For the first time in WHL history, a player has been granted exceptional player status.
Connor Bedard, a 14-year-old North Vancouver native, was granted the status Tuesday after a review by BC Hockey and Hockey Canada and is eligible to play in the WHL next season.
“BC Hockey would like to congratulate Connor on being announced as the first player from Western Canada to be granted exceptional status in the CHL and WHL,” said BC Hockey Chief Executive Officer Barry Petrachenko in a statement. “Throughout the evaluation process, Connor has displayed the tremendous potential he has both mentally and physically to be able to be granted exceptional status.”
Bedard is a five-foot-eight, 165-pound forward who played on the West Vancouver Academy’s U18 team last season, scoring 43 goals and 84 points in 36 Canadian Sports School Hockey League game. He turns 15 in July.
Exceptional player status has been granted five times in the OHL (John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Shane Wright) and once in the QMJHL (Joe Veleno). According to a statement from the WHL, the status is awarded based on more than just on-ice ability and that Bedard’s “hockey skills, academic ability, and his mental and physical maturity,” were all considered in the evaluation.
Agent says Alexander Barabanov won’t rush NHL decision – TSN
The NHL season may be paused indefinitely, but the Toronto Maple Leafs’ pursuit of KHL free agent Alexander Barabanov has continued to pick up steam.
Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed his club’s interest in signing the Russian winger during a media conference call on Tuesday.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported that the Leafs and Arizona Coyotes were front-runners for Barabanov’s services, and that both teams had been after him for more than two years.
“He’s going through a process of interviewing teams, and there’s no timeline [on that],” Barabanov’s agent, Dan Milstein, told TSN on Wednesday. “But in another week or less depending [on how things progress], he is going to decide whether to stay in the KHL or come over to North America. There are more than a couple clubs with significant interest.”
Until now though, the 25-year-old had been content growing his game in the KHL. Never drafted by an NHL team, Barabanov has spent the entirety of his seven-year professional career with St. Petersburg SKA.
The 2018-19 campaign was Barabanov’s best, when he produced 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 58 games. His numbers took a dip in 2019-20 (11 goals, nine assists in 43 games), but that hasn’t affected the Leafs’ level of interest or changed what attracted them to Barabanov in the first place.
“He’s strong. He’s not tall (at 5-foot-10), but he’s a very strong winger,” Dubas said on Tuesday. “Tremendous playmaking ability, great skill level in tight. But one of the other things we like most about him is his ability to make plays under pressure and his ability to win pucks, protect pucks when people come after him and use his strength to be able to do that. So, he’s a playmaking winger who also has the ability to finish at the net and we’ll continue to pursue him as best we can.”
TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button said that in Barabanov, the Leafs would have a player who ”works, has desire, and competes pretty well.” Button sees him in the same vein as former Maple Leafs’ forward Dmytro Timashov, who was a rotating healthy scratch on the team’s fourth line for 39 games this season before being placed on waivers and subsequently claimed by Detroit.
“I don’t think there’s downside to signing free agents like this,” Button said. “Barabanov’s a bottom-of-the-forward-group type player, so nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Although the global COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Leafs’ personnel from travelling overseas, Dubas said the work put in by senior director of player evaluation Jim Paliafito has already built a solid foundation between the team and players they’re interested in.
That makes it easier to keep expanding those relationships electronically, and the Leafs track record of luring other KHL and European free agents, like Nikita Zaitsev, Calle Rosen and Ilya Mikheyev, boosts their stock as well.
“There are players that we’re interested in and we’re competing with many other teams to try to gain recruitment,” Dubas said. “And our hope is that the ability of the players that have come over from Europe since Jim been with us to quickly transition to pro hockey in North America will be a big help for us.”
It’s especially imperative now that Toronto be creative in making acquisitions. The Leafs are already pressed right up against the salary cap, and with uncertainty surrounding whether the cap will increase at all next season following the league’s pause, filling out the bottom of the roster with players on manageable entry-level deals is all the more important.
“[Paliafito]’s got a great read early on, on who the players are that we’re probably going to look after,” Dubas said. “He does a great job communicating back to the organization and to our player personnel department to take a look at players, whether it’s live or breaking down their video. And then he’s able to begin having conversations with them and their agents during the year to kind of get a handle on it.”
Should Barabanov want any insight on the challenges of jumping into North American hockey, he’s got plenty of sounding boards available to help.
Two of Barabanov’s former teammates with SKA – Igor Ozhiganov and Miro Aaltonen – previously spent one season each in the Leafs’ organization, although Aaltonen only suited up for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Barabanov has also represented the Russian national team alongside multiple NHLers, including Alexander Ovechkin, winning Olympic gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in 2018 and earning a series of bronze medals (at the 2014 World Juniors, and 2017 and 2019 World Championships).
Those connections could play a key role in pushing Barabanov towards his next destination; one piece of a methodical, long-term process he’s undertaken to make the best choice possible. And he won’t be rushed.
“He’s talking to teams, and him and his wife are considering the interest,” Milstein said. “I’m going to continue working with him and looking at different aspects of his options. He could decide at any time. But this isn’t something that all of a sudden came about. He’s been watching a lot of the NHL games and has a lot of friends in the NHL, he played on a line with Ovechkin [with the national team], played with a lot of NHLers in the past. It’s a variety of different things influencing him.”
Wimbledon cancelled due to public concerns over coronavirus pandemic – CBC.ca
Wimbledon was cancelled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.
After an emergency meeting, the All England Club announced that the event it refers to simply as “The Championships” is being scrapped for 2020.
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.
Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours would be suspended until at least July 13. They already had been on hold through June 7.
Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.
“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.
“But following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
U.S. Open still a go
Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events called off completely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back by 12 months, and the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.
Wimbledon is the first major tennis championship completely wiped out this year because of the coronavirus. The start of the French Open was postponed from late May to late September.
As of now, the U.S. Open is still scheduled to be played in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Wednesday’s decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon titles from 2019.
The cancellation also takes away what might have been one of Roger Federer’s best chances to try to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon, where he lost a fifth-set tiebreaker to Djokovic in the last final after holding a pair of championship points. Federer, who turns 39 in August, is currently recovering from knee surgery and planned to return in time for the grass-court circuit.
In a statement last week, the All England Club said that postponing the two-week event would not come “without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface. The club also said then that it already had ruled out “playing behind closed doors” without spectators.
French Open moved to September
The tennis schedule already had been affected by the COVID-19 illness that has spread around the world, with about 20 tournaments postponed or cancelled.
The French Tennis Federation announced March 17 that its Grand Slam tournament was being moved to September.
Hundreds of thousands of people have caught COVID-19, and thousands have died. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Regular day-to-day life has come to a halt in many ways in many parts of the world in recent weeks, and sports has reflected that.
The NBA, NHL and MLB are on hold indefinitely; the Kentucky Derby, Masters and Indianapolis 500 were pushed back several months until September; the European soccer championship — scheduled to end in London on the same day as the Wimbledon men’s final — was postponed from 2020 to 2021.
Senators say four more members of organization tested positive for COVID-19 – Sportsnet.ca
The Ottawa Senators say four additional members of the organization have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to six.
The team announced Wednesday that the people in question travelled with the team to California before the NHL suspended its season March 12 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Senators revealed last month that two players had also tested positive. The three-paragraph statement issued Wednesday said, “All test results have now been received, and all those who tested positive have recovered.”
The team did not specify if the additional cases were players, coaches or other members of Ottawa’s staff. Senators radio colour commentator Gord Wilson disclosed Friday he had tested positive.
Two members of the Colorado Avalanche also tested positive for COVID-19.
NHL players have been advised by the league to self-quarantine since March 13. That directive was subsequently extended to March 27 and then pushed back further to April 15 on Tuesday.
The Senators met the Sharks in San Jose, Calif., on March 7 despite a recommendation from officials in Santa Clara County against holding large public gatherings. The Avalanche played at SAP Center the following night.
Ottawa had two days off in California following their game in San Jose before meeting the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Ottawa’s game at the Staples Center on March 11 came 24 hours after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — who had four players test positive — played at the same arena against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Avalanche faced off against the Kings at Staples Center on March 9.
Senators winger Brady Tkachuk said on an NHL-run video conference call Monday that the first two Ottawa players to test positive were “doing well.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed thousands of people across the globe, devastated economies and brought about an era of social distancing and self-isolation.
Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of those who contract the virus recover. Some may have few, if any symptoms, or may not know they’re infected because symptoms of the novel coronavirus are similar to a cold or flu.
But for some, including Canadians aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems and those with pre-existing conditions, the illness can be much more severe.
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