NHL

A hectic start to the NHL’s free-agency period Wednesday closed with the Columbus Blue Jackets landing the highest-profile player: ”Johnny Hockey.”

Johnny Gaudreau cashed in on a career season by signing a $68.25 million, seven-year contract with Columbus in the Blue Jackets’ bid to return to prominence after losing their core of stars – including Artemi Panarin – in free agency two years ago.

Gaudreau’s decision to sign with Columbus came a day after turning down what an eight-year deal to re-sign with Calgary, where he spent his first nine NHL seasons. The Blue Jackets also signed defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16 million contract.

The 28-year-old who played at Boston College finished tied for second in the NHL with a career-best 115 points and 40 goals last season. And so much for the speculation of Gaudreau, who is from New Jersey, heading to a team much closer to home such as the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers or New York Islanders.

Gaudreau’s signing highlighted a busy day in which Claude Giroux looked ahead to a homecoming in Ottawa, the Washington Capitals landed Stanley Cup-winning goalie Darcy Kuemper and the New York Rangers spent big on center Vincent Trocheck.

MLB

TORONTO (AP)The Toronto Blue Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday and promoted bench coach John Schneider to interim manager for the remainder of the season.

General manager Ross Atkins made the move even with the Blue Jays at 46-42 this season. They held the AL’s final wild-card slot when the day began but were in fourth place in the AL East.

Triple-A manager Casey Candaele was named interim bench coach.

”I truly wanted this to work with Charlie and wasn’t able to make that happen,” general manager Ross Atkins said before the Blue Jays hosted Philadelphia. ”I’m extremely disappointed in where we are. I think we’re better than how we’ve played.”

NFL

WASHINGTON (AP) – The attorney for Dan Snyder told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday there is no reason for the owner of the Washington Commanders to testify under subpoena for the congressional investigation into the NFL team’s workplace culture.

Snyder’s attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, sent a letter to committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney confirming her client would participate virtually in the July 28 session from Israel while on a planned family trip.

Patton Seymour, however, declined to accept the conditions of the subpoena. She argued in her letter it is not valid since the committee previously invited Snyder to participate voluntarily.

GOLF

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) – Already a two-time winner at St. Andrews, Tiger Woods picked up another honor before he even struck a shot in the 150th edition of the British Open.

He’s now an honorary member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

The R&A used the occasion of its big celebration this week to confer honorary membership to Open champions Woods, Rory McIlroy and Paul Lawrie.

It’s not like Woods needs any help getting a tee time on the Old Course, or even gaining entry into the famous clubhouse. But it’s a nice honor.

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