The Viral Roundup – Babwatch Edition
Hello! Welcome to another rhinestoned and ready go-around of The Viral Roundup. We’re your daily one-stop shop for all the big news, big buzz and big developments from the world of sports. In today’s edition: Mike Babcock is the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York and Tampa take their bout to overtime and the Cavs open up the Eastern Conference Finals with a road win.
Did You Hear?
It’s happening. It’s actually happening. Coveted Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is heading north of the border to take on the role of Toronto’s new bench boss. The Stanley Cup and Olympic gold decorated coach is getting a whopper deal too to boot. Babcock’s pact is worth $50 million over eight years. There was enormous amounts of speculation over which suitor Babcock would choose. Detroit, Buffalo, St. Louis and San Jose were also considered possible landing spots for the 52-year-old before Toronto came out on top. (The Red Wings will receive a third round draft pick as compensation for the Leafs coach poaching.) The deal means clubs like the Sabres and Wings will now have to take a look at other options to fill their coaching vacancy. Babcock now has the herculean task of helping turn around a Maple Leafs team that’s been reliably lousy for ages. Who will stick around from last year’s squad and the identity of the future GM are still to be determind.
Did You See?
The final episode of Late Show with David Letterman aired tonight and we’re still feeling a lil’ teary eyed this morning. Let’s remember the good times with this classic segment from 1997 where Letterman bats for the Yankees.
You know what? Dave’s worthy of multiple sports-themed clips today. Here’s Norm Macdonald on the show telling a delightfully ridiculous story about Bob Uecker that absolutely cracks the late night icon up.
Did You Know?
- Kucherov the conquerer! Tampa Bay notched a Game 3 OT win last night thanks to Nikita Kucherov lighting the lamp in extra time. The Lightning (a -135 moneyline favourite) edged past the Rangers 6-5 in a wild showdown that included Blueshirt blueliner Dan Boyle tying things up with under two minutes remaining. Ondrej Palat potted a pair for the Bolts while Jesper Fast did the same for New York. Tampa now holds a 2-1 series lead and the puck drops on Game 4 on Friday night. The last time the Lightning made the Stanley Cup Finals was in 2004 when they topped the Flames to earn the sport’s most valuable prize.
- Returning to the world of hockey hirings, Don Sweeney has been given the reins as the new GM of the Boston Bruins. The longtime NHL blueliner was a fixture in the assistant GM role for the past six seasons and will take over the position previously held by Peter Chiarelli. The Bruins had an underwhelming 2014-15 where they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It’s uncertain if Boston head coach Claude Julien will be fired or score a vote of confidence in the aftermath of Sweeney’s hiring.
- Nick Foligno has been outfitted with the “C.” The Columbus Blue Jackets have chosen the 27-year-old forward to be the sixth captain in franchise history. (Previous captains include Lyle Odelein, Adam Foote and Rick Nash.) The captaincy has been vacant since the exit of star Rick Nash in 2012. Foligno was a bright spot in a rough year for CBJ, scoring 31 goals and 73 points in 79 games.
- The Hamburglar’s coming back. (Er, the hockey one.) Andrew Hammond has signed a new three-year deal worth a shade over $4 million U.S. The Ottawa Senators goaltender pulled off a miracle regular season run after being called up from the AHL and 20-1-2 with a dazzling .941 save percentage. The playoffs weren’t so great, mind you. Hammond got the hook in favour of Craig Anderson. The signing appears to spell the end of the Ottawa journey for Anderson or Robin Lehner. It’s expected that one of the netminders will be dealt before the fall.
- J.R. Smith torched ATL last night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The erratic swingman came off the bench to knock down eight treys in a 97-89 thumping of the Hawks. LeBron scored 31 points and Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov both notched double-doubles by the time the final buzzer hit. In addition to dropping the opener, Atlanta also lost the services of forward DeMarre Carrol with a leg injury and it is unclear if he’ll return for Game 2. Speaking of which, the series continues tomorrow in Georgia.
- Rockets big man Dwight Howard’s injured left knee underwent an MRI yesterday to see if he’ll be ready to go for Game 2 service tonight. There was no structional damage, but the pain is still there. Howard exited Houston’s Game 1 loss to Golden State after getting bumped into, although he’d return later on to play some minutes while displaying clear discomfort.
- Dallas Keuchel continues to strikes fear into the hearts of any batting order. The Houston southpaw improved to 6-0 after the Astros clubbed the A’s 6-1. Keuchel gave up six hits and zero earned runs and Evan Gattis scored his 8th round-tripper in the matinee affair. Currently boasting a 27-14 record (the best in the AL), Houston’s off to their best start in franchise history. Meanwhile, Oakland now sits 13.5 games back of their standings-topping division rival.
- After a rocky first innning, Jordan Zimmerman and the Nationals were able to escape with an interleague W over New York. Washington (last night’s -143 moneyline favourite) got seven mostly great innings out of their starter in the 3-2 squeak past performance and the losing Yanks gave up jacks to both Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore. If you’re looking for an impressive statline from slugger Bryce Harper you’ll be disappointed. Both he and Nats manager Matt Williams got the heave ho in the 3rd.
- The Mets bats were kept relatively silent on Wednesday night. Cards starter Carlos Martinez pitched 6+ innings of shutout ball in a 9-0 pummeling of the Big Apple’s NL club. Bartolo Colon had a rough night on the mound and was roughed up for 11 hits and 8 runs before exiting in the 5th. The two teams do battle again today in an afternoon showdown.
- Freshly installed Marlins skipper Dan Jennings is still winless in his new role. The Diamondbacks dropped an L on Miami’s manager for the third straight game and emerged with a 6-1 victory. Arizona hurler Chase Anderson held his opponent to a tidy four hits and zero runs over eight innings and A.J. Pollock went 3-4 with four runs and three stolen bases. Jennings can nab his first career managerial win today or Arizona wraps up the series with a four game sweep.
- It’s official: The Argos are moving to BMO Field in 2016. Toronto’s CFL franchise will exit the Rogers Centre after this season with eyes on Toronto FC’s stadium as their new home turf. The moving plans were announced at a press conference where it was confirmed that Bell and Larry Tanenbaum’s Kilmer Group have purchased the Argonauts. By the way, the Argos are currently pegged as an 8/1 shot to win the Grey Cup this season. The Stampeders are considered the favourite at 10/3 and the Redblacks face the longest odds at 20/1.
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