Monday, June 12, 2017

BMW R80 T63

Sporthot | 12:14:00 AM |
BMW R80 T63

Switzerland’s Angry Motors motorbike shop hasn’t been opened for long. It’s safe to say, though, that its mark on the industry has already been made. One of their newest projects is a remake of a 1989 BMW R80RT.  This rough, rugged reinterpretation of a true classic. The bike is named the “T63”, and boasts a striking iconic boxer engine, a mono-shock at the rear, and a number of other features. These include a custom leather seat, monotone handlebar controls, bing carburetors, stainless bolts and other pieces. With all this, it’s no wonder this bad boy has gotten the attention it has. Expect to hear more about Angry Motors from here on out.
BMW R80 T63

BMW R80 T63

BMW R80 T63

BMW R80 T63

BMW R80 T63

BMW R80 T63

Saturday, June 3, 2017

10 Boxing Matches That Need To Happen In 2018 Or Sooner

Sporthot | 12:51:00 AM |
With boxing enjoying a resurgence, fans are making up wish lists for bouts they’d like to see take place sooner rather than later. But even though the sport’s popularity is growing, there’s still a problem of too many world champions. Most fans would like to see just one champion in each weight division rather than three or four of them.

To achieve this, boxing needs to unify the titles by having the champions square off against each other. While that’s possible in some cases and would lead to some great matchups, there are also some other excellent possibilities between non-champions and those boxers moving up or down in weight. These are 10 great fights we’d like to see either sometime this year or in 2018 at the latest.

10. Vasyl Lomachenko vs Orlando Salido
WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6Ko’s) of Ukraine tops many pound-for-pound lists as the former two-time Olympic and World Amateur Champion has adapted extremely well to the pro game. There is one blemish on the 29-year-old’s record though and that’s a split decision loss to Mexico’s Orlando Salido (44-13-4, 31Ko’s) in March, 2014. The former featherweight and Jr. lightweight champion edged the young southpaw by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115. Lomachenko was trying to win a world title in just his second pro fight against Salido and it was a controversial battle. The Mexican came in over the 126 lb. weight limit seemingly on purpose and gave up the title by doing so. This meant Lomachenko could still win the belt, but failed to do so when Salido landed numerous low blows throughout the contest and rehydrated to 147 lbs. while Lomachenko entered the ring at 136 lbs. A rematch with the 36-year-old Salido would enable Lomachenko to avenge his only pro defeat.

9. Gervonta Davis vs Miguel Berchelt
American Gervonta Davis became somewhat of an overnight sensation when he knocked out Jose Pedraza in the seventh round to win the IBF Junior Lightweight Championship on January 14th in Brooklyn. The 22-year-old southpaw is unbeaten with a record of 22-0 with 21Ko’s. He’s got excellent speed and power and is a protégé of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Davis then went to England on May 7th and stopped Liam Walsh in the third round. However, it took the champion three tries to make the 130 lb. weight limit. We’d like to see Davis deal with 25-year-old WBC Champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28Ko’s) of Mexico who won his title in January in an all-time classic by stopping Francisco Vargas in the 11th round. Berchelt is scheduled to meet former champ Takashi Miura of Japan on July 15th. Therefore if Miura beats him we’ll gladly settle for a Davis vs Miura showdown.

8. Amir Khan vs Kell Brook
This would be a huge domestic fight in the UK as it pits two Englishmen against each other. It’s also an excellent matchup generally since it’s no secret these two guys don’t particularly like each other. The 31-year-old Brook (36-2, 25Ko’s) is a former IBF Welterweight Champion who lost his last two fights to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. And while Brook suffered a broken eye socket in each fight, he was very competitive, exciting and dangerous being stopped. The 30-year-old Khan (31-4, 19Ko’s) is a former junior welterweight champ with excellent boxing skills, but a bit of a weak chin. He was carrying the action in his fights against Canelo Alvarez and Danny Garcia before being stopped and his decision loss to Lamont Peterson was highly controversial. This is a fight which could probably draw over 50,000 fans in England and would be a treat for fans all over the world.

7. Roman Gonzalez vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38Ko’s) of Nicaragua was riding high on the pound-for-pound list until he ran into Srisaket Sor Runvisai (42-4-1, 38Ko’s) of Thailand in March and lost his WBC Super Flyweight Championship by controversial decision. It was the first pro loss for the 29-year-old Gonzalez who has won world titles in four different weight classes. He was dropped in the first round, but recovered well only to lose by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113. The 30-year-old southpaw Rungvisai was deducted point for a head butt in the sixth round and landed 284 of his 940 punches while Gonzalez threw 1,013 punches and connected on 441 of them. It appears the WBC has ordered a rematch of this action-packed fight and it’s one fans definitely shouldn’t miss when it takes place.

6. Keith Thurman vs Errol Spence Jr.
American Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19Ko’s) just won the IBF Welterweight Championship over in England with a fine performance against hometown hero Kell Brook. The 27-year-old Spence wore the former champ down and eventually stopped him in the 11th round. Since he’s the real deal there’s no point in Spence Jr. waiting around so he might as well face WBA and WBC Welterweight Champion and fellow undefeated American Keith Thurman (28-0, 22Ko’s). The 28-year-old Thurman already has impressive wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia while Spence is a three-time U.S. amateur champ and former Olympian. Both guys have speed, power and solid chins and this should be a fast-paced, fan-friendly fight. It’s one of the best welterweight matchups out there and would unify three of the titles with Manny Pacquiao owning the WBO belt.

5. Mikey Garcia vs Adrien Broner
To put it bluntly, there are a lot of boxing fans out there who simply don’t like the 27-year-old Adrien Broner (33-2, 24Ko’s) the U.S. due to his antics in and out of the ring. They believe he’s a discredit to the sport and certainly not a role model that kids can look up to. For these people, there’s nothing more they’d like to see than Broner get his come-uppance in the ring again. They’d love to see the unbeaten Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30Ko’s) face Broner as soon as possible to put him in his place. Broner has been a world champ in four different weight divisions while Garcia has achieved the feat in three divisions. If they meet it will likely be at the junior welterweight limit of 140 lbs., meaning Garcia will be going up in weight as he’s currently a lightweight titleholder.

4. Leo Santa Cruz vs Carl Frampton
We’ve already seen Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18Ko’s) of Mexico and Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (23-1, 14Ko’s) split a pair of fights and a trilogy is needed to break the tie. The 28-year-old Santa Cruz is a four-time world champion in three different weight divisions and is the current WBA (Super) Featherweight titleholder. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Frampton is a former bantamweight and featherweight champ. Frampton took the first bout and Santa Cruz’s title by majority decision last July in Brooklyn, with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114. The rematch was held on January 28th in Las Vegas, and Santa Cruz regained the title via a close majority decision by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114. Both bouts were exciting and delivered edge-of-the-seat action and a third contest should be just the same. However, it looks like Santa Cruz will be meeting Abner Mares first.

3. Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Jacobs
One of the biggest fights of 2017 will be the Gennady Golovkin vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez showdown in Las Vegas on September 16th. We’ll go out on a limb here and assume Golovkin (37-0, 33Ko’s) of Kazakhstan defeats his Mexican opponent and retains his WBC, WBA, IBF, and IBO Middleweight Belts. If he does, then we’d like to see the 35-year-old ‘Triple G’ take on former WBA champ Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 Ko’s) again in a rematch. The two met on March 18th of this year and many fans believed the 30-year-old Jacobs of the U.S. deserved the decision. Golovkin got the official nod though by scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113. The champion’s fourth-round knockdown of Jacobs definitely helped him out on the scorecards, but if the fight was that close and controversial then the only way to settle the issue is to do it again.

2. Terence Crawford vs Manny Pacquiao
First things first, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38Ko’s) of the Philippines needs to get past Australia’s Jeff Horn down in Brisbane before the WBO Welterweight Champion thinks about another fight. If the 38-year-old Pac Man beats Horn impressively then a matchup against WBC and WBO Junior Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford (31-0, 22Ko’s) of the U.S. would be a fine matchup. Yes, the 29-year-old Crawford would have to come up in weight by seven pounds, but that shouldn’t be a problem for him. Pacquiao’s a natural southpaw and Crawford often likes to turn southpaw during his fights and this bout would feature the speed, accuracy and ring generalship of two excellent boxers. Crawford’s one of the top pound-for-pound boxers out there for the moment and Pacquiao’s a legend, so this fight makes sense as long as Pacquiao looks good against Horn.

1. Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder
Fans want to see unified champions in every division, especially when it comes to the heavyweights. England’s Anthony Joshua currently owns the WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO versions of the titles while American Deontay Wilder is the WBC heavyweight king. Joshua will likely be forced into a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko before 2017 is over and assuming he wins, which is actually a big assumption based on their first fight, he needs to meet Wilder to unify the division. The 27-year-old Joshua is 19-0 with 19Ko’s while the 31-year-old Wilder is 38-0 with 37Ko’s. Since Wilder is 6-foot-7 and Joshua is 6-foot-6, boxing logic would lead us to believe this fight will end in a knockout with several knockdowns along the way being a distinct possibility. This fight has the potential to be a dramatic slugfest and it would give everybody what they really want, which is one true heavyweight champion of the world.

Each NHL Team’s Worst Draft Bust

Sporthot | 12:49:00 AM |
Will Nolan Patrick be the next Ryan Getzlaf — whose style is like his own — or will he be the next Nikolai Zherdev, who was taken fourth overall the same year Getzlaf was plucked (2003) and was out of the NHL by 2011?

Wait and see, we say.

The projected no. 1 pick will need to be Atlas-like to carry around the weight of the expectations once New Jersey goes to the podium at the upcoming NHL draft and calls his name first.

Through the history of the draft there have been many successful top 10 players and just as many duds. Ditto that for middle and late round first round selections.

Who could forget (for those alive at the time) the Minnestota North Stars drafting Brian Lawton first overall in 1983. He had a sub-standard career while there were Hall of Famers picked just behind him, like Pat Lafontaine (3rd), Steve Yzerman (4th) and Cam Neely (9th).

But, the North Stars are defunct, so Lawton misses joining this list.

Here is each current NHL team’s most deplorable draft bust.

30. Anaheim Ducks – Logan MacMillan
Sometimes, the apple falls too far from the tree. Logan MacMillan, son of former NHLer Bob who 577 points in 753 NHL games, was taken 19th overall by the Ducks in 2007. Fresh off the franchise’s first Stanley Cup triumph, the team’s illuminati must have been giddy with post-title success and ignored their own advice. MacMillan would become just one of four players from that first round in 2007 never to have donned a NHL jersey. Never a big scorer in junior with the Halifax Mooseheads and Rimouski Oceanic, MacMillan did win a gold with Canada at the 2006 U-18 world championships. He would last just 30 games in Anaheim’s system with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL before being traded to Calgary, where he languished further for another 118 games. Anaheim could have had Max Pacioretty (22nd to Montreal), Mikael Backlund (24th to Calgary) and even P.K. Subban (43rd to Montreal).

29. Arizona Coyotes – Brandon Gormley
At one time, Brandon Gormley was considered a stud defenceman in junior. He was a point per game man with the Moncton Wildcats and was a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning junior team at the 2012 IIHF championships, scoring six points in six games. In 2010 the Phoenix Coyotes had the 13th pick in the draft and called Gormley’s name, figuring that the heads-up defenceman was a steal at that position. Once he was done junior in 2012, they did the right thing by assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Portland and for the most part, Gormley played well, the only flaw being some defensive deficiency (-29 over two seasons). In 2013-14 he got his first taste of NHL action, scoring no points in five games. After that, he got in 53 more, scoring five points and logging a -10. He hasn’t played in the NHL since 2015-16 and is a free agent this year.

28. Boston Bruins – Zach Hamill
The first round of the 2007 draft turned up quite a few future superstars, including Patrick Kane (1st) and Logan Couture (9th). One pick ahead of Couture, the Boston Bruins selected high scoring Vancouver native Zach Hamill of the Everett Silvertips. He was something of a wunderkind in the WHL, starting his career with the Silvertips when he was just 15 in 2003. In his draft year, 2006-07, Hamill scored 93 points in 69 games, warranting a first round selection. After another year of junior, though, he would toil in Providence almost exclusively while the big club waited, and waited, for his scoring touch to mature. It never happened and he played only 20 games in Boston, recording four assists. He is now playing with Bjorkloven in the Swedish second tier Allsvenskan league.

27. Buffalo Sabres – David Cooper
In 1992, the first round of the entry draft was top heavy with future star NHL defencemen. The Tampa Bay Lightning made Roman Hamrlik the first overall pick and selected later were Darius Kasparaitis (5th to the Islanders), Sergei Gonchar (14th to Washington) and Jason Smith (18th to New Jersey). Buffalo owned the 11th pick and wisely — so they thought — took rugged puck-moving rearguard David Cooper of the Medicine Hat Tigers. He played four seasons in Medicine Hat and after being drafted, scored 65 points in 63 games and added 88 penalty minutes. He wouldn’t play a game with the Sabres and was eventually dealt to Toronto, where he bounced between their farm team in St. John’s, Nfld., and the Leafs. Cooper played all of 30 games in Toronto, scoring 10 points. His last stop in hockey was with Pontebba of the Italian League.

26. Calgary Flames – Leland Irving
Goalies taken in the first round of any NHL draft are a true rarity. It’s a big gamble on the part of any team, considering there are only two spots on their roster for netminders. The 2006 draft was really an oddity, as four out of 30 first rounders selected were netminders. Los Angeles grabbed Jonathan Bernier at no. 11, followed by Tampa taking Riki Helenius 15th, Washington picking Semyon Varlamov 23rd and finally Calgary opting for Leland Irving at no. 26. In his draft year, Irving was outstanding for the Everett Silvertips, posting a 1.91 goals against average and .925 save percentage. After being drafted he was nearly unbeatable in 2006-07, recording 11 shutouts in just 48 games and lowering his GAA to 1.86. He added to his growing resume a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2007 world juniors. But, Calgary never did get full value out of taking Irving in the first round, as he played 13 games, registering a 3-4-4 record, .902 save percentage and 3.25 GAA.

25. Carolina Hurricanes – Jeff Heerema
Jeff Heerema had a great rookie season with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL in 1997-98, scoring 32 goals and 40 assists, with 88 penalty minutes in 63 games. At 6’2″ the right winger had the size and enough grit to convince Carolina Hurricanes management to pick him 11th in a 1998 draft that saw Vincent Lecavalier go first overall. Heerema, selected just behind Nikolai Antropov (Toronto), played two more outstanding seasons in Sarnia before making the leap to pro with the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2000-01. He played another year in the AHL with Lowell before making his NHL debut with Carolina in 2002-03, scoring three times in 10 games. Before he could develop further, Heerema moved on to St. Louis, played 22 games (1 G, 2A) and then bounced around the minor leagues and Europe until 2012. A player the Hurricanes could have had in that first round was Alex Tanguay, who went 12th to Colorado.

24. Chicago Blackhawks – Kyle Beach
Four players taken in the first round of the 2008 draft have never played a game in the NHL which isn’t all that surprising. However, Kyle Beach was the highest rated, going 11th to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks were in rebuilding mode and had landed two studs in the previous two drafts, Jonathan Toews (third overall in 2006) and Patrick Kane (first overall in 2007). Beach was taken pretty much where he was rated, though issues with his temperament caused him to slide a little from early projections. He was a presence down the right side with the Everett Silvertips (there they are again) and Spokane Chiefs averaging a point per game, while amassing some pretty high penalty minutes (222 in 60 games during the 2007-08 season). Once he graduated, Beach would toil exclusively in the AHL with Rockford, never getting a call-up. Beach is still playing pro with Graz of the Austrian League.

23. Colorado Avalanche – Vaclav Nedorost
Of all drafts in the last 20 years, the 2000 event had near as many misses as it did hits. The Islanders chose goaltender Rick DiPietro first (spoiler alert; miss), while Detroit got yet another steal at 29th with Niklas Kronwall. Sandwiched in the middle, at no. 14, Colorado took low scoring Czech teenage centerman Vaclav Nedorost. Pretty much a checking center with decent wheels, Nedorost crossed the pond in 2001 and played 49 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears (34 points, +12), earning a call-up to the Avs, where he scored four points in 25 games. The rest of his career in North America was split between the minors and two more stints, 42 games with Colorado in 2002-03 and 32 games with Florida (he was traded there) in 2003-04. Impact players the Avalanche could have taken were Brad Boyes (24th to Toronto) and Justin Williams (28th to Philadelphia).

22. Columbus Blue Jackets – Nikita Filatov
Nikita Filatov wasn’t the biggest first round blunder by a NHL team, but definitely one of the most noteworthy. Steven Stamkos was taken first overall in 2008, followed by four defencemen, including stars Drew Doughty (2nd to L.A.) and Alex Pietrangelo (4th to St. Louis). With the sixth pick, and in a draft loaded with defensive talent, the Columbus Blue Jackets chose speedy Russian winger Filatov. He was a scoring dynamo with CSKA Moscow and money at the world juniors three years running. All that talent, however, couldn’t get him a full-time gig in the NHL. He would play just 53 games with the Jackets and Ottawa Senators and score six goals and eight assists. Going back to those 2008 first round defencemen, Columbus could have taken Tyler Myers (12th to Buffalo), Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (15th to Ottawa), or even John Carlson (27th to Washington).

21. Dallas Stars – Jack Campbell
Like we said earlier, taking a goalie in the first round is fairly unusual. The 2010 Taylor (Hall) vs. Tyler (Seguin) draft was one of those drafts, with exactly two netminders going in the top 30. The first was Port Huron, Michigan native Jack Campbell who came up through the U.S. National Team Development Program and starred for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He won gold as the starter for the U.S. Team at the 2010 World Juniors, upping his draft stock considerably. Thus, the Stars used their 11th overall pick to take him. Even though he had some success in their minor league system with the Texas Stars, he played but one game and was even demoted to the ECHL. He was traded to Los Angeles and played with their AHL affiliate in 2016-17, with a one-game call-up.

20. Detroit Red Wings – Tom McCollum
The Detroit Red Wings, and GM Ken Holland by extension, have been pretty astute at finding nuggets in the late stages of the first round and even well down the list. Not so in 2008. Having just won a Stanley Cup, they automatically had the 30th pick in that draft, settling on Guelph Storm workhorse Tom McCollum. He had just played 51 games in 2007-08, winning 25 and posting four shutouts, when the Wings came calling. He graduated to the pros in 2009 and for the next seven seasons he was employed mostly at the ECHL and AHL levels, seeing action in only three games with Detroit. He ended his affiliation with the team in 2016 and is now in the Carolina Hurricanes minor league system with the Charlotte Checkers.

19. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov
There have been few no. 1 overall picks who have promised so much, and delivered so little. The Edmonton Oilers, a bad team just about every year in recent memory, have had the luxury of four first picks since 2010 and three other top 10s. After selecting Taylor Hall (2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) at no. 1, the Oilers had another in 2012, taking Russian sniper Nail Yakupov. What the Oilers really needed, after drafting two premier forwards, was a defenceman and the ’12 draft was loaded with them. Edmonton could have had Ryan Murray (2nd),  Hampus Lindholm (6th), Morgan Rielly (5th) or even Jacob Trouba (9th). But they took “the best player available” and during the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign, Yakupov was all right, scoring 31 points in 48 games, with a -4. However, Yakupov was loath to improve his defensive game and during the next three seasons he was a collective -84 and wasn’t near as productive. The Oilers were so disappointed in him they dealt him to St. Louis last year for virtually nothing.

18. Florida Panthers – Petr Taticek
The luxury of one top-10 pick is a bonus, having two is near unheard of in NHL history. But, that was the situation Florida was in during the 2002 draft, when they owned the no. 3 and no. 9 picks. With the third selection, the Panthers wisely took stud defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, who is still contributing today (with St. Louis). At no. 9, Florida thought they were shoring up depth down the middle, taking two-way center Petr Taticek, who had played with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2001-02, scoring 63 points in 60 games, with a +22. Unfortunately, his production stayed the same in 2002-03 with the Hounds, but his plus-minus faltered to -14. Taticek never really clicked in Florida’s minor league system, played just three games and was back in the Czech Republic in 2006.

17. Los Angeles Kings – Lauri Tukonen
The 2003 entry draft was a watershed one for the NHL, with many future superstars being taken in the first round, from Marc-Andre Fleury at no. 1 all the way down to Corey Perry at no. 28. Which made the ’04 draft sort of anti-climactic. Yes, Russian phenoms Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went one-two, but there wasn’t a whole lot of meat after. The Kings had the 11th pick and chose decent sized Finnish right winger Lauri Tukonen, who had been playing in Finland’s top league with the Blues and was a scoring star at the 2004 U-18 world championhips. He came over in 2005 and spent two seasons with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, getting used to the North American game. He got two brief call-ups to the Kings, scored no points and after one more season in Manchester bolted for home, where he has played ever since.

16. Minnesota Wild – A.J. Thelen
That 2004 draft really did produce some duds. As seen above, Lauri Tukonen was a complete bust with Los Angeles after going 11th. Minnesota also laid an egg with their first round pick, A.J. Thelen, who was taken one spot behind Tukonen at no. 12. Thelen had a standout freshman season with the Michigan State Spartans in 2003-04, racking up 29 points in 42 games. The Wild then made him the third rearguard selected in the first round. From there, his career took way too many twists and turns. He was drummed out NCAA hockey after his sophomore season for rules infractions, then played two seasons in the WHL with Prince Albert and Vancouver, winning a Memorial Cup with the Giants in 2007. He never did sign with the Wild and ended up playing all but nine of 219 minor league games in the ECHL.

15. Montreal Canadiens – David Fischer
Montreal had some pretty good luck with draft picks in the first decade of the new century. They snagged all-world goalie Carey Price at fifth overall in 2005 and found gold in P.K. Subban (43rd overall, 2007) and Mark Streit (262nd overall, 2004). The Habs did, though, goof on at least one first round selection, he being Minnesota high school defenceman David Fischer in 2006 at no. 20. A big, stay-at-home type, he then spent four pretty good years with the University of Minnesota but never signing with the Habs. Without a contract, he attended Vancouver Canucks training camp in 2010, was cut and then played two seasons in the ECHL. In 2012 he left for Europe and has been there since.

14. Nashville Predators – Brian Finley
In their 19-year history, the Nashville Predators — under the guidance of GM David Poile — have drafted very well without ever having a no. 1 pick and just seven top-10s. However, even hockey geniuses have a brain cramp or two once in a while. In 1999, Poile and the Preds took part in their second draft, owning the sixth overall selection. This draft was marked by the back-to-back selection of the Sedin Twins by Vancouver and would be fairly milquetoast after that. The Predators called Barrie Colts goalie Brian Finley’s name at no. 6, the first netminder gone in the draft. While he had the size (6’4″) and the junior pedigree (167 games), Finley couldn’t get over the NHL hump, splitting four games between Nashville and Boston and the remainder in the AHL/ECHL. Two great goalies picked well after Finley are still active in the NHL today, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson (77th overall) and Vancouver’s Ryan Miller (138th).

13. New Jersey Devils – Adrian Foster
Pretty much everyone in the hockey world, including Central Scouting and 29 other teams, wondered who the powerful New Jersey Devils had picked at no. 28 in 2001. His name was center Adrian Foster, who had played all of 12 games in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades up to that point — due mainly to recovering from a catastrophic hip injury. Foster would then increase his number of games in the WHL in 2001-02 to a meager 27 contest before making the jump to New Jersey’s affiliate in Albany in 2002-03. He played just nine games that season and another 113 over the next five seasons before his relationship with Jersey soured and he left for the Houston Aeros. Foster never played a NHL game and wore sweaters in five different leagues before retiring in 2013.

12. New York Islanders – Rick DiPietro
If a NHL franchise is going to pick a goalie no. 1 overall, they should do their homework and ensure they get a keeper. Before 2000, just one goalie in the history of the entry draft had been taken first overall, Michel Plasse b the Montreal Canadiens way back in 1968. Mike Milbury was GM of the Islanders in 2000 and his reputation was already kind of mess due to ownership meddling and his own lame-brained transactions. Thus, with Roberto Luongo already in the fold, Milbury thought it a good idea to make Boston University netminder Rick DiPietro the first goaltender in 32 years to go no. 1. In due course, Milbury traded Luongo away, along with Olli Jokinen for spare parts like Mark Parrish. DiPietro did play 319 games in the NHL but spent so much time on the DL his nickname was “Rickety.” And that contract he signed for 15 years and $67.5 million in 2006 still haunts the team to this day.

11. New York Rangers – Alexei Cherepanov
The Rangers, who have had one top 10 pick in 12 years, have had to draft wisely. In 2007, the Blueshirts had just six total picks, including the 17th overall. And knowing how uncertain drafting Russian players can be, they decided on Alexei Cherepanov, the only one to be taken in the first round. The lanky right winger had been a solid player in in the Russian league with Omsk and a fixture on two medal-winning Team Russia squads at consecutive world junior championships in 2007 and 2008. Sadly, before he could ever lace them up in the NHL, Cherepanov passed away while playing in a Russian league game in October 2008. What makes Cherepanov a draft blunder wasn’t for his talent, but for the fact no one in Russia — or with the New York Rangers for that matter — knew he had heart muscle hypertrophy, which is fatal if not detected. With all the medicine available to pro clubs, especially in pre-draft activity, this was an oversight with tragic consequences.

10. Ottawa Senators – Alexandre Daigle
All show and no go. That is the book on Alexandre Daigle, one of the worst first overall picks in the history of the draft. Put it this way, his career was doomed the minute he donned a campy nurse’s outfit for a photo shoot early in his career. Considered a “can’t miss prospect” while with the Victoriaville Tigres in the early 90s, Daigle recorded 247 points in 119 games over two seasons. The Senators were blinded by his speed and scoring upside and went full “tank”, losing games seemingly at will to land the first overall pick in 1993 to get him. That chicanery caused the NHL to implement a lottery system to try and keep it from happening again. While Daigle did play 301 games with Ottawa and score 172 points, he was a defensive liability who was -137. For a first overall pick, he can be considered as nothing but an utter bust.

9. Philadelphia Flyers – Maxime Ouellet
Here’s that first round goalie theme again. In one of their worst overall drafts in team history, the Flyers took Quebec Remparts goalie Maxime Ouellet 22nd overall and the first netminder called that year. In all, Flyers draft picks that year, six of them, played a grand total of 13 NHL games, 12 by Ouellet. Considering his junior achievements like back-to-back bronze medals as Team Canada’s goalie at the world junior championships in 1999 and 2000, Ouellet probably did merit a first round nod. But, he never did find footing at the NHL or even AHL level, and was gone from North American pro hockey in 2006. Ouellet, like Brian Finley at no. 6, was yet another first round netminder blunder that year.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins – Angelo Esposito
The Penguins sure had a solid run of first round picks in the middle part of the last decade, getting future Stanley Cup centerpieces in Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Evgeni Malkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005) and Jordan Staal (2006). It all came to a resounding halt in 2007, when we think management was thinking they were getting Phil, and not Angelo, Esposito. Pittsburgh drafted Esposito (no relation to Phil or Tony) 20th overall in 2007, after he scored 79 points in 60 games with the Quebec Remparts. He also scored the game-winning goal at the 2009 world juniors against Sweden. But, the comparisons to Guy Lafleur proved too much for him and Esposito never played one single game in the NHL.

7. San Jose Sharks – Teemu Riihijarvi
He had a great and recognizable first name, which we think may have clouded the judgement of San Jose Sharks scouts and executives leading up to the 1995 draft. In a year they had 12 picks and stole goalies and fellow Finnish products Vesa Toskala (90th overall) and Miikka Kiprusoff (116th overall), the Sharks really whiffed on 12th overall selection Teemu Riihijarvi. At 6’6″, the Sharks were probably thinking that his big body would be useful down the wing, but Riihijarvi was not possessed of a good shot and wasn’t overly physical. The low scoring and not overly fast native of Espoo never came to North America, staying in the Finnish league until 2006.

6. St. Louis Blues – Marek Schwarz
A Schwarz is definitely not to be confused with a Schwartz. In 2004, the St. Louis Blues committed the cardinal sin in our eyes, selecting a goalie in the first round who wasn’t North American. They picked Sparta Praha’s Marek Schwarz 17th overall, when Cory Schneider, especially, was still on the board. They made up for that Schwarz blunder years later, selecting current useful player Jaden Schwartz 14th overall in 2010. The Czech Schwarz wasn’t overly big at 5’11” but did get exposure as a starter for Team Czech Republic at U-18 and U-20 events, winning bronze in 2005. He was never able to snag a no. 1 job with the Blues, though, playing in just six games and posting a 4.32 GAA and .809 save percentage. He was gone from North American pro hockey in 2009.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning – Alexander Svitov
The Tampa Bay Lightning could be excused for falling in love with man-child Alexander Svitov prior to the 2001 entry draft. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs., Svitov was a two-way terror with Omsk of the Russian league in 2000-01, scoring 15 points in 39 games playing against men and sitting in the sin bin for 115 minutes. His robust play earned him a spot on Team Russia at the 2001 and 2002 world juniors too, where he was the most penalized player and won a gold in 2002. The Lightning brought him over in 2002 and he was OK his first season, scoring eight points, a -4 and having 58 penalty minutes in 63 games. However, for a high first round pick and being a big man, he fizzled out quickly, playing in 114 more games before hightailing it back to Russia. Had the Bolts been a little more prescient, they could have picked Mikko Koivu, who went sixth to Minnesota.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs – Tyler Biggs
Before recent drafts yielded first round picks Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly, the Leafs pretty much got it wrong for many years before that. The 2011 draft was a huge low point, when the Buds squandered two first round picks on Stuart Percy (25th overall) and Tyler Biggs (22nd overall). Percy has at least played 12 games at the NHL level, while Biggs is gone from the Maple Leafs system and is in the ECHL as a free agent. In the Brian Burke “truculence” era, Biggs was square in Burke’s sights at the ’11 event, coming in at 6’2″ and 220 lbs. Unfortunately, Biggs was a bust in the AHL with the Marlies and was eventually sent to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears in 2015 before being included in the Phil Kessel trade to Pittsburgh.

3. Vancouver Canucks – Patrick White
Canucks management in 2007 can’t pat themselves on the back for any of the picks they made that year. Of the six, including first rounder Patrick White, none has played a game in the NHL to this point. White was a finalist for the prestigious Minnesota Mr. Hockey as a high schooler during the 2006-07 season and was picked 25th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. The two-way pivot went on to play four seasons at the University of Minnesota, never signing with the big club and eventually being traded to the San Jose Sharks, who he never played for either. Of the players still available after White, there was still David Perron (26th to St. Louis) and defenceman Brendan Smith (27th to Detroit and now with the New York Rangers).

2. Washington Capitals – Sasha Pokulok
The Caps were probably still hung over from the big draft in 2004 that netted them Alex Ovechkin (first overall) and then defencemen Jeff Schultz (27th) and Mike Green (29th). No other reason, then, needed to be given for hacking up a fur ball on Sasha Pokulok at no. 14 in 2005. A huge (6’5″, 228 lbs.) defenceman at Cornell University, Pokulok also had decent hands (23 points in 53 games with Big Red). Despite that gargantuan frame, Pokulok couldn’t stick it out with Washington, playing a majority of games in the ECHL and not the AHL to further his development. He went over to Europe briefly and up until the 2015-16 season was playing low level semi-pro in his home province of Quebec. One player they could have drafted that year was T.J. Oshie, who coincidentally is a top six forward for them now.

1. Winnipeg Jets – Alex Bourret
The new new Winnipeg Jets haven’t blundered at the draft yet, but their predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers did at least once. In 2005, they had their lowest pick in years at no. 16 and thought it wise to get some beef down the wings to complement guys like Ilya Kovalchuk. The beef came in the form of Lewiston MAINEiacs bruiser and goal scorer Alex Bourret. In his draft year, the Drummondville native scored 31 goals and 55 assists and added 172 penalty minutes. The 5’10”, 205 lb. right winger improved on his stats after being drafted by Atlanta and was promoted to the AHL in 2006. He was strictly below average in the Thrashers system, and was recently playing with Jonquiere of the low-level LNAH in Quebec.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Real Madrid is seeking to be King of Europe

Sporthot | 2:27:00 AM |
The 50s made Real Madrid the King of the European Cup, the club then chaired by Santiago Bernabeu winning the first five titles; something that, 60 years later, no one has been able to match.
That manita of titles was followed by the sixth in 66, with Paco Gento at one with Alfredo di Stefano. 
Madrid's domination could not be matched by those teams with extended periods of success - Bayern and Ajax added three consecutive titles each - but there would be a passage of 32 years in which Los Blancos wouldn't sit atop the European pile again. 
In fact, by 1994, Milan came to within one cup win of toppling Real from the summit. 
The team that had ruled since 56 was more threatened than ever, by the aforementioned Milan, with five titles, and Liverpool and Ajax, with four European Cups each.The 90s arrived and so did the new format of the tournament, now under the denomination 'Champions League'.
And so it was that the European greatness of Real returned. Amsterdam Arena. 
Taking on Juventus, led by a Zinedine Zidane who ruled the core of a team that came as a big favourite, Madrid, on that May 20, began to write its modern day history.
The eighth arrived against Valencia in 2000 and the ninth, two years later, against Bayer Leverkusen. 
The goal, that unforgettable volley rescued from the sky in Glasgow, was scored by the same player who suffered the rebirth of Los Blancos in the competition four years earlier. 
La Decima and La Undecima have already been conquered in the recent past and the fight for the twelfth will rage in Wales on June 3.
A race to be the King of Europe in the modern era. 
A race in which Barcelona is immersed, first with Johan Cruyff on the bench and later with Lionel Messi on the pitch, has reached five titles.
Despite its current bad situation, it's also a race that Milan has always been in. 
Fifteen of the last 30 titles have been shared by Milan, Barcelona and Madrid. 
The other teams have moved well into the background, even Bayern Munich and Manchester United have added just two. 
Other champions since 1987 have not repeated the feat.With this scenario, Madrid will head to Cardiff looking for a 12th title that would give them total dominance over their rivals, as they had in the 50s.
A sixth title in the modern era to take them ahead of everyone else.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Biki Underwater Drone

Sporthot | 9:36:00 PM |
If you’re on the lookout for a new kind of drone experience, then how about diving into the deep blue with Biki.

The aquatic explorer, described as a “robofish” by its creator, comes with a 4K camera and can dive down as far as 196 feet (60 meters) into the ocean. Unlike some of its competitors, Biki can swim autonomously and without a tether, giving you greater freedom while eliminating concerns about potentially disastrous entanglements with underwater obstacles.

The robotic submersible, recently launched on Kickstarter by Beijing-based Robosea, can move at a leisurely 1.1 mph for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, while an flapping fish tail works to propel it through the water. You can control Biki via the accompanying app or with a physical controller, and if at any point the connection goes down between you and the robot, built-in GPS means it’ll automatically return to base.
You can even program your own routes and swim alongside, or simply let Biki wander off by itself while you stay on dry land and enjoy the footage it streams back to your smartphone or tablet. Built-in obstacle avoidance tech should save the robofish from any calamitous mishaps, though it clearly won’t be quick enough to escape the jaws of an angry shark or some other large creature that crosses its path.

Now, you may be wondering how the footage looks considering how Biki wobbles about as it swims along. Robosea promises the wide 150-degree lens and built-in stabilization system ensures smooth footage, and the clips on its Kickstarter page certainly appear to confirm this.

The team behind Biki is aiming to ship the device this August, with early bird backers able to snag one for $549, offering a substantial saving on the $1,024 retail price.

As with all Kickstarter projects, it’s important to check out the “risks and challenges” at the bottom of the product page to help you determine its viability. Robosea says it’s currently working on improving the durability of Biki’s shell and waterproof capabilities, kind of important for a device like this.

However, it says it’s already tested 30 prototypes and used feedback from more than 100 testers to improve the design. It’s also sailed through its $20,000 funding target, so it appears to be well on its way to becoming a reality.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The best ways to stream live TV without cable

Sporthot | 12:41:00 AM |

Few things are better than plopping down on the couch after a long day of work, turning on the TV and vegging out. You do it, I do it, everybody does it.

And now Google (GOOG, GOOGL) wants to get in on your TV time with its new YouTube TV streaming service. Available in select cities for $35 a month, YouTube TV promises 40 channels of live TV including the five major broadcast channels: ABC, CBS, CW, FOX and NBC.

Google, though, is entering an increasingly crowded market with a wide variety of different channel offerings that can be difficult to parse when all you want to do is watch “The Bachelor” and eat your KFC $20 Fill-Up in your comfy chair.

But since I care so much, I’m breaking down each of the major over-the-top cable streaming services so you can get back to watching the rose ceremony.

Still, not all over-the-top services offer the same channels. YouTube TV is missing Turner and Viacom properties. Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation Vue is also missing Viacom channels, while Dish’s (DISH) Sling TV and AT&T’s (T) DirecTV Now don’t offer CBS. That said, at least one of these options could be right for you.

YouTube TV

We’ve been waiting a long time for Google’s big TV play and it’s officially here. YouTube TV features 40 channels and gets you everything from the major broadcast channels to a huge array of sports stations. In fact, YouTube TV gives you 13 sports channels and the option to add on Fox Soccer Plus.

Outside of that, you get Fox News, MSNBC, Disney, National Geographic, Bravo, USA, FX and E!, among others. Google says it will add AMC and BBC World News to its lineup in the near future. You can also add Showtime for $11 a month extra.

But YouTube TV has some drawbacks. First off, the service doesn’t carry Turner properties like CNN, TBS, TNT and, importantly for me, Cartoon Network. You also don’t get Viacom channels like MTV or Comedy Central. What’s worse, there doesn’t appear to be an option to add on HBO just yet, only Showtime.

What’s more, YouTube TV isn’t available for Roku streaming devices or Apple TV. To address that, Google will provide you with a free Chromecast so you can stream your favorite shows to your big-screen.

Still, if you’re a Roku or Apple TV user, that means having to bounce between those devices and your Chromecast just to watch different channels, which can be annoying.

Sony PlayStation Vue

Sony’s PlayStation Vue is the Japanese tech giant’s over-the-top streaming play and it’s actually a quality offering. Rather than a one-size-fits-all offering, Sony offers four different packages depending on the number of channels you want to watch and how much you want to pay each month.

The base offering, which starts at $40 per month, gets you 49 channels including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN and ESPN 2, FS1 and FS2 and a slew of others. Oh, and Cartoon Network. Sony’s $45 package gets you more than 60 channels, while the $55 package gets you more than 90 channels. Then there’s the $75 option, which includes the NFL Network and HBO.

Sony, however, recently did away with Viacom content like Comedy Central. So if you’re trying to watch the “Daily Show,” you’re out of luck.

Vue is available on a number of devices including, naturally, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, web browsers, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon’s (AMZN) Fire TV and your mobile devices.

If you’re already a PlayStation fan, Vue is a solid choice.

Sling TV

Dish’s Sling TV offers three packages Orange, Blue and Orange + Blue with a host of additional add-ons to customize your viewing options. The Orange package costs $20 per month and gets you 30 channels including ESPN, AMC, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central, Travel Channel and, of course, Cartoon Network. What you don’t get are the basic broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC or the CW.

The Blue package costs $25 per month and gets you 45 channels including FOX and NBC. The Orange + Blue package, which costs $40 per month, gets you 50 channels.

Here’s the thing, though — you can add a range of different channels to any of the three packages. For instance, the New Extra add-on gets you MSNBC, BBC World News and Headline News for $5.

Comedy Plus Extra, also $5, gets you MTV, Spike, MTV2 and CMT, which means you can watch “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” the greatest show on television.

Curiously, Sling doesn’t include CBS. So “Big Bang Theory” fans, you know who you are, won’t be able to watch their favorite show.

Sling TV is available on most mainstream TV streaming devices including Apple TV, Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV players, as well as Apple, Android and Amazon phones and tablets, Mac and Windows computers and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Unfortunately, you can’t watch Sling TV on your PlayStation.

If you’re the kind of person who wants greater control over what channels you pay for, Sling TV is the way to go.

AT&T DirecTV Now

Like Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now allows you to purchase different packages of channels based on what you want to want and how much you want to pay each month. The base offering starts at $35 per month and gets you more than 60 channels including ABC, NBC and FOX, but not CBS and the CW.

You also get CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, Disney, Cartoon Network and Comedy Central. The $50 option gets you more than 80 channels, while the $60 package gets more than 100. The largest option is the $70 package, which gives you more than 120 channels, enough to keep you on your couch for quite some time. You can subscribe to HBO GO as part of your package for an additional fee.

AT&T lets you watch DirecTV Now on your Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android phone and tablet, iPad and iPhone, Chromecast and web browsers. But you can’t watch it on your Chromecast with the iOS app, your Roku or Xbox One. As with YouTube TV, DirecTV Now gives you a streaming device, in this case a Fire TV stick, with your first month’s payment.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Messi shows who's in charge at 'clasico' against Madrid

Sporthot | 11:48:00 PM |
Lionel Messi took off his shirt and lifted it high in front of him, boldly displaying his name and number to the stunned crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

He stood there for a few seconds, staring at the fans, as if making sure they knew who was really in charge.

Messi had just scored a last-minute goal that gave Barcelona a crucial 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Real Madrid, putting the Catalan club back in the Spanish league title race and adding to his dominance in the ''clasico.''

There's been no one better than Messi when the two Spanish powerhouses meet. He now has 23 goals in games between the two clubs, five more than Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano and eight more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Ronaldo faltered throughout Sunday's game at the Bernabeu, failing to score goals that could have given his team a commanding lead over its rival in the league standings, Messi came through for Barcelona once again.

He also scored the team's first goal, helped set up the second by Ivan Rakitic and drew the foul that led to a red card for Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, leading Barcelona to a victory that reignited its chances of winning a third straight league trophy.

''Leo's greatness is that he keeps surprising us,'' Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta said. ''After years and years, he continues to be decisive. For us, it's an honor to play with him. And for the club, it's a blessing. We have to try to keep up with him as much as possible so we can all play well and stay in contention in La Liga, which is wide open.''

Messi's late winner allowed Barcelona to tie Madrid on 75 points at the top of the Spanish league standings with five rounds to go. Barcelona has the lead on the head-to-head tiebreaker, but Madrid still has a game in hand, at Celta Vigo.

''Messi was decisive, as always he always is,'' Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen said. ''He makes the difference. There is not a lot to talk about him. He is a very special player.''

Messi is enjoying another remarkable season, with 47 goals in 46 games. He has scored 14 goals in his last 10 Spanish league games, and is the competition's leading scorer with 31 goals, seven more than teammate Luis Suarez and 12 more than Ronaldo.

Messi had been going through a scoring drought in the ''clasico'', unable to find the net in six straight games. The last time he had scored against Madrid was with a hat trick at the Bernabeu in a 4-3 win in the league in 2014.

Playing with a bloodied mouth after a collision with Madrid left back Marcelo, Messi ended the drought by clearing two defenders with a run inside the area before sending a low shot past Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the first half at the Bernabeu.

His second goal decided the game, a left-footed shot from the top of the area with 12 seconds left in stoppage time after a low pass by Jordi Alba.

Messi's celebration, parading his shirt, sparked a fierce reaction from many Madrid fans on the stands behind the goal, where only a few people wearing Barcelona colors could be seen. The visitors' section was behind that same goal, but in the opposite side of where Messi ran to celebrate. Messi eventually was shown a yellow card for taking off his shirt.

The two goals on Sunday gave the 29-year-old Messi a total of 500 for his career with Barcelona, the most of any other player who has ever played for the club.

''Leo's 500th goal had to be special, just like he is,'' Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. ''I hope he will only retire several years from now.''

Sunday, April 23, 2017

11 Financial Goals to Hit Before You’re 50

Sporthot | 12:24:00 PM | |
The approach of a milestone birthday is a reminder that, as life changes, so do your needs and circumstances. With the Big Five-O the question is settled: You’re no longer a kid. And that’s a great thing: Maturity is much better than it’s cracked up to be. So, instead of dreading it, update your financial life by hitting these targets and embrace the coming decades:

1. Debt: Tamed

Maybe it’s maturity, or maybe it’s the prospect of dragging debts through your so-called golden years, but you have paid off your debts or have them under control. You add new debt only when you can easily handle it. You pay credit card balances before interest is applied. Your total debt follows principles outlined in “The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After 50”:

28 percent: An industry rule of thumb suggests that no more than 28 percent of your pretax household income should go to servicing home debt (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance).
36 percent: No more than 36 percent of your pretax income should go to all debt: your home debt plus credit card debt and auto loans.
Not quite there yet? Learn how to tackle big debts fast. Before signing up for credit cards, comparison shop for the best rates and lowest fees.

2. Spending: Under control

With children possibly gone from the home and maybe out of school, you may have more money on hand now, and it’s tempting to spend it. After all, your friends may be living it up, and you’ve worked hard to get here. Have fun. But don’t shortchange retirement goals. If you are well-employed, your 50s are a gift — probably the best earning years of your life. Double down on savings, as retirement may last a long, long time.

Also, start thinking about how you’ll change your spending after retirement.

3. Retirement goals: Defined

Set a concrete goal for your retirement savings. Just do it. The kids will find a way to pay for college if it matters to them. They have years to get on their feet financially. You do not. Set a retirement income goal now so that, if you are short financially, there’s time to improve things.

There are a couple of approaches. One is to shoot for saving six to nine times your annual household income by your mid-50s to early 60s, says Walter Updegrave, at Real Deal Retirement. Example: If you earn $60,000 a year, your IRA, 401(k) or other account should approach $360,000 to $540,000 as you near 60.

Another is to see how far your current retirement savings will take you. This KeyBank calculator shows that a nest egg of $1 million will last 21 years if you withdraw $50,000 a year (assuming inflation is 2.5 percent and investments earn 3 percent after tax and inflation). Only have $100,000 saved? It’ll buy you two years of retirement at the same rate of spending.

Now that you have a goal, keep increasing the percent of each paycheck saved for retirement. Make the increases so small they’re hardly noticeable. If you’re diverting 12 percent to savings now, bump it up to 13 percent, or 13.5 percent. Six months later, give your savings another tiny raise and keep it going until you are at goal. Ditto if you’re saving 6 percent: Inch it up to 7 percent, and then onward.

Some experts recommend saving 15 percent to 20 percent or more of before-tax salary. Automate the deductions, so you’ll never see the money. Getting a bonus? Put a hefty chunk into retirement savings.

The rock-bottom line: Even in the worst times, save at least enough to earn your employer’s maximum matching contribution.

You may be pessimistic about Social Security’s chances, and you could be right to expect cuts in payouts or a change in eligibility ages. Social Security is not going bust. Before long, though, Congress must either find more funding or shrink benefits.

But don’t bet against this retirement lifeline. It still is likely to be one source of income in your retirement, and there are things you can do now to maximize your payout.

Go to SocialSecurity.gov and set up a “My Social Security” account. Use it to estimate your future benefits at various retirement ages. Social Security benefits are based on your best 35 years of earnings, so plan to work longer if you need to boost those earning years.

6. 401(k): Lowest fees possible

Fees paid to manage retirement savings may appear low. “What’s 3.5 percent but a drop in the bucket?” you think. Wrong!

Many savers unknowingly pay far too much in mutual fund fees, losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars they could have used in retirement. This chart offers an example, Watch the video of ’11 Financial Goals to Hit Before You’re 50′ on MoneyTalksNews.com.

Beginning balance Annual return Fees Balance in 35 years
$25,000 7% 0.50% $227,000
$25,000 7% 1.50% $163,000
Check your plan statements to see the fees you are charged. Time Magazine explains:

… you can minimize fees by opting for the lowest-cost funds available — typically index funds, which tend to be less expensive than actively managed funds. And if your IRA is too pricey, move it elsewhere.

7. Your will: Updated

You don’t need a will. If you don’t have one, a probate court will decide what to do with your assets.

If you want control over what happens to your money and property, though, you’ll need one. And your spouse should have a separate will. A will gives voice to your decisions and requests after you’re gone. Use it to say what you want for your children and pets after you’re gone. Use it to determine what happens to possessions with financial or sentimental value. You can name an executor who will be in charge of following your directions and include provisions for your remains and a funeral, if you want one.

Committing to doing good in the world is a part of maturing. With a small budget or a large one, philanthropy allows you to express your values and connects you to the world on new terms. There’s the personal satisfaction, and there’s also a helpful tax deduction.

9. Long-term care: A plan in mind

By our 50th birthday, it occurs to many of us that maybe — just maybe — we really will get old. Since many of us will end up needing skilled nursing care in old age, at least for a short time, managing your finances requires considering how to pay for it. Long-term care insurance can be an excellent tool. But whether it’s right for you depends on several things.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson lays out the pros, cons and considerations in “Ask Stacy: Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?”

10. Mortgage: End in sight

Entering retirement with a paid-off mortgage is a smart goal. Tearing up the mortgage before retirement was commonplace a couple of generations ago. Not everyone can pull it off these days, but the rewards are great. You’ll require less income. If your mortgage eats a quarter or a third or more of your monthly pay, you’ll enjoy a raise of that much, just when your paychecks stop. What’s more, it’s a tax-free raise.

One way to end your mortgage: Don’t refinance. Refinancing piles on fees, money you could use for paying off the balance. Look for better strategies here: “7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years Earlier.”

11. Insurance: Reviewed and adjusted accordingly

Life changes, and so should your insurance. If your children or spouse would be lost without your salary, get enough life insurance to carry them through if you die. Stick with cheaper term insurance (low-fee index funds, not life insurance products, are a cheaper way to save for retirement).

Likewise, if losing your salary would be financially devastating, cover the risk with disability insurance.

When children are launched in careers and you and your spouse are nearer retirement, you may be able to drop life insurance.

Take a look at your home and auto insurance limits, too. Is the coverage still appropriate?

As for heath insurance, enlist an insurance broker — it should cost you nothing — to review your health insurance needs and costs. If you have a high-deductible plan, total your most recent year’s out-of-pocket expenses to make certain that you still are coming out ahead.
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