Olympics Table Tennis

<p><strong>Dick LeBeau</strong> has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when <strong>Jim Brown</strong> still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of <strong>Johnny Unitas</strong>. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn&#39;t successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers&#39; defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he&#39;s been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with <strong>Mike Mularkey</strong> gone, there&#39;s a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.</p><p>Jason Wolf <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2018/01/16/titans-dick-lebeau-would-comfortable-retiring-if-not-asked-return-next-season-steelers-nfl-defensive/1035047001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn&#39;t right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there&#39;s a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It&#39;s also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau&#39;s relationships with the current players are a big reason he&#39;s considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau&#39;s legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week&#39;s matchup, <strong>Bill Belichick</strong> <span>said</span>, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league.&quot;</p><p><b><i>Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet?</i></b> <a href="https://www.si.com/static/newsletter/signup" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><i>Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle</i></a><i>.</i></p><h3><strong>HOT READS</strong></h3><p><b>NOW ON THE MMQB: </b>Jonathan Jones <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/sean-payton-new-orleans-saints-minnesota-vikings-skol-chant" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:argues" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">argues</a> that <strong>Sean Payton</strong> needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/scouting-new-england-patriots-using-steve-belichicks-scouting-manual?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:scouted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">scouted</a> the Patriots using <strong>Steve </strong><strong>Belichick</strong>&#39;s scouting manual ... <a href="http://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more.</a></p><p><b>LATER TODAY:</b> Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through <strong>Logan Ryan</strong>&#39;s eyes ... and more. <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stay tuned" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stay tuned</a>.</p><p><b>WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:</b> <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/vikings-saints-stefon-diggs-playoff-touchdown-miracle-met" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:On the Vikings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">On the Vikings</a>, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/nfl-coaching-carousel-news-mike-vrabel-tennessee-titans?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> that <strong>Mike Vrabel</strong> is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more</a>.</p><h3><b>PRESS COVERAGE</b></h3><p><strong>1</strong>. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: <strong>Drew Brees </strong>has <a href="http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/sports/saints/article_3d5523b2-faf9-11e7-a245-4b7be7dc2010.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:no plans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">no plans</a> to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, <strong>Sean Payton</strong> was caught taunting again, and this time he <a href="http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2018/01/sean_payton_skol_clap.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a>, &quot;It was good playoff fun.&quot;</p><p><strong>2. </strong>The biggest question mark in the playoffs is <em>still</em> whether<strong> Nick Foles</strong> is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/philadelphia-eagles-vikings-falcons-nfc-championship-nick-foles-doug-pederson-film-breakdown-nick-foles-tale-divisional-playoff-20180116.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:into the film" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">into the film</a> from last week to get answers.</p><p><b>3. </b><strong>Dion Lewis</strong> chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help <a href="http://www.espn.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4810470" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:carry the team" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">carry the team</a>.</p><p><b>4.</b> Rushing champion <strong>Kareem Hunt </strong>was <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/article194989514.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:named" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">named</a> rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.</p><p><strong>5. </strong>Former Giants coach <strong>Ben McAdoo</strong> is <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2018/01/ben_mcadoo_interviewing_for_br.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:interviewing" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">interviewing</a> for the Browns&#39; offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM <strong>John Dorsey</strong> from 2006-12 in Green Bay.</p><p><b>6. </b>Armando Salguero <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article194920564.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:explains" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">explains</a> the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout <strong>Jarvis Landry</strong>—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.</p><p>7. Maybe <strong>Doug Marrone</strong> was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team &quot;threw a tantrum,&quot; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/01/16/jags-threw-a-tantrum-when-marrone-started-making-changes/109507820/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according</a> to defensive tackle <strong>Malik Jackson</strong>.</p><p><strong>8. </strong>I&#39;ve seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don&#39;t have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark <a href="https://www.theringer.com/nfl-playoffs/2018/1/16/16896096/playoffs-2017-season-lessons-jaguars-patriots-vikings-eagles-quarterbacks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a> no, &quot;You still need a quarterback.&quot;</p><p><b>9. </b>You knew something was going to come out of <strong>Ben </strong><strong>Roethlisberger</strong>&#39;s <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2018/01/16/ben-roethlisberger-todd-haley-qb-sneaks-steelers-jaguars/stories/201801160087" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tuesday radio interview" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tuesday radio interview</a>. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can&#39;t audible to a QB sneak. &quot;I truly have never said I don&#39;t want to run it,&quot; the QB added. &quot;I have asked for it.&quot; This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.</p><p><strong>10. </strong>Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network <a href="http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/01/16/fox-abc-nbc-cbs-make-bids-for-tnf/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still wants" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still wants</a> to air it.</p><p><b><i>Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage?</i></b> <span><i>Let us know here.</i></span></p><h3><b>THE KICKER</b></h3><p>Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but <strong>Leonard Fournette </strong>getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000907265/article/leonard-fournette-uninjured-after-minor-car-crash" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a football crazy story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a football crazy story</a>.</p><p><i>Question? Comment? Story idea?</i><i> Let the team know at </i><i><span>talkback@themmqb.com</span></i></p>
Titans Coaching Shuffle Leaves a Legend in Limbo

Dick LeBeau has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when Jim Brown still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of Johnny Unitas. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn't successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers' defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he's been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with Mike Mularkey gone, there's a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.

Jason Wolf reported in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn't right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there's a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It's also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau's relationships with the current players are a big reason he's considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau's legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week's matchup, Bill Belichick said, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league."

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones argues that Sean Payton needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr scouted the Patriots using Steve Belichick's scouting manual ... and more.

LATER TODAY: Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through Logan Ryan's eyes ... and more. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: On the Vikings, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer reported that Mike Vrabel is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... and more.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: Drew Brees has no plans to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, Sean Payton was caught taunting again, and this time he says, "It was good playoff fun."

2. The biggest question mark in the playoffs is still whether Nick Foles is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) into the film from last week to get answers.

3. Dion Lewis chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help carry the team.

4. Rushing champion Kareem Hunt was named rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.

5. Former Giants coach Ben McAdoo is interviewing for the Browns' offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM John Dorsey from 2006-12 in Green Bay.

6. Armando Salguero explains the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout Jarvis Landry—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.

7. Maybe Doug Marrone was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team "threw a tantrum," according to defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

8. I've seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don't have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark says no, "You still need a quarterback."

9. You knew something was going to come out of Ben Roethlisberger's Tuesday radio interview. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can't audible to a QB sneak. "I truly have never said I don't want to run it," the QB added. "I have asked for it." This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.

10. Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network still wants to air it.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but Leonard Fournette getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is a football crazy story.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

<p><strong>Dick LeBeau</strong> has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when <strong>Jim Brown</strong> still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of <strong>Johnny Unitas</strong>. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn&#39;t successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers&#39; defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he&#39;s been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with <strong>Mike Mularkey</strong> gone, there&#39;s a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.</p><p>Jason Wolf <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2018/01/16/titans-dick-lebeau-would-comfortable-retiring-if-not-asked-return-next-season-steelers-nfl-defensive/1035047001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn&#39;t right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there&#39;s a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It&#39;s also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau&#39;s relationships with the current players are a big reason he&#39;s considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau&#39;s legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week&#39;s matchup, <strong>Bill Belichick</strong> <span>said</span>, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league.&quot;</p><p><b><i>Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet?</i></b> <a href="https://www.si.com/static/newsletter/signup" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><i>Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle</i></a><i>.</i></p><h3><strong>HOT READS</strong></h3><p><b>NOW ON THE MMQB: </b>Jonathan Jones <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/sean-payton-new-orleans-saints-minnesota-vikings-skol-chant" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:argues" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">argues</a> that <strong>Sean Payton</strong> needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/scouting-new-england-patriots-using-steve-belichicks-scouting-manual?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:scouted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">scouted</a> the Patriots using <strong>Steve </strong><strong>Belichick</strong>&#39;s scouting manual ... <a href="http://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more.</a></p><p><b>LATER TODAY:</b> Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through <strong>Logan Ryan</strong>&#39;s eyes ... and more. <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stay tuned" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stay tuned</a>.</p><p><b>WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:</b> <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/vikings-saints-stefon-diggs-playoff-touchdown-miracle-met" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:On the Vikings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">On the Vikings</a>, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/nfl-coaching-carousel-news-mike-vrabel-tennessee-titans?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> that <strong>Mike Vrabel</strong> is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more</a>.</p><h3><b>PRESS COVERAGE</b></h3><p><strong>1</strong>. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: <strong>Drew Brees </strong>has <a href="http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/sports/saints/article_3d5523b2-faf9-11e7-a245-4b7be7dc2010.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:no plans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">no plans</a> to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, <strong>Sean Payton</strong> was caught taunting again, and this time he <a href="http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2018/01/sean_payton_skol_clap.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a>, &quot;It was good playoff fun.&quot;</p><p><strong>2. </strong>The biggest question mark in the playoffs is <em>still</em> whether<strong> Nick Foles</strong> is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/philadelphia-eagles-vikings-falcons-nfc-championship-nick-foles-doug-pederson-film-breakdown-nick-foles-tale-divisional-playoff-20180116.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:into the film" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">into the film</a> from last week to get answers.</p><p><b>3. </b><strong>Dion Lewis</strong> chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help <a href="http://www.espn.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4810470" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:carry the team" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">carry the team</a>.</p><p><b>4.</b> Rushing champion <strong>Kareem Hunt </strong>was <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/article194989514.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:named" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">named</a> rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.</p><p><strong>5. </strong>Former Giants coach <strong>Ben McAdoo</strong> is <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2018/01/ben_mcadoo_interviewing_for_br.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:interviewing" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">interviewing</a> for the Browns&#39; offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM <strong>John Dorsey</strong> from 2006-12 in Green Bay.</p><p><b>6. </b>Armando Salguero <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article194920564.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:explains" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">explains</a> the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout <strong>Jarvis Landry</strong>—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.</p><p>7. Maybe <strong>Doug Marrone</strong> was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team &quot;threw a tantrum,&quot; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/01/16/jags-threw-a-tantrum-when-marrone-started-making-changes/109507820/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according</a> to defensive tackle <strong>Malik Jackson</strong>.</p><p><strong>8. </strong>I&#39;ve seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don&#39;t have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark <a href="https://www.theringer.com/nfl-playoffs/2018/1/16/16896096/playoffs-2017-season-lessons-jaguars-patriots-vikings-eagles-quarterbacks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a> no, &quot;You still need a quarterback.&quot;</p><p><b>9. </b>You knew something was going to come out of <strong>Ben </strong><strong>Roethlisberger</strong>&#39;s <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2018/01/16/ben-roethlisberger-todd-haley-qb-sneaks-steelers-jaguars/stories/201801160087" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tuesday radio interview" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tuesday radio interview</a>. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can&#39;t audible to a QB sneak. &quot;I truly have never said I don&#39;t want to run it,&quot; the QB added. &quot;I have asked for it.&quot; This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.</p><p><strong>10. </strong>Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network <a href="http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/01/16/fox-abc-nbc-cbs-make-bids-for-tnf/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still wants" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still wants</a> to air it.</p><p><b><i>Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage?</i></b> <span><i>Let us know here.</i></span></p><h3><b>THE KICKER</b></h3><p>Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but <strong>Leonard Fournette </strong>getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000907265/article/leonard-fournette-uninjured-after-minor-car-crash" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a football crazy story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a football crazy story</a>.</p><p><i>Question? Comment? Story idea?</i><i> Let the team know at </i><i><span>talkback@themmqb.com</span></i></p>
Titans Coaching Shuffle Leaves a Legend in Limbo

Dick LeBeau has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when Jim Brown still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of Johnny Unitas. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn't successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers' defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he's been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with Mike Mularkey gone, there's a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.

Jason Wolf reported in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn't right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there's a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It's also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau's relationships with the current players are a big reason he's considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau's legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week's matchup, Bill Belichick said, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league."

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones argues that Sean Payton needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr scouted the Patriots using Steve Belichick's scouting manual ... and more.

LATER TODAY: Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through Logan Ryan's eyes ... and more. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: On the Vikings, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer reported that Mike Vrabel is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... and more.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: Drew Brees has no plans to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, Sean Payton was caught taunting again, and this time he says, "It was good playoff fun."

2. The biggest question mark in the playoffs is still whether Nick Foles is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) into the film from last week to get answers.

3. Dion Lewis chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help carry the team.

4. Rushing champion Kareem Hunt was named rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.

5. Former Giants coach Ben McAdoo is interviewing for the Browns' offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM John Dorsey from 2006-12 in Green Bay.

6. Armando Salguero explains the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout Jarvis Landry—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.

7. Maybe Doug Marrone was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team "threw a tantrum," according to defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

8. I've seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don't have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark says no, "You still need a quarterback."

9. You knew something was going to come out of Ben Roethlisberger's Tuesday radio interview. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can't audible to a QB sneak. "I truly have never said I don't want to run it," the QB added. "I have asked for it." This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.

10. Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network still wants to air it.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but Leonard Fournette getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is a football crazy story.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

<p><strong>Dick LeBeau</strong> has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when <strong>Jim Brown</strong> still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of <strong>Johnny Unitas</strong>. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn&#39;t successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers&#39; defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he&#39;s been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with <strong>Mike Mularkey</strong> gone, there&#39;s a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.</p><p>Jason Wolf <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2018/01/16/titans-dick-lebeau-would-comfortable-retiring-if-not-asked-return-next-season-steelers-nfl-defensive/1035047001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn&#39;t right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there&#39;s a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It&#39;s also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau&#39;s relationships with the current players are a big reason he&#39;s considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau&#39;s legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week&#39;s matchup, <strong>Bill Belichick</strong> <span>said</span>, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league.&quot;</p><p><b><i>Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet?</i></b> <a href="https://www.si.com/static/newsletter/signup" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><i>Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle</i></a><i>.</i></p><h3><strong>HOT READS</strong></h3><p><b>NOW ON THE MMQB: </b>Jonathan Jones <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/sean-payton-new-orleans-saints-minnesota-vikings-skol-chant" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:argues" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">argues</a> that <strong>Sean Payton</strong> needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/16/scouting-new-england-patriots-using-steve-belichicks-scouting-manual?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:scouted" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">scouted</a> the Patriots using <strong>Steve </strong><strong>Belichick</strong>&#39;s scouting manual ... <a href="http://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more.</a></p><p><b>LATER TODAY:</b> Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through <strong>Logan Ryan</strong>&#39;s eyes ... and more. <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Stay tuned" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Stay tuned</a>.</p><p><b>WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:</b> <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/vikings-saints-stefon-diggs-playoff-touchdown-miracle-met" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:On the Vikings" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">On the Vikings</a>, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/15/nfl-coaching-carousel-news-mike-vrabel-tennessee-titans?utm_campaign=mmqb&#38;utm_source=si.com&#38;utm_medium=email" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> that <strong>Mike Vrabel</strong> is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and more" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and more</a>.</p><h3><b>PRESS COVERAGE</b></h3><p><strong>1</strong>. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: <strong>Drew Brees </strong>has <a href="http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/sports/saints/article_3d5523b2-faf9-11e7-a245-4b7be7dc2010.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:no plans" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">no plans</a> to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, <strong>Sean Payton</strong> was caught taunting again, and this time he <a href="http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2018/01/sean_payton_skol_clap.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a>, &quot;It was good playoff fun.&quot;</p><p><strong>2. </strong>The biggest question mark in the playoffs is <em>still</em> whether<strong> Nick Foles</strong> is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/philadelphia-eagles-vikings-falcons-nfc-championship-nick-foles-doug-pederson-film-breakdown-nick-foles-tale-divisional-playoff-20180116.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:into the film" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">into the film</a> from last week to get answers.</p><p><b>3. </b><strong>Dion Lewis</strong> chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help <a href="http://www.espn.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4810470" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:carry the team" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">carry the team</a>.</p><p><b>4.</b> Rushing champion <strong>Kareem Hunt </strong>was <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/article194989514.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:named" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">named</a> rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.</p><p><strong>5. </strong>Former Giants coach <strong>Ben McAdoo</strong> is <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2018/01/ben_mcadoo_interviewing_for_br.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:interviewing" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">interviewing</a> for the Browns&#39; offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM <strong>John Dorsey</strong> from 2006-12 in Green Bay.</p><p><b>6. </b>Armando Salguero <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article194920564.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:explains" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">explains</a> the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout <strong>Jarvis Landry</strong>—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.</p><p>7. Maybe <strong>Doug Marrone</strong> was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team &quot;threw a tantrum,&quot; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/01/16/jags-threw-a-tantrum-when-marrone-started-making-changes/109507820/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according</a> to defensive tackle <strong>Malik Jackson</strong>.</p><p><strong>8. </strong>I&#39;ve seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don&#39;t have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark <a href="https://www.theringer.com/nfl-playoffs/2018/1/16/16896096/playoffs-2017-season-lessons-jaguars-patriots-vikings-eagles-quarterbacks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">says</a> no, &quot;You still need a quarterback.&quot;</p><p><b>9. </b>You knew something was going to come out of <strong>Ben </strong><strong>Roethlisberger</strong>&#39;s <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2018/01/16/ben-roethlisberger-todd-haley-qb-sneaks-steelers-jaguars/stories/201801160087" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tuesday radio interview" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tuesday radio interview</a>. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can&#39;t audible to a QB sneak. &quot;I truly have never said I don&#39;t want to run it,&quot; the QB added. &quot;I have asked for it.&quot; This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.</p><p><strong>10. </strong>Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network <a href="http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/01/16/fox-abc-nbc-cbs-make-bids-for-tnf/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still wants" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still wants</a> to air it.</p><p><b><i>Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage?</i></b> <span><i>Let us know here.</i></span></p><h3><b>THE KICKER</b></h3><p>Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but <strong>Leonard Fournette </strong>getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000907265/article/leonard-fournette-uninjured-after-minor-car-crash" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a football crazy story" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a football crazy story</a>.</p><p><i>Question? Comment? Story idea?</i><i> Let the team know at </i><i><span>talkback@themmqb.com</span></i></p>
Titans Coaching Shuffle Leaves a Legend in Limbo

Dick LeBeau has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when Jim Brown still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of Johnny Unitas. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn't successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers' defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he's been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with Mike Mularkey gone, there's a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.

Jason Wolf reported in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn't right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there's a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It's also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau's relationships with the current players are a big reason he's considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau's legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week's matchup, Bill Belichick said, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league."

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones argues that Sean Payton needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr scouted the Patriots using Steve Belichick's scouting manual ... and more.

LATER TODAY: Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through Logan Ryan's eyes ... and more. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: On the Vikings, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer reported that Mike Vrabel is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... and more.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: Drew Brees has no plans to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, Sean Payton was caught taunting again, and this time he says, "It was good playoff fun."

2. The biggest question mark in the playoffs is still whether Nick Foles is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) into the film from last week to get answers.

3. Dion Lewis chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help carry the team.

4. Rushing champion Kareem Hunt was named rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.

5. Former Giants coach Ben McAdoo is interviewing for the Browns' offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM John Dorsey from 2006-12 in Green Bay.

6. Armando Salguero explains the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout Jarvis Landry—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.

7. Maybe Doug Marrone was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team "threw a tantrum," according to defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

8. I've seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don't have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark says no, "You still need a quarterback."

9. You knew something was going to come out of Ben Roethlisberger's Tuesday radio interview. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can't audible to a QB sneak. "I truly have never said I don't want to run it," the QB added. "I have asked for it." This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.

10. Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network still wants to air it.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but Leonard Fournette getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is a football crazy story.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

<p>SAN JOSE, Calif. — Three days before Christmas, the holiday spirit flows like beard hair through these practice facility hallways. The Sharks already carry a league-wide reputation for keeping loose vibes, between their in-house table tennis league and the generally civil presence of <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/ptKqC68M8KFZKEGDCvzHOY?domain=si.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:that Civil War general lookalike" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">that Civil War general lookalike</a> named Jumbo. But everyone seems extra holly-jolly right now, gifting heavy praise for their best player’s best skill.</p><p>Defenseman Justin Braun: “It’s amazing.”</p><p>Forward Tomas Hertl: “For sure the most dangerous in the NHL.”</p><p>Goalie Aaron Dell: “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world better at it than him.”</p><p>Coach Pete DeBoer: “First off, he’s the best I’ve ever seen.”</p><p>No one shoots the puck like Brent Burns. This statement can be interpreted several ways, all of them equally true. He uncorks from distance at historic rates during the modern age of shot blocking; only Alex Ovechkin (84) has <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/_zyAC73M3VInkvWqtPq1sa?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:logged more five-shot games since 2015-16" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">logged more five-shot games since 2015-16</a> than Burns (76), who more than doubles the next closest defenseman, Erik Karlsson (37). En route to winning the Norris Trophy last season, he finished one shy of joining Mike Green as the only 30-goal blueliners <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/ewW_C82g2KsBRlwruy88L1?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:over the past quarter-century" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">over the past quarter-century</a>. Others can try to emulate Burns’s unique curl-and-drag snapshot, but no one can magically become 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds with sasquatch strength, “a linebacker on skates,” as DeBoer says.</p><p>Leaning against a wall outside his office, the coach is struggling to pick his favorite part of Burns’s shot. He begins with “dexterity,” citing the 32-year-old’s uncanny knack for firing while off-balance and whacking wobbly pucks. “I think that’s what makes him special,” DeBoer says.</p><p>Then again there’s the way Burns sashays backwards along the offensive blue line—most often right, his strong side, to left—and whips wristers on the move, somehow sizzles pucks through thickets of traffic. (“It’s a unique skill, getting the puck off under any type of duress, or time, at different angles, and getting it to the net.”) Or how Burns almost never fully winds up for slappers, yet still generates more power than most in the league. (“It’s not comparable to Shea Weber. But I would put his snapshot up against a lot of guys’ slapshots.”)</p><p>As for Burns’s sheer volume of attempts—he led the league with 320 shots in 2016-17; his 172 <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/_fiLC9rjrYFrBvY1txYmCs?domain=nhl.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ranked fourth in the NHL through Wednesday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ranked fourth in the NHL through Wednesday</a> and first among defenseman by 41—DeBoer reaches for a cross-sport comparison. “I liken it to a guy like Peyton Manning, who you know isn’t going to run on you, is just going to sit there and pass,” he says. “And you game plan around the fact that he’s not going to run, he’s just going to pass, and he still finds a way to pick you apart.”</p><p>“Let’s talk about something else. Write about Dell. Write about our ping-pong league.”</p><p>Brent Burns does not wish to discuss his shot, let alone gush about its qualities. To him, this feels tantamount to divulging state secrets, even though anyone in the NHL can queue up his greatest hits on YouTube or Hudl. He understands the curiosity behind these questions, and will discuss things off-the-record, but politely declines to comment while a recorder light is blinking. “Just say I practice shooting left-handed in the summer,” he deadpans. “Or that I use the handle of a ping-pong paddle.”</p><p>A half-hour earlier, Burns had preceded the Sharks’ skate by arranging two lines of five pucks in the high slot, roughly parallel to the faceoff dots. Placing his stick blade barely behind each puck, he cranked them at goalie Martin Jones, using pure wrist strength alone. Teammates will note that Burns is always drilling his shot like this (though Burns rebuts that everyone in San Jose does). “It doesn’t just come out of nowhere,” says Chicago forward Tommy Wingels, a former teammate during their Stanley Cup Final run two seasons ago. “He works for that.”</p><p>Burns traces his training back to Jari Byrski, an skills coach who runs the Sk8On hockey school outside Toronto. Using unconventional equipment such as rubber boards that generate<a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/JLeAC0RMRDsY3Kr8tN04u3?domain=nationalpost.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:funky bounces" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> funky bounces</a> and a dummy defenseman <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/fmi0CgJyJMF42rYkhAixkr?domain=youtube.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:with a yellow smiley face" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">with a yellow smiley face</a>, Byrski helped Burns develop a quick release that can handle pretty much any puck tumbling his way. “Most guys, it’ll pop up or they won’t get a whole lot on it,” Dell says. “He still gets it just like it’s sitting flat on him. I’ve seen him shoot rolling ones from way back or in his feet and I’m like, ‘How the hell did you even shoot that, let alone get a good shot off?’”</p><p>Part of this is technique. Much is supreme timing. Burns actually prefers bouncing pucks to flat ones, he says, because they pose knuckling nightmares for goalies. Indeed, his shot relies on deception more than raw power. When Burns fires while moving laterally, he first pulls the puck into his body before snapping it forward, which uses the curve on his blade to create a hellish midair spin, or abruptly stopping on an edge to <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/wWNBCjRBR6sZq2y9CESk4P?domain=imgur.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:unleash a half-slapper" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">unleash a half-slapper</a>. “Sometimes it’s scary because the shot is pretty hard and I get it a couple times in my ankles, my legs,” Hertl says. “It’s no fun. He laughs and he say, ‘Get out of my way!’”</p><p>Like a pitcher whose release point never wavers between fastballs and breaking pitches, Burns tries to start each drag with the same motion. “He can go pretty much anywhere with it,” Dell says. “He can pull it, shoot it, go glove side, blocker side, it looks the same either way and you have to react to it. Then he’s also got that option for that high tip. He’s really good at not just shooting when the goalie can see it. He’ll drag and wait until he gets some traffic in front.”</p><p>“That’s the biggest thing—how much movement he has from when he catches the puck to when he releases it,” Braun says. “Just real tough to be in that lane when he can do that. I haven’t seen many guys who have that range when he’s dragging to shoot it. We can do that, some of us, and it’s going to be a 30-mile-an-hour shot and no one’s afraid to block it. He rips it in there.”</p><p>The players are posed a question: You are an opposing assistant coach, tasked with assembling a scouting report on San Jose. What does the PowerPoint slide about defending Burns say?</p><p>Wingels: “I think you’ve got to know he’s not passing. He’s shooting it 100 out of 100 times there.”</p><p>Braun: “If I was playing against him, I’d just have my winger stand right next to him and not let him get the puck.”</p><p>These are cause-and-effect replies. Since everyone knows what Burns will do—since DeBoer arrived before the ‘15-16 season, he’s averaged 4.1 shots per game—an increasing amount of attention gets paid to his presence at the point. &quot;Guys are playing him a lot higher, so he has to be quicker getting the puck off, which gives him less time to pick where he’s going to go,&quot; Braun says. &quot;That’s the biggest change—guys know who he is, what he brings, so he has to adjust to that.&quot;</p><p>Likewise burdened by an uncharacteristically low shooting percentage, Burns <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/fIOdCkRgRXsoQ7qNCl5Kbq?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:is scoring about half as often as &#39;16-17" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">is scoring about half as often as &#39;16-17</a>, slimming the odds that he&#39;ll hit 20 goals for a third straight season. Then again, all seven of his goals have come since Nov. 22, a 21-game stretch in which Burns has 23 points. He was also named to a fourth consecutive NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday. </p><p>“The fact that he gets game-planned around and he hasn’t lost patience with that,” DeBoer says, “and he’s still finding a way to do what he does best, at the same rate, or similar rates as he’s had in the past when no one was paying attention to him … that’s incredible. He’s got high expectations for himself. But great players like that always do.</p><p>&quot;Puck luck’s going to take over. Every shot he takes has got some zip on it. It has a chance to go in. It’s not an easy save no matter what. Those eventually are going to find some holes.”</p><p>At this moment, Burns appears in the hallway. By now DeBoer has been briefed about his superstar’s reticence. Seeing us chatting, Burns logs one last formal protest as he wanders past.</p><p>“You’re not getting more are you?” Burns asks.</p><p>“You’re not giving him anything,” DeBoer replies.</p><p>“No, it’s a secret! It’s like a quarterback. These guys like to throw. Okay, where do you think they’re going next game? I said write about our ping-pong league.”</p><p>Hang on. A quarterback? Who was it that his coach compared Burns to again?</p><p>“Peyton Manning,” says DeBoer. “Doesn’t matter what you take away, he’s going to find something else.”</p><p>“I just don’t want to give any ideas,” Burns says, by now, already halfway down the hallway. He points to his head. “I get into the hamster house here, it could be game over!”</p><p>“You’re good,” DeBoer hollers. “You’re unstoppable. Don’t worry about it.”</p>
With Technique, Timing and Power, Brent Burns is the San Jose Sharks' Shot Machine

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Three days before Christmas, the holiday spirit flows like beard hair through these practice facility hallways. The Sharks already carry a league-wide reputation for keeping loose vibes, between their in-house table tennis league and the generally civil presence of that Civil War general lookalike named Jumbo. But everyone seems extra holly-jolly right now, gifting heavy praise for their best player’s best skill.

Defenseman Justin Braun: “It’s amazing.”

Forward Tomas Hertl: “For sure the most dangerous in the NHL.”

Goalie Aaron Dell: “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world better at it than him.”

Coach Pete DeBoer: “First off, he’s the best I’ve ever seen.”

No one shoots the puck like Brent Burns. This statement can be interpreted several ways, all of them equally true. He uncorks from distance at historic rates during the modern age of shot blocking; only Alex Ovechkin (84) has logged more five-shot games since 2015-16 than Burns (76), who more than doubles the next closest defenseman, Erik Karlsson (37). En route to winning the Norris Trophy last season, he finished one shy of joining Mike Green as the only 30-goal blueliners over the past quarter-century. Others can try to emulate Burns’s unique curl-and-drag snapshot, but no one can magically become 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds with sasquatch strength, “a linebacker on skates,” as DeBoer says.

Leaning against a wall outside his office, the coach is struggling to pick his favorite part of Burns’s shot. He begins with “dexterity,” citing the 32-year-old’s uncanny knack for firing while off-balance and whacking wobbly pucks. “I think that’s what makes him special,” DeBoer says.

Then again there’s the way Burns sashays backwards along the offensive blue line—most often right, his strong side, to left—and whips wristers on the move, somehow sizzles pucks through thickets of traffic. (“It’s a unique skill, getting the puck off under any type of duress, or time, at different angles, and getting it to the net.”) Or how Burns almost never fully winds up for slappers, yet still generates more power than most in the league. (“It’s not comparable to Shea Weber. But I would put his snapshot up against a lot of guys’ slapshots.”)

As for Burns’s sheer volume of attempts—he led the league with 320 shots in 2016-17; his 172 ranked fourth in the NHL through Wednesday and first among defenseman by 41—DeBoer reaches for a cross-sport comparison. “I liken it to a guy like Peyton Manning, who you know isn’t going to run on you, is just going to sit there and pass,” he says. “And you game plan around the fact that he’s not going to run, he’s just going to pass, and he still finds a way to pick you apart.”

“Let’s talk about something else. Write about Dell. Write about our ping-pong league.”

Brent Burns does not wish to discuss his shot, let alone gush about its qualities. To him, this feels tantamount to divulging state secrets, even though anyone in the NHL can queue up his greatest hits on YouTube or Hudl. He understands the curiosity behind these questions, and will discuss things off-the-record, but politely declines to comment while a recorder light is blinking. “Just say I practice shooting left-handed in the summer,” he deadpans. “Or that I use the handle of a ping-pong paddle.”

A half-hour earlier, Burns had preceded the Sharks’ skate by arranging two lines of five pucks in the high slot, roughly parallel to the faceoff dots. Placing his stick blade barely behind each puck, he cranked them at goalie Martin Jones, using pure wrist strength alone. Teammates will note that Burns is always drilling his shot like this (though Burns rebuts that everyone in San Jose does). “It doesn’t just come out of nowhere,” says Chicago forward Tommy Wingels, a former teammate during their Stanley Cup Final run two seasons ago. “He works for that.”

Burns traces his training back to Jari Byrski, an skills coach who runs the Sk8On hockey school outside Toronto. Using unconventional equipment such as rubber boards that generate funky bounces and a dummy defenseman with a yellow smiley face, Byrski helped Burns develop a quick release that can handle pretty much any puck tumbling his way. “Most guys, it’ll pop up or they won’t get a whole lot on it,” Dell says. “He still gets it just like it’s sitting flat on him. I’ve seen him shoot rolling ones from way back or in his feet and I’m like, ‘How the hell did you even shoot that, let alone get a good shot off?’”

Part of this is technique. Much is supreme timing. Burns actually prefers bouncing pucks to flat ones, he says, because they pose knuckling nightmares for goalies. Indeed, his shot relies on deception more than raw power. When Burns fires while moving laterally, he first pulls the puck into his body before snapping it forward, which uses the curve on his blade to create a hellish midair spin, or abruptly stopping on an edge to unleash a half-slapper. “Sometimes it’s scary because the shot is pretty hard and I get it a couple times in my ankles, my legs,” Hertl says. “It’s no fun. He laughs and he say, ‘Get out of my way!’”

Like a pitcher whose release point never wavers between fastballs and breaking pitches, Burns tries to start each drag with the same motion. “He can go pretty much anywhere with it,” Dell says. “He can pull it, shoot it, go glove side, blocker side, it looks the same either way and you have to react to it. Then he’s also got that option for that high tip. He’s really good at not just shooting when the goalie can see it. He’ll drag and wait until he gets some traffic in front.”

“That’s the biggest thing—how much movement he has from when he catches the puck to when he releases it,” Braun says. “Just real tough to be in that lane when he can do that. I haven’t seen many guys who have that range when he’s dragging to shoot it. We can do that, some of us, and it’s going to be a 30-mile-an-hour shot and no one’s afraid to block it. He rips it in there.”

The players are posed a question: You are an opposing assistant coach, tasked with assembling a scouting report on San Jose. What does the PowerPoint slide about defending Burns say?

Wingels: “I think you’ve got to know he’s not passing. He’s shooting it 100 out of 100 times there.”

Braun: “If I was playing against him, I’d just have my winger stand right next to him and not let him get the puck.”

These are cause-and-effect replies. Since everyone knows what Burns will do—since DeBoer arrived before the ‘15-16 season, he’s averaged 4.1 shots per game—an increasing amount of attention gets paid to his presence at the point. "Guys are playing him a lot higher, so he has to be quicker getting the puck off, which gives him less time to pick where he’s going to go," Braun says. "That’s the biggest change—guys know who he is, what he brings, so he has to adjust to that."

Likewise burdened by an uncharacteristically low shooting percentage, Burns is scoring about half as often as '16-17, slimming the odds that he'll hit 20 goals for a third straight season. Then again, all seven of his goals have come since Nov. 22, a 21-game stretch in which Burns has 23 points. He was also named to a fourth consecutive NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday.

“The fact that he gets game-planned around and he hasn’t lost patience with that,” DeBoer says, “and he’s still finding a way to do what he does best, at the same rate, or similar rates as he’s had in the past when no one was paying attention to him … that’s incredible. He’s got high expectations for himself. But great players like that always do.

"Puck luck’s going to take over. Every shot he takes has got some zip on it. It has a chance to go in. It’s not an easy save no matter what. Those eventually are going to find some holes.”

At this moment, Burns appears in the hallway. By now DeBoer has been briefed about his superstar’s reticence. Seeing us chatting, Burns logs one last formal protest as he wanders past.

“You’re not getting more are you?” Burns asks.

“You’re not giving him anything,” DeBoer replies.

“No, it’s a secret! It’s like a quarterback. These guys like to throw. Okay, where do you think they’re going next game? I said write about our ping-pong league.”

Hang on. A quarterback? Who was it that his coach compared Burns to again?

“Peyton Manning,” says DeBoer. “Doesn’t matter what you take away, he’s going to find something else.”

“I just don’t want to give any ideas,” Burns says, by now, already halfway down the hallway. He points to his head. “I get into the hamster house here, it could be game over!”

“You’re good,” DeBoer hollers. “You’re unstoppable. Don’t worry about it.”

A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2&#39;s Andrea Grymes reports.
Parkinson's Patients Using Ping Pong As Therapy
A group in Westchester are finding the table tennis treatment is making a difference in their symptoms. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.
<p>Brushing aside some shin guards from the adjacent stall at the New York Rangers’ training facility, Pavel Buchnevich waves a visitor over. </p><p><em>Welcome. Sit down</em>. <em>An interview? With pleasure.</em></p><p>He hadn’t always felt so comfortable. Seventeen months ago, Buchnevich leapt into an unknown land knowing only his agents, lugging just a small bag of skates and workout clothes, carrying no command of the local tongue. “Zero English, zero understand,” he says. “When I’m kid, at school, parents tell me you need English. I think, ‘What the f---? I never go U.S.”</p><p>But look at him now. For the next 15 minutes following a recent practice, Buchnevich winds through subjects ranging from European soccer to Russian saunas, superhero movies to video games. He pauses every so often, recalling certain words, but plows through without apology, adapting on the fly like always. Moving to the Big Apple at 21 years old? “Little scary.” Spending half of his rookie season shelved with an injured back? “Big problem.” Addressing fellow Rangers at the start? “Tough communication.” Talking to teammates today? “More confidence. Very easy.”</p><p>The progress is obvious everywhere. His 15 points at 5-on-5 <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/wXaXB1tOGp2dfR?domain=corsica.hockey" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:lead the team through Wednesday," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">lead the team through Wednesday,</a> his 23 total points <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/arMrB0iVrDQkh5?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:rank second behind Mats Zuccarello" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">rank second behind Mats Zuccarello</a>, and only center Mika Zibanejad enjoys a better even-strength shot attempt rate among lineup regulars. “He’s really woven himself into the fabric of the team,” says linemate Chris Kreider. “Always spending time with the guys. He’s never stopped learning, never felt complacent. It’s really impressive to see the strides that he takes.”</p><p>Leave the rink. Head east along I-287, across the Connecticut border. Find the outdoor deck with the ping-pong table. Start the story here.</p><p>It was July 4 weekend when Buchnevich migrated stateside for the first time in 2016, the most American holiday outside the most American metropolis. He had been given the option of staying with Russian speakers to ease the transition, but chose an English-only household in the interest of total immersion. “I couldn’t see him sitting in a classroom with a teacher for more than 15 minutes,” agent Todd Diamond says. “He wants to live life. He’ll learn on the fly.”</p><p>Armed with the Google Translate app on his phone, Buchnevich spent the next several days tailing his host family to barbecues around the Greenwich suburbs, watching fireworks light up the sky, marveling at the abundance of unfamiliar foods such as hot dogs and fresh berries. “It’s not always like this,” Rich Comeau cautioned him. A native Canadian who works in wealth management, Comeau, 54, had eagerly agreed to help Diamond, a longtime close friend, by putting up Buchnevich for two months that summer. Separated by more than three decades in age, many worlds apart in culture—Buchnevich hails from Cherepovets, a riverside steel town north of Moscow—they nonetheless bonded fast … largely thanks to table tennis.</p><p>Most days followed the same routine. In the morning, Buchnevich would work out at a nearby gym run by trainer Ben Prentiss, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/27a7BLFA59DOsn?domain=prentisshockey.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:whose long list of clientele" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">whose long list of clientele</a> includes Kreider and Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. At night, Buchnevich would return home, battle Comeau for an hour, shower off the sweat, and scarf down a healthy dinner. He wasn’t bluffing about his paddle skills, either. When the 2016 Summer Olympics opened in Rio de Janeiro, Buchnevich would watch table tennis matches to study the players’ moves and then bust them out later, near perfect. “He picked up a new serve every day,” Comeau says. “Every shot was on the white line. You know how it is—the spin, and now I’m down 9–1.”</p><p>“I’m very good,” Buchnevich reports, straight-faced, before breaking into a smile. “Him so bad.”</p><p>The Rangers always knew that he maintained high confidence levels, though occasionally this bordered on outright cockiness; once, director of player personnel Gordie Clark recalls seeing a teenage Buchnevich at an international tournament, “pointing up at the scoreboard, pointing to the other team, one finger up and then opening his hand.” <em>We’re first! You’re fifth! </em>“You worried about it earlier,” Clark says, “But it actually was a strength. I think the cockiness in the end came out through the fact that he really firmly believed he belongs here.”</p><p>Indeed, Buchnevich’s skills were undeniable. To Clark, they evoked the late <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/6RYRB5SV6wMWhO?domain=slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Alexei Cherepanov" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Alexei Cherepanov</a>, a first-rounder in ‘07—similar builds, similar skating abilities, “hockey IQ and hands at another level.” Exactly why Buchnevich <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/NVbVBRc4NvxoSD?domain=hockeydb.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fell to the 75th overall selection six years later" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fell to the 75th overall selection six years later</a> remains a mystery; Clark suspects other scouts were dissuaded by his swagger, while Diamond cites what he calls “that Russian-factor nonsense,” a league-wide hesitance to draft Russian players out of fear that they might never make the NHL leap. For Buchnevich, the wait at Prudential Center was both unexpected and torturous. “Long sit,” he says.</p><p>Following three-plus seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich finally <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/bAOAB0TkJ50eTA?domain=capfriendly.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:signed his entry-level NHL contract" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">signed his entry-level NHL contract</a> and attended his first Rangers development camp <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/Jq0qBrswJ3DnhQ?domain=nydailynews.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:in June 2016" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">in June 2016</a>. One day, Buchnevich was walking with Diamond, who speaks Russian. They ran into Clark, who sought to boost the rookie’s confidence by remarking, “You’re better than a third-round pick.” Diamond translated this, then laughed at Buchnevich’s reply. As Clark remembers, “Todd turns to me and said, ‘Well, why didn’t you take him earlier?’”</p><p>“If he feels like he’s been slighted undeservedly, it definitely puts him in a bad mood,” Diamond says. “When he’s pissed off, he can produce.”</p><p>Still, life presented plenty unforeseen challenges. Buchnevich moved into a turnkey apartment near Madison Square Garden for the easy rink commute, but found that location at once loud and lonely. He had made steady progress under Prentiss’ supervision, gaining five pounds of muscle and shedding three percentage points of body fat, but lacked flexibility and strength relative to his peers, which led to back and core problems that sidelined him from mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. “Everyone go on trip, you go home and sit, watch TV show,” Buchnevich says. “Come here to play hockey, not sit.” There were sparks of brilliance, like separate four-game point streaks that sandwiched the injury, but he also only appeared in five of New York’s 12 playoff games, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/X8A8BXimzM32sX?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch.</a></p><p>Larger signs of growth were visible off the ice. He still harbors a secret sweet tooth for American delicacies like Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, but embraced a meal plan that went heavy on grilled chicken and quinoa. Prentiss noticed how Buchnevich began ribbing teammates between sets, comfortable with trash talk typical of all hockey players. As a Christmas present Buchnevich bought Comeau one of those voice-activated Google Home devices, “so we could always have that for a translator when he drops by.”</p><p>They no longer need it.</p><p>Back in the Rangers’ locker room, Buchnevich considers how much has changed since those early days. Before New York lost to Dallas in a shootout Monday, a group of players passed the pregame hours by watching the 2016 superhero movie <em>Deadpool</em>. He had no trouble joining along. “Some joke, slang, tough to me,” Buchnevich says. “But better right now.”</p><p>Each day brings increasing levels of comfort. Earlier this season Buchnevich moved near several teammates in the Tribeca neighborhood, furnishing his one-bedroom with a personal touch. On the road he competes against teammates in <em>NHL 18</em> and <em>FIFA—</em>he is an avid soccer fan, cheering for the attacking style of Manchester City and Barcelona—on Zibanejad’s PlayStation. “This year, he’s really settled in and feels comfortable,” says Comeau, who again hosted Buchnevich at his house last summer but no longer needed to lend his car after Buchnevich bought a new one for himself. “He’s much happier, much more outgoing, doing a lot of stuff with teammates on the team. Feels like he’s got a place, a home base.”</p><p>The same seems true at the rink. Most individual video review sessions are self-explanatory—skate here, stick here, do this and that—but Buchnevich never labors to understand concepts from coaches. “It’s not an issue,” Rangers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault says. “Everything that we tell the team now during meetings, he picks up. He’s come a long way in that aspect. </p><p>A little bit challenging for him at the beginning, but he’s fine now.&quot;</p><p>More than fine, in fact. Just watch how he shimmied around Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, went backhand to forehand in close quarters, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/7GVGBgCRMpOgSJ?domain=youtube.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf</a> on national television. Or the <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/EJ0JBriWK7noT4?domain=nhl.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida</a> after Thanksgiving, one of his team-high 12 primary points at 5-on-5. “Every once in awhile he’ll blow a slap shot by the goalie,” Clark says. “But his passing ability is on another planet.”</p><p>?</p><p>This Wednesday, Buchnevich belted a backdoor feed from Kreider for his 11th goal of the season, already three more than he notched during all of &#39;16-17—in 10 fewer games. </p><p>“You can see, he’s more comfortable, more confident, physically stronger on the puck and more determined,” says goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “You see all these different things he has, taking steps, playing at a level where it’s really helping us.”</p><p>Whether through visiting Russian saunas in Manhattan or venturing into Brooklyn to try new restaurants, Buchnevich remains connected with his heritage while living abroad. His parents—mother Yelena Razumova is a former high-level skier; father Andrey Buchnevich worked at a steel factory and now coaches youth soccer—plan to arrive before Christmas and stay through the Winter Classic against Buffalo at Citi Field. It will be the first time that Buchnevich’s mother has ever traveled outside Russia. He misses her cooking. Specifically the borscht.</p><p>Of course, there are always more hurdles to overcome. Midway through the interview, he gestures across the carpet, toward a cluster of other reporters. “I can&#39;t take a camera,&quot; he says. &quot;Too nervous for camera. Maybe I say bad word or something. Maybe later.” </p><p>Knowing Buchnevich, he&#39;ll catch on fast.</p>
Pavel Buchnevich Is Sparking the Rangers ... All While He Tries to Master English

Brushing aside some shin guards from the adjacent stall at the New York Rangers’ training facility, Pavel Buchnevich waves a visitor over.

Welcome. Sit down. An interview? With pleasure.

He hadn’t always felt so comfortable. Seventeen months ago, Buchnevich leapt into an unknown land knowing only his agents, lugging just a small bag of skates and workout clothes, carrying no command of the local tongue. “Zero English, zero understand,” he says. “When I’m kid, at school, parents tell me you need English. I think, ‘What the f---? I never go U.S.”

But look at him now. For the next 15 minutes following a recent practice, Buchnevich winds through subjects ranging from European soccer to Russian saunas, superhero movies to video games. He pauses every so often, recalling certain words, but plows through without apology, adapting on the fly like always. Moving to the Big Apple at 21 years old? “Little scary.” Spending half of his rookie season shelved with an injured back? “Big problem.” Addressing fellow Rangers at the start? “Tough communication.” Talking to teammates today? “More confidence. Very easy.”

The progress is obvious everywhere. His 15 points at 5-on-5 lead the team through Wednesday, his 23 total points rank second behind Mats Zuccarello, and only center Mika Zibanejad enjoys a better even-strength shot attempt rate among lineup regulars. “He’s really woven himself into the fabric of the team,” says linemate Chris Kreider. “Always spending time with the guys. He’s never stopped learning, never felt complacent. It’s really impressive to see the strides that he takes.”

Leave the rink. Head east along I-287, across the Connecticut border. Find the outdoor deck with the ping-pong table. Start the story here.

It was July 4 weekend when Buchnevich migrated stateside for the first time in 2016, the most American holiday outside the most American metropolis. He had been given the option of staying with Russian speakers to ease the transition, but chose an English-only household in the interest of total immersion. “I couldn’t see him sitting in a classroom with a teacher for more than 15 minutes,” agent Todd Diamond says. “He wants to live life. He’ll learn on the fly.”

Armed with the Google Translate app on his phone, Buchnevich spent the next several days tailing his host family to barbecues around the Greenwich suburbs, watching fireworks light up the sky, marveling at the abundance of unfamiliar foods such as hot dogs and fresh berries. “It’s not always like this,” Rich Comeau cautioned him. A native Canadian who works in wealth management, Comeau, 54, had eagerly agreed to help Diamond, a longtime close friend, by putting up Buchnevich for two months that summer. Separated by more than three decades in age, many worlds apart in culture—Buchnevich hails from Cherepovets, a riverside steel town north of Moscow—they nonetheless bonded fast … largely thanks to table tennis.

Most days followed the same routine. In the morning, Buchnevich would work out at a nearby gym run by trainer Ben Prentiss, whose long list of clientele includes Kreider and Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. At night, Buchnevich would return home, battle Comeau for an hour, shower off the sweat, and scarf down a healthy dinner. He wasn’t bluffing about his paddle skills, either. When the 2016 Summer Olympics opened in Rio de Janeiro, Buchnevich would watch table tennis matches to study the players’ moves and then bust them out later, near perfect. “He picked up a new serve every day,” Comeau says. “Every shot was on the white line. You know how it is—the spin, and now I’m down 9–1.”

“I’m very good,” Buchnevich reports, straight-faced, before breaking into a smile. “Him so bad.”

The Rangers always knew that he maintained high confidence levels, though occasionally this bordered on outright cockiness; once, director of player personnel Gordie Clark recalls seeing a teenage Buchnevich at an international tournament, “pointing up at the scoreboard, pointing to the other team, one finger up and then opening his hand.” We’re first! You’re fifth! “You worried about it earlier,” Clark says, “But it actually was a strength. I think the cockiness in the end came out through the fact that he really firmly believed he belongs here.”

Indeed, Buchnevich’s skills were undeniable. To Clark, they evoked the late Alexei Cherepanov, a first-rounder in ‘07—similar builds, similar skating abilities, “hockey IQ and hands at another level.” Exactly why Buchnevich fell to the 75th overall selection six years later remains a mystery; Clark suspects other scouts were dissuaded by his swagger, while Diamond cites what he calls “that Russian-factor nonsense,” a league-wide hesitance to draft Russian players out of fear that they might never make the NHL leap. For Buchnevich, the wait at Prudential Center was both unexpected and torturous. “Long sit,” he says.

Following three-plus seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich finally signed his entry-level NHL contract and attended his first Rangers development camp in June 2016. One day, Buchnevich was walking with Diamond, who speaks Russian. They ran into Clark, who sought to boost the rookie’s confidence by remarking, “You’re better than a third-round pick.” Diamond translated this, then laughed at Buchnevich’s reply. As Clark remembers, “Todd turns to me and said, ‘Well, why didn’t you take him earlier?’”

“If he feels like he’s been slighted undeservedly, it definitely puts him in a bad mood,” Diamond says. “When he’s pissed off, he can produce.”

Still, life presented plenty unforeseen challenges. Buchnevich moved into a turnkey apartment near Madison Square Garden for the easy rink commute, but found that location at once loud and lonely. He had made steady progress under Prentiss’ supervision, gaining five pounds of muscle and shedding three percentage points of body fat, but lacked flexibility and strength relative to his peers, which led to back and core problems that sidelined him from mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. “Everyone go on trip, you go home and sit, watch TV show,” Buchnevich says. “Come here to play hockey, not sit.” There were sparks of brilliance, like separate four-game point streaks that sandwiched the injury, but he also only appeared in five of New York’s 12 playoff games, benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch.

Larger signs of growth were visible off the ice. He still harbors a secret sweet tooth for American delicacies like Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, but embraced a meal plan that went heavy on grilled chicken and quinoa. Prentiss noticed how Buchnevich began ribbing teammates between sets, comfortable with trash talk typical of all hockey players. As a Christmas present Buchnevich bought Comeau one of those voice-activated Google Home devices, “so we could always have that for a translator when he drops by.”

They no longer need it.

Back in the Rangers’ locker room, Buchnevich considers how much has changed since those early days. Before New York lost to Dallas in a shootout Monday, a group of players passed the pregame hours by watching the 2016 superhero movie Deadpool. He had no trouble joining along. “Some joke, slang, tough to me,” Buchnevich says. “But better right now.”

Each day brings increasing levels of comfort. Earlier this season Buchnevich moved near several teammates in the Tribeca neighborhood, furnishing his one-bedroom with a personal touch. On the road he competes against teammates in NHL 18 and FIFA—he is an avid soccer fan, cheering for the attacking style of Manchester City and Barcelona—on Zibanejad’s PlayStation. “This year, he’s really settled in and feels comfortable,” says Comeau, who again hosted Buchnevich at his house last summer but no longer needed to lend his car after Buchnevich bought a new one for himself. “He’s much happier, much more outgoing, doing a lot of stuff with teammates on the team. Feels like he’s got a place, a home base.”

The same seems true at the rink. Most individual video review sessions are self-explanatory—skate here, stick here, do this and that—but Buchnevich never labors to understand concepts from coaches. “It’s not an issue,” Rangers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault says. “Everything that we tell the team now during meetings, he picks up. He’s come a long way in that aspect.

A little bit challenging for him at the beginning, but he’s fine now."

More than fine, in fact. Just watch how he shimmied around Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, went backhand to forehand in close quarters, and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf on national television. Or the one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida after Thanksgiving, one of his team-high 12 primary points at 5-on-5. “Every once in awhile he’ll blow a slap shot by the goalie,” Clark says. “But his passing ability is on another planet.”

?

This Wednesday, Buchnevich belted a backdoor feed from Kreider for his 11th goal of the season, already three more than he notched during all of '16-17—in 10 fewer games.

“You can see, he’s more comfortable, more confident, physically stronger on the puck and more determined,” says goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “You see all these different things he has, taking steps, playing at a level where it’s really helping us.”

Whether through visiting Russian saunas in Manhattan or venturing into Brooklyn to try new restaurants, Buchnevich remains connected with his heritage while living abroad. His parents—mother Yelena Razumova is a former high-level skier; father Andrey Buchnevich worked at a steel factory and now coaches youth soccer—plan to arrive before Christmas and stay through the Winter Classic against Buffalo at Citi Field. It will be the first time that Buchnevich’s mother has ever traveled outside Russia. He misses her cooking. Specifically the borscht.

Of course, there are always more hurdles to overcome. Midway through the interview, he gestures across the carpet, toward a cluster of other reporters. “I can't take a camera," he says. "Too nervous for camera. Maybe I say bad word or something. Maybe later.”

Knowing Buchnevich, he'll catch on fast.

<p>Brushing aside some shin guards from the adjacent stall at the New York Rangers’ training facility, Pavel Buchnevich waves a visitor over. </p><p><em>Welcome. Sit down</em>. <em>An interview? With pleasure.</em></p><p>He hadn’t always felt so comfortable. Seventeen months ago, Buchnevich leapt into an unknown land knowing only his agents, lugging just a small bag of skates and workout clothes, carrying no command of the local tongue. “Zero English, zero understand,” he says. “When I’m kid, at school, parents tell me you need English. I think, ‘What the f---? I never go U.S.”</p><p>But look at him now. For the next 15 minutes following a recent practice, Buchnevich winds through subjects ranging from European soccer to Russian saunas, superhero movies to video games. He pauses every so often, recalling certain words, but plows through without apology, adapting on the fly like always. Moving to the Big Apple at 21 years old? “Little scary.” Spending half of his rookie season shelved with an injured back? “Big problem.” Addressing fellow Rangers at the start? “Tough communication.” Talking to teammates today? “More confidence. Very easy.”</p><p>The progress is obvious everywhere. His 15 points at 5-on-5 <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/wXaXB1tOGp2dfR?domain=corsica.hockey" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:lead the team through Wednesday," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">lead the team through Wednesday,</a> his 23 total points <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/arMrB0iVrDQkh5?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:rank second behind Mats Zuccarello" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">rank second behind Mats Zuccarello</a>, and only center Mika Zibanejad enjoys a better even-strength shot attempt rate among lineup regulars. “He’s really woven himself into the fabric of the team,” says linemate Chris Kreider. “Always spending time with the guys. He’s never stopped learning, never felt complacent. It’s really impressive to see the strides that he takes.”</p><p>Leave the rink. Head east along I-287, across the Connecticut border. Find the outdoor deck with the ping-pong table. Start the story here.</p><p>It was July 4 weekend when Buchnevich migrated stateside for the first time in 2016, the most American holiday outside the most American metropolis. He had been given the option of staying with Russian speakers to ease the transition, but chose an English-only household in the interest of total immersion. “I couldn’t see him sitting in a classroom with a teacher for more than 15 minutes,” agent Todd Diamond says. “He wants to live life. He’ll learn on the fly.”</p><p>Armed with the Google Translate app on his phone, Buchnevich spent the next several days tailing his host family to barbecues around the Greenwich suburbs, watching fireworks light up the sky, marveling at the abundance of unfamiliar foods such as hot dogs and fresh berries. “It’s not always like this,” Rich Comeau cautioned him. A native Canadian who works in wealth management, Comeau, 54, had eagerly agreed to help Diamond, a longtime close friend, by putting up Buchnevich for two months that summer. Separated by more than three decades in age, many worlds apart in culture—Buchnevich hails from Cherepovets, a riverside steel town north of Moscow—they nonetheless bonded fast … largely thanks to table tennis.</p><p>Most days followed the same routine. In the morning, Buchnevich would work out at a nearby gym run by trainer Ben Prentiss, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/27a7BLFA59DOsn?domain=prentisshockey.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:whose long list of clientele" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">whose long list of clientele</a> includes Kreider and Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. At night, Buchnevich would return home, battle Comeau for an hour, shower off the sweat, and scarf down a healthy dinner. He wasn’t bluffing about his paddle skills, either. When the 2016 Summer Olympics opened in Rio de Janeiro, Buchnevich would watch table tennis matches to study the players’ moves and then bust them out later, near perfect. “He picked up a new serve every day,” Comeau says. “Every shot was on the white line. You know how it is—the spin, and now I’m down 9–1.”</p><p>“I’m very good,” Buchnevich reports, straight-faced, before breaking into a smile. “Him so bad.”</p><p>The Rangers always knew that he maintained high confidence levels, though occasionally this bordered on outright cockiness; once, director of player personnel Gordie Clark recalls seeing a teenage Buchnevich at an international tournament, “pointing up at the scoreboard, pointing to the other team, one finger up and then opening his hand.” <em>We’re first! You’re fifth! </em>“You worried about it earlier,” Clark says, “But it actually was a strength. I think the cockiness in the end came out through the fact that he really firmly believed he belongs here.”</p><p>Indeed, Buchnevich’s skills were undeniable. To Clark, they evoked the late <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/6RYRB5SV6wMWhO?domain=slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Alexei Cherepanov" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Alexei Cherepanov</a>, a first-rounder in ‘07—similar builds, similar skating abilities, “hockey IQ and hands at another level.” Exactly why Buchnevich <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/NVbVBRc4NvxoSD?domain=hockeydb.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fell to the 75th overall selection six years later" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fell to the 75th overall selection six years later</a> remains a mystery; Clark suspects other scouts were dissuaded by his swagger, while Diamond cites what he calls “that Russian-factor nonsense,” a league-wide hesitance to draft Russian players out of fear that they might never make the NHL leap. For Buchnevich, the wait at Prudential Center was both unexpected and torturous. “Long sit,” he says.</p><p>Following three-plus seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich finally <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/bAOAB0TkJ50eTA?domain=capfriendly.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:signed his entry-level NHL contract" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">signed his entry-level NHL contract</a> and attended his first Rangers development camp <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/Jq0qBrswJ3DnhQ?domain=nydailynews.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:in June 2016" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">in June 2016</a>. One day, Buchnevich was walking with Diamond, who speaks Russian. They ran into Clark, who sought to boost the rookie’s confidence by remarking, “You’re better than a third-round pick.” Diamond translated this, then laughed at Buchnevich’s reply. As Clark remembers, “Todd turns to me and said, ‘Well, why didn’t you take him earlier?’”</p><p>“If he feels like he’s been slighted undeservedly, it definitely puts him in a bad mood,” Diamond says. “When he’s pissed off, he can produce.”</p><p>Still, life presented plenty unforeseen challenges. Buchnevich moved into a turnkey apartment near Madison Square Garden for the easy rink commute, but found that location at once loud and lonely. He had made steady progress under Prentiss’ supervision, gaining five pounds of muscle and shedding three percentage points of body fat, but lacked flexibility and strength relative to his peers, which led to back and core problems that sidelined him from mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. “Everyone go on trip, you go home and sit, watch TV show,” Buchnevich says. “Come here to play hockey, not sit.” There were sparks of brilliance, like separate four-game point streaks that sandwiched the injury, but he also only appeared in five of New York’s 12 playoff games, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/X8A8BXimzM32sX?domain=hockey-reference.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch.</a></p><p>Larger signs of growth were visible off the ice. He still harbors a secret sweet tooth for American delicacies like Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, but embraced a meal plan that went heavy on grilled chicken and quinoa. Prentiss noticed how Buchnevich began ribbing teammates between sets, comfortable with trash talk typical of all hockey players. As a Christmas present Buchnevich bought Comeau one of those voice-activated Google Home devices, “so we could always have that for a translator when he drops by.”</p><p>They no longer need it.</p><p>Back in the Rangers’ locker room, Buchnevich considers how much has changed since those early days. Before New York lost to Dallas in a shootout Monday, a group of players passed the pregame hours by watching the 2016 superhero movie <em>Deadpool</em>. He had no trouble joining along. “Some joke, slang, tough to me,” Buchnevich says. “But better right now.”</p><p>Each day brings increasing levels of comfort. Earlier this season Buchnevich moved near several teammates in the Tribeca neighborhood, furnishing his one-bedroom with a personal touch. On the road he competes against teammates in <em>NHL 18</em> and <em>FIFA—</em>he is an avid soccer fan, cheering for the attacking style of Manchester City and Barcelona—on Zibanejad’s PlayStation. “This year, he’s really settled in and feels comfortable,” says Comeau, who again hosted Buchnevich at his house last summer but no longer needed to lend his car after Buchnevich bought a new one for himself. “He’s much happier, much more outgoing, doing a lot of stuff with teammates on the team. Feels like he’s got a place, a home base.”</p><p>The same seems true at the rink. Most individual video review sessions are self-explanatory—skate here, stick here, do this and that—but Buchnevich never labors to understand concepts from coaches. “It’s not an issue,” Rangers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault says. “Everything that we tell the team now during meetings, he picks up. He’s come a long way in that aspect. </p><p>A little bit challenging for him at the beginning, but he’s fine now.&quot;</p><p>More than fine, in fact. Just watch how he shimmied around Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, went backhand to forehand in close quarters, <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/7GVGBgCRMpOgSJ?domain=youtube.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf</a> on national television. Or the <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/EJ0JBriWK7noT4?domain=nhl.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida</a> after Thanksgiving, one of his team-high 12 primary points at 5-on-5. “Every once in awhile he’ll blow a slap shot by the goalie,” Clark says. “But his passing ability is on another planet.”</p><p>?</p><p>This Wednesday, Buchnevich belted a backdoor feed from Kreider for his 11th goal of the season, already three more than he notched during all of &#39;16-17—in 10 fewer games. </p><p>“You can see, he’s more comfortable, more confident, physically stronger on the puck and more determined,” says goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “You see all these different things he has, taking steps, playing at a level where it’s really helping us.”</p><p>Whether through visiting Russian saunas in Manhattan or venturing into Brooklyn to try new restaurants, Buchnevich remains connected with his heritage while living abroad. His parents—mother Yelena Razumova is a former high-level skier; father Andrey Buchnevich worked at a steel factory and now coaches youth soccer—plan to arrive before Christmas and stay through the Winter Classic against Buffalo at Citi Field. It will be the first time that Buchnevich’s mother has ever traveled outside Russia. He misses her cooking. Specifically the borscht.</p><p>Of course, there are always more hurdles to overcome. Midway through the interview, he gestures across the carpet, toward a cluster of other reporters. “I can&#39;t take a camera,&quot; he says. &quot;Too nervous for camera. Maybe I say bad word or something. Maybe later.” </p><p>Knowing Buchnevich, he&#39;ll catch on fast.</p>
Pavel Buchnevich Is Sparking the Rangers ... All While He Tries to Master English

Brushing aside some shin guards from the adjacent stall at the New York Rangers’ training facility, Pavel Buchnevich waves a visitor over.

Welcome. Sit down. An interview? With pleasure.

He hadn’t always felt so comfortable. Seventeen months ago, Buchnevich leapt into an unknown land knowing only his agents, lugging just a small bag of skates and workout clothes, carrying no command of the local tongue. “Zero English, zero understand,” he says. “When I’m kid, at school, parents tell me you need English. I think, ‘What the f---? I never go U.S.”

But look at him now. For the next 15 minutes following a recent practice, Buchnevich winds through subjects ranging from European soccer to Russian saunas, superhero movies to video games. He pauses every so often, recalling certain words, but plows through without apology, adapting on the fly like always. Moving to the Big Apple at 21 years old? “Little scary.” Spending half of his rookie season shelved with an injured back? “Big problem.” Addressing fellow Rangers at the start? “Tough communication.” Talking to teammates today? “More confidence. Very easy.”

The progress is obvious everywhere. His 15 points at 5-on-5 lead the team through Wednesday, his 23 total points rank second behind Mats Zuccarello, and only center Mika Zibanejad enjoys a better even-strength shot attempt rate among lineup regulars. “He’s really woven himself into the fabric of the team,” says linemate Chris Kreider. “Always spending time with the guys. He’s never stopped learning, never felt complacent. It’s really impressive to see the strides that he takes.”

Leave the rink. Head east along I-287, across the Connecticut border. Find the outdoor deck with the ping-pong table. Start the story here.

It was July 4 weekend when Buchnevich migrated stateside for the first time in 2016, the most American holiday outside the most American metropolis. He had been given the option of staying with Russian speakers to ease the transition, but chose an English-only household in the interest of total immersion. “I couldn’t see him sitting in a classroom with a teacher for more than 15 minutes,” agent Todd Diamond says. “He wants to live life. He’ll learn on the fly.”

Armed with the Google Translate app on his phone, Buchnevich spent the next several days tailing his host family to barbecues around the Greenwich suburbs, watching fireworks light up the sky, marveling at the abundance of unfamiliar foods such as hot dogs and fresh berries. “It’s not always like this,” Rich Comeau cautioned him. A native Canadian who works in wealth management, Comeau, 54, had eagerly agreed to help Diamond, a longtime close friend, by putting up Buchnevich for two months that summer. Separated by more than three decades in age, many worlds apart in culture—Buchnevich hails from Cherepovets, a riverside steel town north of Moscow—they nonetheless bonded fast … largely thanks to table tennis.

Most days followed the same routine. In the morning, Buchnevich would work out at a nearby gym run by trainer Ben Prentiss, whose long list of clientele includes Kreider and Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. At night, Buchnevich would return home, battle Comeau for an hour, shower off the sweat, and scarf down a healthy dinner. He wasn’t bluffing about his paddle skills, either. When the 2016 Summer Olympics opened in Rio de Janeiro, Buchnevich would watch table tennis matches to study the players’ moves and then bust them out later, near perfect. “He picked up a new serve every day,” Comeau says. “Every shot was on the white line. You know how it is—the spin, and now I’m down 9–1.”

“I’m very good,” Buchnevich reports, straight-faced, before breaking into a smile. “Him so bad.”

The Rangers always knew that he maintained high confidence levels, though occasionally this bordered on outright cockiness; once, director of player personnel Gordie Clark recalls seeing a teenage Buchnevich at an international tournament, “pointing up at the scoreboard, pointing to the other team, one finger up and then opening his hand.” We’re first! You’re fifth! “You worried about it earlier,” Clark says, “But it actually was a strength. I think the cockiness in the end came out through the fact that he really firmly believed he belongs here.”

Indeed, Buchnevich’s skills were undeniable. To Clark, they evoked the late Alexei Cherepanov, a first-rounder in ‘07—similar builds, similar skating abilities, “hockey IQ and hands at another level.” Exactly why Buchnevich fell to the 75th overall selection six years later remains a mystery; Clark suspects other scouts were dissuaded by his swagger, while Diamond cites what he calls “that Russian-factor nonsense,” a league-wide hesitance to draft Russian players out of fear that they might never make the NHL leap. For Buchnevich, the wait at Prudential Center was both unexpected and torturous. “Long sit,” he says.

Following three-plus seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich finally signed his entry-level NHL contract and attended his first Rangers development camp in June 2016. One day, Buchnevich was walking with Diamond, who speaks Russian. They ran into Clark, who sought to boost the rookie’s confidence by remarking, “You’re better than a third-round pick.” Diamond translated this, then laughed at Buchnevich’s reply. As Clark remembers, “Todd turns to me and said, ‘Well, why didn’t you take him earlier?’”

“If he feels like he’s been slighted undeservedly, it definitely puts him in a bad mood,” Diamond says. “When he’s pissed off, he can produce.”

Still, life presented plenty unforeseen challenges. Buchnevich moved into a turnkey apartment near Madison Square Garden for the easy rink commute, but found that location at once loud and lonely. He had made steady progress under Prentiss’ supervision, gaining five pounds of muscle and shedding three percentage points of body fat, but lacked flexibility and strength relative to his peers, which led to back and core problems that sidelined him from mid-Nov. to mid-Jan. “Everyone go on trip, you go home and sit, watch TV show,” Buchnevich says. “Come here to play hockey, not sit.” There were sparks of brilliance, like separate four-game point streaks that sandwiched the injury, but he also only appeared in five of New York’s 12 playoff games, benched for the remaining nights as a healthy scratch.

Larger signs of growth were visible off the ice. He still harbors a secret sweet tooth for American delicacies like Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, but embraced a meal plan that went heavy on grilled chicken and quinoa. Prentiss noticed how Buchnevich began ribbing teammates between sets, comfortable with trash talk typical of all hockey players. As a Christmas present Buchnevich bought Comeau one of those voice-activated Google Home devices, “so we could always have that for a translator when he drops by.”

They no longer need it.

Back in the Rangers’ locker room, Buchnevich considers how much has changed since those early days. Before New York lost to Dallas in a shootout Monday, a group of players passed the pregame hours by watching the 2016 superhero movie Deadpool. He had no trouble joining along. “Some joke, slang, tough to me,” Buchnevich says. “But better right now.”

Each day brings increasing levels of comfort. Earlier this season Buchnevich moved near several teammates in the Tribeca neighborhood, furnishing his one-bedroom with a personal touch. On the road he competes against teammates in NHL 18 and FIFA—he is an avid soccer fan, cheering for the attacking style of Manchester City and Barcelona—on Zibanejad’s PlayStation. “This year, he’s really settled in and feels comfortable,” says Comeau, who again hosted Buchnevich at his house last summer but no longer needed to lend his car after Buchnevich bought a new one for himself. “He’s much happier, much more outgoing, doing a lot of stuff with teammates on the team. Feels like he’s got a place, a home base.”

The same seems true at the rink. Most individual video review sessions are self-explanatory—skate here, stick here, do this and that—but Buchnevich never labors to understand concepts from coaches. “It’s not an issue,” Rangers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault says. “Everything that we tell the team now during meetings, he picks up. He’s come a long way in that aspect.

A little bit challenging for him at the beginning, but he’s fine now."

More than fine, in fact. Just watch how he shimmied around Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara, went backhand to forehand in close quarters, and beat goalie Tuukka Rask top shelf on national television. Or the one-touch pass that fed Kreider against Florida after Thanksgiving, one of his team-high 12 primary points at 5-on-5. “Every once in awhile he’ll blow a slap shot by the goalie,” Clark says. “But his passing ability is on another planet.”

?

This Wednesday, Buchnevich belted a backdoor feed from Kreider for his 11th goal of the season, already three more than he notched during all of '16-17—in 10 fewer games.

“You can see, he’s more comfortable, more confident, physically stronger on the puck and more determined,” says goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “You see all these different things he has, taking steps, playing at a level where it’s really helping us.”

Whether through visiting Russian saunas in Manhattan or venturing into Brooklyn to try new restaurants, Buchnevich remains connected with his heritage while living abroad. His parents—mother Yelena Razumova is a former high-level skier; father Andrey Buchnevich worked at a steel factory and now coaches youth soccer—plan to arrive before Christmas and stay through the Winter Classic against Buffalo at Citi Field. It will be the first time that Buchnevich’s mother has ever traveled outside Russia. He misses her cooking. Specifically the borscht.

Of course, there are always more hurdles to overcome. Midway through the interview, he gestures across the carpet, toward a cluster of other reporters. “I can't take a camera," he says. "Too nervous for camera. Maybe I say bad word or something. Maybe later.”

Knowing Buchnevich, he'll catch on fast.

Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
'Star Trek: Discovery' - powered by table tennis
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
'Star Trek: Discovery' - powered by table tennis
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
'Star Trek: Discovery' - powered by table tennis
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
'Star Trek: Discovery' - powered by table tennis
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
'Star Trek: Discovery' - powered by table tennis
Actors Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif reveal the games that helped to bond the cast of "Star Trek: Discovery" - including table tennis and role play game Mafia. (Nov. 6)
&#39;Suburbicon&#39; star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
Julianne Moore Got Spicy With Matt Damon And A Ping Pong Paddle
'Suburbicon' star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
&#39;Suburbicon&#39; star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
Julianne Moore Got Spicy With Matt Damon And A Ping Pong Paddle
'Suburbicon' star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
&#39;Suburbicon&#39; star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
Julianne Moore Got Spicy With Matt Damon And A Ping Pong Paddle
'Suburbicon' star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
'Suburbicon' star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
Julianne Moore Got Spicy With Matt Damon And A Ping Pong Paddle
'Suburbicon' star Julianne Moore teases a scene from her upcoming movie that involves both an A-list actor and a piece of table tennis equipment.
<p>Xue Yinxian is a 79-year-old former Chinese doctor seeking asylum in Germany after revealing that &quot;more than 10,000&quot; Chinese athletes were taking performance enhancing drugs in the 1980s and 1990s as part of a systemic doping scandal by the country, he tells German broadcaster ARD.</p><p>The doctor claims that systemic doping had its roots with athletes as young as 11 years old and was used in major Olympic sports including swimming, diving, track and field, table tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball and more. Xue worked closely with Chinese national teams in the 1970s. Xue said she was dismissed from her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to assist an athlete with doping before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2012, she fled the country after blowing the whistle on doping in 2012. </p><p>The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement saying that it was looking the allegations.</p><p>“Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze,&quot; he <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/oct/22/china-compulsory-doping-olympic-athletes-claims-whistleblower-athletics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:said" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">said</a>, according to <em>The Guardian</em>. &quot;There must have been more than 10,000 people involved. People believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country. All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.”</p><p>&quot;One trainer came to me and said, &#39;Doctor Xue, the boys&#39; breasts keep getting bigger,&#39;&quot; Xue also said. &quot;These boys were about 13 to 14 years old.&quot;</p><p>The IOC&#39;s statute of limitations on re-testing drug samples from the 80s and 90s has passed so it is unlikely those allegedly tainted medals will ever get to clean athletes.</p><p>No members of the Chinese Olympic Committee and China’s sports ministry commented to the ARD reporters.</p><p>This is not the first time that China has been linked to doping in the 80s and 90s. In February 2016, a letter was revealed in which several Chinese athletes said controversial track coach Ma Junren helped operate a state-sponsored doping system. Ma&#39;s athletes set national and world records on the track that were considered unbreakable for years due to the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. Whenever Ma was asked about his athlete&#39;s success, he would credit it to altitude training and athletes taking turtle blood. The leaked letter was being investigated by the International Association of Athletics Federation as the World Anti-Doing Agency investigated Russia for its own systemic doping.</p>
Report: ‘More Than 10,000' Athletes Doped in 80s and 90s, Former Chinese Doctor Claims

Xue Yinxian is a 79-year-old former Chinese doctor seeking asylum in Germany after revealing that "more than 10,000" Chinese athletes were taking performance enhancing drugs in the 1980s and 1990s as part of a systemic doping scandal by the country, he tells German broadcaster ARD.

The doctor claims that systemic doping had its roots with athletes as young as 11 years old and was used in major Olympic sports including swimming, diving, track and field, table tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball and more. Xue worked closely with Chinese national teams in the 1970s. Xue said she was dismissed from her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to assist an athlete with doping before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2012, she fled the country after blowing the whistle on doping in 2012.

The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement saying that it was looking the allegations.

“Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze," he said, according to The Guardian. "There must have been more than 10,000 people involved. People believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country. All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.”

"One trainer came to me and said, 'Doctor Xue, the boys' breasts keep getting bigger,'" Xue also said. "These boys were about 13 to 14 years old."

The IOC's statute of limitations on re-testing drug samples from the 80s and 90s has passed so it is unlikely those allegedly tainted medals will ever get to clean athletes.

No members of the Chinese Olympic Committee and China’s sports ministry commented to the ARD reporters.

This is not the first time that China has been linked to doping in the 80s and 90s. In February 2016, a letter was revealed in which several Chinese athletes said controversial track coach Ma Junren helped operate a state-sponsored doping system. Ma's athletes set national and world records on the track that were considered unbreakable for years due to the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. Whenever Ma was asked about his athlete's success, he would credit it to altitude training and athletes taking turtle blood. The leaked letter was being investigated by the International Association of Athletics Federation as the World Anti-Doing Agency investigated Russia for its own systemic doping.

Asked to define what football means on Merseyside, Peter Reid’s eyes sparkle. And the proud Evertonian, the man who played 159 times for his boyhood favourites, the dynamic heart of the most successful side in the club’s history, chuckles as he recalls a derby match at Anfield in the mid-eighties, when the two Liverpool clubs were vying for the title. “We haven’t had a kick for 20 minutes and the ball goes out to Barnesy [John Barnes] and I absolutely smash him,” he remembers. Such was the vigour of his assault the home crowd were immediately on their feet, yelling their fury. Above the shouts, however, Reid could pick out the comments of one particularly enraged Liverpool follower. “I hear: ‘you bluenosed ****, you big-eared *******’. He’s absolutely giving it to me. I looked in the crowd and went: ‘Uncle Arthur, sit down’. On my life. My own uncle. And I’d got him players’ lounge tickets. That is what [Merseyside] football is about. He was the nicest man in the world and he was giving it to me.” Watching from the Goodison stands this season, however, the once-a-blue-always-a-blue Reid reckons Uncle Arthur can rest easy. He thinks it is unlikely any of the current side would provoke such a reaction. “I think this Everton team is in a scrap,” he says of the wretched form which has seen them tumble down the Premier League. “The team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can.” Reid says Everton are &#39;in a scrap&#39; Credit: Reuters As he was in possession of a football, once Reid warms to his theme it is hard to dislodge him. As he sits in a Liverpool hotel, where he is promoting his autobiography, his passion for the club is obvious. “The owner [Farhad Moshiri] comes out and says the fans’ expectations are too high. No, you’re wrong mate. For me as an Everton fan we should have expectations higher than what we are seeing. So that is wrong from the top in my opinion.” The issue, he suggests, can be traced to a lack of forward planning. “I think it was a mistake not getting a striker. They are the most difficult to get, but you know you need one so you have to put all your resources into getting one. It was common knowledge that [Romelu] Lukaku was going last January. I know it is hard. But when you are Everton go and get one.” And instead of buying a finisher, his worry is that the manager Ronald Koeman spent the Lukaku money on a bunch of players whose roles overlap. Everton have not replaced Romelu Lukaku sufficiently Credit: Reuters “Without being too critical of Mr Koeman if I am buying a player for £45million I want to play him in his position,” he says, with reference to Gylfi Sigurdsson being used as a wide man. “But he has brought in a few players who play in the same position, so it is always going to be a problem.” So what would Reid do if he were in charge? He had a very successful time managing Manchester City to fifth, then steering Sunderland to two successive seventh place finishes in the Premier League, how would he resolve what he describes as the team’s “missing legs”? “I would ask them to roll their sleeves up,” he says. “You get back to basics. You have to say: ‘Lads we have to make it hard for them when they have the ball’. I’d love to be part of that. I am not saying I want to be the next Everton manager but this is what that club needs, it needs a depth of desire.” Not that he anticipates his phone ringing with an invitation to take over in the Goodison dug out. Happily working as a coach at Wigan Athletic, he believes his time as a Premier League manager has long gone. Not because, at 61, he is too old. But because the fashion is for more exotic bosses, for what Moshiri describes as “Hollywood”. It is a fashion, Reid believes, that leads to outstanding local talent being over-looked. Peter Reid&#39;s best players “I think Sean Dyche has done a great job, Eddie Howe has done a great job. Why aren’t they getting linked when a big job comes up? That’s the question. I think there’s a lot of good British coaches: Michael O’Neill at Northern Ireland, Christ Almighty what a job. But they’re not Hollywood. Dyche isn’t Hollywood because he’s got a deep, squeaky voice. Plus his dress sense isn’t as good as Jose [Mourinho] or Pep [Guardiola].” As he goes about his duties at Wigan, Reid acknowledges that, while the basics of the game remain the same, he has been obliged to change much of his approach. The methods he revealed on Premier Passions, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series that followed him through a season as Sunderland boss, no longer pass muster. “You can’t do now what I did in Premier Passions, effin and blindin at modern players, they’d just down tools,” he suggests. “At the time that was the way. But I learned very quickly at Leeds. Mark Viduka’s reaction told me everything. I’ve laid into him and I could see in his eyes he’s thinking I’m a piece of *****. As they’re going out for the second half I’ve pulled him over and said, ‘hey listen I’ve only made you an example because you’re the best player’. I had to think on my feet. But that was the point I realised I couldn’t do that anymore.” Reid acknowledges times have changed in football coaching Credit: Tony Woolliscroft Though he suggests some of the old ways, albeit impossible now, were not wholly bad. Like the time Howard Kendall, his manager at Everton then at Manchester City, organised a table tennis tournament after City had lost a home game. “He’d sent out for five crates of Budweiser. We set up at the table, half the team behind me, half the team behind him. You had to get the bat, hit the ball and do a little run. Someone knocks one into the net. Howard says to him, ‘go over there, get a bottle of Bud and get it down you’. It’s half-ten in the morning. Five crates of Bud later, we are all in Mulligan’s, on the ****. What happens? We go on a run and only lose two of the next twelve. I look back on things like that and you see that it changed the whole team spirit. That’s great man-management.” Though the sad truth is, he agrees, it is probably not an option available to Ronald Koeman. Cheer Up Peter Reid, his autobiography, is published by Trinity Mirror, RRP £18.99. ebook also available.
Peter Reid: 'The Everton team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can'
Asked to define what football means on Merseyside, Peter Reid’s eyes sparkle. And the proud Evertonian, the man who played 159 times for his boyhood favourites, the dynamic heart of the most successful side in the club’s history, chuckles as he recalls a derby match at Anfield in the mid-eighties, when the two Liverpool clubs were vying for the title. “We haven’t had a kick for 20 minutes and the ball goes out to Barnesy [John Barnes] and I absolutely smash him,” he remembers. Such was the vigour of his assault the home crowd were immediately on their feet, yelling their fury. Above the shouts, however, Reid could pick out the comments of one particularly enraged Liverpool follower. “I hear: ‘you bluenosed ****, you big-eared *******’. He’s absolutely giving it to me. I looked in the crowd and went: ‘Uncle Arthur, sit down’. On my life. My own uncle. And I’d got him players’ lounge tickets. That is what [Merseyside] football is about. He was the nicest man in the world and he was giving it to me.” Watching from the Goodison stands this season, however, the once-a-blue-always-a-blue Reid reckons Uncle Arthur can rest easy. He thinks it is unlikely any of the current side would provoke such a reaction. “I think this Everton team is in a scrap,” he says of the wretched form which has seen them tumble down the Premier League. “The team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can.” Reid says Everton are 'in a scrap' Credit: Reuters As he was in possession of a football, once Reid warms to his theme it is hard to dislodge him. As he sits in a Liverpool hotel, where he is promoting his autobiography, his passion for the club is obvious. “The owner [Farhad Moshiri] comes out and says the fans’ expectations are too high. No, you’re wrong mate. For me as an Everton fan we should have expectations higher than what we are seeing. So that is wrong from the top in my opinion.” The issue, he suggests, can be traced to a lack of forward planning. “I think it was a mistake not getting a striker. They are the most difficult to get, but you know you need one so you have to put all your resources into getting one. It was common knowledge that [Romelu] Lukaku was going last January. I know it is hard. But when you are Everton go and get one.” And instead of buying a finisher, his worry is that the manager Ronald Koeman spent the Lukaku money on a bunch of players whose roles overlap. Everton have not replaced Romelu Lukaku sufficiently Credit: Reuters “Without being too critical of Mr Koeman if I am buying a player for £45million I want to play him in his position,” he says, with reference to Gylfi Sigurdsson being used as a wide man. “But he has brought in a few players who play in the same position, so it is always going to be a problem.” So what would Reid do if he were in charge? He had a very successful time managing Manchester City to fifth, then steering Sunderland to two successive seventh place finishes in the Premier League, how would he resolve what he describes as the team’s “missing legs”? “I would ask them to roll their sleeves up,” he says. “You get back to basics. You have to say: ‘Lads we have to make it hard for them when they have the ball’. I’d love to be part of that. I am not saying I want to be the next Everton manager but this is what that club needs, it needs a depth of desire.” Not that he anticipates his phone ringing with an invitation to take over in the Goodison dug out. Happily working as a coach at Wigan Athletic, he believes his time as a Premier League manager has long gone. Not because, at 61, he is too old. But because the fashion is for more exotic bosses, for what Moshiri describes as “Hollywood”. It is a fashion, Reid believes, that leads to outstanding local talent being over-looked. Peter Reid's best players “I think Sean Dyche has done a great job, Eddie Howe has done a great job. Why aren’t they getting linked when a big job comes up? That’s the question. I think there’s a lot of good British coaches: Michael O’Neill at Northern Ireland, Christ Almighty what a job. But they’re not Hollywood. Dyche isn’t Hollywood because he’s got a deep, squeaky voice. Plus his dress sense isn’t as good as Jose [Mourinho] or Pep [Guardiola].” As he goes about his duties at Wigan, Reid acknowledges that, while the basics of the game remain the same, he has been obliged to change much of his approach. The methods he revealed on Premier Passions, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series that followed him through a season as Sunderland boss, no longer pass muster. “You can’t do now what I did in Premier Passions, effin and blindin at modern players, they’d just down tools,” he suggests. “At the time that was the way. But I learned very quickly at Leeds. Mark Viduka’s reaction told me everything. I’ve laid into him and I could see in his eyes he’s thinking I’m a piece of *****. As they’re going out for the second half I’ve pulled him over and said, ‘hey listen I’ve only made you an example because you’re the best player’. I had to think on my feet. But that was the point I realised I couldn’t do that anymore.” Reid acknowledges times have changed in football coaching Credit: Tony Woolliscroft Though he suggests some of the old ways, albeit impossible now, were not wholly bad. Like the time Howard Kendall, his manager at Everton then at Manchester City, organised a table tennis tournament after City had lost a home game. “He’d sent out for five crates of Budweiser. We set up at the table, half the team behind me, half the team behind him. You had to get the bat, hit the ball and do a little run. Someone knocks one into the net. Howard says to him, ‘go over there, get a bottle of Bud and get it down you’. It’s half-ten in the morning. Five crates of Bud later, we are all in Mulligan’s, on the ****. What happens? We go on a run and only lose two of the next twelve. I look back on things like that and you see that it changed the whole team spirit. That’s great man-management.” Though the sad truth is, he agrees, it is probably not an option available to Ronald Koeman. Cheer Up Peter Reid, his autobiography, is published by Trinity Mirror, RRP £18.99. ebook also available.
Asked to define what football means on Merseyside, Peter Reid’s eyes sparkle. And the proud Evertonian, the man who played 159 times for his boyhood favourites, the dynamic heart of the most successful side in the club’s history, chuckles as he recalls a derby match at Anfield in the mid-eighties, when the two Liverpool clubs were vying for the title. “We haven’t had a kick for 20 minutes and the ball goes out to Barnesy [John Barnes] and I absolutely smash him,” he remembers. Such was the vigour of his assault the home crowd were immediately on their feet, yelling their fury. Above the shouts, however, Reid could pick out the comments of one particularly enraged Liverpool follower. “I hear: ‘you bluenosed ****, you big-eared *******’. He’s absolutely giving it to me. I looked in the crowd and went: ‘Uncle Arthur, sit down’. On my life. My own uncle. And I’d got him players’ lounge tickets. That is what [Merseyside] football is about. He was the nicest man in the world and he was giving it to me.” Watching from the Goodison stands this season, however, the once-a-blue-always-a-blue Reid reckons Uncle Arthur can rest easy. He thinks it is unlikely any of the current side would provoke such a reaction. “I think this Everton team is in a scrap,” he says of the wretched form which has seen them tumble down the Premier League. “The team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can.” Reid says Everton are &#39;in a scrap&#39; Credit: Reuters As he was in possession of a football, once Reid warms to his theme it is hard to dislodge him. As he sits in a Liverpool hotel, where he is promoting his autobiography, his passion for the club is obvious. “The owner [Farhad Moshiri] comes out and says the fans’ expectations are too high. No, you’re wrong mate. For me as an Everton fan we should have expectations higher than what we are seeing. So that is wrong from the top in my opinion.” The issue, he suggests, can be traced to a lack of forward planning. “I think it was a mistake not getting a striker. They are the most difficult to get, but you know you need one so you have to put all your resources into getting one. It was common knowledge that [Romelu] Lukaku was going last January. I know it is hard. But when you are Everton go and get one.” And instead of buying a finisher, his worry is that the manager Ronald Koeman spent the Lukaku money on a bunch of players whose roles overlap. Everton have not replaced Romelu Lukaku sufficiently Credit: Reuters “Without being too critical of Mr Koeman if I am buying a player for £45million I want to play him in his position,” he says, with reference to Gylfi Sigurdsson being used as a wide man. “But he has brought in a few players who play in the same position, so it is always going to be a problem.” So what would Reid do if he were in charge? He had a very successful time managing Manchester City to fifth, then steering Sunderland to two successive seventh place finishes in the Premier League, how would he resolve what he describes as the team’s “missing legs”? “I would ask them to roll their sleeves up,” he says. “You get back to basics. You have to say: ‘Lads we have to make it hard for them when they have the ball’. I’d love to be part of that. I am not saying I want to be the next Everton manager but this is what that club needs, it needs a depth of desire.” Not that he anticipates his phone ringing with an invitation to take over in the Goodison dug out. Happily working as a coach at Wigan Athletic, he believes his time as a Premier League manager has long gone. Not because, at 61, he is too old. But because the fashion is for more exotic bosses, for what Moshiri describes as “Hollywood”. It is a fashion, Reid believes, that leads to outstanding local talent being over-looked. Peter Reid&#39;s best players “I think Sean Dyche has done a great job, Eddie Howe has done a great job. Why aren’t they getting linked when a big job comes up? That’s the question. I think there’s a lot of good British coaches: Michael O’Neill at Northern Ireland, Christ Almighty what a job. But they’re not Hollywood. Dyche isn’t Hollywood because he’s got a deep, squeaky voice. Plus his dress sense isn’t as good as Jose [Mourinho] or Pep [Guardiola].” As he goes about his duties at Wigan, Reid acknowledges that, while the basics of the game remain the same, he has been obliged to change much of his approach. The methods he revealed on Premier Passions, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series that followed him through a season as Sunderland boss, no longer pass muster. “You can’t do now what I did in Premier Passions, effin and blindin at modern players, they’d just down tools,” he suggests. “At the time that was the way. But I learned very quickly at Leeds. Mark Viduka’s reaction told me everything. I’ve laid into him and I could see in his eyes he’s thinking I’m a piece of *****. As they’re going out for the second half I’ve pulled him over and said, ‘hey listen I’ve only made you an example because you’re the best player’. I had to think on my feet. But that was the point I realised I couldn’t do that anymore.” Reid acknowledges times have changed in football coaching Credit: Tony Woolliscroft Though he suggests some of the old ways, albeit impossible now, were not wholly bad. Like the time Howard Kendall, his manager at Everton then at Manchester City, organised a table tennis tournament after City had lost a home game. “He’d sent out for five crates of Budweiser. We set up at the table, half the team behind me, half the team behind him. You had to get the bat, hit the ball and do a little run. Someone knocks one into the net. Howard says to him, ‘go over there, get a bottle of Bud and get it down you’. It’s half-ten in the morning. Five crates of Bud later, we are all in Mulligan’s, on the ****. What happens? We go on a run and only lose two of the next twelve. I look back on things like that and you see that it changed the whole team spirit. That’s great man-management.” Though the sad truth is, he agrees, it is probably not an option available to Ronald Koeman. Cheer Up Peter Reid, his autobiography, is published by Trinity Mirror, RRP £18.99. ebook also available.
Peter Reid: 'The Everton team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can'
Asked to define what football means on Merseyside, Peter Reid’s eyes sparkle. And the proud Evertonian, the man who played 159 times for his boyhood favourites, the dynamic heart of the most successful side in the club’s history, chuckles as he recalls a derby match at Anfield in the mid-eighties, when the two Liverpool clubs were vying for the title. “We haven’t had a kick for 20 minutes and the ball goes out to Barnesy [John Barnes] and I absolutely smash him,” he remembers. Such was the vigour of his assault the home crowd were immediately on their feet, yelling their fury. Above the shouts, however, Reid could pick out the comments of one particularly enraged Liverpool follower. “I hear: ‘you bluenosed ****, you big-eared *******’. He’s absolutely giving it to me. I looked in the crowd and went: ‘Uncle Arthur, sit down’. On my life. My own uncle. And I’d got him players’ lounge tickets. That is what [Merseyside] football is about. He was the nicest man in the world and he was giving it to me.” Watching from the Goodison stands this season, however, the once-a-blue-always-a-blue Reid reckons Uncle Arthur can rest easy. He thinks it is unlikely any of the current side would provoke such a reaction. “I think this Everton team is in a scrap,” he says of the wretched form which has seen them tumble down the Premier League. “The team I was in could scrap. I am not sure this team can.” Reid says Everton are 'in a scrap' Credit: Reuters As he was in possession of a football, once Reid warms to his theme it is hard to dislodge him. As he sits in a Liverpool hotel, where he is promoting his autobiography, his passion for the club is obvious. “The owner [Farhad Moshiri] comes out and says the fans’ expectations are too high. No, you’re wrong mate. For me as an Everton fan we should have expectations higher than what we are seeing. So that is wrong from the top in my opinion.” The issue, he suggests, can be traced to a lack of forward planning. “I think it was a mistake not getting a striker. They are the most difficult to get, but you know you need one so you have to put all your resources into getting one. It was common knowledge that [Romelu] Lukaku was going last January. I know it is hard. But when you are Everton go and get one.” And instead of buying a finisher, his worry is that the manager Ronald Koeman spent the Lukaku money on a bunch of players whose roles overlap. Everton have not replaced Romelu Lukaku sufficiently Credit: Reuters “Without being too critical of Mr Koeman if I am buying a player for £45million I want to play him in his position,” he says, with reference to Gylfi Sigurdsson being used as a wide man. “But he has brought in a few players who play in the same position, so it is always going to be a problem.” So what would Reid do if he were in charge? He had a very successful time managing Manchester City to fifth, then steering Sunderland to two successive seventh place finishes in the Premier League, how would he resolve what he describes as the team’s “missing legs”? “I would ask them to roll their sleeves up,” he says. “You get back to basics. You have to say: ‘Lads we have to make it hard for them when they have the ball’. I’d love to be part of that. I am not saying I want to be the next Everton manager but this is what that club needs, it needs a depth of desire.” Not that he anticipates his phone ringing with an invitation to take over in the Goodison dug out. Happily working as a coach at Wigan Athletic, he believes his time as a Premier League manager has long gone. Not because, at 61, he is too old. But because the fashion is for more exotic bosses, for what Moshiri describes as “Hollywood”. It is a fashion, Reid believes, that leads to outstanding local talent being over-looked. Peter Reid's best players “I think Sean Dyche has done a great job, Eddie Howe has done a great job. Why aren’t they getting linked when a big job comes up? That’s the question. I think there’s a lot of good British coaches: Michael O’Neill at Northern Ireland, Christ Almighty what a job. But they’re not Hollywood. Dyche isn’t Hollywood because he’s got a deep, squeaky voice. Plus his dress sense isn’t as good as Jose [Mourinho] or Pep [Guardiola].” As he goes about his duties at Wigan, Reid acknowledges that, while the basics of the game remain the same, he has been obliged to change much of his approach. The methods he revealed on Premier Passions, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series that followed him through a season as Sunderland boss, no longer pass muster. “You can’t do now what I did in Premier Passions, effin and blindin at modern players, they’d just down tools,” he suggests. “At the time that was the way. But I learned very quickly at Leeds. Mark Viduka’s reaction told me everything. I’ve laid into him and I could see in his eyes he’s thinking I’m a piece of *****. As they’re going out for the second half I’ve pulled him over and said, ‘hey listen I’ve only made you an example because you’re the best player’. I had to think on my feet. But that was the point I realised I couldn’t do that anymore.” Reid acknowledges times have changed in football coaching Credit: Tony Woolliscroft Though he suggests some of the old ways, albeit impossible now, were not wholly bad. Like the time Howard Kendall, his manager at Everton then at Manchester City, organised a table tennis tournament after City had lost a home game. “He’d sent out for five crates of Budweiser. We set up at the table, half the team behind me, half the team behind him. You had to get the bat, hit the ball and do a little run. Someone knocks one into the net. Howard says to him, ‘go over there, get a bottle of Bud and get it down you’. It’s half-ten in the morning. Five crates of Bud later, we are all in Mulligan’s, on the ****. What happens? We go on a run and only lose two of the next twelve. I look back on things like that and you see that it changed the whole team spirit. That’s great man-management.” Though the sad truth is, he agrees, it is probably not an option available to Ronald Koeman. Cheer Up Peter Reid, his autobiography, is published by Trinity Mirror, RRP £18.99. ebook also available.

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