Sports Extra

NHL

NHL says 48-game season ‘most likely’ option

The NHL appears headed toward a 48-game season for the second time in two decades.

“I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email Monday to The Associated Press.

The NHL shortened its 82-game slate to 48 games during the 1994-95 season after a 103-day lockout. A 301-day lockout in 2004-05 made the NHL the first major North American professional sports league to lose an entire season.

When the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to Sunday morning – after 16 hours of negotiations – there was some talk of having a 50-game season start later this month.

The NHL and the players’ association are working on a memorandum of understanding, which could be completed soon then voted on by team owners and players. The league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start.

Some NHL players – including Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin – went overseas during the lockout. Ovechkin has been playing for his hometown Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League but plans to be back in the United States soon.

Tennis

Defending champs take top seeds at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka will be the top-seeded players for the Australian Open.

Organizers closely stuck to the latest rankings to seed 32 players for each of the men’s and women’s draws. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament starts next week.

Djokovic is followed by Roger Federer, U.S. Open champion Andy Murray and David Ferrer. Ferrer replaces fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who has withdrawn because a stomach ailment delayed his comeback from a knee injury.

On the women’s side, French Open champion Maria Sharapova is seeded second. Serena Williams, the reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open champion, is third.

Agnieszka Radwanska is seeded fourth, followed by Angelique Kerber and Li Na. American teenager Sloane Stephens is seeded after advancing to a No. 29 ranking.

NFL

RG3 needs more tests on his injured right kneee

ASHBURN, Va. – Robert Griffin III will get more tests on his injured right knee after an MRI proved inconclusive because of a previous ACL tear.

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that the rookie quarterback will travel today to see orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations.

Griffin tore his ACL while playing at Baylor in 2009, and Shanahan said sometimes an old injury can cloud the results of an MRI.

If Griffin has torn the ACL again, he likely would require a rehabilitation period of nine to 12 months, putting his status for next season in jeopardy.

Griffin reinjured his knee twice in Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle.

PGA TOur

Tour of Champions finally breezes along without wind

KAPALUA, Hawaii – The PGA Tour season finally got under way on Monday, and Dustin Johnson wasted no time taking control in the Tournament of Champions.

Johnson had not played the Plantation Course at Kapalua since Thursday. Once he got started, he didn’t miss many shots. He had four putts at eagle on the back nine in the second round. He missed only three greens in regulation. And when his 36-hole day ended, Johnson had rounds of 69-66 to take the lead into the final round today.

Three days behind schedule because of high wind, the season started on the day its first tournament was supposed to finish. Johnson was at 11-under 135, good enough for a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker.

Associated Press