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What do sponsorship, funding freezes, small crowds mean for World Juniors and Hockey Canada? – Sportsnet.ca

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It’s eerie, despite being a throwback to a different time.

The first thing many will notice walking into Rogers Place in Edmonton for the IIHF world juniors this week is how white the ice looks. That brightness is caused by a rarity in hockey circles: No ads on the sheet. Just lines.

This decided lack of corporate presence — on the boards, there are only ads for Swiss watchmaker Tissot and the IIHF app, with the rest of the space dotted by blue and green stylized maple leaves — is part of the fallout from the cloud hanging over the 2022 tournament, the real-world effects of partners Tim Hortons, Telus, Scotiabank and Canadian Tire pausing sponsorship for Hockey Canada in the wake of sexual assault allegations.

This visual is a stark reminder that we could be experiencing change on a grand scale. This tipping point in the history of Canada’s national game means the tournament could lose money for the first time in the country’s history, which will have a trickledown effect on the grassroots programs supported by Hockey Canada.

Adding to the wakeup call are the very small, and, in some cases, non-existent crowds. A pre-tournament game on Tuesday between Canada and Sweden, for example, was atypically closed to fans, pucks off glass and players calling for a pass in two languages the only sounds.

Game attendance figures from early in the tournament were not readily available, but reports on social media and from those in attendance indicated tiny crowds. For instance, a mere handful of fans had turned up for the 8 p.m. local face-off for Tuesday’s USA-Germany game.

Over the last two decades, average attendance when Canada has hosted the tournament has ranged from 6,600 to more than 14,000 per game. Anything outside North America typically draws between 2,000 and 7,000.

A source familiar with Hockey Canada’s operation told Sportsnet that owing to the tournament being rescheduled from its usual December and January dates to the summer, the organization “never expected big crowds.”

Still, the small turnout will have a significant impact on the revenue the tournament generates, which in turn conceivably could mean less money for the programs Hockey Canada supports, a concern expressed by the women’s national teams earlier this week.

Also looming is the question of potential refunds to sponsors who paid for banners and such for the first 2022 tournament, in December, and were given the option of applying that committed money to the rescheduled tournament in August. With the rescheduled tournament relatively ad-free, that could mean refunds are due to some corporate sponsors, meaning even less revenue from Hockey Canada’s most lucrative event.

“Good question,” the source said. “Answer probably still coming.”

The controversy surrounding Hockey Canada stemming from alleged sexual assaults involving players on two Canadian world junior teams is foremost in the minds of hockey fans these days, and that could be keeping fans away.

In addition, the summertime rescheduling forced by rising COVID-19 infections in December plus a variety of factors could be contributing to the diminished interest: This year’s tournament is missing several big-name players, including Shane Wright, Owen Power, Cole Perfetti, Kaiden Guhle and Juraj Slafkovsky. It is also absent entries from Russia and Belarus, which were banned by the IIHF for their countries’ roles in the attack on Ukraine.

Regardless of the reasons, the effects are real: When hosting the tournament, Hockey Canada relies on the world juniors for a significant portion of its annual revenue. And the majority of that, of course, goes toward funding its annual budget, which is estimated to be worth north of $100 million.

The source estimated the net revenue for Hockey Canada – after paying each participating team about $2 million for expenses and 10-15 per cent to the IIHF – is about $12 million to $15 million, with about one-third of that going to the Canadian Hockey League (ostensibly as compensation for the use of the league’s players) and about 20 to 25 per cent distributed to the 13 regional hockey associations across Canada. The remainder goes to operations for Hockey Canada.

As the source told Sportsnet, this confluence of factors could means this year’s world juniors will be looking at a loss, which would be unprecedented when the tournament is in Canada.

With the withdrawal or freezing of funds by the federal government — which make up roughly six per cent of the organization’s annual funding — and sponsors, Hockey Canada’s remaining major sources of funding come from minor hockey association fees, considered to be relatively insignificant, and TV rights fees.

“We recognize these World Junior Championships are going to look and feel different for fans for a few reasons: first, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this tournament to August; and second, there is understandable scrutiny from Canadians of Hockey Canada and the culture of hockey,” a Hockey Canada spokesperson said in a statement sent to Sportsnet.

“Our focus is ensuring the players who have trained for the past several months can compete on this important stage – and for the fans to enjoy a positive experience. At the same time, we will continue to work diligently to address toxic behaviours – both on and off the ice – that conflict with what Canadians expect hockey to be through the implementation of our Action Plan.”

The financial picture for Hockey Canada will continue to get more complicated after the tournament, especially as more hearings in Parliament are expected in September. But knowing revenue would take a hit because of the summertime rescheduling, the source said the IIHF previously awarded Hockey Canada the 2023 world juniors to help make amends for expected shortfalls.

The host city for that tournament? Halifax, the site of an alleged sexual assault involving members of the 2003 Canadian world junior team.

–with files from Sportsnet’s Emily Sadler

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Auger-Aliassime stuns Djokovic to help Team World win Laver Cup for 1st time – CBC Sports

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Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime added a singles victory over Novak Djokovic to an earlier doubles win Sunday to help Team World to victory over Team Europe in the Laver Cup.

Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Montreal, beat the 21-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3) with the help of 13 aces and a 39-11 advantage in total winners.

That followed the three-day event’s last doubles contest in London, in which Auger-Aliassime and American Jack Sock came back to beat Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.

“It was a bit weird in the first game [against Djokovic], but then after, I felt very good, very loose,” said Auger-Aliassime, whose best run at a major tournament came at the U.S. Open last year, when he reached the semifinals.

“Getting that [doubles] win got me really confident going into the singles.”

WATCH l Auger-Aliassime takes down Djokovic:

Auger-Aliassime stuns Djokovic in straight sets at Laver Cup

1 day ago

Duration 2:08

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upset Serbian Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 on Sunday to give Team World a 10-8 lead over Team Europe.

Victories were worth three points apiece Sunday with the first team to 13 winning.

Frances Tiafoe later staving off four match points to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8 clinched the victory for World over Roger Federer’s Europe for the first time.

WATCH l Tiafoe defeats Tsitsipas, secures Laver Cup for Team World:

Tiafoe clinches 1st-ever Laver Cup championship for Team World

22 hours ago

Duration 1:34

American Frances Tiafoe beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6, 10-8 to claim the Laver Cup for Team World.

Team Europe came into the week at the O2 Arena having won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup, which was founded by Federer’s management company.

This one served as a celebration of the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

His final match before retirement came Friday night, when he and Rafael Nadal lost in doubles to Tiafoe and Sock.

Djokovic won matches in both singles and doubles Saturday in his first action since claiming the title at Wimbledon in July.

He helped Team Europe head into Sunday with an 8-4 lead.

Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American, performed with the same crunch-time success and wide-smiling showmanship he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open this month, defeating Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8.

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Springer hits two homer as Blue Jays beat Rays to split series – TSN

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — George Springer homered twice, Alejandro Kirk and Teoscar Hernández also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 on Sunday to gain a four-game split.

Toronto (86-67) opered a two-game lead over Tampa Bay (84-69) for the top wild card with nine games left.

Seattle (83-68) was also two games back with a game to play later Sunday against Kansas City.

Toronto allowed 20 runs in losing the first two games, but limited Tampa Bay to a total of two runs to win the final two.

Ross Stripling (9-4) allowed one run and six hits in five innings.

Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards and Yusei Kikuchi combined to give up one hit over four innings.

Rays all-star Shane McClanahan (12-7), who was pulled in the fifth inning of his previous start due to neck tightness, gave up four runs and six hits, including a career-high three homers, over five innings.

Springer belted a two-run shot in the third inning, and added a fifth-inning solo drive for his 23rd homer this season as the Blue Jays took a 4-1 lead.

Springer finished with three hits in his 20th career multi-homer game.

Kirk hit a solo homer during the second, and Hernández made it 6-1 with a two-run homer in the eighth off Garrett Cleavinger.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a ninth-inning RBI single.

Randy Arozarena pulled the Rays to 3-1 on a sacrifice fly in the third.

DISAPPOINTING TURNOUT

Sunday’s announced crowd was 16,394, giving the Rays a final home attendance for the season of 1,128,127. The total will be the third lowest in the majors. Tampa Bay drew 1,178,735 in 2019, which was the last year before two seasons with COVID attendance restrictions. The Rays have drawn under 1.3 million at home every year since 2015.

NUMBERS

Springer has three homers in 13 at-bats against McClanahan. … Rays SS Wander Franco extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single. … Tampa Bay 1B Harold Ramirez had three hits.

HAPPY TRAILS

Retiring Rays bullpen coach Stan Boroski and major league medical coordinator Paul Harker threw ceremonial first pitches. Boroski is in his 13th season with the team, while Harker joined the Rays for their inaugural season in 1998.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: 3B Yandy Díaz (left shoulder) was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game but could start Tuesday. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to rejoin the rotation Wednesday night at Cleveland.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Open a home series Monday night against the New York Yankees.

Rays: RHP Corey Kluber (10-9) will pitch in Cleveland for first since leaving the team after the 2019 season. Kluber, who won the AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 2014 and 2017, will face RHP Shane Bieber (12-8).

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Auger-Aliassime, Sock cut Team World's deficit at Laver Cup – TSN

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LONDON (AP) — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest — and the three-day competition — Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is ‘Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years — after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker — first to 10, win by two — Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, a 25-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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