2011-12 salaries of active players within 50 games of that, you get $3,657,533. (Range: Lecavalier to Petr Sykora.) Redden’s current contract pays him $5 million for this year and next with a cap hit of $6.5 million. The New York Rangers should get stuck with the higher number so, if another team wants him, it must take a cap hit of $2,842,467 (ie. 6.5 million minus 3,657,533).

11. I have to tell you, nothing I’ve suggested in my career was dismissed as quickly as that and I’ve had some really bad ideas. The first two execs I asked shot it down so badly that I didn’t even ask a third. It was interesting because the first GM said, “No one would sign Redden at that number.” What’s key here are the words “at that number” — we’ll get to that later.

12. In the middle of the night, I thought of something else. As it stands now, the buyout for Redden is 67 per cent of his salary over double the term remaining, so the Rangers pay out $6.7 million during the next four years (assuming no change in the next CBA). What if you affected his cap hit the same way? Give New York a choice: $6.5 million on your cap for two years or $4.355 million for four. Do the math and $4,355,000 minus $3,657,533 is $697,467. Now Redden gets another shot.

13. One final note on Redden. It looks like the Rangers have all but guaranteed he is getting the buyout (if there is one) and the sense is there is going to be a lot of interest in him. Don’t know what the final salary will be. But if he’s willing to be reasonable — and you have to believe he will be — he’s going to have options. Lots of execs think he will be good value at a lower number.

14. I ran the same numbers on Scott Gomez. He has played 902 NHL games. The average salary in 2011-12 for players who’ve dressed for between 852 and 952 games was $3,124,656 (Range: Brad Richards to Jamal Mayers).

15. The second thing I suggested was what if teams who buy out a player can only carry 22 on their roster instead of 23? The execs liked it even less … can’t imagine that would thrill the NHLPA, either.

16. Anyway, if I was the commissioner, I’d be quietly polling my owners, asking how many of them would consider an amnesty buyout on their roster. I didn’t ask a ton of guys. But those I did talk to said the number might be lower than we think. Bettman can decide what’s an acceptable amount. However, for argument’s sake, if it’s 15, is it really worth cancelling the season for that?

17. Last thing on this topic. If I was a “have” financially, I’d be demanding it. What else are you getting in this CBA? The share is going down to 50/50 and anything you save there is going into revenue sharing. 

18. I get asked about the Olympics quite a bit. Nothing is nailed down and it might be done separately from this CBA, but it sounds like both sides want to make it work.

19. Fehr’s mentor, the late Marvin Miller, absolutely hated the idea of every player being made a free agent — a move threatened by the NHL’s anti-disclaimer legal brief. There’s a pretty famous story of former Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley saying baseball should do just that and Miller being relieved because he knew the other owners would never listen. Miller understood the perfect setup was similar to last summer in the NHL, when you had a few A-level guys — Shea Weber, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter — drive up the price for everyone. 

20. Seth Jones: crossover appeal — a Page Six mention! (courtesy Nirva Milord from the NHL office) His father is one of the 10 nicest people on the planet.

21. Last week, it was discovered a Boston Bruins fan made a tattoo out of a Tyler Seguin autograph. This happened to Ryan Miller in Buffalo, only it was a female and, I believe, her thigh. Miller wins.

22. I’m not a big fan of players being kept from the world juniors by their NHL teams. If the player makes it clear he doesn’t want to go, like Jason Spezza after three appearances, that’s one thing. But I’m really torn on Mika Zibanejad. If he was from Swift Current, not Stockholm, we’d be demanding a federal investigation.

23. Zibanejad is struggling with AHL Binghamton. He has just seven points in 16 games and, while plus/minus is a flawed stat, he has one of the worst numbers on a team with few negative players. You have to assume the Senators want him to make an NHL impact as soon as possible, especially since they will try to continue momentum from their surprising 2011-12. I can see their rationale. 

24. A lot of people were very surprised that Frankie Corrado and Derrick Pouliot did not make Team Canada. There are always debates and those two were this year’s hotly discussed omissions.

25. Make it four straight wins for the Portland Pirates, Phoenix’s AHL edition. The Coyotes have some blue-liners coming, too. We know about Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who scored major points by deciding to stay in the AHL rather than going for a more lucrative contract overseas. But there are more.

26. David Rundblad’s overall game has improved this season — and at an important time in his career. He is a 17th overall pick (2009) who has already been traded twice and needs to establish himself. He’ll never be a monster along the boards. But there is a noted difference in his willingness to compete in that area. A guy who always competed defensively, Mike Stone, is on pace for the best offensive numbers of his career.

27. Then there’s Brandon Gormley, who fell to 13th in the 2010 draft amid expectations he would go higher. There were questions about his strength after a poor pre-draft combine. But a few teams saw his skill level and believed that, once he filled out, he’d be just fine. Gormley’s still not where he’s going to be size-wise but it’s coming. And he’s got a great head for the game.

28. A number of coaches, executives and scouts going back to junior really praise Gormley’s ability to get his shot through. In an era of blocking, that’s a big deal. Plus, he has a real confidence at the opposing blue-line. He is willing to stand outside the zone to make a play while keeping the puck inside the line. I understand why the Coyotes are so excited about him.

29. At the NHL board of governors meeting two weeks ago, a young man named Jim Charshafian waited outside Proskauer Rose, trying to make contacts and handing out his resume. Charshafian worked for the AHL San Antonio Rampage last season and was looking for something new. It’s hard to get your foot in the door and not easy to cold call like that. Good luck.

30. As we approach Christmas and the Holiday season, I wanted to send the best to anyone financially affected by the lockout. There are thousands of part-time, full-time or laid-off employees whose situations are tougher than they’d want because of this outrageous battle. This is a hard time of year to feel that way. Hopefully, you get your wish — an end, and soon. 

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Hetty Baynes British Marines

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Bradley Cooper: “Silver Linings” London Promotions

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

Posted Wednesday December 19, 2012 11:52 PM GMT

Taking care of some promotional duties for his new film “Silver Linings Playbook,” Bradley Cooper made a television appearance in London on Wednesday (December 19).

Dapper in grey pants and a navy-blue trench, the 37-year-old hunk waved to waiting fans and photographers as he left the ITV Studios building.

The handsome actor stars in the David O. Russell-directed flick as a former teacher who moved back in with his parents and attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife after a stint in a mental institution.

Mr. Cooper is currently across the pond to attend a special screening of the film, as well as to take part in a question and answer session about his new work.

Enjoy the pictures of Bradley Cooper leaving the ITV studios in London, England (December 19).

Alicia Silverstone Naomi Campbel

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Sports in 2012: The good

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

Here’s a look at some of the praiseworthy and positive sports stories of 2012, the type that by and large couldn’t be predicted and which didn’t necessarily appear on the stat sheet or scoreboard.

Olympian efforts

Seeing as it was an Olympic year, let’s start with London. IOC president Jacques Rogge called them the “happy and glorious Games.” If such an event can be called normal, then London can, following as it did the sad legacy of the Athens Games (drug scandals, facilities in disrepair) and the over-the-top, efficient Beijing Olympics. And with no publicly known security scares for the Games that were awarded to the city the day before twin transit bombings in 2005.

Oscar Pistorius was one of the bigger stories in London, becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in able-bodied Olympics. The gold winner in that 400-metre event, Grenadian teen Kirani James, was inspired enough by “The Blade Runner” to ask the South African to swap bibs.

Wheelchair basketball star Patrick Anderson of Fergus, Ont., came out of retirement after three years to score 34 points in the Paralympics’ gold-medal final win over Australia. Canada avenged a 2008 final loss to the Aussies in the process, and the result gave Anderson a career total of three gold and a silver after wins in 2000 and 2004.

“It feels like the first medal I’ve ever won somehow,” said Anderson, now up for a prestigious award to be determined in February 2013. “I’m not sure exactly why just yet.”

Then there was Esther Vergeer of Belgium, the wheelchair tennis player who added Olympic gold medals six and seven while also winning both Grand Slam events. That helped run her modest winning streak to 470 straight matches, dating back to January 2003.

Manteo Mitchell was entered in the able-bodied Games but ran most of his leg of the 4×400-metre relay with a broken fibula.

The Olympic hosts revelled in a stunning trio of gold medals from Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford in rapid succession at Olympic Stadium on Aug. 4, prompting singer Billy Bragg to tweet: “Tonight, our society was wonderfully represented by a ginger bloke, an immigrant named Mohammed and a mixed race woman. #proudtobeBritish”

It was Rod Stewart who sang, “Make the best out of the bad, just laugh it off,” in Every Picture Tells a Story. U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney did just that in quite possibly the most forwarded sports photo of the year thanks to countless internet memes. Her scowl on the podium while wearing a mere silver medal around her neck from the vault competition initially made her seem like a bratty teenager, but she quickly recovered to poke fun at herself in the weeks to come, all the way to David Letterman’s guest chair and The White House.

The Canadian women’s soccer team showed pluck on the field in winning a bronze model and then embraced their enhanced profile, appearing across the country at events to sign autographs and pose for pictures for appreciative young girls and other fans.

Newfoundland native Elijah Porter was golden without even competing. The 10-year-old boy raised the spirits of the Canadian men’s Olympic 4×100-metre relay team after it was disqualified from a bronze-medal finish in London by sending the team the only medal in his possession, earned playing soccer.

Relay team members Jared Connaughton and Seyi Smith paid a visit to Porter at his home in Paradise, N.L., to personally thank him.

Linsanity

Speaking of kids, the sports catchphrase of the year may have belonged to Jack Meyer. He’s the nine-year-old who greeted the megawatt Miami Heat team after a disappointing home playoff loss to the Boston Celtics with the hilariously incongruous “Good job, good effort!”

To the degree that the NBA was able to rid itself of the lockout stench, it was in no small part due to phenomenon Jeremy Lin. The Knicks guard had scored a total of 32 points in nine games of limited minutes as of Feb. 3. The next night he went off at Madison Square Garden against New Jersey, beginning a span of 10 consecutive games in which he averaged 24.6 points.

Linsanity reigned, the stickiest of a passel of somewhat politically incorrect puns based on his last name. Knicks superfan Spike Lee sought out his high school and university jerseys (Palo Alto High and Harvard, respectively), and many celebrated the still-too-rare examples of star status for a player of Asian descent in North American team sports. He couldn’t come to terms with New York in the off-season, cashing in on a deal with the Rockets.

Fighting for rights

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and son Patrick, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, were behind the “You Can Play” campaign launched to educate and eliminate homophobia in sports, with several NHLers lending their support in advertisements.

Baltimore player Brendon Ayanbadejo, a former CFLer, has been supporting the rights of gays to marry for a few years now, but for some bizarre reason, a Maryland legislater took umbrage this summer, telling the Ravens to do something about it. To its credit, the team didn’t, and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe fired off an impassioned and profane rebuttal to the politician.

Former Swift Current hockey players Theo Fleury, Sheldon Kennedy and Todd Holt continued fighting for the rights of victims of sex abuse and for greater punishment of offenders as the maddening Graham James case continued to wind through the legal system a quarter-century after the crimes. In the United States Cy Young Winner and new Toronto Blue Jay R.A. Dickey, Olympic judo gold medallist Kayla Harrison and Olympic boxer Queen Underwood told their stories of overcoming child sexual abuse.

Honouring the departed

The Miami Heat stood united after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. The so-called “Stand Your Ground” incident divided opinion in Florida, but it was undeniable that the Heat players clearly believed that in an earlier time, before they achieved fame, they were Martin.

Eli Manning and Victor Cruz were offensive stars as the New York Giants won another Super Bowl, and laudable off the field. Manning donated $25,000 US towards Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, as athletes and leagues pitched to help in that disaster. Victor Cruz dedicated a Dec. 16 game and adorned his sneakers in the memory of Jack Pinto, a six-year-old victim of the Newtown, Ct., school shooting massacre, who was buried the next day wearing the jersey of the Giants receiver, his favourite player.

Notre Dame linebacker Mant’i Teo was a Heisman Trophy finalist despite enduring the deaths hours apart in September of his grandmother and girlfriend, while Pat Neshek of the Oakland Athletics pitched impressively in a playoff appearance just days after his newborn son died.

The Canadian amateur sport community was rocked in a span of weeks by the deaths of freestyle skier Sarah Burke and skicross competitor Nik Zoricic. Friends and teammates tried to keep their memory close as they dealt with their grief. Foundations were established in both of their names to pursue causes consistent with their lives, while the Canadian skicross squad this season donned uniforms that were a tribute to Zoricic.

The Indianapolis Colts were “Chuckstrong”, seemingly gaining strength as their first-year coach Chuck Pagano battled leukemia.

Hanging it up

LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Ricky Williams, Shawn Johnson, Chipper Jones, Pudge Rodriguez and Owen Nolan are among the many athletes who should be saluted as they ended their competitive careers.

Michael Schumacher retired again. David Beckham didn’t, but effectively did for fans wanting to see him play on a North American pitch. Andy Roddick sometimes grated but was never dull, and will undoubtedly make an entertaining tennis commentator one day.

But if you were to pick one man and one woman as head of the “class,” with respect to newly retired athletes, you’d be hard pressed to top seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and four-time Grand Slam tennis champion Kim Clijsters.

With files from The Canadian Press

Theresa Russel Lisa Snowdon

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Rihanna: Barbados Bikini Babe

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

Posted Wednesday December 19, 2012 5:15 PM GMT

Enjoying a holiday at home in Barbados, Rihanna was spotted with bestie Melissa Forde at a luxury beachfront villa on Wednesday (December 19).

The 24-year-old singer was happy for the chance to shed her clothes, walking around the villa in a teeny black bikini with her pal.

Though she’s vacationing in style, Rihanna also plans to live in luxury having just bought a $12 million home in the Pacific Palisades.

In related news, the “Diamonds” singer gave fans a cheeky peek at some personal ink. Rih-Rih tweeted a photo of half of her bare bottom with a tattoo of a marijuana leaf and the caption, “#thuglife.”

Enjoy the pictures of Rihanna in Barbados (December 19).

Christine Anu Rachael Leigh Cook

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Wharnsby: Crosby-led Canadian juniors were best

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

The last two lockouts produced gold medals for the Canadian junior team. But in comparison there only is one Canadian junior dream team — in 2004-05.

I guess I’m one of those bitter old guys who believes yesteryear was better.

Recently, I floated out an idea to a friend and long-time NHL scout that the two Canadian junior teams put together for the NHL lockout of 1994-95 and 2004-05 were close in talent.

After all, both won gold. Both didn’t lose a game.

“Come on, not even close,” the NHL scout said. “There was much more talent on the 2005 team. Did that first team have anybody close to a Sidney Crosby or Shea Weber? No way.

“Count up how many Stanley Cups the players from each team has won, and most of those players have only seven years in the NHL.”

Okay, okay. Settle down, my friend.

He was right, of course. Besides the fact that the 1994-95 Canadian under-20 team went a perfect 7-0 and outscored the opposition 49-22 under head coach Don Hay. A decade later, the Canadian juniors went 6-0 and walloped opponents by a combined score of 41-7 with Brent Sutter behind the bench, and dominated Alex Ovechkin and the Russians 6-1 in the final.

The 1994-95 championship, hosted by Red Deer, Alta., was the third in a streak of five in a row for Canada. Ten years later, when Crosby and company won in Grand Forks, N.D., snapped a seven year gold-less slump for the Canadian junior team program.

Already, players from that 2004-05 team have a combined 11 Stanley Cup rings in Andrew Ladd (2006, 2010), Ryan Getzlaf (2007), Corey Perry (2007), Sidney Crosby (2009), Colin Fraser (2010, 2012), Brent Seabrook (2010), Patrice Bergeron (2011), Jeff Carter (2012) and Mike Richards (2012).

Ed Jovanovksi (1996), Ryan Smyth (2006), Shean Donovan (2007) and Wade Redden all went to Stanley Cup finals, but the only NHL championships among the 1994-95 Canadian junior team were from Jeff Friesen with the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils and Jason Botterill as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins front office in 2009.

I guess there was only one dream team when it comes to Canadian junior hockey.

Here are the number of NHL games each player has suited up for from both Canadian junior teams:

2005 Canadian juniors       1995 Canadian juniors

G Rejean Beauchemin 0     G Dan Cloutier 351
G Jeff Glass 0                    G Jamie Storr 219
D Cam Barker 296              D Chad Allan 0
D Shawn Belle 20               D Bryan McCabe 1135
D Braydon Coburn 460        D Nolan Baumgartner 143
D Dion Phaneuf 552            D Wade Redden 994
D Brent Seabrook 552         D Lee Sorochan 3
D Danny Syvret 59              D Jamie Rivers 454
D Shea Weber 480              D Ed Jovanovski 1085
F Patrice Bergeron 537        F Larry Courville 33
F Jeff Carter 516                  F Jason Allison 552
F Jeremy Colliton 57            F Todd Harvey 671
F Sidney Crosby 434           F Darcy Tucker 947
F Nigel Dawes 212              F Jeff O’Neill 821
F Stephen Dixon 0              F Alexandre Daigle 616
F Colin Fraser 291              F Ryan Smyth 1151
F Ryan Getzlaf 512             F Jason Botterill 88
F Andrew Ladd 484             F Shean Donovan 951
F Clarke MacArthur 363      F Denis Pederson 435
F Corey Perry 530              F Eric Daze 601
F Mike Richards 527           FJeff Friesen 893
F Anthony Stewart 262        F Marty Murray 261

  Total 7,144                         Total 12,867

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Catherine Deelay Michelle Branch

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Miley Cyrus — Grabs a Handful of ‘Big Booty Ho’ for Her Birthday

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

Miley’s B’day Gift
Grabs a Handful of
‘Big Booty Ho’

EXCLUSIVE

1218_miley_stripper_tmz_wmMiley Cyrus had a butt-naked birthday celebration — latching on to a stripper’s bare ass, and TMZ has the first pic of the awesome encounter … inspired by none other than 2 Chainz!

Miley rang in her 20th last month with a house party in Hollywood … and sources inside the bash tell us Miley’s friends ordered a few strippers — one of whom dropped a booty-shaking lap dance on the birthday girl.

We’re told Miley couldn’t resist (we understand) … jumped up, hugged the dancer and grabbed her ample butt, which was busy swallowing a pink g-string.
 
Miley issued a warning tweet before her birthday … “if I don’t get atleast one big booty hoe my friends are officially not my friends anymore” — a clear nod to “Birthday Song” by 2 Chainz.

Even with Miley’s hands-on approach … her stripper-palooza was totally G-rated compared to her bf Liam Hemsworth‘s last birthday cake.

Kristen Wiig Heidi Klum

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NFL Roundtable: Week 15 recap

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

In CBCSports.ca’s weekly chatter, the guys discuss their comeback player of the year, the tight battle in the NFC East, the sliding Chicago Bears, and the impressive victory by the 49ers in New England.

In CBCSports.ca’s weekly chatter, the guys discuss their comeback player of the year, the tight battle in the NFC East, the sliding Chicago Bears, and the impressive victory by the 49ers in New England.

After coming off serious injuries, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson are both having remarkable seasons. Which one of these two greats would you give the comeback player of the year to?

Jesse Campigotto: Hats off to Manning, but what Peterson is doing is out of this world. When he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee last December, we heard the usual “it takes two years to recover fully from this kind of injury” and “he may never be the same.” Instead, Peterson and his freaky “newborn baby” knee are within striking distance of Eric Dickerson’s 28-year-old single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Incredible.
Jason Davidson: There really isn’t a wrong answer to this one as both have been fantastic, but Peterson gets my vote. It’s mind-boggling that someone who suffered such a tough knee injury could come back like this. He’s averaging just under 130 yards rushing per game. He already does hold the NFL record for an eight-game stretch in a single season with 1,313 yards so you have to think Eric Dickerson’s 1984 benchmark is at risk. Peterson does have his work cut out for him, he needs 294 yards in two games. That’s going to be a challenge against the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, games the Minnesota Vikings need to win to have a shot at an NFC wildcard berth.

Tony Care: Peyton Manning has had an incredible year and can lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. But, like my colleagues, I have to go with Peterson. Considering the devastating knee injury he suffered in Washington last year, it’s remarkable he’s only 293 yards away from Dickerson. What’s been impressive, and a good sign you’ve recovered from knee surgery, is Peterson’s ability to run away from defenders. In the last two weeks, against Green Bay and St. Louis, Peterson has reeled off consecutive 80-plus-yard TD runs. Folks, you’re not supposed to do that less than a year removed from surgery.

The battle for the NFC East title couldn’t be tighter. N.Y. Giants, Washington and Dallas are all 8-6 with two games remaining. So which team will win with the division?

Jesse Campigotto: You can make an argument for all three. Washington has won five in a row, currently owns the tiebreaker and has home-field advantage against Dallas in their Week 17 showdown, but will RG3 be able to play the final two games after sitting this week with a knee injury?  New York has easily the best point differential, but the Giants just got whacked by Atlanta and are only 2-3 in the division, which could hurt them in a tiebreaker situation. Dallas has the momentum of three straight wins, but has been outscored on the season and has a pair of tough games remaining (home to New Orleans, at Washington). In contrast, the Redskins and Giants both still get to play Philly, which should be an easy win.

Jason Davidson: Tough one, but I am going to say the Cowboys win the division. It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for this team and they’ve been able to eke out a pair of crucial wins. They have the New Orleans Saints at home this weekend then they head to Washington to take on the Redskins in a game that could very well decide the division. Dallas will have revenge on their minds after the Redskins took it to them on Thanksgiving Day. The Giants are in pretty tough with a visit to Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday, and after what happened to the G-Men against the Falcons in Atlanta, I’m not convinced this team is playoff bound. The NFC East likely comes down to the Cowboys-Redskins tilt in Week 17.

Tony Care: I really would love to take the Cowboys here, but they have to prove to me they can emerge from a winner-take-all game victorious before I can make that kind of prediction. I’ll pick the Redskins to win out, including Week 17 against the Cowboys, and win the division. Remember, too, that the Giants, who were embarrassed by the Falcons 34-0, still have a chance to make the playoffs. Wins over the reeling Ravens and lowly Eagles will secure a wildcard spot for the defending Super Bowl champs.

The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, two teams cruising a month ago, have both lost three straight games. What has been the more surprising meltdown?

Jesse Campigotto: I think Chicago’s. After crushing Tennessee 51-20 on Nov. 4, the Bears had parlayed their ball-hawking defence and relatively easy slate of opponents to a 7-1 record. But the D has regressed, the schedule has gotten tougher, and suddenly Chicago has lost five of six, including Sunday’s home loss to Green Bay that dropped the Bears to 8-6 and clinched the NFC North for the Packers. Sure, Chicago’s defence wasn’t likely to maintain its breakneck pace of turnovers all season, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Still, don’t count out the Bears. They finish the season with road games at Arizona and Detroit, who are a combined 9-19.

Jason Davidson: The Bears. After a 7-1 start, this team has stalled. Jay Cutler has been mediocre at best and it just confirms my belief that he is not a bona fide No. 1 quarterback in this league. The fans at Soldier Field made their feelings known, booing their team during Sunday’s loss to the Packers, who subsequently clinched first place in the NFC North. Brian Urlacher’s hamstring injury has clearly hampered the defence which seems a lot more vulnerable. Perhaps getting away from the windy city will help these guys as they wrap up the season with a pair on the road against the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. Sneaking into the playoffs is still a possibility.

Tony Care: Chicago. The Ravens’ slide is more predictable. The Bears were on quite a tear because their defence was creating turnovers, and scoring at an incredible pace. Sure enough, when died down, other parts of the club were exposed. The offensive line, a sore spot for the last couple of years, remains a weakness and QB Jay Cutler continues to get pounded. Defensively the Bears aren’t bad, having giving up 23, 21 and 21 points in the last three games, but are allowing big plays at the wrong time.

The San Francisco 49ers nearly let a 28-point advantage get away in New England but held on for the victory. Regardless, how impressed were you with this win?

Jesse Campigotto: Very impressed. Sure, San Francisco was probably lucky to recover seven of the eight fumbles in the game, but the 49ers really showed something by taking a 31-3 lead on the Patriots, then having the strength to finish off the Pats after blowing the lead. The thing I like best about the Niners (besides coach Jim Harbaugh) is their balance. They’re among the best teams in football on both offence and defence, and you’ve got to figure their special teams (excellent last year) will improve after a slow start. The other most balanced teams are Denver, Seattle and, to a lesser extent, Green Bay and the Giants. They’ll all be dangerous come playoff time.

Jason Davidson: It’s nice that they recovered and got the win, but you can’t forget the fact that they blew a 31-3 lead. To me those are clear signs of cracks in the foundation, but at the same time it’s a credit to the Patriots’ explosive offence. Tom Brady threw the ball 65 times for well over 400 yards. Colin Kaepernick did show some tremendous composure after the Pats tied it up, hooking up with Michael Crabtree for what turned out to be a game-winning 38-yard catch and run touchdown. I’ll reserve judgment on the 49ers’ potential until Sunday night when they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. If they can win there, that’s a huge statement.

Tony Care: I was impressed with the defence, especially when it rebounded from four consecutive scoring drives allowed. This unit could’ve easily packed it in. Tom Brady was ripping it apart, and fatigue was setting in. But after receiver Michael Crabtree gave the 49ers a seven-point advantage with just over six minutes left, the defence forced a punt and a turnover on downs deep inside the Pats’ zone. This allowed the 49ers to close out the game. Another reason this victory was so noteworthy is the Patriots hadn’t lost a December game at home since 2002 prior to Sunday’s defeat.

Back to accessibility links

Becky Delos Santos Nathalie Oberman

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Ben Roethlisberger questions Steelers’ play-calling

Posted on Dec 18, 2012

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ awkward teaming of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley has produced mixed results this season.

Big Ben shouldered the blame for Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but he openly questioned a game plan that left tight end Heath Miller out of the mix for much of the second half. Asked if Miller’s disappearing act had something to do with Rob Ryan’s defense, Roethlisberger indirectly pointed the finger at another coordinator. His own.

“I just don’t think we called the right plays to get (Miller) the ball,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “There were a couple of times we called plays that we didn’t execute correctly.”

Something isn’t right in Pittsburgh. Big Ben is at his best calling plays from the no-huddle, but the no-huddle was scrapped for much of the final two quarters Sunday. Roethlisberger is running out of softly worded excuses for why.

“It’s tough for me to answer right now,” Roethlisberger said. “In the second half, we didn’t do much of it — and it’s disappointing. …

“The end of the first half, we were getting into the no-huddle stuff. That’s when we started moving the ball. Taking shots, taking the short stuff, whatever they were giving us, so that’s when we’re at our best and that’s what we need to do.”

But that’s not what Roethlisberger’s coach wants to do, at least not exclusively. The Steelers — at 7-7 and facing a season-defining game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday — are running out of time to figure out this one.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

Rosa Blasa Catherine Bell

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Tom Cruise Stops by “The Late Show with David Letterman”

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Posted Monday December 17, 2012 4:57 PM GMT

Stepping out to promote his new film, “Jack Reacher,” Tom Cruise stopped by “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday (December 17).

The 50-year-old actor looked handsome in a white dress-shirt, gray sweater, and black trousers as he kindly greeted fans and posed for photos.

After the Pittsburgh premiere of the action flick was postponed out of respect for the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, the Film Society of Lincoln Center tonight’s Big Apple screening.

A statement from the society said,”Out of respect for the families who lost loved ones in Newtown, Connecticut, we are postponing tonight’s event. We extend our love and condolences to you. Our community grieves with yours.” The movie is still scheduled for release on Friday.

Enjoy the pictures of Tom Cruise arriving at the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ (December 17).

Thora Birch Veronika Zemanova

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San Francisco 49ers respond, tip New England Patriots

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

The biggest game of the NFL season was slipping away from the San Francisco 49ers. Their 28-point lead evaporated in the blink of an eye, and their tired defense looked stunned.

And then the 49ers responded like champions.

They survived a furious New England Patriots rally to win 41-34 in the most memorable NFL game since the “Fail Mary.” The 49ers’ calm and toughness with the walls crumbling down around them on the road makes this victory even more impressive than a blowout would have been.

The Patriots’ fourth touchdown during an 18-minute span tied the score at 31 with 6:45 left. What happened next was the definitive stretch of the 49ers’ season:

1. LaMichael James’ long kickoff return, followed by a Michael Crabtree 38-yard touchdown catch: They came on successive plays. Now that’s how you respond. James’ return was the play of the game. (Colin Kaepernick played a smart, clean game while throwing four touchdown passes. The Alex Smith talk can stop now.)

2. The 49ers sack Tom Brady twice on the ensuing drive: Dormant for much of the second half, the 49ers’ pass rush should have been gassed. The Patriots ran an incredible 92 plays on the night. Instead, San Francisco’s pass rush exploded when it needed to.

3. The 49ers’ defense forces the Patriots to turn over the ball on downs on their next possession: San Francisco’s pass coverage was excellent most of the night. The 49ers (10-3-1) now have a much easier path to the NFC West title and a playoff bye.

These were two championship-level teams that took turns knocking each other around the ring. The Patriots’ near comeback made the night memorable, but the 49ers’ response was the stuff of Lombardi trophies.

“It’s just an amazing feeling,” Kaepernick told NFL.com’s Albert Breer. “Tom Brady is someone I’ve always watched, someone I’ve always admired. So to come out here and get this win really means a lot.”

No matter what situation the 49ers face the rest of the way, they rightly will believe they can pull through.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

Veronika Zemanova Barbara Schoeneberger

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Hines Ward — You MIGHT Be the Father!

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Hines Ward
You MIGHT Be the Father!

EXCLUSIVE

1216_Hines-Ward_tmz
Former NFL star Hines Ward … come on dooooooown … it’s time to play ARE YOU THE FATHER???

A woman named Melanie Smith filed a lawsuit in Georgia this month … claiming the former Pittsburgh Steeler is the biological father of her 1-year-old daughter.

According to docs, Melanie wants Hines to admit he fathered the kid — and if he refuses, she wants a judge to order a blood test in order to establish paternity.

The maybe baby mama is also asking Hines to start coughing up child support … if it’s determined the child is actually his.

A judge has yet to rule.

FYI — Hines already has one other kid, with his ex-wife Simone.

Catherine Bosley Nigel Hawthorne

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Kelly Clarkson’s Rockin’ Night at the 2012 VH1 Divas Concert

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Posted Sunday December 16, 2012 9:39 PM GMT

Stepping out for a night of good music, Kelly Clarkson was among the famous faces on hand for the 2012 VH1 Divas Concert on Sunday (December 16) in Los Angeles.

Fresh off of her big engagement announcement the previous evening, the glowing bride-to-be looked beautiful in a multi-colored frock as she joined alongside fellow performer Ciara prior to the Shrine Auditorium held music showcase.

Certain to be a lively spectacle, Ms. Clarkson is one of many talented musicians lined up to take the stage during the course of the event – as she’s joined by fellow ladies like Jordin Sparks, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, among others

Hosted by Adam Lambert, the concert’s theme this time around pays tribute to late music legends Whitney Houston and Donna Summer.

Enjoy the pictures of Kelly Clarkson at the VH1 Divas Concert at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA (December 16).

Sophia Bush Danniella Westbrook

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Jessica Simpson — Check Out My Black Dress … Perfect for Hiding Babies

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Jessica Simpson
Check Out My Black Dress
Perfect for Hiding Babies

1216_jsimpson_inf
Jessica Simpson
wore an all black bridesmaids dress to BFF CaCee Cobb‘s wedding — and everyone knows black is the most slimming color EVER, so …. let the baby-hiding-speculation continue!

Jessica reportedly has a tiny person growing inside of her, but has yet to confirm a pregnancy. 

But on Saturday she showed up to Zach Braff’s mansion — where the wedding was held — in this kind-of-poofy black dress … which CONVENIENTLY covered her stomach (aka her baby incubator).

So either she’s hiding a bump … or ya know … just wanted to look skinny.

Carey Lowell other facts

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UFC on FOX 5′s FX-televised prelims add Easton-Assuncao and Siver-Phan

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Two fights have joined FX’s super-sized preliminary-card broadcast for next week’s UFC on FOX 5 event.

FX now airs six fights, not the usual four, prior to the Dec. 8′s main-card broadcast on FOX.

The bouts include bantamweights Mike Easton (13-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) vs. Raphael Assuncao (18-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and featherweights Dennis Siver (20-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC) vs. Nam Phan (18-10 MMA, 2-3 UFC).

UFC on FOX 5 takes place Dec. 8 at Seattle’s KeyArena and features a main event between lightweight champion Benson Henderson and top contender Nate Diaz.

Although FUEL TV carried past UFC on FOX prelims, they now head to the bigger FX. Other bouts part of next week’s three-hour broadcast, which follows additional prelims on Facebook, include heavyweights Brendan Schaub (8-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Lavar Johnson (17-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC), “The Ultimate Fighter 15″ lightweight winner Michael Chiesa (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Marcus LeVesseur (22-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC), “TUF 13″ runner-up Ramsey Nijem (6-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. fellow lightweight Joe Proctor (8-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), and lightweights Yves Edwards (41-18-1 MMA, 9-6 UFC) vs. Jeremy Stephens (20-8 MMA, 7-6 UFC).

The full UFC on FOX 5 card includes:

MAIN CARD (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz (for lightweight title)
  • Alexander Gustafsson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
  • Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn
  • Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick

PRELIMINARY CARD (FX, 5 p.m. ET)

  • Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub
  • Mike Chiesa vs. Marcus LeVesseur
  • Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton
  • Nam Phan vs. Dennis Siver
  • Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor
  • Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens

PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 3:30 p.m. ET)

  • Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez
  • John Albert vs. Scott Jorgensen
  • Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo

For more on UFC on FOX 5, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Mike Easton)

Gina Hiraizumi Paula Jai Parker

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Don’t Give Government Too Much Credit

Posted on Dec 15, 2012

In Newsday, Reason magazine Contributing Editor Cathy Young writes:

Entrepreneurs “give back” to society not only in taxes but in products that improve our lives — and in charity. While individual success is aided by public institutions, private associations such as family and community often play a larger role.

Obama is not a quasi-communist; he is just a liberal. Yet at a time when more than 40 percent of our gross domestic product is spent by government, we should be asking how much government is too much. Obama’s speech suggests that his instinct is for more, not less.

Full column at Newsday.

Sonia Couling Holly Hunter

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Eric Dickerson against Adrian Peterson setting record

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

At least Eric Dickerson is honest. With Adrian Peterson approaching Dickerson’s NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, Dickerson was asked how he feels about the chase.

“I don’t want him to break it,” Dickerson told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. “I’ll be honest. I don’t want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I’d want my son to break it. But that’s it. No one else.

“Again, he’s a phenomenal player and seems like a good dude. If a player was to break it, I’d probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don’t think it’s going to be broken.”

Dickerson stressed that Peterson is a class guy. But Dickerson also said he wasn’t nervous about the Minnesota Vikings’ star runner breaking his record. Peterson would need to average 168 rushing yards per game to pull it off. It’s not like there are cupcakes left on the Vikings’ schedule: The St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers are the final three opponents.

“As I got close to the record, teams got nastier and nastier,” Dickerson said.

Just don’t expect Dickerson to closely watch the chase. He says he doesn’t watch football or other sports anymore.

He should get used to this conversation because we wouldn’t be surprised to see Peterson make another run at Dickerson in 2013.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

Jenny Agutter Victoria Beckham

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Don’t Give Government Too Much Credit

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

In Newsday, Reason magazine Contributing Editor Cathy Young writes:

Entrepreneurs “give back” to society not only in taxes but in products that improve our lives — and in charity. While individual success is aided by public institutions, private associations such as family and community often play a larger role.

Obama is not a quasi-communist; he is just a liberal. Yet at a time when more than 40 percent of our gross domestic product is spent by government, we should be asking how much government is too much. Obama’s speech suggests that his instinct is for more, not less.

Full column at Newsday.

Jennifer Connelly Erika Eleniak

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Eric Dickerson against Adrian Peterson setting record

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

At least Eric Dickerson is honest. With Adrian Peterson approaching Dickerson’s NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, Dickerson was asked how he feels about the chase.

“I don’t want him to break it,” Dickerson told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. “I’ll be honest. I don’t want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I’d want my son to break it. But that’s it. No one else.

“Again, he’s a phenomenal player and seems like a good dude. If a player was to break it, I’d probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don’t think it’s going to be broken.”

Dickerson stressed that Peterson is a class guy. But Dickerson also said he wasn’t nervous about the Minnesota Vikings’ star runner breaking his record. Peterson would need to average 168 rushing yards per game to pull it off. It’s not like there are cupcakes left on the Vikings’ schedule: The St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers are the final three opponents.

“As I got close to the record, teams got nastier and nastier,” Dickerson said.

Just don’t expect Dickerson to closely watch the chase. He says he doesn’t watch football or other sports anymore.

He should get used to this conversation because we wouldn’t be surprised to see Peterson make another run at Dickerson in 2013.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

source Amanda Doherty

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Sarah Jessica Parker — Tight With Makeup Artist Popped for Shoplifting

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

Sarah Jessica Parker
Tight with Makeup Artist
Popped for Shoplifting

EXCLUSIVE


Sources connected with Sarah Jessica Parker told TMZ the woman nabbed for shoplifting sunglasses at a Norway airport Wednesday was employed by the Nobel Peace Prize group … but TMZ has learned she’s worked side by side with SJP for years.

The woman — Leslie Lopez — has been Sarah’s personal makeup artist since 2005.  She’s traveled with her extensively, both domestically and internationally.

For whatever reason, Sarah’s people wanted it to look like the makeup artist had no relationship with the actress, but that’s simply not true.  They went so far as saying … the makeup artist (never revealing her name) was NOT on Sarah’s payroll.  Yet all that meant was someone else picked up the tab.

As you can see from the video, Sarah didn’t want to talk about it this AM in NYC.

121312_parker_nyc_launch_v3
As for stealing the expensive sunglasses at the airport … as we first reported, Lopez paid a $1,400 fine and was then allowed to leave the country.  Sources connected to Lopez tell TMZ … she “mistakenly” took the glasses out of the store and paid the fine not because she’s a shoplifter but because it was the only way to say farvel to Norway.

Gail Porter Donna Gubbay

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Jenni Rivera — Cops ARRESTED for Stealing Items from Crash Site

Posted on Dec 13, 2012

Jenni Rivera
Cops ARRESTED for Stealing Items from Crash Site

Breaking News

1213-getty-jenni-rivera
Two Mexican police officers have been ARRESTED — after officials say they stole items from the Jenni Rivera plane crash site.

According to government officials, at least one of the cops is suspected of leaking crash scene photographs to the media … including shots of body parts and personal documents.

Officials say investigators searched the homes of the alleged crooked cops … and found items belonging to some of the victims.

One of the cops is 23 years old … the other is 24.

Corrupt cops in Mexico? Who’da thunk it.

Catherine Deelay Michelle Branch

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Don’t Give Government Too Much Credit

Posted on Dec 13, 2012

In Newsday, Reason magazine Contributing Editor Cathy Young writes:

Entrepreneurs “give back” to society not only in taxes but in products that improve our lives — and in charity. While individual success is aided by public institutions, private associations such as family and community often play a larger role.

Obama is not a quasi-communist; he is just a liberal. Yet at a time when more than 40 percent of our gross domestic product is spent by government, we should be asking how much government is too much. Obama’s speech suggests that his instinct is for more, not less.

Full column at Newsday.

get more Susan George

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Bill Belichick: Randy Moss is the best deep receiver

Posted on Dec 13, 2012

Sunday’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots won’t be the first time that Randy Moss faces his former teammates in Foxborough.

Moss returned to New England just weeks after the Patriots cut him, during Moss’ brief, catering-challenged time with Minnesota Vikings. This time feels different, though.

After a year away from football, Moss has played the role of mentor for a Super Bowl contending team in San Francisco. Moss hasn’t been too productive, but he has five catches for 60 yards in the last two weeks combined. (Yes, that’s an uptick.) Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who banished Moss for a third-round pick just as he was becoming a problem, was all compliments Wednesday, just like Tom Brady was about the 49ers’ defense earlier in the day.

“I think Randy looks like Randy,” Belichick said, via Comcast SportsNet BayArea.com. “He’s the greatest deep-ball receiver that’s ever played. Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel for the deep part of the field like Randy Moss does. …

The intense race for the playoffs is in full gear. Check out the latest situation in the postseason chase. More …

“He’s an explosive, dynamic player, and probably the smartest receiver I’ve ever coached. I know he absolutely knows what he’s doing and knows what the defense is doing.”

I can’t speak to whether Moss is the greatest deep ball receiver ever, but he’s certainly the best I’ve ever seen. Only Dick Lebeau has been in the NFL longer than Belichick, who may be the game’s foremost historian. He doesn’t throw around the words just to puff up an an opponent.

The larger question is whether Moss has any big deep balls left in his career. 

Moss got deep for a long potential touchdown against Miami last week, but couldn’t haul in an accurate pass. New England has had trouble with the big play this year. The Foxborough faithful will probably give Moss a warm ovation on Sunday night, but you know there’s nothing the future Hall of Famer would love more than to prove Belichick’s words right.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

Martina Warren Hugh Grant

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RG3 coy on playing Sunday for Washington Redskins

Posted on Dec 12, 2012

Robert Griffin III sure sounds like a man preparing to play a football game on Sunday.

The Washington Redskins quarterback participated in non-contact drills Wednesday and told reporters he feels “a lot better.” Griffin refused to rule himself out with a knee injury for this weekend’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

“I feel like I can play through any injury,” Griffin said. “Does that mean I’ll play on Sunday? We’ll see.”

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said his quarterback was limited in practice, but he was “impressed with how he looked and what he did.”

Pressed on whether he’d be available, Griffin said, “I can’t tell you all that. First, I don’t want to give the Browns a competitive advantage.”

Griffin said his teammates have urged him not to play if he’s not healthy enough to compete, but he sounded hopeful about his progress since suffering a sprained lateral collateral ligament in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens.

“It’s gotten better every day. Sunday night I thought there was no chance I could play the next week,” Griffin said, before adding: “I’m just letting you guys know I’m OK.”

Our guess: Griffin will be on the field in Cleveland.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

Arline Hunter Sonya Kraus

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Michael Jordan — I’m Building a $12.4 Million Cigar-Smoking PARADISE

Posted on Dec 12, 2012

Michael Jordan
I’m Building a $12.4 Million
Cigar-Smoking PARADISE

1211_michael_jordan_house_splash_Article
Consider the world record for “largest humidor ever” broken — Michael Jordan‘s $12.4 MILLION Jupiter, FL palace is juuust about ready to move in to … and it features an insane cigar-friendly home theater.

His Airness — rarely seen these days without a tightly-rolled Cuban between his teeth — has been building the 28,000 square foot estate for the past three years, complete with a giant state-of-the-art home theater … outfitted with special equipment made to handle mass amounts of cigar smoke.

The 3-acre, 11-bedroom compound is being built in the middle of an ultra-exclusive golf course community called the Jack Nicklaus’ Bear Club … where Tiger Woods also lives.

It’s unclear where Jordan plans to display his 4 MVP trophies and 6 NBA Championship rings … but between the main house, the pool house, the guest house, and the 2-story guard house … he’s got plenty of choices.

FYI — There’s also a ridiculous athletic facility … complete with b-ball court, naturally.

 1211_stogie_snapshots_footer

Carey Mulligan Catherine Bosley

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