After his time with the Milwaukee Brewers was over, Ron Roenicke had no intentions of managing a Major League Baseball team again. But that opportunity presented itself unexpectedly. He was hired by the Boston Red Sox before 2018 to serve as Alex Cora’s bench coach. But in the aftermath of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal,…MLB Rumors: Red Sox Name Ron Roenicke Permanent Manager, Removing Interim Tag — NESN.com
It has been a long week. ESPN’s 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the ’90s Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance,” began with two episodes Sunday that were so good, so compelling, that the wait for parts 3 and 4 this Sunday has seemed interminable. But there’s been a related development, and not exactly an unexpected…Alexander: Is the GOAT argument really necessary? — Daily News
Entertainers, athletes, and billionaires are stepping up to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 2.1 million people and killed at least 146,000 worldwide as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. NBA player Bismack Biyombo announced Thursday that he, too, is doing his part to stop the spread of the novel […]NBA Star Bismack Biyombo Donates $1 Million Worth of Medical Supplies to African Home Country — Nappy Newz
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|BLUE JAYS LAUNCH NATIONWIDE VIRTUAL FOOD DRIVE IN SUPPORT OF FOOD BANKS CANADA|
Jays Care and The Sprott Foundation are encouraging fans to step up to the plate by enthusiastically matching $300,000 of fan donations The Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation are stepping up to the plate to give back to the country that supports the team all season long by leading off a virtual fundraising food drive. “From Home Plate to Your Plate,” launches today with 100% of proceeds benefitting Food Banks Canada, which includes a network of food banks serving communities in every Canadian province and territory. With the help of Blue Jays players, alumni, coaches, and management, the Blue Jays, Jays Care, and its partners are encouraging fans to donate funds to Food Banks Canada through the From Home Plate to Your Plate Food Drive. Jays Care and The Sprott Foundation will match the first $300,000 donated by fans dollar-for-dollar ($250,000 from Jays Care and $50,000 from The Sprott Foundation). With the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy, it has become more challenging than ever for food banks nationwide to meet demand, as they see a decline in stocked supplies and an average increase of 20% in clients across Canada, with some markets seeing demand increase by as much as 150%. Every little bit goes a long way: $1 CAD provides two meals for a person in need and with Jays Care and The Sprott Foundation’s match, that $1 feeds a family of four. With the match, a donation of just $20 will provide 80 meals for those in need. Fans can donate now at bluejays.com/fromhomeplatetoyourplate. Supporting eliminating hunger in Canada has been an important cause to the Blue Jays and Jays Care for more than three decades, marked by the annual Lady Jays Food Drive – the club’s longest running community initiative. The extension of this year’s drive marks the club’s 36th consecutive year giving back to food banks. The Sprott Foundation is dedicated to addressing homelessness and hunger in Canada in addition to its longstanding partnership in support of children and youth in Jays Care programs and the annual Lady Jays Food Drive. The Blue Jays take pride in playing for an entire nation and now, more than ever, we are all playing for Canada as we stay home and support our teammates, neighbours, and loved ones. Please find the From Home Plate to Your Plate launch video, featuring Blue Jays players, alumni, coaches, and Front Office staff, available for download and media use here. – BLUE JAYS –
At a time when Toronto’s rinks are dark and the Maple Leafs and Marlies are shuttered, the National Women’s Hockey League is set to reveal a new team in town.
The unnamed franchise was announced Wednesday morning, an ownership group headed by U.S.-born former Harvard captain Johanna Boynton, with fellow American and former Brown University coach Margaret ‘Digit’ Murphy as president. It already has five players under contract, but does not have a home venue lined up. Everything in the sport is on hold with COVID-19 concerns.
The NWHL was established in 2015 as a startup venture by Dani Rylan and backed by private investors, becoming North America’s first women’s league to pay its players. Its foray into Canada comes a year after the six-team Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) folded following 12 seasons due to financial issues. The Leafs were a sponsor of the CWHL, which hoped to get a restart at some stage, possibly with NHL involvement.NWHL✔@NWHL
We couldn’t be happier to have Johanna, Tyler & Digit join us on this journey
“Launching our first team in Canada is a pivotal and proud moment for the NWHL,” Rylan said in statement. “Everyone in the Toronto hockey community can be sure that this first-class team of professionals will make bold strides for the women’s game.”
The new team brings the NWHL to six clubs, with teams in Boston, Buffalo, Monmouth Junction, N.J. Danbury, Conn. and Saint Paul, Minn.
All five Toronto players signed were in the CWHL, with the most notable being Shiann Darkangelo, a member of the American team that won the 2016 world championships. The four other players are Canadians: Forward Taylor Woods, defencemen Kristen Barbara and Emma Greco, and goalie Elaine Chuli.
“I’m delighted to be part of the first NWHL franchise in Canada because it brings me back to my roots,” 58-year-old Murphy told the Associated Press.https://www.youtube.com/embed/LZHEbVH1xo8?rel=1&controls=1&autoplay=0&modestbranding=1&embed_config=%7B%22autonavRelatedVideos%22%3Atrue%2C%22relatedChannels%22%3A%5B%22EFneExC3GZeiVztRuRRe0w%22%2C%22OXbUmGfpr_rb_UeqROTwkg%22%2C%22Vu_SlTS4SNNUAIkCmSDzMQ%22%2C%22qNPpzfFRh29-ULwkF0ys0w%22%2C%22RROHNHB3JN8JxKST9xl_og%22%2C%22iiiXY1ue6nb7iqY8o8f62w%22%2C%22N9gPUr8QTM6RkHdKThDmQQ%22%2C%22Z1-u3qX7AUUPzH9O_Peb-Q%22%2C%22kjNuLzfw5Ep7EJuMdeFylw%22%2C%22YuLCUHAoN1fs3pZi3WPRnA%22%2C%22Vyik4cnxEmbefInU7JnWyw%22%2C%22rbOGpnOudmETQ0WZkyvD8g%22%2C%22jmGwjC7pytqz8vvL5lIuxA%22%2C%22HmA32WCmlUp9ZUF_clAPHg%22%2C%22zFyTrFm5aM-342rJsjBbXw%22%5D%7D&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftorontosun.com&widgetid=1
“A year ago, when the CWHL shut down, they had one of the best hockey products on the market. So I just see this as a continuation of that, and Toronto deserves a women’s franchise.”
After leaving Brown, where she won 318 games, Murphy won two CWHL championships during three seasons coaching the Boston Blades. Murphy then spent 2017-18 coaching a CWHL expansion team in China, whose players included Darkangelo and Chuli.
The AP speculated it’s unlikely the NWHL will be able to draw from the rosters of current U.S. or Canadian national teams after their members helped form the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) in the wake of the CWHL’s demise.
The PWHPA was opposed to a pro league in North America without establishment of salaried players and a financially stable long-term economic model. The PWHPA spent last season holding a series of exhibition weekends to fill the void.
Last week, PWHPA executive member Jayna Hefford told the AP she was aware of and welcomed the NWHL’s expansion bid, as least as a way of sustaining interest in the women’s cause. Some NWHL players reportedly make as much as US$15,000, but full salaries are not released. They have a revenue generating plan through sponsorship and media, combined with players salaries.
“I don’t’ want to get cocky and say, ‘We’re going to win the Cup,’” Murphy said of Toronto’s first-season forecast, “but I want to contend.”
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A memory of Jason Spezza stands out — one of many, we can assure you — from his formative days in the Ontario Hockey League. Read MoreKOSHAN: Passion, optimism drive Leafs’ Spezza during pause brought on by COVID-19 — Toronto Sun
A memory of Jason Spezza stands out — one of many, we can assure you — from his formative days in the Ontario Hockey League.
We once tracked down Spezza, who would have been 16, in the Mississauga IceDogs’ workout room after practice, riding a stationary bike when the majority of his teammates had left the rink for the day.
That kind of desire never waned in the 20 years since, and it’s part of what’s keeping Spezza encouraged for the return of his beloved sport as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“I’m not sure when it’s going to be, but I’m optimistic that we’re going to get a chance to finish the season,” the Maple Leafs forward said during a conference call with media on Tuesday. “I’m an eternal optimist, so I’m hoping there is going to be a chance to play.”
Yes, Spezza would like to play with the Leafs beyond the National Hockey League’s 2019-20 season, but knows there is no guarantee considering he will be heading for unrestricted free agency.
“It’s not the focus right now by any means, but definitely I feel like I have game left and there is nowhere else I would rather be than to play another year here in Toronto,” Spezza said. “I feel like we are building things with this club and I want to be a part of it.”
Spezza, who will be 37 in June, found a niche under coach Sheldon Keefe long before the NHL paused on March 12. Scratched 10 times with Mike Babcock in charge — including the unnecessary move on the part of Babcock to put Spezza in the press box for the season opener — Spezza was scratched twice in 47 games on Keefe’s watch following the firing of Babcock in November. Spezza became a resourceful bottom-six forward, working his way on to the power play every so often and becoming a veteran that others in the room sought out for advice.
“I just tried to have the mentality that I was going to stay in the fight,” Spezza said. “I didn’t give myself much of an option. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself.”
From a team standpoint, there were inconsistencies, but the Leafs under Keefe had improved and were sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division with a playoff spot in hand when play halted.
“You don’t want to cruise through the regular season because you need that experience to get you into the playoffs, and we certainly didn’t cruise,” Spezza said. “I think it’s to the benefit of our group. We have a much more mature locker room than we did at the start of the season. There was a lot more ownership. Our young stars are able to have conversations with each other, with other guys on the team that maybe they weren’t comfortable with having early on in the season.
“Now, to have a chance to have a break and look back on things, it will only help us pinpoint what we can do differently and move forward.”
With four young daughters, Spezza and his wife Jennifer have been busy during self-isolation, concentrating on home-schooling during the morning before giving way to family activities later in the day. A lifelong fan of Michael Jordan — Spezza said there are “hundreds” of photos from his youth of him in a Chicago Bulls Jordan jersey, bought during a family trip to Florida — Spezza has been enthralled with The Last Dance, the documentary focusing on the 1997-98 Bulls.
Staying fit also is part of the daily regimen. When hockey resumes, and if it includes Spezza on the ice for the Leafs, you can bet the passion will be a driving force.
“My love for the game has probably allowed me to play as long as I have,” Spezza said. “Hockey is not work to me. As you go through different phases of your career, there are different challenges.
“I love the day-to-day grind and I love the coming to the rink and figuring out what to do that day. The chance to win a Stanley Cup … I’m in it for as long as I can be.
“It’s something I dreamed of as a kid and I would love nothing more than to do it here in Toronto.”
SPEZZA KEEPING EYE TO THE GROUND
Considering that Jason Spezza is regarded by his National Hockey League peers as one of the most dedicated students of the game, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Maple Leafs forward is consuming as much as he can in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have kept a pretty close tab on things,” Spezza said. “It’s the nature of how I operate. I like to have a full understanding of what’s going on and I have spent a few hours a day doing some reading and listening to what other leagues are thinking of doing.”
At best, the thinking is sports leagues will return eventually with no fans in the stands, at least to start.
“It also keeps you sharp and hungry,” Spezza said of his interest. “We all know there are bigger things at play right now and the health of everybody is first and foremost, but at some point we will get a chance to play and when we do, it will be exciting. It is important to be aware of some of the things that are being talked about.”