Rangers Agree to Terms With Brandon Pirri

** COURTESY NEW YORK RANGERS**

NEW YORK, August 26, 2016 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Brandon Pirri on a one-year contract worth $1.1 million.

Pirri, 25, split this past season between Florida and Anaheim, registering 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, along with 30 penalty minutes in 61 games. He established career-highs in several categories in 2015-16, including games played, assists, and points. He recorded a goal on five of his six shootout attempts (83.3%), and registered two game-deciding goals during the past season. Among NHL skaters who recorded at least five shootout attempts in 2015-16, he tied for first in the league in shooting percentage in the shootout. Pirri posted two three-point games during the season – December 17, 2015 at New Jersey and March 24, 2016 at Toronto. In nine games with Anaheim, Pirri registered five points (three goals, two assists).

The 6-0, 183-pounder has skated in 166 career NHL games over parts of six seasons (2010-11 – 2015-16) with Chicago, Florida, and Anaheim, registering 49 goals and 31 assists for 80 points, along with a plus-nine rating and 52 penalty minutes. Among NHL players who have skated in at least 100 games over the last two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16), Pirri is tied for 30th in goals per game (0.33). Over the last three seasons (2013-14 – 2015-16), Pirri is tied for 24th in the NHL (min. 300 shots on goal) in shooting percentage (14.0), and he posted a shooting percentage of 10.0 or better in each season over the span. In addition, he has tallied at least 13 goals and 24 points in each of the last three seasons and he recorded a career-high 22 goals in 49 games with Florida during the 2014-15 season. He tied for ninth in the NHL (min. five games played) in goals per game in 2014-15 (0.45). In addition, Pirri has tallied a goal on 10 of his 17 career shootout attempts (58.8%), and has registered five game-deciding goals.

Pirri also played four seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) from 2010-11 to 2013-14, registering 68 goals and 132 assists for 200 points in 238 games. He was selected to play in the AHL All-Star Game in two of his four seasons in the league (2011-12 and 2013-14), and he led the AHL with 75 points in 2012-13. Pirri posted a shooting percentage of 10.0 or better in each of his last three seasons in the AHL.

The Toronto, Ontario, native was selected by Chicago in the second round, 59th overall, of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

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Alex Muyl Seizes Starting Role In Red Bulls’ Lineup

Alex Muyl has entrenched himself as a fixture in the New York Red Bulls‘ starting lineup.

The rookie midfielder has supplanted Designated Player Gonzalo Veron in the Starting XI for nearly two months now and has shown no signs of letting his place in the lineup slip away.

There has been plenty of debate about the merits on Muyl as a starter compared with Veron. Veron’s value is in his creativity and attacking flair. Muyl is more of a work horse, a hard worker who puts substance over style. While Veron was a “name signing” with an expensive transfer fee and high expectations, Muyl does the little things and does them well.

Red Bulls midfielder and New York City native Alex Muyl explains how he made his way to Red Bull Arena.

In the previous two seasons under head coach Jesse Marsch, no Red Bulls player had ever topped 13,000 meters of running in a game. Muyl has already gone over 14,000 twice this season. His lung-busting runs open up space for teammates when the Red Bulls attack and his tracking back has been an asset to the team’s defense.

The Red Bulls are unbeaten since Muyl was inserted into the starting lineup back on July 13 against Orlando City SC and haven’t lost in their last seven matches. They’ve earned 13 points in that stretch, with Muyl’s influence on the team becoming more noticeable. Veron hasn’t made a start in league play since July 3. He played just one minute in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at D.C. United.

“I think right now with the balance of quality and football we think we have on the field, we think Alex balances it out from a workload perspective and from a soccer perspective,” head coach Jesse Marsch said.

“I think Alex has established himself within the group as a guy everybody can really count on. Certainly in games like [Sunday] where it was a brawl on the field, Alex was great, just great on Sunday. Gonzalo, we only used him at the very end. I made the decision, I made the decision that that probably wasn’t the kind of game for him. Same for Omer [Damari]. There will be plenty of other games where he can be useful. That’s the nice problem right now, the quality and a lot of different type of pieces. Now it is up to me to use them in a bunch of different scenarios.”

Muyl is an ideal fit in a high-pressing team like the Red Bulls. Despite being just 20, the New York City native has what Marsch calls the “biggest workload on the team.”

“In a lot of ways, he can do a lot of work to take care of things defensively and with the ball on one side of the field so a lot of guys can find the game a little bit more and it demands a little bit less on them physically. I think Alex has complimented our group really well, really well.”

Sacha Kljestan has been on a tear since Muyl consolidated his spot in the starting lineup. Kljestan has been freed to push more into the final-third, knowing that Muyl’s speed and willingness to make hard runs will cover his forays at goal. Muyl also makes repeated runs and overlaps that create space.

Since Muyl’s run of seven starts, Kljestan has two goals and five assists, benefitting from the quiet but necessary work of his rookie teammate.

“He consistently is the biggest output on the team,” Marsch said.

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Liberty’s Tina Charles Helps Team USA Win Gold In Rio

Liberty star Tina Charles captured her second Olympic gold medal as Team USA once again dominated the competition in winning its sixth straight gold at the Summer Games.

Starting in all eight games for the Americans in Rio, Charles averaged 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and shot 55.9 percent from the field in 19.1 minutes per contest.

Charles, the current WNBA leader in points and rebounds per game, recorded a team-high in rebounds in three games — including the gold medal game — and scored a team-high in points in one contest when she poured in 18, her highest point total in Rio. She also led Team USA in assists in one game, dishing out five.

In Team USA’s 101-72 gold-clinching victory over Spain, Charles had a big game with eight points, seven boards and five assists in 25:22 on the floor.

Charles also won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics.

HERE ARE TINA’S GAME-BY-GAME NUMBERS

*= Game-high

Game 1 (USA 121, Senegal 56):  10 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 5-FOR-7 FG, 16:33 MIN

Game 2 (USA 103, Spain 63):  8 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK, 4-FOR-7 FG, 15:50 MIN

Game 3 (USA 110, Serbia 84):  15 PTS, *8 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 4-FOR-8 FG, 20:03 MIN

Game 4 (USA 81, Canada 51):  10 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 3-FOR-6 FG, 20:50 MIN

Game 5 (USA 105, China 62):  *18 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 9-FOR-13 FG, 17:56 MIN

Quarterfinals (USA 110, Japan 64):  4 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 2-FOR-5 FG, 20:57 MIN

Semifinals (USA 86, France 67):  4 PTS, 0 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 2-FOR-6 FG, 15:12 MIN

Gold Medal (USA 101, Spain 72):  8 PTS, *7 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 4-FOR-7 FG, 25:22 MIN

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Red Bulls & Special Olympics NJ Unified Team Head to D.C.

Before training on Friday, the New York Red Bulls stood arm-in-arm with members of the Special Olympics of New Jersey’s Unified Team, talking about both of their matches at D.C. United this Sunday.

It will be, in Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch‘s words, “two Classicos” this Sunday when his New York Red Bulls travel to play D.C. United. Following that match at RFK Stadium, the Unified Team representing New Jersey will play a team representing Special Olympic athletes from the Washington D.C. area. The team was at the Red Bulls facility to train on Friday and they were originally set to use the turf field right next to the MLS team.

But Marsch had another idea for how to start his training session. He brought the Unified Team athletes over to his group to link arms for the traditional team huddle before the start of the session. Then they went through the warm-up with the MLS stars.

There were smiles on the faces of both sets of players.

“I think it was a great experience not just for the Unified Team but for our guys too,” Marsch said.

“We all really enjoyed it.”

Marsch must be hopeful that this trip to D.C. United bears some fruit, especially after the debacle a few months back at RFK Stadium.

That match was their worst performance of their season.

In May, United won 2-0 in a game where the backline was a shambles, the midfield was over-run and the finishing was terrible. They hope to rectify things and in doing so take a big potential step in solidifying their hold on a top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Then in the following game, another team with the RBNY logo will look to come back from D.C. with a win.

The Red Bulls as an organization provide a high-level of support to the Unified Team. Over the past eight months, the team has trained weekly and there were tryouts at the start of the process, just like any elite team.

On Sunday at fabled RFK Stadium, they will wear personalized Red Bulls jerseys.

“We have two big games this weekend, two Classicos,” Marsch said. “Everybody is aware of that; we want to go 2-0.”

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Rangers Land Coveted Free Agent Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey is hooked and the Rangers got him.

For more than a month, NHL savants spent so much time speculating about which team would land coveted free agent forward Vesey that you’d think even Oshkosh might win the prize if not favored Buffalo and Boston.

But when the smoke of speculation had cleared the lure of The Big Apple, The World’s Most Famous Arena and a darn good contending hockey club inspired the 6-3, 203 pound Hobey Baker Award-winner to choose the Rangers.

It’s an Original Six, a great franchise with a lot of history,” the newest Ranger said. “But there were more reasons; such as my family being impressed and my reaction to a (favorable) meeting with coach (Alain) Vigneault.”

General Manager Jeff Gorton enthuses over the fact that Vesey can be plugged into virtually any left wing slot and become a regular.

“This is a very exciting day for our franchise,” bubbles Gorton. “We now have a proud guy with a lot of confidence in his ability; a player with a lot of intangibles.”

After scoring 24 goals and 22 points for Harvard’s varsity this past season, Vesey became the most sought after collegiate stud free agent and not simply because he was voted the top player on the university level.

While admittedly a “quiet guy,’ Vesey has no compunctions about telling fans what they can expect from him.

“I’ve got a big, power-forward body,” he explains, “with skill and offensive instincts. I believe that I can plug right into the lineup. I know there’s no guarantee and that I have to come to camp and earn my spot.”

In the end, New York’s New England connection helped turn Vesey toward Seventh Avenue. He’s been buddies with Rangers forward Kevin Hayes, not to mention Chris Kreider and has enjoyed playing at The Garden for Harvard.

“It’s the best arena in the world,” he says, “and I enjoyed skating at the club’s (Greenburgh, New York) practice facility.”

Gorton admits that making the leap from collegiate hockey to the NHL is not as easy as exhaling.

“Jimmy will find that one possible obstacle in making the jump is that everybody in the NHL can play. There are no nights off and the pace of the big-league game catches people off guard.”

Actually, the groundswell of interest in the New Englander turned into a tidal wave of competition with even the Islanders and Devils mentioned as possible suitors.

The fact that Vesey had been a Hobey Baker finalist a season earlier merely underlined his value until it grew to Promethian proportions. Competition from seven NHL clubs at times left Gorton wondering whether his club had a chance.

“I began to feel good about our chances after our meeting with Jimmy,” the GM recalls. “After we went over a lot of points I felt we had made a connection with him.

“But I felt uncomfortable about getting him until the ‘Caller I.D.’ on my phone said ‘Boston’ and Jimmy was on the phone telling me that he wanted to be a Ranger.”

Whether he breaks into the Blueshirts’ varsity lineup will depend on his performance in training camp, but at age 23, Jimmy has matured beyond most NHL rookies.

His resume includes 123 career collegiate games over four seasons with the Crimson, spanning 2012-16. He totaled 80 goals and 64 assists in that time period.

That he played four years of college hockey is a plus and the fact that he appears unfazed about playing on the NHL’s biggest stage is encouraging.

“I don’t really feel any pressure because I’m going to be playing in New York,” he asserts. “As an athlete, I put pressure on myself. Besides, the coaching staff does not expect me to be a savior.”

Now Jimmy must guard against the show business “build-up to a letdown” bugaboo after all the attention the pursuit engendered.

“It definitely took on a life of its own and I didn’t expect that,” he said. “Frankly I’m just glad the process is over.”

So are the Rangers because they beat the odds and got him!

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Liberty Removes Prince From Temporary Suspension, Waives Bulgak

**COURTESY NEW YORK LIBERTY**

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 19, 2016 – The New York Liberty has removed guard Epiphanny Prince from temporary suspension and waived rookie forward Adut Bulgak, it was announced today.

Prince will begin practicing with the Liberty after missing the first 26 games of the 2016 season due to a knee injury, suffered in November 2015, while competing for her international club Dynamo Kursk in the Russian Premier League.

Prince is a two-time WNBA All-Star and was named Second-Team All-WNBA in 2015, her first season with the Liberty, when she averaged 14.2 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.

Bulgak was selected 12th overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft by the Liberty, and had appeared in six games this season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

The Liberty returns to action following its break for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, at San Antonio on Friday, Aug. 26. New York’s next game at Madison Square Garden will be against the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m.

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Rangers Agree to Terms With Jimmy Vesey

** COURTESY NEW YORK RANGERS**

NEW YORK, August 19, 2016 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Jimmy Vesey.

Vesey, 23, skated in 33 games with Harvard University this past season, registering 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points, along with a plus-11 rating and six penalty minutes. He won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey in 2015-16, becoming the fourth player in Harvard’s history to win the award. Vesey ranked fourth in the NCAA in goals per game (0.73), tied for seventh in goals, and ranked eighth in points per game (1.39) in 2015-16. In addition, Vesey led Harvard in goals, points, and shots on goal (148), ranked second in power play goals (six) and game-winning goals (five), and tied for second in plus/minus rating this past season. He recorded a point in 24 of the 33 games in which he played in 2015-16, including a goal in 18 of those contests. Harvard posted a 17-6-1 record in games which Vesey notched a point, including a 15-2-1 record in contests which he registered a goal.

The 6-3, 203-pounder was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award during the 2014-15 season, as he established collegiate career-highs in games played (37), goals (32), assists (26), points (58), and plus/minus rating (plus-23). Vesey led the NCAA in goals and goals per game (0.86), and he ranked third in the NCAA in points in 2014-15. He was selected to the NCAA (East) First All-American Team and was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year. Vesey notched a point in 34 of the 37 contests in which he played during the season, and he tallied a goal in 26 of those 37 games. In addition, Vesey helped Harvard win the ECAC Championship in 2014-15, and he was named Most Valuable Player of the ECAC Tournament.

Vesey skated in 128 career collegiate games over four seasons at Harvard (2012-13 – 2015-16), registering 80 goals and 64 assists for 144 points, along with a plus-17 rating and 66 penalty minutes. Over his last two seasons at Harvard, Vesey recorded 104 points (56 goals, 48 assists) in 70 games, averaging 0.80 goals per game and 1.49 points per game over the span. Vesey’s 56 goals in 2014-15 and 2015-16 led all collegiate players over the two seasons. In addition, he tallied a point in 58 of 70 games over his final two seasons of collegiate hockey, including a goal in 44 of those 70 contests. Vesey ranks fifth on Harvard’s all-time goals list and is tied for 12th on Harvard’s all-time points list.

Internationally, the North Reading, Massachusetts, native has represented the United States at several tournaments. Vesey helped the United States earn a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, as he tallied five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games while playing alongside current Ranger J.T. Miller. In addition, he recorded three assists in nine games while helping the United States earn a bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

Vesey was selected by Nashville in the third round, 66th overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

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Liberty To Honor Swin Cash With Retirement Ceremony

 

Alan Hahn and Rick DiPietro discuss the news that Liberty star Swin Cash will retire at the end of the season.

**COURTESY NEW YORK LIBERTY**

One of the most influential women’s basketball players in history will be celebrated

with post-game ceremony at Madison Square Garden

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 18, 2016 – The New York Liberty will celebrate the career of forward Swin Cash, one of the most decorated and influential women’s basketball players in history, with a retirement ceremony following its contest against the Seattle Storm at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Cash, who announced on June 7 via an article on The Players’ Tribune, her decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2016 WNBA season, has enjoyed a nearly unmatched level of success throughout her close to two-decades in the basketball spotlight.

“Swin Cash is a legend of the game, and it is a tremendous honor for our franchise that she will be ending her storied career wearing a New York Liberty uniform,” said Team President Isiah Thomas. “Role model, leader, champion – Swin’s remarkable impact and accomplishments transcend basketball, and we look forward to celebrating everything she has meant to the game, the community, and her fans.”

Earlier this season, Cash was named one of the WNBA’s 20 greatest and most influential players in its history, having won three WNBA Championships (2003, 2006, 2010), two Olympic gold medals (2004, 2012) and two NCAA Championships (2000, 2002). At the conclusion of the season, she will end her career ranked in the top-15 in WNBA history in scoring, rebounding, assists, and games played.

Cash currently ranks 13th in scoring (5,075 points) and seventh in rebounding (2,492 rebounds). She is one of two players in league history to amass more than 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists, the other being Tamika Catchings, who is also retiring at the end of the 2016 WNBA season.

Off the court, she founded the Cash for Kids charitable organization in 2005, which uses sports and cultural activities to motivate, educate, and elevate. Cash has served as a broadcaster for ESPN, MSG Network, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports, most recently broadcasting Olympic women’s basketball for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

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Then & Now: The Cast of “Jerry Maguire”

With Jerry Maguire airing on MSG Networks this summer, we look back at the interesting cast of characters and how they’ve changed since the movie premiered in 1996. Don’t miss Jerry Maguire and the rest of the MSG at the Movies lineup all summer long!

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Melo Makes History: Wins Third Gold, Breaks Team USA Records In Rio

New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony is now the most decorated American men’s basketball player of all-time in the Olympics after capturing another gold medal in the 2016 Rio Games. In his fourth — and what he says his final — Olympics, Melo broke many Team USA records.

[WATCH: Melo’s Emotional Interview After Winning Gold]

SHATTERING TEAM USA RECORDS IN RIO:

  • GOLD MEDALS / TOTAL MEDALS: With this gold medal, Carmelo becomes the only American men’s basketball player to win three golds in the Olympics. He previously won gold medals in 2012 and 2008, as well as a bronze medal in 2004. No other men’s basketball player has won four medals of any kind for Team USA.

Team USA Anthony Most Career Rebounds Olympics

  • POINTS: Melo became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer at the Olympics with a game-high 31 points in a win over Australia in the group stage. He surpassed both David Robinson (270) and LeBron James (273) in that game to take over the top spot. Anthony contributed seven points in the gold medal game and scored 97 in the eight contests in Rio (12.1 ppg) and 336 in his Olympic career (10.8 ppg).
  • GAMES: Carmelo passed LeBron James and David Robinson’s mark of 24 for most games played for Team USA after appearing in the second game of these Olympics. Carmelo now holds the record with 31 Olympic games played for Team USA.

MELO’S OLYMPIC CAREER BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 20  — The age that Melo made his Olympic debut with Team USA. He played his first game on Aug. 14, 2004, against Puerto Rico at the Athens Games.
  • — Melo is the first American men’s basketball player to make four appearances in the Olympics after playing in 2004 (Athens), 2008, (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio) games.
  • — Melo wore the No. 8 jersey in 2004 but has worn No. 15 in the last three Olympics.

Team USA Anthony Olympics

  • 57  — He is the USA Basketball all-time leader in three-pointers made with 57 (18 made three-pointers this year). Kobe Bryant is 2nd on the list with 34 treys.
  • 37 — Carmelo holds the individual game record for most points scored (37 vs. Nigeria on 8/2/12). He also owns the individual game records for most three-pointers made (10 vs. Nigeria on 8/2/12) and most free throws made (13 vs. Argentina on 8/22/08).
  • 16.3  — His points per game average at 2012 Olympics in London, the best of his Olympic career. He also averaged 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range.
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