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Four changes to Canadian rugby team for U.S. game

Coach makes four changes to Canadian rugby team for U.S. game in Alberta tourney
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Canadian coach Francois Ratier has made four changes to his lineup for Wednesday's Women’s Rugby Super Series game against the U.S. in Red Deer, Alta.

Three of the changes are in the backs where Lori Josephson starts at scrum half in place of Chelsea Guthrie and Lisa Gauthier and Katie McNally take over on the wing from Natasha Smith and Brittany Waters.

In the forward pack, Cindy Nelles replaces Jacey Murphy at No. 8 for the game.

Titan take Russian first in CHL import draft

Acadie-Bathurst Titan take Vladimir Kuznetsov first in CHL import draft
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - The Acadie-Bathurst Titan made Russian forward Vladimir Kuznetsov the first overall pick in the Canadian Hockey League's import draft Thursday.

Kuznetsov, 17, played last season for Avto Yekaterinburg and helped his country win the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sarnia, Ont., with a goal and an assist in seven games.

The Saskatoon Blades chose Czech defenceman Libor Hajek second overall. The Sudbury Wolves made Russian forward Dmitry Sokolov the No. 3 pick in the draft.

Vancouver to host rugby sevens event in March

World Rugby confirms March dates for Vancouver stop on rugby sevens world tour
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Canada's debut event on the 2016 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will take place March 12-13 in Vancouver.

The tournament at B.C. Place Stadium will be the sixth stop on the 10-event men's tour.

The date was confirmed Tuesday as World Rugby, formerly known as the International Rugby Board, released dates to go with the previously announced cities.

The governing body of world rugby also announced a new four-year deal with HSBC that adds the women's series under the HSBC banner.

Nike co-founder Knight will step down as chairman

Phil Knight plans to step down as Nike chairman, says job should go to CEO Mark Parker
The Associated Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Nike Chairman Phil Knight plans to step down, and says he wants President and CEO Mark Parker to succeed him.

Nike Inc. says it expects to name a new chairman in 2016, but no specific date was set for Knight's departure. Knight, 76, says he plans to stay involved with the company.

Phil Knight co-founded Nike and has been a director of the footwear and athletic apparel and equipment maker since 1968. Parker has been Nike's president and CEO since 2006.

Bouchard, Halep lose Wimbledon openers; Federer, Nadal win

A year later, Bouchard, Halep bow out quickly at Wimbledon; Federer, Murray, Nadal win easily
Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press

LONDON - A year ago at Wimbledon, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep met in a semifinal showcasing two of tennis' up-and-coming stars.

Bouchard was only 20, Halep 22. Bouchard won that matchup to reach a Grand Slam final in the sixth major tournament of the Canadian's career, a month after Halep was the runner-up at the French Open.

Giovinco taking a beating in debut MLS season

Toronto FC keeping a protective eye on Italian star Sebastian Giovinco
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Toronto FC could be without five starters for Saturday's game in Los Angeles against the Galaxy and that means more attention on Italian star Sebastian Giovinco.

The five-foot-four 135-pounder has had a target on his back all season and it's growing bigger by the week as his influence over Toronto grows.

No stranger to being the smallest — and one of the best — players on the field, Giovinco is used to being roughed up. And with eight goals and seven assists in 15 games, he has emerged as a leading MVP candidate in his first year in MLS.

Pan Am tickets cheaper on Canada Day

Tickets for Pan Am and Parapan Am Games cheaper to buy on Canada Day
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Tickets for the upcoming Pan Am and Parapan Am Games will be cheaper to purchase for two days starting on Canada Day.

CIBC, which is sponsoring the Games, says it is offering a 25-per-cent discount on all remaining tickets from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 9 p.m. Thursday.

People buying tickets online can get the discount by using the code CIBCPANAM.

Games organizers said last week that some 650,000 of the 1.4 million tickets available for both events have been sold.

Blatter to skip Women's World Cup final

FIFA president Sepp Blatter to skip Women's World Cup final in Vancouver
The Canadian Press

TORONTO - FIFA president Sepp Blatter is skipping the Women's World Cup final. And his No. 2, secretary general Jerome Valcke, is also staying away.

"Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the FIFA president and the FIFA secretary general will remain at the FIFA headquarters," a FIFA spokesperson said Tuesday.

Valcke was due to attend the opening of the tournament in early June. But in the wake of the growing corruption scandal around the world governing body of soccer, FIFA said Valcke would remain in Zurich.

Top 10 unrestricted free agents available

Vermette, Williams, Green among top 10 unrestricted free agents available
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

More NHL teams are locking up key players before free agency even gets close, making this one of the weaker unrestricted pools in recent history. That said, there are still some catches to be had, so here's a look at the top 10 free agents available:

ANTOINE VERMETTE

Position: Centre

Age: 32

Previous cap hit: US$3.75M

Canadiens give Flynn two-year contract

Canadiens agree to two-year deal with checking forward Brian Flynn
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Forward Brian Flynn agreed to a US$1.9-million, two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Flynn, 26, was acquired by Montreal from the Buffalo Sabres on March 2 for a fifth round draft pick.

He had 17 points in 54 games for Buffalo and no points in nine regular season outings for the Canadiens. He added a goal and two assists, all in Game 1 of the first round against Ottawa, in six playoff starts.

Flynn will count $950,000 against the salary cap.

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