<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Sports]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 26 Nov 2014 03:46:17 -0500 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 03:46:17 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Fred Smoot, Ex-Redskins Player, Charged With Domestic Assault]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:27:15 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/fred+smoot.jpg

Former Washington Redskins player Fred Smoot was arrested Sunday in connection with a domestic assault at a home in Ashburn, Virginia, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Officers were called to the 21300 block of Victorias Cross Terrace just after 11 a.m. for a report of a domestic assault. Investigators say Smoot's girlfriend told them he grabbed her during an altercation. Pictures Valerie Jackson posted on Instagram appear to show marks on her neck, shoulder and arms.

“I am not ready to comment on camera,” Jackson told News4’s Chris Gordon. “This is fresh and this is hard. I just came from a lawyer’s office, and I feel safe behind this door and I don’t feel safe in front of cameras or media.”

Smoot, 35, was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault.

Smoot’s attorney Jon Huddleston told News4's Chris Gordon Smoot denies he committed any domestic abuse, saying his arrest was the result of "the vindictive actions of a disgruntled ex-girlfriend."

He said Smoot tried to break off the relationship more than a month ago and that Jackson has been the aggressor.

The former cornerback was booked and later released on a $2,500 from the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center. He must also obey the conditions of an emergency protective order.

The case will go on trial on Jan. 5, 2015.

Smoot is a contributor to Comcast SportsNet, which is owned by the same company as NBC4.

A spokesperson for Comcast SportsNet says the network didn't learn of Smoot's arrest until Tuesday morning, adding that his appearances on the network have been suspended indefinitely.

Smoot also suspended from his sports talk radio appearances on 106.7 The Fan.

<![CDATA[49ers Defeat Redskins, 17-13]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 20:06:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141123+Redskins+49ers.jpg

San Francisco's first-team offense that had failed to convert a fourth-quarter touchdown all season finally did so when the 49ers' playoff hopes depended on it.

Carlos Hyde ran for a go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 2:59 remaining, and San Francisco barely squeaked by the lowly Washington Redskins with a 17-13 win Sunday that kept them in the thick of the playoff chase.

A fourth-down conversion in their own territory away from losing, the Niners finally capitalized with a rare touchdown in the final period on the way to their third straight victory.

San Francisco (7-4) overcame three turnovers.

Washington coach Jay Gruden won a challenge with 5:36 left that Vernon Davis hadn't made a first down. San Francisco went for it and Frank Gore converted the fourth-and-1. On the next play, Colin Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin for a 29-yard gain and safety Ryan Clark was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for his hit on Boldin.

Boldin made a 10-yard reception two plays later, leading to Hyde's score — the first TD by San Francisco's first-team offense in the fourth quarter this season.

Kaepernick threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Boldin on San Francisco's initial series but did little else offensively to break open what was expected to be a lopsided game. San Francisco was a nine-point favorite in the opening betting line.

Boldin, who caught a pair of touchdown passes in a win at Washington last November, finished with nine catches for 137 yards.

Now, the Niners have a quick turnaround before facing the rival and defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks (7-4) at home Thursday night. Seattle won at home against Arizona on Sunday.

Kai Forbath kicked a 46-yard field goal with 7:42 to go that put Washington ahead. Alfred Morris ran for a season-best 125 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (3-8), who lost their third in a row and fourth straight to the 49ers.

Gruden didn't appreciate quarterback Robert Griffin III's comments he considered critical of teammates in the wake of a 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay, but everybody seemed to move forward from the franchise turmoil.

These up-and-down 49ers struggled to put away a losing team at home — again. They already lost to St. Louis at new $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium in their last home game, 13-10 on Nov. 2.

Gore fumbled with just more than 10 minutes left and Phillip Thomas recovered to give the Redskins first and 10 at the 49ers' 37.

The Niners seemed to have gained some nice momentum from road wins at New Orleans and at the Giants the past two weeks only to nearly squander it with sloppy play.

Hyde fumbled the first play of the second quarter, forced by Brandon Meriweather and recovered by Ryan Clark. Kaepernick also threw an interception as Washington's Greg Ducre made his first pick midway through the third quarter.

Forbath kicked a tying 27-yard field goal in the final minute of the third quarter. The Redskins got a big break on that scoring drive.

Griffin was sacked and rookie Aaron Lynch was flagged for roughing the passer for a helmet-to-helmet hit. That gave Washington first down on the 49ers' 16 and set up Forbath's tying field goal.

Crabtree caught a 25-yard pass on fourth-and-2 from the 48 to set up Phil Dawson's 41-yard field goal as the first half expired but nothing looked in sync in the second half.

Morris scored on a 1-yard TD run late in the second quarter as the Redskins tied it at 7.

Aldon Smith exploited Washington rookie left tackle Morgan Moses and sacked Griffin III twice. San Francisco had five total sacks after getting six against him in a win last November. Moses started in place of the injured Trent Williams.

More coverage soon on NBCWashington and on News4 at 11.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 12]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:20:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/459467122.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the twelfth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday Spotlight]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 12:55:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP747099438720.jpg New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has had a stand-out first season, and recalls that he has always been ready for the Sunday spotlight.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report: RGIII Could Be Benched]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:55:40 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/182*120/459437488.jpg

If Robert Griffin III struggles against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden is prepared to bench him, according to a report from ESPN.

"That means Griffin could be yanked Sunday in favor of Colt McCoy, who is 2-0 as Griffin's sub, or an evaluation will be made to make a move next week," Chris Mortensen reported.

Gruden criticized Griffin's "fundamental flaws" earlier this week and told NFL.com that "He's auditioned long enough" for the starting role in regards to elevating his play. NFL.com also reported that Gruden received support from upper management regarding those comments

"We want Robert to excel, we really do," Gruden told Albert Breer. "But the last two games, it hasn't been very good, anywhere. We gotta play better around him. And the biggest thing for us as playcallers, and for him, we just have to come together and jell with plays he's comfortable with. That takes time. But we don't have a lot of time."

Since Griffin returned from a dislocated left ankle, the Redskins are 0-2 and Griffin's QBR through four games is 34.2. Of course, a coach has the power to bench any player he so chooses, but as always, an anonymously sourced pregame report has the Redskins in the news for the wrong reasons.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Bemoan Lack Of Crease Presence]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:57:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459431636.jpg

The Washington Capitals pelted Jhonas Enroth with shot after shot Saturday, a season-high 44 reaching the Buffalo Sabrss goaltender, but dominant possession performances don't always equate to victories. 

In the contemplative moments following a 2-1 loss to the suddenly streaking yet still woebegone Sabres, the Capitals bemoaned the overall absence of difficulty that their shot attempts presented.

"The one thing that probably stands out is that we threw 77 pucks roughly to their net, so it wasn't like we weren't trying to throw pucks there, but we need to have a little more net presence," coach Barry Trotz said. "We talk about that all the time. Their goaltender was good and when a goaltender is good and seeing the puck, you've got to make him not see the puck.

"We need a little more traffic, we need second efforts, hunger around the net a little bit more. We're sort of one-and-done type things. ... You've got to just create those second and third efforts around the net, create a little more havoc for them. That's an area that we'll have to get better at."

Trotz has outfitted each of his lines with at least one big-bodied forward, particularly on the right side, that should gravitate toward the crease and obscure the opposing goaltender's vision. That interior play, however, has been absent. A rough estimate provided by the website Some Kind of Ninja totals 42 Washington shots within 10 feet of the goal at even strength. At least six teams -- Calgary, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Florida and New Jersey -- have fewer (Arizona wasn't included).

Both Buffalo goals, each scored within 11 feet according to the official play-by-play sheet, typified the kind of ugly effort Trotz is seeking from his skaters: flurries generated by scrums in front of the net. Colleague Alex Prewitt counted three pairs of shot attempts within five seconds of each other for the Sabres, including Torrey Mitchell's game-winning rebound goal. The Capitals, despite a distinct shot advantage, did only twice. 

"We threw a lot of pucks at the net. We could get more bodies in front of the crease," said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who scored Washington's lone goal. "Their goalie was good tonight, but I think he saw too many, more than we would like. We've got to start working that into our game a little bit more. Goalies in this league, if they see shots, they're going to stop them most of the time. We had some whacks at rebounds, guys are going there, but we've got to take away his eyes a little better."

The Capitals, more than most teams, are capable of scoring breathtaking goals, but dull goals count just the same. 

"We had a great chance to score goals, but the second opportunity was right there but we didn't put our body in front of the net," forward Alex Ovechkin said. "It was a good lesson [of] what we have to do when we're going to have that kind of opportunities, that kind of chances to score goals."

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Adam LaRoche To Sign With White Sox]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:29:42 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/456817646.jpg

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has reportedly signed a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, according to USA Today. 

LaRoche spent four seasons in Washington, batting .249 with 82 home runs and 269 RBIs. With Ryan Zimmerman expected to become the Nationals' everyday first baseman, LaRoche was expendable and the team did not exercise his option for next season. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:53:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

The blizzard dropped 85 inches of snow on Buffalo, enough to bury Snookie, Jim Kelly and even Yao Ming.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.

Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[Jose Canseco Pranks Everyone with Finger Hoax]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:56:59 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP565783519558.jpg

Looks like Jose Canseco gave everyone the finger. 

The former Major League Baseball player took to Twitter at the end of October to announce that he had shot off his middle digit and had it reattached during surgery. Last week, Canseco claimed that the mangled finger fell off during a poker tournament because it had been “very loose” and “smelling really bad.” He also said he would be selling the thumb and gun that shot it off on eBay a few days later.

“Maybe I will make it a package the chrome 45 caliber Remington with the finger both for sale a package deal," he tweeted on Nov. 17.

But despite continuing to post on social media about the plan, Canseco reportedly will not be selling his appendage to the highest bidder—it was all just a prank.

When TMZ reporters followed up about the details of the unique eBay sale, Canseco finally admitted it was all a hoax, the site reported. He said he thought of the whole plan when he saw a fake finger in a Halloween store. 

What remains true, NBC Sports reports, is that the prankster did shoot off his finger but had it successfully reconnected with surgery.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[FedEx Field Won't Host Jets/Bills Game]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:15:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/B21TwLDIMAAXKeQ.jpg

UPDATE: News4's Dianna Russini is reporting that Detroit will serve as the host of the game.

Western New York has been blanketed by several feet of snow, forcing the NFL to relocate the Bills' scheduled game against the New York Jets on Sunday. 

"Due to public safety concerns in light of the ongoing weather emergency in Western New York, Sunday's Jets-Bills game will not be played in Buffalo," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement. "We are in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game as part of Week 12. We will provide additional information as soon as possible.

According to a report from NFL Network, FedEx Field is being considered as one of two alternative venues for the game. 

The Redskins will be in San Francisco to face the 49ers Sunday afternoon.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: @BuffaloBills]]>
<![CDATA[Zimmermann Gives Souza Best Buy Gift Card]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:53:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/178*120/456311144.jpg

Remember when Steven Souza, Jr. made an incredible diving catch to preserve Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter against the Marlins in September? Zimmermann said after the game that Souza could have anything he wanted as a reward.

"I'll buy him anything," he said.

Souza previously joked about Zimmermann purchasing him a BMW, but the outfielder revealed to MLB.com on Wednesday that the pitcher bought him a Best Buy gift card instead.

"I cannot disclose the amount," Souza told Bill Ladson. "He gave a gift certificate to help me out for my house. It was very thoughtful." 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Capital Letters: Mile High Club]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:58:39 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/175*120/459209162.jpg

Welcome back to "Capital Letters," an aptly titled and sporadic feature in which I answer any and all questions regarding the local professional hockey team. Please send all questions to @AdamVingan and follow me anyway because my mother will think that I'm more popular.

As I write this, I'm currently hopped up on Advil Cold & Sinus. And with the Capitals in Denver on Thursday to face the Avalanche, I could use that particular headline without being completely smutty!

Your questions.

This is a great question and a currently intriguing development for the Capitals. Coach Barry Trotz has frequently spoken of how Laich's injury-induced absence (and previously Tom WIlson's) has prevented him from properly balancing his lineup and rolling four lines, echoing that sentiment following practice Wednesday.

"We miss him," Trotz told colleague Alex Prewitt. "There’s no question, he’s a piece that balances everything out for us really well. To this point in time, when he’s not in the lineup, you can tell.”

Laich, who injured his shoulder against the Panthers on Oct. 18, has played once in the past month: a 3-2 Washington victory against Chicago on Nov. 7. He has since admitted that he rushed back in order to help the Capitals snap their five-game losing streak, which they did, but at the cost of delaying his recovery. 

“He’s obviously gone through a tough period injury wise,” general manager Brian MacLellan said last week. “He has the attitude he wants to play through injuries too. He almost demands himself to come back as soon as he can and sometimes that might hinder his progress as far as injuries. I think we have to make choices on when guys should come back, and possibly prevent further aggravating things, or what’s the best thing for a player.

“I guess in my mind now, we need to get him 100 percent. The shoulder has to be 100 percent. The other issues seem to be fine. We just want him healthy, because he’s going to be a contributor to our team, so we’ve got to quit doing these false starts with him.”

According to Trotz, “there’s a good chance for the weekend" when the Capitals host the Sabres on Saturday that Laich could return. If and when he does, his insertion into the lineup will have a sort of domino effect.

Personally, I like Laich as the third-line center in between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward, which is where he played in his last game against the Blackhawks. While that particular trio hasn't been incredibly effective in very limited ice time this season, I can't imagine Trotz tinkering with his top six (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Wilson, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Troy Brouwer) to accommodate Laich.

It really leaves questions about the bottom half of Washington's forward corps. Can Eric Fehr be the "finisher" the Capitals are looking for on the fourth line next to Evgeny Kuznetsov? Who becomes the regular forward scratch or gets assigned to the American Hockey League: Liam O'Brien, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle or Chris Brown?

The Capitals are a better team with a healthy Laich, but unfortunately they have had very little of that in the past two-plus seasons; he has missed 82 regular-season games since the start of the 2012-13 season. I think he can thrive under Trotz's tutelage, but we need to see him on the ice first. 

As I alluded to in the previous question, I think Kuznetsov is a third- or fourth-line center for the foreseeable future. With the right skaters surrounding him, he can provide matchup nightmares for opposing teams. That should allow him to produce more at even strength; Kuznetsov has just two 5-on-5 assists in 17 games. 

In regards to Wilson, since joining Ovechkin and Backstrom on Washington's first line, he has steamrolled everything that moves, but the offensive production hasn't materialized. In roughly 69 minutes of even-strength ice time with Wilson, Ovechkin and Backstrom have recorded about 48 percent of total shot attempts and combined for one goal. When apart from Wilson, that percentage increases to about 54 percent.

Against the Coyotes on Tuesday, those three were the Capitals' worst possession players, though they also started the fewest shifts in the offensive zone. I am guilty of wondering whether it was time to try someone else in Wilson's place. but a few more games are probably needed before anyone can make a true determination. 

Watching Filip Forsberg flourish for the Predators this season -- nine goals, 22 points and an NHL-best plus-20 rating, among other strong statistics -- has left Capitals fans absolutely apoplectic.

For those unfamiliar with this story, the Capitals traded Forsberg, the 11th pick in the 2012 draft, to the Predators in April 2013 for veteran Martin Erat and Latta. Of course, Erat's tenure in Washington was an unmitigated disaster, scoring twice in 62 games before requesting a trade, which the Capitals executed last season in a swap with the Coyotes, landing Brown in the transaction. 

ESPN's Craig Custance provided some excellent context to the entire situation recently. According to Custance, some within the organization weren't sold on Forsberg, who looked "timid" and "slow" at that summer's development camp. "With pressure from ownership to make the playoffs during the lockout-shortened season," the Capitals opted to trade Forsberg for Erat in a win-now move that was uncharacteristic of former general manager George McPhee.

Those internal doubters were obviously mistaken.

The trade, if Forsberg continues to develop into the dynamic player he has shown to be, will likely go down as one of the most lopsided in recent NHL history. Does it hurt my heart? No, because I'm not emotionally invested. But the Capitals may certainly be rueing that day -- April 3, 2013, to be exact -- for a long time.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 'Skinny: Week 12 v. 49ers]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 11:23:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459078872.jpg

Welcome back to the second season of "The 'Skinny," a weekly preview of the local professional football team's upcoming game and opponent. Every Thursday, you can find any and all information* about the Redskins' next opponent in this space.

(*Sometimes, it may be some or most information.)

Week 12 opponent: San Francisco 49ers (6-4)

Game information: Sun, Nov. 23 -- 4:25 p.m. ET -- Levi's Stadium -- CBS 

Last week: The Redskins were embarrassed at home by the lowly Buccaneers in a 27-7 loss, but the more noteworthy events took place after the game when Robert Griffin III's press conference fueled headlines for days. The 49ers quietly defeated the Giants 16-10. 

What's The Skinny?

The Redskins are really focused on San Francisco, but does that really matter anymore? Washington is in full evaluation mode, particularly with Griffin, who has six games left to prove himself worthy of a future contract extension. If RGIII can revert to the transcendent talent that he once was, then all hope isn't lost, 

The first test won't be easy against the 49ers, whose defense leads the NFL with 16 interceptions. Perhaps Washington's best chance to win is if San Francisco looks ahead to division rival Seattle, which it plays twice in the 18 days following Sunday's game. 

Statistic of the Week: The 49ers have forced eight takeaways in their past two games, seven of which have been interceptions; San Francisco picked off New York quarterback Eli Manning five times last week.

What They're Saying

"I think it was a mistake on my part. After a loss like that, we're very disappointed in the way we played, and the question came up. ... I just answered it, the first thing that came to my mind, and sometimes the first thing that comes to your mind isn't the smartest thing, and it wasn't the right thing to do on my part.

"Corrections should be in-house with everybody involved. The play speaks for itself, the production on the field spoke for itself. I didn't have to really elaborate on any individual fundamental things."

- Coach Jay Gruden apologizing for his Monday remarks when he pointed out Griffin's "fundamental flaws"

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[RGIII Is Focused on San Francisco]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:51:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459073368.jpg

Robert Griffin III's comments immediately following the Redskins' 27-7 loss to the Buccaneers last weekend fed headline makers for days, so his first press conference since Sunday was understandably met with some sort of twisted anticipation.

What we got was a robotic performance, as RGIII made sure to let everyone in attendance know that he is focused on San Francisco. Like, a lot.

You sort of expected this kind of deflection after the controversy that developed a few days ago, but the reactions, which you can peruse below, were quite entertaining. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wizards Owner Open to Suburb Locations for Practice Facility]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 20:40:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1118-leonsis.jpg

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis told WTOP-FM he's looking to build a smaller practice facility for the team than previously reported, and is open to a suburban location.

Earlier this month, News4's Mark Segraves first reported city leaders were hoping to bring a 5,000-seat practice facility to the Shaw neighborhood. The facility would cost between $30 million and $40 million.

Tuesday, Leonsis told WTOP the Shaw location is not the "preferred area" he's looking to build what he's now calling a 1,500-seat facility.

"We're looking at multiple places," Leonsis said. "Developers are reaching out to us, communities are reaching out to us. It could be anywhere. Could be in Maryland, in Virginia or D.C."

Leonsis said he wants the Wizards facility to be much like the Washington Capitals practice facility in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington County. 

He added he wants to build the facility in an area that's welcoming to the Wizards. In the days following reports of a possible Shaw location, residents said they'd be upset about their neighborhood housing the facility.

"We would want to build something that everyone is supportive of," Leonsis said. "When you go to Ballston, the community is really proud of what we've built. It's become a gathering place."

The possible Shaw location currently houses a popular dog park and skate park, as well as the old Shaw Middle School. City leaders had budgeted more than $50 million to build a new school at the same site -- plans that could be scrapped if the Wizards move in.

Leonsis told WTOP he would prefer a downtown location for the facility, but said he's open to expanding to the suburbs. He said it should take about two years for the facility to be built.

<![CDATA[Bowser to Propose Compromise for Soccer Stadium]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:24:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1118-dcunited-stadium.jpg

D.C. Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser says she will propose a compromise deal to build a new soccer stadium in the District.

Speaking to the Federal City Council business group Tuesday evening, Bowser said even though she doesn’t become mayor until Jan. 2, she will ask the council to vote on her proposal before the end of this year.

Bowser’s key change would remove the city’s aging Reeves Municipal Center building from a controversial land swap need to make room for the 25,000-seat soccer stadium in Southwest. She said by taking the Reeves Center out of the equation, the District will have more flexibility and control of the project.

"It just isn't necessary for us to be able to acquire the land," Bowser said. "I think that we can better control the product that we get if we decide to sell the Reeves Center in a separate transaction."

<![CDATA[Caps' Orpik Measures "Shutdown" Success]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:51:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/458506704.jpg

In justifying the five-year, $27.5 million that he signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to on the opening day of free agency, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan referred to the steadying presence that the then-33-year-old had been known to provide as the team's "greatest need."

It's a statement that MacLellan reasserted last week during a powwow with reporters when he said the offseason additions of Orpik and fellow ex-Penguin Matt Niskanen have been "stabilizing for our defense."

Not that the more statistically inclined (compared to this reporter, that is) needed any more fodder to roast MacLellan for luring Orpik to Washington. In separate posts for The Washington Post and Russian Machine Never Breaks, respectively, Patrick Holden referred to Orpik and partner John Carlson as the "NHL's worst shutdown pair" through the first month of the season and detailed how Orpik has shackled the more offensively adept Carlson. In his weekly snapshot for RMNB, Peter Hassett compared Orpik to "consensus shutdown D" in the league, concluding that Orpik is not one, but simply being "used" as one to discouraging results. 

In his 12th season, Orpik has frequently been utilized in a shutdown role, responsible for stymying the opposition's most dangerous offensive threats.

The rise of advanced statistics has set basic parameters on how to measure a defenseman with that particular responsibility (zone starts, relative on-ice shot differential, quality of competition), but how does Orpik gauge his own success?

"Those guys, you look at the best guys, they obviously get a lot of chances," Orpik said last week of the high-end skaters he typically faces. "That's why they have as many points and produce the way they do. I think the way I measure it is those guys are going to get their chances, but what kind of chances are they going to get? Making sure there are no secondary chances is a big one.

"A lot of it is making sure their chances come from the outside, not the inside. Once guys get inside position on you, that's where those guys with their finishing ability usually hurt you. That's what I measure it on. Now you've got all those fancy advanced stats, which I don't completely understand."

Those looking at Orpik's "fancy advanced stats" will see that he has a team-worst relative Corsi-for percentage of -7.34 percent at even strength, which simply means that the Capitals allow more shot attempts (shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots) when Orpik is on the ice than when he isn't. 

Orpik, though, doesn't subscribe to that ideology. As an example, he recalled the Capitals' 3-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 7, a game in which Washington allowed a season-high 40 shots. 

"I think in Chicago, I think we gave up like 40 shots, but especially like [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews, I don't think they had a lot of good looks," Orpik said. "I know they had a lot of shots from outside the circles and you ask the goalies too, that's what they want and not a lot of second chances."

The Capitals held Kane and Toews to two combined shots. For reference, here are Kane, Toews and the Blackhawks' even-strength shot charts from that game, courtesy of Sporting Charts:

"Lot of times, just looking at like shot totals isn't a very good factor for me," Orpik said. "It's more of the quality of chances you're giving up. I don't know if they have an advanced stat for that yet. That's something that's probably, I think, a more accurate indication for defensemen."

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Rice in China to Promote NFL]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 03:33:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/rice-horz.jpg

San Francisco 49ers legendary wide receiver and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice is in China trying to entice the world's most-populous country to tune into NFL football on every given Sunday, according to reports.

An NBC News crew captured Rice in the moment in Beijing, where NFL officials are "demystifying the game" by "putting footballs in [Chinese peoples'] hands."

On Sunday, Rice put on a clinic, which one young fan described as "the greatest football experience of my life."

There is also already a flag football league in Beijing, but NBC noted the country is "with little history of contact sports like American football."

Photo Credit: Mathew Luschek]]>
<![CDATA[Canseco May Sell His Shot Finger, Gun on eBay]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:57:12 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jose-Canseco-1.jpg

Jose Canseco says he's parting with his finger forever — for a price.

The former major leaguer tweeted Monday that he'll sell his detached digit, along with the gun with which he accidentally shot it off. He tweeted last week that the operation to reattach the finger had failed, and it had fallen off during a poker game.

Canseco said he is also selling the chrome-plated .45-caliber handgun he was cleaning when he accidentally shot off the middle finger on his left hand.

In a series of tweets posted Friday afternoon, Canseco said his finger fell off during a poker game Thursday night, even after he had it surgically reattached. (Warning: The below tweets might seem disturbing to some.)

Canseco was apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber when he was cleaning the gun, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon told NBC News.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon said. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major-league career in the 1980s with the Oakland Athletics before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career. After retiring, he also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gruden: RGIII "Needs To Worry About Himself"]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:56:53 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/458295356.jpg

Let's be honest with ourselves: The Redskins are much more entertaining when they're terrible.

The "good" times continued to roll Monday afternoon as the Redskins began to sift through the aftermath of their 27-7 loss to the equally terrible Buccaneers.

As a refresher, Washington lost badly at home to a 1-8 team. Then Robert Griffin III overshared during his postgame press conference.

"We’re 3-7, and everybody in this room knows that, and everybody in that locker room knows that," Griffin told reporters. "We can’t do what 3-7 football teams do. We can’t throw knives and stab each other in the back. I think we have good people in our locker room, men of God that are going to stick together and stay strong. ... I have to do better. I need every man in that locker room, players and coaches, to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’

"It takes 11 men. It doesn’t take one guy, and that’s proven. If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Peytons and the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. They don’t. We need everybody. I need every one of those guys in that locker room, and I know they’re looking at me saying the same thing.”

Then DeSean Jackson Instagramed his frustrations and shared it via Twitter. Coach Jay Gruden, as expected, was asked about it all:

“First of all, Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself, number one, and not everybody else. It’s his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position. It’s my job to worry about everybody else. And yes, everybody else needs to improve. There’s no question about it. But it’s not his place. His place is to talk about himself, and he knows that. He just elaborated a little bit too much. He’ll learn from it; he’s 24 years old. He wants everything to be perfect around him, and yesterday was far from perfect. He’s gotta improve, the offensive line has to improve, everybody has to improve; myself. I mean, you’re 3-7."

Griffin then posted on Facebook that his remarks at his post-game press conference were taken out of context. 

Fun, right?!

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:28:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  

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<![CDATA[Roy Helu, One on One with Dianna Russini]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:58:57 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008546909_1200x675_359883843827.jpg News4's Dianna Russini speaks one on one with Redskins running back Roy Helu. ]]> <![CDATA[Jackson Calls Out RGIII on Instagram?]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:45:46 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459081912.jpg

(Before I begin the story, I never thought that four years of journalism school would lead to the headline I just crafted above.)

The Redskins' 27-7 loss to the lowly Buccaneers on Sunday led disgruntled fans to chant for Colt McCoy at FedEx Field after another uninspiring effort from Robert Griffin III.

After the game, RGIII shouldered some blame, but also called for a full team effort to salvage whatever is left of this disastrous season.

“It takes 11 men. It doesn’t take one guy. That’s proven," Griffin told reporters. "The great QBs — the Peytons [Manning] and Aaron Rodgers, they don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. They don’t. We need everybody. I need every one of those guys in that locker room. And I know they’re looking at me saying the same thing.”

DeSean Jackson may have chosen to "say the same thing" on Instagram on Monday morning, sharing a quote via Twitter that has been perceived to be a thinly veiled shot at his quarterback. (The quote features explicit language, so consider this your NSFW warning.)

Last week, Jackson publicly supported Griffin after several media reports indicated that Griffin had alienated himself within Washington's locker room

"I've never been a vocal guy to yell at a player or get on another player," Jackson said. "That just wasn't me. Now I'm in my seventh year, I've been through a lot and I understand how things can be portrayed. That's the wrong impression you want to give when you have a young guy like RGIII being the quarterback and what he's been through in his career so far. I wanted to stand up and let him know I'm supporting him, and hopefully everyone else can support the situation, too."

So much for that, apparently.

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Burned by Faceoff Goals]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:35:50 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459051616.jpg

While Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz fielded questions from reporters about his team's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, he asked a rhetorical question of his own. 

“How many faceoff goals are we going to give up?” Trotz wondered aloud. 

Jaden Schwartz's goal, scored five seconds after Jori Lehtera bested Eric Fehr in the faceoff circle, was the fifth faceoff goal the Capitals have allowed this season and third in the past four games.

As detailed in Hockey Plays and Strategies, written by former Capital Ryan Walter and Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston, Washington employed the standard "Five Across" method in lining up for and defending this particular draw: 

When C loses the draw, he stays with the other team's center. RW shoots through the inside of the circle and pressures the point. LW moves out to the high slot and is ready to go after the other D if a pass is made. D1 and D2 stay with their forwards.

The Capitals, for the most part, run the play correctly. Fehr (C) ties up Lehtera immediately, pushing him toward the high slot. Joel Ward (RW) charges at Carl Gunnarsson, who then passes the puck to Kevin Shattenkirk. Jason Chimera (LW) shadows Shattenkirk to prevent the shot, which gets through, and Karl Alzner (D) is beaten inside by Schwartz, allowing for the easy rebound goal.

Here are the rest of the goals in question:

Cam Atkinson, Nov. 11 against Columbus

Elias Lindholm, Nov. 8 against Carolina

Jason Garrison, Nov. 1 against Tampa Bay

Matt Irwin, Oct. 14 against San Jose

The Capitals are the very definition of middling in regards to winning defensive-zone draws, ranking 15th of 30 teams at 51.1 percent, slightly above the league average of 50.8 percent.

Interestingly enough, Nicklas Backstrom, who lost three of the five faceoffs that led to the goals highlighted above, is one of the NHL's better players in that regard at even strength with a 61 percent success rate, fifth-best in the league

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Skins Fans Chant "We Want Colt!"]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:46:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/459081186.jpg

Let's talk about the Redskins' embarrassing, atrocious, despicable, pathetic and asinine loss to the 1-8 Buccaneers at home Sunday. 

With Robert Griffin III throwing two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and being sacked six times, fans have seemingly had enough of the quarterback most of those same fans anointed as the franchise savior two years ago, chanting "We Want Colt [McCoy]!" during the game.

McCoy, who started the season as Washington's third-string quarterback, usurped Kirk Cousins after the backup could not go more than two plays -- a rough estimate -- without turning the ball over, leading the Redskins to two victories against the Titans and rival Cowboys. Since Griffin returned from his ankle injury before the bye week, the Redskins have lost both games.

NBC analyst Rodney Harrison has seen enough of Griffin, saying on-air Sunday evening that "If you need six more games to determine if he’s going to be your future quarterback, you need a new coach and a new scouting department." Griffin himself recognizes that he has to be better as well

What do you think? The season is a disaster and Griffin is not the transcendent franchise-altering talent we hoped he would be. What would you do?

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 11]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 23:04:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/458986756.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the eleventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Wayne Talks Special Bond With T. Y. Hilton]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 15:30:53 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-16+at+2.09.54+PM.jpg Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, now in his 14th season, has mentored third year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who's an emerging star in the league. The players discuss their special bond ahead of the Colts- New England Patriots showdown Sunday night. ]]> <![CDATA[The 'Skinny: Week 11 v. Tampa Bay]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 10:42:52 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/458704122.jpg

Welcome back to the second season of "The 'Skinny," a weekly preview of the local professional football team's upcoming game and opponent.

Week 11 Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8)

Game information: Sun., Nov. 16 -- 1:00 p.m. -- FedEx Field -- FOX

Last Week: The Redskins didn't play, but that didn't stop them from commandeering headlines! Meanwhile, the Buccaneers lost, because that's what they do. Their most recent defeat, their fifth straight, was a 27-17 loss to the Falcons.

What's The Skinny? 

This is probably the last game that the Redskins have on their schedule that they will be favored in: a home game agains one of the few teams in the NFL that's actually worse than they are. The Buccaneers give up the second-most points per game (30.2) and their offense averages 311.6 yards per game, 29th in the league. They've won one game. In theory, this should be the closest thing to a sure thing for the Redskins. Yet in theory, communism works too, so...

Very little has gone right for Washington, and a loss to hapless Tampa Bay will justify a descent into the dregs of the NFL with the likes of Jacksonville and Oakland. Rock bottom, dude. 

Statistic(s) of the Week: Running back Alfred Morris has gone 16 straight games without rushing for 100 yards; he's rushed for 1,055 yards during this stretch. By comparison, in his first 25 games, he rushed for 2,438 yards, hitting triple digits 10 times. 

Also, the Redskins have lost five of their past six games coming off the bye week.

What They're Saying

“I know it’s been pushed and pushed and pushed, and everyone thinks [the rumors of division are] from the inside out. But we’re strong in that locker room. We feel like we can’t let any of these reports or anything divide us. Right now, we have to be responsible for what we do. Right now, we’re 3-6, and I think everybody in this room knows it. We have a hunger to win.”

- Robert Griffin III addressing recent reported locker-room strife 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Canseco Says Shot Finger Fell Off]]> Sat, 15 Nov 2014 00:47:54 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/jose-canseco-getty.jpg

Jose Canseco’s struggle with his shot finger continues.

The former baseball star accidentally shot himself in the finger while cleaning what authorities say was a large-caliber handgun last month, but in a recent series of tweets, Canseco says the procedure to save his finger apparently didn’t work.

In the tweets, he details how his finger fell off Thursday night during a poker game.

(Warning: The below tweets might seem disturbing to some)

Canseco shot a finger on his left hand, apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon said.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon told NBC News. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major league career in the 1980s playing for the Oakland Athletics, before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career and after retiring also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFLer's Parents Slam Cops on Arrest]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 20:25:00 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/familyMcDonald.jpg

The parents of 49ers football player Ray McDonald spoke publicly for the first time since prosecutors decided not to charge the defensive end with felony domestic violence, criticizing the police for the information they released, saying it caused their 30-year-old son to get "slaughtered by the lynch mob."

Speaking to NBC Bay Area by phone on Friday, LaBrina McDonald said she and her husband, Ray McDonald Sr., were tired of keeping quiet. McDonald Sr. said the police released information in "bits and pieces" to make everyone think that his son "attacked" his pregnant girlfriend when "that was totally wrong." He chastised the police, saying they didn't have the "full facts."

"We are a very close family and we come from a close knit community," added LaBrina McDonald. "And we know our son. To hear and read all those things that folks are saying and prejudging — it's heart-breaking. We had to grit our teeth and bite our tongues until this was all done and over."

The San Jose police responded to media requests for a response to the criticism Friday by issuing a three-paragraph statement citing the mandatory disclosure of the California Public Records Act, which include police reports.

"Based on the overwhelming request by various media outlets for police records regarding the Ray McDonald case, the San Jose Police Department complied with state law," police said.

The statement also added that police are "very cautious and sensitive about the information we provide to the media and the public because we do not want to interfere with an active and ongoing investigation. Many times we are precluded from sharing very intimate details about an investigation because we must allow the investigators to conduct their followup investigations."

The McDonalds decided to speak out after the Santa Clara County district attorney's office announced Monday that it wouldn't prosecute the 49er, who was arrested Aug. 31 after a birthday party he threw himself at his San Jose home.

The police news release at the time cited "visible injuries" to a woman officers accused McDonald of harming, but an internal DA memo released this week showed there was "insufficient evidence" and conflicting testimony to charge him with any crime.

There was indeed a fight, the prosecutors noted, where McDonald told his then 10-weeks-pregnant girlfriend she was an "unfit mother." But when the punch flew, both McDonald and the woman said she threw it, according to the document.

McDonald "grabbed her neck" to remove her from the house, which "resulted in a visible injury," the memo says. The action was used to restrain her, according to the documents. She told police that she was "fighting back." The prosecutor's memo describes the injuries as "seemingly minor" and characterizes the fight as a scuffle, "rather than an attack."

"He only restrained her," Ray McDonald Sr. said. "That was it."

Neither parent would not comment on their son's relationship with the woman at the center of the fight. They would not identify her, and would not answer whether she and their son still intended to get married. "You'll have to ask Ray," LaBrina McDonald said.

Ray McDonald told CSNBayArea that he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship... because we do care about each other, love each other."

It was the "visible injuries" line that irks the McDonald parents, who own an insurance company in Florida and have one other child, a 32-year-old daughter.

"This basically led the public to believe that he hit or attacked her," the family said in a statement first issued to the Mercury News. "The fact that no additional information was given in this press release, in our opinion was very irresponsible and leads us to question the integrity of the ranking individuals that approved this press release."

READ: Ray McDonald Parents Statement on San Jose Police

NBC Bay Area was the second news outlet to obtain that statement and also an exclusive video interview with both parents from the airport on Friday as the couple was heading to Jamaica to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.

LaBrina McDonald said that it was hard as a mother to watch her son's name be tarnished — a son she described as laidback, a "big teddy bear," a "Mama's boy," and a talented piano player. 

Since she's a "big talker," LaBrina McDonald said it was especially hard for her not to tell her friends what happened from her son's point of view that night. Ray McDonald Sr. said it was his son who counseled them "to be patient," saying that soon, "the truth will come out."

For the McDonald parents, they are only too happy that there were no charges filed against their son.

"He's a loving person," LaBrina McDonald said. "Just because he makes a lot of money and is a defensive lineman doesn't mean he's a bad person." 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of LaBrina McDonald
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<![CDATA[U.Md.'s Basketball Coach Waits for a Good Cause]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 19:00:16 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008526056_1200x675_358483523553.jpg While Maryland men's basketball has been waiting to start the season, the head coach has been waiting on customers at Ledo's for a good cause.]]> <![CDATA[One-on-One With Jay Gruden]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:16:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000008514924_1200x675_357660227799.jpg From growing RGIII to the team name to answering to owner Dan Snyder, first-year head coach Jay Gruden is learning on the job. She sat down with Jay Gruden.]]> <![CDATA[Patriots' N-Word Thank You Tweet ]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:00:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/New+England+Patriots+Twitter+N+Word.jpg

The New England Patriots is apologizing after its Twitter account publicly thanked a user whose handle contained a racial slur. 

As the team was thanking its one million Twitter followers with automated digital custom jerseys, a Twitter account containing the N-word also received a jersey.

The Patriots have since deleted the tweet, and the account with the N-word has since been deleted.

The team also apologized to fans shortly after as the tweet went viral.



NECN reached out to the New England Patriots for comment and have not yet heard back. 

Photo Credit: twitter.com/patriots]]>
<![CDATA[Caps, Green "Going Through Evaluation Period"]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:15:26 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/458506844.jpg

The Washington Capitals will eventually have decisions to make on 11 pending free agents (seven unrestricted, four restricted), the most publicized of which involves defenseman Mike Green.

Washington's fortified defensive corps has allowed Green to flourish in less stressful on-ice environments. Simultaneously, that same stability has also made the 29-year-old a frequent subject of trade conjecture. With his three-year, $18.25 million contract set to expire this summer, the Capitals are taking a wait-and-see approach regarding potential negotiations.

"He's had a good year," general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday during a 30-minute interview with reporters. "Coming into the year, I think he had an off year last year. I think we're probably both going through an evaluation. Is he comfortable with his role and does he want to stay and play in that role? Are we comfortable with him in that role that he's playing in now? Is it going to work for us as an organization, as a team? Are we going to have success with Mike Green playing where's he playing and doing what he's doing and is that a big part of our team moving forward?

"Just as he needs to evaluate, 'Do I like this coach? Do I like this situation? Am I comfortable here?' I think we're both going through an evaluation period and we'll come to a decision at some point."

With offseason additions Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik handling tougher assignments, Green has functioned as one-half of Washington's third pairing with Nate Schmidt. He's starting significantly more shifts in the offensive zone as compared to last season (60.71 percent to 54.34) and facing the weakest competition at even strength since his 2006-07 rookie season. He has thrived so far, with 11 points and a Corsi-for percentage of 57.2

While Green's impressive start has spurred outside demand for Green to be re-signed as soon as feasibly possible, MacLellan is cautious not to rush into anything binding. 

"I think that's a key decision," MacLellan said, speaking about his general approach to handling contract talks. "I think we need to let it sort itself out, let people settle into their roles and see where we are as a team, what level we're at."

Green's representation did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. 

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caps Want to "Build" Fourth Line Around Kuznetsov]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 08:32:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/458825168.jpg

The Washington Capitals envisage a future lineup featuring Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov patrolling the middle of the ice.

Kuznetsov's usage in particular has been an early-season storyline. Coach Barry Trotz "absolutely [sees]" the 22-year-old, who starred in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League as a wing, as a center. He has seesawed throughout the lineup, settling predominantly on the fourth line, not a place where players of Kuznetsov's ilk are often utilized. 

Cognizant of that, Trotz spoke after the Capitals' 4-2 vixtory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday of his intent to "build a line around" Kuznetsov that would better complement him. While "grinding types" like Michael Latta and Liam O'Brien personify the fourth-line mentality, Trotz would like to form a more dynamic group with Kuznetsov as its nucleus. 

“Kuzy’s more a pretty good distributor of the puck,” Trotz said. “He’s not I would say a high cycle guy. He’s not a guy that [Joel Ward] and [Jason Chimera] play with a lot, because that’s not really his game. He’s probably more with [Andre] Burakovsky and [Marcus] Johansson and [Troy] Brouwer-type of line, where they’ve got speed and give-and-go. We don’t really have that, because of the injuries to [Tom] Wilson and [Brooks] Laich.

“Once we get healthy, I think we have that. We just haven’t had a healthy Brooks Laich, and Willy hasn’t been healthy. Once we do that, I think we can get more of that into Kuzy’s game. Then we’ve got to balance it out."

As Trotz alluded to, injuries to Wilson (lower body) and Laich (shoulder) limit the options available to him. In a Wednesday conversation with Monumental Network, general manager Brian MacLellan mentioned that a "Tom Wilson kind of a player" would be the "ideal teammate" for Kuznetsov, "someone that forechecks, that's physical, that can get the puck to the middle of the ice for the centerman." 

That theoretically fills the hole to Kuznetsov's right. As for the left... 

"On the other side," MacLellan told Mike Vogel, "you'd want a finisher, someone who can shoot the puck and finish some of the plays and get to the net for him."

How to properly flank Kuznetsov presents an intriguing puzzle. Because of his limited ice time and the almost nomadic nature of his deployment, miniscule sample sizes exist to measure his success with different linemates.

One skater that comes to mind is Eric Fehr, who like Kuznetsov has yet to find a permanent home. 

Fehr, currently centering the third line, may be replaced by a returning Laich, but has the offensive instincts to be the finisher MacLellan is seeking. He and Kuznetsov have had success together with a 78.6 Corsi-for percentage, which measures shot-attempt differential. Yet their combined ice time is just 12:25, too small of a time frame to truly gauge their chemistry at this point.

Trotz did not rule out utilizing a prototypical, "grinding" fourth line -- O'Brien, Latta and Jay Beagle, for example -- when certain opponents call for it, but he knows that to be successful, the Capitals need to be a four-line team. That begins with finding greater opportunities for Kuznetsov.

"I think Kuzy’s best assets are his abilities to skate and distribute pucks," Trotz said. "I don’t see him as a wall guy. You saw that [Wednesday] in practice. That’s not really his strength. He’s best when he’s in the middle of the ice. He’s got great vision and hands."

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Redskins' Robert Griffin III Speaks on Unity, Leadership]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:51:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/175*120/457530196.jpg

Robert Griffin III says there were "a few'' Washington Redskins players who were the focus of DeSean Jackson's unity speech last week.

"Who those guys are, we don't really care," added Griffin.

Jackson stood up in front of the team before the bye week and urged the team to unite behind Griffin.

Griffin talked about the speech on Wednesday, saying, "I don't know everything, that's for dang sure, but I do know a little thing about changing the culture, and it takes everybody from the top down.''

Several players said there wouldn't be any discussion about a perceived lack of leadership on the team if they could win some games.

The Redskins are 3-6 and host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hernandez Trial Move Denied]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:57:39 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/b5be81e2cbc24dfe9245749f34341294.jpg

A judge has denied a motion by defense lawyers for former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez seeking to change the location of his trial, saying there is no reason to believe he won't be able to get a fair trial in the Boston area.

Hernandez's attorneys had argued that pre-trial publicity would make it hard for the former football star to get a fair trial in Bristol County. They said the jury pool had been "poisoned" by prejudicial pretrial publicity and suggested moving the trial "outside the Boston media market" to  Hampden County or Worcester County.

However, Judge E. Susan Garsh disagreed with the arguments made by Hernandez's attorneys.

"Hernandez has not demonstrated by a solid foundation of fact that there exists in Bristol County so great a prejudice against him that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial there," Garsh said in her ruling. "Nothing about the polling proffered by the defendant provides any reason to believe that impaneling a jury in Worcester or Hampden County would be any more or less difficult.

"The reality is that the extensive media coverage of this case is not driven by local media or by any particular local interest," the judge added. "Because the defendant is an athlete from a nationally prominent professional football team, the case is of interest to people across the state, New England, ann the country."

Garsh said the court will reconsider its ruling if, during jury selection, it becomes apparent that it will not be possible to pick "a fair and impartial jury" in Bristol County.

Hernandez is set to go on trial in January for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.