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Sea Dogs win Memorial Cup, defeating Bulldogs in the Final – Sportsnet.ca

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The Saint John Sea Dogs turned a devastating playoff loss into a Memorial Cup championship, thanks to renewed focus, 40 days of sweat and a university coach who pushed all the right buttons.

Considered a long shot at the beginning of the Canadian Hockey League championship due to a first-round loss in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, the Memorial Cup host Sea Dogs downed the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in Wednesday’s final.

Saint John scored twice in the first six minutes of both the first and second periods and rode the emotion of a sellout crowd to win the championship for the second time in its 17-year history.

It was another national title for Gardiner MacDougall, a seven-time University Cup champion with the University of New Brunswick, who replaced Gordie Dwyer as head coach on May 22 and was credited for the revamped enthusiasm within the team that went 47-17-1-3 in the regular season before a stunning playoff loss to the Rimouski Oceanic in May.

“It was just a complete team effort,” said MacDougall. “The players are most important. They really bought in and they were all so receptive. This is as hard as I have ever worked a team.”

Cam MacDonald had a goal and an assist for the champions, while Josh Lawrence, Peter Reynolds and William Dufour — the tournament’s most valuable player — had one of each. Captain Vincent Sevigny rounded out the scoring for Saint John. 

“It makes it more special because everyone thought we were the underdogs, not the Sea Dogs,” said Scott McCain, who’s owned the team since 2005. “You know what? We proved we deserved to be here. We were the best team in the round robin and we won this game decisively today.”

Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish, with two goals, and Jan Mysak answered for the Bulldogs, who advanced to the final with a 4-3 overtime over Shawinigan in Monday’s semifinal.

Saint John goaltender Nikolas Hurtubise, acquired by the Sea Dogs at the QMJHL trade deadline, posted his third victory of the tournament with 25 saves.

“We have worked so hard and I am so, so proud,” said Hurtubise. “We knew that we worked too hard in the past month to not win it. We earned it.”

Hamilton’s Marco Costantini stopped 21 of 26 shots in the loss.

The Sea Dogs also won the Memorial Cup in 2011. Their win on Wednesday marks the sixth time a QMJHL team has won the Memorial Cup in the last 10 tournaments.

The 2020 and 2021 Memorial Cup events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton was making its second Memorial Cup appearance after advancing to the 2018 semifinals where they fell to the Regina Pats.

The Sea Dogs defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 in the opening game of the tournament and used the same script Wednesday, scoring early.

Sevigny accepted a feed from Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Villeneuve and his blast hit the stick of Hamilton’s Arber Xhekaj and whipped past Costantini 2:35 into the game.

“It is amazing,” Sevigny said. “It was a lot of hard work and the work paid off. To have this is the best day of our lives.”

Just over three minutes later, Villeneuve made another slick move on the right side boards and hit MacDonald in the slot. He made no mistake when he wristed a quick shot to beat Costantini at the 5:47 mark.

McTavish picked up his fifth of the tournament when he redirected a Nathan Staios shot past Hurtubise at 7:45 to calm the crowd and give Hamilton a much needed injection of offence.

Bezeau — a forward from Rothesay, N.B., who started attending Sea Dogs games at age five — patiently held the puck on a rush down the right side before connecting on a wrist shot 4:41 into the second.

Dufour, who led the tournament with seven goals, ripped a feed from Ryan Francis 5:15 into the period to give the Sea Dogs a 4-1 lead.

Hamilton allowed several other golden chances but came within two goals when Mysak had a Gavin White shot glance off him and past Hurtubise with nine seconds left in the period.

Lawrence put the Sea Dogs on the brink of the title with a sharp shot to the top corner on a feed from Dufour on a power play 6:32 into the third.

McTavish added his second of the night with 4:57 left on the game clock.

Reynolds fired a puck into an empty to seal the win at 18:43.

“The message to the boys was they’re a champion of champions,” said Hamilton coach Jay McKee. “What made the difference is (Saint John) capitalized on their big chances.”

Saint John earned the bye to the final with two wins and an overtime loss to the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings in preliminary action.

The Bulldogs won the Ontario Hockey League championship to advance to the Memorial Cup but dropped their first two games of the preliminary round to set up a series of do-or-die contests, starting with a 4-2 victory against the Oil Kings.

In a thrilling semifinal on Monday, Mysak scored 10:08 into overtime to lift Hamilton past the Shawinigan Cataractes 4-3.

Despite Wednesday’s loss, the Bulldogs earned their OHL championship and are proud of the run at the Memorial Cup, said Staios, the CHL’s defenceman of the year. 

“It took two months of war to get to it,” he said. “We beat every championship team here. We beat the WHL, we beat the QMJHL, so (it) stings but you know, we’re proud of ourselves. We’re going to keep our heads high.”

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NFL, Watson settle on 11-game ban – TSN

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will serve an 11-game unpaid suspension, pay a $5 million fine and undergo professional evaluation and treatment as part of a settlement with the NFL following accusations of sexual misconduct by two dozen women.

The league had sought to ban Watson for at least one year for violating its personal conduct policy. He was accused of sexually harassing and coercing the women during massage therapy sessions while he played for the Houston Texans.

Watson signed a $230 million guaranteed contract after being traded to the Browns in March. The three-time Pro Bowler will lose $632,500 in salary this season while serving the suspension, which takes effect Aug. 30.

The settlement ends months of speculation and headed off a ruling from former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league appealed a six-game suspension issued by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.

As part of the settlement between the league and the NFL Players Association, Watson will have to be evaluated by behavioral experts and follow their treatment program, the NFL said.

Watson, who recently apologized for the first time since the allegations surfaced, spoke to reporters after the settlement was issued. He offered more contrition, but also maintained he’s never been inappropriate with women.

“I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said that I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone and I’m continuing to stand on that,” he said. “But at the same time, I have to continue to push forward with my life and my career, and for us to be able to move forward, I have to be able to take steps and put pride to the side.

“I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence and keep pushing forward, and I’ve always stood on not disrespecting or sexually assaulting anyone.”

As part of the settlement, Watson may return for the Browns’ game on Dec. 4 in Houston.

Along with his $5 million fine, the league and Browns are donating $1 million each to a fund that will support nonprofit organizations across the country to educate young people on “healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes.”

Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who have been widely criticized for trading for Watson, stood by the QB. They said they expect him to learn and grow from the experience.

“Since Deshaun came into our building in April, he has done everything we have asked of him and more,” Jimmy Haslam said at a news briefing with his wife and Browns general manager Andrew Berry. “And he has been the person, the leader that we expect him to be and I think he understands where he is in his life, it’s a pivotal point, and we as an organization are going to do everything we can to help him not only be the best football player he can be but more important to be the best person he can be.”

On Aug. 1, Watson was suspended six games by Robinson, a former federal judge jointly appointed by the league and union to act as an independent disciplinary officer.

Robinson found the 26-year-old Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy after reviewing an investigation into his actions and called his behavior “egregious” and “predatory.”

Believing the suspension was too light, the league appealed and pushed Watson’s case back to Goodell, who had handled all player discipline in the past. The league previously pushed for an indefinite suspension and hefty fine.

Per the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, Harvey’s decision would have constituted “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute.”

At the owners’ meetings this month, Goodell said the league’s pursuit of a yearlong ban was warranted following its investigation and Robinson’s findings.

“She reinforced the evidence,” Goodell said. “There were multiple violations that were egregious, and it was predatory behavior.”

In her conclusion, Robinson cited Watson’s lack of remorse as a factor in her decision. Watson apologized for the first time “to all the women that I have impacted” before making his Browns’ debut Friday in an exhibition in Jacksonville.

Watson was accused of being sexually inappropriate with the women during massage therapy sessions from March 2020 to March 2021 in Texas. In civil lawsuits filed in Texas, the women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.

Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing. He recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits.

For now, the suspension ends months of speculation about whether Watson would play in 2022 for the Browns, who outbid several other teams, traded three first-round draft picks to the Texans in March and signed the QB to a five-year contract.

Watson’s case sparked strong opinions while raising questions about the league’s handling of player discipline and its spotty record of supporting women.

The Browns believe Watson could make them a Super Bowl contender. Without him, they could struggle to simply contend in the AFC North against defending conference champion Cincinnati along with Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

The suspension also means Watson will be idle longer. One of pro football’s elite QBs, he sat out last season in Houston after demanding a trade and before the sexual allegations surfaced.

In her 16-page ruling, Robinson found that the league proved its case that Watson violated three provisions of the conduct policy: sexual assault as defined by the league, posing a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another and undermining or putting the league’s integrity at risk.

Robinson also pointed out flaws in the league’s conduct policy, saying it was unfair to “identify conduct as prohibited only after the conduct has been committed, just as it is inherently unjust to change the penalties for such conduct after the fact.”

Her punishment was criticized by several organizations, including The National Organization for Women, which called it “unacceptable, insulting and dangerous — but not surprising. The NFL and the multibillion-dollar sports industry have a vested interest in enabling sexual misconduct, assault and violence.”

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents all 24 women who sued Watson, and Ashley Solis, the first woman to go public with allegations against Watson, decried the original six-game suspension at a news conference in Houston in early August.

Watson has continued to practice while his case made its way through the league’s process.

All along, the Browns’ plan was to turn their offense over to veteran Jacoby Brissett, who has made 37 career starts, during Watson’s suspension. But it’s now possible Cleveland will explore other options at quarterback.

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Canadiens complete deal to acquire Sean Monahan from Flames – Sportsnet.ca

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The Montreal Canadiens have finalized a trade to acquire Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames.

The Canadiens also get a conditional first-round pick in 2025 in the deal, which frees up cap room for the Flames to sign centre Nazem Kadri to a seven-year, $49-million deal.

Calgary acquires future considerations in the deal.

Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said that the Habs are “not sure” that the centreman will be ready to start the season. Monahan had season-ending hip surgery in April.

“He sounds incredibly encouraged that for the first time in a long time he’s going to play a season healthy,” Hughes said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be Game 1 of the season or if it’s going to be Game 4 of the season. But he feels like even today not at 100 per cent, he’s way better than he’s been the last few years.”

A 2013 first-round pick, Monahan has played 656 games with the Flames, scoring 212 goals and notching 462 points over that time. Over the past two seasons, Monahan has struggled with injuries, requiring hip surgeries in both 2021 and 2022.

Throughout the 2021-22 season, Monahan played on the fourth line and produced eight goals and 23 points in 65 games — a diminished role for the former sixth-overall pick. On April 2, the Flames announced Monahan would have season-ending hip surgery.

His most productive season for the Flames came in the 2018-19 season, when he scored 34 goals and tallied 82 points in 78 games making that the only season he eclipsed a point-per-game.

In 2016, Monahan signed a seven-year, $44.6 million contract with an AAV of $6.375 million. He is set to become a UFA at the end of the 2022-23 season.

“On behalf of the entire Flames organization, I sincerely thank Sean for his nine years of selfless dedication and perseverance,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said in a statement. “Sean was a great Flame, a first class individual who exemplified the definition of respect. Our team and city were fortunate to have him as a player, ambassador and member of our community.”

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Jays (Finally) Win One – Bluebird Banter

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Jays 6 Orioles 1

It is about time.

This is just a space holder for the recap, my tennis went long.

Ross Stripling was amazing. Just 1 hit allowed in 6.1. He threw 72 pitches and was in control.

And the offence finally broke through for 6 runs in the 8th (imagine the Hallaluah chorus playing here). And George Springer got his 1000th hit.

Life is good again.

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