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🏒Joe Thornton Signs With Maple Leafs

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: DARREN YAMASHITA/USA TODAY
SOURCE: DARREN YAMASHITA/USA TODAY

The GIST: On Friday, the Leafs signed St. Thomas local Joe Thornton to a one-year deal at the league-minimum of $700K. Welcome to the big smoke, Jumbo Joe!

Whoa! Isn’t Thornton pretty old?: In hockey terms, yes. The 41-year-old played for the San Jose Sharks for 15 years, and left after the Sharks’ miserable 2020 season. Thornton, who has never won a Stanley Cup in his 23-year career, thinks the Leafs have a roster that will help him finally raise the cup. *crosses fingers, knees and toes*

What does he bring to the table?: A veteran presence, for one. Thornton also ranks seventh all-time in assists, with more than a thousand, and is expected to be a big contributor on the power play. Guy still has some game left!

So...no concerns?: Well, not exactly. The Leafs’ top guys are clearly talented, with proven scorers Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and captain John Tavares. Our worry is that Thornton, alongside 37-year-old Jason Spezza, might slow down the third and fourth lines.

  • While Thornton brings great veteran savvy, the Leafs still need help defensively and we’re not convinced just how much help he’ll be. The Leafs have made a lot of moves recently, so only time will tell how they all pan out!

🏈No COVID Postponements in NFL This Week

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: JOE SARGENT/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: JOE SARGENT/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: It’s certainly been a bumpy ride, but the NFL might have things (somewhat) under control. *knocks on wood* For the first time in three weeks, the NFL played on without any last minute COVID-19 postponements. *knocks on wood again* Let’s celebrate with some highlights!

On the money: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback (QB) Ben Roethlisberger tossed a perfect 36-yard pass to wide receiver (WR) Chase Claypool during the Steelers’ 38–7 rout of the Cleveland Browns.

  • The Steelers remain undefeated and Canadian Claypool’s rushing touchdown (TD) on Sunday gives him six TDs through five games, tying a rookie WR record. Damn, Canada!

Don’t stop me now: Tennessee Titans running back (RB) Derrick Henry could not be stopped on Sunday. Henry opened up the fourth quarter with this 94-yard (!!!) TD run. The King (move over LeBron) called “game” with this sneaky TD to lift the undefeated Titans to a 42–36 overtime (OT) victory over the Houston Texans.

For the mems: Future hall-of-fame QBs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers met for just the third time in their storied careers on Sunday. Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers easily took the win in this hyped up matchup, scoring 38 unanswered points to defeat Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers 38–10.

  • Our favorite play was this throwback TD connection from Brady to tight end (TE) Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s former New England Patriots teammate who came out of retirement to reunite with Brady in Tampa Bay. A bromance for the ages.

Star Power on Display in FA Women's Super League

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: ARSENAL WOMEN/TWITTER
SOURCE: ARSENAL WOMEN/TWITTER

The GIST: With the NWSL Fall Series wrapping up on Saturday, it’s time to turn your attention across the pond, where some of our favorite Olympians continue to play in the FA Women’s Super League. Let’s spill the tea.

Who’s playing?: Star players like Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Ashley Lawrence and, most recently, new mom Alex Morgan have all taken their talents overseas. The mostly short-term moves were prompted by the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in the States but could signal a broader movement of players looking for better salary opportunities and stability.

  • These players have already made a big impression, highlighted by Heath and Press jerseys outselling all Manchester United men’s jerseys in the three days after their signing. No surprises there!
     
  • While we wait for the NWSL to announce details for the 2021 season, there’s plenty of action in the Super League to tide us over until the Olympics begin next summer.

Any other news from the league?: Glad you asked! Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema broke a huge Super League record over the weekend, scoring her 50th goal in 50 (!!!) games to become the league’s all-time leading scorer. After breaking the record, the Dutch star knocked in two more goals just for good measure. Have yourself a day.

Dodgers and Rays to Face Off in World Series

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER

The GIST: The World Series matchup is officially set! Both league championship series took all seven games and a whole lot of drama to be decided, building to a star-studded Fall Classic between the Tampa Bay Rays and the LA Dodgers.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays gave everyone something to celebrate by defeating the Houston Asterisks Astros with a nail-biting Game 7 victory on Saturday. With the win, the Rays punched their ticket to the World Series for the second time in franchise history and are now just four wins away from their first-ever title.

  • A key player to watch is rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena, who has seven (!!!) postseason home runs, a rookie record. On the defensive side, keep an eye on starting pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton boasts an incredible 0.57 earned run average (ERA) this postseason. Domination station.

LA Dodgers: The Dodgers defied the odds, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 and win an epic 4–3 duel with the Atlanta Braves, thanks to outfielder Cody Bellinger’s clutch go-ahead home run. Entering the season as the favorites to win it all, the Dodgers now look to avenge their World Series losses in 2017 and 2018 and claim their seventh franchise title.

  • This stacked team features a laundry list of talent, including shortstop Corey Seager, who has six home runs and a team-leading 15 RBIs this postseason. For pitching, the Dodgers will lean on starting pitcher Walker Buehler and his 29 strikeouts through four postseason starts.

Who’s going to win it all?: This World Series matchup is sure to be one for the history books, with the winningest teams from each league squaring off. Riding their come-from-behind NLCS energy, we expect the star-powered Dodgers to keep that momentum rolling against the Rays and ultimately live up to their preseason favorite status.

  • First pitch of Game 1 is set for 8:09 p.m. ET tomorrow. Grab your favorite blanket and get cozy for the October baseball finale!

🏒Guide to Hockey

October 17, 2020
Guide to Hockey

The GIST

The point of the good ol’ hockey game is to have the most goals after three, 20 minute periods of play. Each team has five players (three forwards and two defence) plus one goalie on the ice at a time.

How is it organized?

The most popular hockey league in the world is the National Hockey League, aka the NHL or “chel” if you’re a true “hockey beauty” *rolls eyes*. Teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences and are then further divided by divisions. There are 31 teams (until Seattle’s expansion team begins its franchise in 2021-22) and 82 regular season games. 

At the end of the regular season, the top three teams in each division and then the remaining top two teams in the conference, regardless of the division (this playoff format is v. controversial because sometimes one division is stronger than the other, meaning that two of the best teams in the conference may have to play each other in the first round) will move on to the playoffs. This means each division will have a minimum of three and a maximum of five teams in the playoffs. The playoffs consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series (teams must win four of the possible seven games to advance) with a chance to win the coveted Stanley Cup aka “Lord Stanley” in the end.  

The best of the best

The 2020 Stanley Cup Champions are the Tampa Bay Lightning! The Lightning claimed the first (and hopefully last) bubble championship and their second Stanley Cup in franchise history, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. Centre Brayden Point led the Lightning offense with 14 goals and 19 assists (!!!) throughout the playoffs. On the defensive side, defenseman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy (the award for the MVP during the playoffs). Other top players in the league include Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)

When will the next NHL season start?

COVID-19 paused the NHL regular season in March forcing a four-month hiatus in play. In a normal year, the new NHL season would begin in October...but we all know 2020 is certainly not normal. With the 2020 season wrapping up in late September, the league is targeting January 1st as the potential start date for the 2021 season, although nothing’s set in stone just yet. We'll be waiting for that puck to drop!

All my ladies, let me hear y’all!

The women’s hockey scene has gotten mighty messy as of late. At the end of its 2019 season, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) (one of two professional women’s hockey leagues based in North America at the time) unexpectedly folded due to unsustainable business operations. It consisted of six teams, four based in Canada, one in the US, and one in China, and left a lot of female hockey stars without a team.

Then there’s the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) which has just five teams centralized in the Northeastern US. However, in both the former CWHL and the current NWHL, players get paid next to nothing compared to their male counterparts. Most of the league’s players juggle full-time work and pro-hockey as the league’s average salary is just $15k. To put this in perspective, the lowest amount an NHL team can pay a player is $700k. Can you say #WageGap?

So in 2019, more than 200 of the world’s best female hockey players joined forces to fight for change forming the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association. They are currently boycotting (refusing to play) in the current professional hockey league structure with the goal of creating a viable cross-border league with better working conditions (is health insurance so much to ask?) and better pay. That means no Marie-Philip Poulin, no Hilary Knight and no Brianne Jenner to watch this season. Welp. 

But, you can watch them on their Dream Gap Tour this year. It’s a short-term band aid but will hopefully help create a long-term solution. For now, the conversation seems to be at a standstill and the future of women’s hockey hangs in a kind of uncomfortable limbo. Subscribe to The GIST and follow our social channels to stay up-to-date on more of this news.

Fun facts

  • The Stanley Cup was created in 1893. It was named for Lord Stanley of Preston, a Canadian Governor General.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins (that’s Sidney Crosby’s team!) used to have a real-life penguin mascot. Pete, as he was affectionately called, was introduced in 1968 before a game against the Pennsylvania state rival Philadelphia Flyers.
  • There are more than 2,200 names engraved on the Stanley Cup (FYI, each team has their names engraved after winning), but only 12 women have made the cut, either as owners or team executives. Let’s get to adding to this tally, shall we?

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C/o to one of our very faves, @arkellsmusicFour-time WNBA champion Sue Bird backing her girlfriend Megan Rapinoe’s October 5th Players’ Tribune article in which Rapinoe compares her US women’s national soccer attention to the attention paid to women’s basketball. Tell it like it is.👏
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