Christie petitions US Supreme Court to take up sports betting case –

Governor Christie on Friday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the long-running case in which he and the state?s thoroughbred horsemen have battled to bring legal sports betting to New Jersey over the objections of the NCAA, NFL, and three other pro sports leagues.

In this file photo, a man sits in front of horse racing monitors at Monmouth Park.


In this file photo, a man sits in front of horse racing monitors at Monmouth Park.

Christie ? a former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey ? criticized a pair of 2-1 decisions by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a federal ban on sports betting in 46 states, as well as a 9-3 decision by the full circuit panel of judges in August that reached the same conclusion.

?In three divided, irreconcilable, and fundamentally incomprehensible decisions, the 3rd Circuit rejected New Jersey?s challenge that PASPA unconstitutionally commands how it regulates … gambling within its borders,? Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, wrote to the court on behalf of Christie and the state Attorney General?s office.

Olson was referring to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which limits legal sports betting to Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Olson?s Constitutional challenge concerns whether a 24-year-old law passed by Congress can legally ?dictate the extent to which States must maintain their prohibitions on sports wagering.?

A lawyer representing the state?s thoroughbred horse racing industry filed a similar petition with the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Four years ago, Christie signed a law allowing the state?s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos to offer Las Vegas-style sports betting, with the state authorizing and regulating the contests in direct contradiction to federal law. After losing that battle in 2013, the state passed a revised law that repealed most of the state?s gambling laws while leaving the casinos and tracks the option of privately running sports betting and regulating it on their own.

But last year, another split decision from a three-judge panel ? with Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sister of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, in the majority ? concluded that the revised law amounted to a ?de facto authorization? of sports gambling by the state. The majority of the 12-judge panel agreed in a so-called ?en-banc? ruling two months ago.

The 1992 federal law ? sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, the former Knicks star ? banned sports betting in all states except the four that previously had offered it. Nevada is the only state with extensive sports betting, while Delaware, Oregon, and Montana can offer limited versions as they did before the ban.

Olson wrote in that the ?federal takeover? by the courts of the state?s decision-making role in how to manage its gambling prohibitions is ?dramatic, unprecedented, and in direct conflict? with legal precedents.

Even with the lack of unanimity in any of the three 3rd Circuit rulings, the state faces an uphill climb given that the nation?s highest court traditionally takes up fewer than 1 percent of the appeals it receives. The Supreme Court dismissed a request from the state in 2014 after the first appeals court ruling.

Email: Blog:

Weekend Road Racing Guide: Chicago Marathon, USATF 10 Mile – FloTrack

Two major road races are scheduled to go down in the Midwest this weekend–the Chicago Marathon and the USATF 10 Mile Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here is a full breakdown of what you should follow from both races set to go off Sunday morning.?

Chicago Marathon?

Although world?record?holder Dennis Kimetto has dropped out of the race due to a stress fracture in his left leg, the men’s competition in Chicago still holds several notable storylines.?

Last year’s champion Dickson Chumba and Olympic bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede headline the field and have both clocked personal bests in the 2:04:30 range. Sunday will mark Chumba’s second marathon in 2016 after finishing third in the Tokyo Marathon in?February. Kebede will also be running his second marathon of the year after finishing fifth at the Rotterdam Marathon in April.?

Marathon newcomer Stephen Sambu will be running after racking up over $280K in prize money in the shorter road racing circuit over the past three and a half years. With a quick 60:41 half-marathon personal best, it will be interesting to see how the Kenyan will fare over 26.2.?
The American contingent will be represented by Luke Puskedra, who is on the comeback train after an incredibly tough year. John Gault spoke to Puskedra earlier this week, where they discussed Puskedra’s recovery from a devastating fourth-place finish at the Olympic Marathon Trials and his infant daughter’s battle with cancer. Puskedra learned of his daughter Penelope’s illness just days after the Trials and has since been supported by a GoFundMe campaign that?raised over $75,000 to assist with medical expenses. Penelope is cancer-free now, and the future seems a lot brighter for the Puskedra family.?

Diego Estrada will also toe the line in an attempt to race his first marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Marathon Trials in February. Estrada attempted to make the Olympic team on the track, but he?dropped out of the 10K and finished 11th in the 5K final. Runner’s World’s Cindy Kuzma spoke with Estrada about his plan to tune out the politics to seek marathon redemption in Chicago.?

The women’s race will be a battle between Florence Kiplagat and Edna Kiplagat. Florence, a two-time world champion, finished third at the London Marathon earlier this year. Edna, a two-time world champion in the marathon, is returning from a third-place finish at the Tokyo Marathon. Since Tokyo, she’s been tearing it up on the roads by finishing top three in all five road races she’s competed in this year. ?

The American women’s field features top 10 Olympic Trials finishers Serena Burla and Alia Gray. Gray finished 10th at the Trials with a breakthrough performance and personal best of 2:35:47. Burla finished eighth at the championships. She boasts a personal best of 2:28:01 from Amsterdam in 2013. Sarah Crouch will also be competing after finishing 11th at the Boston Marathon earlier this year. She was sixth in Chicago in 2014.?


USATF 10 Mile Championships

The second road race of Sunday morning will be the USATF 10 Mile Championships in Minneapolis, where several American pros will throw down for a national crown.?

Some notable racers on the men’s side include Andrew Bumbalough, who will be running his second race of the year after finishing 11th at the USATF 5K Championships on Sept. 18. The multiple-time national finalist was sidelined due to injury earlier this year, but he?expressed his optimism for the remainder of 2016 on his Twitter account this summer.?

Four-time NCAA champion Sam Chelanga will be racing after finishing third at the USATF 5K Championships and sixth in the 10K at the Olympic Trials. Brian Shrader will also toe the line after finishing eighth at the 5K championships and 14th in the 5K final of the Olympic Trials.?

The women’s field is will include several notable experienced distance runners, including road racing veteran Sara Hall, Nike Oregon Project’s Jordan Hasay, Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen, and U.S. 25K champion Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton.?

Hall is racing in preparation for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6 after running a new personal best of 2:30:06 at the London Marathon in April. Hasay is returning from her latest race at the USATF 5K Championships,?where she finished third. Jorgensen just won triathlon gold in Rio and competed at the world championships on Sept. 17, where she collected a runner-up finish. She will be making her debut in the marathon in New York. Bolton just won the 20K and 25K USATF championships and will seek another distance title this weekend.?


Ole Miss Women's Track And Basketball Programs Face 3 Year Probations – WCBI


A former University of Mississippi women?s basketball assistant coach, a former director of basketball operations and two women?s basketball student-athletes acted unethically when they committed academic fraud to ensure the student-athletes were eligible to enroll at the university, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. In addition, they each provided false and misleading information during the investigation. The former head women?s basketball coach failed to monitor the two staff members? activities surrounding the two student-athletes? online coursework.

Ole Miss logo for web

Additionally, a former assistant coach and a former head coach for the women?s track team acted unethically when they provided false and misleading information during the investigation into impermissible recruiting tryouts and contacts. The former head track coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance in his program by not reporting the assistant track coach?s recruiting activities to the university.

Penalties in the case include three years of probation and show-cause orders for a number of individuals. During the show-cause period, if any of the individuals are hired by an NCAA school, that school must follow the terms of each of their respective show-cause orders. The university self-imposed women?s basketball and women?s track recruiting restrictions, women?s basketball scholarship reductions, a women?s basketball postseason ban and a prohibition of two-year college transfers in women?s basketball.

In order to resolve the women?s track and women?s basketball violations efficiently, the panel separated the case earlier this year when new potential allegations came to light in the football program, which required further investigation. The panel did not and will not review any information related to the football program until the university and enforcement staff have completed the investigation. The NCAA will not comment further on the status of the ongoing investigation.

?When both the university and enforcement staff informed the panel that they needed more time to further investigate the potential allegations in the football program after the enforcement staff delivered its notice of allegations, the panel separated this case to be fair to the university, and the involved individuals in the women?s basketball and track programs,? said Greg Christopher, the panel?s chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier University. ?The panel maintains its commitment to fairness and processing infractions matters efficiently. Our panel?s review was limited to only women?s basketball and track. No football-related materials were part of our record, and we will only take up the football allegations once the investigation has concluded.?

Women?s basketball findings

The former women?s basketball head coach delegated recruiting and compliance responsibilities to the former assistant coach with little supervision. That action resulted in the former assistant coach and former director of basketball operations completing and submitting coursework for five online classes that two prospective student-athletes needed to complete their associate degrees.

The former assistant coach paid for and enrolled one of the student-athletes in two summer online classes. She also instructed the other student-athlete to enroll in three online courses at three different schools. The former assistant coach and the former director of operations then completed all of the coursework for the three online courses for one student-athlete and the majority of the other student-athlete?s coursework. The former director of operations and assistant coach also arranged for an acquaintance to pose as a proctor for an exam required for one of the student-athletes. The proctor provided the exam in advance to the former assistant coach, who then forwarded the exam to another individual. The student-athlete received a grade on the exam; however, she admitted she did not go to the testing site and did not take the exam.

During the investigation, the university found emails from the former director of operations to one of the student-athletes that included completed coursework. As the university reviewed the case, the emails began disappearing. It later found that the former director of operations deleted his personal emails related to the case and had logged in to the student-athlete?s junior college account and deleted emails related to the investigation.

The former assistant coach and former director of operations violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when they arranged for the fraudulent academic credits, stated that they were not involved in the academic fraud and tried to cover up their activities. The two student-athletes acted unethically when they initially stated they completed their own coursework. One of the student-athletes also denied that the former assistant coach paid for her courses and in a later interview admitted to deleting text messages between herself and the former assistant coach.

The former head coach failed to monitor the two staff members? activities surrounding the two student-athletes? coursework. The former head coach knew the two student-athletes faced academic challenges, but did not supervise his staff members in monitoring the student-athletes? academic status. His lack of questioning, delegation and reliance on the former assistant coach and former director of operations allowed them to operate unchecked and commit academic fraud.

?While the panel believed it is reasonable for a coach to delegate recruiting responsibilities to his staff members, we also believe that those responsibilities cannot remain unchecked,? Christopher said. ?It is important for schools to hire staff members that are committed to following the rules and stress the importance of ensuring that their programs share that same commitment. It is particularly important for head coaches with new coaching staffs to establish these principles at the beginning of their tenure. It is equally important that schools provide head coaches with the support and resources necessary to establish the proper tone of compliance within their programs.?

Women?s track program findings

Two former assistant track coaches impermissibly contacted student-athletes at their respective previous schools. One of those schools contacted the university to notify the former head track coach about the recruitment activities. The former head coach then told the former assistant coach to end recruitment of the student-athlete, but did not report the impermissible activity to the university. The former head coach also was aware of the other former assistant coach?s impermissible recruiting activity at her previous school.

One of the two former assistant coaches also arranged for 20 women?s track and cross country prospects to attend official team practices during paid visits and observed the prospects as they ran with the women?s cross country student-athletes during weekend practices. NCAA rules do not allow coaches to observe prospects participating in activities during official visits. The former head coach was aware that the runs took place and that prospects were present in the same location as the team members.

The former assistant coach who observed prospects during the weekend runs acted unethically when she stated during initial interviews that she took precautions to avoid having prospects run with current student-athletes.

The former head coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance in his program when he did not report the former assistant coaches? recruiting activities to the university and did not monitor the weekend runs with prospects and student-athletes. He also acted unethically when he stated he was not aware of the former assistant track coaches? recruiting activities.

Penalties and corrective actions

Penalties and corrective actions imposed by the panel include:

  • A three-year probation period from Oct. 7, 2016, through Oct. 6, 2019.
  • Six-year show-cause orders for the former assistant basketball coach and the former director of basketball operations from Oct. 7, 2016, through Oct. 6, 2022. During that period, if either individual is employed by an NCAA school in an athletically related position, school officials must appear with the individual before a Committee on Infractions panel.
  • A two-year show-cause order for the former head basketball coach from Oct. 7, 2016, through Oct. 6, 2018. Any NCAA school employing him in an athletically related position during that time must appear with him before a Committee on Infractions panel.
  • One-year show-cause orders for the former head track coach and the two former assistant track coaches. During that period, if either individual is employed by an NCAA school in an athletically related position, school officials must appear with the individual before a Committee on Infractions panel.

Self-imposed penalties by the university included:

  • A reduction in the number of women?s basketball scholarships by two to 13 during the 2013-14 academic year.
  • A reduction in women?s basketball official visits by four, from a total of 12 to eight, during the 2012-13 academic year and by two, from 12 to 10 total, during the 2013-14 academic year.
  • A reduction in women?s track and field official visits by 30, from 60 to 30 total, during the 2014-15 academic year.
  • A one-year women?s basketball postseason ban during the 2012-13 academic season.
  • A reduction in women?s basketball recruiting-person days by 20, from 100 allowable days to 80, during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • A reduction of women?s track and field recruiting-person days by 14.5, from 63.5 allowable days to 49, during the 2014-15 academic year.
  • A prohibition of women?s basketball staff initiating phone calls with prospects and their families for eight weeks during the spring 2013 semester.
  • A prohibition of the women?s basketball program from signing two-year college transfer prospects during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. In addition to Christopher, the members of the panel who reviewed this case are Carol Cartwright, president emerita at Kent State University; Bobby Cremins, former head basketball coach at Georgia Tech; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, athletics director; Eleanor W. Myers, committee vice chair and law professor at Temple University; Larry Parkinson, director of enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Jill Pilgrim, attorney in private practice.

WWE News: Ric Flair And Other Wrestling Legends Helped Write A Comic Book – The Inquisitr

The latest WWE news comes, of all places, out of New York Comic Con. As hard as it may be to believe that wrestling and comics can go together, one man has proved that the two worlds can be married with great success, and he?s also proved that others believe in the dream so much that they?re willing to be a part of it with him.

Michael Kingston is the creator of Headlocked, a comic book that has been all the rage on the WWE news bulletin boards since it first came out in 2007. Featuring a painted cover by Jerry Lawler, Headlocked tells the story of a man who would do anything to see his wrestling dreams come true, and is actually a very realistic depiction of the life of a wrestler.

?I?ve been a fan of both wrestling and comic books since I was eight years old,? said Kingston in an exclusive interview with the Inquisitr. ?But there were never any good wrestling comics, so I decided to make one of my own. When I first started [Headlocked], I was doing it all myself. But, eventually, other wrestlers caught on to what I was doing, and said that they wanted to be a part of it.?

Michael Kingston Headlocked WWE news
Michael Kingston is the creator of ?Headlocked,? a comic book that is making the WWE news headlines. [Image by Bernadette Giacomazzo]

The comic has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2007. In fact, as of now, the latest WWE news reports on the comic suggest that we can see a lot more familiar faces from the world of wrestling contributing to the series. ?We?ve had more than 20 televised wrestlers contribute to Headlocked,? said Kingston. ?Jerry Lawler designs all of our covers now. AJ Styles and Ken Anderson are just a few who have already contributed. Mick Foley is also lined up to do a story, as is Rey Mysterio. So it?s really kind of blown up. It?s a labor of love, you know what I mean??

As Kingston spoke with the Inquisitr, he was periodically interrupted by loud calls of ?Whoo!? Any wrestling fan knows that that sound can only come from one wrestler: the legendary Nature Boy, Ric Flair, who also contributed to the series and was on hand signing autographs and taking pictures with expectant fans. It was pretty hard to believe that Flair is a comic book fan, let alone one who would contribute to a series like this, but Kingston stressed that the important thing was that everyone who was involved in Headlocked had the same mentality.

?We?re all fans of wrestling,? Kingston said. ?And we?re all fans of comic books.?

WWE News Michael Kingston Headlocked New York ComicCon
Michael Kingston, creator of ?Headlocked,? is making WWE news headlines because he said he would like The Rock to do an issue of his comic. [Image by Bernadette Giacomazzo]

And the latest news about the comic should be making all the WWE news headlines: Kingston is in talks with a few different people to possibly develop the idea of the comic even further! ?It?s written in the style of a cable drama,? he said. ?I think it would be perfect for HBO, AMC, or FX. In my heart of hearts, honestly, I?d love for it to be a late-night cartoon, and have some of the wrestlers do the voices for it. At some level, I don?t want people to cripple themselves to have to put together this show ? having it as a cartoon will eliminate that risk.?

Of course, there are a few things that Kingston would like to see for his comic before he takes it to the small screen ? namely, there are some wrestlers whom he?d love to have contribute their talents to the series. Who, specifically? ?My dream people to do stories would be Paul Heyman [Brock Lesnar?s spokesman], and, obviously, The Rock.?

What do you think of this latest WWE news?

Leave your thoughts about this latest WWE news from New York Comic Con in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Bernadette Giacomazzo]

Jets can't expect Beckham-like meltdowns from this stud WR – New York Post

Antonio Brown should serve as a reminder to Odell Beckham Jr. that you can be great without allowing defensive backs to get in your head. You can play with a raging fire and competitiveness and catch footballs instead of hell all over the field, and get in their heads instead of the other way around.

Brown is the worst possible receiver at the worst possible time for the Jets, who have been sabotaged by communication issues in their secondary and won?t know until just before Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pittsburgh whether Darrelle Revis can play.

Catch him if you can.

?[Brown] reminds me of a couple of players as far as like hands, speed and his mindset,? Antonio Allen said. ?I?d say he?s got a little Jerry Rice in him with his hands ? Steve Smith as far as his attitude ? in and out of the breaks like Chad Johhson or something. He?s a really electric guy. You have to pay a good amount of detail to him ?cause he?s a guy who can go all the way, you know??

Allen was asked how he would compare Brown?s attitude with Beckham?s attitude.

?Of course, it?s more controlling, you know?? Allen said. ?He?s a guy who can control himself and control his temper. He?s a pro, you know? He?s gonna show up and do what he?s supposed to do, and if it?s not going his way he?s gonna look for other ways to get the ball and get open.?

The Jets have allowed 16 passes of 20-plus yards, seven for 40-plus yards. Brown, the NFL?s preeminent lethal weapon, must be salivating.

?He?s a scrappy guy,? Marcus Williams said. ?I?m not gonna say he?s gonna fight you, but he?s gonna try to get into your head a lot, and as a competitor like myself, you can?t let that get to you. You gotta just go out there and do your job and focus on the game plan.?
How does he get in your head?

?Him making plays, score a touchdown, dancing, a lot of things like that,? Williams said.

Beckham has yet to score a touchdown, which means he has yet to dance, which means he isn?t having fun. Which means he isn?t getting in anyone?s head other than his own.

Brown? His receiving yards have improved the past three years from 1,499 to 1,698 to 1,834 ? with 8, 13 and 10 TDs respectively. He has 28 catches for 369 yards and four TDs this season. Ben Roethlisberger trusts him implicitly, and the return of running back Le?Veon Bell makes him all the more of a threat.

Ex-Steeler Steve McLendon played with Brown.

?He practices hard, he trains hard, he does everything like full speed, and I think that?s what makes him the player he is,? McLendon said. ?It?s just like if you?ve got this horse to get him ready for this race. ? He trains his body to win every race. Just like any sprinter, like Usain Bolt ? he trains to win every race.?

He wins most of them, wherever he lines up on the field. Brown is just 5-foot-10, 181 pounds, but he plays so much bigger, with as big a heart as there is in the game. Cornerback Marcus Williams played against Brown two years ago.

?He?s not the tallest guy, but he competes at an ultimate level,? Williams said. ?He?s a guy that?s gonna give his all every single down.?

Antonio Brown catches a 38-yard touchdown pass in front of the Chiefs? Steven Nelson.Photo: Getty Images

Now you see him, now you don?t.

?He?s quicker than probably everyone he?s playing against,? Williams said. ?He?s very fast as well. And also, he has great hands. When the ball?s around him, he catches everything, and he also has a quarterback that puts the ball in the perfect spot for him, and you just see that chemistry that they have there. ? They do it very well.?

How do you slow him down?

?You definitely try to get hands on him as much as you can,? Williams said. ?Probably have a lot of guys, I mean, not just one person guard him, have sort of a lot of guys in coverage, making sure you know where he?s at all times. That?s definitely a plan that you have to go into before the game ?cause you know he?s gonna get a lot of targets.?

One false move and you?re toast, watching him twerk in the end zone from a distance.

?You just gotta try to stay in front of him,? Williams said.
Brown even returns punts, and as a former quarterback, can hurt you with his arm.

?Everything you need a receiver to do, plus more, he does,? safety Rontez Miles said. ?He gives you everything in one, and does it better than probably anybody right now.?

Rookie cornerback Juston Burris marvels: ?His route running is impeccable. He?s able to judge the ball, he?s able to find the ball.?

How do you slow down Antonio Brown?

?Just go into the game with that mindset that he?s another receiver and you?re going out there and play your A game,? Burris said.

He is not another receiver. And the Jets haven?t played anything close to their A game. And may be without Revis. Prepare for Brownout.

Fantasy hockey primer: Central Division – ESPN

ESPN is bringing you quick-hitting team previews ahead of the 2016-17 fantasy season, with a spin through each division. We’ll look at what’s new, upward and downward trending players, and the goaltending situation for all 30 teams.

The goaltender index is a rating from one to 10, with one being your workhorse starters that face no threat whatsoever to their expected workload of 60-plus games, and 10 being a situation that is already a full-blown timeshare between two goalies.

What’s new: The Hawks have — once again — had a few from their forward ranks leave, and helped a few others find new homes as they work to stay under the salary cap. Andrew Ladd, Teuvo Teravainen, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann are all gone from the roster that made last season’s playoffs. That opens up plenty of opportunity up front for newcomers to find a role. Among them, Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte, Vincent Hinostroza and Mark McNeill are fighting for the key role of wingman to Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

Create a league with your own custom settings, or join one. Either way, it’s free!
Sign up now!

On defense, prodigal son Brian Campbell returns, and will surely pair back up with Nicklas Hjalmarsson. The pair didn’t have any fantasy value when last together in 2010-11. Now, as it was then, they are both clear second fiddles to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, so don’t expect anything to have changed now that Campbell is five years older and on the wrong side of 35.

Trending up: Nick Schmaltz, C: Of the rookies jockeying for position, Schmaltz has the most positive reviews out of the Blackhawks training camp. He’s coming off an NCAA championship season and has first-round draft pedigree. A bit more of a playmaker than a finisher, he could fit in well on the second line, but only if Hossa manages to have a big bounce-back season.

Trending down: Brent Seabrook, D: On the surface, fantasy owners might be drawn to Seabrook, who finished as the best fantasy defenseman for the Blackhawks last season. But it’s very notable that he is not the top dog when Duncan Keith is still around. Of Seabrook’s totals last season of 14 goals and 35 assists, a very large chunk of them came during a 10-game injury and five-game suspension faced by Keith. In those 15 games, Seabrook had four goals and 14 assists. If you look at just his pace when Keith was present, he played an 82-game pace of just 38 points. That is not elite, No. 1 fantasy defenseman status. Unless something happens to Keith this season, Seabrook is still a No. 3 fantasy defenseman.

Goaltender index: 2. There are zero concerns with Corey Crawford, but we downgrade this from a “1” because Scott Darling has had some moments of brilliance in relief (more in 2014-15 than last season). It keeps him top of mind more than other afterthought backup goalies, and gives the Hawks the confidence needed to keep Crawford below the 60-game threshold. But the fact remains that Crawford was top 10 in wins and save percentage last season, and top 20 in goals-against average, so he is a clear cut No. 1 fantasy goaltender.

What’s new: After the abrupt resignation of coach Patrick Roy, the Avalanche decided to go with a battle-tested, up-and-coming bench boss in Jared Bednar. Winning already at the ECHL and AHL levels on his way up the ladder, Bednar has been talking about nothing but “speed” and “systems” since taking over the Avs. That’s huge for fantasy owners, who have been forced to watch as Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon — two players bursting with speed — under-performed in recent campaigns. There should be a lot of optimism about the team from an offensive perspective, just don’t reach on any of the players in your draft, as a coaching change doesn’t always mean wholesale fortune changes for players.

There were minimal personnel changes on the ice for the Avs. The big three forwards — Gabriel Landeskog, Duchene and MacKinnon — are all due for a rebound season, while supporting cast members such as Mikko Rantanen and Mikhail Grigorenko have breakout potential. Tyson Barrie is the only defender name you need to know for fantasy, and he’s sometimes overlooked for his contributions.

Trending up: Nathan MacKinnon, C: There is enough talent in this tank that it’s going to take at least one — perhaps two — more years of mid-range fantasy production before we write him off. MacKinnon has all the puzzle pieces that scream 30 goals and 70 points, but his past two seasons have been below his 24-goal, 63-point rookie campaign. A new coach with a focus on exploiting the Avalanche’s speed up and down the roster should bode well for MacKinnon, and is a chance for him to hit the reset button after a couple of disappointing seasons.

Trending down: Jarome Iginla, RW: With more than half his goals and 40 percent of his points coming on the power play, a new coach looking for “speed” isn’t necessarily a good thing for a 39-year-old Iginla. He was barely roster-worthy last season, and another step down would take Iginla out of the mix for all but the deepest of leagues. An improving Grigorenko or impact from Rantanen would further push Iginla away from playing time with the catalysts on offense.

Goaltender index: 3. Semyon Varlamov is perfectly safe as the starter; it’s more of a question of whether the ratios will stabilize. After posting 41 wins with great supporting numbers in 2013-14, Varlamov’s fantasy stats — wins, goals-against average and save percentage — have all become increasingly worse for the past two seasons. Things were bad enough last season that he was a detriment to any fantasy owner that stuck with him. Can Bednar and the Avs turn the ship around? With the talent on this team, yes. But it takes time for ships to turn, so make Varly a stash in your draft, and you’ll be much happier with his as a third goalie.

What’s new: Losing Alex Goligoski, Kris Russell and Jason Demers, while only gaining Dan Hamhuis, on a team that finished with the 23rd-worst save percentage in the NHL is not great news for the blue line. But preventing goals isn’t what won the Stars 50 games last season.

It was all about scoring them.

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are among the best linemates for fantasy hockey in the NHL, with both arguable as first-round picks in your draft. Add Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp as a veteran backup duo and you have a dangerous top six no matter how you fill out the other two spots. Jiri Hudler was brought in to compete for one of those spots, while Radek Faksa, Patrick Eaves, Ales Hemsky and Brett Ritchie will compete to fill out the depth chart.

Trending up: Jiri Hudler, W: As mentioned, there are two spots in the Stars’ top six up for grabs, and Hudler, given his track record, has an inside track on one of them. Playing with Spezza and Sharp in the preseason, Hudler would make a fine linemate for the duo during the season and could rebound closer — but not all the way — to his 2014-15 numbers. He’ll also surely win a role on the power play in some capacity, given his skills around the net.

Trending down: John Klingberg, D: It’s certainly encouraging that he found his footing again toward the end of the season, but Klingberg’s splits can’t be ignored when evaluating his worthiness as a potential top-10 fantasy defenseman. If you take just December, January, March and April, Klingberg scored 15 points in 38 games. If you take October, November and February, Klingberg scored 39 points in 38 games. We think he is a top-10 fantasy asset, but any hopes of the ridiculous point-per-game production from select months last season should be set aside. If anything, Klingberg should be a more consistent 50-point defenseman this season. That’s valuable, but don’t expect anything crazy.

Goaltender index: 10. This is a straight-up timeshare, and the team is happy to tell you about it. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen will split this right down the middle. Furthermore, Niemi had the better ratios last season at a 2.67 goals-against average and .905 save percentage — neither of which helps any fantasy hockey team. To review: We have two goalies who will split time and produce ratios that hurt your squad. Look elsewhere for your fantasy goaltending this season.

There is one exception to that advice, however. If you’re in a daily lineup league, and monitor goaltender probables throughout the season, and you have a bookend in a snake draft — we could see you finding value in this tandem as your combination No. 2 goalie. But you have to take them both with consecutive picks (preferably after the 17th round) and your No. 1 goalie has to have sparkling ratios, and you won’t be able to set-and-forget your team at any point.

What’s new: Arguably the best regular season coach in the NHL, Bruce Boudreau was hired with little hesitation by the Wild when he became available after the season. Known for his injection of strong offense, the fantasy implications could be sweeping for a few members of the Wild.

2 Related

At the very least, the team’s middling power play should push up toward the top of the rankings, giving a boost to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in the process. We highlight those two, because there will be some flux with the rest of the lineup because of the addition of Eric Staal. Is he the Wild’s top center? Does he play on the wing? Is he lower down the depth chart following the worst season of his career since his rookie showing?

We think Staal still has plenty of juice left in his experienced 31-year-old legs, and should pair up with Parise to start things off. Both, under the tutelage of Boudreau, will almost certainly outperform what it costs to get them in drafts. The optimism don’t end there, as the Wild boast a deep mix of top-six worthy players that will slot in depending on Boudreau’s preferences. Keep a closer eye on the Wild than most other NHL teams through the preseason, as any one of Charlie Coyle, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula or even Tomas Fleischmann could be fantasy darlings — but not all of them.

Trending up: Charlie Coyle, C: Boudreau has put any speculation to Coyle’s position to rest, setting him up to play on the wing. Which, in turn, makes him likely to start the season on a top line with Staal and Parise. The combination would be three big bodies with plenty of offensive talent. Coyle scored 21 goals and 21 assists last season, but a move to the top line would push him to 30-30 range.

Trending down: Mikael Granlund, C: Even though Coyle’s no longer a center, that still leaves Koivu, Granlund and Haula in the mix for the second scoring line. Unfortunately for Granlund, Koivu is going to win that battle and play down the middle for the second line. Granlund does not have the profile of a winger, and may end up being relegated to the third line because of it.

Goaltender index: 1. Dubnyk has completely stabilized the Wild’s crease and, despite coming back down to Earth a little from his stellar 2014-15 campaign, still had a top-12 fantasy season between the pipes. Only injury could stop Dubnyk from being among the league leaders for games played among goaltenders this season, which should translate into solid fantasy numbers if Boudreau can get him more offensive support.

What’s new: Aside from trading in the old for the new when it comes to their No. 1 defenseman — admittedly, one of the biggest trades in recent memory — not much is new with the Predators this season. Depending on who you ask, that’s not such a bad thing. This is a team on the rise, with Filip Forsberg getting better with each passing season and Ryan Johansen ready to buckle down for his first full campaign as the team’s No. 1 center.

Adding P.K. Subban in exchange for Shea Weber adds an element of youthful enthusiasm and next-level puck skills, while giving up Weber’s edge for defensive responsibility and shot power. In other words, it’s a good deal for the Predators. Fantasy owners should bank on a career year from Subban in the Predators system.

Trending up: Ryan Johansen, C: A full offseason to prepare to be the Preds franchise center should help Johansen come in ready to come closer to his previous numbers again. For two seasons prior to last one, Johansen averaged 30 goals, 38 assists and 220 shots. A return to that threshold would push him into the top 25 fantasy players again. More time to develop a bond with the players around him, rather than be thrown in mid-season, should go a long way.

Trending down: Mike Fisher, C: We’ve listed Fisher here, but consider all of the old guard second-line players on notice for the coming season. That includes Mike Ribeiro, Craig Smith and playoff performer Colin Wilson. The Predators projected third line of Calle Jarnkrok, Kevin Fiala and Victor Arvidsson possesses a ton of skill and some — if not all — of them will push for a share of the ice time usually reserved for fantasy streamers like Fisher, Smith or Ribeiro.

Goaltender index: 1. There is no controversy in the Predators crease, but it’s not because Rinne has been holding down the fort. His save percentage has been pedestrian in three of the past four seasons, and the results have been less than worthy of a No. 1 fantasy goalie. On paper, however, the Predators are a team that can fuel elite goaltender statistics, and it will be a matter of Rinne buckling down and finding the form we know he has. As long as he’s taken later than some of the other elite goaltenders, he’s an acceptable choice as a No. 1 option. There really isn’t any reasonable choice behind him, so he’ll start close to 65 games either way.

What’s new: The losses of David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott will hurt, to be sure, but the Blues have the skills in the prospect pool to absorb the blow. Jake Allen is already well established as the goaltender of the future, while Robby Fabbri can join the top six to help fill the void.

David Perron is also making his return to the Blues, which has the team alluding to a return to center for Patrik Berglund. These two had some chemistry from earlier in their career, playing on a line together with Andy McDonald back in the day.

Trending up: Robby Fabbri, C: Part of a scoring line for the Blues in the playoffs with Paul Stastny, Fabbri had 15 points in 20 games. It was a coming-out party for the rookie, following a fairly quiet regular season. There’s a role open for him to play with Stastny regularly on the second line now that Backes is gone. An increase in ice time from his 13 minutes last season will push up his counting stats to comfortable fantasy territory.

Trending down: David Perron, W: Falling backward into a dream role on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to end last season, Perron now returns to the Blues, who drafted him in 2007 and suffered through his injury-riddled early career. But Perron won’t be waltzing into a prime role with the Blues. The first line shouldn’t change once Jaden Schwartz is healthy, as he’ll join Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera again. Paul Stastny, Fabbri and Alexander Steen should fill out the top six. After a very strong fantasy finish to last season, Perron will need something to break right (or wrong, via an injury to someone else) for him to find value again this season.

Goaltender index: 2. Like John Gibson in Anaheim, we give Allen a slight downgrade because this is the first season he’ll be working the high wire without a net. But on the whole, there are very few concerns with how this new No. 1 workhorse will handle the team. Allen posted a sterling .920 save percentage and respectable 2.35 goals-against average, while increasing his workload from 37 to 47 games last season. A leap to 60 shouldn’t be a stretch, and the Blues are still poised to win plenty of games. We have him ranked as the last No. 1 fantasy goaltender in a 12-team league.

What’s new: The most dynamic young scorer since Alex Ovechkin added to the Jets’ lineup is what’s new! Patrik Laine brings an elite-level scoring touch to the Jets’ top six immediately. In fact, the team would be wise to start the season with new franchise center Mark Scheifele and Laine on a line together out of the gate. Laine is about the closest thing to a possible 30-goal rookie as you can get, and thanks to his prowess for shots on goal, he will have a huge impact on ESPN standard leagues. We’ve got him ranked 78th coming into the season, but honestly, that’s conservative.

One of the reasons we can be so confident with Laine’s performance is the depth of the Jets’ elite group of forwards. Blake Wheeler is as consistently great as they come, Scheifele took an enormous leap forward with 32 points in the final 25 games as the No. 1 center, and Bryan Little can slide back to the No. 2 center role he was made for. Nikolaj Ehlers and Marko Dano both have room for improvement, while Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault offer depth.

Dustin Byfuglien is the only lock for fantasy value from the blue line, as Jacob Trouba’s contract stalemate means he might be leaving town.

Trending up: Mark Scheifele, C: Despite an absolutely pedestrian first half of the season, Scheifele finished the campaign 50th on the ESPN player rater. After the All-Star break, only Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton had more points. It should be abundantly clear to the Jets that Scheifele’s time is now to take over the reins of the offense. He has as much chance of anyone you can get after the third round of your draft to finish in the top 10 fantasy players.

Trending down: Mathieu Perreault, C: Things are getting crowded in Winnipeg and the result will be Perreault being forced into a third-line role going forward. For the past couple seasons, he’s provided spurts of fantasy value and has been a modest contributor on the power play. With Laine in town, Ehlers continuing to develop and Dano with an outside shot at more time, Perreault won’t sniff many power-play opportunities going forward.

Goaltender index: 9. The Jets’ crease is a hot mess, with the team’s best goaltender possibly starting in the AHL because of an ill-conceived contact extension offered to Michael Hutchinson. Outside of an outstanding 2014-15, Ondrej Pavelec is a replacement-level netminder and Hutchinson struggled with opportunities handed to him last season. Connor Hellebuyck was miles ahead of both for ratios in his 26 games last season, and fantasy owners will have to bide their time until he takes over. Avoid Hutchinson and Pavelec at your draft, but stash Hellebuyck on your bench.