Chad Graff / St. Paul Pioneer Press
Jon Blum's unusual road from first-round draft pick to NHL castaway to U.S. Olympian isn't lost on the former Wild defenseman. "Olympic hockey players aren't usually molded this way," he said with a laugh. Yet as the Americans compete in their first Olympics without NHL players in 20 years, players such Blum have embraced the unpopular decision the league made to keep its athletes out of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.
Two years ago, Amanda Kessel felt like a shell of herself. Long gone were the nights she spent dominating on a hockey rink, replaced by miserable ones in a dark room watching television. Concussions suffered within a few months of each other after the 2014 Olympic Games seemed to end hockey for Kessel, the former Minnesota Gophers star who won the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's top women's college player.
MINNEAPOLIS — The newly hired lawyer for suspended Gophers basketball player Reggie Lynch claimed Wednesday, Jan. 10, that sexual intercourse never happened between Lynch and two accusers, despite separate university investigations that found Lynch "responsible" for both incidents of sexual misconduct, which resulted in one recommendation for a 31-month ban from campus and another for expulsion. During a 57-minute news conference at his office in downtown Minneapolis, attorney Ryan Pacyga: • Said Lynch "vehemently" denies all allegations against him.
MINNEAPOLIS — With starting guard Amir Coffey injured and starting center Reggie Lynch suspended and now facing expulsion after a second school investigation found him responsible for a sexual misconduct offense, Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino held a team meeting Monday, Jan. 8, that one player called "atypical." Pitino's team entered this season with legitimate hopes of a deep NCAA tournament run. Two months later, an injury has marginalized their tournament hopes and Lynch's suspension has cast another dark cloud over Pitino's program.
MINNEAPOLIS — One day after University of Minnesota athletics director Mark Coyle and men's basketball coach Richard Pitino answered questions about their suspended senior center on the upper level of Williams Arena, the Gophers returned to their basketball home and tried to move on from the sexual misconduct investigation that led to the suspension of Reggie Lynch.
MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota center Reggie Lynch is "still a part of" the basketball program and can practice with the team despite being found responsible for violating the U's sexual misconduct policy, athletics director Mark Coyle said Friday, Jan. 5. After an investigation by the university's Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, it was determined that Lynch violated the school's policies on sexual misconduct and on university rules during an incident in a dorm room in May 2016.
MINNEAPOLIS — Richard Pitino remained standing on the Gophers men's basketball sideline until the final minute of his team's win over Harvard finally concluded, ending a sloppy affair that offered little time for the head coach to relax. In a dream world for Pitino, Saturday's game would have offered a more definitive win than their 65-55 victory over Harvard that required last-minute timeouts and made free throws for a double-digit advantage.
MINNEAPOLIS — During a nine-day break following a hectic schedule, Richard Pitino told his now-unranked Gophers men's basketball team to forget about upcoming opponents and focus on the lapses in their play that has led to losses in two of their past three games. Specifically, he talked with them about their struggles covering the 3-point line. A year ago, the Gophers surprised all of college basketball with a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament secured by a field goal defense and 3-point defense that ranked best in the Big Ten.
ST. PAUL — The first warnings came just a short time after Jon Blum moved to Vladivostok, Russia, the southeastern-most city in the world's largest country, a port town closer to Alaska than St. Petersburg. To the west is China, to the south North Korea. Don't mind the occasional tremors, locals told the former Minnesota Wild defenseman when he arrived; that's just North Korea testing missiles 70 miles away. "Just 'Rocket Man' shooting off his missiles," Blum said with a laugh. "Nothing too serious. He's shooting them the other way."
MINNEAPOLIS — Fresh off a loss to a Nebraska basketball program that has struggled for years, Richard Pitino gathered his No. 14 Gophers the other day to talk about national rankings. A year ago, he told them, they were the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament and a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, a fine season by most accounts. And yet, they were only ranked in the top 25 "for like a day," Pitino said.