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Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller realizes speed can get you only so far as a teenager in the NHL.

Although it certainly is a huge advantage to be able to sustain the pace and intensity while playing top-line minutes, Keller knows his ability to adjust in other areas will ultimately determine his future success.

“I’m an offensive player, trying to contribute every night, but there are things to work on, like getting pucks out of the defensive zone, finding the middle guy and doing everything I can to get him the puck,” Keller said. “Also, staying on my guy at the point can really go a long way. It’s no secret that offense in the NHL today is usually the result of a good breakout and offensive zone time.”

Keller, 19, leads all NHL rookies with eight goals, 12 points and 43 shots on goal in 11 games. He ranks second among rookies in average ice time (19:54) and Arizona has controlled 51.01 percent of all shots attempted at 5-on-5 when he’s been on the ice.

Keller said the fact he has earned the trust of his coach to lead all NHL rookie forwards in ice time has boosted his confidence and comfort level.
Keller steals and scores

00:54 • October 29th, 2017

“There hasn’t been a time where he’s really been out of it, doing stuff that we don’t want him to do,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’ll make a mistake, but when we tell him he seems to correct it. Everyone is going to make mistakes; it’s what you do after the mistake that you really judge a player on.”

The fact that the Coyotes (0-10-1) have yet to win a game hasn’t deflated Keller’s confidence. In fact, it drives him.

“To turn this thing around we’ve got to develop a bit of a swagger and an inner confidence and belief in what we’re doing, and [Keller] is a guy who has a lot of confidence,” general manager John Chayka said. “He’s bordering on cocky at times, but he’s very respectful, hard-working, and very well-liked. You need confidence in order to have success, and our team needs to develop it. He’s got it.”

Selected No. 7 by the Coyotes in the 2016 NHL Draft, Keller’s maturity level seems to improve daily.

“This guy is unbelievable,” forward Max Domi said. “He looks like a younger version of Patrick Kane out there.”

Keller was ranked No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting’s final list of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 draft.

“He plays the game at a high pace in all zones both with and without the puck and this puts pressure on his opponents to commit first when trying to defend him which he often takes advantage of,” David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting said. “His ability to read the play on the fly allows him to create opportunities for himself and his teammates. He’s a dynamic player that is worth the price of admission.”
Keller tallies nifty PPG

01:06 • October 27th, 2017

Keller signed an entry-level contract with the Coyotes on March 26 and played in three games late last season after scoring 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 29 games as a freshman at Boston University. He won the 2017 Tim Taylor Award as the best first-year player in NCAA Division I men’s hockey.

“I like his swagger,” Tocchet said. “I know it’s early, but he’s a big-time player. When the chips are down I can see him trying some plays that I see some high-end players try that I’ve coached and played against.”

Keller said the fact that he has earned enough trust from his coach to lead all NHL rookie forwards in ice time has boosted his confidence and comfort level.

“It takes a lot for a coach to trust a 19-year-old,” Keller said. “He always refers to things that Sidney Crosby did when he was coaching him in Pittsburgh; how he practiced and played, things like that.”

 

Rookies on the rise

Oscar Dansk, G, Vegas Golden Knights (2012 Draft, No. 31, Columbus Blue Jackets): Dansk (6-3, 195), 23, is the third goalie used by the Golden Knights. He got the chance to play after Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and Malcolm Subban (lower body) were injured. Dansk leads rookie goalies in wins (3-0-0), goals-against average (1.34), save percentage (.959) and shutouts (one). After spending the past two seasons with Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League, Dansk signed a one-year contract with the Golden Knights on July 3.

 

Adrian Kempe, LW, Los Angeles Kings (2014 Draft, No. 29): Kempe (6-2, 195), 21, who has nine points (six goals, three assists) in 11 games, was the first rookie to have a hat trick this season; he scored three goals in a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 18.

“There are not many guys that can carry speed like he does, but we like the fact that he’s shown the ability to be a 200-foot player, and that’s what we’re going to need from him,” coach John Stevens told the Kings website.

 

Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks (2015 Draft, No. 23): The 6-1, 191-pound top prospect was a healthy scratch the first two games of the season, but has nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 23 shots on goal in the past eight games. Boeser, 20, had five points (four goals, one assist) in nine games at the end of last season after signing with the Canucks following two seasons at the University of North Dakota.

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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 for using inappropriate language toward a fan, the NBA announced Sunday.

Irving took responsibility for a profane outburst directed at a fan in Philadelphia who yelled at him and referenced LeBron James during Friday’s game against the 76ers.

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In a video that circulated on social media after Friday’s game, a fan is heard shouting, “Kyrie, where’s LeBron?” as Celtics players walked down their tunnel to the visitors’ locker room at halftime. Irving appears to look up toward the fan before offering a profane response.

Irving said he talked to the league office about his outburst on Saturday but was waiting to hear if he would be fined. Asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving was emphatic he did not.

“Hell no,” said Irving. “[The fan was] man enough to record it on video, then that’s all him. I’m glad he got his [social media] name out there and then, kinda, five seconds of fame and it going viral. That’s the social media platform we live on. I take full responsibility [for] what I said and excuse [to] the kids at home and you move on.”

Later, Irving added: “At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment, and frustrations arises. We were at halftime, we were down by four, in an environment, a season opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has officially been diagnosed with a sprained AC joint in the shoulder of his throwing arm, according to coach Dirk Koetter. There is no structural damage, and he’ll be day-to-day.

On Winston’s first series Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, he took a jarring hit from linebacker Chandler Jones and fell hard on his right shoulder. He attempted to play through it but was replaced by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick will get the majority of reps this week.

“Jameis is as tough as they come, but we’ll be able to see at some point this week how it’s affecting his velocity,” Koetter said. “That was the thing yesterday, when Jameis said he needed to come out — Jameis loves to compete and loves to play — but he just felt like he couldn’t drive the ball down the field like he needed to. We’ll just have to see how his days, how his recovery and how his treatment goes.”
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston took a hard hit on the first series against Arizona on Sunday. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
“The fact that he’s not definitely out, that’s obviously good news,” said Koetter, adding that Winston won’t attempt to throw until later in the week, if he throws at all.

The team will make a decision to determine if he can play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills later this week. The issue is more about pain tolerance than anything. Koetter said there is no risk of further injury.

“The way I understand it, he will be cleared medically to play,” Koetter said. “I know Jameis can handle a lot of pain — that’s not gonna be an issue — I think it’s going to be more of, ‘Does Jameis feel like he can play at the level he needs to play at?’ Obviously, the No. 1 thing in all of this is Jameis’ long-term health. That has to be the No. 1 thing.”

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Bucs QB Winston exits with shoulder injury
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston left Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals after suffering a shoulder injury in the first quarter. After the game, head coach Dirk Koetter said it was too early to speculate on Winston’s availability for next week.
If Winston can’t go, Fitzpatrick would start. On Sunday, Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 32 passes for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He is currently the only healthy quarterback on the Bucs’ 53-man roster.

The team’s current third quarterback, Ryan Griffin, has been recovering from a sprained AC joint in his shoulder suffered in the preseason, although it has been described as a more severe injury than Winston’s. Griffin has been on injured reserve and is eligible to return to practice this week but can’t play yet. Koetter and general manager Jason Licht have discussed bringing in another quarterback this week to assist.

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins are bringing back Paul Molitor as manager after he led a historic turnaround.

The Twins announced Monday that Molitor is getting a new three-year deal that keeps him under contract through 2020. They went 85-77 this season, becoming the first team to make the playoffs after losing at least 100 games the previous year. They lost to the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game last week.

Molitor spent the entire season in the final year of his initial three-year contract signed in 2014. New executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine never addressed the manager’s future during the season, which saw a 26-game improvement from 2016. That led to some uncertainty about whether they would retain a manager they inherited when they took over.

But with Molitor among the front-runners for AL manager of the year, the two sides reached agreement on a new deal less than a week after the season ended.

A St. Paul native who spent the final three seasons of a Hall of Fame career with the Twins, Molitor has earned the loyalty and respect of his players with an even-keeled demeanor and impressive grasp of the game. Prior to being hired as manager, he served as a roving instructor in the Twins’ minor league system, forging strong bonds with players like Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton that laid the groundwork for this season’s renaissance.

“He’s our skipper. He’s our leader,” Dozier said after the Twins were eliminated by the Yankees. “He does so much, having his hands on every single thing. … When you’ve got a guy like that, we feel lucky.”

Molitor was hired to replace longtime manager Ron Gardenhire for the 2015 season. The Twins were coming off of their fourth straight season of 90-plus losses, but Molitor spearheaded a surprisingly competitive 83-79 year that kept them in the playoff conversation deep into September.

Then came the disastrous 2016 season in which the Twins lost 103 games, looking hapless in the field, on the base paths and on the mound. They lost more games than any Twins team that came before them and ushered respected general manager Terry Ryan out the door.
Owner Jim Pohlad hired Falvey from the Cleveland Indians and Levine from the Texas Rangers to oversee the rebuild, a pair of uncharacteristic moves for an owner who has long been known for promoting from within. Pohlad made keeping Molitor through the final year of his contract a prerequisite for accepting the position, a set of circumstances that had skeptics believing Molitor’s time in Minnesota was nearing an end.

Over the last two months of the season, as the Twins surged back into playoff contention, Falvey and Levine remained noncommittal when asked about Molitor’s status. There remained a possibility that Falvey and Levine would still decide to part ways with Molitor and conduct their own search to bring in their own manager.

In a season that saw Buxton break out after looking overwhelmed early in his career, Joe Mauer’s return to being a .300 hitter and the team’s return to the postseason for the first time since 2010, the list of successes grew too long to ignore. The decision to bring him back no doubt comes as a welcome one for Pohlad, whose family has employed just three managers since 1986.

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The injury woes continue for Rob Gronkowski.

The chronically banged-up Patriots tight end is listed as questionable to play Thursday night against the Buccaneers after being added to the injury report Wednesday with a thigh injury.

Gronkowski was limited in Wednesday’s practice after being a full participant on Monday and Tuesday.
During a presser Tuesday, Gronk touched on how he has to change how he takes care of his body on a short week.

“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s tough to already play a game Sunday and then be ready again for the following Sunday,” he told reporters. “As I get older too I just see the difference too. Just to prepare for a Thursday night game is totally a lot different. You’re on top of it right away. You’ve got to be on top of your body right away starting yesterday, maybe do some overtime extra stuff tonight but to be ready, to be prepared you’ve got to go full in this week. Then in the back of your head you’ve got some rest over the weekend. So just go full in getting ready for the game Thursday night and you’ll be good.”

New England’s leading receiver in targets and yards through four games, Gronkowski played on all 70 of the Patriots’ offensive snaps against Carolina in Week 4. Earlier in the season, Gronk left the Pats’ Week 2 win over New Orleans with a groin injury. It’s not clear if the two ailments are related.

In other Pats injury news, cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) and running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) have been ruled out for Thursday night. Linebackers Dont’a Hightower (knee) and Elandon Roberts (ankle), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (ankle), special teamer Matthew Slater (hamstring), starting right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) and defensive back Brandon King (hamstring) are also questionable.