Michael Hutchison signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. It has an average annual value of $725,000 at the NHL level.
The 30-year-old goalie was 5-9-1 with a 3.47 goals-against average, .888 save percentage and one shutout in 16 games (12 starts) with the Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche last season.
Hutchinson started one game for the Avalanche, making 17 saves in a 2-1 win at the Detroit Red Wings on March 2, after he was acquired in a trade with Toronto on Feb. 24.
He was the Avalanche’s third-string goalie entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs but was 2-1-0 with a 2.75 GAA and .910 save percentage in four games (three starts) after Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz each was injured.
Selected by the Boston Bruins in the third round (No. 77) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Hutchinson is 51-52-14 with a 2.80 GAA, .905 save percentage and five shutouts in 127 regular-season games (107 starts) with the Winnipeg Jers, Florida Panthers, Maple Leafs and Avalanche.
The Maple Leafs also signed forward Joey Anderson to a three-year, two-way contract on Friday. It has an average annual value of $750,000 at the NHL level.
Anderson, a restricted free agent, was acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 10 for forward Andreas Johnsson.
NHL players will likely have to pay for lost revenues, commissioner Bettman warns – CBC.ca
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned players Wednesday they are likely going to have to pay one way or another to make up for the league’s projected lost revenue whenever the 2020-21 season gets underway.
Speaking on a Sports Business Journal panel, Bettman stressed the NHL is not attempting to reopen the collective bargaining agreement some five months after it was extended. Instead, he said, the fiscal realities amid the pandemic mean the 50-50 revenue-sharing split between owners and players will be affected for at least the near future.
And that means players will have to bear the brunt of any shortfall to owners.
The question then becomes, Bettman said, whether it’s in their best interest to pay the money back in the short-term — by deferring a higher percentage of their salaries as the NHL has raised in discussions — or face the potential of having the salary cap stay flat over the remainder of the six-year deal.
“If we have to pay out lots of cash, two-thirds of which is going to come back to us, that may cause some stress,” Bettman said. “And by the same token, if the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could well be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we’re owed.”
The NHL’s new CBA currently calls for players to defer 10 per cent of their salary for the upcoming season and it puts a cap on how much money will be kept in escrow over the length of the deal.
Without calling it a formal proposal, the league has raised the possibility of having players increase salary deferrals to 20 per cent or 26 per cent and increasing the escrow caps, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is publicly announcing details of negotiations.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Players, agents unhappy with state of talks
Players and several agents have privately grumbled at the developments, and accused the league of attempting to renege on the deal reached in July that led to the resumption of play and the completion of last season.
Bettman refuted the criticism, calling it “unfortunate” and “inaccurate,” and said the agreement at the time was based on collective assumptions that are no longer applicable. The NHL now has to factor in a shortfall in gate revenue because fans aren’t expected to be allowed to attend games, at least initially.
Another issue is the likelihood of a one-time realignment due to cross-border travel restrictions, which will likely result in Canada’s seven teams competing in one division. U.S.-based teams might be required to play in hub cities, as opposed to their own arenas.
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The league is also expected to play a shortened season, which could feature as few as 48 games, such as what happened in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
In an email to The Associated Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “as of right now,” the NHL is still targeting Jan. 1 to start the season, before adding: “That is obviously subject to change.”
It’s becoming increasingly unlikely the NHL will meet that target date. Players have not yet been asked to travel to their home cities. When they do, they will be potentially required to spend up to two weeks in self-quarantine before teams can even be allowed to open training camp.
Another issue are local health regulations. The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, for example, relocated to Arizona this week after Santa Clara County banned contact sports teams from holding games and practices for at least the next three weeks.
The San Jose Sharks are based in the same county.
Calgary selected to host Brier, Scotties, other major bonspiels in hub-style format – CBC.ca
Calgary is about to become a curling mecca.
Weeks after CBC Sports first reported the Alberta city had been selected to host a number of important bonspiels, Curling Canada made it official on Tuesday that the Scotties, the Brier, the men’s world championship and mixed doubles national championship will all be hosted at Canada Olympic Park.
There is no timeline at this point for when the events will take place.
There are also two Grand Slam of Curling events being planned for the Calgary curling bubble as well.
Curling Canada officials said they continue to have dialogue with all levels of government and health officials to come up with the safest protocol, using many of the lessons learned from the NHL and NBA bubbles.
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Six-time Scotties winner Colleen Jones says with COVID-19 cases in Calgary rising, there are still concerns about how the event will happen.
“For a lot of people this is great news,” Jones said. “The other side of the coin, though, is with COVID cases rising across the country there’s a lot of trepidation about how the provincial championships will go.
“Provincial associations are all meeting right now as we speak. There’s surveys going out asking curlers how this should look.”
In an email to CBC Sports, the Department of Canadian Heritage said it has received a request from Curling Canada to hold an international event in Canada — that would be the men’s world curling championship.
“An authorization will only be granted if plans offer robust protocols to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” the email said.
“An authorization would be conditional on ongoing support from provincial and local public health authorities and the provincial government, as well as a risk mitigation measures plan, developed and implemented by Curling Canada and assessed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.”
The curling extravaganza will most likely begin with the crown jewel of women’s curling, the Scotties. All of the events will be played without fans at The Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.
While there are still many details to work through regarding player and coach safety, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Leela Sharon Aheer, said it’s a positive thing for the province.
“This series of championship curling events is a fantastic opportunity for Alberta to once again show the world that our ability to host major hub city sporting events is second to none,” she said.
“We look forward to delivering an exciting and memorable curling experience for all players, participants and fans.”
The Scotties was originally going to be held in Thunder Bay, Ont., but the pandemic quashed those plans. Pre-event tickets had been sold out. However, Thunder Bay has been awarded the 2022 Scotties.
The Brier was going to be played in Kelowna but is now also set to take place in the Calgary bubble. It marks the first time the Scotties and the Brier are being played in the same city in the same season.
‘I trust Curling Canada’
Defending Brier champion Brad Gushue is thrilled Curling Canada found a way to safely get curlers back to the pebbled ice.
“Every player I’ve talked to has wanted this to happen and [is] excited it’s going to happen,” Gushue said. “I’ve heard some players are a little hesitant but they are few and far between.
“I trust Curling Canada enough to do this in a safe manner. Our team is on board.”
Gushue says his team has had a number of conversations about what life in the Calgary bubble might look like, including potentially being away from family for nearly two months.
“That’s a hard one to swallow. To be honest though, it’s something we’ve discussed at length with our families,” Gushue said.
“There might be some teams that don’t do it. It’s hard not to do when you love the sport and you want to compete.”
Gushue is hoping to defend his Brier title and earn a spot back to the men’s world championship, having not been able to wear the maple leaf at last year’s championship in Scotland because of the pandemic.
WATCH | Gushue disappointed by cancellation of curling world championship:
“Missing a world championship is not the end of the world but when you’re a competitive curler it tears at you a little bit,” he said.
“It weighed on me. There were moments throughout the summer when people would bring up the worlds and I thought this just sucks that I’m not going to get there.”
Gushue is also planning on playing in the mixed doubles national championship and two Grand Slam events that will also be housed in the Calgary bubble.
Preparing for lack of fans
The grind of six to seven consecutive weeks of curling is something Gushue is already preparing for, including not having any fans inside the arena to motivate him.
“I feed off the crowd,” he said. “To not have them around is going to be a challenge for me. I’m working with our sports psychologist on how to handle that. I don’t know how it’s going to affect me.”
Gushue says his Newfoundland and Labrador team have only played in two competitions this season — by far the least amount of time they’ve been on the ice during a season in their careers.
And they haven’t even been a complete team.
Geoff Walker is in Alberta with his wife, Laura, and their newborn baby. Walker opted to stay in the province as he didn’t want to leave and quarantine for two weeks before being able to play with Team Gushue.
“I still haven’t seen Geoff in person since the night we won the Brier,” Gushue said. “How do we get together to practise and play?”
Provincial restrictions make playdowns a puzzle
That’s a common question many of the top curling teams in the country are asking these days as most of the foursomes have at least one player living out of the province — restrictions in each jurisdiction of the country differ, making it increasingly challenging for curlers to get together on the ice.
That brings up the issue of provincial playdowns.
With many provinces imposing strict rules around gatherings, curling associations are trying to formulate plans that would allow them to safely and fairly select provincial and territorial representatives to attend both national championships.
The announcement of this Calgary curling bubble comes a year out from the Roar of the Rings Olympic qualifiers scheduled for Saskatoon next November into December.
This is a crucial quadrennial for Canadian curling after both the men’s and women’s teams failed to reach the podium for the first time at the 2018 Olympics.
Tampa Bay just the latest stop on Nick Nurse's worldwide coaching journey – CBC.ca
When Nick Nurse coached Derby of the British Basketball League back in the early 1990s, the team could only afford to book the Moorways Centre practice hall two nights a week.
Nurse and his team would arrive for a 7 p.m. start just as the badminton players on the floor before them were taking their last swings and removing the nets.
Nurse is used to adjusting to different set-ups, making a dozen career stops in the U.S. and abroad before finally settling into his first NBA job in Toronto.
On Monday, Nurse and the Raptors moved into their temporary home away from home in Tampa, Fla., another push pin on Nurse’s basketball travel map.
“Just another stop along the coaching journey for me. Just another place to live, another city, another thing going on,” Nurse said on a Zoom call on Wednesday.
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Due to Canada’s travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raptors are playing their “home” games at Amalie Arena, normally home to the NHL’s Lightning, and are setting up a practice facility in a downtown hotel.
Nurse conjured memories of Derby when asked about the worst place he’s ever practised.
“There’s been some other good doozies in there,” he laughed. “I always say just get me to a practice floor and to the games and we’ll be happy.”
Emphasizing the positive
It’s key, Nurse said, that the players and staff fully buy in to their temporary Tampa home, rather than dwell on the fact they’re not playing out of Scotiabank Arena.
“You guys know I’m not shy about telling you guys how much I love being in Toronto, it’s our city and it’s our team and our organization — there’s a lot of unsettling feelings about having to leave, to be honest. It’s not easy, right?” Nurse said.
The uncommon cloud hanging over this season is the threat of the global pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with pro leagues, particularly the NFL. NBA teams are currently limited to individual sessions with one coach and one player per basket. Players and coaches are being tested daily, and teams can begin holding group workouts on Sunday, just five days before the pre-season tips off.
The league’s health and safety protocols mandate it could take as long as 12 days for a player to return to action after a positive test. While there were no positive tests in the NBA’s “bubble” at Walt Disney World near Orlando, there was also no travel involved, and movement was limited.
‘Things are gonna happen’
It’s “critically important” that players follow the rules, Nurse said.
“The responsibility falls on each of us individually, to make sure we’re following all the protocols. I hope that everybody has their own health and safety and the health and safety of their family first and foremost as they’re moving around their day,” he said. “It does place an extra layer of importance or priority that’s different than a normal season, but we’re certainly not in a normal season or in normal times, so we’re all going to have to be very vigilant on this aspect.”
Two unnamed Golden State Warriors players recently tested positive for COVID-19. Raptors guard Norman Powell said, with the difficulty controlling players’ environments, there’s bound to be more.
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The NFL has been ravaged by COVID-19, with dozens of players testing positive, forcing schedule adjustments
“I think those things are gonna happen throughout the season. You’ve just got to handle them as they come just like football players got some positive tests,” Powell said. “You’ve got to have protocols and regulations in order to stop the spread and make sure those players are safe and are quarantined and can get over those symptoms and be back healthy and get back to playing as fast as possible.”
Florida has been a coronavirus hotbed for months, and Tuesday surpassed one million cases.
The Raptors open their three-game preseason schedule with two games in Charlotte, Dec. 12 and 14. They face Miami in their first “home” game on Dec. 18. The season tips off Dec. 22.
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