Minnesota Sports Briefs: NHL labor talks continueMinnesota Sports
-- The latest round of NHL labor talks continued on Tuesday in New York City. The NHL made a counter-proposal to the Players Association during meetings.
NEW YORK -- The latest round of NHL labor talks continued on Tuesday in New York City. The NHL made a counterproposal to the Players Association during meetings.
Commissioner Gary Bettman called the proposal one that "is significant and has meaningful movement." The proposal is a response to one made by the NHLPA on July 13th. Details of the new proposal were not revealed by Bettman or NHLPA head Donald Fehr. Talks between both sides are expected to continue in New York daily through Friday. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire within the next few weeks and if the two sides do not agree on a new deal a lockout would begin on September 15th.
A Minnesota teen paralyzed during a hockey game last winter returned to school yesterday at Benilde-St. Margaret's as a junior. According to his CaringBridge page, Jack Jablonski was busy over the summer doing countless hours of rehab at Courage Center. Jacks's mom Leslie says school officials have been incredibly supportive in getting things ready for her son to return to the classroom. She says Jack will continue rehab at Courage Center every day after school.
Minnesota's pheasant harvest was down 43 percent last year and the DNR blames a couple of moderately-severe winters in a row, plus a cold and wet spring in 2011. But the agency's Lou Cornicelli warns long-term there's something bigger to worry about: loss of habitat as farmers, responding to commodity prices, take acres out of the Conservation Reserve Program. Cornicelli says they're trying to buy habitat with funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, but "it's tough to compete against eight-dollar corn," which puts even marginal land back into row agriculture. The DNR will release its predictions for the 2012 pheasant season after Labor Day.
The Minnesota Vikings are gearing up for their final preseason test tomorrow night against the Houston Texans. The game will provide a final test for many bubble players looking to make the roster. Minnesota will have to cut down to the league-mandated 53-man roster by 8 p.m. Friday. The Vikes kick off the regular season on September 9th at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team flies to Houston early this afternoon.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak announced yesterday that John Beck will get the start at quarterback when Houston hosts Minnesota tomorrow. Houston product and rookie Case Keenum will play the entire second half at QB.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith is speaking out about the use of replacement officials. In an interview with "Sports Illustrated," Smith said on a scale of one-to-10, his level of concern about using replacement refs in regular season games is a "16." When asked if players would strike if the NFL uses the replacements when the season begins, Smith said the players reserve the right to seek any relief that is appropriate if the NFL fails to provide as safe a working environment as possible. The regular referees have been locked out by the NFL. The upcoming season is expected to begin with replacement refs on the field.
Seattle's Dustin Ackley smacked a three-run homer to back a solid outing from Hisashi Iwakuma, as the Mariners topped the Twins 5-2 last night at Target Field. Iwakuma gave up just an unearned run on one hit and four walks over six frames as he improved to 5-and-3. Tom Wilhelmsen recorded the final out to earn his 20th save. Kyle Seager added a two-run double for the M's, who have taken the first two of this four-game set. Ryan Doumit and Ben Revere plated a run each for the Twins, who have dropped seven-of-eight. Scott Diamond allowed all five runs in seven innings of work as he fell to 10-6. Game three of the four-game set is tonight in Minneapolis.
One-thousand limited edition bobblehead doll sets featuring all 12 managers of the Minnesota Twins will go on sale next month (9/7/12). The sets costs 210 dollars each and will be sold exclusively at twinsbaseball.com. The bobbleheads are available for purchase the same weekend the Twins are retiring former manager Tom Kelly's number-10 at Target Field. All of the proceeds will benefit the Minnesota Twins Community Fund.
Major League Baseball is renewing its partnership with ESPN. The two sides have agreed to a new eight-year broadcasting deal that runs from 2014 through 2021. MLB says the contract is the largest in league history, with ESPN's annual rights fee increasing 100-percent. As part of the deal, ESPN will get expanded regular season coverage, an annual Wild Card game and any regular season tiebreaker game. It also includes upgrades in the network's studio shows and its ESPN Deportes package. MLB and ESPN have partnered since 1990.
The University of Minnesota football teams leaves for Las Vegas today. The Golden Gophers open their 2012 season in "Sin City" tomorrow night against UNLV. Minnesota is coming off of a 3-and-9 season last year and hoping to improve. Cornerback Troy Stoudermire returns for a fifth season of eligibility and says he feels blessed to have been given the additional year. He already has earned his college degree and is taking a light course load this semester. Kickoff tomorrow is 10 p.m, Minnesota time.
Joe Gibbs Racing is expected to add Matt Kenseth to the team in 2013. ESPN reports Kenseth will be announced as the new driver of the number-20 Home Depot car at a press conference next Tuesday. The 2003 Sprint Cup champion will take over for Joey Logano, who may or may not return to JGR next year Logano is a candidate to move to the No.22 car at Penske Racing in 2013. Kenseth, a Wisconsin native, announced earlier this year he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing, the team he has been with since entering the Cup series in 2000. He has won 22 races in Sprint Cup.