Petry’s stellar play lifts Canadiens over Ducks

Anaheim ends a six-game road trip Thursday night in Ottawa.Cogliano played his 738th consecutive game to pass Jay Bouwmeester for the fifth longest streak in NHL history. With Andrei Markov nursing an upper-body injury and Shea Weber in a scoring slump, the Montreal Canadiens needed a defenceman to step up.It turned out to be Jeff Petry, who scored a goal and added two assists to keep his hot streak alive as the Canadiens downed the sluggish-looking Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on Tuesday night. Cogliano’s ninth of the season tied his total over 82 games in 2015-16.Montreal got it back at the 19:00 mark on a two on one as Byron put Petry’s rebound in to an open side. (Daignault) and he just said ‘when you’re on top of your game you’re skating and playing physical,’ so my focus was to get back to doing that and it’s been paying off,” said Petry, whose seventh goal matched his season high set in 2013-14 with Edmonton.Petry led the team with five shots on goal as Montreal outshot the Ducks 34-13.“We used our speed really well and we knew it would be tough for them to keep up with us if we played a full 60 minutes like that,” the 29-year-old Petry added.Without Markov, Petry paired with Nathan Beaulieu and drew praise from coach Michel Therrien for their play at both ends of the rink. Byron equalled his career high of 11 goals set last season.Artturi Lehkonen got through traffic and fed Byron for a cross-ice pass that Plekanec converted into an open side on a power play for only his third of the season.Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier, now 1-9-3 in his career against Montreal, cleared the puck around the boards from behind his own net to Petry at the right point for a shot that went in off a post.Montreal’s power play got another at 10:04 when Petry sent Pacioretty in on the right side for a shot that beat Bernier inside the near post. Markov, listed as day-to-day, is the latest of a run of injuries for Montreal, which is also without top centre Alex Galchenyuk, centre David Desharnais and defenceman Greg Pateryn.Paul Byron had a goal and a helper while Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and Chris Terry also scored for Montreal (21-7-4). 9 as they play seven straight on the road starting Friday night in Columbus. It’s the longest since Steve Larmer played his 884th in a row in 1993. Terry got his first of the season with 47 seconds left in the third period.Markov sat out on his 38th birthday, ending a string of 116 games without missing one due to injury.The Canadiens’ game Thursday night against Minnesota is their last at the Bell Centre until Jan. That gave Petry a goal in three consecutive games for the first time in his career and seven points in his last five outings.“I went through a bit of a down spell for a few games there and I had a session with (assistant coach) J.J. Their struggling power play went 2 for 6 to give it three goals in the last 24 chances.“With a lot of our to guys injured and the power play struggling of late, to come out on top and have everyone pitch in, and get two power-play goals even if they weren’t perfect, will hopefully give everyone confidence,” said Pacioretty.Ironman Andrew Cogliano scored for the Ducks (17-12-5), who looked sluggish coming off a 3-2 win Monday night in Toronto. Cogliano has the second-longest all-time from the start of a career behind Doug Jarvis’s 964 games.“I’ve been very fortunate, obviously, but I take pride in how I approach the game in the off-season and surrounding myself with good people and that has helped,” said Cogliano.The Ducks struck first off a faceoff in the Montreal zone as Ryan Kesler kicked the puck to Cogliano for a quick shot that beat Carey Price high at 5:19.

Senators beat Blackhawks for third straight win

Scott Darling made 26 saves while dropping to 6-3-1 in 10 starts since Corey Crawford had an emergency appendectomy on Dec. It was Panarin’s fifth goal and 12th point in his last six games.It was still tied in the second when Brassard drove a pass from Chris Wideman past Darling for his seventh of the season just one second after a hooking penalty on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews ran out.Moments after the ensuing faceoff, Ottawa drove right back down the ice and Pyatt showed off some nifty stickwork on the right side of the net for his fourth goal of the season at 7:41.Motte got one back for Chicago when Vinnie Hinostroza’s deflected shot went right to him, setting up his first goal since Nov. 1 against Calgary. The rookie forward punctuated the score with a big upper cut as he skated behind the Ottawa net.Clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Senators then made the most of their third power-play opportunity of the night. Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and Richard Panik scored for the Blackhawks, who had won five in a row and six of seven. Hammond departed in the first period of that game with an ankle injury, but coach Guy Boucher said he doesn’t think it’s a long-term thing.“He should be fine in the next (few) days,” Boucher said.Panarin’s one-timer — a laser from just outside the faceoff dot in the left circle — tied it at 1 at 11:17 of the first. Derick Brassard and Tom Pyatt scored 10 seconds apart during Ottawa’s three-goal second period, and the Senators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.Bobby Ryan added a goal and an assist as Ottawa stopped a seven-game road losing streak against Chicago, earning its first win at the United Center since March 28, 2001. 3.Chicago played without centre Artem Anisimov for the second straight game due to an upper-body injury, and forward Marian Hossa left in the first period. Panik had a shot go off the left post and Condon stopped a penalty shot by Marcus Kruger with 4:52 left.Condon made 23 saves after getting the win in relief of Andrew Hammond in Sunday’s 6-2 victory against the New York Islanders. The Blackhawks did not provide a reason for Hossa’s departure.Panik’s ninth of the season on a delayed penalty made it 4-3 just 1:42 into the third, but the Blackhawks couldn’t come up with the tying score despite putting heavy pressure on Mike Condon in the final minutes. Dion Phaneuf scored a power-play goal, and Kyle Turris had two assists. With Brent Seabrook in the box for tripping, Turris’ big drive went off Phaneuf’s left knee and past Darling on glove side at 14:22.

Raptors trounce Nets to continue dominant streak

And Lowry is obviously playing at a super high level and shooting the ball great. 28, over a span of 11 games in which they went 9-2, Toronto counted five of those victories by margins of at least 20 points. DeMar DeRozan, the team’s leading light, has blazed the trail offensively, courting a Michael Jordanesque run of 30-plus points over four consecutive games into the Brooklyn battle. I think about what we can do better and there’s so much we can do better.The Raptors drained 11 of their 21 shots in the opening quarter (52.4 per cent) to open up a 29-23 advantage.Toronto began to flex its muscle in the second quarter, during which the Raptors closed out the final 4 1/2 minutes on a 17-3 run to take a 64-46 lead into the break. Jonas Valanciunas contributed 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Norman Powell came off the bench to record a season-high 21 points.DeRozan had a quiet night, settling for 15 points.It was the final home game of 2016 for the Raptors, who now head out for their annual Christmas holiday road excursion, a six-game journey that will keep them away from home until Jan. He’s figured out the league. But he went and figured it out and now he’s more and more comfortable. They’ve been through a lot.“I remember DeRozan when he was a young guy – he’s still young. “I think it’s a team that’s played together for a while. 3. He started off the season with five consecutive outings of at least 30 points and has reached that plateau in 15 of his first 27 outings.Kyle Lowry, DeRozan’s on-court running mate, has been draining threes with the ease of a golfer standing over a gimme putt – shooting an unconscionable 58.2 per cent (53 of 91) from long range over his previous 12 outings.Really, in the face of all that, what chance did a struggling Nets team have against a Raptors team who were in anything but a giving mood in the so-called festive season?Very little, it turned out, as Toronto once again ran roughshod over an opponent, storming to a 116-104 victory over the Nets before another satisfied capacity crowd at the ACC, who are becoming used to these kinds of routs.With the win, Toronto’s second in a row, the Raptors improved to 20-8.It marked just the second time in franchise history that the team has won that many times inside of 30 games to start a season. The dominance of the Toronto Raptors for much of this season has been downright extraordinary.Heading into Tuesday night’s game at the Air Canada Centre against the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors had scored 100 or more points in 14 consecutive outings.Since Nov. “I think it’s continuity,” he said when asked for his take on the Raptors. “To be honest, I don’t look at the record. Toronto’s first game of the trip will come on Friday in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz.It has been a rough start to the NBA campaign for the Nets, who came to Toronto having lost two in a row and seven of their past nine. [Jonas] Valanciunas has been there for a while.“I think when you can keep a team together like that, for a long time, it pays dividends.”Ever pragmatic, Casey said he has been a bit surprised by his team’s strong showing so far considering some injury issues and a tendency to approach defensive play as one would a trip to the dentist. “I still feel there’s a lot of room for improvement for us,” he said. The Raptors needed 26 games to reach 20 wins during the 2014-15 campaign.That’s a far cry from Dwane Casey’s first season as the coach in 2011-12, when the Raptors needed 55 games before celebrating their 20th win.Tuesday’s game was a relentless burial of an opponent that began in the second quarter, when the Raptors’ sharpshooters outscored Brooklyn 35-23 to take a 64-46 stranglehold.The Raptors tossed more dirt on the open grave in the third quarter, when they would lead by as many as 23 points before settling for a 91-72 lead heading into the final frame.Lowry would lead the Raptors with 23 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 17 points. Their record is now 7-20.Kenny Atkinson, in his first season as the Nets coach, almost sounded wistful when discussing what he viewed as the merits of the Raptors pregame.

Anaheim Ducks are NHL’s faceoff masters thanks to Vermette, Kesler

“I thought they dominated the circle against us,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.Antoine Vermette, far and away the league’s best in the circle, emerged on 86 per cent of his 21 draws against the Leafs, including 10 of 11 in the defensive zone. “I think he’s recognized that. The Ducks defenceman whipped the perfect faceoff win past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. The 34 year old boasts a ridiculous 65.6 per cent success rate this season, well ahead of Jordan Staal in second place (61.1 per cent).The former Ottawa Senator second pick ranks first in the NHL in the home confines of the Honda Center in Anaheim (67.4 per cent) and first on the road too (64.2 per cent).“Every time he’s out there we think he’s winning every time,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said.Vermette has always been a face-off ace, but never quite to this level. Facing rookie Maple Leafs centre Frederik Gauthier on his backhand, Kesler shuffled the draw directly to his right where Cam Fowler was waiting. The former Vancouver Canuck ranks fifth with a 58.7 per cent mark on the draw, including a 68 per cent showing (17 of 25) against Toronto. Agapit, Que., native has won 67 per cent of his short-handed faceoffs and 69 per cent on those on the power play.“He can elongate his career by two or three years just doing that,” Getzlaf said of Vermette, who signed a two-year deal worth US$3.5 million last summer. No slouch himself at 52.5 per cent this year, Getzlaf said Vermette changes games with his ability on the draw.The St. Last season, playing for the Arizona Coyotes, he put up a 55.8 per cent mark that ranked 14th league-wide. “A couple of the faceoffs cost us so it’s a good lesson for us going where we need to be. “He’s going to work hard at it all the time and battle for those pucks.”Vermette and Kesler have combined to take 64 per cent of all Ducks draws this season.“We knew going in it was going to be a challenge,” Auston Matthews said of facing the Ducks in the face-off circle. That’s a really good team right there.” Not only did he win the draw that led to Fowler’s game-winner, but also the one that led to Getzlaf’s power-play goal in the middle period.Enjoying a big year at age 32 (28 points), Kesler has won 57.5 per cent of draws on an Anaheim power play which ranks second in the NHL this season.“The thing about (Kesler) is if you’re going into a faceoff with him if you’re going to win it you’re going to pay for it,” Getzlaf said. The Anaheim Ducks are masters of the draw this season.The NHL’s best faceoff team at 56 per cent, Anaheim put on a clinic Monday night in their 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning 67 per cent of the total faceoffs (42 of 61), including 20 of 24 in the second period.The game winner came on a perfectly executed faceoff by veteran Ryan Kesler. He’s worked at it.”Kesler, too, offers the Ducks another expert.

Wimbledon champ Kvitova injured by knife-wielding attacker at her home

She
underwent surgery “because of her condition and future career,” said Tejkal, who
described the incident as a burglary. It can happen to anyone of us. That’s really
terrible.”In April, 1993, Monica Seles was at the height of her success when she was
stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg. I am
shaken, but fortunate to be alive,” Kvitova wrote on Twitter. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was injured by a knife-wielding
attacker at her home on Tuesday and had to undergo surgery on her left hand.An operation that took 3 hours 45 minutes revealed that the left-handed
player’s injuries were “serious,” but “there’s no reason to think she wouldn’t
be able to play tennis,” her spokesman Karel Tejkal said. Kvitova will, however, miss the Australian Open and a significant part of the
season as she won’t be able to fully train for at least three months, Tejkal
said.Kvitova sustained damaged to the tendons in her left hand, along with
injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, Tejkal added.The 2011 and 2014 champion at the All England Club said she considered
herself lucky to have survived the attack Tuesday morning in the eastern Czech
town of Prostejov.“In my attempt to defend myself, I was badly injured on my left hand. I have the best possible care and I’m in touch with my loved ones. “Things like that are
shocking to all of us. Prostejov police spokesman Frantisek
Korinek said the attacker, a man who is about 35 years old, escaped from the
scene and was at large. A man
reached over a courtside railing and knifed her, leaving an inch-deep slit
between her shoulder blades.Seles returned to the game 27 months later and reached the 1995 U.S. He said police have launched a manhunt.Kvitova was scheduled to participate in a charity event in the city of Brno
on Tuesday with another Czech player, Lucie Safarova.“It’s horrible,” Safarova told Czech public radio. Open
final.In an unrelated move earlier Tuesday, Kvitova withdrew from the Czech
Republic team at next month’s Hopman Cup mixed-team tennis tournament because of
an earlier foot injury. The worst is behind me.”It was not immediately clear how the injury could affect Kvitova’s play. “The injury is
severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me I
am strong and I will fight this.”In an earlier statement on the Facebook page of the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup
team, Kvitova said: “What happened to me was certainly not pleasant, but it’s
behind me.

Hyman and Matthews are the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Robin and Batman

The 24-year-old now gets the puck for Matthews, whose 15 goals lead the Leafs and trail only Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine among NHL rookies.Babcock prefers muckers such as Hyman around talents such as Matthews. He’ll even break the season down into five-game segments, a tool Babcock also employs for the team more generally.“When you look at the small picture, it makes the big picture a lot easier to look at,” Hyman said. When he was still the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock often watched Wings prospect Dylan Larkin play at the University of Michigan. He’s been Matthews’s one constant linemate all season, totalling more than 362 minutes alongside the Arizona native in five-on-five situations.A Toronto-area native himself, Hyman has quickly earned a big fan in Babcock for his tenaciousness and willingness to do the grunt work around Matthews.Babcock describes Hyman as a “dominant fore-checker” and “a dominant cycle player.” The head coach has also employed him more than any other Leafs forward on the penalty kill. In a game against San Jose last week, Hyman blocked a hard first period from Norris trophy candidate Brent Burns. While it stung, Hyman was back on the ice a few moments later.He sat out practice the next day, though according to Babcock he wanted to be out there.“We spend a lot of time talking about skill, but one of the most important skills in hockey is competitiveness,” Babcock said.An author of children’s books in his spare time, Hyman said he’s always been the type to check off his goals.He wanted to get to college, for example, and once there it was earning All-American status (which he did) and winning a national championship (which he didn’t). He just got the puck, got it to Larkin and they scored.”

Hyman has found a similar role in his first full season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Robin to Auston Matthews’s Batman. “That’s all I saw. Picking the puck away from Sami Vatanen at one point, Hyman raced in alone on John Gibson, but his deke attempt was stopped by the goalie’s right toe.Babcock said Hyman has recently begun making the kind of plays he made more regularly in college. The Leafs coach envisions Hyman eventually scoring more regularly.Hyman has five goals in his first 31 games (a 13-goal pace) and is second among Toronto forwards with a 52.9-per-cent puck possession mark.Competitiveness has helped drive Hyman, a 2010 fifth-round pick of the Panthers, to the NHL and now a regular spot on the up-and-coming Leafs. He’d always come away impressed by Larkin and another player: then-Florida Panthers prospect Zach Hyman.“I just saw him get the puck to Larkin all the time,” Babcock said. While in Detroit, he learned from Red Wings legends Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk that the skilled types preferred those who got the puck back for them to those who kept it.“They don’t want three guys on a line that want the puck,” Babcock said. Hyman ranks third among NHL forwards in average shorthanded ice time (2 minutes 48 seconds), including almost four minutes against the Ducks.He wasn’t on the ice for Anaheim’s game-winning power-play goal because he was stuck in the box for a needless roughing penalty that set the stage for Toronto’s 13th one-goal loss of the season.Hyman was a nuisance when he was on the ice killing penalties against the Ducks, particularly in a first period that saw the Leafs shorthanded three times. The next move is dishing it as quickly as possible to playmakers such as Larkin and Matthews.In a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Monday night, it was Hyman picking the puck free from Ryan Getzlaf in the offensive zone that led to Matthews’s ninth goal in the past 12 games.“Some guys are pure passers and so they need more shooters with them, but Auston likes to shoot the puck, as you can see, and he likes people that can get it to him,” Babcock said.Hyman picked up his 11th point of the year on the goal, all coming at even strength. The NHL game hasn’t slowed down yet to the point where he converts on chances consistently. “They want guys that get ’em the puck and then get open.”Hyman believes his most translatable NHL asset is his strength on the puck, how he’s able to track it down on the fore-check and get it back for his side.

Why Canada is no longer a forbidden hockey destination

Milan Lucic spent last year playing hockey in Los Angeles, where he discovered that Neil Diamond had it right: The city’s fine, the sun shines most of the time and the feeling is laid back. It was a negative place, and that was your mood no matter what the weather was like outside.”Of course another factor in the decision-making equation is the attention paid to hockey in Canada – which can be a double-edged sword, according to St. “When you have a good team, a winning team, life couldn’t be better – and you’re not going to find that in most American cities, no matter where it is.”As proof, he cited his move back to Edmonton once his season in Florida was over in the spring of 2006 – the year the Oilers unexpectedly qualified for the Stanley Cup final.“The excitement around the city was awesome,” he recalled. Those were the halcyon days.As Lucic noted, once players get to a certain point in their careers, their salaries are guaranteed no matter where they play. They should want to win. My wife loves it in California in January, but it didn’t stop us from going to Edmonton. Having our kids grow up around their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents was important as well.”Future Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Pronger also cited family reasons for wanting to leave Edmonton after the Oilers’ 2006 playoff run. He joined the Anaheim Ducks and promptly helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2007.Lucic’s family made that trip in reverse – from California to Alberta.“It was something I talked about a lot with my wife because she’s there more than I am,” Lucic said. After decades of losing generational players to U.S.-based teams, suddenly Canada has a few of its own – McDavid in Edmonton, Auston Matthews in Toronto, Patrik Laine in Winnipeg, Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary – and it’s making a difference.A deeply talented roster made Detroit a popular destination for all the years the Red Wings were a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. General manager Ken Holland couldn’t lure players with the promise of a nice climate or state-of-the-art arena (that’s coming). You play to win. It’s all hockey, all the time – and that can wear on guys a bit.“But if you ever were to win in Canada, there’d be no better place to do it.” It starts there. He was prepared to give up the weather and the lifestyle he’d come to enjoy in California to go north, something that would have been unheard of in years past.“For me, it wasn’t about the money, because it was the same amount of money no matter where I would have gone,” Lucic explained. The rink was a terrible place to go to. “As much as we loved California, it was a nice little teaser being there for one year, to get that heat. Boston was cold, too, but I don’t think anywhere is as cold as Edmonton when it gets to be winter. He said the Boston one meant so much more to him because he started with a team that grew into a championship team. I’ve talked to guys who played in Florida when it wasn’t a happy place, and the [good] weather didn’t matter. “And the same thing happened in Calgary in 2004 and Vancouver in 2011 – people were going crazy.”On the flip side, he pointed out, “when things aren’t going good, that’s all there is. Lucic grew up in Vancouver but spent the first nine seasons of his professional life in the United States – until he became a free agent this summer and suddenly had a choice to make. So other priorities factor into a decision to sign with a Canadian team.Elite athletes share a desire to win and to play with like-minded individuals. Louis Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.“Hockey in Canada, it goes both ways,” said Bouwmeester, who previously played in Florida and Calgary. All Detroit had on offer was a team that perennially competed for a championship – and the chance to play alongside future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.“If you came to Detroit and played on that team and could crack that lineup, your value went up around the league and you could parlay that into a longer career,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan, who spent three seasons as an assistant on Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit before becoming a head coach in San Jose.“Now, family does come into play. But we’re close to home [Vancouver], and when I’m on the road, it gives her the opportunity to spend time with the family in Vancouver.”Still, Lucic believes the greater priority is career satisfaction.“You can talk about the geography and all that stuff, but if you make it fun coming to the rink, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside. The Canadian conundrum was far less of an issue in the 1980s, when Canadian teams won the Stanley Cup for seven consecutive seasons between 1984 and 1990. By then the Oilers were eight points back of the Nashville Predators, who held down the final playoff spot and had a game in hand.The Oilers were essentially already done in what turned out to be a lost season for the seven Canadian-based NHL teams, all of which missed the playoffs – a development that sparked a national debate over the special challenges of playing for a team north of the 49th parallel.The scrutiny, the climate, the taxes and the shrinking dollar were all cited as reasons why it was harder for Canadian teams to compete for high-end players and, by extension, for championships.No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, though Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa have all made it to the finals since then. But I would be wary of comfort or players that are just looking for comfort. “But I wanted to go to a team where I could help it grow, where I could see myself having success – individually and, most importantly, team-wise.“No matter what way you win, it’s awesome. That’s a marked improvement from the same time last season, when the Flames, Jets and Oilers were 11th, 12th and 13th respectively in the Western Conference. And that’s what played huge into my decision.”Lucic’s choice looks prescient now. He said he and his wife sat around the kitchen table, with massive spreadsheets, listing the pros and cons of the cities they might be interested in – and weeding out the ones they didn’t think would be a good fit.“The majority of the time the decision was about ‘Where are you going to be the happiest?’ and ‘Where are you going to find a balance between the opportunity to win … where your family’s going to be happy and what helps you become financially set?’“It doesn’t hurt that our families are from Western Canada. But I remember talking about this to Shawn Thornton, who won in Anaheim and in Boston. Then other variables come into play.”Last summer, Troy Brouwer chose to sign as a free agent with Calgary, even though he had a number of alternatives. As the NHL headed into its final week before the Christmas break, four of the seven Canadian teams – including the Oilers – held down a playoff spot, and a fifth, Winnipeg, was only a few points out. When casting about for a new opportunity, Lucic eventually settled on what seemed like an unlikely next step in his NHL career: He chose Edmonton, the land where NHL dreams have gone to die for the past decade, with the Oilers plagued by the longest active playoff drought in the league – 10 years and counting.For Lucic, Edmonton made sense because it gave him a chance to play with Connor McDavid and all the other rising stars in the Oilers organization.

Release by Miami Dolphins still leaves bitter taste in P.K. Sam’s mouth

My father and I had just started becoming more like father and son when he was taken because I’d always looked at him as a coach. To me, it was just crazy, and ever since I’ve obviously had a bad taste in my mouth because of it.”Sam, 33, was an 2004 fifth-round pick of the New England Patriots. The former Florida State star also played with Cincinnati, Oakland and Buffalo and in the CFL from 2008-11 with Toronto and Calgary.“For years it was trying to make a team and being in hotels thinking about [his father’s passing],” Sam said. “I could see if I was making, like, $1-million a game and it was a hit to the team, but [on the practice roster] you’re making, like, $4,500 a week, which is still good money – don’t get me wrong – but in that business it’s just pennies.“If I was on the active roster and knew I had to play then it would’ve been like, ‘Mom, I have to do this.’ But I wasn’t letting the team down, I was in a situation where I should’ve been able to see my dad without worrying about being released. But putting family first resulted in Sam being released by the Miami Dolphins. Sam II’s pain, but not his anger toward Nick Saban.Sam’s father died father died Dec. Three uncles attended the University of Arizona on either football or track scholarships. On Wednesday, the 10th anniversary of his father’s death, the veteran receiver lashed out at how Saban, the former Dolphins head coach now leading Alabama, handled the matter.“Thank you nick Saban. I loved him, don’t get me wrong, but I was finally opening up and sharing things with him.”Sam comes from an athletic family. Family has helped ease P.K. His sister, Autumn, played basketball at Clemson while both Sam and his brother played football at Florida State and UTEP.Lorne Sam also played receiver in the NFL (Denver, Green Bay) and CFL (Winnipeg).“My father had a lot of passion when he saw us and how good we could be,” Sam said. “He was doing drills before all these trainers popped up. Saban was long gone by then, having bolted to Alabama after going 15-17 over two seasons with the Dolphins.Sam currently works in IT sales in Dayton, Ohio, a married father of young sons Julian, 6, and P.K. CLASSY!” Sam tweeted.Sam was on Miami’s practice roster when he received a late call from his mother the night before a game saying his father, Philip Kenwood Sam, had become gravely ill while they were attending his brother, Lorne’s, graduation from the University of Texas at El Paso. 10 yrs ago today you cut me from the MiamiDolphins bc I flew home to hug my dad before he died. III (Trey), who turns 8 on Dec. While family life has filled much of the void created by his father’s passing, Saban’s decision remains a sore point.“I had to go that week without a paycheque while having to deal with making funeral arrangements,” Sam said this week during a telephone interview. 29, and a teenage stepdaughter. … We actually ran tires and obstacle courses he made and it worked out because my brother and I both made it to the NFL.“No, we didn’t end up rich, but we made it and each generation you’re supposed to make sure your kids go further than you did.” The disease robbed Sam, then 23, of the opportunity to further bond with the man who helped him believe he could excel in athletics. 14, 2006, at the age of 49, just more than a month after being diagnosed with cancer. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Sam remained with his father, who died the following day.Miami re-signed Sam that season but cut him again during training camp the following year. Predictably, Sam left immediately and, after failing to reach Miami officials, made arrangements for his agent to inform the Dolphins.Sam’s agent called back three days later with a Miami ultimatum: return immediately or be released. “After I got married … it filled the emptiness and all the stories that used to make me sad I now tell to my kids and they make me happy.“My parents made sure everything was about family.