As NBA players journeyed from their homes to Orlando Fla., preparing for the league’s experimental resumption amid a global pandemic, far more than basketball weighed on their minds and pressed against their chests.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, men and women in cities across America were marching against racial injustice and for an end to police brutality against Black people. NBA players joined them, including Kyle Lowry, who marched in Philadelphia alongside members of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The trauma that started those protests and marches has an echo — one that was heard and felt by members of the Toronto Raptors once again since the shooting of Jacob Blake.
“You wouldn’t believe how many of our own players have been in this situation with law enforcement officers, with guns held to their head,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said during a Tuesday appearance on Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid. “That’s why you see how much it hurts for them, that’s why it hurts them, they’re having to re-live it being them or it could be them or their kids. That’s why you can feel the depth and the heaviness of it for these guys, and the realness of it.”
Video of Blake’s shooting surfaced online Sunday night and spread quickly on social media. It showed a Black man, identified as Blake, rounding the front of a silver SUV with two Kenosha, Wis., police officers following close behind with their weapons drawn. When Blake then opened the vehicle’s door to attempt to get inside, one of the officers grabbed Blake by his shirt from behind and several shots are then heard firing. According to a lawyer for the family, three of Blake’s children were in the back of the SUV he was attempting to enter when the shooting occurred.
On Tuesday, attorneys for Blake’s family said he had been paralyzed by the shooting after at least one bullet struck his spinal chord, and has suffered other serious injuries — including having much of his colon and small intestines removed. Blake’s relatives have issued a call for protests in Kenosha to remain peaceful, where the demonstrations since his shooting prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency.
All NBA teams in Orlando have sought to keep racial injustice at the forefront as games resume. The Raptors themselves have been seen as leaders on that front, arriving to the bubble in team buses with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ painted on their sides, devoting media availabilities to the discussion of systemic racism and police brutality, kneeling for the national anthem. But as could be heard in Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell’s comments on Tuesday, the yearning to do more is stronger than ever — and could lead to the boycotting of games.
“Well, we might,” Nurse said, when asked about boycotting specifically. “It’s being talked about. As far as what may happen with the games, I think that everyone’s done everything they can do with wearing t-shirts and hats, painting the floors and kneeling. They want to make more of an impact. They want things to stop, so they may have to move things up another notch. They want more action and they’re seeking answers.
“…I think that from Masai [Ujiri], to Bobby [Webster], to me, to Larry Tanembaum if our team wants to do something that they feel is necessary to make change and an impact, we will support them.”
Nurse, for his part, does not see lending his support if players choose to boycott games as being where his role begins or ends. A coach’s job is to strategize, after all. To plan and help a team create actionable ways of implementing that plan — on the court and off of it, too.
“I think that you’ve got to prioritize and what I do is I forget about the basketball,” Nurse said, when asked to describe his role in his team’s advocacy. “That’s not the priority. So the priority is first of all, to listen and get them together and share this space with them to let them talk.
“I’m listening to your ideas and now we need a plan of action. This is how it’s gonna work. Your vision is that you want police reform, well what’s going to be our top five points in our plan of action? That’s just me being one of the leaders of the group.”
Whether it’s seeking justice or advocating for voter turnout and awareness — for which Nurse has been a staunch supporter, particularly in educating Americans abroad about their rights to vote in the upcoming election — the world is still watching the NBA. Nurse knows there’s power in that.
“Playing here certainly lets there be more of a platform and a voice for these guys than not playing would have been,” Nurse said. “I stated that from the beginning. I think there was some question about coming — obviously, Kyrie [Irving] and those guys had meetings and talked about not playing at all — and I think I’m on the side that coming here was a better way to use the platform than not playing.”
Senators part ways with cherished veterans Anderson, Borowiecki – Sportsnet.ca
As the Ottawa Senators prepare to welcome young additions from the 2020 NHL Draft, they say goodbye to two cherished veterans.
In a Zoom call with reporters, general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed what has long been suspected: the Senators are moving on from venerable goaltender Craig Anderson and the team’s hard-nosed defenceman, Mark Borowiecki. Both are expected to pursue free agency on Oct. 9.
Anderson, 39, was not offered a contract. Borowiecki, 31, a player Dorion once said he wanted to make a “Senator for life,” is leaving on his own terms. Dorion saluted them both on the way out the door.
“Craig should be given so much credit — it was one of the best trades (the late GM) Bryan Murray made,” Dorion said. “He’s the winningest goalie in this organization’s history, and I will go on the record as saying he’s the best performing goalie in this organization. The best goalie we’ve ever had.
“But it’s time for us to take another direction. And we thank him for everything he did.”
Anderson, who came to Ottawa in 2011 in a trade with Colorado for Brian Elliott, quite likely saved Murray from getting fired — so well did he play down the stretch that year, for a team headed to a rebuild. His Senators record: 202-168-46 with a .914 save percentage and 2.84 goals-against. Anderson is the franchise leader in games played by a goaltender (435), starts (422), wins (202) and save percentage. He’s second all-time in shutouts with 28, two behind Patrick Lalime.
Dorion called Anderson the “MVP” of the 2017 run to the Eastern Conference Final.
“It’s unfortunate we were unable to win a Cup with Craig but he did many wonderful things for this organization,” Dorion said.
Look for Anderson to be honoured in some way by the Senators next season. He’s a good fit for the Ring of Honour.
Borowiecki was that rarest of 30-year-olds in Ottawa, a Senators player who was drafted and stayed here for more than a decade. The Kanata native has been Boro-Cop on the ice and on the streets — breaking up a robbery in Vancouver this season — and a community role model off it, with deep ties to several charitable organizations.
Along with Anderson, Borowiecki has been a veteran leader for the Senators as the team got younger in recent years and the likes of Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Matt Duchene left via trade.
“Mark has been a great member of this team for many years,” Dorion said. “If he’s going to go to the free agent market, we thank him for everything he has done. I don’t think you will ever meet a better person… someone who has great values. He’s a great human being.
“But at the same time we have to respect a player’s wishes.”
They leave a big void. Bobby Ryan, 33, is the only long-standing veteran remaining. He joined the Senators in 2013 via trade from Anaheim.
Look to Dorion to shore up his veteran depth either through trades at the draft or free agency.
“We are not going with a team of all young players,” Dorion assured fans. “We will add key veterans to solidify the progress of our young players.”
Draft: Best player or match needs?
With picks at Nos. 3, 5 and 28 plus four more in the second round and 13 selections overall, Dorion and chief amateur scout Trent Mann will be overlooking one of the Senators’ most important drafts in just two weeks time.
While it’s expected Ottawa will take either Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle with their first pick, Dorion wasn’t going to tip his hand on the pick at five. There is a group of excellent forwards available, but also defenceman Jake Sanderson, who could be playing alongside Senators prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker at the University of North Dakota this season.
“We are going to draft the best player who is going to help us win as we move forward with this plan,” Dorion said, quite generically, although his eyes twinkled a little when he considered the question about Senators prospects playing together in college.
“We have a lot of needs, we’ve finished in 30th, 31st and 30th place over the last three years… we have a lot of prospects coming at multiple positions but we are going to draft who we feel are going to help us win in the near future and in the long term.”
Dorion said that general managers are doing a lot of talking before the draft, and admits he is open to swapping some of his picks to move up or acquire a player, but won’t “jump the steps required to make us a better team in the long term.”
From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.
Canadian scouts only
Just another 2020 oddity: the Senators won’t have their full complement of scouts together for the draft as COVID-19 travel restrictions make it too difficult for European and U.S. scouts to be in Ottawa. They will follow and contribute online.
Tkachuk deal has to wait: red flag or TBA?
In response to a question in French, Dorion said that it will take some time to sort out a long term deal with young forward star Brady Tkachuk because “the landscape of the NHL has changed and is going to be changing,” due to the pandemic and its impact on the NHL.
The Senators were able to sign Thomas Chabot last fall before the last year of his entry-level deal. Tkachuk’s ELC ends in 2021 when he becomes a restricted free agent. Ottawa’s rebuild will lose credibility if the club can’t extend Tkachuk long term.
Nilsson ‘should’ be ready
Dorion tried to sound optimistic about the health of goaltender Anders Nilsson, who suffered a concussion in mid-December, but admitted he won’t really know until teams are able to report to training camp.
“We think Anders will be ready when the season starts,” Dorion said. “He’s not been on the ice but he feels better. When he gets to Ottawa we should get a better indication of his recovery, his path.”
Pierre Groulx, the Senators’ goalie coach, has been in touch with Nilsson weekly.
The club’s level of confidence concerning Nilsson, pencilled in as the team’s starter, might dictate whether they seek help through trade or free agency to secure a veteran for the upcoming season, whenever it might begin. Marcus Hogberg is the other returning veteran, and he doesn’t have a lot of NHL experience.
In the pipeline, Dorion likes the “depth and quality at the goaltending position.”
In particular, Dorion said he was pleased with the progress of Joey Daccord in the ECHL and AHL last season, as well as Filip Gustavsson in Belleville, who has had “ups and downs” but whom Dorion sees as having a lot of upside.
Kevin Mandolese of the Cape Breton Eagles, signed to an entry-level deal in April, was the QMJHL goalie of the year.
“I would say there wasn’t a better goalie in junior in the second half of the season,” Dorion said.
At the last draft, Ottawa selected goalie Mads Sogaard in the second round and while he experienced some growing pains last season, Dorion and Groulx like his size (six-foot-seven) and lateral ability.
Sogaard will likely remain in Medicine Hat (WHL) this season, according to Dorion.
“We feel we have four quality prospects,” Dorion said.
Three of them will be at the pro level this season.
Senators part ways with longtime goalie Craig Anderson – CBC.ca
Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion says longtime Senators goaltender Craig Anderson will not be offered a new contract by the NHL club.
In an availability with reporters Wednesday, Dorion thanked Anderson for his contributions to the Senators over the years but said the club would be moving in a different direction.
Anderson is an unrestricted free agent after completing a two-year, $9.5-million US contract this season.
The 39-year-old Anderson joined the Senators in a goaltender swap with Colorado on Feb. 18, 2011, that sent Brian Elliott to the Avalanche.
WATCH | Anderson makes crazy, no-look save against Sabres
Anderson has a 202-168-46 record over 435 appearances (422 starts) with a 2.84 goals-against average and ,914 save percentage over nine-plus seasons with the Senators. He helped the Senators reach the Eastern Conference final in 2016-17, though the team has struggled the last free seasons.
Dorion also said he expects defenceman Mark Borowiecki to test the free-agent market.
WATCH | Frustration building in the bubble?
Scanning the Wire: Finding help after injuries took their toll in Week 2 – TSN
Congratulations if you managed to survive Week 2 of the fantasy football season without losing one of your star players to injury.
The second Sunday of the NFL season was especially brutal, as injuries tore through the league at an unprecedented rate, shelving several of the game’s biggest stars.
Six of the top-30 players in TSN fantasy football leagues by ADP were forced to the sideline, five of which are expected to miss significant time.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, the consensus No. 1 fantasy pick, is out four-to-six weeks with a high-ankle sprain (the same injury that reigning receiving king Michael Thomas suffered).
Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was a consensus top-three overall option, tore his ACL and is done for the season.
With so many stars now on the sidelines, nailing the waiver wire this week is extremely important to your fantasy success.
So without further delay, here are the top pick-up options that could still be available in your league heading into Week 3.
RB: Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers
The absence of CMC creates an abundance of opportunity in the Panthers backfield. McCaffrey was averaging 24 touches a game and that work has to go somewhere.
Enter Mike Davis, one of only two healthy RBs on the team. Davis was a big part of the Carolina offence once McCaffrey left the game, and faces little competition for work.
As of right now, the only one standing between him and 15-20 touches a week is special teamer Trenton Cannon, making Davis a must-add in all formats. He’s currently available in over 99 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
RB: Darrell Henderson Jr, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams backfield suddenly doesn’t seem so crowded. Week 1 star Malcolm Brown and talented rookie Cam Akers left Sunday’s game versus Philadelphia and both are question marks moving forward.
That’s great news for Darrell Henderson Jr., who ripped off 81 yards and a score on the ground, and added another 40 yards through the air. The Rams lead the NFL in rushing rate (56.83%) and Henderson is available in 55.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
RB: Devonta Freeman, Free Agent
This is a bit of a leap of faith. Freeman, not Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, is the guy you want to replace Barkley. He already worked out for the Eagles and reportedly worked out for the Giants on Tuesday.
Multiple reports out of the Big Apple suggest the Giants are interested in bringing in a free- agent running back, and Freeman is the best name available.
Even if he doesn’t land in New York, with so many injuries to his position he’s bound to sign somewhere. When he does, he’ll have real fantasy value, which makes him a great add this week. He’s currently available in 92. 1 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
WR: Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
A.J. Brown is dealing with a knee injury, which makes Corey Davis an enticing add for wide receiver-needy teams. The former first round draft pick has yet to live up to his potential so far in his career, but is off to a nice start so far in 2020.
Davis has produced double-digit points in back-to-back outings and is tied for the team lead in targets (13). He’s currently available in 64.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
WR: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
Mecole Hardman, everyone’s favourite 2020 sleeper, is in line for an increased workload due to the head injury to Sammy Watkins. The 4.33 speedster should now see work in three receiver sets.
Although he won’t be Patrick Mahomes’ first look, he has the talent to single-handedly swing your fantasy matchup in the blink of an eye.
Hardman converted six of his 26 catches into touchdowns last season. He is currently available in 57.8 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
TE: Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans
Fresh off a two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, Jonnu Smith is the biggest priority-add at the tight end position. He’s tied for the team lead in targets (13) and leads all Titans with three touchdowns.
A freak athlete, Smith ranks 10th in the NFL in yards after catch (85) this season. He is still available in 59.7 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.
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