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Comcast Lands the NHL as ESPN Decides to Pass

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Comcast Corp. won the rights to broadcast NHL games on its Outdoor Life Network after Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN declined to match its bid.

ESPN had the right to match the offer, which was accepted by the league’s Board of Governors on Aug. 11, under terms of their previous contract with the league that expired in 2004.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Comcast spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick did not respond to calls.

“It seems clear that OLN is setting itself up as a competitor to ESPN,” George Bodenheimer, ESPN president, said in an e-mailed statement. “We welcome it, and it will make us better.”

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Outdoor Life Network will show two games a week.

The NHL, returning after a lockout canceled the 2004-05 season, also has a revenue-sharing arrangement with NBC for U.S. national broadcast rights.

ESPN three months ago declined its $60-million option to show the NHL next season. The league had received $600 million over five years under its previous contract with ESPN and Disney’s ABC that expired in 2004.

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Curtis Joseph, 38, signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes, guaranteeing competition for the No. 1 goalie spot on a team that was weak in the net until a few weeks ago.

Brian Boucher, who set a modern-day NHL mark with five consecutive shutouts for the Coyotes during the 2003-04 season, is also with the team.

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The Florida Panthers signed center Jozef Stumpel to a two-year contract. Stumpel had eight goals and 29 assists with the Kings in the 2003-04 season.

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The Vancouver Canucks signed free-agent forward Anson Carter to a one-year, $1-million contract.

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The Kings signed forward Shay Stephenson, 21, to a multi-year, entry-level contract.

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The Mighty Ducks completed their coaching staff by hiring Newell Brown, 43, as an assistant. Brown, an associate coach with Columbus the last four seasons, joins Dave Farrish under first-year Coach Randy Carlyle.

The Ducks also announced that single-game tickets for exhibitions and some packages for the regular season will go on sale Friday.

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The Boston Bruins re-signed center Travis Green to a two-year contract.... Forward Steve Sullivan signed a four-year, $12.8-million contract extension with the Nashville Predators.

Pro Basketball

Miami center Alonzo Mourning announced that he would return for another season with the Heat. Mourning, 35, had been contemplating retirement.

TNT is expected to announce today that it has hired Reggie Miller to work on its NBA telecasts. It was unclear what his role would be, but he could at times work on the same crew as sister Cheryl, a TNT sideline reporter. Miller retired after 18 seasons with the Indiana Pacers.

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College Basketball

The NCAA purchased the rights to the preseason and postseason National Invitation Tournaments as part of a settlement that ends a four-year legal fight between the two parties.

In the deal, the NCAA will pay $56.5 million to the five New York City colleges that operate the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Assn., the group that has run the NIT since 1940.

Fordham University, Manhattan College, St. John’s University, Wagner College and New York University will receive $40.5 million for the rights to tournaments and $16 million in litigation fees over a 10-year period.

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Brand said the tournaments would continue to be played in Madison Square Garden for at least the next five years, and ESPN would continue to televise both tournaments.

Connecticut guards Marcus Williams and A.J. Price were suspended from the team after being arrested in connection with the theft of four laptop computers.

Miscellany

Roger Federer failed to hold serve four times but beat Nicolas Kiefer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters at Mason, Ohio.

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Third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt beat Greg Rusedski, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, when Rusedski double-faulted on match point.

Justin Henin-Hardenne beat Mariana Diaz-Oliva with a 6-1, 6-3 second-round victory at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Fifth-seeded Serena Williams withdrew, citing an injured left knee.

Alain Nkong and Jean Philippe Peguero scored in Colorado’s 2-0 Major League Soccer victory over the New England Revolution (12-4-6) at Denver, keeping the Rapids (7-11-4) unbeaten in their last four matches.

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Vitali Klitschko and Hasim Rahman agreed to fight for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title in November at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Wilson Kipketer, the Kenyan-born Danish runner whose 800-meter world record of 1 minute 41.11 seconds has stood for eight years, has retired at 34.

Sylvia Fowles scored 25 points as the U.S. women’s basketball team beat Russia, 118-67, to reach the final at the University Games at Izmir, Turkey.

Duke forward Shelden Williams scored 16 points as the U.S. men beat the Czech Republic, 87-51, to earn a quarterfinal berth.

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In other events, U.S. swimmers collected three gold medals. Cullen Jones won the men’s 50-meter freestyle, Maritza Correia took gold in the women’s event and Megan Jendrick won the 100 breaststroke.

Top-seeded Zhang Ning of China, the reigning Olympic and world champion, reached the women’s singles quarterfinals of the world badminton championships at the Arrowhead Pond by beating Taiwan’s Huang Chia-Hsin, 11-6, 11-2.

Two American entries were eliminated in the second round. Shannon Pohl was routed in women’s singles by Germany’s Juliane Schenk, 11-2, 11-0. In mixed doubles, Khan Bob Malaythong and Mesinee Mangkalakiri were swept by eighth-seeded Robert Blair and Natalie Munt of England, 15-6, 15-3.

Scott Miller of Oak Park shot a final-round 67, then birdied the first hole of a four-way, sudden-death playoff to win the 2005 Southern California PGA Club Professional Championship on the Champions course at the PGA of Southern California Golf Club.

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T.J. Simers is on vacation.


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