ST. LOUIS — Some of the key figures in what’s once again the NHL’s most heated rivalry briefly put their differences aside at the league’s all-star game.
It’ll soon be back to regularly scheduled programming.
Tomas Hertl scored the winner — his fifth goal of the night — as the Pacific Division defeated their Atlantic counterparts 5-4 to win the 3-on-3 showcase tournament Saturday.
The victorious squad featured Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, as well as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers — combatants on teams embroiled in a war of words over the last two weeks.
The Oilers and Flames have been at odds since Tkachuk levelled Zack Kassian with two huge hits in a recent testy matchup. Kassian eventually had enough and mauled Calgary’s winger/chief antagonist to earn himself a two-game suspension.
“Nothing added to the fuel to the rivalry this weekend,” Tkachuk said in the winning locker room Saturday. “This was just a bunch of really good hockey players coming and trying to put on a show.”
Tkachuk actually set up Draisaitl for a goal with a slick no-look pass in the Pacific’s 10-5 triumph over the Central Division in the semifinal, but skated straight to the bench instead of celebrating.
“Just wanted to get off the ice,” Tkachuk said. “I was out there for a while.”
Draisaitl said after the latest instalment of the Battle of Alberta that he would “probably get off the ice” himself if he was ever out there with Tkachuk at the all-star game.
“Nice play by him,” he said with a smile. “Like I said all along, we’re all here to have fun, we’re all here to have a good time. Things like (Tkachuk-Kassian), they happen in the game, but this is not the time to be grumpy about anything or whatever it is. Everyone here had a great time.”
Draisaitl said something to Tkachuk after the goal, but the former insisted there was nothing malicious in the exchange.
“I was just joking around,” he said. “I hope everyone knows I was just joking.”
Tied in the standings with 57 points and in a battle for playoff positioning, the Flames and Oilers will renew regular-season hostilities Wednesday in Edmonton and then again three nights later in Calgary.
“It was fine,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said of sharing space with a pair of Oilers. “This is away from the regular season. It’s a different atmosphere. I thought both sides handled themselves really well this weekend. I’m sure next week when we get back to the Battle of Alberta there’ll be that fire.”
“I know it’s a big battle between us,” Calgary goalie David Rittich added. “We just want to have fun. We’re doing this for fans, for kids.”
McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, finished with a combined four assists on the night.
“I definitely didn’t feel my best out there, but it’s all for fun,” he said. “We have a couple days to get ready for the real stuff.”
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak took home the most valuable player award after the NHL’s leading goal-scorer found the back of the net once and added an assist in the final for the Atlantic. He also recorded four points (three goals, one assist) in his division’s 9-5 semifinal victory over the Metropolitan inside Enterprise Center.
Hertl, who showed his personality by wearing a Justin Bieber mask during one of Friday’s events at the skills competition, scored the winner with 2:36 left when the San Jose Sharks centre beat Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off a setup from Draisaitl and McDavid.
Vancouver Canucks centre Elias Pettersson scored two goals in the final as the Pacific battled back from a 3-1 deficit to grab the US$1-million prize at the home of the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
“I’m not going to take this for granted,” said Pettersson, who tried and failed on his attempt at what would have been a jaw-dropping lacrosse-style goal. “It’s awesome to be here. I remember I grew up watching this. Now I’m here sharing this with everybody.”
The Pacific took the all-star crown in both 2016 and 2018, while the Metropolitan captured the title in 2017 and again last year.
Tkachuk, who grew up in St. Louis when his father Keith played for the Blues, suited up against younger brother Brady, a winger with the Ottawa Senators, in the final.
He actually stole the puck from his sibling to set up one of Pettersson’s goals.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “I was humbled and honoured to be here.”
ANDERSEN’S CONNECTION TO WOMEN’S GAME
The NHL and its all-stars were overwhelmingly supportive of the 20 female players that took part in a 3-on-3 game during Friday’s skills competition. But for Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, whether or not the NHL gets involved the same way the NBA did with the WNBA hits close to home because his sister Amalia plays in the NCAA at the University of Maine. “I don’t know what the right answer is, the right solution is,” said the netminder. “Of course I want see a (league) for young girls to dream of playing in. I know first-hand with my sister, she goes to college, and after that I don’t really know what’s in the future. It’s just important we keep trying to grow it and hopefully something down the road can come up and they can have something to strive for besides playing college.”
Fans in St. Louis booed Chicago Blackhawks sniper Patrick Kane throughout the festivities. But with the star winger on the same side as their Blues in the 3-on-3 tournament, they briefly cheered when he scored for the Central in its loss to the Pacific before resuming the jeers. “It’s all in good fun,” Kane said. “Sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit … St. Louis-Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry.”
NEXT YEAR’S ALL-STAR FORMAT COULD CHANGE
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the 2021 all-star game will be hosted by the Florida Panthers. He also alluded to there being a “distinct international flavour” at the annual festivities, but didn’t provide concrete details. The all-star game format from 1998 through 2002 saw players from North America take on the rest of the world.
Trump criticizes Redskins, Indians sports teams for considering name changes – Global News
President Donald Trump on Monday criticizing a pair of sports teams that are considering name changes in the wake of a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.
Trump tweeted, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”
Trump, in his tweet, also mentioned Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying, “Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, for claiming Native American heritage, derisively calling her “Pocahontas.”
The NFL’s Redskins announced Friday that they had begun a “thorough review” of their name, which has been deemed offensive by Native American groups for decades. The Redskins’ decision came after FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the team’s stadium, and other corporate partners called for the team to change its nickname.
Hours later, the Indians Major League Baseball team announced that they, too, will review their long-debated name.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement.
Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
Trump has spent the last few days stoking divisions and exploiting racial tensions, accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
Earlier Monday, he lashed out at NASCAR and wrongly accused the sport’s only full-time Black driver of perpetrating “a hoax” when a crew member found a noose in the team garage stall.
Trump had tweeted in 2013 that then-President Barack Obama “should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name” because “our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them, not nonsense.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Dallas will not compete in MLS tournament after 10 positive COVID-19 tests – TSN
FC Dallas has withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and one member of the club’s technical staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Major League Soccer said each of the positive tests occurred upon the club’s arrival in Florida or within a few days after.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
“The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
The tournament, now down to 25 teams, starts Wednesday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.
The league said of the 557 players currently in Orlando, 13 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Aside from the 10 from Dallas, two from Nashville and one from Columbus also tested positive.
Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps left Monday for the World Cup-style tournament. The Montreal Impact arrived last Thursday.
The Whitecaps were originally slated to open against Dallas on Thursday. But the game was pushed back after six members of the Dallas contingent tested positive in Florida and Vancouver had to delay its scheduled departure last Wednesday due to a pair of inconclusive test results. That prompted more testing in Vancouver, which subsequently came back negative.
The Whitecaps will now open July 15 against San Jose.
Toronto was scheduled to take off last Friday but pushed its departure to Saturday, citing the need for more time to complete pre-travel coronavirus testing. The club had to postpone again after a member of its travelling party reported “experiencing symptoms,” requiring another round of testing.
The Colorado Rapids, originally due to leave Sunday, delayed their departure to Tuesday after a pair of “presumptive positive” COVID-19 results in its travelling party.
The tournament wraps up Aug. 11.
The Impact play the New England Revolution on Thursday. Toronto is slated to open Friday against D.C. United.
MLS has been on hiatus since March 12 when the global pandemic halted play two weeks into the season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.
NHL season likely to proceed despite positive COVID-19 tests – News1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — NHL players have only been back on the ice for a couple of weeks and already there are nearly three dozen positive COVID-19 cases in their small bubbles. But with training camps set to start in a week, the league is unlikely to cancel the 2020 season, according to Scott Rintoul, host with Sportsnet 650.
“The percentage testing positive is very much in line with what we were seeing before, around five and a half per cent — lower than a lot of the other sports, some of which have tried to get up and running, again,” Rintoul said.
“The good news for the NHL is they still have time. They can still tweak their protocols, if necessary.”
The key, he added, is to safely get players to the hub cities, expected to the Edmonton and Toronto, and to keep them in their bubbles.
Alberta’s chief medical health officer said it is possible for Edmonton to safely be a hub city. But Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province has set out firm COVID-19 guidelines for the league that would have to be followed, otherwise the province would step in.
“If guidance is not being followed, if it’s being disregarded, and if the public’s health is being put at risk, then we would follow the same steps that we would take with any other organizer, in terms of that same kind of ladder of follow-up with conversations, education, and, if needed, measures to ensure that compliance was in place,” Hinshaw said.
The league and players association announced penalties Monday for team officials who leave the bubbles, including dismissal, fines and loss of draft picks.
Initially, families won’t join players in the hub cities, and the league is reportedly offering to assist the families with errands, such as groceries.
NHL games are to resume in early August, with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Sunday the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed on protocols to resume the season. That includes daily testing once games get underway for players, coaches, and staff.
However, Daly said the sides are still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement extension. A CBA extension is still crucial to the process, and the league’s board of governors, the players’ executive committee, and full membership must approve that and the return-to-play protocols to bring hockey back this summer.
If ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown for 31 teams across North America that began in mid-March.
The NHL says 35 players in total have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over roughly the past month.
The league says 23 of 396 players checked for COVID-19 at team facilities have tested positive since voluntary workouts began June 8, a five-per-cent rate.
In that same period of time, it is aware of 12 additional positive test results.
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