Sorry the blog is late. It’s like this new schedule is totally confusing.
Another night with no supporting cast; another shutout win for Marty Turco …
Turco won't let the Stars lose right now.
With an injury-riddled lineup in front of him and a system that's pushing for 1-0 wins, Turco has helped the Stars rebound from a three-game losing streak with three straight wins and two consecutive shutouts.
Turco posted a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday at American Airlines Center, tying Ed Belfour for the franchise record in shutouts at 27 and closing in on Belfour's franchise-record 160 victories (Turco now has 151).
"They're asking him to be our best player, and he's responding to it," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "He's been terrific."
Turco credited his team's defense against the Coyotes, and he had a good case. Though he faced 25 shots, many were harmless or from the perimeter. Dallas shut out the Coyotes for the third time this season in large part because it played a near perfect team game.
Nieuwy Retires …C-L-A-S-S Individual
For more than 40 minutes, Joe Nieuwendyk's teammates sat crammed in a small meeting room, enduring the most painful team meeting of a pretty challenging season.
Nieuwendyk, considered the heart and soul of the Panthers, was there to say goodbye. After 20 seasons in the NHL, the center announced his retirement Wednesday.
''It's ideally not the way I wanted it to happen,'' he said later. ``It's kind of being decided for me. I still love the game, love being part of the team. But when the body doesn't do what the mind wants it to, it becomes difficult to play this game at a high level.''
Nieuwendyk's aching back is the culprit. A three-time Stanley Cup champion, Nieuwendyk, 40, was told by a doctor he should cease playing, that his back injury not only wasn't going to get any better, but could get much worse.
Such news was enough to scare Nieuwendyk.
'I've gone against doctors' decisions in the past, came back and played and felt good about the way I played,'' said Nieuwendyk, who met with specialists at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio last Friday.
``But I think I've reached the stage that, structurally, my back isn't going to get any better. So I've decided I'm going to adhere to the advice this time. . . . It's not the way I intended it, but I have to be realistic. I've had a lot of fun, but I have other people I think about that are more important.''
Buck Harvey looks at Romo and VY …
Vince Young and Tony Romo are twins. Both, with odd throwing motions, will start at quarterback in Texas this Sunday, and both have an edge that has changed the mentality of their teams.
"Some guys just have 'it,'" said Gil Brandt, the longtime personnel guru, "whatever 'it' is."
"It" isn't easy to see. And some are like Charley Casserly, the Texans general manager when Houston passed on Young. Casserly denies "it" exists even when "it" stares back at him.
Casserly appears as an insider on CBS' pre-game show, which says something about TV. The ones who make the biggest mistakes are put on the air to make some more.
So, 11 days ago, Casserly shared his wisdom by listing his top 10 quarterbacks with 40 starts or less. Alex Smith made the list, as did Jason Campbell and Rex Grossman.
But not Young? No wonder Casserly didn't push for Young in Houston. If he doesn't like Young now, how little did he think of him then?
A few thousand fans will head to Reliant Stadium this weekend to voice their disagreement. No Texans ticket since their debut in 2002 has been as hot, and the crowd isn't queuing up to see Mario Williams.
At least Casserly didn't whiff everything on his list. His No. 6 was Romo, and this evaluation came before Romo went to New York and beat No. 3, Eli Manning.
Some might even rank Romo higher, since he's behind two quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich — who have struggled this season. Still, Casserly puts Romo ahead of five first-round picks, including Young.
Could anyone imagine such a thing being said just two months ago?
Brandt says, to be fair, it's hard to see "it." He says scouts talk to players to get a feel for their personalities, and they talk to those who know them. "But we don't know what they will do when adversity strikes," Brandt said, "and we don't know how they react once they get some money."
Mickey looks at the story of Payton and Romo …
If not for Payton, who knows, maybe Romo wouldn't be starting his seventh game of this season Sunday, having led the Cowboys to a 5-1 record and into first place in the NFC East (8-4) during his term.
Now Payton hasn't had a hand in that, obviously, but he not only played a part in Romo ending up in Dallas after winning the Walter Payton Award at Eastern Illinois University, the one given to the top Division I-AA player, but also with his development and a little bit in convincing the Cowboys their quarterback of the future just might be on campus.
Despite their Eastern Illinois ties - Payton played quarterback at the Charleston, Ill., school where he was a three-time All-American - the Cowboys assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at the time really didn't get turned on to Romo until the NFL Combine in 2003.
Payton explains how 15 to 16 quarterbacks are invited to the combine for a workout, but that three or four are chosen to spend the entire week in Indianapolis so they have guys to throw to the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends, too. Romo was one of them.
"He was someone we had evaluated," said Payton, trying to temper the notion he discovered the kid all by himself. "He was accurate in college and had good feet."
The Cowboys had a fifth-round grade on Romo heading into the draft. But they also had 2001 second-round pick Quincy Carter heading into his third season and former major league baseball pitcher Chad Hutchinson heading in his second season. The two had split the starts the previous season, Hutchinson starting the final nine games. There are only so many developmental quarterbacks you can have on the roster.
Well, the Cowboys got to the fifth round, but they had no fifth-round pick. That had been traded to New England for a 2002 fifth-round pick (Pete Hunter). And as things go, you get to the sixth and seven rounds, and suddenly there are other guys available who had higher grades than the round you're in.
"But at the time, there was so much unknown at the position," said Payton of the Cowboys' quarterback dilemma. "A lot of teams had him with a draftable grade, but suddenly you go from drafting to now recruiting him. I remember there were 15 to 20 teams trying to sign him."
Payton had developed a rapport with Romo, the kid who broke his Eastern Illinois passing records. But that was only a way to get his foot in the door.
"A point of introduction," Parcells said.
"Didn't meet him until the combine," Romo says.
There was more to getting Romo to sign here than just some alumni chat.
"It was a coincidence I went to the same school," Payton said. "I'm 20 years removed from him."
I thought this guy was on his way to being the best; But Shaun Rogers underachieves …
When he was at his best, Shaun Rogers was a terror in the middle of the Lions' defense. With his enormous power and quickness, he could break down pass protections and shatter running lanes.
Rogers was on top of his game in the season opener against Seattle. He had five tackles, two sacks and blocked a field-goal attempt.
That should have been the start of a big season for Rogers.
Rogers played five more games, with one sack, before being suspended four games for violating the league's policy on steroids and related substances.
Rogers did not play after the suspension. He had surgery on his right knee the week the suspension took effect. After his reinstatement, he was inactive for two games. The knee wasn't healthy enough to practice.
Wednesday, Rogers was put on injured reserve, ending his season.
As Rogers limps away from the season, there is a question of where he fits in Rod Marinelli's plans for next year -- if at all.
"He had the big one (Seattle)," Marinelli said Wednesday. "He had a good game, I thought, against Buffalo. He was a load in there.
"The thing we've got to do is get him in top shape. Hopefully, we'll get him cleaned up, get all the surgeries he needs to have, get him rehabbed, get him ready for the offseason."
Rangers remain interested in Zito …Zito remains interested in finding someone else…
The Rangers retain the utmost interest in Zito, though, the top pitcher available in free agency. Daniels said they had not made a formal offer, but had talked parameters of a deal.
"It's no secret that we like Barry," Daniels said. "I would certainly like to have
him. I know [manager] Ron [Washington] would like to have him. My first choice would be to have Barry, but if we don't, I'll be comfortable."
The Rangers and New York Mets had been figured as the strongest suitors for Zito. The Seattle Mariners may join those ranks, after losing out on right-hander Jason Schmidt, who agreed Wednesday to a three-year, $47 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If anything, and if possible, for that matter, Schmidt's contract might drive up the price for Zito. Though both are high-quality pitchers, Schmidt is five years older than Zito, has never pitched in the American League and does not have quite as good a career ERA or winning record as Zito. Schmidt, 33, is 127-90 lifetime with a 3.91 ERA. Zito, 28, is 102-63 in his career with a 3.55 ERA.
Daniels said he expects to stay in the mix for Zito until the end.
"Unless we've done something before then, I think we'll stay in contact with them," Daniels said. "We haven't had any in-depth discussions with other free-agent pitchers in the last 48 hours."
Out of New York, The Mets plan on getting him …
Despite all the speculation about wild offers from the Texas Rangers and now the San Francisco Giants, baseball officials are convinced the Mets are prepared to do what it takes to land free-agent Barry Zito.
Insiders suggest the Mets, who have professed no intention of going beyond five years with Zito, will ultimately offer a comparable deal to Texas and land the durable lefthander - despite their behind-the-scenes campaign to lower expectations about their willingness to aggressively bid.
Zito is expected to tour New York next week.
"Don't believe anything you hear about the Mets not being there (at six years, $16 million per season) for Zito," a major-league source familiar with the situation said. "They're pulling a Carlos Beltran here. He doesn't want to go to Texas and he doesn't want to stay in the Bay Area (with the Giants). And all of his people want him in New York."
Hold on to your hats! Larry Bird is 50 …
Pick Vince Young
(As referenced on yesterday’s show) Videogame Legend: Leeroy Jenkins