Choosing loyalty over the chance to be an unrestricted free agent next summer and play somewhere else, Aleksander Barkov has agreed to an eight-year extension with the Florida Panthers, the team announced Friday. The deal is worth $80 million, with a $10 million average cap value, two people with direct knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press on Friday. They spoke on of anonymity because financial terms were not announced.
“All In,” read the sign displayed aside Barkov at a news conference, where the signing of the player who won last season’s Selke Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward, and finished sixth in balloting for the Hart Trophy – the league’s MVP – was announced.
The majority of the deal will be paid to Barkov in the form of a signing bonus, according to one of the people who spoke with AP. Structuring the deal that way was a win-win for both Barkov and the Panthers; for the player, it has certain tax advantages, and for the team, it allows future flexibility for other deals.
• The Chicago Blackhawks lost another young defenseman when the team announced Caleb Jones has a sprained left wrist and is expected to miss approximately six weeks.
The 24-year-old Jones, the younger brother of Chicago defenseman Seth Jones, was acquired in a July trade with Edmonton that moved Duncan Keith to the Oilers.
WORLD CUP QUALFYING: A fire broke out at Andorra’s national stadium, a day before England plays the tiny nation there in a World Cup qualifier.
The government of Andorra said the blaze was put out by firefighters not long after it started.
The president of the Andorran Football Association, Félix Álvarez, said they were hoping the incident would not stop the game from going ahead as planned.
FOOTBALL: UConn interim coach Lou Spanos, two assistant coaches and two Huskies players have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Saturday’s game against UMass.
UConn said Spanos, offensive coordinator Frank Giufer, tight ends coach Corey Edsall, senior offensive tackle Ryan Van Demark and freshman offensive lineman Will Meyer are all in a 10-day quarantine as a result of positive tests.
The school says all five are fully vaccinated and doing well.
GOLF: Former NBA guard J.R. Smith, 36, is set to make his debut next week as a golfer for North Carolina A&T. The school announced Smith will play his first collegiate tournament Monday and Tuesday at the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Elon. The tournament will take place at the par-71, 6,867-yard Alamance Country Club golf course.
Smith enrolled at N.C. A&T over the summer after 16 seasons in the NBA and joined the golf team as a freshman walk-on. All team golfers must qualify for each tournament in practice unless he has finished first or second in the previous tournament. Smith qualified for next week’s tournament by one stroke.
OBIT: John Edward “Budge” Patty, a former No. 1-ranked tennis player who won back-to-back major titles at the French Championships and Wimbledon in 1950, has died. He was 97.
EUROPEAN TOUR: Jon Rahm had a lackluster second round at the Spanish Open on Friday, carding a 4-under 67 to stay one shot behind leader Wil Besseling going into the weekend in Madrid.
Rahm, who opened with a 63, was one shot ahead of fellow Spaniard Adri Arnaus and first-round leader Ross McGowan of England. Rahm made two birdies in his first nine holes and finished with an eagle on the par-5 14th, a bogey on the par-4 16th, and a hard-fought birdie on the last hole after hooking his tee shot behind the packed grandstands near the 18th green.
Besseling made six birdies, four of them on the back nine, to add a 6-under 65 to his 64. The Dutchman has yet to make a bogey.