Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., was up 3-1 in the first set of the tournament’s final when American opponent Serena Williams called for a medical timeout. Less than a minute later, the chair umpire announced that Williams was retiring from the match, handing Andreescu her second WTA Premier title of the season.
“I’m speechless right now. I’m the first Canadian who got to the finals and has won this tournament since 1969,” Andreescu told the Aviva Centre crowd on Sunday afternoon after being presented with the Rogers Cup trophy in an on-court ceremony. “This been a dream come true, really.
“This week has not been easy. I’ve had many many tough matches.”
Faye Urban of Windsor, Ont., beat Vancouver’s Vicki Berner in the 1969 final, when the tournament was still played on clay courts and called the Canadian Open.
The 19-year-old Andreescu has now won 17 consecutive matches, not counting when she has had to retire from matches due to injury herself.
Andreescu has victories over seven of the top 10 players in the world this season. Her world ranking will rise from 27th to 14th on Monday. Her previous high was 22nd.
She and golfer Brooke Henderson are early front runners for the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award, The Canadian Press’s female athlete of the year honour.
Henderson has won two LPGA events this season and has set the all-time Canadian record for wins by a professional golfer.
The Rogers Cup was Andreescu’s first tournament after a right-shoulder injury sidelined her since the French Open in May.
“What I’ve been through the past two months has not been easy,” said Andreescu when addressing fans. “I kept telling myself ‘never give up.’ I’m trying to look at my injury not as a setback but more of a challenge. I tried to embrace it as much as I can.”
Andreescu had been on the court more than any other player at this year’s Rogers Cup at 10 hours 54 minutes heading into Sunday’s final. The tournament’s final lasted only 16 minutes before Williams withdrew.
After the chair umpire announced Williams’s retirement the former world No. 1 started to cry on her bench. Andreescu went over to comfort her, hugging her and telling Williams how much she admires the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
“I’m not a crier, but, thank you guys,” said Williams as she choked back tears after accepting the second-place cheque. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do it today. I tried but I just couldn’t do it.
“But thanks to Jehovah for letting me even come out here today. Bianca, you’re a great sportswoman.”
Williams’s retirement was the last in a strung of high-profile injuries at this year’s Rogers Cup. Fourth-seeded Simona Halep withdrew from her quarter-final matchup with Marie Bouzkova.
On the men’s side, Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., retired after two sets against Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in a much-anticipated all-Canadian matchup. Sixteenth-seeded Gael Monfils then withdrew before his semi-final against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
Blue Jays lose to Mariners (Jays 0-7 Mariners)
Mariners 7 Blue Jays 0
We were supposed to get a bunch of home runs against Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi but we didn’t get much of any type of hit against him. He allowed just 2 hits and 1 walk, with 9 strikeouts against us. We just couldn’t figure him out all day.
The Mariners hit a bunch of home runs, four of them.
Our opener, Wilmer Font gave up a solo homer (just clearing the wall), plus two other hits, with 3 strikeouts in his 2 innings.
Thomas Pannone pitched 3.2, gave up 2 more home runs, 4 hits total, 3 earned, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He wasn’t good today. One of the homers just barely cleared the wall, the other one was hit hard.
Sam Gaviglio gave up a solo shot in his his 1.1 and had a strikeout.
In Justin Shafer we finally had a picture not give up a home run. He did gave up a single and a walk with a strikeout in his inning.
Zack Godley gave up 2 more runs (without the aid of a home run) in his inning. He might have been helped out but Randal Grichuk decided to throw to second instead of throwing to the cutoff man, allowing a runner from second to score easy.
Kikuchi pitched a complete game shutout. Grichuk had a single and Brandon Drury (he was the only Jay to make it to second base) had a double and that was it for hitting. Cavan Biggio had 3 strikeouts.
The game was over in 2 hours and 25 minutes.
Tomorrow is an off day and then we have 3 in LA against the Dodgers.
No Jays of the Day.
Suckage: Pannone (-.159 WPA), and Jansen (-.095).
The GameThread zipped along too, only time for 162 comments. I led us to a dismal effort.
Edmonton Oilers GM Faces A Daunting Challenge
As yet another disappointing season draws to a close for the Edmonton Oilers, the focus of their long-suffering fan base shifts toward what could be a crucial offseason.
The Oilers are expected to hire a new general manager and head coach this summer. Whoever fills the GM role will have their hands full attempting to rebuild a once-proud franchise mired in mediocrity due to years of mismanagement.
As this season ends, the Oilers are composed of two superstar forwards (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), a good two-way center (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), a couple of young defensemen (Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse) who may or may not blossom into reliable top-pairing rearguards, an expensive power forward whose best seasons are well behind him (Milan Lucic) and, as the Edmonton Journal‘s David Staples recently observed, a bunch of fourth liners.
Quibbling over what forwards like Zack Kassian or Alex Chiasson or defensemen such as Andrej Sekera, Kris Russell or Adam Larsson bring to the ice is pointless. Whatever their qualities, they’re not enough to turn the Oilers into a perennial playoff contender.
The Oilers woes have prompted some fans and pundits to suggest they’re wasting McDavid’s best years. The same could also be said of Draisaitl. McDavid and Draisaitl may be signed through the middle of the next decade, but they could their respective futures in Edmonton if things haven’t improved before then.
For years, the complaint about the Oilers’ front office was it was an old-boys network dominated by ex-Oilers who were buried too deeply within their own bubble. But now-former GM Peter Chiarelli, who built the Boston Bruins into a Stanley Cup champion in 2011, wasn’t from that network when he was hired in 2015.
Either Chiarelli’s decisions during his tenure in Edmonton were affected by too much meddling from higher up, he had already lost the golden touch he once had or a combination of both. His successor must be someone who’s not an Oilers alumni and still in his management prime with a proven record for turning around a struggling franchise.
The next Oilers GM could have perhaps a three-year window to turn things around. He won’t have the luxury of taking a year to evaluate the roster before making significant changes.
It certainly won’t be easy. For starters, he’ll have to find a way to shed some salary-cap space. With over $71.7 million invested in 16 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Oilers could have less than $12 million to work with this summer assuming the salary cap reaches the projected $83 million for 2019-20.
The good news is they don’t face any expensive re-signings this summer. The bad news is freeing up additional cap space will be difficult
The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell (subscription required) recently listed Lucic, Sekera, and Russell as three possible cost-cutting candidates, using the savings to bring in speed, skill and goaltending depth.
Buying out the remaining four years of Lucic’s contract isn’t a good option, leading Mitchell to suggest packaging Lucic with a prospect and pick up part of his salary in a trade. Given Lucic’s decline and remaining contract tenure, that’s easier said than done. Buying out the remaining two years of Sekera’s contract and trading Russell appears the more likely scenarios.
Figuring out what to do with struggling Jesse Puljujarvi will be another issue. The 20-year-old winger still has the potential to blossom into a scoring winger. Surgery to repair a hip condition might also rectify his inconsistent play. So could playing for a coach with the patience to help him rediscover his scoring touch.
Bolstering the goaltending is another priority. Chiarelli may have felt Mikko Koskinen was worth a three-year, $13.5-million contract extension (with a modified no-trade clause), but he’s yet to fully establish himself as their starter.
Adding another experienced netminder to share the duties with Koskinen – or even challenge him for the starter’s role – without breaking the bank is a must. The market for free-agent goaltenders this summer isn’t very deep but maybe someone like New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner could be worth pursuing if he hits the open market in July.
What to do with their 2019 first-round pick is a key question. The Oilers could get lucky and win next month’s draft lottery, which will likely cause a meltdown of hockey’s Twitter universe. They currently have only a five percent chance of winning, but could still finish with a pick among the top-10.
It might be worthwhile seeing what that pick could fetch in the trade market, especially if it’s the first-overall selection. Granted, it would take a substantial offer to pry that away from them. But if they could also package someone like Russell or Sekera in the deal, maybe they could land a quality return that would have an immediate positive impact while clearing some cap space in the process.
John Tavares hits Florida with four
The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their run of great play, but this time actually put the puck in behind their opponent, as they put up seven on the Florida Panthers in a 7-3 win that turned into a 7-5 scoreline in garbage time. Yes, I’m sticking to my guns on this. In game 76, this was essentially game one of a pseudo seven-game series to end the season. Hopefully the Leafs can use this as practice for the inevitable fight against the Boston Bruins.
John Tavares took charge of the offense in this game, putting up four goals on five shots in 19 minutes of play. Mitchell Marner put up three assists in a supporting effort, while William Nylander and Morgan Rielly each had two assists of their own. It was also a milestone night, as Zach Hyman scored his 20th goal, the first of his career. Rielly also got his 69th and 70th points on the season. He now shares the spotlight with Tomas Kaberle as the only defenseman since the Borje Salming era to put up 50 assists in one season.
John Tavares has established a new single-game career-high with four goals tonight. #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 26, 2019
Within the first two minutes, the Leafs took advantage of a defensive breakdown when the Panthers threw too many guys forward. Kasperi Kapanen carried the puck from the defensive zone into the offensive zone before handing the puck over to Nazem Kadri. As he went to the front of the net, Kadri found Patrick Marleau with a brilliant pass and the old man buried his 16th goal of the season.
The third line had been really unproductive for the Maple Leafs in recent games. The three players combined for two goals and nine assists in those games (Kadri: 4a, Kapanen: 1g, 3a, Marleau: 1g, 2a), but right off the bat, the trio that will likely get the easiest matchups in four of hopefully seven games against the Bruins all combined for a very convincing goal.
Jake Muzzin kept the pace up with a goal of his own about two more minutes later, his ninth of the season. The real breakdown for the Panthers came when Nikita Zaitsev pinched down along the boards and won the puck away from the Panthers who were attempting a rush. Andreas Johnsson was covering the point and was able to grab the puck and throw it to a lonely Muzzin on the other side of the ice.
And on that goal, Samuel Montembeault got pulled for Roberto Luongo just 4:21 on the ice. After giving up eight goals on 42 shots dating back to Saturday against the Boston Bruins — which is equivalent to a .809 save percentage — it’s not a surprise this was the quickest goalie pull in Leafs history. In other news, I’m super glad the Leafs have Michael Hutchinson.
Josh Brown, who is apparently a real player, took a slashing penalty midway through the period and the Leafs promptly capitalized with the man-advantage. Auston Matthews took a shot from his usual spot at the faceoff dot and John Tavares tipped the puck in for the first goal of his hat-trick night. This was Tavares’ ninth power play goal this season, which is only two behind James van Riemsdyk’s 11 from the season previous. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that he surpasses that total and Kadri’s team-leading 12 ppgs from last season. Also, JVR had 36 goals last year while Tavares ended up with 45 by the end of the night.
Jayce Hawryluk beat Hainsey to the net off a rush and tipped the puck through Freddy Andersen’s pads to put the Panthers on the board late in the first period. Mike Hoffman carried the puck down the length of the ice and shot the puck for the tip. Thanks a lot, Ottawa.
At the end of a shift, William Nylander got the puck from Andreas Johnsson before he pealed to the bench. Nylander circled the offensive zone before finding Zach Hyman join the play. Hyman burst diagonally across the middle of the ice and fed Tavares in front of the net for his second goal of the night, restoring the three-goal lead less than two minutes after giving it up.
The Panthers got one back near the end of the period when Mike Matheson took a shot from the point that got through several bodies in front and Freddy. Credit to Vincent Trocheck for his work along the boards against Zaitsev and Tavares to get the puck to the point, he got a primary assist for his efforts.
It was a great period offensively for the Leafs, but they gave up a little too much at the other end. At 5v5, the Leafs were ahead in shot attempts (22-19), shots (14-9), and scoring chances (12-11).
The #Leafs are on pace for the second-most 5v5 shot attempts (66) and most 5v5 shots (42) this season.
— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) March 25, 2019
Hat trick alert! Tavares got his third of the night on a great play by Morgan Rielly off the rush. Rielly’s centering pass was his 49th of the season, and 69th point. Nylander got his second secondary assist on this play after carrying the puck out of the defensive zone en route to a line change.
Troy Brouwer ran into Freddy Andersen causing a pause in the play. Andersen looked okay to continue, and the Leafs courteously proceeded to spend the next few minutes in the offensive zone to help ease the pressure, so hopefully all is good moving forward.
The Leafs didn’t let up offensively at all in the second period. They once again had over a shot attempt per minute with 18 in just over 15 5v5 minutes. Unfortunately, the Panthers kept right up with them, keeping the differentials relatively close. After two, the shot attempts were (18-17), shots were in favour of Florida (9-10), while the Leafs had the edge in scoring chances (10-7).
At this point the game was just getting silly as Tavares scored his fourth goal of the game, matching some guy named Auston Matthews who also had four goals in a game recently. Tavares is also now the 16th Leaf since 1967 expansion to score four goals or more. Only three have five or more, including Darryl Sittler, who has six. Marner and Hyman drew the assists on this particular tally. Surprisingly, this was only the fourth time those three combined for a goal, Rielly has been getting a lot of those assists, breaking up the trio.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored a few minutes later when he batted the puck in right at the side of the net off an Aleksander Barkov shot off the rush. Zaitsev smashed his stick on the post, unhappy with how his team was unable to contain the only players worth caring about on the Panthers.
Zach “Stone hands” Hyman put up his 20th goal of the season off a great stickhandling play in front of the net. Rielly got the primary assist on this goal, his 50th assist and 70th point of the season.
At this point, the Leafs somewhat turned it off and attempted to cruise for the last 10 minutes of the game. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a four-goal lead?
Oh my god, please don’t. After a brief skirmish between several players that resulted in a Panthers power play, Jayce Hawryluk scored his second goal of the game and seventh of the season. With more than two minutes left, could the Leafs not do stuff like this? It’s really not good for my mental health.
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