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Kyle Dubas: Top pairing D-man TJ Brodie was on Toronto Maple Leafs' radar ‘for a long time’ – TSN

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TORONTO — The Maple Leafs landed a coveted right-side defenceman on the opening day of NHL free agency – and no, it wasn’t Alex Pietrangelo

Toronto instead landed TJ Brodie on a four-year, $20 million contract, effectively putting to rest what level of interest they had earlier in the day on landing free agency’s biggest prize.

“[We were] not very close [on Pietrangelo]. This has been our major focus,” Dubas told reporters on a Zoom call Friday night. “This is where we were locked in on, and we were set on going down this path and so it was one thing that we worked on from [the start] with [Brodie’s camp]. Though the market has a lot of players on it, there aren’t a lot of defencemen that are capable of playing in the top four that have the exact skill set that we need. So we felt we needed to act and so we’re excited to do so.”

It was just over a year ago, on the opening day of free agency in 2019, when the Leafs nearly had a deal in place with the Calgary Flames to trade for Brodie. That didn’t end up materializing, but the Leafs got their man eventually. 

In deciding on Toronto as a free agent, the 30-year-old Brodie is joining just the second club of his NHL career,  having played all of his 634-game career with the Flames while notching 48 goals and 266 points. 

Known as a dependable defensive defenceman, the left-shooting Brodie has played almost exclusively on the right side throughout his career, making him an ideal partner potentially for Morgan Rielly on Toronto’s top pairing.

“TJ has been on our radar for a long time,” Dubas said. “The thing that we’ve liked about him is he’s played with an elite partner in Mark Giordano for a number of years now, and they’ve had a lot of success as a pair. And as we’ve tried to find a partner for Morgan and/or Jake Muzzin now that could complement them and boost the results of our team, TJ and the style and way that he plays, and the way that he operates on the ice and his skill set defensively and with the puck, just always seemed to fit with what we were looking for.”

Dubas clarified as well the deal includes a partial no-move clause in the first year and a partial no-trade provision in the second, third and fourth seasons.

For Brodie, who grew up about three hours from Toronto in Chatham, Ont., the chance to play near his home, for a team that so obviously pursued him, was just too good to pass up.

“I’m pretty excited. It’s a great team, close to family,” Brodie said. “I’m excited to see what happens. Everyone knows about last year and the trade that was close and the fact that they wanted me [so much]. I feel like it’s a good mix and hopefully I fit in.”

While the trade last July didn’t go through, the seed of Toronto’s interest stuck around in Brodie’s head long term.

“Those situations, it’s part of the business where you don’t want to get traded [and] it didn’t happen last year, but to know going into this year that Toronto was interested last year and they were still interested this year, it definitely gives you a boost of confidence to sign,” he said.

Brodie even has a unique connection to the Leafs, dating back to his minor hockey days played throughout Ontario. Back in 2002, an 11-year-old Brodie was invited to participate in the Leafs’ team skills competition, and ended up nailing all the targets in his shooting contest. Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker did the same. 

“I feel like that whole situation was sort of a dream,” Brodie now says of the competition. “It’s definitely cool to be that close to the players and guys that you see on TV at that age and now to have come sort of full circle it’s sort of surreal.”

While it’s not common for players to end up on their off-side for most of their careers, Brodie said moving to the right also came by design at a young age. 

“I started playing right side in junior, mainly because we had all left-handed defencemen,” said Brodie. “I realized if I could play both sides, it opens up more opportunities for you. If you’re more versatile, there’s more opportunity to play. I just tried to be as best I could at both sides.”

And if he now gets to parlay that into skating alongside Rielly, all the better. 

“He’s a great player. He’s similar to [Giordano]. He’s one of those guys who’s good at everything,” Brodie said. “He’s physical, he’s good defensively, offensively, and I just hope if I play with him that I make him better.”

Bringing Brodie in does put the Leafs about $1.093 million over the $81.5 million salary cap, and that’s before they’ve inked new deals for restricted free agents Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev. NHL rules allow for teams to operate at 10 per cent above the cap until the regular season begins, so there’s time for Toronto to figure out its next step. 

There’s opportunity to first move a few players – namely Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren – to the minors, and free up about $300,000 in cap space. It would appear from there like the Leafs would almost certainly have to offload a contract or two via trade, but Dubas said that may not be the case, thanks to assistant general manager (and salary cap whiz) Brandon Pridham.

“You may look at it and say, ‘how are they going to do that?,’ Dubas admitted. “I can assure you that Brandon has carved out a number of ways that we can dance as it pertains to being compliant on opening day without having to necessarily move somebody that people would normally look at and say, ‘well they’re going to have to move this player at this salary.’ Brandon’s done all the work on that and we’ve gone through it, it feels like hundreds of times.”

As far as free agency goes, the Brodie signing is the last “big splash” the Leafs plan to make according to Dubas, unless the trade market suddenly opens up other opportunities for Toronto. But if Dubas is satisfied for now in how Friday played out, with the signing of hard-nosed winger Wayne Simmonds and then Brodie, Toronto is nowhere close to done tinkering. 

“I think we’re content with the work here today with Wayne and with TJ, but I still think that we have a long ways to go and to continue to address the roster,” Dubas said. “And not just the roster but what we do to continue to improve the way that we play and what we expect out of our guys so I think it’s a good start. I think we also know that we’ve got a long ways to go as an organization to meet the expectations that our talent dictates should be there.”​

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Brady's 4 TD passes lead Bucs past Raiders – TSN

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LAS VEGAS — Tom Brady dropped back and lofted a pass that just got over the defender’s arms and fell into Scotty Miller’s hands right before he reached the sideline for a 33-yard TD pass.

The 43-year-old Brady is getting back to his Super Bowl-winning form following an early season adjustment to his new team in Tampa Bay.

Brady threw four touchdown passes to move past Drew Brees for the most in NFL history and ran for another to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 45-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

“We’re 5-2, in a decent place, not quite at the halfway point in the year,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of football left. We’re going to need everybody, and we’re going to need everybody’s best. And we’re going to expect everybody’s best and we’re going to try to meet the challenge every week.”

Brady finished 33 for 45 for 369 yards, while also running for Tampa Bay’s first score on a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter.

He now has 15 TD passes and one interception the past four games as he has found his rhythm with his new team.

“I think it’s knowing the guys better, knowing the system better, everything that we change each week,” coach Bruce Arians said. “There’s such good communication of what we’re trying to get done, where the ball should be going versus each coverage. It’s just total growth in the offence.”

Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter and then delivered his best pass of the day to Miller in the final minute of the first half. He then helped seal the game with the throw to Chris Godwin that put the Bucs up 31-20 over the Raiders (3-3) midway through the fourth quarter.

Brady added a fourth to rookie Tyler Johnson with 3:08 to play to give him 559 in his career, passing Brees for the most ever. Brees threw two earlier in the day for New Orleans.

Now Brady could be getting even more help when Antonio Brown joins the team following next week’s game.

“He’s a tremendous football player,” Brady said. “I played with him for a brief period of time. I’m looking forward to working with him again and see what role he can come in (and play).”

The 4-yard pass to Godwin was part of a key stretch when it appeared the Raiders were in position for a comeback after cutting the deficit to 24-17 on Derek Carr’s second TD pass of the game.

The Raiders then got a stop and were driving for the potential tying score before coming up 1 yard short of a first down on a third-and-4 pass to Darren Waller. Coach Jon Gruden opted for a field goal to make it 24-20.

Brady then engineered another TD drive to make it an 11-point game and the Bucs (5-2) put it away when Carr threw an interception on Las Vegas’ next play to set up Ronald Jones’ 1-yard run.

Carr went 24 for 36 for 284 yards, two TDs and one interception as the Raiders were unable to build on a big win at Kansas City before the bye after being without their starting offensive line all week in practice.

Starting right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19 and four other starting linemen were sent home Wednesday because they had “high-risk” contact with Brown and didn’t rejoin the team until Sunday morning.

“I’m not going to use any excuses, we can’t,” Carr said. “We’re in a production-oriented business. The miscommunication, absolutely, it took place. It’s a game of practice, it really is. You got to be available, not just for Sundays, you got to be available all throughout the week cause there’s so much information that goes into it.”

EJECTED

The Raiders lost guard Gabe Jackson to an ejection in the third quarter after Carr’s 1-yard TD pass to Waller that cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-17. The officials determined that Jackson stepped on an opponent’s shoulder during a scrum after the play and he was ejected.

FAVORITE TARGET I

Carr looked for his favourite target on the opening drive, connecting on a 28-yard pass to Agholor and then a 21-yard TD. That made Carr 12 for 13 for 234 yards and four TDs with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when throwing to Agholor. It also gave the Raiders their first opening drive TD since Week 16 of last season vs. the Chargers.

FavourITE TARGET II

Brady connected with Gronkowski for the second straight week with a 5-yard TD pass in the second quarter. That’s the 92nd time those two teamed up on a TD pass in the regular season or playoffs, tying the duo of Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second most ever. Only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison have more with 114.

INJURY REPORT

Buccaneers: CB Carlton Davis left in the second half with a chest injury, but returned to the game.

Raiders: T Sam Young left with a knee injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Visit the Giants on Monday, Nov. 2

Raiders: Visit Cleveland on Sunday.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Lewis Hamilton overtakes Schumacher with record 92nd F1 win – Al Jazeera English

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Lewis Hamilton powers to victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix to become Formula One’s record all-time race winner.

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has become Formula One’s record all-time race winner with a dominant 92nd career victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver took the chequered flag a huge 25.592 seconds ahead of second-place team-mate Valtteri Bottas on Sunday, and 34.5 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his eighth win of the season.

Hamilton had equalled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins at the previous race at the Nuerburgring.

He also took an extra point on Sunday for the fastest lap to extend his huge championship lead to 77 points over Bottas with just five races left in the coronavirus-affected season.

Hamilton is within reach of equalling Schumacher’s record of winning seven championships.

He took a record-extending 97th career pole position, starting ahead of Bottas and Verstappen on a track being used for the first time in F1.

“I only ever dreamed of being where I am today,” he said after the race and a long hug with his father Anthony, who managed his early career.

“I didn’t have a magic (crystal) ball when I chose to come here (Mercedes) – and all we have ever tried to do is make the most of it every single day. We are all rowing in the same direction.

“I have got my dad here which is amazing and my step-mum Linda – and Roscoe (his dog) – so it’s a very special day. It’s going to take time to sink in, but I was still pushing coming across the line.”

On the team radio, he emotionally told Mercedes that it was “such an honour to work with you” and his race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington replied, saying: “It’s the same here, an honour, genuinely.”

After the race, Hamilton added: “I really owe it all to these guys for their teamwork, continually innovating and pushing the barrier ever higher every year.”

Lewis Hamilton in action during the race [Rudy Carezzevoli/Reuters]

He had cramp, he said, in his right calf in the closing stages of the race.

“Lifting my foot down the straight, it was pretty painful. I could feel it pull, but I had to get through it. It is what it is.”

His Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, who has helped guide Hamilton to five of his world titles and the team to an unprecedented six in a row, said: “Who would’ve thought when we started this project in 2013? It’s almost a surreal number of wins.

“From Lewis, it’s his absolute passion and energy and its everything he puts into the sport – and the talent and the ability. He’s just standing out.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly fifth at the Algarve circuit near Portimao that was hosting Portugal’s first Grand Prix in 24 years.

Sainz was sixth with Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo eighth and ninth.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel took the final point for Ferrari.

Lance Stroll, who missed the last race and then tested positive for COVID-19, was the only retirement of the afternoon with the team reporting floor damage.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium [Rudy Carezzevoli/Reuters]

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Georges St-Pierre calls Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC 254 performance ‘masterful’ – MMA Fighting

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Georges St-Pierre knows a thing or two about championship performances and he’s not sure he’s seen any better than the one that took place at UFC 254.

Saturday’s show in Abu Dhabi served as the culmination of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s career as the UFC lightweight champion announced his retirement following a dominant second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje. “The Highlight” was viewed by many as a difficult stylistic challenge for Nurmagomedov due to his mixture of power-punching and All-American wrestling, but Nurmagomedov defeated him as he has every other opponent he’s fought.

“GSP” was watching and afterwards he heaped praise on Nurmagomedov’s denouement in an interview with ESPN.

“It was a masterful performance,” St-Pierre said. “As close as you get of a perfect fight against a very, very tough threat in Justin Gaethje. A lot of people, including myself, was thinking that maybe Justin Gaethje is the answer to Khabib. Maybe Justin Gaethje will be the perfect nemesis to Khabib because of his pedigree in wrestling and in striking.

“However, Khabib did the—I would not say the unthinkable because Khabib is undefeated and he’s so good—but nobody would think that Khabib would do a performance [that] seemed so easy for him. It was just amazing.”

Indeed, as soon as the bell sounded, Nurmagomedov was as aggressive as ever. Nurmagomedov didn’t just rely on his trademark wrestling, he stood and tested Gaethje’s striking before eventually taking the fight to the ground. St-Pierre marveled at Nurmagomedov’s submission transitions, calling the sequence that led to the fight-ending triangle choke “beautiful.”

St-Pierre, 39, had his fair share of memorable wins during his run at the top of the UFC welterweight division, but even he was impressed with how Nurmagomedov handled Gaethje.

“He beat Justin everywhere,” St-Pierre said. “He threatened him standing up, he threatened him with his wrestling on the ground. Even at the end of the first round, Justin was in bad, bad, bad position.

“Justin looked like he was overwhelmed, it looked like he was panicking, like he didn’t know what to do. The threat was coming from everywhere. From under, from over, from everywhere. It was just a masterful performance.”

Given how good Nurmagomedov looked on Saturday, it may have come as a surprise to some that he chose to retire when it’s likely he could continue competing at a high level for years to come. Nurmagomedov, 32, said that part of the reason that he chose this moment to retire is because of the recent passing of his father and coach, Abdulmanap. That loss is something that St-Pierre believes Nurmagomedov used for extra motivation.

St-Pierre didn’t expect Nurmagomedov to retire, though it’s a decision that he fully supports.

“I was surprised he retired because I thought he do—Everyone in the media says he wanted to do 30-0,” St-Pierre said. “That’s his choice, what a great way to finish a career. He left an incredible legacy. One of the best to ever do it, maybe the best to ever do it.”

Watch St-Pierre’s full post-UFC 254 interview with ESPN below:

[embedded content]

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