ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Schwartz was hired to turn around the Detroit Lions and he did it for three seasons. He failed to keep the Lions going in the right direction the next two years -- and it cost him his job. The Lions fired Schwartz on Monday, one day after their late-season slide ended with a loss at Minnesota. He had two years and nearly $12 million left on his contract. Schwartz informed the players of the decision during a team meeting. "I feel awful for him," Lions centre Dominic Raiola said. "I feel like we let him down." Team President Tom Lewand said the search has begun for what he thinks is one of the most -- if not the most -- attractive opportunities for a head coach in the NFL. "I can verify that by the number of calls we have already gotten since the announcement was made," Lewand said. "Going through a thorough process is extremely important. That doesnt necessarily it has to be a long process." San Diego Chargers offensive co-ordinator Ken Whisenhunt is among the potential candidates. Whisenhunt led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl during a six-year run as their coach and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is a former Washington Redskins teammate. The Lions also let offensive co-ordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano seek other jobs, saying the rest of the staff is under contract, including some assistants for the 2014 season. Detroit flopped to a 7-9 record this year after a 6-3 record start put the franchise in a position to win a division title for the first time since 1993. "That is the reason we are sitting here having this conversation," Lewand said. Schwartz was 29-51 over five seasons, including a 10-6 mark in 2011 that lifted the Lions to their only post-season appearance this century. The former Tennessee Titans defensive co-ordinator was hired in 2009 when Detroit was coming off the NFLs first 0-16 season. "Jim inherited a very tough job," Mayhew acknowledged. Schwartz led the Lions to two wins in his first year, six the next and to double digits in victories two years ago for the first time since 1995 to help them end an 11-year post-season drought. The Lions lost their last eight games last year after a .500 start. They collapsed again this season with four straight losses and six in a seven-game stretch -- blowing fourth-quarter leads in each setback -- after they took control of the NFC North race. Detroit and the 2000 San Diego Chargers are the only NFL teams since 1940 to lose fourth-quarter leads in seven games in a season, according to STATS. "From where we were in 2008 to where we are now its a big difference," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We owe a lot of that to him. Hes a really smart guy and helped us get to where we are. Obviously, we didnt win as many games as we needed to or as we should have this year." The Lions took on the personality of their demonstrative and emotionally charged coach and that wasnt always good news for them. When Detroit ran the ball instead of having turnover-prone Stafford throw late in regulation of its 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in Week 16, the crowd reacted with a loud chorus of boos. Schwartz responded by looking away from the field and screaming something toward the stands. Schwartz negated a video review and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct by angrily throwing a challenge flag last season when Houstons Justin Forsett scored after two Lions tackled him, leading to a defeat during an eight-game, season-ending slide. The previous year, Schwartz had a heated exchange with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and had to be separated following their postgame handshake. "The stuff that happened with Harbaugh just was an incident," Detroit guard Rob Sims said. "The stuff with the fans just was an incident. Thats not an everyday occurrence." Schwartz was 12-32 in games in November or later for a .273 winning percentage that was the worst for a coach in five-plus straight seasons with a team since Denvers Lou Saban won one-quarter of those late-season games from 1967-1971, according to STATS. His .363 winning percentage overall with the Lions is the worst by an NFL coach in his first five full seasons since John McKay won fewer than 30 per cent of his games with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-1980. The Lions gave Schwartz an extension entering the 2012 season, when he had one year left on his four-deal worth about $11 million. The second contract made him the longest-tenured coach the franchise has had since Wayne Fontes led the Lions from 1988-96. Bobby Ross, Gary Moeller, Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron -- on an interim basis -- and Rod Marinelli all had a chance to lead a franchise with only one playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL title before Schwartz got a shot to be a head coach for the first time at any level. The Lions would like to hire someone, who runs a 4-3 defence and has head coaching experience, but theyre not going to overlook assistants who fit the profile theyre looking for. "The goal isnt to hire the biggest name or the most popular candidate and win the next press conference," Lewand said. "Its to win football games in 2014 and to win a championship." Custom Indianapolis Colts Jerseys
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. Casey Janssen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday due to a strain in his left abdominal area and lower back.NEW YORK -- It was a goal literally years in the making, thanks to a shot Martin St. Louis works on day in day out. "The goal he scored tonight is exactly what you see him practise every time hes on the ice," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. "Like 100 pucks, hes trying to put it right there." On Sunday night, St. Louis top-shelf snap shot from just below the faceoff dot was a dagger to the heart of the Canadiens. The goal, which came at 6:02 of overtime, moved New York within one win of its first Stanley Cup final in 20 years with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The win, which gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final, marked the first time the home side had triumphed in the series. "I felt I had room (on the glove side), and I tried to trust what I saw, and obviously Ive gone to that side quite a bit that last few games and hes made some good saves on me," St. Louis said of Habs goalie Dustin Tokarski. "Sometimes you just have to keep trusting what you see and I was fortunate to get it by him." Said Tokarski: "I obviously gave him some room and he took advantage of it." Game 5 is Tuesday night in Montreal, with the Rangers looking to put the Canadiens to the sword for a third straight game at the Bell Centre. Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard also scored for the Rangers, both on breakaways generated by stretch passes. Francis Bouillon and P.K. Subban -- who played 33:16 on the night -- scored for Montreal. The Rangers outshot the Canadiens 26-24 in regulation. Montreal had a 5-3 edge in overtime. The Canadiens will fly home full of regrets, especially after coming back twice to force overtime. The Montreal power play was one-for-eight and yielded a Rangers short-handed goal. "We had the opportunity on the power play and we didnt take advantage of it tonight," said coach Michel Therrien. "Yes, we scored a goal. It was a timely goal, but we gave up one and that was the (story) of the game. I thought our power play had to be better." And Montreals defensive play on the winning goal was shocking. The Canadiens had several chances to get the puck out of their defensive zone but couldnt do it. St. Louis had so much room he could have parked a Winnebago in the faceoff circle as tired defenders Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were caught on the wrong side of the play. "Well, we got a few chances to get out of it and move the puck harder in our own end, and it cost us the game," lamented Therrien. It was the third goal of the series for St. Louis, who attended the funeral of his mother between Games 1 and 2. He was buzzing all night, leading the Rangers with five shots on goal in 21:01 of ice time. The goal was his first playoff overtime winner since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final on June 5, 2004 at Calgary as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a largely empty dressing room, the Canadiens looked for positives. They will have a rabid home crowd -- the best in the world, according to goalie Tokarski -- at their back Tuesday as they look to stave off elimination. "I dont think frustrated is the word," said Tokarski. "We had some chances, hit a post late and had a power play (in OT). Its a game of inches and we came short." Said Montreal captain Brian Gionta: "I thought Tokarski played great for us, gave us a chance to win that game. Were not out of the series by any means." History favours the Rangers, who are 12-1 in the 13 best-of-seven playoff series in which they led three games to one after Game 4. Montreal is 2-16 when trailing 3-1 in a playoff series. The last time they overturned such a deficit was in 2009-10 against Washington. But the Canadiens have already staved off elimination in these playoffs, reeling off two straight wins to defeat Boston four games to three in the previous round. "This is far from over," said Rangers forward Brad Richards. "I remember sitting in here down 3-1 against Pittsburgh. They will feel bad tonight, but tomorrow they will wake up in front of their home crowd and once that game starts 3-1, you throw that out the window and it is back in the battle again. "We have to realize the longer it goes the more life and more belief they get, so its going to be a very important start to the next game." Sundays win came 20 years to the day that the Rangers defeated New Jersey 4-2 in Game 6 of the Eastern ffinal.dddddddddddd New York captain Mark Messier, who had guaranteed the win, scored a natural hat trick that night. The Rangers went on to beat Vancouver for the Cup. Goalie Mike Richter and five other members of that championship team were in the stands Sunday. New York was 0-for-3 with the man-advantage but scored shorthanded through Hagelin. The Rangers took nine penalties -- including three straight in the third period and overtime -- to four for Montreal. Vigneault did not dispute any of the calls. "We put ourselves behind the 8-ball a few times by taking, I think it was five penalties 200 feet from our net. Were going to have to do a much better job than that," he said. "But give credit to our killers and our goaltender. They did a real good job." After Subban tied it at 2-2 two minutes into the third, Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk rang one off the goal post with a little over three minutes remaining. He thought he scored but play continued. Replays showed Lundqvist got his stick to the puck before it hit the crossbar and bounced down -- in front of the goal-line. With New Yorks Derek Stepan recovering from a broken jaw suffered on a Brandon Prust hit in Game 3, Dominic Moore moved up to centre Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. Brassard returned from injury to centre Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. J.T. Miller took the place of the suspended Dan Carcillo on the fourth line. For Montreal, Michael Bournival stepped in for the suspended Prust on the fourth line and Bouillon replaced defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. As in Game 3, Montreal found itself down 1-0 after a first period which could have been worse on the scoreboard. New York came into the game not having allowed a power-play goal in its last eight games (22 times shorthanded). And the penalty kill produced offence. The short-handed Rangers went ahead 12 seconds into a Pouliot penalty thanks to a Brian Boyle stretch pass from the blue-line. The speedy Hagelin broke in alone, faked a shot and tucked a backhand through the legs of Tokarski at 7:18 for his sixth of the playoffs. Montreals David Desharnais failed to corral a pass behind the New York goal and Ryan McDonagh poked the puck to Boyle to trigger the play. It was the Rangers first short-handed goal in 70 playoff games, dating back to April 9, 2008. The penalty count was three to one against the Rangers by the 10-minute mark, but the Canadiens power play was sputtering. Montreal began to push back after the goal and Brian Gionta had a glorious chance 12 minutes in on a Lundqvist rebound at the doorstep, but the puck bobbled and Lundqvists pad was there when the Montreal captain finally got control. Tokarski was buried by a sliding Nash five minutes into the second period but survived the collision. That prompted the officials to warn both benches about not crashing the crease. The New York-born Bouillon tied it up with a blistering shot from the top of a circle on a two-on-one with Desharnais after a nifty Rene Bourque pass between his legs. Lundqvist got a piece of it with his shoulder, but the puck still went in top corner glove side at 8:08. At times, the game was like table hockey with both sides looking to open up the other with long passes. Tokarski robbed St. Louis on a breakaway late in the period, catching the puck with his glove as if it was spring-loaded. The Rangers went ahead with 56 seconds remaining in the second when Dan Girardi found Brassard with a superb stretch pass from deep in his own end. Brassard raced in and unloaded a slapshot from the slot to beat Tokarski. Lundqvist picked up an assist, the first by a Rangers goalie in the playoffs since Richter on May 11, 1997. An early Montreal power play in the third -- its sixth man-advantage -- finally paid off when Subban hammered home a slapshot from the blue-line two minutes in. It was Subbans first point of the series -- and first in six games -- but also his fifth goal of the playoffs. Lundqvist recorded his 41st career playoff victory, tying him with Richter for first on the teams all-time playoff wins list. NOTES -- Stepan missed a game for the first time in his four-year NHL career (294 regular-season and 54 playoff games) ... Celebs in the house included New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, ex-Rangers Rod Gilbert and Eddie Giacomin, ex-Giant Justin Tuck, Matt Harvey of the Mets, singer Harry Belafonte and actor Susan Lucci. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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