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rookie receiver Donte Moncrief, and the offensive

Started by zgr123 2017-03-11 at 03:26
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TORONTO -- There was one question Nail Yakupov couldnt escape during the NHLs scouting combine. Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrey Vasilevskiy kept getting it, too. Even Alex Galchenyuk -- an American despite his Russian-sounding last name -- was unable to get through an interview this week without being asked why hed rather play pro hockey in North America than the Russian-based KHL. "I told (my parents) that since I was a little kid my dream was to play in the NHL and win a Stanley Cup," said Galchenyuk, who was born in Milwaukee. "Its not to play in the KHL and Gagarin Cup. I think I want to be a great player in the NHL and play against the best players. ... "I just want to play in the NHL and I see myself in the NHL." Its become increasingly difficult for Russian teenagers to convince NHL teams of that fact. Consider that 47 Russians were selected in the 1992 draft alone, yet only 39 have been taken in the past five years combined. The point will come into focus even more this month at the draft in Pittsburgh, where Yakupov is expected to be the No. 1 pick overall and Grigorenko and Vasilevskiy are potential first-round selections along with Galchenyuk. However, even the top-ranked Russian players elicit concern from some NHL teams. Its a taboo subject for many -- general managers and scouts alike are loathe to speak publicly on the topic -- but the continued threat posed by the KHL is causing many to think twice before drafting teenagers from Russia. "Part of the problem is you never get them to buy in," said Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney. "Theres always that little option that when you face some adversity, its easier just to say nyet and go in the other direction (to the KHL) instead of making it work. You have that out. "I think I can speak to probably every manager in the game saying theres some hesitation there." That much was made clear to the current batch of Russian prospects as they were subjected to interviews from as many as 20 teams. Even Yakupov and Grigorenko, who both moved from their homeland to play in the Canadian Hockey League, found themselves repeatedly explaining their future intentions. "All the teams asked me about this, about the KHL," Grigorenko said. "I understand why theyre concerned about this, but I told them I will not go there for sure." The 18-year-old managed to display a sense of humour about the topic. He went through interviews on Thursday wearing a polo shirt adorned with a large red Maple Leaf that he picked up at a local mall. "Everyone was laughing," Grigorenko said. "I came here last year to play in the NHL. Its my dream, I will wait for the chance. I just want to play in the NHL." However, theres no denying the strong allure of the KHL. Both the Washington Capitals (Evgeny Kuznetsov) and St. Louis Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko) have had trouble luring recent first-round picks to North America. Players are able to earn a lot more money in Russia than theyd get on an entry-level deal in the NHL and they dont have to worry about the possibility of being sent to the American Hockey League, where they make considerably less. The chilling effect it has had on the NHL is undeniable, with only eight Russians selected in the 2011 draft and just 30 players from that country having appeared in a game this season. Edmonton holds the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and will have Yakupov visit the city this weekend for a follow-up interview. That organization hasnt selected a Russian-born player since 2006 and GM Steve Tambellini is anxious to become better acquainted with Yakupov. "You have to get to know the player, you have to get to know the person," said Tambellini. "You have to find out what really motivates them and why and what their goals are. And then maybe you get a sense of if there should be some hesitation or not." Yakupov sat down with 18 different teams this week and fielded several questions about his nationality. The consensus No. 1 pick in this draft for the past year, there have been some whispers that it could end up working against Yakupov. If Edmonton were to pass on him, Columbus might do the same with the second pick given the trouble that organization had previously with top-ranked Russians Nikita Filatov and Nikolai Zherdev. However, Yakupov says hes "not worried" about teams being unsure of him because of his homeland. He hails from Nizhnekamsk in the far east of Russia and insists that hes his own man. "Every player has his way, you know?" said Yakupov. "Im Muslim, Im not Russian. If you say what happens with the Russian factor, its his life. I have my life. Ive got to work. "It doesnt matter what teams going to (take me) in the draft. ... For me, it will be my team, my first favourite team in the NHL. I want to play and do everything for them." Gerald McCoy Jersey . Louis and Ryan Kesler have demanded to be traded. Lavonte David Authentic Jersey . Zimmermann became the National Leagues first 16-game winner, pitching seven solid innings to lead the Washington Nationals past the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Wednesday night. http://www.authenticbuccaneersstoreonline.com/Black-40-Mike-Alstott-Womens-Jersey/ . And I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences gained through International competition and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Seven NHL referees and six linesmen will be assigned upcoming games in Sochi by the IIHF as part of their 28-man officiating roster comprised of 14 refs and 14 linesmen. Gerald McCoy Authentic Jersey . According to a report from ESPN, the veteran safety has signed another one-year deal with the team Raiders, the team that drafted him, and who he returned to last year after a long stint with the Green Bay Packers. Kwon Alexander Buccaneers Jersey . - All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked spry enough in pregame warmups Sunday for Green Bays divisional playoff game against Dallas.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Step by step, Andrew Luck has climbed into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.In each of his three seasons, he and the Indianapolis Colts got one game closer to the Super Bowl. Now he can reach that destination if he beats Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday night.I want to beat the best, Luck said. Theres a competitive spirit in all of this: Hey, the harder it is, the better. Lets go try and make it happen. If the Colts (13-5) upset the Patriots (13-4), Luck will have accomplished a difficult feat: beating Peyton Manning and Brady in consecutive games on the way to the Super Bowl.But a win against the 37-year-old Brady, 12 years his senior, wont be a major measuring stick for Lucks progress.Thats not a benchmark, he said. Hes a great role model for any quarterback at any level playing the position, but its a team game. To me, its as simple as that.Luck has piled up impressive statistics since being drafted with the first pick out of Stanford in 2012.This season, he led the NFL with 40 touchdown passes and surpassed Mannings single-season franchise high with 4,761 yards passing. Hes also the only player to throw for at least 250 yards in each of his first five playoff games.In his three seasons, the Colts lost in the wild-card round, then reached the division round and now are playing for the AFC title after Luck threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-13 divisional round win over Denver and Manning.Hes just stayed with the process, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. Right now he probably feels as good as hes ever felt.And thats not good for the Patriots.He was pretty good when he came in and hes even better now, New England coach Bill Belichick said. Hes got a lot of strengths, no weaknesses.Sounds like Brady.The 15-year veteran will play in his ninth AFC championship game and fourth straight, but the Patriots lost two of the previous three. In last Saturdays 35-31 divisional win over the Baltimore Ravens, Brady led the Patriots back from two 14-point deficits. His three touchdown passes gave him 46 for his career, breaking Joe Montanas record of 45 in the post-season.Weve shown a lot of improvement and it all leads to this moment, Brady said, so weve got to be at our best.Things to watch for as two of the NFLs highest-scoring teams meet:CATCHING ON: When they drop back, Luck and Brady have plenty of reliable receivers to choose from.Luck connected with eight against Denver. And one who didnt catch a pass, Reggie Wayne, needs 36 yards receiving to move past Cliff Branch for No. 3 in NFL post-season history.One of the things that I believe has been a reason for our succcess is the different playmakers that we have and the way that the ball is being spread around, Colts tight end Dwayne Allen said.ddddddddddddBrady completed at least four passes to six different receivers against Baltimore, including one touchdown each to Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell, who caught a winning 23-yarder with just over five minutes left.PATRIOTS RUSHING: New England used a powerful ground attack in its last two games against Indianapolis. LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-22 divisional win last year, and Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-20 win Nov. 16. But the Patriots rushed only 13 times for 14 yards against the Ravens, and three of them were kneel-downs by Brady in the last two minutes.We chose not to run the ball more than anything else, offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels said. It wasnt like we ran it 20 times and had 35 yards.BOOM TOWN: The last time the teams met, Colts RB Daniel Boom Herron played a season-low one snap. He got his first career start in the next game and has become a dual threat. After rushing for just 74 yards and catching two passes in the first 10 games, hes had 396 yards rushing and 37 receptions. In his two playoff games, hes run for 119 yards and two touchdowns and caught 18 of 19 passes thrown his way.I love it, he said of his post-season performances. Thats what youre here for and thats what Ive dreamed about since Ive been playing football.FOR THE RECORD: Brady needs 10 yards passing for 6,801 in his post-season career, breaking Mannings record. One more post-season win will give Belichick his 21st as a coach, snapping a tie with Tom Landry for the most in NFL history. Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and has one ring with the Colts, will break Jerry Rices mark for most post-season games with his 30th. He also can set a record with his 14th consecutive post-season game with a field goal, breaking a tie with Tony Fritsch.CHANGING PLAYERS: Both teams have players in bigger roles than in the regular-season matchup. The Colts are getting greater production from rookie receiver Donte Moncrief, and the offensive line has three different starters. 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