Author: Frank Schwab

Eulogy: Remembering the 2016-17 Anaheim Ducks

(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we’re bound to lose some friends along the journey. We’ve asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here is a self-loathing eulogy by Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner editor Frank Schwab, an Anaheim Ducks fan remembering the 2016-17 Anaheim Ducks.)  

(Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don’t take it so seriously.)

By Frank Schwab

Hey, at least it didn’t end in Game 7 at home this time.

The Anaheim Ducks have become the “good … not good enough” team. They’re the Kansas City Chiefs, which means Ryan Getzlaf gets to be Alex Smith I guess. (Two whole sentences without a football reference; cash your ticket if you had the under).

Look, I remember the days of the Disney-owned team with the dopey nickname and taking a nap between shifts for Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. I should be thrilled about five straight division titles. The Toronto Maple Leafs wept for joy over sneaking in the playoffs and not embarrassing themselves in the first round. It could be worse.

But it’s just not fun being the anonymous, West Coast version of the Washington Capitals.

There was progress this season! It didn’t end in a Game 7 loss at home, like each of the previous four seasons. They got over that Game 7 hump with a win in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers. Then they blew Game 5 and 6 in the Western Conference Finals against the Nashville Predators.

Big step forward. Take that, Bruce Boudreau!

(As an aside, I can’t tell you how soul-crushing losing four Game 7s at home has been. Do you know how much it stinks to wonder things like, “Well if they don’t win the Pacific, that means they can avoid a Game 7 at home!”? As it turns out, losing in Game 6 of the conference finals was just as awful. Go figure.)

Anaheim is stuck in between. They’re not bad enough to make major changes. They’re probably not good enough to win it all. We’re in for another year of getting hopes up in the regular season and then complaining about the playoff schedule when it goes bad.

It’s like the worst Disneyland ride ever.

Oh, another disappointing sequel is on the way. The Ducks can bring just about everyone back next season – in-season addition Patrick Eaves is the only potential big loss in free agency – but they’re bringing back a team that hasn’t gotten over the hump for five years in a row. There’s not much else they can do but spin the wheel again and hope to get lucky.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again?

While we’re at it, let’s not act like the Nashville Predators have reinvented hockey. If goaltender John Gibson doesn’t get hurt in the first period of Game 5, it’s a good bet he wouldn’t have been as terrible as Jonathan Bernier was in Game 6. That was the game in which the Ducks dominated but Bernier vomited up a .750 save percentage. Nashville won’t get that again from whichever goalie the Pittsburgh Penguins use as they treat the Predators like a speed bump next week.

But the ugly jerseys and the surprise anthem singer thing is cute, people will love that before they forget you were ever in the Stanley Cup Final.

Anyway, back to the Ducks’ ongoing playoff futility.

I can try to spin it like it would have turned out better with Gibson, Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves for the end of the Western Conference Finals, but the Ducks needed a miracle win in Game 5 against the Oilers just to get that far. The improving Oilers were the better team most of the second-round series. The Predators controlled the Ducks for most of the West finals, then Bernier became Nashville’s MVP. The Ducks looked very good in the regular season, and looked nothing like a Cup contender once the playoffs started. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

They’re getting older too. Anaheim’s top three scorers this season were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. They’re all 32 years old. Perry looked like he’s in a significant decline, and I know him falling off a cliff can’t happen soon enough for everyone.

“I’m just going to keep holding this hand so you can’t jam your stick into my taint.”

Kesler looked totally worn out in Game 6 against Nashville. His playoff resume with Anaheim has more big talk than big wins. He seamlessly can go from “No human can withstand that many hits” to “Obviously, it seemed like he was a bit rattled,” then disappear when it comes time to back it up.

I’m convinced Getzlaf tried to get himself suspended with his “inappropriately demeaning and disrespectful” slur in Game 4, and when he just got a fine he found a different way out of the playoffs.

Getzlaf is going to be known as the captain who presided over four straight home Game 7 losses, then a Game 6 road loss this season just to introduce a new way to disappoint the dozens of us who identify ourselves as Ducks fans. To put it in terms that Getzlaf might better understand: This sucks.

I’ll try to get excited about the future, which looks OK even if Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler hit the wall. The Ducks have done a fine job developing young talent. Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler, Nick Ritchie, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Ondrej Kase (who was a playoff surprise) are all 26 years old or younger. Gibson is just 23. But if this group has shown us anything, it’s that October through March will be nice and then we can brace for how it ends.

It’s in their DNA by now. You’d see a bunch of Caps comparisons with them, if anyone cared about the Ducks.

They’ll bring this team back. Maybe the crazy Randy Carlyle hire will keep working and he’ll ignore all those darn new-fangled analytics all the way back to the Cup Final. The young players could continue to improve and perhaps that intersects with a final push from Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler.

That’s the hope, anyway. In the meantime, no, your Emilio Estevez jokes haven’t gotten old at all.

@KirkHerbstreit Do the Ducks still have that fat kid playing goalie and that kid with the cool long wavy hair? Emilio Estevez is still coaching them?

— Mr Big Stuff (@bcwinbig) May 21, 2017

Frank Schwab is an editor with Yahoo Sports.

PREVIOUS NHL EULOGIES

Boston Bruins

Calgary Flames

Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

Edmonton Oilers

Minnesota Wild

Montreal Canadiens

San Jose Sharks

St. Louis Blues

Toronto Maple Leafs

Washington Capitals

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Doug Martin out of rehab, back with the Buccaneers for offseason workouts

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started their offseason workouts on Monday, their starting running back joined them.

Doug Martin, who was suspended for four games late last season for violating the league’s drug policy, was at the Buccaneers facilities for the first day of the team’s offseason program. Many teams around the NFL started their offseason workouts Monday. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Martin was out of rehab “and in a good place.”

It was reported last December that Martin’s issues were due to Adderall use. Martin served one game of his suspension last season and it will carry over to the first three games this season.

Martin signed a five-year, $35.75 million contract last offseason, but then had a bad 2016 season. Because of the suspension, guarantees in Martin’s contract were voided including a $7 million base salary this season. Since his salary isn’t guaranteed anymore, and he’s coming off an injury-marred season in which he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and was dealing with issues off the field, that created a lot of speculation about whether he’d be with the Bucs in 2017. The team has said it hasn’t made a decision on his future yet. Martin has had a strange career; he has two fantastic 1,400-yard seasons, and three bad seasons in which he had 1,371 yards combined.

The Buccaneers could draft a replacement at running back, or even sign a free agent (Adrian Peterson, anyone?) and then reassess what they’d like to do with Martin. As for now, Martin is with the team and working out, which has to be a positive step for his future in Tampa Bay.

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin reported to the team’s offseason workouts Monday. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Former NFL tight end Todd Heap accidentally kills 3-year-old daughter while moving truck

Todd Heap, shown in 2009 with the Ravens. (AP)

The family of former NFL tight end Todd Heap suffered a horrific tragedy, as Heap accidentally hit and killed his 3-year-old daughter while moving his truck in the driveway of the family home on Friday afternoon, according to ESPN and the Arizona Republic.

ESPN’s story cited Mesa, Ariz. police, which is where the Heaps live. According to both reports, police said the girl was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Officials said Heap showed no signs of impairment, according to the reports.

Heap, a first-round pick out of Arizona State in 2001, played 10 seasons for the Baltimore Ravens and his final two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Marshawn Lynch agrees to terms with Raiders, now the Seahawks just have to let him leave

Marshawn Lynch running for the Oakland Raiders this season has just one hurdle to go, and it shouldn’t be a tough one to cross.

Lynch and the Raiders have agreed to terms on a contract, NFL Media’s Michael Silver said. That’s all well and good, but the Seattle Seahawks still hold his rights.

Nobody expects that the Seahawks will hold up Lynch’s return. Nor has anyone indicated that the Seahawks want Lynch to play for them if he returns. The Seahawks gave Lynch permission to visit the Raiders’ facilities this month. Seattle has Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise at running back, and Lynch would have a reported $9 million cap hit to the Seahawks this season. They don’t appear to be in a position to absorb that.

So the next step is working out a trade. One would assume the Seahawks aren’t asking much, and the Raiders will be happy to pay a small price to finish the transaction and get a back of Lynch’s stature. Because of that cap hit, the Seahawks don’t have much leverage; if the Raiders refused to trade, the Seahawks would probably have to cut Lynch anyway. The Raiders lost last year’s starting running back Latavius Murray to free agency and didn’t do much to replace him, probably because they were counting on Lynch joining them.

Now that the contract has been agreed upon, the next step is a trade. However long that takes, the Raiders should assume that eventually they’ll have a new star running back for this season.

Marshawn Lynch has reportedly agreed to contract terms with the Raiders. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Dean Blandino, NFL's vice president of officiating, resigns

At the NFL’s owners meetings in March, one of the big news items was that the league agreed to centralize its replay reviews. The final say on all calls would come from NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino in New York.

Those calls won’t be coming from Blandino after all, because he has resigned from his job.

According to NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, Blandino is leaving his job at the NFL for a job with a television network. He’ll remain with the NFL through May 31. Blandino’s new job wasn’t specified, but it’s easy to see him settling into role explaining calls during game broadcasts like former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira has with Fox.

Blandino was promoted to VP of officiating in 2013, and his time on the job included some controversy. There was a lot of worry about the state of officiating, with many high-profile blown calls the past few seasons, though that will continue to happen no matter who is the NFL’s next head of officiating. People have complained about officiating in every sport since the beginning of sport itself. There was also the strange incident in which Blandino was seen apparently partying on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ bus in 2014.

One thing Blandino did well was appear regularly on NFL Network, sometimes very late at night after prime-time games, to explain controversial calls and sometimes admit that the officials at the game made a mistake.

The NFL will have to figure out Blandino’s replacement, and whoever it is will be on the spot immediately due to the centralization of the replay process. That’s a huge step for the NFL, and now someone new will lead the process and make some very important game decisions.

Dean Blandino has reportedly resigned from his job as NFL vice president of officiating. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Pass or fail: The Detroit Lions' uniform redesign

The Detroit Lions didn’t change everything about their familiar uniforms, but there was a significant facelift.

The Lions unveiled new home, away, color rush and alternate uniforms on Thursday night:

Nothing but ????????????!

Check out the new threads ➡️ https://t.co/ElZ8aiECWi pic.twitter.com/9nsMJEL4Jd

— Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 14, 2017

New year, new swag! ???? pic.twitter.com/g0TzAonIF4

— Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 14, 2017

Here are a few pictures from Nike’s website:

(Nike.com)
(Nike.com)
(Nike.com)

First of all, the throwbacks (the third picture in that trio above) are tremendous. They are styled after the uniforms the team wore in 1934, which is the first time the Lions used their signature Honolulu Blue. They wore similar uniforms during the NFL’s 75th anniversary season in 1994 and they might have been the best of all the throwbacks that year. The Lions have worn that style a few other times over the years.

Another nice touch by the Lions is the “WCF” on the sleeve for longtime owner William Clay Ford, who died in 2014. The Chicago Bears have had “GSH” on their sleeves for decades in honor of founder George Halas.

It’s not a complete overhaul, but the Lions seem to have done well with the redesign. What do you think about the Lions’ new uniforms, pass or fail?

More Lions news from Yahoo

 

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

How lifelong Republican Dan Rooney became one of Obama's biggest supporters, and his U.S. ambassador to Ireland

Dan Rooney, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers owner who died on Thursday at age 84, lived a remarkable life.

One of the more interesting aspects of his full life was how, as a lifelong Republican before 2008, he became a devoted supporter of Democrat Barack Obama and later became Obama’s U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Until 2008 Rooney hadn’t been deeply involved in politics, aside from supporting his son Jim’s unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in 2001. But a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story from 2008 said Rooney was impressed with Obama, particularly a campaign speech he gave in Iowa. Although Rooney was 76, he had a youthful exuberance for the presidential candidate.

“He loved how enthusiastic young people were getting for him, and when you get to my father’s age, you start to hope the future is bright for generations beyond,” Jim Rooney said in the Post-Gazette story. “Obama, to my father, was just so fresh.”

A bond was formed between the two when Obama and Rooney met at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh in April of 2008 and had a long conversation. Rooney started publicly supporting Obama and even presented Obama a Steelers jersey at a rally – which understandably didn’t go over well with all Steelers fans, the Post-Gazette reported.

In 2009 Obama nominated Rooney as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Rooney had a strong love for Ireland, and the job wasn’t a ceremonial one.

“He got there and realized quickly that it was a full-time job,” Art Rooney II, Dan’s son, told Sports Business Daily in 2014. “And then he made it much more than a full-time job. It became his passion.”

In December of 2012 Rooney stepped down from his position and returned home shortly after the death of his daughter Rita.

In an op-ed piece for the Post-Gazette upon his resignation, Rooney wrote: “I have had a lifelong commitment to advancing the relationship between the American and Irish people and building peace on this beautiful island, but I came unexpectedly into politics and diplomacy. It has been an honor and privilege to represent President Barack Obama and the United States of America as ambassador to Ireland.

“President Obama charged me to protect and build the historic and deep friendship between our two countries. I am pleased to say this relationship, which is built on enduring family ties, a common heritage and shared values, is the strongest it has ever been. Ours is not a foreign relationship between two countries; ours is a shared kinship between two great peoples.”

There was an outpouring of grief from NFL circles upon the news of Rooney’s death, and Obama also released a statement about his friend.

“Dan Rooney was a great friend of mine, but more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen, and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage,” Obama said on Thursday in a statement. “I knew he’d do a wonderful job when I named him as our United States Ambassador to Ireland, but naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland think fondly of him today. And I know the people of Pittsburgh, who loved him not only for the Super Bowl championships he brought as the owner of the Steelers, but for the generosity of spirit, mourn his passing today. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the Rooney family, some of the most gracious and thoughtful people we know – even as we celebrate the life of Dan Rooney: a championship-caliber good man.”

Dan Rooney and Barack Obama in April of 2008. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Roger Goodell: Steelers owner Dan Rooney was 'one of the finest men in the history of our game'

It’s hard to find a consensus on anything in the National Football League, but it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who didn’t respect longtime Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Rooney died on Thursday at the age of 84. Shortly after the team announced the news, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a heartfelt statement that summed up the feelings of just about everyone associated with the NFL.

“Few men have contributed as much to the National Football League as Dan Rooney,” Goodell said in a statement. “A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was one of the finest men in the history of our game and it was a privilege to work alongside him for so many years. Dan’s dedication to the game, to the players and coaches, to his beloved Pittsburgh, and to Steelers fans everywhere was unparalleled. He was a role model and trusted colleague to commissioners since Bert Bell, countless NFL owners, and so many others in and out of the NFL. A voice of reason on a wide range of topics, including diversity and labor relations, Dan always had the league’s best interests at heart. For my part, Dan’s friendship and counsel were both inspiring and irreplaceable. My heart goes out to Patricia, Art, and the entire Rooney family on the loss of this extraordinary man.”

There was an immediate outpouring of grief for Rooney, who led the Steelers through many championship seasons. His legacy will also live on in the “Rooney Rule,” which states teams must interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching position. The rule was made after Rooney became frustrated after the firings of Tony Dungy and Herman Edwards in 2002.

Rooney is an enormous figure in Pittsburgh, and some of the most well-known Steelers took the time to show their respect for Rooney, as Goodell did in his statement.

RIP Dan. My Mentor & friend. Thank you for your Guidance & Wisdom. I came a Young Coach & left a Better Man. Your spirit will live forever.

— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) April 13, 2017

We’ve lost the heart & soul of Steeler Nation. Incredible person humanitarian & true patriot. May his memory be eternal. Love U PapaRooney

— Troy Polamalu (@tpolamalu) April 13, 2017

Today we lost a great one! I wouldn’t be a Steeler if it wasn’t for Mr Rooney! We will miss you dearly! Love you DMR! — Ben pic.twitter.com/94jtHKKeFO

— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) April 13, 2017

Fellow NFL owners also shared their thoughts on Rooney’s death, and his legacy. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson called Rooney a cornerstone of the NFL:

Statement from Jerry Richardson on the passing of Dan Rooney pic.twitter.com/2UCqZDhXBL

— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 13, 2017

Roger Goodell and Dan Rooney at Steelers training camp in 2010. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

The Raiders' Las Vegas move is still shocking, including to a disapproving John Madden

The Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas is unique in many ways.

It’s a move the NFL opposed on principle not long ago (“It’s not gonna happen,” NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman told Raiders owner Mark Davis in July of 2014, according to an excellent ESPN behind-the-scenes story on the relocation), brokered by an owner who is mostly seen as a punch line, with a team going from the thriving Bay Area to a relatively small market. And it came together faster than probably any new stadium deal the league has seen.

Ultimately, it had to happen because the Raiders got $750 million in public money from Nevada and Oakland never really had a viable stadium proposal. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t skepticism, including from iconic former Raiders coach John Madden.

“I’m not sure they have that whole deal together yet,” Madden said in a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview, via ESPN. “I’m not sure that they even know exactly what the stadium is, how many, where it’s going to be and all those things.

“For some reason, they jumped into that thing quickly.”

Madden admitted in the interview he might be “oversensitive” about the Raiders moving, which makes sense considering he’s a big part of Oakland Raiders history. And it’s unlikely the Hall of Fame coach is well versed in the details of the Raiders’ stadium deal. But he and others have good reason to be wary.

The ESPN story unveils many great details about how the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas came to be. The best details revolve around the strange partnership between Davis and Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson, who pledged $650 million to the plan but eventually was sliced out as the NFL worried about being in business with a casino owner. There are also relevant details in the story about the Raiders’ debt and moving to an unproven market that doesn’t print money like many people think it does. After Adelson pulled out of the deal the Raiders got $850 million line of credit from Bank of America – a deal that was brokered in large part by powerful Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who played a big role in the Raiders’ relocation to Vegas, as he did with the Los Angeles’ Rams’ relocation. That’s a lot of debt.

But another theme that emerged in the ESPN story, and it was that Davis did a fairly masterful job figuring out a solution to a difficult situation. The story said there was plenty of concern about a move to Las Vegas, especially when Adelson was involved, but the owners in ESPN’s words “felt powerless to slow Davis’ momentum.” Davis got Adelson to throw his political power behind the project and lean on lawmakers to push through a record amount of taxpayer money for a sports stadium, then Davis finished the deal after Adelson felt as he’d been double-crossed and pulled out of it (and threatened Goldman Sachs if they remained involved). Davis is not thought of as one of the NFL’s most powerful owners, but it seems he did well to get a great deal in Las Vegas.

The Raiders’ move to Las Vegas will be scrutinized for a long time, even before the team ever officially moves. How they’ll navigate the next few years as the stadium is built, with plenty of issues to work out in Las Vegas and with the team during its lame-duck seasons, remains to be seen. In some ways the entire move is unlike any other relocation the NFL has experienced.

Raiders owner Mark Davis will move his team to Las Vegas. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab

Rams reportedly to decline fifth-year option on OT Greg Robinson, second pick of 2014 draft

The Los Angeles Rams had two top-13 picks in the 2014 draft, back when they were the St. Louis Rams.

The second of those two picks, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, turned out to be one of the NFL’s best players. The first of those picks, No. 2 overall, is probably on his way out of town after this season.

Offensive tackle Greg Robinson has turned out to be a colossal bust for the Rams, at least to this point. He hasn’t taken to left tackle, was benched last season, and the Rams had to invest in 35-year-old Andrew Whitworth last month to take Robinson’s spot at left tackle. On Tuesday, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reported that the Rams aren’t expected to pick up Robinson’s fifth-year option, meaning he’ll be a free agent after this season. All first-round picks have a team option for a fifth year in their rookie deals.

It’s not a surprise that the Rams would decline the option for Robinson’s fifth season, but it is a public admission that the Rams made a terrible mistake with the second overall pick. Robinson was a physical freak coming out of college, but he never developed as an adequate pass blocker. The Rams passed on players like Khalil Mack, Jake Matthews, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham to pick Robinson No. 2 overall. It’s reminiscent of the 2009 draft, when the Rams drafted offensive tackle bust Jason Smith.

Donald will be given his fifth-year option, which should surprise nobody. At least the Rams hit on one of those two important picks at the top of the 2014 draft.

The Rams reportedly won’t pick up the fifth-year option on tackle Greg Robinson. (AP)

– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!
Follow @YahooSchwab