Phil Mickelson's next venture will surprise you

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Phil Mickelson's next venture will surprise you

From Comcast SportsNet
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Phil Mickelson wants to be more than just a fan of the San Diego Padres. He wants to help buy the team. Mickelson said Monday he has a joined one of the five groups trying to buy the team from John Moores, the Padres' majority owner for the last 18 years. Mickelson is part of the group that includes four grandchildren of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley -- Kevin and Brian O'Malley, and their cousins Peter and Tom Seidler, the chief executive of Class A Visalia Rawhide. "I've been talking to them about being involved with them, having an opportunity to invest in the team and being part of the ownership group," Mickelson said. "I think it's a very good investment opportunity. More than that, it's opportunity to be involved in the community in San Diego, with something that gives the community a sense of pride. I feel like we can make the Padres a competitive team that can contend year in and year out, and we can do something for the community. "It's something I've loved since I was a kid." The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the involvement of Mickelson, a four-time major champion who was inducted this month into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mickelson brings the O'Malley clan a local investor and of San Diego's greatest athletes. San Diego's biggest baseball star -- another lefty -- is involved in another group trying to buy the Padres. Tony Gwynn said last week he is joining the bid led by Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Entertainment. "When we met with Phil we were inspired by his commitment to San Diego and his passion for the Padres," Kevin O'Malley said in a statement to the Union-Tribune. "He is a world-class person, athlete and businessman with a strong history of charitable leadership and he will be an ideal partner for many years in San Diego." Mickelson said he was asked to get involved in an ownership bid three years ago, but didn't feel it was a good fit. "I think the O'Malley and Seidler family is the right group," he said. "They want to enhance the community tie, and that's something I've wanted to be part of, as well. The tie between the community and the team has not been as strong as it has been in the past. I think there are some things where we can increase that relationship, the emotional tie with the community and the players." Moores' proposed sale of the team to Jeff Moorad collapsed in March after baseball owners refused to approve Moorad as controlling owner. Moorad headed a group that in March 2009 agreed to a gradual takeover of the Padres. At the time, the deal was estimated to be worth around 500 million. The Padres could be worth a few hundred million more this time, in light of the Dodgers being sold for a record 2 billion and the Padres' new TV deal with Fox. Moores owns 51 percent while Moorad's group owns 49 percent. Asked about his proposed investment, Mickelson said only that it would be "a lot," and that it would be a "significant investment opportunity." As for his role? "Day-to-day operations, running a sports organization, that's not my forte," Mickelson said. "I want to have a personal relationship with the players and find ways to get them tied to the community, things of that nature."

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

When you're on a roll, you hate disrupting it for anything.

The Blackhawks probably felt that in some respect heading into the new NHL-mandated bye week on Feb. 12, but the need for rest usurped any worry on that front. Still, when the Blackhawks reconvened last Friday, the question remained if they could pick up where they left off on that pre-bye, five-game winning streak.

As coach Joel Quenneville said of the unusual break, "we talked about it going into it: you don't know how you're going to come out of it."

Apparently it hasn't been a problem.

The Blackhawks have won two of their first three out of the bye, including their 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Coming out of this break hasn't been easy for a lot of teams. The Blackhawks, like 11 other teams up to this point, lost their first game out of it. But in that loss to Edmonton, the Blackhawks played well. That continued on Sunday in Buffalo and on Tuesday in Minnesota. Now back in a rhythm schedule-wise, the Blackhawks are hitting their stride performance-wise.

"I thought we played a good game against Edmonton but we still felt there'd be some good will down the road. I thought we continued on with these next two on the road, probably played the same way going into it. So it's been a good stretch for us, and much better than we were at the beginning of the year," Quenneville said. "I like the improvement in our game."

A big part of the Blackhawks' success is finding their four-line rotation.

Jonathan Toews was joined by Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik early in the Ice Show trip, the three were given time to mesh and it's paying productive dividends. The second line is always a threat. Their third and fourth lines are a great combination of defense, skill and youth.

As the lines have started rolling, so have the Blackhawks. Each line had someone score against Buffalo. The top line thrived vs. the Wild. 

"I think all year we kind of expected the offense, coming from Arty's [Artem Anisimov's] line and maybe my line, but what's making us a really good team is our third and fourth line going out there and just battling every shift, just working, giving other teams no time, no chance to make plays with the puck," Toews said. "I think when you can rotate four lines like that, everyone starts to pick up their pace and their speed and then you just rotate in and it doesn't matter who scores on a given night. We're getting contributions from all over the place and it makes you a dangerous team and a tough team to beat."

Instead of taking steam out of the Blackhawks' sails, the bye appears to have re-energized them.

"Yeah it was good for our team," Ryan Hartman said. "We had a few guys who didn't get [rest during] the all-star break. They were still playing, and it was nice for those guys to get away from the rink and kind of get in the sun and take your mind of hockey for a bit, refresh the brain and body. I think we all needed those couple days of rest. As it's looked the last couple of games we've looked fresh and we've been bringing it almost a full 60. I wouldn't say we're quite playing a full 60 but we're really close and that was crucial for us."

Playing a full 60 was one of the Blackhawks' biggest problems earlier this season. Much like the four-line rotation, it's showing up at the right time. The Blackhawks have a great opportunity this week to get closer to the Wild, who started their break on Wednesday.

The issues that plagued the Blackhawks earlier this season are starting to dissipate. They weren't sure how they were going to come out of this break. So far, they've followed rest and relaxation with a rejuvenated game. 

"We're just rolling four lines now. Every line can score and every line's playing the best hockey," Panik said. "That's helped us."

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.