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On OSU's Jace Fry, Winterhawks and WHL finals, Rose Garden naming rights and more

Notes, quotes and anecdotes …

• Jace Fry could make his 2013 debut this weekend when fifth-ranked Oregon State plays host to California in a three-game Pac-12 series at Goss Stadium.

Fry, the sophomore southpaw rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last June, pitched during the Beavers' Monday practice session.

"He threw well," OSU coach Pat Casey says. "Now we'll see how he feels (on Tuesday). Whether he can throw this weekend will be a decision Jace, the doctor and trainer will make together."

Casey says he would use Fry in relief if he is available.

"Jace has done an exceptional job of rehab," the OSU skipper says. "He has done everything you're supposed to do five times over."

• A bonus to the Winterhawks' berth in the Western Hockey League finals -- which begin Friday night at the Rose Garden against the winner of Tuesday night's Calgary-Edmonton game -- would be an anticipated pre-series media session with commissioner Ron Robison.

Robison, you remember, handed out the sanctions for "violating the league's player-benefit guidelines" that included a $200,000 fine, the season-long suspension of general manager/head coach Mike Johnston and the loss of first-round Bantam draft choices for five straight years, and their first five picks this year.

Since then, Robison has declined requests by the Portland Tribune to discuss the heavy-handed sanctions.

Curiously, Robison appeared at a news conference prior to the Eastern Conference finals. There was no such availability before the Western Conference finals.

Graham Kendrick, media-relations director for the Winterhawks, says the East's news conference happened because Canada's Shaw TV carried the entire series live and didn't do the West.

"We're discussing with the league whether we'll hold a former press conference like we did (before the WHL finals) two years ago, or something different," Kendrick says. "But as I understand it, Ron will be" available to answer media questions.

• Though Winterhawks owner Bill Gallacher tells the Oregonian, "I don't think there was ever any kind of discussions" to bring an NHL franchise to Portland, Gallacher has had plenty of interest in doing just that.

Gallacher, a billionaire oil magnate from Calgary who has owned the Winterhawks since 2008, has been involved in talks to purchase at least three NHL franchises in recent years.

Gallacher's righthand man is Ken Stickney, president of Avenir Sports and Entertainment, an entity in Gallacher's considerable financial empire. In December 2011, Stickney told the Tribune, "we have talked to the Trail Blazers conceptually about bringing an NHL team to Portland, but nothing in depth."

The Hawks are interested in part because of the Rose Garden.

"It's a Class A-plus building that's hockey-ready," Stickney said then. "There aren't a lot of those around that don't have NHL teams."

• For the first time since the Rose Garden opened in 1995, the Blazers are in active pursuit of a company willing to spend millions for naming rights of the arena.

"In the past, we had an alternative strategy that involved pylons that could be sold for at least as much revenue as additional naming of the facility," owner Paul Allen explained in a media availability prior to the Blazers' season finale against Golden State. "With all franchises, you want to be on positive financial footing."

Allen says he personally chose the name "Rose Garden," both to reflect the City of Roses and to follow along the lines of other arenas such as the Boston Garden or New York's Madison Square Garden.

"There was something in those names that appealed to me as having permanence," he said. "I have an attachment (to the name)."

Allen made it sound as if he'd like to keep "Rose Garden" in the arena's name, no matter what the sponsor.

"I understand people's investment in a particular name," he said.

• Things thing just don't sound right: LeBron James complaining that "it definitely sucks" to finish second in the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year balloting behind Memphis' Marc Gasol. … Coach Cindy Parlow Cone referring to the Thorns' home crowd as "the 12th person." … ESPN radio's Scott Van Pelt referring to himself on air as "SVP." … TNT's Kenny Smith calling Golden State's Seth Curry and Klay Thompson "the greatest shooters in NBA history." … and by the way, there's irony that Mark Jackson -- an excellent coach but a lousy shooter during his playing days -- is coaching Curry and Thompson with the Warriors.

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