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Canucks firing of coach Bruce Boudreau is the Krakatoa of human-resource management



Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau pauses during a news conference after his final game as coach in Vancouver on Jan. 21.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

One of the default assumptions in following professional sports is that people working at the highest levels in it know what they’re doing. They may not always get it right, but they do what they do because they’re smarter than the average bear.

The hundred-year journey to fire Bruce Boudreau is here to tell you different.

After two seasons and a bit as head coach, Boudreau was clipped by the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

This should have been simple. The Canucks weren’t great when Boudreau inherited them, and they’ve since gotten worse. His job is to produce results. He’s failed at it. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about firing a guy in that position. It’s a two-day story. Three, max.

The small wrinkle is Boudreau’s personality. Unusually for someone who works in hockey, he has one.

It’s more than being garrulous and quippy. Everything Boudreau says and does is adorable. The guy could punch you in the face, and you’d still want to give him a squeeze.

Firing a guy like that is tricky. You don’t want people to start feeling sorry for him. You certainly should avoid making him suffer in public.

To avoid any potential for mishap, you want this dirty business handled quickly. The first anyone should hear of it is via a news release after it’s already happened. The tone should be mournful. Boudreau’s complicity ought to be secured with an exit package. Only nice things should be said by all involved.

It’s not hard. Just avoid disasters.

So the Canucks decided to turn Boudreau’s exit into the Krakatoa of human-resource management.

Boudreau was already in trouble before the season started. Everyone knew that. But no one in charge said anything. Saying something would be the worst thing for all involved.

In November, club president Jim Rutherford went on the radio to lament the team’s “structure.” He said the word so often you half-believed he’d taken up transcendental meditation.

Since structure=coach, people assumed Boudreau would be fired shortly. He wasn’t.

That assumption, abetted by a million leaks sprung in the Vancouver front office, curdled into certainty. It was just a matter of time. Then months passed.

By last week Boudreau still hadn’t been fired, but Rutherford was back at it. He did one of those news conferences people remember later as the commencement of hostilities.

Rutherford: “Bruce is a friend. I really like Bruce and he’s done good work here, but …”

There’s a few ways a person can go after saying something like that: “ … I’ve been seeing his ex-girlfriend for a while now” or “ … he should have known better than to lend me money.”

Rutherford’s choice? “ … he’s done good work here, but this is what we review all the time and try to make a decision. All I can say is Bruce is our coach right now.”

“Right now?” Seriously? That’s how you’re going to play it?

You might as well just bring guy out on the podium, kiss him on the lips and say, “I know it was you, Fredo.”

One supposes Rutherford wanted to be forthright, but if you’re going to do it that way then you have to act. Don’t bring the guy back to live in your boat house. Don’t let him go fishing with your kids. You’ve already decided to get rid of him. Just put him out of his misery.

The Canucks brought Boudreau back to the boat house. They kept letting him go fishing with the kids.

Rutherford’s ruthlessness turned the fans into insurrectionists. If he’d fired Boudreau back in November, most people would have agreed with him. But stretching it out this way turned a failed coach into the hero of the story.

One of the rules of a good sports firing is that everyone should agree in the end that the guy had to go. The less people like him, the easier that is.

The Canucks made sure everyone liked Boudreau even more. The players were out there every day telling people how great he is and how much they were going to miss him.

While the Canucks dragged things out interminably, Boudreau became funnier and more charming. His media availabilities turned into an endless wake. He was the talking corpse.

Is it inherent goodness or remarkable savvy that has determined the way Boudreau handled himself these past few days? Either way, it works. The Canucks ought to immediately rehire him as an image consultant.

By Saturday, Boudreau had fully embraced the wistfulness of his situation. That night, Jeff Marek reported on live TV that Boudreau was being replaced by Rick Tocchet. Boudreau was still coaching.

The home fans chanted his name at the end of another loss. Boudreau wept on the bench.

Afterward, he choked up again: “When you’ve been in it for almost 50 years, I mean, the majority of your life. If it’s the end, it’s … y’know …”

Making a 68-year-old hockey lifer tearfully confront his mortality in public so that you have the entire weekend to book a room for the news conference is not a crime that I know of. But maybe it should be.

The Canucks finally fired Boudreau on Sunday morning. By early afternoon, Tocchet was unveiled as the team’s new coach. Rutherford tried apologizing, saying he’d been “too honest” in interviews. Great idea. That’ll fix it.

You fire a coach to purge the organization of its bad mojo. Afterward, people should have the sense of fresh starts and new hope.

If that’s the bar, Canucks management has just undertaken the worst firing in recent sports history. The organization, top to bottom, comes out of this looking ridiculous.

In sports, you can be clueless and you can be cruel, but you can’t be both.

Through all of this, the Canucks lost sight of a fundamental truth. That the sports business isn’t about winning, it’s about creating a product that people like enough to pay for.

A month ago, the Canucks weren’t all that likeable. Then Boudreau went on his endless farewell tour. Now you’d have to say there is at least one likeable thing about the team. It’s the guy Vancouver just fired.



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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena



LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap



In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates



Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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