ST. LOUIS — For David Rittich, a trip to all-star weekend amounts to a dream come true.
“If you’re going to look back four years ago, no one even from you guys knew my name and right now I’m standing right here in St. Louis and we’re doing all-star media,” he said. “I’m not a guy who could expect to be in the all-stars and be somebody like that.”
For Connor Hellebuyck, this is about affirmation for the work he’s put in.
“It’s blissful. You have that moment of ‘I’ve done something and I’m going the right way,”’ he said. “It’s more encouragement that all of the hard work up to this moment is now showing and now you know you’re going on the right path and you’re not just guessing any longer.”
For Jacob Markstrom, this is the reward for a difficult season where he’s managed to find a clear mind on the ice.
“It’s humbling and it’s an honour to represent Vancouver here,” he said.
For Frederik Andersen, this is an overdue acknowledgement about his place in the game.
“It’s not a single goal I have [to be an all-star], but in a way it is because I want to play well and I want to be a goalie that’s deserving to be here,” he said. “These things are just extra bonuses that come along the way if you do well.”
Four goaltenders that control the crease in Canadian markets and earned a place among the league’s best. Four that will have a large say in where these Flames, Jets, Canucks and Maple Leafs seasons ultimately end up.
Only Hellebuyck had previously been selected as an all-star — in 2017-18, during a season where he finished second in Vezina Trophy voting — and the Winnipeg goaltender believes he’s currently at an even higher-level right now.
“I just feel way more in balance and patient,” he said. “I just feel on top of my game a lot more and I feel way more consistent.”
Markstrom’s all-star season arrives with Vancouver surprisingly on top of the Pacific Division and pushing for a playoff berth for the first time in five years. Not only did he lose his father, Anders, to cancer in November, he’s currently playing in the final year of his contract and facing the possibility of unrestricted free agency.
Still, he’s found some solace in the game.
“I don’t talk about, I don’t think about it, I just play hockey,” said Markstrom, when asked about his contract. “The most important thing for me is to have a clear mind when I step on the ice and just try to maintain that.”
When he spoke with reporters on media day here, a ringing phone briefly interrupted the scrum. Markstrom reached into this pocket: “Oh my god, sorry. It’s my mom. She just landed.”
It’s an exciting time for a 29-year-old who has spent parts of seven seasons in Vancouver. It’s been a journey for both he and the organization and finally it feels like bigger things on the horizon.
“It’s never fun to be in a rebuild process,” said Markstrom. “As a goalie, too, it’s frustrating — you want to win hockey games. It’s frustrating for every guy on the team, for the coaches, for the fans and for the city, too. Now we’ve kind of got a little flash. People are excited around town and at the rink it’s super exciting.
“You definitely want to be part of something in a Canadian market and be a successful team.”
Rittich is the sort of guy who never seems to have a bad day. He signed with Calgary as an undrafted free agent out of the Czech League in 2016 and is among the busiest goaltenders in the league this season with 36 starts already.
Given his unlikely path to the NHL’s showcase event, he was in a reflective mood after making his way to St. Louis.
“I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of everyone who helped me here,” he said.
In case there was any question about what this meant for Andersen, he had artist David Gunnarsson paint a fresh mask with fellow Maple Leafs and Atlantic Division All-Stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on it.
He plans to keep that in his personal collection afterwards.
Even if Saturday night’s all-star 3-on-3 tournament is likely not going to be a venue to show off his best work, he’s thrilled to get the chance to experience it first-hand.
“I think everyone knows it’s not really made for goalies,” said Andersen. “Just enjoy, have some laughs and take it in.
“These are memories you get for life.”
Trump criticizes Redskins, Indians sports teams for considering name changes – Global News
President Donald Trump on Monday criticizing a pair of sports teams that are considering name changes in the wake of a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.
Trump tweeted, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”
Trump, in his tweet, also mentioned Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying, “Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, for claiming Native American heritage, derisively calling her “Pocahontas.”
The NFL’s Redskins announced Friday that they had begun a “thorough review” of their name, which has been deemed offensive by Native American groups for decades. The Redskins’ decision came after FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the team’s stadium, and other corporate partners called for the team to change its nickname.
Hours later, the Indians Major League Baseball team announced that they, too, will review their long-debated name.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement.
Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
Trump has spent the last few days stoking divisions and exploiting racial tensions, accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
Earlier Monday, he lashed out at NASCAR and wrongly accused the sport’s only full-time Black driver of perpetrating “a hoax” when a crew member found a noose in the team garage stall.
Trump had tweeted in 2013 that then-President Barack Obama “should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name” because “our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them, not nonsense.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Dallas will not compete in MLS tournament after 10 positive COVID-19 tests – TSN
FC Dallas has withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and one member of the club’s technical staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Major League Soccer said each of the positive tests occurred upon the club’s arrival in Florida or within a few days after.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
“The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
The tournament, now down to 25 teams, starts Wednesday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.
The league said of the 557 players currently in Orlando, 13 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Aside from the 10 from Dallas, two from Nashville and one from Columbus also tested positive.
Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps left Monday for the World Cup-style tournament. The Montreal Impact arrived last Thursday.
The Whitecaps were originally slated to open against Dallas on Thursday. But the game was pushed back after six members of the Dallas contingent tested positive in Florida and Vancouver had to delay its scheduled departure last Wednesday due to a pair of inconclusive test results. That prompted more testing in Vancouver, which subsequently came back negative.
The Whitecaps will now open July 15 against San Jose.
Toronto was scheduled to take off last Friday but pushed its departure to Saturday, citing the need for more time to complete pre-travel coronavirus testing. The club had to postpone again after a member of its travelling party reported “experiencing symptoms,” requiring another round of testing.
The Colorado Rapids, originally due to leave Sunday, delayed their departure to Tuesday after a pair of “presumptive positive” COVID-19 results in its travelling party.
The tournament wraps up Aug. 11.
The Impact play the New England Revolution on Thursday. Toronto is slated to open Friday against D.C. United.
MLS has been on hiatus since March 12 when the global pandemic halted play two weeks into the season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.
NHL season likely to proceed despite positive COVID-19 tests – News1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — NHL players have only been back on the ice for a couple of weeks and already there are nearly three dozen positive COVID-19 cases in their small bubbles. But with training camps set to start in a week, the league is unlikely to cancel the 2020 season, according to Scott Rintoul, host with Sportsnet 650.
“The percentage testing positive is very much in line with what we were seeing before, around five and a half per cent — lower than a lot of the other sports, some of which have tried to get up and running, again,” Rintoul said.
“The good news for the NHL is they still have time. They can still tweak their protocols, if necessary.”
The key, he added, is to safely get players to the hub cities, expected to the Edmonton and Toronto, and to keep them in their bubbles.
Alberta’s chief medical health officer said it is possible for Edmonton to safely be a hub city. But Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province has set out firm COVID-19 guidelines for the league that would have to be followed, otherwise the province would step in.
“If guidance is not being followed, if it’s being disregarded, and if the public’s health is being put at risk, then we would follow the same steps that we would take with any other organizer, in terms of that same kind of ladder of follow-up with conversations, education, and, if needed, measures to ensure that compliance was in place,” Hinshaw said.
The league and players association announced penalties Monday for team officials who leave the bubbles, including dismissal, fines and loss of draft picks.
Initially, families won’t join players in the hub cities, and the league is reportedly offering to assist the families with errands, such as groceries.
NHL games are to resume in early August, with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Sunday the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed on protocols to resume the season. That includes daily testing once games get underway for players, coaches, and staff.
However, Daly said the sides are still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement extension. A CBA extension is still crucial to the process, and the league’s board of governors, the players’ executive committee, and full membership must approve that and the return-to-play protocols to bring hockey back this summer.
If ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown for 31 teams across North America that began in mid-March.
The NHL says 35 players in total have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over roughly the past month.
The league says 23 of 396 players checked for COVID-19 at team facilities have tested positive since voluntary workouts began June 8, a five-per-cent rate.
In that same period of time, it is aware of 12 additional positive test results.
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