LA Kings snap 11-game road skid, hold off rival Ducks 2-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Kings hadn’t won outside of Los Angeles in more than seven weeks. Their streak of road futility is finally over, even if they didn’t venture very far away from LA to get it done.
Jeff Carter and Matt Luff scored, Jonathan Quick made 36 saves and the Kings snapped their 11-game road winless skid Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in the second Freeway Faceoff of the season.
Tyler Toffoli had two assists for the Kings, who had been 0-10-1 away from home since their last road win Oct. 22 in Winnipeg. Los Angeles has won just three road games all year, but its six-game road trip got off to a solid start just 30 miles south of Staples Center on the I-5.
“I don’t even want to know how many we lost in a row on the road,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We’re really happy. We’re going on a big road trip, and we’ve got to come back with a bunch of wins, because we want to climb out of this last spot in our conference, and we want to try to make a push to get up in the standings.”
When Todd McLellan looks at the entirety of the Kings’ season from mid-September to mid-December, the first-year head coach claims to see significant progress from his last-place team. The Kings are finally seeing that progress on the ice, and not many results are sweeter than a win over their closest rivals.
“There’s enough that’s been said and written and talked about as far as the road goes, and it was good to grind one out,” McLellan said. “Our game has improved incrementally and slowly, but the group has improved immensely since training camp.”
The Kings jumped to an early lead and held off a third-period surge by the rival Ducks, who have lost eight of 11.
Former NBA Commissioner Stern has emergency brain surgery
NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA Commissioner David Stern had emergency surgery after suffering a brain hemorrhage while having lunch not far from league headquarters.
The league had no update on his condition Friday.
The 77-year-old Stern underwent the operation at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital after he was stricken at a midtown Manhattan restaurant.
Stern served exactly 30 years as the NBA’s longest-tenured commissioner before Adam Silver succeeded him on Feb. 1, 2014.
The league made the announcement about Stern in a statement, saying its thoughts were with him and his family.
Stern has remained affiliated with the league, holding the title of commissioner emeritus. He has remained active in his other interests, such as sports technology.
Stern oversaw the growth of the NBA into a league whose games were televised in more than 200 countries and territories and in more than 40 languages. The league was staging a regular-season game in Mexico City between Dallas and Detroit on Thursday night when it revealed the news about Stern.
Support for Stern has come from across the game. Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeted that he and wife Cookie were praying “for my good friend who helped save my life.”
Former Padres, Giants manager Bochy to manage French team
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Bruce Bochy isn’t quite done managing after all.
Bochy might have just retired after a decorated 25-year career in the dugout with San Diego and San Francisco. But he is already embracing a new challenge: Trying to guide his native France to the next World Baseball Classic in 2021.
The French national team will try to qualify next year for its first WBC. Bochy was born in Landes de Bussac, France, where his father, Gus, was stationed in the U.S. Army. Bochy will have son, Brett — a former Giants minor leaguer — pitching for him and his brother, Joe, on the coaching staff. Bochy was chosen by Didier Seminet, president of the French Federation of Baseball.
“Excited and looking forward to helping promote and develop baseball in France,” Bochy said in a text message. “To have Brett pitching for me again and brother Joe as part of the staff makes it even more special. I’m thankful to president Seminet for giving me this opportunity.”
The 64-year-old Bochy guided the Giants to World Series championships in 2010, ’12 and ’14.
Bochy finished his career with a 2003-2029 record spanning 4,032 games as a manager over 25 seasons, the first 12 with San Diego before 13 in San Francisco. He went 1,052-1,054 with the Giants, who wound up 77-85 in his final year.
The Giants last month hired Gabe Kapler to replace Bochy.
MLB, union agree to testing for opioids after Skaggs’ death
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Major League Baseball will start testing for opioids and cocaine, but only players who do not cooperate with their treatment plans will be subject to discipline.
Marijuana will be removed from the list of drugs of abuse and will be treated the same as alcohol as part of changes announced Thursday to the joint drug agreement between MLB and the players’ association. In addition, suspensions for marijuana use will be dropped from the minor league drug program.
Opioids are classified as a drug of abuse under the joint big league program, which began in late 2002 and until now has limited testing to performance-enhancing substances and banned stimulants.
Talks to add testing for opioids began following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1 before the start of a series against the Texas. A medical examiner’s office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.
“Players from our side of the equation recognize that there was an opportunity to take a leadership role here in this discussion,” union head Tony Clark said. “Players aren’t immune to issues that affect all of us, and so the situation this year only heightened that, brought it even closer to home.”
Clark said the extent of opioids use among players is “difficult to gauge” and the union concluded there “wasn’t necessarily a need to take a census as much as there was taking a leadership role in the conversation.”
“I’m just thankful that the players union and MLB were able to address a serious issue in our nation that doesn’t have any boundaries and crosses lines into sport and work together for the betterment of our players,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. “It shows a lot of human touch on the powers that be and I’m thankful for it.”
Under the changes, MLB will test for opioids, Fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Players who test positive will be referred to the treatment board established under the agreement.
Pac-12 commissioner says missing playoff ‘harmful’ to league
NEW YORK (AP) — A Pac-12 team has made the College Football Playoff just twice in six seasons and none of the last three.
If anyone should be leading the charge toward expanding the current four-team model, you would think it would be Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.
“I completely get that it would really release the pressure of being the one that’s been on the outside looking the most in the first six years to say that automatically we’ve got our champion (in),” Scott said Thursday. ”But we also have agreements through 2026 (the championship game) that I think will be very challenging for us to all agree how we’re going to amend and change.”
Scott, in New York for a forum on college athletics sponsored by Sports Business Journal, said while changes to the playoff are already being discussed behind the scenes, being halfway through the current 12-year television rights contract with ESPN means there is no urgency.
“I’ve tended to see in my 10 years here these things don’t change until they have to,” Scott said.
Last year at this time, speculation about playoff expansion was the loudest it has been since this postseason format was implemented in 2014. The Big Ten having its champion left out for a second consecutive season had Commissioner Jim Delany and coaches and athletic directors in that conference grumbling publicly about the selection process.
The university presidents who oversee the playoff released a statement the day of last season’s national championship game that tamped down the chatter, saying it was ”way too soon” to know if expansion was even a possibility.
This year, the four teams for the playoff fell into place without controversy after Utah lost the Pac-12 title game to Oregon. That left the Pac-12 as the only Power Five league with a champion that had lost more than one game.
“The committee’s gotten a little luck,” Scott said.
Scott called getting left out of the playoff “painful.”