The Oklahoma City Barons released defenseman Brett Clark from his American Hockey League contract on Wednesday amid speculation Clark will sign with the Minnesota Wild.
“When Brett chose to sign in Oklahoma City we agreed that if he was to receive an NHL offer he felt was worth pursuing we would release him from his contract,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “Brett was a positive influence on and off the ice for our team. He earned this opportunity and we wish him much success.
Clark is a 36-year-old veteran who has appeared in 681 NHL games, including playing in all 82 games last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In 18 games with the Barons Clark scored 17 points, including 16 assists and posted a plus-7 rating.
The Dallas Cowboys will be favored the next two games at home against Washington and Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the suddenly slumping New York Giants, coming off a bye week, will play Green Bay next Sunday. The Giants also must still play the Saints and Falcons.
At 5-5, Dallas is in playoff contention, one game behind New York. But keep in mind the Cowboys must still play at Cincinnati and host the Steelers and Saints.
This isn’t the same Dallas team that played well enough to win in Baltimore. This isn’t the same Dallas team that played Atlanta toe to toe much of the game. This isn’t the same Dallas team that was a Dez Bryant pinky away from sweeping the season series against the Giants.
That’s why the Thanksgiving Day game with Washington is huge.
Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, coming off a strong performance in a lopsided win over Philadelphia, will provide a good test for Dallas four days after the Cowboys narrowly escaped the Browns. Cleveland outplayed Dallas much of Sunday’s game but Dallas rallied for a crazy penalty enhanced 23-20 overtime win.
Giving quarterback Tony Romo time to throw is a key subplot the remainder of the season. The Cowboys beat-up offensive line is vulnerable.
The Dallas defense, minus linebacker Sean Lee, also is more vulnerable which places more pressure on the secondary and the Cowboys’ disappearing pass rush. Fans groaned on several plays Sunday when Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden had tons of time to throw.
Dallas could get a boost from running back DeMarco Murray, who has been sidelined by a severe foot injury the past seven weeks. Murray was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s crazy overtime win over Cleveland.
Murray probably won’t play Thanksgiving Day but could return the following week against Philadelphia, although Felix Jones has done a solid job filling in the past few weeks considering the lack of running lanes.
The Giants in the past have staged out-of-nowhere 180-degree turnarounds to finish strong. Maybe they will get on a role again but it appears they too have problems, including a shaky defense.
If the banged-up Cowboys find a way to win on Turkey Day, regardless of the script, you’d have to like their chances against the in-a-nosedive Eagles the following week.
If Dallas can tie the Giants for the time being they would own the tiebreaker based on NFC East records. Dallas has one division loss, the Giants two.
The defining moment would then be Romo and the Cowboys facing their December demons.
After the three-game homestand ends Dallas plays at Cincinnati, one of the league’s hottest teams, followed by home games against the always formidable Steelers, who could have Ben Roethlisberger back for the Dec. 16 game and a game at Cowboys Stadium against the resurgent, high-scoring Saints.
But that’s jumping the gun. The first big test is Thanksgiving Day against Griffin and the Redskins. If Dallas doesn’t defeat Washington, then the Redskins’ Monday night game in New York Dec. 3 against the Giants could become a little more intriguing.
Redskins-Cowboys Thanksgiving Day games have provided some memorable finishes over the years that impacted the NFC East race. The 2012 version has a weird dynamic. Still, the traditional late afternoon game will be pivotal if Dallas wants to have any kind of shot at making a late-season playoff run.
NFL power rankings after Week 2:
1. San Francisco: There doesn’t appear to be a weakness. Owning the league’s best defense is a solid foundation. Now the offense is showing improvement. Alex Smith and the passing game are contributing. A very impressive start.
2. Houston: The Texans haven’t played a playoff caliber team but have played well. How Houston fares on the road at Denver will provide some insight, especially how the defense fares against Peyton Manning.
3. Green Bay: The Packers rebounded from their opening loss to the 49ers with a never-in-doubt win over the Bears. Green Bay has some concerns but with Aaron Rodgers the Packers have a chance to win any game.
4. Baltimore: The Ravens owned the lead much of the game at Philadelphia. It slipped away at the end. A couple of questionable calls were a factor. This team is solid on both sides of the ball. A showdown with New England will leave one of the top AFC contenders at 1-2 after Week 3.
5. Atlanta: The Falcons are off to a 2-0 start. The offense is one of the most explosive in the league. How the defense plays will determine whether Atlanta is one of the higher seeds in the NFC. New Orleans’ 0-2 start makes the Falcons the overwhelming favorite in the NFC South.
6. New England: The Patriots laid an egg in their home opener against the Cardinals. Arizona has a solid defense but it was strange to see Tom Brady and the offense struggle. A loss to Baltimore would raise even more questions.
7. Philadelphia: The Eagles could just as easily be 0-2 as 2-0. The good news is they’ve found a way to rally for wins despite a rash of turnovers. The bad news is Michael Vick and the Eagles haven’t played well.
8. Denver: Peyton Manning throwing three interceptions the first quarter in a Monday Night loss at Atlanta was shocking. Manning, though, showed in the second half why the Broncos are much improved.
9. Dallas: The Cowboys followed an impressive win Week 1 at the Giants with a loss to Seattle, a game the Seahawks controlled with their ground game. Inconsistency has been an issue the past 15 years. Until the Cowboys prove otherwise there will be skeptics.
10. San Diego: The Chargers won two games they were favored to win. The defense has played well. Running back Ryan Matthews is expected back in Week 3. San Diego hosting the Falcons in Week 3 is a good matchup.
11. Chicago: A week after the offense showed signs of putting up big numbers, quarterback Jay Cutler struggled against a mediocre Green Bay defense. The offensive line is a concern but the Bears have a well rounded roster when Cutler plays well.
12. Arizona: The Cardinals escaped the first week against Seattle then duplicated it with a noteworthy win at New England, dodging a bullet (field goal) at the end. The defense is underrated but the offense has issues.