Steroids a subject in Hall of Fame voting as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens gain momentum

The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.Clemens was acquitted last year on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz believes the passage of time and change in voting pool leads to a difference perspective.“Writers come and go. and Mike Piazza were elected. And while I wrestled with it, I just decided that how do I know who did and who didn’t? “When it is strictly circumstance and evidence that you do not know or don’t have firsthand and you’re just following the rumour-ville, then that’s a difficult proposition to put in a writer, to be judge and jury.”Manny Ramirez, however, appears to be viewed differently. He differentiates between players suspected of steroids use before the start of testing with penalties in 2004 and those suspended for drug violations.“I judge players by their eras and who they played against,” he said. “That was the team I played with and I’m real comfortable with that.”Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time, has increased from 41.7 per cent in 2011 to 71.6 per cent last year, falling 15 votes short when Ken Griffey Jr. Ivan Rodriguez, eligible for the first time, and Trevor Hoffman also could make it. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago also voted for the pair for the first time.“I was hoping that Bonds and Clemens maybe would speak up a little more, talk about what they had done, why they had done it, their feelings on the integrity of the game, their feelings on the Hall of Fame,” Miles said Tuesday. New writers are given the opportunity to vote that may not have covered an era 20 years ago,” he said. That is about half the total, so both project likely to fall short of the 75 per cent needed.But they are gaining momentum.Peter Gammons of the MLB Network who joined the BBWAA in 1972, voted for Bonds and Clemens for the first time. But along with focusing on the electees, many will study the vote totals of tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 per cent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and 44.3 per cent last year. Suspended twice for drug violations after testing with penalties began in 2004, he is tracking at 23.5 per cent in his first ballot appearance. He jumped from 55 per cent in 2015 to 69.8 per cent last year and is on 89.8 per cent of the vote-tracker’s ballots, set to join Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only members of the Hall representing Montreal. … I finally just decided, you know what, they’re so great that they should be in the Hall of Fame because it’s a museum of baseball history.”The election of former Commissioner Bud Selig by a veterans committee in November impacted the decisions of some because he presided over the era. Bagwell is tracking at 88.5 per cent this year.“I just want to get it over with,” Bagwell said. “With the veterans committee electing Bud Selig to the Hall of Fame, I thought it was high time that the standouts from the so-called steroid era should join him up on the stage this July.”Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season.“If I get in, that’s the team I deserve to go in for, regardless if they no longer have a team,” Raines said last week. “Clemens and Bonds, they were the best pitcher, player of their eras. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, has risen from 37.6 per cent in 2013 to 45.2 per cent last year.This year, Bonds is on 62.8 per cent of the 219 ballots obtained by Ryan Thibodaux and posted on his Hall of Fame vote-tracker and Clemens on 61.9 per cent. The cloud of steroids hovers above Hall of Fame voting, much like it shrouded baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.Tim Raines, in his 10th and final year of eligibility, appears likely to gain election along with Jeff Bagwell when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting is announced Wednesday night. Vladimir Guerrero, also on the ballot for the first time, is tracking at 71.7 per cent.Hoffman, on 67.3 per cent of the ballots in his first appearance last year, is tracking at 72.6 per cent. “This is the first year I’ve kind of been keeping track of it and just kind of looking. So I’m excited about it.”Rodriguez is tracking at 78.3 per cent in his first ballot appearance, but the vote-tracker’s percentages have been higher than the final totals in recent years. Only five pitchers who were primarily relievers are in the Hall: Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage. Sammy Sosa, also alleged by some to have used steroids, is tracking at 9.3 per cent.Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, received 24.3 per cent of the vote in his first ballot appearance in 2008.

Kelly: With market dwindling, Jose Bautista is the best the Blue Jays could do

It had to be a huge pile of money, which is expensive and hard.It wasn’t money for money’s sake – Bautista’s got plenty of that. He continued to believe something like it when he refused the Toronto Blue Jays’ $17.2-million qualifying offer in November. He will tell you that no one is in better shape and that his age (36) and history of injury don’t matter. And he can be in no doubt that the club is accepting him with a feeling of resignation born of panic rather than any sort of excitement. As the free-agent market dwindled into nothingness and with many of their pressing needs unmet, this is the best the Jays could do.Edwin Encarnacion? Rather, it’s an angry quest for respect. It isn’t a sales pitch – few players have ever possessed a more defiant self-confidence.Then Bautista got put on the block beside a conceptual high-school shortstop or a theoretical college pitcher who might make the major leagues in five years. He wanted to return to Toronto. He was trashed in the press by opposing executives. That’s gone now.A few months ago, he could claim to be one of the most desired players in the game. It’s quite a trick – collecting a dozen good baseball minds, putting them in a room and over the course of weeks watching them repeatedly put one over on themselves.So while Tuesday is a homecoming for Bautista, it is also a profound humbling – both for the player and the club. He’s not just trying to get back at the people who doubted him. He believed it so deeply that he decided to skip the negotiation phase and go straight to public ultimatums. He made no ultimatums and imposed no arbitrary deadlines. The result is this dreary reunion.The first question that will be raised is “Which Bautista has Toronto just rehired?”The going line in these situations is that teams want a player who’s just been told he’s not good enough – “chip on his shoulder,” “something to prove.” It’s become an article of faith that unsettled athletes are the best sort.The counterargument would be that one assumes, in the season before he hoped to sign a nine-figure contract, Bautista had rather more to prove and far more incentive to do so. The contract is done pending the formality of a physical, according to a club official.The contract could be extended via mutual options, meaning it could look as if it’s worth a lot. He needs to hear them say it.It wasn’t enough that the admission come in the form of blandishments or praise or All-Star votes, which are free and easily given. It must have been a bit of a letdown when no one in baseball was willing to part with a late first-round draft pick in order to sign him.Think of it from Bautista’s point of view. It’s a one-year deal believed to be a smidge higher than the $17-million he’d turned down. But his modus operandi has never primarily been personal achievement, wins or representing the city. He continues to see himself as one of the best hitters in the game. For no sensible reason, the Jays refused it. Today, he’s a well-compensated journeyman who chose a retreat into the familiar. Don’t think that didn’t drive him crazy. And just about everyone preferred the sound of the speculative draft pick.Bautista’s three-month journey of capitalistic self-exploration got worse as it went on. If he can’t have the tangible evidence of prestige he’d hoped for, is playing well for its own sake enough to drive him back to the top? He wants them to acknowledge they did. All he asked was a little time to look around. Hall of Fame-type money. Bautista remains a Blue Jay not on his own merits but because the club was humiliated by the manner of Encarnacion’s parting. He insisted the decision didn’t bother him, but you never bought it.Just months into that five-year deal, he suggested Toronto would extend him for remuneration more suited to his now-entrenched superstardom.“Two or three years down the road, if I keep this production up, I’m guaranteeing you that that would get addressed at some point,” Bautista said.He kept the production up, but the issue was not addressed. They wanted one guy but were forced to take the other as a consolation prize. He is the most important Toronto athlete of the past two decades. It’s odd to characterize accepting an eight-figure windfall as “crawling back home,” but that’s what Jose Bautista has just done. Now it never will be. In biblical terms, it was like walking into a winery, waving your hands around and turning all the liquid on the premises into water.That series of easily avoided errors leads directly to today. Entering his last act, can he find a new source of motivation in proving everyone else wrong, now that he will never have the satisfaction of seeing himself proved right? Instead, he had his worst full year as a Blue Jay.Returning so meekly and for so little after the haughty way he dealt with the Jays can’t be seen as anything but a surrender.So the better question is “What does Bautista want now?”When he last had a chance to gamble on himself in 2011, he flinched. But money that proved he’d risen to the very highest echelon of the sport – Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols money. Only days into the off-season, they rushed out to sign his mediocre replacement. But that money is guaranteed, so it isn’t. Rarely in the history of sports negotiations have two sides bungled an off-season so badly. On Tuesday, he re-signed in Toronto for one year at a fraction of what he thought he was worth.A year ago, Bautista believed that was $150-million (U.S.) or more. Either party can opt out after this year.In the end, Bautista took about an eighth of what he thought he deserved. He had one great year and could have ridden that streak to a massive free-agent deal. Hence, the outsized reaction when his take-it-or-leave-it spring training fiat was rebuffed, and all the weird talk about the rising price of Rogers shares.Bautista is still a very good player. At times he came close to becoming a figure of fun. That choice was so underwhelming, they then signed an even less impressive replacement to bolster the first replacement.When Encarnacion opted for an affordable deal in Cleveland, we were all left in glorious wonder at this miracle of managerial incompetence. The money is his proof.What the Jays have to hope is that Bautista adapts to his new reality. Instead, he settled for the safe money, which was far less. For the man who’d said he wouldn’t negotiate, one wonders how it felt to discover that few others would either.Lacking substantially better options, Bautista came back on Tuesday.

Jose Bautista returns to Blue Jays on one-year deal

Reports say slugger Jose Bautista will be returning to the Toronto Blue Jays.Multiple outlets are reporting the two sides have agreed to a one-year deal.Bautista has been one of baseball’s top sluggers since his breakout 54-homer season in 2010.He hit 22 homers and drove in 69 runs last year but was limited to 116 games due to injuries. Bautista tested the free agent market after rejecting a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays after the season ended.He’s expected to provide some offensive stability to a lineup that lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to free agency in the off-season.

Raonic dusts off Brown to advance to second round of Australian Open

Raonic was rarely stretched throughout the match against Brown, whose economy of movement belied a good all-court game and soft touch at the net.Raonic, last year’s Wimbledon finallist, faces either Gilles Muller of Luxembourg or Taylor Fritz of the United States in the next round. Milos Raonic loped into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Germany’s Dustin Brown on Margaret Court Arena.The third seeded Canadian never appeared to get out of second gear against the dreadlocked 32-year-old, breaking once in each of the first two sets and then twice in the third to clinch victory in 93 minutes.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif having tough time with Chiefs’ playoff loss

They finished atop the AFC West with a 12-4 record to secure the No. The Steelers made a crucial third-down conversion on the ensuing possession then ran out the clock, ending Kansas City’s season.Pittsburgh converted 7-of-15 third-down chances while Kansas City was just 2-of-9.“It’s never easy when you realize the whole season is over,” Duvernay-Tardif said. but we were not able to sustain drives throughout the whole game and we had a lot of penalties, turnovers. and instead of doing four months I’ll be doing three before I report to (organized team activities).”Duvernay-Tardif, who is scheduled to complete his rookie deal with Kansas City at the end of next season, hopes to complete his medical degree in 2018. “I’m starting a week after the Super Bowl… “With playoff football you never picture yourself losing and being done,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a conference call Monday. Kicker Chris Boswell accounted for all of the Steelers’ points with an NFL playoff-record six field goals.Conversely, the Chiefs scored two TDs, including Smith’s five-yard toss to Albert Wilson on their first drive of the game.“I think our defence played really really well,” Duvernay-Tardif said. The 2014 sixth-round pick from McGill completed his second season as Kansas City’s starting right guard.It all ended in a home playoff loss to a Pittsburgh squad that couldn’t find the end zone. “All the effort you put into every ball game (for it) to come down to a third-down conversion that the other team is able to make and then hit a knee… 8, 1994. “The Steelers take a lot of pride in that and our goal was to respond quickly.“I think it was a little bit more intense than usual but at the same time, from my (brief) experience in the NFL this was a playoff tempo.”It won’t be an off-season of total rest and recuperation for Duvernay-Tardif. “I think it’s going to get a little bit harder to accept because that means as an offence we should’ve been able to win that game for our team and we weren’t able to.“Yes, we scored two touchdowns… 2 playoff seed in the AFC and an opening-round bye.It was also a solid third NFL campaign for the six-foot-five, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif, Canadian university football’s top lineman in 2013. Spencer Ware’s one-yard touchdown run with under three minutes remaining cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 18-16 before quarterback Alex Smith hit Demetrius Harris for the two-point convert.However, it was nullified by a holding penalty. “You believe and you believe and you believe and then right away it just hits you that it’s over. It’s going to take a little bit of time to digest that.”Sunday’s defeat was especially heart-breaking. Duvernay-Tardif chalked that up to playoff intensity.“Football is a physical sport, it’s a sport where intimidation plays a bit of a role sometimes,” he said. He’ll be back in Montreal next month resuming his medical school studies by working at three area hospitals.“Because we made it to the playoffs I switched my medical (school) schedule a little bit,” he said. Kansas City tried again but Smith’s pass for Jeremy Maclin was incomplete.The Chiefs pinned Pittsburgh on its five-yard line on the ensuing kickoff with 2:38 remaining but had to burn their final timeout following Le’Veon Bell’s two-yard run. I think it was a little bit disappointing offensively.”Despite the two teams combining for 10 penalties and 116 yards, the contest was a chippy affair with plenty of shoving and jawing after the play. it’s hard to accept.”The 2016 season was one of promise for the Chiefs. It’s an ending Laurent Duvernay-Tardif didn’t see coming and will need time to accept.The NFL season came to a bitter close for Kansas City’s Canadian offensive lineman Sunday night with Pittsburgh’s 18-16 road win over Chiefs in an AFC divisional playoff game. The loss was the Chiefs’ ninth in 10 playoff games and fifth straight at home since a 27-24 overtime win over the Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan.

Toronto FC stars Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley hard at work already

The squad will be pared down to 18 to travel to Bermuda for a Jan. In one sense you’re really proud and proud of everything we did together. 23. They are gearing up for friendlies Jan. “Just the time at home.“We travel so much and spend so much time on the road that when you get a little bit of time off, just to be at home … But it wasn’t long before the U.S. TFC’s my club. The off-season was all too short for Toronto FC stars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, with international soccer quick to call.Toronto players aren’t due to report for pre-season until Jan. We’re going to go after it from the first game.”Altidore’s goal this season is simple“To try to get back to that (championship) game obviously,” he said. Some defensive depth, especially at right back is also wanted.Bradley, who doubles as Toronto’s captain, believes the future is bright.“The expectations are that from Day 1 we’re going to have a very good team,” he said. 29 on San Diego against Serbia and Feb. So we’ll continue to use that as big motivation for us as we move ourselves forward.”Six Toronto teammates – Mo Babouli, Jay Chapman, Jordan Hamilton, Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan and Tosaint Ricketts plus Toronto FC II forward Raheem Edwards – are part of the 28-man roster for Canada’s Jan. “That’s the year. Toronto’s my home. And proud of the city, the way they stood behind us.“And in another (way) you’re a little disappointed in terms of how it ended. is great.”There was some speculation late last season that the 29-year-old Bradley, who has earned 126 caps for his country, had drawn interest from European clubs. Hopefully we can use that disappointment (as motivation) to start our season and really try to get to that (championship) game again.”Bradley, who said at the time that the championship loss was going to sting a while, was philosophical looking back.“Sports at the highest level challenges every guy to give everything they have and to spill their heart and soul into it. There’s lot of things going to happen now. So I’m just trying to stay fit, try to stay hungry.”Bradley and his family got to relax on a beach for a few days after the season ended. 12-18 camp in Florida. team’s morning practice. I think the club will continue to look to add the right types of guys. While they plan what to pack, Altidore and Bradley have been working up a sweat in California under the watchful eye of U.S. 3 in Chattanooga, Tenn., against Jamaica.Asked if he had been able to do anything special to his off-season regimen, Altidore joked: “I’ve barely had time to change my clothes.”“That’s the game,” he added. It’s only going to get busier with (CONCACAF) Champions League coming next year, I think, at some point. The only chance you have is if you do that but at the same time just because you do that, it doesn’t guarantee you anything.“And the biggest and strongest players and teams don’t let that stop them when things don’t go their way. “Once you get a taste of it, you want more. I’m not going anywhere.”Toronto went 14-9-11 during the 2106 regular season, finishing on a 12-3-5 run before falling to Seattle in a championship game it dominated on the statistics sheet. captain was back in the gym at Toronto’s training centre.He spent the holidays at his Toronto home.“For me that’s always the best part,” he explained after the U.S. 22 friendly. The Americans opened their annual January training camp one month to the day after Toronto FC was beaten by Seattle in a penalty shootout in the Dec. 10 MLS Cup final. That’s how it is. But he makes it clear that he likes it in Toronto.“I love Toronto. coach Bruce Arena. “The core group is by and large the same, intact. The team lost midfielder Will Johnson (Orlando) and reserve defenders Mark Bloom (Atlanta) and Josh Williams (Columbus) during the off-season.TFC took Notre Dame centre back Brendan Aubrey in Friday’s draft and has plans to use targeted allocation money to bring in an attacking midfielder. And it was such a bittersweet moment.

Red Wings’ Vanek scores, Coreau blanks Canadiens in 1-0 win

They signed him to a $2.6 million, one-year deal after he had 41 points in 73 games last year with the Minnesota Wild. The veteran stood in front of the net, obstructing Price’s vision as he competed for position with Montreal defenceman Alexei Emelin.The 32-year-old Vanek has a team-high 12 goals and is averaging almost a point per game in his first season with the Red Wings. The Red Wings began the day in last place in the Atlantic Division. Price, who has lost six of his last nine starts, has a losing record since starting 10-0 this season.Vanek extended his point streak to a season-high six games, redirecting Danny DeKeyser’s shot past Price with 1:36 left in the second. Thomas Vanek scored late in the second period and Jared Coreau earned his second shutout, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.Detroit won consecutive games at home for the first time since starting the season 4-0 at Joe Louis Arena as part of its 6-2 start. The Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens had won five of their last seven games.The 6-foot-6 Coreau, the tallest goaltender to play for the Red Wings, stopped 18 shots to improve to 5-1-1 in his first season with Detroit. He signed with the team in 2013 and played in the minors until getting a chance recently because Jimmy Howard is on injured reserve and Petr Mrazek is struggling.Montreal star Carey Price made a spectacular save late in the first period, using his glove to deny Andreas Athanasiou on a breakaway, and finished with 19 stops.

After conquering hockey, Hayley Wickenheiser is focused on mastering med school

Now that she has retired, people may wonder of the most successful female hockey player in history: What was Hayley Wickenheiser like at the beginning, in her mid-teens, when she first made Canada’s national women’s hockey team?In a word, independent. But everybody says, when you get in, you have to reserve the right to change your mind.”One of the byproducts of her 23-year career is the generation of young female players she inspired to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fact the best male player in the world, Wayne Gretzky, acted as the MC at her retirement ceremony spoke volumes about the respect she has earned in the hockey world. But she wasn’t prepared to rule it out either.Right around then, Mark Miller of the Calgary Sun invited her to join the weekly Calgary media shinny games. Wickenheiser, who was always looking for a chance to get on the ice, said yes and came out and played a number of times. The first time I ever spoke with her, I had a pair of headphones on and was working next to Jock Wilson, the radio host of the Calgary Flames broadcasts. Wickenheiser, she laughed and said: “Who knows? It allows her to go out on her own terms, which is what every great athlete deserves. It depends upon what specialty you take. Everybody has an ego that has to be managed. She was single-minded. The Americans had a talented team that year – really no better or worse than the Canadians, but with greater poise – and ultimately won the gold.At the postgame news conference, I suggested to Wickenheiser – with the silver medal around her neck and in tears – that at some point in her life, much later, she would come to appreciate that she had won an Olympic medal, even if it wasn’t gold.In hindsight, I realize I read that situation completely wrong. Not Wickenheiser.She was calm, confident and mature beyond her years. You have a lot of pressure to make decisions quickly, so there’s that adrenaline flow, and I think that’s what draws me to it.“It doesn’t seem to bother me, seeing some tough stuff, so I think that’s the route I will go. She had an old soul, even as a young person.At the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998, she was the second-youngest player on the first Canadian women’s team to compete for an Olympic medal (Jennifer Botterill, at 16, was younger). The player pool in Canada has never been greater, and that might have created an issue: Wickenheiser trying to make the team at 39, when so many younger players were nipping at her heels.So retiring was the right choice on a lot of different levels. She made her own choices – and always moved comfortably in the company of older people. Wickenheiser just hated not winning. But I want to do emergency trauma. Not many teenagers – boys or girls – would have done that.But she did. Emergency trauma is a lot like hockey. She was remarkably, convincingly, authoritatively independent – in the way she thought, in the way she acted and in the way she plotted her life’s path. She burned to win. She always had an honest answer or thoughtful observation for any question you posed.By then, she’d already played men’s professional hockey in Sweden and Finland, but eventually abandoned it – not because of the competition, but because she felt such intense loneliness, being so far away from family, friends and her support group.She’s been chipping away at her education for most of her adult life and in November completed her master’s degree in medical studies. When asked about the possibility of playing as a position player in the NHL at some point in her career – at this point, Manon Rhéaume had already blazed the trail in goal – she was realistic: It would be unlikely because of the physiological differences between men and women. You’ve got to work in a team. Wickenheiser sat between us, a 16-year-old who’d come into the studio – by herself, late at night – to speak about the upcoming women’s world championships.Most teenagers at that time – before the Internet, cellphones and Instagram – were shy and difficult to interview, with little to say. She saw it as a second-place finish in a two-horse race – and she wasn’t interested in an award just for participating. Eventually, she won four more Olympic medals – all of them gold – and I belatedly understood why she valued the silver so much less. She was one of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever seen.Over the years, we bumped into each other all over the world – Olympic championships on three continents, the 2006 women’s worlds in Linkoping, Sweden. She still has some research work to submit for publication, and then she’ll be off to medical school.When I asked how long it would be before we could start addressing her as Dr. I’ve shadowed a lot in hospitals across the country the last number of years. Hayley Wickenheiser will surely be missed – but never forgotten. These were big, grown men she was going up against – some of them pretty good players – but, naturally, she more than held her own.

Joel Ward gets goal, assist to lead Sharks past Jets

“We’re just getting away from our game.”Tierney took another high-sticking penalty for the Sharks, but the Jets couldn’t score on the 15-second two-man advantage or either power play. Ward went in on a partial breakaway and beat Hutchinson with a shot from the top of the circle to make it 1-0 just 15 seconds into the man advantage.“You can’t give up so many grade-A chances and expect them all to be saved, we have to help our goaltenders,” Scheifele said. “It got shot through a screen and I felt it hit my skate and as soon as that happened I kind of kicked it pretty hard.”The Jets had some good chances early but Jones robbed Shawn Matthias twice in the opening minutes of the first period and Blake Wheeler hit a post later in the first.Winnipeg also got the first power-play chance when David Schlemko was called for a high stick, but the Sharks scored when Dustin Byfuglien couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone. I wasn’t too sure what happened after that.”Ward was taken off for observation to make sure he didn’t have a concussion. Louis on Saturday. It was a good hit,” Ward said. Joel’s a guy that brings that to the rink almost every night. Louis. Joel Ward more than delivered.Ward had a short-handed goal and took a hard hit to assist on Timo Meier’s score, helping San Jose beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Monday for just its third win in eight games. “Taking that hit, making that play scores the goal. “I tried to get the puck out obviously, and next thing I knew I was on my back and heard the horn go off. Martin Jones made 26 saves, allowing two late goals after the game had been decided.Josh Morrissey broke up the shutout with 2:36 to play and Mark Scheifele added a goal in the final minute after Jones tried to shoot the puck toward the empty net but hit Scheifele instead.“That’s the first time I’ve tried, and probably the last, too,” Jones said.Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves for the Jets, who have dropped four in a row.The Sharks broke open a close game with two goals in the first half of the second period, starting when Mark Stuart jumped up into the play and flattened Ward on a clean hit in front of the Jets bench.Ward’s head slammed against the ice but the Sharks took advantage of Stuart’s aggressiveness with a breakaway when Chris Tierney played the puck ahead to Meier, who beat Hutchinson for his second career goal.“It was a hockey play. By the time he returned midway through the second, the Sharks had added to the lead.Paul Potsma was penalized for closing his hand on the puck and Burns made the Jets pay when his point shot hit off the back boards and then deflected off an unsuspecting Hutchinson’s skate and into the net for Burns’ 18th goal of the season.“The third goal was just one of those bounces you get when you’re going through a rough patch,” Hutchinson said. That’s what it’s going to take at this time of year in order to have success.”Brent Burns and Chris Tierney also scored and Joe Thornton had an empty-netter as the Sharks bounced back nicely from a 4-0 home loss to St. We need that. “That’s the commitment we talk about,” DeBoer said. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer wanted a lot more out of his team following a lacklustre shutout loss to St.

David Hearn and Graham DeLaet hope for a straightforward 2017 season

The Rules of Golf banned anchoring a putter to one’s body, a technique Hearn had used for a number of years, on Jan. 1, 2016.“It was obviously a transition year with the putter, so I spent a lot of time practising and put a lot of energy into that transition,” he said. After a whirlwind 2016 that included a trip to the Rio Olympics, Canadian golfers David Hearn and Graham DeLaet are looking forward to a more straightforward year on the PGA Tour.Both Hearn, 37, and DeLaet, who turns 35 on Sunday, are aware of the expectations they face as they chase a first Tour win. But it was an adjustment year for him as well as it was the first full season he couldn’t use a long putter. “There’s no specific plan for when I’ll shave or grow it. DeLaet will make his 2017 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge next week in California. “I’m excited and proud to see the young Canadians find success on the PGA Tour and winning tournaments, but I don’t think that puts extra pressure on me.”DeLaet agrees.“My motivation has always been the same no matter who I am competing against. DeLaet got as high as 26th in the world rankings a few years ago, but the veterans have since seen younger players Nick Taylor and Mackenzie Hughes capture PGA Tour victories before they were able to crack the winner’s circle. “I would definitely say the Presidents Cup is a goal of mine, but I’m focused on my week-to-week performance and playing my best golf possible.”The first full-field event of the 2017 portion of the 2016-17 PGA Tour is this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which features Hearn, Hughes and Taylor. “I played a lot of tournaments because it was a big year in terms of the Olympics and I was a little bit tired going into the off-season.“It was nice to have a good holiday and I feel ready to go and very motivated to hit the ground running.”2017 is also a Presidents Cup year – a biennial competition that pits golfers from the United States against golfers from around the world (except for Europe) – and both DeLaet, who has played in the competition once before, and Hearn, have it in their sights.“Being Canadian is a source of pride to me and I feel anyone would be honoured to represent their country in any fashion,” DeLaet said. DeLaet, also withdrew from a tournament midsummer, citing anxiety while chipping and putting.“Battling injuries throughout most of a season is something no golfer wants to go through,” he said. I just go day to day and make a decision depending on how I feel.”Hearn had a steady season, finishing 56th in the FedEx Cup standings and earning more than $1.2-million (U.S.). Obviously these guys [Hughes and Taylor] are a new breed of golfers, but at the end of the day you just have to concentrate on your own game,” he explained from Boise, Idaho.While both Hearn and DeLaet enjoyed a rare experience in Rio, where golf made its return after 112 years, DeLaet had another off-course highlight. He and his wife, Ruby, welcomed twins Roscoe and Lyla in late 2015 and it was his first full year as a father.Although DeLaet said it was “the best year of [his] life,” he admitted he got frustrated battling injuries as he earned the least amount of money since his 2011 season. “The guys are getting younger on Tour, there’s no doubt.“Actually, they’re coming on at the same age, and I’m getting a little bit older,” he added with a laugh. “I’d certainly love to get that first win soon,” Hearn said from his home in Delray Beach, Fla. He said it’s likely to be around for a while.“There’s not strategy behind the beard, but I enjoy and appreciate the culture behind it,” he said. “I think I learned not only how to take care of my body properly, but also how to fight through adversity.”DeLaet also cultivated a now famous beard.

Maple Leafs rookies keep on surprising – and keep the team surging

“Willie [Nylander], Connor [Brown] and Zach Hyman were there every night playing their best hockey and being a huge part of this team.“We all know that within this room. However, one reason the Leafs are surging at the halfway point of the NHL season is that a lot of the rookies in the team’s supporting cast are almost as surprising as first-year sensations Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. “Rather than not knowing what to expect, I had 16 games last year, which I thought I played well in.”The progress has been so quick that it is hard to believe it will hold for the rest of the season, but the Leafs keep defying conventional wisdom. After back-to-back wins over the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on the weekend, the Leafs are now third in the NHL for length of time in the lead.“We’re staying in our system and keeping our foot on the gas, rather than sitting back and letting things happen,” Hyman said of the difference in the team’s third-period play. We’re getting better, I think, [at] understanding what’s expected, that we’re good enough to win every night if we play right. 3: forwards Zach Hyman, Connor Brown and William Nylander and defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. Throw in 22-year-old defenceman Connor Carrick, who is in his first season as an NHL regular, and the Leafs are getting a surprising bounty from the kids.“The first couple of weeks of the season, there was a lot of attention on us and how well [we] were playing,” said defenceman Morgan Rielly, another of the youngsters getting rave reviews along with his partner, Zaitsev. It can be argued that, in addition to Matthews and Marner, at least four other rookies are making significant contributions to the Leafs’ recent 8-1-1 run and to their 10-4-4 record since Dec. They go about their business, play hard every night. With 28 points in 41 games, Brown is the more offensively gifted, but Hyman never stops checking or digging for pucks.Nylander has also racked up 28 points – and he has managed that despite bouncing all over the lineup this season, from the fourth line to stints with Matthews.Hyman says getting to play for the Leafs near the end of last season made his transition from minor leaguer to full-time NHLer a lot easier.“I got a little taste of it last year so I felt like I wasn’t a true rookie coming in,” he said. But head coach Mike Babcock likes to think that light at the end of the tunnel just might be a speeding train, so he issued a warning after Monday’s practice.“Let’s not get carried away here,” he said. Teams on the rise share one thing in common with teams on the decline – a lack of depth – which usually spells trouble as the playoffs hove into sight.Lack of depth usually means not enough savvy veterans for the supporting cast and too many youngsters, something that could be said about the Toronto Maple Leafs if you just looked at the birthdays on the roster. They have now made inroads on their penchant for blowing leads in the third period. Those things are positives.“So I guess our biggest improvement is understanding and expectations. There were eight rookies on the roster as of Monday’s practice, when the Leafs were preparing to open a four-game home stand Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. “We’re taking things to the other team now and hopefully continuing to do that.”The Leafs’ rise back into a playoff spot, third in the Atlantic Division with six games in hand on the second-place Boston Bruins, has fired up the giddiness quotient among the fans and media. Saying that, it is Game 41 – I’ve been in the league a long time and lots of things can go good and lots of things can go bad.” “We got a lot of work to do here. They are a big part of this team.”Brown, 23, and Hyman, 24, have played on either side of Matthews for the entire season, and the trio is now one of the best lines in the league. They don’t get the media attention. We know where we’re supposed to stand and we expect to have success.

Still in recovery, Jared Sullinger itching to join Raptors on the court

“I’m a kid in a candy store but I’m just not allowed the candy yet.”There is no timetable for Sullinger’s return to active duty, but a reasonable guess would be by the end of the month.There is no hurry, as the Raptors have been faring just fine without his looming presence, which is anticipated to be in the starting lineup at power forward when Casey feels he is ready.The Raptors remain the leaders of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, having won their last three games to improve their record to 27-13 on the season.The team is now starting on a three-game road trip that will begin Tuesday night in Brooklyn against the Nets, the outfit the Raptors rolled over 132-113 on Friday at Air Canada Centre.A win on Tuesday will give Toronto 28 victories by the season’s halfway point, which would represent a franchise record for most wins through the first 41 games.The Raptors had recorded 27 wins at the midway point of the 2014-15 season. “He’s been going after every rebound like I’ve been telling him the whole year and I think it’s finally clicked for him.“Hopefully it only gets better from here.” All the things he will do will kind of fit right in and really help us and better the chemistry and help the ball movement.”Last season with the Boston Celtics, Sullinger averaged 8.3 boards and 10.3 points in 81 games and helped Boston into the playoffs.His physical presence will be a welcome addition to a Toronto team that has struggled at times rebounding the ball this season, their 42.9 average per game ranking them in the league’s lower echelon.Centre Jonas Valanciunas has picked up the pace of late, recording his third straight double-double against the Knicks, with 12 points and 16 rebounds.Last Tuesday against the Celtics, Valanciunas plucked a career-high 23 off the glass.“JV’s playing unbelievable,” Sullinger said. “That’s one of his gifts, his rebounding the basketball, his screening, his shooting. “We’re probably not practising as long, film sessions are not as long as they used to be. I’m not hip enough I guess to change too much, so we try to keep things the same and be consistent in what we do.”Which brings us back to Sullinger, and how his anticipated return to the lineup might affect a Raptors outfit that has jelled nicely during his absence.Casey said it is not a concern, that Sullinger understands all the sets and schemes that the Raptors run for the power forward position.“He’ll help us, he’ll help our rebounding tremendously,” Casey said. It’s a light exercise that rarely produces even a single bead of sweat. “And any time you mess with that, you mess with the game and I think you mess with the basketball gods. Last season, Toronto had 26 wins through the first 41 games and would go on to record a franchise-best 56 victories.It is getting to that point of the season where the drudgery of the day to day can start wearing on a team, where shortcuts in training can lead to bad habits in the games.Casey said he is well aware of the mid-season pratfalls, but points to one magic elixir that can keep a team fresh.“I know it sound facetious, but winning does that,” Casey said. When you are 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, it makes sense to take things easy when the injury is to your foot.So when Sullinger received clearance Friday that it was safe to resume full practice, it was welcome news.“There’s a lot of work that has to be done for me to be where I want to be,” Sullinger said. Afterward, with most of the Raptors trooping back into the locker room to begin preparing for the real thing, Jared Sullinger instead headed upstairs to the practice court at Air Canada Centre to get his serious workout in.For the rehabbing plus-sized Raptors power forward, it was primarily just running and working on his shot for the next hour or so.Anything, Sullinger said, to get him back to a semblance of game condition so he can return to the court as soon as possible to show the Raptors what he has to offer.Sullinger, Toronto’s prime free-agent acquisition during the off-season, has not played a second for his new team after injuring his left foot during training camp in October.Following surgery, when he had a screw inserted into the bone of his baby toe, it has been slow going for Sullinger. With a mid-afternoon start at home on Sunday against the New York Knicks, there was no time for the Toronto Raptors to hold a normal pregame shoot-around, which is a ritual for most NBA clubs.Instead, Toronto coach Dwane Casey had the players arrive about three hours before game time to participate in what is known as a walk-through, in which the team gathers on the court to go over the scouting report on the upcoming opponent. Trying to keep guys mentally fresh as anything.”Casey said the game of basketball is about rhythm, continuity and consistency, and he does not like to alter the program all that much.“So we try to keep that the same,” he said.

Steelers play down coach Mike Tomlin’s description of Patriots

Antonio Brown wanted to let the world in on the party when he live streamed the giddy celebration in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room after an 18-16 playoff win over Kansas City.The All-Pro wide receiver also happened to catch coach Mike Tomlin indelicately describing the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh’s opponent in the AFC Championship game. “Those odds are for people that bet on the game. It’s a bunch of guys having fun, talking, enjoying themselves. We play the game.” I can’t be some old guy stuck under a rock, that’s for sure.”Brown’s 17-minute video collected more than 900,000 views in a few hours before being removed (though it lives on through YouTube).It included players dancing and Tomlin — who was out of the shot and unaware it was being filmed but who could be heard clearly in the packed locker room — beginning his postgame speech by telling his team to “say very little moving forward” then adding “we spotted those (expletive) a day and a half.”New England advanced to the AFC title game by beating Houston on Saturday night, 24 hours before Pittsburgh held off the Chiefs.Guard Ramon Foster “would love to hear AB’s explanation” but downplayed any concerns about the video becoming a distraction or taking away from Pittsburgh’s ninth straight victory.It’s also not unusual for Brown to use social media in the locker room during the week or occasionally after games even though it may run afoul of league policy.“I don’t think that overshadowed it,” Foster said. “That’s how we’re going to be this entire week is to keep rolling, keep doing our job because at the end of the day it’s who’s the best team that day. That’s it.”New England beat Pittsburgh 27-16 on Oct. 23 behind two touchdowns from Tom Brady and 127 yards rushing from LeGarrette Blount.Pittsburgh (13-5) played without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who sat out while recovering from surgery on his left knee.Backup Landry Jones was steady if not spectacular, throwing for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception.The Steelers actually outgained the Patriots by 13 yards (375-362), but settled for three Chris Boswell field goals when they needed touchdowns in hopes of pulling off an upset.It’s an issue that popped up again on Sunday night, when Boswell drilled a post-season record six field goals to provide all of Pittsburgh’s 18 points.More will almost certainly be required against New England, which is averaging 31.6 points a game at home when Brady plays this season.That will be challenging enough, not worrying about getting worked up over something Tomlin thought he was saying in the intimacy of the locker room or even the slight head start the Patriots will have in preparations.“I just like to keep rolling,” Foster said. It just so happened they heard what the coach was going to say. They’re going to study everything we do, so it’s not like we’re going to sneak up on them. Tomlin’s word choice — an expletive — didn’t bother his players as Brown’s decision to throw back the curtain on what is usually a private moment.“Personally I’d like some of that stuff sacred,” long snapper Greg Warren said Monday. That’s simply what that was. “They know for us to be in this game is not a secret. It wasn’t anything malicious. The rest don’t matter.”Tomlin’s vocabulary or the oddsmakers who have made Pittsburgh a decided underdog included.“I think we proved that wrong this weekend,” Foster said. “You guys know what that was. “But this is a changing world, a changing environment. It just happens that (Brown’s) iPhone is really good.”Besides, Foster hardly thinks New England (15-2) will use Tomlin mildly dissing them as an incentive, not with a chance to reach a seventh Super Bowl under Bill Belichick at stake.“The Patriots watched our game, they know everything about us,” Foster said.

AP source: Bautista and Blue Jays working hard on return

The sides are discussing one-, two- and three-year agreements. A person with knowledge of the negotiations tells The Associated Press that outfielder Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are “working really hard” to bring him back to the club.The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because negotiations are ongoing. After Toronto ended a 22-year playoff drought with an AL East title in 2015, Bautista hit a memorable three-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas, punctuating his shot with a bat flip.He did not accept Toronto’s $17.2 million (U.S.) qualifying offer. The 36-year-old Bautista hit 22 homers with 69 RBIs last year while batting .234 in an injury-slowed season.Bautista (265) ranks second behind Carlos Delgado (336) on Toronto’s career home run list.

Federer returns with a win at Aussie Open, joins Murray in second round

1 at a major for the first time, had some nervous moments in her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko.Kerber won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Serena Williams in the final after saving a match point in the first round.After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months.“When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round,” she said. I’ve never won here — I’m going to try to change that this year.”Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, narrowly scraped past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.In the ninth game of the fifth set, Wawrinka smashed a soft half-volley from Klizan straight back into the Slovakian’s body, clipping the frame and just missing his midsection. 20 Zhang Shuai.Sixteen-year-old Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play in the main draw of a major, but the milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel. 16 Lucas Pouille was the highest-ranked of the three men’s seeded players to lose.Five of the women’s seeded players went out, including No. Roger Federer shanked a few shots and was unsettled by how nervous he felt after six months on the sidelines, despite the familiar surroundings at the Australian Open.No other man on tour knows the way around a Grand Slam tournament better than Federer, who is playing in his 69th major and has won a record 17. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios returned from his suspension for underperforming in Shanghai last year and raced through a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gastao Elias.No. Angelique Kerber, defending champion and ranked No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori. “In the warmup … He served 19 aces and had only one double-fault in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, but dropped serve three times and experienced frustrating moments.“I was feeling nervous once the match actually started,” said Federer, who hadn’t played at tour level since Wimbledon after taking time off to let his injured left knee heal. 15 Roberta Vinci, who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe.Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4.Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig, No. So was No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 4 Simona Halep, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, and No. Then I hit four frames in a row. I felt fine. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. He returned for Wimbledon, reached the semifinals, then didn’t play again in 2016. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. In November, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks.The 17th-seeded Federer wasn’t the only highly ranked player to find the going tough Monday.Stan Wawrinka, the U.S. “First rounds are always tough.”In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. It was like, ‘Whew, it’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be.’“I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.”Federer had surgery on the knee after a semifinal exit at the last Australian Open and missed the French Open, ending his streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. 11 Elina Svitolina and No. He stepped over the net and ensured Klizan was OK, then held serve in that game and broke in the next game to finish it off.Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Open champion, was pushed to five sets. 10 Carla Suarez, No. Joining him in the second round are 2014 U.S. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko.In other words, nothing much has changed.The five-time finalist comfortably navigated what he hoped was the first step to a drought-breaking Australian Open title.Murray has lost four of the last six finals in Melbourne to six-time champion Novak Djokovic.Gaining the top ranking and receiving the civic honours doesn’t change anything for Murray, who said he faces “the same pressure, same expectations. 31 Sam Querrey.Also, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No.