Sports

Avalanche sweep way to Stanley Cup Final, plus why Dustin Johnson resigning from the PGA Tour is a big deal

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Before we get to recapping what happened last night, we have some breaking news to go over.

Below, you’ll read about Phil Mickelson joining LIV Golf (Lefty has been linked to the league for months and is in the twilight of his career). He’s not the only big name bolting for LIV. Early this morning, Dustin Johnson resigned from his membership on the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. It’s a big deal because, as our golf reporter Patrick McDonald explained, DJ, 37, has a lot to lose — he was on the cusp of securing a lifetime membership on the PGA Tour, having more than 20 wins, and was in the midst of his 15th season on tour.

OK, let’s get to the rest of the news now.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

AARON DONALD AND THE LOS ANGELES RAMS…

There are good defensive linemen, there are great defensive linemen, and then there’s Aaron Donald. The Rams have made sure Donald isn’t going anywhere, and they’re paying a historic price to do so. Los Angeles reworked Donald’s contract: He will now receive $65 million guaranteed over the next two years with an option to return (for a guaranteed $30 million) in 2024 or retire.

  • Overall, at three years and $95 million, it is the largest contract ever for a non-quarterback on a per-year basis.
  • The contract includes a no-trade clause.

I could go on forever listing Donald’s achievements, but for the sake of time, I’ll list just a few for reference:

  • Three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year (tied for most all-time)
  • Eight-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro
  • 98 sacks since entering the league in 2014, most in the NFL
  • 423 pressures over the last five seasons, 109 more than anyone else

Those last two numbers are mighty impressive, but they don’t even begin to do Donald justice. He operates almost exclusively as a defensive tackle, often taking on double- and even triple-teams. When the Rams needed him most, he came up with a crucial pressure on Joe Burrow on fourth down in the Super Bowl to clinch the game.

While the money is astronomical, this is a huge win for the Rams, too. Donald had considered retiring this offseason if he didn’t get a satisfactory deal, and the Rams were willing and able to meet the asking price. With nearly all of their biggest contributors returning, the Rams will try to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE COLORADO AVALANCHE

The Avalanche are proving to be nearly as unstoppable as an Aaron Donald pass rush. Colorado finished off a sweep of the Oilers with a 6-5 overtime thriller last night in Edmonton and are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2001.

  • Just 1:19 into overtime, Artturi Lehkonen scored the game-winner, putting in a rebound after his own tip was stopped by Oilers goalie Mike Smith.
  • The Avalanche trailed 3-1 after two periods and 4-2 nearly halfway through the third period before coming back and forcing OT.
  • Colorado ripped off three straight goals — one each from Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen to take a shocking 5-4 lead.
  • Zack Kassian then grabbed a late goal for the hosts to force overtime, but it proved for naught.

The Avalanche offense is absolutely ridiculous. MacKinnon already has 12 multi-point games this postseason, tied for fourth-most in a single postseason ever. Defenseman Cale Makar had five points (one goal, four assists). The Colorado forecheck is relentless, and there are capable goal scorers all over the ice. It’s just an awesome, fun-to-watch group. And it’s showing in the postseason.

  • The Avalanche have lost two games this playoffs. That’s tied for fewest by any team since every series became best-of-seven in 1987.
  • The Avalanche are 7-0 on the road this postseason.

Colorado will go for its third Stanley Cup in franchise history against the winner of the Lightning-Rangers Eastern Conference Final. New York leads 2-1 and have a chance to push Tampa to the brink tonight.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

ALL THE QUARTERBACKS WHO HAVE TO FACE AARON DONALD

I’m sorry.

Not so honorable mentions

Phil Mickelson joins LIV Golf, but still intends to play in majors 🏌

After a long and controversial last few months, Phil Mickelson has officially joined LIV Golf, and he is in the field for its first event, which starts Thursday in London.

  • Mickelson reportedly agreed to a deal of roughly $200 million to join the league, which operates in direct opposition to the PGA Tour.
  • PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said players who join LIV Golf will face disciplinary action, and Kevin Na resigned from the PGA Tour altogether in favor of LIV Golf over the weekend.
  • Mickelson said in a statement that he still intends to play in majors, which are run by individual organizations rather than the PGA Tour.

Mickelson has long been linked to the upstart league, which promises big paydays and a more relaxed schedule. In the process, he’s put down the PGA — like back in February when he sounded off on the PGA Tour’s “obnoxious greed.” Later that month, though, it was reported Mickelson called Saudi Arabians “scary mother——-” who “have a horrible record on human rights.” Mickelson lost several sponsors in the aftermath, apologized and took a break from golf.

He did not play at the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills (he was the event’s defending champion), and his last PGA Tour appearance — perhaps ever? — was at the Farmers Insurance Open in late February, where he missed the cut.

Mickelson is by far the biggest name in the LIV Golf event this weekend, though here are some others:

  • Dustin Johnson
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Kevin Na
  • Sergio Garcia

You can find the full list here. One player who won’t be joining? Tiger Woods, who allegedly turned down a nine-figure offer according to LIV Golf Investments CEO Greg Norman.

MLB Power Rankings: New No. 1 (and No. 2!); Angels falling fast ⚾

After a busy weekend in MLB, there’s a lot of movement in MLB expert Matt Snyder’s Power Rankings, and that includes both of the top two spots. I’ll give you a hint: They share the same city.

  • Snyder:No. 1: Yankees — They are on pace for 117 wins. I know it’s early, but it’s not *that* early. … No. 2: Mets — A 6-0 homestand followed by splitting four games in Los Angeles? This is quite a team. A team with two aces on the injured list.”

Here’s the entire top five:

  • 1. Yankees (prev: 2)
  • 2. Mets (prev: 3)
  • 3. Dodgers (prev: 1)
  • 4. Astros (prev: 6)
  • 5. Cardinals (prev: 10)

Meanwhile, it’s not such good news for another squad in a two-team city. The Angels were this week’s biggest faller, going from 11th to 18th, and Snyder says some big changes should be considered.

  • Snyder:Even if it’s not necessarily his fault, sometimes firing the manager jars something loose. Joe Maddon‘s already accomplished a ton and made a lot of money in baseball anyway.”

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

🏒 Eastern Conference Final Game 4: Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. on TNT
Dodgers at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. on TBS
 Angel City FC vs Dash, 10 p.m. on Paramount+

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