Hawks sign Leighton, same goalie they beat in the 2010 Finals.

The Blackhawks announced today that they have agreed to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton on a one-year contract. Leighton, 33, has posted 35 wins (35-41-14), a 2.97 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 105 career regular-season games over parts of eight seasons with the Blackhawks (2002-2004), Nashville (2006-07), Philadelphia (2006-07; 2009-13) and Carolina (2007-09). He has notched an 8-4 record in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games and currently holds the NHL record for most shutouts in a postseason series (3 vs. MTL in 2010 Eastern Conference Final).Leighton, originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in 42 contests over two seasons with the club during his NHL debut, collecting eight wins (8-21-10), a 2.81 GAA and a .901 SV%. He was the franchise’s first goaltender to post a shutout in his NHL debut after doing so on Jan. 8, 2003 vs. ARI. The Petrolia, Ontario, native spent last season with the KHL’s Donbass Donetsk, where he was part of a goaltending tandem that set a team record for fewest goals allowed during the regular season. Leighton, who helped the club reach the second round of the playoffs, shared third in the league with 20 regular-season wins, ranked seventh with a 1.74 GAA and ninth with a .934 SV%.Leighton has also notched 171 victories (171-144-29) in 354 career American Hockey League tilts spanning 10 seasons with the Norfolk Admirals (2001-05), Rochester Americans (2005-06), Portland Pirates (2006-07), Philadelphia Phantoms (2006-07), Albany River Rats (2007-08) and Adirondack Phantoms (2010-2013). He was named to the 2001-02 All-Rookie Team. During the 2007-08 season, Leighton was honored with the “Baz Bastien Memorial Award” as the league’s best goaltender and named to the First All-Star Team.

Rose and Davis help USA beat Brazil in Home Town

Image result for team usa basketball LOGO

USA Basketball won’t have Kevin Durant or Paul George or Kevin Love. They won’t have Blake Griffin or Russell Westbrook either. LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard aren’t going to play when the competition isn’t happening in the Olympics. But Team USA is still full of great talent from the NBA and it was on display in the United Center.Playing in front of their hometown crowd, Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis reminded us of the super-human ways in which they’re capable of playing basketball. We’ve only seen 10 somewhat disappointing games from Rose since he tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs, but his speed, quickness, strength, and incredible impact he’s capable of having on a basketball game were all on display against Brazil. Davis led all scorers with 20 points and was impossible for Brazil’s NBA big men to keep up with. Nene, Tiago Splitter, and Anderson Varejao all found themselves trailing Davis running the floor at some point in the game. He was catching lobs, challenging shots inside, and he even knocked down a couple of midrange jumpers to show off his versatility. Davis’ hustle and effort to dominate the game were on display in the fourth quarter as he went diving out of bounds and into the stands on the sideline to save a ball.James Harden added 18 points for Team USA and Stephen Curry put on a shooting display early in the first quarter. We were also treated to Kenneth Faried‘s relentless hustle on the boards early on as he helped boost an early lead for Team USA that quickly got to double digits. Splitter, Nene, and point guard Marcelo Huertas showed their ability to stick in games and match elite talent for long stretches as they helped Brazil fight back and make it a close game during the second quarter and again in the second half. They were able to answer the runs by Team USA, but eventually the style of play proved to be too much for Brazil. Next up for USA Basketball is a couple of exhibition games at Madison Square Garden in New York City on August 20 and August 22. They’ll play the Dominican Republic team and then Puerto Rico, as they decide on a final 12-man roster.

Bears sign Santonio Holmes as third receiver.

LAKE FOREST—The Bears have the best pair of wide receivers in the NFL, so naturally they went out and added Santonio Holmes to their roster.That’s largely sarcasm, but the Bears reportedly did sign Holmes, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. With Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on the roster, the Bears aren’t exactly desperate for receiver help, at least in so far as starters go.Dig a little deeper, though, and you see a wide receiver corps that’s not exactly stupendous top to bottom. Marquess Wilson underwent surgery on a collarbone injury. If pressed into duty, Eric Weems and Josh Morgan aren’t going to scare the league’s top defensive backs. Armanti Edwards is on the roster here. Holmes is older (30) and his last (and only) 1,000-yard season was 2009, before he was traded from the Steelers to the Jets. His contract looked horrible the entire time he spent in New york and he averaged just 11 games played per year there. Still, it can’t be too expensive of a proposition and if it works out, the Bears will see a little bump in terms of depth, which would be helpful particularly if they want to spread the field.

Late TD give Bears 20-19 comeback win over Jaguars, now 2-0 in Pre Season

Chad Henne passed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and Blake Bortles threw for 160 in relief before backup quarterback Jordan Palmer rallied the Bears to a 20-19 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.Palmer, trying to beat out Jimmy Clausen for the No. 2 job, led the Bears to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Senorise Perry scored on a 5-yard run with 50 seconds left, and C.J. Wilson intercepted a pass to seal the win after Henne and Bortles picked the Bears apart.Jared Allen made his first appearance for the Bears. The star offseason defensive acquisition finished with one tackle for a loss on an otherwise quiet night. He sat out last week’s opening win over Philadelphia after he missed practices because his wife had a baby.Henne showed mobility in the pocket and completed 12 of 17 passes before leaving with a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.Bortles looked sharp again after an impressive showing last week in a victory over Tampa Bay. The No. 3 pick in the draft, he went 11 for 17, but the Jaguars came away with the loss.Jay Cutler completed 7 of 9 passes for 79 yards and called it a night after throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall early in the second quarter.Jimmy Clausen got the first call after Cutler left the game, with Palmer serving as the second man in relief in a flip from the preseason opener. But Clausen took a step back after a strong performance last week.The former Notre Dame star and Carolina Panther went 11 of 15 for 94 yards. He also had a pass intercepted by Josh Evans early in the third quarter off linebacker Telvin Smith‘s deflection.Palmer started the fourth quarter and threw for 73 yards, completing 6 of 9 passes.Martellus Bennett had a 25-yard catch after being suspended by the team last week for an altercation in practice with cornerback Kyle Fuller, who left this game after injuring his ankle on the opening possession.Jacksonville’s Toby Gerhart ran for 19 yards in his first appearance with the Jaguars. The former Minnesota Vikings backup had missed nearly two weeks because of a hip flexor injury.Marqise Lee, a standout in camp, caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown after struggling against Tampa Bay. Mercedes Lewis had 46 yards on three receptions.The Jaguars scored on all three first-quarter possessions while grabbing a 13-0 lead, with Josh Scobee kicking a pair of field goals and Henne hitting Lee with a 6-yard touchdown pass after another special-teams gaffe by Bears.After giving up a 102-yard kickoff return to Philadelphia’s Josh Huff, this time it was a fumble by Eric Weems on the kickoff after Scobee’s second field goal — a 25-yarder. Will Blackmon stripped him, Jacksonville took over on the Bears 23, and Henne connected with Lee after a third-down sack by Trevor Scott earlier in the drive got wiped out by an illegal contact call against Kelvin Hayden.The Bears cut it to 13-7 early in the second quarter, when Cutler hit Marshall with a 4-yarder to cap a 10-play drive. But a 43-yard field goal by Scobee late in the half made it 16-7.

NU loses two key offensive players in Mark(transfer)and Jones(knee injury)

EVANSTON—Last week it was announced that Northwestern’s Venric Mark had been suspended for the first two games of the season, meaning that the Wildcats would be without their most dynamic playmaker to start 2014. Now they’ll be without him all year, as the school announced Wednesday evening that Mark was transferring.The school says Mark is transferring for personal reasons, as he wants to play football closer to his family.

“Today is a difficult day for our football family and, most importantly, for Venric,” said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald in a release. “We love him, and there is no doubt that we’re going to miss him as both a person and player. But this is unquestionably what is best for Venric and those closest to him.”

There is no word on where Mark will transfer, but he is originally from Texas.Mark was limited to only three games last season due to injuries, but in 2012 he had 2,166 all-purpose yards and scored 15 touchdowns serving as a running back and returner on special teams.And as if the loss of Mark wasn’t a big enough blow, Northwestern also announced that receiver Christian Jones will miss the entire 2014 season with a knee injury he suffered in practice. Jones was Northwestern’s leading receiver last year, finishing the year with 54 catches for 668 yards and four touchdowns.That is a whole lot of production that the Wildcats offense is going to need to replace in 2014.

Golson begins season as Irish starting QB

SOUTH BEND—Everett Golson has officially come all the way back.To the surprise of essentially no one, Brian Kelly announced after practice Wednesday that the junior quarterback will be under center for the Fighting Irish’s season opener against Rice, having beaten out redshirt freshman Malik Zaire. Golson missed the entire 2013 season through academic suspension.”His spring practice and his leadership in the summer and camp here, he’s put himself in a position to get that opportunity,” Kelly said, per Blue and Gold Illustrated.As a redshirt freshman, Golson started 10 games for Notre Dame in its undefeated march to the 2012 BCS championship game, finishing the season with 2,405 passing yards, a 12-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 298 rushing yards.Golson told reporters he’d been informed of Kelly’s decision Monday.

“It’s an accomplishment knowing everything that has transpired,” he said.

Kelly said Zaire, the former four-star dual-threat quarterback from Dayton, Ohio, “wasn’t happy” with the decision, but that Kelly would have been “disappointed” if he had reacted differently.

Bulls open season at NY, Home opener with Cleveland, host Lakers Christmas Evening

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

BULLS REGULAR SEASON
Date    Opp.     Time
Oct 29    @NY    8:00 PM
Oct 31    Cle    8:00 PM
Nov 1    @Min    8:00 PM
Nov 4    Orl    8:00 PM
Nov 5    @Mil    8:00 PM
Nov 7    @Phi    7:00 PM
Nov 8    Bos    8:00 PM
Nov 10    Det    8:00 PM
Nov 13    @Tor    8:00 PM
Nov 15    Ind    8:00 PM
Nov 17    @LAC    10:30 PM
Nov 20    @Sac    10:30 PM
Nov 21    @Port    10:30 PM
Nov 24    @Utah    9:00 PM
Nov 25    @Den    9:00 PM
Nov 28    @Bos    1:00 PM
Nov 30    @Brook 3:00 PM
Dec 2    Dal    8:00 PM
Dec 3    @Char    7:00 PM
Dec 6    GS    8:00 PM
Dec 10    Brook    8:00 PM
Dec 12    Port    7:00 PM
Dec 14    @Mia    6:00 PM
Dec 15    @Atl    7:30 PM
Dec 18    NY    8:00 PM
Dec 19    @Mem    8:00 PM
Dec 22    Tor    8:00 PM
Dec 23    @Wash    7:00 PM
Dec 25    LAL    8:00 PM
Dec 27    NO    8:00 PM
Dec 29    @Ind    7:00 PM
Dec 30    Brook    8:00 PM
Jan 1    Den    8:00 PM
Jan 3    Bos    8:00 PM
Jan 5    Hou    8:00 PM
Jan 7    Utah    8:00 PM
Jan 9    @Wash    8:00 PM
Jan 10    Mil    8:00 PM
Jan 12    Orl    8:00 PM
Jan 14    Wash    8:00 PM
Jan 16    @Bos    7:30 PM
Jan 17    Atl    8:00 PM
Jan 19    @Cle    8:00 PM
Jan 22    SA    8:00 PM
Jan 23    @Dal    8:00 PM
Jan 25    Mia    1:00 PM
Jan 27    @GS    10:30 PM
Jan 29    @LAL    10:30 PM
Jan 30    @Pho    10:30 PM
Feb 4    @Hou    8:00 PM
Feb 7    @NO    7:00 PM
Feb 8    @Orl    6:00 PM
Feb 10    Sac    8:00 PM
Feb 12    Cle    8:00 PM
Feb 20    @Det    7:30 PM
Feb 21    Pho    8:00 PM
Feb 23    Mil    8:00 PM
Feb 25    Char    8:00 PM
Feb 27    Min    8:00 PM
Mar 1    LAC    1:00 PM
Mar 3    Wash    8:00 PM
Mar 5    OKC    8:00 PM
Mar 6    @Ind    7:00 PM
Mar 8    @SA    1:00 PM
Mar 9    Mem    8:00 PM
Mar 11    @Phi    7:00 PM
Mar 13    @Char    7:00 PM
Mar 15    @OKC    1:00 PM
Mar 18    Ind    8:00 PM
Mar 20    Tor    8:00 PM
Mar 21    @Det    7:30 PM
Mar 23    Char    8:00 PM
Mar 25    @Tor    7:30 PM
Mar 28    NY    8:00 PM
Apr 1    @Mil    8:00 PM
Apr 3    Det    8:00 PM
Apr 5    @Cle    3:30 PM
Apr 8    @Orl    7:00 PM
Apr 9    @Mia    8:00 PM
Apr 11    Phi    8:00 PM
Apr 13    @Brook 7:30 PM
Apr 15    Atl    8:00 PM

Martellus back on Bears practice field.

BOURBONNAIS—Bears tight end Martellus Bennett has been reinstated by the team and can return to practice six days after he was suspended for fighting with rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.The official reason was listed as “conduct detrimental to the team.” Bennett slammed Fuller to the ground after the rookie tried to strip the ball in what was an otherwise innocuous play.Via the Chicago Tribune, Bennett admitted Sunday, “I think I could have handled the situation differently,” adding, “Everything in life is about learning lessons. Whatever situation you’re going on through life, you always learn from it. Whether it’s good or bad, there’s always a lesson or moral to the story.”

Bennett says he was welcomed back by his teammates and doesn’t expect the incident to change how he approaches the game.

“I feel like I’ve always been a great teammate,” he said. “I think they want me to continue to be the player I’ve been and continue to play the way I’ve been playing and perform highly on the field.”

Cutler and other QB’s sharp as Bears win Pre-Season opener 34-28 over Eagles

Jay Cutler popped the cork on his 2014 campaign Friday night with a convincing performance for the Bears in a 34-28 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles. After Marc Trestman’s team went three-and-out on their first series, Cutler marched the Bears on a 13-play, 69-yard drive that chewed through Philly’s defense with authority. The drive was capped by Cutler’s pinpoint touchdown pass between a pair of Eagles defenders to intriguing tight end Zach Miller up the seam. “Yeah, three-and-out, I figured we would get back into it and get another drive, which I’m glad we did,” Cutler told reporters, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. “We were backed up a few times, overcame a few penalties. So, it was a good drive for us.” Cutler displayed midseason chemistry with Brandon Marshall and finished his night with a passer rating of 112.7 before the backups took over. We’ve questioned the remainder of Chicago’s quarterback room, but Trestman’s coaching of Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen and rookie David Fales was evident against the Eagles. There’s no late-period Josh McCown in this group, but the trio of reserves lashed the Eagles to the tune of 29-of-44 passing for 399 yards and four scores. It’s just one game in the center of August, but Trestman doesn’t appear to have lost his touch at the quarterback position.

NU suspends Mark for 2 games, Illini lose LB Svetina for 8-10 weeks.

EVANSTON—Northwestern will be without one of its most versatile weapons to start the season, as the school announced Friday that Venric Mark has been suspended for the first two games of the season.“I made a mistake and am prepared to deal with the consequences of that,” said Mark in a statement through the school. “There’s no one that holds me to a higher standard than the one I hold myself to, so nobody is more disappointed than I am. First and foremost, I feel like I let my teammates down, and that feels the worst. I’m grateful to have another season to compete with this team. My focus moving forward is on working as hard as I can in camp and supporting my teammates in practice and on gamedays so that we can achieve our goals this season.”Exactly what that mistake is that Mark made, the school isn’t saying. Whatever it is, Mark’s absence is a big loss for the Wildcats as they open their season with games against Cal and Northern Illinois.The good news for Northwestern is that it’s used to not having Mark around, as injuries limited him to only three games last season. But when Mark is on the field he makes a large impact as a running back, receiver and returner. During the 2012 season he had 2,166 all-purpose yards and scored 15 touchdowns.
——————————————————————————–
CHAMPAIGN—Illinois linebacker Mike Svetina will miss the start of the season after suffering a broken foot in practice earlier this week. Tim Beckman confirmed the injury, which is expected to keep Svetina sidelined for eight to ten weeks, while speaking to reporters on Thursday. via CSN Chicago: “Mike had a fifth metatarsal break in the foot, had the surgery last night, it was great. It was a clear-cut fracture, so you’re talking eight to 10 weeks that he’s going to be out right now,” Beckman said.