The Colorado Avalanche dashed the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s hopes of a three-peat, prevailing 2-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday to win their first championship in over two decades.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the eventual winner in the second period, giving the Avalanche their first regulation lead since early in Game 3.

Nathan MacKinnon provided Colorado’s first tally earlier in the second frame, tying the contest after Steven Stamkos opened the scoring in the first.

The Avalanche outshot the Lightning 30-23. Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced. His counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy, made 28 stops in the defeat.

Colorado defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after claiming the Norris Trophy earlier this week. He racked up 29 points over 20 games to lead all blue-liners and rank third among all skaters behind Edmonton Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

The Avalanche swept the Oilers in the Western Conference Final.

Colorado went 16-4 in the postseason and never trailed in a series.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar became the first bench boss to win the Stanley Cup, the AHL’s Calder Cup, and the ECHL’s Kelly Cup. The 50-year-old captured the other trophies with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2015-16 and the South Carolina Stingrays in 2008-09. Colorado hired him in August 2016.

Claudio Castagnoli is All Elite.

During the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view, Claudio Castagnoli (FKA Cesaro in WWE) debuted when he was the mystery opponent against Zack Sabre Jr., who was slated to face Bryan Danielson, tonight. However, on the 6/22 episode of AEW Dynamite, Danielson confirmed that he wasn’t medically cleared to compete but stated that he had a suitable replacement to face Sabre Jr. at tonight’s event.

The match against Sabre Jr. would mark Castagnoli’s first appearance in a non-WWE ring since signing with the company in 2011. Before his decade-long run in WWE, Castagnoli was a star on the independent scene, most notably having runs in Ring Of Honor, PWG, CZW, and Chikara. Castagnoli initially signed with WWE in 2011 where he quickly rose the ranks, going from the company’s development territory FCW and quickly making his main roster debut in April 2012. The former Cesaro would win his first singles title just four months following his SmackDown debut, defeating Santino Marella to win the United States Championship. The ‘Swiss-Superman’ is a seven-time WWE Tag Team Champion, holding the titles with Sheamus (5 times), Shinsuke Nakamura (1 time), and Tyson Kidd (1 time). Castagnoli quietly let his WWE deal expire this past February, ending an 11-year tenure with the company.

Following his WWE departure, Castagnoli was reportedly ‘laying low’ and taking some time off to be with his family before making his in-ring return. It was reported that Castagnoli had a high asking price when being approached by several companies to make an appearance but it appears as if he and AEW President and CEO, Tony Khan reached an agreement.

Kurt Angle says he will never wrestle again after undergoing serious knee replacement surgery on both legs.

The WWE Hall Of Famer told the ‘Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling‘ podcast that he decided to get work done on both knees so he wasn’t “destabilised” – regardless, he’s still “in a lot of pain”. Kurt just didn’t want to worry about going under the knife a second time later in life.

Angle has always been coy when asked if he’d fancy pulling on the boots for one more match. He’s never kept it a secret that he didn’t really enjoy his last hurrah in WWE. The company picked Baron Corbin as Kurt’s final opponent at WrestleMania 35 in 2019, which didn’t sit well with the legend or his fans.

Going out on a six-minute loss to a worker that had nothing to do with Angle’s iconic career didn’t sit well, but it’ll be his last in-ring showing.

Physically, Kurt can’t go anymore. The double knee surgery has also given him the chance to walk relatively pain-free someday. That wouldn’t be the case if he “messed” them up by bumping around.

AEW President Tony Khan revealed on Tuesday that he’s eager to start promoting live events in Canada.

Khan was recently an invited speaker at a tech conference in downtown Toronto. According to The Canadian Press, Khan spoke about how he wants to bring AEW live events to Canada soon because AEW has had great success on TV in the country. TSN currently holds AEW’s television rights in Canada.

“We’re all back on the road this past year and we’ve been all over America, but I do look forward to bringing an AEW live events to Canada soon,” said Khan. “I think we have a chance to really build a strong presence, not only what we’ve established on television with TSN, but also with live events for the fans.

“We have a lot of great Canadian wrestlers and I’m excited about the possibility of our live events here because we’ve had great success on TV here.”

Khan noted that the quality of the arena is the most important thing for fans. AEW was originally going to start doing live events in Canada in 2020, but it never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The most important thing is quality of the arena for the fans and the wrestlers and the staff, and then followed by the size for the opportunity to create revenue.”

During the conference, Khan also said that Toronto was a logical place for the first AEW show in Canada, given the city’s size and deep roots in professional wrestling.

Other Canadian cities that Khan is considering are Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver.

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” that sought to discredit former employees making accusations of workplace sexual harassment, hired private investigators to intimidate witnesses, and used an overseas lawsuit as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails, according to a document released by a House committee Wednesday.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture following accusations of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives of women employees. It released the memo ahead of a hearing Wednesday in Washington that featured testimony from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, appearing remotely from New York.

Snyder was invited to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and concerns about due process. The committee chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., announced during the hearing that she plans to issue a subpoena to compel a deposition from Snyder next week.

The 29-page memo alleges Snyder tried to discredit the people accusing him and other team executives of misconduct and also tried to influence an investigation of the team conducted for the NFL by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm.

Snyder’s attorneys presented the NFL with a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation including “private text messages, emails, phone logs and call transcripts, and social media posts from nearly 50 individuals who Mr. Snyder apparently believed were involved in a conspiracy to disparage him,” the committee said.

In a statement, a spokesman for Snyder characterized the report and the hearing as “a politically charged show trial” and said Congress should not be investigating “an issue a football team addressed years ago.”

Goodell told the committee that the team’s culture has transformed as a result of the Wilkinson probe and that “Dan Snyder has been held accountable.” Asked by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., whether he would remove Snyder as owner, Goodell said, “I don’t have the authority to remove him.”

An NFL owner can only be removed by a three-quarters majority vote of fellow owners.

The NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations after Wilkinson presented her findings to Goodell. However, the league did not release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a decision Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team employees, again called on Goodell to release a report from the Wilkinson probe, calling it “stunning and disheartening” to hear him say Snyder has been held accountable.

“Today, the committee released a damning report demonstrating that Snyder and his lawyers also surveilled and investigated complainants, their lawyers, witnesses and journalists, which Goodell knew about and did nothing to address,” Banks and Katz said in a statement.

When announcing the discipline against Snyder, the NFL said none of the people accused of sexual harassment still worked for the Washington franchise. But two separate accusations of sexual harassment by Snyder himself have since surfaced.

Former employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine, which Snyder denies. And The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a woman accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, resulting in a $1.6 million settlement.

Goodell acknowledged Wednesday that he was aware of the 2009 allegation and that Snyder did not inform the league at the time, which is a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Johnston’s allegation prompted the NFL to hire former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Jo White to conduct a new investigation of Snyder and the team, and the league plans to release her findings to the public.

Maloney has introduced legislation to curb the use of workplace nondisclosure agreements and to offer protections for employees whose professional images are used inappropriately. Among the accusations against the Commanders are that team employees produced a video of lewd outtakes from a photo shoot involving the cheerleading squad.

According to the memo, Snyder used a defamation lawsuit against an obscure online media company based in India as a pretext to subpoena emails, phone records and text messages from former employees who spoke to The Washington Post about workplace harassment. The subpoenas were unusually broad, and many of the people targeted “had no plausible connection” to the Indian media company, the committee said.

The committee also alleged that Snyder sought to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the problems with Washington’s workplace culture and that Snyder’s lawyers provided Wilkinson and the NFL with 400,000 emails from Allen’s account, highlighting specific ones they deemed “inappropriate.” Some email exchanges with Allen included homophobic and misogynistic comments by Jon Gruden, which were leaked to reporters last fall and prompted Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Witnesses also told the committee that Snyder sent private investigators to their homes and offered them hush money. The NFL was aware of Snyder’s use of private investigators, according to documents obtained by the committee, but the practice continued, witnesses said.

Another new allegation came from David Pauken, the team’s former chief operating officer, who told the committee in a deposition released Wednesday that Snyder directly ordered the firings of a female front-office employee for having a sexual relationship with a coach and two cheerleaders for having sex with a player. He also said the men involved were not disciplined.

Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of going after an NFL team to distract from more pressing issues and exceeding the scope of the committee’s mission.

“A core responsibility of this committee is to conduct oversight of the executive branch, but this entire Congress, Democrats have turned a blind eye to the Biden administration,” said Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, the committee’s ranking member. “Instead, the Oversight committee is investigating a single private organization for workplace misconduct that occurred years ago.”

Asked by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., what authority the committee had to investigate an NFL team, Maloney responded, “We have authority to investigate anything and everything.”

“Anything and everything,” Norman said. “That’s a total embarrassment.”

Maloney tried to clarify that comment in her closing remarks, saying the committee was authorized “to investigate anything within Congress’ legislative power.”

Commanders coach Ron Rivera issued a statement late Wednesday night, distancing himself from the team’s past.

“These investigations into inappropriate workplace issues pre-dates my employment,” said Rivera, who was hired in 2020. “I cannot change the past, but I would hope that our fans, the NFL and Congress can see that we are doing everything in our power to never repeat those workplace issues. And know that our employees are respected, valued and can be heard.”

Jeff Jarrett became one of Owen Hart’s closest friends before his tragic passing, but Jarrett didn’t realize how his friend’s death affected him so heavily until years later. Double J joined Steve Austin on the latest episode of “Broken Skull Sessions” to talk about the entirety of his pro wrestling journey up until this point. Halfway through the episode, Austin asked Jarrett about those moments surrounding that heartwrenching evening on May 23, 1999.

“I didn’t realize how bad it affected me until 19 years later when I got into the darkest part of my life and it all came out,” Jarrett said to Austin. “When it went down, cause I remember it like it was yesterday, he left his house on a Saturday. We were going to All-State Arena, Chicago live event, sold out … but he got there late.

“We were working against Edge & Christian. I’m dressed, Edge & Christian are dressed, we were supposed to go over the match. And Owen comes in and he hears it, and he says, ‘Jeff, come here.’ We get in a little bathroom stall, and he pulls out of his tights these red noses,” Jarrett said. “He wants to play a rib on these kids and throw this together, and me and him got red noses on.”

Jarrett also recalls Hart having fun with Bradshaw and Steve Blackman that Sunday morning as well. He then goes into detail about a WWE ticket person named Matt Miller, whom Hart was friends with, letting him know that it was time to go up in the rafters. Hart left and Jarrett knew he had about 15 minutes to get ready for his match.

Earlier than expected, Miller came back to tell Jarrett that Hart fell and Jarrett’s time to go out was now. Jarrett initially thought that Hart just hurt his knee, and recalls doing his promo and getting to the ring for his mixed tag match.

“They wheel him back, and Francios is on top of him and there’s a whole mass of people going, and I finish the promo and Owen goes that way with the whole medical scene and they tell us to go this way. We go, Steve, go down the aisle. It’s all a blur, but the one thing I’ll never forget, [I] get up in the ring like we do and feel the ropes, but the top rope’s really loose, and I walk over in that corner and there was the divot, and that’s when the whole kind of thing went into, ‘He didn’t just break his knee.’ Cause I thought Matt Miller said, ‘Hey man, he fell,’ and I immediately go, ‘Oh man, his knee’s screwed up, they had to stop the match.’ I’m not thinking the worst at all,” Jarrett said.

“I come through the curtain and Matt and the police officer were there, and I said, ‘I want to go now,’ and they knew it, and I told the cop, ‘Where are you going to be?’ He said, ‘I’m right there.’ I ran up for whatever reason and grabbed my bag and jumped, and went back into the cop car and we’re hauling ass down the road, and I’m knocking on the plexiglass, ‘Officer,’ and he didn’t want to answer. ‘Hey dude, can you help me? I know you obviously can’t say anything but what am I stepping into here?’ Steve, he looked over his shoulder and that’s when he goes, ‘It’s not good.’”

Jarrett talked about the sadness of going through all the events of the week following Hart’s passing, including “WWE Raw” the night after and Hart’s funeral. All that being said, there was never any time to process the intense emotion of it all.

“In a week’s time, we were kind of all back to work. ‘You okay, Jeff?’ ‘Oh, I’m fine.’ Like, a lot of us, it’s what we did. Well, 19 years later when I get into treatment and they sort of drill down on that, man, a flood of emotions came out. So it affected me in so many ways that I had no idea,” Jarrett stated.

“Knowing Owen and the kind of guy he was, and it affected me for a lot of years that I had no idea. I can’t even imagine. It’s one thing [to Austin], you’re closing the show. There was not a right or wrong decision. I would have hated to be in Vince’s shoes. To be put in those circumstances on so many levels, it was – a night we’d all like to forget.”

The ongoing saga between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies continues to play itself out on social media.

After Klay Thompson called out Memphis big man Jaren Jackson Jr. following Golden State’s NBA Finals victory Thursday, a fan tweeted that a Warriors-Grizzlies Christmas Day matchup in San Francisco was a near-shoo-in. Memphis star Ja Morant responded, saying he wants that game at home.

Warriors forward Draymond Green then retweeted Morant, saying, “The champs play at home.”

Morant agreed to travel to San Francisco for the potential matchup, saying the league needs to “book (that) shit.”

The Grizzlies pushed the Warriors in a six-game series in the Western Conference semifinals despite Morant missing time with injury. Golden State went on to complete its quest for a fourth championship in the last eight seasons.

Vince McMahon has sensationally stepped down as WWE CEO.

Stephanie McMahon has been named Interim CEO and Chairwoman of the company as the WWE’s board of directors continue their investigations into misconduct allegations that were reported by the Wall Street Journal this week.

In statements released via WWE Corporate, the company announced the following:

Stamford, Conn. – WWE (NYSE: WWE) and the Board of Directors today announced that a Special Committee of the Board is conducting an investigation into alleged misconduct by its Chairman and CEO Vincent McMahon and John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations, and that, effective immediately, McMahon has voluntarily stepped back from his responsibilities as CEO and Chairman of the Board until the conclusion of the investigation. McMahon will retain his role and responsibilities related to WWE’s creative content during this period and remains committed to cooperating with the review underway.

On accepting the role and the ongoing investigations, Stephanie said (h/t SEScoops):

“I love this company and am committed to working with the Independent Directors to strengthen our culture and our Company; it is extremely important to me that we have a safe and collaborative workplace. I have committed to doing everything in my power to help the Special Committee complete its work, including marshalling the cooperation of the entire company to assist in the completion of the investigation and to implement its findings”

Vince McMahon himself added:

“I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation. I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are”

As noted in the official statement, McMahon will remain directly related to WWE’s creative content, which perhaps explains murmurings following the news that tonight’s SmackDown would be “business as usual“.

The Golden State Warriors are on top of the basketball world once again.

Stephen Curry finished with 34 points and seven assists to help the Warriors edge the Boston Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden. The win secured Golden State’s fourth title in eight seasons and the team’s first since 2018.

This marks Curry’s fourth championship and first Finals MVP award after averaging 31.2 points, five assists, and two steals in the six-game series. Meanwhile, Steve Kerr won his fourth title as Warriors head coach and his ninth overall after winning five championships during his playing career with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.

Golden State’s title completes an incredible two-year turnaround for the franchise after finishing the 2019-20 season with the NBA’s worst record, then losing in the Western Conference play-in tournament in 2020-21. The journey has been a particularly personal one for Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who missed two full campaigns because of a torn ACL and torn Achilles before returning in January.

Draymond Green played a tremendous game with 12 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two blocks while knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in 42 minutes.

Andrew Wiggins was once again brilliant for Golden State with one of his most complete two-way performances in the Finals. The Canadian flirted with a 5×5 game with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks. Wiggins also played a pivotal role in limiting star Jayson Tatum to 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting.

The Warriors dominated to close the first half with a 52-25 run after beginning the game down 14-2. Golden State shot an identical 41.3% on field goals and 3-pointers and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.

Warriors reserve Gary Payton II and Hall of Famer Gary Payton became the fifth father-son duo in league history to each win a championship during their playing careers, according to SB Nation.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting in the loss. The Celtics committed 22 turnovers, which marked a new high for the team this series. This marked the Celtics’ first three-game losing streak since December 2021.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson reiterated he never committed sexual misconduct and said he plans to keep fighting to clear his name.

Watson, who is facing civil lawsuits from 24 massage therapists in Texas accusing him of sexual assault and harassment during private sessions, on Tuesday stood by previous comments proclaiming his innocence.

“I never assaulted anyone,” Watson said following practice as the Browns held their mandatory minicamp. “I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything.”

Watson spoke for the first time since March 25, a week after the Browns signed him to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract despite his legal situation. Since then, his entanglements have grown with two more women filing lawsuits.

Also, attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents all the women suing Watson, said Monday he plans to file two more lawsuits against the quarterback. The New York Times reported last week that Watson booked appointments with at least 66 different women over 17 months while he played for the Houston Texans.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him on criminal complaints.

“I’ve been honest and I’ve been truthful about my stance,” he said. “I never forced on anyone and I never assaulted anyone. That’s what I’ve been saying since the beginning and I’ll continue to do that until all the facts come out.”

The 26-year-old Watson is also facing possible discipline from the NFL, which has investigated whether he violated its personal-conduct policy. Watson, who could be suspended, said he was “open and truthful” with the league.

“I did everything they asked me to do,” said Watson. “I answered every question truthfully that the NFL asked me. That’s all I can do is be honest and tell them exactly what happened and I know they have a job and I have to respect that and that’s what we wanted to do is cooperate.

“They have to make a decision that’s best for the league.”

While standing by previous remarks, Watson acknowledged comments he made in March may have negatively affected others.

“I do have regrets as far as the impact that (it’s had) on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson said. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns.

“That includes males, females, everyone across the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”

Watson and his legal team have been adamant he won’t settle the lawsuits. He was asked if the recent cases have changed his stance.

“I just want to clear my name and be able to let the facts and the legal procedures continue to play out,” he said.

Watson also acknowledged he’s been receiving counseling since joining the Browns.

The Pittsburgh Penguins want Kris Letang back in the fold beyond next season.

Signing the talented defenseman to a multi-year contract is the club’s top priority, reports The Athletic’s Rob Rossi.

The Penguins’ new owners, Fenway Sports Group, reportedly want to secure both Letang and fellow pending unrestricted free agent Evgeni Malkin for the duration of their careers, seeing their retention as a means to ensure Sidney Crosby retires as a member of the team as well.

Letang established career highs with 58 assists and 68 points this season. The 35-year-old has played his entire 16-year career with the Penguins, playing a pivotal role in two of their three Stanley Cup championships in that span.

The Penguins’ management group has repeatedly expressed its desire to re-sign both Letang and Malkin. The two stars have also stated they’d like to stay. Crosby is under contract through 2024-25. The trio has been together for all of Letang’s 16 seasons, the longest run by three teammates in NHL history.

In January, it was reported Letang was looking for a raise on his next contract. The Montreal-born rearguard will be coming off an eight-year deal carrying a cap hit of $7.25 million.

Pittsburgh has approximately $23 million in cap space. The club’s other pending UFAs include trade-deadline acquisition Rickard Rakell, fellow forward Evan Rodrigues, and backup goaltender Casey DeSmithKasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are the team’s pending RFAs.

Orioles CEO John Angelos said Monday the team will remain in Baltimore — and that he and his parents have never contemplated otherwise.

Angelos’ comments — released by the team — came days after he was sued by his brother Lou Angelos. Lou claimed in last week’s lawsuit that John has seized control of the Orioles at his expense, and in defiance of their father Peter’s wishes.

“John intends to maintain absolute control over the Orioles — to manage, to sell or, if he chooses, to move to Tennessee (where he has a home and where his wife’s career is headquartered) — without having to answer to anyone,” the lawsuit said.

The suit did not elaborate on how likely it was that the team might actually move, and John Angelos sought to reassure fans in his statement Monday.

“As I have said before, as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor, the Orioles will remain in Baltimore,” he said. “My mother was born and raised in northeast Baltimore, attended city public schools at Eastern High School and has worked with my father their entire lives to help the city, including by restoring the club to local ownership and preventing its relocation. For them, as for me, the Orioles will forever play at Oriole Park, and at no time ever have we contemplated anything different.”

Peter Angelos became the Orioles’ owner in 1993, but his public role has diminished in recent years and he turns 93 next month.

All Elite Wrestling have launched another singles title.

The All-Atlantic Championship was unveiled on last night’s edition of Dynamite, along with tournament brackets that folded in wrestlers from all around the world as well as two members of the New Japan Pro Wrestling Roster.

In matches set to take place over the coming weeks ahead of a winners four-way match at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door on June 26th, Canada’s Ethan Page will wrestle Bulgaria’s Miro and Mexico’s Penta Oscura will take on the Netherlands’ Malakai Black. Great Britain representative PAC was victorious over Australia’s Buddy Matthews to kick things off last night and continue the House Of Black/Death Triangle dispute represented elsewhere in the tournament. It’s unknown yet who NJPW will submit for inclusion.

The brackets having such international flavour (and the flags on the strap itself) suggest that the title could serve as something of a bridge between AEW and New Japan (or indeed any other promotion) going forward, though nothing of the sort was confirmed during the unveiling. “Old Glory” on the front plate also as good as confirms that American wrestlers won’t face exclusion from holding the gold going forward.

The Denver Broncos and the Walton-Penner family have entered into a purchase and sale agreement, the team announced Tuesday.

The agreement, which is subject to approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, calls for the Walton-Penner family to acquire the franchise from the Pat Bowlen Trust.

“I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process,” Broncos president Joe Ellis said in a statement. “Learning more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”

Ellis added: “While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history.”

The sale price is $4.65 billion, which will set a new U.S. sports-franchise record, reports Mike Klis of 9News.

Denver is the first NFL franchise to be sold since David Tepper acquired the Carolina Panthers for $2.27 billion in 2018.

The Broncos officially went up for sale Feb. 1. Pat Bowlen purchased the franchise in 1984 and helped it win three Super Bowl titles. His family controlled the team after he died in 2019 from complications due to Alzheimer’s.

“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos,” Rob Walton said in a statement. “Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.”

Walton added, “We look forward to earning the confidence and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process.”

At least 24 yes votes from owners are required for the agreement to be approved, according to ESPN.

Rob, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, served as chairman of the retail company for more than two decades after his father died in 1992. Rob’s cousin Ann is married to Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, according to Sports Illustrated’s Luke Patterson.

The Broncos already kicked off a new era this year after acquiring quarterback Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks. Denver general manager George Paton also hired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett this year.

MJF has created a buzz in All Elite Wrestling since the first time he spoke about his free agency in 2024, and that escalated to new levels this past Wednesday on “Dynamite” when he cut an unhinged promo on AEW President Tony Khan.

The promo involved MJF talking about the backlash he’s received after AEW “Double or Nothing”, mentioning how Khan has paid too many ex-WWE guys without forking out the money to pay him, the person that holds the 2nd highest minute-to-minute ratings of all AEW talent. MJF’s segment will go down in history as one of the greatest promos of all time, leading to several reactions across the wrestling universe.

“In my opinion, MJF is without peer,” Eric Bischoff said during the latest episode of “Strictly Business.” “He is so good. There are a handful, one or two people in WWE who are capable of catching up to that, but there aren’t many. He’s in a universe all his own, in my opinion.”

The AEW Superstar has since been removed from the intros to all AEW shows and now has involved Warner Brothers Discovery, as the media company had announced an edict to remove MJF from all promotional work moving forward. Whether this is all a big work, shoot, or a combination of the two, it’s unclear at this time where the situation will ultimately end up.

“Where is this one going to go? I have no idea if it’s real, if it’s not, if it’s scripted. I have an opinion and it was probably something that started out as very, very real and then they woke up one day and then both of them were painted into a corner and it was like, how the hell do we get out of this? That’s just an opinion. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, don’t care actually because the journey and potential for this journey is off the frickin’ charts. In my opinion, it would be the first time that situation has existed in AEW.”

MJF is currently under contract until January 1, 2024, so if the star wants to head to WWE, which he’s teased in the past, it’ll have to wait another year and a half.

Cody Rhodes will undergo surgery on his torn pectoral muscle on Thursday, having wrestled through the injury at WWE Hell In A Cell 2022 last night.

This latest update on Rhodes’ status comes from Fightful Select. Following on from his defeat of Seth Rollins at HIAC, the 36-year-old was scheduled for tonight’s episode of Raw in Green Bay, Wisconsin at the time of writing.

News that Cody was carrying an injury heading into WWE’s latest premium live event broke prior to Hell In A Cell. Cody worked regardless, reportedly insisting on doing the match with Rollins, with the duo structuring the majority of the bout around it.

Rhodes’ reveal of the gigantic bruise covering his torso’s right-hand side drew gasps from the HIAC live crowd. For as well-received as the work was, Rhodes and WWE have both come in for criticism regarding the bout being allowed to go ahead, despite Cody’s determination to do it.

Cody cut an impassioned promo after Hell In A Cell had gone off the air, stating that he would probably talk about his injury on tonight’s Raw. This will likely be the case now.

The Golden State Warriors blew out the Boston Celtics 107-88 in Sunday’s Game 2 clash to even up the Finals.

Golden State led by just two points at halftime but outscored Boston 35-14 in the third quarter to pull away for a comfortable victory.

Stephen Curry followed up a big Game 1 with a strong two-way performance, posting 29 points, six boards, four assists, and three steals in 32 minutes. Jordan Poole and Gary Payton led the Warriors’ second unit with 17 and seven points, respectively.

“Steph was breathtaking in that (third) quarter. Not just the shotmaking, but the defensive effort,” Warriors bench boss Steve Kerr told reporters postgame. “He just doesn’t get enough credit for his level of conditioning, physicality, and defense.

“People go at him to try to wear him down because they know how important he is to us offensively. And it’s pretty dramatic the difference in Steph’s strength and physicality in his body now than from eight years ago when I first got here.”

Celtics star Jayson Tatum bounced back from a poor shooting night in Game 1, recording 28 points on 8-of-19 shots, including a 6-of-9 mark from deep. However, he didn’t have much support.

Three nights after his fourth-quarter heroics, Jaylen Brown shot 5-of-17, while Al HorfordRobert Williams, and Marcus Smart combined for only six points.

Golden State’s defense stepped up after a subpar Game 1 showing. The Warriors limited the Celtics to just 37.5% shooting and scored 33 points off 18 turnovers.

“We didn’t give ourselves a chance with those turnovers,” said Boston head coach Ime Udoka, according to Spotrac’s Keith Smith.

Udoka added: “That’s been an ongoing theme for us in the playoffs.”

Game 3 is on Wednesday in Boston at 9:00 p.m. ET.

The New York Rangers handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first back-to-back playoff loss since 2019 with a 3-2 Game 2 win Friday night.

Prior to falling into a 2-0 series hole in the Big Apple, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions had won 17 straight playoff games immediately following a loss within the same postseason.

The last time the Bolts lost two consecutive playoff contests was when the Columbus Blue Jackets swept them in the first round three seasons ago.

“It’s been a heck of a ride in terms of responding after losses in the past couple of years. It shows the character of this group. It’s the hardest trophy to win,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said, according to Bally Sports’ Gabby Shirley. “You’re going (to) come across some adverse moments, and this is certainly one of them.”

New York recorded its franchise-best eighth consecutive home playoff victory in the 2022 postseason.

The Lightning made it interesting after Nick Paul scored to draw them within one with two minutes remaining, but the Rangers shut the door and sent the Madison Square Garden faithful home happy.

Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad‘s snipe early in the third period stood as the eventual game-winner.

Bolts star Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring on the power play in the first frame, but Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller responded just over three minutes later. Kaapo Kakko gave his team a 2-1 edge heading into the first intermission, and New York didn’t relinquish the lead for the remainder of the contest.

Rangers veteran Chris Kreider and defenseman Adam Fox chipped in with two assists each.

Fox noted that the Lightning’s impressive run wasn’t on his teammates’ minds entering Game 2.

“We’re not thinking about what streaks teams have. … We’re just trying to bring it, day in and day out,” Fox said, per USA Today’s Vince Z. Mercogliano.

The Eastern Conference Final was largely billed as a goaltending battle, and so far, Igor Shesterkin is outperforming Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Shesterkin stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced for a .935 save percentage in Game 2. Vasilevskiy uncharacteristically struggled, stopping 25 of 28 shots to author an .893 clip.

“We get a chance to come back in front of our fans, and let’s start with next game, and we’ll go from there,” Stamkos said, according to Shirley. “This is a resilient group, and we need to get back to our identity. … We got to buckle down a little bit defensively.”

Puck drops on Game 3 at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday as the series shifts to Tampa Bay.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver shot down rumblings Thursday about potential league expansion.

“The talk of expansion after 2024 is not true. We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver told reporters ahead of Game 1 of The Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, per Spotrac’s Keith Smith.

A report last month by Portland-based columnist John Canzano said the NBA has Seattle and Las Vegas earmarked as candidates for expansion in 2024 when the league’s current media deal expires.

Despite denying the rumor, Silver provided a glimmer of hope for possible new franchises, saying that “it’s invariable at some point the league will expand.”

Seattle has long been rumored as a site for expansion and relocation ever since losing the SuperSonics franchise to Oklahoma City, which then became the Thunder.

Las Vegas has been given new franchises in the NHL, NFL, and WNBA within the last five years.

The NBA hasn’t added a new team since the Charlotte Hornets joined in 2004. The expansion fee for that sale was $300 million, a price estimated to have jumped to around $1 billion today.

Nothing is fazing these New York Rangers, not multi-game series deficit nor playing in a building where no road team has won in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Instead, this resilient bunch is carrying an ever-growing confidence straight into the Eastern Conference finals, thanks to another Game 7 win and the latest strong performance from possibly the game’s best goaltender.

Chris Kreider scored twice, Igor Shesterkin was strong in net again and the Rangers ended Carolina’s perfect postseason run at home, beating the Hurricanes 6-2 in the decisive Game 7 of their second-round playoff series Monday night.

Kreider and Adam Fox had first-period power-play goals as the Rangers raced to a quick lead. The Rangers then rode Shesterkin’s latest offense-stymieing performance to win a fifth straight elimination game win in these playoffs.

“Backs against the wall five times now,” Fox said, “and we’ve come through all five.”

Shesterkin — a finalist for both the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goalie and Hart Trophy for most valuable player — finished with 36 saves and carried the shutout well into the third period.

Now the Rangers are off to a conference final for the first time since 2015, earning a matchup with two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay. New York will host Game 1 of that series Wednesday night.

Ryan Strome and Filip Chytil also scored in what became an unexpected rout, with Andrew Copp adding a late empty-netter. More impressively, the Rangers’ win came in an arena where the Hurricanes had gone 7-0 in the playoffs, including a Game 7 victory to beat Boston in the first round and three meetings in this series.

New York coach Gerard Gallant said Sunday he had a group of players who “have a lot of fun and they believe in themselves.” They looked as if they were doing plenty of both Monday in capping a second straight comeback win from a multi-game deficit.

First, they rallied from a 3-1 down to beat Pittsburgh in a seven-game series. Then, after falling in an 0-2 hole against Carolina, New York responded with more resilience, even a stubborn refusal to fade out when down.

Kreider went as far as to throw in a comparison to “cockroaches.”

“We don’t go away, regardless of the score, regardless of where our game is at,” Kreider said.

There were no questions about that Monday night, particularly with Shesterkin holding up against 17 first-period shots. That included one stop from flat on his back on Sebastian Aho near the right post, with Shesterkin snagging the puck between his legs flailing, as if trying to make a snow angel late in the first period.

The Rangers also helped by blocking 25 shots in front of him.

“You’ve got to pay a price to win games in this league, especially against real good teams like that,” Gallant said. ” I love the way our guys are competing and battling. I’ve said 100 times this year, we’re not perfect but we find ways to win.”

Tony DeAngelo finally beat Shesterkin midway through the third period, only to see the Rangers follow with Chytil’s goal just 40 seconds later to push the margin to 5-1.

Max Domi also scored a late goal for the Hurricanes.

But Carolina lost top-line rookie forward Seth Jarvis to a first-period injury after a jarring high hit from Jacob Trouba, and then lost goaltender Antti Raanta to an apparent right-leg injury in the second period in an all-around rough night. Raanta had 16 saves before his injury, while rookie Pyotr Kochetkov allowed three goals on 12 shots in relief.

“Tonight was kind of just some bounces, everyone wasn’t quite there, including myself,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “An unfortunate way to end the series — season.”

Carolina’s playoff success had leaned on its home-ice advantage, backed by a rowdy crowd. But its inability to win a single road game in the postseason only shrunk the Hurricanes’ margin for error and turned winning at home into an absolute necessity to keep playing.

As a result, the first and only home stumble proved fatal, a crushing end to a season that saw the division winner, with the third-best record in the NHL, set franchise records for regular-season wins (54) and points (116) with aspirations of winning its second Cup.

“It’s definitely a bummer to have the team — the caliber of team — that we did,” Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin said, “and not go farther.”

NO FIRSTS

The Hurricanes were 6-0 in Game 7s since the former Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997. They were trying to become the first team in NHL history to win seven straight Game 7s.

Carolina was also trying to become the first to win multiple best-of-seven series in the same postseason with zero road wins.

ELIMINATION-GAME PRODUCTION

When Fox scored and assisted on Kreider’s first goal, that pushed him to 10 points in elimination games during this postseason.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, that marks the most by a defenseman in a single postseason, surpassing Ray Bourque in 1980, Ian Turnbull in 1976 and Denis Potvin in 1975.

INJURED CANES

Jarvis was knocked from the game on Trouba’s hit, which sent him sprawling to the ice and left him able only to crawl back to the bench. When he made it there, he was too wobbly to sit on the bench and needed assistance from teammates to get directed into the locker room.

Making matters worse, the Hurricanes took a penalty for too many men on the ice while trying to sub for Jarvis, leading to Kreider’s first goal.

Ranta went down with 4:23 left in the second period when he extended his right leg in a split to make a stop on Mika Zibanejad. He almost went forward and landed face down on the ice. He was eventually helped off the ice by teammates Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter, not putting any weight on his right leg.

Afterward, coach Rod Brind’Amour said Raanta’s injury would have prevented him from playing the next series, had Carolina won.

The NBA has not added a new team in almost two decades, but the next round of expansion could be coming soon.

During an appearance on 93.3 KJR, longtime columnist John Canzano reported that Seattle and Las Vegas have “already been earmarked” for expansion by the NBA.

According to Canzano, the expansion is set to happen after the league’s current media rights deal expires in 2024.

Las Vegas and Seattle have long been rumored as NBA expansion targets. 

Sources told The Spun last summer that a number of teams that were considering relocating were also “looking fondly” at Sin City, but it seems like they won’t be able to move there, because the league is already planning on giving Vegas a team of its own.

As for Seattle, well, they haven’t had an NBA franchise since the Sonics left town, and it is long overdue that the fans in the Emerald City have a men’s professional basketball team to root for. 

The Boston Celtics booked their ticket to the NBA Finals by holding off the Miami Heat 100-96 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

Boston will take on the Golden State Warriors in hopes of winning its first championship since 2008.

The Celtics led by as many as 17 points in the contest before Miami cut the lead to two with under a minute to play. Crucial Heat misses down the stretch helped Boston hold on.

“Credit to our guys for bouncing back, keeping our composure, and finding a way to win it,” Boston head coach Ime Udoka said after the victory.

Jayson Tatum led the way for the winning side with 26 points, while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart scored 24 apiece. Grant Williams was the only other Celtic to reach double figures with 11 points of his own.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler dropped a game-high 35 points while playing all 48 minutes in the contest. He and Bam Adebayo (25 points) accounted for 60 of his team’s 96 total points.

Despite Butler’s brilliance, he squandered an opportunity to pull off a miraculous late-game comeback by falling short on a transition 3-pointer that would have given Miami the lead with 16 seconds remaining. He finished just 1-of-4 from beyond the arc.

“My thought process was: Go for the win,” Butler said postgame. “My teammates like the shot that I took, so I’m living with it.”

“That was the right look,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of his star’s shot selection. “When it left his hand, I thought it was going down.”

Missed jumpers were a theme for the Heat, who shot just 6-for-30 from deep, tied for their second-worst percentage all season. Each of Miami’s three worst 3-point shooting performances this season came in the playoffs.

On the other side, Boston will have four days to regroup before taking on the Warriors after Brown, Tatum, Smart, and Al Horford all topped 40 minutes in Game 7.

The full schedule for the NBA Finals is as follows:

GAMEDATEAWAYHOMETIME (ET)TV
1June 2BostonGolden State9 p.m.ABC/TSN
2June 5BostonGolden State8 p.m.ABC/SN
3June 8Golden StateBoston9 p.m.ABC/TSN
4June 10Golden StateBoston9 p.m.ABC/TSN
5*June 13BostonGolden State9 p.m.ABC/SN
6*June 16Golden StateBoston9 p.m.ABC/SN
7*June 19BostonGolden State8 p.m.ABC/TSN

* if necessary

New Japan Pro Wrestling star Will Ospreay believes that what WWE performers do for a living is more akin to acting than professional wrestling.

The outspoken former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion made these comments during a recent appearance on Wresthings, stressing that while he wasn’t trying to take shots at WWE talent, there’s a big difference between their jobs and his own (h/t SEScoops):

“You guys aren’t wrestlers, you’re actors and you just do wrestling and I don’t think that’s a dig. You guys make way more money than me like, good on you, but I just feel like when I say proudly, ‘That’s a wrestler. I am a wrestler, I am not an actor.'”

Continuing, Ospreay stated that he knows WWE’s stars are capable of getting it done between the ropes – it’s the company that prevents them from showing this:

“But I know you guys can wrestle, you’re just not really allowed to show it, I guess. But other than you want to make a lot of money and retire, that’s what WWE is kind of for these days.”

Ospreay, 29, is currently signed to NJPW, his home of six years. The past couple of those have seen him rise to prominence as one of the company’s top heels, peaking with the formation of his United Empire stable and his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship triumph last year.

ESPN is releasing a two-hour E60 documentary titled “Unrivaled” that will chronicle the fierce rivalry between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The premiere date is not yet known but will be sometime in June.

The documentary will feature interviews from Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Adam Foote, Mike Ricci, Marc Crawford, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Mike Vernon, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Scotty Bowman.

The Avalanche and Red Wings met in the playoffs five times between 1996 and 2002 and combined to win five Stanley Cups during that seven-year span.

The rivalry took off in the 1996 Western Conference Final when Claude Lemieux broke Draper’s jaw and orbital bone with a hit from behind into the boards. The two teams engaged in one of the most famous brawls in NHL history the following season.

AEW Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa spoke with Sportskeeda this week.

As noted, on Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killed at least 19 children and two adults. Several wrestlers including Cody Rhodes and Jordynne Grace had reacted to the tragedy.

During the interview, Rosa revealed that she will be auctioning off her Double Or Nothing ring gear to help families, who lost their children in the Texas school shooting.

“This Sunday, I will be remembering the beautiful souls that just passed away, murdered, at school in Uvalde Texas,” announced Rosa. “I actually want to auction the gear that I’m wearing to help families with funeral services for the kids.”

Rosa is set to defend the AEW Women’s Title against Serena Deeb at AEW Double Or Nothing on Sunday, May 29.

AEW Double Or Nothing will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will air on B/R and traditional PPV providers in the US and on FITE TV for international audiences.

The Edmonton Oilers cemented their place in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2006 after defeating the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime in a chaotic Game 5 on Thursday night.

Oilers star Leon Draisaitl led the way with four points, while Connor McDavid ended the Flames’ season with his overtime winner.

“I was bad all night,” McDavid said. “I was riding the coattails of my teammates. They gave me a great opportunity to get it in overtime. I’m just so happy to contribute in this one.”

McDavid only had one point in the high-scoring contest, but it was the goal that mattered most.

“The best player won the series,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.

The contest wasn’t short on drama. The two teams set an NHL record for the fastest four goals scored in playoff history after each club lit the lamp twice in 1:11 during the second period.

Flames forward Blake Coleman had a goal disallowed in the third period due to a kicking motion, denying Calgary a late lead.

“Depends what you call a distinct kicking motion,” Sutter said of the call. “If somebody is on the ground, and you lift your foot up and kick them in the head, that’s a distinct kicking motion. If you slide your foot on the ground it’s not a distinct kicking motion.”

Andrew Mangiapane opened the scoring in a quiet first period before Mikael Backlund doubled the Flames’ lead early in the middle frame. The teams combined for six more goals in the second period, with Darnell NurseJesse PuljujarviZach Hyman, and Evan Bouchard contributing for the Oilers and Johnny Gaudreau and Calle Jarnkrok finding the back of the net for the Flames.

“Get your chin up and your chest out and walk out proud,” Sutter said of his message to his players, according to Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson. “They did a hell of a lot more than anybody said they’d do, (to be) quite honest.”

Both goaltenders posted sub-.900 save percentages in the wild contest. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves on 35 shots, while Mike Smith stopped 32 of 36.

The Oilers will either face the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in the conference finals.


The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

Klay Thompson scored 32 points, including 19 in the first half, to help Golden State eliminate the Dallas Mavericks with a 120-110 Game 5 win at Chase Center on Thursday.

The Mavericks trailed by as many as 25 points and never led in the contest. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 28 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in 40 minutes. Doncic’s 15 third-quarter points helped the Mavs get within 10 entering the fourth quarter, but the Warriors managed to regain momentum in short order en route to a decisive win.

Golden State shot 51.1% from the field and 38.9% on 3-point attempts while connecting on all 16 of its free-throw tries.

The Warriors improve to 21-2 in playoff series under head coach Steve Kerr and 18-0 against Western Conference playoff opponents during his tenure.

Golden State will host Game 1 of the Finals against either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat on June 2.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has suffered through plenty of heartache in Edmonton.

The top pick at the 2011 draft missed the playoffs in seven of his first eight NHL seasons as the Oilers repeatedly fumbled and bumbled their way through what must have felt like a never-ending rebuild.

After a stunning turn of events midway through the third period on Tuesday night, Nugent-Hopkins rose to the occasion when he was needed most.

Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the game with 3:27 left in regulation, and the Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 to take a 3-1 lead in the second-round playoff series.

“The main thing was that we had to keep pushing,” Nugent-Hopkins said after Rasmus Andersson scored short-handed from 150 feet away as Calgary rallied all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game. “Stuff like that happens, it’s hockey. Bounces happen.

“There was no quit.”

Edmonton interim head coach Jay Woodcroft credited Nugent-Hopkins, who was playing just the 32nd playoff game of his 11-season career, for stepping up with the team wobbling.

“It’s inspiring,” said Woodcroft, whose Oilers are now one win from making the Western Conference final for the first time since 2006. “There’s room for greatness from everybody on our team.

“Tonight was Ryan’s moment.”

Evander Kane scored his NHL-leading 11th and 12th goals of the postseason, and Zach Hyman added a goal for Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl added three assists and Mike Smith made 29 saves.

Connor McDavid also had two assists. He has 25 points in 11 playoff games for the Oilers, who earned a third straight victory over their provincial rival.

Andersson, Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund scored for Calgary. Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 shots.

“We all believe in this group,” Andersson said. “We’ve been a good team all year and we’ve been strong on home ice. We’ve just got to go home and focus on winning one game and take it from there.

“Obviously we’re in a tough situation.”

Calgary will look to stave off elimination on Thursday at home in Game 5.

After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 3-2 through two periods, Calgary tied the game in the third on an Edmonton power play when Andersson fired a 150-foot clearing attempt from his own end that somehow fooled Smith at 10:56.

With the Oilers wavering, Nugent-Hopkins poked in his fourth goal of the playoffs from in front of Markstrom.

Andersson then took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 2:40 left to effectively kill off the game before Kane iced it by scoring into an empty net.

“I can laugh now, right?” a relieved Smith said. “I don’t think there’s been a time in my career where I’ve lost the puck, where I have no idea where it went.

“You don’t want that to happen … ever. It was an unbelievable goal by Nuge at the end there … a win is a win.”

Edmonton also held a 2-1 series lead in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings only to play what the Oilers described as their worst performance of the month in a 4-0 loss. This time, they took a stranglehold on the series without their best effort.

“Every game you play in the playoffs, you gain experience,” Smith said. “There are ebbs and flows to a game, to a series, and they are all learning experiences.”

Markstrom, who had allowed 14 goals in the series before getting pulled after two periods with Calgary trailing Sunday’s Game 3 by a 4-0 score, played the puck behind his own net on the first shift, but put it right on Nugent-Hopkins’ stick. He scored his third.

The goal was the third-fastest in Oilers’ playoff history, just short of McDavid (19 seconds in 2020) and Fernando Pisani (16 seconds in 2006).

One of three finalists for the Vézina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, Markstrom recovered to deny Darnell Nurse on a chance a couple minutes later before Smith was at full stretch on a Johnny Gaudreau one-time chance.

Calgary winger Tyler Toffoli then took a tripping penalty and the Oilers made the Flames pay when Hyman outmuscled a hobbled Chris Tanev — back in the lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the opening round despite a suspected upper-body injury — in tight, scoring his fifth goal of the series and seventh of the playoffs at 9:53.

The Flames, who topped the Pacific Division in the regular season, pushed back with a couple of decent shifts, but Kane, who was coming off a natural hat trick in Game 3, made it 3-0 with 66 seconds remaining in the period on a shot that nicked blueliner Nikita Zadorov.

Calgary showed some life on the power play in the second with Kane off for slashing. Lindholm eventually picked the top corner for his fifth goal at 9:04 after the Oilers twice failed to clear the defensive zone.

Backlund got the Flames within one at 3-2 just 36 seconds later when he stepped past Duncan Keith and fired his fourth past Smith.

Smith made a good stop on a Lindholm power-play chance early in the third before Edmonton got its second man-advantage with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Markstrom kept his team within striking distance with a terrific pad stop on Draisaitl, who became the first player in NHL history to register three-plus points in four straight playoff games with an assist on the Oilers’ empty-net goal.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall wants to find a way to have Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang stay with the club for the rest of their careers.

“In a perfect world (Malkin) retires a Penguin,” Hextall said Monday. “And I think Tanger’s the same.”

In a perfect world, anyway.

The NHL in the salary-cap era is hardly that.

Perhaps that’s why, when Hextall was asked what was missing this season from a group that let a 3-1 lead slip a way in a first-round loss to the New York Rangers, he joked “a little more cap space would be great.”

He’s not getting it.

The Penguins have habitually spent up to the cap limit during the hugely successful era led by Malkin, Letang and longtime captain Sidney Crosby. That “spend to win now” approach is not going to change with Fenway Sports Group now signing the checks after buying the club from Ron Burkle and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux last fall.

The question, however, is how much money the Penguins are willing to offer a pair of 35-year-old franchise icons who are less than two months away from entering free agency for the first time.

Letang hardly appears to have lost a step. The defenseman is coming off a season in which he collected a career-high 68 points while playing a bit more responsibly in his own end. He averaged a staggering 25:47 of ice time and said last week he’d like to play at least five more seasons.

Letang also is finishing a contract that paid him $7.25 million a season. Considering his fitness level and his production, it’s reasonable to think he’d command a bit of a raise on the open market, though Letang said last week his preference would be to find a way to stay in Pittsburgh.

Malkin feels likewise, but his situation is thornier. He said “good players sign good contracts” last week and while he scored 20 goals this season despite missing nearly half of the year while recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, he was not particularly effective in 5-on-5 situations while commanding $9.5 million. He also turns 36 in July and has missed at least 10 games due to injuries nine times in his last 10 seasons.

Hextall stressed he would not provide details on the nature of the team’s talks with Malkin and Letang, but hinted he’s not concerned about their age.

“They’re both great athletes,” he said. “They both have been here a long time. They’re both performing at a high level right now. We’d certainly like to have them in the mix come September.”

Malkin and Letang’s respective statuses are the two biggest pieces of a very unwieldy puzzle Hextall has to piece together over the summer. Forwards Evan Rodrigues, Brian Boyle, Rickard Rickell and backup goaltender Casey DeSmith are set to become free agents while forwards Danton Heinen and the enigmatic Kasperi Kapanen are restricted free agents.

Hextall did lock down one piece of the puzzle, signing forward Bryan Rust to a six-year deal over the weekend that will keep the versatile two-time Stanley Cup winner in the fold through 2028. Rust, who had 24 goals and 34 assists this season, underwent what Hextall called a minor procedure on one of his knees recently but should be ready well ahead of training camp.

By then Hextall will have clarity on his team’s immediate future. He believes he has it on its immediate past, praising the Penguins for their resiliency during an eventful season that included extended absences by Crosby and Malkin and a COVID-19 outbreak. Pittsburgh managed to extend its playoff streak to 16 straight years, the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.

Yet the Penguins also haven’t made it out of the first round since 2018. That’s not the standard for a team that plays in an arena with five Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters.

Six months into FSG’s tenure, there appears to be no hurry to make drastic changes, including in the front office. Hextall, who took over in February 2021 after Jim Rutherford’s abrupt resignation, appears as if he will get a chance to guide the team through at least the early stages of the twilight of Crosby’s Hall of Fame career.

“Everything is good,” Hextall said. “(Fenway Sports Group is) totally committed to winning. … We’ve got some things that we’re looking at in terms of adding to staff and stuff. We’re moving along.”

Russell Wilson has a lot of appreciation for his time in Seattle but recognizes that he’ll have to find a way to treat his Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks like any other game.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting time. Obviously, Seattle’s meant the world to me over the past 10 years,” Wilson said Monday, according to DNVR’s Zac Stevens. “I think for me, it’s not emotional. It’s got to be non-emotional. You got to be able to go into it with the understanding that it’s just ball.”

Wilson’s new club, the Denver Broncos, will open their season on the road in a Monday Night Football bout versus the Seahawks.

The 33-year-old spent 10 seasons in Seattle before being dealt to Denver in a stunning trade earlier this offseason. He left many memories with his former side, including one Super Bowl championship, 104 wins, and nine Pro Bowl invites. Wilson previously said that the split was mutual.

“It will always be a special place in my heart forever,” Wilson said. “For me, it’s about going over there and trying to play the best football for our football team here and trying to go win.”

The Broncos added Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett in hopes of getting their franchise back on track. Denver has missed the postseason in six straight seasons.

Stephen Curry scored 31 points, Andrew Wiggins added 27 while posterizing Luka Doncic on a dunk and the Golden State Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-100 Sunday night for a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Klay Thompson scored 19 with a pair of big fourth-quarter 3-pointers as the Warriors moved within a victory of a return to the NBA Finals, three years after the end of a run of five consecutive trips that yielded three championships.

Golden State, which swept Portland in its most recent West finals in 2019 before Toronto won the title, goes for the sweep in Game 4 on Tuesday in Dallas. No team has rallied from 3-0 down to win an NBA playoff series.

Doncic scored 40 and beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 32-footer that got the crowd going with the Mavericks again at home trailing 2-0, as they did against top-seeded Phoenix before winning the West semifinal series in seven games.

But that shimmy-inducing bucket was a blip on an otherwise rough night from 3-point range for the Mavericks, who missed their first seven and finished 13 of 45.

Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber, two long-range specialists for Dallas, missed all 12 of their 3s combined and were 0-15 overall. Both went scoreless, offsetting Spencer Dinwiddie’s 26 points off the bench. Jalen Brunson scored 20.

Wiggins’ dunk over Doncic was originally ruled an offensive foul midway through the fourth quarter. The Warriors challenged, and the ruling was Wiggins’ elbow to Doncic was incidental contact, giving Golden State a 93-83 lead.

About a minute later, Wiggins, who had 11 rebounds, moved quickly down the right baseline for a follow dunk on a miss by Curry as the Warriors extended their NBA record with a 26th consecutive series in which they won at least one road game.

One of Dinwiddie’s 3-pointers got Dallas within five points with 1:15 remaining, but Jordan Poole answered with one from the left wing just inside the final minute.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

The most tense moment of the series came late in the first half after a corner 3 from Curry capped an 8-0 run that put the Warriors in front by a point and helped them to a 48-47 halftime lead. And it left Curry confused.

Curry ran the length of the court with his tongue hanging out after Dallas called timeout. As he circled back toward his bench, Curry walked by Doncic with teammate Juan Toscano-Anderson nearby.

Doncic appeared to take issue with something Toscano-Anderson said and started toward the Golden State bench before officials along with coaches and players from both teams intervened. Meantime, Draymond Green and injured Dallas guard Tim Hardaway Jr. exchanged unpleasantries about 45 feet apart.

After the timeout, Curry could been seen saying, “What happened?” and approached Doncic to talk about it. The exchange ended with Green as the peacemaker with Doncic.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Green got a technical foul, his second of the series, after an extended conversation with official Marc Davis when he was called for a backcourt violation when he hurriedly tried to step back over the midcourt line to catch a long, unexpected pass from Curry. The crowd was howling for a technical and finally got it. Seconds later, Green was called for his first foul and didn’t like the call. But he directed his complaint at his own bench instead of the officiating crew. … Otto Porter Jr., who averaged 10.5 points on 82% shooting the first two games, limped to the locker room in the first half and was ruled out with left foot soreness.

Mavericks: Bullock won the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar social justice award. He has been active in the LGBTQ+ community. His sister, a transgender woman, was killed in 2014. Bullock worked with several organizations in the Dallas area after signing as a free agent in the offseason and has long been active in similar pursuits in his native North Carolina. … Dorian Finney-Smith got a technical early in the second half for an elbow to the back of Green after a made Dallas free throw.

 

Zach Hyman scored the go-ahead short-handed midway through the third period and the Edmonton Oilers rallied to beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Friday night, evening the second-round series at one game apiece.

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, becoming the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists in nine games) in a single postseason, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.

Leon Draisaitl and defenseman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton, which lost 9-6 in Game 1 and trailed 3-1 early in the second of this one.

Oilers goalie Mike Smith, pulled early in the last game, made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.

Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists and Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at home over their final 24 games of the regular season.

The Alberta rivals are squaring off in the playoffs for a sixth time, but the first since 1991.

One of the NHL’s top teams 5-on-5, the Flames were short-handed for almost 11 minutes. Edmonton scored its first power-play goal of the series midway through the second period to send the game into the third deadlocked 3-3.

Hyman turned Calgary’s offensive-zone turnover into a breakaway. He scored the short-handed, tiebreaking goal going upstairs on Markstrom at 10:14 of the third.

Smith passed the puck to Draisaitl for another breakaway just over two minutes later. The forward, who is playing through a lower-body injury, put the puck off the post and in on Markstrom’s stick side at 12:36.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins penalized for slashing at 16:48, the Flames couldn’t convert a power play into a goal. Calgary went 1 for 5 with a man advantage, while the Oilers were 1 for 6.

Two broken Oilers sticks contributed to a pair of Flames goals in the first two periods.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse was hampered down low without his in the second period and didn’t manage an exchange with a forward. Gaudreau threaded a pass to the front of the crease for Elias Lindholm to flip to Toffoli, who scored a power-play goal at 2:04 for a 3-1 Calgary lead.

Draisaitl’s goal at 2:31 of the second was waived off. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter successfully challenged goaltender interference by McDavid.

However, McDavid struck seconds later to draw Edmonton within a goal. He rolled off Calgary defenseman Nikita Zadorov into open ice, took a pass from Keith and stickhandled the puck by Markstrom’s outstretched pad at 3:05.

Bouchard pulled the Oilers even at 15:03 during Stone’s double minor for high-sticking. The defenseman wired a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle upstairs on Markstrom.

After setting the record for the fastest two goals to start a playoff game in the series opener with a pair within 51 seconds, Calgary struck early again, 63 seconds after puck drop. Hyman broke his stick and wasn’t able to retrieve another from the bench before Stone’s slapshot from the point beat Smith bottom corner glove side.

The Flames made it 2-0 at 6:02 when Smith bobbled a shot by Erik Gudbranson. Ritichie pounced on the loose puck in the crease and put a backhand by the Oilers’ goalie.

Keith halved the deficit with 6:15 left in the first. McDavid circling out from behind the net, held off Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson with one arm, and held the puck on his stick with the other. McDavid shoveled a one-handed pass to Keith, who beat Markstrom far side.

Hyman celebrated an Oilers goal with just over four minutes left in the opening period, but officials waived it off. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal line in a crease scramble.

NO TANEV AGAIN

The Flames were missing top shutdown defenseman Chris Tanev for a third straight game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas. Tanev skated in practice this week, but hasn’t dressed for games.

NOTES: Gaudreau extended his playoff point streak to seven consecutive games (two goals, 10 assists) and tied Lanny McDonald (1984) for the fifth-longest in Flames history. … McDavid stretched his playoff multi-point streak to five straight games. The only other players in NHL history with a run of five or more multi-point games were Wayne Gretzky (1983), Tony Currie (1981), Darryl Sittler (1977), Evgeni Malkin (2009) and Dale Hawerchuk (1993).

Game 1 of the Battle of Alberta lived up to the hype – and more.

The Calgary Flames won a 9-6 barn burner over the Edmonton Oilers in the opening contest of Round 2 between the provincial rivals Wednesday.

The 15 combined goals are the most in a Stanley Cup Playoff game since 1993 and three shy of tying the all-time record of 18. It’s only the ninth contest in postseason history with at least 15 goals.

GAME RESULTYEARGOALS
Kings def. Oilers 10-8198218
Penguins def. Flyers 10-7198917
Oilers def. Kings 13-3198716
Kings def. Flames 12-4199016
Blackhawks def. Habs 8-7197315
North Stars def. Bruins 9-6198115
Oilers def. Blackhawks 10-5198515
Kings def. Flames 9-6199315
Flames def. Oilers 9-6202215

The Flames are also the first team to score nine goals in a playoff game since the Pittsburgh Penguins scored 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. The Oilers own the record with 13 in 1987.

The game initially looked like it was going to be a blowout for Calgary. The Flames owned leads of 5-1 and 6-2 before the Oilers stormed back to eventually tie it at 6-6. Calgary then scored three unanswered goals to put the contest away.

“There were probably six different games out there,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said postgame, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis.

“We were told it was a boring series last time, so I told the players yesterday we’ve got to score seven-to-10 goals today because they’d probably score five-to-eight to win, so that’s what we did,” Sutter added.

In fact, the Flames scored more goals on Wednesday against Edmonton than they did in their first four games combined in Round 1 against the Dallas Stars.

Matthew Tkachuk led the way offensively for Calgary, completing his hat trick with an empty-netter. Blake Coleman also potted two goals, while Andrew MangiapaneRasmus Andersson, and Johnny Gaudreau recorded three points apiece.

Connor McDavid‘s four points and Leon Draisaitl‘s three led the way offensively for the Oilers. Zach Hyman also chipped in with a pair of tallies.

Josh Manson scored 8:02 into overtime, Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in his return to the net from an eye injury, and the Colorado Avalanche overcame a sluggish start to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Manson sent a shot from near the blue line through a sea of players that went in just over the shoulder of Jordan Binnington.

Valeri Nichushkin and Samuel Girard also scored for an Avalanche team that had a weeklong layoff after sweeping Nashville. It showed early on, too, before they found their stride. They outshot the Blues by a 54-25 margin, including 13-0 in OT. The Avalanche also hit three posts and two crossbars.

Ryan O’Reilly had a first-period goal and Jordan Kyrou tied it late for St. Louis. Binnington kept the Blues close with one sprawling save after another. He stopped 51 shots.

Game 2 is Thursday.

Kuemper suffered a scary eye mishap in Game 3 of the Predators series when a stick blade went through his mask and caught him around his eyelid. It took a few days for the swelling to subside.

Kyrou scored on the power play to tie the game with 3:14 remaining. The Blues have been potent on the power play, going 9 for 27 during the playoffs.

Girard staked Colorado a 2-1 lead midway through the second period on a shot that went through Binnington’s pads. Defenseman Erik Johnson nearly had another moments earlier with a wide-open net, but couldn’t get anything on his shot. Binnington reached out with his glove while on the ground to stop the rolling puck.

O’Reilly took advantage of a Cale Makar turnover to score early in the first period. O’Reilly has a goal in five straight playoff games, matching the longest playoff goal streak in Blues history. He tied the mark held by Phil Roberto (1972) and Joe Mullen (1982), according to NHL Stats.

The Avalanche didn’t look sharp in the opening 20 minutes. Artturi Lehkonen hit the post, while Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen had shots clang off the crossbar.

Leading into the game, Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s coming off late-season knee surgery, wasn’t buying the rust argument.

“Everybody wants to make that into a thing,” Landeskog said. “Having that rest in the bank will be good.”

BLUES STREAK

It was the eighth straight playoff win over the Blues in a streak that dates to Game 4 of the 2001 conference finals. The Avalanche swept St. Louis in the playoffs last season.

PLAYING NO FAVORITES

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he didn’t fill out a playoff bracket.

“If it turned out to be true, people would be saying bad things or questioning things that you have no need to question,” said Bettman, who attended the game Tuesday. “I’m probably not a very good prognosticator.”

LINGERING ANIMOSITY?

Blues defenseman Justin Faulk took a hit to the head from Kadri in Game 2 last season and didn’t return in a series that Colorado swept. Kadri drew an eight-game suspension for the hit, missing the final two games against the Blues and all six games against Vegas as Colorado was ousted.

Asked if things were settled, Faulk responded: “We’re here to play hockey and play a series and that’s our focus.”

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

There remain fans who still show up wearing O’Reilly’s Avalanche sweater. O’Reilly was the 33rd overall pick by Colorado in 2009, scoring 90 goals in 427 career games with the Avalanche.

“Had a great time here,” O’Reilly said. “It’s always nice to see see people appreciate it.”

The Calgary Flames eliminated the Dallas Stars from the playoffs with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 7 on Sunday night.

Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made an incredible 64 saves, but wasn’t able to secure the victory as Johnny Gaudreau beat him in overtime.

Oettinger’s 64-save performance is the second-most stops in a Game 7 in NHL history, according to Stats by STATS. Only Kelly Hrudey had more when he stopped 73 shots for the Islanders against the Capitals in 1987.

Jamie Benn opened the scoring for Dallas just 40 seconds into the contest. Tyler Toffoli tied things up in the second before Vladislav Namestnikov and Matthew Tkachuk traded goals to enter the third period tied at two apiece.

The Flames will now take on their rival Edmonton Oilers in the second round. It’s the first time since 1991 that the Battle of Alberta will be renewed in the postseason.

The New York Rangers are off to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime in Sunday’s Game 7. Artemi Panarin came up clutch with the game-winner.

The Rangers simply never quit.

They went down 3-1 in the series but came back in Game 5, 6, and 7 to advance. They’re the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to record three straight comeback wins in elimination games within the same series. They trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in Game 7 before Mika Zibanejad scored with less than six minutes left in regulation to force OT.

New York was outshot 45-30 in the contest, but Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin was sensational between the pipes, tying Ed Giacomin’s franchise record for 42 saves in a Game 7.

The Rangers now own an all-time record of 8-1 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden.

New York will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2. The two sides squared off in the qualifying round of the 2020 postseason, which the Canes swept 3-0.

AEW’s MJF recently spoke with Rasslin’ about his future, as he continued to tease a potential move to WWE. His contract expiring in 2024 is something he has been open about many times, and that continued.

Whether he stays in AEW or moves, MJF is planning on earning plenty of money.

“Let me explain something to you, by 2024, daddy is going to make more money than The Hardys have made in their entire run,” he said.

MJF then went on to claim that he can’t wait to leave AEW, although he then teased retracting the statement. He also went back and forth on his relationship with Tony Khan in the interview.

“Once you get into Long Island, you don’t want to leave Long Island, so what does it matter if the traffic is bad coming out? I can’t wait to leave this company, how about that,” he said. “Oh no, hope that doesn’t ruffle any feathers in the office, oh no. Who said AEW? I didn’t say AEW, you just said AEW, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Maybe I’m in a shit mood, maybe I hate my boss, maybe I fucking love my boss, who knows?”

MJF explained what it is that causes his frustrations, which is down to former WWE Superstars earning lots of money. He doesn’t think they can hang with him when it comes to the ratings, and that is why he believes management has an issue with him.

“I think there’s a lot of stuff going on in this company that is inaccurate,” he said. “I think all these ex-fucking WWE guys that are making an absurd amount of money. When quite frankly they can’t sniff my fucking jock when it comes to the ratings I pull in whenever I am on screen, I think they can all go to hell. I think that somebody in the upper management has a problem with me, and it’s very obvious if you see what I am dealing with week to week.”

Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers advanced through to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in Game 7 on Saturday night.

Cody Ceci also scored and Mike Smith made 28 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs for the Oilers, who last won a Game 7 in 1998 and celebrated their first playoff series win since 2017.

Jonathan Quick made 39 saves for the Kings, who have not won a playoff series since they won their second Stanley Cup in 2014 — also the last year they won a series in a Game 7.

There was no scoring in a tense opening period, with the Oilers putting 10 shots on Quick, while the Kings sent seven on Smith. Quick came into the game with a 4-0 career record in Game 7s.

Edmonton came close to scoring midway though the second when a puck was heading over the goal line in a scramble, but was fished to safety just in time by Kings forward Andreas Athanasiou.

The Oilers finally broke the deadlock with 6:45 remaining in the second period as McDavid fed a pass from behind the net to a pinching Ceci, who rifled a shot over Quick’s shoulder.

Edmonton came close to extending its lead a couple times early in the third as Josh Archibald narrowly missed putting a puck through Quick’s legs and Kailer Yamamoto hit a post with most of an open net to shoot at.

The Oilers finally got some insurance with 3:53 left in the third on a terrific individual effort from McDavid, who drove behind the net before sending his second backhand attempt into it for his fourth goal and league-leading 14th playoff point. McDavid had multiple-point efforts in six of the seven games in the series.

The Oilers will now advance to play either Calgary or Dallas, who are going to a Game 7 of their own on Sunday.

Notes: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse returned after serving a one-game suspension in Game 6 for head-butting Phillip Danault in Game 5. … There was some concern after Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Brett Kulak missed the morning skate, but both were able to play, leaving the Oilers will a healthy roster to choose from. … The Kings remained without Viktor Arvidsson (lower body), Drew Doughty (wrist) and Sean Walker (knee). … There were no scoring changes in any of the games of the series, with the team that scored first winning each gamer.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is about to suit up for his fourth career Game 7, and he’s learned a couple lessons along the way.

“I think we came out a little flat in those games – like we were a little bit scared to lose,” Nylander said of Toronto’s previous Game 7 struggles, according to ESPN’s Kristen Shilton. “We don’t need to be scared to lose. We’ve got a great team.”

Toronto hasn’t closed out a series in a Game 7 since 2004, against the Ottawa Senators. The Maple Leafs have an all-time record of 12-13 in Game 7 and were outscored 15-6 in their last three (Montreal Canadiens in 2021, Boston Bruins in 2018 and 2019).

Heading into Saturday’s Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Sheldon Keefe is staying calm under pressure.

“This is as confident as I’ve been coaching this team,” Keefe said.

He added, “It’s because of how we’ve played in this series. … The confidence has grown through the series. The players are going to be relaxed and play with energy. We’re going to give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.”

Keefe is in his third season as head coach of the Maple Leafs. He boasts a regular-season record of 116-50-19 but hasn’t helped his team break out of the first round.

Toronto will face a tall task while trying to eliminate a talented Lightning team chasing its third consecutive Stanley Cup.

“We’re standing here on the cusp of greatness, and why the hell wouldn’t we charge through that door? Let’s go get this. Let’s go attack this,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said, per team beat writer Gabby Shirley. “If fear is the motivator, then so be it – but I don’t want there being any excuse if it doesn’t go well for us tonight.”

Game 7 kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

CM Punk hit Twitter for an incendiary burial of former WCW executive Eric Bischoff and wrestling pundits of his ilk on Tuesday, calling for online wrestling fans to stop amplifying their content.

Tweeting in response to user @BackupHangman, who had quote-tweeted a clip from Bischoff’s 83 Weeks podcast (in which Eric claimed AEW needed to improve itself storytelling to grow its audience), Punk called for the “old head bad faith bad take carny dipshits” to “die in the dark with their ego podcasts”:

Bischoff, whose 83 Weeks, Strictly Business, and Eric Fires Back podcasts are hosted on Conrad Thompson’s AdFreeShows.com, made several tweets in response, with this the most notable:

Punk decided against engaging with the 66-year-old further.

The last of Bischoff’s semi-regular AEW appearances came in May 2021, when he hosted a segment featuring The Inner Circle. Since then, the former WCW chief has become one of the promotion’s most notable mainstream critics, conceding, at one stage, that it is unlikely he will ever be invited back by AEW president Tony Khan.

A cottage industry of pundits whose content revolves primarily about bashing AEW, often in the face of logic and data, has sprung up since the promotion’s 2019 inception. Punk’s initial tweet echoes a view shared by many: that quote-tweeting, dunking, and replying only gives oxygen to what are perceived to be bad-faith criticisms. Regular 83 Weeks listeners will obviously disagree.

Jason Spezza stood up in the Toronto locker room in the wake of another disastrous start.

The veteran forward — potentially in the midst of a final Stanley Cup shot in his 19th NHL season — spoke about the margin for error getting smaller and smaller against two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay.

Toronto desperately needed to pick it up. And the team’s big guns delivered a gutsy effort.

Auston Matthews scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:06 left in the third period and the Maple Leafs rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Lightning 4-3 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

“Spezz really spoke well,” said Toronto captain John Tavares. “We obviously needed to find another level.”

William Nylander added a goal and two assists for Toronto, which is a victory away from advancing in the postseason for the first time since 2004. Tavares had a goal and assist, and Morgan Rielly also scored. Jack Campbell stopped 32 shots.

“He’s a great leader,” Nylander said of the 38-year-old Spezza, who saw less than six minutes of ice time.

“When he says something, everybody listens.”

Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh scored, Nikita Kucherov had two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who will try to avoid elimination in the best-of-seven series in Game 6 at home on Thursday night.

“We’re not really making them earn it,” Tampa head coach Jon Cooper said. “We’re kind of giving it to them.”

The Maple Leafs would certainly disagree after becoming the first team in the five games to come back after falling behind.

“The way the series has gone is that 2-0 has become four or five,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We needed to flip that script.”

Game 7, if necessary, would be in Toronto on Saturday.

“It’s a big win for us,” Matthews said. “But there’s still some work to be done.”

Matthews snapped a 3-3 tie on a 2-on-1 rush in the third period. Mitch Marner fired a shot off Vasilevskiy’s right pad and Matthews, ,who had 60 goals during the regular season, scored his third of the playoffs to ignite the raucous home crowd.

“Such a special player,” Matthews said of Marner. “Any time he’s got the puck I just try to get open or try to anticipate it’s coming to me.

“Just an unbelievable IQ play by him. I had the whole net to shoot at.”

Matthews celebrated by dropping to one knee before punching the air with a windmill celebration.

“Huge goal,” Nylander said with a grin. “Deserves a big celly.”

The Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy late and had a couple of chances, but iced the puck with 21.9 seconds left to force the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner back into his crease.

Down 2-1 heading to the third, Toronto tied the score with the teams playing 4 on 4 at 3:01 when Tavares held onto the puck in the offensive zone before finding Rielly, who scored his first of the series.

The Leafs took their first lead when Nylander scored his third goal in the last two games on Vasilevskiy.

But the Lightning responded at 8:17, when McDonagh blasted a shot past Campbell, tying the game at 3 before Matthews won it.

The Maple Leafs were coming off a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 4.

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe went with the same lineup for the third straight game. He shook up three of his team’s four lines. That included splitting up Tavares and Nylander, while Michael Bunting returned to the top trio with Matthews and Marner.

Toronto got an early power play to continue the series’ parade to the penalty box, but couldn’t connect despite some good looks for Marner.

Stamkos made it 1-0 at 5:19 of the first. The Lightning then got their first man advantage when T.J. Brodie went off for hooking, and they went up by two at 6:11 when Hedman fired a shot that found its way through traffic.

Toronto killed off a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds later in the period thanks to some big stops from Campbell before Nylander broke in alone coming out of the box, only to be denied by Vasilevskiy.

Tampa Bay finished the period that included seven minor penalties with a 14-5 edge in shots.

“We had to stop taking penalties,” Keefe said. “And our power play had to do a better job.

“It really muddied the waters in terms of how we were actually playing and really couldn’t allow us to get life and get going.”

The Lightning were whistled for their second infraction of the night for too many men on the ice early in the second, and Toronto broke through when Nylander fired a shot that went in off the skate of Tavares for the captain’s first goal of the series.

The Leafs continued to push as the period wore on, with Vasilevskiy forced to make a number of huge saves.

Campbell had a much quieter period at the other end, but had to make a big stop on a Nick Paul breakaway after he stripped Morgan Rielly of the puck.

Valeri Nichushkin scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:58 left, and the Colorado Avalanche became the first team to advance to the second round Monday night by finishing a sweep of the Nashville Predators 5-3 Monday night.

The Avalanche now are in the Western Conference semifinals for a fourth straight season and second consecutive after sweeping their first-round opponent. They improved to 6-0 since the franchise relocated to Denver in best-of-seven series after winning the first three games with their fourth sweep in that span.

They now get to wait for either St. Louis or Minnesota after what Avs defenseman Cale Makar called step one.

“You enjoy it for a little bit, but then you move on,” Makar said. “Obviously, we don’t know who our opponent is yet, but it’s going to be a familiar team. For us, it’s already to that next step. We’re where we want it to be, but we have to make sure that we can stay tight throughout this little break that we have.”

Andre Burakovsky and Cale Makar each had a goal and two assists for Colorado, and Devon Toews added a goal. Nathan MacKinnon sealed the victory with an empty-net goal on the man advantage with 55.9 seconds remaining.

Yakov Trenin scored twice for Nashville, which was swept for the first time in franchise history in its 15th playoff appearance. Filip Forsberg scored his first of the series giving Nashville its first lead this series at 3:58 of the third. Colton Sissons had two assists.

“The fact that we weren’t able to win a game is something that we all take personal for sure,” Nashville coach John Hynes said.

Colorado scored three times over the final 11:05 to wrap up a series by outscoring Nashville 21-9. After Toews tied it 3-3 at 8:55 of the third, Nichushkin scored on a snap shot from the right circle to put the Avs ahead to stay.

The Predators had a few open seats midway into the first period. Not even having Walker Zimmerman, a defender for MLS’ Nashville SC, wave the pre-game rally towel helped.

Colorado wound up scoring on its first shot attempt of the game for the second time this series, even if replay was needed to call it a goal.

Burakovsky’s wrister sent the puck through the back net, a shot that had the Avalanche starting to celebrate before an official immediately waved it off During a stoppage at 1:56, officials reviewed the play and saw the puck go through the net needing an official to fix the net behind Predators rookie goalie Connor Ingram.

The rookie goalie had to make a save on a short-handed attempt by the Avs on Nashville’s first power play, and Colorado had two more shot attempts than the Predators. The Avs outshot Nashville 13-6 dominating the first until Trenin got his second of this series on a wrister from the slot with 61 seconds left in the period.

Makar put Colorado up 2-1 with a snap shot from near the blue line at 13:33 of the second, and he nearly scored again on a breakaway about 2 minutes later only to have Ingram stop the puck with his left pad.

“Anytime you get a chance to end a team’s season, you take it and run,” Makar said. “You try at least. For us tonight, there was a lot of ups and downs, but we wanted this one. I think just the resilience in general showed from our group.”

Trenin tied it again, this time with 3:11 left in the second. He spun in the right circle and fired a wrister past Pavel Francouz.

Forsberg scored into an open net behind Francouz off a cross-ice pass from Mattias Ekholm, giving Nashville a 3-2 lead in the third.

“You never want to go out 4-nothing,” Nashville captain Roman Josi said. “It’s tough right now. … I thought our two home games, we played a lot better. But yeah we didn’t get it done. We didn’t get a win, so yeah it’s definitely disappointing.”

SWEEP TIME

The Avalanche also swept St. Louis in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, Vancouver in the Western quarterfinals in 2001 and the 1996 Stanley Cup Final against Florida.

NORRIS TROPHY FINALISTS

Josi and Makar were announced as finalists earlier Monday for the Norris Trophy. Josi won the Norris in 2020, and he posted the best scoring season since Phil Housley in 1992-93 with 96 points — a franchise record for the Predators.

Makar is a finalist for a second straight season. He led defensemen with 28 goals, and he became the eighth defenseman in NHL history with seven or more points through the first three games of a postseason and first since John Carlson also had seven in 2018.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after trouncing the New York Rangers 7-2 in Game 4 on Monday.

The Penguins scored five goals on Vezina Trophy frontrunner Igor Shesterkin in the second period to pull away.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists in the win, bringing his playoff total to nine points.

The Rangers faced the same situation against Pittsburgh in 2014 and ultimately came back to win the series in seven games.

Game 5 goes Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Ottawa Senators are not looking for a new ownership group in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s death.

“The franchise is being professionally run,” Bettman said Friday night, according to the Canadian Press’ Joshua Clipperton. “The club’s not on the market. There’s no urgency. The club’s not unstable.

“There are no problems.”

Melnyk died March 28 at 62 years old after dealing with an undisclosed illness. He helped the Senators franchise escape bankruptcy when he bought it in 2003.

Bettman said that it’s up to Melnyk’s two daughters – aged 19 and 23 – to decide what to do with the team.

Melnyk was a polarizing figure during his time in ownership. One of the main issues he faced was the Senators’ arena situation: The club has played in suburban Kanata since 1996, but there has been immense pressure in recent years to build a new rink in downtown Ottawa.

Bettman added that a new arena isn’t off the table, but that it isn’t the main focus.

“That door opens, it closes, it opens and closes,” Bettman said. “I’m hopeful that maybe at some point it’ll happen.

“Right now we’re just focusing on the family’s wishes and being supportive of the family at a very difficult time.”

During the latest installment of the Hall Of Fame podcast, Booker T spoke about the future of the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Cody Rhodes has made it clear he wants that title, and Booker believes that could be done. Even if WWE wants Roman to be champion to possibly face The Rock, this could be done in his opinion.

“Yeah, we talked about that, we talked about Cody may be able to slip in there,” he said. “Then somehow maybe it will be able to flip back before WrestleMania, and we can still do The Rock. But, of course, right now Cody Rhodes coming back and saying, ‘the title that my dad didn’t win,’ it seems like we are going that route and doing something along that route, I don’t know.”

While Booker T believes that it is easy to believe Roman Reigns will be champion for the foreseeable future. “I would not be surprised, I’ll tell you right now, I know Cody what he wants. But, I would not be surprised if Roman had the title for the next two years. Card subject to change,” he said.

Booker T also discussed the future of The Bloodline as a faction in WWE. While he wouldn’t be shocked to see new members added, Booker is not sure if that is needed.

“I am not going to sit here and say I would be surprised if I saw something like that. But, I would not want to just start adding members to The Bloodline. It ain’t broke,” he said. “I was reading I think Naomi was considering, they were considering putting her in The Bloodline at one point. You go, okay, ‘what will that do for The Bloodline? What is that going to bring to The Bloodline?’

“It’s just going to bring another element, is it another element that we need? That’s the question, so, I don’t know. I do know this, there’s enough Samoans out there to where if Roman Reigns and The Bloodline and the family was to find themselves in a predicament to be able to insert certain factors at certain times, I could tell you this, wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

Tony Ferguson got a lot off his chest ahead of his first UFC fight in almost a year.

The lightweight contender, who returns to action against Michael Chandler at UFC 274 on Saturday in Phoenix, said he believes fighters in the promotion are underpaid.

Ferguson also blasted UFC president Dana White for not allowing him to compete in boxing – or other professional sports – while under contract with the UFC.

“Dana said something the other day … talking about how boxers are overpaid,” Ferguson told reporters Wednesday, per MMA Fighting. “I asked Dana to box. He said, ‘Fuck no.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’

“I wanted to go play baseball. I wanted to go do other sports. I’m an athlete. … But then I have this guy right here acting like a fucking drug dealer telling me I can’t go and do this shit. I want to go make more money for my family.”

Regarding his frustration with the UFC, “El Cucuy” said he’s not alone.

“A lot of fighters have been keeping their mouths shut for a long time,” Ferguson said. “You should ask some of the other fighters that have been fucking treated like shit for a long time, too. Because I’m not the only one thinking it or fucking saying it or seeing it.”

Ferguson, a former interim champion, will look to snap his three-fight losing streak against Chandler.

Saturday’s event features a lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje.

Elias Lindholm scored and Jacob Markstrom recorded his second career playoff shutout as the Calgary Flames beat the Dallas Stars 1-0 Tuesday night in the opening game of their first-round playoff series.

Lindholm scored a power-play goal early in the first period. Markstrom stopped all 16 shots he faced as Calgary earned just its second playoff win at the Saddledome since 2015.

Dallas goal Jake Oettinger stopped 25 of 26 shots and lost his NHL playoff debut.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Thursday in Calgary. The series shifts to Dallas for Saturday’s Game 3 and Monday’s Game 4.

NOTES: The Stars ousted the Flames in six games in the first round of the 2020 playoff bubble in Edmonton. … It’s the fourth best-of-seven series in the past 21 years to feature four 40-goal scorers: Flames forwards Lindholm, Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau and Dallas forward Jason Robertson.

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse downplayed rumors about him potentially leaving the organization to join the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

“I don’t know where that stuff comes from, and I’m focused on coaching this team,” Nurse said during his end-of-season media availability Monday, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.

Nurse has two years remaining on his contract with the Raptors. He’s also signed up to coach Team Canada through the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Nurse was linked last month to the Lakers’ coaching opening as a leading candidate to replace Frank Vogel.

The 54-year-old has enjoyed tremendous success during his head coaching tenure with the Raptors. He owns a combined 186-122 record across four regular seasons, including the team’s subpar 27-45 campaign while based out of Tampa.

Nurse was also named 2019-20 Coach of the Year and helped capture the franchise’s first championship in 2019 as a rookie head coach.

As a guest on the latest episode of WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves, The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes joined the show to talk about his time spent away from WWE and his comeback at WrestleMania 38. The former Intercontinental Champion spoke about what he learned from his experience doing independent wrestling and how it made him connect with wrestling fans on a different level.

“At WWE I was spoiled, I started right in front of thousands and thousands of people,” Rhodes said. “The lights are down, the spotlight is on the ring, it’s WWE, the place is going nuts and I felt like I was taking it for granted. Go to the independents and even with the large crowd, independents at the time were booming and they’re doing good again right now, but you did get the opportunity to do these meet and greets, that’s a big part of independent wrestling. To me, the match was almost secondary, I wanted to meet every fan.

“That’s why I started wearing a suit and tie everywhere I went, it became second nature to me. I wanted to meet them and I never felt like I really crossed the isle, I never felt like I really met all these fans over the years because you see the power of television when you travel around and do that loop like I did. That’s also where I developed what I would call a bad habit and a habit that a lot of people disagree with. I will stay out there until I meet every single fan, until I take every single picture, until I sign every type of autograph. It’s because that’s what brought me to the dance.”

Continuing to talk about his return to WWE, Cody Rhodes mentioned how he’s been receiving some negativity regarding his departure from AEW, with people calling him a sell out. The American Nightmare highlighted how integral he was in building AEW and mentioned how people should just be happy knowing that WWE now has viable competition.

“It initially was unanimously positive,” Rhodes said. “I feel like that fanbase, that divide that exists amongst all the different bubbles, if there was any negativity, well I can put some of the blame on my shoulders. Again, the last shows I had done before taking this WWE return, I’m taking little fun and pod-shots talking smack which is what wrestlers do. I think sometimes the fans attach themselves to those statements and forget that we are in the realm of entertainment. I added to the tribalism myself so I can’t necessarily get mad at it when I see it.

“It was unique to see a lot of people burning like my old AEW shirts which was a trend for a few days on social so it felt like you were kind of leaving a sports team. It didn’t break my heart but I thought it was odd because the place doesn’t exist without me. There’s other people that needed to be there for it to exist for sure but I am one of the people that that place exists because of. AEW exists partially because of me. I saw a few times the term ‘sold out’ and I thought like you have this, it’s great.”

As far as what’s next for WWE’s newest acquisition, Cody Rhodes is set to take on Seth Rollins in a WrestleMania 38 rematch on May 8th at WrestleMania Backlash.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recognizes the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs could be the last opportunity for his club’s longtime core to chase a championship.

Teammates Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are set for unrestricted free agency this summer.

“As much as you don’t want to think about it, it’s something that you understand could be a possibility,” Crosby told NHL.com’s Wes Crosby. “I think you just try to enjoy it as much as you can, and try to take it all in because you know it’s something that’s not going to last forever, whether it’s this year or down the road a little bit more.

“You only get to play for so long, so I think just trying to enjoy it and be grateful for the opportunity that we have to do it again.”

Crosby (34 years old), Malkin (35), and Letang (35) have been teammates for the past 16 seasons, qualifying for the playoffs each year and winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016, and 2017. The only campaign Crosby’s Penguins failed to reach the postseason was his rookie year in 2005-06, before Malkin and Letang debuted in the NHL.

Although they’re well into their 30s, the trio is still the engine that drives the Penguins.

2021-22 stats

PLAYERGPPTSATOI
Crosby688420:01
Malkin404018:25
Letang776725:48

Malkin currently carries a $9.5-million average annual value, while Letang earns $7.25 million per season. Both high-profile players could command big-ticket contracts on the open market, but the Penguins could attempt to retain the pair of superstars. Pittsburgh has more than $29 million in projected cap space this offseason, according to CapFriendly.

Crosby is signed through 2024-25 at a yearly cap hit of $8.7 million.

The Penguins currently sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 101 points and one game remaining. The Washington Capitals are hot in pursuit of their archrivals with 100 points of their own and a game in hand.

The inaugural AEW All-Atlantic Champion was crowned tonight at AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door.

In the finals of the tournament, PAC defeated Miro, Malakai Black, and Clark Connors to become the first-ever All-Atlantic champion.

To get to the finals, PAC had to defeat Buddy Matthews.

Malakai Black defeated Penta Oscuro and Miro defeated Ethan Page to get to the finals.

As noted, Clark Connors took the place of NJPW star Tomohiro Ishii. Ishii was pulled out of the match due to a left knee injury and was not medically cleared to compete.

The AEW All-Atlantic Title was introduced on June 8 on “Dynamite.”

New IWGP Tag Team Champions were crowned tonight at AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door.

FTR defeated former IWGP Tag Team Champions The United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) and Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) to retain their ROH World Tag Team Titles and to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions.

During the match, Dax Harwood was walked back by the medics after being checked on ringside. He later would return to the ring with his shoulder taped up.

This is the first time that Wheeler and Harwood have held the IWGP Tag Team Titles. FTR have been the ROH Tag Team Champions since they defeated The Briscoes on April 1 at Supercard of Honor XV.

Before losing the IWGP Tag Team Titles tonight, Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb had held them since June 12.

AEW Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa recently spoke with TV Insider about the Forbidden Door, her title reign, and former WWE Superstar Paige.

While speaking about Paige, Rosa said that she has so much experience, and if she came to AEW, everybody would benefit from it.

“She has so much experience,” praised Rosa. “She has been wrestling since a young girl. I met her mother a few years ago at an independent show. She is a wrestler’s wrestler. She would bring something different to the women’s division as a wrestler or even if we needed a general manager. If she came to our door, I think everybody will benefit from it. If anyone comes to wrestle me. I’m open to any challenge. Whoever wants a piece of me, you know where to find me. If not, I’ll send you my number right now.”

WWE decided not to renew Paige’s contract when it expires in July. Paige last competed inside of a WWE ring at a live event on December 27, 2017, where she suffered an injury in a six-woman tag match. Paige would then officially announce her in-ring retirement, on the April 18, 2018 episode of “SmackDown.”

During her in-ring tournament, Paige had assumed several roles for the WWE including being the General Manager of “SmackDown” and the manager of the Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane).

Canadian All Elite Wrestling fans may not have to wait much longer to watch their favorite wrestlers head North of the border.

During an interview with the Toronto Star, AEW President Tony Khan stated that the company will soon have live events in Canada due to their ongoing success on television in the country, on TSN. Khan also spoke extensively about having several Canadian wrestlers on the roster.

When asked about the interview during the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door Media Call, Khan revisited his take on AEW in Canada, providing a few provinces and cities he’d like to visit and why.

“I named some cities and, to be honest, I named cities based on some wrestlers that AEW has, stars competing here, where they hail from,” Khan said. “That includes a lot of great wrestlers from around Toronto and Hamilton, and I will get to Alberta here in a second. Delta, British Columbia which is around Vancouver, Kyle O’Reilly is from the Vancouver area. I neglected to mention Montreal, which is a legendary wrestling city and I should’ve said it. It was an omission by me that I did not mean to make, but I was just naming cities off the top of my head on a long day.

“I have to say when it comes to Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton would both be great homes for an AEW event. We’ve worked very closely with Dr. Martha Hart and the Owen Hart Foundation, and it was a real honor to have Dr. Martha Hart, and Oje Hart, and Athena Hart here in AEW, representing Owen Hart’s legacy. I look forward to continuing working with the Owen Hart Foundation. It was a real pleasure to have Dr. Martha Hart working with us.”

The AEW roster has marveled at Bret “The Hitman” Hart, with many talent calling him the greatest wrestler of all time and constantly paying tribute to the WWE Hall of Famer. With such a deep connection to many within the company, Bret’s hometown would ideally be another stop for Khan and AEW in Canada.

“Speaking of Calgary and wrestling, the conversation has to have Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, arguably the greatest pro wrestler of all time and of course he’s from Calgary, and he’s the very first person ever to hold the AEW World Championship belt in his hands out on pay-per-view, on our very first show, Double or Nothing 2019,” Khan said.

“There’s a lot of great wrestlers here in AEW who have a lot of respect for him, and I have a lot of respect for Bret. I think he’s just a tremendous person and I really like him a lot in addition to respecting him as one of the best people to ever lace up the boots and work in pro wrestling. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart is somebody that’s still very much in the conversation in AEW today, even though he’s not somebody that actively wrestles or competes here. That is a testament to his enduring legacy.”

The AEW Owner also stated why Winnipeg, Manitoba is another Canadian city he’d like to produce a show in, as it’s the hometown of two of the company’s biggest stars.

“It’s one of the first cities you have to mention with AEW, with Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega coming from there and them being two of the great world champions in AEW, and two of the great Canadian stars, and two of the great stars in all the world of wrestling in Jericho and Omega. Jericho has competed extensively in Alberta; we would love to go there. I think that would be a great place for us to go.”

It’s unclear at this time when AEW will be heading to Canada, but during his initial interview with the Toronto Star, Khan did say he’d like the first show to be in Toronto.

Joe Burrow was a star quarterback in high school, but he didn’t always see himself becoming a professional football player.

Appearing on “Unbuttoned with Chris Simms” recently, Burrow said he favored basketball over football growing up and named Los Angeles Lakers star and fellow Ohio native LeBron James as one of his idols.

“Thought I was gonna be a basketball guy, so obviously LeBron James, coming from Ohio,” the Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller said. “Played his high school (St. Vincent-St. Mary) when I was in high school in basketball twice. … We lost both times, but I put up some good numbers.

“I liked football. I liked college football, but I was more of a basketball guy.”

Burrow was a standout point guard at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio, earning first-team All-Statehonors during his senior year. He finished his high school career with 1,426 points, the second-highest total in program history.

Bradley Beal appears to be staying put in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Wizards star will very likely decline his $36.4-million player option for next season and re-sign on a new five-year, $248-million contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Washington selected Beal third overall in 2012. The Florida product has spent his entire 10-year career with the Wizards. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals and trails only Hall of Fame big man Elvin Hayes in points scored.

Beal has earned three All-Star selections and one All-NBA nod during his time in Washington. After posting two straight runner-up finishes in the NBA scoring race, his production took a hit last season.

The 28-year-old averaged 23.2 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.7 boards over 40 appearances. Beal’s 2021-22 campaign ended in February after he underwent left wrist surgery.

In the words of William Regal, AEW’s PAC is “as good as anyone walking the Earth”.

Speaking during the latest episode of his Gentleman Villain podcast (via Wrestling Inc.), his Lordship had plentiful praise for the Death Triangle badass.

As Regal detailed:

“I think he’s as good as anyone walking the Earth. I don’t see anything to do with his height. I know me and him have a lot of the same things as far as music and youth culture stuff, and he just looks like somebody who would smash the granny out of somebody. He’s very assuming and quiet and polite. He looks the part, his face tells a story. I really, really rate him and I think he’s fantastic. I can’t say enough good about him and I can’t say enough good about the way he carries himself as a pro.”

Regal and the Bastard have quite the history together, with the pair having previously worked together in NXT. There, PAC, as Adrian Neville, had a 286-day run as the NXT Champion and showcased himself as one of the best in-ring workers on the planet.

As for what’s next for PAC, the Geordie will compete against Miro, Malakai Black and Clark Connors to become the inaugural AEW All-Atlantic Champion at tonight’s AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door.

In terms of William Regal, it remains to be seen what role he has to play at Forbidden Door. Blackpool Combat Club’s Wheeler Yuta is teaming with Eddie Kingston and Shota Umino to face Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Minoru Suzuki, whilst BCC’s Jon Moxley will battle Hiroshi Tanahashi for the interim AEW World Championship.

Of course, Blackpool Combat Club will also reveal its newest member tonight, with Bryan Danielson announcing that this new recruit will face Zack Sabre Jr. at Forbidden Door before they then go onto be a part of the six-on-six Blood & Guts war on this coming Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite.

Getting traded is a tough pill to swallow. But when you’re moved for one of the best in the league, as Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was, it certainly makes it slightly easier.

“Honestly, I was upset about the trade,” Verdugo told MassLive’s Chris Cotillo. “I didn’t think I was going to get traded from the Dodgers, and I didn’t feel like I should have been the guy to get traded. Obviously, being traded, you do sit back and say, ‘At least, I got traded for fucking Mookie Betts.'”

Verdugo was the key piece in a three-player haul with Jeter Downs and Connor Wong that sent Betts and David Price to the Dodgers prior to the 2020 season.

“But yeah, I never had that ‘Holy shit!’ moment,” the outfielder added. “I just figured, shit, I got traded, man, this sucks. Then I came over here and was like, ‘Holy shit, this was a blessing.’ I love it over here. The Red Sox have been nothing but great to me, have taken care of me. From the teammates to the staff to the coaching, it has been amazing.”

The 26-year-old has become a crucial member of a Red Sox club that improbably made it to the American League Championship Series last year. After a rough start to the 2022 campaign, Boston now sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 41-31, 11 games back of the division-leading New York Yankees.

Verdugo, who earned down-ballot MVP consideration in 2020, has somewhat struggled this season, hitting .251/.293/.373 – all career lows – with five homers over 66 contests.

Betts, meanwhile, looked to be headed toward MVP consideration in 2022, authoring a .884 OPS in 60 games before landing on the injured list with a fractured rib. The five-time All-Star won an MVP as a member of the Red Sox in 2018 and finished as the runner-up for the award in 2016.