Your midday sports snack.
• Roy Halladay will be remembered at a public celebration of life in Florida this afternoon. Representatives of the Blue Jays are on hand to salute the franchise’s longtime ace, who died last week when the sport plane he was piloting crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. Viewers can watch Sportsnet’s coverage of the memorial service from Spectrum Field in Clearwater, where the Philadelphia Phillies hold spring training, starting at 3 p.m. ET, though the ceremony doesn’t begin until 4 p.m. It will also be shown on TSN4 and live-streamed on the Blue Jays’ website.
• Here’s some further anecdotal evidence of a scoring rise in the NHL: The league reports that the Flames are the sixth club already this season to score six or more goals in back-to-back games. Calgary beat St. Louis 7-4 last night and won 6-3 against Detroit last Thursday.
• The Maple Leafs have recalled Nikita Soshnikov from the AHL Toronto Marlies, less to fill any immediate need than to avoid losing the 24-year-old left winger for nothing. A clause in Soshnikov’s contract reportedly would have let him venture back to Russia, or elsewhere in Europe, if he wasn’t brought up to the NHL by today. Frederik Gauthier was returned to the Marlies after spending a week as a healthy scratch.
• An early investigation into David Poisson’s fatal crash at an Alberta ski resort yesterday suggests the French downhill racer may have struck a tree after safety netting failed to stop his momentum. The 35-year-old Olympian was training for the World Cup season at Nakiska, which hosted Alpine skiing at Calgary 1988, when he lost a ski and then his balance, the French Ski Federation said today.
• Red Sox Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr died Monday night at the age of 99. Doerr was also the Blue Jays’ hitting coach from 1977-81.
• As if he wasn’t accomplished enough already in sports, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts showcased his other athletic skills on the weekend when he rolled a perfect 300 in qualifying for the World Series of Bowling in Reno, Nevada. Watch the last two frames:
It’s the second time Betts has competed on the tour. He is expected to compete again at the Chris Paul Celebrity Invitational in Houston in February.
• After Italy’s dumbfounding exit from World Cup consideration, three spots remain up for grabs at Russia 2018 next summer. The first of those will be awarded in Dublin this afternoon, when the Republic of Ireland and Denmark meet to resolve a 0-0 draw on aggregate in the second leg of their European playoff. Since Ireland didn’t manage an away goal in Copenhagen last Saturday, another draw would send Denmark to their fourth World Cup in the last six quadrennials. Ireland hasn’t qualified since 2002.
Italy had qualified for 18 of the previous 20 World Cups and was one of the elite eight that had participated in at least 14 of the tournaments. The other seven have all qualified for 2018.
Brazil has been in all 21 World Cups, including next year in Russia; Germany/West Germany will makes its 19th appearance next year; and Argentina barely qualified for its 16th appearance last month. Mexico will play in its 16th next year, while Spain, France and England are making appearance No. 15.
The Cup only had 16 spots through 1978 and has expanded twice: to 24 in 1982 and to 32 in 1998.
Below is a chart showing the participation of every nation that has qualified for the World Cup since 1930. (There were no tournaments in 1942 and 1946 because of the Second World War.)
Photos of the day
The flipside of Italy’s galling defeat: Swedish elation.
• Scott Stinson has a not-so-unexpected takeaway from Gary Bettman’s appareance at a sports management conference in Toronto yesterday: The NHL commissioner got exasperated. Bettman, you see, was fielding yet another query about why his league isn’t going to the Olympics, an especially sore point now that players like Rob Klinkhammer — instead of, say, Connor McDavid — are dressing for Canada at international tournaments.
• How do you solve tanking across professional sports? Stop rewarding teams for being terrible. Baffled by a world in which the Houston Astros can lose 100 games in three straight seasons and win the World Series later in the decade, longtime MLB front-office exec Brad Kullman has a few modest recommendations, starting with the idea to give the last-place finisher in any given league the lowest first-round draft pick available.
All times Eastern
2:30 p.m. Soccer | FIFA World Cup Playoff: Ireland vs. Denmark SN One
3 p.m. Tennis: World Tour Finals, round robin TSN5
3 p.m. Roy Halladay memorial service Sportsnet
4 p.m. Roy Halladay memorial service TSN4
7 p.m. CHL: Russia vs. QMJHL Sportsnet
7 p.m. NHL: Buffalo at Pittsburgh SN One
7:30 p.m. NHL: Columbus at Montreal TSN2, RDS
8 p.m. NBA: Toronto at Houston TSN1,4,5
8 p.m. NHL: Arizona at Winnipeg TSN3
9 p.m. NHL: Vegas at Edmonton SN West
10:30 p.m. NHL: Vancouver at Los Angeles SN Pacific
9 a.m. Tennis: World Tour Finals, round robin TSN5
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