Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

■ ICE HOCKEY

NHL approves rule changes

Four rule changes, three dealing with penalties and another with faceoffs, were approved by the National Hockey League (NHL) board of governors in New York on Wednesday starting with the 2007-2008 season. NHL leaders allowed referees to award any player on a breakaway a penalty shot as long as he was beyond his own team's blueline, rather than beyond the center line under the old rule. NHL referees were given discretion to award major penalties and game misconducts on injuries resulting from interference. Previously, interference calls could only bring minor penalties. Gross

misconduct was stricken from the rules, with any such extraordinary violation of decorum now falling under game misconducts, which when accumulated can lead to suspensions and fines. All faceoffs will now be conducted at one of the nine dots painted upon the rink. There were instances, such as when a puck went into the stands, when a faceoff restarted play on unmarked ice parallel to the nearest dot where the puck left the ice.

■ BASEBALL

Seattle sign Chinese players

The Seattle Mariners signed two Chinese players on Wednesday, two days after the New York Yankees said they were the first major league team to sign players from China with the approval of that country's baseball association.

Infielder-outfielder Yu Bingjia and catcher Wei Wang (王偉), members of the Beijing Tigers in the China Baseball League and of China's national baseball team, signed minor league contracts. They will report to Seattle's summer league team in Australia when not fulfilling national team commitments this summer.

"We are very excited to enter into this new phase of our relationship with Chinese baseball," said Ted Heid, director of Pacific Rim operations for the Mariners, who have signed Japanese League stars Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima in the last six years.

■ BASKETBALL

Portland hire Larry Miller

Larry Miller, whose 10 years as an executive at shoemaker Nike included running the footwear division, was named the team president of the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Miller, most recently Nike's basketball division vice president and general manager, takes over the team with the top pick in next week's NBA Draft, expected to be used on US college star Greg Oden. "Larry is a pre-eminent figure in the basketball industry and one of the most widely respected sports professionals in the country," Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said.

■ RUGBY UNION

Sowerby joins Toulouse

Stade Francais' South African backrow forward Shaun Sowerby has joined rival top French rugby union side Toulouse, the Pyrenean club reported on Wednesday. The 29-year-old, who has not played competitively since breaking his left ankle last October, has joined on a two year deal with an option of a one year extension. "We had the chance to sign him and we didn't let that opportunity go begging," Toulouse director Jean-Michel Rancoule said.


■ RUGBY UNION

Waratahs seek solution

The New South Wales Waratahs have responded to their poor Super 14 rugby season by seeking an attack-oriented coach and an independent selector to work with head coach Ewen McKenzie. The Waratahs endured one of their worst southern hemisphere provincial series, winning three games to finish only above Australian rivals Queensland Reds in this year's tournament. The New South Wales Rugby Board undertook a review of the season and endorsed four recommendations from the inquest. The Waratahs will advertise for an attack coach to work with McKenzie, add an independent member to the selection panel, form a rugby advisory panel and put its "High Performance Unit" under a complete review.

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