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Einarson records third loss after play resumes at world women’s curling – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY — A third straight loss left Canada’s Kerri Einarson on the ropes after the opening weekend of round-robin play at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship.

It’s still quite early but a podium appearance looked like a longshot after the team’s latest defeat, a 7-6 decision to the United States in a game where Einarson threw a woeful 54 per cent.

“I’m a little disappointed in myself,” Einarson said. “I wasn’t very sharp out there. I had some opportunities that I missed. My girls played well and I just missed a few key shots.”

Normally a powerhouse at major curling events, Canada has struggled to a 1-4 record at the Markin MacPhail Centre. Einarson, who was off for the evening draw, was in a three-way tie for 11th place in the 14-team field, ahead of only curling minnow Estonia.

A significant turnaround will be needed just to make the top-six cut for the playoffs. The same cutline will be used to determine country berths for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Einarson said she’s trying to stay positive and learn as she goes, but her confidence seemed sapped on a post-game video conference with reporters. The emotional toll was evident, her voice cracking at times.

“It’s mentally draining,” she said. “It’s a long week.”

“I would say we’ve got eight more to go and we’re going to build on it,” ever-optimistic coach Heather Nedohin quickly added.

Canada has little wiggle room as it looks ahead and tough matchups still await.

Olympic silver medallist EunJung Kim of South Korea is on tap Monday and former world champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland is up on Tuesday.

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur are already moving close to must-win territory.

“This is our first time being on the world stage and being put in this position,” Einarson said. “I know that we’re a great team and we fight to the bitter end.

“We’ll continue doing that (while) wearing this Maple Leaf with pride.”

The Americans had their struggles too but were in control late in the game. Einarson flashed a stone in the fourth end and wrecked on a guard in the fifth to miss out on multiple points.

American skip Tabitha Peterson made a nice pick to score a deuce in the eighth end for a 7-3 lead. Einarson rebounded with a pair in the ninth but the U.S. sealed the victory with a takeout of the second shot stone in the 10th end.

“The girls are giving everything they’ve got,” Nedohin said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out on the scoreboard to the way they’re playing with passion.”

Sweeting nearly saved ends a few times and the Canadian front end was steady too. Like Einarson, Peterson struggled too – shooting just 55 per cent herself – but Einarson made only half of her draws and never found a consistent rhythm.

Next up is a morning game against a shorthanded German side skipped by Daniela Jentsch. The South Korea matchup is set for the afternoon.

“They’re going to win the next one and then they’re going to keep climbing,” Nedohin said. “I want to know that they believe they can, and they will.”

The morning draw was postponed Sunday and competition later resumed without television coverage after members of the event’s broadcast staff tested positive for COVID-19.

In an email to The Canadian Press, World Curling Federation media head Christopher Hamilton confirmed there were four positive cases. No names or additional details were provided.

The individuals were isolating in their hotel while additional testing and contact tracing takes place, the WCF said in its statement. The staffers are staying in a different hotel than athletes and competition officials.

The WCF said that all scheduled testing for athletes and competition officials returned negative results. The arena was given a deep clean and start times for the afternoon and evening draws were pushed back a half hour.

In other afternoon games, Russia’s Alina Kovaleva remained unbeaten at 5-0 with an 8-6 win over Estonia’s Marie Turmann. South Korea defeated Scotland 8-4 and Italy’s Stefania Constantini outscored Germany 10-6.

Defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and reigning Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden were undefeated at 3-0. Scotland was alone in fourth place at 3-1 while the Americans improved to 3-2.

Television broadcasts will resume no earlier than Tuesday afternoon. The competition is part of TSN’s Season of Champions coverage and is broadcast internationally by World Curling TV.

“Thanks for the good wishes,” TSN broadcaster Vic Rauter said on Twitter. “We are quarantined, tested, cared for, hope to be back Tuesday, take care of yourselves and each other.”

Earlier in the week, organizers cancelled the opening practice sessions after two members of the German team tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-tournament screening upon arrival in Calgary.

Practice sessions were eventually held Thursday on the eve of round-robin play. The German side was given an exemption to compete as a three-player team while players who tested positive remained in isolation.

This year’s women’s championship, which was relocated from Switzerland because of the pandemic, is the seventh and final curling event to be held in the spectator-free controlled environment.

The Canadian women’s, men’s and mixed doubles championships were followed by the men’s world championship and a pair of Grand Slam events.

The men’s world championship playoffs were interrupted by four participants testing positive for the coronavirus. The championship was completed April 11, however, with the WCF stating the cases were “false positives.”

Those affected tested negative in subsequent screenings.

Teams are confined to the arena and the tournament hotel across the Trans-Canada Highway. They drive themselves back and forth and masks are mandatory once athletes step off the field of play.

Organizers have yet to determine when the postponed draw will be played. Playoff games are set to begin Friday night and the medal games are scheduled for May 9.

Jennifer Jones was the last Canadian skip to win this event, taking gold in 2018 at North Bay, Ont. Chelsea Carey skipped the Canadian entry in 2019 at Silkeborg, Denmark, but did not make the playoffs.

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Eichel stripped of Sabres captaincy, placed on LTIR – TSN

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Jack Eichel is no longer captain of the Buffalo Sabres.

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday morning Eichel has been stripped of the ‘C’ after three seasons in the role.

“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”

Adams added the Sabres will not have a captain this season.

Adams also confirmed that Eichel will start the season on long-term injured reserve as he remains in a holding pattern with the team on how to best treat his neck injury.

“I think we would all agree that we were hoping to avoid surgery…unfortunately, yesterday Jack did not pass his physical. At this point, Jack is not willing to move forward with what our doctors are suggesting…we will continue to work toward a solution,” Adams said.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Wednesday that there is nothing close on the trade front for Eichel, who has been looking for a trade throughout the off-season.

“Well, it’s tough to pinpoint a timeline but we do know there is ongoing discussions with Jack Eichel’s agent Pat Brisson and Kevyn Adams, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. They’re on good terms, they have an excellent relationship,” Dreger said on Insider Trading. “We also know that Jack Eichel will start the regular season on LTIR. Now, he saw a team of specialists over the course of the off-season. Some encouraged the artificial disc replacement surgery; however, the Buffalo Sabres remain adamant that the fusion surgery is the best option.

“It’s possible that Eichel gets traded and has the disc replacement surgery under the blessing of a new club, but there’s no guarantee and it doesn’t seem like anything is real close on that front.”

Eichel was limited to 21 games last season due to the neck injury and there has been a long-standing dispute with the team this summer over how to treat the injury.  

The 24-year-old centre has been the subject of trade talk since the end of last season and his former agents released a statement in July trying to spur a trade. He switched agents to Pat Brisson in August.

“What’s critically important to make sure is clear is that we’re in control of this process,” Adams said in July, prior to the statement from Eichel’s then-agents. “We have a player under contract. We don’t feel any pressure.

“If there’s a deal out there that we feel is the right thing for the Buffalo Sabres, that’s going to help us improve – whether that’s improve right away or improve down the road, those are all the things weigh – we’d be open to it. But we’re not in a position where we feel we’re just going to do something to do it. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Eichel had two goals and 18 points in 21 games last season and has five years remaining in the eight-year, $80 million contract he signed with the Sabres in 2017.

He had served as captain of the Sabres since 2018.

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Josh Archibald is unvaccinated Edmonton Oilers player. What does that mean for team? – Edmonton Journal

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On the Oilers Now radio show, Oilers GM Ken Holland confirmed to host Bob Stauffer that winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player on the Oilers roster. Archibald has a one-way contract, with a $1.5 million cap hit. If he were to make the Oilers, and miss out on all games in the USA, he’d miss 30-plus games.

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“It’s much more difficult being a Canadian team,” Holland said, with Stauffer pointing out the Oilers play 50 games in Canada, 32 in the USA this year. “Obviously we got to go back and forth across the border multiple times this season. Obviously it’s going to be much different playing on a U.S. team vs. playing on a Canadian team being unvaccinated.”

Here’s what Holland said earlier at his press conference about the unvaccinated player (whom he had not yet identified):

  • Holland said he was still talking to the player (Archibald).  “As the season starts I would anticipate we would have one player that would be unvaccinated.”
  • Some NHL teams have banned unvaccinated players from training camp. Holland has not yet decided if the player will be welcomed at Edmonton’s training camp. “I think the player is going through a process to decide because I think it’s a difficult decision. So I want to give the person the appropriate time. I’ll see where I’m at a week from now, or ten days from now. But we’ll see.”
  • If a player is unvaccinated and the team goes to the United States, he must quarantine when he comes back to Canada, Holland said. “It’s going to make it very difficult.” (On a side note, the Oilers most likely brought in forward Colton Sceviour as a possibility at forward).
  • An unvaxxed player would miss about 30 days due to cross-border 14-day quarantines, Holland said, adding that the player might not be ready to play after being out, and if the team was going well it might not want to change the line-up. Oilers coach Dave Tippett and Holland met with the player and looked at how many times the team would cross the border this year. “It’s going to be very difficult.”

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Edmonton recently brought in checking winger Colton Sceviour on a PTO. Sceviour is a similar player to Archibald, a checking winger who can play on the PK. If Archibald is sent to the AHL — and it’s hard to imagine that’s not now being considered as Plan B — that will open up an opportunity for Sceviour.

The Detroit Red Wings have invited unvaxxed Tyler Bertuzzi to camp, but the Red Wings only play nine games in Canada. U.S. teams have more ability to work with unvaccinated players than Canadian teams, which puts the Oilers and Archibald in a far more difficult spot.

Another option would be to trade Archibald to a U.S. team that doesn’t play many games in Canada, though I’m unsure if any team would take on Archibald at his $1.5 million per cap hit.

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As for Archibald, let me repeat what I said in my last post, that I know what advice I’d give this player, that while there’s almost no chance he’ll get hammered hard by COVID, there’s almost no chance he’ll get hammered hard in any significant way by the vaccine.

With all that in mind, he should put his pay cheque and his family first.

That’s the same advice I gave to a vaccinate hesitant relative, by the way. In the end, but only after the vaccine passport rules came in Alberta, that individual decided to get vaccinated. That person is now at relative peace with their decision, despite the coercive new regulation that forced them to get the jab. I suspect this Oilers player will make the same call and get vaccinated, but I’m glad to see the Oilers are being patient with him, and as an Oilers fans, I’ll do the same.

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There’s a huge amount of anger and intolerance directed at the unvaccinated right now. There’s a frenzy of fear and self-righteousness boiling up here, a dangerous combination. When I think of more lockdown measures of the fully vaccinated, I have felt some of that anger myself. But I try to control it.

Every one of us sees this pandemic through our own distorted and self-interested lens. We’re all trying to balance the possibility of different harms to our own selves and our families and community. I don’t see how turning on anyone helps in this situation. I see many hard and difficult discussions, as Holland is now having with his players, as the way to go. I applaud Holland’s patient and understanding approach.

P.S. Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK TV in Vancouver reports: “Alex Chiasson has signed a PTO with the Canucks.”

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At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Holland on Duncan Keith’s late vaccination: “It was a difficult decision for Duncan”

STAPLES: The single biggest wildcard on the Edmonton Oilers is…

McCURDY: Konovalov was great, the Oilers rookies? Not so much

McCURDY: Oil fans will have Kyle Dubas to thank if Petrov pans out

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LeBrun: What's at stake for the Maple Leafs this season? 'I don’t think we can hide from it' – The Athletic

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TORONTO — To be blunt, the Toronto Maple Leafs could go 82-0 this season, rewrite the regular-season record book and there would be large segments of their fan base and people around the hockey world who would say: Yeah, but …

That “but” hangs over this season like a massive anvil.

This is my 27th year covering the NHL, all of them based here in Toronto, and I would argue this franchise has never in that time frame felt this kind of pressure to deliver.

Doug Gilmour’s overachieving Leafs teams were too beloved by the fan base to be second-guessed. Wendel Clark is still a Leafs God for a reason. He left it all on the ice.

Mats Sundin’s Leafs teams a decade later didn’t deliver the ultimate prize but the faith of the fan base didn’t waver too much through some decent playoff runs.

This current team has done nothing come playoff time.

Nothing yet, anyway.

Which is why despite always being a team that garners plenty of leaguewide attention, sometimes for no real reason, the Leafs are genuinely one of the most compelling stories this season in the NHL, win or lose.

Up 3-1 on their rival Montreal Canadiens in May, the Leafs crumbled in a seven-game series loss that won’t soon be forgotten.

And yet the painful lessons from yet another first-round exit had to be addressed before the Leafs could turn the page.

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