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$80 million brings Ross Atkins and Toronto Blue Jays more than just an ace – TSN

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For the price of one top-of-the-rotation starter, Ross Atkins also bought a change in perception.

Seen from the outside as a front office regime brought in to keep costs controlled and, potentially, stumble into contention every once in a while, wins were few and far between for Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays through his first four years on the job – both on the field and in the public eye.

After a couple of quiet, cost-cutting off-seasons, stories of the Blue Jays being aggressive in free agency from the outset this winter were met with eye rolls and a more than fair wait-and-see attitude.

That all changed late Sunday night when the Jays and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, one of the premier arms on the free-agent market, agreed to terms on a four-year, $80-million deal, a source confirmed.

One important detail in the contract is it does not contain any opt-outs, per sources, and there is a limited no-trade clause as well.

It’s by far the largest investment Atkins has made in a player, surpassing the three-year, $33-million deal he handed Kendrys Morales in the winter of 2016, and it’s also the second-largest total value free-agent contract in franchise history, just behind the $82.5 million deal Russell Martin signed in 2014.

When it comes to pitchers, it’s reminiscent of the contract J.P. Ricciardi used to lure A.J. Burnett to Toronto way back in December 2005, a five-year, $55-million pact.

That Burnett deal could be used as a comparison in a different way, too, as Ryu comes with similar health risks, making it a move that has the Atkins regime ready to shed its label as a risk-adverse front office.

As I wrote here on the final day of the winter meetings in San Diego earlier this month when it became very apparent Ryu was not only the apple of Atkins’ eye but also their best chance to land one of the upper-tier options on the pitching market, the Blue Jays had to go all-in.

The expected $20 million per year floor came to fruition, and it’s likely that the fourth year tacked on, one that will take Ryu through his age-36 season in 2023, was instrumental in getting the South Korean lefty to choose an American League East destination not named New York or Boston over a pair of rotation-needy Los Angeles clubs.

Ryu represented Atkins’ best chance to get a top-of-the-rotation starter for nothing but money, something that seemed like a pipe dream for many just a few short weeks ago.

Coming off a second-place finish in the National League Cy Young race and a 2.32 ERA, Ryu is inarguably exactly what the Blue Jays needed – an impact starter.

But his resume, however, is littered with health issues — Ryu has landed on the IL nine different times in six years with shoulder (twice), hip (twice), groin (twice), elbow, foot and neck injuries – leaving a whole lot of risk involved with a four-year commitment to a pitcher in his mid-30s.

Since arriving in the majors with the Dodgers in 2013, Ryu has thrown more than 150 innings just three times.

He threw 192 in his rookie year, followed by 152 in 2014.

From 2015 through 2018, however, Ryu was only able to make 40 starts total, before throwing 182.2 innings and winning 14 games this season.

With that being said, the timing was right for this type of risk in a number of ways.

Not only does it show a beaten-down fan base that everything they believed about this regime’s philosophy going forward was false, it also kicks the plan to be a legit contender by 2021 into overdrive.

There’s no doubt adding Ryu, along with veteran right-handers Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, makes the Blue Jays a better team in 2020, but it’s more about surrounding the young position player core with a couple more building blocks now, before adding a handful more next winter.

Had Atkins not been able to add an arm like Ryu now, it would have simply left more work to do in the future and the clock ticking on Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio’s cheap, pre-arbitration years.

You can’t build a rotation or a ball club in one off-season.

When 2021 arrives, the Jays envision a rotation headed by Ryu and Nate Pearson, followed by 2020 off-season addition X, Roark, and they’ll cross their fingers and hope one or two of the other internal options they’ve collected over the past couple of years can prove they’re capable of being part of the plan.

Where things go from here will be interesting.

Ryu could be the cherry on top of what now looks a successful off-season, or it could be just the start.

Rumours the Jays have checked in on David Price are legit, but the Boston Red Sox will have to pay around half of the $96 million he’s owed over the next three seasons or it’s not happening.

An upgrade is also desperately needed in centre field, while the bullpen now becomes a focus. Suddenly, a Ken Giles trade doesn’t seem as likely as it once did.

By no means is this team anything more than an everything-went-right wild-card contender in 2020 as the roster currently stands, but there’s now no mistaking what this front office is up to and their desire to win.

A player development machine with more than enough financial resources to keep players around and make free-agent splashes when the time is right is what the Blue Jays want to become, and we’re finally starting to see the two converge.

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Habs Headlines: The Canadiens defend decision to select Logan Mailloux – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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In today’s links, defending the Mailloux pick, QMJHL leads the charge in Habs draft picks, the Hughes brothers make history, and more.

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Jessica Klimkait wins judo bronze to make Canadian history – CBC.ca

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Having just lost the most devastating match of her career, a semifinal defeat to go for gold in the women’s under-57 kilogram judo event, Canada’s Jessica Klimkait wasn’t sure initially she could step back out on the mat for another match. 

She was heartbroken. The world’s number-one ranked judoka in her weight class, Klimkait imagined a golden moment in Tokyo to end her first Olympic experience.

But there was still a medal up for grabs. It was not the colour Klimkait wanted but it still a chance to step on the podium.

Klimkait cried a bit. She talked to her coach. And then not long after she got back on the mat for her bronze-medal match.

Inside the hallowed Nippon Budokan near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Klimkait showed resilience, power and poise to battle back and win bronze for Canada.

WATCH | Klimkait makes Canadian history, captures Olympic bronze:

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Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

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Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont., becomes first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in judo as she defeats Slovenia’s Kaja Kajzer to win the bronze medal. 10:34

“Right now I’m going to be emotional about missing that gold medal but I think looking back I’m going to be proud of myself because the last two or three years have been extremely hard,” Klimkait said. 

She defeated Slovenian Kaja Kajzer to become the first Canadian woman to land on the Olympic judo podium.

Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova won gold, while France’s Cysique won second. Japan’s Tsukasa Yoshina also won bronze as they award two third-place finishes in judo.

WATCH | Klimkait steps to the podium for her historic medal:

Jessica Klimkait receives the first ever Olympic medal to be awarded to a Canadian woman in judo. 1:14

It’s Canada’s first medal in judo since the 2012 Olympics.  

“I came here with gold in mind. That was the goal for me,” she said, fighting back tears.  

“At the end of the day I’m just happy I was able to collect myself after that loss and come away with a medal.”

Stunning loss in semis

But about an hour earlier Klimkait’s Olympic gold medal dreams were dashed by France’s Sarah Léonie Cysique.

The referee handed Klimkait a third shido, or penalty, after a failed attack. That gave Cysique a stunning win.

“I’m a really offensive player. The only solution that I had was that I was trying to attack. I kept trying to attack. Some of them were not as great as they could have been,” Klimkait conceded. 

Klimkait, 24, had to battle through four matches on Monday to secure the bronze, including the demoralizing semifinal.

“I just used all my mental strength that I could and kept it about trying to perform in the bronze medal match despite my emotions and some physical fatigue,” she said.

WATCH | Klimkait reflects on her historic medal for Canada:

Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont., discusses her victory in the women’s under-57 kilogram judo event. 1:24

Klimkait, from Whitby, Ont., has been carving a new path in the sport for Canada over the past number of years, alongside world No. 2, Canadian Christa Deguchi. 

But it wasn’t a completely smooth journey for Klimkait in becoming Olympic champion.

Just before the pandemic hit in March 2020 and COVID-19 shut down sports around the world, Klimkait and Deguchi were months away from a fight-off for Canada’s lone Olympic quota spot, and then Klimkait suffered a knee injury.

The pandemic pause was a blessing for Klimkait as she was able to rest and recover. She told CBC Sports that if she wouldn’t have gotten the time off, she wouldn’t have been able to train properly and would have lost the fight-off – that would have ended her Olympic dream.

WATCH | Sport Explainer – Judo:

Need a refresher on judo? Get to know the sport before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 2:23

With only one Olympic spot available per country per event in judo, it had been decided that whoever of the two finished higher at the 2021 worlds would get Canada’s 57kg berth.

In early June, Klimkait defeated Momo Tamaoki of Japan by waza-ari in the world final, becoming Canada’s second world champion in the sport after Deguchi won in 2019.

Klimkait won the world championship and booked her ticket to Tokyo. Deguchi finished fourth. 

“The last two or three years have been really uncertain for me in trying to qualify for the Olympics,” Klimkait said. 

“I had to tuck the dream of the Olympics away and try to get better at judo for a while. I just did my best to be the best player I could and hoped that would be enough for qualification.”

WATCH | Klimkait wins judo world championship gold, qualifies for Tokyo:

Jessica Klimkait of Whitby, Ont. became only the second Canadian to win a judo world championship title, defeating Momo Tamaoki of Japan in the women’s under-57 kilogram final in Budapest, while also earning the right to represent Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. 11:39

It was somewhat of a full-circle moment for the Canadian judo program – Canada’s first judo medal was won inside the same Budokan venue at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo by Doug Rogers, taking the heavyweight silver. 

It would take two decades before Canada would win another judo medal, as Mark Berger won heavyweight bronze at the 1984 Games.

Bronze medallist Canada’s Jessica Klimkait celebrates during the medal ceremony for the judo women’s -57kg contest at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on Monday. (Franck Fire/AFP via Getty Images)

Coming into these Games in Tokyo, Canada had won two silver medals and three bronze medals.

Canada hadn’t won an Olympic medal in judo for nine years. 

But Klimkait has ended the drought in the same place judo became an Olympic sport. 

“That’s been a goal and dream of mine not only to attend the Olympic Games but to be on the podium. Obviously the highest step on the podium would have been preferred,” she said.

“I still wanted to feel that pride even if it wasn’t gold.”

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Habs draft pick Logan Mailloux’s sharing of intimate photo raises questions about accountability, experts say – The Globe and Mail

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With the 31st pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected Logan Mailloux on July 23, 2021.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

The decision by the Montreal Canadiens to select a junior hockey player who shared explicit images without his sexual partner’s consent – and had asked not to be picked while he works on improving his character – has provoked a backlash inside and outside the hockey world.

The Canadiens used their first pick from among dozens of National Hockey League prospects to take Logan Mailloux, an Ontario defenceman who played in Sweden last season on loan from his Canadian junior team, the London Knights.

Mr. Mailloux, who has turned 18 since the 2020 incident, was playing with SK Lejon in Sweden’s third division last fall when he sent images to teammates of the sexual encounter, along with information that identified his female partner.

He was charged with distributing a sexual photo without consent in Sweden and paid fines amounting to $5,300. When news of the incident broke in North America last week on sports site Daily Faceoff, Mr. Mailloux released a statement asking NHL teams to avoid drafting him. “I don’t feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft,” he said.

The NHL has no mechanism for players to withdraw their candidacy. Mr. Mailloux was passed over by all other NHL teams with picks in the first round before the Canadiens made their choice.

Tara Slone, co-host of the weekly Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sportsnet, said she was disappointed and disgusted by the Canadiens and team general manager Marc Bergevin.

“It’s sort of jaw-dropping. You start thinking things are improving and the needle is moving a little bit, and we take a bunch of steps backward,” Ms. Slone said in an interview. “I quite frankly found it baffling and heartbreaking at the same time. As a woman who works in hockey, I could not comprehend the decision.”

Ms. Slone said many of the men who run hockey “know they can get away with it and hockey trumps everything. It’s consequence-free.”

Elliotte Friedman, Ms. Slone’s Sportsnet colleague, said she was far from alone in her dismay. People around the hockey world, including him, “felt sick to their stomachs” after the pick, he said. “It put a stain on what was a really good week for the sport,” Mr. Friedman said on his podcast. Hockey media stalwarts from TSN, including Craig Button and Bob McKenzie, also expressed shock and dismay.

Farrah Khan, manager of Consent Comes First, a support organization against sexual and gender violence at Ryerson University in Toronto, said the Canadiens showed a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of consent in brushing aside the incident and the player’s wish to be left alone to sort out his issues.

She questioned what the Canadiens have in place to help the player. “We know there’s a problem with misogyny in sports. He is one player of many across sports teams that have caused sexual harm. What are the Canadiens doing concretely to address the issue?” Ms. Khan said.

The Canadiens did not respond to the question Sunday.

Mr. Bergevin, the general manager, justified the choice on the weekend, saying the team would be able to “provide [Mailloux] the tools” to address his behaviour. Assistant general manager Trevor Timmins said Mr. Mailloux meets with “a lady psychiatrist a couple times a week” and will be welcomed to training camp before the next season. The team has a plan, he said.

“We feel he is sincere in his redemption quest,” Mr. Timmins said. “We believe in giving people second chances.”

Mr. Mailloux told reporters Saturday he will try to take advantage of resources offered by the Canadiens. He also said he has apologized several times to his victim. “At this point I hope she knows I am sincere about this. I am really sorry,” he said.

The victim in the case wrote to The Athletic site last week to say Mr. Mailloux’s apology was a three-line text, and she didn’t believe it was sincere. “I do not think that Logan has understood the seriousness of his behaviour,” she said. “All I wanted was a heartfelt apology for his behaviour.”

Ms. Slone of Sportsnet said the Canadiens failed to take the victim into account in their selection. “There isn’t much attention paid to her side.”

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