The Vancouver Canucks are expected to name Travis Green their new head coach Wednesday.The Canucks say they will introduce their new coach at an afternoon press conference.Several media reports say Green will replace the fired Willie Desjardins.Green has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of Vancouver’s American Hockey League affiliate in Utica, N.Y., leading the club to the 2015 Calder Cup final. Prior to that, he coached the Portland Winterhawks to a 2012-13 Western Hockey League title and an appearance in the 2013 Memorial Cup final.Desjardins was fired after a season that saw the Canucks finish second-last in the NHL.
In need of more lefties in the lineup, they cut right handed-hitting first baseman Chris Carter after a 41-homer season that tied for the National League lead to go with Thames.But Thames had an unremarkable initial stint in the majors, hitting .250 with 21 homers with Toronto and Seattle from 2011 to 2013. “He’s hit some good pitches too, but he doesn’t miss a mistake.”The early success is also about feeling more confident in his abilities and having more fun over the last three years.In January, during his first interaction with Brewers fans on a winter caravan event, Thames spoke about looking forward to the little things again like being able to speak more English with teammates, and playing cards in the clubhouse. He hit .348 with 124 home runs, 379 RBIs and 64 steals in 388 games in three seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization.The Brewers signed Thames in November to a $16 million, three-year contract. “There are some teams that somehow the ball finds your barrel and there are some teams where you get a good pitch and you swing and it is a foul ball or a strikeout. The Blue Jays drafted Thames in the seventh round of the 2008 amateur draft.Thames has said he learned how to be patient while playing in Korea because while pitchers there don’t throw as hard, they were able to locate their off-speed pitches.Now he’s processing information about major-league pitching at a quick rate, making adjustments pitch by pitch.“He’s not missing. “It is crazy.” He said he felt humble to be back in the majors. As the saying goes, you may get one good pitch to hit in your at-bat, you don’t want to miss it,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. Eric Thames is bashing his way into the Milwaukee Brewers record book.No adjustment period necessary for the bushy-bearded first baseman in his first season back in the majors after three years playing ball in Korea.With two more home runs on Monday against the Cincinnati Reds, Thames upped his major league-leading home run total to 10. The Reds must already by sick of Thames, who has seven homers in five games against Cincinnati pitching.“It is crazy with baseball,” the left-handed slugger said after Milwaukee’s 11-7 win Monday. An affable personality also lends to the appearance of Thames feeling at ease in Milwaukee.“In Korea and here, I’m just going to do my job and work as hard as I can so come game time I can relax and let it all go,” Thames said.Among other notable tidbits:He broke the Brewers record with 10 homers in the team’s first 21 games, passing Rob Deer (nine in 1987).Going into Tuesday’s action, he has reached base at least three times in seven games.He has reached base in 17 of his 19 games.“It is amazing when stress levels decrease you actually have fun and be loose and are able to relax,” Thames said. I don’t know.”Most baseball fans had no idea how Thames’ success overseas would translate to the majors. He also tied a franchise record with his 10th homer in April.
But now the hard part begins, going from playoff contender to Stanley Cup contender.So, while both Lamoriello and Babcock stressed the Leafs need to get better, they also said they have to stick to the slow-but-sure progress called for in the Shanaplan.“It’s a step,” Lamoriello said of making the playoffs and almost knocking off the Washington Capitals. Teams are going to look at you a little different – the way they approach you. So there’s a lot that has to transpire. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (Denmark) is also taking a pass. Teams are going to know your tendencies as a player and how they can stop you. “To think we’re at the level where it’s automatic for us, it’s not for us.”Both Babcock and Lamoriello have now been in Toronto long enough to know the fan base that embraced Leafs president Brendan Shanahan’s teardown of the roster is now so fired up by the Leafs’ quick progress – from last place overall in the NHL one year ago to almost knocking off the best team in the league in the playoffs – that it is now thinking conference final or else for next season. That’s why it’s just a step.”Also complicating matters are the position the Leafs need to upgrade the most and the expansion draft in mid-June to stock the Las Vegas Golden Knights. On defence, that means veteran Roman Polak, who sustained a broken foot in Game 2 of the Capitals series and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, might have played his way to a contract offer. “I look at the teams that missed [the playoffs] this year that are really good teams that plan on being in next year, and it’s going to be a battle for us,” Babcock said. And chances are the teams deepest in defencemen, the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, will be more interested in making side deals with Knights GM George McPhee to keep him from taking a prize prospect.With that many buyers and that few sellers, it’s a sure thing the price for a top-four defenceman will at least be equal to the one paid last year by the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson: forward Taylor Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 entry draft.While there was an acceleration in the plan in late February when Lamoriello traded a second-round draft pick to get veteran centre Brian Boyle for a playoff push, caution remains the watchword.“I think we created expectations amongst our fans and our city, I understand that,” Babcock said. That’s the worst thing about the game, personally making friends with somebody, seeing him every day and then at the drop of a hat he’s gone.”Some of the Leafs may be headed to the world championship to play for their countries – defenceman Morgan Rielly and forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander – but not all. With a far more successful than expected 2016-17 season behind them, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock set about putting the brakes on Leafs Nation’s expectations.“We want to make the playoffs,” was Babcock’s answer on Tuesday at the team’s farewell media session when asked about the Leafs’ goal for next season. “It’s going to get more difficult. The free-agent market has slim pickings. That is less certain for Matt Hunwick, also a pending free agent.Boyle said he would like to come back but “I’m not sure where everybody stands.”For the few veterans on the team who were around for the destruction of the previous version of the Leafs, it is nice just to know most players will be back.“That’s the thing, the sense of security knowing guys are going to be sticking around, knowing they’re not going to be unloading everybody,” centre Nazem Kari said. “But [Shanahan], Lou [Lamoriello] and myself have a plan here to build a program. “That sense of comfort is huge among players. The trouble is, there are at least a dozen other teams looking for the same thing and only three, perhaps four, sure sellers. Lamoriello referred to the expansion draft as a “wild card” in his plans to upgrade the roster.The top priority for the Leafs is getting a top-four defenceman. Auston Matthews said he is too “exhausted” from a long season that started with the World Cup of Hockey to play for Team USA, while defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who came back from a concussion to play against the Caps, was told by Leafs’ doctors they would not clear him to play for Russia. The trouble is, building a perennial contender in the NHL is not a straight line upward.The Leafs quickly managed the easy part of any rebuild, going from doormat to playoff contender. That’s what we’re going to do.“This isn’t going to deviate from anything we’re doing whatsoever. We’re just going to keep building the program.”Lamoriello stressed getting better from within.
He shed more than 20 pounds over the summer, and scored the first goal in the Oilers’ new arena, Rogers Place, on opening night. Louis, so the time father and son spend together is limited. He got his first hat trick in Boston on Jan. Louis-style ribs, jalapenos and melted gouda.“Every week, we feature burgers as cameos, and his was the best-selling cameo of the year,” said Mike Rebalkin, one of the three owners of the Next Act Pub.After he got the hat trick against the Bruins, Rebalkin sent Maroon a message on social media. They talk almost every day on FaceTime, and when he plays, Maroon wears a gold chain emblazoned with Anthony’s birthday around his neck.“I am an intense guy, and sometimes I get emotional,” Maroon said following practice on Monday in Edmonton. The fact that he was game for one says much about him.After parts of five so-so seasons in Anaheim, life is good for him in Edmonton. I think we match up really well. He lives with his mother in St. Anaheim was so eager to unload him that it agreed to pay 25 per cent of his $1.9-million-a-year (U.S.) contract over the next two seasons.He ended up with 14 points in the final 16 games last year, and had a career-high 42 this season while helping the Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. He is 227 pounds and a bull around the net, but off the ice has been unafraid to show his fragile side.In December, he wept during an interview following a game in St. “I don’t get to see him much.”Maroon was only 20 and playing minor-league hockey when Anthony was born. Louis, his hometown. Maroon, who looks like a pub guy if there ever was one, with beard and spiky hair, messaged him right back.“He is a super, down-to-earth guy,” Rebalkin said. I think history is going to be made here.”Edmonton advanced to the second round by beating San Jose in six games. Anaheim, which finished two points ahead of the Oilers in the Pacific Division, swept Calgary in four.The Ducks are bigger and tougher than the Sharks, who are just the type of opponent Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli had in mind when he added Maroon, Kassian and Milan Lucic to the roster over the last year-and-a-half. It is going to be an exciting series.”Maroon has charmed fans in Edmonton with his earnestness and ability to annoy opponents. In another, Maroon scooped up a puck that the Ducks were trying to preserve for a dressing-room display and defiantly skated away.“There was no way I was going to hand it over to them,” he said.He came back to training camp this year in the best shape of his life. 5, the same evening he duked it out, unsuccessfully, against Chara.The fact that he lost the fight doesn’t matter. They all have big bodies, and are intimidating.“This is going to be a huge challenge, but I think we are ready,” Maroon said. “I want to be a part of this team for a while. Among them, Maroon is a particular favourite of fans, and will almost certainly frustrate supporters of the opposing Anaheim Ducks when the teams open their second-round series on Wednesday night at Honda Center.In one game this season, he dropped his gloves against Zdeno Chara, Boston’s 6-foot-9 defenceman. Two of his 10 fights came against future Hall-of-Famer Jarome Iginla – on successive shifts. Watching a replay of the goal he scored that night, he was surprised when cameras caught his nine-year-old son, Anthony, wearing his father’s sweater and celebrating in the crowd.“It’s pretty cool,” Maroon said, and then he started to sob. “It is part of being human. Fans call him the Big Rig because he is built like an 18-wheeler. On an Edmonton Oilers team that sometimes feels like Connor McDavid and everyone else, the left winger Patrick Maroon has found a home.As a top-line forward, a goal scorer, a tough guy, and an occasional shedder of public tears.One of a handful of role players who have emerged during the NHL playoffs to share the spotlight with Art Ross Trophy winner McDavid, the former Anaheim Duck is part of a group of players, along with Oscar Klefbom, Zach Kassian, David Desharnais and Anton Slepyshev, that are well-known in Edmonton but captured national attention in the first round with big goals and gutsy play. After Philadelphia’s Brandon Manning claimed he injured McDavid last season on purpose, Maroon pounded and pinned him to the ice.Playing mostly on a line with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, he has 28 goals so far in the regular season and playoffs – more than twice as many as he scored in any other year. Last year, Vancouver’s Derek Dorsett was ejected after squirting Maroon with a water bottle in one game. He has introduced his own clothing line, and has had a sandwich named after him at a local tavern.The Hat Trick Maroon Burger includes a beef patty topped with meat from St. That is just me.”Maroon’s career had stalled when he came to the Oilers for a pick and a prospect. They got Maroon for a fourth-round draft pick and a defensive prospect, and then suddenly he blossomed.“The Oilers gave me an opportunity to play with some good players and prove I could use my big body to score in this league,” said Maroon, who turned 29 on Sunday. “They are going to hit us, and come after every puck.
Using data gathered from several NHL seasons, they found that the home advantage in the NHL was 54.5 per cent. But no, preparations are under way at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa for the opening match of Round 2.How this comes about is due to paperwork rather than numbers. The Ottawa Senators, after all, are in the semi-finals because they defeated the Boston Bruins in six games, with three of Ottawa’s four wins coming on the Bruins’ ice.In recent years, there has been much debate as to whether “home-ice advantage” has become a myth. Boucher pointed out that the Rangers’ Michael Grabner, a winger often on New York’s fourth line, had 27 goals and 13 assists for 40 points this season.“There is no fourth line any more,” Boucher believes. In the Eastern Conference, the Senators finished second in the Atlantic Division, while the Rangers came fourth in the much-stronger Metropolitan Division. “Your matchups matter, but not as much as they used to.”There was also the idiosyncrasies of various NHL rinks in the past – small ice surface in Boston, wonky boards in Buffalo, fast ice in Edmonton – but that is no longer the case in today’s modern, uniform NHL rinks.“Ice and boards” is the way Boucher described all NHL rinks now, with a red line splitting the surface in half.“Guy Boucher’s comments about rink size are correct,” said Tim Swartz, a Simon Fraser University professor who teaches statistics and has a special interest in sports, “but most studies indicate that the home ice/field advantage is mostly attributed to officiating and less the other reasons that are often cited.”In 2011, Swartz and four colleagues published a paper, Ups And Downs: Team Performance In Best-Of-Seven Playoff Series, in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. “Home-ice advantage,” after all, was considered a valuable commodity, almost as desirable as the “man advantage” that comes from the other side receiving a penalty.Home ice meant you would have the crowd behind you – sometimes called “the seventh man” in hockey – and it also meant certain strategic advantages, first among them the home team’s right to last change. When Swartz set out to verify his findings through an analysis of the 2016-17 NHL season, he found instant confirmation: of the 30 teams, only one had more road wins than home wins.And that one team, sorry to report back to Ottawa, was the New York Rangers. Second trumps fourth, meaning 102 is no longer a greater number than 98.In the past, this almost certainly would have led to much grumbling and gnawing of the knuckles. It used to be so simple.You played hard during the regular season in order to pile up the points and, hopefully, gain home-ice advantage during the playoffs.On Thursday night, the Eastern Conference semi-final will begin, featuring the 102-points New York Rangers against the 98-points Ottawa Senators. Certainly, the results of a number of series would suggest it is not what it once was.So far as line changes go, the only home-ice advantage in today’s NHL may well be to the owner’s bottom line.Senators head coach Guy Boucher said Tuesday that home ice is not what “it used to be” in hockey and hasn’t been now for the past several years.While there was a time where smart matching of lines could pay dividends, that was in a time when teams would feature four dramatically different lines: the scoring line, a secondary line, a grinding line and a tough line. In basketball, home-court advantage was noticeably higher at 60.5 per cent. If you could get your skaters out against the other coach’s sluggers, you had an instant advantage.“That’s not what the NHL is any more,” Boucher said.Instead, the top teams tend to roll four lines, all with speed and, often, with skill spread throughout. The NHL insists on having four divisions make up its two conferences. No matter what line the visiting team might send out – from hot scoring to hot tempered – the home-team coach has the right to send out whatever line he thinks best matches, or overmatches, the other guy’s.Other slight benefits included a rule that insists that the visiting centre place his stick down first in the playoff circle, allowing the home centre to guess what the opposition plans are for the faceoff and, at times, allowing the home centre to have his stick in motion as the puck drops.There was also the not-insignificant theory that screaming fans could influence officials, meaning more penalties for the visitors, more breaks for the home side.But that was then and this is now. One would think, then, that they would be getting things ready at Madison Square Garden in New York.
They played just about every other day for six weeks – an enormous physical grind on bodies this big after a full season of knicks, bruises, tears and pulls. But in the only way that counts for a team that keeps telling us it is better than the sum of its results. Much of it, at this time of year, directed inwardly.If history is our guide, it’s not going to be easy. They’ve never taken three in a row.They’ve been up 3-2 three times. It’s two. If they were the sort of players to be genuinely awed by seventh or eighth seeds, they wouldn’t be winning titles. There is something farcical about watching the LeBron Jameses of the world pretending to be intimidated by first-round opponents at this time of year. I don’t overreact to Kyle.” I’m not sure what that means, but he sounded cheerful as he said it. It’s a small, off-putting barrier to fan investment.Rooting for an unfamiliar team involves a suspension of disbelief – you may know they aren’t world beaters, but you want to be convinced it’s possible. It’s both the present outcome and the future chance to take a couple of days off.So, with a fit and rested Cleveland awaiting them, Thursday’s Game 6 may actually be a Game 7. They know which opponents they should beat, and which they probably can’t. It’s probably true, but we haven’t seen the proof. So place your bets accordingly.)Undisclosed other Raptors are also hurt, and, again, you’d be guessing at whom or how badly.With each passing series, their effectiveness diminishes. It’s always gotten to a seventh game.They didn’t just lose all those Game 6s. His teammates are still searching for it, at least publicly.In the way that today’s athletes like to throw around plausible ideas like they are dead certainties, Carroll called the upcoming Game 6 “a must win.”That isn’t true, but it sort of is.If the Raptors can’t close out a Bucks team in increasing disarray, they do two things – weaken their own cause and strengthen the Cavaliers’.Last year, the Raptors turned pro basketball into continental shift work. They’re a skilled, fun, charismatic squad, but the one-step-forward, one-step-back playoff stagger makes them difficult to love.Having recognized the problem – which is hard to avoid, since they’re constantly reminded of it – the Raptors have developed a coping mechanism. They are a team that shoots straight, except for those times when they don’t.This may be why more casual or non-basketball fans haven’t glommed on to this franchise in recent years. Good basketball teams know they’re good. They never won a Game 1.They’ve played 36 total games. They were massacred in them – the average deficit is 18 points.Usually, these swings from good Raptors to bad Raptors are whiplash and have no obvious explanation aside from approach.“We have a tendency to come out relaxed after we get a win and you can’t do that in playoff basketball,” coach Dwane Casey said before Game 5.Whether you can or can’t, the Raptors repeatedly do. If a newbie dives in on a random playoff night, the odds are pretty good that he or she is going to see the Raptors roll over and die in the first ten minutes. No amount of youthful exuberance, or experience, or added confidence, or veteran presence has been able to waylay that pernicious trend.If the current Raptors have an identity, it’s that their identity is awfully hard to pin down night to night. If you are a team of aspiration, a loss at this time of year isn’t just one missed opportunity. On Thursday, further experiments will be conducted.Whatever the outcome, DeRozan’s mind is already in Cleveland: “[Playing full out] is what we’re going to need to do in the next round, because the next team is waiting.”Forget about the usual “one-game-at-a-time” nonsense that has become the banal currency of the NBA. DeRozan called the pace “brutal.” They are similarly banged up now.Kyle Lowry continues to nurse “back stiffness” – which, for all anyone knows at the moment, could be a slipped disc. The newly returned Leafs managed it this year. Because why else bother? Having never gotten very far talking his team into closing out a playoff series, DeMar DeRozan came at the problem sideways on Tuesday.This year, he’s trying to get the other side to – in Barry Trotz’s formulation – throw itself off the cliff rather than wait to be pushed.“They’re a great team, a young team,” DeRozan said of Milwaukee. On Tuesday, DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll both hammered at the idea. Not right now. Though it need not be shouted about, a sizable amount of arrogance is a prerequisite to greatness.It’s heartening to see DeRozan has found that perspective. The Raptors never have. Lowry was in visible pain during Monday’s Game 5.(Asked if Lowry’s feeling better, DeRozan said on Tuesday, “Y’all overreact to Kyle. DeRozan called it “another” Game 7.It’s a nice theory, but if it worked, I’d finally be able to file my taxes on time by adopting the mantra, “Every day is April 30th.”Regardless of what they say, the Raptors’ belief that they are an elite team remains a hypothesis. Not because the Bucks look particularly good, but because this is Toronto.One thing has remained consistent throughout the Raptors four-year postseason surge – inconsistency.During that stretch, the Raptors have played in six different series. “This is definitely going to be an experience they’re going to learn from and carry over.”
It’s a strange thing to say about a team you haven’t yet beaten, but the Raptors have never been shy with the psychological warfare. It is to loudly repeat at all points in a series that every game is a Game 7 to them.
It was more like a leap of faith.Coghlan made an acrobatic, run-scoring bound over St. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.After Pillar scored on third baseman Jedd Gyorko’s error for a 4-2 lead in the seventh, Martinez tied the score in the bottom half with his first big league home run, a two-run drive against Joe Biagini. Jose Bautista’s RBI single off former Blue Jay Brett Cecil put Toronto ahead 5-4 in the ninth.“Missed plays, we’ve got to get better,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. After Pillar popped out, Steve Pearce hit a grounder to shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who threw wildly as Stroman scored on the Cardinals’ fourth error – all of which led to runs.Stroman had been campaigning Gibbons for a shot to swing the bat.“I’m always in the cage hitting with (Josh Donaldson) and (Troy Tulowitzki),” Stroman said. “So I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what’s going on just being competitive and having fun up there.”Grilli struck out the side in the 10th, and Ryan Tepera got his first big league save since 2015 when Pillar made a sliding catch on Jose Martinez’s fly to short centre with a runner on second base.Estrada gave up two runs and six hits in six innings with nine strikeouts. Same thing we’ve been saying. “It kicked my feet up so it wasn’t that bad of a landing.”Dexter Fowler’s two-out infield single off Roberto Osuna in the ninth tied the score 5-5.Stroman, a pitcher who had been 0 for 5 in six previous big league plate appearances, pinch hit for reliever Jason Grilli (1-2) leading off the 11th because the Blue Jays were out of position players. “It’s just something that never happens. He fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off a pitch and took a ball, then lined a slider from Miguel Socolovich (0-1) into the left-field corner. “Getting the guys in, we’ve got to get better. “You’re first thought is, ‘OK, I’m going to run him over cause he’s right over the plate.’ And then I was thinking, ‘since he’s down, why don’t you jump?’” Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada couldn’t believe it.“When I saw Coghlan do a front flip over Molina, it was like I saw a unicorn or something,” Estrada said. “You probably don’t see that for 100 years.”Coghlan actually made contact with Molina’s shoulder, which prevented what could have been a dangerous landing.“It was going to be an ugly fall because I just didn’t have enough momentum going forward so it helped that I hit Yadi,” Coghlan said. You might not ever see that again.”Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was impressed.“He got up there didn’t he? Toronto’s Chris Coghlan called it instinct. Louis All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, and Marcus Stroman came across with the go-ahead run after pinch hitting in the 11th inning and doubling for his first major league hit in the Blue Jays’ 6-5 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night. Work and have a high expectation of what the work results should look like. We’ve still got a long ways to go.” You’ve got to win that game because that’s what made it worthwhile,” Gibbons said. As Molina reached for the ball, the 31-year-old Coghlan hurled himself over the catcher, somersaulted and landed on the plate with his helmet and left hand.“I was coming around third and I looked to my left to see where the ball was and I saw it was going to beat me and probably the last step or two I saw Yadi go down,” Coghlan said. With the score 2-2, Coghlan walked in the seventh and sped around the bases on Kevin Pillar’s triple in the right-field corner, which hit high off the fence over Stephen Piscotty and bounced back toward the infield.Piscotty’s throw to the plate was slightly up the third-base line, and Molina leaned down to pick up the ball after its third hop.
English soccer clubs were raided early on Wednesday morning by tax officials as part of a wide-sweeping probe, with several men arrested for suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.British media were reporting that West Ham United and Newcastle United were targets of the investigation.The London club did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment but issued a statement to local media, saying the club was “cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries”. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”HMRC, the body responsible for United Kingdom’s tax collection, said: “180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today.“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the North East and South East of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.”HMRC said French authorities were assisting the UK investigation, that they have made arrests and that several locations have been searched in France.France’s financial prosecutor’s office said that 10 searches had been conducted there, four people had been detained and that documents had been seized.It said in a statement that British authorities suspected that secret payments had been made to certain players, their agents or third parties to evade taxes during the transfer of players between French and Premier League clubs. Newcastle initially made no comment but subsequently posted a brief statement on their website.It said: “Newcastle United can confirm that a member of its staff has this morning been assisting HMRC with their inquiries.
Louis Cardinals’ game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night has been postponed because of rain.The game has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. The first game will start as scheduled at 12:45 p.m. Mat Latos was to start for Toronto. The makeup game will start at 6:15 p.m.St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez, who is still in search of his first win, had been scheduled to start Wednesday night. The St.