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League’s players to compete in Olympics next year

After weeks of tough negotiations, the NHL and its players reached a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation on Friday to put the season on hold again so some of the game’s biggest stars can compete next year in the Sochi Olympics in Russia.

Putting a stop to another season one year after a damaging lockout created a shortened, 48-game campaign was hardly an optimal plan for the NHL. But an agreement was made to allow the top players to take part in the Olympics for the fifth straight time.

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“Our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a joint announcement with the players’ association.

NHL players will be available to the 12 national teams that are in the Olympic tournament from Feb. 12 to Feb. 23. More than 120 NHL players are expected to compete in Sochi while the league takes a break from Feb. 9 to Feb. 26.

Canucks to open Oct. 3

Once the issue of Olympic participation was resolved, the league released the 2013-14 regular-season schedule.

The new-look NHL’s four divisions will be called Metropolitan and Atlantic in the Eastern Conference, and Central and Pacific in the West.

Detroit and Columbus are moving from the Western Conference to the East. The East’s divisions will have eight teams each and the West’s divisions will have seven apiece.

The Vancouver Canucks open Oct. 3 at San Jose and their home opener is Oct. 5 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Vancouver is in the Pacific Division, along with Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Jose.

Last season, the Canucks were in a five-team Northwest Division along with Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota.

College football

Lawyers want suit vs. NCAA to have class-action status

Attorneys suing the NCAA over its handling of head injuries asked a federal judge to let them expand the lawsuit nationwide to include thousands of plaintiffs in a case they contend could change college sports.

The motion seeking class-action status was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, where the original lawsuit was filed two years ago on behalf of several former athletes, including former Eastern Illinois player Adrian Arrington.

FIU apologizes for conduct of players who disrobed

Florida International coach Ron Turner is apologizing for the conduct of some players. They used a public outdoor shower after a workout on Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne and disrobed in public.

Miami-Dade police say they were called to investigate reports players were unclothed in view of other beachgoers.

No charges were filed. Turner said some players rinsed off at the public showers “and a few of them made a poor decision and changed their clothes in public.”

The team was at the beach for a cookout commemorating the end of preseason conditioning.

Big Ten, Outback Bowl extend deal for 6 years

The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., has extended its contract with the Big Ten Conference by six years, through the 2019 season.

Big Ten teams have participated in the Outback 24 times in the bowl’s 27-year history, including the past 20 years. The past 18 Outback Bowls also have featured a team from the Southeastern Conference.

Auto racing

NASCAR puts brakes on use of aerial-camera systems

NASCAR officials suspended the use of aerial-camera systems, nearly two months after a Fox Sports cable snapped and injured fans and damaged some cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

Ten people were injured during the Coca-Cola 600 when part of the drive rope landed in the grandstand.


• American Serena Williams won her Swedish Open quarterfinal tennis match in Bastad over Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-1, 6-1.

Tito Vilanova, 44, is stepping down as Barcelona’s soccer coach after a recurrence of throat cancer, a month before Lionel Messi and teammates begin the defense of their Spanish-league title.

• Sprinter Justin Gatlin of the United States won the 100 meters in 9.94 seconds at the Herculis meet in Monaco.

• Olympic silver medalist Caster Semenya appears likely to miss next month’s world championships after she was left off an initial list of South African athletes to compete in Moscow. The 2009 world champion in the 800 meters has been inactive for much of this season because of a knee injury

Lindsay Whalen had 21 points and seven assists as WNBA-leading Minnesota beat host San Antonio 87-71. The Lynx have won five straight.

In other league games, Indiana beat visiting Washington 77-70 and host Tulsa defeated Connecticut 64-58.

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