Which Maple Leafs to cheer for, for long-suffering patrons at Scotiabank Arena on Friday night?
Debuting goaltender Jack Campbell, in his eventful 5-4 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks?
New buzzsaw forward Kyle Clifford, who actually did get a roar when his first minor roughing penalty was announced for coming to Campbell’s aid in a crease mash-up?
Jason Spezza turning on his 36-year-old afterburners for the night’s prettiest goal?
Or, how about Auston Matthews’ career-high tying 40th of the year, part of a monster game on both sides of the puck. It tied Matthews with the idle Alexander Ovechkin for first place in the NHL’s Rocket Richard Trophy race. He, Mitch Marner and John Tavares had 10 points.
But it was down to Tavares’ power-play strike with 6.2 seconds to go in the extra period before anyone could really celebrate — and even then Sheldon Keefe couldn’t sugarcoat two more blown leads late in the game.
“Concern is probably a stretch, but I’m disappointed,” the coach said. “The fact we were set up again in the third (ahead two goals against a team that played Thursday) and right from the drop of the puck, we were on our heels. It seems they’re lacking confidence in those situations, expecting something bad to happen.”
So, welcome to life with the Leafs, Jack, even if he had a better fate than Michael Hutchinson. Campbell was more unlucky than unsteady as the Ducks bagged three in the third. But he stopped 14 of the first 15 shots and made a few others to hold Toronto in.
“That’s a tough game when you give up the lead like that and unacceptable on my end, but what a resilient group,” Campbell bubbled. “The boys played really well in front of me. I got caught watching the guys making (offensive) plays.
“Great energy in this building, so much fun, even the music they play. When we score, it’s awesome. Any time you score five, that should be a win. I’ve got to clean up my game and move on to a big one tomorrow.”
Campbell said he’s ready to go back-to-back against the Canadiens in Montreal, with Frederik Andersen’s neck woes still grounding him, though the latter is back on the ice. Keefe said a starter hasn’t been decided.
William Nylander’s status is also up in the air after he was too sick to play Friday or fly after the game. If he wakes up feeling better, he could still travel to Montreal.
Keefe put Clifford in the starting lineup as well as Campbell, a nod to family in the stands for both men.
“I didn’t expect that, but once the game gets going, you block out distractions,” Clifford said.
What the crowd really loved was Clifford rushing into a second-period scrum after Campbell was knocked down in his crease. He went after big Ryan Getzlaf, not the author of the hit, but a symbolic target nonetheless. The announcement of Clifford’s minor was well- received in the stands, though his later holding-the -stick minor, not so much.
Clifford’s bare head in warmup was easy to spot among a Leafs team that all follow the NHL’s suggested protocol to keep helmets on. Matthews joked it must have been “a power move” to get the Ducks attention, while Clifford shrugged that it was simply his preference. He also loved the SBA vibe, which hasn’t always been sympathetic to the home side’s plight this season.
“Outstanding. You can tell they’re the best fans in the world, they’re rock stars,” he said. “They’re into the game, know what’s going on and they’re a passionate group.”
It was quite so in the last minute of regulation, when Ducks’ Derek Grant tied it on a 6-on-5 scramble, which un-did what Matthews called a “vintage Spezza goal”, beating a defenceman and faking out goalie Ryan Miller for a far-side strike.
Campbell’s first save at SBA, off the dangerous Getzlaf, brought cheers meant for the ears of general manager Dubas and the unfortunate Hutchinson, relegated to the end of the Leafs bench.
Matthews unleashed No. 40, a snapper, on Ryan Miller, who is the NHL’s active leader in wins against Toronto with 33.
“It means a lot,” Matthews said. “You take the good and the bad. You don’t want to get in that position (fumbling a late lead), but we have to snap out of that.”
Campbell got a taste of how the Leafs messed up life for his predecessors. Both Anaheim pressure and unforced Leafs errors made him a busy man.
A short-handed goal by Max Jones and one by Anaheim’s 31st-ranked power play via Adam Henrique, tied it. Andreas Johnsson and Tavares’ first on the night sandwiched Nic Deslauriers’ goal for Anaheim early on.
Toronto opened up a lead in the second, Zach Hyman poking the puck away behind the Anaheim net to Matthews and on to Tavares for his third in as many games.
But the Matthews Express is the sidebar to watch whether the Leafs finish in a playoff spot or not. He has 27 games to reach 50 for the first time by a Leaf since 1993-94 and possibly Rick Vaive’s club record of 54, not to mention battling Ovie in the goals race.
Anaheim had to play much of Friday without defenceman Erik Gudbranson, who left with an upper body injury, then Jake Muzzin, another former King, knocked the wind out of Ondrej Kase, just before getting the second assist on Spezza’s goal.
Hockey Canada's strategy of deflecting serves no one but its disgraced leadership – The Globe and Mail
A while back, I had a job in a movie theatre. The theatre at the foot of an atrium in an open-plan tower. We plebs could look up at the offices and hallways above, where the corporation’s big wigs worked.
The biggest wig in our world would often lean over a balcony and stare down at us, like a gargoyle in pinstripes. If you were caught loafing, a call would be made and you’d hear about it.
One day, there was a commotion from several floors above – a lot of screaming and banging. The biggest wig had been fired. His reaction was to go back to his office and barricade himself inside it.
The banging was security kicking in the door. The screaming was him being dragged to the elevators. It was a different time.
But the lesson therein is timeless. Nobody likes being canned. But people in charge take it particularly hard.
Right now, 2½ months into Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse scandal, we’re at the barricade stage.
In any other country, this would be over now. Through a combination of popular outrage and political panic, the Hockey Canada edifice would have been burned to the ground.
But in this country we continue to believe shame will do the job for us. That the people in charge of this world-class gong show will get the message and slink off home.
But Hockey Canada’s leadership is not operating on Canadian rules. They’re pulling from the American handbook on how to survive a scandal. Shamelessness is a prerequisite.
Their first job was deflecting.
In terms of an absolute defence, the deflecting’s gone about as well as a guy trying to push off bullets by waving his hands around. But it bought time. The men in charge knew they could count on Ottawa to a) quickly promise to take decisive action and b) take absolutely forever to decide what that decisive action looks like.
Deflecting has another virtue – it dilutes outrage. No matter how awful, people can only read about a story for so long without becoming bored. And there’s always a fresh outrage to divert us.
This week, Hockey Canada hired someone to head an investigation into the workings of Hockey Canada. You could’ve written out this person’s CV long before the name was made public – retired judge, history of public service, member of the new Family Compact, etc.
Finding people is not hard. There are a whole bunch of them out there twiddling their thumbs, itching for someone to stick a microphone in front of them.
But after two months of withering pressure, Hockey Canada is just now figuring out who will set up the Slack group to discuss how to begin discussing their problems. Let me guess that if they’d been bleeding cash instead, organizing some sort of working committee would have taken two hours.
But this is how you do it, American-style. Pretend it’s a live broadcast with screen time to fill before commercials – stretch. Continue talking about nothing. Don’t stop speaking. It’s the silence that kills.
While you’re stretching, keep your eye on the horizon. That’s where the sports are. If you can make it to sports, you might be okay. The same people who wanted your head paraded in the town square yesterday might be distracted by a waving flag.
On Tuesday, the world junior hockey championship begins in Edmonton. Over the weekend, there will be a barrage of publicity about the tournament that launched a thousand official denials. We’ll rehash the particulars of this ugly affair and assess where we’re at. This column is part of that.
By Tuesday, the usual outlets will be talking about hockey. How’s Canada’s top line measuring up? Where’s the United States at? Whither the Olympic team?
This is how you erect a modern, media barricade.
Having seen a million of these things go down in recent years, you know you’re not going to talk your way out of your problem.
Bottom-line: You were in positions of authority at a public institution when something abhorrent happened. The integrity of that institution cannot be maintained if you continue to lead it.
This is obvious. But in our rush to definitively nail someone, anyone, we have skidded past the obvious. Now we’re all deep in the weeds, hacking away.
Uncovering the minutiae about who said what to whom at what board meeting may absorb reporters and politicians, but it only serves Hockey Canada’s current leadership.
While we’re Inspector Clouseau-ing this thing, we’re also avoiding the clear end point. The longer we spend doing that, the more likely it is that these fish all get off the hook.
This was the goal all along. Deflect, get to the world juniors, hope that Team Canada wins and that everyone is too exhausted by the end of it to keep taking pops at you. By the time your judge wraps up his report – let me guess ‘Mistakes were made but there is a clear plan forward’ – maybe you’ll have successfully run your gauntlet.
It’s not a plan, as such. As with Hockey Canada’s in-camera board meetings, nobody’s written it down. It’s instinctive process based on observation. In scandals as in sports, the mission is getting through today.
It’s not going to work. That’s also obvious. No matter what the eventual report says, it will reignite outrage.
The names of the players involved in the two alleged assaults will come out, probably during the NHL season. That will reignite outrage.
At any moment, the alleged victims could make fulsome public declarations. That will reignite outrage.
Any way you go, the outrage is going to leak out again. The only way to contain it is to blow this down to the foundations. Eventually, everyone’s going to realize that.
Really, all that’s being decided now is how you want to get to the elevators – walking under your own power, or being dragged there screaming by the rest of Canada.
Rafael Nadal announces he will not be playing at the Canadian Open
Nadal cited that the reason to abandon the Canadian Open was a result of an abundance of caution regarding injury concerns.
“From the vacation days and my subsequent return to training, everything has gone well these weeks. Four days ago, I also started training my serve and yesterday, after training, I had a little discomfort that was still there today.
We have decided not to travel to Montreal and continue with the training sessions without forcing ourselves. I sincerely thank the tournament director, Eugene, and his entire team for the understanding and support they have always shown me, and today was no exception.
I hope to play again in Montreal, a tournament that I love and that I have won five times in front of an audience that has always welcomed me with great affection. I have no choice but to be prudent at this point and think about health,” said the Spaniard.
Last month, Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also withdrawn from the Canadian Open as his status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot enter the country.
Djokovic is also unlikely to play at the US Open after organizers said they would respect the American government rules over travel for unvaccinated players as the United States (US) requires non-citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.
“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.
The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” read a statement from the US Open which is set to take place in New York from the 29th of August to the 11th of September, 2022.
Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic will be joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to play for Team Europe in the Laver Cup.
The event, which pits six European players against six from Team World over three days, will take place in London between 23 and 25 September 2022.
“It’s the only (event) where you play in a team with guys you are normally competing against. To be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy, three of my biggest all-time rivals, it’s going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport,” said Djokovic.
Canada beats Sweden to claim gold in Hlinka Gretzky Cup – Sportsnet.ca
RED DEER, Alta. — Canada scored early and often and also stayed out of the penalty box en route to a 4-1 victory over Sweden in the gold-medal final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Tanner Howe, Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager scored for the Canadians, who held period leads of 2-1 and 3-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Saturday. Riley Heidt also chipped in with two assists for the champions.
Hugo Pettersson scored for Sweden, who were outshot 36-26. Each team received eight minutes in penalties.
Canada had beaten Sweden 3-0 on Aug. 3.
“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stephane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role and I’m so happy for them.”
The win is Canada’s first gold medal since 2018, the last time this tournament was held in Canada.
“I’m so happy for this group,” added Julien. “They haven’t had it easy in their careers the last two years with the pandemic, but now they have this, a gold medal and something they are going to remember for the rest of their career.”
Canada advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland, while Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2. Finland beat Czechia 3-1 in Saturday’s bronze-medal final.
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will shift to Europe in 2023, returning to Breclav and Piestany, Czechia for the first time since 2021.
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