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Tavares scores 4, Team Toews outscores Team Foligno, 17-12

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) John Tavares of the New York Islanders matched a record with four goals, and Team Toews beat Team Foligno 17-12 on Sunday night in the highest-scoring NHL All-Star game.

The wild, no-defense exhibition even featured a fake fight along with goals in bunches.

The 29 goals were the most in the event's 60-year history, eclipsing the 26-goal burst in North America's 14-12 victory over the World in 2001.

Ryan Johansen, of the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets, had two goals for the losing team but still won the MVP award in voting by fans on Twitter.

The NHL has determined the teams by a number of geographic and divisional setups over the 60 years. Just like on ponds around the globe, these lineups were determined by a player draft on Friday night.

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 01:12:00 +0000
AP Source: Browns WR Josh Gordon fails another drug test

CLEVELAND (AP) Josh Gordon's troubles have deepened. He may be out of chances - and time.

The wide receiver for the Browns has failed yet another drug test, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday. Gordon, who has twice been suspended by the NFL for drug violations, could be banned for one year, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the testing.

ESPN, citing anonymous sources, first reported Gordon's failed test.

Cleveland's patience with Gordon has been pushed to its limits.

"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh," a Browns spokesman said Sunday in a release. "At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said he could not comment on his client's situation. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined comment.

"I keep in touch with Josh a lot," Browns cornerback Joe Haden said Sunday night at the Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. "He's actually renting my spot right now back in Cleveland. But I don't know about that. I'll find out about that in a little bit.

"I don't really know what the situation is, but I'm going to figure it out."

Gordon's latest misstep could lead to the team releasing the talented 23-year-old.

A Pro Bowl selection in 2013, he was suspended 10 games last season because he tested positive for marijuana. He returned for five games but failed to deliver the spark the Browns had hoped. He was then suspended by the Browns for violating team rules before the Dec. 28 season finale at Baltimore.

Gordon had missed the team's walk-through the previous day, and following the season coach Mike Pettine revealed that Gordon had been guilty of multiple violations during the season.

Gordon missed the first two games in 2013 but still led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and emerged as the one of the league's top playmakers.

Last year, he received a one-year suspension that was reduced to 10 games after the league and Player's Association revised its drug policies.

A second-round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft, Gordon signed a four-year contract worth $5.3 million as a rookie. He figured to cash in with a bigger contract following his monster '13 season, but Gordon's legal issues - he was arrested for drunken driving during his suspension last season - have clouded a bright future.

Gordon failed several drug tests while in college, but the Browns couldn't ignore his talent and gave up a second-round pick to select him three years ago. It seemed like an ingenious move when he was shredding defensive backfields, but now Gordon's days as a pro could be over.

---

AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi and AP freelance writer Mike Cranston contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 05:42:00 +0000
Sherman doubts any punishment ahead for Patriots

PHOENIX (AP) Relishing no longer being in the "villain" role, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is painting his team's Super Bowl opponent as occupying that position.

He also doubts that the Patriots will be punished by the NFL if they are found guilty of doctoring footballs in the AFC championship game.

"I think the perception is the reality," Sherman said Sunday after the defending champions arrived in Phoenix. "It is what it is. Their resume speaks for itself. The past is what the past is. Their present is what their present is. And, will they be punished? Probably not."

The All-Pro cited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's close relationship with New England owner Robert Kraft as his main reason for being skeptical.

"Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. He was just at Kraft's house last week for the AFC championship," Sherman added. "You talk about conflict of interest.

"But as long as that happens, it won't affect them at all. Nothing will."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday the team "followed every rule to the letter" in preparing footballs on game day. New England arrives in Phoenix on Monday as the league's investigation into under-inflated balls continues.

This is the second Super Bowl in which accusations of cheating have followed the Patriots. During their unbeaten 2007 regular season, they were fined $250,000 and Belichick was docked $500,000 for spying on New York Jets coaches' signals. New England lost to the New York Giants in that Super Bowl.

For many of the Seahawks, the focus on football deflation is a non-topic. Quarterback Russell Wilson brushed aside questions about the subject the way he escapes onrushing defenders. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas admitted he knew nothing at all about it: "I've been in my own little world. I don't watch TV too much."

Sherman, as always, was not reticent about discussing it.

"I think more people might be inclined to root for us, to see history made," Sherman said, noting the Seahawks are seeking to become the first repeat champions in a decade - when the Patriots did it. "I guess the controversy gives us a little edge in that respect."

When it was revealed that some of the Patriots' footballs were under-inflated in the AFC championship, Sherman said "I didn't think it was a big deal at the time."

"It's a big deal," Sherman added, laughing.

The edge that Sherman plays with has helped him become one of the premier players in pro football. It also catapulted him into that "villain" role last year after his rant against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree following the NFC title game.

He didn't understand the reaction.

"To be painted villains I guess you need to do something heinous," he said, "and I didn't. You learn a lot about people around you and about society."

While he was at it, Sherman also criticized the NFL for not coming through on the booty he is entitled to for being selected to the Pro Bowl. Players who make the Super Bowl are replaced for the Pro Bowl.

"Only thing I'm disappointed about is that we didn't get our gifts from the Pro Bowl," he said. "Which is kind of dumb; the NFL is the only league that punishes the players who actually make the all-stars by not giving them their gifts."

He believed the gifts included "watches and stuff."

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:34:00 +0000
Pistons G Jennings to miss rest of season with injury

TORONTO (AP) Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings will miss the rest of the season after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon.

Jennings was injured in the third quarter of Saturday night's 101-86 loss at Milwaukee. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.6 assists in 41 games this season.

"It's definitely a tough loss for us," Pistons forward Greg Monroe said before Sunday night's game at Toronto. "He's a huge part of the success we've had recently."

Coming into the day, Detroit had won 12 of 16 to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race after a terrible start. But it will be difficult to maintain that pace without the 25-year-old Jennings.

Detroit has not reached the postseason since 2009. It's the longest active drought in the East.

The Pistons said there is no timetable for Jennings' return, but the guard tweeted a message earlier Sunday saying "6/9 months."

"Not being able to play basketball is the worst thing," Jennings tweeted in a separate message.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said he feels bad for Jennings, who loves playing "probably as much as anybody I've been around."

"He plays all summer, he loves being in the gym," Van Gundy said. "On top of that, he was having the best season of his career, particularly lately, so it's really tough. It's tough for us but it's even tougher for him and I feel real bad for him because he was playing so well and then to have it end when he was on such a run is really unfortunate."

D.J. Augustin will take Jennings' spot in the starting lineup, with rookie Spencer Dinwiddie coming off the bench.

"We've got confidence in D.J.," Van Gundy said. "He's played very well this year."

Van Gundy spoke to general manager Jeff Bower on the telephone Sunday morning and said he'll look to add a third point guard to the roster "fairly soon."

"We'll meet tomorrow and look at our options and see what it is we think we should pursue," Van Gundy said.

The Pistons have had an open roster spot since waiving Josh Smith last month, but still could apply to the league for a hardship exception, Van Gundy said.

Just as difficult for Detroit will be replacing the swagger and confidence provided by Jennings, whom Van Gundy described as having the "natural personality" of a locker room leader.

"Guys are sort of in that shock time right now," Van Gundy said. "He really thought we were going to kick everybody's butt every night and showed that on the floor. I think that gave his teammates more belief. We're going to need guys to play with that kind of confidence."

Dinwiddie has only played nine games with Detroit this season, and recently spent seven games with Grand Rapids of the NBA Development League.

"This is the opportunity he's been looking for all year," Van Gundy said. "Let's see what he's got."

Dinwiddie, whose final season of college basketball at Colorado was cut short by a knee injury last January, said he was conflicted by way his opportunity arrived.

"It's definitely a laundry list of emotions," he said. "BJ obviously was a really good vet and one of my friends. Obviously anybody is happy to play, you just don't want it ever to happen like that."

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 01:18:00 +0000
Belichick on deflated balls: 'We try to do everything right'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Saying his team "followed every rule to the letter," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating.

"At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon, eight days before the Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL championship.

"Quite the opposite: we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter," he said. "We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It's been that way now for many years. Anything that's close, we stay as far away from the line as we can."

Speaking once again with authority on a topic he previously professed ignorance of, Belichick said the team conducted an internal study on the process of getting game balls ready.

Most of the steps are designed to make them tackier, which has a noticeable effect on how it feels, he said, but the process could also affect the pressure inside the ball, which is harder to tell by touch.

"I'm not a scientist. I'm not an expert in footballs; I'm not an expert in football measurements," Belichick said. "I'm just telling you what I know."

The Patriots reached the Super Bowl for the sixth time in Belichick's tenure when they beat the Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship game on Sunday. But later that night, Indianapolis TV station WTHR reported that some of the game balls provided by New England for the use of its offense weren't sufficiently inflated.

The NFL said its initial investigation confirmed that some of the footballs used in the first half of the conference title game were underinflated. On Thursday, Belichick deferred questions on the game balls to Brady; the quarterback also denied any impropriety.

Wide receiver Matthew Slater, who also serves as the team's union rep, said Saturday that the players had been instructed by the NFLPA not to comment on the situation.

But in the slow news off-days before Super Bowl week, the allegations received disproportionate attention - and Twitter hashtags such as "Deflategate" and "Ballghazi" - along with comparisons to the videotaping scandal of 2007, when the Patriots were hit with unprecedented penalties after Belichick was caught recording opposing coaches sending in signals from the sidelines.

Belichick denied that there is a pattern of rule-breaking, or even of pushing the rules to their limit.

"It was wrong. We were disciplined for it. That's it. We never did it again. We're never going to do it again," Belichick said of the scandal that came to be known as "Spygate." "And anything else that's close, we're not going to do either."

A football lifer who only seems happy on the sidelines, if at all, Belichick is known for an absolute attention to detail that prepares his team for every imaginable situation.

But instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl, he said he has spent far too much time the past week studying the science and learning about "bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day football preparation, rubdowns and so forth."

"I'm embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I've put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us," he said. "It sounds simple, and I'm not trying to say that we're trying to land a guy on the moon, but there are a lot of things here that are a little hard to get a handle on."

But Belichick seemed most emotional when he came to the defense of his team. Among the questions he and his players have been asked this week is whether they cheated to get to the Super Bowl.

Belichick praised his players, who went 12-4 in the regular season, won an 11th division title in 12 years, made a fourth straight trip - and ninth overall - to the conference championship game, and have a chance for a fourth NFL title in his tenure.

"They're a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I put in front of them," he said.

"This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season. ... The best team in the postseason, that's what this team is. I know that because I've been with them every day. And I'm proud of this team."

---

Follow Jimmy Golen on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jgolen .

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Sun, 25 Jan 2015 03:30:00 +0000

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