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Livestrong, KC Sporting sever ties

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Livestrong, KC Sporting sever ties

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The loss of trust - not money or a tarnished reputation - led Sporting KC to sever ties with the cancer charity founded by Lance Armstrong, according to a team official.

But Sporting KC chief executive Robb Heineman also said Wednesday the ``tumultuous environment'' that developed before the cyclist admitted using performance enhancing drugs also played into the Major League Soccer team's decision to end the relationship.

``The severance for us was about violating the trust of a partnership. That's what they did. Does Lance bleed over into that? Certainly,'' Heineman said. ``Whether anyone wants to say it or not, he's connected to the foundation. He's why we have to always answer questions around him. ... It's something you can't get away from.''

Sporting KC announced Tuesday the team was changing the name of Livestrong Sporting Park to Sporting Park and ending its novel arrangement with the charity that began in 2011.

Under the naming rights deal, Livestrong didn't pay to have its name on the $200 million soccer stadium in Kansas City, Kan. Instead, the team promised to donate $7.5 million in stadium revenues to Livestrong over six years.

Heineman said the decision came after ESPN reported that Livestrong recently said Sporting still owed $750,000 of the $1 million promised to the foundation in 2012. Heineman said the team doesn't owe Livestrong any money, but he would not discuss the contract.

``When they started to, for the lack of a better term, start to drag us through the mud a little bit in public around the relationship, that's just nothing we have an interest in,'' Heineman said. ``I would call it inaccurate, unfair and a breach of confidentiality. I think that's at the core of any of this.''

But he said it's difficult to parse how much the loss of trust in Livestrong because of the contract discussion in the media and Armstrong's doping admission played into the end the partnership.

``It's a hard thing to say because one is so connected to the other,'' he said. ``If this would just have been about Lance and his reputation would we have made the same decision at some point? Potentially. Potentially.

``Because what this has begun to do over time as I mentioned to you is erode the focus of what we and the partnership were all about,'' he said. ``It wasn't about answering questions about what Lance did or didn't do.''

Heineman said Sporting and Livestrong had discussions for several months about their partnership but would not go into detail about those discussions.

``I think as the tension and as the tumultuous environment continued to kind of surround Livestrong, we kept working with them around how can we modify things,'' Heineman said. ``I think that what we saw was the brand was evolving .... And for us the vision of Livestrong always was it was going to be much bigger than one person.''

Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong in November after a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused the cyclist of helping run ``the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen'' within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

Armstrong had persistently denied doping until this week when he admitted to Oprah Winfrey he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which included seven straight Tour de France victories. The first installment of the two-part interview airs Thursday night.

Greg Lee, chief financial officer for Livestrong, said in an emailed statement that it was the charity that terminated the agreement with Sporting KC, and the foundation doesn't discuss specifics about arrangements with its partners. He said his role is ``to ensure compliance by our corporate partners.''

``If a partner doesn't live up to the terms of our agreement, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end,'' he said.

Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane also said while Livestrong ``did not receive a significant portion of the revenues it was promised, it still invested nearly $40,000 in programs to serve people affected by cancer,'' at several Kansas City area institutions. McLane also said in an email that Livestrong will continue to invest such programs in the Kansas City area.

Sporting Park is scheduled to host the MLS All-Star game on July 31.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.