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Sports briefs for May 22, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Bears’ Urlacher ends 13-year career

Longtime Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL on Wednesday with a message on Twitter.

Urlacher walks away from football with a list of accomplishments that include an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time All-Pro and the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award.

“Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards,” he said. “When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.

“I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”

The Bears released Urlacher after the 2012 season when they couldn’t reach agreement on a new contract. Urlacher became a free agent and apparently was open to offers from other teams but decided to close the curtain on a career what many believe will ultimately win him election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Canucks fire head coach Vigneault and two assistants

The Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday fired head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown, according to TVA’s Louis Jean, reported ProHockeyTalk.com.

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis met with team ownership before informing the trio that they were no longer with the team, PHT added.

It appears Wednesday’s firings may be the start of a complete housecleaning in Vancouver, PHT said, although two other assistant coaches — goaltending coach Roland Melanson and Daryl Williams — are still with the team, for now.

In a subsequent report later Wednesday, Jean reported that Williams and Melanson “are safe for now,” adding that their jobs may still be eliminated depending on what the new coach decides to do or whether he still wants them on his staff.

Vigneault was the Canucks’ 16th head coach and the most successful leader in team history with 313 regular season wins. Since joining the team in 2006, he led the Canucks to six postseason berths, a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

However, back-to-back first-round playoff exits in the last two seasons was “unacceptable,” Gillis said, according to PHT.

Rams’ Watkins draws one-game suspension

St. Louis Rams second-year guard Rokevious Watkins has been suspended for the first game of the 2013 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league confirmed Wednesday.

Watkins is permitted to participate in all of the team’s offseason activities as well as training camp and preseason games. The suspension takes effect at the cutdown to 53 players.

Players in the NFL testing program that advance to the suspension stage are usually suspended for four games. Thus, it seems unlikely that Watkins violated that portion of the policy.

For violations of the law, including alcohol, the commissioner can and has imposed suspensions of fewer than four games.

Signs point to Krzyzewski staying as Olympic coach

USA Basketball is set to name its men’s coach for the next Olympic cycle and all signs point to Mike Krzyzewski, who has already led Team USA to a pair of Summer Games golds, retaining the job.

A news conference hosted by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo to announce the selection has been called for Thursday at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where Krzyzewski presides as head coach of the Blue Devils.

Krzyzewski said before and after the United States won the 2012 gold medal at the London Games that he would be stepping down from the national team head coaching job he assumed in 2005, but in recent days he reportedly was reconsidering.

The 66-year-old Krzyzewski, who also led the U.S. team to victory at the 2008 Olympics and 2010 world basketball championship, has posted a 62-1 record over the last seven years in charge of the team.

Last year, Krzyzewski steered a star-studded squad including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to their second successive gold medal game triumph over Spain in the London Olympics final.

After a third-place finish at the 2006 world championship, Team USA has not lost since under Krzyzewski, popularly known as Coach K.

Police investigate allegation against Canseco

Las Vegas police are investigating a woman’s allegation that former major league player Jose Canseco sexually assaulted her.

Canseco, 48, is considered a suspect in the case, Las Vegas police Officer Bill Cassell said Wednesday. No charges have been filed or an arrest made.

According to reports, police said Canseco, a Las Vegas resident, had agreed to an interview with authorities.

News of the investigation spread after Canseco posted information on Twitter. He included the accuser’s name, phone number, the name of the employer and address. He also said he would agree to take a polygraph test.

Canseco hit 462 home runs while playing for seven big-league teams from 1985 to 2001.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Canseco is still scheduled to be a player-coach for the Fort Worth Cats in their season opener on Thursday in the United League.

Flooding reduces LPGA event to 54 holes

Torrential rains forced the LPGA to reduce this week’s inaugural Pure Silk Bahamas Classic to 54 holes beginning Friday.

Even that schedule sounds tenuous based on the excess rainfall in the forecast and dreary course conditions with measurable standing water on nearly half of the fairways on the Atlantis, Paradise Island, course.

Nearly a foot of rain fell on the Ocean Club Golf Course in an eight-hour period on Tuesday.

In the wake of violent storms, significant amounts of standing water remain on at least seven holes with the ninth and 18th fairways completely flooded. Crews are working around the clock to abate water with additional efforts to clear debris and make the golf course playable ongoing.

First and second-round pairings will remain the same with a 36-hole cut made on Saturday night.

Flyers’ Voracek uninjured in crash

Philadelphia Flyers winger Jake Voracek was not hurt in a car crash in his hometown of Kladno, Czech Republic, on Wednesday.

Voracek was driving his Ferrari when it hit a truck. Pictures from the scene showed extensive front-end damage to Voracek’s car.

“I spoke with Jake this morning,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “He was involved in a car accident in the Czech Republic. Although his car did suffer damage, there were no injuries. Jake is fine.”

In a text to a reporter in the United States, Voracek said, “All good. No injuries. That’s good! Can’t talk now. Very busy haha.”

“(Voracek) failed to comply with safe distance from the vehicle ahead,” Kladno police spokeswoman Michaela Novakova told Sport.cz.

Voracek, 23, finished the 2013 regular season with a career-high 22 goals and 24 assists in 48 games.

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