Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman
In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.
Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.
Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”
Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?
Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.
Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?
But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.
Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.
In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.
Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.
A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.
That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.
So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?
This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.
As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.
Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.
Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?
Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.
Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?
Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.
If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.
Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.
So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.
Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.
Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.
A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?
Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.
Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.
At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.
Senators' playoff push takes huge hit with Chychrun lower-body injury – CBC Sports
Senators defenceman Jakob Chychrun will be sidelined multiple weeks due to a lower-body injury, head coach D.J. Smith told TSN 1200 in Ottawa on Saturday.
Smith also announced forward Ridly Greig will miss the remainder of the regular season due to a sternum injury.
Both players were injured during the Senators’ 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Chychrun did not participate in practice Friday, and Smith told reporters that the defenceman “tugged something there a little bit, we’ll see how he reacts to treatment here.”
The Senators (35-32-5) have 10 games remaining in the regular season, which ends April 13 at Buffalo. Ottawa is five points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference entering play Saturday.
Chychrun, who turns 25 on Friday, has recorded five points in 12 games with the Senators since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on March 1. He had seven goals and 28 points in 36 contests this season with the Coyotes.
Chychrun has 62 goals and 175 points in 385 career outings with Arizona and Ottawa since being selected by the Coyotes with the 16th overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft.
Greig, 20, has six points in 16 games this season, his first in the NHL. He was drafted by the Senators with the 28th overall pick in 2020.
Canadiens Forward Mike Hoffman Calls Out Department Of Safety
Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman is not a happy camper.
The 33-year-old forward took to Instagram to discuss the recent one-game suspension of Boston Bruins forward A.J. Greer.
Hoffman, freshly decorated with a gnarly battle scar after the ridiculous cross-check by Greer during Thursday night’s matchup between the Canadiens and the Bruins, expressed his concern with the lack of consistency from the NHL’s Department Of Player Safety.
“I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet,” said a wound-muffled Hoffman. “A full-blown, intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmmm.”
TALK YOUR SHIT MIKE 🗣️🗣️🗣️ pic.twitter.com/cPaXmjUQrY
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) March 24, 2023
Hoffman’s message was clear: the standard has dropped in recent years, especially if we compare the decision made on Friday to the decision made in 2016 when Hoffman was suspended for two games after his cross-check rode up Logan Couture’s back and hit him in the helmet.
That’s not to say Hoffman did not deserve a suspension. If anything, the ruling at the time was a step toward erring on the side of caution when brain injuries were in play, putting an onus on player safety in a spot that oftentimes forgets about the well-being of its employees.
Greer’s cross-check, on the other hand, was about as blatant as it gets, leaving a trail of blood behind the Canadiens forward as he quickly exited the ice.
There was some tomfoolery prior to the faceoff, perhaps even a little kerfuffle, but there’s no justifying a blatant cross-check which resulted in an injury.
By handing down a one-game suspension, the Department of Player Safety deemed Greer’s attack three times less severe than accidentally spitting on an opponent, which carries a three-game suspension in the NHL.
Hoffman returned to the game in the third period sporting a full birdcage, and though he did not miss significant time, he clearly did not appreciate the lack of safety provided by the NHL’s Department Of Misnomers.
Szeryk, Jutanugarn, Shin share lead at Superstition Mountain
GOLD CANYON, Ariz. (AP) — Jenny Shin of South Korea had a run of five straight birdies to close out her front nine on the way to a 5-under 67 on Friday and shared the lead with Maddie Szeryk of Canada and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand after two rounds of the LPGA Drive on Championship.
Jutanugarn raced up the leaderboard, following an opening 67 with a bogey-free 7-under 65 that included an eagle and five birdies. Szeryk pieced together a round that included an eagle and six birdies, including one on her final hole, while Shin used seven birdies to offset two bogeys to get to 12-under 132 at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in the LPGA’s first full-field event of the year.
American Lilia Vu shot a 6 under and was a stroke off the lead, while South Korea’s Na Rin An (67) and American Alison Lee (69) were tied for fifth place at 10 under.
No. 3-ranked Jin Young Ko, a winner two weeks ago in Singapore, had a second-round 65 and was among eight players tied for seventh place at 9 under on the crowded leaderboard.
The event marks the debut of the tour’s new cut policy. The cutline after 36 holes includes the top 65 players and ties advancing to the weekend. Previously, the top 70 players and ties advanced to the final rounds.
The cutline fell at 3 under, with 76 players advancing. Two of the big names missing the cut included three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and two-time major champion Brook Henderson of Canada, both at 1 under.
Shin, looking for her first win since 2016, overcame a sluggish bogey-birdie-par-bogey start to the second round and then went on a birdie tear on Nos. 14 through 18, her front nine, to get to 11 under. She went bogey free on her back nine and added a birdie at the par-4 third hole to get to 12 under.
Shin said she was surprised by unexpected swirling wind at the start of her round, and didn’t immediately realize her string of birdies.
“The bogey on the first hole didn’t help,” the 30-year-old said. “I was like, ‘Oh, no. Here we go again.’ I stayed calm. I try not to get in my head too much. … So I didn’t know I was doing five in a row until I just checked the scorecard. So it’s a good thing that I didn’t know.”
The highlight of Jutanugarn’s round was her eagle at No. 7, where she hit a good drive that finished on the cart path. After a drop, she got a favorable bounce on her second shot that settled on the back of the green, and she made the putt for an eagle 3.
“The next two days just trying to go out and have fun and do what I should do, what is under my control,” the 2013 rookie of the year and two-time tour winner said. “I think, of course, it’s more fun when you feel like you’re in contention.”
The 26-year-old Szeryk, in her second year on tour after a rookie campaign that included making five cuts in 14 events in 2022, sees being tied for the lead after 36 holes — and whatever follows — as a learning experience.
“It’s so amazing to be back in this position because I love being out here and I’m just so thankful to God to have another opportunity to be out here and to really compete with the best players, she said. “But I’m just on such a high.
“Just really excited for what the weekend has in store. … But it was great to see those putts go in and make those birdies coming down the stretch.”
Second-ranked Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked player in the field with No. 1 Lydia Ko not competing, followed an opening 70 with a 66 and was among those tied for 15th at 8 under.
Also at 8 under was Yuka Saso, but her route to a tie for 15th was highlighted by her first albatross, when she made a 2 on the 492-yard, par-5 second hole.
Saso used a hybrid from 217 yards ou t on her second shot and knew the approach was online with the pin.
“I mean, we didn’t really know where it landed and where it finishes, so we were just walking to the green and everyone started clapping,” she said. “But my ball wasn’t on the green so I was like, why are they clapping? Is it over? Why is everyone clapping if it’s not on the green?”
It turns out her playing partner, Sei Young Kim, looked into the hole and let her know it was in.
“It was one of my dreams to get one, but we all know how hard it is to get one,” Saso said. “They say you’re lucky if you ever get one in your golf career. I guess I was very lucky to have it.”
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