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Ron MacLean to host Hockey Night in Canada, with David Amber

Sportsnet | posted Monday, Jun 27th, 2016

Ron MacLean is returning to host Hockey Night in Canada, alongside David Amber, Sportsnet announced Monday.

MacLean will host Game 1 on Saturday nights with Amber hosting Game 2.

MacLean will continue to host Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry in the first intermission of Game 1. Following his hosting duties on Saturday nights, MacLean will head out to 24 communities across the country to host Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sundays throughout the season.

“The impact (MacLean) has had on the game and in communities across the country is immeasurable. Hockey fans, young and old, have a deep connection with him,” said Scott Moore, President of Sportsnet & NHL Properties, Rogers.

Amber has been a reporter with Hockey Night in Canada for the past five years. He has nearly 20 years of sports broadcast experience, including eight years as anchor and reporter with ESPN, as well as covering four Olympic Games and a two-year stint hosting NHL On The Fly. He will also contribute to Saturday’s pre-game show.

“(Amber) is one of the top sports broadcasters in North America, with a long and impressive resume from both sides of the border.” said Moore. “He’s earned this coveted role. With Ron and David at the helm, it’s the perfect mix for hockey’s biggest night.”

After hosting Hockey Night in Canada for the past two seasons, George Stroumboulopoulos will depart the company to explore new creative opportunities.

“(Stroumboulopoulos) is an extremely versatile and creative broadcaster and we value the contributions he made to Hockey Night in Canada. We look forward to seeing what his next great project will be,” said Moore. “We are continually evaluating and evolving our broadcasts to deliver the best experience for fans.”

Panelists Elliotte Friedman, Kelly Hrudey, and Nick Kypreos join MacLean and Amber in-studio Saturday nights. Daren Millard continues to hostScotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey, alongside panelists Friedman and Doug MacLean.

“As part of our evolution, we will deliver more consistency each night of the week for our national NHL broadcasts. When fans tune in, they will know who they are going to see,” said Moore.

More details regarding Sportsnet’s 2016-17 NHL coverage will be announced in the coming weeks.

Maple Leafs trade Dion Phaneuf to rival Senators in 9-player deal

Luke Fox, Sportsnet | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators as part of a nine-player blockbuster trade.

No salary will be retained by either team over the trade’s entirety.

In addition to Phaneuf, the Senators acquired forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert plus defence prospect Cody Donaghey from the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenceman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, as well as Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Phaneuf, 30, has recorded 24 points (three goals, 21 assists), while registering 67 penalty minutes in 51 games for Toronto this season. He had to waive a no-movement clause in order for the deal to go through. Phaneuf’s contract carries a $7-million cap hit through 2019-20. He passes Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson as the highest-paid Senators defenceman.

Frattin, 28, a veteran of 135 NHL games with Toronto, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, has recorded 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) over 47 games with the AHL’s Marlies this season.

Bailey, 24, has 18 points, including four goals, in 38 AHL games this season and has one goal in six career NHL games, each of which has occurred with Toronto. Rupert, 21, has six goals and 12 points in 29 AHL games with Toronto this season.

Donaghey, 19, was signed by the Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent and has scored five goals and registered 22 points in 36 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games with the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats this season.

Greening, 29, scored 38 goals and registered 87 points over 256 NHL games (all with Ottawa) including one this season.

Cowen, 25, has earned four assists in 37 games this season and has recorded 15 goals and 46 points in 249 career games with the Senators.

Michalek, 31, has scored six goals and registered 10 points this season. In 729 career games with Ottawa and the San Jose Sharks, he has scored 206 goals and added 232 assists for 438 points.

Lindberg, 20, was Ottawa’s fourth-round selection (102nd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has recorded 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) over 34 games in his rookie season with the Binghamton Senators.

Blue Jays agree to two-year deal with Donaldson

Shi Davidi | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

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TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays avoided what would have been a senseless arbitration hearing with Josh Donaldson by reaching agreement on a two-year deal worth nearly $29 million with the reigning American League MVP, a source told Sportsnet on Monday night.

Settling on a contract before a Feb. 15 hearing date was clearly the ideal outcome for both sides, especially since there was only a $450,000 gap between the club offer of $11.35 million and the player ask of $11.8 million.

Arbitration may not be as nasty as it used to be, but regardless of the outcome, no one would have won had the sides argued this case when the difference was so relatively small.

Still, as a file and trial team, the only way for the Blue Jays to avoid a hearing was by reaching a multi-year deal with Donaldson. While there’s a case to be made for a three-year deal instead of a two, the contract provides the team with some cost-certainty for the 2017 season, and the all-star third baseman remains under club control for the 2018 campaign.

Additionally, resolving a potentially sticky situation amicably is sure to rebuild any of the goodwill between Donaldson and the Blue Jays that may have been lost when the sides couldn’t agree on a deal before last month’s filing deadline.

That’s sure to come in handy down the road when the Blue Jays either do a one-year deal with Donaldson in his final season of arbitration, or perhaps consider a longer-term extension. Given the truncated time-frame at work here, a longer deal wasn’t really possible.

The impression left during last week’s Leadoff event for season-ticket holders was that the Blue Jays were intent on getting something done with Donaldson.

Responding to a fan question about a long-term deal for Donaldson, general manager Ross Atkins said: “We want him here as long as humanly possible.”

“There are obviously challenges to that, we have to agree on what that means financially, but we’re going to do everything we can,” Atkins continued. “He is a remarkable player and I can say from watching him, there aren’t many guys like that. It is a whole other level of talent, competitiveness, drive, and it’s not just on offence. A lot of guys talk about (Mike) Trout, and a lot of guys talk about best players in the game, you can build an organization around Trout; I’ll take Donaldson.”

There is precedent for the type of contract the Blue Jays ended up agreeing to with Donaldson.

For a recent example, last month the Kansas City Royals handed a $17.5-million, two-year deal to outfielder Lorenzo Cain, buying out his remaining arbitration seasons after the sides exchanged filing numbers.

In 2011, Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers agreed on $24-million, two-year deal to avoid arbitration after the outfielder won the American League MVP in 2010.

Also in 2011, Canadian superstar Joey Votto signed a $38-million, three-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds after winning the National League MVP in 2010, locking up his three arbitration years. A year later, the sides worked out a massive extension that added $225 million over 10 years, a kind of step-by-step process that may provide a framework to follow here.

There is a business element to this as well, as having Donaldson’s 2017 salary figured out can help the Blue Jays as they look to re-sign pending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Team president and CEO Mark Shapiro said last week that talks with both sluggers would pick up during spring training.

Cubs sign former Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki

Sportsnet | posted Thursday, Jan 21st, 2016

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The Chicago Cubs have signed former Toronto Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor-league deal, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

Kawasaki, who spent parts of the last three seasons with the Blue Jays, was a fan favourite in Toronto known for his colourful personality and dugout antics.

The 34-year-old from Japan played in 23 games for the Blue Jays last season and hit .2The Chicago Cubs have signed former Toronto Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor-league deal, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.14 (6-for-28). He was not included on the club’s post-season roster.

Kawasaki joins a Cubs team that’s made significant moves this off-season after being swept by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Chicago signed outfielder Jason Heyward, infielder Ben Zobrist and starting pitcher John Lackey, while also trading for right-hander Adam Warren.

Agent: David Price ‘would have absolutely gone back’ to Blue Jays

Sportsnet | posted Monday, Dec 7th, 2015

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David Price‘s agent admits he’s surprised that the Toronto Blue Jays did not offer the free agent left-hander a contract and says his client was open to a return to the club.

“The Blue Jays were the biggest surprise. David would have absolutely gone back there,” Bo McKinnis told Jim Bowden on SiriusXM Radio Sunday evening. “That was the toughest part of this and I’m surprised we did not get an offer.

“He had a wonderful time there and the bulk of the club is back there and he would’ve enjoyed being with them.”

 

Price signed a $217-million, seven-year contract with the Boston Red Sox this week. Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said on Friday the club did not “aggressively” pursue Price, instead opting to spread resources across its starting rotation.

“For me with David Price, it’s never a question do you want David Price,” Shapiro told reporters. “That’s silly. Of course, yes, we want David Price. It’s a question of how do you build a championship team within the parameters you’re given. It’s as simple as that. We have all the resources necessary to build a championship team, but they’re not unlimited, it’s a business like any other business.

“We had multiple holes to fill, and putting all those resources in one player really would have created a team with one complete hole in the rotation with nowhere to fill it. It really wasn’t much of a choice.”

So far this off-season, the Blue Jays have addressed their starting staff by re-signing Marco Estrada ($26-million, two-years), acquiring Jesse Chavez and signing J.A. Happ for $36 million over three years.

Price was 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts for the Blue Jays after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the July trade deadline.

David Price to sign with Red Sox for seven years, $217 million: report

Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sportsnet | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2015

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The Boston Red Sox are reportedly in agreement with David Price on a seven-year deal worth $217 million, the Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Price will earn a reported $31 million per season over the life of the contract, the largest in history for a free agent pitcher.

Price, 30, led the American League with a 2.45 ERA in 2015 while pitching for the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays. The left-hander pitched 220.1 innings, striking out 225 while walking 47 on his way to a second-place Cy Young finish.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays will move on with a rotation including Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ. Jesse Chavez, Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez are among the candidates for Toronto’s final rotation spot, though interim GM Tony LaCava says the team continues searching for pitching.

Toronto Maple Leafs Sparks’ NHL debut marked by history, tears and perfection

Damien Cox, Sportsnet | posted Tuesday, Dec 1st, 2015

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Unexpected and unscripted. It happened just that way. The best way.

Young goalie, chubby and seemingly exiled to the low minors less than a year ago, gets a chance out of the blue to start an NHL game for a very famous team fallen upon hard times. Few imagine this as a solution to anything.

Goalie’s parents sit in the stands watching. Goalie gets a shutout. Makes history.

Goalie cries when interviewed.

Rocky Balboa did something along those lines after being pummelled by Apollo Creed the first time, and I seem to remember Todd Gill weeping a bit after the Toronto Maple Leafs upset the Detroit Red Wings in the 1993 playoffs.

But this was just simple and perfect — certainly too perfect for Toronto’s rarely-anywhere-near-perfect NHL franchise.

On Monday night at the Air Canada Centre, 22-year-old Garret Sparks of Elmhurst, Illinois, the first American to start in goal for the Leafs since Scott Clemmensen, also became the first Leafs goalie to register a whitewash in his NHL debut since… since… nobody.

“They’ve been playing hockey for a long time around here,” said Sparks afterwards. “So that’s kinda cool.”

Kinda. By that point, Sparks was relatively composed after letting the tears flow in his post-game interview. He was as endearingly emotional as a hockey player can get on Nov. 30 of a six-month season that ends somewhere far down the road, undoubtedly remembering being an Orlando Solar Bear in the East Coast Hockey League with almost zero chance of ever being a Leaf not very long ago.

“I’m a little lost right now, sorry,” he said as he searched for answers to questions nobody imagined asking him just last week.

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