It's a been a busy week for sports in LA...
--The Kings and Ducks opened up the NHL season in London of all places. The SoCal teams helped promote the game in Europe, and each won a game at a sold-out AEG-owned O2 Arena. The Kings have been real globetrotters lately, winning the 4-team Red Bull Salute Invitational in Salzburg, Austria before heading to the UK. But the real story for the Kings was the play of 19-year old goalie Jonathan Bernier, who held the defending champion Ducks to just one goal on 27 shots in LA's 4-1 opening night victory.
--Lakers training camp opens on Monday, and it appears that Kobe Bryant will report. There's been rumors swirling around LA and the talk radio waves about a potential Laker trade for Phoenix Suns forward Shawn Marion. ESPN's J.A. Adande spoke to the disgruntled forward, and we learned that Marion would love to be a Laker and that Kobe has "embraced" the idea.
Don't count on it happening soon though. The Lakers would need to give up Lamar Odom to make such a deal work. And while an Odom-for-Marion trade does sound awfully good for both teams on paper, there are a few hang-ups. For one, division rivals rarely make trades with each other. And second, the Suns probably want to see how Odom bounces back from shoulder surgery before giving up one of their best players for him. Also, deals of this magnitude seldom happen this close to the start of the season. That said, Marion is unhappy that he doesn't have a contract extension, so we'll see if he exerts any additional pressure on the Suns to leave.
--There have also been rumors on talk radio about Utah Jazz forward Andre Kirilenko coming to the Lakers. In fact, I heard one host say that Kirilenko's availability meant that Mitch Kupchak "should get on the phone." Having worked in professional sports, I've always been amused by such comments. I don't know Kupchak personally, but trust me when I say this: Mitch Kupchak has no doubt thought through every possible angle of an Andre Kirilenko deal and made every necessary phone call. He's also well-aware that Kirilenko is making $63 million through 2011. Jerry Buss isn't cheap, but there's a salary cap in the NBA. Using roughly 30-percent of your cap space on a player who averaged 8.4 points and 4.7 rebounds a game last year is a very dangerous gamble.
Andrei Kirilenko is a terrific all-around player when he's healthy and in the right state of mind. But do the Lakers want to give up on Lamar Odom to find out if Kirlenko is both of those things? In the meantime, Kupchak has a supporter in Bill Plaschke, who reported that the Laker GM is often awake at 3 AM, trying to think up deals. The life of a GM is not one that I envy.
--USC and UCLA both won, but the real story in the Pac-10 was Cal beating Oregon. The Golden Bears established themselves as the top challenger to USC in the conference, and are now ranked No. 3 in the AP poll. Should LSU stumble in the next few weeks, it's possible that the USC-Cal game will represent No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the country. Of course, the Trojans will need to play a lot better than they did against Washington yesterday. USC fell to No. 2 in the AP poll after their 3-point victory.
--The Dodgers season came to a close today, and owner Frank McCourt announced that both Ned Colletti and Grady Little would return for the 2008 season. Hall-of-Fame sportswriter Ross Newhan weighed in on the veterans vs. kids debate that dominated team news for the last two weeks of the season. Newhan notes that the kids carried the Dodgers for much of the season, and he criticizes Jeff Kent and several of his veteran teammates.
--The Angels won the AL West and will open a playoff series in Boston on Wednesday. John Lackey will go against Josh Beckett in Game 1 at Fenway Park, while Kelvim Escobar is scheduled to duel Curt Schilling in Game 2 on Friday. Game 3 on Sunday in Anaheim will likely feature Jered Weaver and Daisuke Matsuzaka. It should be an interesting series as the Angels look to avenge their 2004 playoff defeat. Remember, all ALDS games are broadcast this year on TBS.
--Finally, some tough news for the USC basketball team. Point guard Daniel Hackett will be sidelined for six weeks with a broken jaw. Hackett sustained the injury when he was struck by the elbow of highly-touted recruit OJ Mayo in a pickup game at the Galen Center. Hopefully, the two will kiss and make up and play great on the court together. I imagine that Mayo will be more careful next time.