Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lots O Stuff

Various items for a Tuesday Morning:

Dan Reeves is on campus

The Dallas Cowboys have yet to make an official announcement about Dan Reeves joining the team as a consultant/overseer for head coach Wade Phillips.

But the former Cowboys player, who was a longtime head coach for the Broncos, Giants and Falcons, was at the team's facility on Monday, two sources said.

Those within the building say Reeves even has an office. He is supposedly occupying defensive line coach Todd Grantham's old digs. Grantham, meanwhile, has apparently moved into former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart's old office. Connect the dots if you want.

The Cowboys are still officially saying nothing. PR director Rich Dalrymple did not
confirm anything and said he doesn't know when or if any announcement will be made.
Stewart, meanwhile, is still criss-crossing the country looking for a new job.
He could sit out and collect Jerry Jones' money for another year since his contract went through 2009. But he would rather have a gig.

I am very interested in this hire, but also have no idea as to the real focus or impact. I respect Reeves greatly, and in the big scheme of things, his resume is right up there with anyone who would be considered a “big-time” hire by the Cowboys. He is also someone who is quite familiar with the history of the organization and the kind of team that Tom Landry believed in.

But, here is the rub: Is he in charge of anything? Is he in a position to have authority? And if so, what does that mean for Wade’s future? Or Terrell’s?
I am impressed and confused all at the same time. I hope we can uncover the extent of this hire in the next few days…

JJT on the rest of the Cowboys trying to crack Canton

Now that the selection committee has finally seen fit to give Bob Hayes his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it's safe to assume he's the last of the old-school Cowboys to gain football immortality.

There are only two players from the Tom Landry era who should be in the Hall of Fame: Drew Pearson and Chuck Howley, but I don't hold out much hope for either of them. And I won't argue with those who believe Harvey Martin should be in the Hall of Fame.

We all remember Pearson's clutch performances, but he was also a member of the All-Decade team of the '70s.

You can't really do much better than that.

Howley was widely recognized as one of the best all-around linebackers of his era. He also remains the only player from a losing team to be named Super Bowl MVP.
Unfortunately, I don't think either will ever make.

As for the Cowboys from the Jerry Jones Era, Emmitt Smith should get into the HOF next summer, and Deion Sanders should join him the year after. A few years down the road, Larry Allen should make it.

That's it.

Darren Woodson is deserving because he played a role in redefining the safety position. He was among of the first safeties good enough and agile enough to cover slot receivers. That allowed the Cowboys to keep their regular personnel on the field in some nickel situations, making them strong against the run even when teams used formations with three receivers.

What you have to remember is the Hall of Fame should be reserved for truly great players. Those who transcended the game with their ability.

It's not supposed to be for really, really good players. It's supposed to be for the best of the best.

Taylor has nothing to say about Cliff Harris? If Making the All-Decade team is a key, then you better recognize Cliff Harris is on that list, too. 3 Cowboys were on the all-70’s team and not in Canton: Drew Pearson, Harvey Martin, and Cliff Harris. I honestly think it is tough to rank them 1-3.

Mavs rumor O’ The Day

Udrih may be on his way out as well, as Dallas is believed to have inquired about him as a possible backup for Jason Kidd with the pieces coming to Sacramento likely including Jerry Stackhouse (this season and next for a combined $14.3 million).
Udrih may draw interest from New Orleans or Orlando as well. Both teams just saw their top-tier points guards (Chris Paul and Jameer Nelson, respectively) go down with serious injuries and could shop for a stop-gap solution.

Then there's Brad Miller. While the value of the Kings center seemingly has declined with his inability to replicate the strong season he had in 2007-08, he could find himself wearing a new jersey soon.

League sources said Miller remains in the mix for a possible deal with Miami involving Shawn Marion (expiring contract worth $17.1 million) and Kings forward Kenny Thomas, as the Kings are believed to be among three teams considered as trade partners by the Heat. Miller also could be sent to Chicago if the Bulls are unable to land a higher-profile big man.

The list goes on from there and includes veteran forward Mikki Moore, who told The Bee recently that his old Nets bosses informed him of their desire to bring him back. The Nets also offered a deal for third-year guard Maurice Ager in exchange for third-year Kings guard Quincy Douby earlier this season.

Stars beat Calgary, and continue to play GREAT hockey. I am quite pleased with their progress.

Pierre Lebrun on the turn around for the Stars

On the morning of Dec. 2, moments before Sean Avery had parents scrambling for earmuffs for their kids, the Dallas Stars were staring up at 14 other teams in the Western Conference standings.

They were dead last.

Since that fateful morning, they have gone 15-7-3 and have made the long journey back into a playoff spot.

"Things are a little better now," Stars coach Dave Tippett told "We've got our heads above water. Now we've got to push forward. We're back in the thick of things, but I still think we've got room to grow as a team."

In a parity-filled league that often hands out three points a game, gaining traction in the standings is no small feat, especially in the tougher Western Conference. But riding a season-high four-game winning streak heading into Tuesday night's home date with the mighty Calgary Flames, the Stars were sixth in the West. And they've done all this while missing captain Brenden Morrow and top defenseman Sergei Zubov.

OK, so they're tied in points with the four teams beneath them, but still, it's been a long and impressive road back.

"Even though we're sitting in sixth in that pile of teams, we're not happy or content by any stretch," Stars goalie Marty Turco told "We're going to continue on with that full-speed-ahead attitude that we've had. We're not going to win all the rest of the games, but we're planning on playing like winners, and that's going to give us an edge that we were looking for."

Avery's departure from the team is a factor, but far from the only reason the Stars have righted the ship. It would be too simplistic to lay it all in the troubled winger's lap. Yes, the Stars are happy he's gone, but they had other issues, with or without him.

"It hasn't been just one thing in particular, but overall, it's just generally been our way of playing," Turco said. "We're playing as a team. Right down to a man, guys are playing better. Our defensive-mindedness has been tremendously better."

They have indeed tightened their game, allowing almost one fewer goal per game (2.84) in the past 26 games, compared to 3.77 per game in the ugly opening 22 games. There are other factors, as well. Getting wingers Jere Lehtinen and Steve Ott back was important. Having rookie forwards James Neal and Fabian Brunnstrom, in particular, learn on the job and improve was another; they replaced veterans such as Niklas Hagman and Antti Miettinen, and those were big skates to fill. And seeing young defensemen Matt Niskanen and Niklas Grossman settle down and grow in confidence was also key.

"Bringing in Darryl Sydor was a good thing," Tippett said. "He's really helped with Niskanen."

And finally, Tippett said, as he read off a checklist of reasons for his team's turnaround, there's the guy in goal.

"And the be-all and end-all, the goaltender has played better," Tippett said with a chuckle. "Part of that is the team in front of him has played better, but the goaltender himself has played much better."

The thing we admire most about Turco is his honesty. He was outspoken during the Avery debacle, not hiding his feelings, but backed it up big-time with his play. He wasn't happy with his own play, or the play of his teammates, and also let it be known at the time.

"A big reason the push has occurred is that guys got downright mad and sick of it and [have] taken it personally. I know I have," Turco said.

Credit Tippett for helping right this ship, as well. His voice did not get stale. He
found a way to get his message across, and the players have listened.

Having said all that, we can't forget the Avery factor. He never fit in with his teammates, and once he left, the room settled.

"The change in chemistry with Sean leaving had an impact on our dressing room," Tippett said.

What comes next for the Stars will be fascinating to watch. Will they remain a bubble team, or push even higher and get back to being the contending team they were last season? The Anaheim Ducks are vulnerable in fifth place of the conference. Fourth-place Chicago might be too much to track down.

All the signs indicate that the Beckham era is closing in MLS

AC Milan general manager Adriano Galliani has revealed David Beckham's lawyers have started negotiations with Los Angeles Galaxy regarding a permanent move to the San Siro.

The on-loan midfielder has been a huge success in Italy, where he has scored two goals and provided three assists in his first five games to help Milan move into second place in Serie A.

On Monday, Beckham was included in Milan's updated UEFA Cup player list - fuelling speculation that they would try to keep him beyond his March 9 loan expiration date - and now Galliani has said he is ready to do a deal if Galaxy are ready to talk.

"Beckham's lawyers are talking to the Los Angeles Galaxy who are the rightful owners of his registration," said the Milan chief. "If they show themselves to be ready to look at a deal, we would be really happy to do so."

Galliani, speaking at Milan's Malpensa airport as his team prepared to fly out for a friendly match against Rangers, said: "At the moment there's neither optimism nor pessimism."

"The player belongs to Galaxy. We wish they decide to release him, but if they don't change their minds the player is theirs.

"We are looking to get him either on loan until the end of the season or on a permanent basis. Otherwise, with the greatest regret from everyone - starting with me - Beckham will have to go."

Galliani added: "Players can make their choices but their clubs can refuse their wishes. Moreover, the Los Angeles Galaxy have always been very nice to us and have behaved in a very gentlemanly manner.

Nik Hagman bids for Goal of the Year

Winning the Super Bowl looks like fun!

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