Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
Mark Messier waits for the ring presentation at Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame press conference.


HALL WELCOMES FIVE: On the day he accepted hockey's greatest honor, Mark Messier remembered where it all began.

"It starts at home with the efforts put forth by your mother and father for all those early morning practices," he said before Monday night's ceremony. "All your minor-league hockey coaches who picked you up when your parents couldn't get there, your brothers and sisters, and all the players and coaches that helped you along the way."

Messier, the granite-jawed center who epitomized leadership on the ice, entered the Hockey Hall of Fame with Ron Francis, Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis, along with former executive Jim Gregory.

Messier, Francis, Stevens and MacInnis made the hall in their first year of eligibility, automatic inclusions that surprised no one. And they're not done writing their hockey stories.

Francis is assistant general and director of player development with the Carolina Hurricanes. Messier, a six-time Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, would like to be an NHL GM.

Stevens, who leads the NHL in games played by a defenseman with 1,635, has an open invitation from New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to jump on board.

MacInnis, a defenseman, was an important part of Calgary's lone NHL championship in 1989 but yearns to help deliver a Stanley Cup to St. Louis in his new capacity.

Gregory, inducted in the builders' category, was the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1969-70 to 1978-79.


YANKS, POSADA AGREE?: The New York Yankees and Jorge Posada agreed Monday night to a $52.4 million, four-year contract that keeps the catcher off the free-agent market.

Posada, a five-time All-Star who is 36, said Sunday he was "really close" to an agreement with the Yankees and his preference is to remain with the only major league team he's played for. A person familiar with the talks confirmed the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn't announce it.

ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: Ryan Braun won the NL Rookie of the Year award in one of the tightest votes, while Dustin Pedroia ran away with the AL honor Monday.

Braun, Milwaukee's brawny third baseman, edged Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by two points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Pedroia, the little Boston second baseman with the big swing, easily topped Tampa Bay outfielder Delmon Young. Generously listed at 5-foot-9, and playing with a broken left hand down the stretch, he helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series title.

Braun got 17 of the 32 first-place votes and finished with 128 points. Tulowitzki received 15 first-place votes and had 126 points.

Voting was done at the end of the regular season, before Pedroia and Tulowitzki met in the World Series.

CUBS TRADE JONES TO TIGERS: The Detroit Tigers addressed another need, acquiring outfielder Jacque Jones Monday from the Chicago Cubs for utility player Omar Infante.

Jones, who took over as Chicago's starting center fielder in the second half of the 2007 season, is expected to split time in left field with Marcus Thames and be an option in center behind Curtis Granderson and in right backing up Magglio Ordonez.

Jones hit .285 with 33 doubles, five homers and 66 RBIs in 135 games last season, coming close to matching the production he has had over his nine seasons. He signed with the Cubs as a free agent before the 2006 season after playing for the Minnesota Twins from 1999-2005.

DETROIT RE-SIGNS JONES: Todd Jones and the Detroit Tigers agreed on a $7 million, one-year deal Monday, the closer wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Re-signing Jones became even more important when reliever Joel Zumaya had shoulder surgery, costing him at least the first half of the 2008 season.


VIKES' PETERSON SIDELINED: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will miss Sunday's game against Oakland with a torn ligament in his right knee.

Coach Brad Childress said Monday that Peterson tore his lateral collateral ligament in the Vikings' 34-0 loss to Green Bay. Peterson will not require surgery, Childress said.