2012 inductees to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

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2012 inductees to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

From Comcast SportsNet
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Eddie Olczyk remembers the series as if it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1994, and his New York Rangers outlasted the New Jersey Devils in a thrilling, seven-game series to secure the Eastern Conference title. The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Devils went home. But Olczyk figured the latter would be back soon. "You just knew it," Olczyk said. "With Lou Lamoriello in charge, and because of his leadership, you knew they were on the verge of something special. There was no question about it." He was right. And on Wednesday, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame honored both for their accomplishments. Lamoriello, New Jersey's longtime general manager, who has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles and five Eastern Conference crowns, was named to this year's induction class. Joining Lamoriello as part of the class that will be enshrined in the fall, is Olczyk, now an analyst for NBC Sports, as well as Mike Modano, who won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars. "Without a doubt, it's a great honor," Olczyk said. "To be in the same class as professionals like Mike and Lou certainly makes it a great day." Since Lamoriello took over in 1987, the Devils have secured nine division titles and won the Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. New Jersey, as a No. 6 seed this season, defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to their fifth Cup final last month. "The common denominators there are the defense, (goaltender) Marty Brodeur, and Mr. Lamoriello," Olczyk said. "He has proven over the years, through a lot of change, that he can keep the Devils in contention every year." Modano, who lost the Cup finals to New Jersey in 2000 as a member of the Stars, played in 21 NHL seasons. He finished with 561 goals and 1,374 points, and holds the record for most postseason points (145) by an American. His Stars defeated Buffalo in the 1999 Cup finals. Olczyk was the third overall pick of the 1984 draft by Chicago, and played for 16 years with the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Jets, Rangers, Kings and Penguins. "This is definitely one of the highlights of my career," Olczyk said. "Fortunately, for me, I've been very lucky to wear a bunch of different hats in this game, and I still feel like I have a lot more to give." Olczyk finished with 342 goals and 794 points in 1,031 games. His Rangers defeated Vancouver in 1994 to win the Cup. In 1985-86, with Chicago, he had 29 goals and 79 points as a 19-year-old. "Eddie's positive impact is felt through the entire organization, starting from the youth hockey level all the way to our players, coaches and front office staff," Blackhawks president John McDonough said. "He is a great ambassador for the game of hockey and the city of Chicago."

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Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

On Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, Scott Brooks will for the first time in his coaching career be on the opposite bench of Kevin Durant, a former MVP and Brooks' best player during the seven years he coached the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is not an enviable task coaching, against Durant. Brooks knows what he is capable of and is looking forward to the challenge.

Well, sort of.

"You have to hope that Coach [Steve] Kerr will sit him out. That's a good start. They have three in four nights coming up, so I think he should rest," Brooks joked ahead of the Wizards' matchup with the Warriors [6:30 p.m. on CSN].

In all seriousness, Brooks will enjoy catching up with Durant. The two have remained in touch ever since Brooks was fired by OKC following the 2014-15 season.

"We text throughout the season. I don't know if that's illegal. I just lost some money, I guess," Brooks said with a smile. "It's just 'how are you doing Kevin, how's the family?' That's it. We went through a lot together and I appreciate what he's gone through and the way he's always handled himself... I've been with him through some very tough times. We've had some great moments together. Conference finals after conference finals, the NBA Finals while being a young team, his MVP year; we've just had so many moments. He's just a great person."

It's easy to tell that Brooks admires the man Durant has become. Brooks has known the eight-time All-Star ever since his rookie year when he was just 19 years old and playing for the Seattle Supersonics. In the 10 years since, he's watched Durant grow up, deal with both success and failure, and then ultimately make the decision to leave Oklahoma City in free agency. All of that came after a rough childhood growing up in Prince George's County in Maryland.

"I like the progress that he's made as a man. We all saw a young man grow up in front of our eyes and not only meet all the expectations, but he's overcome a lot. I know his story as a child with his mom and grandma, they did a great job of instilling important values that are going to continue to carry him throughout his life. I feel like I was a part of helping raise him as a good pro. That's what you want to do as a coach is teach these guys how to be pros. That's to me the No. 1 job as a coach," Brooks explained.

[RELATED: Durant reveals why he didn't even talk to Wizards]

"You have to understand that they are going through some trying times and you have to understand how to help them through it. Get them through it and also understand that when you do get through it, and when you have some success, how do you handle that? The thing I like is how he handed it when he got through it. He was the MVP and the next day you would have never known. You would have never known he was MVP. You could probably not talk to me this day if I won MVP."

On Monday at Wizards practice, Brooks recalled the early days of Durant in Seattle and OKC, how he was just a kid who couldn't bench press 200 pounds and never washed his face.

"The talk [before the draft] was that he wasn't strong enough. That's [so] overrated… I don't know if every team does that, the bench press. If we are in the strongman competition, then you don't want Kevin on your team, but the ball is not that heavy. He can pick that up pretty good. I knew he was a natural. He's just a natural talent. He just had a good feel for the game. The thing that really stood out was his work ethic. That guy, it just doesn't happen overnight. He didn't become MVP overnight. He didn't become one of the best players overnight. He's put a lot of time and work in. I was fortunate enough to be around him for seven years," Brooks said.

"He's going to go down as one of the best players ever. But the thing that [Golden State] didn't realize they were getting is a great guy and a great teammate. That takes you a lot longer down the road than just having a great player. He's as good as advertised off the court... they got an incredible person that always wants to do the right thing. Sometimes it's not easy to do the right thing, but he doesn't choose the easy path. He goes down the path that you would be proud of."

[RELATED: Beal on Durant: 'I didn't think he was going to come here']

CAA Tournament: Bracket, when and how to watch

CAA Tournament: Bracket, when and how to watch

Throughout the regular season, UNC-Wilmington (26-5, 15-3) has been the favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association. Perhaps there was even a chance for the Seahawks to get an at-large tournament bid if they were to lose in the conference tournament. 

A handful of losses to CAA opponents, William and Mary, College of Charleston, and Elon changed that tone. 

In order for the Seahawks to make the NCAA tournament and repeat as champions they have to win the conference tournament. However, every other team in the conference will be battling for a chance in the tournament as well.

One the teams on the radar is Charleston (23-8, 14-4) who beat Wilmington at home earlier in the season and has not lost to a team below .500 all season. Emerging as a suprise team in CAA play this year, the Cougars appear to be the biggest threat to Wilimington as the tournament hosts in the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Of course you can never count out long-time CAA members, William and Mary (16-13, 10-8) and Towson (19-12, 11-7).

BRACKET: 

First Round (March 3rd): 

#8 Hofstra vs. #9 Delaware 6:00 p.m.
#7 James Madison vs. #10 Drexel 8:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (March 4th):

#1 UNC-Wilmington vs. Winner of Hofstra/Delaware 12:00 p.m.
#4 William and Mary vs. #5 Elon 2:30 p.m.
#2 Charleston vs. Winner of James Madison/Drexel 6:00 p.m.
#3 Towson vs. #6 Northeastern 8:30 p.m.

Semifinals (March 5th)

Winner of Quaterfinal #1 vs. Winner of Quarterfinal #2 2:00 p.m.
Winner of Quarerfinal #3 vs. Winner of Quarterfinal #4 7:00 p.m.

Championship (March 6th):

Winner of Semifinal #1 vs. Winner of Semifinal #2 7:00 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH:

First Round: CAA.tv

Quaterfinals: Comcast SportsNet regional networks

Semifinals: Comcast SportsNet regional networks

Championship: CBS Sports Network

 

The CAA Champion will then have to wait until March 12 for Selection Sunday to find out when and where they will play.