The NHL is set to return to the Olympics in Beijing this winter after reaching an agreement with international officials, though the league and players have the opportunity to withdraw if pandemic circumstances warrant.
The NHL, its players’ union, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation struck a deal that will put the best players in the world back on sports’ biggest stage in February after they skipped the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
Even after the NHL and players agreed to Olympic participation as part of a long-term extension of the collective bargaining agreement last summer, the coronavirus pandemic and related costs threatened to shelve that possibility. Instead, the sides figured it out, allowing for the league or players to withdraw if virus circumstances change for the worse or there’s an outbreak during the season.
As long as that does not happen, NHL players will compete in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament for the sixth time in seven chances dating to 1998.
NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Osaka said she is thinking of taking another break from tennis “for a while” after losing in the third round at the U.S. Open.
“When I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. When I lose, I feel very sad,” Osaka said at her news conference following a 5-7, 6-7 (2), 6-4 loss to Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old from Canada who is ranked 73rd and never had been this far in Grand Slam competition. “I don’t feel like it’s normal.”
Attempting to hold back tears, Osaka added: “I’m basically at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do.”
Earlier Friday, she smacked her racket against Arthur Ashe Stadium’s court. Moments later, she chucked her equipment, sending it bouncing and skidding halfway to the net. Then came a full-on spike near the baseline.
Osaka’s game was off. Her composure was gone. By the end, the crowd was booing her for turning her back to the court and taking too much time between points.
This was Osaka’s first Slam tournament since she pulled out of the French Open before the second round to take a mental health break. She also sat out Wimbledon, before participating in the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the cauldron.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former NFL receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion David Patten Jr., who caught Tom Brady’s first postseason touchdown pass to help the Patriots win their first title, has died in a motorcycle accident.
Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford said in a statement Patten was killed in a crash Thursday night outside of Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina Highway Patrol said the accident involved two other vehicles.
Patten played 12 seasons in the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants in 1997. He spent three seasons in New York and also played for Cleveland, Washington and New Orleans.
But his biggest highlights came as a member of the Patriots, making two iconic catches to help New England capture its first Super Bowl win during the 2001 season. He hauled in an 11-yard TD from Drew Bledsoe during the Patriots’ 24-17 win over Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game. He followed that with a leaping 8-yard TD reception from Brady in the second quarter of the Super Bowl. It was New England’s lone offensive TD in the 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams.
The Big 12 is moving quickly on an expansion plan that could have the conference at 12 schools after Texas and Oklahoma leave, with BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston as the “most intriguing” candidates.
Three people familiar with the Big 12′s talks said Friday the eight schools being left behind by the Longhorns and Sooners are working to rebuild by adding four new members.
Two of the people said there were regularly scheduled meetings planned for Big 12 university presidents and athletic directors in the coming days to discuss next steps, and another meeting of presidents was expected to take place late next week.
One person said invitations to new members could go out as soon as next week.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Big 12 was not making its internal discussions public.
Sports Illustrated first reported on Friday, citing unidentified sources, that BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF were expected to apply for membership to the Big 12 early next week. The Athletic was first to report earlier this week the Big 12 was focused on those four schools.
NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge rejoined the Brooklyn Nets, five months after having to retire because of an irregular heartbeat.
Aldridge retired in April after experiencing an irregular heartbeat in the last of the five games he played for the Nets. Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome — an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat — as a rookie in 2007.
Aldridge, 36, is a seven-time All-Star who has averaged 19.4 points in a career that began when he was the No. 2 pick in the 2006 draft. He played for Portland and San Antonio before originally signing in Brooklyn in March.
He provides the Nets with size and a post presence that is one of the few weaknesses on a high-scoring team that often played small.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Cubs manager David Ross and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer have tested positive for COVID-19.
A spokesman for the team said Ross and Hoyer are feeling fine in isolation. Both of them are vaccinated.
Ross and Hoyer likely will have to stay away from the team for at least 10 days, though Major League Baseball has made exceptions for individuals cleared by its medical experts, based on not being infectious.
Bench coach Andy Green will run the team while Ross is away, but he was ejected by second base umpire Tom Hallion in the sixth inning of Friday’s 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oscar De La Hoya’s return to the ring will have to wait after the fighter said he tested positive for COVID-19.
The 48-year-old De La Hoya was scheduled to fight on Sept. 11 against former MMA fighter Vitor Belfort in a pay-per-view event at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It would have been his first fight since being stopped by Manny Pacquiao in 2008.
The former boxing champion posted a video online of himself in a hospital bed, saying he caught the virus despite being fully vaccinated.
“I am currently in the hospital getting treatment and am confident I will be back in the ring before the year is up,” De La Hoya said.
De La Hoya, who has been a boxing promoter since retiring, was to have fought the 44-year-old Belfort at 185 pounds, 40 pounds heavier than he was for his loss to Pacquiao.