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AP freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed

in Fragen vor der Anschaffung 23.08.2018 09:30
von panxing18 | 115 Beiträge

Zach Strief’s eyes watered up and the normally loquacious Saints right tackle struggled to speak at times as he discussed his decision to end of a 12-year NFL career that exceeded his ”wildest imagination.”

He did not Authentic Natrell Jamerson Jersey , however, lose his sense of humor.

Strief, who announced his retirement Monday, said he considered walking away after the 2016 season, but was driven by a sense of obligation to his team – particularly quarterback Drew Brees – to play at least one more year.

”There was no clear replacement on the roster and I knew if I was at home watching TV and Drew was getting hit and I felt like I could have helped, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself,” Strief said. ”It’s much easier knowing that there’s someone there that’s going to play at a high level for him. So this is all Ryan Ramczyk’s fault.”

Ramczyk, a late first round draft choice last year, blossomed his rookie season, much of which he spent at right tackle after Strief’s Week 4 knee injury, which wound up ending the veteran lineman’s season.

Strief’s health wouldn’t have stopped him from coming back, but the 34-year-old’s priorities are changing. He became a father about two months ago and is part owner of a New Orleans microbrewery, where he said with a grin that he hopes to meet every last member of the Saints’ fan base.

”I am not above shameless self-promotion,” the often self-effacing Strief added, drawing laughs from a crowd of family and well-wishers that included coach Sean Payton and long-time teammates including Brees Youth Fred Warner Jersey , running back Mark Ingram, All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan and punter Thomas Morstead.

Some retired Saints that Strief played with early in his career – including Steve Gleason and Deuce McAllister – also attended.

To Payton, Strief said, ”You took a chance on me when no one else would. Your faith in me has changed my life.”

To general manager Mickey Loomis: ”You kept me around for a long time, admittedly to your own surprise. If I was honest, I’d say it surprised me as well.”

He told Brees: ”My greatest drive as a player was not to let you down. You’re the greatest leader I’ve ever been around and I admire you so much.”

The 6-foot-7, 340-pound Strief, a Cincinnati native, was a seventh-round draft choice out of Northwestern in 2006. That was Payton’s first season and the Saints’ first year back in New Orleans after being displaced to San Antonio by Hurricane Katrina.

Strief recalled struggling in his first training camp and all but making up his mind to quit, but his father urged him to stick it out and some timely encouragement from then-assistant coach Terry Malone persuaded him to persevere.

Strief wound up being part of the most successful era in franchise history, which included a Super Bowl triumph in the 2009 season.

He was a regular reserve during much of his first five seasons, routinely rotating onto the field for tackle-eligible formations. He became a starter in 2011 on an offense that set an NFL single-season record with 7,474 yards.

While quickness and agility weren’t necessarily Strief’s greatest assets, Payton said Strief’s size, strength Cheap Kemoko Turay Jersey , intelligence and character made him an elite lineman.

Payton called Strief ”an expert at his craft,” adding, ”We never insert someone just because they’re a good guy and they’re smart.”

Strief counted among his career highlights a game in which was on the field, but not in uniform. He was a healthy scratch for the Saints’ emotional and triumphant first home game in the rebuilt Superdome in September 2006.

”I got to see this city at its worst and for 12 years it’s gotten better,” Strief said. ”I’ve gotten to be a part of not only this organization kind of growing to where it is today, but also this city. So it’s very hard not to become attached to that.”





After Bill Foley agreed to pay a whopping $500 million for the right to put a hockey team in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the NHL decided his Vegas Golden Knights deserved a chance for a swift return on that investment.

If the other NHL owners had known just how huge Foley’s reward would be – and how incredibly quickly he would get it – they probably wouldn’t have been quite so nice to the new guy.

It’s too late now, though. After reaping a bonanza from one of the most generous expansion drafts in sports history, the Golden Knights are two victories away from an unbelievable Stanley Cup Final berth.

A brand-new team in a league that has been around for 101 years already has a Pacific Division title, two playoff series victories and a 2-1 lead on the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference finals.

”I don’t think anybody saw us here,” Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”It’s been a lot of fun to be part of it. Really proud of this team and the way these guys have been working. We deserve to be here.”

Fleury and the other players accomplishing this feat refer to themselves as the Golden Misfits, yet few of Vegas’ expansion draft selections were truly undesired by the clubs that lost them 11 months ago.

Instead, general manager George McPhee took full advantage of his opportunities to compile an uncommonly talented roster, and coach Gerard Gallant turned that roster into a brilliant team in shockingly swift fashion. But it all started with the draft that allowed McPhee to build this monster in less than a year.

”It had a big impact,” McPhee acknowledged. ”The (expansion draft) rules were favorable. Gave us something to work with Authentic Addison Reed Jersey , and gave this team an opportunity to be a good team.”

The NHL allowed its teams to protect only seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. By way of comparison, when the NHL last expanded in 2000, teams were allowed to protect a whopping nine forwards, five defensemen and a goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.

The league also required teams to expose players with significant NHL experience who were under contract through next season, closing loopholes and helping Vegas even more. Third-line forwards and top-four defensemen were available from almost every team.

The easiest acquisition was Fleury, of course. The Knights got a three-time Stanley Cup winning goalie with 375 career victories for nothing, and he has largely stayed healthy while playing at a formidable level.

The Knights also landed the likes of James Neal, a proven veteran talent with nine consecutive 20-goal seasons. He scored 25 goals while providing steady veteran leadership.

They plucked William Karlsson, a clearly gifted forward who had yet to reach his full potential with two NHL teams. The Swede swiftly became one of the NHL’s best players, racking up 43 goals – an NHL record for an expansion team’s first season – and 35 assists along with a plus-49 rating.

And the expansion draft terms allowed McPhee to get creative in trades with teams hoping to keep players who couldn’t fit under the protection umbrella. For instance, the Knights ended up with Reilly Smith in a trade because Florida wanted them to draft Jonathan Marchessault – and the two ex-Panthers became two of the Knights’ top four scorers.

The draft bounty isn’t the only reason these upstart Knights have immediately entered their Golden years.

All of this talent wouldn’t have won so many games without Gallant. He built a balanced Jeff Locke Color Rush Jersey , disciplined team that has rolled four lines and played relentless two-way hockey while mining untapped talents such as Karlsson and Eric Haula, who scored 29 goals after never managing more than 15 in Minnesota.

”Gerard has done a terrific job of making this a team,” McPhee said. ”He has really brought a lot of players along, and they’ve played better than they’ve played anywhere else.”

Foley bought this opportunity with his $500 million expansion fee, yet nobody in the sports world expected the Golden Knights to put it all together so swiftly. That includes the 73-year-old Foley, who raised eyebrows around the league when he set a public goal of bringing the Stanley Cup to Las Vegas within six years – a goal he later revised to maybe eight years.

Instead, there’s an increasingly strong chance the Golden Knights will parade the Stanley Cup down the Strip one month from now. There are 12 other NHL teams that have never won a championship, along with seven franchises that haven’t raised the Cup in at least 23 years.

Potential NHL expansion owners in Seattle and Houston are probably thinking $500 million was a bargain, since the expansion fee is likely to go up when the league eventually awards its 32nd franchise. It also seems improbable that the NHL would ever make it this easy to build a team again.

But nothing will erase the Golden Knights’ remarkable embrace of this unusual moment in hockey history.

”It was important to the league and to Las Vegas and to Bill Foley that this franchise had a chance to work,” McPhee said. ”That people that were coming to the games could enjoy the product and become real fans, and we could grow some deep roots in this marketplace. So I didn’t mind the rules.”



AP freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.



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