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Wednesday’s Sports In Brief

Posted by 
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
 2021-05-13

HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers fired coach David Quinn and three assistant coaches Wednesday after missing the playoffs with one of the NHL’s up-and-coming young teams.

The move is the first major one from new general manager Chris Drury, who took over last week after the organization fired popular president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton.

Drury said the Rangers will begin our search for a new head coach immediately.

In three years, Quinn posted 96-87-25 record in rebuilding the Rangers with a much younger team that included No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere this past season. He was hired from the college ranks after a stint at Boston University.

The roster also includes talented forwards Artemi Panarin, Mike Zibanejab, Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko and defense prodigy Adam Fox.

Assistant coaches Jacques Martin, David Oliver, Greg Brown were also fired. Goaltending coach Benoit Allaire was retained.

The Rangers made the expanded playoffs in the 2019-20 COVID season but were swept in the play-in round by the Carolina Hurricanes in three games. New York posted a 27-23-6 record in this shortened 56-game season and finished in fifth place in the tough East Division.

BASEBALL

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres was kept out of Wednesday night’s starting lineup at Tampa Bay as a precaution as the number of confirmed positive COVID-19 tests among the team’s coaching and support staff reached seven.

Manager Aaron Boone said MLB’s Joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee is waiting and reviewing a number of test results. The members of New York’s traveling party have been tested at least three times each since Tuesday.

Boone said the Yankees expect to receive an update about Torres on Wednesday night. He added that Torres tested positive for COVID-19 in December and has been vaccinated.

It was also confirmed by Boone that pitching coach Matt Blake has joined third base Phil Nevin and first base coach Reggie Willits as members of the coaching staff testing positive for the virus. A couple additional staff members had positive tests confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the total there to four.

Six of the seven are asymptomatic. All are fully vaccinated.

NFL

The NFL is returning to London in October and Tom Brady begins his pursuit of an eighth Super Bowl title against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys when Tampa Bay hosts the league’s annual kickoff game on Sept. 9.

The first game in London since the coronavirus pandemic will be played on Oct. 10 as the Atlanta Falcons face the New York Jets. A week later, the Jacksonville Jaguars meet the Miami Dolphins. Both games will be played at the stadium of Premier League soccer team Tottenham. The Falcons and the Jaguars will be the home teams.

The NFL’s first 17-game season opens on the same field where the Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs to become the first team to win a Super Bowl at home. It’ll be Prescott’s first game since sustaining a gruesome ankle injury last October.

Brady returns to New England to face Bill Belichick and the Patriots in a Sunday night game on Oct. 3.

Other highlights from opening weekend include Matthew Stafford playing his first game for the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night against the Chicago Bears with SoFi Stadium welcoming fans for the first time.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jerry Burns, the colorful character who took over as the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach in a time of turmoil and led the team to three playoff berths in six seasons, has died. He was 94.

The team announced Burns’ death. Vikings spokesman Bob Hagan said Burns’ son-in-law informed him of Burns’ death Wednesday morning.

Burns helped the Green Bay Packers win the first two Super Bowls as the defensive backs coach for Vince Lombardi. Then he joined the staff of another future Hall of Fame coach when Bud Grant hired him as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in 1968. Burns held the position until 1985 and became head coach in 1986, following Les Steckel’s 3-13 season in 1984 and Grant’s 7-9 campaign in 1985 when he was coaxed out of retirement.

The 93-year-old Grant said Burns was a “very astute football mind” who “could see things on the field immediately.”

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) — James Harden returned to action for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night after missing more than a month with a strained right hamstring.

Harden came off the bench with 8:06 remaining in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs. It was the All-Star guard’s first game since April 5, when he aggravated the injury in a game against the New York Knicks.

Harden missed 18 straight games and 20 of the last 21. The Nets were only 12-9 during that span.

That’s far off their 27-7 mark in games in which Harden has played since the Nets acquired him from Houston in January.

Brooklyn coach Steve Nash chose to bring Harden off the bench, just as he did previously with Kevin Durant when he returned from a lengthy injury absence. That way, Harden could still be available late in the game if it was close, even while facing a minutes restriction.