Stanley Cup finals
Ex-Thoroughblade Chara, Bruins look to contain Blackhawks
Marian Hossa couldn't ask for a better neighbor than Zdeno Chara. He just might be the biggest nightmare as an opponent — particularly with a championship on the line.
The 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman, who played for the Kentucky Thoroughblades during the 1997-98 season, has been causing all sorts of havoc for opponents and is a major reason they're aiming for their second championship in three years.
They're set to take on Hossa and the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, the first time Original Six franchises are meeting for the title since 1979.
It'll also be friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor.
Hossa and Chara played junior hockey together, and they live in apartments across the street from each other in Slovakia.
"I'll try to joke with him because he likes to be serious all the time on the ice," Hossa said. "He doesn't like to talk on the ice, so I just try to throw some funny stories (at him) and hopefully make him laugh."
Anything to break the ice, particularly if it distracts an opponent.
Chara has been a big reason the Bruins are back in the Cup finals.
"You have no idea what this guy does for a hockey club," Coach Claude Julien said. "The few times he's been out of our lineup, you've seen a difference. That's the impact that he has on our hockey club. Again, I think we've had an up-and-down second half of a short season. ... I'm sure that played a role in maybe looking at others for the Norris Trophy. But, again, I don't think it's changed our views on him. He's been an MVP for us since the day he stepped into that dressing room, and continues to be."
Chara was the focal point in a game plan that kept former MVPs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin without a point while the Bruins swept high-scoring Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Blackhawks are so concerned about him, it looks as if they're putting stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on different lines.
"They're very skilled, fast, have a lot of depth on their team," Chara said.
Golf Garcia gives Woods 'handwritten note'
Sergio Garcia's Tuesday at Merion didn't begin with a putt or a drive, but by slipping a note into the locker of Tiger Woods.
"A handwritten note," Garcia said.
Exact wording unknown, but assume it reflected some remorse, and maybe Garcia's agitated state since he followed up critical comments of Woods at the Players Championship with a joke at a European Tour dinner last month about serving Woods fried chicken this week. Preparing for this week's U.S. Open, Garcia and Woods shook hands on the practice tee Monday, but Garcia said he didn't feel that was the right time for a discussion or apology.
"We didn't discuss anything," Woods said Tuesday. "Just came up and said hi, that was it."
"I was hoping to meet him after (Monday's) round but he was already gone," Garcia said. "The weather obviously didn't help."
Woods said Garcia hadn't apologized, although it should be noted that Woods' noon press conference probably was before he got to his locker. They are teeing off six hours apart Thursday and Friday and probably won't even see each other until the weekend at the earliest.
"It's already done," Woods said. "We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days."
Garcia was asked if this would be too much of a distraction for him to contend this week. "I don't know," Garcia said. "We'll see. It obviously doesn't help, but it is my own fault. So I don't have anybody to blame other than myself."
Minnifield back on field for Redskins
Washington Redskins cornerback Chase Minnifield, a former Henry Clay standout, participated in the team's entire practice Tuesday, the first time he had done so since last year's minicamp, The (Washington) Examiner reported. Minnifield missed all of last season after tearing an ACL in practice.
The newspaper reported that Minnifield "looked a bit rusty at times coming out of his breaks." However, he did pick off Rex Grossman on a deep ball intended for Josh Morgan.
Minnifield told The Examiner that he'll spend the next month working at home with his father, ex-NFL corner Frank Minnifield, on his technique. "I feel like my play can stack up against anybody in the league," he said. "I'm confident in my abilities. If I can get out there I think I'll be there for the season."
Coach Mike Shanahan said Minnifield looks healthy now.
"Doctors say he's ready to go and he's worked extremely hard to get himself in great shape," Shanahan said. "Him coming back in the first couple days have been very impressive. It doesn't look like there's any setback or that he's favoring anything whatsoever. That's why I'm excited he has five more weeks to keep getting better and do what he needs to make the team."
Smith misses Bengals' minicamp
Right tackle Andre Smith missed the start of the Cincinnati Bengals' mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, drawing a fine from the club. Smith skipped the team's voluntary workouts the past three weeks for personal reasons, but was expected to be in Cincinnati on Tuesday for the mandatory minicamp. Coach Marvin Lewis said he'll miss all three days. Lewis said Smith's absence was unrelated to his arrest last January for having a .38-caliber handgun in his carry-on luggage at an airport in Atlanta.
"He's really dealing with something he's got to get through," Lewis said. "We would have hoped he would have been here and picked up on some of the things we felt like were good to work on at this point in the year for himself personally with football."
Lewis said Smith should be able to catch up on what he misses during the first week of training camp in July. He decided that Smith would be fined for his absence.
"I have to be fair," Lewis said. "I mean, we are not necessarily dealing with a death in the family or something like that, or your wife is having a baby or so forth. In this case, this is something there has to be ramifications from this."
Cecil, trainer for unbeaten Frankel, dies
Henry Cecil, who trained unbeaten superstar Frankel and was one of British horse racing's greatest trainers in a career spanning nearly half a century, died Tuesday following a long battle with cancer. He was 70.
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, Mr. Cecil was champion trainer in Britain 10 times. He capped his career by training one of racing's all-time great horses, Frankel, who was retired last year after winning all 14 of his races.
Legends held to 2 hits in loss to Rome
Rome Braves starter Williams Perez struck out seven batters and gave up two hits in four innings and relievers Bryam Garcia and Shae Simmons didn't give up a hit the rest of the way in a 4-1 victory against the Lexington Legends at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Legends starter Crawford Simmons gave up three runs in three innings. Mark Threlkeld had the only RBI for Lexington.
The last word
Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, after Mike Tyson danced with host Neil Patrick Harris at the Tony Awards:
"That sounds like something I'd dream if I ate right before bedtime."