DALLAS — The NBA said Wednesday the national anthem will be played in arenas “in keeping with longstanding league policy” after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed he had decided not to play it before his team’s home games this season.
The league’s initial reaction to Cuban’s decision was to say teams were free to conduct pregame activities as they wished with the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic. Most NBA teams don’t have fans at home games.
But the NBA abruptly reversed course with Cuban’s decision reverberating around the country, including a question put to White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily briefing. Athlete protests of social and racial injustice during the anthem became a flashpoint between then-President Donald Trump and various leagues during his administration.
“With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” the league said.
The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season games without fans before allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend Monday’s game against Minnesota for free.
Cuban at that point declined to elaborate on his decision, other than to say nobody noticed until after 11 regular-season home games. The move wasn’t without support among NBA coaches.
“This should happen everywhere,” New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted Wednesday. “If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”
The question Van Gundy raises has been debated for some time.
The NBA rule book does not specifically say that the anthem — or anthems, in games involving the Toronto Raptors, the lone Canadian team in the league — must be played before games. The only rule regarding the songs states this: “Players, coaches and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems.”
That rule was relaxed last year in the NBA’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World, when the league took no objection to players kneeling for the anthem to show their desire for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
Players were criticized for kneeling; some of those who stood, such as Miami’s Meyers Leonard and Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac, also faced backlash on social media for choosing to stand. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and coach of the U.S. men’s national team, also stood for anthems in the bubble.
It’s not uncommon for some players to simply not be on the floor for the anthem, exiting for the locker room shortly before the end of the warm-up period for various reasons such as bathroom breaks before returning when starting lineups are introduced.
Though intended to be a solemn hymn, it’s almost never treated as such — fans in many arenas routinely shout over the final lines, break into applause before the song is complete and often insert their own touches into the song such as NHL fans in St. Louis chanting “Blues” over the anthem’s actual last word, “brave.”
Psaki said she had not spoken to President Joe Biden about the issue.
“I know he’s incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents,” Psaki said. “He’d also say, of course, that part of pride in our country means recognizing where we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals.”
Canucks tie it late, beat Canadiens in shootout – TSN
VANCOUVER — Bo Horvat scored in the shootout Monday, giving the Vancouver Canucks a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canucks captain was the lone player to beat Carey Price in the shootout, sending a wrist shot past the Canadiens goalie and into the top-left corner of the net.
The Habs (11-6-7) nearly took two points in regulation after getting a power-play tally from Jeff Petry early in the first period.
Vancouver’s Adam Gaudette forced extra time, scoring with 40.5 seconds left on the game clock. Horvat registered an assist on the goal.
Price had 28 saves for the Canadiens and Thatcher Demko stopped 29 shots for the Canucks (12-15-2).
The result extends Vancouver’s win streak to three games.
Brock Boeser nearly eked out a win for the Canucks in extra time but Price stretched out the length of his crease to make a glove save and force the shootout.
Gaudette’s goal 19:19 into the third ensured overtime on Monday.
He ripped a shot from the left face-off dot, ringing it off the post and in to knot the score with his third goal of the season.
Vancouver pulled Demko with 1:20 left on the clock in a bid to net the equalizer, and nearly took its second too-many-men penalty of the night in the process. Horvat jumped over the boards before the officials noticed the errant forward.
A sloppy line change proved costly for the Canucks early in Monday’s game.
Vancouver was called for too-many men, giving Montreal a power play and Petry capitalized, using a screen by Corey Perry in front of the net to sneak a long shot past Demko and open the scoring 4:37 in.
The Habs were 1-for-2 with the man advantage. Vancouver failed to convert on three power plays, despite getting a minute and 25 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey midway through the first period.
Tyler Toffoli nearly gave Montreal a two-goal lead early in the second, firing a pair of slap shots at Demko.
The Canucks goalie stopped both, but a rebound on the second attempt popped up as he fell back into the net and landed in the corner of the crease, dangerously close to the goal line. Defenceman Tyler Myers swept it out of harm’s way.
Gaudette had two prime chances to even the score for Vancouver in the second.
A wraparound shot from teammate J.T. Miller pinged off Gaudette’s shin and just wide of the post around the eight minute mark. About two minutes later, the Canucks forward blasted a slap shot from the slot, only to see it swallowed up by Price. Gaudette responded by looking skyward.
Moments later, Montreal’s Joel Armia picked the puck off Vancouver defenceman Quinn Hughes in the neutral zone and got a breakaway. Demko got just enough of the ensuing shot to send it careening wide of the net.
The Canucks and Canadiens will battle again in Vancouver on Wednesday.
NOTES: Vancouver defenceman Jordie Benn was injured early in the third period and did not return. … Demko was named the NHL’s second start of the week earlier on Monday. He posted a 3-0-0 record last week with a 1.00 goals-against average and .969 save percentage. … Montreal equipment manager Pierre Gervais worked his 3,000th game. An announcement of the feat elicited stick taps from both teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021.
What made Rheal Cormier one of Canada’s greatest baseball players – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO – Early in the 2000 season, Rheal Cormier and the Boston Red Sox were visiting Jason Dickson and the Anaheim Angels, as they were known then, bringing the New Brunswick pitchers together for the first time.
“The bullpens are stacked (at Angel Stadium), one on top of the other, and that’s where we struck up a conversation through the fence,” recalls Dickson. “I’ll never forget meeting him that first time. I’m the one that probably should have went up to him and introduced myself. I was too nervous to, but he didn’t hesitate to come up and congratulate me on being in the big leagues, ask how my family was doing, ask if I talk to people at home, get into a discussion around New Brunswick and senior baseball and fishing and hunting and all those things that make you a Maritimer. It was just like talking to one of the guys at home.”
Their shared roots made them a rarity in the majors, not only as Canadians, but as two of the three New Brunswick natives at the time enjoying success at the sport’s highest level, along with slugger Matt Stairs of Fredericton.
Cormier, from Cap-Pele, was five years older than Dickson, from Chatham, so the two didn’t cross paths on their way up to the majors. By the time they did meet, Cormier was establishing himself as one of the steadier left-handed relievers in the majors after Tommy John surgery ended his days as a starter, while Dickson was trying to return after a year lost to shoulder surgery.
“You’d hear the stories about Rheal, just like blue-collar work ethic, chopping wood, doing his thing — very grounded with who he was. Just unassuming, kind and generous,” says Dickson, who is now Baseball Canada’s president. “The last time I saw him was at Senior Nationals in Miramichi — I was there for Baseball Canada, and Rheal kind of snuck in late to the game. He wanted to see some people, but no big entry, no big whatever. I gave him a hug, asked him how he was doing, and that was so him, so unassuming. The guys he played with often talked about how hard he worked, didn’t take anything for granted, and I think that sums him up.”
Those are some of the lasting memories of Cormier, who passed away Monday after fighting pancreatic cancer. He was 53.
Our deepest condolences to the family of Rheal Cormier who passed away today after a courageous battle with cancer. Rheal played MLB for nearly 16 years; pitching for the Phillies from 2001-2006. Rheal was a supporter of The Foundation and will be deeply missed. pic.twitter.com/agdKhCl4QG
— Darren Daulton Foundation (@TheDDFoundation) March 8, 2021
Quietly, Cormier enjoyed one of the greatest careers by a Canadian in MLB history, with his 683 games second only to Paul Quantrill’s 841 among Canuck hurlers. In 2012, he was inducted to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cormier posted a 4.03 ERA over 1,221.2 innings while producing 12.8 WAR as calculated by FanGraphs, logging a career-best 186 frames during his first full season in the majors with the 1992 St. Louis Cardinals, who chose him in the sixth round of the 1988 draft.
Trades to Boston in 1995 and then Montreal in 1996 allowed him to log 159.2 innings over 33 games for the 1996 Expos team that went 88-74 and finished second in the National League East. But his elbow blew the next year, Tommy John surgery followed and in 1999 he rejoined the Red Sox, where he transitioned to the bullpen and posted a 3.69 ERA in 63.1 innings.
During the ’99 playoffs, he logged 7.2 innings over six appearances without allowing a run.
After the 2000 season, Cormier joined the Philadelphia Phillies, with whom he logged a 3.62 ERA over 363 games until a 2006 deadline deal sent him to the Cincinnati Reds, where his performance dipped. In May 2007, the Reds released him after just six appearances, though he joined Atlanta on a minor-league deal afterwards, and finished his professional career with five games for triple-A Richmond.
And though his MLB days were done, Cormier did pitch for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a full-circle achievement after being on the 1988 team at the Seoul Games when baseball was a demonstration sport. Cormier also represented Canada at the 1987 Pan Am Games and Intercontinental Cup, and 2006 World Baseball Classic.
“Rheal probably doesn’t get as much credit as he should,” says Dickson. “I always go to the different websites and pull up Rheal’s stats to show people, and they’re shocked to see how long he played and how well he did it. That’s just him, just kind of flying under the radar.”
Cormier is survived by his wife, Lucienne, and two children, Justin and Morgan.
Gushue Falls to 2-1: Smith Makes Shot of the Tournament – VOCM
It was a classic matchup at the Tim Hortons Brier last night between defending champ Brad Gushue and former champ Kevin Koe.
They were tied in the eighth end but Koe eventually put it away 9-7 to remain undefeated.
Gushue, whose next match comes tonight against Saskatchewan, falls to 2-1.
Greg Smith, representing NL, dropped to 0-4 after an 11-4 loss to Nova Scotia.
Down 7-1 and nothing to lose, Smith made the shot of the tournament in what TSN is calling the “Rock Around the Clock.” Smith plays tonight against winless PEI.
— TSN Curling (@TSNCurling) March 8, 2021
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