What we watched: It is tempting now to wonder whether we are witnessing the slow, steady decline of one of the NHL's all-time great goaltenders. Martin Brodeur returned from a shoulder injury last night for the New Jersey Devils, and he promptly gave up five goals in the first 14 shots he faced from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With him or without him, the Devils are a middling bunch. While coach Pete DeBoer spread the blame for last night's disaster, Brodeur has now given up eight goals in his two starts this season. Brodeur is 39, which makes him two years older than Patrick Roy was when he retired. Brodeur holds numerous NHL records, including games played, wins and shutouts. He won the Stanley Cup three times. And yes, while Brodeur is only two years removed from a season in which he won the Jennings Trophy for the fifth time and had the league's third-best goals-against average, his save percentage dipped last year to its lowest mark in 17 seasons. Two starts bookending an injury do not make for a trend. But the hands of time have a way of fast-tracking unfortunate trends. It is a sad, inevitable reality for all athletes, even the great ones. As this season progresses, it might be difficult at times to watch, but Brodeur's time may be running out.
Pacman Jones, all growed up: "With his return to Nashville a hot topic, Jones had a phone interview with The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt Monday where he admitted to plenty of mistakes during his two seasons with the Titans. 'It would have never worked for me in Tennessee,' Jones said. 'I was 21 or 22, and I didn't understand what I understand now. Yeah, I did (mess) things up off the field. I blame myself for that. But I will say when times got hard (the Titans) weren't there for me. But I ain't holding no grudges.'" [Cincinnati Enquirer]
All in one place: "Here is the free-agent class of 2011-12, ranked from Nos. 1 to 182. The rankings are based on a number of variables, including each player's history, age and potential, and are as much about predicted performance as market value, providing a general outline as free agency unfolds between now and spring training. Bookmark this page and return frequently. As the offseason progresses, Yahoo! Sports will update it with news of signings and their impact on the other free agents, as well as a supplementary list of players who are non-tendered by their current teams." [Yahoo]
And I can't believe how many credentialed reporters do so little with the access they're granted: "cant believe how many bloggers who dont cover a team on daily basis are clueless about player access and implications" [@tpanotchCSN]
Your Fitness Ball Fail Interlude:
William Gay, so old fashioned: "McDonald is swole at 9pm.... Nobody don't cook anymore" [@williamgay22]
Because ESPN's business and news-gathering interests are never in conflict: "Don't always agree w/ @ClayTravisBGID. Must applaud him for tackling a topic that google tells him no others have http://bit.ly/rsWjh7" [@jksports]
And, well, this: "Here's where I have a problem with this: We now know that this interview was obviously conducted before Missouri was officially announced as a member of the SEC. (Duh.) Even as a columnist and a TV host, doesn't Barnhart have the obligation to tell his viewers and his listeners if he has first-hand knowledge that the SEC has already made preparations for announcing Missouri as the 14th member — especially if he's taken part in those preparations? There is a chasm of difference between taking off-the-record information to help you do your job and fully participating in the SEC's spin job for Missouri's arrival, while saying nothing about it to your readers and listeners. Barnhart knew that the SEC has gone far enough to begin serious preparations for the announcement, and yet he's been reporting and punditizing on the topic as if he didn't know that." [Team Speed Kills]
Merch: Managing editor Tom Scocca and contributing editor Drew Magary have both written books. You can buy Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future here, and Magary's The Postmortal here. Now do it.
Send stories, photos, and anything else you might have to email@example.com.