Woeful Canucks fire Gillis
The Vancouver Canucks fired president and general manager Mike Gillis on Tuesday, a day after being eliminated from playoff contention. Gillis took over as general manager from the fired Dave Nonis after the 2007-2008 season. Under Gillis, the Canucks made the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to Boston. Since then, they have been in a steady decline, losing in the first round of the NHL playoffs for two straight seasons before missing the post-season entirely this year for the first time since 2008. Vancouver fans seemed fed up with the team’s downward spiral and chanted for Gillis’ sacking after Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
I am not Syria jihadist: Diarra
France international Lassana Diarra on Tuesday denied rumors on social media sites that he has become a jihadist in the Syrian war. The Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder “denies in the most formal, the most categoric, the most absolute fashion that he has gone to Syria,” said Diarra’s French lawyer, Eric Dupond Moretti. “He has never set foot in Syria. It’s absurd. He is not a jihadist, he is a footballer with Lokomotiv Moscow,” the lawyer added. British tabloid the Daily Mirror this week reported social media rumors that Diarra had gone to Syria, where the war is now into a fourth year and has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Moretti said Diarra, 29, who has also played for Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal, expected to take part in Lokomotiv’s Russian Premier League game on Sunday. Diarra won La Liga with Real Madrid in 2012 and last played for France in 2010.
Vegalta, Arnold part ways
J-League side Vegalta Sendai fired Australian manager Graham Arnold after a poor start to the season, they said on Wednesday. Vegalta said on their Web site that the decision to terminate Arnold’s contract after just five months had been taken by “mutual consent.” The 50-year-old was Australia’s assistant coach under Guus Hiddink at the 2006 World Cup and subsequently spent a brief spell in charge of the Socceroos. Sendai have taken just two points from six matches this season and sit second from bottom of the 18-team first division. Arnold blamed the poor results on an aging squad. “Many of the older players were resistant to change,” he told Australian broadcaster SBS. “I felt as if I was coaching someone else’s team and in the end I have my standards to uphold.”
However, his tactics were criticized in some quarters and the team’s defensive flaws were illustrated in Sunday’s 4-0 rout by the Urawa Reds, which was the tipping point for Velgata’s management. Assistant coach Susumu Watanabe will replace Arnold, the club said.
Delbonis bests Simon
Sixth-seeded Federico Delbonis of Argentina beat Gilles Simon of France 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Grand Prix Hassan II on Tuesday in Casablanca, Morocco. Simon entered the main draw as a qualifier and struggled on his serve, getting only 45 percent of his first serves in. Delbonis next plays another qualifier, Filip Peliwo, after the Canadian won 7-6 (6), 6-3 against Italy’s Filippo Volandri. In other first-round matches, Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena downed fellow qualifier David Goffin of Belgium 6-2, 7-5; Albert Ramos of Spain won 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 against Moroccan Lamine Ouahab and big-serving Romanian Victor Hanescu advanced by beating wild card Hicham Khaddari of Morocco 7-6 (3), 6-3.