Why suspended player is upset with the NFL

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Why suspended player is upset with the NFL

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Suspended former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove says he is disappointed his sworn statement regarding the NFL's bounty investigation was leaked and also that the league has "grossly mischaracterized" his words. In a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Wednesday by his agent, Phil Williams, Hargrove said he hoped the NFL would not discuss the signed declaration publicly. "Call me naive, but I did not expect them to publicize the fact that I had sent them the Declaration.' But since they did, and because they grossly mischaracterized my words, it obviously became a hot item and subsequently was leaked by someone," Hargrove's statement said. Hargrove's declaration explains how ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current assistant head coach Joe Vitt instructed him to deny the existence of a bounty program in New Orleans when he was interviewed by NFL investigators in March of 2010. Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on Williams' and Vitt's instructions to "play dumb" if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on former Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre or any other player. The declaration does not go into specifics, however, about just what Hargrove knew or did not know about the bounty program in New Orleans, and for that reason it has become a point of contention between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. From the union's perspective, Hargrove's statement does not say that he lied to anyone, nor does it state that he or any other Saints participated in a bounty program that offered cash bonuses for hits that injured targeted opponents. The NFL, by contrast, has said that Hargrove's words acknowledge the existence of a bounty program and show that Hargrove initially lied to NFL investigators about it. "The intent of the Declaration' was to let the NFL know exactly what happened in March of 2010," said Hargrove's latest statement, which he also sent to ESPN. "I do not know who leaked it, but I would have preferred for it to remain private between the NFL and me."

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Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Team Canada just wrapped up a World Cup Tournament that included three exhibition games, three round-robin games, a semi-final and a two-game final. In those eight games, Braden Holtby saw only 29:40 of ice time, about one half of an exhibition game against Team USA.

Back with the Caps, Holtby will now look to make up for lost time as he will start in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Islanders.

Saturday's morning skate was the first time Holtby was back on the ice for the Caps, but with the season opener now only 12 days away, Holtby wants to start getting back into game shape.

Holtby acknowledged after Saturday's skate that he was not in game shape and had expressed a desire to the coaches to play in Saturday's game to try to get as much game action as possible.

"There's still enough time," Holtby said. "I've still been on the ice and doing some drills so it's not starting at square one but the game action is key. You can practice all you want, but once you get into a game it's completely different just getting the stamina back up, the mental stamina.

"Still got enough games to make sure we're ready."

RELATED: Holtby returns looking to 'use all the time I can'

Joining Holtby in his preseason debut will be head coach Barry Trotz who will be behind the bench for the first time in the preseason after coaching for Team Canada.

"Talked to Todd [Reirden] yesterday and he wanted me to come on the bench and we'll get everybody in our proper roles and so I will go on the bench tonight," Trotz said. "I wasn't expecting to, but I will. I didn't want to come in and just, 'hey the sheriff's in town.' These guys have done an exceptional job and I just didn't want to do that, but they came to me and said I think we just want to go to our roles here and let's go move forward."

The game will not be in Brooklyn in the Islanders' usual home of the Barclays Center, but rather in Bridgeport, Conn., the home of New York's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Here are the lines based on Saturday's morning skate:

Marcus Johansson - Lars Eller - Justin Williams

Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Stanislav Galiev

Paul Carey - Chandler Stephenson - Brett Connolly

Liam O'Brien - Brad Malone - Riley Barber

The defensive pairs shuffled throughout the morning, but the six defensemen are Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Brooks Orpik, Aaron Ness, Tyler Lewington and Nate Schmidt.

Vitek Vanecek will backup Holtby.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps release promotional schedule including Star Wars Day

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Will new team, new location revitalize Trey Burke's career?

Will new team, new location revitalize Trey Burke's career?

Considering that likely more than half of the players on the Washington Wizards will be different from last season, the idea of a fresh start is a theme echoed throughout the 15-man roster. Arguably no single player epitomizes that scenario more than Trey Burke.

"Oh, man, definitely," the point guard said about the excitement of starting anew after some trying times during his three seasons with the Jazz.

Burke, the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, started 111 games during his first two campaigns, but exclusively came off the bench during the 2015-16 season before eventually falling out of the rotation.

In search of a backup for John Wall, Washington traded a future second round pick to the Jazz this summer for the 6-foot-1 guard, who averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 assists during his first three seasons.

"I feel like Utah was like a real learning experience for me. A real test for me," Burke said. "This summer I just had to really put the work in and mentally be prepared for my next move. Didn't know where it was going to be. ...Now that I'm here in D.C., have the opportunity to learn under John Wall, an All-Star point guard, and play with and alongside with him and Brad [Beal] and some great bigs, a new coaching staff. I'm excited about what's to come."

Burke ticked off several factors that, in his opinion, contributed to the dip in minutes and production over time.

"Getting injured in my rookie season, during preseason, breaking my finger and missing two months. Then having to come into a starting role and having to learn right (away). The coaching staff gets fired after my rookie season ...It's a lot of factors behind the business that people really don't see."

That includes geography.  

"I feel like this is more of my fit," the 23-year-old said of Washington. "I'm more urban, more city type. I'm from Columbus, Ohio. Utah is more country type."

On the court, the Wizards need Burke to be the type of point guard who can run what will be a completely revamped second unit, but also find his scoring spots when desired. 

Washington needs plenty from wings Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky this season. That duo has a combined one year of NBA experience. Center Ian Mahinmi is a defensive presence, but not a go-to scorer. Forward Andrew Nicholson offers some inside-out game, but wasn't always consistent in his previous stop. Even when including Jason Smith and Marcus Thornton, only Oubre was with Washington at the start of last season. 

"You would think it would be tough," Burke said of so many new players gelling together, "but we can make it work. This is a great group of guys. ...We'll see how it goes."

Of course, Burke could end up starting the season with the starters depending on whether Wall is good to go for the Oct. 27 season opener after undergoing two knee surgeries during the offseason.

"I thought about it a little bit. Obviously, you have to think about it. John, how significant he is to this team. If he were to miss some time, I definitely would be able to step up and fill those shoes," the confident Burke said.

Wall's physical status is the biggest question mark entering the season, though the three-time All-Star has shown good progress during training camp. Also high on the uncertainty list? Which Burke do the Wizards get. His defense is hardly elite. Running an offense is crucial for a point guard and Burke, who will battle Satoransky for minutes behind Wall, struggled doing just that at times in Utah. Yet he can score and is still very young. Perhaps the business of the NBA combined with a new spot will spark a strong second act.

"I really feel like this is a fresh start for me,' Burke said. "I feel like this is a good spot for me."

RELATED: Best friends rumble for roster spot at Wizards' camp