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The Leafs are likely to dress seven defencemen

  • October 6, 2014 10:22 PM PDT

    PITTSBURGH -- Heres another adjective Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can call his ill-timed two-step onto the field last Thursday night against Baltimore. Expensive. The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 on Wednesday for interfering with Baltimores Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return in the third quarter of a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night. The fine is the second-highest ever levied by the league on a head coach, behind only the $500,000 the NFL docked New Englands Bill Belichick in 2007 for spying on an opponents defensive signals. There is also the chance the Steelers have a draft pick taken away "because the conduct affected a play on the field." Though he was not penalized, the league said the Steelers should have been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. All that from what Tomlin called an "embarrassing, inexcusable" case of being "mesmerized" while standing in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field and staring at the video board during Jones 73-yard return. Jones had to swerve to avoid running into the coach and was tackled during a return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction. Tomlin briefly stepped onto the field before he jumped back. Tomlin insists the "blunder" was not intentional but has no plans to appeal the ruling. "I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization," Tomlin said in a statement Wednesday. "I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins." Jones didnt blame Tomlin for his own inability to score on the return, but his teammates believe the move put the coach and the league in a difficult position. "Im not going to lie, its tough," Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "I cant say he did it on purpose because I dont know what he was thinking. It definitely sends a message across the league. He stepped across the line, which definitely threw it off." Tomlin said he was following his normal routine on the play and said standing on the 6-foot wide strip is common practice. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin didnt disagree. Coughlin drew a 15-yard flag during the preseason for stepping onto the field during a field goal attempt. "You find yourself sometimes running down the sideline on the white, but nevertheless, youre not even supposed to be even on the white because the officials have to have access there," Coughlin said. "That is a most difficult thing to absorb." Tomlins players leapt to his defence in the immediate aftermath, and safety Ryan Clark allowed he is "always on the field." The 12-year veteran, however, is hardly surprised the NFL is considering taking an extra step of stripping the Steelers of a draft pick. "Its not supposed to be fair," Clark said. "Its Roger Goodell, so when has he been fair?" Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesnt believe Tomlins near-trip will serve as a distraction for Pittsburgh (5-7), which remains in the playoff hunt as December begins despite an 0-4 start. "If anything, guys joke about it more," Roethlisberger said. "Theyre the ones pulling up the pictures online and joking with coach about something. If anything maybe its a light-hearted fun thing." The league will not determine whether to take a pick away from Pittsburgh until after the draft order has been set. It would be an unprecedented move for a coach getting involved during a live play. The NFL fined the New York Jets $100,000 in 2010 when cameras caught strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripping a Miami player on the sideline. Alosi was suspended by the Jets and eventually resigned after the season. Tomlin is hardly in danger of losing his job, and said Tuesday he had not spoken to team owners Dan and Art Rooney II about the situation. "I would imagine if the Rooneys thought that I was capable of that or they thought my intentions were that, I wouldnt be sitting at this table talking to you guys," he said. Tomlin makes $5.25 million a season and the fine constitutes less than 2 per cent of his annual salary. He can absorb the relatively small financial hit. Hes far more concerned about the uncomfortable position he put the league and the Steelers in after failing to get out of the way with any sense of urgency. "I will take this as an opportunity to strenuously defend the game of football and the NFL. I wont defend myself," Tomlin said. "The people that know me, I dont need to do that. The people that dont know me, they are going to make their judgments any way." Tomlins predecessor, Bill Cowher, raised eyebrows but not the ire of the commissioners office in 1997 when he feigned tackling Jacksonvilles Chris Hudson as Hudson ran back a Pittsburgh field goal attempt for a touchdown on the final play of a 30-21 Jaguars victory. While Tomlin has no plans to change the way he goes about his business, he plans to do a better job of policing himself. The 41-year-old understands this will stick with him once the furor dies down. His goal is to make sure it doesnt stain the team as well. "The only thing we can control is our preparation and ultimately our play this week," he said. "Thats the now and whats immediately ahead of us. I try to relay that sentiment and attitude to our team, and I think its something they embrace." DeSean Jackson Jersey. The judges scored it 49-46, 49-46, 50-45 for Kennedy. Wrestling proved to be the difference with Kennedy taking Bisping down in the first, third and fifth rounds and keeping him there. The crowd at the Colisee Pepsi didnt like it and neither did Bisping, whose game is built on movement and technical striking. Sean Taylor Jersey. There is also the Genoa derby on Sunday, while second-place Roma hosts Parma looking to take advantage of any more slip-ups from Juventus. Here are five things to know about the Italian league ahead of this weekends matches: LLORENTE ON SONGThe last time Juventus hosted Inter Milan the visitors ended the Bianconeris impressive streak of 49 games unbeaten with a 3-1 victory. Thea Culley, Brienne Stairs and Stephanie Jameson scored for the Canadians (1-1-3), who were already out of contention for a London Olympic berth in the six-country tournament. Redskins Jersey. The Jets are 1-2-1 against Nashville this year despite outscoring the Predators 11-10.  Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen lead Winnipeg with four points, while Craig Smith has four for the Predators. Brian Orakpo Jersey. The All-Star point guard, sidelined for the past six months with a knee injury, was set to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder lineup for Sunday nights home game against the Phoenix Suns, weeks earlier than expected.NASHVILLE – His career as a Nashville Predator was over in less than thirty minutes. Not exactly bursting with sentimental feelings, Matthew Lombardi makes an odd return to the state of Tennessee on Thursday night. The 29-year-old signed a three-year contract with the Predators in the summer of 2010, but suffered a concussion in just his second game with the club, never to play in Music City again. "All in all, it was a pretty weird year to say the least," Lombardi told the Leaf Report, ahead of Thursdays matchup at Bridgestone Arena. "I did have a bit of an experience there, but nothing too emotional or anything like that." It was over after 29 minutes and 39 seconds, 34 shifts to be exact. Four nights after his Nashville debut – a 4-1 over Anaheim – Lombardi would suffer a concussion at the United Center in Chicago, his career with the Predators over before it started. His health and future very much in question, Nashville saw little choice but to move the Montreal native in the summer, sending him to Toronto for Brett Lebda (salary relief) and Robert Slaney in a package that also included Cody Franson. Against all odds and expectation, Lombardi triumphantly returned to start the regular season, scoring the shorthanded winner in a 2-0 opening night victory over Montreal. It was a remarkable early peak on a comeback that has seen its fair share of expected waves along the way. Without a concrete training camp to fall back on – he played in only one exhibition game – Lombardi has been forced to shake off the rust of a year-long absence on the fly, a tall task in any league let alone the NHL. "You dont just turn the switch on," he said. "I wish it was that easy. Its not. Its a good league obviously. Its different for everybody, but I feel like Im making progress." The Leafs have seen flashes of the player who scored 19 goals and 53 points with Phoenix in 2009-2010. Theyve seen him utilize what is unquestionably his greatest asset – speed – more and more often and at more advantageous times. Exploiting that speed and the opportunities it creates will help to grow an offensive game that remains hidden beneath the surface; Lombardi has just two goals and six points through the first 18 games. "I definitely feel like I want to contribute," said Lombardi, who has gone the last nine games without a goal, but chipped in with an assist on Tuesday night. "Obviously hasnt been there consistently this year, but I definitely want to build back into that. I feel like I can still do that. Its just getting back to being consistent and helping the team." The Leafs could certainly use his help. With firepower beyond Phil Kessel (13 goals) and Joffrey Lupul (9 goals) in very short supply and Mikhail&nbbsp;Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur suddenly down with injuries, the Leafs are hunting for goals anywhere they can find it.dddddddddddd. While not expected to chip in consistently, some production from the bottom two lines would help to balance the waters offensively. Over the last nine games, the bottom six forward group has managed to create just three goals, two by Joey Crabb and one from Mike Komisarek, initiated by the efforts of Lombardi and Crabb. While hes not yet returned to past levels of performance, Lombardi could eventually provide a kick-start to the Leafs third line with an intriguing blend of speed and intelligence. "Im starting to feel like theres some positive things," he concluded with optimism. "Ive just got to stick with it. The good thing is I know I can be better." -- Tim Connolly should provide an immediate boost offensively with Grabovski sidelined for at least the next two weeks with a lower-body injury. The 30-year-old Connolly is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Predators after missing four games with an upper-body injury. "Feel good, ready to go," said Connolly. "Im able to take a full stride and shoot fully. I wasnt quite there Monday. Just feels good to be ready to go and get back in the lineup." Connolly – one goal and four points – will skate with new linemates in Nashville, likely paired with the struggling Nikolai Kulemin and still goal-searching Matt Frattin. Kulemin has gone eleven games without a goal and has just two so far this season, while Frattin remains on the hunt for his first in the NHL. With impressive vision and creativity, Connolly could help to jump-start the two struggling scorers.  Tyler Bozak remains with the continually efficient Kessel and Lupul. -- Franson is the other former Predator set to make a return. The B.C. native played his first two NHL seasons in Nashville, but has thus far been limited to just four games of action with the Leafs, the seventh defenceman on a crowed blue-line. "I wouldnt say Im frustrated or anything like that," said Franson. "Its a bit of a tough spot, but what can you do." The Leafs are likely to dress seven defencemen against the Predators, giving Franson an opportunity to make an impression against his old club. "Every games a chance for me to prove something to people," he said. "When youre in a situation Im in youve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get and try and leave a good impression out there, whether youre going back in the lineup the next night or not." The 24-year-old has been the victim of tough circumstance in the last two games hes dressed; the Leafs were shelled 6-2 in Boston on October 20th, pounded 7-0 at home two weeks later. ' ' '