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Jack Eichel 'fed up with the losing' as Buffalo Sabres' playoff drought hits nine years – ESPN

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Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel said he’s “fed up” with the franchise’s futility after the team’s ninth straight season without a playoff berth, which covers the entirety of the 23-year-old star’s career.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated. You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have [gone],” Eichel said on a conference call Thursday. “I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I’m on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”

Eichel was drafted second overall in 2015 by the Sabres. In 354 NHL games, he has 337 points. That includes 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games this season — which was cut short on March 12 when the NHL paused for the coronavirus pandemic — leading Buffalo in both of those categories as well as points (78).

But despite his efforts, the Sabres finished 13th in the Eastern Conference at 30-31-8 (68 points), failing to make the cut for the 24-team postseason “return to play” format the NHL announced this week. Eichel has yet to appear in an NHL playoff game during his five-year career. He’s had two general managers and three different coaches during that span.

The Sabres announced that general manager Jason Botterill will return next season. Eichel praised coach Ralph Krueger for his work during his first season on the Buffalo bench.

“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not getting frustrated with where things are going and I think we took a step this year, but I will say it’s been a pleasure working with Ralph. He does so much for our group every day. There are tough times and he does an amazing job of … narrowing our focus and getting us back to where we need to be mentally,” Eichel said. “And just the few times that I’ve spoken with him, you know, throughout this quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it’s been good.”

Eichel said he remains dedicated to finding a way to lead his team to success.

“You know, I’ve already started preparing for next season now. I’m already back on the ice, I’m already training, I’m already doing things to try and better myself for the start of next season, whenever that is,” he said. “But yeah, I’m definitely not in the greatest place with where the last little bit’s [gone], and it’s definitely worn on me.”

Eichel wasn’t the only Sabres player to express frustration on Thursday. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who hasn’t made the playoffs in his seven-year career in Buffalo, is also tired of the team never breaking through to becoming a contender.

“Buffalo has a bright future, but we’ve been [talking about] the bright future for seven years now, and I’m not sure when it is,” he said.

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Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews says he tested positive for COVID-19 – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews says he tested positive for COVID-19 during the NHL’s pause.

Matthews told reporters about the positive test as the Maple Leafs opened their training camp Monday, adding he was mostly asymptomatic.

“I mean, obviously didn’t really enter my training. I was able to do stuff at home, obviously wasn’t able to leave or skate or anything,” Matthews said.

“That’s really the only thing that took a hit for me. I was skating beforehand, and having to take 2 1/2, three weeks off the ice catches up to you, but pretty much asymptomatic, felt for the most part pretty normal for the two weeks. I did my quarantine and I’m feeling healthy now, so it’s all good.”

Matthews was a participant in Monday’s practice.

Toronto will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in their play-in series on Aug. 2.

–with files from the Canadian Press

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Washington NFL team officially drops name after decades of criticism – CBC.ca

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The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday it would drop the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo after completing a thorough review, bowing to decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.

A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most storied teams in the National Football League, and it was unclear how soon that will happen. But for now, arguably the most polarizing name in North American professional sports is gone at a time of reckoning over racial injustice, iconography and racism in the United States.

The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.

The team said it is “retiring” the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design.

WATCH | Pro sports teams reconsidering Indigenous nicknames:

CBC News’ Raffy Boudjikanian reports on the Washington Redskins’ plans to review their nickname, followed closely by the Cleveland Indians’ decision to reconsider their team nickname. 2:30

Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.” Over a dozen Indigenous leaders and organizations wrote to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.

Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change. Strong words from sponsors, including a company run by a minority stakeholder of the team, changed the equation.

Dropping name keeps stadium options open

FedEx earlier this month became the first sponsor to announce it had asked the organization to change the name, particularly important because CEO Frederick Smith owns part of the team. FedEx also paid $205 million US for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Md.

The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and dropping the name keeps open various possibilities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the team’s new stadium and headquarters. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has said the name was an “obstacle” to Snyder building on the old RFK Stadium site, which is believed to be his preference.

Washington recently started cutting ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved the team to D.C. four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate their team. The current logo shows the profile of a red-faced Native American with feathers in his hair.

Long removed from the glory days of winning Super Bowl titles in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under coach Joe Gibbs, Washington has just five playoff appearances in 21 years and no post-season victories since 2005. The team has lacked a nationally marketable player since Robert Griffin III’s short-lived stardom, and the 2020 schedule features zero prime-time games for a franchise that used to be a draw.

Re-branding with a new name and logo — and perhaps the same burgundy and gold colours — coupled with turning football operations over to Rivera could be a boon for Snyder on and off the field. Even if a segment of the fan base opposes the change in the name of tradition, winning would more than make up for those losses.

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Washington NFL team dropping ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years – Sportsnet.ca

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WASHINGTON — The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday that it will drop the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo immediately, bowing to decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.

A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most storied teams in the National Football League, and it was unclear how soon that will happen. But for now, arguably the most polarizing name in North American professional sports is gone at a time of reckoning over racial injustice, iconography and racism in the U.S.

The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.

The team said it is “retiring” the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design.

Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.” Over a dozen Native leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.

Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change. Strong words from sponsors — including a company run by a minority stakeholder of the team — changed the equation.

FedEx earlier this month became the first sponsor to announce it had asked the organization to change the name, particularly important because CEO Frederick Smith owns part of the team. FedEx also paid $205 million for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland.

The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and dropping the name keeps open various possibilities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the team’s new stadium and headquarters. District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser has said the name was an “obstacle” to Snyder building on the old RFK Stadium site, which is believed to be his preference.

Washington recently started cutting ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved it to D.C. four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate their team. The current logo shows the profile of a red-faced Native American with feathers in his hair.

Long removed from the glory days of winning Super Bowl titles in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under coach Joe Gibbs, Washington has just five playoff appearances in 21 years and no postseason victories since 2005. The team has lacked a nationally marketable player since Robert Griffin III’s short-lived stardom, and the 2020 schedule features zero prime-time games for a franchise that used to be a draw.

Re-branding with a new name and logo — and perhaps the same burgundy and gold colours — coupled with turning football operations over to Rivera could be a boon for Snyder on and off the field. Even if a segment of the fan base opposes the change in the name of tradition, winning would more than make up for those losses.

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