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NHL Rumours: Toronto Maple Leafs, Sam Bennett, and Jake Virtanen – Daily Faceoff

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We have updates on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sam Bennett, Jake Virtanen in today’s look at NHL rumours…

The Maple Leafs are seeking a forward

Elliotte Friedman mentioned on 31 Thoughts Podcast that he believed Maple Leafs are interested in adding a winger but didn’t specify who that player might be.

Wayne Simmonds, who has been a driving force on the team’s power-play, suffered a broken wrist and will miss at least six weeks of action. He joins Joe Thornton and @Nick Robertson as top-nine forwards that the Leafs currently have on the Injured Reserve.

Losing Simmonds for an extended period of time is a difficult pill for the Leafs to swallow. He has five goals through 12 games and provides the team with a much-needed physical presence, both at even-strength and in front of the net on the power-play.

Again, Friedman didn’t give any hints as to who the Leafs’ Mystery Forward might be, but we can assume it’s somebody who provides physical play and can score.

Could Sam Bennett be the guy?

Luke Fox of Sportsnet speculated that Sam Bennett could be the solution to the Leafs’ need up front. He also reported that Kyle Dubas has expressed “some interest” in Bennett.

From the point of view of Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, who has reportedly expressed some level of interest, Bennett fits the profile of an attractive target: Local guy. Top-five pick with something to prove. Significantly elevates performance in the post-season (from 0.35 to 0.63 points per game). Hard to play against. No cross-border quarantine. Not a pure rental (Bennett will turn RFA in the off-season). Versatile enough to be tried at left wing alongside John Tavares and William Nylander or centre a checking third line.

Bennett, the No. 4 overall pick from the 2014 draft, has requested a trade from the Calgary Flames. He has just one goal and one assist through 10 games with the Flames this season and is reportedly unhappy with his role on the team.

According to Eric Francis, Bennett has been bumped up to the Flames’ top line, alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Excelling in such a role could result in Bennett rescinding his trade request or it could ultimately boost his trade value around the league.

Jake Virtanen is on the block

Sticking with Canadian teams, the Vancouver Canucks have placed forward Jake Virtanen on the trade block, according to Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre.

With the team struggling to a 6-10-0 record so far, general manager Jim Benning is apparently looking to shake things up.

As Sportsnet analyst Kevin Bieksa, the former Canuck, said: “You don’t necessarily need to fight, but you do have to show a little compete and be a little pissed off when you lose. It’s just that competitive nature where you don’t go down easy. Just don’t give up.”

Bieksa said the biggest indictment of the Canucks is that “they’re fun to play against.”

No wonder Benning is trying to do something to awaken his team.

After what appeared to be a breakout season in 2019-20 with 18 goals and 36 points, Virtanen has just one goal through his first 12 games this season. Moving the former No. 6 overall pick for a worthwhile return will be a challenge for Benning given Virtanen’s poor play and the desperate situation the Canucks are currently facing.

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Full transcript: Wayne Gretzky eulogizes his late father Walter – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Wayne Gretzky paid tribute to his late father Walter on Saturday in a heartfelt eulogy during the Gretzky patriarch’s funeral in Brantford, Ont. Below is a complete transcript of the eulogy, as transcribed by CTVNews.ca, edited for length and clarity.

Wayne Gretzky: Obviously, with the pandemic that we’ve had, it’s been horrible for everyone throughout the world, Canada, North America. I really want to tell everyone that my dad and my sister and our family were so conscious of it and that COVID had nothing to do with the passing of my father. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, he sustained a bad hip injury and, as I said earlier, we thought weeks ago that the end was here. He has a tremendous amount of faith. Faith like I’ve never seen, but he had a love for life and he didn’t want to leave. And we were 21 days sitting with him, and just enjoying life and we got a chance, an opportunity to tell stories.

Our grandchildren have… seen my dad after his brain aneurysm, and we were telling them all you’re thankful that you didn’t know him before his brain aneurysm because he was a lot tougher. So it’s been a tough time. I want to thank everyone in the community who dropped off food, who dropped off sandwiches, they knew we were all there for 21 days. My sister was a champ, she was beside him, each and every minute of the day. The grandkids were wonderful. My dad and mom, I know are so proud. So I thought I would tell a couple stories.

I spent the last four nights talking with my wife Janet, thinking what I was going to say and, like I usually do, I try to just kind of wing it and speak from my heart. So years ago, as everyone knows, my dad was such a huge sports fan and hockey guy, and we were playing in a hockey tournament outside of Toronto, and my dad was so proud of the fact we’re going to play against better teams than little towns in this area. On a Friday night, we were going to the tournament and my mom said, ‘No. Walter, we’re going to have this baby this weekend.’ And he said, ‘That’s OK, you can wait till we get back.’

So, Brent was born on the Saturday. We went to this tournament in Whitby, Ontario. We played against good teams like Burlington, Oshawa, Hamilton, Toronto Marlies, Nationals. We won the tournament, we got in the car and we weren’t sure if the car to get us back from Oshawa to Brantford. So we finally got back, and the next day, mom came home with Brent, people were coming by — families, friends, sisters — congratulations on the baby, and every single person would say to my dad, ‘Walter, I can’t believe you missed the birth of your son.’ So our next door neighbour Mary Rosetto came over and she was the last person to come over. She said, ‘Walter, I can’t believe you missed the birth of Brent,’ and when she walked out the door he was so mad, he stood up and grabbed the trophy and he goes, ‘Yes, but we got the trophy.’

So, as time goes on, he was so nice to all the grandchildren. Every grandchild loved him, close to each and every one of them. They understood how important he was not only to our family but to the culture of Canada. He came here, his family as an immigrant. They came here because he wanted a better life. I don’t think I’ve ever met a prouder Canadian than my dad. And all my five children are American, born in United States, and I always tell them you should be as proud of the United States as your grandfather is of Canada, because that’s how much he loves the country.

I always tell my kids there’s nothing better in life than family. My dad would come every year to our summer house. My sons Ty, Trevor, Tristan they had a hockey school and dad would come out, he’d go to the rink, sign autographs like he always does. We were playing golf one day, and he’s picking up golf balls. And I’m like, ‘We have all these golf balls, what are these golf balls for?’

And finally the next day, Ty, Trevor, and Tristan, my friend Mike and Tom, they’re in the fairway, they’re in the rough, they’re grabbing all these balls. And I finally grab them, I said, ‘You guys got to stop grabbing golf balls.’ And they’re like, ‘What do you mean? Your dad wants them for the kids.’ I said, I know he wants them for the kids, but I got to sign them for the kids.’ So I take my dad to the airport at 5 a.m., sure enough we get to the airport and there’s two big bags, and my brother Glen he runs out of the car, he’s going to get a cup of coffee, and my dad goes, ‘You’ll sign these for the kids, right?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ So there I was signing for hours, but that’s how he was.

He was a remarkable man who loved life, love family. We’d be a way better world if there was so many more people like my dad. Very special. We’re all hurting, this is a tough time. I’m so proud of the fact that so many people have reached out and given him such great tributes because he deserves it. He has a heart of gold and just wonderful. Thank you.

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Ace, bunker hole-out, massive putts all part of Jordan Spieth's third round – Golf Channel

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Jordan Spieth got off to a hot start Saturday at Bay Hill.

After sinking a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 opening hole, Spieth dunked his tee shot from 223 yards at the par-3 second hole. The hole-in-one was Spieth’s third career ace on Tour, following aces at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open and 2015 BMW Championship at Conway Farms.

“I hit a 5-iron, it was 205 front, 220 hole, and the wind wasn’t blowing very hard, so I was trying to peel it left to right to hold the wind and land it a little right of the hole. I hit it a little thin but it was right on the line I wanted and knowing that the grass was wet, you get some skid, I thought in the air it was going to be pretty good. Certainly not as good as it was,” Spieth said.

Spieth’s birdie-ace start moved him to 8 under, a shot off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He then hit his next shot, a tee ball at the par-4 third, into the water, but he rallied to save par by holing a 32-footer.

The fireworks continued on the next par 3, the 201-yard seventh. No ace this time, but a birdie courtesy a 71-foot bunker hole-out.

Spieth then grabbed sole possession of the lead with this 36-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th.

Spieth would two-putt for birdie at the par-5 12th but that was the end of his scoring. He missed a 6-footer for par at the 14th and an 8-footer for par at the 17th to drop two shots coming in. He finished with a 4-under 68 and, at 9 under par, was two back of leader Lee Westwood.

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Tom Wilson Offered In-Person Hearing For 'Boarding' Brandon Carlo – Boston Hockey Now

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The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Saturday morning that Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been offered an in-person hearing for ‘boarding’ Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the waning minutes of the Bruins’ 5-1 win over the Caps Friday night.

By offering an in-person hearing, the league now reserves the right to suspend Tom Wilson give games or more. Wilson’s last suspension came after the preseason finale for the Capitals and St. Louis Blues in September 2018 for a high hit on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The league came down heavy on Tom Wilson then, nailing him with a 20-game suspension, but after he served 16 games, it was reduced to 14 games and he was able to recoup wages lost for two games. At the time that was Wilson’s fourth suspension in 105 games so he was considered a repeat offender but he has since shed that label as he’s gone 166 games without a significant incident.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, and specifically winger Mark Jankowski, may disagree with that after a Wilson late hit on him on Feb. 25.

The hit on Carlo was not called on the ice and as TSN Insider Frank Seravalli pointed out, the fact that it is being termed ‘boarding’ by the Department of Player Safety means this will not be a hearing to determine if Rule 48 (illegal hit to the head) was broken. Tom Wilson will likely become the first player suspended for ‘boarding’.

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Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy described the hit as predatory.

“Well listen, it’s a fast game; they play hard, we play hard,” Cassidy said after the game Friday night. “But I mean you can see it, he clearly hit him in the head. Brandon’s in an ambulance; goes to a hospital obviously from that hit. It clearly looked like to me he got him right in the head. It’s a defenseless player and predatory hit from a player that’s done that before.”

Cassidy, like many who watched the hit, could not understand why there was no penalty on the ice.

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“So, I don’t understand why there wasn’t a penalty called on the ice,” a flabbergasted Cassidy said. “They huddled up but I did not get an explanation why but it’s out of our hands after that, we just gotta play hockey after that and try and stick together as a team and play the right way. Sometimes when that stuff happens and there’s no call, the players kind of settle it on the ice in their own way. We felt that we pushed back and did what we could do and won the hockey game and tried to let that particular player know that that was unnecessary. That’s how we handled it and like I said, I assume it will get looked at by the National Hockey League and they’ll make their decision.”

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