Raisman finishes Olympics in style

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Raisman finishes Olympics in style

By NANCY ARMOUR
AP National Writer LONDON (AP) -- Aly Raisman finished the Olympics in style. The U.S. captain matched Gabby Douglas in gold medals, winning the title on floor exercise Tuesday. Add in the bronze on balance beam from earlier in the day, and she becomes the most decorated of the Fierce Five. Good thing Raisman had such a big day because the rest of the Americans came up empty-handed. Douglas had another rough day, finishing seventh on balance beam after a fall. World champion Jordyn Wieber, voted most likely to leave the Olympics with the biggest haul, was seventh on floor and finishes without any individual medals. Danell Leyva and Jonathan Horton were fifth and sixth, respectively, on high bar, leaving the U.S. men with only Leyva's all-around bronze. "I'm so happy, going home with two Olympic gold medals and a couple of titles under my belt," Douglas said. "I'm so happy for Aly, she deserves to be up on that podium. She had a great beam routine and I'm so proud of her." Raisman may not have Douglas' bubbly personality or Wieber's resume but she is prized her for her steadiness, and that consistency paid off big in London. Perhaps energized by her surprise bronze on beam, Raisman's floor routine had an extra spark. Her tumbling passes were some of the most difficult, and she got such great height on them you could have parked a double-decker bus beneath her. Her landings were not only secure, one was so powerful it practically shook the floor. Coach Mihai Brestyan was hopping up and down and pumping his fist as she finished, and even Raisman was impressed with herself, mouthing "wow" after she saluted the judges. When her score, a 15.6, was posted, teammate McKayla Maroney yelled "whoa!" so loudly from the stands it could be heard across the arena. There were still five gymnasts to go, but none came close. When reigning world champion Sandra Izbasa landed her final tumbling run on her head, Raisman let herself exhale. And smile. Catalina Ponor, the 2004 champion on floor, won the silver. Aliya Mustafina of Russia got the bronze, her fourth medal of the Olympics. Deng Linlin won the gold on balance beam, upstaging teammate and reigning world champion Sui Lu. It was the second gold of the day for the Chinese, following Feng Zhe's title on parallel bars. Epke Zonderland won gold on high bar, the first medal for a Dutch man and only the second Olympic medal overall for the Netherlands. Raisman just missed a medal in the all-around, finishing with the same score as Mustafina but dropping to fourth on a tiebreak. But she was on the right end of the rules earlier Tuesday, bumping Ponor down to the bronze. Raisman initially finished fourth with a score of 14.966. But she questioned it, and judges added an extra tenth to her routine's difficulty after a review. That gave her and Ponor identical scores of 15.066, but Raisman got the bronze because her execution score was higher. Douglas' life has been a whirlwind since she won the all-around title last week, with media wanting a piece of her and celebs flooding her Twitter timeline, eager to be her new BFF. There was training to fit in, too, with finals on both uneven bars and balance beam. She admitted after Monday's lackluster showing on bars -- she was last -- that it was all catching up with her. It wasn't a lack of energy that cost her Tuesday -- it was a misplaced foot. Her right foot could only brush the beam as she landed on a leap, and she had no chance to save herself. As the crowd gasped, she fell onto the beam in a straddle, hanging on tight as she swung partly underneath. "I'm definitely not going to lie. It was definitely hard to regain your focus," Douglas said. "You're like, 'Yes, I'm the Olympic champion. I'm a world champion.' It's definitely kind of hard to turn the chapter for event finals." On parallel bars, Feng gave the Chinese men their third gymnastics gold medal, following the team competition and Zou Kai's win on floor exercise. And they may not be finished, with Zou still to come on high bar, where he is the reigning world and Olympic champion. Feng flashed a thumbs-up as he walked out for the medals ceremony, and planted a big kiss on the gold after he got it. Germany's Marcel Nguyen was second, adding another silver to one from the men's all-around. Hamilton Sabot of France won the bronze. Feng's routine was filled with intricate combinations, yet he did them with the precision of an artist and the rhythm of a musician. He held his handstands for what seemed like forever, looking like a statue, and there wasn't even the slightest hesitation as he went from one skill straight into another. He hit the mat with a thud on his dismount and was pumping his fists even before he stood upright. He threw a roundhouse punch as he trotted off the podium, and his coach wrapped him in a big hug, pounding his back. When his score of 15.966 was posted, Feng, the 2010 world champion on parallel bars, nodded. There were still six gymnasts to come, but it would take something pretty special to top Feng. And no one came close. Nguyen's routine was impressive, but the European champion took a hop forward on his dismount and needed to windmill his arms to steady himself. Zonderland has long been one of the world's best on high bar, his routine better than any circus act, and all that was missing was an Olympic medal. No longer. He opened his routine with three straight release moves, not even pausing to catch his breath before tossing himself high into the air again. It's high risk, high reward, and the crowd loved it, oohing and aahing as he flew so high he could have waved into the overhead camera. He was a blur as he pirouetted on the bar, yet never looked as if he was on the verge of going out of control. When he hit the mat, he let out a roar. American Jonathan Horton, up next, could only laugh and shake his head, knowing there was no way he -- or anyone -- could top that show. He was right, with Zonderland scoring a 16.533 -- a number not usually seen outside the vault. Zonderland broke into a grin when he saw the mark and pointed at the scoreboard. It was the Netherlands' first gymnastics medal since 1928, when the women's team won gold.

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

The skies were dry but the fields were wet and that forced the Redskins into the bubble for their second OTA practice.

Here are my observations from the session:

OLB Junior Galette took a light workload but it was surprising that he did anything at all considering that he is 10 months removed from an Achilles tendon tear. He was sprinting during stretching and he took part in some team drills. It’s early but if he is healthy in September the Redskins’ pass rush could be a force.

Not present were TE Jordan Reed, OT Trent Williams, and RB Matt Jones. Jay Gruden said that Reed and Williams are working out elsewhere and he was vague about the absence of Jones, although he said that it was not unexpected.

Also in good health was TE Niles Paul. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 8 last year and finished the season on injured reserve. The veteran appeared to be a full go in both individual and team drills.

RB Rob Kelley looks like he lost a few pounds in an effort to become more durable and maybe a little quicker. He also is sporting a new jersey number.

Rob Kelley now wearing No. 20. #Redskins

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P Tress Way is in midseason form. He lofted a punt that landed in one of the light fixtures some 100 feet above the floor of the practice bubble and stayed in it. The third-year player said that he couldn’t do that again if he tried 100 times.

RB Mack Brown faces some serious competition for his job but he is not going to give it up easily. He looked good on some runs off tackle, showing some good speed and quickness.

They rotated a lot of defensive linemen through during team drills. Undrafted rookie Ondre Pipkins got a lot of run at nose tackle and Anthony Lanier played quite a few snaps at end as did Ziggy Hood. Top draft pick Jonathan Allen’s reps were somewhat limited as were those of Phil Taylor. They likely plan to rotate  their linemen a lot throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp to try to find a good combination.

QB Kirk Cousins mostly kept to shorter passes but in seven on seven drills he did launch one deep down the middle that WR Maurice Harris went up and grabbed for the nicest offensive play of the day.

Rookie TE Jeremy Sprinkle dropped a pass on a short crossing pattern. As a fifth-round pick he can afford some mistakes now but he can’t drop too many in August.

QB Nate Sudfeld was shaky in the beginning, throwing a few passes at the shoe tops of his receivers. But he did get better as the practice went on, through some nice, accurate passes while rolling out.

Gruden called for a trick play at the end of on team session. Cousins threw a quick backwards pass to WR Jamison Crowder, who was on the left. RB Chris Thompson snuck out of the backfield and he was open along the right hashmark. But Crowder’s pass was underthrown, allowing ILB Zach Brown to break it up.

Brown, Will Compton, and Mason Foster rotated in and out at inside linebacker. All possible combinations of the three were on the field at various times. It will be interesting to see how the lineup settles in when the season starts.

I think that S D.J. Swearinger is going to be annoying to players and fans from other teams. After Harris caught a pass, he was jogging down the field with the ball after the whistle blew. Swearinger came up and gave the ball a bunch to try to knock it out of his grasp. It was more playful than violent but I can see how he will get under the skin of opponents.

WR Josh Doctson appears to be healthy. He turned on the jets to catch a QB Colt McCoy pass down the right sideline. Of course, it’s May and the goal is for him to be healthy in September but it looks like it’s so far, so good.

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Why the Capitals will not trade Alex Ovechkin this offseason

Why the Capitals will not trade Alex Ovechkin this offseason

Alex Ovechkin is undeniably the best player to ever suit up for the Washington Capitals. He is the greatest goal scorer of a generation and one of the best players of all time. And yet, he is still struggling to find playoff success.

In 12 NHL seasons, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to the postseason nine times but has never made it past the second round. As the team’s best player, he receives most of the praise for the team’s successes and most of the blame for its failures. It would be unfair to pin all of the team’s playoff struggles on the Great 8 alone, but with an all-time great player to build around, the Capitals have been a team with championship aspirations and they simply have not lived up to that. And that has some people wondering if it may be time to move on.

Ovechkin will be 32 years old before the start of the 2017-18 season and Father Time, as they say, is undefeated. With a cap hit just over $9.5 million and no real postseason success to speak of, would the Capitals possibly consider trading him?

Not likely.

Now let’s be clear, if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can. I am not trying to say that it can’t happen, but here are a few reasons why it won’t:

He is still a productive player

Yes, Ovechkin is on the wrong side of 30, but with 33 goals this season he still was tied for the team lead and ranked 13th overall in the NHL. T.J. Oshie also scored 33 goals for the Caps and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Capitals likely do not have the money to re-sign Oshie, but even if they could, ask yourself this: Who is more likely to have more offensive production next season, a 30-year-old Oshie who has reached the 30-goal mark in a contract year for the first time in his entire career and who played in 68 games in 2016-17 due to injury or Ovechkin who has never scored fewer than 32 goals and has never played fewer than 72 games in a full 82-game season? He can’t keep up that pace forever, but there’s a good chance that even if Ovechkin takes a step back in 2017-18, he still may be a better offensive player than Oshie.

RELATED: 20 questions: What direction should the Caps take?

His cap hit makes him hard to move

Ovechkin has the fourth-highest cap hit among active players in the NHL. Most teams do not have $9.5 million worth of empty cap space with which to plug Ovechkin into the lineup and those that do usually carry that much space for a reason, namely, they are trying to save money. I do not foresee the Arizona Coyotes suddenly getting out the checkbook to pay for Ovechkin. Sometimes teams can find a way to make an even swap for a player with a similar cap hit. Just look at last offseason when the Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban ($9 million cap hit) to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber (about $7.9 million cap hit). Let’s take a look at the top ten cap hits in the NHL to see if there is a possible trade there: Patrick Kane ($10.5 million), Jonathan Toews ($10.5 million), Anze Kopitar ($10 million), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million), Subban, Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), Corey Perry (about $8.6 million), Steven Stamkos ($8.5 million) and Henrik Lunuqvist ($8.5 million). Do you see any trades on that list that would make sense for both teams because I don’t. That would mean teams would have to give up a significant package to Washington and I am not so sure he would be worth that to many suitors (more on that to come). There would be no shortage of interest for Ovechkin if he was available, but getting the math to work would be incredibly difficult.

Vegas does not make as much sense as you may think

While most teams do not have the cap space to make a deal work, there is one team with plenty of cap space and they just so happen to have the same general manager, George McPhee, who drafted Ovechkin. Yes, the Vegas Golden Knights are the wild card of the offseason as they have to find a way to build an entire roster from scratch. With plenty of money to spend and plenty of familiarity with Ovechkin, some see this as a match made in Heaven. It’s not. First, if there are any people out there with the crazy notion that Washington should simply leave Ovechkin exposed at the expansion draft in the hopes that McPhee will take him off their hands, that would be the worst possible move the Caps could make. Even if you are sold on the idea that they need to move Ovechkin, there is zero compensation for losing a player in the expansion draft. You cannot give Ovechkin up for nothing. Yes, Vegas could still try to make a trade, but just what exactly could they offer? The Golden Knights have only two players currently under contract. That’s it. With all due respect, the Caps are not trading Ovechkin for Duke Reid. Based on the set up of the expansion draft, it is not likely to yield Vegas anywhere close to the kind of talent the Caps would hope to get in return for a trade. Sure, McPhee could throw a bunch of draft picks at Washington, but if the Caps hope to win now with Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby, draft picks are not going to make this team any better in the present.

You can’t get equal value in return

Ovechkin will be a 32-year-old winger with little postseason success and a cap hit of over $9.5 million. If Ovechkin hits the trade market, he will have plenty of suitors, but the Capitals cannot possibly hope to get back anything close to equal value for him. First, considering everything he has accomplished, how long he has played for Washington, the fact that he is the team captain and the face of the franchise, he means more to the Capitals than he would to any other team in the NHL. Second, any potential trade partner will not approach this from the standpoint that they are trading for a generational talent, rather they would view Ovechkin as a star winger on the back half of his career with a massive cap hit. Whatever you think Ovechkin may be worth on the trade market, the other 30 NHL teams will have a much lower value of him and there is no point in pulling the trigger on a trade this big if you do not like what you are getting in return.

He has a modified no-trade clause

Ovechkin’s cap hit, age, postseason history and trade value are not the only obstacles the Caps face would face in making a potential deal. His contract also carries a modified no-trade clause that allows him to list 10 teams in which he cannot be traded to. That further limits the team’s options. Typically in these situations, when a team intends to pursue a trade they ask for the player to give them the list before they begin talking to other teams. In this day and age, it is impossible to keep news like that quiet. Somehow, someway, someone in the media would find out that the Caps requested Ovechkin’s list of 10 teams and report that the team was shopping him. When that happens, Ovechkin’s price tag would drop significantly. At that point, general manager Brian MacLellan would essentially have to be move him to prevent the story from becoming a perpetual distraction to the team. You cannot possibly expect the Caps to have a successful season if the news comes out that the team was shopping Ovechkin. At least that’s how every other general manager would view it. Motivated sellers are good news for a potential buyer, bad news for Ovechkin’s trade value.

He means too much to the franchise

Let’s turn the clocks back to a time before Ovechkin came to Washington. In the 2003-04 season, the Capitals ranked 25th in the league in home attendance with fewer than 15,000 fans per game. That’s fewer than the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and even the Atlanta Thrasers who later would pack their bags and move to Winnipeg. Ovechkin completely reignited the fan base in a way no player ever has in the team’s history. Of all the Caps fans out there today, a sizable number of them do not know Capitals hockey without Ovechkin, not because of their age, but because he is what ultimately drew them in and got them interested in the sport. He is a dynamic player with a fun personality that hockey fans across the league love to see play. Consider this, only 11 teams have ever appeared in the NHL Winter Classic. The Caps have played in it twice. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, all three of which are original six NHL franchises, have only made one appearance. That does not happen without Ovechkin. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing in sports and teams cannot allow themselves to be handcuffed by it, but it would be a hard sell to trade away the face of the franchise when many Caps fans, perhaps even a majority of them, were not around for the pre-Ovechkin days.

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