OLYMPICS

Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin was promoted to take over the men’s U.S. Olympic hockey team on Tuesday, two months after Stan Bowman’s resignation in the wake of the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault scandal.

“Unfortunately, things turned out the way they did and we’re here today,” Guerin said during a USA Hockey Zoom conference call. “But you know, we have a job to do and we have to remain focused and steadfast on that. It’s been a bumpy road getting here, but we’re here and we have to focus on the task at hand.”

Initially named the U.S. team’s assistant GM, Guerin replaces Bowman, who resigned in October after an investigation determined Blackhawks’ officials mishandled a player’s allegations against an assistant coach during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010. Bowman was the Blackhawks GM.

Guerin’s promotion comes less than two months before the Beijing Winter Games open in February. He New York Rangers GM Chris Drury, the team’s assistant general manager, have only about a month to select a team and perhaps a backup team, given the uncertainty as to whether NHL players opt out from participation due to COVID-19 protocols. Guerin is placing his emphasis on NHL participation.

“There are a lot of moving parts that still have to be discussed and hopefully answers so that everybody can feel the best about sending the best players to the Olympics from the NHL,” he said.

BASEBALL

MLB: Justin Verlander’s $25 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros has been finalized, nearly a month after the sides agreed to the deal.

The pitcher and the Astros reached an agreement on Nov. 17 subject to a successful physical. While the deal was reported before the collective bargaining agreement expired Dec. 1 and a signing freeze began, Major League Baseball and the players’ association did not approve it until this week.

Verlander’s agreement incudes a $25 million salary for 2022 and a $25 million player option for 2023 conditioned on him pitching 130 or more innings in 2022.

Verlander became a free agent after completing a $94 million, three-year contract with the Astros. He played in just one game in the past two seasons. He made just one start in 2020, pitching six innings on July 24 in a win over Seattle on opening day before being placed on the injured list with strained right forearm. He attempted a comeback, but announced on Sept. 19, 2020, that he needed Tommy John surgery and underwent the procedure on Oct. 1.

SOCCER

PREMIER LEAGUE: Players will undergo daily coronavirus tests as part of emergency measures approved by clubs on Tuesday to deal with the worsening pandemic in England. Two Premier League matches have been called off in the last three days due to outbreaks at clubs. The league reported on Monday that COVID-19 cases rose by 350% to a record 42 infections in a week across the 20 clubs from 3,805 tests on players and staff.

Britain is braced for a worsening health emergency caused by the new omicron variant, with health authorities saying it is responsible for about 200,000 new cases a day with the number of infections doubling every two to three days. Premier League players will have to wait in their cars for the outcome of daily rapid antigen test results at their clubs, which will also conduct PCR tests twice a week on them. All players and coaches will have to resume wearing masks around clubs.

Outbreaks within squads led to the postponements of Brighton-Tottenham on Sunday and Brentford-Manchester United on Tuesday.

MLS: Pablo Mastroeni was given the job as permanent head coach of  Real Salt Lake, 3 1/2 months after he took over as interim coach.

The 45-year-old, a former U.S. national team midfielder, was head coach of Colorado from 2014 until he was fired in August 2017 with a record that season of six wins, 12 losses and four draws.

He was a Houston assistant coach in 2020, then was hired by Salt Lake last Jan. 5 as an assistant to Freddy Juarez. Mastroeni was appointed interim coach on Aug. 27 when Juarez was fired with the team in sixth place in the Western Conference.

Mastroeni led RSL to eight wins, eight losses and one draw over the rest of the regular season. The team earned the final playoff berth in the Western Conference and defeated Seattle and Kansas City on the road before losing 2-0 to Portland in the conference final.

Pat Noonan was hired as the sixth head coach of Cincinnati team in a little more than three seasons.

The 41-year-old, who scored one goal in 15 appearances for the United States, has been an assistant coach for the LA Galaxy (2013-16), the U.S. (2017) and Philadelphia (2018-21).

Cincinnati has finished 24th, 26th and 27th overall in its three MLS seasons. It had four wins, 22 losses and eight draws this year.

Alan Koch coached Cincinnati in the lower-tier United Soccer League and remained with it for the start of its first MLS season in 2019. He was fired that May and replaced on an interim basis by assistant Yoann Damet, and Ron Jans was hired that August.

Jans quit in February 2020 after an investigation by MLS found he had used a racial slur in the locker room and made other troubling comments. Damet took over again on an interim basis, and former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam was hired that May.

Stam was fired Sept. 27 after a stretch that included one win, eight losses and seven draws in a 16-game span, and under-19 coach Tyrone Marshall took over as interim coach.

General Manager Gerard Nijkamp left in August and was replaced on Oct. 4 by Chris Albright, Noonan’s former boss in Philadelphia as technical director.

AUTO RACING

INDYCAR: James Hinchcliffe, one of IndyCar’s most popular drivers, said he is stepping away from full-time racing in the series. The 34-year-old Canadian said he is not retiring and will explore other types of racing. Andretti Autosport did not renew his contract for next year.

“With a decade-plus of incredible memories in the bank, I am happy to announce I am stepping away from full-time IndyCar competition,” Hinchcliffe posted on social media. “This was not a decision taken lightly and it was one made with the full support of my family and closest supporters. There were many factors, both personal and professional, that led me to this decision but it truly felt like the time was right.”

Hinchcliffe had a rough season in his return to Andretti this past year and scored just one podium finish, third place on the street course at Nashville. His next best finish was 14th twice, at Detroit and the Long Beach season finale.

TENNIS

MATCH FIXING: Six Moroccan men’s tennis players, including four who played in the Davis Cup, have been banned in a match-fixing investigation, the International Tennis Integrity Unit said Tuesday.

A hearing found the six players “were guilty of multiple offenses and a variety of match-fixing charges, including fixing elements of matches, receiving money for fixing and failing to report corrupt approaches,” the ITIA said in a statement.

“The ITIA investigation found that the players’ offenses were linked and therefore were subject to a joint hearing,” it said. The ITIA didn’t say which competitions were affected.

The players were identified as Amine Ahouda, Anas Chakrouni, Ayoub Chakrouni, Mohamed Zakaria Khalil, Soufiane El Mesbahi and Yassir Kilani. Their bans ranged from nine years to a life ban for Ayoub Chakrouni.


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