St. Louis Blues name Jake Allen starter for Game 1; Matt Cooke out for Game 1

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 13:15
Jake Allen gave up four goals in his last four starts and will contend with Michael Hutchinson as goalie on the NHL's All-Rookie team.
Categories: Local

Vikings work out Old Dominion basketball player Richard Ross

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 13:12
It appears several NFL teams  are interested in Old Dominion basketball player Richard Ross as a future NFL football player, presumably at tight end. Count the Vikings among the teams sniffing around the athletic 6-6, 236-pounder. According to a source close to the situation, the Vikings sent tight ends coach Kevin Stefanski to conduct a private workout at Old Dominion today. Ross’ basketball teammates also showed up to watch and wonder if perhaps an ODU basketball player will become the first ODU product to be drafted by an NFL team. Ross, who averaged 8.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a senior this past season, hasn’t played football since high school. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first college basketball player to transition to NFL tight end. The Chargers’ Antonio Gates made that a popular possibility years ago. The Vikings reportedly were one of the NFL teams that met with Ross at ODU’s pro day. Ross didn’t work out at the time because his basketball team was still in the NIT tournament.  According to the Virginia-Pilot, Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner was there to watch ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke. The Vikings’ interest doesn’t necessarily mean they’re planning to use even a late-round draft pick on Ross. The team also spends a lot of time preparing for the mad dash of signing undrafted rookies as soon as the draft is over. Those close to the situation say the Vikings have had their eye on Ross for a while. But he probably will have more private workouts scheduled with other teams before the draft.
Categories: Local

NFL Draft Truth or Hype: running back Todd Gurley

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:29
We interrupt your daily Adrian Peterson chatter to examine a prospect that could be the next Peterson. Yes, we’re talking about Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who had a strange season last year. If you never caught Gurley’s eye-popping highlights, you definitely knew his name last year when he was suspended four games for exchanging autographs for cash. Once he returned from suspension, Gurley tore his ACL against Auburn. Up until that point, Gurley was a Heisman candidate and one of the most dynamic players in the country at 6-1 and 222 pounds. By the Numbers: Freshman (14 games): 222 carries, 1,385 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns, 16 receptions, 117 receiving yards Sophomore (10 games): 165 carries, 989 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 37 receptions, 441 receiving yards, six touchdowns Junior (six games): 123 carries, 911 rushing yards, nine touchdowns, 12 receptions, 57 receiving yards Gurley averaged 6.4 yards per carry in three seasons. He was the second freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in school history. The first was some guy named Herschel Walker in 1980. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns during his career and ran the seventh-fastest 60-meter hurdles time in school history at 8.12 seconds. Gurley’s pretty good. Combine/Pro Day results: 40-yard dash: N/A Bench press (225 pounds): N/A Vertical: N/A Broad jump: N/A But Gurley’s health is the biggest concern among NFL teams at the moment. He’s still recovering from ACL surgery and didn’t participate at the NFL Combine or Georgia’s pro day. Gurley didn’t even get his knee examined by doctors at the combine so it wouldn’t slow down his recovery time. Gurley will return to Indianapolis this weekend for a medical re-check, which should give teams a better idea if there are any red flags with his knee. The Film When healthy though, Gurley was in a league of his own among running backs in college football. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon was really good in college. Gurley was great. This wouldn’t even be a comparison if Gurley was healthy. Georgia football games were must-see-TV when Gurley played. Every time Gurley touched the ball, you thought he was going to score a touchdown. Before the injury, he truly was a special talent that had great size, speed and power. He could run between the tackles, but Gurley was so dangerous when he bounced outside and turned the corner. Gurley wasn’t scared of contact. Per Pro Football Focus, Gurley led the nation forcing a missed tackle on every 3.3 rush attempts. His biggest area of improvement is pass protection. Based on what I saw, Gurley seemed to pickup outside blitzes fine. But he could use some work protecting between the tackles. It’s only five games from this season, and nobody knows at the moment how his knee feels, so there’s a lot of uncertainty on whether Gurley will return to form. It doesn’t help him that it’s a really good draft for running backs and teams can find value in Day 2 or 3. Some other names I do like that will get picked after the first round are Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, Northern Iowa’s David Johnson and Minnesota’s David Cobb. But I love Gurley. Even as he recovers from ACL surgery, I’d still pick him in the first round and ahead of Gordon. Yes, I know, he’s a running back and that position shouldn’t warrant a first round selection. But he’s going to be special. And, yes, I’m banking on his medical exam this weekend coming back clean. Verdict: TRUTH.
Categories: Local

New soccer stadium: Bad timing shouldn't diminish good plan

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:01
Minnesotans are tired of building new stadiums. They should be. There was a time (albeit just one year a generation ago) when the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Gophers football team all played in the Metrodome. Each of them now either has or is building its own stadium. The Wild has its own building, whereas in a lot of markets the NBA and NHL teams share an arena. We are a combination of overbuilt and overspent, with palaces such as Xcel Energy Center, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium and the new Vikings stadium — not to mention a new ballpark for the Saints — eating up more than a combined $1 billion in public funding alone (more than was spent on the private contributions). This doesn’t even include renovations to Target Center. If everyone had it to do all over again (everyone but the teams feasting on the profits, that is), we probably would have done it differently. It’s unnecessary to spend gobs of money on two pro arenas for hockey and basketball when one really would do. It’s a little crazy, even though the audiences are slightly different, to construct two huge new football stadiums so close together in both proximity and timing. The same could be said, we suppose, for the notion of now considering building one more stadium: an open-air Major League Soccer facility near Target Field and Target Center. The new Vikings stadium can be configured for soccer. It wouldn’t be as good of a gameday experience, but it would work. Should we always have to have the best? In general, no. But in this case … it adds up. An ownership group led by Bill McGuire was awarded an MLS expansion franchise. That group is willing to pay the $100 million expansion fee and almost all of the $150 million cost associated with the stadium. The group wants some tax relief. That’s about it. It’s drop-in-the-bucket stuff compared to every other stadium we’ve built, and it’s in line with standard operating procedure for a lot of new businesses coming into an area. The United group had a keen sense of its bad timing and came in with a plan that is more than just palatable. It’s fair. It might even be a good deal for the state and city, something that is rare. Their bad timing shouldn’t diminish a good plan. That story linked above, by the way, includes perhaps the greatest single user comment in Startribune.com history from someone with the moniker cutthebull: So far the comments are falling into a few predictable groups: 1. Those who dislike/hate/feel threatened by soccer, and have a kneejerk reaction every time it is mentioned. (These are the people who love to bring up the Kicks, Strikers, et al. And crickets – obsessed with crickets for some reason.) 2. Those who love soccer and have a kneejerk reaction every time it is mentioned. (These are the “most popular game on the planet” people who like to pooh-pooh American football as a dying sport played by Neanderthals.) 3. Those who are tired of stadium discussions and/or sports in general and have a kneejerk reaction every time they are mentioned. 4. Those who are suspicious of wealthy people and have a kneejerk reaction every time they are mentioned. 5. Those (like me) who have no real dog in the fight one way or the other, but who realize this isn’t a bad deal. If a private business owner was going to pony up $150-250 MM to redevelop an underutilized/blighted part of town and put in a call center or insurance offices or a Target or a widget factory, the $3 MM in misc. tax breaks would be a no-brainer. Most of the opposition comes from people in groups 1-4. Well-said. Even if you don’t like soccer, rich people or stadiums, it’s hard for a reasonable person to find much wrong with this plan. You can sense when reading between the lines that our politicians understand this as well. They have to hedge their bets and try to take semi-tough stances because they know what the stadium climate is, but at the end of the day they will build it because they realize two things: this will be the last stadium request for a long time, and it’s (by far) the best deal of the bunch.
Categories: Local

Tyus Jones to enter NBA draft after one championship season

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:00
Former Apple Valley star declared Wednesday morning.
Categories: Local

Tyus Jones to enter NBA draft

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 09:03
Former Apple Valley high school star Tyus Jones said Wednesday he will leave Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft. Said Duke coach Mike Kyzezewski: "We’re so very happy for him and his family to have the opportunity to declare for the draft."
Categories: Local

Soccer deal makes too much sense for Hodges

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 07:47
Maybe if somebody tells her the bike racks will be full on soccer game days, the mayor will get behind this sweetheart deal for her city.
Categories: Local

NFL on Peterson decision: Stay tuned

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 07:34
It’s not like the Vikings have a game this weekend, but NFL fans aren’t a particularly patient pack of people. So Vikings fans probably have today, April 15, written down in big bold letters as potentially a celebratory day. After all, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, today is the first day that former league MVP Adrian Peterson can be considered for reinstated after his lengthy tussle with the league, the law and the high court of public opinion regarding the injuries he caused while disciplining his 4-year-old son. So we’ll hear something today, right? Goodell will pull out a roll of industrial strength paper towels and clean this thing up nice and tidy before we head off to work. Right? Right?! RIGHT!!!!? Well, maybe not. As we pointed out in print this morning, the NFL views April 15 as a much softer deadline than the IRS. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello sent this email reminder of Peterson’s vague timetable when asked Tuesday if the league would be removing the former NFL MVP from the commissioner’s exempt list and reinstating him today: “Here is what we said regarding April 15 when we announced his suspension [last fall]: – “Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was notified today that he has been suspended without pay for at least the remainder of the 2014 NFL season, and will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15, for violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in an incident of abusive discipline that he inflicted on his four-year-old son last May. … “In order to assess your progress going forward, I [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] will establish periodic reviews, the first of which will be on or about April 15, 2015.” Goodell and Peterson met for three hours last week. Whether it will lead to his reinstatement today, well, stay tuned. And keep in mind that, A, He will be reinstated; and B, the Vikings are off this Sunday.
Categories: Local

Wolves won where they could during a losing season

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 04/15/2015 - 07:12
In an injury-riddled year, the Wolves got to develop talent, play the lottery well.
Categories: Local

Minnesota legislators say 'modest' MLS deal faces long odds

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 23:05
Ownership group seeks property tax exemption and sales tax break.
Categories: Local

'Disappointed' Molitor taking long view

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 22:10
Twins manager calm after hard-to-watch first week.
Categories: Local

Backes of Blues, Blaine: Minnesotan not-so-nice

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 21:36
David Backes of the Blues is a local boy who did well — but now is a chief agitator on the wrong side
Categories: Local

For Wild's Zucker, perfection is the goal

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 21:21
Jason Zucker is obsessed with neatness, loyalty, tattoos — and winning
Categories: Local

For Wild, power play still an unresolved flaw

Star Tribune Sports - Tue, 04/14/2015 - 21:10
While leading the NHL in killing penalties, the other side of special teams is a postseason concern.
Categories: Local


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