Bruins Stay Hot Out On The Road

The Bruins remained perfect on their road trip, making it five-for-five last night with a 3-2 win over the Oilers in Edmonton. Get all the coverage over at BruinsLinks.com.

Before getting to the regular links, a bit of disappointing news from the weekend – Howard Bryant, writer for ESPN, charged with domestic assault in Buckland. The former Boston Herald sport columnist, and now senior writer for ESPN.com was arrested on Saturday, and will be arraigned today.

Bruins continue slick play – Fluto Shinzawa has Milan Lucic a huge factor for the Bruins once again. Steve Conroy and Joe Haggerty have more on the win.

Seguin, Hall still feeling growing pains – The CSNNE.com notes has the much-hyped rookies going through a developmental first year. The Herald Bruins Notebook from Conroy has more on Lucic’s strong play. The Globe notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has Johnny Boychuk playing in front of his home crowd last night.

The deal with Celtics: They’ve moved on – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics have turned a corner in adjusting to the trade of Kendrick Perkins. Gary Washburn says Rajon Rondo is still having a tough time. Rich Levine says that player movement is just the nature of the beast in professional sports.

Delonte West should help Celtics – Chris Forsberg says that West might be the biggest addition for the Celtics.

Trade bolsters C’s chances of getting out of the East  – A. Sherrod Blakely says that the trade for Jeff Green was made with an eye on the competition in the Eastern conference. Blakely also reports that Troy Murphy has received his buyout from the Warriors and could be headed to the Celtics today.

How Josh Beckett, Jon Lester view the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter debate – Rob Bradford gets the debate started early. Beckett was a popular topic today, with additional stories from Michael Silverman | Sean McAdam | Joe McDonald | Brian MacPherson

Pitcher caught breaks – Peter Abraham has Clay Buchholz aware that he received some good luck during his 2010 breakout season. The Red Sox notebook from Scott Lauber has more on Buchholz. Michael Silverman looks at the Red Sox connections between Carl Pavano, Josh Beckett and Buchholz.

New stars adjust to spotlight – Scott Lauber has Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez having their eyes opened about what it means to be a member of the Red Sox in just the first week of camp.

Red Sox Prospect Lavarnway Knows The Drill – Dom Amore has the fast-rising catching prospect still a work in progress.

Francona really steps into one – Michael Vega’s notebook has the Red Sox manager trying to end a feud between White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and his former (and current Red Sox) pitcher Bobby Jenks.

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A Friday Night Megalink Thing

Let’s provide the Friday megalinks. Lots of things to get to.

We, of course, provide the Weekend Viewing Picks for your sports and entertainment weekend programming.

Now let’s get to the linkage from across the country.

National

Brian Steinberg of Advertising Age reports that NBC is already seeking $3.5 million for a 30 second spot for Super Bowl XLVI.

Mike McCarthy at USA Today writes that ESPN’s Erin Andrews will be working the red carpet during the Oscars for ABC’s Good Morning America.

Mike and fellow USA Today sport media writer Michael Hiestand debate the pros and cons of airing the NFL Scouting Combine.

George Winslow from Broadcasting & Cable writes that a tennis tournament has decided to use NeuLion’s platform to stream matches online in HD quality.

Mike Reynolds at Multichannel News discusses Versus’ good ratings for the NHL Heritage Classic.

Multichannel notes that Style Network will be turning a NASCAR wedding into a reality TV series.

Glenn Davis at SportsGrid has a video of Erin Andrews looking for that perfect dress for the Academy Awards red carpet.

Marcus Vanderberg from SportsNewser says Versus will air its next UFC MMA card in 3-D.

Sports Media Watch writes that MSG saw its highest ratings in 16 years for the New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony’s debut.

SMW says NASCAR’s Nationwide Series got off to a slower start in the ratings from last year.

Steve Lepore at Puck The Media says the NHL on Versus continues to be red hot in the ratings

CNBC’s Darren Rovell says outsourcing has helped smaller teams stay in contention.

Awful Announcing notices the notorious “Schwab” making a cameo in the new Hooters ad featuring ESPN’s Dick Vitale.

SportsbyBrooks gives the legendary voice of Mississippi State football and basketball Jack Cristil a very nice tribute as he had to step down immediately due to health issues.

In Examiner.com, Evan Weiner looks at the NFL lockout and what it means to the league’s TV partners.

All Access says the embattled Charlie Sheen called into a Fox Sports Radio show to once again rant against CBS, Warner Brothers and Global Warming.

East and Mid-Atlantic

The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reviews the week in Boston sports media news.

In SB Nation Boston, BSMW Fearless Leader Bruce Allen has a look at the WEEI shakeups and a tumultuous week for the once-dominant sports radio station.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette talks about a local part-time radio reporter who has been reporting on the Red Sox for almost two decades.

Richard Sandomir from the New York Times writes about MSG’s boffo ratings for Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks debut.

Richard discusses how a panel takes over as the ESPN Ombudsman.

Richard and Pat Borzi team up for a story on the NFL Players Association trying to prevent the NFL from collecting its TV rights fee during a potential lockout.

Newsday’s Neil Best talks with Steven A. “A is for Amiable” Smith who’s happy to be back with ESPN.

Bob Glauber of Newsday says both New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and HBO will not be back on Hard Knocks at least this year.

It’s official. Phil Mushnick from the New York Post really hates Madison Square Garden and Cablevision Chairman James Dolan.

Justin Terranova of the Post has five questions for MLB Network’s Al Leiter.

Pete Dougherty from the Albany Times Union has ESPN releasing its Big East football schedule.

Ken Schott at the Schenectady Gazette says the local Fox affiliate will have an extra high school sports highlight show this weekend.

In the New Jersey Newsroom, Nicole Pride talks with an ESPN producer who felt a story on paralyzed Rutgers football Eric LeGrand really hit home.

Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates have announced their spring training TV and radio schedule.

At the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog, Dan Steinberg has ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt ripping the students of his alma mater once again.

Jim Williams at the Washington Examiner says NASCAR is back in full swing on TV.

South

Bob Molinaro of the Virginian-Pilot says there’s too much speculating in the sports media today.

Erin Barnett of WSLS-TV in Roanoke, VA reports on College GameDay’s visit to the Virginia Tech campus.

Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald says like them or not, the Miami Heat are among the top of the heap in the local and national NBA TV ratings.

Carlos Frias of the Palm Beach Post talks with Pam Tebow, mother of Tim, about life after the controversial Super Bowl ad she and her son did last year.

Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaking about how he felt Super Bowl XLV went.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle talks with syndicated radio host Paul Finebaum about now infamous confession from the Alabama fan who said he poisoned the Auburn tree. That confession occurred on Finebaum’s show.

Mel Bracht at the Daily Oklahoman talks with the new TV voice of the Texas Rangers.

In his media notebook, Mel says the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be featured nationally this weekend.

Midwest

Kevin Bull of the Detroit Free Press has highlights of an ESPN.com chat conducted by former Michigan Fab Five standout Jalen Rose regarding the new ESPN documentary on the 1992-93 team.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that a local radio host is making sure that high school sports gets its due.

Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has former Brewers manager Ken Macha responding on MLB Network Radio to one of his former player’s comments.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his winners and losers in sports business and media.

The Des Moines (IA) Register reports that Iowa State’s football game against UConn has been scheduled for a Friday night on ESPN2.

From Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals spring training games will be pre-empting Rush Limbaugh on KMOX.

West

Jay Posner at the San Diego Union-Tribune has CBS’ Clark Kellogg looking forward to seeing San Diego State and BYU square off tomorrow.

John Maffei of the North County Times says it’s BYU and Jimmer Fredette as to why San Diego State is on national TV on Saturday.

Tom Hoffarth at the Los Angeles Daily News looks at the Poynter Institute panel that will play the role of ESPN Ombudsman.

Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times also looks at the new ESPN Ombudsmen.

Ben Bolch of the Times says Fox Sports Net will honor the late UCLA coach John Wooden during Pac 10 basketball games this weekend.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin at the Toronto Globe and Mail writes that TSN continues its TV rights shopping spree, this time at the expense of one of its competitors.

And that is going to do it for the megalinks. Enjoy your sports weekend

WEEI Announces Mutnansky, Merloni As Mid-Day Show

They got the dreaded “late Friday afternoon press release” but Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni were officially named as WEEI’s new mid-day show, replacing the Dale and Holley show.

Rising Stars To Take Over Middays on WEEI

(Boston, February 25, 2011) – The WEEI Sports Radio Network today announced their next step in a bold new programming lineup. WEEI is pairing two of Boston’s rising stars Lou Merloni and Mike Mutnansky to form the “Mut and Merloni,” show which will debut Monday, March 7.

“Mut and Merloni,” will air weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The new show will precede “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley” which starts on Monday.

“Our mission at WEEI is to continue to provide the most informative and entertaining sports radio experience for the best sports fans in the country,” said Julie Kahn, Vice President and Market Manager at Entercom New England. “Lou Merloni and Mike Mutnansky are breakout talents. These new lineups make us stronger than ever throughout the broadcast day and position us to be dominant for years to come.”

Mutnansky and Merloni have established themselves in supporting roles on WEEI and are poised to step into the spotlight that comes with having their own show.

Perkins Trade Creates Sharp Divide

The media reaction to the trade of Kendrick Perkins, like the fan reaction, is decidedly mixed. Some say this was a great move, others say it was a terrible, risky move.

As always, Ainge unafraid to take his shot – Bob Ryan is a big fan of Jeff Green.

The Death of Ubuntu – Rich Levine says that without Perkins, the Celtics will never be the same.

On the contrary, Celtics did well – Peter May says that the Celtics got the better end of this deal.

Perkins deal a puzzler – Tim Weisberg says that this deal could end up being one of Danny Ainge’s biggest blunders.

Danny Ainge’s bold move aimed at future and present – Paul Flannery says that this move was made with the goal of improving the team both now and in the future.

Whole lot of Celtics soul gone – Mark Murphy says that the Celtics are more of a common team now.

Contract issue at the center of the deal – Gary Washburn notes that the Celtics decision was in large part, but now wholly, due to Perkins’ contract situation.

Marquis Daniels eyes all options – Murphy’s notebook has the former Celtic focused on his recovery. Jessica Camerato talks to the waived Leon Powe, who would welcome a return to Boston.

Evolution of a pitcher: Lester’s revived changeup completed his arsenal – Brian MacPherson has the third part of his series on Jon Lester.

No minor development – Mike Fine has the Red Sox still working diligently with their minor leaguers, even if there isn’t room on the roster for them at present.

Bruins couldn’t afford to take a pass on puck-moving Kaberle – Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins knew they couldn’t let a chance at acquiring the puck-moving defenseman go by this time.

Logan Mankins’ agent points at Patriots – Ian R. Rapoport and Karen Guregian have Frank Bauer sounding off again.

It’s a good time to play catch-up – Chad Finn has an assortment of media news and observations.

Sox Guy’ beaming again in Florida – Bill Doyle has a Worcester institution returning the airwaves.

Boston’s Shakeup On Sports Talk Radio Continues – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at some of the happenings this week.

Why Danny Ainge Made The Right Move

As 3:00 this afternoon approached, the biggest concern I had was that Danny Ainge might actually give up something worth a damn for Anthony Parker. Convinced that nothing was going to happen, I stepped away from my desk for a few moments only to return and look at my Twitter feed and see:

Genius me, I sensed immediately that something big had just gone down involving the Celtics. Something a little bigger than Anthony Parker. When things sorted out and the details came out – Kendrick Perkins had been traded along with Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic (and later, a first round pick) – all hell broke loose.

Celtics fans and bloggers immediately came down hard on the deal. Most questioning the sanity or intoxication level of Ainge (a Mormon, lest we forget). Many looked something like this:

That’s a polite one.

Then, as news came out that Semih Erden and Luke Harangody had been dumped to Cleveland for a second round pick, it began all over again.

Most fans were and still are out of their minds over these deals, saying that Ainge has given up on the season and thrown away the team’s hopes for a title. They’re pissed.

Let’s try and look at this a little more coolly, shall we? Let’s try to detach from the emotional attachment so many fans have for Perkins for a moment. Here’s why not only was this not a disastrous trade, but in fact it was a great move by Ainge.

Kendrick Perkins Isn’t Bill Russell.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Perk and what he brings to the team. Ever since he showed up here as a doughy teenager way back in 2003, I’ve enjoyed watching him work and develop himself into a top-notch body-on-body low post defender. He has come so far you cannot  help but admire him. His teammates love him. His coaches love him. But…

There are number of circumstances which make moving him today the right move.

1) The Celtics weren’t going to be able to re-sign him at the end of the season. Perkins had reportedly recently turned down a contract extension offer from the Celtics. The deal was said to be close to or at the maximum that the Celtics could offer Perkins under the current rules. They were going to lose him at the end of the season, plain and simple. If they wanted any return on their investment, they needed to move him. Now. By sending him to Oklahoma City, they send him to a franchise in the Western conference that really wants and needs him, and will do all they can to re-sign him, hopefully keeping him away from the likes of the Miami Heat.

2) His game, while valuable, was extremely limited. There is a reason why Glen Davis has been closing out games with the starters this season, even after Perkins returned from his injury. Davis brings the physical presence on defense, despite his lack of height that Perkins does, while at the same time giving the Celtics someone who is not only not a liability on the offensive end, but someone who brings something to that end of the floor. Perkins is outstanding as that low post defender and is a good shot blocker, but that’s about it. He’s got hands of stone, his offensive game seems to have even regressed a bit, he can’t shoot foul shots, and he’s not a great rebounder. Are you going to hand out a huge contract to a guy you can’t even keep on the floor in the final minutes?

Both Perkins and Davis would be free agents. The Celtics couldn’t sign both. They probably hope to re-sign Davis, and this gives them a better chance to do that.

3) The Celtics did pretty well in the first half of this season without him. Perkins missed most of the first half of the season while recovering from the knee injury suffered in game six of the NBA Finals. The Celtics didn’t miss a beat. Granted they had Shaquille O’Neal for much of that time, and don’t have him at the moment, but they expect him to return, and also expect the “other” O’Neal to return, though if they get anything from him it will be considered a bonus.

So it became clear that if the team wanted to get something for Perkins, now was the time. This isn’t Bill Russell the Celtics just traded. They still have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis and Delonte West. In among all these moves they also hung onto first-round pick Avery Bradley, whom they like a lot.  Now let’s look at what they got in return for Perkins (and Nate Robinson.)

Forward Jeff Green. The 24-year old, 6-9 Georgetown product is a versatile, intelligent player, who has averaged 15 points a game during his career.  According to observers, he’s either a pretty good defender, or an awful one. He’s not the fastest player, but he’s very active. He gives you a guy who can play both forward positions, and depending on matchups, could play against someone like LeBron James in a Heat series, or Lamar Odom in a Lakers series. He is a restricted free agent after the season, but he is someone the Celtics can look to hold on to and become a cornerstone in the post-Big Three era. Ainge and Doc Rivers reportedly both loved his game coming out of school.

Center Nenad Krstic. As a center, Krstic is the anti-Perkins. He’s soft, not much of a defender or rebounder, but can shoot and score. At seven-feet, he’s at least a big, skilled body, he averaged 16 points a game back in 2007. He can foul – which might be needed against a Dwight Howard, or also stretch the floor a little bit with his shot.

A lottery protected first round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers. This could be another big building piece for the future, either with the actual pick (It is top-10 protected for the next few years) or as a trade piece.

Concerns people have.

There’s been a ton of angst out there among Celtics fans over losing Perkins. They worry that all of a sudden the Celtics can’t match up with Orlando, Miami or the Lakers. They say Perkins could lock down Dwight Howard single-handedly.

That hasn’t been the case all of the time, and especially of late. It’s become an absolute to some people that had Perkins not been injured in game six of the finals that the Celtics would’ve won the series. Without Perkins, Andrew Bynum still had only two points in both game six and seven, and wasn’t a huge factor. As for the Heat, they have no center. I’m not sure how not having Perkins has anything at all to do with how they play the Heat.

If the Celtics get Shaq back in time for the playoffs, and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics will have more than enough big bodies to get through the postseason, where remember, there are no back-to-back games, and less travel.

The other moves.

In dumping Semih Erden and Luke Harangody, (and later, Marquis Daniels) the Celtics free up roster spots for potential buyout players. Semih had his moments this season, but you’ve got to think that any veteran that the Celtics can sign (Troy Murphy, for one) is going to be an improvement over those two. There have been a lot of possibilities floated out there as potential buyout candidates, and the Celtics are in a position to sign one as soon as they become available. (It’s worth noting that to make room for Erden and Harangody, the Cavs waived former Celtic Leon Powe, who I could love see back here.)

Ainge said this afternoon that the team would be aggressive in pursuing bought out players, looking for another wing player, a defender or front court help. There should be players available, and they’re bound to be better than Erden and Harangody. He also said they’re expecting Shaq back in a week.

Conclusion

So what Ainge has done today is give the Celtics a better chance of winning, both now and in the future. None of us like to think about it, but this team has a very short window. It’s this season, and perhaps next, and that’s probably it. By adding Green (the best player in the deal, who will contribute now) and the future first round pick from the Clippers, while also keeping Bradley, the Celtics have some assets and possibilities for the future.

Celtics Look To Add Final Piece

With the Bruins making a flury of trades last week, will the Celtics follow suit today? It seems unlikely, given what the Celtics have to offer, but Danny Ainge has surprised us before.

At deadline, Celtics in a bind – Chris Forsberg says that the Celtics may be forced to sacrifice the future in order to improve this team. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics do not want to go that route, and any addition to the roster may come in the form of a player signed after a buyout. Gary Washburn says that the Celtics just don’t have the assets to give another team what they want. A. Sherrod Blakely has Ainge saying he will not do a deal out of panic.

Point taken by Garnett – The Globe notebook by  Julian Benbow has Kevin Garnett looking to be more aggressive on offense. The Herald notebook from Steve Bulpett has Kendrick Perkins out for a week with a strained MCL.  

Evolution of a pitcher: Over time, Lester adds cutter to arsenal – Brian MacPherson has the second part of his three-part series on Sox lefty Jon Lester.

Major obstacle – Nick Cafardo has a piece on Lars Anderson, whom the Red Sox are still high on despite adding Adrian Gonzalez to first base.

Early days of Curt Young era – Scott Lauber has the Red Sox new pitching coach getting to know his staff.

McDonald adopts ‘beast mode’ routine for 2011 – Maureen Mullen has Darnell McDonald looking to improve on his breakthrough season of 2010.

Marco Scutaro prognosis: good – Lauber’s Red Sox notebook has the shortstop feeling at full strength. The Red Sox Journal from Brian MacPherson has Rich Hill looking to secure a spot in the bullpen. The Globe notebook from Nick Cafardo has Terry Francona not ready to name his opening day starter.

A head-scratcher for NHL – John Powers has a feature on the NHL facing the problem of concussions that come from legal hits.

Quite a character, Hnidy brought in for tryout – The Bruins notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has the club bringing back a former defenseman for a look. Steve Conroy has more on the tryout for Hnidy. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have Steve Kampfer on the outside looking in at the moment in terms of playing time.

Patriots’ view of the NFL combine – Mike Reiss takes a New England-centric look at the combine.

Kevin Faulk feels labor pains – Ian Rapoport talks to the Patriots running back about his rehab will be impacted by a lockout.

Could Colon wind up on Patriots’ radar? – Tom E Curran wonders if Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon could be of interest to the Patriots.

Dale Arnold’s Final Show Bittersweet

For the first three hours of today’s Dale & Holley show, the hosts attempted to play it straight. Just another show, ho hum. In reality, it was the end of an era.

Earlier in the day, Dale had announced on Twitter that today would be the final edition of The Dale & Holley show:

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Dale Arnold has been with WEEI from the very beginning, and has had a daily show for most, if not all of that time. Today, his role changed, and going forward he will be an intermittent part of the radio station, filling in when other hosts go on vacation. He mentioned that he’ll be filling in for John Dennis the week of March 7, and will be doing multiple Red Sox and Celtics games during the first week of April.

But today very much felt like a “goodbye” to Dale. Co-host Michael Holley, who will be joining Glenn Ordway next week on the all-new “Big Show” paid tribute to Arnold during today’s program.

Then, in the final hour of the show, special guests called in – Terry Francona, Ray Bourque, Rosevelt Colvin – and clips from Dale’s play-by-play career were played, and intros from interviews with Ted Williams, Bill Russell and Larry Bird were teased. Recorded segments from the likes of Dale’s friend and mentor Doc Emrick also were played.

As the time came to sign off, a clearly emotional Arnold struggled to say anything, and there was a long pause before the show ended.

It was a nice tribute today, but only seemed to underscore how poorly Jason Wolfe and company handled this entire situation. Even those who are not fans of Dale seem to recognize that he got a raw deal in this whole episode.