Thompson Sports News Archives for 2023-06

The NFL is addressing gambling suspensions with training, conversations with the players' union

The NFL announced suspensions of four more players for violations of its gambling policy this week. It brings the total to 10 players disciplined over the past two years as the league vows to increase training and education efforts across the board with an eye toward protecting the integrity of the game. Experts say it's part of a new reality for the NFL and other leagues with more violations likely on the horizon. But they don't think it's anywhere near reaching a critical mass that could cause fans to question the product on the field.

Winnipeg Jets buying out final year of Blake Wheeler's contract


The Winnipeg Jets say the team will be buying out the final year of forward Blake Wheeler's contract.

The Jets say as a result, the former captain has been placed on unconditional waivers.

Wheeler had an average annual value of US$8.25 million for the final year of his contract.

The 36-year-old forward spent 12 years with the Jets, leaving as the franchise leader in regular-season games played (897), points (812), assists (550), and shots (2,462).

His 262 goals are the third-most in franchise history.

The move comes as Winnipeg looks to revamp its team, with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff saying the team is open to trading players like Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck if the right deal comes along.

Canada's Carol Zhao advances to Wimbledon main draw with win in qualifying


Canada's Carol Zhao advanced to the Wimbledon main draw with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over American CoCo Vanderweghe in the third round of qualifying on Thursday.

Zhao will be making her first-ever appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., hit 11 aces and was successful with 82 per cent of her first serves, winning 84 per cent of the points.

Zhao went one for seven on break points and never lost serve to the 31-year-old Vanderweghe.

The 166th-ranked Zhao joins Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., and Rebecca Marino of Vancouver in the women's singles main draw, which begins play on Monday.

Toronto's Katherine Sebov and Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard both lost in qualifying.

Canada's Penny Oleksiak hopes to return at 2024 Paris Olympics


Penny Oleksiak says she still plans to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 22-year-old seven-time Olympic medalist withdrew from the world swimming championships on June 1 due to injury.

She says she's just getting over the neurological issue with her shoulder now.

Oleksiak added that she's slowly getting back into training leading up to next year's Summer Games.

She spoke at Collision, a tech conference in downtown Toronto, this afternoon.

Oleksiak won four medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and three more at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Jordi Fernandez replaces Nick Nurse as coach of Canadian men's basketball team


Sacramento Kings assistant coach Jordi Fernandez is replacing former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse as the head coach of the Canadian men's basketball team, Canada Basketball announced Wednesday.

Nurse, who was hired by Canada Basketball in 2019, had a contract to coach the Canadian team through the 2024 Olympics. He was fired as coach of the Toronto Raptors earlier this year and is now coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I have made the difficult decision to step down as head coach of the senior men's national team for Canada Basketball,” Nurse said in statement. “It has been a tremendous honour and privilege to coach this team. This is not a decision I made lightly, and after discussing it with my family, I felt it was important to dedicate my time and energy to the new opportunity I have as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.”

Fernandez recently completed his first season as associate head coach with the Sacramento Kings, where he helped guide the team to a 48-34 record - their best regular season since 2004-05. He spent the previous six seasons as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.

Internationally, Fernandez was the lead assistant for the Nigerian men's national team at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Fernandez will lead Canada into this summer's World Cup and is also expected to remain in place should Canada qualify for next year's Paris Olympics.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers sign veteran quarterback Dakota Prukop


Dakota Prukop is back with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The CFL club signed the veteran American quarterback to a one-year deal Monday. Prukop returns to Winnipeg after dressing for four games this season with the USFL's New Jersey Generals.

Prukop completed 31-of-50 passes for 312 yards and three TD with the Generals while rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Prukop spent last season with Winnipeg, rushing for six touchdowns while passing for two others.

Prukop has appeared in 61 career CFL games with the Toronto Argonauts (2017-2019), Edmonton Elks (2021) and Winnipeg. The Bombers also released American quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome.

Running back Ouellette, Argos recognized in CFL's weekly honour roll

Running back A.J. Ouellette was among five Toronto Argonauts recognized Tuesday in the CFL's weekly honour roll.

Players in nine specific positions are highlighted on a weekly basis as per data points registered and compiled by Pro Football Focus, a sports analytics company.

Ouellette, who received the top grade among running backs at 81.1, ran for 84 yards and three TDs on 18 carries in Toronto's 43-31 road win over the Edmonton Elks on Sunday night.

Other Argos to be honoured were defensive back Royce Metchie (a top grade of 92.5), linebacker Adarius Pickett (82.0) and defensive lineman DeWayne Hendrix (84.3). Toronto's offensive line was also ranked as the best unit, with Dylan Giffen (83.5) earning the top grade.

Montreal's Cody Fajardo was the top-ranked quarterback (90.3). Fajardo was 19-of-25 passing for 292 yards and two TDs in the Alouettes' 38-12 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Teammate Kaion Julien Grant (six catches, 94 yards) was graded as the top receiver (75.4).

Kicker Rene Paredes and special-teams player Charlie Moore were the highest-graded players in their categories at 84.7 and 90.7, respectively.

Canada's Leylah Fernandez rolls to first-round victory at Bad Homburg Open

BAD HOMBURG, Germany -

Canada's Leylah Fernandez rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Germany's Lena Papadakis in first-round play Monday at the Bad Homburg Open.

Fernandez, from Laval, Que., needed only 54 minutes to complete the victory at the WTA Tour 250-level event.

She will play Anna Blinkova in the second round. The ninth-seeded Russian posted a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over Germany's Sabine Lisicki.

Fifth-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., advanced later in the day with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Britain's Sonay Kartal.

Andreescu will next face Spain's Rebeka Masarova, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

Toronto Six sign Emma Woods to contract extension; 12th player under contract


The Isobel Cup champion Toronto Six have signed Emma Woods to a one-year contract extension.

Woods, from Burford, Ont., had 10 goals and 13 assists in 24 games last season - the best of her Premier Hockey Federation career to date.

The forward also scored the overtime winner against Connecticut in the second game of the semifinal series.

Woods joined the Six in its inaugural 2020 season and has served as an alternate captain for three seasons.

She finished third in points for the team last season and says she's looking to build on that showing.

Her professional career started with two seasons overseas competing with the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays in the Canadian Women's Hockey League from 2017 to 2019, before joining Leksands IF of the Swedish Women's Hockey League from 2019 to 2020.

Montreal Canadiens sign centre Sean Monahan to one-year contract, US$1.985M extension

The Montreal Canadiens signed veteran centre Sean Monahan to a one-year, US$1.985-million contract extension, the club announced Tuesday.

Monahan had six goals and 17 points in 25 games with the Canadiens in 2022-23 before suffering a lower-body injury in early December that ended his season.

The 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., has 218 goals and 479 points in 681 games with the Canadiens and Calgary Flames.

The sixth overall pick at the 2013 draft, Monahan was set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Montreal acquired him from Calgary along with a conditional first-round pick for future considerations last summer when the Flames were clearing salary cap space to sign Nazem Kadri.

The rebuilding Canadiens, who own the No. 5 pick at next week's NHL draft, missed the playoffs last season for the second straight spring.

Raptors guard Trent opts in to final year of contract


Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. will opt into the final year of his contract with the Toronto Raptors, according to multiple media reports.

Trent's player option for the 2023-24 season is worth US$18.8-million. Reports say the guard and the Raptors are working on an extension.

The 24-year-old Trent averaged 17.4 points a game and shot 36.9 per cent from three-point range in 2022-23.

Those numbers were down from his strong 2021-22 campaign, when he averaged 18.3 points a game and shot 38.3 per cent from three.

Trent's return was first reported by Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes.

Trent played his first two-and-a-half NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before being acquired by the Raptors in a trade that sent Norm Powell to Oregon.

Canada's Denis Shapovalov wins opener at Terra Wortmann Open

HALLE, Germany -

Canada's Denis Shapovalov defeated South Africa's Lloyd Harris 7-6 (1), 6-4 in first-round play Monday at the Terra Wortmann Open.

The unseeded Shapovalov, who rose two spots to No. 27 in the latest ATP Tour rankings, needed one hour 34 minutes to complete the victory.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., will face ninth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany or Austrian wild-card Dominic Thiem in the next round.

Top-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev and second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece headline the 32-man field at the ATP 500-level grass-court tournament.

World No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime was scheduled to play at the tournament, but the Montreal native withdrew to rest his sore left knee with Wimbledon approaching.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2023.

Canada to play U.S. women for U16 Americas Basketball gold

MERIDA, Mexico -

Canada will be shooting for a gold medal on Monday at the U16 Americas Women's Basketball Championship in Mexico, but they'll have to defeat the three-time defending champion U.S. to reach the top of the podium.

Canada advanced to the championship game with a convincing 77-49 victory over Puerto Rico in Sunday's semifinal action. The U.S. crushed Argentina 112-48 in the other semifinal.

The Americans are 41-1 all-time at the competition. They have seven gold medals and have won 23 straight games.

Canada was led Sunday by Savannah Swords, who scored 20 points in just under 28 minutes and pulled in nine rebounds. Deniya Prawl scored 12 points, while Cearah Parchment chipped in with 10 points and a dozen rebounds.

Canada led 19-17 after the first quarter, and enjoyed a 46-41 lead at the half. The Canadians broke it open in the third quarter by outscoring Puerto Rico 18-6.

Adriana Robles led Puerto Rico with 13 points, while Desirek Nieves chipped in with 11.

Davies, David among big names missing from Canada's Gold Cup roster

Canada will be without some big names for its Gold Cup campaign.

Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Cyle Larin, Tajon Buchanan, Alistair Johnston, Atiba Hutchinson and Ismael Kone will not make the transition from the CONCACAF Nations League squad to the Gold Cup.

The 47th-ranked Canadians who lost the Nations League final to the 13th-ranked U.S. on Sunday night in Las Vegas, open Gold Cup play June 27th against either No. 170 Guyana or unranked Guadeloupe at Toronto's BMO Field. Canada will then head to Houston to finish Group D play against No. 116 Guatemala and No. 165 Cuba.

Guadeloupe and Guyana meet Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to decide who advances to the main tournament field.

Guadeloupe blanked No. 133 Antigua and Barbuda 5-0 in its opening qualifying match while Guyana got past No. 175 Grenada in a penalty shootout.

Coach John Herdman had warned there would be changes in the roster, with some players needing a break or time to recover from injuries.

Western Hockey League's Winnipeg Ice franchise moving to Wenatchee, Wash

The Winnipeg Ice franchise is moving west.

The Western Hockey League says the team has been sold and relocated to Wenatchee, Wash.

The league says the club will operate under the new ownership of David White of the California-based Shoot the Puck Foundation.

The WHL's board of governors approved the sale and relocation, which is effective immediately.

The league says multiple attempts by Ice ownership to construct an arena facility of acceptable WHL standards in Winnipeg, based on agreed-upon timeframes, were unsuccessful.

Wenatchee becomes the sixth U.S.-based WHL team and will join the U.S. Division and Western Conference next season.

Soccer players' union looks to hold FIFA accountable for player payments

The global soccer players' union says is working with FIFA to make sure that payments promised to all players at the Women's World Cup actually reach them.

FIFA confirmed last week that the 732 players participating in the tournament that starts next month in Australia and New Zealand will be paid at least $30,000 each. The paycheck rises if teams do well. Players on the winning team will earn $270,000 each.

The players' union helped push for FIFA to dedicate a percentage of the prize money to the players. The agreement means that half of the total World Cup prize money fund of $110 million will be paid to the players.

Canada's Bianca Andreescu drops second-round match at Libema Open

'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands -

Canada's Bianca Andreescu was eliminated from the Libema Open on Thursday after dropping a 7-6 (6), 6-3 decision to Slovakia's Viktoria Hruncakova.

Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., lost the second-round match in one hour 57 minutes. The Canadian had opportunities but converted only two of her 16 break-point chances.

Andreescu, the world No. 37, was the No. 6 seed at the WTA 250-level tournament.

The unseeded Hruncakova holds the No. 105 position in the world rankings. She will next face American Ashlyn Krueger in the quarterfinals of the outdoor grass-court event.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.

Ottawa Senators sign draft pick Oskar Pettersson to three-year, entry-level contract

The Ottawa Senators have signed forward Oskar Pettersson to a three-year contract, the club announced Thursday.

Terms of the entry-level deal with the 72nd pick in the 2022 NHL draft were not disclosed.

Pettersson made his Swedish Hockey League debut this past season with Rogle BK, putting up a goal and an assist over 29 regular-season games. He did not register a point in nine playoff contests.

The 19-year-old Swede spent his junior career with Rogle BK Jr. He led his team in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 with 25 and 23 goals, respectively.

Pettersson accumulated 69 points (48 goals, 21 assists) over 70 career games in his country's top junior division. He added two goals and two assists in seven contests for Sweden at the 2023 world junior hockey championship in Halifax and Moncton, N.B.

Pettersson is the third member of Ottawa's 2022 draft class to sign, joining defencemen Tomas Hamara (87th overall) and Jorian Donovan (104th overall).


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