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Connolly Ends Senior Year on a High Note

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Minnesota-Duluth Senior Jake Connolly didn’t spend his season thinking about winning awards; but had his mind set on sending his team back to the Frozen Four Championship game for the second consecutive year. Connolly and the Bulldogs wanted that second NCAA National Championship but fell just a little short.

However, Connolly’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the voters on the Hobey Baker committee. Connolly’s senior season was quiet the effort by any young player determined to get his hometown team back to the championship and that is was truly impressed the committee.

 

Connolly, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound center, was selected as the 2012 Hobey Baker Award winner on Friday during ceremonies at MacDill Air Force base. He beat nine other nominees, including two other finalists — forward Austin Smith of Colgate and forward Spencer Abbott of Maine.

“It’s pretty incredible. I would have liked to have been down here with my teammates and still playing,’’ Connolly said. “To win this, it’s just as much my teammates’ as it is mine. There were a huge part of this.”

“My heart was racing. It was pretty much pounding out of my chest and when I heard my name, I kind of settled down but then became a little emotional,’’ he said of the countdown to announcing the winner. “Just to hear my name, it’s a feeling that’s pretty much unexplainable.’’

Connolly was among the Top Ten finalist for the Hobey Baker honors last season when the Bulldogs won the Championship 3-2 in an epic overtime win over Michigan.  This year, Connolly was the 2nd leading goal-scorer in the nation with 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points and was selected as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Player of the Year and to the NCAA All-America First Team.

“It’s a tribute to my parents, my brother, my coach and everyone who’s helped me out along the way,’’ he said.

During his four seasons at UMD, he never missed a game, playing in 164 contests. He’s a three-time All-WCHA First Team selection and was an All-American a year ago. He served as captain as a senior.

Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said he loved watching Connolly develop into an outstanding player and person.

“He’s a very special hockey player who’s had a tremendous career, but he’s even a better person,’’ Sandelin said. “He’s a very humble kid and it’s not about him. He’s a team guy. He’s been a fun player to coach and be around and his teammates feel the same way.’’

This season marks the end of two outstanding careers for both Connolly and his older brother, Chris, who played the last four seasons at Boston University. Chris also won the NCAA title in 2009 and served as captain of the Terriers this past season.

And for some reason, Minnesota-Duluth has a knack for producing Hobey Baker Award winners. Connolly is the fifth Bulldog to win the award, following in the tradition of Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994) and Junior Lessard (2004). UMD has more Hobey Baker winners than any team in college hockey. Minnesota is second with four.

The award is named after the legendary Princeton hockey player who was America’s greatest amateur athlete in the early 1900s. Baker served as a pilot in World War I and was killed in a plane crash in 1918, on the day after he was supposed to return to the United States.

Where does Connolly plan on playing hockey next? Europe is the next stop for the young star. “I’m looking at some good opportunities in Sweden. That’s kind of the road I’m going right now,’’ he said. “Some of the opportunities are pretty inviting, more than some of the things here.’’

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Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith

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The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.


“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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The New World of Sports Betting in the United States

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Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.

That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.

With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.

There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.

As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.

As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from NJGames.org.

The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.

The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.

Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.

As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.

The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.

Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.

 

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Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games

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Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.

According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.

The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”

The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.

“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.

“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”

Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.

 

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