Sharp, Bowman weigh in on Lidstrom's outstanding career

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Sharp, Bowman weigh in on Lidstrom's outstanding career

NEWARK, N.J. As a kid growing up in Michigan, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene didnt have to look far for his hockey role model: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Even if emulating him was a tough, if not impossible, task.

I realized early on I cant play anything like him, the Grand Ledge, Mich., native said. But as a young kid, thats who you wanted to model your game after. You talk about pure class. Hes definitely a role model in how the game should be played and respected.

When the four-time Stanley Cup and seven-time Norris Trophy winner announced his retirement on Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings lost a tremendous player. And the NHL lost a tremendous ambassador and gentleman of the game. Lidstrom epitomized class and talent throughout his 20-year career. And everyone from Central Division opponents to the defensemen who wanted to grow up and play just like him, chimed in on his legacy.

Hes probably one of the greatest defensemen to play the game, if not the greatest. That alone says something, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. Hes a special player. I think the game of hockey is lucky to have had him as many years as it has. Hes ending the greatest career of a defenseman Ive ever seen live.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp joked, hopefully the Wings leave that spot open and they get a little worse. Hes arguably the best defenseman who ever played the game. I have good memories playing against him. I talked to him personally a few times; hes a nice person and well respected. I dont think youll see anyone say a bad thing about him.

Indeed, youd be hard pressed to find that. Coaches included, too.

It didnt matter how you forechecked or how you set up. Hes one of the few guys who could control a game from the defensive standpoint, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. You think about how many guys there are in recent history are who are like that. Not many. We were kids, thought Bobby Orr could do that. Pretty awesome player.

Drew Doughty echoed that sentiment.

Im having to take hard strides. If you watch him, I dont think he ever took a hard stride. It always looked like he was gliding, the Kings defenseman said. Yet at the same time he was always in the exact position he needed to be. To this day I dont know how he did it. I want to try to model myself after him one day.

The 42-year-old Swede had a career some could only dream off, one filled with tremendous stats and impressive hardware. He also had an enviable curtain call: he went out on his terms, still a strong talent.

Its not that the tank is completely empty. I just dont have enough to carry me through every day at a high level that I want to play at, Lidstrom told reporters at his emotionally charged press conference. My family and I are completely comfortable with this decision. Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride, rather than having the game walk away from me.

Lidstrom played the game they way it was supposed to be played, going through all the changes to it. Off the ice he carried himself the way a professional should: no histrionics, no hijinks, no headaches.

The Red Wings bid goodbye to a tremendous defenseman. The league bid goodbye to a class act.

Its sad to see him retire but its amazing to look back and see his stats, Greene said. You cant fault him for (choosing retirement). Playing as long as he has, everything hes accomplished, its unbelievable.

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

6'4" | 214 lbs.

2016 stats:

3,532 YDS, 62.0 CMP%, 27 TD, 7 INT, 150.3 QBR

Projection:

Third/Fourth round

Scouting Report:

"Groomed to be a quarterback from an early age, Kaaya flashes the mechanics and intelligence of a player who has spent hours in quarterback camps. However, he can be too mechanical and thinks too much rather than just flowing and responding to what the field offers him. Kaaya could have used another year of college, but he has the tools and intangibles to become an NFL starter. While he can work around his average arm strength, he must improve his accuracy and anticipation if he is to make a mark in the NFL." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles