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His Coyotes teammates call Nick Bjugstad “Byoogie,” a nod to that troublesome J in his Norwegian surname.  Coach André Tourigny drops the J and calls him “Boogie” because it rolls a little more easily off his French-Canadian tongue.  Bjugstad’s Florida Panthers teammates used to call him “Rotisserie Chicken” because he couldn’t find parking one night when he was meeting them…...

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With another close game hanging in the balance early in the fourth quarter Sunday, it was fitting that Cardinals running back James Conner was on the sideline with a shin injury. At least the injury was an original one. During a season where it’s hard to keep track of all the body parts that have been affected, a shin problem was the first. Of course, the Cardinals inventing new ways to lose wasn’t, so it became just another chapter in this never-ending story that will mercifully end next Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., against the 49ers. It’s possible the league will place the game on Saturday where there will be an ESPN/ABC simulcast of two games, but it’s difficult to…

I’m making a New Year’s resolution for 2023. I’m not going to freak you out over the possibility of the Coyotes not landing Conor Bedard, Adam Fantilli or Leo Carlsson in the upcoming NHL Draft. The odds of the Blackhawks (18.5 percent), Blue Jackets (13.5 percent), Ducks (11.5 percent) or Canadiens (11 percent because they own Florida’s pick as well as their own) are not so appreciably better than the teams outside the top spots that you would call them a lock. Seriously, the Blackhawks have less than a 1-in-5 chance of landing Bedard.  The team with the worst record has won the lottery just four times in the past 12 seasons while a team outside the top three has…

Two weeks ago, when the Cardinals played the Broncos, the quarterback matchup was Colt McCoy and Brett Rypien. It ended up being Trace McSorley for the Cardinals when McCoy exited the game with a concussion early in the second half. McSorley started against Tampa Bay on Christmas and McCoy was expected to be back for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. He cleared concussion protocol and practiced Wednesday and Thursday. However, some symptoms returned after practice Thursday and McCoy won’t play. But instead of McSorley getting his second career start, it will be David Blough making his sixth. Rookie Desmond Ridder will be starting for 5-10 Atlanta. The Cardinals will have different starting quarterbacks in four consecutive games. Blough was signed…

As the year 2022 takes its final lap, it feels like a good time to celebrate Arizona hockey. The Coyotes just completed a season series sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Valley product Auston Matthews, giving them four straight wins over the Leafs. https://youtu.be/siCHqm1PqdU The Arizona State men’s team was getting ready to open a stretch of 10 straight games at Mullett Arena as it began its push toward an NCAA Tournament berth. Two weeks ago, oodles of college and junior scouts descended on the Valley for the Tier 1 Elite League National Midget Showcase, a tournament featuring 60 teams and 120 games spread across four Valley ice arenas in Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe.  The poster boy for…

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo watches from the dugout before the Diamondbacks play the Washington Nationals at Chase Field.

If you’ve been listening to the PHNX Diamondbacks Podcast over the last year, you have probably heard some people refer to me as “Well-Actually” Jesse. I’ve taken a lot of heat around here for being the pessimist — or, as I might argue, the realist. My co-host is Derek Montilla, after all. Of course I’m going to be the reasonable...

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I often remember what Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp said to me during an interview in Canton about six years after he had been enshrined in 2013. When asked if he could believe it had been that long since his special weekend and whether that was an example of how time flies, he quickly said, “I’ve always believed that days drag, years fly and decades zoom.” The more you think about it, the truer it is. That hit home last week when the stunning news spread throughout the NFL world that iconic running back Franco Harris had passed away at the age of 72, only three days before the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception and…

Texas Rangers lefty and potential Arizona Diamondbacks free agent target Matt Moore pitches against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Much like your local big box store after Christmas, the best MLB free agents have been picked over and the Diamondbacks’ options are few. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any. With Gabriel Moreno now in the fold, the Diamondbacks are set at the catching position for 2023 and beyond. Should they choose to do anything else this offseason, third base, starting pitching and the bullpen appear to be the team’s most likely areas for improvement. Out of the three, the bullpen seems to be the most pressing area of need. After signing free-agent reliever Scott McGough earlier this month, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said he was still looking to add a reliever. https://twitter.com/JesseNFriedman/status/1603503843144192000?s=20&t=OWsjYbH7HpfaS2k8EYaCOQ The D-backs were also linked…

Michael Carcone hopes that history will repeat itself — even if the circumstances of his recall are the result of misfortune for a friend whose footsteps he’d like to follow. Last season, Matias Maccelli was leading the Roadrunners in points and was well on his way to setting the franchise’s single-season points record when Coyotes’ injuries led to his recall. Maccelli played 23 games and earned a permanent spot on this season’s team. Unfortunately for Maccelli, he suffered a lower-body injury in a win against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday that will shelve him for about six weeks. With Liam O’Brien also week to week with an upper-body injury, the Coyotes were down to 10 forwards when the holiday…

If there’s still a few days left on the 2023 calendar and time left in this increasingly bizarro season, we might as well have had another bombshell dropped on us. It happened two days after a wistful Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt had walked off the field following another home loss. Watt, with obvious emotion in his eyes, did a full circle, and headed to the State Farm Stadium locker room. As it turns out, it was for the final time. Watt tweeted a simple 29-word message Tuesday morning along with a photo of him holding his son, who was born 65 days ago, on the sideline: Koa’s first ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game. My heart…

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