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Oilers’ Caleb Jones shows courage by addressing COVID-19 diagnosis –



EDMONTON — Caleb Jones sat down in front of the laptop, looked right into the camera lens, and Zoom!

“Ya, hey guys,” he began. “So, about a couple of weeks ago I, uh, came into Edmonton actually early, and I was going to do my seven-day isolation. And, actually, I had a positive test for COVID.

“I had no symptoms — I was asymptomatic. I did my two-week isolation and tried to stay away from everyone. My first day back at the rink was actually Monday, the start of training camp. So, I was just the first few days getting back into it, and I was glad to be back full with the team (on Friday).

“So, that’s kinda the story there.”

Put it all out there, and move on. Let a story linger behind cover, and it never goes away.

Jones had likely heard the speculation that he’s contracted COVID-19. He knew he had been listed as “unfit to practice” when camp opened on Monday, like so many others across the NHL.

So instead of letting the rumours hang around, Jones laid it all down after Friday’s practice, opening his Zoom call with the media with an impromptu, ad-libbed statement.

For a 23-year-old with not a lot of NHL time under his belt, it took courage. I say, bravo.

“You have to respect Caleb. He came out, and he was very upfront,” said Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “When I first talked to him he said, ‘Hey, I’ve tested positive but I have no symptoms whatsoever. And I think there have been a lot of asymptomatic cases like that.”

Since Phase 3 began, the only other NHL player to publicly admit to having had the virus is Auston Matthews, after having been outed in a media article by the Toronto Sun. The article was factually correct and represented excellent journalism as we’ve always known it. But in the year 2020, the debate rages on over whether it is the media’s right to announce to the world that a player has COVID-19, the same way we would have reported on Connor McDavid’s knee injury last summer, had we been able to properly source the story.

We were not able to nail down the facts of McDavid’s torn posterior cruciate ligament last summer, and as such, rumours of his injury never turned into a solid, bylined report. But in case you are wondering, Sportsnet’s policy on reporting the Coronavirus is different.

Sportsnet will not announce a positive test for a player unless he reveals the news himself, or releases the news through his team or agent.

While Matthews admitted he had contracted the virus upon his first media session when Toronto Maple Leafs camp opened, Jones knew his status as “unfit to practice” had created an environment where people were wondering. He chose to tell the world. Others may not.

“It’s obviously a very weird (virus), and a weird time in the world right now,” said Jones, 23, who spent the pause at the Jones’ family home in Dallas. “Some people get really affected by it and it can deadly, and other people will never know they had it. I was lucky enough to be in that group. You know, if I never got tested I would have never realized I had it.”

Not long after NHL training camps opened on Monday, we learned that “unfit to practice” is as nebulous a term as the NHL could come up with for a player being away from practice. They do that so an injury list does not inadvertently “out” everyone who gets the virus by process of elimination, when all the other guys who miss practice have defined upper and lower body injuries.

I would warn you to get used to an NHL playoffs where injuries will be entirely vague, but isn’t it like that in every NHL post-season?

This injury, however, will play more on a player’s mind than, say, a pulled hamstring.

The quarantine. The “what ifs?” about contact tracing. The fears of long-term lung damage that simply don’t exist with traditional hockey injuries.

Jones has thought about all those things. But the fact he never really felt ill abated the worries.

“I couldn’t tell you where I got it. I know Texas was having a lot of cases,” said Seth Jones’ little brother, and Popeye Jones’ son. “My Mom, she was a little bit nervous for a second. But when I told her I felt completely fine she kind of just settled down.

“It’s one of those things. The world has to find a way to get through it right now.”

The world. The hockey world. The hockey media world.

We’re all trying to figure this thing out.

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By the Numbers: Comparing Metcalf to Megatron – TSN



After D.K. Metcalf’s monster performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, the second-year wide receiver said he had a chip on his shoulder following comments made to him by Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Metcalf revealed after the game Schwartz said to him, “I was in Detroit with Megatron, but you’re not there yet.”

While there may have been a misunderstanding about the comment – Schwartz later clarified he meant to compliment Metcalf as the closest thing to Calvin Johnson, the three-time All-Pro receiver that retired after the 2015 season, Schwartz has seen – Metcalf used it as motivation to finish the game with 10 receptions for a career-high 177 yards.

The 22-year-old Metcalf has been outstanding for the Seahawks since the club selected him in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Has he been as good as Johnson through the first year and a half of their careers? Is he on his way to becoming the next Megatron? takes a closer look at Metcalf’s early-career numbers and compares them to Johnson’s statistics at the same time of his career.

  • Metcalf accounted for 77 per cent of the Seahawks’ 230 passing yards. It was the third-highest percentage by a single receiver in the past five seasons, but strangely not even the highest percentage of Week 12. Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant caught the lone completion by fill-in QB Kendall Hinton against the New Orleans Saints.
  • Metcalf’s 177 receiving yards were the fifth-most in Seahawks’ history, behind three games by Hall of Famer Steve Largent and one by fullback John Williams.
  • Metcalf leads the league with 1,039 receiving yards and his nine receiving touchdowns are fifth in the NFL.
  • With his 177 receiving yards on Monday, Metcalf became the fastest Seahawks receiver to eclipse the mark in just the 11th game of the season.
  • His 1,039 receiving yards are also the fifth-most by a player in his first or second year in the league through 11 games in the past 30 years.
  • His 1,939 career receiving yards are just 88 behind Joey Galloway’s 2,027 for most through two seasons in Seahawks franchise history.

Metcalf vs. Megatron (through the first 27 games of their career)

  • Metcalf has 116 receptions on 190 targets for 1,939 yards and 16 touchdowns.
  • Johnson had 101 receptions on 200 targets for 1,727 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2007-2008.
  • Johnson would finish his sophomore campaign with 78 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  • Metcalf is on pace to finish his sophomore season with 84 receptions for 1,511 yards and 13 touchdowns, projected over a full 16-game schedule.
  • Johnson wouldn’t earn a trip to the Pro Bowl until his fourth season with the Lions and his best work came in seasons 5-7 when he named an All-Pro in three straight seasons.
  • He would twice surpass Metcalf’s projected receiving yards total for this season (1,511) with 1,681 yards in 2011 and 1,964 yards in 2012.

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Raptors finalize their 2020-21 training camp roster –



The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that they have finalized their 2020-21 training camp roster.

There is a maximum of 20 players allowed on the roster at this time.

In addition, the Raptors announced that restricted free agent Oshae Brissett and free agent centre Henry Ellenson have each signed multi-year contracts. Toronto also finalized contracts with both of their 2020 draft picks, with Malachi Flynn signing a rookie scale deal and Jalen Harris signing a two-way contract.

The Raptors officially signed free agent forwards Alize Johnson and Yuta Watanabe to one-year exhibit-10 deals.

Terrence Davis remains on the roster after his arrest in New York City for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend back in October. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 11.

As Sportsnet’s Michael Grange explained, the situation with Davis continues to be uncertain and his future in Toronto is in doubt despite being included on the training camp roster.

“At this point, its a matter between the NBA and the union,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said in a media availability Tuesday.

Individual workouts and training camp will take place Saint Leo University near the Raptors’ temporary home in Tampa Bay, Fla., from Dec. 1 to Dec. 11.

2020-21 Toronto Raptors Roster

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Why Greg Vanney decided to step away from Toronto FC and what's next –



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Sitting for his first (virtual) press conference no longer part of the Toronto FC organization he had been with since 2013, Greg Vanney warned he might not get through his long list of thank-yous without getting emotional. 

He almost made it.

Around the eighth minute of what would be 10 minutes of heartfelt thank-yous, Vanney got to thanking his players and people at the club. There was a palpable silence— you could feel the lump in his throat as he tried to gather himself to continue. He took a few seconds.

Then Vanney leaned back, one last push to collect himself, which revealed he was wearing a Toronto FC warm-up jacket, the club crest over his heart, including the star above the logo to signify their MLS Cup triumph in 2017.

“I’ll never forget this journey,” Vanney said. “There’s so many people who have meant so much to me, are so important to me. Much will be written about the successes and failures, but what means most to me are people at the club I’ve meant and the experiences we’ve had together. That’s what you never forget.”

The successes outweigh the failures.

Toronto have been one of the best teams in MLS under Vanney after enduring a very difficult start to life in MLS, failing to make the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons. Vanney leaves a club that won a historic treble in 2017 with MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship. TFC have been to a further two MLS Cup finals as well as a Concacaf Champions League final, falling in penalties to Chivas, nearly becoming the first MLS club to win that trophy. Vanney lists failing to win the CCL as his biggest regret.

“One of the most important decisions I made of my career is that I believed in Greg Vanney and Tim Bezbatchenko at the time as general manager that they had what it took to bring this team to new heights,” club president Bill Manning said. “He more than paid back that decision with a number of trophies.”

Greg Vanney departs Toronto FC as the most successful coach in club history. | USA Today Sports

The news came as a big jolt to the MLS community when Toronto announced Vanney would be stepping away. His reign in Toronto was the third-longest active tenure in the league and reports had suggested as recently as October that a contract extension was essentially done, just needing signatures.

Those signatures never came. Why? 

“This was a difficult decision, one that I processed for an entire difficult year and came to a conclusion that it’s the right time for myself and my family to move forward and take a different step,” Vanney said. “This profession is about a journey, and in this journey, we have different experiences. I’ve taken every ounce of what I can from this experience and I think it’s time for myself and my family to move on.”

The decision had nothing to do with finances or other contract details. 

“We tried to show Greg how much we valued him and wanted him to continue as head coach. … As the season wound down to a close, we did ask Greg for a decision,” Manning said. “We felt we couldn’t go further into the offseason without knowing what position we’d be in with our head coach.”

“Along the way, we had a lot of incredible memories and did a lot of incredible things,” Vanney added. “The club is destined to keep doing that. It’s time for somebody else to take that.”

For the first time in close to a decade, Vanney and Toronto will go their separate ways for the future. The club are beginning their search for a head coach while Vanney ponders what’s next. 

“I’m a builder, I like to build things,” Vanney said. “I like projects. This club is in a really good place, there’s not a lot of building to do. This club is positioned to be great.”

Vanney doesn’t have a timeline for when he’ll put his hardhat on and get back to building. A lot of speculation has linked him with the vacant LA Galaxy job, considering he spent seven seasons with the club during his playing career and also went to nearby UCLA for college. 

“I do need to catch my breath and regroup a bit, but anyone who knows me, knows I don’t sit still very well,” Vanney said. “It won’t be a long thing.”

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