NEW YORK — On your third official day in the NHL there are worse places to take an optional morning skate than this: Under the bright TV lights and famous wooden roof at Madison Square Garden.
Had he taken a moment to fully catch his breath, he might have had to pinch himself.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” said Brooks. “It was kind of hard, but it was good.”
The 23-year-old centre has taken the scenic route to this first tour of NHL duty. That includes attending a summer rookie camp and the Traverse City tournament with the New York Rangers in 2015 — a year before he was drafted 92nd overall by Toronto in his second year of eligibility — and parts of three seasons in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies.
His status with the Leafs should officially be listed as day-to-day — as in any day now he might find himself heading back to the AHL — but head coach Sheldon Keefe believes there’s value in every moment he gets to go to work alongside John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Co.
Brooks is a player Keefe came to trust during their time together with the Marlies, and the biggest hurdle he faces in taking the next step is gaining the confidence to keep doing what got him here.
“I think the ability of the players that are in the minors really isn’t as big a gap as many would think, especially for the top players down there,” said Keefe. “That’s one thing I’ve learned in being here the short time that I have. But it’s how quickly those guys can get comfortable and feeling like they can just play and be themselves and all those types of things.
“I think every day that you have in the NHL helps you move towards that.”
It’s not yet clear if Brooks will get a chance to make his Leafs debut during this recall.
The timing doesn’t appear to be in his favour with Moore ready to return from a shoulder injury and bottom-six forwards Frederik Gauther, Dmytro Timashov and Pierre Engvall all playing well for the Leafs.
Still, it was a big thrill for him just to take the warmup at Scotiabank Arena before Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Call it a step in the right direction.
“It was cool,” said Brooks. “I knew there was a pretty good chance that I wasn’t going to play and I was still nervous. I was still nervous going out there in front of all the Leafs fans.”
As for what he’s learned in stepping behind the curtain at this level?
“Just that there’s still a lot of work to be put in,” said Brooks. “You see the guys that are in the lineup for them every night, guys that played on our team [in the AHL], and just how their games have grown from being up here all year.
“It’s something to try to aim for, and to try to get into a [NHL] game firstly, and then hopefully down the road to try to compete for a spot fully.”
Despite all the depth in the Leafs organization, there is an opportunity for him here in the big picture.
An understated aspect of the decision to have Keefe replace Mike Babcock last month is that established roles within the team shift. You need only look at Jon Cooper in Tampa or Mike Sullivan in Pittsburgh to find examples of an AHL coach who brought up trusted lieutenants after being elevated to the NHL job.
Brooks appears to be a strong candidate to do something similar in Toronto. He’s methodically worked his way up the ladder — scoring a remarkable 250 points across his final two seasons for Regina in the Western Hockey League before climbing from the Marlies fourth line to its top line.
“Sticking with it is a good way to describe [him],” said Keefe.
Now he’s up with the big club, putting in work under the most famous roof in the NHL and waiting for his coach to give him the nod.
“We haven’t had that many talks,” Brooks said of Keefe. “He just said ‘it’s good to see ya, go to work.’
“So that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Habs Headlines: The Canadiens defend decision to select Logan Mailloux – Habs Eyes on the Prize
Jessica Klimkait wins judo bronze to make Canadian history – CBC.ca
Having just lost the most devastating match of her career, a semifinal defeat to go for gold in the women’s under-57 kilogram judo event, Canada’s Jessica Klimkait wasn’t sure initially she could step back out on the mat for another match.
She was heartbroken. The world’s number-one ranked judoka in her weight class, Klimkait imagined a golden moment in Tokyo to end her first Olympic experience.
But there was still a medal up for grabs. It was not the colour Klimkait wanted but it still a chance to step on the podium.
Klimkait cried a bit. She talked to her coach. And then not long after she got back on the mat for her bronze-medal match.
Inside the hallowed Nippon Budokan near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Klimkait showed resilience, power and poise to battle back and win bronze for Canada.
WATCH | Klimkait makes Canadian history, captures Olympic bronze:
Bring on the cheers
Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.
“Right now I’m going to be emotional about missing that gold medal but I think looking back I’m going to be proud of myself because the last two or three years have been extremely hard,” Klimkait said.
She defeated Slovenian Kaja Kajzer to become the first Canadian woman to land on the Olympic judo podium.
Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova won gold, while France’s Cysique won second. Japan’s Tsukasa Yoshina also won bronze as they award two third-place finishes in judo.
WATCH | Klimkait steps to the podium for her historic medal:
It’s Canada’s first medal in judo since the 2012 Olympics.
“I came here with gold in mind. That was the goal for me,” she said, fighting back tears.
“At the end of the day I’m just happy I was able to collect myself after that loss and come away with a medal.”
Stunning loss in semis
But about an hour earlier Klimkait’s Olympic gold medal dreams were dashed by France’s Sarah Léonie Cysique.
The referee handed Klimkait a third shido, or penalty, after a failed attack. That gave Cysique a stunning win.
“I’m a really offensive player. The only solution that I had was that I was trying to attack. I kept trying to attack. Some of them were not as great as they could have been,” Klimkait conceded.
Klimkait, 24, had to battle through four matches on Monday to secure the bronze, including the demoralizing semifinal.
“I just used all my mental strength that I could and kept it about trying to perform in the bronze medal match despite my emotions and some physical fatigue,” she said.
WATCH | Klimkait reflects on her historic medal for Canada:
Klimkait, from Whitby, Ont., has been carving a new path in the sport for Canada over the past number of years, alongside world No. 2, Canadian Christa Deguchi.
But it wasn’t a completely smooth journey for Klimkait in becoming Olympic champion.
Just before the pandemic hit in March 2020 and COVID-19 shut down sports around the world, Klimkait and Deguchi were months away from a fight-off for Canada’s lone Olympic quota spot, and then Klimkait suffered a knee injury.
The pandemic pause was a blessing for Klimkait as she was able to rest and recover. She told CBC Sports that if she wouldn’t have gotten the time off, she wouldn’t have been able to train properly and would have lost the fight-off – that would have ended her Olympic dream.
WATCH | Sport Explainer – Judo:
With only one Olympic spot available per country per event in judo, it had been decided that whoever of the two finished higher at the 2021 worlds would get Canada’s 57kg berth.
In early June, Klimkait defeated Momo Tamaoki of Japan by waza-ari in the world final, becoming Canada’s second world champion in the sport after Deguchi won in 2019.
Klimkait won the world championship and booked her ticket to Tokyo. Deguchi finished fourth.
“The last two or three years have been really uncertain for me in trying to qualify for the Olympics,” Klimkait said.
“I had to tuck the dream of the Olympics away and try to get better at judo for a while. I just did my best to be the best player I could and hoped that would be enough for qualification.”
WATCH | Klimkait wins judo world championship gold, qualifies for Tokyo:
It was somewhat of a full-circle moment for the Canadian judo program – Canada’s first judo medal was won inside the same Budokan venue at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo by Doug Rogers, taking the heavyweight silver.
It would take two decades before Canada would win another judo medal, as Mark Berger won heavyweight bronze at the 1984 Games.
Coming into these Games in Tokyo, Canada had won two silver medals and three bronze medals.
Canada hadn’t won an Olympic medal in judo for nine years.
But Klimkait has ended the drought in the same place judo became an Olympic sport.
“That’s been a goal and dream of mine not only to attend the Olympic Games but to be on the podium. Obviously the highest step on the podium would have been preferred,” she said.
“I still wanted to feel that pride even if it wasn’t gold.”
Habs draft pick Logan Mailloux’s sharing of intimate photo raises questions about accountability, experts say – The Globe and Mail
The decision by the Montreal Canadiens to select a junior hockey player who shared explicit images without his sexual partner’s consent – and had asked not to be picked while he works on improving his character – has provoked a backlash inside and outside the hockey world.
The Canadiens used their first pick from among dozens of National Hockey League prospects to take Logan Mailloux, an Ontario defenceman who played in Sweden last season on loan from his Canadian junior team, the London Knights.
Mr. Mailloux, who has turned 18 since the 2020 incident, was playing with SK Lejon in Sweden’s third division last fall when he sent images to teammates of the sexual encounter, along with information that identified his female partner.
He was charged with distributing a sexual photo without consent in Sweden and paid fines amounting to $5,300. When news of the incident broke in North America last week on sports site Daily Faceoff, Mr. Mailloux released a statement asking NHL teams to avoid drafting him. “I don’t feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft,” he said.
The NHL has no mechanism for players to withdraw their candidacy. Mr. Mailloux was passed over by all other NHL teams with picks in the first round before the Canadiens made their choice.
Tara Slone, co-host of the weekly Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sportsnet, said she was disappointed and disgusted by the Canadiens and team general manager Marc Bergevin.
“It’s sort of jaw-dropping. You start thinking things are improving and the needle is moving a little bit, and we take a bunch of steps backward,” Ms. Slone said in an interview. “I quite frankly found it baffling and heartbreaking at the same time. As a woman who works in hockey, I could not comprehend the decision.”
Ms. Slone said many of the men who run hockey “know they can get away with it and hockey trumps everything. It’s consequence-free.”
Elliotte Friedman, Ms. Slone’s Sportsnet colleague, said she was far from alone in her dismay. People around the hockey world, including him, “felt sick to their stomachs” after the pick, he said. “It put a stain on what was a really good week for the sport,” Mr. Friedman said on his podcast. Hockey media stalwarts from TSN, including Craig Button and Bob McKenzie, also expressed shock and dismay.
Farrah Khan, manager of Consent Comes First, a support organization against sexual and gender violence at Ryerson University in Toronto, said the Canadiens showed a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of consent in brushing aside the incident and the player’s wish to be left alone to sort out his issues.
She questioned what the Canadiens have in place to help the player. “We know there’s a problem with misogyny in sports. He is one player of many across sports teams that have caused sexual harm. What are the Canadiens doing concretely to address the issue?” Ms. Khan said.
The Canadiens did not respond to the question Sunday.
Mr. Bergevin, the general manager, justified the choice on the weekend, saying the team would be able to “provide [Mailloux] the tools” to address his behaviour. Assistant general manager Trevor Timmins said Mr. Mailloux meets with “a lady psychiatrist a couple times a week” and will be welcomed to training camp before the next season. The team has a plan, he said.
“We feel he is sincere in his redemption quest,” Mr. Timmins said. “We believe in giving people second chances.”
Mr. Mailloux told reporters Saturday he will try to take advantage of resources offered by the Canadiens. He also said he has apologized several times to his victim. “At this point I hope she knows I am sincere about this. I am really sorry,” he said.
The victim in the case wrote to The Athletic site last week to say Mr. Mailloux’s apology was a three-line text, and she didn’t believe it was sincere. “I do not think that Logan has understood the seriousness of his behaviour,” she said. “All I wanted was a heartfelt apology for his behaviour.”
Ms. Slone of Sportsnet said the Canadiens failed to take the victim into account in their selection. “There isn’t much attention paid to her side.”
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