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Canadiens fire Dominique Ducharme, name Martin St. Louis interim head coach – CBS Sports



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The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Dominique Ducharme, general manager Kent Hughes announced Wednesday. In addition, the Canadiens have named Martin St. Louis as the team’s new head coach on an interim basis.

“We would like to sincerely thank Dominique for his work and contributions to the Montreal Canadiens organization,” Hughes said in a press release. “At this point in the season, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to make a change.”

Ducharme, who took the team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, was the only coach fired on Wednesday as the team plans to retain assistant coaches Alex Burrows, Eric Gravel, Mario Leblanc, Trevor Letowski, Éric Raymond and Luke Richardson.

The Canadiens promoted Ducharme to head coach in February 2021 following the firing of Claude Julien. Prior to the promotion, Ducharme had been an assistant coach for two previous seasons in Montreal. Ducharme originally joined the Canadiens coaching staff in April 2018 after 10 seasons in the QMJHL. 

During his time as Montreal’s head coach, Ducharme put together a 23-46-14 record in 83 regular season games. In addition, the 48 year old compiled a 13-6 record in the postseason and led the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1993.

Meanwhile, St. Louis doesn’t have any prior head coaching experienced, but did serve as the special teams consultant with the Columbus Blue Jackets under John Tortorella back in 2019. St. Louis played 16 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

“We are very happy to welcome Martin to the Canadiens organization,” Hughes said in a separate announcement. “Not only are we adding an excellent hockey man, but with Martin we are bringing in a proven winner and a man whose competitive qualities are recognized by all who have crossed his path.”

Entering Wednesday, the Canadiens have a 8-30-7 record (23 points), which is the worst mark in the NHL. Montreal has lost seven consecutive games, including a 7-1 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

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Rays’ doubleheader sweep highlights lack of rotation depth for Blue Jays –



TORONTO – The day began with a full stadium, Kevin Gausman on the mound and high hopes for the Toronto Blue Jays. It ended nearly nine hours later with a lopsided loss in a far emptier ballpark.

Along the way, Gausman took a 100 m.p.h. line drive off his right ankle, Casey Lawrence hauled 5.2 innings of emergency relief on short rest and Thomas Hatch coughed up 10 runs in a failed spot start. If there was a common theme to Saturday’s doubleheader losses, it was the lack of pitching depth behind the Blue Jays’ front five.

In the opening game of the day, Wander Franco hit a comebacker off Gausman’s ankle, leading to a scary moment at Rogers Centre. While catcher Gabriel Moreno scrambled to finish the play, Gausman went down hard and the rest of the Blue Jays held their breath.

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Thankfully, X-rays came back negative and the official diagnosis was a right ankle contusion. At this point, the Blue Jays aren’t sure whether Gausman will be able to take his next turn, scheduled for Thursday in Seattle with plans to continue evaluating him in the coming days.

“You feel for a guy like that,” said Lawrence, who replaced Gausman after a brief warm-up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. “You don’t want anybody to go down in those situations. At the same time, you know you’ve got to be ready to go out there and perform. You’re still thinking about it, hopefully everything’s OK. But then you’ve got a job to do: get major-league hitters out.”

The 34-year-old Lawrence did plenty of that Saturday afternoon, giving the Blue Jays 5.2 innings of relief on 87 pitches just four days after throwing 99 pitches at triple-A on Tuesday.

“That’s a great job by Lawrence,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He deserves a lot of credit.”

“It’s part of the job description,” Lawrence noted. “I left it all out there.”

But Shane McClanahan was absolutely dominant for the Rays, limiting the Blue Jays to just one run on three hits while striking out 10 in one of the best pitching performances against Toronto all year. Beyond a first-inning RBI single from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays managed very little in front of the 39,426 in attendance.

“Usually I don’t talk about the other guys, but he was really good,” Montoyo said. “He keeps you off-balance. He pitches like a guy who throws 90 or 91, but he doesn’t. He throws 97. It’s tough. He’s a good pitcher. One of the best pitchers in baseball for sure.”

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The Blue Jays lost the opener 6-2, and things only got worse once Hatch started pitching. Recalled from triple-A Buffalo because of the doubleheader, Hatch allowed 10 runs on 12 hits, including three home runs. While his track record shows he’s capable of more, the 24,180 in attendance saw a pitcher who looked completely overmatched on the way to an 11-5 loss.

The Blue Jays managed a little more offence in the second game, including home runs from Guerrero Jr. and Bradley Zimmer, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the damage allowed by Hatch.

Combined with the scary moment with Gausman earlier, the day highlighted the vulnerability of this starting rotation. Should Gausman or anyone else need to miss a turn, Lawrence, Hatch and Max Castillo represent the next layer of depth for the Blue Jays.

After Saturday, the Blue Jays will presumably prefer to avoid Hatch, who will likely be optioned before Sunday’s game. And as necessary as Lawrence’s innings were, he still allowed six runs. That leaves Castillo, a rookie with all of four big-league appearances, whose last minor-league start came a month ago.

Bullpen game, anyone? That’s hardly an appealing idea, but as the Gausman comebacker reminded us, the unexpected often happens in baseball. Put simply, the Blue Jays are ill-suited to handle any more hits to their rotation. Changing that should be a priority along with augmenting a bullpen that would benefit immensely from another closer-calibre arm.

In recent weeks the Blue Jays have been monitoring the trade market for pitching help, and those efforts are sure to intensify as the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaches. Of course, big-name players haven’t been traded yet with reclamation projects easier to find than impact arms right now.

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Along those lines, the Blue Jays announced the acquisition of Anthony Banda during the doubleheader. A 28-year-old lefty, Banda had recently been designated for assignment by the Pirates after posting a 6.41 ERA in 23 relief appearances with Pittsburgh. Despite the ugly ERA, he’s striking out four times as many hitters as he walks thanks to a 95 m.p.h. fastball and a change-up he uses liberally.

Montoyo was absent from the Blue Jays’ dugout for most of the second game, while coach John Schneider took over as acting manager and first-base coach Mark Budzinski was replaced by bullpen catcher Luis Hurtado. Afterwards, the Blue Jays said Budzinski was dealing with a personal matter and asked that fans and media respect his privacy.

Eventually, the Blue Jays will need more pitching help. They didn’t need to allow 17 runs to the Rays to understand as much, but this one-sided day at the ballpark certainly drove that point home.

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Late fumble costs Tiger-Cats in Elks win on Canada Day – TSN



HAMILTON — Tre Ford was in his happy place Friday in Hamilton.

The Edmonton Elks quarterback got a win in his first career CFL start 30 minutes down the Queen Elizabeth Highway from his hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Elks came from behind to beat the Tiger-Cats 29-25 in front of 20,233 at Tim Hortons Field.

“To come back to Hamilton and have all my family watching me get that first start and that first win has been fantastic,” Ford said.

Among Ford’s supporters were his wife, parents, sister, sister-in-law and mother-in-law, his high school football coach from A.N. Myer Secondary, his University of Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia, eight of his former university teammates and more friends.

Ford was shaky at times as the Elks trailed by 13 points early in the second half.

But the 2021 winner of the Hec Crighton Trophy winner that goes to the most outstanding Canadian university football player threw a game-tying touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler early in the fourth quarter.

The winning play for the Elks (1-3) arrived with 1:38 remaining when defensive back Scott Hutter tackled Hamilton quarterback Dane Evans and knocked the ball loose.

Jalen Collins recovered for a 14-yard touchdown.

“I saw him tackle him and thought, ‘please punch the ball out,” Collins said. “All we needed was an opportunity to close the game out. We were fighting all night. It was ugly.”

The winless Tiger-Cats opened a season with four straight losses for the first time since 2017 when they started 0-8.

“I want to apologize to all the guys. I put both home losses on me,” Evans said. “I just have to take care of it, and we win the game.”

Evans was 20-for-31 in passing for 197 yards and a touchdown throw. He was intercepted twice.

Ford’s numbers didn’t sparkle, although he did rush for 61 yards on six carries. The 24-year-old competed 15 of 26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Edmonton’s defence helped out with interceptions by Sheldon Brady and Matthew Thomas, as well as the pivotal late-game recovered fumble by Collins.

“A big shout out to the defence,” Ford said. “They won us that game. They made what, three or four turnovers? They did super well.

“I have room for improvement. I’m not going to complain because we did win. But I’m going to hit the film room to see what I can critique and where I can get better.”

Hamilton went after the rookie with various blitzes in the first half.
“My legs are going to open things up for my arm,” Ford said.

Ford credited teammate and quarterback Nick Arbuckle, who started in Edmonton’s three losses this season, for advising him during the game on defensive reads.

“He’s been like that since day one, even though we’re competitors for the position,” Ford said.

He admitted to early jitters as Hamilton led 16-6 after the first quarter and 19-9 at halftime.

“I always get nervous for the first play of every game,” Ford said. “I think it’s a good thing because it means I care and that I want to win.”

Evans hit Steven Dunbar for a 21-yard strike, and Lawrence Woods returned a kickoff of 72 yards for Hamilton’s first-half touchdowns.

Edmonton’s Kai Locksley scored on a one-yard plunge.

Elks kicker Sergio Castillo made two of his three field-goal attempts, while Hamilton counterpart Michael Domagala nailed his three and gave the Ticats at lead with a 33-yarder with 3:10 remaining in the game

“We’re not good enough right now,” Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer said. “We’re not executing at the level which needs to happen. We’re just not making those plays we need to make.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2022.

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Raptors sign forward Otto Porter Jr. to 2-year deal: reports –



The Toronto Raptors have signed forward Otto Porter Jr., who was a key member of the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship team.

The two-year deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports, and confirmed to The Canadian Press by a source close to negotiations.

The 29-year-old Porter averaged 8.2 points per game this past season. He’s a tenacious defender and solid long-range shooter, with a career average of 39.8 per cent from behind the arc.

Porter was selected third overall by Washington in the 2013 draft, and played the first six seasons of his career there before being traded to Chicago in 2019. Orlando then acquired him at the 2021 trade deadline, and he signed with the Warriors in the 2021 off-season.

The Raptors have been busy since free agency opened at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, signing Canadian forward Chris Boucher to a three-year deal, and signing veteran forward Thaddeus Young to a multi-year contract extension.

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