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Lions trade up to select ECU's Jordan Williams with No. 1 overall pick – CBC.ca

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The B.C. Lions ensured Jordan Williams began his CFL tenure with a bang.

The Lions opened the CFL draft Thursday night by moving up from No. 3 to first overall in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders. Then B.C. made Williams the first player taken.

“I’m absolutely surprised,” Williams said during a conference call. “I thought the CFL is one through nine and that’s what you get.

“I didn’t think they’d pick me, I thought they’d get a defensive end or something. For them to take me, man, it’s surreal. I can’t even quantify how it feels.”

The five-foot-11, 219-pound Williams hasn’t played football since 2017 when he finished second in tackles at East Carolina with 89 — including three for a loss — with a forced fumble. The 27-year-old is an American by birth but was deemed a national for the draft because his mother is Canadian.

“I think once I know the rust’s off, I’ll be locked and loaded and ready to go,” Williams said.

Last year, the Ottawa Redblacks offered Williams a practice-roster spot after he attended one of the club’s free-agent camps. But upon learning of his mother’s nationality, the club recommended Williams investigate taking that path into the league.

Williams shined at last month’s Ontario combine, the CFL’s final due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. He recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press, 39-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 8.5 inches.

B.C. (5-13) finished last in the West Division last season. Head coach DeVone Claybrooks was fired and replaced by Rick Campbell after he stepped down from that post with the Ottawa Redblacks.

Argos take brother of Raptor

The Toronto Argonauts then took Virginia receiver Dejon Brissett, the older brother of Toronto Raptors guard/forward Oshae Brissett. And the elder Brissett, a native of Mississauga, Ont., gets to begin his pro career very close to home.

“It’s surreal being home for the first time in a long time,” he said. “I can’t explain how excited I am.”

The six-foot-one, 195-pound Brissett, a native of Mississauga, Ont., appeared in 12 games last season with Virginia after transferring from Richmond, recording two receptions for 18 yards. Brissett appeared in 33 games at Richmond, recording 86 catches for 1,282 yards and nine TDs.

Brissett is looking forward to joining a Toronto team coming off consecutive 4-14 campaigns after winning the ’17 Grey Cup.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “We’re going to make it happen, for sure.”

At No. 3, Calgary took Southeastern Louisiana defensive end Issac Adeyemi-Berglund of Dartmouth, N.S. And while the six-foot-two, 243-pound Adeyemi-Berglund now knows where he’ll begin his pro career, he still doesn’t know exactly when it will begin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s always crazy when you talk about this COVID-19 thing but it’s the same for every athlete,” he said. “But it’s crazy because we just got drafted, it’s probably the biggest night of our lives according to football so it’s definitely strange.”

Adeyemi-Berglund registered 28 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks during his collegiate career.

Eskimos, TiCats beef up O-Line

The Edmonton Eskimos selected Buffalo offensive lineman Tomas Jack-Kurdyla at No. 4. The six-foot-four, 300-pound Montreal native was a four-year starter for a Bulls team that last year set schools records for most rushing yards (3,256, 296 per game) and fewest sacks (eight).

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats used the first of their two opening-round selections on Guelph offensive lineman Coulter Woodmansey at No. 5. The six-foot-five, 325-pound Toronto native plays with an edge, a solid attribute for a franchise coming off a club-record 15 regular-season wins last year.

The Ottawa Redblacks (league-worst 3-15 record) followed by taking versatile Adam Auclair of Laval. The six-foot-two, 205-pound Auclair, whose brother, Antony, is a tight end with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, can play linebacker or in the secondary and contribute on special teams.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t look far with the seventh overall pick, taking Saskatchewan Huskies offensive lineman Mattland Riley. The six-foot-three, 285-pound native of Melfort, Sask., was a 2018 second-team All-Canadian.

Hamilton followed up by selecting North Dakota defensive end Mason Bennett. The six-foot-four, 235-pound Winnipeg native appeared in 43 career collegiate games, recording 128 tackles — 31.5 for a loss — with 20 sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Toronto completed the first round with its second selection, Regina offensive lineman Theren Churchill at No. 9. The six-foot-six, 295-pound native of Stettler, Alta., made 25 career starts at right tackle for the Rams.

The Redblacks opened the second taking Brown defensive lineman Michael Hoecht at No. 10 overall. But they’ll have to wait as the six-foot-four, 310-pound Oakville, Ont., native signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

BC receiver en route to Calgary

At No. 12, Calgary took British Columbia receiver Trivel Pinto, who was suspended for two years and bumped from the ’19 draft after a positive cocaine test. The Toronto native was a first-team All-Canadian for a second straight season in 2018, setting a Canada West record with 67 catches for 916 yards and six TDs.

The Alouettes look to the future with their first selection, taking Montreal Carabins defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy at No. 14. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers.

B.C. then made Nathan Rourke of Oaville, Ont., the first quarterback taken at No. 15. That’s the highest for a Canadian at that position since ’01 when Montreal selected former Florida star Jesse Palmer.

The six-foot-two, 209-pound Rourke completed 200-of-328 passes for 2,820 yards with 20 TDs and five interceptions last season at Ohio University while rushing for 867 yards (5.6-yard average) with 13 touchdowns. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Rourke, who has family in Vancouver and Powell River, B.C.

Montreal followed at No. 16 taking Queen’s defensive lineman Cameron Lawson. The six-foot-three, 285-pound native of Caledon, Ont., recorded 74 career tackles, 11 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss and two fumble recoveries as a collegian.

The Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their first pick of the draft at No. 18, taking McMaster defensive back Noah Hallett. He joins his brother, Nick, also a defensive back who was a ’19 seventh-round pick.

WATCH | CFL requests federal aid:

Canadian Football League is requesting up to $150 million in assistance. 3:38

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NHL teams eliminated from 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs free to make trades – Fear the Fin

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There’s still some doubt that the NHL’s 24-team playoff format will have enough time to play out, especially with the news today that training camps — Phase 3 of the league’s Return to Play Plan — would not begin before July 10, more than six weeks from now. But for seven teams (the Sharks included), there’s nothing left of the season whether the league returns to complete playoffs or not.

Detroit, Ottawa, New Jersey, Buffalo, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose are now free to make trades with each other, a league source confirmed to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic.

Though it may have been a larger and more diverse pool of teams eliminated, this is hardly different than the usual practice of allowing teams who do not qualify for playoffs to begin trading with each other once the regular season ends in April — though it’s not super common and generally the trades involve depth players. Mostly, the eliminated teams get a two-month head-start on setting price in the market before the draft.

But with the nebulous future of the season — despite being largely unaffected by the decision-making until it concerns the 2020-21 season — teams will probably be reluctant to pull the trigger. Salary cap uncertainty plays a roll, as well. With the cap unlikely to budge, it doesn’t seem advantageous to makes moves too quickly.

The other consideration is that the three California teams make up half of the available market and are unlikely to trade with each other. Notably, Doug Wilson went through the Boston Bruins to acquire Martin Jones from the Los Angeles Kings, a trade we all liked at the time and a reminder that no take can escape the bitter coldness of having aged.

Another player is the Ottawa Senators, and it might break Pierre Dorion’s brain if Doug Wilson swindles him a third time, so the market is pretty bare. If anything, the Buffalo Sabres organization appears to be having a difficult time right now and we’re living through a global pandemic, so anything is possible.

Ultimately, these seven teams didn’t make playoffs because they have incredible rosters, which is why this time typically only sees depth trades. If anything does pick up, I can’t imagine it would be before the play-in round for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs happens, which might still be a matter of months.

Right now will likely involve a lot of talks that go nowhere and collegiate/European free agent signings. The most important head-start will be the extra resources and time available to focus on scouting and strategy for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

That said, Doug Wilson has also been known to scoop a good depth player, so if he wants to start working the phones, I’m good with that, too. I bet he could pay off the Red Wings to liberate one of the good prospects from the Kings. Just something to consider if you’re reading this, Doug.

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Sabres' Krueger on Eichel: 'I like the anger' – TSN

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Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said Friday he has no problem with captain Jack Eichel voicing his frustrations, but he hopes to use it in a constructive way.

“I like the anger,” Krueger said of Eichel’s comments. “I have no problem with people outing frustration on the past. But then let’s move that conversation forward, real quick, and let’s figure out what we’re going to do about it.”

Eichel said on Thursday that he was “fed up” with losing, two days it was announced the Sabres would be one of the seven teams not to qualify under the NHL’s Return to Play 24-team playoff format.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated,” Eichel said during a conference call with media. “You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have [gone]. I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I’m on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”

The Sabres have missed out on the postseason in all five years of Eichel’s career and nine straight in total. The 23-year-old finished with a career-high 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games this season, Krueger’s first with the team.

On Thursday, Eichel credited his continued development to Krueger, the third coach he has had in his short career.

“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not getting frustrated with where things are going and I think we took a step this year, but I will say it’s been a pleasure working with Ralph,” Eichel said. “He does so much for our group every day. There are tough times and he does an amazing job of…narrowing our focus and getting us back to where we need to be mentally. And just the few times that I’ve spoken with him, you know, throughout this quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it’s been good.”

Defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen also credited Krueger for helping him improve this season on Thursday, but noted that he could be traded if the team elects to make changes this off-season. Krueger, however, said Friday does not want to see the 25-year-old moved.

“I want to coach Risto next season,” Krueger said. “I would enjoy coaching Risto next season. … Risto was all-in.” 

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How NHL could transition from paused to handing out Stanley Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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“There’s no magic to starting in October,” Gary Bettman said this week, but there may be some found in finishing then.

For it looks increasingly like that’s when the commissioner will be handing over the Stanley Cup if health conditions allow the NHL to go ahead with a 24-team tournament to crown a champion at the end of its coronavirus-interrupted season.

Bettman was reluctant to attach specific dates to his league’s return-to-play plan after Tuesday’s unveiling and said anybody who did would be “guessing.”

So let’s stick with the known facts, as best we can, in sketching out how the NHL might transition from paused to completing the playoffs.

The earliest players will be required to report to their teams for training camp is July 10. That was communicated to them in a Thursday afternoon memo. While there’s no certainty the league will be ready to transition to Phase 3 at that point — camps could conceivably open later in the month instead — let’s use the best-case scenario as a baseline.

Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

Now the NHL is granting the players a fair bit of latitude in helping shape how the resumption unfolds, including final say on the length of training camps. The players on the “Return To Play Committee” have indicated a need for at least three weeks to get back in game shape, although there seems to be some flexibility on their part now that team facilities are expected to open late next week for small-group workouts.

Perhaps, with ice available to everyone for somewhere in the neighbourhood of five weeks before camps officially open, they won’t require as much time as initially thought.

“We really want it to be more on the cautious side than obviously kind of being aggressive,” said Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, one of five players serving on the ‘Return To Play Committee.’

“I really think we’re going to get a better sense … as we get into Phase 2: How guys are feeling, how long that phase is going to be, really what we’re going to need. It’s not an exact science.”

In sticking with an optimistic view, let’s say they end up needing two weeks on the ice together in their playing cities. That takes us to July 24. The next step will see teams travel to their hub cities to complete training camps and play two exhibition games apiece, which is expected to last another week.

Now we’re sitting at July 31.

How long the tournament itself takes to play is currently resting in the hands of the NHL Players’ Association as it decides on the remaining format issues. It could be completed in as few as 59 days if best-of-fives are used for Rounds 1 and 2 followed by best-of-sevens in the conference finals and Stanley Cup final.

An additional nine days are required to play four rounds of best-of-seven, like usual, following the best-of-five play-in series.

It’s not an easy choice given the concerns many players have about being separated from their families to complete the season. However, the signs seem to point to them electing to commit to the longer tournament to preserve the integrity of the Stanley Cup.

“I think anyone who gets their name on it wants to earn it like the players that did before them,” said Tavares. “I think the sense I got, and I think my own personal view, is it would be nice to play all four rounds of the playoffs as a best-of-7. As what we’re used to.”

Kris Letang, the NHLPA rep for the Pittsburgh Penguins, expressed a similar sentiment after discussing the matter with his teammates.

“One thing that comes up often is the fact that everybody is used to the best-of-7,” said Letang. “You know how it’s structured, you know how it feels if you lose the first two [games] or you win the first two. You kind of know all the scenarios that can go through a best-of-7.

“I don’t think there’s any players in this league right now that played back in the day in the best three-of-five. So I think it’s just an easier thing to just put a best-of-7 because everybody knows what to expect and you have no excuses of not being prepared for that.”

Should that end up being the case, a tournament starting Aug. 1 could see Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final played on Oct. 7.

And that’s assuming everything proceeds in a timely manner between then and now — far from a guarantee, despite the big strides already made by completing the playoff framework and getting a good handle on how the COVID-19 testing will be handled.

There’s still a lot of back and forthcoming on key issues that need to be negotiated between the league and players.

All of which points to one conclusion: If the NHL manages to complete this unusual 2019-20 season, it will have to do so more than a calendar year after it initially started.

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