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NHL free agency starts tomorrow. The feeding frenzy, though, has already begun. Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh), Filip Forsberg (Nashville), Marc-Andre Fleury (Minnesota) and Valeri Nichushkin (Colorado) are among the key players who have inked new contracts to stay with their teams. Toronto and Ottawa made a significant trade yesterday that sent goalie Matt Murray to the Leafs. The wheeling and dealing at last week’s draft included the Senators’ landing two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat from Chicago.
And those are just the appetizers. Here’s a look at some of the big-name unrestricted free agents expected to be on the table when the signing period opens Wednesday at noon ET:
Johnny Gaudreau: The diminutive Calgary winger bet big on himself by playing out the final year of his contract rather than take the security of a long-term deal. Now Gaudreau, 28, is about to cash in after setting career highs in points (115) and goals (40) to finish second in the scoring race behind Connor McDavid. Calgary has another star hitting free agency in Matthew Tkachuk, but his restricted status means the Flames have the power to match any offer made to the young 42-goal forward.
Nazem Kadri: The gritty two-way centre is coming off a banner year that saw him notch a career-best 87 points (in only 71 games) and win his first Stanley Cup. Colorado could let Kadri, 31, walk as they just handed Nichushkin a massive eight-year deal and may want to keep free-agent forward Andre Burakovsky and defenceman Josh Manson in the fold.
Evander Kane: Given his inconsistency on the ice and his myriad troubles off it — including an admitted gambling problem, allegations of abuse by his estranged wife (which an NHL investigation concluded were unsubstantiated) and a 21-game suspension for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card — it’s unlikely Kane will ever land another long-term deal. But teams might be tempted by the 30-year-old’s performance in this year’s playoffs, where he delivered 13 goals in 15 games for an Edmonton team that took a chance on him in late January after San Jose cut him.
Claude Giroux: At 34, the former Philadelphia star is pretty far removed from his best days. But he piled up 23 points in 18 regular-season games after being traded to Florida and was the team’s second-leading scorer in the playoffs. The Panthers may be looking to shake things up, though, after suffering a humbling second-round sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay.
John Klingberg: The top defenceman on the market had 47 points in 74 games for Dallas last season. That may not sound like much, but reliable defencemen who can contribute offensively have proven irresistible for thirsty GMs. Blueliner-needy teams that miss out on or can’t afford Klingberg could turn to St. Louis’ Nick Leddy, Colorado’s Josh Manson or New Jersey’s P.K. Subban.
Darcy Kuemper: With Marc-Andre Fleury opting to stay in Minnesota, Kuemper is probably the best goalie on the market after helping Colorado to the Stanley Cup. Teams that can’t get him might go for Jack Campbell, whose days in Toronto appear numbered after yesterday’s trade for Matt Murray. Read more about some of the top players available in NHL free agency here.
Rory MacDonald announces retirement after 2022 PFL Playoffs exit – MMA Fighting
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.
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.
Near lead, Cameron Smith penalized a day after playing ball from 'wrong place' – Golf Channel
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – As if his week hasn’t been eventful enough, Cameron Smith began the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship four shots off the lead after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for “playing [his] ball from the wrong place” at No. 4 on Saturday.
After starting the day at 11 under and two shots off the lead held by J.J. Spaun, Smith was informed by PGA Tour rules officials that he was now 9 under and four back after it was determined he violated Rule 14.7.
Officials discovered the violation after reviewing footage from Round 3 of Smith’s drop at the fourth hole, a par 3. The footage shows Smith dropping and playing his next shot from the hazard line, which is a violation of Rule 17.1 (when ball is in penalty area), turning his bogey-4 on the hole into a triple-bogey 6.
“When I asked him the question [if his golf ball was on the hazard line], unfortunately, he said to me, ‘No, the ball was definitely touching the line,’” said Gary Young, the PGA Tour’s chief referee. “At that point there’s no turning back. That was a moment where I know that the player has knowledge that the ball was touching the line, he just simply didn’t understand the rule that it requires the entire ball to be outside of the penalty area and in his relief area.”
The ruling took on added significance given Smith’s position on the FedExCup points list, No. 2, and his quest to overtake Scottie Scheffler atop the world ranking. The Australian will move to No. 1 on both lists with a victory Sunday at TPC Southwind.
“His answer to me is, ‘The rules are the rules,’” Young said. “He just accepted the two-stroke penalty … he very calmly left the office and he’s just going about his business for the day.”
It was yet another headline for Smith who has dominated them this week. According to Australian golfer Cam Percy and a report in The Telegraph, Smith is poised to jump to LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed rival league. Smith has repeatedly declined to address the reports.
Defence costs scuffling Blue Jays as they drop series to Guardians – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO – Up as the potential tying run during a sudden attempt at a seventh-inning rally, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., dug in for a fourth time against Shane Bieber and with the count 1-1, let a middle-down fastball at 93.5 m.p.h. go by.
The ball barely popped Austin Hedges’ glove when the Toronto Blue Jays slugger whipped his bat through the zone, frustrated he didn’t swing. Bieber’s next pitch was a slider to the same spot, inducing a weak ground ball that ended the inning and preserved the lead.
It was a plate appearance symbolic of the Blue Jays as a whole right now, a team stuck between speeds, and the results are showing it. A 7-2 setback to the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday afternoon was a sixth loss in eight outings, with defeats in consecutive series after splits in a pair of sets beforehand, all against fellow contenders.
The Blue Jays, now 61-52, haven’t won back-to-back August games and another tough week looms with the Baltimore Orioles, against whom they’re 2-4, arriving for three games beginning Monday. A four-game set at the New York Yankees, whom they’re 4-8 against, is right after.
“That at-bat, in a nutshell, if you look at what Beiber was doing over the course of the game, it wasn’t too many back-to-back heaters, so he probably had Vladdy in between,” interim manager John Schneider said of the pivotal seventh inning confrontation. “And overall, if you have a pitching staff like (Cleveland’s) that locates, we have to make an adjustment. We have to be able to either lay off pitches or when they are in the middle of the plate, do some damage and get on base. So I think that’s the adjustment going forward and looking forward to doing it against Baltimore.”
A boost is expected Monday when George Springer is likely to be activated from the injured list. Ross Stripling is due to return for a start Wednesday, pushing Jose Berrios back a day to the opener in the Bronx.
Neither will right things on their own.
Sunday’s loss, before a crowd of 41,002, was among the more frustrating recent setbacks, the Blue Jays bled by a Cleveland team adept at delivering perpetual papercuts.
Kevin Gausman fell victim to that, allowing five runs in 4.2 innings, the four that followed Amed Rosario’s solo shot in the first inning each the by-product of BABIP blues.
Austin Hedges’ go-ahead RBI single in the second, for example, came on a blooper that dropped just in front of Raimel Tapia in centre field and then bounced over his head allowing Owen Miller to score from second.
In the third, a throwing error by Alejandro Kirk on Tyler Freeman’s stolen base put the third baseman on third and allowed him to score easily when Cavan Biggio didn’t get to a Hedges fly ball down the right-field line for a double.
In the fifth, a single by Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., off a diving Whit Merrifield deflected into centre and allowed Rosario, who’d advanced on a wild pitch, before a Miller double brought home the fifth run.
With tighter defence, the damage could easily have been far more limited and the game not quite as out of reach.
“Sometimes it’s the way the game goes, it’s baseball,” said Gausman. “Once the pitch leaves your hand, you can’t determine the outcome a lot of times. It’s frustrating at times, but that’s the way it goes. You just kind of realize that it’s going to change at some point. I’ve had a lot of bad luck this year, but at some point it will turn.”
The Blue Jays did have their chances, tying the game 1-1 in the first on a Teoscar Hernandez RBI double that left men on second and third with one out, but Bieber recovered to strike out Matt Chapman before Naylor swallowed up a Tapia smash at 105.6 m.p.h. at first base.
Another chance to put up a crooked number came in the fifth when the Blue Jays again put men at second and third with one out, but Guerrero waved at a first-pitch slider before again swinging at the pitch for a run-scoring groundout. Kirk then lined a ball to right-centre but Myles Straw just chased it down to end the inning.
At 0-for-4 on the day, Guerrero’s hitting streak came to an end at 22 games. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose stay in the leadoff spot will end with Springer’s return, had three of the Blue Jays’ eight hits Sunday. Over the weekend, they managed just four runs on 17 hits while having their approach tested by Cal Quantrill, Triston McKenzie and Bieber.
“Overall, guys over the course of the year are doing a good job of deciding which pitches to swing at – right now, probably in a little bit of a rut,” said Schneider. “And when you’re facing a pitching staff that locates well, it just compounds that a little bit. But what we preach all the time is get a good pitch, don’t miss it and lay off the ones that are edge, edge off.”
The improved Orioles’ pitching staff won’t offer quite the same test but as they hang around in the increasingly clustered wild-card standings, taking them lightly would be a mistake. Building some momentum against them would offer a good springboard into the looming clash with the Yankees, the first meeting for the rivals since June, when New York took two of three here.
“Obviously, we’re not playing our best baseball right now, but we’ve got the Orioles coming into a new series,” said Gausman. “We’ve got to be able to just turn the page and realize that you can’t dwell too much on it, especially this time of year. We’ve put ourselves in a good spot now. We’ve just got to kind of keep our head down and really just kind of focus on ourselves and not really focus too much on what’s going on around the league.”
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