Former Maryland standout Greivis Vasquez will be among nine people honored at the White House on Friday through its "Champions of Change" program, which recognizes"leaders who have exemplified extraordinary successes and efforts toward the development of and diplomacy with their countries or communities of origin."The nine Champions of Change we honor today highlight the power of proximity. These members of the Latin American Diaspora remind us that geography matters, that being a good neighbor is both good manners and a good investment. The Champions that we recognize today have helped their countries and communities of origin, and in doing so have bettered our region as a whole, said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson. These exceptional individuals, with their work in sports and community development, in education and financial inclusion, inspire others by their example. In a region with such profound human links between our societies, ideas and inspiration spread quickly to the benefit of people all over the Americas and the Caribbean.Vasquez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela andguard forthe New Orleans Hornets devotes "much of his free time over the years to youth sports camps in Venezuela and was invited to partner with the US State Department in their Sports Diplomacy program to help foster improved relations between the two countries."The ceremony will be shown live Friday at 10:30 am ET onwww.whitehouse.govlive.
The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.
Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.
Today's move: Signing Zach Sanford
Every year at development camp there is always one or two players who stand out. This year, it was Zach Sanford. Not only was his physical prowess on display, (6-foot-4, 191 pounds), but his skill was as well. He looked comfortable with and without the puck and was miles ahead of most of the other prospects in terms of development.
Even so, it was a bit surprising to hear the Caps were pushing to sign him to an entry level contract. He still had two years of eligibility at Boston College and the Caps' roster is loaded. Why push for him to sign just to spend the season in the AHL?
The reason why the Caps did it most likely has something to do with Jimmy Vesey.
Vesey was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2012. By staying in college for four years without signing with Nashville, he will become a free agent on Aug. 15 and looks set to test the market. The same thing may be playing out between Washington and Thomas DiPauli, the Caps' fourth round pick from 2012 who remains unsigned. This type of thing is rare and it certainly seemed to catch Nashville off guard, but it did serve as a reminder to teams: sign your prospects before they have the chance to leave.
Sanford was drafted in 2013 out of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. The rules for players drafted out of junior leagues are similar to those drafted out of college. Full disclosure, I do not speak legalese, but based on my understanding of the collective bargaining agreement that sets the rules for signing players, by playing one year in juniors after getting drafted, Sanford could have become a free agent in August of 2017. It does not technically matter that he will have played only three years of college, all that matters is that it will have been four years after he was drafted.
So what does that mean for him this season? The Caps are set at center with Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle. Plus, Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky can play if need be. Barring injury then, Sanford will spend the season in Hershey.
Brian MacLellan has hinted at trying to keep room under the salary cap open for prospects to cycle in and get some NHL experience throughout the season. Sanford will have to adjust from playing in the NCAA to the AHL, which is quite a jump, but don't be surprised if Sanford gets his first taste of the NHL later in the 2016-17 season.
Vesey may have changed the game when it comes to prospects. Teams need to get these guys signed when they can or risk losing them. The Caps may well lose DiPauli and they didn't want the same thing to happen to Sanford.
This gets an incomplete, however, until what position Sanford plays this season. He played wing and center in college. Considering his size, he could be a good power forward and someone the Caps are tempted to call up to plug into the bottom six, but I absolutely do not want to see this unless it is at center. You can never have enough centers and it would be better for the team in the long-term to commit to developing him as a center rather than rushing him as a wing.
Granted, I am not a scout. If the Caps have determined he has no NHL future as a center, then they should ignore this and develop him as a wing. That's not what I saw at development camp, however.
If Sanford spends the season in Hershey as a center, then this move is a solid A. If the Caps try to rush him into their lineup as a winger this year, however, that would be a mistake. Patience is a virtue.
MORE CAPITALS: DID CAPS MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION WITH CHIMERA AND LATTA?
The NFL released a statement on Monday in which the league cleared former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after a seven-month investigation to determine if the two-time Super Bowl champion was provided with or took performance-enhancing drugs.
The investigation stemmed from an Al-Jazeera America report in December that listed Manning among the professional athletes to receive shipments ofhuman growth hormones.
The five-time NFL MVP vehemently denied the claims and welcomed the league to investigate the matter.
"Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances," the league said in a statement.
"The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators."
The Al-Jazeera America report alleged that Manning was sent shipments of HGH to his house under his wife's name from Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who worked at an anti-aging clinic in Indianapolis in 2011. Sly was Al Jazeera's key source, but then recanted his statements making the report all the more questionable.
Manning retired from the NFL in February following the Broncos' victory in Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers.
Initiated in January, the investigation was led by the NFL’s security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review.
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BY JEREMY FIALKOW (@JeremyFialkow)
The Nationals may be good — very good — but they're not perfect, not yet.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, GM Mike Rizzo's hunt to turn the roster he assembled into a legitimate World Series contender will grab the spotlight.
There's speculation around the league that Rizzo's plans start and end with adding a commanding bullpen arm, capable of shortening each game by three outs, at least.
Nevertheless, Washington has the assets on hand and in their farm system to secure anyone they fancy, whether it's an arm, a bat ... or both.
Fortunately for baseball fans (but unfortunately for the Nats) the 2016 season has been competitive all around, leaving teams deemed surefire sellers few and far between.
Still, Rizzo's team is in a desirable position with the always appreciated ability of flexibility, so which players will the Nats target before the July 31 trade deadline.