National Hockey League roundup (Reuters)

July 23 2014 07:12PM

(The Sports Xchange) - The New York Rangers and forward Chris Kreider avoided a salary arbitration hearing by agreeing to a two-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. The 23-year-old had career highs of 17 goals and 37 points in 66 games last season, and five goals and 13 points in 15 Stanley Cup playoff games. The Colorado Avalanche and center Ryan O'Reilly agreed to a two-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing, the team announced. The Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms with defenseman Ben Chiarot on a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000, the team announced.

Confident Jets come prepared to back up talk of playoff drive

July 23 2014 06:41PM

CORTLAND — The time for talking finally is over. The Jets take the field here Thursday for their first practice of training camp. It’s time to see if the confidence...

Jets confident, but 'talking won't get it done'

July 23 2014 05:37PM

Rex Ryan says it's time for the New York Jets to improve as a team as they prepare for the start of training camp practices.

NFL pundits agree: Giants, Jets decidedly mediocre

July 23 2014 02:17PM

The national NFL punditry thinks about the Giants and Jets. They just don’t think much. Last year marked the second season in a row neither New York football team qualified...

Jets add Jason Babin

July 23 2014 01:09PM

The New York Jets have agreed to terms with linebacker/defensive end Jason Babin.

Jets sign DE Babin; Colon, Barnes on active/PUP

July 23 2014 12:34PM

The New York Jets have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with free-agent defensive end Jason Babin, giving Rex Ryan's defense a veteran pass rusher.

Jets agree to terms with defenseman Ben Chiarot

July 23 2014 11:50AM

Defenseman Ben Chiarot and the Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000, the team announced Wednesday.

Chiarot, 23, had six goals and 14 points in 65 games last season with the St. John's IceCaps of the Ameri...

Who is the scruffy Russian at the centre of the MH17 crash probe?

July 23 2014 11:36AM

In a diplomatic world of blow-dried coifs and pressed Italian suits, Alexander Borodai more than stands out. His round face is perpetually patched in scruff, and, clad in grunge clothing, he always looks as if he just left a Pearl Jam concert.

This week, he presided before a throng of microphones at a news conference in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, wearing a blue denim coat, black undershirt, heaps of scruff and a look of alarm. He had reason to be concerned: A preponderance of evidence suggests that pro-Russian separatists used a Russian-obtained missile launcher to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 people last week, killing everyone aboard and eliciting global condemnation.


MH17 disaster a blunder by poorly trained rebels, U.S. believes

Two Ukraine fighter jets shot down

Russians fed steady diet of conspiracy theories about crash

MH17 crash site stripped, looted: What can we know?

As investigators sift through what happened and who did what, this relatively unknown and very unpolished leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic has quickly become one of the most important figures in the international tragedy. As the self-styled prime minister of the republic, he’s the one who has controlled the fate of the black boxes that investigators said are vital to piecing together what happened.

On Tuesday morning, Borodai brandished the black boxes in a room jammed with journalists inside the republic’s headquarters. He placed the boxes on the table, according to a Reuters report. “Here they are, the black boxes,” he said, handing them over to Malaysian experts. As for the bodies, Borodai dispatched a refrigerated train carrying body bags to Ukrainian government territory so they could be transported to the Netherlands for identification.

The theatrics of the morning were only the latest in what has been a frenetic few days for Borodai, the grizzled face of the separatist movement who just months ago was a Russian political activist and consultant. Earlier this week, as the world focused on Donetsk, he said in a statement, “We have found some technical parts. We assume that they are black boxes. . . . They are under my control.”

Then he delivered one of the more unusual interviews by any self-styled head of state, saying the crime scene was an object of “black humor.” The interview was with CNN. Borodai was in denim. The interviewer was hammering him over some of the evidence linking the plane crash to pro-Russian separatists. Borodai’s eyes just rolled into the back of his head. He threw his head back and a pained look came over his face. “It is very simple to disprove” the evidence, he said. “All the information that comes through the Internet in my opinion is practically all lies.”

“As soon as members of the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] arrived, they notified us that as soon as we start moving the bodies then we will be responsible,” he said. “It got to the point where it resembled if not a horror movie, then black humor.”

Borodai may not be the smoothest operator, but he says he’s plenty experienced at handling conflict. “In essence, I am what can be called a professional consultant,” the 41-year-old Muscovite told reporters at his first Donetsk news conference in May, Agence France-Presse reported. “I have resolved all kinds of complicated situations. For that reason, personally speaking, my specialization was what was needed here.”

He’s often accused of having ties to the Russian government — being a Russian and all — but Borodai denies that. “I am a Russian citizen,” he told AFP. “But I am a private individual, so you cannot accuse the Russian government of having a hand in what’s going on in the Donetsk People’s Republic because of my presence here.”

His presence, The New York Times reported, may have been sudden and unceremonious in Ukraine, but back home in Russia, he is better known and a man of many titles. He calls himself an “ordinary citizen,” a “political strategist” and a “professional consultant.” To others, he is the “Karl Rove of Russian imperialism,” as Irena Chalupa, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, told the Times.

With roots in the ultranationalist movement in Russia, he contributed to a far-right newspaper called Zavtra in the 1990s that promulgated pan-Slavic unity. Fringe ideas then, but ones that today had enough power to drive Borodai and other Russians into eastern Ukraine. “Real Ukrainians have the right to live as they like,” he told the Times. “They can create their own state which would be named Ukraine, or however they like, because the word Ukraine is a little humiliating.” He said Ukrainians “also want to live as we want to live. We think that we have that right.”

He said that he had been working as a “political strategist” when Russia annexed Crimea and that he later departed for Ukraine. And despite his Russian origins, some observers contend that he’s telling the truth when he says he’s in it just for Ukraine. “This is not the hand of Moscow; it’s just Borodai,” Oleg Kashin, a Russian investigative journalist, told the Times.

But who is he personally? It’s unknown.

“As far as possible I want to conceal personal information about myself,” he said earlier this year. “Not because it’s so top secret — it is absolutely not top secret — but simply because, honestly speaking, I don’t want to give it.”

Jets Agree to Terms With Ben Chiarot

July 23 2014 11:30AM

The Winnipeg Jets today announced they have agreed to terms with defenceman Ben Chiarot on a one- year, two way contract worth $600,000.

Chiarot, 23, played in 65 games with the St. John’s IceCaps last season recording 20 points (6G, 14A) and 9...

Jets ink well-traveled Jason Babin to boost pass rush

July 23 2014 10:31AM

The Jets have agreed to terms with defensive end Jason Babin. The contract, which was confirmed on Twitter by Babin’s agency, Eastern Athletics, will be for two years. The financial...

Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down, says ministry

July 23 2014 05:54AM

KYIV, UKRAINE—Ukrainian officials said Wednesday that two military planes have been shot down in the eastern part of the country, where the government is waging a battle against pro-Russia separatists.

More on

MH17 victims’ remains leave Ukraine

MH17 a blunder by rebels

The pilots of the Su-25 fighter aircraft ejected from the planes, the Ukrainian government said, but their whereabouts are unknown.

More information is expected at a Ukrainian military briefing later Wednesday afternoon.

The news comes less than a week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by a missile suspected to have been fired by separatists.

The pro-Russia paramilitary units have been firing at jets above eastern Ukraine airspace in recent months, bringing down two military transport planes in the days before the Malaysia Airlines disaster. But, if confirmed, the attack Wednesday would be the first strike in the area since the downing of the commercial jet.

Despite the general proximity to the Malaysia Airlines crash site, one of the reported shootdowns Wednesday, over Lysychansk, is actually about 160 km north of Grabovo, where much of the Malaysian plane fell from the skies last week.

The separatists have denied any involvement in the Malaysia Airlines strike, and Russia has denied supplying them with the weapons systems required for such an attack. However, the U.S. and other nations believe that Russia has been providing the separatists with surface-to-air missile systems, including the kind suspected in the Malaysia Airlines downing, and have demanded that Moscow halt support of the breakaway group.

Bodies of plane crash victims leave Ukraine; U.K. experts receive ‘black boxes’

July 23 2014 05:08AM

KHARKIV, UKRAINE—Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of “black boxes” to retrieve data on the flight's last minutes.

Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets, Kyiv's defence ministry said, as fighting flared again in the east.


MH17 disaster a blunder by poorly trained rebels, U.S. believes

Two Ukraine fighter jets shot down

Russians fed steady diet of conspiracy theories about crash

MH17 crash site stripped, looted: What can we know?

The Dutch government declared a day of national mourning as the country prepared for the arrival of the first bodies in the afternoon. The crash on Thursday killed all 298 people — most of them Dutch citizens — aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Ukraine and western nations are pressing the pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site to allow an unfettered investigation, something Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would use his influence to achieve. Though confident that a missile brought down the aircraft, U.S. officials say Russia's role remains unclear.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Wednesday that Dutch authorities had delivered the plane's voice and data recorders to the agency's base at Farnborough, southern England, where information will be downloaded. Experts will also check for signs of tampering.

Two military transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian, departed Ukraine at midday, heading for Eindhoven air base where the flights will be met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and hundreds of relatives.

For one grieving mother, the arrival of the bodies marked a new stage of mourning and brought to an end the pain of seeing television images of victims lying in the undulating fields or in body bags being loaded into a train.

“If I have to wait five months for identification, I can do it,” Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son, Bryce, and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died in the crash, said before setting off for Eindhoven. “Waiting while the bodies were in the field and in the train was a nightmare.”

Dutch government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking said about 60 coffins were expected, but the number wasn't immediately confirmed.

There was confusion as well about how many of the 282 corpses which the rebels said they have found were on the train which arrived in Kharkiv, a government-controlled city, on Tuesday.

Jan Tuinder, the Dutch official in charge of the international team dealing with the dead, said that at least 200 bodies were aboard the train and that more remains could be found once the body bags are examined fully.

The Dutch Safety Board announced that it will lead an international team of 24 investigators, and said unhindered access to the crash site — controlled by pro-Russian separatists — is critical.

“At the moment, there are no guarantees for the investigators' safety” at the scene, the board said, adding that it “and other parties” are working to get access to the site and to secure it.

Rebel leader Pavel Gubarev wrote on his Facebook page that his men had retreated Wednesday from the villages of Chervona Zorya and Kozhevnya, which are on the Russian border about 45 kilometres from the scene of the crash. Gubarev said 30 rebels had been injured.

Wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kyiv government since April. U.S. officials say the plane was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.

The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions against more Russian individuals but refrained from targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy while waiting for clearer evidence of Moscow's role in the disaster.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The officials, who briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used, said the plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The officials cited intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

Rex Ryan and the Jets have playoffs on the brain

July 22 2014 09:12PM

The Jets will arrive at training camp Wednesday in the familiar surroundings of SUNY-Cortland, but in a much different place than when they arrived there last year. Optimism is flowing...

Jets try to pep up MetLife with ‘rewards’ for coming early, making noise

July 22 2014 12:43PM

The Jets are trying to entice their crowd to get loud. As part of a new “Jets Rewards” program, the team’s season-ticket holders can earn points every time a visiting...

Jets eliminating paper season tickets

July 22 2014 11:40AM

The New York Jets are doing away with paper tickets for season ticket holders, while offering those fans a rewards plan for showing up regularly and behaving properly.