Lakers rally for huge win over Thunder without LeBron

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The young Los Angeles Lakers matured on Thursday night.

With four-time MVP LeBron James still sidelined by a left groin strain, Kyle Kuzma scored 32 points to help the Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 138-128 in overtime.

James missed his 12th straight game, yet against a veteran team loaded with All-Star talent, the Lakers rolled to a 16-6 advantage in the extra period.

“That was a really nice, big win for our group,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “We got contributions from everybody. This is a really hard place to win at. It’s a playoff team. For our guys to keep coming in and different people making plays — it’s how we have to compete.”

Ivica Zubac scored a career-high 26 points and Lonzo Ball added 18 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, who improved to 5-7 without their injured star.

Paul George scored 27 points and Terrance Ferguson added 21 for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds but shot just 7-of-30.

The Thunder lost despite making a franchise-record 21 3-pointers and leading by 17 in the first half. They have dropped five of six.

Westbrook missed two layups in the final minute but was fouled by Ball on a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining and the Lakers up 122-119. Westbrook, a 64 percent free throw shooter, made all three foul shots to tie the score. Kuzma missed a 3 at the buzzer, and the game went to overtime.

NBA crew chief Tom Washington acknowledged that Westbrook should never have been awarded free throws.

“Upon being able to see the review of the play, we realized that the illegal contact happened prior to his upward motion, so it should have been a side-out,” Washington said.

Ball took responsibility for the situation.

“It’s my fault that he hit the free throws,” he said. “Maybe I should have fouled him earlier. But I had to wash it off.”

Ball bounced back with five points, two rebounds and an assist in overtime. Walton was impressed with his second-year point guard’s overall effort, especially late in the game.

“For him to do that against Westbrook — I’m sure a player he watched growing up as one of the great point guards in our league — not only to score those points, but a couple of big assists to Zu coming down the lane, a big-time rebound. He can do a little bit of everything,” Walton said.

TIP-INS: Lakers — Rajon Rondo missed his 11th straight game since having surgery on his ring finger. … Michael Beasley tried to check into the game in the first quarter while wearing practice shorts. … The Lakers made their first 11 free throws. … Brandon Ingram had a career-high 11 assists.

Thunder — Backup center Nerlens Noel returned after sitting out three games while in concussion protocol. … Alex Abrines has missed the past eight games for personal reasons. … Ferguson shot 5-of-6 on 3-pointers in the first half. … G Raymond Felton was called for a technical foul in overtime while on the bench.

STAT LINES: The Thunder attempted a franchise-record 54 3-pointers, shattering the previous mark of 44 set last season against Denver.

FADING DEFENSE: The Thunder, among the best defensive teams in the league during the first half of the season, have allowed an average of 130.2 points in their past six games.

“Just slight lack of awareness,” Noel said. “Things like backdoors, small things. I think we just have to do a better job of guarding the ball 1-on-1.”

HE SAID IT: Walton on Zubac’s performance — “He was big around the rim and he has a really nice, soft touch down there. Some of it is his teammates looking for him. But when he gets that ball around the rim, he’s pretty good at finishing. But where he’s really grown is at becoming more physical.”

UP NEXT: Lakers at the Houston Rockets on Saturday. Thunder at the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.


Kings edge Stars 2-1 to climb out of NHL basement

DALLAS (AP) – It took Jack Campbell nearly nine years to make his first start in Dallas. Turns out, the wait was well worth it for the Los Angeles Kings‘ goalie.

Campbell beat the team that drafted him and Dustin Brown scored a rare power-play goal for the Kings, who moved out of the NHL basement by holding off the Stars 2-1 on Thursday night.

Dallas took Campbell with the 11th pick of the 2010 draft.

“Nothing more I wanted at 18 or 19, 20, 21, 22, than to be the franchise goalie,” Campbell said. “Didn’t happen. But it’s great to come back here.

“I just wanted to win just ‘cause we need it.”

In his only game for the Stars, Campbell started and lost 6-3 at Anaheim five seasons ago.

“I backed up a few times here. It kind of allowed me to settle in a little bit before I played my first game,” he said.

The goaltender has played a career-high 16 games this season as Jonathan Quick’s backup.

“(Campbell‘s) been thrown into some tough situations and he’s responded well for us,” Kings coach Willie Desjardins said.

Campbell made 29 saves, 18 in the third period. He lost his shutout with 1:04 to play, when Esa Lindell tipped in Alexander Radulov’s shot from the blue line with Stars goalie Ben Bishop pulled for an extra skater. Campbell stopped a similar shot by Tyler Seguin in the final minute.

“We’re all looking for the pretty play until that third period,” Seguin said. “We started simplifying and getting deep and going to hard areas.”

Brown’s goal came in the first period when he deflected in a shot by Drew Doughty. Carl Hagelin added a goal in the second for the Kings.

“We’ve been working hard at the power play in practice every day,” Doughty said. “Tonight we decided to simplify it, try to get a puck at the net the first five to 10 seconds of the power play.”

It took just three seconds for the Kings to score on their only power play of the game. They still have a league-low six power-play goals on the road this season.

Dallas‘ John Klingberg went to the penalty box at 18:01. Brown scored his 12th goal at 18:04.

Anze Kopitar won the draw, and the puck went to Doughty at the left point. Down low, Brown deflected Doughty’s drive past Bishop into the upper right corner.

Los Angeles remained last in the Pacific Division but leapfrogged Chicago and Ottawa in the overall standings. The Kings are 2-0-1 in the past three games, their best stretch since a four-game winning streak in December.

The Stars have lost four straight, equaling their longest skid this season. In each of the four games, they have fallen behind 2-0.

Dallas has only three goals during its slide. Lindell ended a scoreless streak that lasted 130:21.

Bishop stopped 17 shots.

On Hagelin’s goal, Bishop had trouble handling a knuckleballing shot by Tyler Toffoli from low in the left faceoff circle. The puck dropped by Bishop’s left skate and Hagelin was there to wrist it into the net.

The Stars had only 11 shots on goal in the first two periods, but they outshot Los Angeles 19-3 in a desperate third. Campbell denied a breakaway by Mattias Janmark with 8½ minutes left and was aided when two shots hit the post.

“First 40 (minutes), I don’t think you could draw it up any better,” Campbell said, “especially against that group. They made a push in the third. That’s just hockey.”

NOTES: Radulov said he was benched late in the first period after talking back to coach Jim Montgomery. “It was the right decision by Coach,” he said. … Doughty originally was credited with the first goal. The official scoring was changed during the second period. … The Kings‘ power play ranks last in the NHL on the road at 12 percent (6 for 51). … Los Angeles is the league’s lowest-scoring team with 109 goals. Dallas has the third-fewest with 122. … Stars C Jason Dickinson (back injury) came off injured reserve after missing 11 games. C Tyler Pitlick didn’t play after taking a hit in the corner during the second period.


Kings: Complete a three-game trip at Colorado on Saturday.

Stars: Play the fourth of six straight home games Saturday against Winnipeg.


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Walker, Hornets return home, beat Kings 114-95

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 23 points, surpassing 11,000 for his career, and the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Sacramento Kings 114-95 on Thursday night.

Miles Bridges and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each had 15 points and Willy Hernangomez added 11 points and 16 rebounds off the bench for the Hornets. Charlotte’s reserves outscored Sacramento’s 60-44.

The Hornets entered the game looking to make up ground in the Eastern Conference after a 2-4 West Coast trip, which included a 104-97 loss at Sacramento on Saturday.

After a slow start, Charlotte scored 43 points in the second quarter to take control and never trailed again, leading by as many as 20 early in the fourth quarter.

Walker, who is third in All-Star voting at guard in the Eastern Conference, has scored 87 points in his last three games.

Buddy Hield led the Kings with 24 points.

The Hornets trailed by 13 points early but outscored the Kings by 18 in the second quarter to take a 63-50 halftime lead. Kidd-Gilchrist brought energy and scoring with 13 points before the break.


Kings: Harry Giles capped a frustrating night by fouling out with 1:20 left in the game. He finished with one point after missing all three shots from the field and going 1 of 4 from the foul line.

Hornets: Outscored the Kings 52-38 in the paint despite being without center Cody Zeller. … Carolina Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and former teammate Thomas Davis took in the game from courtside seats.


Kings: Visit the Pistons on Saturday night.

Hornets: Host the Suns on Saturday.


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Chargers GM Telesco has no timetable on Rivers deal

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers just concluded his 15th season with the Los Angeles Chargers but the quarterback’s future beyond 2019 is one of many areas that general manager Tom Telesco will have to address during the offseason.

Telesco reiterated during his season-ending news conference Thursday that Rivers isn’t going anywhere but didn’t elaborate on a timetable for discussing a contract extension.

Rivers this year will be going into the final season of a four-year, $83.25 million extension he signed in August 2015. He will earn $16 million in 2019 — $11 million in base salary and a $5 million roster bonus.

“He’s going to be here. We’ll talk at the right point as far as the moves we need to make in the offseason and the resources we have and kind of see how it all fits in,” Telesco said.

Rivers is coming off one of his best seasons. His 105.5 passer rating equaled a career best and his 8.5 yards per attempt was his best since 2010. His 68.3 percent completion rate also ranked as the second best of his career.

Rivers said Monday that he hasn’t discussed his future plans with the team, but noted he wants to play at least through 2020, when the new LA Stadium at Hollywood Park opens. A possible model that both sides could look at is the two-year, $50 million contract that Drew Brees signed with New Orleans last March.

“We’ll see what happens but that is something that excites me and that I want to be a part of it,” he said.

Telesco didn’t rule out the possibility of drafting a quarterback this year, but also said that it would have to line up with the team’s other needs.

Telesco’s more immediate goals are trying to keep most of the 14 players who are slated to become unrestricted free agents. At the top of the list is safety Adrian Phillips, who earned All-Pro honors on special teams. Phillips was third on the team in tackles (77) and led the league in special teams stops with 21.

The Chargers cut and re-signed Phillips eight times during the 2014 and ’15 seasons before he finally made it for good.

“Eight times he came into my office to let him go and he always handled it professionally,” Telesco said. “To see a player finally earn a job on 53, then earn a role, then a starting role, and then being an excellent special teamer and defense and then go to the Pro Bowl. He’s kind of the heart and soul of the defense, too.”

Other notable free agents include cornerback Jason Verrett, who missed the season with an Achilles injury, wide receiver Tyrell Williams and defensive tackle Damion Square. Williams averaged 15.9 yards on 41 receptions with five touchdowns while Square played all four spots on the defensive line while posting three sacks.

“We like to draft, develop and re-sign our own and then are very selective in free agency. We like to retain our own, I think we have a good core here,” Telesco said.

Telesco said he likes the steps the franchise has taken the past two years under coach Anthony Lynn. The Chargers have gone from five wins in 2016 to 12 regular-season victories this season and a postseason berth for the first time in five years. Los Angeles defeated Baltimore in the wild-card round but lost 41-28 to New England in the divisional playoffs.

“This is not a one-step process. This is a multi-step process to where we want to go. We took some significant steps this year,” Telesco said. “We had a very good football team but we played a better football team in New England at New England. We’ve got to figure out how to get past that hump next year.”


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Golden Knights’ second act shaping up to rival their first

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch had to have faith.

When the Vegas Golden Knights decided to send them to the minors at the start of last season, Theodore and Tuch chose to believe what general manager George McPhee told them.

“The message was that we were part of the future of this team and he definitely saw us in that long-term plan,” Theodore said.

Within weeks, they were back in the NHL as part of the fastest-starting expansion team in history and played significant roles in the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Each player got a long-term contract before he played his first game this season, and they weren’t alone as McPhee went about the process of turning Vegas from a one-year wonder into a perennial title contender.

He locked up 75-point forward Jonathan Marchessault through 2024, signed face-of-the-franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a three-year extension, inked defenseman Nate Schmidt to a six-year contract that begins next season, signed center Paul Stastny as a free agent and acquired big winger Max Pacioretty in a trade with Montreal. Those moves have paid off so far with Vegas five points back of first place in the Pacific Division and looking like its second act could rival its first.

“We have a couple guys signed long term, and it’s fun because it means that we have a core and we’re building something,” Marchessault said. “You want to be part of a story as a hockey player, and it feels like we’re part of one here.”

The Golden Knights’ story was a fairy tale: A team that looked on paper like it would be among the worst in the league won its division and steamrolled to the final before losing to McPhee’s former team, the Washington Capitals, in five games. Marchessault said he felt in June like this team could be a legitimate threat for years to come.

McPhee’s job was to ensure that. The veteran executive who got to build the Golden Knights from scratch through a wildly successful expansion draft understood he had the benefit of not having to dig out from bad contracts. But he also shouldered the burden of drawing up a whole host of new ones after one season during which seemingly everyone overachieved.

“We did have a lot of work to do because most of the guys that we acquired were either free agents or were on one-year deals and their deals had matured and it was time to negotiate again,” McPhee said. “And we just thought, we know what they are, we’re comfortable projecting what they will be in the future and we had the cap space, so why not use it now because cap space is like perishable inventory. If you don’t use it, it’s gone at the end of the year. We just wanted some cost certainty moving forward, so it would help us to plan for things better in the future.”

Fleury got $7 million a year, Schmidt, $5.95 million, Theodore, $5.2 million, Marchessault, $5 million and Tuch, $4.75 million. Fleury leads the NHL with 26 wins, Schmidt has played over 23 minutes a game since returning from suspension, Theodore leads Vegas defensemen with 21 points and Tuch and Marchessault are 1-2 on the team in scoring.

Beyond cost certainty, it was money smartly spent to keep morale up, raise expectations and get bang for owner Bill Foley’s buck.

“When you have a guy believe in you like that, sign you to that kind of a term, you don’t want to make him look bad and I think every night you want to go out and you want to play your best,” said Theodore, who is under contract through 2025. “I think it’s been paying off for us and hopefully will in the future.”

Even though only wingers James Neal and David Perron and defenseman Luca Sbisa aren’t back from the core group that went to the Cup final, McPhee couldn’t stand pat and think success would repeat itself. He consciously added Stastny, Pacioretty and Nick Holden to replace the lost production and provide an influx of talent.

“When you’re a couple games away from winning, I think you’ve got to try and do whatever you can,” Schmidt said. “You have to add something in order to beat the best teams.”

The way Pacioretty looks at it, McPhee wasn’t scanning the aisles. He was shopping off a specific list. They weren’t part of the playoff run – Stastny was on the Winnipeg Jets team that Vegas beat in the Western Conference final – but brought some more balance.

“They wanted guys like me and Stas to come in and play a little bit of a two-way game,” Pacioretty said. “That’s how we want to help our team. We know that especially offensively that this team last year had guys who were relied upon every night to create. And we still want to be those guys coming in, but we also know that there’s areas on both sides of the puck that we can help this team.”

Injuries have hampered Pacioretty and Stastny so far, but they and the Golden Knights will really be judged in the playoffs. After falling three victories short of a championship, players feel like they have what it takes to win this time and for years to come.

“As our owner said at the beginning of the year, we just don’t want to be a winning team. We want to have a winning franchise,” Marchessault said. “Last year we really felt like we have something special, and we have some unfinished business.”


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Panthers’ Trocheck nearing a return after broken ankle

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) – The Florida Panthers desperately need a boost, and Vincent Trocheck has pronounced himself ready to provide one.

Barely eight weeks removed from surgery to repair the right ankle that he fractured by crashing into the boards during a game at Ottawa, Trocheck took part in a full practice Thursday for the first time since the injury happened. He’s been back on the ice for the last couple weeks, limited to either working out either on his own or with a small group.

“I’ve been pushing to play for the last couple weeks,” Trocheck said. “So I don’t think it’s up to me at this point. It’s just a matter of whenever they give me the go-ahead. When I get back out there, it’ll be 100 percent me. Whenever they give me the go, I’ll be ready.”

He’ll likely miss only three more games before returning. The Panthers play Friday against Toronto, Saturday against Nashville and Monday against San Jose. The All-Star break follows that stretch, and when Florida resumes play on Feb. 1 it seems that barring a setback Trocheck will be back in the lineup.

“The doctors have basically said his healing process is back to where it should be, his cardio is back to where it should be, he’s ready to play as of right now,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “But we’re going to do the smart thing, obviously, and not rush him back until after the break. If it was Game 7 tonight, he’d be in.”

Trocheck had a series of checkmarks to hit before reaching this point. The first step was getting his cast removed after surgery, followed by having the ability to walk again, then some strength-building, then getting skates on and stepping back onto the ice. All that remains on the list now is suiting up for games.

“It was tough to see him go out,” Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. “But it’s nice to have him back.”

Trocheck can’t get back soon enough for Florida, which is facing a long road back into the playoff picture.

The Panthers have lost seven consecutive games, their longest slide since dropping nine straight early in the 2013-14 season. They started Thursday 14 points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and even with roughly half the season left – 37 of their 82 games – they are, at best, highly doubtful to make a postseason appearance.

“I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been tough to watch,” Trocheck said. “Win or lose, I want to be on the ice. It’s a matter of me wanting to be out there. It’s been a tough couple months.”


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Ex-NFL player to stand trial over social post

Former NFL player Jonathan Martin must stand trial on criminal threat charges stemming from a 2018 Instagram post, a Los Angeles judge ruled Wednesday.

According to The New York Daily News, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shellie Samuels said in court that the post — which featured a photo of a shotgun and 19 shells, and a mention of “revenge” — was specific enough to constitute a viable threat.

“Nineteen shells is a mass shooting, killing more than one person, revenge,” the judge said, according to the newspaper. “I think that’s unequivocal enough (under the law) to be a criminal threat.”

Martin posted the picture to Instagram in February 2018 with the caption, “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide or revenge.” The post also included hashtags for his former school, Harvard-Westlake, and former team, the Miami Dolphins, as well as social media handles belonging to four former teammates, including Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey.

The Instagram post led Harvard-Westlake, a private high school in a suburb of Los Angeles, to close for the day. Martin was soon detained at a hospital, where he was seeking treatment, and later arrested on criminal threat charges. He pleaded not guilty.

Martin faces three felony counts of making criminal threats and a single misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in public. A fourth criminal threat charge was dismissed Wednesday after Pouncey said he was not concerned by the post, according to multiple reports.

Martin’s attorney, Winston McKesson, told The Los Angeles Times that his client’s post was not a threat but rather “a cry for help.”

Martin, 29, accused teammate Incognito of bullying him when both men were members of the Dolphins in 2013. Incognito was suspended as a result of the allegations, and Martin later left the team; he last played in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 2014.

Martin is due to next appear in court Jan. 30, according to multiple reports.

Contributing: A.J. Perez

Contact Tom Schad at or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

Chiasson scores in shootout, Oilers outlast Canucks 3-2

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Ken Hitchcock wants Oilers fans to brace for a wild ride.

Edmonton’s coach thinks games will get tighter throughout the second half of the season and look more like his team’s 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout Wednesday night.

“You’re going to be in a battle and there’s going to be a lot of emotional times. And for me, if you’re a fan of hockey, you’re going to love this,” Hitchcock said. “If you’re just looking for wins, you’re going to go through a roller-coaster ride.

“But if you’re looking for great hockey with people pouring everything in it, you’re going to be looking at this for the next 40 games.”

Alex Chiasson scored in the fifth round of a shootout to win it.

Jujhar Khaira and captain Connor McDavid scored in the first period for the Oilers, who won consecutive games for the first time since early December. They lost their two previous matchups with the Canucks.

“It’s a tough building to play in. We’ve always had struggles,” McDavid said. “At least we were able to take advantage of it and get the two points.”

Mikko Koskinen stopped 20 shots before denying all five Canucks attempts in the tiebreaker.

Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund had the goals for Vancouver. Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves.

Chiasson said watching teammate Leon Draisaitl’s shootout attempt helped him read Markstrom.

“I thought if I could come with a little bit of speed and go just above (his glove). It worked out,” Chiasson said.

The right wing believes the Oilers can take a lot from tight games.

“We’ve got to learn how to play in these types of games, make good decisions, play until we have to,” said Chiasson, who won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals last season. “I thought tonight was a good example of making good decisions and building our game as it went on. Even though we had ups and downs, we kept going. And that’s what we need.”

Sutter was happy with the way his team played against the Oilers, despite the result.

“It’s fun hockey to watch and a little more nerve-wracking to play, but I like our game tonight,” he said.

“It was a grinding game, kind of that playoff feel against teams that are fighting for it and that’s what they are going to be like down the stretch, so I thought we played really well.”

Edmonton opened the scoring 7:35 into the game with a short-handed goal.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked off the puck in his own end and sent it to Khaira in the neutral zone. He took a spinning wrist shot from the hash marks and beat Markstrom on the far side.

“It was one of those things where it just kind of presented itself,” Khaira said. “I need to be more of a shooter, so I’m just trying to focus on that right now. It’s nice when it pays off.”

Sutter responded for the Canucks 78 seconds later, firing a shot from the top of the faceoff circle for a power-play goal.

A fight between Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel and Edmonton’s Matt Benning set the stage for the third goal of the night. Roussel was handed a double-minor for the tussle while Benning was assessed a two-minute penalty, giving the Oilers their second power play.

McDavid capitalized with 57 seconds left in the period, streaking into the Vancouver zone alone and putting a laser of a shot around defenseman Chris Tanev and past Markstrom.

Vancouver tied it again midway through the second. Tim Schaller dug the puck out behind the Edmonton net and chipped it to Granlund in the slot. The center got off a quick one-timer for his eighth goal of the season.

Ben Hutton appeared to score another power-play goal for the Canucks late in the second, but Edmonton challenged the play, saying Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen was offside. After a video review, officials agreed and the goal was overturned.

Virtanen nearly won the game on a breakaway with 20 seconds to go in the third, but couldn’t beat Koskinen.

Darnell Nurse swiped the puck away from Edmonton’s crease halfway through overtime to keep the Oilers in the game. The play resulted in an Oilers rush, and Draisaitl put a shot into Markstrom’s logo.

“I thought for sure we’d score for sure twice and then next thing I know, I couldn’t believe they didn’t score. Overtime was really exciting,” Hitchcock said.

NOTES: McDavid extended his point streak to six games. He has six goals and three assists during that stretch and sits fourth in the NHL’s scoring race with 70 points on the season. … Vancouver traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the Anaheim Ducks for Luke Schenn and a 2020 seventh-round draft pick. Canucks coach Travis Green said the deal frees up a spot on Vancouver’s roster.


Oilers: Begin a three-game homestand Saturday against Calgary.

Canucks: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.


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Former hockey Olympian Lyndsey Fry giving back in Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Lyndsey Fry could have continued playing hockey. She had a stellar collegiate career, a degree, an Olympic silver medal placed around her neck, so playing professionally was a logical next step.

The grueling rehab from hip surgery it would take to get back to an elite level was not all that appealing. Nor was playing in a women’s professional hockey league on a less-than-livable salary – or being away from her family.

Fry could have gone into the financial world, maybe work on Wall Street. She had a Harvard education, so there was an expectation to get a “Harvard” job. It certainly would pay well. That wasn’t the right fit, either. She didn’t have a passion for it.

Fry coveted more than money and fame. She wanted to pay back a community that helped a little girl in Arizona with plastic skates strapped onto her shoes transform into one of the world’s best hockey players.

Now working with the Arizona Coyotes, she’s doing just that.

“I never would have dreamed I would be in this role,” she said. “I just kind of hoped to be able to help where I could, coming back to the Valley. To be in this role and really having some leverage to do what I set out to do has been really, really incredible.”

Growing up in Arizona, Fry had limited opportunities to play hockey, particularly against other girls.

In her new role with the Coyotes, she will make sure other hockey-mad girls like her will get the chances they deserve.

Fry returned to the Valley of the Sun to earn an MBA at Arizona State and worked with the Coyotes as an instructor at various clinics. She also teamed with Coyotes director of amateur hockey development Matt Schott to run the Small Frys, a continue-to-play program for girls 6-12 who have gone through the organization’s Little Howlers program.

Fry took on a bigger role with the Coyotes in November, when she was hired as a brand ambassador and special adviser to president and CEO Ahron Cohen. Fry’s primary focus is to grow hockey around the state, particularly women’s hockey, and to assist Cohen in engaging the hockey community in Arizona.

“The thing that was instantaneously obvious to me was her unbelievable passion for growing hockey and being a part of this community,” Cohen said. “From that moment, I said we have to find a way to get Lyndsey involved with us here. She just naturally radiates positivity and people just want to talk to her.”

Hockey has already seen a rise in the desert.

In 1996, the year the Coyotes arrived from Winnipeg, there were about 2,100 registered youth and adult hockey players. The state had three rinks, two in Phoenix, one in Flagstaff.

Hockey has boomed in Arizona over the past five years, increasing 109 percent to more than 8,600 players, making it the No. 1 state for growth in the NHL. Arizona is third for youth hockey growth over the past five years, up 88 percent to 4,500 players, and is No. 1 in girls’ hockey growth, up 152 percent to nearly 800 players.

Fry should only boost those numbers.

She and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews are Arizona’s greatest hockey success stories, players who overcame long odds to reach the pinnacle of their sport. By returning to the Valley of the Sun, Fry gives girls hockey players an up-close look at what’s possible with a little work and dedication.

“She’s very inspiring for a lot of kids out there,” Cohen said. “The two greatest success stories in terms of hockey in Arizona are her and Auston Matthews. It’s pretty cool to see kids look up to her and I’m hopefully five and 10 years from now we have a whole lot more kids like Auston Matthews and Lyndsey Fry playing at the highest level because of the work that Lyndsey and this Coyotes organization has done.”

Fry had a long road to the top.

Inspired by the 1990s “The Mighty Ducks” movies, she first started skating with plastic skates strapped to her shoes. She played a year of roller hockey and switched to the ice when a rink was built in her hometown of Chandler.

Fry was forced to play against the boys at a young age because the number of girls players could nearly be counted on one hand. She held her own against the boys and when it came time to play at the elite girls level, there wasn’t much competition, so she ended up playing for a team in Colorado.

Fry made the trip to Colorado every two weeks for games and practices, staying with families in the area, including former NHL player Pierre Turgeon. She became good friends with Turgeon’s daughter, Liz, and made a vow at their final game together that they’d play again with each other on the U.S. Olympic Team.

The reunion never took place.

While Fry was a freshman at Harvard in 2010, Liz Turgeon was killed in a car crash, devastating her family and her close friend. Fry nearly quit hockey, but the help of friends and family – and vow with Liz – pulled through and dedicated herself to the sport they both loved.

“I just kind of called on her memory to help push me through,” she said.

Fry pushed herself into the sport’s brightest spotlight, becoming a key member of the U.S. Olympic Team that took silver at the 2014 Sochi Games. On the podium in Russia, her thoughts veered toward the road behind her and what lie ahead.

“It was like a movie,” she said. “I kept having these flashbacks of all the people who helped me get to that moment,” she said. “Most of those people were from the Arizona hockey community and I knew that I wanted to give back to that.”

Now back home, Fry is making the most of it, using her skills on and off the ice to push hockey in Arizona forward.


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NHL, NHLPA abandon hope of a World Cup in September 2020

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have given up on the possibility of staging the next World Cup of Hockey in September 2020 but will continue collective bargaining talks.

The league and PA announced the conclusion in separate statements Wednesday that there’s not enough time to put together a World Cup in roughly 20 months. The sides met earlier in the day in Toronto to discuss the World Cup as part of collective bargaining talks after holding an informal meeting in Las Vegas on Jan. 10 that lasted more than two hours.

Not holding the World Cup in September 2020 is consequential because it was so closely linked to the potential of labor peace in hockey. But the NHL and NHLPA plan to meet again soon with the goal of avoiding a potential work stoppage. A lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season and lasted more than three months in 2012-13.

The current CBA runs until 2022, but either owners or players could choose this September to opt out and end it Sept. 15, 2020. Players’ escrow payments and Olympic participation are significant issues that must be overcome to avoid either side electing to re-open the CBA.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press last week he believed there was a commitment by both sides to continue talking and “see if we can move forward on something that might work for a CBA extension.”

“While the parties have now joined the concluded that it is no longer realistic to try to schedule a World Cup of Hockey for the fall of 2020, they plan to continue their dialogue with the hope of being able to schedule the next World Cup event as part of a broader agreement, which would include a long-term international event calendar,” the NHL said in a statement.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey generated revenue that was split evenly among owners and players, and the goal is to keep that event going with another edition at a time later than September 2020.

“The players are focused on finding the proper time to schedule the World Cup of Hockey within the context of an overall international hockey calendar,” the NHLPA said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the league.”


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