From Comcast SportsNetIn the two months since a stunning loss in the Ryder Cup, the PGA of America talked about doing things differently when selecting its next captain.Tom Watson certainly would break the mold.Golf Digest reported on its website Tuesday night that the PGA of America plans to pick Watson, celebrated worldwide as an eight-time major champion and revered in Scotland where he won four of his five British Open titles."We look forward to sharing the news of the 2014 Ryder Cup captain on Thursday," PGA spokesman Julius Mason said when asked for comment.The PGA of America spares no expense or amount of glitz when it comes to the Ryder Cup, and that much hasn't changed. Instead of a standard news conference, it will introduce its next captain Thursday morning during a segment on the "Today" show on NBC, the longtime broadcast partner at the Ryder Cup.Later, it will have a news conference in the Empire State Building.Watson will be 65 when the Ryder Cup is played at Gleneagles, Scotland, making him by oldest captain in U.S. history. Sam Snead was 57 when he was captain in 1969. Watson has not played a full PGA Tour schedule in 14 years, though he is still capable of showing the young kids a thing or two as one of the cleanest ball-strikers in history. Remember, it was only three years ago that Watson stood 8 feet away from capturing the British Open at Turnberry at age 59.Stranger still, he says he has not been to a Ryder Cup since he last was captain in 1993 at The Belfry, which also was the last time the Americans won in Europe. And his relationship with Tiger Woods is much like how the weather can be in Scotland in the early fall -- cold and damp.He would be the first repeat captain since Jack Nicklaus in 1987 on his home course of Muirfield Village.Watson said over the weekend at the Australian Open that it would be a "great honor if I got tapped on the shoulder," though he said he had not spoken to the PGA.The organization risks some fallout.By taking a veteran of Watson's age would be to overlook Larry Nelson for the second time. Nelson is a three-time major champion -- twice at the PGA Championship -- who did not take up golf seriously until he returned from the Vietnam War. He had 9-3-1 record in the Ryder Cup and won all five of his matches in 1979, beating Seve Ballesteros in four of those matches. At least two former captains lobbied the PGA on behalf of Nelson, who was in line to be a captain in the 1990s.Nelson is scheduled to play in the Father-Son Challenge pro-am Thursday and Friday in Orlando, Fla.For the last 30 years, it was easy to predict the next American captain. The PGA of America tended to choose a former major champion still moderately active on the PGA Tour, which keeps him in touch with the current players. That ordinarily would point toward former PGA champion David Toms, though there has been discussion among PGA officials over the last month that Toms could wait until 2016 without any future candidate, such as Jim Furyk or Phil Mickelson, losing his turn.PGA president Ted Bishop has said he wants only to win the Ryder Cup. Europe has captured the cup seven of the last nine times, the most recent loss one of the most painful. The Americans had a 10-6 advantage at Medinah only to lose on the final day when everything went right for Europe and just as much went wrong for the home team.Love had said he wouldn't change anything about the week except the outcome, though he did not want to return as captain -- at least not for 2014."I can guarantee you it won't be me," Love said about the next captain.Paul Azinger was captain of the only U.S. team to win the Ryder Cup in the last 13 years, using a unique system of "pods" in which players were broken into groups of four. There was talk that he should take the U.S. team over to Scotland, though Azinger said in a text message to The Associated Press he had not been in touch with the PGA of America.Watson told reporters in Australia he had not been back to the Ryder Cup since those 93 matches at The Belfry."I'd like to go back as captain," Watson said. "That would be cool."But it might not be ideal for America's most famous player -- Woods -- who has a frosty relationship with Watson, even though both are Stanford alumni. Watson was highly critical in the aftermath of Woods' personal life crisis, saying he needed to show more humility and fewer tantrums."I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown," Watson said in early 2010.The selection could have ramifications in Europe, too. Watson is so highly regarded in Scotland -- in all of Europe, for that matter -- that Europe might want to counter with a popular captain of its own. Darren Clarke, who won the British Open last year for his first major and is a man of the people, is under consideration with Paul McGinley. Europe is not expected to announce its captain until January at the earliest."Obviously if Tom does get it he is one of the legends of the game and I am sure he would be a fantastic captain not just to the team but to all aspects of the Ryder Cup," Clarke said Wednesday at the Australian PGA. "The man is a huge name in the world of golf and rightly so, I think he would make a fantastic captain for America."
Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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Five Things to Watch:
1. Scott Darling's regulation shutout streak.
Darling had two shutouts in his first 44 starts of his NHL career, and nearly matched that total in back-to-back games after he pitched a 22-save shutout over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday and stopped 36 straight shots before allowing the 37th one to get by in a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. While his shutout streak came to an end, he still hasn't allowed a regulation goal in 124:45 minutes. The Lemont native has been terrific in Corey Crawford's absence and will look to continue that against a divisional opponent tonight.
2. Shoot from everywhere.
The Stars have allowed the most goals of any team (93) this season, giving up 3.21 goals per game. They allowed 2.78 goals per game last year, which was the highest among all 16 playoff teams. Their defense has gotten worse, and their offense has dipped to 18th at 2.55 goals per game after finishing No. 1 in that category a year ago at 3.23. Shoot from any angle and it may find a way to sneak in.
3. Redemption on the power play.
In the first two meetings, which resulted in Chicago wins, the Blackhawks had 10 power-play opportunities but cashed in on only one of those. The Stars are coming off a game where they allowed three goals on the man advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday and have a penalty kill percentage that ranks fourth-worst at 76.7. They've also given up at least a power-play goal in seven of their last 10 games. It's a vulnerable area for them right now — and has been all year — so it's important the Blackhawks keep pressing.
4. Questionable statuses for several Stars.
After missing 23 games with an undisclosed illness, Jiri Hudler was activated off injured reserve on Friday but did not play in yesterday's game against the Flyers despite coach Lindy Ruff saying he was available. He could draw back into the lineup tonight, although it's not certain. Same with Johnny Oduya, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jamie Oleksiak will also have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on a Flyers forward yesterday, making his status for tonight questionable. Former Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, who missed the first two games against his former team with a concussion, is experiencing those symptoms again and remains out of the lineup.
5. Take a lead into the third.
The Blackhawks are 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, and are one of just five teams to have a perfect winning percentage in that category. The Stars, on the other hand, are one of five teams that have yet to pick up a win when trailing after two. They're 0-10-2 in that department. Taking advantage of the Stars on the second of a back-to-back early could make putting them away easier if the Blackhawks head into the final frame with a lead.
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The emotion of playing in Miami may have been missing for Dwyane Wade but it was still the Miami Heat on the other side, the franchise he put it all on the line for before the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract last summer.
So he still had some extra juice on a snowy Saturday night that probably made him yearn for the breeze of South Beach, giving the pesky Heat some of his wrath and little flash in a 105-100 win at the United Center.
Wade scored 28 points on 11 of 24 shooting in 35 minutes to go along with three rebounds, three assists and two blocks against his former team.
Wade got the Bulls off to a better second half start while Jimmy Butler, all too happy to lurk in the wings while Wade got his shots up, had his say late in the fourth when the Heat hung around longer than expected.
Butler and Wade combined to strip Goran Dragic on a weave play that could’ve tied the game for the Heat with seven seconds left and the Bulls leading by three, as Butler sealed the game with two free throws, finishing his 31-point, seven-rebound and five-assist night.
“We got a win. We found a way to win,” Wade said. “We lost a game like this earlier this year (Lakers). We weren’t playing great and they found a way to beat us. In this league, there’s gonna be some nights where you play amazing and some where you play just well enough to get a win. Never begrudge a win.”
Saying that in the aftermath of a win came because the Bulls’ fourth-quarter offense again came to a crawl, a deal one would have to negotiate when having players like Wade and Butler on the floor who can dominate the ball for stretches to make plays.
But the Bulls shot just 40 percent on six of 15 shooting as Wade and Butler combined to score 16 of their 22 points.
“That will be the big emphasis and focus in practice on Monday, we’ll really work on our fourth-quarter execution,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.
Butler was bullying the smaller and slightly-built Heat defenders, he got to the basket at will and kept the pressure on the interior defense of Hassan Whiteside. Most of his production came from the midrange or the paint, as the Bulls took just eight 3-pointers and committed just 11 turnovers—making for a clean if not old-fashioned game.
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“I’m confident we’ll hit double digit 3-pointers again,” said Hoiberg in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. “You shoot eight of them, you take what the defense gives you. I thought the rhythm and flow was good for three quarters.”
They seemed to follow Wade’s lead, at least in style, as he probed and spun and danced his way to the rim for as many shots in the paint as he’s taken all season despite leaving more than a few on the lip of the rim or giving the officials sideways looks after not getting what he felt were rightful foul calls.
Wade scored 11 third after the Bulls were sleepwalking on one end of the floor for the first half, leading to a 55-all game, the type of performance that Gregg Popovich would’ve given a media lashing to afterwards.
“I thought we were going through the motions a little bit, picked it up in the second half,” Hoiberg said.
Dragic owned his matchup against Rajon Rondo, getting to the paint at will, forcing switches and attacking the rim relentlessly whenever the Bulls left a sliver of an opening, scoring 21 with 11 assists before his unfortunate turnover.
One can say Dragic essentially kept the Heat in it for the first half as the Bulls’ defense hadn’t received its wake-up call, but it came in the form of Wade’s aggressiveness to start the half.
“He was pretty much going where he wanted in that first half and we struggled with it,” Hoiberg said.
A sweeping hook shot was followed by the 34-year old splitting the defense on a fast break for a dunk and 3-point play, and he finished the spurt with a baseline spin and layup to put the Bulls up double-digits.
“I thought he had a lot of pop and good legs, and one dunk he looked like a young 22-year old Dwyane Wade,” Hoiberg said. “They had good matchups, Dwyane obviously had it going tonight.”
But the Heat wouldn’t go away—or the Bulls wouldn’t put a team playing its fourth game in five nights away—as the energetic Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson came off the bench to give an ailing team a boost, combining for 26 points.
Whiteside was swatting away more than his share of shots and changing a few others, as he scored 18 with eight rebounds and three blocks but went scoreless in the fourth until his basket that brought the Bulls’ lead to one with a little over 10 seconds left.
It wasn’t pretty but it was effective enough for the Bulls to settle themselves and reverse a too-common trend of a big letdown after a big win.