Curt Fraser, who led Orlando to the International Hockey League finals twice in the last four years, will be the first coach of the NHL expansion Atlanta Thrashers, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
A source close to the team said Fraser had been chosen from a short list that included former Buffalo coach Ted Nolan and ex-Edmonton coach Ron Low.
The Thrashers called a news conference for today in Atlanta to announce their last major move before the inaugural season that begins in October. The team selected its players last month in expansion and entry drafts.
The selection of Fraser, 41, was not a surprise. During his first two seasons in Orlando, the Solar Bears' general manager was Don Waddell, who holds the same post with Atlanta.
Waddell and Fraser produced an IHL expansion team that reached the Turner Cup finals in 1995-96. The Solar Bears were swept by Utah in the championship series.
Fraser was 192-111-25 in Orlando, the league's second-best mark during that four-year span.
Center Andrew Cassels signed a three-year, $7.5-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Cassels, who turns 30 next week, was paid $1.2 million last season while scoring 12 goals and 37 points in 70 games for the Calgary Flames.
The New York Rangers signed free-agent goalie Kirk McLean to a multiyear contract. Terms of the deal were not announced. McLean, 33, was 9-10-4 with a 2.74 goals-against average in 30 games with the Florida Panthers last season. He will back up regular goalie Mike Richter.
Detroit Lion running back Barry Sanders has reportedly not settled his plans for the NFL season.
Although Lion management, including Coach Bobby Ross, has operated under the assumption that Sanders will report to camp with the rest of the veterans July 29, Sanders apparently is not as sure.
"It's not going to be simple," Lamont Smith, Sanders' Denver-based agent, told the Detroit News. "That's the only thing I can tell you."
Sanders, who has ordered Smith not to discuss his situation, has not been in touch with Lion management since the end of last season.
Sanders, who turns 31 on Friday, has 15,269 rushing yards--1,457 short of breaking the career record of 16,726, held by the Chicago Bears' Walter Payton.
With running back Garrison Hearst's future in question because of a complicated recovery from a broken left leg, the San Francisco 49ers are moving to clear salary cap room and perhaps add free-agent running back Charlie Garner.
As the team opened contract talks with a representative for Garner, Hearst was in the midst of a three-doctor, cross-country sojourn seeking opinions on how best to treat career-threatening complications clouding his recovery.
Free agent Ashley Ambrose, a Pro Bowl cornerback with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1996, signed a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Robert Baker, a former Auburn receiver who spent 10 months in jail for drug trafficking, resumed his football career when he joined the Miami Dolphins for a three-day mini-camp.
An undrafted rookie free agent, Baker, 23, was released on parole March 22 after serving a fraction of his 15-year sentence. He was arrested in April 1998 for selling cocaine three times to undercover police.
"Our whole country and our lives are dealing with second chances," Dolphin Coach Jimmy Johnson said. "A lot of people get second chances, whether it's a husband or wife or president or what have you. We decided to give him a second chance."
Michigan offensive linemen Jonathan Goodwin and Maurice Williams were arraigned on felony embezzlement charges for allegedly taking merchandise from a Kmart store in Ypsilanti Township, Mich. Goodwin and Williams, free on $5,000 bonds, are to appear at a preliminary examination later this month.
Kentucky senior wide receiver Jimmy Robinson, who broke his left arm and left thumb when shot twice during a fight at an off-campus party Friday, was released from a Lexington hospital. His status for the season is uncertain.
Gavin Hoffman, Northwestern's starting quarterback last season as a redshirt freshman, is transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. Because he is transferring to a Division I-AA school, Hoffman will be eligible to play immediately.
Cities interested in staging future Olympic Games must meet certain technical qualifications before being allowed to submit a bid, a special panel proposed in London.
Details still have to be worked out. The International Olympic Committee has previously used a "pre-selection" procedure to reduce a field of candidates to a short list of finalists, but this took place far into the bid process. The new proposal would eliminate some cities right from the start.
Jeff Foster, a first-round draft pick acquired in a trade from the Golden State Warriors, signed with the Indiana Pacers. Foster is a 6-foot-11, 232-pound forward-center from Southwest Texas.