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Elusive championship part of legacy for 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class

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TORONTO — Daniel Alfredsson, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have something in common heading toward their Hockey Hall of Fame induction Monday:

None won the Stanley Cup.

Why write about this now, before such a celebration of their incredible careers? Because they bring it up themselves, and their attitude about it speaks to the competitors they were.

Each came excruciatingly close, and it hurts even at a time like this.

Alfredsson came within three wins in 2007, when the Ottawa Senators lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. After the ring ceremony in the Great Hall on Friday, he recalled details from the series as if it were a year ago, not 15 years ago.

“Traumatic experience,” Alfredsson said.

Luongo and the Sedin twins came within one game in 2011, when the Vancouver Canucks lost the Cup Final to the Boston Bruins in seven. Asked about the importance winning Olympic gold — something these four players also have in common — Luongo and Daniel Sedin each raised the Cup issue himself.

“In the end, I think you are what you have won,” Daniel Sedin said. “That’s why I really regret not winning the Stanley Cup, because I think that’s the toughest thing to win in hockey. It’s a grueling journey, first 82 games and then the playoffs. When you’re one game away from winning the whole thing, that’s the one…”

He didn’t finish the sentence.

“I don’t regret how we did things,” he continued. “I think, in the end, we lost against a very good team. But yeah, we look certainly back at that moment.”

The Olympics matter. This is the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame. The committee considers each candidate’s entire body of work.

Making an Olympic roster, let alone winning a gold medal, is an elite accomplishment especially when NHL players participate. Though the tournament lasts only about two weeks, it’s best-on-best.

Alfredsson and the Sedins won gold with Sweden in 2006 in Torino, defeating Finland 3-2 in the final.

“I know it’s something I always wanted,” Alfredsson said. “Growing up, the goal was the national team. The NHL wasn’t even on the map.”

Luongo won gold with Canada in 2010 in Vancouver, defeating the United States 3-2 in overtime in the final, and 2014 in Sochi, defeating Sweden 3-0 in the final. He took over for Martin Brodeur as the starter during the tournament in Vancouver, playing in his home country and NHL home rink.

“It’s huge, especially for me, especially because I didn’t win any of the other stuff,” Luongo said. “Obviously, that’s probably one of the biggest moments of my career, considering everything, where it was in Vancouver and how it came about and the way the game ended. [With] so much pressure on everybody, to perform and get it done, that was such a moment of euphoria.”

The Cup matters too, obviously. But so much is beyond a player’s control, from which team selects him in the NHL Draft to what happens afterward, and it’s only going to get harder to win the Cup now that the NHL has grown to 32 teams.

How many players have their names inscribed in silver but don’t have their portraits etched in glass in the Great Hall, and how many Hall of Famers never won the Cup?

Alfredsson, Luongo and the Sedins join 24 other players to debut in the NHL since the 1967-68 expansion and make the Hockey Hall of Fame without winning the Cup — players like Jarome Iginla, Phil Housley, Mike Gartner, Marcel Dionne, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates, Dino Ciccarelli, Gilbert Perreault, Dale Hawerchuk and Borje Salming.

Two lessons to draw:

One, the Stanley Cup is so hard to win that you can be one of the greatest players in the history of hockey and never hoist it over your head.

Two, the pursuit of the Cup can help make you great, even if you don’t win it. If you chase the Cup so hard that failing to win it bugs you when you’re about to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame, well, maybe that’s one of the reasons you ended up a Hall of Famer.

“This is a great honor,” Daniel Sedin said, wearing his Cup ring while standing below his glass plaque in the Great Hall, “but I think I would have rather won the Stanley Cup, if you know what I mean.

“That’s a team win, and I think we are all about the team. This is more individual. I mean, yeah, this is probably the ultimate individual award you can win, but I think we all are team-first guys.”

NHL Stats contributed

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

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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

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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

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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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