Capitals, Jagr close to $60 million extension
WASHINGTON -- Jaromir Jagr is close to signing a five-year contract extension with the Washington Capitals worth nearly $60 million, a source close to the negotiations said Thursday.
The agreement, which would keep Jagr in a Capitals uniform through 2008, would be among the biggest in the NHL.
Jagr has two years remaining on his current deal, and the extension would also increase his salary for the next two seasons, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source said the negotiations were not yet complete. The Canadian sports network TSN reported that the deal could be signed as early as next week, and the New York Post said Thursday that the deal was wrapped up.
Capitals general manager George McPhee refused comment Thursday afternoon in Anaheim after the team arrived for Friday night's game with the Mighty Ducks, indicating that when a deal is completed, an announcement would be made.
Jagr's agent, J.P. Barry, had no comment.
Cooper fined $5,000 for San Francisco fight
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers rookie safety Jarrod Cooper was fined $5,000 by the NFL on Thursday for fighting with San Francisco's Derrick Deese.
Both players were ejected from Sunday night's game. The fight occurred in the second quarter when Cooper went after guard Ray Brown after a play and Deese rushed in to help.
Deese threw a punch at Cooper, who had lost his helmet, and tackled him to the ground.
''I've been thrown out of a couple of places, but never a football game,'' Cooper said.
Cooper said he has probably earned a bad reputation because of his love of large snakes and for jawing with opposing players.
Gwynn has right knee 'scoped
SAN DIEGO -- Tony Gwynn underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee on Thursday, four days after retiring from his 20-year career with the San Diego Padres.
The surgery went well, said Gwynn's agent, John Boggs.
Gwynn's right knee had been his good knee, but it started acting up during the summer and eventually limited him to pinch-hitting only during the last several weeks of the season.
Gwynn had said the torn cartilage was due to wear-and-tear. He had six surgeries on his left knee during his career.
Once he's able to move around, Gwynn will serve as volunteer assistant to baseball coach Jim Dietz at his alma mater, San Diego State. Gwynn will succeed Dietz following the Aztecs' 2002 season.
Selig wants to add punch to All-Star game
MILWAUKEE -- Commissioner Bud Selig says he's looking to add some oomph to the All-Star game by giving the winner homefield advantage in the World Series.
''There's been a lot of conversations about making the game more meaningful,'' Selig said Thursday. ''There have been some interesting suggestions made, one of which is that the league that wins the All-Star game would have the advantage in the World Series.
''So, this winter we'll spend a lot of time talking about that, and yes, we will make some changes,'' Selig said.
Selig also said he foresees a baseball world cup in his lifetime that would create a true world champion.
Selig spoke at the annual conference of Associated Press Managing Editors, comprised of editors and managing editors of the AP's more than 1,520 member newspapers.
Afterward, Selig said the diminishing interest in the midsummer classic -- by fans and players alike -- has forced baseball to take a hard look at the All-Star game ''and maybe liven it up a little bit and create a real incentive.''
''For the first 50, 75 years, it was the midsummer classic, it was everything that our sport thought it would be,'' Selig said. ''But now obviously, with a lot of other things, there are a lot of us who feel it needs a little incentive.
''So, what I really want to do is find something that is reasonable, doesn't take away from the game but creates incentives for both clubs.''
Afterward, Selig said the terrorist attacks last month has kept him from addressing the labor agreement he's seeking to avoid another work stoppage this spring.
''I have been so focused since Sept. 11 on just getting the games back, doing all the rescheduling, worrying about the playoffs and having daily conversations about security and things that I have said to everybody: After the World Series we'll get back to that,'' Selig said.
Selig said the league has talked with the players union about a world cup but obstacles include the late date at which the World Series ends.
''The mechanics are difficult,'' Selig said. ''But I will say this to you: there will be a world cup. And I really hope it's while I'm still commissioner.''
Selig also said contraction -- eliminating one or two teams for the health of the league -- could solve some of the economic disparity in the game.
''It remains a very viable option, no question,'' Selig said.
Baseball king Henry Aaron also appeared with Selig at a reception at Miller Park Thursday and said he was amazed by Barry Bonds' record 73 home runs this season.
''I never thought that I would ever live to see somebody hit 70-some home runs,'' Aaron said.
Aaron, who hit 755 home runs in his career, said he spoke recently with Willie Mays, who hit 660, and told him: ''Willie, if you and I were playing today we would be scrub players. We only hit 40 home runs. These guys are hitting 75, 80 home runs.''
Aaron said small ballparks are a big reason for the recent homer binge.
''Look at Enron Field in Houston. I think my little grandson could hit a ball out of there,'' Aaron said.
Aaron said he thinks his all-time record will fall before long.
''If Barry Bonds comes back and hits 70 home runs and 70 more, it's all over,'' Aaron said.
That would put Bonds within striking distance of Aaron with 707 home runs. Aaron said he would like to see Bonds win a World Series, as he did.
''I would hate to see Barry Bonds finish his career out and never play in a World Series,'' Aaron said. ''That would be too bad. But I think he's a wonderful ballplayer.''
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