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Bengals release QB Dalton after nine seasons – TSN

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CINCINNATI — The Bengals cleared the way for Joe Burrow to lead the team by releasing quarterback Andy Dalton, who holds several of the franchise’s passing records but couldn’t lead Cincinnati deep into the playoffs.

The move Thursday gives Dalton, who had a year left on his deal, a chance to compete for a job with another team.

It also clears the way for Burrow to start fresh on a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the fifth-longest stretch of futility in NFL history.

Dalton led Cincinnati to its best stretch of playoff appearances — five straight from 2011-15 — but couldn’t get that elusive win. As the offensive line deteriorated and top receiver A.J. Green sustained a series of injuries, Dalton’s results suffered, too.

“Andy will always hold a special place with this franchise, and I know that he holds a special place in my heart,” owner Mike Brown said. “This is a hard day for our club because we know and appreciate what a consummate professional Andy has always been. We respect and appreciate Andy, and we thank him.”

Dalton was a second-round pick in 2011 when quarterback Carson Palmer demanded a trade and threatened to retire rather than continue playing for the Bengals. Dalton and Green, Cincinnati’s first-round pick that year, led Cincinnati to its best stretch of playoff appearances.

The Bengals lost in the first round each time, setting an NFL record. Dalton had a broken thumb and was sidelined for the last of those playoff appearances, which ended in a last-minute meltdown and an 18-16 loss to Pittsburgh during the 2015 season.

Dalton was one of the NFL’s most efficient passers when given a solid supporting cast. He led the AFC with a 106.3 passer rating in 2015, a single-season Bengals record.

Coach Zac Taylor signalled the end of Dalton’s career in Cincinnati by benching him for three games midway through last year’s 2-14 season, a move that shocked Dalton and his longtime teammates. Dalton was upset the Bengals didn’t try to trade him before the deadline.

Rookie Ryan Finley started the next three games and was even worse, prompting Taylor to reinstate Dalton as the starter for the rest of the season. Dalton led the Bengals to their two wins.

When Cincinnati drafted Burrow first overall last week, the question was whether the Bengals would keep Dalton for the final year on his contract and use him to mentor the rookie, or let him try to win a starting job with another team.

Dalton, 32, holds Bengals career records for touchdown passes (204) and completions (2,757), surpassing Ken Anderson — who also wore No. 14 — for both marks. He also holds club marks for career passer rating (87.5) and games with 300 yards passing (28). His 24 game-winning drives also are the most by a Bengals quarterback.

His 70-61-2 record as a starter is second best by a Bengals quarterback with at least 10 starts, trailing Virgil Carter.

Dalton also holds single-season team records for yards passing (4,293 in 2013) and touchdowns (33 in 2013).

Dalton and his wife, J.J,, were active in the community through their foundation. Most recently, they donated $150,000 to a local health crisis fund to help meet medical needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dalton became a popular figure in Buffalo when his 49-yard touchdown pass knocked off Baltimore in 2017 and put the Bills in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Bills fans donated to his foundation and gave him an ovation when Cincinnati played a preseason game in Buffalo. The Daltons donated to a cancer centre in the city during the visit.

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Wheeler on racism: 'You can't be silent anymore' – TSN

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Blake Wheeler says he regrets not speaking up sooner.

After posting a letter to Twitter over the weekend on the death of George Floyd and the mass protests that followed across the United States, the captain of the Winnipeg Jets said on a Tuesday video conference call with reporters that “you can’t be silent anymore.”

Wheeler said the death of Floyd last week, as well as the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year, finally moved him to speak up on the issue of racism.

“I haven’t done a good enough job in the past,” Wheeler said. “I’ve felt this way for a long time.”

The Minnesota native’s weekend post included the phrase “America is not OK” in response to the killing Floyd. The 46-year-old black man died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

A number of other prominent NHL players, including San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, who is black, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, who is Latino-American, Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin, and Tampa Bay Lightning centre Steven Stamkos, have posted similar messages to social media in recent days.

The NHL, NHL Players’ Association, NHL Coaches’ Association, the vast majority of teams, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey have also posted to social media on the topic or shared players’ words from their official accounts.

Derek Chauvin, 44, and three other Minneapolis police officers were fired in the wake of Floyd’s death. Chauvin was subsequently charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Two white men were arrested last month for the February shooting death of Arbery, a black jogger, in Georgia, while the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her home in March also attracted national attention in May.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020

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Hall of Famer Unseld dead at 74 – TSN

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Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Wes Unseld has died at the age of 74 after a bout of pneumonia, the Washington Wizards announced on Tuesday.

The Louisville native spent all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Baltimore/Washington Bullets franchise.

“He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates,” Unseld’s family said in a statement. “He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years.”

Unseld appeared in a Bullets/Wizards franchise record 984 games, averaging 10.8 points and 14.8 rebounds over his career.

Taken with the second pick of the 1968 NBA Draft out of Louisville, Unseld, a five-time All-Star, won both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 1969.

“We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement.

Upon his retirement, Unseld joined the organization’s front office, becoming the team’s vice-president in 1981. In 1988, Unseld became the Bullets head coach, resigning in 1994.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988 and to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Poll: Canadians OK with being benched as NHL playoff venue – Sports – Castanet.net

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It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.

Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.

The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn’t important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.

The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.

The survey was conducted May 29 to 31 among 1,536 Canadians and 1,002 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel.

The hockey question, limited to Canadian respondents, revealed 24 per cent felt it was very important for a Canadian city to play host, while 20 per cent said it was somewhat important.

Thirty-five per cent said it was not important at all, 12 per cent felt it was somewhat unimportant and nine per cent didn’t know.

The fact the NHL plans to bar spectators from the stands during playoff games due to COVID-19 “probably cooled off a few respondents,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

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