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Leafs’ Campbell endearing himself to team with heart-on-sleeve approach – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – It’s impossible for Jack Campbell to recall the words his parents said Wednesday night when he called to inform mom and dad he’d been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team just a three-hour drive from their home in Port Huron, Mich. A team with a shot and some run support.

Damned if the goaltender can remember what he said to Debbi and Jack Sr. that night either.

“It was like one of those moments, you kinda go dark for a second ’cause it’s just special,” Campbell said. “I just remember how excited they were.

“It was crazy. I’ll never forget that moment.”

Funny how the biggies in life work.

The details blur, but the feelings attached remain crystal.

National Hockey League goaltenders are supposed to follow two golden rules. One: Don’t get nervous. Two: If you do get nervous, don’t admit it.

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So, after Campbell won his first game as a Maple Leaf on Friday night, an overtime nail-biter with mom and dad part of the joyous sold-out barn, the goalie (and secret rom-com fan) endeared himself with his honesty and sensitivity.

“I was just really excited, and I think when you care a lot, you get a little nervous,” Campbell said.

During a whirlwind six days, the new backup in town has furthered endeared with his results, battling through three consecutive overtimes and surfacing with five of six valuable standings points in a playoff race that promises a photo finish.

Fans and teammates alike have warmed quickly to Campbell’s heart-on-sleeve, smile-on-face approach, and he was awarded the dressing room’s Raptors game ball for his .946 effort Tuesday, after waking up thinking he’d be backing up.

“I just like the confidence that he has in himself and the confidence he brings to our team, and he’s excited for every opportunity that comes about — and it doesn’t matter how it comes about. He’s ready for it, whether it’s coming in and playing right away in essentially his first day with us or playing on back-to-back nights or playing today when maybe he wasn’t necessarily coming to the arena thinking that he would be starting,” said coach Sheldon Keefe.

“He’s a guy that does find his way to be comfortable because he’s very social, is outgoing and has a great attitude.”

Leafs Nation, still coming back for more after 53 years of bummers, has its tendencies to ride too high and hate too fast.

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So, although his initials are J.C., we’re not crowing Jack Campbell this season’s saviour quite yet.

But the scrappy, puck-moving goalie has delivered in a small, adrenalin-fueled sample size in his comfy L.A. Kings gear repainted blue and white.

In addition to Tuesday’s 35-save gem in a 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes, Campbell’s 2-0-1 splash has permitted starter Frederik Andersen the cushion of time to fully recover from the neck injury he suffered on Feb. 3, and has immediately instilled the skaters in front of him with a rush of confidence that they have a good chance of winning even without No. 31 patrolling the paint.

You may have heard that since Andersen arrived in Toronto, he has been responsible for backstopping 80 per cent of the Leafs’ standings points, contributing a greater share than any other goalie in the NHL.

With Soupy’s warming potential—and a cap-gentle contract that runs through 2021-22—there is real hope that, just maybe, not everything has to live and die with Andersen’s health or hot streaks.

“He’s not just a backup,” Kyle Clifford said of Campbell, who came parcelled in the trade. “There’s a lot of potential there.”

Zach Hyman wants to know if you’ve met Campbell yet because he’s “just a really, really friendly guy.”

Alexander Kerfoot beamed when he said, Campbell’s “energy is awesome.”

Like Andersen, Campbell has taken to gliding out from his crease and standing on the blue line alongside the boys for “O Canada” and frequently punctuates his flashy glove saves with butt-taps to his defenders.

“They always tell me, ‘Good job,’ so it’s kind of like (me saying) ‘Good job.’ It kind of makes you interact with your teammates a little more. Being in the net, you’re not on the bench so you can’t really chat it up with the boys,” Campbell explained.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

Drew Doughty, former Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford (who helped with his technique), former Ontario Reign goalie coach Dusty Imoo, Clifford… they all have tales of Campbell’s first-to-the-rink attendance, his long hours in the gym and on the ice, and his tendency to blame himself for every puck that slips through.

“We’re not making this up. This is a real thing. He’s got a work ethic in him that runs very high. He competes on every puck out there in practice like it’s a Game 7 puck. So it’s gotten him to this level. It’s made him a better goalie,” said Jake Muzzin, an ex-King reunited.

That one standings point the Leafs squandered in Montreal on Saturday? Campbell immediately assumed blame for the entire group.

“Yeah, and he played a hell of a game,” said Muzzin, shaking his head. “He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the best he can be, and he hates to let the team down, let himself down. But a lot of times he’s not. He just puts that on himself.

“That’s kind of guy we have here. So, we’re lucky to have him.”

This extraordinary inner drive is a quality the son inherited from Jack Sr., who owns an electrical distribution company in Port Huron. (“He grinds,” Junior assured.)

The Kings were road-tripping in New York last week when Campbell’s head was spun with news he’d been dealt. He had one pair of pants, a set of gym shorts and no extra boxers.

There’d be no time to fly home from Manhattan to Manhattan Beach. It was straight to Toronto and into the fire, the race, the shopping mall.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Campbell said.

“The excitement level of being a Maple Leaf — not that this takes away from L.A. — but the excitement was so great that you kinda move on right away.”

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Toffoli acquisition shows Canucks believe in mounting playoff run – Sportsnet.ca

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VANCOUVER – If you didn’t understand the Tyler Toffoli trade when it was first reported, it made a lot more sense at 6:04 p.m. PT on Monday.

That’s when Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, after confirming he had surrendered Tim Schaller, a solid prospect in Tyler Madden and a second-round pick to get Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings, announced in a press release that heavy forward Micheal Ferland is out for the season with a concussion and first-line winger Brock Boeser will miss another three weeks – minimum – with fractured rib cartilage.

The Canucks may need Toffoli to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Benning, who will explain the trade at a press conference Tuesday morning, told Sportsnet in December that he hoped to add another top-six winger this season. That search became a little more urgent when Boeser’s injury on Feb. 8 against Calgary was followed six days later by another failed comeback by Ferland, who lasted only one period of an AHL game before going back to the injured list with concussion symptoms that have limited him to just 14 NHL games this season.

Boeser has played 56 games — without any goals in the last 11 of them — and there is no way to know when he will play his 57th.

Toffoli was always one of the Canucks’ preferred options because he is a proven supporting scorer who plays the fast, direct, heavy game that Vancouver coach Travis Green preaches, and should fit instantly alongside Bo Horvat and former Kings linemate Tanner Pearson.

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After enduring his worst season last year in the NHL, with just 13 goals and 34 points in 82 games, Toffoli is having a bounce-back campaign. His hat trick in his final game with the Kings, Saturday’s 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche, gave the 27-year-old 18 goals and 34 points in 58 games.

His 18 goals would be third on the Canucks, one ahead of Horvat and Pearson.

Toffoli has been among the NHL’s most active shooters the last 10 weeks and led the Kings with an even-strength shots-for percentage of 57.4, which is backed up by an expected-goals-for percentage of 57.3.

Toffoli is on an expiring contract paying him $4.6 million, which is why it was important for the Canucks to pass on to the Kings depth forward Tim Schaller and his bloated $1.9-million cap hit. But the newest Canuck is young enough to re-sign, and the team hopes that if Toffoli is successful with Horvat and his old buddy, Pearson, he will want to stay in Vancouver.

The Canucks, however, need to re-sign starting goalie Jacob Markstrom and would like to re-sign defenceman Chris Tanev, another potential unrestricted free agent, so it would be naïve for now to think of Toffoli as anything but a rental.

He should make the Canucks better, and he could prove vital if Boeser stays on the injured list. Green has replaced Boeser on the first power-play unit with checking centre Brandon Sutter. We’re pretty sure Toffoli is an upgrade.

But unless you win the Stanley Cup, all rental trades must be gauged by costs in the future.

After all, Derek Roy for a second-round pick and Kevin Connauton seemed like a reasonable idea for the Canucks as a deadline rental back in 2013.

Madden, a 2018 third-round pick who is having an outstanding sophomore season at Northeastern University, is a good prospect. But he is also a 160-pound centre who wasn’t going to play ahead of Horvat, Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette anytime in the next several years.

If you listed the Canucks’ top-five prospects, Madden doesn’t make it. Vancouver is keeping Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander, Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind and Mike DiPietro. There are probably at least another couple of prospects ahead of Madden.

The real cost to the Canucks is that second-round pick, which was not expected to be in play this deadline because Benning surrendered his first-rounder to get J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning last June. Miller has merely been one of the best three Canucks all season, so no one is asking for a do-over on that one.

Toffoli was one of the better rental wingers available and Benning and his staff obviously felt in the wake of Boeser’s injury that this was a deal the Canucks needed and could afford.

The right winger is expected to practise with the Canucks on Tuesday. Vancouver plays the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday and is just 2-4-1 in its last seven games.

The Canucks were passed in the Pacific Division by the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Vancouver’s playoff cushion has deflated to just four points, which may be another reason Benning was motivated to move for Toffoli now rather than waiting until nearer Monday’s trade deadline to check on NHL inventory and prices.

But beyond the Canucks’ present scuffling, remember they are still further ahead in their evolution than most people expected them to be with 23 games to go. They led their division for a month, boast a potent attack driven by rising stars in Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, and still have a goalie in Markstrom under contract who should be a Vezina Trophy candidate this season.

They’ve also beaten nearly every top team in a Western Conference that is without a formidable giant. No team is fearful of what they’ll find should they make the playoffs. They just need to get there. The Canucks believe they have as a good a chance as anyone. And on Tuesday they got a little bit better.

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Astros’ Francis Martes suspended for 2020 season following drug test – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW YORK — Houston Astros pitcher Francis Martes was suspended for the 2020 season following his second positive test for a performance-enhancing substance under baseball’s major league drug program.

Martes tested positive for Boldenone, the commissioner’s office said Monday. Boldenone is sold under the brand name Equipose and is used commonly on horses.

A 24-year-old right-hander, Martes is on the Astros’ 40-man major league roster but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2017.

He was suspended last March 12 for 80 games following a positive test for Clomiphene, a women’s fertility drug that has been used by some athletes to counter side effects of steroids use. Martes returned Aug. 21 and made two starts for the rookie level Gulf Coast Astros and one for Quad Cities of the Class A Midwest League. He was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 5 1/3 innings.

Martes’ ban isn’t quite the Houston-related cheating punishment fans and players have clamoured for around baseball. The Astros have been pummeled via the press by opposing teams since opening spring training, with many expressing disappointment that no players were suspended for their sign-stealing scam.

Martes did not have a statement, the players’ association said.

“Throughout our system, players are educated through MLB’s drug prevention and treatment programs,” the Astros said in a statement. “We hope that Francis will learn from this experience moving forward.”

He is the second player suspended this year under the big league program. Colorado pitcher Justin Lawrence was suspended for 80 games following a positive test for the performance-enhancing substance Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT). Lawrence also has yet to make his big league debut.

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Ryan Newman hospitalized after fiery crash at Daytona 500 – CBC.ca

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Ryan Newman flipped across the finish line, his Ford planted upside down and engulfed in flames, a grim reminder of a sport steeped in danger that has stretched nearly two decades without a fatality.

At the finish line, Denny Hamlin made history with a second straight Daytona 500 victory in an an overtime photo-finish over Ryan Blaney, a celebration that quickly became muted as word of Newman’s wreck spread.

“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are,” Hamlin said. “But number one, we are praying for Ryan.”

Roughly two hours after the crash, NASCAR read a statement from Roush Fenway Racing that said Newman is in “serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.”

WATCH | Ryan Newman involved in terrifying crash at Daytona 500:

Ryan Newman was leading the race when he was involved in a crash that sent his car spinning before it caught on fire. 2:08

NASCAR scrapped the traditional victory lane party for Hamlin’s third Daytona 500 victory, rocked by Newman’s accident 19 years after Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt was the last driver killed in a NASCAR Cup Series race.

Newman had surged into the lead on the final lap when Blaney’s bumper caught the back of his Ford and sent Newman hard right into the wall. His car flipped, rolled, was hit on the driver’s side by another car, and finally skidded across the finish line in flames.

It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels. The 2008 Daytona 500 winner was placed in a waiting ambulance and taken directly to a hospital, and the damage to his Mustang was extensive. It appeared the entire roll cage designed to protect his head had caved.

Drivers were stricken with concern, including a rattled Corey LaJoie, the driver who hit Newman’s car as it was flipping.

“Dang, I hope Newman is ok,” he posted on Twitter. “That is [the] worst case scenario and I had nowhere to go but [into the] smoke.”

Hamlin is the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win consecutive Daytona 500s, but his celebration in victory lane was subdued.

Hamlin said he was unaware of Newman’s situation when he initially began his celebration. It wasn’t until Fox Sports told him they would not interview him on the frontstretch after his burnouts that Hamlin learned Newman’s incident was bad.

“It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but someone’s health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport,” he said. “We are just hoping for the best.”

Team owner Joe Gibbs apologized after the race for the winning team celebration.

“We didn’t know until victory lane,” Gibbs said. “I know that for a lot of us, participating in sports and being in things where there are some risks, in a way, that’s what they get excited about. Racing, we know what can happen, we just dream it doesn’t happen. We are all just praying now for the outcome on this.”

Runner-up Blaney said the way the final lap shook out, with Newman surging ahead of Hamlin, that Blaney got a push from Hamlin that locked him in behind Newman in a move of brand alliance for Ford.

“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11 … I was committed to just pushing him to the win and having a Ford win it and got the bumpers hooked up wrong,” he said. “It looked bad.”

Track workers attend to Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, following a crash during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Hamlin had eight Ford drivers lined up behind him as the leader on the second overtime shootout without a single fellow Toyota driver in the vicinity to help him. It allowed Newman to get past him for the lead, but the bumping in the pack led to Newman’s hard turn right into the wall, followed by multiple rolls and a long skid across the finish line.

Hamlin’s win last year was a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing and kicked off a yearlong company celebration in which Gibbs drivers won a record 19 races and the Cup championship. Now his third Daytona 500 win puts him alongside six Hall of Fame drivers as winners of three or more Daytona 500s. He tied Dale Jarrett — who gave JGR its first Daytona 500 win in 1993 — Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison. Hamlin trails Cale Yarborough’s four wins and the record seven by Richard Petty.

This victory came after just the second rain postponement in 62 years, a visit from President Donald Trump, a pair of red flag stoppages and two overtimes. The 0.014 margin of victory was the second closest in race history, and Hamlin’s win over Martin Truex Jr. in 2016 was the closest finish in race history.

That margin of victory was 0.01 seconds. The win in “The Great American Race” is the third for Toyota, all won by Hamlin. Gibbs has four Daytona 500 victories as an owner.

“I just feel like I’m a student to the game. I never stop learning and trying to figure out where I need to put myself at the right time,” Hamlin said. “It doesn’t always work. We’ve defied odds here in the last eight years or so in the Daytona 500, but just trust my instincts, and so far they’ve been good for me.”

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