Jonathan Toews says hockey ‘misrepresented’ if no NHL players at Olympics

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Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews offered one of the most insightful takes to date on whether the NHL should send players to the PyeongChang Olympics.

“Quite frankly, I think to turn on the Olympics next year and watch the hockey teams, the players representing their country, if it’s not the best in the world, then I don’t know, I just feel like we’re misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale and a pretty huge level,” Toews told media after the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday. “A lot of the talk has been, it’s just the players that are pushing for it, it’s the players that are interested in wanting to go. I think the players do want to go, but I think it should be of interest to the players and the league. I think the NHL should be there for sure.”

Add Toews, who earned gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014, to a list of NHL superstars who have said they want to play in the Olympics. Ultimately, NHL officials will decide whether to take a break in the 2017-18 season to send players to the Olympics for a sixth straight time.

There was talk in the fall of an end-of-January deadline, but that appears out the window now. That’s no surprise, given NHL participation in Sochi wasn’t decided until July 2013.

But players can still take matters into their own hands. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has said he will play for Russia in PyeongChang regardless of if he has the NHL’s blessing, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported that stance.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, the NHL points leader at the All-Star break, is hoping to go to his first Olympics in PyeongChang.

“One hundred percent, [NHL players] should go,” McDavid said. “I can’t picture the Olympics without it, to be honest.”

Sidney Crosby has been less emphatic about the NHL Olympic situation, taking a wait-and-see approach.

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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