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Aaron Brown beats Andre DeGrasse in 100m at Canadian Championships

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Aaron Brown wanted to beat Andre De Grasse at his best.

And in a thrilling 100-metre final, that took officials peering at a photo finish a full five minutes to decide, he did.

Brown captured his second consecutive 100 title at the Canadian track and field championships on Friday, running 10.021 seconds edge De Grasse by three-hundredths of a second.

Crystal Emmanuel won the women’s event in 11.17 seconds.

Brown beat De Grasse last year as well, a day before De Grasse suffered a second hamstring injury that ended his season.

“I knew from last year when I won, when (De Grasse) came back to form, I knew if I didn’t win this year that (win) would get nullified. So to speak within the media because they would say ‘Oh he was hurt. Your win last year was only because he was hurt,”’ Brown said.

Aaron Brown was quicker out of the blocks, but De Grasse, a triple Olympic medallist, closed hard over the final 20 metres, bringing a Claude Robillard Stadium crowd – it included Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi and retired MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre – to its feet.

Then the wait was on to determine the winner. The runners didn’t take their eyes off the scoreboard until Brown’s name flashed at the top. The 27-year-old from Toronto erupted in screams, running down the track pumping his fists.

“Never (waited that long),” Brown laughed. “Oh my god. That was crazy. I guess that just comes with it, a heavy dose of drama at the end of a 100 metres.”

The close finish was the punctuation mark on a thrilling night of racing. Both sprinters dipped under the 10-second barrier in the 100-metre semifinals, setting up the sizzling final.

De Grasse, wearing custom-made white Pumas with blue Sonic the Hedgehog on the toes, cruised to a time of 9.98 to win a heat that was plagued by three false starts.

Brown, with a Nike swoosh shaved in his hair, then did him one better, tying his personal best of 9.96 two heats later.

“I saw in the first heat he ran .98 and I knew I had to respond,” Brown said. “I could see it, the narrative shifting, ‘Oh he’s back, Andre this and that,’ and I would get lost in the fold. So I said ‘No, not this year.’ I said ‘I’ve got to drop (a sub 10-second time) too.’ If that’s what he’s setting the bar at, I have to respond.”

They couldn’t replicate the fast times two hours later. Temperatures had dropped, and the wind – both sprinters benefited from tailwind in the semis – had died.

Aaron Brown and De Grasse are friends off the track. But they’ve built a fierce rivalry on it. And Friday’s race perhaps provided a preview of Canada’s 1-2 punch at the world championships in October in Doha.

“I want to prove I’m a contender on the world stage, I know he is, he’s already proved it with his medals. I know I’m capable of it, so that’s my next aim,” Brown said.

De Grasse, a 24-year-old from Markham, Ont., was hoping to regain his Canadian title after two hamstring injuries shelved the better part of the past two seasons. De Grasse owned the Canadian 100 title between 2015 and ’17.

Disappointed by Friday’s result?

“I’m not at all, I’m just happy to be back,” said De Grasse, whose time in the semis was his fastest since Rio. “Fighting injuries for the past two years, I’m just happy to be back here on the track, getting back to where I was running before, getting close to my personal best, I feel like I’m in good shape, I feel like I’m ready for the rest of the season.”

De Grasse had never waited so long for a result either.

“That was crazy to wait that long,” he said. “It’s weird, you wait that long and you don’t even know really know who won. How do you wait that long to come out with a result? But it’s OK, I’ll take my lessons and get better.”

Brown will look to repeat as the Canadian 200 champion, while De Grasse is only racing the 100 metres in Montreal.

Earlier in the night, Cristabel Nettey won the women’s long jump with a mark of 6.41 metres, while Brittany Crew won the women’s shot put with a throw of 18.65 metres.

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Don Cherry comes back with a new show

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They may have knocked Don Cherry to the ice with a hit he didn’t see coming.

Now watch him get back up.

You people out there who want the 85-year-old Cherry back, here’s the news you have been hoping for.  You people who wanted him to fade away are out of luck as the former NHL coach of the year is going to be able to exercise his free speech, after all.

Don Cherry’s Grapevine is back once again. This time as a podcast.

Coach’s Corner may be “no more” as his one-time Hockey Night in Canada sidekick Ron MacLean announced on Saturday. Cherry was fired by Rogers and Sportsnet for his “you people” who “come here” comment that was misunderstood and later spun as discriminatory.

Cherry wanted his opportunity to properly explain it. Now he is going to get that chance.

You read it right: Don Cherry and his no-holds-barred views are coming back on the air.

The Toronto Sun has learned you won’t have to wait long for the first installment of the new Grapevine. It will drop Tuesday morning and be available on Spotify and other streaming services every Monday during the hockey season.

And yes, the very first one will address Cherry’s firing from Sportsnet.

“But that’s not all we talked about,” Cherry told me Monday. “We are talking hockey, of course. It’s going to be terrific. In this one I am talking about The Rocket (Maurice Richard), one of the all-time greats.”

One thing for sure about the new show is MacLean will not be in his foxhole.

So who will be?

You may have noticed the word “we” in Don’s comments and since so many scrutinize every word he says and what he means by it, I asked.

Turns out Grapes has a new co-host. And perhaps hosts.

“My son, Tim, is going to do it with me and my grandson Del,” said Grapes. 

At least he knows they won’t turn on him when the waters get rough as MacLean did.

“They did great,” Don said of Tim and Del. ”I think people are really going to enjoy this one and the ones we do down the road.”

Tim Cherry tells me the plan is to tape and post it every Monday.

“That way we cover off what happened on the weekend in hockey,” said Tim. “It’s going to be fun.”

For Don’s fans, who are already missing him and unlikely to tune into whatever Sportsnet comes up with to replace the 38-year-old segment, this will give them the opportunity to hear what he has to say. For Don himself, it will connect him with the hockey fans and players he loves while getting back on horse quickly.

It will be in audio broadcast to start with but Tim says it could grow into a TV-style show with cameras and sponsors.

If The Grapevine title sounds familiar it’s because Don’s television show, which Tim produced, was on the air from 1982-93 — filmed in Hamilton.

The new project will feature Don talking about the NHL and hockey and whatever he wants without any censorship.

If he wants to talk about poppies, he can do it without being fired. If he wants to talk about the troops or cops or firefighters or honour the fallen, no one can tell him to keep his nose out of it.

Mostly the plan is to talk hockey. And he won’t have just seven minutes to get it all out.

“The first podcast is about half an hour,” said Tim.

But if they ever find themselves in a position to need more time, or less, the beauty of podcasts is there are no constricting rules.

It also keeps Grapes in game shape while he considers other potential TV offers and opportunities.

Mostly it’s just the perfect outlet for Don Cherry to do what he does best: Be Don Cherry.

Yes Coach’s Corner is over: The new Grapevine has just been planted. Just call this the coach’s comeback! 

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Injuries sideline Habs Drouin, Byron indefinitely

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Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron will be out of the lineup indefinitely as the result of injuries they suffered in Friday night’s win over the Capitals in Washington.

Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron will be out of the lineup indefinitely as the result of injuries they suffered in Friday night’s win over the Capitals in Washington.

Drouin underwent wrist surgery on Monday, and Byron is scheduled to undergo knee surgery on Tuesday.

“We’ll a better idea of a timeline after the surgery,” coach Claude Julien said after the Canadiens practised in preparation for Tuesday’s road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The Canadiens recalled Charles Hudon from Laval. He played Saturday against New Jersey and was sent back to the minors after the game.

Julien said Carey Price will start in goal, and he will wait to decide on a goaltender for Wednesday’s home game against the Ottawa Senators.

phickey@postmedia.com

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NHL commissioner says Ron MacLean spoke from the heart

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TORONTO — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says Sportsnet broadcaster Ron MacLean “spoke from the heart” during his monologue on “Hockey Night in Canada” over the weekend.

MacLean opened the first intermission segment on Saturday night — the first since Cherry was fired last week — by speaking alone on camera for nearly five minutes.

Bettman, a panellist at today’s PrimeTime sports management conference in downtown Toronto, says MacLean “obviously made his feelings clear.”

Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure, saying he’s not going to start another news cycle.

Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Nov. 9 but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities.

MacLean, who apologized the day after, talked at length about his close relationship with Cherry but said he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2019.

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