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OK, here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:
Weekend winners and losers
A lot went down over the weekend. Let’s get you caught up:
William Nylander and the Leafs took it right up to the 5 p.m. ET Saturday deadline, but they finally got a deal done. And it looks like a good one for both sides — the young forward pockets just under $42 million US over six years. He was sitting out in hopes of getting $8 million a year, reportedly. Toronto was thought to be offering $6 million. So this is right down the middle.
We don’t know when Nylander will suit up, but the Leafs made room for him today by trading forward Josh Leivo to Vancouver for a minor leaguer (Toronto’s next game is tomorrow at Buffalo, but that seems like a tall order). We do know that Leafs GM Kyle Dubas’ work is just beginning — the rookie contracts for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner expire this summer, and they’ll be asking for a lot more than Nylander.
Loser: Kareem Hunt
The NFL’s reigning rushing champ lost his job, and maybe even his career, in a shocking series of events. The trouble started Friday when TMZ published a video showing Hunt shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel back in February. Within hours, the Kansas City Chiefs (a Super Bowl contender) cut their 23-year-old star running back.
Before being released, Hunt was put on paid leave by the NFL and is now (deservedly) a pariah. So it’s hard to imagine him playing for another team anytime soon. His talent will not save him right now. The league and the Chiefs are losers too — they’re taking heat for reportedly not investigating the incident properly (police were called to the hotel but Hunt was not charged). Hunt is gone, but this story is not going away.
Winner: That saying about the third time being a charm
With the score tied in the final seconds of last night’s showdown between the Chargers and Steelers, L.A.’s kicker failed on two straight potential game-winning tries from in close — one missed, one blocked. But Pittsburgh went offside on both, giving Mike Badgley a third chance to win it. He finally made it (despite another offside), but this can’t be good for his confidence or the Chargers’ — they’re famous for being submarined by shaky kickers.
Winner: Mikaela Shiffrin
The American ski racer’s super-G victory at Lake Louise made her the seventh woman in history to win a World Cup race in all five alpine disciplines (the others are downhill, giant slalom, slalom and combined). There was a passing-of-the-torch feeling to the weekend after Lindsey Vonn announced she’ll end her career at Lake Louise next year. The greatest all-around skier ever got a nice parting gift from the Alberta resort, which named its women’s downhill course after her.
Loser: Mike McCarthy
Probably the most maligned coach in pro football, McCarthy’s reckoning finally came last night. He was fired after Green Bay (4-7-1) suffered a stunning home upset to lowly Arizona. McCarthy has been under fire for years for hamstringing Aaron Rodgers — one of the best quarterbacks ever — with his conservative strategies and unimaginative tactics.
Winners: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
Those four teams were chosen to compete in the college football playoff. The semifinals go Dec. 29. Top-ranked Alabama (the clear favourite to win its third title in four years) faces Oklahoma and the other two teams square off. The winners play for the national championship on Jan. 7. Ohio State and Georgia, which lost to Alabama in its conference title game over the weekend, were the two best teams left out.
The NHL is expected to confirm a Seattle expansion team tomorrow. Approval from the NHL’s board of governors (basically the team owners) is considered a lock. The Seattle ownership group includes Hollywood bigshot Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of blockbusters like Top Gun and all 53 Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The NHL’s 32nd franchise could start as early as the 2020-21 season and will probably play in the Pacific Division. One of the teams currently there would have to move to the Central to even things up, and Arizona looks like the odd team out.
Christine Girard finally got the Olympic medals she deserves. The Canadian weightlifter was presented with her 2012 gold and 2008 bronze at a ceremony today in Ottawa. She originally won a bronze in ’12 and missed the podium in ’08 but was upgraded after athletes above her failed doping tests. She’s Canada’s first-ever Olympic champion in weightlifting. Girard has said she’s happy to get her rightful medals, but it’s not the same. She was denied the chance to stand on the podium at the Olympics — every athlete’s dream. More tangibly, she missed out on years of extra funding that medal-winning athletes get. Girard says she had to continue training in a carport after the 2008 Games.
Canadian boxer Adonis Stevenson was put in a coma after being knocked out. Stevenson was hospitalized after losing his light heavyweight title by 11th-round KO Saturday night in Quebec City. The referee stopped the fight after Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk sent Stevenson to the canvas with several unanswered blows in the corner of the ring. The Canadian was carried out of the arena on a stretcher and taken away by ambulance. The hospital said last night that Stevenson’s condition had improved throughout the day and that he is “gaining strength in a medically induced coma.”
Canada’s world junior hockey team announced the 34 players invited to its selection camp. The most interesting invitee is also the youngest: Rimouski Oceanic star Alexis Lafreniere, who’s already considered a potential top pick in the 2020 NHL draft. He could become the first 17-year-old since Connor McDavid four years ago to make Team Canada. Two players are back from the squad that won gold last year in Buffalo — Maxime Comtois and Alex Formenton. The camp will be used to finalize the 23-man roster for this year’s tournament in Victoria and Vancouver, where the defending champs open on Boxing Day against Denmark.
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