Off-ice officials get training along with Golden Knights

Near each goal five people sat in front of laptops. Behind them stood six spotters, watching, instructing and yelling. It was a whirlwind of activity as a scrimmage during Vegas Golden Knights development camp was played in front of them.

“No. 55 with a hit on 63,” one of the spotters shouted. Another called out a line change. And when an extra skater came on the ice, “goalie pulled,” echoed through Las Vegas Ice Center.

As the players on ice worked to impress Golden Knights officials, a different Vegas team was going through its preseason work in the stands.

They were the off-ice officials, the behind-the-scenes team of NHL employees who record the information from every game, from goals and assists to time on ice, hits, faceoff percentages and more. Every NHL arena has a team of off-ice officials working each game, and now a 31st group has been added to wholesale jerseys. More than 20 people were hired and trained by NHL officials for the fast, high-tech work that starts with Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena in October.

“The one thing I’ve learned about off-ice officials is they have a passion for the game. And that’s key,” said Dave Baker, NHL director of off-ice officials. “You can teach a guy how to move a mouse around on a screen, but to teach them concepts and the culture of the game, you’ve got to kind of already bring that to the table.”

Baker started recruiting off-ice officials for Golden Knights games in January, and said he received 44 applications. Many of them came from people who had worked on the stats crew for Las Vegas of the ECHL. Others were transplants who had worked American Hockey League or ECHL games in other cheap jerseys cities. Some were new but showed promise.

Every candidate was interviewed during two days.

“We dwindled it down to 22, 23 people,” Baker said. “Then the decision was, how do we get these guys trained?”

Off-ice officials include goal judges, time keepers and penalty box attendants. But there are others who record specific details of each game. It’s not just a shot on goal; the official needs to record where on the ice the puck was shot from, what type of shot it was and how the goaltender saved it. It’s not just a hit that gets recorded; the official must identify who delivered the hit and who received the hit.

Last week Baker and Benny Ercolani, NHL statistician and information officer, joined with arena technical coordinators from the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets for two nights of classroom training in Las Vegas that totaled nearly 10 hours. The new off-ice officials learned the computer system and the elaborate set of definitions that allows statistics to be consistent throughout the League.

Then they held a practice session, scoring the Golden Knights’ development camp scrimmage.

“The biggest thing is getting them trained on HITS (Hockey Information and Tracking System),” Baker said. “So knowing they were going to be putting on this development camp, we thought, what a great opportunity.”

blue-jackets-13-cam-atkinson-navy-blue-home-stitched-nhl-jerseyErcolani said one of the big points made with the off-ice officials is that because of the focus needed on their individual areas, they’ll miss much of the rest of the game.

“When the game ends they won’t know what happened,” he said. “We tell them, ‘You don’t watch the game, you score the game.'”

The work and training will continue before the Golden Knights play their home opener against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10.

“They just finished with the construction of the press box area with our booth for the HITS scoring and video replay,” Baker said. “The next step is to bring in the equipment, monitors, Hawk-Eye video replay systems, all that stuff. It will be ready to go in September. But there’s lots of work to go still.”

For the new off-ice officials too. They’ll convene for Vegas’ rookie camp in September for more game practice. The preseason schedule, which includes three home games, will serve as a tune-up. Vegas will play the Los Angeles Kings on Sept. 26, the Colorado Avalanche on Sept. 28 and the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 1.

By the start of the regular season, the stats recorded by the Vegas off-ice officials will be the same accurate and high-quality information available throughout the NHL.

“I’d like to hope that by then they’ll feel comfortable in their various roles,” said Ercolani, who has worked for the NHL for more than 40 years. “Here it’s moving so fast. But once they get into [T-Mobile Arena], they’re up high and things are slowing down.”

Giants shut down Cowboys in low-scoring slugfest

The Cowboys left receiver Lucky Whitehead at home in Dallas for missing yet another team meeting.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, missing meetings has been a recurring issue for the Dallas receiver. They’ve decided to punish him by leaving him out of the biggest game they’ll play this regular season against the Giants (8-4) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

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The Dallas Cowboys had only said that Whitehead violated club rules.

The 24-year-old former undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic University is known more for his gimmick rushing plays and return acumen than anything. In two seasons, he has eight total catches for 56 yards. This season, he has 19 punt returns and 10 kick returns.

As the Cowboys get deeper into this historically good run, Whitehead would do well to get back in the team’s good graces. A dependable returner, Whitehead could see his role taken away down the stretch if the team cannot depend on him to show up on time.

Because we can only roll our eyes at high-turnover, low-scoring football perhaps Sunday night’s game might not go down in recent history with proper context. It was a slugfest, with Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Olivier Vernon jersey and Devon Kennard among the hardest punchers. In terms of what was at stake, this was about as good as it gets for regular season football with three weeks remaining in the season. On the line was Dallas’ first-round bye and the Giants’ slim cushion in the wild card. Dak Prescott was humanized and the Giants’ offensive line was stripped bare for the world to see. Ezekiel Elliott got more than 100 rushing yards with a majority of them coming after first contact. Beckham passed Plaxico Burress as Eli Manning’s highest-scoring target.

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Janoris Jenkins has been staking his claim as a top-five cornerback all season and did a fantastic job on Dez Bryant on Sunday night. Aided by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the pair held Dallas’ top wideout to zero catches and zero yards until his fourth quarter catch-and-fumble with 2:13 remaining (he had seven previous targets without a catch). Prescott was picked trying to hurl it to Bryant in double coverage, a desperate attempt to get one of their best offensive weapons involved in the game. We chastise teams who spend big in free agency and end up saddling their rosters with expensive dead weight. But what about Giants general manager Jerry Reese? The $200 million in new deals brought in the league’s best run-stuffing defensive tackle (Damon Harrison) and Jenkins, who completed a troika of cornerbacks (Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple) that are playing some top-level football.

nike-cowboys-88-dez-bryant-navy-mens-stitched-nfl-limited-nfc-2017-pro-bowl-jerseyWhat’s amazing about Odell Beckham jersey is how he almost never finishes with a completely negative game. Earlier on Sunday night, he dropped a potential touchdown that hit him in the palms. In the third, he dropped a third-down conversion that forced the Giants to settle for a field goal. The lazy assumption would be that it somehow fuels him, but the reality is that he’s simply an excellent big-play receiver with a quarterback smart enough to continue feeding him the football. On the 61-yard touchdown, the display of top-end speed was prime Victor Cruz-esque. Manning, for all of his shortcomings (especially this season) might be the perfect quarterback for Beckham after all thanks to a lack of concern for feeding the ball into tight coverage. When it works out like that, who can blame his wholesale NFL jerseys?

This was the situation the Cowboys were hoping to avoid, no? Dak Prescott had a bad game in a big spot and Tony Romo is finally healthy. It would be impossible for the rookie not to be looking over his shoulders and authentic sports jerseys but it’s important for Dallas not to create the type of environment where he has to. Prescott still had his moments on Sunday but needs to develop a quicker trigger finger when facing this kind of pressure-oriented defense. The Giants secondary managed to catch up to a lot of his reads before he was able to make the throw.

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Carson Wentz’s finale was a microcosm of his rookie season. The quarterback came out firing, completing his first five passes. Then he sputtered, missing receivers high and wide. Wentz was under siege all day by the Cowboys’ pass rush and got no help from his cheap jerseys and wide receivers. The rookie overcame his struggles by heavily targeting tight end Zach Ertz jersey (13 catches for 139 yards, two TDs) in the second half. Wentz dropped a beautiful dime to Ertz to give the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Wentz finished 27-of-43 passing for 245 yards and two TDs. The rookie’s finish displayed all the promise that made the Eagles’ brass drool before the season. Wentz will head into the offseason needing to tweak his elongated mechanics (dropping his elbow leads to sailed passes) and footwork. On balance, for a rookie that many said needed a year of seasoning before he was ready to play, Wentz’s first season should be viewed as a success. Now he needs to grow in his first full offseason, and Howie Roseman needs to get Wentz some skill-position help.

With nothing on the line, the Cowboys rested their star players. Ezekiel Elliott dressed but never left the bench (dashing Jerry Jones’ claim Zeke could go after the rookie rushing record). Linebacker Sean Lee also dressed but was tied to the bench. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten both started but didn’t make it to halftime before being yanked (Witten finishes the regular season 17-yards shy of the Cowboys’ all-time receiving record). Dallas’ offensive line started reserve left tackle Emmett Cleary and backup left guard Joe Looney. With a bye before hosting a playoff game, Dallas hopes to get healthy ahead of their Super Bowl run.

Rod Marinelli deserves the Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Even with a bevy of players injured or held out, his defensive line had its way with the Eagles’ offensive line.

Jaguars fire offensive coordinator Greg Olson

Much-needed change is underway in Duval.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson jersey, the team announced Saturday. Quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett has been promoted to assume the role of offensive coordinator. Olson had held the position since 2015.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that there had been a disconnect between Olson and coach Gus Bradley for some time with authentic NFL jerseys and a lack of focus on the run being one point of contention.

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“Tough day…but regression offensively was the reason,” Olson told Rapoport of his firing. “Couldn’t find an identity in the run game which significantly hurts blakes (sic) strengths as a QB. … Made great strides last year but didn’t follow up on the expectations. … Would be easy to look for excuses and it hurts, but part of the responsibility of being an OC.”

“Greg was a tremendous asset and always put all of his effort in doing everything he can to help in his wholesale jerseys and players’ improvement,” Bradley said in a team statement. “He did some great things with our offense over the past two seasons, and for that, we are very appreciative.

“After a thorough evaluation, I came to the conclusion that with the direction that our offense was headed, it was best to make a change moving forward.”

Olson’s exit comes on the heels of Jacksonville’s 36-22 loss to the Titans on Thursday Night Football in which the Jags were held scoreless at halftime, having run just 22 plays and earned three first downs. On the night, Jacksonville earned just 26 rushing yards out of Chris Ivory jersey and T.J. Yeldon. A second-half surge, during which Blake Bortles threw three touchdowns in what amounted to garbage time, was not enough to save Olson’s job.

While many expected a coaching move in Jacksonville, Olson’s exit comes as a surprise only because it had been his boss on the hot seat. And while Jaguars owner Shad Khan told the Florida Times-Union after the game that he would not fire Bradley, he did imply change was need: “Actions speak louder than words.” Khan also sat in on meetings ahead of his team’s loss on Thursday night to “get a little bit better of a look at what is actually going on with the team”, per Rapoport.

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nike-jaguars-16-denard-robinson-gold-mens-stitched-nfl-limited-rush-jersey“I’m pretty shocked,” Robinson said. “It’s frustrating. I can’t focus on those plays last year. I’ve got to make the plays with discount sports jerseys this year. I can’t try to make a super play every time. I’ve just got to make the play in front of me.”

Through six games Robinson has shown no flashes of the deep-ball maven we expected. He has zero receptions of 25-air-yards or more. He had 10 such receptions last season. He also led the league with 31 catches of at least 20 yards in 2015; he has three in 2016.

Smith left the Week 8 win over the Indianapolis Colts after taking several hits to the head. The team reiterated Wednesday it doesn’t believe Smith suffered a concussion and that he’s symptom-free, per Andy Reid.

Smith was hit while sliding on opening possession Sunday and his head bounced off the turf — there was no flag on the play. He cleared concussion protocol and returned to the game in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Smith’s head bounced off the ground again. This time he left the game for good.

On Monday he was cleared, and the team stated Smith didn’t suffer a concussion.

Despite the positivity about Smith’s status, he’s still going through “return to play protocol,” per Reid, and was already ruled out of Sunday’s contest. Tyler Bray jersey will back up Foles.

Smith, who has suffered two concussions in the past, was asked Wednesday if he felt like he suffered a concussion: “Nope,” he responded bluntly, per the team’s official website.

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With Smith sitting, Foles will make his first start of the season. Foles started six games under Reid as a rookie in 2012.

Through six games Robinson has 26 catches for 296 yards, three touchdowns and 11.4 yards per catch. In the first six games of 2015, he had 28 receptions for 488 yards, five TDs and 17.4 YPC.

Robinson also has dealt with drops this season, flubbing one that led to an interception in Week 6 and another in Sunday’s loss.

“I can’t press to make plays and try to overplay,” Robinson said. “When you do that, it’s a negative outcome. So, I’ve got to figure out a way to get this thing going. I’m anxious to make a play and I need to keep calm. I need to make the play when my number is called.”

The deep ball isn’t absent because A-Rob forgot how to run routes or leap or catch. It’s discombobulated because the timing is off with Bortles. With elongated mechanics, defenders have a split second more to get in position, the passes come out wobbly or off-target. Bortles making flat out poor decisions on too many plays is exacerbating the problem.

The Jags’ offense is one of the biggest disappointments this season. All the players likely will take some of the blame. Bortles deserves the largest piece of that pie. The coaches, who can’t help keep his floundering mechanics in check, also get a large slice.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson, in his second year, was supposed to help Bortles with his sports jerseys wholesale take the next step in becoming a premier passer. Instead, the quarterback is sinking back to old habits, rupturing the offense’s potential.

Panthers’ short game, swarming D lead to big win

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the Carolina Panthers signed the free-agent safety to a one-year contract, per a source with knowledge of the move. The team later confirmed the deal.

Brown was out of football last season after stints with the Giants, Colts and Raiders. He started 19 games for New York between 2012 and 2014 and spent part of the 2011 offseason with the Panthers and wholesale jerseys before reuniting with the team this week.

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A seventh-round pick by Oakland in 2010, Brown was added to provide veteran depth behind safety Kurt Coleman jersey and third-year backstop Tre Boston.

The Panthers also plan to start a pair of rookie corners — James Bradberry and Daryl Worley jersey– but Carolina always finds a way to squeeze solid play out of the secondary.

Brown is no savior, but he impressed the Panthers enough to warrant a roster spot.

This style of pressure kept Arizona uncomfortable and left Palmer skittish at times in the pocket, forcing the ball out with chest and shovel passes — one that resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown by Thomas Davis — and causing Palmer to lose the ball on two occasions. It threw a wrench in Arizona’s offensive flow and limited their ability to counter to Carolina’s methodical, efficient offense. It also gave Carolina an early cushion they protected for much of the game.

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While the Panthers found success in the running game with the aforementioned formation variation, Stewart scored his touchdowns in short-yardage situations by bringing in the beef. Stewart twice found paydirt in heavy formations from two yards or less out, using effective blocking from pulling right guard Trai Turner jersey and fullback Mike Tolbert on the first touchdown.

The second score wasn’t quite as easy. Stewart needed all 240 pounds to force through the wash as Turner had to adjust his pull route, squeezing the hole on Tolbert, who tried to leap through into a block but jammed up the lane. No worries for Stewart, though, who broke multiple tackles with his stocky, powerful wrecking ball style of running into the end zone.

Carolina needed its defense for all four quarters. As Arizona mounted a late comeback attempt, the Cardinals found themselves in Panthers’ territory when, on first down, Palmer forced a short, low pass out while under duress. In a play reminiscent of Super Bowl 50, Kony Ealy got a hand up to tip the pass to himself, which he caught for an interception that iced the game for Carolina.

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wholesale nhl hockey jerseyThe strategy was multilayered and encouraging for the Panthers moving forward: bring pressure to the opposing quarterback with intricate, confusing looks and blitzes, force turnovers, build a lead and then ride it out. Stewart’s 25 carries showed a focus to keep the ball on the ground and maintain the advantage on the scoreboard, while the quick-passing attack moved the chains in increments and kept the ball in the hands of the Panthers. Star Lotulelei’s three sacks led a unit that finished with eight and brought pressure from all angles. Carolina edged Arizona in the turnover column 2-1 and the time of possession battle 30:48 to 29:12, and thanks to the early scores, staved off the Cardinals for the Panthers’ first win in over a month.

In return for Lee and a Browns 2017 seventh-round pick, the Panthers shipped a 2018 fourth-round selection and 2014 undrafted punter Kasey Redfern to Cleveland.

Panthers punter Mike Scifres exited Friday’s preseason tilt with the New England Patriots jerseys with a knee injury after taking a shot to the leg.

Lee, 34, is a three-time Pro Bowl punter. He spent his first 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in cheap NFL jerseys before being sent to Cleveland last season. Lee ranks sixth in NFL history with a 46.2 gross punting average. Last season Lee set a single-season Browns record with a 46.7-yard gross average.

In Friday’s Browns tilt with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lee took some grief from Cleveland coach Hue Jackson for a lackadaisical effort in chasing down a punt return that went for a 73-yard touchdown.

After Scifres’ injury, the punting situation for the NFC Champion Panthers looked like a weak spot. Monday they plugged that hole with a proven veteran.