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Drewett set to leave as ATP chief due to illness

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Drewett set to leave as ATP chief due to illness

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Brad Drewett has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and the ATP World Tour executive chairman and president is planning to step down once a successor is found.

Drewett's speech was noticeably slurred when he attended a news conference Saturday to announce a new racket sponsor for the ATP Tour. Remarks on behalf of the ATP were made by a member of the group's marketing department.

Drewett has held the top ATP position since Jan. 1 last year, but had previously led operations in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific regions since 2006.

The 54-year-old Australian was a top-40 singles and top-20 doubles player before he retired in 1990.

``It has been a privilege to serve as executive chairman and president of the ATP, an organization that I've been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player,'' Drewett said Tuesday in a statement. ``I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it's with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill health.''

Lou Gehrig's disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), affects voluntary muscle activity, including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body. It usually causes progressive disability.

``Brad has become a good friend of mine over the years and this is very sad news for all of us at the ATP and the entire tennis community,'' Roger Federer, president of the ATP Player Council, said in a statement. ``He is well-liked and respected by everyone and has done a tremendous job in leading the ATP over the past 12 months, overseeing some major initiatives and a record-breaking year in 2012.

``His dedication and service to the sport over the years has been truly admirable and he has been a central figure in helping to grow the ATP product across the globe.''

WTA chairman Stacey Allaster said the thoughts and prayers of the tour's family are with Drewett, his family and the ATP.

``We know he will fight this terrible disease every step of the way, and have our full support for whatever he needs,'' she said.

Drewett's one year in the job was not an easy one. Within days of taking the job, he was forced to reduce tensions after rumors of a potential player strike surfaced at Melbourne Park.

Most of the complaints were about compensation for the lower-ranked players, and for increased prize money for the earlier rounds of Grand Slams, both of which have been addressed and improved at this year's Australian Open.

And beginning this year, the ATP decided to more strictly enforce the 25-second rule between points in an effort to speed up play.

On Saturday, Drewett said he planned to meet with the players to discuss the rule tightening.

``It's only been two weeks, and like anything else, change takes time and for the players to adjust,'' Drewett said. ``So I'll have a better idea of how they feel after that. I've heard some reports, but it will be good to get the players' feedback directly.''

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With Kempny out indefinitely, Djoos set to play for Capitals tonight vs. Minnesota

With Kempny out indefinitely, Djoos set to play for Capitals tonight vs. Minnesota

ARLINGTON, Va. – Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny will be out “an indefinite” amount of time, according to coach Todd Reirden. 
 
Kempny sustained a lower-body injury in Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning when he fell to the ice during a scrap with forward Cedric Paquette. He had to be helped off the ice and could not put any weight on one leg. He did not return to the game. 
 
“I'd say we're going to have to be without him for an indefinite amount of time right now,” Reirden said. “We're just getting some more tests before we can make an official time statement on that, but I would just say right now that indefinitely he's out of our lineup.”
 
Christian Djoos will take Kempny’s place on the top pairing next to John Carlson. Djoos was bumped from the lineup on Feb. 23 after Washington acquired Nick Jensen in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings. Djoos finally returned to the lineup on Tuesday in a 4-1 win against the New Jersey Devils when the team rested 38-year-old veteran Brooks Orpik. 
 
Djoos and Carlson played together last season when Matt Niskanen missed 13 games with a left thumb injury. They have some history, which should help with on-ice communication. The duo have played together 600 minutes, 15 seconds since last season. Their Corsi-for percentage (53.45) is above water. That’s lots of shots directed at their own net, though that sample size is reasonably small over the course of a full season. With Kempny, Carlson has played 1150:19 and they are at 51.11 percent in 92 games.  
 
"I don't know about communication. I think just not having to communicate is the big thing, and fortunately for me I think Djoos, he could be the smartest hockey player in this room altogether,” Carlson said. “That's everyone. We've had stints. When [Niskanen] went down beginning, middle of last year, we played a lot together. Always kind of sneak in shifts here and there with him this year. I feel comfortable with him. That's not an issue for me.”
 
Losing Kempny is a blow, however.

The Feb. 19, 2018 trade for Kempny helped stabilize a blue line that was constantly in flux and relying on rookies in key spots last season. His addition helped balance Washington’s pairs, gave them another strong skater and was a big part of their 15-7-0 finish in the regular season and their Stanley Cup title run. 
 
Djoos is also a fine skater and makes for an interesting match with Carlson. But he’s also undersized at 6-foot, 169 pounds. He did play the final 22 playoff games last season on the right side next to Orpik on the third pair. Djoos is more comfortable on the left side, where he will be with Carlson. For now. 
 
“That opportunity for Christian is first and foremost tonight for him,” Reirden said. “It's a great opportunity, I've seen those two play together before and I thought he had a strong game the other day against New Jersey. This is why we have the depth we do. We'll put him in that situation tonight, but it's going to be probably a little bit of a committee as you move forward depending on the game.”
 
Reirden was not ready to say Kempny will miss the rest of the season. It’s too soon for that. 
 
“Obviously we'll miss Michal, he's been a really good player for us in the playoffs last year,” Reirden said. “He's had a strong regular season push his numbers to career highs and stuff. Hopefully we can get some better news on that, but for now Christian will be starting there and expect to see some movement in those spots as well.”
 
Added Carlson: “I think I'm a little bit more aggressive at the line and keeping guys out of the zone, and in-zone [Kempny is] a little more aggressive in terms of down below the goal line. We obviously know each other's games and work off each other pretty well. He's a big piece of this team and we're gonna have to all step up."

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Braden Holtby says he will ‘respectfully decline’ invitation to the White House

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Braden Holtby says he will ‘respectfully decline’ invitation to the White House

ARLINGTON, Va. – When the Capitals visit the White House on Monday to celebrate winning the 2018 Stanley Cup, Braden Holtby will not be among them. Citing his values, the Canadian netminder said Friday that he would “respectfully decline” the invitation.

“It’s one of those things that we have to think about, but with me, I’ve got to stay true to my values, and I’m going respectfully decline the offer,” Holtby said.

“In saying that, it’s a tough situation for everyone to be in, to be forced to make a decision of that standing. You’re a team and you want to stick together no matter what, so I hope everyone kind of blows it away and that we don’t worry about who goes and who doesn’t. For me, it’s just a personal thing. I believe in what I believe in, and in order to stick to those values, I think I have to do what I feel is right, but that doesn’t make a difference on everyone else’s decision. We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision.”

The news that the Caps would be making the traditional White House visit broke on Tuesday. As one of the team’s most outspoken political activists, it was not known whether Holtby would accept the invitation or not.

Citing his support of the LGBTQ community as “one of the factors” in his decision, Holtby said it ultimately was not difficult to reach the conclusion to decline the invitation.

“Obviously, I’ve been a little more out-spoken on my views than everyone else so I feel like it’s important for me to stand by that.”

“In the end, I never really came up with a situation where I’d feel comfortable going,” he added. “But the toughest part is I’ve always tried to live my life and my career that the team sticks together. So, that’s probably the toughest part, but that’s just the way the world is. Sometimes you’re forced into situations where you have to stick by what you believe. But in the end, I think there’s more important things I can do in the future. Trying to make a stand this way, I don’t think it does the most in terms of creating change. In the future, I just want to stick by what I believe in and trying to push towards a world where people are created equal.”

 Holtby now joins teammates Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly who had previously declared they would not accept a White House invitation.

 

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