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Hired Two sources reported that the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have hired a system arbitrator to rule on Ilya Kovalchuk and his rejected, 17-year, $102 million contract and that a hearing date and site have been agreed upon. The sources said a decision is expected to be handed down by Friday or next Saturday.

• University of Puget Sound athletic director Amy Hackett announced the hiring of Havre, Mont., native Loree Payne as the school’s women’s basketball coach. Payne spent the last three years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Washington.

Signed Forward Josh Howard signed his one-year contract to return to the Washington Wizards. The deal could pay Howard as much as $4 million if he meets certain incentives. The sides reached agreement on the contract Wednesday. The Wizards also signed No. 17 overall pick Kevin Seraphin, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Chicago Bulls. Seraphin, a 6-foot-9 forward from French Guyana, spent the past four years playing for Cholet Basket.

• Free-agent center Dominic Moore signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Moore appeared in 69 games last season with the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens.

• The Boston Bruins signed forward Blake Wheeler to a one-year contract. In two seasons with Boston, Wheeler has 39 goals and 44 assists in the regular season but just one goal and five assists in 21 postseason games.

Extended Hendrick Motorsports signed Jeff Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte to a multiyear extension. Letarte has been with Gordon since 2005.

Explained West Virginia University says basketball coach Bob Huggins fell and broke ribs because medication taken on an empty stomach left him lightheaded. President James Clements and athletic director Oliver Luck told the Charleston Daily Mail that Huggins stood too quickly, tripped and fell into a table in his Las Vegas hotel room last week. Huggins broke seven ribs and was hospitalized for several days.

Talking Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said that the NCAA had been on the Tigers’ campus this week to talk with two members of the football team. The NCAA is investigating Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina in connection with possible rules violations at a party in Miami.

Lost Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin lost an appeal of a decision stripping him of his 2008 Olympic silver medal for doping. He could now be suspended by cycling’s governing body and stripped of other race results.