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Should The Rockets Trade Christian Wood?

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(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

 

The Houston Rockets are in disarray right now and a lot of it is centered around their power forward Christian Wood.

Wood was part of a heated argument involving himself and Kevin Porter Jr. against assistant coach John Lucas.

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The fight took place during the halftime of the game between the Rockets and Denver Nuggets when the Rockets were down by double-digits.

The argument culminated with both Porter and Wood stepping away from the team and was apparently so heated that they were both suspended one game.

That one game, against the Philadelphia 76ers, saw the Rockets achieve their eighth straight loss.

And now people are wondering if the damage done by the Porter and Wood fiasco is enough to send one or both of them packing.

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But Wood is the Rockets’ biggest star – should he still be traded?

 

Past The Point Of No Return?

Wood is a fantastic basketball player and, up until this week, was one of the most respected young guys in the league.

He is averaging 16.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists a game.

The Rockets have fallen in love with this style of play and many analysts saw the future of the team revolving around Wood.

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But the argument that went down on Saturday throws all of that into doubt.

Can the team move forward with Wood after such a quarrel?

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In the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been a lot worse – there are plenty of examples in the NBA of fights that were much harsher than this one.

However, this fight was different because it was between players and the coach, it got nearly physical, and it resulted in the players refusing to participate in the rest of the game.

All of this takes it to the sort of level that is extremely detrimental to the team chemistry – that counts a lot for the young Rockets team.

Wood is supposed to be a team leader, guiding a squad full of young, promising players.

How can he lead the team if he’s willing to go toe-to-toe like this against the coaching staff?

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Maybe it’s best if the Rockets are instead led by someone who won’t blow up at his coach.

 

Wood To Where?

If the Rockets want to trade Wood, now is the time.

That’s because, despite this incident, he’s a wonderful NBA player.

That means that plenty of other teams would be willing to take a chance on him – he’s the biggest trading chip the Rockets have.

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Additionally, the Rockets are in serious rebuilding mode: they’re the last team in the West and there is now little-to-no chance of them making the playoffs.

So why not lean in even more into the idea of rebuilding by constructing a trade package including Wood for a possible All-Star?

Trading Wood probably wouldn’t result in the team landing one of the biggest players in the league but it could certainly lead to them getting a player or maybe two who can lead, who is professional and can keep pushing the Rockets forward in their rebuilding process.

The post Should The Rockets Trade Christian Wood? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Players to watch on each team at 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship – Sportsnet.ca

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The summer version of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship has arrived in Edmonton.

The feeling around the tournament is mixed but the competing players take pride in representing their county when given the opportunity. For some of the participants, this will be their only chance to face some of the best players from top-ranked countries around the world.

Here are some notes on players to watch on each of the 10 teams in the tournament.

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Group A

Team USA

Logan Cooley

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-10 | 181 pounds | Arizona Coyotes (first round, third overall in 2022)

He was in the discussion for No. 1 overall at this past draft and landed in Arizona at No. 3. He has an opportunity to show off his skill at this event, especially without players like Juraj Slafkovsky and Shane Wright in attendance. Cooley is an elite play driver who simply creates offence and can take over a game. He’s worth the price of admission.


Charlie Stramel

Forward | Right shot | Six-foot-three | 216 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

There should be an opportunity for Stramel to find a role with Team USA on the wing. He can also play center so it will come down to a coach’s decision and team need. The big-body forward plays a power game. He isn’t exceptionally fast in open ice but he has decent mitts and creates space in traffic. Stramel is a power forward who is a late 2004 birthday which makes him eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft. He is committed to attending Wisconsin.

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Matthew Knies

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 205 pounds | Toronto Maple Leafs (second round, 57th overall in 2021)

Power forward who can extend plays, isn’t shy about getting pucks to the net, battles for space around the crease, and cleans up rebounds. Team USA has some smaller skilled centerman on their roster and he opens up space for that style of player. Knies is heading back to Minnesota in the NCAA this fall.


Brock Faber

Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot | 190 pounds | Minnesota Wild via L.A. Kings (second round, 45th overall in 2020)

Originally selected by the Los Angeles Kings, Faber was a key piece of the Kevin Fiala trade this summer with Fiala ending up in California. This kid is a pro. He’s a leader who plays the game the right way. Faber provides exceptional three-zone detail. He’s likely to be the captain for Team USA. He will be deployed in all situations but his offence is secondary to the rest of his game.

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Team Sweden

Jesper Wallstedt

Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-three | 214 pounds | Minnesota Wild (first round, 20th overall in 2021)

Wallstedt is coming over to play in the Minnesota Wild organization this season at the AHL level in Iowa. It won’t be long before he challenges for an NHL job. He gives the Swedes an opportunity to win. He’s big in the net and plays with poise between the posts. His stats at the SHL level (Sweden’s top league) playing for Lulea last season: 22 games played with a 1.98 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Jonathan Lekkerimaki

Forward | Right shot | Five-foot-11 | 172 pounds | Vancouver Canucks (first round, 15th overall in 2022)

It will be interesting to see if Lekkerimaki can establish himself at this tournament and play to his identity. He’s an elite shooter. His element is offence. His off-the-puck detail and willingness in the hard areas will need to elevate but if he’s scoring the Swedes will be pleased.

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Daniel Torgersson

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 205 pounds | Winnipeg Jets (second round, 40th round pick in 2020)

Torgersson is a power forward who moves well for his stature. He is best suited at the net front extending plays or looking for tips and rebounds. He isn’t a threat off the rush but he does have the ability to extend plays along the boards. This is the kind of player that can open up space for skilled linemates. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed.

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Team Germany

Luca Hauf

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot 11 | 183 pounds | Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

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Hauf is scheduled to join Edmonton in the WHL this season so he will be familiarizing himself with the surroundings at this tournament. He has a nose for the net and will find pucks around the crease. On occasion he distributes and finds open space off the rush. It will be interesting to see how he competes with the pace of play at this event.

Maksymilian Szuber

Defenceman | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 190 pounds | Arizona Coyotes (sixth round, 163rd overall in 2022)

A big body defender who is developing in the DEL playing for EHC Munchen. Szuber is mostly a stay-at-home defender but he will occasionally pinch down to keep pucks alive in the offensive zone. Defensively he is rangy and uses his long reach to his advantage. Szuber will skate at even strength and on the penalty kill for the Germans.

Nikita Quapp

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Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-three | 187 pounds | Carolina Hurricanes (sixth round, 187th overall in 2021)

Quapp is a true butterfly/hybrid goalie. He plays down on the ice. When he is on his game he can swallow pucks from distance and limits his rebounds. When teams get him moving side to side to make second stops (or desperation saves) he has lacked lateral quickness to recover. If he’s the starter for Team Germany they will need him to be on top of his game. Quapp is signed to play for Eisbaren Berlin in the DEL next season.

Team Switzerland

Brian Zanetti

Defenceman | Left shot | Six-foot-two | 181 pounds | Philadelphia Flyers (fourth round, 110th pick in 2021)

Zanetti has some interesting qualities. He moves pretty well. He has a long reach. He can take away space. Zanetti has also shown an ability to provide some secondary scoring. He is likely to be used in all situations for Team Switzerland. It has taken time for Zanetti to add strength to his lanky frame. The Swiss will need all of their defenders to play an engaged game at this tournament.

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Simon Knak

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 185 pounds | Nashville Predators (sixth round, 179th pick in 2021)

Knak plied his trade in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks before the pandemic. He showed he can contribute offensively while providing decent three-zone detail. He is playing for HC Davos in Switzerland and on occasion shows some streaky offence. The fact he is willing to get in on the forecheck and bump opponents to extend plays is an element that should land him in the top six for Team Switzerland.

Kevin Pasche

Goalie | Catches right | Five-foot-10 | 187 pounds | Omaha Lancers (USHL)

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Pasche had a solid year in Omaha posting a winning record and save percentage over .900.
It’s not clear who will have the net for the Swiss but Pasche has proven he can elevate for stretches and give his team a chance to win. The fact that he’s a southpaw gives shooters a different look. If he does play games his crease composure and rebound control will have to be spot on against top-flight opponents since he lacks the size to be giving up too many second chances against.

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Team Austria

Recently drafted Marco Kasper would have been, by far, the most talented player on this team but elected to take time off before attending his first NHL training camp in Detroit next month. Kasper was selected eighth overall by the Red Wings in Montreal.

Beyond Kasper there are too many unknowns to handicap the Austrian roster. The team hasn’t won a game at their last five world junior championships (0-17). I’m sure there will be some motivated players suiting up for Austria. Time will tell who catches my eye.

Group B

Team Canada

Connor Bedard

Forward | Right shot | Five-foot-nine | 181 pounds | Regina Pats (WHL) | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

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This is the jumping-off point for what should be an exciting journey towards the 2023 NHL Draft for Bedard. He’s a dynamic talent who scored 51 goals and 49 assists for 100 points last season in Regina before adding six goals and seven points at the U18 Worlds. It will be impossible for him to shed the spotlight from now until next June. Team Canada is counting on his element to contribute to their success at the tournament.


Mason McTavish

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 207 pounds | Anaheim Ducks (first round, third overall in 2021)

Nobody has played more hockey in more countries than McTavish in the past 12 months, with stops in Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL), Peterborough (OHL), Team Canada (Olympics), and Hamilton (OHL). He has answered the bell at every stop. McTavish plays his best when the games get harder. He scored 16 goals and 29 points the playoffs for Hamilton, helping them win the OHL title. He gives opponents all they can handle in the trenches. Team Canada will be counting on his power, skill and leadership as captain.

Ridly Greig

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 174 pounds | Ottawa Senators (first round, 28th overall in 2020)

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In order to have success at an event like this it takes more than finesse and skill. It also takes grit and determination. Greig is a ball of hate that doesn’t quit on a play. His combination of skill and “rat” gives Team Canada the flexibility to deploy him in a variety of roles.

Team Finland

Aatu Raty

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-two | 185 pounds | New York Islanders (second round, 52nd overall in 2021)

Raty is developing nicely for the Islanders and coming off a productive season. He scored 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points playing for Jukurit in Liiga before coming to North America to join Bridgeport in the AHL. Impressively he contributed one goal and four points in six playoff games for Bridgeport. He will be leaned on heavily to contribute offensively at the tournament but it won’t only be offence Team Finland needs from Raty. He will be tasked with key matchups and need to play a full 200 foot game.

Roni Hirvonen

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Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-nine | 176 pounds | Toronto Maple Leafs (second round, 59th overall in 2020)

Hirvonen is an infectious, lead by example, relentless worker. He has always been a leader on the Finnish national team and it looks like he is going to captain the group at this event. Team Finland will be relying on his detailed three-zone energy while hoping he can contribute offensively as well.

Brad Lambert

Forward | Right shot | Six-foot | 183 pounds | Winnipeg Jets (first round, 30th overall in 2022)

The Christmas version of this event was cut short due to the pandemic, which was unfortunate for Lambert. He was off to a flying start in his first two games. He can play the game quick and fast and have an impact offensively. With last season in the rearview mirror (he struggled to gain consistent momentum playing in Liiga) I’m looking for him to have an impact at this event. His offensive element is waiting to break out.

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Team Czechia

David Jiricek

Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot-three | 190 pounds | Columbus Blue Jackets (first round, sixth overall in 2022)

Jiricek will be tasked with matching up against top lines and being deployed in all situations. There won’t be any easy minutes for the Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick. He has a good stick, some deception, the ability to make plays on the offensive blue line, and an absolute bomb of a shot when he finds space. It will be interesting to see how he handles defending against the speed rush and containing opponents along the wall in his zone.

Jiri Kulich

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 180 pounds | Buffalo Sabres (first round, 28th overall in 2022)

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Kulich had a breakout tournament at the U18 Worlds in Germany in the spring where he scored nine goals and 11 points. He was the most lethal goal scorer at the event. Team Czechia will need him to contribute on the power play at this event. He’s a goal scorer who finds quiet ice in the offensive zone and wastes little time directing pucks on net.


Jan Bednar

Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-four | 201 pounds | Detroit Red Wings (fourth round, 107th overall in 2020)

Team Czechia has a history of using more than one goalie at this event so it’s not a given that Bednar gets the net and keeps it. Having said that, the team will need big saves throughout the tournament and Bednar appears to have the most capable pedigree to give them a chance. This tournament could provide Bednar an opportunity to impress the Red Wings brass. He’s unsigned to date so he will want to prove he’s ready for a contract.

Team Slovakia

Dalibor Dvorsky

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 190 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

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Another potentially elite Slovakian player on the horizon. Dvorsky is eligible for the 2023 draft and has the ability to push his way up the board before next June. He brings size, good pace and excellent puck skill. Dvorsky has a quick release in tight quarters and the ability to spin off checks along the wall. He scored 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points for AIK in the Swedish U20 league last season along with 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points representing Slovakia at the U18 level.

Adam Sykora

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-11 | 174 pounds | New York Rangers (second round, 63rd overall in 2022)

If you watched the men’s World Championships in the spring you would have viewed this infectious player. He brings high end compete and energy. Sykora plays quick and he’s relentless. He has better than average offensive upside. Team Slovakia will be counting on him to not only bring his usual high end compete but also create offence.

Maxim Strbak

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Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot-two | 183 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

Strbak is a player that has been deployed in all situations at the U18 level for Slovakia. On the PP he is more of a distributor than a shooter but does have the ability to direct pucks on net from range. Defensively he isn’t shy about gapping up and taking away space. It’s a big ask for a defenceman his age at this tournament. It will be interesting to see how he handles older opponents.

Team Latvia

Dans Locmelis

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 170 pounds | Boston Bruins (fourth round, 119th overall in 2022)

It will be a big ask for Locmelis to produce the level of offence that Latvia requires to have success at this event but he is one of their more skilled forwards. He sees the ice and distributes very well through seems. If space opens up he is capable of scoring goals and beating opponents one-on-one on his own. He’s young for the event and will be tested physically. Locmelis is scheduled to come to the USHL next season to play for the Youngstown Phantoms.

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Sandis Vilmanis

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 192 pounds | Florida Panthers (fifth round, 157th overall in 2022)

Vilmanis is also young for this tournament but he’s coming off a decent U18 Worlds in Germany. When he gets pucks in open ice he has an extra gear and the ability to slip between defenders. He will be deployed at even strength and the power play. He’s a shooter more than a distributor and usually sets up on the weak side flank to one time pucks. His 200-foot game is average so Latvia will be hoping he can chip in offensively and play to his strengths. Vilmanis was selected by the Sarnia Sting (CHL/OHL) in the most recent import draft.

Goaltenders

It’s likely more than one of these goaltenders will see action at this tournament and be leaned on heavily to come up with timely saves. None have been drafted to NHL clubs. It’s likely this group will be under duress playing in this group so they will have to have career weeks to give Latvia a chance:

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Patriks Berzins: Catches left | Six-foot-one | 165 pounds | Latvian national team

Bruno Bruveris: Catches left | Six-foot | 168 pounds | Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)

Rudolfs Lazdins: Catches left | Six-foot-one | 163 pounds | HK Riga (MHL)

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2022 World Juniors Primer: Everything to know about rescheduled tournament – Sportsnet.ca

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Ah, August. The Blue Jays are in a playoff race, NFL camps are in full swing and… the best junior hockey players in the world are hitting the ice.

It’s not Christmas in July, but the annual World Junior Hockey Championships holiday tradition is making an unusual appearance in the middle of the summer.

The tournament will feature 10 teams competing over a two-week span with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs. Before play gets underway, here is everything you need to know.

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Investigating Hockey Canada

The most important story entering this tournament is off the ice, as Hockey Canada’s culture and governance are under a widening microscope following group sexual assault allegations made in a lawsuit earlier this year.

The allegations stem from an event in 2018 hosted in London, Ont. by Hockey Canada to celebrate a team that won this very same tournament. Since then, there have been revelations about another incident of alleged gang rape connected to the Team Canada team at the 2003 World Juniors.

The scandal has led to growing calls for Hockey Canada’s leadership to resign and on the weekend, Michael Brind’Amour — the chairman of the board — did.

This important story will remain front of mind for everyone as the tournament plays out for the first time since the revelations first came to light this spring.

Support for survivors
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references can be found here.

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Why was the tournament rescheduled?

The 2022 World Juniors were originally scheduled to take place from Dec. 26, 2021 to Jan. 5, 2022 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. However, the tournament shut down after just three days when multiple teams recorded positive COVID-19 cases within their ranks.

The United States, Czechia and Russia had all forfeited games due to players testing positive before the cancellation was announced on Dec. 29.

The August tournament will be a complete reset of the event in December. That means all scores and standings will be erased and teams have picked new rosters. All players who were eligible for the December tournament, most of them from 2003 and 2004 birth years, are eligible to play this summer.

Red Deer is no longer co-hosting and all games will be played at Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers.

What teams are playing?

There are 10 teams competing in this tournament and they have been split into the following groups for pool play.

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Group A

United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Austria

Group B

Canada, Finland, Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia

The most notable development here is the addition of Latvia, which is replacing Russia. On Feb. 28, the IIHF banned Russia and Belarus from all competitions due to the invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the Russians — who did compete in this tournament last December — are now out and Latvia was promoted into the top division.

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Russia was also slated to be the host of the 2023 event this December, but that will now take place in Halifax and Moncton. There will be no relegation round in the 2022 tournament meaning the same 10 teams will compete in the 2023 event.

The United States are the defending champions after they beat Canada in the gold medal game in 2021. Finland won bronze in that tournament, defeating Russia in the third-place game.

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Schedule

The tournament begins on Aug. 9 and each team will play four games in the preliminary round, which concludes on Aug. 15. The top four teams in each group will compete in the quarterfinals on Aug. 17, the winners of those four games will face off in the semifinals on Aug. 19 and the medal games will be played on Aug. 20.

Below is the full preliminary round schedule.

All Times Eastern

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Aug. 9

Slovakia at Czechia, 2 p.m.

Finland at Latvia, 6 p.m. 

Germany at United States, 10 p.m.

Aug. 10

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Switzerland at Sweden, 2 p.m.

Canada at Latvia, 6 p.m.

Austria at Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 11

Czechia at Finland, 2 p.m.

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Canada at Slovakia, 6 p.m.

United States at Switzerland, 10 p.m.

Aug. 12

Sweden at Austria, 2 p.m.

Latvia at Slovakia, 6 p.m.

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Aug. 13

United States at Austria, 2 p.m.

Czechia at Canada, 6 p.m.

Swizterland at Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 14

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Slovakia at Finland, 2 p.m.

Latvia at Czechia, 6 p.m.

Sweden at United States, 10 p.m.

Aug. 15

Austria at Switzerland, 2 p.m.

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Finland at Canada, 6 p.m.

Germany at Sweden, 10 p.m.

Players to Watch

With the unique timing of this event, a number of top players have opted to skip it, instead focusing on the upcoming season. Regardless, there will still be some star power sprinkled across the rosters.

Our series of previews will introduce you to those players:

Bedard, Cooley, Wallstedt headline players to watch at 2022 WJC

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Canadian NHL teams will have plenty to monitor at World Juniors

16 returning, nine joining: Examining the new players on Team Canada’s WJC roster



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Serena Williams announces retirement plans: Tennis superstar ‘ready for what’s next’

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One of the most prominent American athletes is ready to retire. Tennis legend Serena Williams has announced her retirement plans in the latest issue of Vogue. She did not put an exact timeline on when she will stop playing, but does plan to play in the upcoming US Open.

“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” the tennis star told Vogue. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”

In an Instagram post promoting the Vogue piece on Tuesday morning, Williams wrote “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” insinuating that the US Open — which begins on Aug. 29 — will be her last tournament.

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Williams, 40, changed the sport of tennis when she broke onto the scene in 1995. Since then, she has won the Australian Open seven times, Wimbledon seven times, the US Open six times and the French Open three times. Altogether, she has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, the most by any player in the Open Era.

The only person with more Grand Slam titles is Margaret Court (24).

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams told Vouge. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York [the US Open]. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”

During her career, Williams was at the top of the Women’s Tennis Association rankings for a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. 

CBS Sports will have more on this breaking news story.

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