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Luke Prokop first player with NHL contract to say he is gay

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Nashville Predators defensive prospect Luke Prokop on Monday became the first active player under contract to a NHL team to come out as gay, and his courage to do so was lauded around the ice hockey world.

The 19-year-old Canadian was selected by Nashville in the third round of last year’s NHL Draft and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Predators in December.

“While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am. Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay,” Prokop said in an Instagram post.

“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out.”

Prokop spent the past four seasons with Calgary of the Western Hockey League. He had two goals and four assists in 15 games in 2020-21.

The International Ice Hockey Federation, Hockey Canada and a number of NHL teams and players took to social media to offer their support for Prokop.

“The hockey community is a better place when everyone can show their authentic selves,” the five-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins said on Twitter.

Nashville captain Roman Josi also offered his support.

“We’re obviously very proud of him for taking that step,” the Swedish defenseman said in a report on the NHL website.

“Our message as a team (is that) we’re obviously very supportive of him. We just reached out and told him (we’ll help with) whatever he needs and that we’re proud of him. It’s a big step for him and we fully support him.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will do all it can to make Prokop’s experience welcoming while also ensuring other players contemplating following his footsteps know the league is ready to provide full support.

“On behalf of the National Hockey League, we are proud of Luke Prokop for today’s announcement and I would like to thank him for sharing his truth and for being so brave,” Bettman said in a statement.

“I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community. LGBTQ players, coaches, and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they live their lives as their full and true selves.”

Prokop follows in the footsteps of Carl Nassib, the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end who last month became the first active NFL player to come out publicly.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar)

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2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets

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Wow. What a day we had! Day one of the 2021 NHL Draft began with many, many, trades. 12 players and 11 picks – including three first round picks for this draft – were traded before the draft began. Let’s look at the pre-draft trades first:

New York Rangers trade Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for Sammy Blais & a 2022 2d round pick.

Buffalo Sabres trade Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Robert Hagg, a 2021 1st round pick (13th overall), & a 2023 2nd round pick.

Arizona Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks for Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, a 2021 1st round pick (9th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick, and a 7th round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade Seth Jones, 1st round pick (32nd overall), & a 2022 6th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Adam Boquist, 1st round pick (12th overall), 2nd round pick (44th overall), and a 2022 1st round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade a 2nd round pick (44th overall) to the Carolina Hurricanes for Jake Bean.

Also, not a trade but the New York Rangers will be buying out noted racist and hated teammate Tony DeAngelo.

Now, the picks:

1st – Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power (D) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Mississauga, ON
2020-21 NCAA stats: 26GP – 3G – 13A – 16Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 10GP – 0G – 3A – 3Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie team, 2021 World Championship Gold Medal

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2nd – Seattle Kraken – Matthew Beniers (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Hingham, MA
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 24GP – 10G – 14A – 24Pts
2021 Team USA Stats: 13GP – 2G – 3A – 5Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team, 2021 World Jr. Championship Gold, 2021 World Championship Bronze

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3rd – Anaheim Ducks – Mason McTavish (C) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div. 2
From: Zürich, SUI
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 13GP – 9G – 2A – 11Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 5G – 6A – 11Pts
Awards: 2021 U18 WJC Gold Medal

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4th – New Jersey Devils – Luke Hughes (D) – USA NTDP
From: Canton, MI
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 56GP – 10G – 39A – 49Pts

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5th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: North Vancouver, BC
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 26GP – 9G – 18A – 27Pts
2021 Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team

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6th – Detroit Red Wings – Simon Edvinsson (D) – Frölunda HC, SHL / Västerås IK, HockeyAllsvenskan
From: Onsala, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 28GP – 1G – 11A – 12Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 15GP – 2G – 7A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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7th – San Jose Sharks – William Eklund (LW) – Djurgårdens IF, SHL
From: Haninge, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 40GP – 11G – 12A – 23Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 4GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: SHL Rookie of the Year

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8th – Los Angeles Kings – Brandt Clarke (D) – HC Nove Zamky, Slovakia
From: Ottawa, ON
2020-21 League stats: 26GP – 5G – 10A – 15Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 5A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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9th – Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Guenther (W) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL / Sherwood Park Crusaders, AJHL
From: Edmonton, AB
2020-21 League stats: 16GP – 15G – 15A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 4G – 3A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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10th – Ottawa Senators – Tyler Boucher (LW) – USNTDP
From: Haddonfield, NJ
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 19GP – 12G – 7A – 19Pts

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11th – Arizona Coyotes – Forfeited

12th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Cole Sillinger (C) – Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL
From: Columbus, OH
2020-21 USHL Stats: 31GP – 24G – 22A – 46Pts
2021 Awards: USHL Rookie of the Year.

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13th – Calgary Flames – Matthew Coronato (RW) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: New York, NY
2020-21 USHL Stats: 51GP – 48G – 37A – 85Pts
2021 Awards: 2021 Clark Cup, USHL Forward of the Year, USHL Most Goals

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14th – Buffalo Sabres – Isak Rosén (W) – Leksands IF, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 35GP – 9G – 8A – 17Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 8GP – 7G – 2A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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We have a trade to announce….

The Detroit Red Wings trade picks 23, 48, and 138 to the Dallas Stars for pick 15

15th – Detroit Red Wings – Sebastian Cossa (G) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
From: Hamilton, ON
2020-21 WHL Stats: 19GP – 1.57GAA – .941sv% – 4SO

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16th – New York Rangers – Brennan Othman (LW) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div 2
From: Scarborough, ON
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 34GP – 7G – 9A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 3G – 3A – 6Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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17th – St. Louis Blues – Zachary Bolduc (C) – Rimouski Océanic , QMJHL
From: Trois-Rivières, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 27GP – 10G – 19A – 29Pts
2021 Awards: Mike Bossy Trophy – Best Professional Prospect

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18th – Winnipeg Jets* – Chaz Lucius (C) – USNTDP
From: Grant, MN
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 25GP – 26G – 12A – 38Pts

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19th – Nashville Predators – Fedor Svechkov (F) – Ladia Togliatti, Russia
From: Togliatti, RUS
2020-21 League Stats: 53GP – 9G – 21A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Russia Stats: 7GP – 4G – 6A – 10Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Silver Medal

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We have a trade to announce…..

The Edmonton Oilers trade pick 20 to the Minnesota Wild for picks 22 and 90

20th – Minnesota Wild – Jesper Wallstedt (G) – Luleå HF , SHL
From: Västerås, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 22 GP – 2.23GAA – .908sv% – 2SO
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 2GP – 2.40GAA – .923sv%

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21st – Boston Bruins – Fabian Lysell (RW) – Luleå HF, SHL
From: Göteborg, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 26GP – 2G – 1A – 3Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 8GP – 3G – 6A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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22nd – Edmonton Oilers – Xavier Bourgault (C) – Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL
From: L’Islet, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 29GP – 20G – 20A – 40Pts

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23rd – Dallas Stars – Wyatt Johnston (C) – Team Canada
From: Leaside, ON
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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24th – Florida Panthers – Mackie Samoskevich (C) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: Newtown, CT
2020-21 USHL Stats: 36GP – 13G – 24A – 37Pts
20201 Awards: Clark Cup

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25th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Corson Ceulemans (D) – Brooks Bandits, AJHL
From: Regina, SK
2020-21 AJHL Stats: 8GP – 4G – 7A – 11Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 6GP – 1G – 7A – 8Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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26th – Minnesota Wild – Carson Lambos (D) – Winnipeg Ice, WHL / JYP. Finland
From: Winnipeg, MB
2020-21 WHL Stats: 2GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts
2020-21 Finnish Stats: 17GP – 2G – 9A – 11Pts

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We have a trade to announce….

The Carolina Hurricanes trade the 27th pick to the Nashville Predators for picks 40 and 51.

27th – Nashville Predators – Zachary L’Heureux (LW) – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
From: Montréal, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 33GP – 19G – 20A – 39Pts

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28th – Colorado Avalanche – Oskar Olausson (RW) – HV71, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 43GP – 20G – 17A – 37Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 4GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts

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29th – New Jersey Devils – Chase Stillman (C) – Esbjerg U20, Denmark
From: St. Louis, MO
2020-21 League stats: 8GP – 9G – 7A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
20201 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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30th – Vegas Golden Knights – Zach Dean (C) – Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL
From: Grand Prairie, AB
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 23GP – 10G – 10A – 20Pts

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31st – Montréal Canadiens – Logan Mailloux – SK Lejon, HockeyEttan
From: Belle River, ON
2020-21 Stats: 19GP – 7G – 8A – 15Pts

32nd – Chicago Blackhawks – Nolan Allan (D) – Prince Albert Raiders, WHL
From: Davidson, SK
2020-21 WHL Stats: 16GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal


Day one is over, after a nearly 5 hour round one draft.

Rounds 2-7 will begin at 11AM on July 23rd.

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Canadian flag-bearer's parents delightfully cheer on daughter from across the world – Yahoo Canada Sports

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Miranda Ayim’s parents were ecstatic to watch their daughter carry Canada’s flag at the Opening Ceremony. (Photo via @CBCOlympics/Twitter)

When Canadian women’s basketball player Miranda Ayim triumphantly led the Canadian contingent into the opening ceremony at Tokyo 2020, a small group of friends and family gathered back in London, Ont., to cheer her on.

At the centre of the group were Ayim’s parents, Gus and Sandy Ayim, who were understandably beaming with pride.

Any parent of an Olympic athlete would be on the edge of their seat watching their child enter the Olympic Stadium, but when they are the ones leading the team and carrying the flag, the emotions are surely that much stronger.

“Exhilaration, nervousness, anticipation as we just saw the flag…the Canada flag in the corner in the back, in the tunnel, and then that ratcheted everything up just a little bit as we saw the anticipation of them coming out,” Gus told CTV News.

Suddenly, all those long years of early morning drives to practices and weekends spent on the road at basketball tournaments don’t seem like much of a sacrifice at all. Not when this was what they were leading to.

But still, Ayim knows she wouldn’t be in this spot without the support of her parents. In fact, back in 2018, she thanked her parents in an Instagram post for all they have done for her.

“Of all the people in our lives we take for granted, parents seem to continually rank at the top of the list,” Ayim wrote in the caption. “Without them, there would have been no rebounder in the gym at 6 in the morning, no driver to countless practices and games, no cheerleader in the stands, no consoler after a hard game, no counsellor in the face of hard decisions.”

Now, with the opening ceremony behind her, Ayim can turn her focus to basketball.

The 33-year-old forward and the rest of her Canadian teammates will begin their pursuit of a medal when they face off against Serbia on Monday.

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Canadian cyclist Michael Woods just misses podium after gruelling 234-km ride – CBC.ca

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In a race that lasted nearly six hours and traversed more than 200 kilometres, in the end it came down to a matter of inches for Canadian cyclist Michael Woods.

With Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz capturing gold, Woods was among a group of five riders who were in a flat sprint over the final 100 metres, jockeying for silver and bronze. With a few metres to go, Woods appeared to get boxed out by two other riders, ultimately finishing fifth and missing out on a medal by less than a second.

“I am really happy with how I rode but just off the podium which was my big goal,” Woods told CBC Sports after the race. “I tried to get some separation as much as I could but it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Woods final time was six hours, six minutes and 33 seconds, 1.07 behind Carapaz.

Belgium’s Wout van Aert captured silver. Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar took the bronze.

Woods overcame gruelling conditions, on what riders called the toughest Olympic course ever, to be in contention at the finish.

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The 34-year-old was barely mentioned during this race before, like a coiled spring, thrusting himself into the top group with about 30 kilometres left of the 234-kilometre race.

Coming into this race, the Toronto native and Ottawa resident said the brutal course, full of deadly climbs, “really suited him.”  He was right.

“I thought I was the strongest climber today, but I had to roll the dice [and] it didn’t play out as I’d hoped,” Woods said.

“I really didn’t want it to come down to a sprint. I tried to attack several times and I wanted to get away like Carapaz did, but I just wasn’t as lucky as him and able make the move that he did.”

This race had an Olympic feel that’s been lacking here in Tokyo as for the first time athletes had a crowd cheering them on. Thousands of fans welcomed the riders as they entered the Fuji Motor Speedway two hours from Tokyo, where the race finished. Riders also received strong encouragement from locals who lined parts of the course as the race snaked through the mountains, where COVID-19 protocols aren’t as restrictive as in Tokyo.

A pack of riders goes past Yamanaka Lake during the men’s cycling road race on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

While countries like Italy and Belgium and France had five riders who were able to control the pace throughout the race before launching waves of co-ordinated attacks, Woods did much of the work on his own.

About 80 kilometres into the race, it appeared that Woods might have been involved in a crash that sidelined a pair of British riders, but he escaped contact. He did have to drop back from the pack momentarily as he appeared to have issues with one of his shoes before getting a fresh pair from his team car.

With the iconic Mount Fuji looming over many parts of the course, the 130-rider field had to navigate a series of five gruelling climbs adding up to nearly 5,000 metres, a more arduous challenge than even the most difficult mountain stages at the Tour de France.

As one commentator put it: add in the humidity and it will feel like they are climbing Mount Everest.

The toughest challenge of this race came near the end, after nearly 200 kilometres of racing, called the Mikuni Pass, the steepest climb in cycling.

Woods said before the race that the steep ascents made it a “good course for him.”

“It is a really challenging climb, really steep, but it really suits my skill set. I think with the heat, particularly with the amount of climbing in this race, it really does suit my abilities,” Woods told CBC Sports.

WATCH | The Olympians: Mike Woods

Watch CBC Sports’ The Olympians feature, on Mike Woods. 3:06

Beyond the brutal climbs, riders also had to endure the searing heat. Early this month, Woods actually decided to leave the Tour de France early so he could come to the Olympics early to help acclimate himself to the heat.

“I did three hours in the peak heat of the day, sweating profusely, and I was really happy that I got that in. I think I need a couple more days of that heat exposure and I think I’ll be good in terms of actual race day preparation,” Woods said.

The Olympic road race is usually held on a circuit, but at these Games, riders began at Tokyo’s Musashinonomori Park then passed through Kanagawa and Yamanashi Prefectures before finishing at the Fuji International Speedway. As riders wound their way through the Japanese countryside, they were treated to small slices of Japanese culture, including ancient temples and ornate fountains.

Just two weeks ago, Woods was involved in a crash at the Tour de France, where he suffered a severe road rash. But coming into these Games, Wood said he felt healthy and in great spirits.

Back home, his wife Elly is just about to have a baby boy. Despite changes coming at home and a career that has now included two Olympics, in the moments after this narrow defeat, Woods said that you may see him in Paris, the site of 2024 Olympics.

“We will have to see what the course in Paris is like,” he said. “I will be 38 at the next Olympics, So it’s difficult to say. But this has me all the more motivated and if the course in Paris is challenging, I will be there I think.”

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