There was a Vancouver flavour to the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in St. Louis on Friday night.
Three Canucks players took part — Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Jacob Markstrom — which is more than the team has sent to the mid-season event in eight years.
Vancouver Police Department’s Meghan Agosta also suited up, as one of 20 female players who participated.
Even Canucks public address announcer Al Murdoch was there, calling the action for fans at the NHL event.
But perhaps the most entertaining Vancouver connection was on the Sportsnet broadcast, as former Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa helped out at ice level.
Pettersson juggling the puck
Bieksa put Pettersson’s hand-eye coordination to the test.
“Can you juggle and talk at the same time?” Bieksa asked.
Here’s your answer:
— Offside (@OffsideDH) January 25, 2020
Markstrom takes Bieksa’s money
Sportsnet had Markstrom mic’d up during the Save Streak competition. Bieksa told the Canucks goaltender that he’d give him $100 if Markstrom could stop five shootout attempts in a row.
He did, so he cashed in.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 25, 2020
Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington won the event with 10 straight saves, but the real winners were Anze Kopitar’s kids, who Markstrom gave the money to.
— NHL Sverige (@NHLsv) January 25, 2020
Mama Markstrom proud of her boy
Markstrom’s mother Lena made the trip to St. Louis, snapping a selfie with her son on the red carpet.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 25, 2020
— Lena Markström (@lenaMarkstrom) January 24, 2020
Markstrom was one of the best dressed players at his first All-Star Weekend, rocking this suit:
Marky’s suit is on another level ?? pic.twitter.com/f1FDcYKAXV
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 25, 2020
Here you go, officer
Agosta and Team Canada beat the Americans 2-1 in the three-on-three game. Don’t let the low score fool you though, it was a back-and-forth game with all sorts of breakaways and scoring chances.
Prior to taking the ice, the three-time Olympic gold medallist met the trio of Canucks All-Stars, receiving a team jersey with her name and number on the back.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 24, 2020
Hughes in the fastest skater competition
Hughes is a great skater, but he’s not the fastest in the league. The rookie defenceman finished in last place in the fastest skater competition.
Huggy Bear can flyyyyy ?? pic.twitter.com/V6DGBzS2IF
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 25, 2020
New York Islanders forward and Coquitlam native Mathew Barzal won the competition in a major upset over Connor McDavid.
Pettersson surprises in hardest shot
Pettersson didn’t win the hardest shot competition, but he definitely turned heads.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) January 25, 2020
As the only forward and smallest player in the competition, Pettersson came in third place with a 102.4 mph slap shot.
Shea Weber won the event with a 106.5 mph bomb, finishing ahead of last year’s winner John Carlson, who clocked in at 104.5 mph.
The all-time king of this competition, Al MacInnis, made an appearance as well. The 56-year-old Hall of Famer’s shot (allegedly) hit 100.4 mph with a wooden stick.
Other Blues greats made appearances as well, including Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Federko, Keith Tkachuk, and Brett Hull.
Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Jaccob Slavin was the surprise winner of the accuracy shooting event, while Patrick Kane won the new Shooting Stars Competition.
The All-Star Game takes place on Saturday night, at 5 pm PT on CBC and Sportsnet.
Washington NFL team dropping ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years – Sportsnet.ca
WASHINGTON — The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday that it will drop the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo immediately, bowing to decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.
A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most storied teams in the National Football League, and it was unclear how soon that will happen. But for now, arguably the most polarizing name in North American professional sports is gone at a time of reckoning over racial injustice, iconography and racism in the U.S.
The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder, a boyhood fan of the team who once declared he would never get rid of the name, launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.
The team said it is “retiring” the name and logo and that Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design.
Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name they call a “dictionary-defined racial slur.” Over a dozen Native leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.
Protests against the name predate Snyder buying the team in 1999, and, until now, he had shown no willingness to consider a change. Strong words from sponsors — including a company run by a minority stakeholder of the team — changed the equation.
FedEx earlier this month became the first sponsor to announce it had asked the organization to change the name, particularly important because CEO Frederick Smith owns part of the team. FedEx also paid $205 million for the long-term naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland.
The lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and dropping the name keeps open various possibilities in Maryland, Virginia and Washington for the team’s new stadium and headquarters. District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser has said the name was an “obstacle” to Snyder building on the old RFK Stadium site, which is believed to be his preference.
Washington recently started cutting ties with racist founder George Preston Marshall, removing his name from the Ring of Fame and renaming the lower bowl at FedEx Field for the team’s first Black player, late Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. Marshall, who renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins in 1933 and moved it to D.C. four years later, was a segregationist and the last NFL owner to integrate their team. The current logo shows the profile of a red-faced Native American with feathers in his hair.
Long removed from the glory days of winning Super Bowl titles in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under coach Joe Gibbs, Washington has just five playoff appearances in 21 years and no postseason victories since 2005. The team has lacked a nationally marketable player since Robert Griffin III’s short-lived stardom, and the 2020 schedule features zero prime-time games for a franchise that used to be a draw.
Re-branding with a new name and logo — and perhaps the same burgundy and gold colours — coupled with turning football operations over to Rivera could be a boon for Snyder on and off the field. Even if a segment of the fan base opposes the change in the name of tradition, winning would more than make up for those losses.
TFC, D.C. United game rescheduled after COVID-19 test concerns – Sportsnet.ca
A morning that had promised to start and end early Sunday turned into a stressful all-day marathon for Toronto FC and D.C. United.
The teams were slated to kick off their MLS is Back Tournament at 9 a.m. ET at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in the Orlando area. Minutes before the scheduled start, Major League Soccer called off the game — citing two problematic COVID-19 tests.
A round of pre-game testing Saturday had returned a positive test for a D.C. United player and an inconclusive test for a Toronto player. The positive test was considered unconfirmed until backed up by a second test.
While D.C. United made it to the playing field, Toronto never left the league hotel.
“Both teams participated in another round of testing (Sunday) and all players from the two clubs tested negative,” the league said in a statement issued Sunday evening. “Based on those results, the game will be played (Monday) morning at 9 a.m. ET.
“The player who received an initial positive test and the player whose test was inconclusive will undergo additional testing and will not play in (Monday’s) match.”
The league did not identify the players in question. Neither did Toronto FC, although GM Ali Curtis did say his player was asymptomatic.
The tournament, which marks the league’s first action since it shut down March 12 due to the global pandemic, has already lost FC Dallas and Nashville SC due to a rash of positive COVID-19 tests.
Sunday was another day of drama and doubt in the pandemic sports world.
“These days nothing’s really normal. If anything the normal is kind of uncertainty,” Curtis told a virtual conference call Sunday evening.
“There’s a different situation each different day, for each different week,” he added. “And you just have to adapt.”
It marked the second delay for both Toronto and D.C. United. They were supposed to meet Friday night but the game was pushed back to Sunday due to Toronto’s late arrival at the tournament because of the need for additional COVID-19 testing in the wake of a player reporting symptoms.
Players and staff were tested Saturday in advance of the game. Curtis said the team learned of the inconclusive test around midnight, prompting another test in the player’s room that proved to be negative. The Toronto player has been isolated pending the result of another test.
The rest of the Toronto team produced negative results in the latest batch of testing.
Curtis, meanwhile, started his Sunday with a 6 a.m. Zoom call, the first of many.
With the game expected to start at 9 a.m. Monday, both teams faced another early morning wake-up call. Toronto’s pre-game meal Sunday was scheduled for 5:30 a.m.
Toronto’s second game against the Montreal Impact, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has now been pushed back to Thursday. And D.C. United’s game against the New England Revolution will now be played on Friday instead of Thursday.
Wednesday’s game between the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes will now start at 9 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m.
After the threat of lightning delayed Atlanta’s game against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night, there were more delays and drama Sunday.
“We believe the tournament can still be conducted safely,” MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott told a virtual conference call Sunday morning. “And if at the point we determine it can’t, obviously we would make a decision then.
“In the case of Dallas and Nashville, the decision was made that based on the extent of the positive tests in those teams (and) their ability to train, that the more prudent course was to withdraw them.
“But we had established a set of protocols that are working as they were designed, which is to identify players that have had positive tests for COVID-19, to remove and separate them from the team and isolate them. And to continue the process of testing the other players … We view this (case) as the process working.”
Under league protocols, players who test positive are isolated while those who test negative “move forward.”
Abbott said because Toronto only arrived last Monday, the decision was made to await the results of tests conducted Sunday morning before playing the game.
Curtis said his team is still on task at the tournament.
“It’s an important competition. A lot of people have put a lot of work and effort into (it) … It’s important that we represent the club and we represent our city as best as we can.”
It all added to an already stressful morning for the teams given the unusually early kickoff time — made to avoid the Florida heat. Both Toronto captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore had criticized the 9 a.m. start, saying it was not conducive to good football.
D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid suggested it was an inconvenience to fans, too.
“To every DC United supporter, our families & friends, I’m sorry you woke up so early to see us play, to then have the match postponed AGAIN,” he tweeted. “Especially after so many people planned originally to watch the game which was meant to play on Friday! Have a beautiful Sunday regardless.”
Curtis said while Toronto had always planned to show up late for the game, to avoid the heat for as long as possible, the team was on a group Zoom call abut what was going on with the COVID-19 test when he received the call from the league that the game was off.
While all 24 remaining teams are staying in the same hotel, they are isolated from each other in the MLS tournament bubble. Players and other personnel are tested every other day.
Curtis said his confidence level in the MLS protocols remains “very high.”
“When you look at the data, if you strip out the outliers of Dallas and Nashville, I think the numbers are fairly favourable” he said. “And then when you’re in the bubble you see some of the measures that are taken and that gives you confidence.”
But outside, the number of positive cases continues to climb.
On Sunday, Florida reported 15,300 new cases over the last 24 hours — a single-day record in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.
There were some surprises in Toronto’s planned starting 11 Sunday.
While it fielded the same back five as it had in its last league game March 7, there were four changes further forward. Bradley and Argentine newcomer Pablo Piatti, who both missed the opening two games of the season, were to return from injury.
Tsubasa Endoh and Ayo Akinola were also in the starting 11.
Altidore did not make the matchday 23. He was late joining the team after spending the lockdown at his Florida home and had to train on his own while fulfilling quarantine.
Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio was a surprise omission from the matchday 23.
Sunday evening’s Sporting Kansas City against Minnesota United game went ahead despite confirmation Friday by Kansas City that one of its players had tested positive.
Washington NFL team to retire nickname on Monday: reports – CBC.ca
The Washington Redskins plan to announce Monday that they will retire their controversial team nickname, multiple outlets reported Sunday night.
One source told Sports Business Journal that the team “felt it was important to remove any doubts as to the future of the name.” The report indicated that a new nickname would not be immediately announced due to pending trademark issues.
Sunday night’s story further backed Saturday reporting from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, who each talked about an “imminent” name change. Robinson said Saturday the change would come “in the next 24-48 hours,” adding “the NFL is starting to take steps to tell everybody who has Washington’s nickname on its platform to start scrubbing it, start taking it off, which means something’s coming.”
Team owner Daniel Snyder has been under mounting pressure to change the team nickname, logo and mascot, with many Native American groups calling the name racist. Pressure ramped up this month, with companies such as Nike, PepsiCo, Bank of America and FedEx threatening to cut advertising ties with the team.
WATCH | Pro sports teams reconsidering Indigenous nicknames:
FedEx asked team to change name
On July 2, FedEx asked the team to change the name. FedEx signed a 27-year, $205 million US deal in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Md., where the club plays its home games. A day later, the team announced it was conducting a “thorough review” of the team’s name.
Sports Business Journal reported Sunday that the club has finished that review.
Nike pulled all Redskins merchandise off its website, making Washington the only NFL franchise not listed on the site’s NFL index.
Last Wednesday, Amazon pulled Redskins merchandise from its site. Two days earlier, The Washington Post reported that three minority owners of the team hired an investment banking firm to find buyers for their shares of the club.
Snyder, in 2013, said he would “never” change the name.
The franchise began using the Redskins nickname in 1933, when it was based in Boston and previously called the Braves. Team owner George Preston Marshall moved the club to Washington in 1937.
A statue of Marshall was removed from the Redskins’ former Washington venue, RFK Stadium, on June 19 in the wake of protests seeking racial equality following the death of George Floyd. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate, adding their first Black players in 1962.
Washington is scheduled to open the season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 13.
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