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Mitch Marner magic helps Toronto Maple Leafs navigate injury issues – TSN

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William Nylander


TSN Toronto Reporter Mark Masters reports on the Maple Leafs, who held an optional skate in Edmonton on Monday ahead of their evening game against the Oilers.


Sheldon Keefe smiled when asked about potentially making changes to a winning lineup. 

“Well, I think we’d always make room for Auston [Matthews],” the Leafs coach said. 

Whether Keefe will be able to write No. 34 onto his lineup card tonight in Edmonton remains unclear. The National Hockey League’s leading goal scorer missed Saturday’s game with a wrist injury. 

Matthews stayed out late at Monday’s optional workout and skated hard, which is something only the projected scratches usually do. Toronto’s No. 1 centre still doesn’t appear to be shooting the puck particularly hard. Keefe referred to Matthews as a game-time decision. 

The Leafs played extremely well without Matthews during a 4-0 win on Saturday. 

“A really special player who’s having an incredible year, so any time you have a guy like that out … the whole team has to step up,” said winger Zach Hyman. “We did that.”

The absence of Matthews may open up more shooting opportunities for crafty winger Mitch Marner, who scored his 10th goal of the season on Saturday. 

“When you’re playing with a guy like Auston you’re always trying to find him in spots and not really thinking of shooting,” Marner said after the game. “This year, now, my mindset is still to try and find Auston if I think I can get it to him but, if not, then it’s trying to get it on net and realizing that sometimes a play off a goalie is better than a pass. I’m trying to do that more. I worked on my shot a lot this year and I just feel confident when I’m shooting nowadays.”

The new-look line of Marner, John Tavares and Joe Thornton found instant chemistry. It was the first time Tavares and Thornton lined up together in a game this season. The trio all touched the puck on Marner’s goal. 

“Joe puts himself in a good spot and stretches the ice and [Morgan] Rielly finds him and he finds John in the space that Joe’s created underneath,” Keefe said. “John attacks the middle of the ice and kicks it back to Mitch and drives through the middle of the ice making it harder on the defence and the goalie and it leads to a goal so there’s a lot of things that go into that.”

Marner also picked up an assist on the William Nylander power-play goal. 

More impressive than the offence was the responsible two-way play. Toronto’s top line outscored the Connor McDavid line 1-0 and kept the Oilers captain quiet most of the night. 

“We didn’t really over-complicate things,” Marner said. “We were playing smart with the puck. When we were getting it down low we were talking to each other, finding exits out of corners and off the wall. We got to make sure we keep doing that. The communication throughout our D-zone and getting the puck in our hands to go up the ice with speed was very, very good.”

The whole Leafs team was very good and very disciplined. Toronto didn’t take a single penalty. 

“They played such a good game,” said McDavid, who managed just one shot on net. “They were so solid everywhere. They were never in a desperate situation where they needed to hook or hold a guy. Part of that is us not going hard enough to the net or making enough plays. Another part is them just playing so well and being in the right position all of the time.”

Back pressure key as Leafs aim to frustrate McDavid, Oilers again

Connor McDavid finished Saturday’s game with just one shot as the Leafs shut out the Oilers. T.J. Brodie credits Toronto’s forwards for providing good back pressure and preventing Edmonton’s stars from executing their preferred pull-up plays. Sheldon Keefe anticipates a tougher challenge on Monday. “We’re expecting them to be more like themselves,” the coach said.

Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell are also listed as game-time decisions. Andersen, like Matthews, stayed out late at the morning skate. Keefe indicated yesterday it was unlikely Toronto’s No. 1 goalie would be ready to return from a lower-body injury on Monday. 

For the second straight day, Campbell wasn’t on the ice. He returned from a leg injury on Saturday and stopped all 30 shots faced, but also looked to be in discomfort after being run into by Tyler Ennis in the first period. 

Michael Hutchinson was in the starter’s net at Monday’s skate and also the first goalie off the ice. He’s 2-1-0 with a .924 save percentage this season. Hutchinson was in net last season when McDavid scored a highlight-reel against the Leafs in Toronto. 

Leafs Ice Chips: Matthews, Andersen, Campbell appear doubtful to play

Auston Matthews is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s game in Edmonton. The Leafs’ forward skated hard, and stayed late after practice with the projected scratches. TSN’s Mark Masters has more on his status, as well as who could draw in as Toronto’s starting goalie.

The Leafs signed T.J. Brodie in the off-season with these type of matchups in mind. The veteran blueliner stared down McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on Saturday and didn’t blink during 22 minutes and 15 seconds of work. 

“He doesn’t care who he’s playing against,” said Keefe. “It doesn’t rattle him. It doesn’t concern him. He’s comfortable in his own game and realizes he’s got to stay within his skill set and do what works for him. Even if he gets beat or makes a mistake, he’s just going to go back and drink some water and go out and give his best shot the next time out and more often than not it works out for him. That’s why he is who he is in the league.”

Brodie picked up an assist and finished Saturday’s game with a plus-2 rating. The former Flame sees a lot of similarities between current partner Rielly and former running mate Mark Giordano​. 

“They’re both great defensively and look to jump offensively,” the 30-year-old observed. “They’re the type of guys who know how to get open and be available for you to get that outlet pass and, at the same time, they make great, quick passes out of the zone so it’s been a pretty easy transition.” 

‘It doesn’t rattle him’: Brodie helps Leafs handle elite opposition

T.J. Brodie has been assigned to cover other teams’ best players this season. His calm demeanor and chemistry on and off the ice has earned high praise from his coaches and teammates.

Hyman is playing through some discomfort right now after blocking a couple of shots off his foot. 

“You can battle through a little bit of pain,” he said. “I feel like I am able to skate and do all the things that I can do otherwise. It’s more painful not playing, to be honest, when you’re out and you’re watching games.”

Hyman, who missed a couple games with the injury, blocked another shot on Saturday. 

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “You don’t have enough time to think, ‘Oh, I should get out of the way on this one.’ When you’re out there playing, you’re not hurt or injured or anything, you’re just playing the game so you don’t think about it. For me, just go out there and do my job and if there’​s an opportunity to block a shot then get in the lane.” 

Hyman wears plastic coverings on his skates, but the initial shot that hurt him hit him in a vulnerable spot. 

“The second time I was lucky I was wearing shot blockers so that definitely helped,” he said.

Hyman on dealing with shot blocks: ‘It’s more painful not playing’

Coming off of a lower body injury, Zach Hyman hasn’t held back sacrificing his body by blocking shots despite the possibility of aggravating his foot, claiming that it is just part of his job. ”It’s more painful not playing.”

— 

Jason Spezza snapped a 10-game goal drought in style on Saturday. The 37-year-old completely fooled veteran Oilers goalie Mike Smith.

“That was a sweet move,” said linemate Travis Boyd. “We were joking a little bit about how that’s his trusty, old go-to move from back in the day. He really got Smith to bite on that fake and that was a sweet move.”

“Wow! What a treat it was to watch that,” Campbell gushed after the game. “He does it in practice so it was nice to see it on our end.”

It was career goal No. 346 for Spezza. How is he able to keep goalies guessing on his go-to move? 

“He sells the shot really well,” Boyd said. “A lot of people fake a shot, but it’s kind of quick and it doesn’t actually fake anyone out. You can kind of read that it’s a fake. He sold the fake on the slap really hard and then just pushing it that few feet before he shot it gave him that whole side and really locked up Smith.”

Leafs projected lines for Monday’s game: 
 
Thornton – Tavares – Marner 
Barabanov – Kerfoot – Nylander
Mikheyev – Engvall – Hyman 
Vesey – Boyd – Spezza 
 
Rielly – Brodie 
Muzzin – Holl 
Dermott – Bogosian 
 
Hutchinson 
Woll 

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Tokyo Olympics: Penny Oleksiak becomes Canada's most decorated summer Olympian – The Globe and Mail

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Canada’s Penny Oleksiak races in the women’s 200m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics on 
July 28, 2021. Oleksiak won bronze, making her the Canadian athlete with the most Summer Games medals.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Latest Olympic highlights

OLYMPIC EVENTS FOR JULY 28
  • Gymnastics: Decorated gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, a day after she pulled out of the team event, putting a sharp focus on mental health at the Games. Canadian gymnast Ellie Black is also out of the final with a sprained ankle.
  • Swimming: Penny Oleksiak swam to her sixth Olympic medal yesterday – the most ever won by a Canadian athlete at the Summer Olympics. This puts her among the ranks of speedskater Cindy Klassen and cyclist and speedskater Clara Hughes, who also have six Olympic medals each. As the Globe’s Cathal Kelly writes from Tokyo, she shows up when it matters, and that’s why she’s Canada’s greatest summer Olympian.
  • Boxing: Canadian boxer Tammara Thibeault will advance in the women’s middleweight boxing event after winning her bout against Nadezhda Ryabets of Kazakhstan by split decision last night. Canadian Caroline Veyre lost in her featherweight quarter-final bout against Italian Irma Testa.
OFF THE FIELD
  • COVID-19 surge: Governors of three prefectures near Tokyo are likely to ask the government to declare states of emergency for their regions, media said on Wednesday, after COVID-19 infections spiked to a record high in the Japanese capital. Tokyo recorded 3,177 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, a new record for the second day in a row. The total of Olympics-related COVID-19 cases since July 1 has risen to 169.
  • Food waste: Olympic organizers have apologized for ordering too much food for their staff during the opening ceremony and letting it go to waste. Videos of trucks carting off boxes of uneaten food went viral online, forcing the apology.

Get the Olympic highlights in your inbox every day with our newsletter, or follow @globeandmail on Twitter for breaking news. Here are yesterday’s Olympic highlights in case you missed them.

Situation in Tokyo, by numbers

WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY IN TOKYO SO FAR?

JAPAN’S LATEST COVID-19 DATA

WHAT TIME IS IT IN TOKYO RIGHT NOW?

More Olympic updates for July 28

  • Rowing: Jessica Sevick and Gabrielle Smith missed the podium finishing sixth in women’s double sculls after posting the fourth-fastest time in the semifinals.
  • Volleyball: Canada’s men’s volleyball team beat Iran in straight sets in its first game of the Olympics.

The Olympic experience

Globe sports reporter Rachel Brady watched a different kind of event at the famous Budokan arena – a Games team changing out the competition mats between the daytime and nighttime sessions Read more behind-the-scenes perspectives from Globe staff at the Olympics.

The Globe and Mail

Tokyo Olympics: Today in photos

From The Globe’s Olympic team

Simone Biles’ legacy may be her courage to look after herself, not the IOC

After experiencing what she called “demons” leading into and during Tuesday’s team competition, superstar gymnast Simone Biles pulled herself. In choosing her mental health over more gold medals, a superstar American gymnast is showing other athletes how much power they have to stand up to the athletic-industrial complex.

Reminder: Before and after the Olympics, women’s sports coverage is lacking

John Doyle: “I’m here to offer you a periodic reminder – before and after the Olympics, women’s sports get less attention than they merit. We will cheer on, or even worship, our women athletes now. Their accomplishments will lift the spirits of a nation and inspire young women to devote themselves to a sport. Then, afterwards, the achievement will become a memory and the activities will barely feature in media coverage, especially on television. This has to stop.”

Tokyo Olympic events to watch tomorrow, July 29

  • Swimming: Penny Oleksiak of Canada swims for gold at the women’s 100 m freestyle event.

Check the full Olympic schedule for the latest event times and competitors.

The Tokyo Olympics: Essential reads

What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.

How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson and Timothy Moore explain.

Female street skateboarders like Annie Guglia demonstrate the possibility of broader change, writes Nathan Vanderklippe

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The Tokyo Olympics are turning into NBC's worst nightmare – Yahoo News Canada

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka leaves the court after being beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova during their third-round Olympic match in Tokyo. (GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP via Getty Images)

No one said these Olympics would be easy. Not even watching them.

Midway through the first week of the Tokyo Games, even the most cautiously optimistic viewer of Friday’s opening ceremony is now likely to be rubbing their eyes: With shocking upsets, unexpected exits, a 16-hour time difference and a thicket of broadcast, cable and streaming options, the most tumultuous Olympics in years are starting to catch up with the NBC stable of networks, which hold the lucrative U.S. television rights to the two-week event.

Times television editor Matt Brennan, senior writer Greg Braxton and digital editor Tracy Brown have been keeping an eye on the Games from the comfort of their homes. Read on for their discussion of the difficulties facing the Olympics and its American broadcasters — and a few of the silver linings that have emerged so far.

Matt Brennan, TV editor: As I prepared for bed Monday night, idly checking Twitter, the news broke of Japanese star Naomi Osaka’s third-round upset by the Czech Republic’s Markéta Vondrousová in the Olympic tennis tournament. Tuesday morning, I awoke to an Apple News push notification that the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad had silver-medaled in the team competition after its top athlete, Simone Biles, withdrew citing her mental health. And my first reaction to this one-two punch was, “Welp, I guess that means I can skip tonight’s telecast.”

I am a casual Olympics viewer, admittedly — following the bold-faced names, like Osaka and Biles; the big events, like swimming and track and field; and the most important stories, like… what in the heck is going on with the Tokyo Olympics? Amid a set of unprecedented challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a crisis of legitimacy for the International Olympics Committee, I’m hard-pressed to remember a more chaotic and deflating start to what has been a TV juggernaut for most of my lifetime. I know y’all have been watching. What has your experience been so far?

Greg Braxton, senior writer: Today I tuned in to the USA women’s beach volleyball team trying to play a match in typhoon weather, which might sum up the Olympic viewing experience: The event has been overcome by a figurative typhoon. The spotlight and emphasis that NBC has placed on these opening marquee events, featuring some of sports’ biggest stars, have been crushed by a perfect storm of unimaginable disappointment and anticlimactic performances. Trying to make sense out of the maze of coverage among the various platforms of NBC, Peacock, the Olympic Channel, USA Network and others is difficult enough. Combine that with the news coming out of Tokyo about the stumbles of star athletes and it becomes doubly frustrating.

I watched the USA Men’s Basketball Team match on Sunday while reading the paper — there was no reason to pay close attention because a news bulletin several hours before announced they had lost to France. The result for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was also broadcast far in advance, as you say. You would have had to stay in a closet all day if you didn’t want to know the outcome before turning on your TV tonight.

And I threw up my hands Monday when I found a rugby match on during NBC’s primetime programming block — and not Osaka, who was playing her match live on the Olympic Channel. The most famous female athlete in the world was being treated almost as a sideshow on a small stage when she should have been in the center ring. The outdated model of packaging the day’s events in primetime rather than showing one of the most anticipated stories of the Games live illustrated the network’s haphazard approach to the Olympics, which the age of social media has cast in an ever-harsher light.

It was Tuesday, though, that Olympic plans went south fastest. The hype surrounding the women’s gymnastics competition has been steadily building for months and hit a crescendo Sunday during the qualifying events. To hear this morning that Biles had pulled out due to mental health issues after making some mistakes in the preliminaries was really heartbreaking. Everything seems to be going wrong, and that — on top of the logistical issues — makes it hard for an Olympics fan like me to maintain interest in watching.

The Olympics used to be the ultimate watercooler event. People rushed home, had watch parties, talked about these amazing athletes the next day. That whole era is gone, but it’s particularly obvious during these Olympics. That became clear with the “opening ceremonies.” It’s a shame.

Tracy Brown, staff writer: For me, figuring out how to watch the Olympics has felt like an Olympic-caliber obstacle course because I’ve been trying to catch the events I care about live before I get a news alert or see results trending on Twitter. This has meant figuring out, as has been mentioned, the various broadcast and livestream schedules — all while running on very little sleep. Even then, there’s no way to stay on top of everything, so I also am strategic about choosing what to watch when.

Luckily, the sport I’ve been most excited about — softball returning to the Olympics for the first time since Team U.S.A.’s stunning loss to Team Japan at the ’08 Games — is one I’ve been able to watch more or less spoiler-free. Softball kicked off its preliminary rounds even before the opening ceremony, so I got an early start in trying to adjust to the time difference. And, as of this writing, I still haven’t watched the Gold medal rematch between rivals U.S. and Japan that took place in the predawn hours Tuesday (in Pacific Time). But because so many other big storylines have dominated the headlines, I think I’ll be able to experience it as if it were live — if I’m careful.

And that’s kind of how the strategy part comes into play for me. I stay on top of the events I know I want to experience unspoiled and prioritize watching those live whenever possible. I appreciate the packaged primetime programming block for what it is, but I leave that for the nights I haven’t picked anything specific to see, or when no live event holds my interest. And then there are some sports, like gymnastics, where the feats of athleticism are so amazing that even if I know the results, I’ll tune in anyway. While it may not always be the specific athlete or team I’m rooting for, someone is going to have some incredible Olympic moment or memorable story.

All that is to say, I very much had mixed feelings in the lead-up to the Games, with the reality of the surging pandemic and the people of Tokyo and Japan calling for the event to be canceled. And I still have moments of playing mental gymnastics when I think about the bigger Olympics picture. But I love sports stories — even when I have no idea what the rules are sometimes — so as soon as the events got started I got sucked in despite how hard NBC, and the real world, have made it.

Brennan: You are so right, Tracy, about the silver linings: Whether the star is a Tunisian swimmer or a Filipino weightlifter, there are inspiring stories to be found in the Olympics so far, even if the spotlight isn’t shining where we might have expected. That’s the nature of sports.

Ultimately, my disappointment is not in the competition itself, but in the sense that the Olympic television I grew up on has not grown up with me.

In my job I often say that people don’t watch TV the way they used to, so we can’t cover TV the way we used to — and NBC has unfortunately failed to reinvent the model developed in Sydney, Athens and Beijing for an ecosystem now dominated by streaming platforms and social media. All of the struggles you’ve enumerated above and others cited to me by our Times colleagues, are symptoms of this problem: live coverage bouncing between networks, the lack of timely on-demand replays, Peacock’s unintuitive design. Even the tradition of focusing the lion’s share of promotional attention on a handful of name-brand American stars like Biles seems parochial in a climate of global fame and increased sensitivity to the pressures on elite athletes.

I don’t envy the decision-makers at NBC, who are faced with broadcasting a highly complex, real-time sporting event to a notoriously fickle audience. Certainly, no one could have predicted what the media landscape would look like today when the network became the Summer and Winter Olympics’ exclusive U.S. home starting in 2000, or even when NBC and the IOC signed their last contract extension, through 2032, seven years ago. But it’s hard not to think that the Tokyo Games are shaping up to be NBC’s worst nightmare: evidence that one of TV’s most lucrative events won’t transition smoothly into the medium’s streaming age.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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Cheveldayoff makes statement to Jets core with win-now deals – Sportsnet.ca

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WINNIPEG – In this summer of bold moves, Kevin Cheveldayoff has already made his mark.

One day after bringing back veteran forward Paul Stastny on a one-year deal and acquiring defenceman Brenden Dillon in a trade, the Winnipeg Jets added another blue-liner, shipping a third round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks to acquire Nate Schmidt on Tuesday night.

Schmidt had been a target of the Jets in the past, but they were previously one of the teams on his 10-team no-trade clause.

Interestingly enough, Schmidt joins Stastny — his former Vegas Golden Knights teammate — in waiving his no-trade clause to join the Jets.

The Jets were looking for a significant upgrade of the defence corps this off-season and that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished, adding a pair of experienced top-four blue-liners with term on their respective contracts.

Schmidt, who turned 30 earlier this month, has four years left on a deal that carries an average annual value of $5.95 million while Dillon’s commitment is for three more seasons at $3.9 million.

The Minnesota product is a high-character player and a minute-muncher who is known for his positive, energetic nature.

Undrafted out of college, Schmidt has carved out a solid career for himself as a reliable two-way blue-liner. He’s mobile, tough to play against and has ample playoff experience. Known more for his defensive acumen, Schmidt has eclipsed 30 points three times and had five goals and 15 points in 54 games with the Canucks last season.

When it comes to the projected defence pairings, it’s clear Jets head coach Paul Maurice is going to have a number of options at his disposal.

Schmidt shoots left-handed but actually prefers to play on the right side, so he’s likely going to be used alongside either Josh Morrissey or Dillon (if Morrissey ends up with pending RFA Neal Pionk or Dylan DeMelo.

One thing to consider is that the addition of the veterans means that there is basically only one spot available on the third pairing for a group that includes Logan Stanley, 2019 first-rounder Ville Heinola and 2017 second-rounder Dylan Samberg.

Stanley was protected by the Jets in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, so he has the inside track on the job as it stands right now — though he’s obviously facing competition for those minutes.

Heinola and/or Samberg could start next season in the American Hockey League with the Manitoba Moose, depending on how things play out.

Dillon was a salary-cap casualty for the Capitals, who needed to make room for the five-year contract Alex Ovechkin agreed to on Monday.

There was plenty of chatter about how Cheveldayoff would handle this off-season and it’s clear he’s made a serious statement to the core group of players that had already committed to the organization.

Since the current contracts of Jets captain Blake Wheeler, top-line centre Mark Scheifele and goalie Connor Hellebuyck all expire at the end of the 2023-24 season, the urgency to widen the window of contention is palpable.

Winning only one round since advancing to the Western Conference final in 2018 simply wasn’t good enough and the Jets have reacted accordingly.

The cost for the Jets is two-fold: they were willing to move some future draft capital — a second-rounder in 2022, a third-rounder in 2023 and a third-rounder in 2022 (they still own the Columbus Blue Jackets’ third in 2022 from the Patrik Laine blockbuster) and take on significant salary and term at a time when salary cap space is at a premium.

Staring at a flat cap (or close to it for the foreseeable future), the Jets sacrificed some of the future for a shot at trying to win now.

You can be sure these moves will resonate with Jets players.

“Every year the ceiling’s obviously to win a Stanley Cup,” Stastny said before the deal for Schmidt was made. “I’ve said it before, that everyone thinks they’re one or two pieces away but when you have a goalie like (Hellebuyck) and you have the offensive firepower and some of the dynamic defencemen, you’re right there. There’s no perfect situation, no perfect team, and I think it just shows that’s the NHL these days. There’s probably 22 or 23 teams that think they’re going to win the Cup every year at the start of the year, maybe more, but that’s what makes it fun, that’s what makes it competitive, that’s what makes every game so impactful.

“You see the drive and the hunger through the guys and I think that makes a big difference, too. You look at teams on paper and you don’t really know the identity or the character of those players but then when you’re around these guys, you realize how bad they want to win. They were there a couple of years ago and they might have taken a step back because they had so many losses on the back end just through unfortunate, unseen events, but what happened last year, to kind of get a taste of what the potential could be and you want to keep building on that.”

Dillon, 30, had a similar message to reporters as he spoke with them for the first time since his trade became official.

“I’m going to a team that wants to win, thinks we can win, believes that we’re going to be right there and that’s exciting going into a season with those being the expectations,” said Dillon, who advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 as a member of the San Jose Sharks and has 75 playoff games on his resume.

Cheveldayoff explained last week the Jets were committed to improving and he’s backed up that statement with actions.

As free agency opens on Wednesday morning, the Jets will be looking to perhaps add a depth forward. Otherwise, the next order of business revolves around getting new deals for pending RFAs Andrew Copp, Pionk and Stanley taken care of.

The money available to the Jets is dwindling (just under $4.55 million with 21 of 23 roster spots spoken for) after this flurry of activity, but with centre Bryan Little expected to be heading to LTIR again next season, there is a bit of wiggle room (up to an additional $5.291 million) to take care of the other business.

In the meantime, Cheveldayoff has already crossed off a couple of pressing items on his to-do list — including the most important one.

As it stands right now, the Jets defence corps appears to have gone from a weakness to a potential strength in a span of fewer than 24 hours.

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