The New York Rangers bought out the contract of star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Wednesday, parting ways with one of the greatest players in franchise history after 15 seasons. In buying out the final year of the 38-year old’s contact, the Rangers save $3.7 million in salary cap space for next season. Since debuting in 2005-06, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy (2011-12), led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final (2014), and was selected to the All-Star Game five times. He also helped Sweden win gold at the 2006 Olympics. Lundqvist played in 887 games, posting a 459-310-96 record with a 2.43 goals-against average. He owns almost every goalie record in team history, including victories, shutouts (64), playoff wins, and games played, but was limited to 30 games this season and had a 10-12-3 record with a career-worst 3.16 goals-against average. The Rangers felt comfortable letting Lundqvist go because of the emergence of younger goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.
Lightning take celebration to the water
The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrated their Stanley Cup title with a boat parade and ceremonies at Raymond James Stadium. The boat parade featured forward Alex Killorn on a jet-ski with Steven Stamkos riding on the back as they held up the Stanley Cup and did laps around the boats in the Hillsborough River. The parade was followed by a public trophy celebration at the stadium with a capped attendance of 16,000 people.
Changes abound on 2021 NASCAR schedule
NASCAR announced radical changes for 2021 with six road courses, the first dirt race for the Cup Series since 1970, and new stops in Nashville, and Austin, Texas. Cut from the schedule were Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway. Michigan International Speedway, Dover International Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway each lost one of two Cup Series points races. Atlanta Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Speedway each added a second race. Indianapolis Motor Speedway will move the Cup Series cars to its road course after 27 years of racing on the big oval. Road America in rural Wisconsin and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin are also new road course events on a schedule that already included Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.), and the Charlotte Roval. To compensate for the loss of the points race at Texas, Speedway Motorsports has moved the All-Star race from Charlotte to Fort Worth. The All-Star race was held in Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this season. Bristol will also experiment with a dirt race by filling the 0.533-mile bullring with dirt for the first race of its kind since Richard Petty won at the half-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh on Sept. 30, 1970. The March 28 dirt race replaces Bristol’s traditional spring race as NASCAR chose the track over dozens of existing and proven dirt tracks across the country.
Minnesota’s Bateman opts back in
Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman was cleared to play this season by the NCAA and Big Ten after initially opting out of the 2020 season in August. While at Penn State, coach James Franklin closed the door on All-America linebacker Micah Parsons returning to the Nittany Lions. The Big Ten postponed its fall season Aug. 11, then announced two weeks ago that it would play starting the weekend of Oct. 23. Bateman and Parsons opted out before the Big Ten postponed amid concerns about the pandemic. Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. Franklin said Parsons had interest in returning, but after discussions with the player and his family, it is not going to happen. Parsons was expected to be one of the best players in the country this season and is a likely high first-round pick in April’s NFL draft. He had 109 tackles and five sacks as a sophomore in 2019.
Barcelona closing in on American Dest
American right back Sergiño Dest is set to join Spanish League club Barcelona, coach Ronald Koeman said. The Ajax player had a physical and the clubs are finalizing transfer details, Koeman said. The 19-year-old has already played important matches with Ajax’s first team, including in the Champions League. Dest has a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother, but chose to play for the US national team instead of the Netherlands. He set up a goal for the US in a 4-1 win over Canada on Nov. 16, helping the team reach the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals. Dest already played for the US at the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups.
Spaniard gets 4-year tennis ban
Unranked Spanish tennis player Gerard Joseph Platero Rodriguez was suspended for four years and fined $15,000 after being convicted of courtsiding, the first player to be charged with the offense, which involves transmission of live match scoring data to a third party for betting purposes. The Tennis Integrity Unit said an investigation determined Rodriguez acted as a courtsider at an ITF tournament in Pittsburgh, in July 2019. Rodriquez also placed 75 online bets on tennis matches during June 2019 … The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League approved stiffer punishments for fighting, a day before the start of the regular season. All players involved in a fight will receive a 10-minute misconduct and 5-minute major. Previously, players were just given a 5-minute major. An instigator also will get a 2-minute minor. Players will also automatically get a one-game suspension after their third fight, plus another game for each additional skirmish … USA Bobsled and Skeleton is not sending sliders to Europe for at least the first half of the World Cup season, in an effort to keep its athletes and coaches as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. The Americans will miss at least four World Cup weekends — two in Latvia, in November and two in Austria, in December … The Grand Prix Final in figure skating, scheduled for Dec. 10-13 in Beijing, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Skating Union gave no new date for the event that also serves as a test event for the 2022 Olympics.