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NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators – Last Word on Hockey

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OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 15: Connor Brown #28 of the Ottawa Senators gets the puck past Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs as Vladislav Namestnikov #90 of the Ottawa Senators and Tyson Barrie #94 of the Toronto Maple Leafs look on in the second period at Canadian Tire Centre on February 15, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)


Another day, another Last Word on Hockey article covering your latest NHL Rumours. Every day, our team breaks down a selection of the latest rumblings from around the National Hockey League. As the trade deadline draws nearer, teams begin to turn their eyes to more specific targets in preparation for this season and next. Today, we’ll look at NHL Rumours from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins in an all Atlantic edition.

NHL Rumours

Toronto Maple Leafs

Rumour: We start with TSN’s Insider Trading where Bob McKenzie says that Toronto Maple Leafs are listening in on offers for defenceman Tyson Barrie. However, the only way they would move him would be if they got assets to immediately flip for another defenceman, or if they get a defenceman in return.

Analysis: So, while it is a possibility Barrie gets moved, it seems unlikely. The biggest issue would be finding a partner to take him and knowing you can get something in return. The Leafs are still right in the thick of a playoff race. Considering they don’t have their first-round pick, they won’t be looking to sell off and punt this season. However, if a team is interested in Barrie the Leafs will listen.

The issue is getting enough assets from a Barrie trade to be useful in another trade. The Leafs have been linked to a name like Matt Dumba over the past few weeks. Would the return they get for Barrie be enough to then flip for Dumba? How much more would need to be added if not? Toronto has spent a lot of their assets this season and given that their window is nowhere near closed, they can’t sell the farm.

Guys like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot might be possible trade chips on top of a return. However, then you’re removing a couple of big pieces out of your team. Finding a logical deal for Barrie feels like it will be a tough move, but Kyle Dubas has shown that he can be craft before. Keep an eye on this as NHL Rumours approach the NHL Trade Deadline.

Ottawa Senators

Rumour: In Sportsnet’s 31 Thoughts Elliotte Friedman mentions that the Ottawa Senators will be waiting until after the season is done to talk contract extension with Anthony Duclair.

Analysis: Duclair has really found a home with the Senators since coming over the last deadline. After scoring 14 points in 21 games last season with Ottawa, Duclair signed a one-year “prove it” deal to show he was legit. Well, the pending RFA has added 37 points in 60 games this season. What’s crazy about that is that the number is probably low. Duclair has been incredibly unlucky in 2020, barely being able to find the back of the net.

What is super encouraging for Ottawa, however, is the fact that through this streal Duclair still adds in other ways. Often he is finding his way to being one of the hardest working Senators on the ice. His lack of production isn’t for a lack of effort. That was the biggest issue early in his career. The knock-on him was his inconsistency and that when he wasn’t scoring he wasn’t helping. Now, even when he isn’t scoring he’s buzzing all around the net, helping in transition, and playing a hard backchecking game. For Ottawa, it is a no-brainer to re-sign him.

The Contract

Duclair being an RFA means he is not on the open market this summer. This is likely the biggest reason Ottawa will leave contract talks to after the season is done. There is no rush, let Duclair play the last part out and see where everyone stands. The Senators will likely look to avoid a long-term deal with Duclair. However, a three or four-year deal would make sense both ways. Duclair would get some stability, something he hasn’t had in the NHL. Ottawa would get a solid player under contract as they rebuild. It seems like a good fit both ways.

Boston Bruins

Rumour: From Dalton Johnson of Yahoo Sports, some NHL Execs could see Joe Thornton landing with the Colorado Avalanche or Boston Bruins if he is to be traded.

Analysis: We will be focusing on the Boston Bruins part of this as Doug Winkey already covered the Colorado part. For Boston, this could be a very interesting pickup if Thornton does want to chase a cup. Joe Thornton started his career in Boston playing eight seasons there before moving to the San Jose Sharks. It would be a cool full-circle moment, however, it’d make sense on-ice too.

One of Boston’s biggest issues is its depth scoring. Their top line is monstrous and that is obvious. However, the depth could still use some help. Thornton is one of the best passers in NHL history and while he isn’t what he once was, he still has amazing vision and can help out in a bottom-six. He can also be an amazing fit on the powerplay.

San Jose

San Jose continues to retool as they traded away Brenden Dillon earlier this week. They don’t have their first-round pick this season. However, it is clear they won’t make playoffs and retooling for next year seems smart. This team has been destroyed with injuries and accepting this isn’t this year seems like a good move. If Thornton wants to look for a cup, this feels like a good fit for all parties.

That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in again later today for more!

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Tkachuk: Sens who tested positive for COVID-19 are 'doing well' – TSN

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Brady Tkachuk is hunkered down with family in St. Louis trying to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ottawa Senators winger has also been also keeping close tabs on a pair of teammates who tested positive for the disease.

“Those guys, they’re doing well,” Tkachuk said on one of the NHL’s video conference calls Monday. “We’re a tight group, so we’re always in contact with one another.”

Two of the league’s four players to test positive since the season was suspended March 12 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak are unnamed members of the Senators.

The team played in San Jose, Calif., against the Sharks on March 7 despite a warning from officials in Santa Clara County against holding large public gatherings. The Colorado Avalanche played at SAP Center the following night, and two members of that team have also since tested positive for COVID-19.

“All of us are concerned about (the Ottawa players) and everybody impacted by it,” Tkachuk added.

Reporters have been asked by the league to submit questions ahead of time for the video conferences calls.

Despite being on one of two teams to have players test positive, Tkachuk was only asked one question on the subject by a member of the NHL’s public relations staff during a 35-minute session that also included a trio of Atlantic Division rivals — Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Detroit Red Wings centre Dylan Larkin.

The Senators said March 17 the first player had tested positive before making the second announcement four days later.

Gord Wilson, the club’s veteran radio colour commentator, revealed Friday he also tested positive for COVID-19.

The Senators had two days off in California following their game in San Jose before meeting the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on consecutive nights. Ottawa’s contest at the Staples Center on March 11 came 24 hours after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — who had four players test positive — played at the same arena against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Avalanche faced off against the Kings at Staples Center on March 9.

COVID-19 pandemic has killed thousands of people across the globe, devastated economies and brought about an era of social distancing and self-isolation.

As for the pause to the NHL season, Tkachuk said he and older brother Matthew, who plays for the Calgary Flames, have been doing their best to stay active.

“Been keeping busy with him and my younger sister,” Tkachuk said. “We’ve got the Peloton (bike) downstairs that we’ve been going on. We’ve been just keeping active with basketball and stuff like that. It gets fired up.

“It’s not stuff we’re not used to, but I’m trying to make the most of it.”

Tavares, who’s at home in Toronto with his wife and young son, said it took some time to process this new reality.

“First couple days just try to get an understanding of kind of where things are at and what’s hit us,” Tavares said. “Since then just try to develop some type of routine, some type of structure.”

Select players from the Metropolitan Division and Pacific Division took part in video conference calls late last week, while the Central Division is scheduled to go Tuesday.

Chara provided the funniest moment of his session when he was asked — every player has been lobbed the same question — which teammate he’d least like to spend time with in quarantine?

The answer: Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.

“The way he farts … the smell is awful,” said Chara, who had the other players cracking up. “He likes his chicken wings.”

Turning serious, Chara, whose Bruins sat first in the overall standings when the league paused after falling in Game 7 of last spring’s Stanley Cup final, said it’s important to put everything in perspective.

“It’s one of those situations that you can’t really control,” said the 43-year-old defenceman. “Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families. Hockey’s secondary.

“Hopefully we will play again and we’ll see when that’s gonna be.”

On a separate call with a representative from the remaining Atlantic Division teams later Monday, Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber touched on the public service announcement he did on the importance of listening to public health and government officials during the crisis.

“We’re in this together,” Weber said. “As soon as someone’s messing around or not taking it seriously, that’s when things can turn bad for everyone.

“It’s tough times, but we’ve just got to stick together and come through this together.”

Players were also asked their preference for how the league should proceed if it’s allowed to resume this spring or summer.

“It would be tough to jump straight into playoffs, there’s no question about it,” Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman said. “But this is uncharted waters for everyone.

“It’s tough to see where this is going to end.”

Added Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel: “We really don’t know what tomorrow holds, never mind a month from now.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

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Ottawa Race Weekend cancelled due to COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Ottawa Race Weekend is the latest event to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

Organizers announced Monday they’re calling off the annual race, scheduled this year to take place May 23-24, over fears it would be impossible to maintain a safe distance between runners of the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, 2K or children’s event.

It’s the first time the event has been cancelled since it began in 1975.

But before you hang up your Vaporflys and hit the couch, Run Ottawa, the organization behind Race Weekend, is offering an alternative that will allow runners to compete while still following the physical distancing guidelines set out by Ottawa Public Health.

Competitors will be offered a spot in a virtual race, where they’ll determine their own route and run or walk their chosen distance through their own neighbourhood. The virtual race will start as early as May 23, but will be spread out over the spring and summer months, until August 31. They’ll receive a race kit, including medal, T-shirt, and even a photograph of them crossing a virtual finishing line.

A runner holds a rubber chicken as he begins the half-marathon in Ottawa on Sunday, May 27, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press )

“Part of having a long runway to complete the event is that maybe things will be a little bit different further into the summer, and will allow people to run in groups of two or three,” said Ian Fraser, executive director of Run Ottawa.

Run Ottawa said it will partner with the international race timing company Sportstats to create a virtual finish line, using “e-bibs.” Participants will be able to share their results with friends and family, and compare their times with other runners once the final results are published.

The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.– Ian Fraser, Run Ottawa

Registration, which was halted two weeks ago with around 18,000 runners signed up, will be reopened to allow for more people to join up for the virtual races. 

“There’s a great spirit in the running community that I think is going to see this as something they can celebrate, to push something positive forward in difficult times,” Fraser said.

Run Ottawa had been expecting some 33,000 runners this year.  

The virtual race won’t be a sanctioned event, and the results will not qualify runners for major marathons elsewhere, such as Boston. 

No refunds

There will be no refunds, according to Fraser.

“Pretty much all of the registration money that we take in is spent quite a ways before you actually get to the start line,” he said. “The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.”

Instead, people who have already registered will be given a 50 per cent discount on next year’s race, which is scheduled for May 28-29.

Run Ottawa considered postponing the event until fall, but worried about the crowded running calendar, and the possibility of ongoing mitigation efforts over COVID-19.

“We’re also not certain that the world’s going to be in a better place by then, and we were really mindful to not double disappoint our participants,” Fraser said.

The decision to proceed with a virtual event is meant to encourage runners to keep going with their fundraising efforts for local charities. In years past, runners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities including The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. 

Fraser said he understands people will be disappointed.

“I’ve been a runner since I was eight years old,” Fraser said. “I understand the hard work that goes into preparing for one of our events. But the journey to get to the finish line is every bit as important as the actual event itself…. I think using running as a way of coping with what we’re going through is really important. I think there are more people running now than I’ve ever seen before.”

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Belarus defiantly keeps playing while the rest of the sports world goes on hiatus – The Globe and Mail

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Fans react during the Belarus Championship soccer match between Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino and Belshina Bobruisk in the town of Zhodino, Belarus, on March 27, 2020.

Sergei Grits/The Associated Press

With most sports around the world shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic, longtime Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is proudly keeping soccer and hockey arenas open.

The Eastern European nation of nearly 9.5 million even started a whole new soccer season this month as coronavirus cases rose.

The move has the full support of Lukashenko, who took to the ice in an amateur hockey tournament on Saturday with a few hundred spectators in the stands.

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“It’s better to die standing that to live on your knees,” he said, defending Belarus’ refusal to introduce isolation measures and border restrictions like its neighbours, such as Russia.

Soccer fans in need of their weekly fix are turning to Belarus, home to one of the few professional leagues that is still playing. Reuters

With foreign sports networks having little to show and few other options for sports betting, Lukashenko says the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to put the country’s soccer league on display.

“I look at Russia and some people there are winning a lot on bets, because beforehand they didn’t really know our teams,” Lukashenko said. “Someone’s losing, someone’s winning. It’s all useful.”

Fans entering the stadiums in Belarus are given antiseptic hand gel and some have their temperatures monitored by medics. Few wear masks because they’re not considered necessary for open-air events, Belarus soccer federation spokesman Alexander Aleinik said.

Belarus doesn’t publish daily figures on the spread of the virus. On Friday, the last day for which statistics are available, the country recorded 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no deaths.

The Belarusian league isn’t usually an international attraction. Crowds this season barely average 1,200 and UEFA ranks it the continent’s 25th strongest, just below Norway, Israel and Kazakhstan.

But Russian TV has given its games prominent slots on state sports channels and betting firms around Western Europe are streaming them for customers.

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British fans on social media have picked teams to follow and thrown themselves into a new fandom, elevating obscure players to hero status and berating coaches for supposedly negative tactics.

There isn’t much competition, with betting sites offering little more than Nicaraguan soccer, Tajikistan basketball and Russian table tennis as rivals.

Sergei Melnikov is one of those hoping to make an impression on the mostly empty global sports stage. He is the director of the Isloch club, which beat Smolevichi 1-0 on Sunday to keep pace with the leaders on points.

“The whole world is watching our soccer right now,” Melnikov said. “That means we have to show the best that we’ve got.”

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

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