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This Fourth of July for the Minnesota Wild was a little less eventful than the last. Anders Lee Islanders Jersey . Still, the Wild made another holiday splash by bringing in more help for their blue line. The Wild announced Thursday they agreed to terms on a two-year contract with defenceman Keith Ballard, who was available after being let go by Vancouver earlier this week with a compliance buyout to clear space under the salary cap. The Wild said paperwork for Ballards deal would be filed Friday, when the free agent market opens. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported Ballards contract is worth $3 million. He was scheduled to make $4.2 million in each of the final two seasons of his previous deal with the Canucks. The 30-year-old Ballard managed just two assists in 36 games for Vancouver in 2013. Over three seasons there since being acquired in a draft-day trade in 2010 with Florida, Ballard had only 16 points in 148 games. He was hindered by several injuries. Before that, though, the former University of Minnesota star was far more productive. Over five seasons with Phoenix and Florida, he averaged nearly 30 points while playing in 97 per cent of the games. As a rookie with the Coyotes in 2005-06, Ballard had eight goals and 31 assists and played in all 82 games. In his first year with the Panthers in 2008-09, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Ballard had six goals and 28 goals with a plus-14 rating while again playing all 82 games. Ballard will essentially replace defenceman Tom Gilbert, another local guy, who was dumped by the Wild with a compliance buyout this week. Ballard is from Baudette, Minn., on the Canadian border. He won two NCAA championships in his career with the Gophers. Another Minnesotan, centre Matt Cullen, will be moving on as the Wilds most prominent unrestricted free agent. Cullen told the Star Tribune that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher informed him he couldnt offer him a fair contract given the teams cap constraints. Denis Potvin Islanders Jersey . The Vancouver coach and an announced sellout crowd of 18,910 watched in dismay as the Canucks lost 7-4 to the New York Islanders on Monday night by squandering a 3-0 lead in the third period. Mike Bossy Islanders Jersey .ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. .Y. - Rob Manfred was promoted Monday to Major League Baseballs chief operating officer, which may make him a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner. RIO DE JANEIRO -- The fans chant their names, wave their flags and do a little samba in their seats whenever the Brazilians take the sand at the Copacabana Olympic beach volleyball venue.If its a lot of pressure for the hometown teams, theyre handling it well.All four Brazilian teams advanced out of pool play at the Olympic tournament, and three won their first matches of the knockout round on Friday and Saturday. After a disappointing fourth-place finish as hosts of the soccer World Cup in 2014, Brazils other national sport has thrived on its hometown sand.It is not a pressure for us, said Barbara, a Rio native, who with her partner Agatha beat China on Friday to reach the quarterfinals. We are living the dream now. Inside our hearts is joy.Beach volleyball is a passion in Brazil, as much a recreational sport on the Copacabana shore as soccer or surfing or sunbathing. And that has led to Olympic success, with the country winning 11 of 30 total medals since the sport was added to the Summer Games in 1996.So dominant were the Brazilians -- and Americans, who have claimed nine medals -- that quotas were created to limit each country to two entries (per gender) in the Olympics.And when Rio de Janeiro won the rights to host the 2016 Olympics, it was only natural that the beach volleyball venue would be on Copacabana.I fell so lucky, so honored, as a first-time Olympian to be here in my home, Barbara said. I am so proud to be a part of this Olympic year at home.The fans appear to enjoy it, too.With green and yellow shirts filling the stands and Brazilian music wafting over the security barriers onto Copacabana beach beyond, the Olympic venue has been shaking at times with the cheers for the four hometown teams.Agatha and Barbara were the first to reach the quarterfinals, followed later on Friday by the defending world champions Talita and Larissa. Alison and Bruno reached the round of 8 by beating Spain on Saturday, and the party was only slightly spoiled when the No. 2 mens team, Pedro and Evandro, lost to Russia.Still, the crowd gave the Brazilians a standing ovation on their way off the court, though part of the crowd was certainly acknowledging the 21-16, 14-21, 15-10 victory by Russia as well.Here on Copacabana, they know how to play, Russias Nikita Liamin said. TThey know the good play, and they know how it is done. Jason Chimera Jersey. Two-time Olympian Ana Paula, who is working with the stadium entertainment crew in Rio, agreed. At one break in the match, she introduced American Randy Stoklos, a five-time world champion and volleyball hall of famer who played before the sport was added to the Olympics.We might have built this stadium, but the Brazilians really made this sport, he said to a huge cheer.All of the Brazilians knew who he was, Ana Paula said. Its because Brazil really, really loves beach volleyball. Its because volleyball -- its been in our DNA.Ana Paula said she thinks volleyball and beach volleyball have even surpassed soccer in her homeland -- in part because of the soccer teams much-lamented 7-1 loss in the World Cup semifinals. We dont talk about the World Cup, she said with a smile.By contrast, the beach volleyball players seem to be thriving under pressure.I dont think we are going to see anything like that in volleyball, said Bruno, whose uncle Oscar Schmidt is a basketball Hall of Famer and one of Brazils most celebrated athletes. The crowd is so happy, so full of happy people.And thats been a boost for all of the players -- even Brazils opponents.Spains Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez said they were excited when the pools were drawn and they knew they would be playing Agatha and Barbara.At the beginning, I felt like, `Oh, my God. The whole stadium is going to fall down on me, Liliana said after beating the Brazilians. But we wanted to play them on Copacabana.The Spaniards had already clinched a spot in the knockout round, so they didnt feel the full pressure of 12,000 fans rooting against them.When Germanys Britta Buthe and Karla Borger drew defending world champions Talita and Larissa in the playoff round of 16, their coaches tried to cheer them up.Everyone was saying, `Oh, its such a tough draw for you guys. But we were really excited, Buthe said after the Brazilians eliminated them in straight sets.We would have liked it if we would have played for it and won. We werent able to experience it, she said. But still I think this is one of our best memories, even if it did end. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '