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ICYMI: Summer sports roundup

Blue Jays heat up

After a mediocre finish in 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays, the team is on its  way to securing a post-season spot this fall after an impressive summer showing. Trade deadline acquisition David Price has been tremendous on the mound, boasting the seventh-best ERA in the MLB. Meanwhile, third baseman Josh Donaldson has thrust himself into the AL MVP conversation with a league-leading 105 runs and 115 RBIs. The big question is if they can hold off the equally hot New York Yankees, who trail the Jays by 1.5 games in the AL East, to clinch their first pennant since 1993. Toronto can thank its stellar 47-25 home record for its success this far. Montreal baseball fans can only hope the fan frenzy in Toronto will signal to MLB that Canada is ready for another baseball team.

Canada second overall in Pan Am Games medal count

Athletes from 31 countries across the Americas came to Toronto to compete in dozens of events this summer at the Pan Am Games from July 10-26. From bowling to boxing, rhythmic gymnastics to rowing, the Games celebrated international sports communities of all kinds. The United States of America was the overall medal count champion, taking home 265 medals, followed by Canada and Brazil. Supported by an enthusiastic home crowd, the Canadian team was headlined by artistic gymnast Ellie Black, who won five medals in various gymnastic events. The Games serve as Olympic qualifiers for 15 sports at the 2016 Summer Olympics.The Parapan Games, featuring the same countries but focusing on inclusivity of disabled athletes, saw the same top three countries medal but in reverse order.

NHL off-season moves

The NHL season doesn’t start for another month but the off-season action still proved to be entertainment enough to satisfy hockey fans during the summer months. The Montreal Canadiens had a particularly busy three months after a disappointing second round exit in the playoffs last year. The team inked former Carolina Hurricane Alex Semin to a one-year deal, and traded for Zack Kassian, sending fan favorite Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks in return. Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin opted to keep the team’s core intact, resigning current players like Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell to multi-year contracts. Around the NHL, there were many other surprising, big-name moves. Most notably the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars, Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers. NHL pre-season action begins on Sept. 20.

Player intrigue

On Sept. 3, a U.S. District Court judge overturned Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for allegedly deflating balls in the playoffs, sparking criticism of the NFL’s handling of the incident. Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is under criminal investigation for rape allegations brought to light in August. While Kane has not been charged, his history of criminal behavior has led some to believe that the Blackhawks will trade him just a year after signing him to a $84 million contract. The Montreal Alouettes made international headlines earlier this summer after signing Michael Sam, the first and only openly gay player to sign with a NFL team. Montreal’s diverse and inclusive fan base seemed to be the perfect support for Sam. In August, however, he left the team after one game citing mental health concerns.

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