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Cal Foote Must be Patient if he Wants to Play for Canada



PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Cal Foote can’t play for Canada.

Not officially, anyway.

Sure, after their dismal showing in a 5-1 drubbing handed them Friday afternoon by Sweden in the Canadians’ second game of summer tournament that’s part of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, you could argue that several of the guys wearing the maple leaf on their chest can’t play for 0-2 Canada.

In Foote’s case, it has nothing to do with what he’s shown on the ice and everything to do with what it shows on his birth certificate.

The son of long-time NHL defenceman and 2002 Canadian Olympic gold medallist Adam Foote was born in Englewood, Colo., while his dad played for the Colorado Avalanche.

Until he played last season for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, Foote had never set foot in his father’s homeland. Well, at least he’d never planted roots, and therein was the problem.

Even though his family is Canadian, under International Ice Hockey Federation regulations, you must reside in a country for 16 consecutive months and play hockey there for two seasons in succession before you are permitted to suit up for that country.

Thus, unless the Canadians find some way to cut through the red tape, Foote can’t play for Canada until the 2017-18 season, though Foote was still holding out hope.

“There’s a chance,” Foote said. “I’m just here to play my game and I’ll let Hockey Canada figure it out.”

Many of his peers in similar circumstances opted to take the smoother, quicker route to USA Hockey — Windsor Spitfires forward Logan Brown, son of ex-NHLer Jeff, and Kieffer Bellows, whose dad Brian played in three world championships and won a Canada Cup for Canada, are both skating for Team USA here.

Foote, though, was determined to establish a foothold with Hockey Canada.

“I grew up as a fan of Canada and I just felt like it would be awesome to throw on the maple leaf,” Foote explained.

Friday, he finally got to do so in an actual game, albeit an exhibition game, and even with the loss, the reality lived up to the dream.

“It was pretty awesome,” Foote said. “It was great to put that jersey on.”

Canadian coach Dominique Ducharme remembered watching Adam Foote play for the Quebec Nordiques and he sees a little bit of the father in the son, though not a significant amount.

“I might see some little things,” Ducharme said. “At the same time, I think the kid wants to make a name for himself.

“You look at him, he’s got size (6-foot-4, 198 pounds), he’s smart and you see that he’s willing. You can see him getting better and better every day.

“He wants to be a player and he’s learning quickly.”

One aspect that Cal doesn’t share with his dad is a physical edge. On Sweden’s first goal, he was out-muscled in front of the Canadian net by Marcus Davidsson.

“I think that’s one of my weaker points,” Foote frankly admitted. “I’m trying to add that.

“I just play my own game; play my own kind of style. I guess we kind of play a little different.”

His dad has been in the stands all week watching his son in action but politely declined an interview request.

“I want this to be about him, not about me,” explained Adam Foote, who is relocating his family to Canada to allow Cal to live out the Canadian dream.

There’s plenty of interest in Foote, 17, not only from Hockey Canada officials but also from the vast array of hockey people populating USA Hockey Arena this week. That’s because Foote and goalie Zach Sawchenko, who played the third period, were the only players in Wednesday’s Canadian lineup who are eligible for the 2017 NHL entry draft.

“I think he’s going to be a player,” Ducharme said.

Maybe Foote can’t be a player for Canada just yet, but this week at the very least he’s got his foot in the door for the future.


Mathieu Joseph scored Canada’s lone goal, with an assist from Foote. Marcus Davidsson, Joel Larsson, Jonathan Davidsson, Linus Olund and Jonathan Dahlen scored for the Swedes (1-1) . . . Finland improved to 2-0 with a 2-1 victory over the United States (1-1). Otto Somppi and Eeli Tolvanen scored for the Finns. Erik Foley replied for the Americans … Ottawa Senators draftee Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires, one of three United States players 6-foot-5 or taller, is confident that the Americans can use size to their advantage at this season’s world juniors. “I think that we have a lot of big guys and we’ve got a lot of skilled guys, too, so hopefully a lot of the guys in this room are on the team come Christmas time,” Brown said. “I think we’re just trying to be big and wear teams down and play down low and use our size and our skill to create opportunities.” . . . Brown skates regularly on the same forward line with Team USA teammate Christian Fischer for the Spitfires and finally skated on the same line with Fischer here in Friday’s game. “I was hoping we’d be able to get a game together,” Brown said … Windsor Spitfires draftee Clayton Keller of Team USA was a healthy scratch Friday but could be seen on the concourse in discussion with Spitfires GM Warren Rychel and coach Rocky Thompson. Keller insists he’s headed to play at Boston University in the fall . . . Sweden’s roster includes two Toronto Maple Leafs draftees — defenceman Jesper Lindgren (95th overall, 2015), who plays for Modo and forward Carl Grundstrom (57th overall, 2016), who skates for Frolunda, but both were scratched for Friday’s game against Canada . . . Finland is the only team here without a Leafs prospect. Forward Jeremy Bracco of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers (61st overall, 2015) is playing for Team USA and forward Mitch Marner of the London Knights (fourth overall, 2015) skates for Canada.

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Up and Coming Sports Stars to Look Out for in 2020



Every year, a raft of exciting new players come onto the scene across all of the major US sports. With the MLS season getting underway and the NFL and MLB drafts not too far away, now is a great time to look at the young sports stars that could have a very bright future ahead of them, and the ones that are already proving they are destined for greatness.

Theo Bair (MLS)

This MLS season is looking like it could be one of the best yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami team adding some extra dazzle to the league. Whilst Beckham might be able to attract a lot of new players to his MLS team, there are a lot of young stars on their way through such as Theo Bair at Vancouver Whitecaps. Bair has already made an impact on the first team and after impressing at under-20 and under-23 level for the national team, he has made two appearances for the senior team, well before his 21st birthday. This year could see Bair make a real name for himself in the MLS.

Source: Pixabay

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB)

Montreal-born Vladimir Guerrero Jr has one MLB season under his belt but it looks like the best is still yet to come from him at the Blue Jays. He was heavily backed to take the league by storm but he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. Without the pressure of being the top-ranked prospect, this season could see Guerrero play with some weight lifted off his shoulders. He has been working very hard on his fitness over the offseason, something that his manager Montoyo has been quick to comment upon.

Baseball by andrewmalone, on Flickr

Baseball” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone

Connor McDavid (NHL)

McDavid has already established him as a top hockey player but at 23, he has the potential to go on to do so much more. The player was born in Ontario and was the first overall draft pick, showing how much expectation was already on him at that stage but he has gone on to prove that he is one of the best players in the NHL. McDavid could go on to be one the NHL’s best-ever hockey players and this season could be the year that he shows the world, not just the NHL.

Chuba Hubbard (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Cowboys running back has been making the headlines for several years now. He continues to improve and grab more attention for his impressive stats and performances. He was close to being a sprinter and nearly made the Canadian Olympic team before switching over to football. He is passing up the 2020 NFL draft to play his senior season at Cowboys. He should give them a good chance of winning the College Football Championship, though they’re trailing at the seventh spot in the latest American football odds at +2400.00, with Clemson as the current betting favorites.

2020 will definitely be a very exciting time with some of these young stars looking to breakthrough in their respective sports and show the world what they are capable of.

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Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby – and looking to break the Curse of Apollo



Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favourite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-to-1 shot Solomini in Saturday’s Derby.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He’s won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he’d be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a two-year-old.

“The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can’t force it,” Baffert said. “All of a sudden, you have good horses and you’re there. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good horses.”

Baffert’s four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He’s finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

Like Justify, Bodemeister didn’t race as a two-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I’ll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Magnum Moon, the 6-to-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn’t run as a two-year-old.

“It’s going to happen,” Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. “Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don’t really worry about that.”

Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind-end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

“When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,” he said. “I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We’d really have a 1-2 here.”

Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt’s early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

“I work hard at it. I just don’t give up,” the white-haired trainer said. “I’m constantly meeting people. They’re sending me horses. If you don’t have success, you’re not going to get those opportunities.”

After a successful run in the quarter horse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

“After 25 years, I’m finally getting horses that I don’t have to buy,” he said. “The big guys are sending me horses.”

None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt’s imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby’s 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he’ll run against on Saturday.

“I’d rather have a really talented horse than one who’s seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,” Baffert said.

Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

“The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,” he said. “The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.”

That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

“Bob’s got a great feel for it,” he said.

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Matthews ready to return to Maple Leafs lineup after missing a month



NASHVILLE — The hurtin’ tune that Auston Matthews has been singing for the past four weeks finally can be put in the remainder bin in Music City.

The Maple Leafs’ top centre on Wednesday declared himself set to return to the lineup after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

Wonderful timing, of course, considering the Leafs will take on the No. 1 club in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators, on Thursday night.

“In my mind, I think I’m ready to go and taking it as I’m getting ready to play (Thursday),” Matthews said after resuming his normal role, between William Nylander and Zach Hyman, during practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It felt good, nice to get in all the reps and everything. (Wednesday) was a good step forward in that process, going through the line rushes.”

It seemed probable that the Leafs also will have defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the past five games as he recovered from an illness, against Nashville. Zaitsev was paired with Jake Gardiner, his regular partner, at practice.

For Matthews, it has been 10 games as a spectator with his latest injury, his third of the 2017-18 regular season after he missed four games in November with a back issue and then sat for six in December because of a concussion.

Thursday will mark four weeks since Matthews was hurt when he was sandwiched by the New York Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech in a game at the Air Canada Centre.

A major bonus for Matthews in his recovery has been the fact he has been able to skate though much of his recuperation. That was not the case when he was out with his previous two injuries.

It’s worth noting that Matthews scored two goals versus the Montreal Canadiens upon returning on Nov. 18 from his back injury; in his first two games upon coming back from a concussion, he scored a goal in each.

Mike Babcock said a final decision on the participation of Matthews and Zaitsev against the Predators would be made on Thursday morning, but the Leafs coach was talking as though it would be a rubber stamp.

“This is going to be the best opportunity for (Matthews) because he has been able to skate and compete,” Babcock said. “The other times he was not able to do anything.

“To get him back … it’s still going to be going way faster than he has been practising, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but he’s a good player and he will figure it out.”

Defenceman Morgan Rielly didn’t think Matthews will take long to find his footing. Rielly missed six games in late January/early February with an arm injury, so knows what Matthews could be feeling.

“You’re nervous and you just want to get back into it,” Rielly said. “You play your first shift a bit hesitant, but after that it’s important you get back to yourself.

“It’s never easy, but Auston is one of those guys that I will imagine it won’t take long for him to get back into a rhythm.”

And there’s the trickle-down effect through the forward lines with Matthews in uniform.

“Guys are used to playing with certain players and when everyone is healthy, I think you get better chemistry throughout the entire lineup,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “Certain guys don’t have to play with different guys constantly and it’s just more of a set group, so I think it’s going to help us.”

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