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NHLers discuss ‘uneasy’ Olympic decision as COVID-19 cases rise – Sportsnet.ca

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the NHL and more and more games are postponed, questions over whether players should participate in February’s Beijing Olympics are getting louder and louder.

On Friday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would honour a promise made in the last round of CBA negotiations and let the players play, but news over the weekend that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 in China could be forced to quarantine for up to 3-5 weeks has some players wondering if it’s worth the risk.

“I think we all hope to go but clearly I think things are a little bit more uneasy than they were,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said Monday. “There’s going to be some hurdles and some challenges currently (where) things stand and the way they present themselves. But yeah, (I’m) probably a little more uneasy, at least speaking for myself, than I was a number of weeks ago or a few months ago.”

His teammate Auston Matthews, who has already been named to the United States team, echoed those concerns.

“I’d love to go and I’d love to compete, but there’s definitely a lot of things that I think a lot of us would like to see worked out and just some questions we’d like to see answered,” Matthews said, according to David Alter of The Hockey News.

The Olympic men’s hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-20 leaving only 10 weeks from the gold medal game until the end of the NHL season in April. That means players could possibly miss up to more than half of their team’s remaining games during the push to the playoffs if they test positive for COVID-19 and have to quarantine in China.

Earlier Monday, the Calgary Flames became the third team to postpone games this season due to an outbreak on the roster while Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho and Devils captain Nico Hischier — two stars in line to represent their home countries at the Games — have entered protocols in recent days.

Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was Canada’s third-string goaltender at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, said while he enjoyed his past Olympic experience he would need more information before committing to play this time around.

“It would obviously be a huge honour to be selected and have a chance to go (to the Olympics). I’ve been once and it was such a great experience,” he said, according to Charlie Roumeliotis of NBCS Chicago. “Now, I think it’ll be good to have some clarity on the COVID protocols over there. If you go to the tournament and stay between four walls for 4-5 weeks by yourself over there, not come back to your team, not play for a month or so and not see your family, too, I think it’s something you have to take into consideration.”

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported Saturday that players will have a chance to ask questions about the Olympics and the rules in place on conference calls this week. A handbook detailing the exact COVID protocols at the Games is expected to be released this week, as well.

Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo — already named to the Canadian team — is one of the players waiting for more answers before committing to play.

“There’s a lot of things, especially guys with families, that we’re taking a look at,” he said. “I’m not going to make a decision until we get all the answers, because I think those are hard to come by right now.”

The NHL has until Jan. 10 to pull out of the tournament without a financial penalty but the decision not to play can be made after that date, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed last week.

“You talk about a five-week quarantine, if you’ve already been over there for a few weeks, that’s a really long time,” Tavares said, according to Alter. “That’s a long time. That’s a really long time.”

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Olympics-Canadian snowboarder Parrot eyes Beijing gold after cancer battle

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Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot said on Friday that the mental toughness he gained during his battle with cancer carried over to the slopes where the slopestyle Pyeongchang silver medallist now hopes to go one better and win gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Parrot’s career was put on hold when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2018. Two months after being declared cancer free in mid-2019, Parrot won an X Games big air gold medal in his return to competition.

Showing no signs of rust, Parrot also won a World Cup gold later that year and started off 2020 with another big air gold at the X Games in Aspen.

“Every year I become better and better physically and mentally, and especially going through such a big challenge as cancer you get really more mentally tough,” Parrot told a virtual news conference.

“If you look back at my season right after my cancer … It was pretty much my best year ever.”

Parrot finished fifth in his Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games before a runner-up showing at Pyeongchang.

The 27-year-old Canadian pre-qualified for the slopestyle/big air team headed to Beijing based on his results from the 2020-21 winter season and is not shy about his intentions.

“Of course my goal is to go for the gold, that’s for sure,” said Parrot, whose cancer battle is chronicled in a documentary called “MAX – Life as a Gold Medal” that was released this week on his website.

“But I am really happy as well that if I don’t get the gold I won’t have any regrets because I did everything in my power over the past couple months and that was something important for me as well, just to not have any regrets.”

While there were some days during Parrot’s cancer battle where he wondered if he would ever return to the sport he loves, he said he never let those thoughts take over.

“When I had cancer it was ‘OK, I’m going to do treatments, I am going to do them as best as possible’ and even if I didn’t know if the treatments would work or not, in my mind cancer had no chance against me,” said Parrot.

“I had a lot of determination and motivation and the whole time I just wanted to get back to my passion as soon as possible. But never getting back to it was not really an option in my head.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Canada's Denis Shapovalov is on to the fourth round of the Australian Open – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Friday, January 21, 2022 7:28AM EST


Last Updated Friday, January 21, 2022 6:40PM EST

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has a spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.

He beat Reilly Opelka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to set up a showdown with third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.

The Canadian has been pushed hard at Melbourne Park, averaging three hours 37 minutes of court time per win so far.

“I’ve gotten very familiar with the ice baths the last week,” Shapovalov said with a smile in an on-court interview. “We’ve become very good friends.”

At six foot 11 and 225 pounds, Opelka is an imposing force on the court. He had a 17-10 edge in aces on the 14th-seeded Shapovalov but made 46 unforced errors.

“Early on I actually found a rhythm on his serve,” Shapovalov said. “I was able to chip quite a lot back, so I was happy with that. I think I did a really good of just taking the chances today.

“Obviously it’s really tough to get the rhythm against a guy like that so I’m super happy.”

It was the first career meeting between Shapovalov and the 23rd-seeded American. Zverev, meanwhile, has a 4-2 edge in head-to-head matchups against the Canadian.

“Hopefully I can win,” Zverev said. “It’s going to be a great match.”

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., previously reached the third round at Melbourne Park in 2019 and 2021. The 22-year-old’s best Grand Slam performance was a semifinal showing last year at Wimbledon.

Zverev defeated Maldova’s Radu Albot 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in third-round play.

“Radu is in great form right now … 1/8I’m 3/8 happy to be through in three sets,” Zverev said.

Ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal was scheduled to play Britain’s Daniel Evans in third-round play Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.

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Defense trade targets for the Maple Leafs, Sheldon Keefe's "soft" comment, and how many games should Petr Mrazek start the rest of the way? – MLHS Podcast Episode 38 – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited independent team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast).
Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide-ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, and a weekly feature piece entitled “Leafs Notebook.”
MLHS has been cited by: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBC News, USA Today, Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports, NBC Sports, TSN, Sportsnet, Grantland, CTV News, CBSSports, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Global News, Huffington Post, and many more.

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