FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Darren Collison Jersey . -- Rob Gronkowski is getting some help from a couple of very talented friends as he continues his comeback from knee surgery: Tom Brady and Darrelle Revis. As the New England Patriots prepare for their second preseason game, Gronkowski, their star tight end, awaits a return to contact. Meanwhile, he works on the side, and part of that work includes catching passes from Brady, with star cornerback Revis "covering" him without contact. Pretty fair workout partners for Gronkowski until he is ready for hitting. "Its good just to have a defender out there, instead of just running all of my routes on air right now," Gronkowski said after Sundays practice. "To break off a guy, right in front of you, just like its a game, youve got to break off a guy, break off a defender. Having Darrelle out there giving me a little contact, a little bit, pushing me on my routes, just making me a better player out there, as of right now." Asked if Revis is merely offering some resistance, and not working on his own things with his new team, Gronkowski said, "Its basically more of a drill for me, but hes definitely learning, too, I would say. "Hes just breaking a little bit, not going full, full out. Hes just helping me out and getting me back adjusted to having a defender out there in front of me." The drills also further advance the already special connection between Brady and his tight end. Gronkowski, who underwent surgery on his right knee back in December, didnt accompany the team last week as the Patriots joined the Washington Redskins for workouts prior to the teams meeting in the first preseason game. He stayed behind getting his work in and reports continued improvement. "Pretty good, improving every single week so far," he said when asked about his progression --which is aimed at the apparent goal of him returning for the season opener. "No setbacks or anything like that. Just going out there and feeling better every single time I get on the field." He said the team being away also allowed him to get some rest for the knee. "Im feeling better since the time off so Im doing well," he said. "When you (have) something you cant just keep going on it - youve got to let your body heal, youve got to let your body rest and recover. "It was a good week and now Im back to this week going hard and getting back at it." The next step, of course, is contact, something a 100-per cent Gronkowski loves. "Closer every single day," he said. "Closer every single day, to get in there with the team, getting in there and getting some contact. Talking to the trainers, we dont have a set date or anything. Just taking it day by day and well see how it goes. Just improving every day to get back out there and start hitting." Notes: The Patriots will host two dual practices with the Philadelphia Eagles this week before the team meet in a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on Friday night. . Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, who played a shaky first half in the 23-6 loss to Washington, was among the missing on Sunday, but coach Bill Belichick wouldnt say if it was for physical reasons. . The Patriots released tight ends Asa Watson and Justin Jones, and running back Stephen Houston, and signed veteran tight ends Ben Harstock and Steve Maneri and undrafted rookie tight end Terrence Miller. This is Maneris second time with the team and he has also played offensive tackle in the NFL.Anthony Davis Jersey . Now he has a complete game. Scherzer tossed a three-hitter in his 179th career start for his first complete game and Victor Martinez hit his 16th homer to lead the Detroit Tigers a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. Baron Davis Jersey . This week they discuss Russias mens hockey team, the ineptitude of the IOC handling the Nicklas Backstrom situation, John Tortorellas many apologies, and Canadas strong showing in curling. DENVER -- Nino Niederreiter hesitated for just a moment after scoring the winning goal, not sure if what he just saw actually occurred. It happened, all right. His Minnesota teammates suddenly skating over to mob him made the moment real. Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game at 5:02 in overtime after Ilya Bryzgalov made a big save filling in for the injured Darcy Kuemper, leading the Wild to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 on Wednesday night. The right winger was a rather unlikely star with his first two goals of the series. "An unbelievable feeling," said Niederreiter, whose team captured their first playoff series since 2003. "I think our heart made the difference tonight." Minnesota trailed 4-3 before Jared Spurgeon scored on a nifty play with 2:27 left in regulation. Spurgeon waited for a clear look at the goal, and then shot it over Semyon Varlamovs shoulder and off the left post. Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley had the other goals for the Wild, who will face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in a second-round series that begins Friday. The two met last season, with the Blackhawks winning in five games. Nick Holden, Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson scored for the Avalanche as they returned to the post-season for the first time since 2010 and tied a franchise record with 52 wins in capturing the Central Division. Not that its much consolation -- not now, anyway. "The toughest part is to not come back tomorrow and be ready for Chicago," first-year coach Patrick Roy said. "We believe in ourselves and its hard to see that its over. "Im sure tomorrow is going to hurt more thinking its over because we still have the emotion of the game." Rookie Nathan MacKinnon couldnt agree more. "It tarnishes the year a lot," said MacKinnon, who had two goals and eight assists in the series. "We wanted to make a run here and we had a chance twice to win the series, once in Game 6 and obviously tonight. Its tough to describe what went on. "Weve got to wait until September to get things going again, which is going to be a long summer, especially watching the playoffs. Its going to be tough." The Avalanchee took a lead on four different occasions, only to have the Wild respond. Josh Gray Jersey. . Niederreiter won it for Minnesota on a 2-on-1 break when he sent a shot over Varlamovs shoulder in the fourth overtime of the series. "Its not easy to play against a good team," said Varlamov, whos a finalist for the Vezina Trophy thats given to the leagues top goaltender. "Theyve been playing well against us the whole series." Bryzgalov took over in net for Kuemper midway through the third. Bryzgalov started the series but was replaced by Kuemper in Game 2. The veteran Bryzgalov stopped a shot with his left shoulder early in the overtime, paving the way for Niederreiters winner. It was his only save in 13:15 of action. Now, like most of the season, the Wild have a concern at goalie, especially since coach Mike Yeo isnt sure how badly Kuemper is hurt. "If only we had any experience dealing with this," Yeo jokingly said. "Were fortunate we have good depth at that position." Roys first season on the bench for the Avalanche ended the same way his Hall of Fame goaltending career did -- with a loss to the Wild in Game 7. Roy surrendered the winning overtime goal in 2003. This one was just as agonizing. "We had our chance -- dont kid ourselves," Roy said. "We had our chance and they took advantage of theirs." Niederreiter was starting to heat up in Game 6, but couldnt find the net. That changed on Wednesday. "He raised the bar," Yeo said. "Got himself in trouble now, because this is what we expect." Niederreiter was only happy to contribute. "As a little kid, its exactly the moment you dream about," Niederreiter said. "Im very happy and fortunate that it happened tonight." NOTES: Minnesota F Matt Cooke served the fourth game of his seven-game suspension for his knee-to-knee hit on Avs D Tyson Barrie. Cooke has appeared in the most Game 7s (seven) of any Wild player. ... Yeo said this is the start of a "budding rivalry" between the two Central Division foes. ... Wild F Kyle Brodziak had three assists. ... Colorado Fs P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene each had two assists. This was Duchenes second game back after missing almost a month with a knee injury. ' ' '
DETROIT -- Doug Weight recalled his father putting him on skates at the age of 2 because he could barely walk due to a childhood condition that relegated him to wearing braces on his legs. Vlade Divac Jersey . "He started putting me on the ice to strengthen them at the suggestion from a doctor," he said. Weight said it wasnt a pretty sight at the rink in St. Clair Shores, Mich. "I looked like Forrest Gump," he joked. Four decades later, Weight was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The Stanley Cup champion, three-time Olympian and four-time NHL All-Star was inducted Monday night at the Motor City Casino -- in the city where he grew up. "Its ironic," the Detroiter said. "Pretty special." Weight was honoured along with former teammate Bill Guerin, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, three-time Olympian and four-time All-Star. "Its very special, three different NHL teams and nine teams in all," Weight said about the number of times he teamed up with Guerin. "Its a pretty incredible run together. "Its icing on the cake to go in with Billy." Weight and Guerins wives and children have become friends over the years, going on vacations together and sharing holidays as families. "It couldnt have worked out any better," Guerin said. Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, former college coach Ron Mason and Cindy Curley, one of the pioneers in womens hockey, also were inducted. USA Today Hockey Writer Kevin Allen was also given the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the U.S. at the event. Weight and Guerin began their friendship before they were in the NHL and grew closer while playing together for the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders. They also teamed up to play for their country on more than once occasion, including the 2002 Winter Olympics when they helped the Americans take the silver medal. Weight, who won a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, had 278 career goals and 1,033 points from the 1991-92 season through the 2010-11 season. He is an assistant coach for the New York Islanders. Guerin hoisted Cups in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils and in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The native of Massachusetts had 429 goals and 856 points in his career that started during the same season as Weight and ended one year earlier. Guerin is a player development coach for the Penguins. Karmanos fell in love hockey when his children began playing the sport, but laments that a lot of kids cant afford to play the game. He said ice cost about $40 an hour when his children were growing up and now costs $300 for the same period of time. Sticks and skates, he said, also are much more expensive. "One of the things that holds us back as a sport is it costs too much," Karmanos said. "Were pricing a lot of people out of the game." Mason led Michigan State and Lake Superior State to national titles and also coached at Bowling Green. He also was an athletic director for the Spartans. "This isnt something you dream about," he said. "If youve put a lot of years in, like I did, as a player and a coach and of course AD, its nice to be rewarded at the end of it." Curley had a record 23 points in the International Ice Hockey Federations first world championship for women in 1990. "The womens game is way behind the mens game and it hasnt been around as long," she said. "We are all, as women, patient for the opportunities that the guys have had. The fact that the Hall is considering women is exciting to me. I know theres so many great players that deserve to be in here that will be. Im just honoured that they considered me." DaQuan Jeffries Jersey . Mike Babcock has turned to the Montreal Canadiens goalie over Roberto Luongo, who backed Canada to a gold medal in Vancouver in 2010, for Canadas final preliminary round game against the ailing Finns. Francisco Garcia Jersey . The Hockey Canada Foundation is donating $50,000, with Hockey Quebec contributing $15,000. Hockey Canada also announced it will hold a skills camp for all levels of minor hockey in Lac-Mégantic during the 2013-14 season. Representatives from Hockey Canada, the Hockey Canada Foundation and Hockey Quebec were on hand Tuesday night at a meeting of the AHM de Lac-Mégantic to make the announcement and presentation.MANCHESTER, England -- Valencia and PSV Eindhoven slumped to humiliating home losses as the Europa League threw up some early surprises in the opening round of group-stage matches on Thursday. Languishing near the bottom of the Spanish league, Valencias woes deepened by losing 3-0 to Swansea in Group A, sparking a brief walkout by a section of fans midway through the match in protest at the teams poor performances. Swansea secured its greatest ever result by capitalizing on the 10th-minute sending-off of Valencia centre back Adil Rami to score through Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan de Guzman at the Mestalla. "I am so pleased for everybody because now they know they can play against the biggest clubs in the biggest stadiums without any problem," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, who fielded six Spanish players in his lineup -- more than Valencia. Bulgarian minnow Ludogorets Razgrad provided a second upset of the night by scoring twice in the final half hour to win 2-0 at PSV, which was European champion in 1988 and also won the UEFA Cup 10 years earlier. Tottenham, among the favourites this season having embarked on a summer spending spree, restored some normality by cruising past Tromso 3-0 thanks to two first-half goals by Jermain Defoe, while Fiorentina beat Pacos Ferreira 3-0, Lazio defeated Legia Warsaw 1-0, two-time former champion Sevilla won 2-1 at tournament debutant Estoril, and Real Betis drew 0-0 with Lyon. All 48 teams were in action across 12 groups in Europes second-tier competition, but there was no doubt where the standout scoreline was. Valencia went down to its biggest home loss in Europe since a 5-1 defeat to Inter Milan in 2004, adding another chapter to Swanseas remarkable rise from a financially troubled fourth-tier club in the English league 10 years ago to a first major trophy (last seasons League Cup) and then this famous European win. The writing was on the wall as soon as Rami was given a straight red for pulling back Bony when the striker was through on goal. Swansea toyed with the hosts at times with its easy-on-the-eye passing game and Bony finished off a flowing move in the 14th minute to put the Welsh team ahead. Clyde Lovellette Jersey . A group of Valencia supporters emptied the stand in the bottom tier behind one of the goals for 10 minutes at the start of the second half in protest, returning just in time to see Michu -- one of Swanseas Spanish contingent -- add a second in the 58th from compatriot Ajejandro Pozuelos through-ball. De Guzman completed the scoring with a fabulous, curling free kick from long range in the 62nd. "I am the same as the players," said Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic, whose club has sold many of its best players over the past couple of seasons. "I am responsible for the situation, it is not just about the players. The performance was not good enough." Valencia, traditionally one of the biggest clubs in Spain, has lost three of its first four matches in La Liga to lie 16th. It was a good night for English Premier League clubs, with Tottenham able to rest a number of its leading players but still easily overcome Tromso at White Hart Lane in Group K. Defoe started ahead of Roberto Soldado, who left Valencia over the summer, and made the most of a rare opportunity by chipping the goalkeeper for the first goal in the 21st minute then sliding another good finish into the corner in the 29th. Substitute Christian Eriksen curled a 20-yarder brilliantly into the top corner for a late third but the win was tarnished by injuries to Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose. Gonzalo Rodriguez, Ryder Matos and Giuseppe Rossi were the scorers for Fiorentina, which wasnt too hindered by the absence to injury of prized striker Mario Gomez, while fellow Italian side Lazio relied on Brazilian midfielder Hernanes goal in the 53rd minute to see off Legia at home. Kevin Gameiro scored Sevillas winner in Portugal after Bruno Miguel cancelled out Victor Machins opener for the visitors. Eintracht Frankfurt crushed Bordeaux 3-0, Genk won 1-0 at Dynamo Kyiv and there were also victories for Salzburg, Rubin Kazan and AZ Alkmaar. ' ' '