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Last Week around the Leagues

by Fran Stuchbury
February 9, 2021 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)

This past week two-time WNBA MVP forward Candace Parker signed with the Chicago Sky; the National Lacrosse League cancelled its spring season due to uncertainties with COVID-19; seven Appalachian League teams announced their new nicknames; and the NWHL ended its season due to COVID-19. Highlights from this week are from Women's National Basketball Association, NBA G League, Canadian Elite Basketball League; National Lacrosse League, Premier Lacrosse League, National Women's Hockey League, American Hockey League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Ontario Canadian, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Appalachian League


Women's National Basketball Association

In one of the biggest free-agency moves in the history of the WNBA, the Chicago Sky has signed two-time WNBA MVP forward Candace Parker. Selected by the Sparks as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker is the franchise leader in scoring (5,684 points), blocks (545), and rebounds (2,902). Last season, Parker averaged 14.7 points, a WNBA-leading 9.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 51.0 percent from the field.

Candace Parker shares what went into her decision to sign with the Chicago Sky and play for her hometown team.

Three-time WNBA Champion, nine-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA Finals MVP and 2009 WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi signed a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury.

Diana Taurasi, the Greatest Of All Time and face of the franchise, re-commits to Phoenix Mercury on a multi-year deal.

Washington Mystics General Manager Mike Thibault announced that Tina Charles will return to the team for the 2021 WNBA season. Charles was granted a medical exemption by an independent panel and did not participate in the 2020 WNBA season.

Las Vegas Aces General Manager Dan Padover announced that the Aces signed three-time WNBA All-Star and free agent guard Chelsea Gray. Gray is a six-year veteran, who over the last four seasons has averaged 14.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. She and Phoenix's Skyler Diggins-Smith are the only two players in the league to average more than 14 points and 5 assists during that time.

NBA G League

Check In with Santa Cruz Warriors Jeremy Lin as he preps for the upcoming season. Catch him playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors against the Ignite Team for the season opener on February 10th on ESPN 2.

Check In with Admiral Schofield as he gets ready to compete in the 2021 season. Catch him on the Greensboro Swarm playing against the Westchester Knicks on February 11th

Check In with Ignite player Isaiah Todd.

Canadian Elite Basketball League

Etched into greatness. Engraved into timelessness. The first one is always the sweetest. Here is the Championship Ring for the 2019 Champions, the Saskatchewan Rattlers. The first season of the league. Saskatchewan Rattlers defeated the Hamilton Honey Badgers 94-83.


National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League, the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world, today announced that plans for an abbreviated season this spring have been cancelled due to uncertainties arising from the ongoing Pandemic. The league, with the full support of the NLL Board of Governors, will now move to start a traditional season in the fall of this year.

Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz provides details on the NLL's decision to cancel plans for the April start date amidst COVID-19 uncertainties and shift focus to planning for the full 2021-22 season.

Premier Lacrosse League

2021 Drafts & MLL Player Movement to the PLL - State of the League by PLL Director of Relations Brian Silcott

Whiplash midfield Mike Chanenchuk 2020 Highlights


National Women's Hockey League

The National Women's Hockey League will not finish off the 2021 season due to additional positive COVID-19 test results. For a league that had a lot going for it, the premature end was a big blow.

American Hockey League

The Colorado Eagles are sad to announce the passing of team founder Ralph Backstrom, who passed away at the age of 83. Backstrom founded the Colorado Eagles in 2002 and served as team president from 2003 to 2007. He played on six Stanley Cup winning teams with the Montreal Canadiens and was a fifteen-year coach at the NCAA and professional level. Backstrom was elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and was awarded the ECHL's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 in recognition of a career spent growing the great sport of hockey.

Ralph Backstrom, Founder Of Colorado Eagles And Former Denver University Hockey Coach & NHL Player, Dies. Backstrom founded the Colorado Eagles in 2002.

Center Jake Leschyshyn scores the first goal in Henderson Silver Knights history.

Ryan Fitzgerald's first goal for the Leigh Valley Phantoms was an overtime winner over the Hershey Bears.


ECHL Plays of the Week

North American Hockey League

NAHL Plays of the Week

Western Hockey League

The Western Hockey League announced today that the WHL's U.S. Division will begin the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season on Friday, March 19. The WHL's five U.S. Division teams - the Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs, and Tri-City Americans - will play games exclusively within the Division during the 2020-21 Regular Season.

WHL Next Step - Seattle Thunderbirds forward Kai Uchacz

Ontario Hockey League

Center Max Namestnikov can't wait to hit the ice for the first time with the Sarnia Sting. The third overall pick in the OHL Draft joined Sarah Jean Maher to give OHL fans more insight into the type of player he is.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

QMJHL Plays of the Week


Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The agreement, covering the next seven years from 2021 through 2027, is subject to the approval of the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the MLSPA.

FC Dallas has reached an agreement with A.S. Roma for Homegrown defender Bryan Reynolds for a franchise-record fee, the club announced. Reynolds will join Roma on a six-month loan before completing a permanent transfer.

Here are Bryan Reynolds best highlights in the MLS.

Yes, Darlington Nagbe makes the cut for the best volleys in MLS in 2020, but who else is on the list? Check out the best of a stellar group of volleys in the season that was.

National Women's Soccer League

The National Women's Soccer League opened its ninth preseason today and the league's 10 teams have announced their 2021 preseason rosters.

With the 2021 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) season getting underway, the Orlando Pride have inked forward Sydney Leroux to a three-year contract with an option for an additional year. The deal, which puts Leroux in the City Beautiful through at least the 2023 NWSL season, is the maximum deal available to NWSL teams and its players.

United Soccer League Championship

The United Soccer League (USL) announced Monterey Bay Football Club (Monterey Bay FC) will join the USL Championship in the 2022 season. With the announcement, the club becomes the second addition to the league for 2022 alongside Queensboro FC.

Major Arena Soccer League

The Major Arena Soccer League ("MASL") announced tthe resignation of Commissioner Joshua Schaub effective June 1st, 2021. Schaub will resign from his role after five years at the helm of the now 7-year-old league. Schaub's resignation comes mid-season with an eye on helping with a transition to a new Commissioner starting April 15th.

Utica City FC General Manager Tommy Tanner announced that team is opting out of the 2020-21 season in conjunction with the league's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy. Utica City FC joins the Harrisburg Heat and Rochester Lancers, who also made their concurrent announcements. Utica, Harrisburg, and Rochester join Milwaukee, Mesquite, Turlock, Sonora, Monterrey, and Baltimore, who had previously announced that they were opting out.


Canadian Football League

The Edmonton Football Team has named Jaime Elizondo the 23rd head coach in team history. Along side his head coaching duties, Elizondo has also been named the team's offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. Elizondo held the role of offensive coordinator for the Ottawa RedBlacks from 2016-2018. The University of Maryland graduate departed the RedBlacks in 2019 and joined former CFL head coach Marc Trestman with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL. After taking over play calling duties in week 3, the Vipers averaged over 29 points a game on offense for the remainder of the season.


Major League Rugby

The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club announced plans to begin its 2021 Major League Rugby season in Marietta, Georgia. Following the completion of the club's pre-season training camp in Toronto, which will begin on Feb. 8, 2021, Arrows personnel will travel to Georgia to establish a home base ahead of the team's season opener on Mar. 20, 2021.

Major League Rugby (MLR) announced an updated 2021 season schedule reflecting the postponement of the Dallas Jackals inaugural season and the temporary relocation of the San Diego Legion and Toronto Arrows. Opening day for MLR's fourth season will remain on March 20, 2021. The season will feature 12 teams competing throughout North America over 18 weeks in a two-conference balanced schedule. The conclusion of the regular season will bring the MLR Championship Series, with the top two seeds from each conference qualifying for the postseason. The playoffs will culminate with the Championship Final to be held August 1, which will be broadcast nationally on CBS.


Appalachian League

Baseball in Burlington finally has its own identity. One that embraces the history of the community, and one that they can say is uniquely theirs. Burlington Baseball announced via their YouTube that the long-awaited rebranding process has culminated in the team's sockingly different identity, now known as the Burlington Sock Puppets. The identity, created by Dan Simon of Studio Simon, pays homage to the rich textile tradition of this area by featuring two different sock puppets inside the primary logo.

The Bristol State Liners was announced as the name of Bristol's entry in the newly-formatted Appalachian League. The team will be operated by Bristol Baseball, Inc. (BBI). BBI is the non-profit all-volunteer charitable organization which has operated the team's entry in the Appalachian League since 1969.

Bristol baseball team renamed 'State Liners,' Burlington 'Sock Puppets'

Johnson City Baseball unveiled their new team identity as the Johnson City Doughboys in their first rebrand since 1975. This opportunity comes as the Appalachian League's format changed into a Collegiate Wooden Bat League.

Johnson City's Appy League team to be known as the Doughboys

As the Appalachian League converts into a Collegiate Wooden Bat League, Elizabethton Baseball unveils their new identity as the River Riders. The new identity of Elizabethton Baseball encompasses the high level of recreation in the area.

Greeneville Baseball reveals the new team identity as the Greeneville Flyboys. This new identity comes as the Appalachian League helps streamline the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) in the partnership between Major League Baseball (MLB) and USA Baseball.

Greeneville Reds renamed 'Flyboys'

Kingsport Baseball welcomes their new team identity as the Kingsport Axmen. The new identity comes as the Appalachian League partners with Major League Baseball (MLB) and USA Baseball.

The excitement surrounding the rebranding of Pulaski's baseball franchise culminated today with the unveiling of the organization's new name: The Pulaski River Turtles. With a nod to its New River Valley heritage, the inspiration behind the River Turtles name was a renewed commitment to Calfee Park's family-friendly culture.

Calfee Park is debuting a new team name called the Pulaski River Turtles.

American Association

The Kane County Cougars are pleased to announce that they will be joining the American Association for the 2021 season. Through Major League Baseball's One Baseball initiative, the American Association will be under the umbrella of Major League Baseball for the first time this year. The American Association plays a 100 game schedule which will include 50 games at beautiful Northwestern Medicine Field, beginning in May. The 11-team league includes teams in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Canada.

Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.

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National Lacrosse League Stories from February 9, 2021

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