Sharks look to avenge hit on White with 2-0 lead

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Sharks look to avenge hit on White with 2-0 lead

April 15, 2011
LOS ANGELES vs. SHARKSSHARKS VIDEOCoverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE (AP) The Los Angeles Kings know they will be without forward Jarret Stoll for one game for his blindside hit that knocked San Jose defender Ian White out of Game 1 of their first-round series.The Sharks don't know yet how long they will be without White, who missed practice Friday as he tries to recover from a head injury and is expected to miss at least one game.The NHL suspended Stoll for Game 2 on Saturday night for hitting White in the league's latest crackdown on hits on defenseless players."Obviously I'm disappointed with the decision," Stoll said after practice Friday. "I don't want to miss any games, whether it's the regular season or especially the playoffs. I'm really disappointed with the decision, but I respect it."The hit in question came at the end of the first period with White trying to play the puck while facing the end boards behind his own net. Stoll hit him from behind, appearing to drive his head into the glass with his forearm.There was no penalty called on the play, but that did not help Stoll escape punishment."It was a dirty hit," said Sharks enforcer Ben Eager, who fought with Kyle Clifford on the ensuing faceoff. "I don't see how you could watch the replay and see it and not see it as a dirty hit. He had his back to him the whole time. Hopefully Whitey is all right."White crumpled and looked groggy as he was helped off the ice with a cut on his face. He was examined by team doctors and has a head injury, coach Todd McLellan said.McLellan would not say if White received a concussion, but said he will not play until doctors clear him."I hope he's OK," Stoll said. "You never want to see a guy get knocked out or have a concussion or miss any time. I missed a lot of time with a concussion years back and I know what it feels like. I definitely don't want to put anyone in that situation. He's a good player."The suspension angered Kings management, with assistant general manager Ron Hextall saying hockey is a physical game and sometimes injuries happen and coach Terry Murray upset that Sharks defenseman Jason Demers wasn't punished at all for a hit later in the game on Ryan Smyth."That other hit is five times more severe, more intentional, traveling distance, launching yourself two to three feet off the ice and a blow to the head," he said. "That is a major longtime suspension."The league did not see it that way and now the Kings must try to even up the series after a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 without their second-line center, who also plays important roles on the power play and penalty kill. Los Angeles is already without its top center, Anze Kopitar, who is sidelined by an ankle injury.Now they must find a way to replace Stoll, who was their best faceoff man in Game 1 and teamed with Smyth and Justin Williams on Los Angeles' most productive line in the opener.Stoll was one of six 20-goal scorers for the Kings this season, posting 20 goals and 23 assists. The Kings, who scored the fewest goals of any playoff team in the regular season, are now missing two of their top offensive threats."He's going to be missed," Murray said. "You're not going to replace that right-handed shot, right-handed faceoff guy. Other guys will have to try to be better and dig in and try to get the job done. There's no one we have who can step in and replace everything that Jarret Stoll brings to our game."Trevor Lewis will move up to center that line with John Zeiler being called up from the minors to take a spot as fourth-line center.McLellan has not decided whether rookie Justin Braun or veteran Kent Huskins will go in place of White on Saturday for Game 2. Huskins, who won the Stanley Cup in Anaheim in 2007, missed the final 22 games of the season with an upper-body injury and has just recently returned to practice.Braun, a 24-year-old rookie, played 28 games this season with the Sharks, posting two goals and nine assists. He has a big shot from the point and got time on the power play."You don't want to see a guy go down, but you always have to be ready and be focused," he said. "I paid attention to the game last night as much as I could. I tried to take it all in."White played 401 regular season games before finally making it to the postseason for the first time and got a point on his first shift. White started the game with Niclas Wallin and helped set up Dany Heatley's rebound goal just 28 seconds into the contest - the fastest playoff goal in Sharks history."He's been so pumped to play in the playoffs," Wallin said. "Three games before the end of the season the guy is jumping around and so pumped up. He's a competitive guy. He's going to come back."White played eight more shifts in the first period and got involved on the offensive end before his injury in the final minute of the first period.

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Report: Shanahan 'almost certain' to accept 49ers' offer

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reportedly “almost certain” to accept the 49ers’ offer to become head coach.

Shanahan is the lone remaining candidate among the six individuals who interviewed with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe. The 49ers plan for a second interview with Shanahan and a job offer, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Shanahan is expected to accept the 49ers’ offer, reports Michael Silver of the NFL Network, citing sources familiar with both parties.

The 49ers continued to work Tuesday evening on the process of narrowing down the general manager choices, a source said. Shanahan is expected to play a role in the select the team’s next GM, sources said.

On Tuesday, Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner removed their names from consideration for the vacant coach and general manager positions. The 49ers fired Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke after the 49ers' 2-14 season.

One source said Cable and Kirchner believed the 49ers were using them as leverage to hire Shanahan. Cable interviewed with 49ers co-chair Denise DeBartolo York over the phone on Tuesday, NFL Network reported.

The 49ers are allowed to interview Shanahan for a second time after the Falcons’ NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers are prohibited from hiring or making a formal contract offer to Shanahan until the Falcons' season has concluded.

The top remaining candidates for the general manager job are believed to be Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Arizona's Terry McDonough and Minnesota's George Paton.

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

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AP

Wilcox embracing challenge, will change the way Cal looks on field

BERKELEY — With more than a half-century without a Rose Bowl berth, tougher academic standards than most Pac-12 schools and lackluster fan support in a pro-sports focused market, there are plenty of hurdles for a football coach at California.

Coach Justin Wilcox took the job for the Golden Bears because he embraces those obstacles and he wants players who feel the same way as he seeks to rebuild a program that has one winning record in the past five years and no conference championships since 1958.

"When you come here, there are challenges," Wilcox said at his introductory news conference Tuesday. "You don't come here and go through school and just go through the motions. You'll be challenged in the classroom, challenged on the football field and learn to interact in a dynamic society. I believe in that and that helps guys grow."

Wilcox faces many hurdles in his new job replacing the recently fired Sonny Dykes less than three weeks before national signing day. He has to put together a coaching staff, evaluate the players already on campus and try to keep together, and even add to, a recruiting class that committed to a different staff.

Athletic director Mike Williams fired Dykes after four seasons on Jan. 8 because he wanted a coach committed to Cal instead of flirting with other jobs and needed someone who could excite a fan base that often stayed away from Memorial Stadium in recent years as the Bears teamed porous defenses with sometimes exciting offenses while posting a 19-30 record.

Williams had five finalists for the job but chose a former Cal assistant with a defensive background and familiarity with the Pac-12 as an assistant for seven years at three schools in the conference.

"He truly gets this place, he truly gets coaching in the West," Williams said. "He came in and was very organized and thoughtful. He knew what he wanted to do and who he wanted to hire. ... It's a special place and I think he'll treat it as a special place."

While Dykes flirted with job openings at Houston and Baylor this past offseason in part because of his concern about increased academic standards for recruits, the Bears hope Wilcox is someone who wants to stick around after more than a decade of being on a self-described "windy" path as a top defensive coach.

The former Oregon defensive back began his coaching career in 2001 as a graduate assistant at Boise State. He spent three years as linebackers coach under Jeff Tedford at Cal from 2003-05 when the Bears nearly ended their Rose Bowl drought during a 10-win season with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2004.

Wilcox has spent the past 11 years as a defensive coordinator with stops at Boise State, Tennessee, Washington, Southern California and finally Wisconsin, where he helped the Badgers field a top 10 defense and win the Cotton Bowl.

Wilcox has worked and played for many successful coaches, including Tedford, Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins, Mike Bellotti, and Paul Chryst.

"I've been extremely fortunate to work for and with people I learned so much from," he said. "Each step along the way, I've seen it done a lot of different ways. I'm not trying to be any of those people. I always try to take pieces and make it my own."

Wilcox has begun putting together his staff, having hired former Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator and longtime Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood to fill that role on the Bears.

The Bears will look very different under Wilcox than Dykes. Wilcox said he will recruit tight ends as Cal moves from the spread "Bear Raid" offense that relied on four receivers almost exclusively to a more balanced offense with tight ends and more power concepts.

While he will delegate most of the offensive responsibilities to Baldwin, Wilcox said he will be more involved on defense where he wants to find players who can fit into his base 3-4 system.

Cal ranked 125th in total defense, 127th in scoring defense and 122nd in yards per play out of 128 FBS teams last season on the way to a 5-7 record.

"Every second is critical right now," Wilcox said. "I will not sacrifice the long-term good of the program for what everyone wants which is certainty. Things will happen quickly. I understand the recruits have some anxiety about the situation and there's emotions involved. That's totally understandable. I'd feel the same way."