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Oilers’ McDavid forever linked to Crosby as 500th career point approaches – Sportsnet.ca

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“It’s a waste of time, but I do one a year.” — an NHL scout, asked if he files a detailed report on Connor McDavid when scouting Edmonton.

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid would have done this long ago — last season, likely — had he not missed nearly half his rookie season with a broken collarbone.

Truly, there is only one surprising detail about McDavid scoring his 500th NHL point, very likely on Wednesday night versus the Winnipeg Jets. That is, he would accomplish the feat in 369 games — exactly the same number of games it took Sidney Crosby to score 500 points.

“That’s pretty cool. A guy I grew up watching,” said McDavid, who sits at 499 career points through his first 368 games played. “He’s done a couple of other things that I am trying to do, with all of his Cups and stuff. That stuff is more important, but if (500) happens, great.”

And those scouts? They watch him play, just as they watch Crosby. But they know their GM has no shot at acquiring them.

“I just tick off the box, ‘Franchise player,’” said another scout. “Same with Draisaitl. My report is, ‘Get ’em if you can.’”

Crosby and McDavid have been linked since the day McDavid was granted exceptional player status by the Ontario Hockey League at age 15. Now, being part of a Stanley Cup contender/winner, the availability of a Canadian Olympic team to star on, and 776 NHL points are what separates the two.

“He’s done everything I want to do — he’s a great guy to follow,” McDavid said of Crosby. “He’s done everything he has set his mind to: He wanted to get better on faceoffs, and he’s done that; he wanted to score more goals, and he did that.

“There’s lots of lessons from his game, because his game has changed over the years. He does whatever he can to be successful. He’s solid defensively.”

So as we mark an early milestone, let’s look at who McDavid has become in our game, beyond an author of at least one jaw-dropping, highlight play per month.

He is, for starters, the best player in the game with no caveats. Without adding “the player you’d want in Game 7 of the Cup Final,” or “the guy you want on the ice in the final minutes with a 3-2 lead,” through a 60-minute game and an 82-game season McDavid is simply the best hockey player in the sport today.

The best way to frame it is, if you could pick any player to start your team around, who would it be?

Is there even a second answer out there?

Not if you ask Wayne Gretzky.

“I’m one of the fans who says, every time he touches the puck, ‘OK, something special’s going to happen. Pay attention,’” Gretzky said.

And McDavid will get to those other categories eventually, ticking off those few remaining boxes in which Crosby still leads or contends. For now though, he is the fastest player on earth — with or without the puck — the most dynamic offensive player in the game, and undoubtedly the one player who is worth the price of admission more often than any other.

Since joining the league for the 2015-16 season, McDavid’s 499 points in 368 games is tops. Patrick Kane is next, with 487 points in 414 games, followed by Nikita Kucherov and Draisaitl.

All those players produce highlights. McDavid, meanwhile, makes a play on Toronto’s Morgan Rielly that will live on as long as the two play — and beyond.

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Many players come back from injury and make a splashy return. At age 19, McDavid returned from three months on injured reserve to do this to the Columbus Blue Jacketsin only his 14th NHL game. He had three points that night.

One night against Tampa, Chris Kunitz kicked McDavid’s fourth goal of the night into his own net. Kunitz, who spent considerable time on Crosby’s flank in Pittsburgh, just shook his tuque.

“I guess you score one of his goals, it’ll be a good story to tell one day,” he reasoned.

We asked him that night about similarities, and to his discredit Kunitz did not predict the symmetry of their 500th point.

“It’s they’re competitiveness. They want to go through guys,” Kunitz said. “They want to be the best every single time they step on the ice. They’re driven by more than just wins and points. They’re driven by how they can change the game, or maybe it’s the individual status of trying to be the best that’s ever played the game.

“They don’t have a fear button. They don’t go wide on guys — they take it right through the middle. They enjoy the contact, almost,” he marveled. “You just want to get them the puck as quick as you can. You just give it to him with time to skate with it.”

The personal goals are changing now, as McDavid passes his 24th birthday just over a month ago with two Art Ross Trophies, two Ted Lindsay Awards, and a Hart Trophy all piled in his trophy case. He’s talking about a “200-foot game” more often now, and his faceoff work belies a summer spent working on an area of his craft that does not produce top-10 highlights.

He is that player who has outgrown simply working on the areas of the game he is already good at. Now he realizes that there isn’t as much room for improvement in those places where he already excels, as can be found in the few areas of the game where is lacking.

“He’s going to get a whole lot more points than 500,” said teammate Adam Larsson. “For him to reach that at this point, it is beyond impressive.

“The way he carries himself, the way he handles everything … He’s quite an impressive human being. Being 24 and having 500 points already? It’s remarkable.”

Meanwhile, though you may have a hard time spotting it, McDavid is making progress under the glare of the spotlight that has shone on him since age 14. With the media, he puts more thought into his answers now, and slowly the voice that carries so much weight in the hockey world is beginning to define itself — slowly.

McDavid is the “Face of the Game,” whether he wants to be or not. Now he’s starting to give the media something to work with, even if it seldom shows on those pesky “walk-off” interviews between periods.

And perhaps eventually, he’ll get better at talking himself up. Because a podium, a microphone, and a question about his own prowess remains the one place in a hockey rink where Connor McDavid is still truly uncomfortable.

“That’s the leadership he shows,” observes his head coach, Dave Tippett. “He is an incredible player, and the players that play with him are always amazed at what he does in the games. To be that humble, as a teammate you respect a guy for his leadership, his ability, but ultimately you respect him as a human being.

“Because he’s a really good person. It just so happens he’s (also) a really good hockey player.”

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Kane scores 400th NHL goal as Blackhawks dominate Red Wings – Sportsnet.ca

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CHICAGO — No. 400 for Patrick Kane was just like so many others.

A slick move, and then one well-placed shot.

Kane scored his 400th career goal, Kevin Lankinen made a career-high 44 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks closed out a successful February with a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.

Kane and Alex DeBrincat got loose for a 2-on-1 midway through the third period. The 32-year-old Kane kept the puck, waited for sprawled Detroit defenceman Filip Hronek to slide by him and then beat Thomas Greiss on the stick side for his team-best 11th of the season.

“I think the biggest thing is once you start reaching these types of milestones, 400 goals and 1,000 games coming up, it leaves you wanting more,” Kane said. “It’s exciting to achieve them.”

Kane pumped both of his arms after becoming the 100th NHL player to reach 400 goals. The three-time Stanley Cup champion is the fourth player in franchise history to reach the milestone with the club, joining Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita and longtime star Steve Larmer.

“Tonight was all about Kaner,” teammate Ryan Carpenter said. “It’s nice for him to get that goal, and we all admire him for it.”

Carpenter, Pius Suter, Dominik Kubalik and DeBrincat also scored in the third as Chicago broke open a tight game against lowly Detroit. Carpenter also scored in the first, DeBrincat added three assists and Kane posted a three-point night in his 996th NHL game.

Bouncing back nicely from a 5-3 loss to the Red Wings on Saturday night, the Blackhawks closed out a 9-3-1 February with their third win in four games.

“Our team, it’s coming together,” Kane said. “We have a lot of young guys that are just going to keep getting better and better.”

Evgeny Svechnikov scored for the second straight game for Detroit, which had won two in a row. Sam Gagner also scored.

The Red Wings played without captain Dylan Larkin for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. They went 5-8-1 in February.

“It’s disappointing, obviously. I think (Greiss) battled really hard for us and kind of hung him out to dry there at the end,” Gagner said.

Chicago jumped in front on Nikita Zadorov’s first goal since he scored three times for Colorado in the playoffs last year. The 6-foot-6 defenceman, who was acquired in an October trade with the Avalanche, got a pass from David Kampf and beat Greiss from the high slot 11:41 into the first.

The Blackhawks then caught a break when Carpenter’s shot went off Red Wings defenceman Alex Biega in front and was inadvertently kicked in by a scrambling Greiss, making it 2-0 with 2:47 left in the opening period.

The Red Wings, who put 21 shots on net in the first, got one back when Gagner redirected Jon Merrill’s shot past Lankinen with 2:09 to go. It was Gagner’s fourth goal in three games after he had a hat trick in Detroit’s 5-2 victory against Nashville on Thursday night.

CARPENTER’S WORK

Carpenter’s goal in the third period was his first career power-play goal in his 216th NHL game.

It was the highest scoring game of the season for Chicago.

UP NEXT

Red Wings: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

Blackhawks: Open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

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Tiger Woods thanks golfers for red shirt tribute – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Tiger Woods offered a heartfelt thanks to his fellow golfers for their tribute on Sunday, where many donned the 15-time major champion’s signature Sunday red and black for the final round.

Woods suffered a car accident on Tuesday and was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with a fractured right leg and a shattered ankle, calling into question the future of the 45-year-old’s historic career.

An 82-time PGA Tour winner, Woods famously wears a red shirt and black trousers on Sundays.

“It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts,” Woods said in a Twitter post shortly after the conclusion of the World Golf Championships event in Florida.

“To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”

With his win on Sunday, rising star Collin Morikawa joined Woods as the only two golfers to win a major championship and a World Golf Championship event before turning 25 years old.

Morikawa, 24, took time after his victory to thank Woods directly.

“Tiger means everything to me,” Morikawa said.

“He had the crash and thankfully he’s alright and hopefully he has a quick and great recovery, but I don’t think we say thank you enough.

“So, I want to say thank you to Tiger. Sometimes you lose people too early. Kobe, I lost my grandpa about a month ago, and you don’t get to say thank you enough.

“So thank you, guys.”

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Toronto Raptors are latest team to be hit hard by COVID-19 and NBA protocols – TSN

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TORONTO – Earlier in the week, and just before the NBA released its schedule for the second half of the season, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse expressed his concern over the sheer volume of games headed his team’s way, while also making sure to knock on wood.

At the time, Toronto was one of just four teams that hadn’t missed a game due to postponement – meaning its remaining slate would be lighter than most – but with the league hoping to squeeze the rest of the campaign, play-in games and playoffs into a tight window, Nurse knew that these next few months were going to be hectic.

“I think that the schedule feels heavy,” he said ahead of last Tuesday’s contest. “This year already, it’s felt heavy and I think it’s going to be even heavier. I think we’ve been fortunate – let’s hope we can get to this break without having any postponements or cancellations, but we’ve been fortunate.”

With just a few games to go before the upcoming all-star weekend, the Raptors had been fortunate, all things considered. Every team’s been impacted by the COVID-19 virus and the NBA’s health and safety protocols in some way, but Toronto nearly made it to the halfway point with minimal disruptions to its schedule – aside from the notable exception of having to move its operations across the continent and play its home games in Tampa, of course.

However, with a chaotic few days for the organization serving as yet another cruel reminder, in these times, things can change quickly.

On Sunday morning, the NBA announced that the contest between the Raptors and the Chicago Bulls – initially scheduled for later that evening – had been postponed. As a result of positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the organization, Toronto would not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the game, according to the league. This, coming two days after the team played Friday’s game – a 122-111 win over Houston – without Nurse, five members of his coaching staff, and Pascal Siakam, who were all unavailable due to the health and safety protocols.

Knowing what we know now, it’s fair to wonder whether that game should have taken place at all. In hindsight, the easy answer is, no, it should not have been played. But even without the benefit of hindsight, privately, there were at least a few people within the organization that expressed some trepidation about taking the court that night.

That wasn’t their call to make, though. It’s up to the league to determine if a game needs to be cancelled, and with enough players and personnel returning negative tests throughout the day, they felt comfortable giving both clubs the green light.

“One way to think about it is, we get tested twice in the morning, and so if those tests come back negative, that kind of gives you the clearance to participate in activities that day, and then you can even do some testing later in the day if you’re concerned about it,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said ahead of Friday’s game. “Once the negative tests came back this afternoon, I think that gave the NBA the comfort that at least for today, we’re clear.”

The question most people still have – not just as it pertains to the Raptors’ current situation – is, what goes into the contact tracing process?

According to sources, at least one of Toronto’s coaches tested positive ahead of Friday’s game, with the rest of the front-of-the-bench staff told to isolate from the team because they were considered close contacts. There was enough concern over Siakam’s status that he entered the protocol, as well. The Raptors did not play or practice on Thursday, but why weren’t the players or coaches that shared the court – or the locker room – with the aforementioned individuals in Miami on Wednesday also deemed to be close contacts?

Similar questions emanated from both the Raptors and Nets locker rooms after a game in Brooklyn earlier this month, when Kevin Durant was pulled from the starting lineup just prior to tip-off, allowed to enter the game in the first quarter, and then ruled out again in the second half – all in the name of contact tracing.

“You can probably imagine it’s just the natural course of how groups work,” said Webster, who was asked about the protocol on Friday. “So, if your department or whatever group you’re with at work, if someone within that group had an exposure you go back and say who did you hang out with and who were you around the most? Who do you sit with on the plane? Who do you sit with on the bus?”

These incidents were unavoidable once the NBA and its players’ association decided to go forward with this season – playing basketball in the midst of a global pandemic and outside of a contained environment, like the Disney bubble that allowed them to finish the 2019-20 campaign safely. With teams travelling around the United States and playing in different markets, some of them in front of a limited numbers of fans, this was inevitable – players and staff were going to contract the virus and games were going to be lost.

Sunday’s game between the Raptors and Bulls was the 34th postponement of the season. It was the 30th time that a team could not dress the minimum required number of players.

Like just about everything else in basketball, in sports, or in life right now, this is a fluid situation. All of Toronto’s players and staff have been asked to quarantine at their respective homes in Tampa, only leaving to undergo testing a couple times per day. The league will monitor the results of those tests closely and determine what the next steps look like.

The Raptors have two more games scheduled before the all-star break – Tuesday against Detroit and Thursday in Boston. As of Sunday afternoon, no decision had been made in regards to those contests, but given the circumstances, it’s hard to see them being played.

Do the math. They have 17 players on the roster. Two of them, rookie Jalen Harris and recently signed big man Donta Hall, are on assignment in the G League bubble. Siakam was already in the protocol and had been ruled out, which means that at least seven other players have either returned positive tests or are in contact tracing. Then you factor in the coaching staff, which was down to four available members – including acting head coach Sergio Scariolo, who only avoided contact tracing because he had just cleared quarantine after returning from leading the Spanish National Team in FIBA qualifiers overseas – on Friday.

Postponed games are re-scheduled on a case-by-case basis. If there isn’t time to make up all of them, some teams could end up playing fewer than the planned 72 contests, according to recent reports. If the Raptors are in fact sidelined until after all-star, their next scheduled game would come against Atlanta on March 11 – ironically, the one-year anniversary of Rudy Gobert’s positive test bringing last season to a halt.

First and foremost, you hope that everybody within the organization is safe and doing well. When they’re healthy and able to get back on the court, you look forward to watching them play again. When will that be? That remains to be seen.​

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