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5 Maple Leafs takeaways: Sandin carried off during ‘gong show’ in Winnipeg – Sportsnet.ca

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“A gong show.”

That is how Auston Matthews described the spiraling debacle — on the ice and on the trainers’ table – that brought the Toronto Maple Leafs’ eight-game point streak on the road to a screeching halt on Sunday.

Heading into this frigid weekend back-to-back in the northernmost outposts of the Central Division, Minnesota and Winnipeg, things had been going so swimmingly for the lads in Blue and White that the events of the past 48 hours served up a harsh reminder of some of the club’s weak spots.

Let’s dig into a few takeaways from the Leafs’ 6-3 loss to the Jets on the night Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler celebrated his 1,000th game.

Dubois ragdolls Matthews

Referee Brad Meier might be wise to steer clear of Leafs Twitter for a minute.

Here’s where the gong began to clang.

With the score 5-3 Jets in the third period, Meier dinged both Matthews and Pierre-Luc Dubois for coincidental minors for this exchange:

Matthews took the high road post-game, allowing only that he’d be leaving the rink with a sour taste in his mouth.

“One of the best players in the world is in a situation that should be a power-play there,” said coach Sheldon Keefe, grabbing his sniper’s back. “That’s how it should work, and it didn’t.

“On the very next shift, you get one of your guys carried off and there’s no call there. Should be a 4-on-3, a five-minute power-play in a two-goal game, and it’s not. I just felt at that point, we needed some response.”

Pionk takes Sandin down with controversial knee

Through 26 games, the full health of the Maple Leafs’ seven-man D corps was a lingering source of mild tension, as every night a deserving blueliner was getting scratched.

Well, if Rasmus Sandin’s injury is as serious as it appeared, GM Kyle Dubas will be thankful he didn’t pull the trigger on a trade.

Immediately after Sandin let a shot fly in the third period, Jets defenceman Neal Pionk clipped the 21-year-old with a knee-on-knee hit.

No penalty was called on the play.

Sandin left the ice with assistance from Wayne Simmonds and Ondrej Kase and did not return. There was no immediate update on his condition.

“It looks to me like it’s a five-minute major. It’s a knee-on-knee. A guy gets carried,” Keefe told reporters postgame. “Obviously, [the officials] didn’t see it. I think if they see it, they probably would’ve called it differently. The league, I’m sure, will have a look.”

The Pionk hit set the Leafs off, captain John Tavares admitted.

So, we saw mild-mannered Jason Spezza lunge at Pionk’s head, and Wayne Simmonds chuck knuckles with Logan Stanley as the thing winded down to its messy conclusion.

Power-plays on fire

To be clear: When it came to the actual hockey portion of the hockey game, the more deserving side earned the two points.

That’s thanks, in large part, to Winnipeg’s reawakened offence, which struck thrice on the man-advantage.

The Maple Leafs, too, looked dangerous on the PP, with Michael Bunting and Matthews both cashing in on clean shots.

Matthews extended his goal streak to six games and is the first player to have four goal streaks of at least five games in a single calendar year since Brett Hull.

Toronto has 16 power-play goals over its past 18 games, solidifying it as a weapon. Which is probably why Keefe believed a couple calls might’ve salvaged his club a point.

Missing Marner

Not unlike Tavares’s absence in the 2021 post-season, when you subtract Mitchell Marner from the Leafs lineup, the trickle effect exposes a lack of depth on the wings and on the PK.

Spezza filled in admirably in Minnesota and on the man-advantage, yet the rejigged first line took on water against the high-powered Jets attack.

With Pierre Engvall dropping to Spezza’s spot on the fourth line and Nick Ritchie moving to David Kampf’s line, that checking unit had a rough go dealing with Winnipeg’s speed.

The Leafs fed the home team’s transition game and exposed rookie goalie Joseph Woll to a rash of odd-man rushes. Plus, Marner’s instincts could’ve come in handy on the kill.

“[Marner] is not a guy you can just replace,” Matthews said. “But we have a lot of belief in our group. No matter who I play with, I have confidence in every single guy out there.”

Campbell or bust?

The 3-0 career start of Woll is a lovely story.

He’s a great, hard-working kid who has endeared himself to the big club.

But until he stared across at Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets, Woll had only faced offences in the weaker half of the league: Sabres, Islanders, Sharks. Non-playoff teams, all of them.

The likes of Wheeler, Dubois, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Nikolaj Ehlers pumping 41 shots in your direction?

That’s a whole other animal.

Sure, Woll could’ve used more help in his own zone. But he let in six — a reminder why Toronto spent millions on an NHL-proven backup over the summer.

So… how’s he doing?

Petr Mrazek lost 5-1 to Laval on Sunday starting for the Marlies in Game 1 of his AHL conditioning stint, stopping 22 of the 26 shots he faced. Coach Greg Moore liked what he saw.

“He looked good, didn’t look like he was hesitant. I thought he gave us a great effort and kept us in the game and a lot of mistakes and reasons for the pucks going in the net were on us,” Moore said.

After 53 days between starts, Mrazek said he felt great despite the loss.

“It’s good to get the action going and see the plays from the ice and how the game goes,” Mrazek said. “So, happy to be back and happy to see the action.”

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Athletics Canada CEO David Bedford facing complaints over Twitter posts – CBC Sports

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The CEO of Athletics Canada is apologizing for a series of sexually suggestive Twitter exchanges made over a number of months and posted to his personal account.

Dave Bedford posted the tweets as replies to nearly a dozen different Twitter accounts. The tweets have since been deleted.

“It’s my personal account. It’s not like I was sending out photos or tweets myself,” Bedford told CBC Sports. “In this day and age with all we have been going through, I found some of these things funny so I commented. It’s apparent others didn’t feel the same way so I removed them.”

In his personal Twitter bio, Bedford identifies himself as the CEO of Athletics Canada and provides a link to the publicly funded organization’s website, which — as the national governing body of athletics — represents thousands of elite and amateur athletes across the country.

After receiving a number of internal complaints over the weekend, Athletics Canada’s board chair Helen Manning spoke to Bedford who then deleted the offensive tweets and locked his account.

Emergency board meeting

Athletics Canada will hold an emergency board meeting Monday night to decide next steps. Board chair Helen Manning said confidence in Bedford’s ongoing ability to lead will be a central point of discussion and didn’t rule out asking for Bedford’s resignation.

“There are certainly concerns that have been expressed by some of our membership,” Manning said. “Those types of comments are not something that is in keeping with the policy of how we see our people in the public domain.”

Manning said the organization has done a lot of work with Safe Sport, which aims to eliminate sexual harassment as well as physical and mental harassment among athletic organizations.

“We have spent a great deal of time and effort focused on trying to ensure the safest and most welcoming environment for our athletes and all of our members,” Manning said.

Audrey Giles, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a member of Athletics Canada’s Safe Sport Committee, said Bedford’s behaviour brings his judgment into question.

‘Raises questions’

“If he felt that that sort of public behaviour was acceptable, it raises questions about if he is the right person to be leading an organization through this era of safe sport,” Giles said. “I think it’s just like the hypocrisy of talking about having to hold coaches to a higher account, having to make spaces that are safe for athletes. Yet being somebody who engages in this, frankly, creepy online behaviour with women?

“I recognize that people can have a very diverse and exciting sexual lives. But when you are a leader of an organization, I think that the standards are higher.”

Bedford was hired by Athletics Canada in 2019 and has worked in a variety of leadership roles across Canadian sport, including the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

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Soccer-Lewandowski and Putellas win FIFA Best awards

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Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA Best Men’s Player award for 2021 with Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas winning the FIFA Best Women’s Player prize at Monday’s ceremony.

The prolific Lewandowski won the award for the second straight year after a season in which he beat Gerd Mueller’s 49-year old record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign.

“Robert is someone special. He is the greatest footballer in the history of our country. The best Polish ambassador and a role model for young people, not only those playing football,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Facebook.

The 27-year-old Putellas was at the heart of the Barcelona women’s team which won the Spanish league and the UEFA Champions League.

Chelsea won both the awards for best coach, with Thomas Tuchel winning the men’s award and Emma Hayes named the best women’s coach.

Tuchel had guided Chelsea to the Champions League title after taking over the club in January while Hayes won the Women’s Super League, FA Cup and League Cup treble in England.

The West London club enjoyed further recognition with their Senegal international Edouard Mendy winning the Best Men’s Goalkeeper award.

Chile and Olympique Lyonnais’ Christiane Endler was named The Best Women’s Goalkeeper.

The Puskas Award for best goal of the year was won by Argentine Erik Lamela, now with Spanish club Sevilla, for his goal for Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal.

The Denmark national team and their medical staff won the Fair Play award for their swift response after Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during the Euro 2020 game with Finland.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Montreal Canadiens place Alex Belzile on waivers, plus other injury updates – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Alex Belzile on waivers on Monday.

The forward will be assigned to the Laval Rocket should he clear waivers. The 31-year-old was pointless in 11 games this season with the Canadiens. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 AHL games this season.

The team also provided several injury updates, as the new Vice President of Communications Chantal Machabée briefed the media before head coach Dominique Ducharme answered questions.

Joel Edmundson is back from Montreal after being in Manitoba and away from the team. There is no timeline on his return, and the same goes with Carey Price.

Jake Allen will undergo an MRI, while Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli are nearing a return.

Cayden Primeau will start against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday afternoon. Laurent Dauphin and Josh Anderson also draw back in the lineup. Michael Pezzetta will be a healthy scratch.

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