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Cole says Avalanche 'can beat any team … in a seven-game series': report – NHL.com

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Ian Cole has won the Stanley Cup twice, and the Colorado Avalanche defenseman said he believes he has a good chance at a third championship this season.

“You only have so many opportunities to be on a really great team that has a very legitimate chance, and I view us as a team that has a very legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup,” Cole told The Denver Post in remarks published Thursday. “I look around at all the teams in the League, and obviously I’m quite a bit biased, but I think we can beat any team in this league in a seven-game series. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win two Stanley Cups, but there’s nothing more I want to do than win a third one, and then a fourth one, and then a fifth one. I think a lot of guys on this team mimic that.”

Colorado (42-20-8) was second in the Central Division, two points behind the defending Cup champion St. Louis Blues, when the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The Avalanche played its final game before the pause without seven regulars, including injured top-scoring forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen, and goalie Phillip Grubauer. The 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers was the first game back from injury for defenseman Cale Makar. 

“I’m sure everyone is working hard to get back, and I know guys are feeling better,” Cole said. “That’s going to be a unique aspect of this particular year. You’re going to have every team at full health, for the most part. You’re going to see the healthiest playoffs the League has ever seen, which could lead to a pretty awesome product.”

There is no timetable for the season to resume.

Cole, who is playing his 10th NHL season, second with Colorado, won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and has played 67 Stanley Cup Playoff games the past four seasons.

The 31-year-old scored 138 points (26 goals, 112 assists) and is plus-95 in 541 NHL games with the Blues, Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and Avalanche.

The Avalanche made the playoffs the past two seasons after making them once in the previous seven. They won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.

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Conor McGregor says he’s ‘decided to retire from fighting’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Conor McGregor has announced his retirement for the third time in four years.

McGregor abruptly made his latest dubious declaration Sunday morning on his Twitter account, where the former two-division UFC champion also announced his retirement in 2016 and 2019.

“Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting,” McGregor wrote in a caption below a photo of him and his mother. “Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!”

The 31-year-old Irish superstar revitalized his combat sports career in January with an impressive first-round stoppage of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246. McGregor (22-4) hadn’t won a fight in a mixed martial arts cage or a boxing ring since 2016, but he remained the UFC’s brightest star and biggest financial draw.

UFC President Dana White has already said McGregor is next in line for a title shot at the winner of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s bout with Justin Gaethje this summer.

The UFC’s schedule is in upheaval due to the coronavirus pandemic, but McGregor was expected to get his title shot later this year, and he recently had been talking to White about taking another fight even earlier. Earlier this week, McGregor posted photos and videos of himself training for fights.

White was still willing to take McGregor’s retirement announcement at face value — at least publicly — when he learned about it at his news conference following UFC 250 in Las Vegas.

“If Conor McGregor feels he wants to retire, you know my feelings about retirement,” White said. “You should absolutely do it. And I love Conor. … There’s a handful of people that have made this really fun for me, and he’s one of them.”

Retirements are a time-honoured device for gathering attention and increased bargaining power in combat sports. From Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather to Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, countless champions of boxing and MMA have gone back on their solemn announcements whenever need or ego brought them back to the sport.

McGregor made his first Twitter retirement announcement in April 2016 during a spat with the UFC over promotion of his rematch with Nate Diaz.

McGregor famously wrote: “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”

McGregor and Diaz fought in August 2016.

Three years later, McGregor retired again in March 2019 in what White believed was a gambit to entice the UFC to offer him an ownership stake in the company. McGregor began talking about new fights shortly afterward, and he eventually returned to face Cerrone in early 2020.

The loquacious McGregor has long proven that his pronouncements can’t be taken as gospel truth. Earlier this year, McGregor “accepted” future fights against former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and long-retired boxing superstar Oscar De La Hoya with little reason to think they will ever happen.

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Amanda Nunes completely dominates Felicia Spencer in lopsided decision to defend title at UFC 250 – MMA Fighting

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Amanda Nunes was already considered the greatest women’s fighter of all time before competing at UFC 250. Nothing dispelled that mystique on Saturday night as the reigning two-division champion absolutely dominated Felicia Spencer from the first second of their fight until the last as she defended her featherweight title for the first time.

The scorecards read 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45 with Nunes winning her 11th consecutive fight overall. While it was somewhat shocking that Spencer survived to the end, Nunes paid homage to her opponent for the incredible toughness she displayed.

“I’m not surprised,” Nunes said afterwards. “I know she’s very tough. I know what she’s capable of. I know she’s tough. I have to be sharp.”

In the first few exchanges it appeared Nunes was going to add another knockout to her resume after she clubbed Spencer with a couple of powerful right hands that would likely finish many opponents. Somehow, Spencer stayed upright as she tried to apply her grappling game by slowing Nunes down in the clinch.

That backfired after Nunes surprised her with a whizzer and then began dropping elbows from the top position for the remainder of the first round.

While she didn’t fade away, Spencer was just outmatched on the feet as she continued to eat punches with Nunes blasting her with thudding right hands again and again. With a smirk on her face almost the entire fight, Nunes continued walking Spencer down and then unleashing her powerful strikes.

By the time the third round was winding down, Nunes was in absolute control, tagging Spencer with a barrage of punches and then making her pay with kicks as well. Spencer was starting to fade without any hope of getting Nunes to the ground as the damage she was absorbing really started to add up.

With Nunes battering Spencer’s lead leg, the two-division champion really started to stalk her prey as she hunted for the finish. As time ticked away in the fourth round, Nunes went for the kill as she put together a series of punches that had Spencer nearly out on the feet.

Nunes almost wrapped up a rear-naked choke with seconds remaining but Spencer survived to the end of the round as she went back to her corner with hematomas swelling and blood streaked across her face.

In only got worse during the final five minutes with another cut opening up and Nunes just punishing Spencer in every exchange on the feet or on the ground. By the end of the fight, Nunes was just rag dolling Spencer around the cage as she cemented the victory.

Now with title defenses at bantamweight and featherweight, Nunes has all but obliterated every legitimate contender in both divisions. The question remains who will challenge Nunes next but for now she’s going to concentrate on more important matters — like the birth of her first child.

“That was my goal, defend my two belts,” Nunes said. “I’m so happy right now. I don’t know what is next. I had a fifth corner today. I have my daughter with me.”

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Spurs’ Gregg Popovich: U.S. ‘is in trouble and the basic reason is race’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Amid the marches and the protests, amid the pain, amid the generational trauma this moment in history has forced communities across the world to openly reckon with, a spotlight has shone bright on the need to listen and learn.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sees that spotlight. He sees that need for learning. And he knows that what must be learnt is not just what is happening in the streets across the United States now, but the history that preceded it. To see one without the other would be to miss the essential full picture.

“Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” Popovich said Saturday during a #SpursVoices video, a Twitter-based initiative by the team to give a voice and platform to people within their organization to share how racism has impacted them. “The only reason this nation has made the progress that it has is because of the persistence, and patience, and effort of Black people.

“The history of our nation from the very beginning, in many ways, was a lie. And we continue to this day — mostly Black and Brown people — to try to make that lie be truth so that it is no longer a lie.”

In the three-minute video, Popovich does not expand on the specific history he is labeling a lie, though possibilities are not hard to find.

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence, for example, written in 1776, reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Pledge of Allegiance, in its original form, read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added to the beginning of the pledge.

Longstanding notions of all men being created equal with certain unalienable rights, and the U.S. being one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all are challenging to reconcile with history.

The United States had 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow — laws which mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and sought to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by Blacks during the Reconstruction period — and 60 years of “separate but equal,” a legal doctrine that asserted racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all people. None of which even begins to address discriminatory housing policies or explicitly touches on the history of Black people suffering from police brutality.

“It’s almost, in a strange counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy,” Popovich said. “I think [it was] the look on the officer’s face. For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just everyday-going-about-his-job [he looked]. So much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson, and it was his right and his duty to do it in his mind.”

The abhorent incident Popovich is referencing is, of course, the death of George Floyd.

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast about how COVID-19 is impacting sports around the world. They talk to experts, athletes and personalities, offering a window into the lives of people we normally root for in entirely different ways.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes.

In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

An independent autopsy has since found that Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded Chauvin’s charge to second-degree murder on Wednesday, and charged the three other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting.

“I don’t know,” Popovich said, visibly hurt by the recollection of the video. “I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen, to actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books. And you look in the books and you see Black people hanging on trees. And you are amazed that we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes in real time.”

The dismay and outrage Popovich felt has been shared by many, as protests continue across the U.S., sparked by the death of Floyd, denouncing systemic racism and acts of police brutality. The protests have not been for Floyd exclusively, though. Popovich is aware of that, too.

“What’s it gonna take,” he wonders in the video. “Two more Black people with knees in their necks?”

Though she did not die due to a knee in her neck, protests have also featured calls for justice for Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman who died on March 13 after Louisville police officers — executing a search warrant — used a battering ram to enter her apartment and, after a brief confrontation, fired several shots, striking her at least eight times. At this time, no charges have been filed against the officers.

“It’s like the gun [control] arguments,” Popovich said when grappling with how American can build a better, safer future. “How many more Sandy Hooks do we need to have? It’s easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them. It’s like the neighbourhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something is going to happen some day and nobody does anything. Then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up.

“Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up. Quickly. Because our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”

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