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Friday, June 28, 2013

Chicago Blackhawks: An Organization of Class

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Chicago Blackhawks: An Organization of Class
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

It's no secret that the city of Boston has gone through some troubling times over the past few months -- the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Boston Bruins suffering a crushing loss in the Stanley Cup Finals and most recently the Aaron Hernandez murder saga.  Well, in this sea of negative press, leave it to an organization outside of the city to bring Bostonians hope and a feel good story to the region.

The Chicago Blackhawks, more specifically the Wirtz organization (who owns the team) took out a full page ad in Friday's Boston Globe that reads as follows...

What a tremendous gesture on behalf of the Chicago organization. It has been well documented across this site that we host a staff largely comprised of New England based writers or transplants. I can tell you first hand that there has been just an unbelievable amount of disappointment amongst the WOS crew following each of the recent events. 

Having said that, reading this Friday morning when I opened the paper brought a smile to my face that has not been there for a sports related reason in some time. For a team like the Blackhawks to go through such a tough, grueling series and then turn around, put the bumps and bruises aside and send the opponent city a heart felt "Thank You" is just a gesture too classy to properly do it justice.

A+ Chicago. Organizations world wide could learn a real lesson from the gesture you have made today.

2013 NBA Draft Recap

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2013 NBA Draft Recap

What a night it was in the NBA last night! The phones were ringing off the hook in draft rooms league wide as nearly every team moved picks, players and even some re-trading of the same players in what was a record breaking NBA evening.

Perhaps the biggest news of the night was was a trade between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets that will send aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in exchange for a slew of role players and three, yes THREE 1st round picks (2014, 2016, 2018). In the short term it gives Brooklyn a very formidable starting five in Garnett, Pierce, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Darren Williams. Long term, the Nets are now an aging team. Their window to win is very small and there are considerable questions marks now for the future.

For Boston, the demolition and rebuild is now in full swing. Doc Rivers was shipped out for a 1st round pick next year. Now, they pick up three more picks. With the 2014 Draft said to be one of the deepest in years you have to imagine Rajon Rondo is next to be dangled in an attempt to get a strong lottery pick, and then some more to really expedite the rebuilding process. Short term, they now have a ton of cap space to play with. It will be interesting to see if they make a play at Dwight Howard this year or sit on that money to make a push at one of next year's potential big name free agents (Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, ect.).

The draft itself was full of surprises. The Cavaliers went off of everyone's radar with the #1 pick selecting power forward Anothony Bennett from UNLV, the first Canadian ever to be taken 1st overall. The consensus pre-draft #1 Nerlens Noel from Kentucky fell all the way to New Orleans at #6 who then went on to trade him to Philadelphia is want was the first of a multitude of trades. All in all, 24 players drafted on Thursday were delt before the night's end -- an astonishing feat.

Lets take a look at how things shook out...

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
2. Orlando Magic - SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
3. Washington Wizards - SF Otto Porter, Georgetown
4. Charlotte Bobcats - PF Cody Zeller, Indiana
5. Phoenix Suns - C Alex Len, Maryland
6. New Orleans Pelicans - C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky [Traded to 76ers]
7. Sacramento Kings - SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
8. Detroit Pistons - SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
9. Minnesota Timberwolves - PG Trey Burke, Michigan [Traded to Utah]
10. Portland Trail Blazers - PG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
11. Philadelphia 76ers - PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
13. Dallas Mavericks - C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga [Traded to Celtics]
14. Utah Jazz - SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA [Traded to Timberwolves]
15. Milwaukee Bucks - SF Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece
16. Boston Celtics - C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil [Traded to Hawks]
17. Atlanta Hawks - PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
18. Atlanta Hawks - PG Shane Larkin, Miami [Traded to Mavericks]
19. Cleveland Cavaliers - SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
20. Chicago Bulls - SF Tony Snell, New Mexico
21. Utah Jazz - C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville [Traded to Timberwolves]
22. Brooklyn Nets - C, Mason Plumlee, Duke
23. Indiana Pacers - SF Solomon Hill, Arizona
24. New York Knicks - SF Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
25. Los Angeles Clippers - SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
26. Minnesota Timberwolves - SF Andre Roberson, Colorado [Traded to Oklahoma City via Golden State and Houston]
27. Denver Nuggets - C Rudy Gobert, France [Traded to Utah]
28. San Antonio Spurs - F Livio Jean-Charles, France
29. Oklahoma City Thunder -PG Archie Goodwin, Kentucky [Traded to Phoenix via Golden State]
30. Phoenix Suns - G Nemanja Nedovic, Serbia [Traded to Golden State]

31. Cleveland Cavaliers - SG Allen Crabbe, Cal
32. Oklahoma City Thunder - SG Alex Abrines, Spain
33. Cleveland Cavaliers - SG Caririck Felix, Arizona State
34. Houston Rockets - PG Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
35. Philadelphia 76ers - SF Glen Rice Jr., Rio Grande Valley Vipers [Traded to Wizards]
36. Sacramento Kings - PG Ray McCallum, Detroit
37. Detroit Pistons - PF Tony Mitchell, UNT
38. Washington Wizards - G Nate Wolters, South Dakota State [Traded to Bucks]
39. Portland Trail Blazers - C Jeff Withey, Kansas
40. Portland Trail Blazers - PF Grant Jarrett, Arizona
41. Memphis Grizzlies - SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
42. Philadelphia 76ers - PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor [Traded to Pelicans]
43. Milwaukee Bucks - SG Ricky Ledo, Providence [Traded to Mavericks]
44. Dallas Mavericks - C Mike Muscala, Bucknell [Traded to Hawks]
45. Portland Trail Blazers - C Marko Todorovic, Spain
46. Utah Jazz - G Erick Green, Virginia Tech [Traded to Nuggets]
47. Atlanta Hawks - G Raul Neto, Brazi
48. Los Angeles Lakers - F Ryan Kelly, Duke
49. Chicago Bulls - PF Erik Murphy, Florida
50. Atlanta Hawks - F James Ennis, [Traded to Heat]
51. Orlando Magic - PF Romero Osby, Oklahoma
52. Minnesota Timberwolves - PG Lorenzo Brown, NC State
53. Indiana Pacers - C Colton Iverson, Colorado State [Traded to Boston]
54. Washington Wizards - PF Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon
55. Memphis Grizzlies - PF Joffrey Lauvergne, France
56. Detroit Pistons - PG Peyton Siva, PL
57. Phoenix Suns - F Alex Oriakhi, Missouri
58. San Antonio Spurs - SF Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
59. Minnesota Timberwolves - PF Bojan Dubljevic, Serbia
60. Memphis Grizzlies - SF Janis Timma, Latvia

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft

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2013 NBA Mock Draft

With just a few hours remaining until commissioner David Stern steps to the podium, our NBA staff has compiled a finalized 2013 NBA Mock Draft. Unlike most years, the top handful of picks could go in a number of different directions. By most accounts this is a weaker than normal draft class with no clear cut #1. Several teams have multiple first round picks including #1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Most signs point to them going big with the top pick. Without further adieu, the Cavaliers are now on the clock...

Nerlens Noel
Kentucky, Center, 6-11¾

Victor Oladipo
Indiana, Shooting guard, 6-4¼

Otto Porter
Georgetown, Small forward, 6-8½

Alex Len
Maryland, Center, 7-1

Ben McLemore
Kansas, Shooting guard, 6-4¾

Trey Burke
Michigan, Point guard, 6-1¼

Anthony Bennett
UNLV, Forward, 6-8

C.J. McCollum
Lehigh, Point guard, 6-3

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Georgia, Shooting guard, 6-5½


Cody Zeller
Indiana, Center, 7-0¾

Steven Adams
Pittsburgh, Center, 7-0


Kelly Olynyk
Gonzaga, Power forward, 7-0

Michael Carter-Williams
Syracuse, Point guard, 6-5¾

Shabazz Muhammad
UCLA, Small forward, 6-6¼

Sergey Karasev
Russia, Shooting guard, 6-6

Dennis Schroeder
Germany, Point guard, 6-2

Mason Plumlee
Duke, Power forward, 7-0½

Jamaal Franklin
San Diego St., Shooting guard, 6-5¼

Glen Rice Jr.
Shooting guard, 6-5¾

Tim Hardaway Jr.
Michigan, Shooting guard, 6-6

Shane Larkin
Miami, Point guard, 5-11

Gorgui Dieng
Louisville, Center, 6-10¾


Isaiah Canaan
Murray State, Point guard, 6-0

Jeff Withey
Kansas, Center, 7-0½

Allen Crabbe
California, Shooting guard, 6-6¼

Lucas Nogueira
Brazil, Power forward, 7-0

Reggie Bullock
North Carolina, Shooting guard, 6-7

Ricky Ledo
Shooting guard, 6-6

Tony Mitchell
North Texas, Shooting guard, 6-8¾

Archie Goodwin
Kentucky, Shooting guard, 6-5

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

MLB Power Rankings - June 26th

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MLB Power Rankings
June 26, 2013

Not to toot our own horn but a week ago the message in this column was don't sleep on the Toronto Blue Jays. Well, the Jays have won 12 of their last 14 and check in above .500 for the first time in months and now are just 3.5 games out of a wild card spot -- wow! As a result they are this week's big movers, up 8 spots to #12. The top five looks very similar to previous weeks. St. Louis once again takes home the #1 spot. The Red Sox, Pirates, Reds and A's round out the rest of the top five.

Where does your team rank this week?

1. St. Louis Cardinals (47-29, last week No. 1)
2. Boston Red Sox (45-33, last week No. 3)
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-30, last week No. 6)
4. Cincinnati Reds (45-32, last week No. 2)
5. Oakland A's (44-34, last week No. 5)
6. Atlanta Braves (44-33, last week No. 4)
7. Texas Rangers (44-32, last week No. 9)
8. Detroit Tigers (42-32, last week No. 8)
9. Baltimore Orioles (42-34, last week No. 7)
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (41-34, last week No. 10)
11. New York Yankees (41-34, last week No. 11)
12. Toronto Blue Jays (38-36, last week No. 20)
13. Cleveland Indians (38-36 last week No. 18)
14. Tampa Bay Rays (39-37, last week No. 13)
15. San Francisco Giants (38-37, last week No. 14)
16. San Diego Padres (38-38, last week No. 15)
17. Washington Nationals (37-38, last week No. 16)
18. Colorado Rockies (39-38, last week No. 12)
19. Philadelphia Phillies (36-40, last week No. 19)
20. Kansas City Royals (35-38, last week No. 18)
21. Minnesota Twins (34-38, last week No. 21)
22. Los Angels Angels (33-43, last week No. 23)
23. Seattle Mariners (34-43, last week No. 22)
24. Chicago White Sox (31-42, last week No. 25)
25. Milwaukee Brewers (31-43, last week No. 27)
26. Los Angeles Dodgers (32-42, last week No. 24)
27. New York Mets (30-42, last week No. 28)
28. Chicago Cubs (31-43, last week No. 26)
29. Houston Astros (29-48, last week No. 29)
30. Miami Marlins (25-50, last week No. 30)

Sorry State of Philly Sports

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Sorry State of Philly Sports
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

Philadelphia is a great city, full of history and character..however, it's sports teams haven't been all that great recently...

Lets talk a little bit about the Philies. Um, they aren't doing to well if you haven't noticed. The thought of Manuel getting cut loose at the end of the season is slowly becoming more of a reality. But would it be reasonable for management to let him go before the end of the season? I think that Charlie deserves the respect to finish out the rest of the season. Moreover, the time has arose to clean house and acquire youth and if that means trading Lee, Halladay, Chase,Young and others then I say do it! The ball is in Amaro's court, time to see what he does with it.

The Eagles are just a few weeks away from the start of training camp and only a few months away from the opening day game! There are alot of questions still be be answered. Who will be the starting QB? How will the offense work. How will the defensive recovery from a disastrous and porous past two seasons? How will Chip Kelly put his imprint with the Eagles? I am very interested to see how he alters his game plan on the fly.

Andrew Bynum has a bum knee and the Sixers still have no coach with the draft coming up fast not to mention they are lacking a CEO at the moment. The Sixers are a mess, much like much of Philadelphia sports. With no coach and no clue about Bynum coming back or look to look elsewhere for a safer player. Bynum is young and has so much potential, but we paid him 19 million dollars last year and scored 0 points.The jury is still up on whether Turner can be an asset on the team.

The Flyers were a huge disappointment this past season. A defense that leaked like a sieve, a goaltender that was "lost in the woods" and an inconsistent offense. It looks like Briere will no longer dress in orange and black and news came out yesterday that the Flyers exercised their buyout for Bryz! It looks like Mason may be the future, but it may also be prudent to pick up a more experienced, veteran goalie like a Ray Emery who just finished up winning the cup with the Blackhawks and was with the Flyers for a short time.

Which team will win a championship next in Philly?

 Find more of Jared's work at  http://instantre.blogspot.com/

Patriots Hernandez Charged with Murder

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Patriots Hernandez Charged with Murder
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

WOW. That is the only thinkable response after reading a headline like that. The New England Patriots lost a major offensive threat Wednesday as TE Aaron Hernandez was arrested, released by the team, then charged with murder and multiple weapons counts.

There is so much going on with this story that my head is spinning just trying to put together my thoughts. I mean, how stupid do you have do be? An All-Pro TE when healthy, Hernandez was just handed a massive contract extension by the Pats only to turn around and allegedly kill someone? And a supposed friend nonetheless.

What this means for the Patriots:
The Patriots, by all accounts did what they had to do by releasing Hernandez. You can't have a murder charge associated with the brand. Its bad for business and its another horrible black eye on the NFL. That said, what happens now at the tight end position? The dynamic duo of Hernandez and Rod Gronkowski, when both healthy, are nearly unstoppable. It now looks like the Patriots will be without both to start the season. The only jersey Hernandez will likely be wearing this season will have prison stripes and Gronk is expected to miss considerable time as he recovers from off-season back and arm surgeries.

The Patriots are now left with Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells as the only proven TE's on the roster. Ballard had a productive 2011 season in New York but has miss substantial time due to injury since. Fells is more of a blocker than a pass catcher having just four receptions as a Patriot a year ago.

This could leave the door open for the emergence of a different Florida Gator at TE in the newly signed Tim Tebow. Tebow has never played the position but surely is not going to be taking any snaps at QB this season. He is a pretty good football mind and has a winning mentality that Bill Belichick loves. 

Is it possible that the Patriots had doubts about Hernandez that prompted the Tebow signing as insurance? Sure that thought might be a bit far fetched given that the alleged crime took place several days after the Tebow signing, but Bill has had a strange sixth sense about things in the past.

Whats next for Hernandez?
Well, he certainly has the money for bail so he is unlikely to sit in a prison cell for long...yet. What is strange to me is the way that this whole thing went down. If you have a world class legal team, which by all accounts he does, wouldn't you think they would have a pretty good idea that this arrest was coming and could have gotten him to the police station without the media charade? To me it seems like either a) they don't care, b) Hernandez thinks that given the president of murderous football players *cough* Ray Lewis *cough* he will simply pay some money and make it go away, or c) the legal team must think they have a damn strong defense case where the charges will not hold up in court.

Given the closed lip nature of this case I am inclined to believe the latter.

For Hernandez the football player life as knows it very well could be over. For a young man who is so talented to throw it all away like this is just tragic. I would like to think hope that he is not that stupid. Then again, given the past history of several high profile NFL players, this may be another example of why the league needs to keep a little closer eye on its players.

It is a sad day to be a fan of the New England Patriots. It is a sad day to be a fan of the NFL.

2013 NHL Mock Draft

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2013 NHL Mock Draft
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr

My draft rankings are finally in! The following mock draft is based off of my opinion of each players abilities and which player fits their respective organizations needs the most. (albeit, I would have Seth Jones first followed by Nathan Mackinnon had the Avalanche not announced they were passing on him.)

1: Colorado Avalanche: Nathan Mackinnon (C)

2: Florida Panthers: Seth Jones (D)

3: Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin (LW)

4: Nashville Predators: Valeri Nichushkin (LW/RW)

5: Carolina Hurricanes: Aleksander Barkov (C)

6: Calgary Flames: Darnell Nurse (D)

7: Edmonton Oilers: Rasmus Ristolainen (D)

8: Buffalo Sabres: Elias Lindholm (C/LW)

9: New Jersey Devils: Sean Monahan (C)

10: Dallas Stars: Bo Horvat (C)

11: Philadelphia Flyers: Max Domi (C)

12: Phoenix Coyotes: Hunter Shinkaruk (C)

13: Winnipeg Jets: Samuel Morin (D)

14: Columbus Blue Jackets: Josh Morrissey (D)

15: New York Islanders: Nikita Zadarov (D)

16: Buffalo Sabres: Curtis Lazar (C)

17: Ottawa Senators: Ryan Pulock (D)

18: Detroit Red Wings: Alexander Wennberg (C)

19: Columbus Blue Jackets: Nicolas Petan (C)

20: San Jose Sharks: Valentin Zykov (LW)

21: Toronto Maple Leafs: Adam Erne (LW)

22: Calgary Flames: Zach Fucale (G)

23: Washington Capitals: Madison Bowey (D)

24: Vancouver Canucks: Mirco Mueller (D)

25: Montreal Canadiens: Frederik Gauthier (C)

26: Anaheim Ducks: Anthony Mantha (LW)

27: Columbus Blue Jackets: Shea Theodore (D)

28: Calgary Flames: Emile Poirier (LW)

29: Dallas Stars: Zach Nastasiuk (RW)

30: Chicago Blackhawks: Kerby Rychel (C/LW)

Be sure to join us for our live 2013 NHL Draft Coverage on Sunday, June 30th. Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr will be live at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ Tweeting you that latest updates and answering all your NHL Draft questions -- @WildOnSports

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wrapping Up Championship Season

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Wrapping Up Championship Season
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

What a great past two weeks it has been for sports! Well, that is except if your counting Aaron Hernadez. The Miami Heat finally overcame the fountain of youth finders in the San Antonio Spurs . The Spurs made it interesting in game six but then there was LeBron. I think we can all agree that Lebron is the best player in the world and will undoubtedly end his career as a top ten player. The Spurs lost game seven when they opted for allowing Dwayne and James to shoot at will instead of driving the way and dishing it out. It is common fact that the more you shoot the more chances there are scoring. The Spurs bet that it would work and they lost. The Spurs weren't playing the James of 2007 when he was a Cavalier and still has issues with his game. Since then James has plugged those holes and has become a great all around player. Now Chris Bosh, though he did have some nice games in Miami I think it would be wise for the Heat to trade him. I see teams like the Celtics and Sixers having interest, particularly since in the case of the Sixers, Andrew Bynum was paid 19 million dollars and didn't play a single minute and his status with the team is up in the air with bum knees. I still think Chris Bosh is a quality player, remembering his days with the Raptors, as a one man team and not getting regulated to third fiddle with the Heat. I think he can most definitely contribute with another team. If the Heat lost this series and the less acclaimed Spurs big three came out victorious I think it would be more of a reason to revamp the line-up. And even then Lebron would be off his mark with his championship count and face alot of criticism. For LeBron, to become one of the best to play the game he doesn't have to win five or six rings, even the best like Michael Jordan and Kobe have had a sidekick (Pippen and Shaq). For the next several year we will continue to see the Heat in the semifinals, it will just be a matter of seeing if he adds more rings to his fingers.

Although Football and Baseball are two of my favorite sports I cannot deny that when it comes to playoff time the Stanley Cup just edges out Football as the best sport to watch. The speed, intensity, and energy are incredible to watch. This Stanley Cup did not disappoint, it just cut a dagger in the hearts of Flyers fans. In 2010 the Flyers played the Blackhawks in the finals and was riding hot goal tender Michael Leighton. That is until in the final minutes Patrick Kane took a zero angle shot that some how found it way in the net. Moreover, Ray Emery? The Flyers had him for a time and just our luck, he did squat. We seem to experience that alot in Philly, players doing nothing here and great thing elsewhere, he went 17-1 in Chicago. Anyway enough of my weeping. The Bruins and Blakchawks made it a great series and should play themselves into contention next year as well. Both teams had a great season and an even better playoff run. In the end it may be argued if the better team won, but because in my predictions, I had picked the Blackhawks I won't argue the point.

Find more of Jared's work at  http://instantre.blogspot.com/

Puckmania: Stanley Cup Review

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Puckmania: Stanley Cup Review
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Josh Tarr

It totally sucks having to write this, especially because I was wrong about my prediction by one game, but the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup Champions.

Nearly 24 hours ago, David Bolland scored the go ahead goal for Chicago, putting the dagger in the hearts of Bostonians- A people who dealt with a horrific tragedy more than two months ago and whose spirits are still re-cooperating. This Bruins team helped the city come together and gave it something to be proud of.

Just as the bombing victims, the medical staff running the marathon, those who rescued the injured, the runners themselves and all other who witnessed the horrific acts of violence displayed on April 15th and the following days, the Bruins displayed an ultimate level of heroism throughout their playoff run. Gregory Campbell hobbled on a broken leg for a whole minute while killing a crucial penalty against the heavily favored Penguins, whom they swept in the Eastern Conference Finals. Zdeno Chara received many facial lacerations during the course of the playoffs and for the most part, completely dominated the defensive zone. As we now know, Patrice Bergeron played game six of the Stanley Cup Finals with a broken rib and torn cartilage. Then stayed on the ice after separating his shoulder.

This kind of resiliency helped the slogan “Boston Strong”, once only used to lift the spirits of the city following the attacks, to rally the Bruins who never backed down from any sort of opponent or deficit and always played for each other. But as I woke up today, I realized that in this city, “Boston Strong” now means something completely different.

Every Bostonian knows that it’s championship titles have not come without many, and I stress, MANY crushing disappointments. Whether it’s Buckner, Dent or Boone, the 2010 Lakers, 2012 Heat, 2010 Flyers, the 18-1 Patriots or now Bryan Bickell and David Bolland, more times than not, being a Boston sports fan isn’t easy. Losing is a big part of this city’s sports history, and when they lose, it’s usually in ugly fashion. However, in this case, the Bruins are a deep and youthful squad, that has the potential to make deep playoff runs for at least another decade.

Whether you choose to be upset about the Blackhawks winning the cup this year or not, you can’t not applaud the Bruins for giving everything, literally, everything they could out on the ice for the last two months. They did it for one purpose only- to bring back life to this city. I for one believe they did a very good job of doing so.

And with that, I owe a sincere congratulations to the Blackhawks and the city of Chicago on winning their 5th Stanley Cup and their 2nd in four years. I look forward to seeing you guys next year, and I look forward to the beginning of October, when the Bruins start their run all over again.

Georgia Bulldogs: Is This the Year?

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Georgia Bulldogs: Is This Finally the Year?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

Last year, Georgia ended the regular season just 3 yards shy of an SEC Championship and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. As a result, Alabama went to play for the national championship and Georgia was passed over for a BCS bowl game, being selected for the Capital One Bowl. Since Mark Richt took the program over in 2001, the Bulldogs have won two SEC championships and six SEC East Division championships, but the major questions surrounding Richt was his ability to win important games and get to the national championship. However, with QB Aaron Murray returning, Georgia should expect at least a spot in the SEC Championship game, if not the BCS National Championship.

Georgia has had plenty of talent in Richt’s tenure because he is a great recruiter, but he has a lot of talent to replace after this year’s NFL draft. Georgia will be looking to replace eight defensive players including starting linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, both of whom were first round picks, and impact players in college. The defensive line and secondary were both targeted in the draft as well, but Georgia has the depth, as well as strong recruiting class to fill the holes left by the upper classmen, and allow their young players to gain some familiarity with each other, which will improve the defense. Georgia will reload its secondary with freshmen Tray Matthews and Quincy Mauger, but they will have time to learn behind starters Blake Sailors and Damian Swann. Georgia reloaded its linebacking corps with five freshmen, including three redshirts, and has plenty of underclassmen talent to solidify the defense for the next few years. The defensive line is the most veteran of the defensive groups, and the most important, because a strong and veteran defensive line can make the linebackers and defensive backs jobs’ easier. A strong showing from the Georgia defense this year would allow them to dominate the weaker SEC teams, as well as keep pace with teams like LSU and Florida.

The schedule plays favorably for Georgia this year, as favorably as an SEC schedule could at least. Georgia will play South Carolina, LSU, and Mizzou and home, and will also play Florida at a “neutral” stadium, even though the game will be played in Jacksonville. However, the first game of the year will tell us a lot about the Bulldogs because they play Clemson, a team who could contend this year if Taj Boyd continues to progress. In reality, the entire season sits on Aaron Murray’s shoulders, or more specifically his arm. Murray has put together two impressive seasons with Georgia, combining for over 7,000 yards and 71 touchdowns, and looks to improve on those numbers as he starts his senior year. Murray has posted back-to-back ten-win seasons and will look for another one in order to not only keep Georgia in national championship talks, but also improve his Heisman position and draft stock, both things that will be important for him this year. Murray has huge weapons on the outside, including 6’5 receivers Jake Star and Jonathan Rumph, who have turned into matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators. Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall form one of the best backfields in college football, and their talent will force opposing defenses to respect the run, allowing Murray to read the defenses, as well as making play action pass more dangerous. If he can take advantage of the schedule and lead Georgia to the SEC Championship, Murray could be on the short list of Heisman finalists when the season is over.

This will be a very important year for the Georgia Bulldogs and Mark Richt. With the instant success of Texas A&M in the SEC, and Richt’s inability to get over the hump recently, administration may look to get a new coach in who can elevate the program to perennial national championship contender. Richt will rely as much on Murray as the rest of the Georgia team for success this year, but will need to be able to manage the talent on his team and keep their heads on straight if they are going to be the SEC’s and college football’s best team.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Ice Life: Bernier to Toronto

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An Ice Life: Bernier to Toronto
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

The Leafs have traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier, giving up right-winger Matt Frattin, netminder Ben Scrivens and a second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015.

Bernier has been said to be the next great goaltender for what seems like a decade, but had Quick upstage him and has been living in his shadow waiting for a trade or his exclusive rights to end with the Kings. He is a RFA and will be looking for a raise. He will likely want a contract between 2-3 million dollars a year, and likely just two years or so in length. The Leafs said, basically, that they think he is better than Reimer is, and will likely suggest publicly that there will be a competition. Giving up two players to improve your back-up position doesn’t really happen; you can count on a competition that has Beriner strongly in front to start.

Now the Kings get a lot back. Most of all they get just 900k in savings on the cap from Ben Scrivens, who had a solid year himself. They likely will use him as a stopgap until young 23-year-old Martin Jones takes the job next year, or until 21-year-old Jean-Francois Berube takes the job four years from now. This was a cap saving feature, plain and simple. The Kings have many contracts they will want to renew in the next two years, and nowhere near the money with only about 6 million to use this year, and few expiring contracts of expendable players. I suspect they will use two of the compulsory buyouts to aid this, and if I were the Kings, Stoll and Mitchell would be the safe way to go. Unless they really want to be bold and get rid of one or two of the extremely long contracts to be safe, but I don’t see that happening.

Frattin burns up the cap savings in theory, but he could easily replace Stoll on the third line, though on the right side instead of in the center. He is a third-line, scoring type of player, and could for at least one-year chip in some goals while primarily playing defensively for the Kings. He is big enough and has a good shot.

TSN said this of Frattin:

Frattin is a 25-year-old winger with good speed, decent hands and an improving physical game. In 82 career games, he has 15 goals and 28 points and put up relatively solid possession stats for the Leafs last season.

A second rounder should make your team eventually, so the Kings have helped their farm system grow as well. All and all, the Leafs get a guy, that if he becomes the starter the Kings thought he would be, then they got him for a steal. If he doesn’t, then they paid a high price for a backup goaltender, but one that they can live with. I have to think this is a win-win type of trade.

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

Wild on Sports
MLB Weekly Walk-Off
For the Week of June 23, 2013
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

The MLB has seen a set of teams over the past week or so make claims for themselves as playoff contenders. In a surprising change of events, the Blue Jays, Padres and Indians have only lost a combined five games over a course of 30 games including a current 10 game winning streak for the Blue Jays. Also, Puig mania hasn’t been enough to pull the Dodgers out of the cellar yet which goes to show you that one guy can’t make a difference in winning games. With the All-Star Game fast approaching one guy is making a case to start for the AL and he isn’t even the number one pitcher on his own team. Max Scherzer is 11-0 with a miniscule 3.05 ERA including 122 strikeouts. This has completely overshadowed Tigers ace Justin Verlander who has only put up an 8-5 record with a 3.75 ERA which is good for an average pitcher, but expectations are so high for Verlander that he seems to be pitching subpar this season. Scherzer has only pitched under six innings twice this season which may become a factor as far has his durability down the road, but the Tigers don’t seem to be worried about that yet. All in all Scherzer deserves to be the starting pitcher for the AL squad in New York come the All-Star Game.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Chris Davis 1B Bal
- I’m not sure how many times I could have put Davis on this list already this season, but it’s an opportune time to let it be known what he’s done this season so far. Out of now where Davis has put up Miguel Cabrera like numbers and they’re both challenging for the Triple Crown this season. The past week Davis has hit five homeruns while knocking in 12 RBIs. Although, Davis would like to keep his strikeout rate down, that’s not a problem considering his .336 average and 27 homeruns.

2. Pedro Alverez 3B Pitt- In the midst of a seven game winning streak Alverez has actually raised his average to .234 from the .214 average it was only 10 games ago. He’s homered in three straight games which has helped the Pirates stay in the top half of the NL Central. Alverez has worked his way up to the five spot in the Pirates line up, and if he can get his average near the .250 mark on the season, he has the potential to hit 30-35 homeruns this season.

3. Austin Jackson OF Det- Since coming off the DL nine days ago Jackson has raised his average 33 points from .266 to .299 and has five multi-hit games. He’s been a sigh of relief for Jim Leyland who doesn’t have to worry about who’s batting in the lead-off spot for the time being. He continues to be the only base stealing threat the Tigers have so anytime Jackson gets on base he has the potential to swipe one, even though he only has six steals on the season.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Dustin Pedroia 2B Bos- Pedroia was batting .327 no less than 11 days ago, but has seen that drop to .305 as of late. The past week has been dismal for him as he only has three hits and two RBIs. Thankfully for the Red Sox, they have been able to stay atop the AL East, so his slump has gone unnoticed because of the support around him. His power has gone down since his 21 homeruns he hit in 2011 as he only has four so far this season.

2. Brandon Phillips 2B Cin- For hitting near the top of the order for the Reds, it’s head scratching to think why he only has one run scored in his past 10 games played. He’s only hit .107 in the past week and has seen his average fall to .265. Phillips has been known to rack up 15-20 steals in the past, but Phillips’ age might be catching up with him as he only has one so far this season. Phillips hasn’t been consistent as of late, but his career has proved otherwise so expect Phillips to get it back on track soon.

3. Jared Weaver SP LAA- Weaver’s brother Jeff might be a better option for the Angels if Jared keeps pitching the way he has over the past couple weeks or so. He came off the DL at the end of May, but since then he has only one win and is currently on a three game losing streak. In his last three starts Weaver has 17.2 innings pitched and has allowed 13 earned runs. This is not something the Angels can tolerate if they want to be a factor in the playoff race come September.

Pickups for the Next Week

1. Pedro Ciriaco SS/2B SD
- Acquired from the Red Sox Ciriaco has fit in nicely with starting second baseman Everth Cabrera going on the DL. He is like another Cabrera as he steals a lot of bases with not a lot of power. He’s hit .400 in his last 20 at bats and the Padres are going to look for him to be a threat on the base path as long as Cabrera is on the DL. He should see every day at bats for them until Cabrera is off the DL. So, pick him up while you can.

2. Jhoulys Chacin SP Col
- Before his last few starts Chacin seemed to be falling off the wagon, but he’s picked it up as of recent. Chacin had multiple starts allowing five or more earned runs, but has only allowed four earned runs in his past three starts tallying a 3-0 record. He’s also lowered his ERA from 4.59 to 3.92. The only downfall is that he pitches in Colorado where homeruns have been known to be hit at a high rate.

3. Paul Konerko 1B CWS
- This is a risky pickup because of Konerko’s age, but expectations were high at the start of the year because of his 26 homeruns last season. Konerko has done subpar this season, but the past week may indicate that Konerko still has some left in the tank as he raised his average from .231 to .253. He is still an everyday player for the White Sox, but they’re in last place right now and runs have been hard to come by, but Konerko can help them pick it back up if they want to make a run at a wild card spot.

Top Matchups Next Week

1. Reds at A’s- Possibly the best interleague matchup of the next week as both these second place contenders look to stay afloat in their respected divisions. The Reds have lost three straight and is in danger of falling out of the NL Central race though considering the success of the Pirates and Cardinals so far. This is a statement series for them.

2. Phillies at Dodgers-
Both of these teams have been far from expectations this season as both are under .500 and in need of change. The Phillies are surprisingly still in the hunt for the NL East as they are riding the coat tails of Dominic Brown. Without Brown the Phillies may be 10 or more games out, but that’s not the case for them. Both teams still have plenty to prove before seasons end, and if one or both struggle come August there might be critical changes going on in the clubhouse.

3. Blue Jays at Rays-
The red hot Jays have been shutting critics up with their 10 game winning streak. They’re right back where they want to be in the AL East and want to prove their not the cellar dweller against the Rays. Every team in the AL East still has the potential to win the division so this interdivisional battle should mark who is the weak link in the AL East is after the series.

Puckmania: Live From the 2013 NHL Draft

Wild on Sports
Puckmania: Live From 2013 NHL Draft
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

As I'm sure many of you have read in my columns in recent weeks or heard on the WOS Podcast, I will be representing WOS at the NHL entry draft in Newark this Sunday. As excited I am about the ongoing Stanley Cup Finals, I am also enticed by my ongoing research about upcoming prospects, potential selections and other story lines coming into the draft, such as:

Talent Overload:

Compared to many years past, this draft class is expected to produce a tremendous amount of high-level talent. This class is almost comparable to the class of 2005 (Also known as the Sidney Crosby draft). The top five is highlighted by Russian sniper Valeri Nichushkin, two-way forward Aleksander Barkov, Halifax Moosehead forwards Jonathan Drouin and Nathan Mackinnon, and Standout defenseman Seth Jones. Jones, who was for a very long time considered the unanimous first selection, would be the first African-American to be selected first overall in an NHL entry draft. However, his stock has recently taken a hit after poor performance at the combine and a first overall selection is no longer a guarantee.

These days, it is impossible to be a cup contender without having an elite goalie. For bottom dwelling teams such as Florida, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Philadelphia, etc. It is unlikely that this draft class will produce any potential hall of fame goalies. There is only one goalie (Zach Fucale) that is expected to go in the first round, and he would likely be taken in the last eight selections of the round. Furthermore, there are only three goalies besides Fucale who rank in the top four rounds of the draft (Eric Comrie, Tristan Jarry, Jusse Saros).

1st Round Pick Acquisitions:

At this years trade deadline (and every other trade deadline), buyers often attain star players from sellers. In return, the sellers usually attain draft picks, often later in the respective round. Calgary and Columbus each have three 1st round selections and Buffalo and Dallas have two. The Blues, Rangers, Penguins, Bruins, Kings and Wild have zero, but of course that could change come draft day.

For more questions about the upcoming draft, email me at JTarr@Wildonsports.com. I will post my first round mock draft within the next few days.

Make sure you’re following @WildOnSports on twitter for the most accurate and up to date NHL draft action all day on Sunday June 30th.

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