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Canadiens pay steep price, but Josh Anderson fills glaring need –



MONTREAL — You have to give to get, and the Montreal Canadiens certainly gave on this one.

A talented, versatile centre in Max Domi. He scored 28 goals and 72 points two seasons ago but managed just 17 goals and 44 points in 71 games before getting blanked in nine of 10 playoff games this past season. Still, the upside was there for the 25-year-old restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

And the Canadiens also handed the Columbus Blue Jackets their third-round pick in this year’s draft to acquire a player in Josh Anderson, who scored just one goal and four points in a season cut short by shoulder surgery.

He’s a player who topped out at 27 goals and 47 points in 2018-19, but also one who hadn’t collected more than 19 goals and 30 points prior to that. That Anderson hasn’t played since December of 2019 — and that he’s an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent who’s just one year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent — punctuates the risk Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin took in paying this steep price to acquire him.

But this is a high-stakes game, and it was about time Bergevin shoved his chips in. He’s all but mastered the low-risk, medium-to-high-reward trade, but the circumstances the Canadiens found themselves in called for something bolder.

Watch Round 1 of the NHL Draft on Sportsnet and SN NOW beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Then catch Rounds 2-7 on SN1 and SN NOW starting at from 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Bergevin had the assets and the incentive to make a big move, and his most pressing need was a forward with size and skill. Preferably one who would slot in on the right side of his lineup. And at six-foot-three, 222 pounds, the right-shooting Anderson checked all the boxes.

He’s an elite skater, a power forward, a player with a mean streak (212 penalty minutes in 267 games), and a player one professional scout we touched base with Monday referred to as “a freight train.”

“My only concern is Anderson’s injury history, but I’m sure the Habs did their homework,” texted another. “Good pick up for them and a good haul for CBJ too.”

Some of the risk Bergevin assumed in giving up so much is mitigated by Anderson’s current health status. His agent, Darren Ferris, who also represents Domi, told Sportsnet, shortly after Tuesday’s trade was consummated, that the 26-year-old had been training hard in the Toronto bubble this summer and that he was prepared to return to play had the Blue Jackets advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

“He’s 100 per cent healthy,” Ferris assured.

He also said he’s yet to speak to the Canadiens about a new contract for Anderson — he hasn’t spoken with Columbus about one for Domi, either — so we’ll wait to see how that shakes out before giving a more thorough evaluation of the trade.

But, on the surface, this seems like a deal that fits the needs of both parties. Columbus gets a talented playmaker in Domi, who should fit nicely with a pure shooter like Oliver Bjorkstrand, and they get a future asset in the draft pick Montreal included.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, aren’t stuck paying Domi to play where he doesn’t belong — at wing, which is the only place they had room for him. And their need for a player like Anderson was so glaring even Jeff Petry couldn’t hold back from stating it during his end-of-season conference call.

“We’re a fast team, I think, but we lack some size as well,” Petry said on Aug. 26. “Somebody who has that ability to play that fast game but also brings grit and a bigger body that can cause some havoc on the forecheck. But not a guy that’s just there for his size; somebody that has skill, and some size as well.”

You know, the kind of player who will look pretty good next to promising, young centre Nick Suzuki, or Jesperi Kotkaniemi, or Phillip Danault.

“A player who can help us for many years and can make a difference [immediately], I’m obviously going to look at that closely,” said Bergevin on Monday.

Now that player has arrived, and the complexion of the Canadiens looks markedly different.

The transformation has been gradual but steady since the global pandemic brought hockey — and our lives as we knew them — to a screeching halt in the middle of March. This team was sitting in 24th place in the standings and with no hope of participating in the playoffs, but the NHL and NHLPA’s return-to-play plan changed that.

We saw the Canadiens take what Bergevin referred to on Monday as “a big step forward” in beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round and giving the Philadelphia Flyers all they could handle in a six-game Round 1 loss. And they’ve since brought in Jake Allen to complement Carey Price, giving them what could be considered the strongest goaltending tandem in the league.

Bergevin’s move to acquire six-foot-four Joel Edmundson’s rights before signing him to a four-year, $14-million contract bolstered the depth of a defence core he aptly referred to as “big,” and “mobile.” A defence core that excelled in August, with Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot and Petry doing the heavy lifting and with Brett Kulak playing his most inspired hockey since joining the team in 2018. A defence core that will also now include Alexander Romanov, the highly-touted 20-year-old who’s expected to make an immediate difference after earning two years of professional experience in the KHL.

The Canadiens also have one of the deepest prospect pools in hockey, and a glorious opportunity to add to it with the 16th overall pick in Tuesday’s draft and nine more picks on Wednesday (including three in the second round). And they’ll have money to burn in free agency come Friday, to fill out the depth of their forward group.

Potentially it gets spent on a player like Wayne Simmonds, a six-foot-two, 185-pound winger who plays every shift like it might be his last one.

We’ll see.

Just like we’ll see what Domi and Anderson sign for with their new teams, and we’ll ultimately see how they play for them.

As of right now, both teams will feel like they gave up a lot to make this deal. But that’s what you have to do to get what you need.

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Dodgers' Justin Turner joins team for World Series photo after positive COVID-19 test – Toronto Sun



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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said it was a “bittersweet” end to the season.

“We’re glad to done, I do think it is a great accomplishment for our players to get this season completed but obviously we are concerned when any of our players tests positive,” he added.

“We learned during the game that Justin tested positive, he was immediately isolated to prevent any spread.”

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) poses for a picture with his wife Kourtney Pogue after the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series in game six of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Photo by Kevin Jairaj /USA TODAY Sports

The World Series was held entirely at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas with a limited number of fans in attendance to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Turner said he felt great and had “no symptoms at all.”

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Kansas City mayor, star quarterback want Raptors to make Missouri temporary home – CityNews Toronto



Some of Kansas City’s most famous residents want to call the Toronto Raptors their home team.

On the heels of reports the NBA season will tip off Dec. 22, and with federal and provincial restrictions around COVID-19 potentially keeping the Raptors out of Scotiabank Arena, there’s been rampant speculation about where the 2019 NBA champions will play.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif took to social media to advocate for the Raptors to play there.

Mahomes, the 2020 Super Bowl MVP, posted on Twitter “Bring them to KC!” with a flexed-arm emogi, to which Mayor Lucas replied: “Working on it.”

On Tuesday morning, the mayor wrote: “Good morning, Kansas City! It’s currently 13 degrees colder here than in Toronto (7 degrees Celsius),” with the hashtag “We the North.”

The Chiefs’ right guard Duvernay-Tardif, a medical school graduate from Quebec who opted out of the NFL season due to concerns around COVID-19, replied: “Merci monsieur! Definitely feels like home,” with a happy face.

The T-Mobile Center in Kansas City has close to 19,000 seats for basketball. The 13-year-old downtown arena has hosted games in the NCAA women’s and men’s basketball championships as well as NBA and NHL pre-season games.

Kansas City, Louisville, Ky., Hartford, Conn., and the New York area have been some of the suggestions as temporary home courts for Toronto.

Raptors spokesperson Jennifer Quinn, however, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday “Our focus is on playing in Toronto.”

After the federal government denied the Toronto Blue Jays permission to play at Rogers Centre this season, the Major League Baseball team played home games in Buffalo, N.Y., after politicians from just across the border pitched the city as a temporary home.

All three Canadian Major League Soccer teams have been playing recent home games in the United States. Toronto FC is in East Hartford, Conn., the Montreal Impact are in Harrison, N.J., and the Vancouver Whitecaps are in Portland.

TFC coach Greg Vanney told reporters Tuesday he’d love to have the Raptors in Connecticut.

“I don’t think our hotel could accommodate both of us at the same time, but it would be great to have them nearby,” Vanney said.

The Connecticut experience has been excellent, the coach said.

“For me . . . it’s the living situation, and the field,” Vanney said. “Those are the most important things, and so far the place that we’ve been staying has been phenomenal in terms of the living conditions, the food and everything has been great.”

He said some of the fields have been “touch and go” as the weather gets colder.

“(But) In terms of basketball, I assume you find a court and the court is generally the same, so it’s doable.”

Toronto FC’s hotel is across the street from the XL Center in Hartford, a potential home arena for the Raptors. It seats around 16,000 for University of Connecticut basketball games, and is also home to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League.

The Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in nearby Storrs, Conn., seats just over 10,000 and also hosts some UConn basketball games.

The Raptors haven’t played a game at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena since Feb. 28, a 99-96 loss to Charlotte. The 2019 NBA champions were ousted in the second round of the playoffs by Boston once the season resumed in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida.

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Dodgers cement legacies by finally capturing elusive World Series title –



Back in February, when the Los Angeles Dodgers first reported to spring training, they had ambitious goals for the year ahead. They had come close to winning it all over the years, only to lose time after time in the playoffs. But by adding Mookie Betts to a team that had won eight division titles in a row, they had legitimate World Series aspirations once again.

Well, it’s happened, just not in the way anyone anticipated. The COVID-19 pandemic shortened the regular season to 60 games, but the Dodgers still had the best record in baseball at 43-17. Playoff wins over Milwaukee, San Diego and Atlanta followed, setting up a World Series matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays.

It took six pitching changes and nearly four hours, but the Dodgers beat the Rays 3-1 Tuesday to defeat the Rays in six games. Now, the Dodgers are World Series champions for the first time since 1988. At long last, it’s time for Clayton Kershaw & Co. to celebrate.

As the champagne starts flowing in Texas, here are some observations from a tightly-contested Game 6…

Legacies on the line

Year after year, the Dodgers have been in the playoffs and year after year they’ve been eliminated – often in painful fashion. If any player has carried the weight of those losses, it’s been Kershaw. And Dave Roberts, the team’s manager since 2016, has faced plenty of criticism of his own.

This year, Kershaw went a long way toward silencing his critics, capping off a stellar month of pitching with a 2.31 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11.2 innings in the World Series. And while no manager escapes second guessing altogether, Roberts should be able to breathe a little easier now that he has led the Dodgers to a championship.

Also deserving of recognition is Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations whose front office sets the standard for combining financial might with player development and acquisition. Along with expensive veterans like Kershaw and Justin Turner, the Dodgers have a pipeline of young players such as Will Smith, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Julio Urias. They don’t part with that young talent often, but when they do, it’s for good reason – the Betts trade, for instance.

Now, they’re all World Series champs. With a talented young core in place more championships may be on the way, but as the Dodgers know all too well, talent is no guarantee of rings in baseball. Regardless, they’ve each accomplished something meaningful.

Meanwhile, the Rays deserve credit for an impressive season of their own. They won their second AL pennant in franchise history, took the Dodgers to a sixth game and enjoyed the continued breakout of Randy Arozarena. For now, though, this loss just stings.

An early hook backfires

Blake Snell was dealing Tuesday, with a fastball that topped out at 98 m.p.h. and three breaking pitches that kept Dodgers hitters guessing. Through five innings, he had allowed just one hit while striking out nine. Better still, he was relatively fresh after throwing just 69 pitches.

But when Austin Barnes hit a one-out single in the sixth inning, the top of the Dodgers’ lineup was coming to the plate and Rays manager Kevin Cash went to his bullpen. Nick Anderson promptly surrendered a double to Betts, threw a wild pitch that allowed Barnes to score and allowed an RBI fielder’s choice to Seager. With that, the Dodgers had a 2-1 lead and the second guessing began. Should Snell have stayed in the game?

Whether Snell would have fared better than Anderson is an open question, of course. Like most pitchers, Snell’s numbers deteriorate the second and third times through the order. In 2020, he didn’t complete six innings a single time. Plus, it was Cash’s stated intention to build an early lead then hand the ball to the bullpen. Within that context, the decision to pull Snell was reasonable.

But any plan can fail, even one as seemingly sound as handing the ball over to a pitcher with a 0.55 ERA. In this case, the Rays’ best intentions were no match for the Dodgers’ lineup, setting up ‘what ifs’ for years to come.

An early hook pays off

While Snell certainly had a case for staying in the game a little longer, his outing feels like a throwback compared to that of his counterpart, Tony Gonsolin. Roberts had the bullpen up in the first inning and pulled Gonsolin in the second after just five outs.

From there, six relievers combined to close out the win: Dylan Floro, Alex Wood, Pedro Baez, Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol and Urias. Wood was effective in the middle innings, with two scoreless, hitless frames, and Urias dominated at the end.

The pitchers themselves deserve the most credit, of course, but don’t forget about Roberts, whose bullpen management has often been questioned as the Dodgers have been eliminated year after year. This time, far fewer critics will be second guessing his work.

Turner positive prompts questions for MLB

It was revealed after the game that Turner left Game 6 because he tested positive for COVID-19. Now the diagnosis raises the question of whether others in the organization have been exposed to the virus, especially since Turner was on the field for some of the Dodgers’ post-game celebrations despite the positive test.

In one way, MLB caught a lucky break with the Dodgers’ Game 6 win. What would have happened in Game 7 if others had been exposed? But the positive test for Turner also serves as a reminder of how thin the margins for error were all season long. As MLB prepares for the 2021 season, there’s plenty more work to be done on this front to ensure the health of players, staff and fans.

Even more history for Arozarena

With his first-inning home run off of Gonsolin, Arozarena became the first player in baseball history to homer 10 times in a single post-season. With each home run that he hit, Arozarena’s month became more impressive…

• Arozarena became the first rookie in 81 years to hit three homers in a World Series. Before him, outfielder Charlie Keller of the 1939 Yankees was the last one to do it, and while Keller’s accomplishments have mostly been forgotten, those three homers were a sign of what was to come. Over the course of the next decade, Keller would hit .281/.406/.521, make five all-star teams and average 30 home runs and 109 RBIs per 162 games played.

• Arozarena now has more playoff home runs than regular season home runs (seven in 2020, eight for his career).

• He has more playoff home runs than anyone on the team that traded him hit during the entire 2020 regular season. After trading Arozarena and Jose Martinez for prospects Matthew Liberatore and Edgardo Rodriguez on January 9, the Cardinals had very little power in their lineup this year. Outfielder Tyler O’Neill and infielder Brad Miller tied for the team lead in homers with seven apiece.

• Though he’s now a household name, Arozarena could still be named Rookie of the Year in 2021. In fact, at this point, he has to be considered the favourite.

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