Can it really be five years since Brent Peterson left Portland after winning the Memorial Cup with the Winter Hawks?
The former Hawk coach is in his sixth season as assistant coach of the Nashville Predators. When he arrived, Nashville was an expansion team with a long way to go. The Predators haven't made the playoffs yet, but Peterson says the rebuilding process continues. Last week's victory over the Detroit Red Wings was a good sign.
'We have $22 million in payroll; they have $75 million,' Peterson says. 'We have the second-youngest team in the NHL, and it will still take some time, but we have some good young talent. The playoffs are certainly within reach this season.'
Maybe the best of the youngsters is Jordin Tootoo, the much-celebrated Inuit native from near the Arctic Circle who has made a splash with his aggressive play despite a 5-9, 190-pound frame.
'We were planning on him starting the season with our (American Hockey League) affiliate in Milwaukee, because we thought he needed some time,' Peterson says. 'He played so well, we had to keep him with us. He is a feisty, hard-nosed, work-hard kid who hits everything in sight. He has everybody in the NHL after him right now. He runs over people, he can skate and shoot and pass the puck, and someday he will be a 20-goal scorer.
'He reminds me of Marty Standish with the Hawks Ñ a little tough guy who is popular with the fans. He is not a dirty player at all. He hits clean and causes a lot of grief for the opponent.'
• Quickie quiz: Five colleges have five players on an NFL team's 53-man roster. Can you name them? (Answer below)
• Sitting courtside at Wednesday's Blazer-Grizzly game was the most anonymous slugger in major-league baseball Ñ Richmond Lockwood 'Richie' Sexson, the one-time Prairie High standout who had 45 home runs and 124 RBIs for the Milwaukee Brewers this season.
The 6-7 Sexson, who once intended to play basketball and baseball at the University of Portland before signing a pro baseball contract, lives in Vancouver, Wash., during the offseason and says he has attended three Blazer games this fall. Sexson, 28, will make a franchise-record $8.6 million in 2004. The Brewers hope to tie him up with a contract extension before he becomes a free agent next fall.
• Bend native Ryan Longwell is quietly having his best season with the Green Bay Packers. The seven-year veteran has been perfect, hitting on all 11 field-goal attempts and all 27 extra-point tries. Last year, Longwell made 14 three-pointers in a row en route to 28-of-34 season. He is four shy of breaking Chris Jacke's franchise career record of 173 field goals and is 40 short of the franchise scoring record of 823 points held by Don Hutson.
• Rich Brooks finds himself amid some controversy at Kentucky. Seems Internet site sources had written that the ex-Duck coach is unhappy in his first year at Kentucky and will step aside after the season, and that Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart already has talked with Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier about being Brooks' replacement. Brooks' daughter, Kerri, who lives in Atlanta and is a CBS camera operator, posted a response on the Web site, entitled 'Brooks Loves Kentucky. Stop the Garbage!'
Brooks, whose Wildcats are 4-5, says his daughter is right, 'but I told her never to go into those things again. I appreciate her standing up for her father, but É at this time of year, your opponents will do anything to get nasty rumors out there to impact your recruiting.'
• It is a little spendy Ñ $55 for advance tickets, $75 at the door. But the 'Civility '03' pre-Civil War Game benefit party hosted by ex-Duck football great Anthony Newman and ex-Beaver basketball standout Charlie Sitton at Hayden's Lakefront Grill in Tualatin on Nov. 18 sounds like fun, and it is for a good cause. Dinner, drinks, a raffle and featured speakers from Oregon and Oregon State will get fans rowdy, er, ready for the Nov. 22 football game between the schools at Autzen Stadium. Tax-deductible donations to the Newman Foundation will benefit scholastic achievement, arts and athletic programs at schools throughout the state.
• Ex-South Eugene High guard Blake Stepp (Gonzaga), ex-Trail Blazer guard Terry Porter (Milwaukee Bucks coach) and -ex-Oregon State center Jose Ortiz all get writeups in this month's Slam Magazine.
• Quiz answer: Cleveland and the New York Giants each has five players from Miami. Dallas has five players from Ohio State. Seattle has five players from Georgia. And Cincinnati has five players from É Oregon State.
'I'm not saying it hasn't happened since I have been here, but I don't believe we have had five players from one school on our 53-man roster at one time,' says Jack Brennan, PR director the past 10 years for the Bengals. 'I noticed it last week and put it in our press release.'
The biggest name is receiver Chad Johnson, who is third in the NFL in receiving yards with 807 through nine games. Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh may be activated Sunday against Houston after missing the first half of the season with a hamstring injury. Rookie cornerbacks Terrell Roberts (special teams, backup duty) and Dennis Weathersby (activated Sunday) and defensive end LaDairis Jackson, acquired through waivers from Washington a couple of weeks ago, are the other ex-Beavers playing for OSU East. Roberts' late interception preserved a 34-27 win over Houston on Sunday. All five were members of Dennis Erickson's 2001 Fiesta Bowl championship team.