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John Tortorella doubles down in defense of Ivan Provorov

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John Tortorella came to the defense of Ivan Provorov again on Thursday. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella doubled down on his defense of Ivan Provorov’s refusal to participate in the team’s designated Pride Night.

Tortorella addressed reporters Thursday after Provorov elected to sit out during the warmup prior to Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, where the team wore Pride-themed jerseys. Provorov rejoined the team prior to puck drop. The outspoken head coach backed his defenseman, who is Russian Orthodox, when questioned by reporters after the game, saying he respected him for staying true to his beliefs.

Here is his full comment, as reported by Giana Han and Olivia Reiner of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

As I said, Provy did nothing wrong. Just because you don’t agree with his decision, doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.

Let me put it to you this way, in my experience. I think it was back in ‘16 when I was asked a question about the flag. That’s when [former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin] Kaepernick was sitting. He wasn’t kneeling. He was just sitting at that time. They asked me, if a player sits, what would you do? And what did I say, I said the player would sit the rest of the game. I was wrong. I learned a lot through that experience. My feelings toward any type of protest toward that flag, during that anthem, it disgusts me. To this day, it disgusts me. It shouldn’t be done. I can’t push those feelings onto someone else. So I was wrong in saying that back then. Didn’t realize I was. But I went through it all, it was ‘who I am to push my feelings onto someone else?’

Same situation here. Provy’s not banging a drum against Pride Night. He quietly went about his business. Him and I had a number of conversations to how we were going to do this. You have the team, you have him, you have all this going on. Talked to [Scott Laughton]. Went through the whole process there. [Provorov] strongly felt with his beliefs. And he stayed with it. And that was discussed, prior up to that.

But I’m trying to make a correlation to how I was wrong. You asked me if I was going to bench him? Why would I bench him? Because of a decision he’s making on his beliefs and his religion? It turned out to be a great night for Pride Night. Players were involved. The building was filled. There was awareness and everything. Provy didn’t actively seek out and try to make a stand against it. He just felt he didn’t want to take warmup. I respect him for his decision. I thought the team handled themselves well. I thought our whole organization handled itself well to make sure we didn’t lose sight of that night.

The NHL doesn’t have any sanctions or policy in place to fine someone for not taking part in team-mandated initiatives. The league released a statement Wednesday, effectively stating that it supports all players in their right to choose which initiatives they participate in.

Provorov’s teammates, forwards Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk, said they don’t hold the defenseman’s decision against him. Laughton and van Riemsdyk are heavily involved in initiatives that support the LQBTQ+ community, partnering with local nonprofit organizations and hosting members of the LGBTQ+ community at every home game.

“I don’t hold anything against anyone,” Laughton said Tuesday. “It’s nothing like that. It was an awesome night, and I’m very happy we got a win on a night like this.”

“I think ultimately I’d like to look at the positives from the night,” van Riemsdyk said Thursday. “We were able to host a few different groups and meet with them after the game. I think that’s where I’d like to keep the focus on, about the good things that happened. Ultimately, when you play a team sport, and there’s lots of different people from different backgrounds, there’s different causes that people support.”

In an ostensible effort to curtail acts of homophobia, the NHL partnered with social initiative You Can Play Project in 2013. Many players have endorsed the end goal of You Can Play, which is “to ensure the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ+ athletes, coaches and fans.” Winnipeg Jets forward Sam Gagner and Colorado Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano were among players who reiterated the importance of inclusivity and initiatives that support the LGTBQ+ community following the Provorov situation.

You Can Play issued a statement via Twitter on Thursday that defended Provorov’s decision to not participate in Pride Night, which they later deleted after receiving backlash.

“There is plenty of room in hockey, & sport for those in the LGTBQ+ community & allies & advocates. There is also room (and must be) for those who do not wish to participate as an ally,” the statement read. “There is no room, however, for those who hate & exclude anyone; and we must know the difference.”

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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