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Seeking stability amid an uncertain future Bryce Callahan Jersey , the Carolina Panthers signed coach Ron Rivera to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the extension is worth $15.5 million over two seasons. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t release financial details of the contract.

Rivera has one year remaining on his existing contract, so the new deal keeps him with the Panthers through the 2020 season.

Rivera is 64-47-1 in seven seasons with the Panthers. He has guided Carolina to a Super Bowl appearance, three NFC South titles and four playoff appearances. He has twice been named The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year.

The Panthers (11-5) visit the New Orleans Saints (11-5) on Sunday in an NFC wild-card game.

”I’m very excited about it because I really like where we are as a football team,” Rivera said in a statement. ”We’ve done some really good things and we have an opportunity to do more. Things are in place and we can continue this success. We’ve had consistency of winning and we’ve gone to the playoffs four out of five years.”

Rivera has been a rock for an organization in the midst of change. Panthers president Danny Morrison resigned last year and general manager Dave Gettleman was fired on the eve of training camp by team owner Jerry Richardson.

Then Richardson came under investigation by the NFL for alleged sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace and announced he is selling the team after the season is over following an inflammatory report by Sports Illustrated. It’s unclear if the new owners will keep the team in Charlotte.

On the field, the Panthers have been fairly consistent outside of a disappointing 6-10 season a year ago.

Rivera oversaw an NFC-record 18-game regular-season winning streak that spanned the 2014 and 2015 seasons and led to Carolina’s Super Bowl appearance in 2015, which they lost 24-10 to the Denver Broncos. Carolina’s .576 winning percentage during Rivera’s tenure is seventh best in the NFL during that time.

Rivera was brought to Carolina for his defensive expertise, and the Panthers put together four consecutive top-10 finishes in yards allowed from 2012-15, joining Seattle as the only teams to do so. Carolina is ranked seventh in defense this season.

Its defense finished third in the NFL with 50 sacks during the regular season, and it is the only team in the NFL to not allow an individual 100-yard rusher in any game this season. The Panthers set a franchise record by going 20 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard individual rusher, the longest active streak in the league.

Carolina’s offense has finished in the top 10 in the NFL in yards rushing per game in six of the past seven seasons, including a fourth-place mark this season at 131.4 yards per game.

”This is a tremendous place with tremendous support from ownership and the people that work in the organization Mark Stone Jersey ,” Rivera said. ”And I really appreciate the support we’ve gotten from our fans in the Carolinas. That’s a big reason why I want to continue my association with this organization.”

The Panthers have developed plenty of stars under Rivera.

Carolina has produced 28 Pro Bowl and 18 All-Pro selections, including four-time All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton.

Rivera played nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl XX winning team.



The Washington Capitals have waited nearly 44 years to raise the Stanley Cup for the first time.

Their only remaining obstacles are some desert-dwelling misfits who refuse to wait for anything.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights are just four wins away from an astounding championship when they host Alex Ovechkin’s long-striving Caps on Monday night to open a thoroughly improbable Stanley Cup Final.

Even the players from the NHL’s last two teams standing seemed a bit surprised by their achievements when they gathered Sunday in balmy 84-degree Nevada weather.

”Who would have thunk it?” asked Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt, who played the previous four seasons for the Capitals. ”The Stanley Cup Final that was never meant to be, right?”

Indeed, a first-time NHL champ will be crowned next month after a Final between two teams that arrived at hockey’s ultimate destination from very different directions. While the Caps finally climbed over the hump in the Eastern Conference, the Golden Knights have been bulldozing every logical obstacle in their path since October.

”We’ve been able to do some things in the playoffs, but we never got to that last stage until now,” Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. ”And everybody knows what Vegas did in the first year is very special. We’re both hungry. This is going to be a beast of a series.”

The Golden Knights have exceeded every expectation by utilizing a rich expansion draft and multiple clever coaching moves to create a team that dominated the Pacific Division and then rampaged through the Western Conference playoffs. Their story still carries a ring of impossibility, but they’re close to adding a real ring to every hand in the dressing room full of self-described ”Golden Misfits,” as their T-shirts say.

The Capitals have repeatedly fallen short of their postseason goals during Ovechkin’s career, including a heartbreaking shutout loss to Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 7 of the second round against Pittsburgh last spring. After falling to Fleury’s champion Penguins in the past two postseasons Womens Clay Matthews Jersey , the Caps revamped their roster with youth and finally overcame years of playoff disappointment to reach their first Final in two decades. Of course, Fleury is in the way again – in goal for the Golden Knights.

Neither team was the favorite to get this far. Neither team is ready to stop now.

While Capitals coach Barry Trotz skated his now-customary hot lap before practice at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights had their usual standing room-only crowd for practice at their training complex in suburban Summerlin.

Their grip on this sports-hungry town was already strong, and the 24-hour gambling mecca will come to a standstill this week during the Cup games in the arena behind the New York New York hotel-casino and its 150-foot Statue of Liberty, which has been wearing a Golden Knights jersey since April.

Speaking of larger-than-life figures in hockey sweaters, this series showcases two major talents who can cement a legacy.

Ovechkin is a formidable scorer and competitor, but he has never won an Olympic medal with Russia or a Stanley Cup ring with the Caps. He’s keeping a sense of humor about this momentous trip: With a straight face Sunday, Ovechkin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had called him to wish him luck, before adding: ”I’m just joking.”

”We want to be here,” Ovechkin said. ”We work so hard all year. I don’t think nobody believes in us, and nobody believes in Vegas Dave Robinson Jersey , and we’re right now in the Stanley Cup Finals, and we fight for a Cup. Come enjoy this moment.”

Fleury already has three Stanley Cup rings, but he has added another incredible act to his career with tenacious play for the Golden Knights, whose inexperienced pros have leaned on him to get through tough nights.

”I think it’s weird seeing that team here, being in the Cup the first year,” said Brooks Orpik, the only Washington player with a ring. ”Obviously, I’m not surprised (Fleury) is here. Without him, they weren’t beating us last year. He singlehandedly won a couple of games for (Pittsburgh) when we totally outplayed them.”

Here are more things to know about the ice hockey event in the Mojave:

COACHING CROWN

The winning coach also will raise the Stanley Cup for the first time in a fitting peak to two careers built on resilience. The 55-year-old Trotz never played in the NHL, but his 19th season as an NHL coach is ending in his first Cup Final. Gerard Gallant was a solid NHL forward for Detroit, but the 54-year-old bench boss had never even won a playoff round as an NHL coach before this spring.

(TURN)OVER KNIGHTS

Several Capitals pointed out the importance of minimizing turnovers against the Golden Knights Tim Heed Jersey , whose counterattacking acumen and team speed cause problems. ”They’re a very fast team and when you turn pucks over, they’re like a shark smelling blood in the water,” Oshie said. ”They all stop on a dime and want to take it the other way. That’s how they get a lot of their offense.”

CAPTAIN CHARGE

Ovechkin could become the first Russian captain to raise the Stanley Cup. If the Knights win, they don’t have a captain to raise the Cup first. Gallant and GM George McPhee decided to rely on a six-man leadership council instead. ”I think that’s the best decision we ever made,” Gallant said. ”Sure, there’s guys who could have been captain in our group, but it was their first year – and we really didn’t think we’d be grabbing the (Western Conference) trophy the  Authentic Indianapolis Colts Jerseys