SPORTS DIGEST

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bleak news for NHL players

According to a report in the Toronto Sun, there probably won't be any hockey this season - and maybe next.

NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow delivered a grim message to members of the NHL Players' Association: Don't count on any hockey this season, and maybe next year as well. Sources told Toronto Sun Media on Friday that the union's executive director posted an audio message on the NHLPA's Web site telling players they should accept any job opportunities in Europe immediately.

And to put an exclamation point on the matter, sources say Goodenow also told the players to take any contracts in Europe that may be available next year because it appears the lockout is going to drag on.

"I don't think we'll be playing. There's no communication ... I don't think we'll be playing this season at all," said center Eric Lindros, who was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent by the New York Rangers last summer.

"The bottom line for both sides is nobody should be worrying about public perception right now or who is right and who is wrong in all of this. They should be putting their energy into trying to get a deal done. It's not going to matter who is winning the battle for public opinion if we don't get a deal done.

"I just don't think there's much reason for optimism with nothing happening right now," Lindros told the newspaper. "We offered them the 24 percent [salary] rollback and I thought that was a very good offer. They didn't want it. We know that hockey is going to be back, but I can't tell you when and in what form."

Tennis Federer tops Roddick to win Kooyong

Roger Federer confirmed his No. 1 ranking and his status as the Australian Open favorite yesterday with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over second-ranked Andy Roddick in the Kooyong Classic final in Melbourne, Australia. Federer broke Roddick's serve once in each set, with the 23-year-old Swiss star lifting his game to another level when he needed it in his final warmup match before he begins his Australian Open title defense. Also yesterrday, British star Tim Henman beat Andre Agassi, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5, in the third-place match. Agassi retired from his semifinal against Roddick on Thursday because of a hip injury, but had a successful practice session Friday and asked tournament organizers to let him play Henman.

College football

East rolls over West in Shrine Game

Stefan LeFors threw two of his three touchdown passes to Louisville teammate J.R. Russell, and Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield also caught two scoring passes in the East's 45-27 victory over the West in the 80th edition of the Shrine Game in San Francisco. Purdue's Kyle Orton passed for 145 yards in the first quarter - 103 to Stubblefield on plays called by Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller, who helped to make all of the East stars look awfully good for the dozens of NFL scouts in attendance.

Minnesota: Running back Marion Barber III announced that he will enter the NFL draft, giving up his final season of eligibility.

High schools

River Hill's Stara gets national honor

River Hill boys soccer coach Bill Stara, who guided the Hawks to their sixth state title in November, was named the NSCAA/Adidas National Coach of the Year in the High School Boys I Division. Stara, who has a Maryland-record 13 state titles including his time spent at Centennial High, is the first coach to claim National Coach of the Year in both the youth and high school categories.

Skiing Walchhofer wins downhill; Miller 3rd

Michael Walchhofer led Austria to a 1-2 finish in a World Cup downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, while overall leader Bode Miller was third on the famed Lauberhorn. Walchhofer covered the demanding 2.8-mile run in 2 minutes, 27.05 seconds - 0.09 ahead of Christoph Gruber. Miller was 0.18 behind the winner and managed to take third despite skipping the morning inspection run, preventing an Austrian sweep of the top four spots.

College basketball

Penn State guard out for rest of season

Penn State starting guard Marlon Smith is expected to miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a partial blockage of an artery in his brain. In his second year with the Nittany Lions, Smith was third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.8 points.

OVERHEARD

"Siragusa always looks like he's about to say something interesting. And then he opens his mouth."

NORMAN CHAD, syndicated columnist, on Fox sideline analyst Tony Siragusa

WHAT TO WATCH

AFC playoffs

Indianapolis at New England

The humor site SportsPickle.com says Peyton Manning's horoscope reads, "The sheer scope of your failure as you choke versus the Patriots again will shock even your biggest detractors." You're fated to watch. 4:30 p.m., chs. 13, 9

THE QUIZ

Hello, old friend: The Jets' Herman Edwards and Steelers' Bill Cowher, former Eagles teammates, yesterday became the first ex-teammates to meet in the NFL playoffs as head coaches since the Bengals' Sam Wyche and Oilers' Jack Pardee in 1990. What team did Wyche and Pardee play for? Answer, 10E

QUIZ ANSWER

The 1971 and 1972 Redskins.

Good Morning

Randy Moss If ever a group of fans deserve to be mooned, it's the Eagles', who once cheered Michael Irvin's neck injury

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