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Mitchell injury shifts spotlight to Canadian QB O’Connor – TSN

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Any optimism Calgary Stampeders fans may have had about the status of starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was quelled Tuesday when head coach Dave Dickenson announced the star pivot is headed to the six-game injured list. 

That move comes after Mitchell broke his fibula on a hit from former teammate Charleston Hughes in Calgary’s season opener versus the Toronto Argonauts. Mitchell tried to play through the pain the following week but ended up throwing four interceptions versus the BC Lions as the Stampeders fell to 0-2, the team’s worst start in more than a decade.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t good,” Dickenson said Tuesday on the Texan’s status for the immediate future. “He actually has a break in his leg, in his fibula – a bone break. He played the whole game [versus the BC Lions] with it. At the time we knew he was sore…so we’ll be putting him on six-game and hopefully he’s a fast healer.”

Mitchell joked that Hughes could have injured him even more.

“When I watched the play, I was like, ‘Man, you really actually pulled up,’” he said. “‘You could have killed me on that play.’”

Now, 25-year-old Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor is tasked with righting the Stampeders ship and at least keeping the team in playoff contention until Mitchell returns. O’Connor won the 2015 Vanier Cup with the UBC Thunderbirds. In his rookie season with the Toronto Argonauts in 2019, he threw for 173 yards and a touchdown.

The Stampeders offence has looked out of sync so far this season, plagued by penalties and mental errors. After that Week 1 loss to Toronto, Dickenson said he felt Mitchell had lost faith in his receivers as the game went on.

Calgary is scoring fewer than 14 points per game and has just one passing touchdown this season. While Kamar Jorden has come back strong and leads the team with eight catches and 153 yards, Hergy Mayala and Josh Huff – who were both expected to take big steps with the departures of star receivers Eric Rogers and Reggie Begelton after 2019 – have just 14 catches 152 receiving yards combined.

O’Connor is now tasked with building that chemistry –and in a hurry.

“Just talking with them through the plays and different looks we’re expecting and how they’re going to run their routes,” O’Connor said of his work taking first-team reps this week. “That just helps to build trust, knowing where they’ll be and how they’ll run their routes is big. Just meeting with them and going through that gives you more confidence as a quarterback.”

Jorden, who has 160 catches since joining the Stampeders in 2014, downplayed the adjustments in catching the ball from one quarterback versus another.

“It should all flow regardless of who’s at quarterback, and really it should all flow regardless of who’s at receiver,” he said. “Obviously, it’s little things, right? Every quarterback’s got their things and that’s our jobs as receivers and quarterbacks to communicate and if anybody else is in, to tell us what they like, what they don’t like, where they want us, where they expect us. Those are things you’ve got to learn.”

If there’s any room for optimism it could be in Mitchell’s assessment of his protégé, which included a reference to a quarterback who won four Grey Cups during his distinguished CFL career. 

“Mike reminds me of a young Ricky Ray,” Mitchell said. “He’s tall in the pocket, he’s calm. He’s not gonna be a hoo-rah guy when he throws a big pass and he’s not gonna keep his head down when he throws a bad pass. I think he’s calm and has that demeanour about himself. He throws a beautiful ball and has a strong arm. He’s a little more mobile than you’d expect from a bigger guy.

“To me, he understands the playbook really well…Mike’s gonna stand tall in that pocket and take hits when he needs to and do what a big quarterback should do. He’s got the vision over the line and ability to see a lot of things, move the ball around, spread it out to receivers, and help the offence.”

As for the team’s overall offensive philosophy, Dickenson doesn’t want O’Connor to be tentative – despite the big stage Friday night against the visiting Montreal Alouettes.

“I’m not in the business of playing safe,” he said. “Be aggressive. Go for the throws you think are there. The main thing is to take care of discipline and the little, small things and then whatever you see, trust your eyes and let it rip.”

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Lululemon named official Canadian outfitter for next four Olympics | Offside – Daily Hive

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Lululemon will be officially heading to the Olympics.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced Thursday a partnership with the Canadian clothing brand Lululemon, making it the country’s official outfitter of Team Canada for the next four Olympics.

“As a Canadian and lifelong fan of the Games, I could not be prouder for Lululemon to partner with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee,” said Calvin McDonald, the CEO of Lululemon in a release. “Supporting these incredible athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s largest sporting stage is a privilege. Through this partnership, all of us at Lululemon are honoured to play our part to inspire, unite and transform the world through sport and share in this excitement alongside all of Canada.”

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A small selection of Lululemon Olympic apparel is available online and in-store already, with more to be revealed next month.

The partnership will start at the Beijing 2022 Games, continuing through 2024 in Paris, 2026 in Milan, and 2028 in Los Angeles.

This replaces the Hudson’s Bay partnership that first began in Torino 2006 and expired after Tokyo 2020.

While it’s Lululemon’s first official Olympic partnership, they actually launched a collection that appeared to be heavily inspired by Vancouver 2010.

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San Jose Sharks open training camp without Evander Kane amid NHL investigation – ESPN

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks opened training camp with a big void at forward with Evander Kane not participating and little idea of when or if he will come back.

The Sharks took the ice for the first time this season Thursday, a day after Kane was cleared by the NHL of gambling allegations. But with the league still looking into allegations of physical and sexual abuse made by his estranged wife, Kane and the Sharks decided he will not take part in practice until further notice.

“It’s not ideal, but there is an ongoing investigation from the NHL,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “The focus has to be on our group here, the guys that are here today and the things that we can control, but also respect the process of dealing with some very serious allegations and some things that need to be addressed with the right process.”

The Kane saga has been hanging over the Sharks for weeks after Anna Kane alleged in an Instagram post this summer that Kane bet on NHL games and was “obviously throwing games to win money.”

That launched a probe by the league, and the NHL said Wednesday there was no evidence to back up those charges and that the investigation “raises doubts about the veracity of the allegations.”

But Anna Kane also made additional allegations this week of sexual and physical abuse in a restraining order application filed in Santa Clara County Family Court.

Kane’s attorney denied those charges, but the team said it came to an agreement with Kane that he won’t participate in camp until further notice while the league looks into the allegations.

None of the players made available to the media would comment on the specifics.

“No one knew about anything and no one still knows about anything,” defenseman Erik Karlsson said. “We’re here to focus on the things that we can control and everything other than that is out of our hands.”

There was also a report this offseason from The Athletic that there was a rift between Kane and his teammates, many of whom don’t want him back on the team.

Kane’s teammates said any issues would be dealt with privately in the dressing room and they were happy with the mindset of the group that was on hand for the start of camp.

“I thought today was a real good day,” captain Logan Couture said. “When you get to the rink, you show up, you play hockey, you work hard. You play for the guy next to you. Everyone that’s here is proud to be a San Jose Shark and we want to win for this organization.”

Kane’s absence will be felt on the ice as he was the team’s most consistent forward last season, when he led the Sharks with 22 goals and 49 points.

If Kane can’t play, San Jose will have a hard time reversing the dramatic fall the team has taken the past two seasons after making it to the Western Conference finals in 2019.

“We all just play,” defenseman Brent Burns said. “It’s no different than anything else. At the end of the day, we just make coffee in the morning, come to the rink, get ready to play and you do it. I don’t think it’s any different than guys getting hurt, not being there for lineup. We don’t worry about that stuff. We can’t. There’s too much other stuff.”

The Sharks finished last in the Western Conference in 2019-20 — firing coach Peter DeBoer in December — and they took only small steps forward last season when they finished near the bottom of the West Division with 49 points in the first full season under Boughner.

They made few big moves in the offseason outside of buying out ineffective goalie Martin Jones, acquiring Adin Hill from Arizona in a trade and signing James Reimer for a second stint with the organization. The Sharks’ .891 save percentage over the past three seasons is the lowest in the NHL.

They also added some depth forwards in Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano, but there will still be questions about whether there’s enough firepower on the top two lines, which will be an even greater concern if Kane doesn’t play.

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Canadian Hubbard replaces injured McCaffrey as Panthers beat Texans – Sportsnet.ca

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HOUSTON — Thanks to another efficient performance from Sam Darnold and continued dominant play by their defense, the Carolina Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when they reached the Super Bowl.

That combination was certainly too much for the Houston Texans in Carolina’s 24-9 victory on Thursday night. But a hamstring injury to star running back Christian McCaffrey could cause serious adversity for Darnold and the Panthers’ offense going forward.

“Losing Christian is tough, but I thought we did a great job of bouncing back,” Darnold said. “We were able to put the first half behind us and do a good job in the second half.”

Canadian rookie Chuba Hubbard replaced McCaffrey. The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and added three catches for 27 yards.

Darnold threw for 304 yards and ran for two touchdowns as the Panthers eased past the Texans despite losing McCaffrey early in the second quarter.

“In the second half we trusted Sam,” coach Matt Rhule said. “We were throwing more verticals and pushing the ball down the field.”

Carolina’s top-ranked defense put the squeeze on Houston rookie Davis Mills in his first career start, sacking him four times and holding him to 168 yards passing. Mills was pressed into action after Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday and was placed on injured reserve.

The Panthers have allowed 573 yards and totaled 14 sacks in three games.

Darnold topped 300 yards passing for the second straight game as he continues to revitalize his career with the Panthers after being cast aside by the New York Jets.

McCaffrey came in leading the league in scrimmage yards, the same thing he did in the 2019 season. But he missed all but three games in 2020 with various injuries as the Panthers sputtered to 5-11 in Rhule’s first year.

Rhule said McCaffrey had a strained hamstring.

“I don’t know the severity level of it yet, to be quite honest with you,” Rhule said. “But I knew the minute it happened I said: `Hey, he’s out for the game.’ That’s all I knew. I saw him in there, and he’s moving around, but it’s a wait and see.”

Darnold rushed for Carolina’s first score in the first quarter and put the game away when he bulled in from 1 yard out to make it 24-9 with about four minutes left, losing his helmet in the process.

Mills threw for a touchdown and avoided big mistakes after he threw an interception in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Cleveland. But the Texans (1-2) couldn’t run the ball, finishing with 42 yards on the ground, and that forced Mills into tough down-and-distance situations as Houston punted six times.

“We just weren’t very good on offense tonight … because we weren’t able to run the ball,” Texans coach David Culley said.

Mills’ favorite target was Brandin Cooks, who had nine receptions for 112 yards.

“I thought he was great,” Cooks said of the rookie. “He handled himself well.”

Darnold’s 5-yard run put the Panthers ahead early and McCaffrey was injured on Carolina’s next drive. Hubbard was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 5 to end that possession.

Hubbard, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State, finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and three receptions for 27 yards.

Anthony Miller grabbed a 1-yard touchdown pass about 30 seconds before halftime, but Joey Slye missed the extra point. Miller made his debut with the Texans after he missed the first two games with a shoulder injury.

Tommy Tremble dashed untouched into the end zone from 7 yards out to put Carolina ahead 14-6 in the third quarter. The teams traded field goals before Darnold’s short rush on third-and-goal capped a 12-play drive that put it away.

INJURIES

Carolina rookie CB Jaycee Horn, the eighth overall pick in the draft, suffered broken bones in his right foot, Rhule said. … Panthers S Juston Burris pulled a groin muscle and Rhule said he would miss some time.

HE SAID IT

“We just didn’t execute. We missed tackles. They were just making plays they were supposed to make and we weren’t making plays we were supposed to make.” — Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey.

UP NEXT

Carolina visits Dallas on Oct. 3.

Houston visits Buffalo on Oct. 3.

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