The Toronto Maple Leafs fired coach Mike Babcock. Team president Brendan Shanahan announced the move Wednesday and said Sheldon Keefe would take over as coach. In parts of five seasons under Babcock, the Maple Leafs posted a record of 173-133-45 in 351 regular-season games and an 8-12 record in three postseason appearances. After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at $50 million over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three seasons but was unable to advance beyond the first round. The 39-year-old Keefe, who has a long history with Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, was in his fifth season as coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Capitals player banned
Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was suspended three games and forced to forfeit $24,194 in salary for spitting on Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Monday night. Hathaway, 27, was ejected with a match penalty, which carried an automatic suspension pending a league review. Hathaway expressed regret over the incident, calling it “an emotional moment.” He will miss games against the Rangers, Canucks and Panthers . . . Senators forward Bobby Ryan, 32, will take an indefinite leave of absence to take part in the NHL/National Hockey League Players’ Association assistance program.
Yankees cut Ellsbury
The Yankees have given up on Jacoby Ellsbury, cutting the oft-injured outfielder with more than $26 million left in his $153 million, seven-year contract. Ellsbury, who has not played since 2017, was released to clear a 40-man roster spot as New York added seven players to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 draft. Ellsbury is owed $26,285,714 by the Yankees in one of their biggest free agent mistakes: $21,142,857 for next season plus a $5 million buyout of a $21 million team option for 2021. New York also cut frequently injured first baseman Greg Bird and lefthander Nestor Cortes Jr., designating the pair for assignment.
Astros’ owner silent
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane declined comment on Major League Baseball’s investigation into allegations of sign stealing. While walking through the lobby of the luxury hotel where owners were meeting in Arlington, Texas, Crane stopped briefly when approached by reporters. “If you want to talk about baseball, I’ll talk about baseball,” Crane said. “What else do you want to talk about?” When asked whether he had any comment about the allegations, Crane cut short the query by responding, “Any other issues?” Two sheriff’s deputies working security in the lobby stepped in and escorted the Astros owner toward a flight of stairs that led upstairs to where the meetings were taking place . . . Pat Williams, a former executive with the NBA’s Orlando Magic, said Orlando was more deserving than a half-dozen other cities mentioned as homes to potential MLB expansion teams. Florida already has two MLB teams, the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays, which respectively had the worst and second-worst attendance figures in the MLB this season . . . Nearly one-quarter of the members of the US House of Representatives asked Major League Baseball to reconsider its proposal for a restructuring of the minor leagues after the 2020 season that would lead to 42 teams being dropped from their current circuits.
Ex-NU coach Lyons dies
Robert “Bo’’ Lyons, football coach at Northeastern from 1972-80, and an All-New England center for the Huskies, died Tuesday. A former president of the New England Football Coaches Association, Lyons starred at North Quincy High and was an assistant football coach at Northeastern under Joe Zabilski . . . The NCAA cleared heralded Memphis freshman James Wiseman to return to the basketball court on Jan. 12. Wiseman will sit out a total of 12 games under a decision announced by the NCAA. The sports governing body also announced that Wiseman must donate $11,500 — the amount of impermissible benefits the NCAA ruled he received — to a charity of his choice to regain his eligibility.
. . . The NCAA approved a waiver request of immediate eligibility for West Virginia’s Gabe Osabuohien, a 6-foot-8-inch junior forward who transferred from Arkansas in August and was cleared to play for the Mountaineers this season beginning with Friday night’s home game against Boston University.
Blazers waive Gasol
The Trail Blazers waived center Pau Gasol but his career with the team may not be over. Gasol, who never played in a game with the Blazers and was still recovering from surgery on his left foot in May, said he plans to remain in Portland to continue his rehabilitation, and is discussing a new role with the team. The Trail Blazers this week signed 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, who made his debut with the team Tuesday night . . . . Charles Barkley, a former NBA player turned TBS Sports commentator, issued an apology for an “inappropriate and unacceptable” comment he made to Alexi McCammond, a female political reporter with Axios, about hitting her. Barkley said in a statement “it was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all. There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.”
MLS to face La Liga stars
Major League Soccer players will meet top Mexican league counterparts at Banc of California Stadium on July 29, ending a 15-year streak of MLS All-Star Games involving European clubs . . . Jose Mourinho was hired as Tottenham manager, a day after the English Premier League club fired Mauricio Pochettino. Mourinho, who signed a contract through the 2022-23 season, has won 25 major trophies as a manager, but has been without a job since being fired by Manchester United in December.
Koepka out of Presidents
Brooks Koepka’s knee injury is bad enough he withdrew from the Presidents Cup three weeks before it begins. Koepka, the No. 1 player in the world, injury said he suffered the injury Oct. 18 at the CJ Cup in South Korea. US captain Tiger Woods replaced him with Rickie Fowler . . . Taylor Fritz kept US hopes alive in the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid by defeating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to even the series, 1-1 . . . Andy Murray beat Tallon Griekspoor of The Netherlands 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (5) in his first Davis Cup match with Britain since 2016.