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McDavid’s return puts Ken Holland under spotlight before deadline – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The eyes averted from the general manager for a moment or two Thursday, when Connor McDavid executed the rare hockey “two-a-day,” skating alone at 9 a.m. and then again with the team at noon.

McDavid would not rule out playing Friday night against Minnesota — “You’ll have to ask the doctors about (a return date). We’re taking it day by day.” — and will be leaving with the team on Saturday for a three-game trip that opens Sunday in Los Angeles.

We’re betting he plays Sunday at the latest, and McDavid’s imminent return coupled with Monday’s trade deadline has veteran GM Ken Holland under the spotlight here in Edmonton — no different than in any hockey town on the map.

“The day I took the job (back in May) I told everybody at the press conference that I hoped on March 1 that we’re playing important games, competing for a playoff spot,” Holland said on Thursday. “We’re probably a little bit above that, but just a little bit. You can say we’re first place in the division, but we’re also five points from being out.

“How has it affected my thinking? I was a seller in Detroit the last three years, and I was a buyer at the deadline for many years. Would I like to do something? Yeah, you like to do something to pitch in.”

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Holland has a dressing room full of players who have come together to win games despite the fact there was $30-million worth of players out of the lineup that lost 2-1 in overtime to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. They’re looking at their GM to give them another bullet in a Pacific Division that has never been more wide open than it is today.

In the coach’s office sits Dave Tippett, who has done a masterful job creating an all-in atmosphere where the Oilers can now beat you with their stars, or by outworking the opponents with a solid bottom six, a sturdy D-corps and excellent goaltending.

And the owner of a team that has enjoyed one playoff run in the past 13 seasons likely wouldn’t mind a playoff gate or two. All of that is running through the mind of Holland, who is also responsible for building something here that can past — which means not dealing away picks and prospects.

Especially a first-round pick.

“Certainly for a rental,” he said. “I’m not going to spend a first-round pick on a rental.”

The Franchise has missed just five games, and his team went 3-1-1, dropping points only against Tampa and Boston. Top defenceman Oscar Klefbom is on the shelf for another two to three weeks with a shoulder issue. The Oilers were in first place in the Pacific when they awoke Thursday, and have watched Vancouver add Tyler Toffoli, Vegas add Alec Martinez, Arizona add Taylor Hall earlier in the season, and the Calgary Flames free up a load of cap space when they sent Michael Frolik to Buffalo.

Does that make Holland’s trigger finger a little more itchy?

“I did that in my early years as a manager, (when) there was us, Dallas and Colorado,” he said. “Sometimes it helps, quite often it doesn’t help. Today I worry more about our team. I can’t manage against what other teams are doing. I have to factor in the prices, what am I looking for, what’s going to make us deeper and better and at what cost.”

As we wrote yesterday in our deadline preview, a left winger for McDavid is what we believe to be the biggest priority in Edmonton, though a depth centre wouldn’t hurt either.

How does Holland prioritize those needs?

“That’s fantasy hockey,” was his retort. “It depends what’s available, what’s the cost and it’s not like there’s a whole bunch of wingers and a whole bunch of offensive centreman or defensive centres. What’s the cost?

“I’m trying to weigh that in my thought process from when I was hired to a five-year deal. You have to draft and develop people. Some of the younger people have had a greater impact way quicker than I thought. So, I’m trying to decide over the next three or four days how active I’ll be.

“Yeah, I would like to pitch in because the guys in that locker room have worked extremely hard, players and coaching staff, to put us in this position. But I also have to factor in the cost and I would not trade a first-round pick for a rental.”

As for Jesse Puljujarvi, their wayward former No. 1 pick currently playing in Finland, Holland said this: “I haven’t really shopped him and nobody’s really asked.”

Stay tuned. As you can see, there are plenty of wheels in motion in Edmonton these days.

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FedExCup update: Adam Scott bursts FedExCup, Presidents Cup bubbles – PGA TOUR

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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – Adam Scott has been at it for more than two decades. He admits that visiting the same venues and tournaments annually can sometimes lead to complacency. But having an objective gave him inspiration this week at the FedExCup St. Jude Championship.


RELATED: Leaderboard | FedExCup standings


Scott entered the first week of the FedExCup Playoffs at 77th in the standings, needing a solid finish just to advance to the next event.

He got it, shooting four rounds of par or better to finish T5 at 11 under par. He jumped 32 spots in the FedExCup to No. 45, ensuring his first BMW start in two years.

“It was really about putting my mind to (doing) something and getting it done,” Scott said. “I think that’s sometimes the hardest thing at this point in my career, … switching your mind on all the time. Floating around on autopilot sometimes … doesn’t get you very far, so I had to focus a little bit more.”

This was Scott’s fourth top-10 in 18 starts this season, but first in a stroke-play event since The Genesis Invitational in February. It’s been a solid season – he’s missed just two cuts and posted top-15s at the year’s last two majors – but lacked the high finishes that rack up points.

This was a well-timed performance, also. Scott was playing not only for his FedExCup fate this week. He also wanted to secure his status on the International Presidents Cup Team. The top eight in the team’s standings after next week’s BMW Championship will earn automatic spots on Trevor Immelman’s International Team that will face the U.S. at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club on Sept. 22-25.

Scott arrived at TPC Southwind ranked eighth on the Internationals’ points list. While a Captain’s Pick would be a certainty should he not earn an automatic spot on the roster, Scott’s performance at TPC Southwind frees up another pick for Captain Trevor Immelman.

“That is huge for us,” Immelman said about Scott earning his spot. “There’s no doubt about it. When I got this job, he was one of the guys that I had sort of earmarked that would be very important to be (at Quail Hollow).”

The added flexibility is appreciated. Immelman has lots of options.

Presidents Cup veterans like Marc Leishman, Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, Anirban Lahiri, Jhonattan Vegas and Emiliano Grillo are outside the top eight, as are up-and-comers like Min Woo Lee, Ryan Fox, Taylor Pendrith and Christiaan Bezuidenhout and PGA TOUR winners such as Sebastian Munoz, Mackenzie Hughes, Lucas Herbert and Cam Davis.

Scott led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting this week, gaining nearly 4 strokes in the final round alone. He salvaged an even-par round Saturday despite not playing well, then shot 66 on Sunday. He could’ve moved even farther up the FedExCup if not for a drive into the water on the 72nd hole, though he was able to salvage bogey.

Immelman thinks his team’s veteran presence is trending in the right direction and close to earning his first PGA TOUR win since the 2020 Genesis Invitational, which fell right before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“His swing seems to be in a good spot. The sound is right,” Immelman said. “I really think he has become a good putter over the last three years. When you match that together, I think he’s right there.”

Immelman, who also is an announcer for CBS, enjoys spending time on the range at PGA TOUR events, scouting out the players whose shots he’ll call and potential team members. Scott has noticed.

“He’s been watching me grind away every week, the old dog out here, grinding me into the ground trying to make his team,” Scott says. He and Immelman have been friends since their amateur days, and Scott is a de facto Captain’s Assistant, qualified to give input on a variety of matters.

It was a five-minute speech that Scott gave to his teammates as they drove to Royal Melbourne for their first practice rounds three years ago that helped the International Team take the lead going into Sunday.

“It was so amazing, so heartfelt,” Immelman said. “It really meant a lot, particularly when you factor in that we had seven rookies on that team.”

Scott did what he needed to do Sunday to help Immelman, and to advance in the FedExCup Playoffs.


Friends since their junior golf days in Dallas. The past two PGA TOUR Rookies of the Year. Now Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler are the top two players in the FedExCup standings.

Scheffler has been leading since March but with points quadrupled in the Playoffs, Zalatoris was able to supplant Scheffler, who missed the cut in Memphis, atop the FedExCup.

Zalatoris now holds a 125-point lead over Scheffler. Cameron Smith dropped a spot to third in the standings after his T13 at TPC Southwind and will round out the headlining group at the BMW Championship.

Zalatoris’ win in FedEx St. Jude Championship came in his first career Playoffs start.

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Latvia in QF, Slovakia out – IIHF

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The teams had met only three times previously in World Junior play, most recently in 2012, and Czechia won all three by a combined score of 19-5.

Both goalies were playing in their third of four games for their respective teams, Jan Bednar having the better GAA than Bruveris – 3.36 to 3.84 – but it was Bruveris who made the difference today.

“We believed we could win,” Darels Dukurs said. “We just played one game at a time and gave it our best. We played like a team and fought for each other. We stayed focus the whole time.”

The Latvians got just the start they needed, jumping into a 2-0 lead by the halfway point of the period. Martins Lavins got the opener on a fine rush by Harijs Brants. He drove down the left wing and got the puck in front to Lavins, who quickly re-directed the puck between the open pads of Jan Bednar at 4:30.

They made it 2-0 at 12:21 off another great pass from behind the goal line. This time it was Raimonds Vitolins who fed Rainers Rullers in front. Rullers lifted a high shot over the shoulder of Bednar.

Latvia then took two successive penalties. The PK was letter perfect on the first and dodged a bullet on the second before finally succumbing. Michal Gut took a back-door pass that left him with nothing but net to shoot at, but he shot wide and looked heavenward for answers that could be more easily found on his stick tape.

But moments later he was given another opportunity through a hard pass cross crease from captain Jan Mysak, and this one he didn’t miss.

The Vitolins-Rullers combo had another sensational chance early in the second to make it a 3-1 game, but this time Bednar came across and made a great save on Rullers. Latvia had two power plays soon after but couldn’t capitalize, and it started to feel as though they had squandered chances to take control of the game.

Indeed, Czechia tied the score at 9:33 on a broken play. Captain Ralfs Bergmanis blocked a shot in front, but it landed with Stanislav Svozil. He moved in and roofed a backhand over Bruveris, and that feeling of lost opportunities care to the fore.

But credit to Latvia, and to Bergmanis in particular. He put his team ahead at 11:15 after David Jiricek made a poor clearing. Bergmanis’s quick point shot fooled Bednar and gave the underdogs another lead. Bruveris scored again six minutes later on a similar shot during a power play when his long wrister beat Bednar high.

Bednar was replaced by Tomas Suchanek to start the third, but he faced only three shots as his teammates fired 17 on Brumanis without scoring. Czechia had a golden chance to cut the lead midway through the period when Lavins closed his hand on the puck in the crease, resulting in a penalty shot. But Mysak was stoned by Bruveris and kept it a 4-2 game.

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Rory MacDonald announces retirement after 2022 PFL Playoffs exit – MMA Fighting

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Rory MacDonald is stepping away from competition after a devastating loss.

The former Bellator welterweight champion and longtime UFC contender announced his retirement on Sunday, one day after losing by first-round TKO to Dilano Taylor in the 2022 PFL semifinals.

MacDonald, 33, broke the news via Instagram.

“My time has come to put the gloves down for good,” MacDonald wrote. “I’m so thankful for this sport and every person I’ve been able to meet along the way.

“I started this sport as a 14-year-old kid, I still remember my first day and knowing this is what I want to spend my life doing. The passion for martial arts and becoming a pro MMA fighter gave me hope and a way to a better life! And I’m so thankful to God for putting that gym Toshido MMA in kelowna in my path. It truly changed the direction of my life and saved me!

“What an adventure this career has been, 17 years of professional fighting. It all came and went so fast! So many painful trainings that are etched into my being, travelling to all parts of the planet and meeting so many people.

“I’ve learned so much about myself through this career, not all of it good. And I’ve made so many mistakes along the way, but here I am 33 years old a better man because of those mistakes, to which I’m very grateful I’ve grown up.”

MacDonald went on to thank fans for their support, as well as the UFC, Bellator, and the PFL.

Debuting in 2005, MacDonald quickly emerged as one of the hottest prospects in his native Canada, beginning his career 10-0. He eventually took his talents to Montreal’s Tristar Gym, where he trained alongside UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. MacDonald joined the UFC in 2010, where he won eight of his first 10 fights, including a dominant decision win over future welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

“The Red King” had his shot at the UFC’s 170-pound title at UFC 189 in July 2015, where he lost by fifth-round TKO to Robbie Lawler in one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

In 2017, MacDonald signed with Bellator and captured a welterweight title by beating Douglas Lima in just his second bout for the promotion. He successfully defended his belt twice before ceding it back to Lima in the finals of a grand prix tournament. MacDonald also unsuccessfully challenged Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator middleweight championship.

The last leg of MacDonald’s career came with the PFL. He signed with the league in 2019, but failed to recapture his previous success, going just 2-4 including the stunning loss to Taylor that was the final fight of his career.

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