BROSSARD, Que. — This can’t be the money-out scenario Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was hoping for and, as of this moment, it isn’t necessarily the one he’s getting.
But with Brendan Gallagher sidelined indefinitely with a fractured right thumb, and with five weeks and change remaining in the NHL’s regular season, it’s possible he won’t return prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And if it becomes definite he won’t return — Gallagher still needs to consult with doctors before a recovery timeline can be determined — he could be placed on the long-term injured reserve list, which would mean the Canadiens would be able to exceed the salary cap and add a player (or players) making as much as his $3.75-million hit.
There’s no doubt Bergevin would rather have Gallagher. As would the rest of the Canadiens.
“He’s the engine. He really is,” said Montreal goaltender Jake Allen on Tuesday. “Even when I wasn’t here and part of this organization, you knew from afar this guy was the engine of the team. He’s the bulldog out there. You know what you’re getting from Gally every game. He’s going to be in the hard areas, he’s going to do the things that you need to do and pay the price to win.”
But if you can’t have Gallagher, having the money to do some shopping prior to the April 12 trade deadline could help.
For now, the 29-year-old winger hasn’t been designated to LTIR. It’s possible he won’t be if there’s even a fraction of a chance he’ll be back before May 11, when the Canadiens are scheduled to play their final game of the season.
But if it does come to be that Gallagher’s recovery will take at least that long, it gives Bergevin some of the flexibility he didn’t think he was going to have prior to the deadline — and not just financial flexibility, but also roster flexibility. Because even if it’s still possible he’d move someone off the team to add someone from another, he might be able to get away with not doing that.
Bergevin has said for weeks that he really likes his team, and both he and Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme have talked about the need to use everyone down the stretch. With 21 games to play over 34 nights before the grind of the playoffs gets underway, being able to add to the roster without subtracting from it is a serious advantage. It’s an advantage that only get bigger once the playoffs begin and as they continue.
At worst, the cap flexibility would be a consolation for not having Gallagher for a short while.
Carey Price day to day with a lower-body injury
When Price extended himself and appeared to strain his right leg in the second period of Monday’s game, it was obvious he wasn’t at 100 per cent.
There was no doubt about it as the game wore on and Price continued to limp around his crease.
With Ducharme confirming Tuesday the goaltender was suffering from a minor injury that’s “been carrying on for a little bit of time,” you had to wonder what the Canadiens were thinking allowing him to continue to play through it.
When Ducharme was asked that by one reporter, he responded, “Because the info we have is that it’s not something that’s dangerous for his season or his career.”
Still, Price has a long injury history, accompanied by a long history of deciding to play through injuries when he shouldn’t. To allow him to continue to do that and think it won’t possibly affect his career doesn’t seem like a cautious approach, or a smart one, with the 33-year-old in Year 3 of an eight-year, $84-million deal.
We understand Price is the franchise player and that the Canadiens feel they need him to play in order to have their best chance of winning. We also acknowledge that his pride and his competitiveness are reasons he’s as valued as he is.
But the Canadiens traded for Allen to give Price all the rest he needs so he could be at his very best when it matters most, and it seems most logical to stay firm in that plan with Price nursing an injury.
The precaution they’re taking in leaving Price at home for Wednesday’s game in Toronto to, as Ducharme said, “make sure he can take care of it and come back at 100 per cent,” should’ve been taken when he initially got injured. It should probably be taken at least throughout the rest of this week, regardless of how rest and treatment leave Price feeling.
After Wednesday’s game against the Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets play the Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday and Saturday. Ducharme said it is possible Allen plays both Wednesday and Thursday, and that would be a better plan than turning to Price at less than 100 per cent.
And if the coach needs to depend on Charlie Lindgren or Cayden Primeau for Thursday or Saturday, so as not to overtax Allen, that also beats putting Price in and allowing him to continue playing with a lingering injury.
Chasing down Maple Leafs a tall task
Wednesday’s game will be the first of five remaining between Montreal and Toronto, with the Canadiens having gone 1-2-1 in the first four.
They enter the game with four games in hand, but 12 points back in the standings. Allen, who will likely face Toronto backup Jack Campbell — winner of all nine of his starts this season — knows what kind of challenge he and his teammates are facing.
“It’s a huge test against the No. 1 team in the division,” he said. “Obviously our biggest rival, and they just have a really good hockey team. So, I think it’s a chance to set our bar where we want to be, and that’s where they are right now. It’s a good measuring stick, it’s a good opportunity for us to go out there and compete hard, play hard and continue to build here and have some fun doing it.”
Through 12 starts, Allen is 5-3-4 and has a .922 save percentage. He’ll have to be at his best to get the better of Campbell, who’s got a .944 save percentage.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi to right wing, Joel Armia on the mend
With Gallagher down, Kotkaniemi will take his spot next to Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar to start Wednesday’s game.
It’s a position the centre feels comfortable in, given that he played right wing for a considerable portion of his last season in Finland before debuting with the Canadiens in 2018.
It’s easy to look at the downside of this decision — of moving a natural and developing centreman out of position temporarily — but the upside of it is Kotkaniemi’s getting the opportunity to play with two players who have combined for 16 points in their last seven games.
“It’s always an honour to play with them,” the 20-year-old said. “They’re great players. It couldn’t be better than to have a chance to show what I’ve got with those types of players. They’re both really good with the puck, so I probably need to fill Gally’s dirty-area, five-foot role a little bit, and I’ll just try to help Phil and Tuna as much as I can.”
Kotkaniemi knows he can’t be Gallagher, and Ducharme isn’t expecting him to be.
“I just want him to be KK,” the coach said. “He’s at his best when he’s dynamic, when he skates, when he carries the puck and when he’s physical and uses his shot and his talent.”
Chances are Kotkaniemi will only be doing it from the wing short term.
Armia, who was placed in COVID-19 protocol two weeks ago after testing positive for a variant of the virus, emerged from quarantine Tuesday and could be back before long.
“There’s a way to get him back in shape before he gets on the ice,” said Ducharme. “When you can’t even do a pushup for two weeks, you’ve got work to do to get back into an NHL game. There’s a plan for him to get back into shape, but he’s back in the team’s entourage.”
COVID-19: Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena among Ontario facilities to see major capacity limit increase – Global News
The Ontario government has announced a major boost of maximum COVID-19-related capacity limits at major outdoor and indoor sporting venues, such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.
“With public health and health-care indicators currently stable and proof of vaccination now in effect, we are able to recommend cautiously easing capacity limits in certain settings,” Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in an update Friday afternoon, noting the increases will mostly be in places where vaccine proof is required.
“Increasing capacity limits does not mean we can let our guard down. We must remain cautious and humble in the face of this Delta variant.”
Moore said the revised rules will take effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
At indoor meeting and event spaces (convention and conference centres, banquet halls etc.), theatres, cinemas, concerts, sports events, racing venues and commercial TV and film shoots with audiences will be able to increase the number of people in attendance to up to 50 per cent of approved capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less).
For outdoor event spaces where it is standing room only for patrons, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) will now be allowed.
COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings
When it comes to outdoor event venues where people are seated, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less) can now be accommodated.
Officials said seated outdoor venues can see higher numbers of people because mobility is less and therefore it reduces the risk of potential transmission of COVID-19.
The announcement came just a day after the Toronto Blue Jays announced the release of additional seats for the final six home games of the regular season, citing ongoing discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s office and Moore. The team said the increase would be in line with public health measures.
In an update right after Moore’s announcement, the Jays announced the 500L section at the Rogers Centre would be reopening to visitors now that up to 30,000 fans will be permitted to attend.
The current capacity limit at the Rogers Centre under Ontario’s COVID-19 regulations is 15,000 fans. At Scotiabank Arena, the limit was capped at 1,000 fans. Both venues have vaccination policies in place.
When Moore was asked why he is recommending these changes now, he said the COVID-19 situation in Ontario has been stable for several weeks and the province needs to have a “balanced and proportionate public health response” to the pandemic.
“For the majority (of attendees), they will be protected through vaccination, they will be wearing masks, they will be screening and monitoring for any symptoms … and I do think that is a much safer environment that we can start to safely and cautiously open,” he said, calling the recent implementation of vaccine certificates a “game-changer.”
“We’ll monitor these caps over the coming weeks to make sure this process remains safe. I’m confident that we can do this safely, and slowly, and cautiously because we all need balance. We’ve made sacrifices over the last year and a half and so have these businesses, and I think this will allow them to open safely and not be sources of infection or outbreak.”
As for how long vaccine certificates will be needed to access many indoor public settings, Moore suggested the program could be in place until the winter.
He went on to say as part of the provincial government’s gradual approach to reopening, it will assess other settings where capacity limits could be eased. He also pointed to early modelling on cases that suggested there could be a sharp rise of cases after Christmas.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
NBA denies Canadian Andrew Wiggins of religious exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca
The NBA has denied Canadian Andrew Wiggins’s request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.
The ruling was announced Friday, hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.
Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’s request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.
“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city’s vaccination requirements.”
NBA says unvaccinated players can play
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days, and at least once — possibly more — on game days. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.
However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to visiting clubs.
WATCH | ‘Bring It In’ panel discusses vaccine passports’ effect on sports:
The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season begins on Oct. 19.
Local mandate not yet in effect
Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.
The NBA has struck agreements this off-season to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.
The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.
2020 Ryder Cup pairings: U.S. runs it back, Rory McIlroy out for Saturday foursomes – Golf Channel
After his team dug itself a 6-2 hole on Friday at the Ryder Cup, European captain Padraig Harrington had some decisions to make when deciding on his pairings for Saturday morning’s foursomes session.
One pressing question was whether he’d sit Rory McIlroy for the first time in McIlroy’s cup career. McIlroy had played in every session since making his debut in 2010 (26 for 26), but he’d dropped both his team-play matches on Friday at Whistling Straits while failing to reach the 16th hole in either one.
Ultimately, Harrington decided that his visiting side’s best chance at a comeback was to sit McIlroy on Saturday morning.
“We have plenty of options on our team,” Harrington said. “Spoiled for choice in many ways, and yeah … I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out tomorrow. Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.”
McIlroy and Poulter, who lost in foursomes on Friday morning, will both be benched, while Harrington will mix things up slightly elsewhere, splitting Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, and pairing them with Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger, respectively. Two of Europe’s foursomes pairings are intact: Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Meanwhile, on the American side, captain Steve Stricker is going back to the well, keeping all four of his previous foursomes teams. All but Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth won on Friday morning, though Thomas helped lead a four-ball rally alongside Patrick Cantlay on Friday afternoon as the U.S. duo tied Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.
Cantlay reunites with Xander Schauffele, who is 2-0. Dustin Johnson, also 2-0, reunites with Collin Morikawa.
“We had one other group that we were thinking about putting out, but it went so well this morning that I figured why mess things up and change things up at all,” Stricker said. “We changed the order a little bit is all, but we kept the same pairings.”
The U.S. leads by four points, its largest advantage after Day 1 since 1975. History is on the Americans’ side, too, as just once in five previous instances since 1979 (the year that the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include continental Europe) has a team coughed up a lead of more than three points after the opening day.
Here are the matchups and starting times for Saturday morning’s foursomes session:
8:05 a.m. ET: Koepka/Berger vs. Rahm/Garcia
8:21 a.m.: Johnson/Morikawa vs. Casey/Hatton
8:37 a.m.: Thomas/Spieth vs. Hovland/Wiesberger
8:53 a.m.: Schauffele/Cantlay vs. Westwood/Fitzpatrick
A Canadian COVID-19 study that turned out to be wrong has spread like wildfire among anti-vaxxers – CBC.ca
200,000-year-old handprints may be the world's oldest artwork, scientists say – CBC.ca
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Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
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