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Omicron, not organizers, to blame for world junior cancellation – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — A day after the cancellation of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship, it was difficult to discern which was more frigid.

The frozen locals here in Omsk, Alta., where Thursday’s high of minus-27 C was reached just before noon? Or the social media heroes who ripped organizers of the tournament with their usual 20/20 hindsight?

It was the day after the unthinkable had happened on Wednesday: they cancelled the World Juniors. And the weirdest thing? There wasn’t a person among the informed decision-makers who awoke Thursday with a better idea, given the rising positives among some 8,700 tests administered here.

“I have great empathy and sympathy for everyone involved in the event — the Oilers, the (Red Deer) Rebels, the officials, the volunteers, the staff and the 10 teams,” began Hockey Canada President and COO Scott Smith. “I’ve spent more of my time thinking, ‘Is there a way we can do an event at some point in time where we can deliver for that group of people?’

“What I haven’t done, or been in any conversations about with the people who are in the know — the IIHF, the local organizing committee and ourselves — is hear anyone say, ‘I wish we would have done this. Or that.’”

As the aftermath unfolded Thursday we learned that Swedish goalie Jesper Wallstedt was among seven more positive COVID-19 tests. Five players from five different teams tested positive, as well as two more support staff.

On a day that the Quebec Major Junior League suspended play until Jan. 17, and Ontario reduced indoor stadium capacity limits to 1,000 people, the hockey world settled into the reality that anything short of an all-encompassing bubble would not guarantee the continuation of a tournament or season.

Or, many believe, provincial and federal health standards should have been more relaxed, and the tournament should have carried on. Sure — go ahead and write a letter. But that was not an option, full stop.


Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 situation, in sports and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country’s public health website for the latest.


The biggest question being asked was why everyone wasn’t in an all-encompassing bubble, like the last World Juniors and the Stanley Cup playoffs before that. But asking that question — when for the past many months sports had been trending towards full houses and general normalcy — is like asking a skydiver why he jumped out of the plane with a faulty parachute?

If he’d have known the ‘chute wouldn’t open, do you think he’d have jumped?

On Thursday we read shots from a Slovakian goaltender on Instagram, while the day before a Finnish coach tore into organizers on the Twitter account of a Pittsburgh hockey writer.

They must have seen Omicron coming. Move over, Dr. Fauci.

“If Omicron had showed up a month later, or if this event was held a month earlier, we would have delivered an event, likely, with full buildings and great attendance,” Smith said. “It ended up being a perfect storm: The teams arrived on Dec. 15, a Wednesday. The following Tuesday is when the Alberta government made the announcement that there would be a 50 per cent capacity (plus no food and beverage). That’s how quickly things change.”

Organizers were back-peddling from the very beginning. No different than the NHL, the NBA or the NFL, but with a much smaller window in which to complete their schedule.

“The grab of the Omicron variant and how contagious it was just seemed to evolve, and evolve, and become more significant on a daily basis every day after Dec. 15. We just didn’t have the luxury of time… and our doctors told us that there was likely to be further positives. We just didn’t think we could out-pace the variant,” Smith said. “Maybe if Omicron had hit in August we’d have done things differently. But the combination of when it arrived, when the teams arrived, and what our plans were, I’m proud of the fact that we delivered a better environment than what we had planned for.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t protective enough.”

And the Red Deer wedding?

Smith said organizers had a hold on the entire Red Deer hotel a year ago. “Because that’s where the world was, a year ago.”

Then they eased off over the summer. Because that’s what the rest of the world was doing.

Ironically, Smith had received blowback from competing teams as recently as late November about the restrictive protocols. When those teams arrived and Hockey Canada tightened the screws even more under the threat of Omicron, more federations complained.

Alas, what was needed was an outright bubble, and all they had was a “protective environment.”

“There was never any plan for replicating the bubble from last year,” confirmed Smith.

Accuse Hockey Canada, the IIHF and local organizers of not seeing Omicron coming back in about July or August — when they could have done something about it. That is fair.

But when you’re done with that, find us the sports league, government or health board who did predict a new variant’s arrival, and all that it has wrought.

When this tournament was planned, sports events were opening up. Not closing down.

We haven’t made much progress then, have we?

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Sportsnet announces revised schedule for postponed NHL games – Sportsnet.ca

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Sportsnet and the NHL have announced changes to the broadcast schedule for the 2021-22 NHL season. The changes account for a large number of games that were postponed in recent weeks due to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the league.

As a result, the following updates have been made to Sportsnet’s national and regional broadcast schedules. Please note that all times are Eastern.

For the most up-to-date broadcast schedule, please visit our TV Listings page.

For a complete list of every game rescheduled by the NHL on Wednesday, click here.

National

January

Monday, Jan. 31
New Jersey at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet

February

Monday, Feb. 7
Carolina at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Rogers Hometown Hockey)
New Jersey at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Rogers Hometown Hockey)

Wednesday, Feb. 9
Chicago at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Vegas at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE

Saturday, Feb. 12
Columbus at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Boston at Ottawa, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)
Toronto at Vancouver, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Winnipeg at Nashville, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
NY Islanders at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)

Sunday, Feb. 13
Buffalo at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Ottawa at Washington, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)

Monday, Feb. 14
Toronto at Seattle, 9 p.m., Sportsnet
Chicago at Winnipeg, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West
Edmonton at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE

Tuesday, Feb. 15
Edmonton at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 16
Minnesota at Winnipeg, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Anaheim at Calgary, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 17
Anaheim at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 19
St. Louis at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet and CityTV (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Boston at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hockey Night in Canada)
Seattle at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)

Sunday, Feb. 20
Minnesota at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet ONE

Monday, Feb. 21
Toronto at Montreal, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Seattle at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet

Wednesday, Feb. 23
Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

March

Monday, March 7
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Edmonton at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet

April

Monday, April 4
Toronto at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet

Monday, April 18
Calgary at Chicago, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Dallas at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)

Wednesday, April 27
Montreal at NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)

Regional

February

Tuesday, Feb. 8
Vegas at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)

Wednesday, Feb. 9
NY Islanders at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)

Thursday, Feb. 10
Toronto at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)

Friday, Feb. 11
NY Islanders at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)

Tuesday, Feb. 15
Columbus at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)

Thursday, Feb. 17
Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)

Saturday, Feb. 19
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)

Monday, Feb. 21
Winnipeg at Calgary, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)

Tuesday, Feb. 22
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)

April

Tuesday, April 19
Calgary at Nashville, 8 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Ottawa at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)

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'Strongest team in all of snowboarding': Canadian squad named for Beijing Olympics – CBC Sports

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Canadian snowboarders brought home four medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

The team looking to build on that number was announced by Canada Snowboard on Wednesday, including all four previous medallists — Sébastien Toutant (the lone gold medallist), Max Parrot, Mark McMorris and Laurie Blouin.

Joining them in slopestyle and big air are Darcy Sharpe, Brooke Voigt and Jasmine Baird. Meanwhile, the halfpipe team features Derek Livingston, Brooke D’Hondt and Elizabeth Hosking.

Missing from that list is Liam Brearley, the emerging 18-year-old who won a medal in all three disciplines at the 2020 Youth Olympics. Brearley, of Gravenhurst, Ont., was victim of a roster crunch, as Canada earned the maximum four quota spots in slopestyle and big air.

Megan Farrell and Arnaud Gaudet will compete in parallel giant slalom, while the snowboard cross squad includes Zoe Bergermann, Tess Critchlow, Meryeta O’Dine, Audrey McManiman, Eliot Grondin, Kevin Hill and Liam Moffatt.

CBC snowboard analyst Craig McMorris, the older brother of Mark McMorris, said the Canadians should be a force.

“I think it is the strongest team in all of snowboarding, especially in male slopestyle and big air with Max Parrot, Sebastien Toutant and Mark McMorris all returning for their third Games. The skill is there. And the veteran wisdom and experience is there as well,” he said.

Notable omission

The omission of Brearley reveals the overwhelming strength of the men’s slopestyle and big air squad. Toutant and McMorris both sit in the top five of World Snowboard’s slopestyle ranking, while Parrot is ranked first and McMorris fifth in big air.

Parrot pre-qualified for the Olympic team before the season began in October, with the stipulation that he remain in the top-30 of rankings. He has since not competed in World Cup races, freezing his ranking in place.

The final decision may have come down to Sharpe vs. Brearley, with each similarly ranked in the two disciplines. 

“[Sharpe] was out for a long time and his points freeze, then he comes back and his points unfreeze but then he gets COVID so he can’t compete, and that was crucial in deciding the team. So I feel like it was an extremely, extremely tough job,” McMorris said.

WATCH | Mark McMorris discusses difficulties of qualifying in pandemic:

Mark McMorris on realities of trying to qualify for an Olympics in a pandemic

14 days ago

Duration 6:34

The Canadian snowboarder is back for this third Olympics and talks to CBC Sports about taking fans behind the scenes in a documentary, competing in a pandemic and what he expects from Beijing 2022. 6:34

Parrot, the Bromont, Que., native who won slopestyle silver in 2018, is a recent cancer survivor. 

The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 10 months after the Olympics but returned to competition less than a year later, winning X Games big air gold in the process.

Mark McMorris, the 28-year-old from Regina, enters his third Games looking to upgrade on the bronze he won each of the past two times — this time free of a near-fatal crash directly in his rearview mirror.

Toutant, 29, of L’Assomption, Que., experienced an eventful Pyeongchang Olympics as he recovered from a last-place finish in slopestyle to become the big air champion.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Returning Champions series features Sébastien Toutant:

Returning Champions: Sébastien Toutant

15 days ago

Duration 3:33

Canadian snowboarder Sébastien Toutant reflects on winning Olympic gold in Big Air at PyeongChang 2018, his disappointing performances in Slopestyle, and his hopes for Beijing 2022. 3:33

Blouin back for more

On the women’s side, Blouin, 25, overcame some adversity in Pyeongchang herself after a crash in training left her participation in the Games at all in question.

But the Quebec City native bounced back in a big way en route to earning slopestyle silver.

“I’m really happy, it seems like 2018 was yesterday and now it’s crazy that we’re already looking ahead to the next Olympics,” Blouin said.

Along with McMorris and Sharpe, Blouin is set to compete at the winter X Games beginning Friday in Aspen, Colo., as part of her Olympic tuneup. 

WATCH | Blouin takes slopestyle bronze at Calgary World Cup:

Laurie Blouin earns bronze in World Cup snowboard slopestyle

18 days ago

Duration 3:18

Stoneham, Que.’s Laurie Blouin finished 3rd in the women’s snowboard slopestyle competition during the FIS Snowboard World Cup in Calgary. 3:18

D’Hondt, 16, is projected to be the youngest Canadian athlete in Beijing.

“It doesn’t feel real yet. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and couldn’t be more excited to represent my country in Beijing,” D’Hondt said.

Meanwhile, Craig McMorris suggested that Baird, the 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., could be an emerging star for Canada.

“I don’t think she has the tricks to be on the podium yet, but she’s still super young. So I think after these Games, if she still keeps going and training at the rate she is and learning, I think she’ll definitely be a threat in 2026,” he said.

Full team

Women

  • Brooke D’Hondt — Calgary (halfpipe)
  • Elizabeth Hosking — Longueuil, Que. (halfpipe)
  • Megan Farrell — Richmond Hill, Ont. (parallel giant slalom) 
  • Jasmine Baird — Georgetown, Ont. (slopestyle/big air)
  • Laurie Blouin— Québec City (slopestyle/big air)
  • Brooke Voigt — Fort McMurray, Alta. (slopestyle/big air)
  • Zoe Bergermann — Erin, Ont. (snowboard cross)
  • Tess Critchlow — Big White, B.C. (snowboard cross)
  • Meryeta O’Dine — Prince George, B.C. (snowboard cross)
  • Audrey McManiman — St-Ambroise-de-Kildare, Que. (snowboard cross)

Men

  • Derek Livingston — Aurora, Ont. (halfpipe)
  • Arnaud Gaudet — Montcalm, Que. (parallel giant slalom)
  • Mark McMorris — Regina (slopestyle/big air)
  • Max Parrot — Bromont, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
  • Darcy Sharpe — Comox, B.C. (slopestyle/big air)
  • Sébastien Toutant — L’Assomption, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
  • Eliot Grondin — Sainte-Marie, Que. (snowboard cross)
  • Kevin Hill — Vernon, B.C. (snowboard cross)
  • Liam Moffatt — Truro, N.S. (snowboard cross)

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Shapovalov rallies to win second-round match at Australian Open – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada’s Denis Shapovalov is heading to the third round of the Australian Open for the third time in the past four years after notching a come-from-behind victory on Wednesday.

The No. 14 seed, from Richmond Hill, Ont., rallied for a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-2 win over world No. 54 Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea.

The match lasted four hours 25 minutes.

After failing to convert on two set points in the third set, Shapovalov broke his opponent in the final game of the fourth set and did so again to take a 2-0 lead in the decider.

“It was difficult getting over the second and third set because I had a lot of chances in both sets,” Shapovalov said. “Lot of opportunities that just weren’t going my way. But I did a good job of flipping the script, kept fighting and I was really happy to get away with it.”

Shapovalov had 29 aces, 26 more than Kwon. The Canadian had 81 winners, but also made 77 unforced errors.

Shapovalov will face No. 23 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the third round. Shapovalov never has advanced past the third round at the first Grand Slam of the season.

No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal plays his second-round match on Thursday against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

No Canadian women are left in the singles draw after Leylah Fernandez and Rebecca Marino lost in the first round on Tuesday.

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