In keeping with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Next Gen theme for Monday’s holiday matinee versus the Carolina Hurricanes — and in keeping with my general Christmastime laziness — I tasked my nine-year-old son, Will Fox, to report on the game and give Dad a break.
I’m certain the next generation will uphold the proud Fox family tradition of barely passable sports reporting. Take it away, Willie! I’ll just transcribe your opinions and observations. (Just don’t read the comments, bud.)
TORONTO – Oooh, snacks.
[Fetches miniature bag of Munchies off pressbox stats table. Informed that Maple Leafs often flip pucks to kids during warm-ups.]
Saw it! Number 23, Dermott, gave a puck to someone.
I have a question: Every period, do they clean the ice?
I think Carolina is going to lose.
It was scary being this high up, but after 10 minutes you’re fine.
Thirty seconds in, Jason Spezza has made the lead for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was quick.
The Leafs have five shots to zero – that’s a lot.
I’ve noticed the fans are cheering a lot. Now I get why everyone wants to be the home team – it makes a difference.
Great pass by John Tavares, and William Nylander’s goal was great, spectacular and awesome.
I also noticed that the puck is mostly in the Hurricanes’ zone.
Whoa, another goal: 3-0 Leafs. Is Mrazek better than Reimer?
[Notices a press-box veteran pilfer a Drumstick from the mini freezer before the end of the first period.]
Ice cream! I’m getting one. [Bolts. Returns 15 seconds later.]
Can you eat the nuts off this?
[Not happening. You like peanuts anyway.]
Nylander gave the puck away. Why did he wait so long to pass?
[Veteran reporter: “You should ask him that after the game.”]
Whoa, that was a good shot by Brock McGinn, 3-1.
Martin Necas scores on a backhanded, between-the-legs tip with 24 seconds left in first period. 3-2 Leafs.
Wow, that was a sweet goal. Hurricanes are doing way better.
I notice they hop over the bench when they change lines.
[Travis Dermott called for tripping minor early in the second period.]
That’s not a trip!
Freddy Andersen is doing spectacular.
All the passes are hard passes. Like, boom, boom, boom.
The Leafs’ best players keep shooting it high. I’m going to get popcorn.
[Leaves. Returns eight seconds later.]
Nice play by Nylander. Saves a goal from happening.
Carolina pours in three goals within 64 seconds and five unanswered altogether to jump ahead 5-3 in the second period.]
Comeback. Disappointing for the Leafs, but they were all good goals, though.
The Maple Leafs need to look where they’re going to pass, and they need to keep the puck in the Hurricanes’ zone. Carolina is doing a good job intercepting the Leafs’ passes.
[Game notes reveal Toronto has 14 giveaways to Carolina’s 11. Will spends the second intermission looking at retired banners in rafters.]
Number 7, Horton! Kinda like Tim Hortons.
[Third period begins.]
Auston Matthews scores. Well played. Nice pass by Hyman.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 23, 2019
I’m speechless. One more goal and they tie it.
Marner scores, Barrie scores, and Marner scores again off the draw. Three Maple Leafs goals in 59 seconds completes the comeback.
Incredible. I can’t describe it. I’m getting chills.
[Maple Leafs add an empty-netter to win 8-6.]
If the Canes kept Reimer in net, I wonder what the score would be.
[Post-game, Will fights off the scrum to secure a hard-hitting, one-on-one interview with Mitch Marner to get the inside scoop on his five-point effort.]
WILL FOX: How does it feel to win a crazy game like that?
MITCH MARNER: It’s fun. It got a little high scoring there at the end, but it’s fun for the players. I think it’s fun for the crowd. I’m sure the coaches don’t love it as much and the goalies don’t, but it’s a big win for us. We’re happy with it.
WF: What’s your favourite food?
MM: Ooh, that’s a good one. I’m a big fan of a cheat day. Any kind of burger, pizza, I also enjoy pasta a lot. Any of those three, I’m into.
WF: What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever gotten?
MM: Maybe when I was really young, a hockey stick. I used to always ask for hockey sticks on my birthdays and Christmases, especially the new ones. Usually when I got one of those, it was a pretty great Christmas.
WF: And what’s your greatest fear?
MM: Oh, wow. Sharks. I don’t like sharks. I’m scared to go into the ocean too deep. Especially when I’m tubing in the ocean, I think for sure there’s a shark in the ocean underneath me.
WF: Thank you.
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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