HAWKS' TOEWS A MESSIER AWARD FINALIST: The Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews are finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.
The NHL announced Tuesday the finalists who exemplify "great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season."
Messier solicits suggestions from club and league personnel, along with NHL fans, to compile a list of potential candidates. The Hockey Hall of Famer, who captained the New York Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup title, will determine who gets the award.
The winner will be announced June 24 in Las Vegas during the NHL Awards show.
PACERS STILL SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS TO STRUGGLES: The Pacers can't get anything right these days.
Their offense is stagnant. Their defense is being shredded. Suddenly, the team that talked all season about getting home-court advantage is one loss away from being just the sixth No. 1 seed to make a first-round exit.
Nobody thought it was possible 2½ months ago, but nobody expected the Pacers to embark on one of the biggest collapses in league history, either.
All-Star center Roy Hibbert has been nullified by Atlanta's spread offense, team chemistry is in shambles and coach Frank Vogel's job could be in jeopardy, too. The only way to salvage the season now is to win two straight — something Indiana's regular starters haven't done since mid-March.
Game 6 is Thursday night.
POLICE SAY ALL-STAR RING STOLEN FROM PAUL GEORGE: Pacers star Paul George had his platinum All-Star ring valued at $15,000 stolen from his home Monday night.
The Indianapolis police report said there was no forced entry in the burglary, estimating the total value of items taken at nearly $16,000. The ring from the 2014 game included multiple diamonds. Also taken was a watch valued at $700.
George's parents, who attended Monday night's playoff game against Atlanta, reported the theft shortly before midnight and not long after the Pacers lost 107-97 to fall into a 3-2 deficit in their best-of-seven series with the Hawks.
A pair of sneakers, valued at $170, and a $20 bill also were reportedly taken.
COMMITTEE WON'T DICTATE NUMBER OF CONFERENCE GAMES: College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock says the selection committee does not want to dictate how many conference games leagues play.
Hancock and the conference commissioners are meeting this week to work out the remaining details of the four-team playoff that will replace the Bowl Championship Series this season.
The Southeastern Conference recently announced it will stay with an eight-game league schedule instead of going to nine games. The Pac-12 and Big 12 play nine league games and the Big Ten is moving to nine. The Atlantic Coast Conference plays eight league games, plus five of its teams will now play Notre Dame each season.
Hancock says the "totality" of a team's schedule will be evaluated by the selection committee for its difficulty.
BUSCH GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH INDYCAR TESTING: Kurt Busch felt comfortable in his new IndyCar — despite dealing with some tricky winds in Indianapolis.
He's the fourth driver to try to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Both races are scheduled for May 25.
Busch and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve were among a handful of drivers who tested their cars on the historic 2.5-mile oval Tuesday. It didn't take long for Busch or Villeneuve to pass the rookie orientation program.
Villeneuve, who hasn't raced in the 500 since winning the race in 1995, turned a fast lap of 217.8 mph.
Busch, who tested here last year but is considered a 500 rookie, topped 220 before rain washed out the final 45 minutes of practice.
CRUSADERS LOSE TO WESTERN MICHIGAN: Valparaiso left 11 men on base in a 3-2 loss to Western Michigan on Tuesday at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Redshirt sophomore Michael Morman hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Crusaders (15-23) a 2-0 lead. Western Michigan responded with three runs in its half of the second.
Valpo will host Chicago State at 3 p.m. today.
Around the horn
The Valparaiso University softball team's home doubleheader Tuesday against IUPUI was canceled due to poor field conditions. The games will not be made up. The Crusaders will return to action today at Indiana.