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Raptors’ Nurse steadily navigates injuries as key players near return – Sportsnet.ca

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If you are looking for certainty, predictability and things that unfold according to widely agreed-upon standards and practices, don’t become an NBA head coach.

Maybe try something like accounting.

Of course Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse already tried that.

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That was his major at Northern Iowa University, and he gave it up to become a 23-year-old playing coach for the Derby Rams in the British Basketball League for the 1990-91 season.

His only regret, he would tell you, is that he didn’t choose to ‘waste’ an easier degree.

Nearly 30 years later, Nurse is still dealing with the uncertainties that being a professional basketball coach brings, although the pay days are better in the NBA and he’s flying private rather than driving the van.

But the day-to-day is the same in that it’s always different. Plan carefully and then make it up as you go along. The Raptors’ defence of their 2019 title is like every other season that way.

“The circumstances are we have a lot of new guys, we have a lot injuries and lot of starting lineups,” said Nurse after the Raptors practised Friday at the OVO Athletic Centre. “There’s been all kinds of stuff [this year]. The roller-coaster has been a little bumpier, right? But it was still a roller-coaster last year and you know it’s coming and you ride the ups and downs and try to have fun.”

So far so good as the Raptors remain on pace for a 54-win regular season even as they lead the NBA in Win Shares lost to injury, according to mangameslost.com and are third in total man games lost to injury.

The news Friday is that Nurse and the Raptors are on the verge of getting some of their most important players back to full health, which – barring another nearly unprecedented wave of injuries hitting the team – could mark the first time this season the defending champion Raptors operate at anything approaching full health.

Nurse confirmed that Norman Powell (shoulder) will be back in the lineup Sunday against the visiting San Antonio Spurs after missing 11 games with a partially dislocated shoulder.

Both Pascal Siakam (groin) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) did ‘semi-live’ work at practice Friday. There is a possibility — after another day of practice scheduled for Saturday — that they might be available for Sunday although Nurse cautioned that timeline “might be a bit ambitious.”

Also Fred VanVleet (hamstring) remains out with no projected return date, so there’s always something.

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Siakam was still sounding cautious in his first public comments since getting hurt in the closing minutes of a game against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 3.

“The most important thing for me was being able to see if I can be explosive and move laterally,” said Siakam, who leads the Raptors in scoring with 25.1 points per game. “I can definitely run straight on the floor, but the problem is figuring out if you can move and be explosive. I have to make sure I can be 100 per cent and do everything I’m capable of doing and everything that helps my game. Until I feel like that, we’re going to take our time with it.

Nurse has been the constant and, in a roundabout way, the beneficiary of his team’s constant health-related upheaval. The Raptors have managed to remain in the mix for a top-four seed in the East by playing an aggressive, ever-changing defence that has allowed them to remain among the best defensive teams in the league.

Coaches finding a way to win with patchwork rosters get people’s attention, particularly when they are coming off a championship.

Nurse has almost certainly worked his way to the forefront of Coach of the Year discussion should the Raptors manage to keep winning, regardless of circumstance.

It’s not easy. Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was lamenting last week about how difficult it has been to create any consistency while ‘load managing’ former Raptor Kawhi Leonard. The deep and experienced Clippers – widely picked as the championship favourite before the season started – are only 5-5 in the 10 games Leonard has sat out.

The Raptors went 17-5 with Leonard out of the lineup last season.

As the Raptors’ herky-jerky season has rolled along, Nurse has been unwilling to make or accept excuses and has proven willing to hold his players to a high standard, regardless of status.

Last season he called out Leonard for coasting at one point during the season. Earlier this year he made clear Siakam needed to “be smarter” about picking up fouls and making too many turnovers as the focal point of the Raptors’ offence. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher and Stanley Johnson have all heard Nurse be frank about shortcomings in their play. The results have been good and have arrived in short order, in part because to the extent you can be in Nurse’s ‘bad books’ he’s willing to turn the page quickly.

The latest example is rookie Terence Davis. He played eight inconsequential minutes in the Raptors loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday and, when asked, Nurse said he had played him “five minutes too many.”

Davis got his first NBA start the next night against the Charlotte Hornets and responded with 23 points and 11 rebounds – both career highs.

“Sometimes I’m maybe a little too forthright or pissed off or whatever it is,” Nurse said. “Somebody says ‘Why didn’t you play him more?’ and I thought the question should have been ‘Why did you play him so much?’ I don’t know. There are lots of ways of communication. Lots of ways of getting your message across. We’ll explore all those options until we can hopefully help these guys. Like I said, it’s only for their best interest and the best interest of our team.

“I don’t know if there’s an art to [calling players out] but I think if there’s a problem it has to be communicated. If there’s a problem, there has to be a solution.”

The Raptors should gradually have a good measure of their problems solved in the coming week as they get key pieces back and healthy.

That they’ve made it this far in one piece is as good an example as any why the Raptors should be grateful Nurse didn’t opt for something more certain than coaching. An accountant couldn’t balance the injury-riddled club’s fortunes any better.

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Sail Canada says coach Lisa Ross was fired for financial reasons, not because she was pregnant – The Globe and Mail

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Lisa Ross was fired from the team’s coaching staff nine days after telling Sail Canada in March that she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year.Meghan Tansey Whitton/The Canadian Press

Lisa Ross wants her job back.

The two-time Olympic sailor for Canada was named to the national sailing team’s coaching staff three years ago.

Nine days after telling Sail Canada in March that she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year, Ross was fired.

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Ross was in Andora, Italy, where she’d been coaching Canadian sailors at the European championship. She was about to head to Spain for more competitions and training camps.

The 46-year-old from Mahone Bay, N.S., said that during the March 17 video call with Sail Canada’s chief executive officer Don Adams and high-performance director Mike Milner, she was told to pack her bags and return to Canada.

“It was strange and shocking,” Ross told The Canadian Press. “It was a five-minute phone call where I was fired, basically, without cause.

“I was in Europe. I was in the middle of a planned six-week trip.”

Sail Canada said lack of money, and not Ross’s pregnancy, was the reason for her firing.

“Sail Canada terminated Lisa Ross’s contract for financial reasons which had nothing to do with Lisa Ross being pregnant,” the organization said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“Discussions and the decision to terminate Lisa Ross’s contract took place well before she verbally informed Sail Canada High Performance Director that she was pregnant.”

Sail Canada said Ross’s salary was supported by Sport Canada Gender Equity funding, which was eliminated at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“Sail Canada was able to maintain Lisa Ross’s position in the next fiscal year through the Return to Sport funding program but, unfortunately, that funding is no longer available in 2023-2024,” the organization said.

Ross’s annual salary was $80,000. The federal government renewed its funding for gender equity in sport in October with a commitment of $25.3-million over three years.

“This is not available at present but we have been informed it may be some time in the future,” Sail Canada said in a statement. “We do not know if female coaching will be part of the areas of funding.

Sail Canada said it made its decision to fire Ross “because of financial reasons based on the information available at the time of budget finalization.”

“With the 2023-2024 Olympic season fast approaching, and in order for Sail Canada to prioritize Olympic hopefuls and maintain a balanced budget, Sail Canada has to make drastic cuts to its High Performance budget.”

Sail Canada said it sought a Nova Scotia labour lawyer’s advice on Feb. 21 to vet the decision to dismiss Ross.

Ross departed for Europe at the end of February and had no inkling that her job was on the chopping block until she was sacked March 17.

“I just would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring that I can continue in my role as one of the more senior coaches on the staff,” Ross said.

Sail Canada said it waited until after the European championship March 10-17 to fire her “so that it would not become a distraction for the athletes.”

Ross was the only woman on Sail Canada’s technical staff of a high-performance director and coaches.

Since her dismissal, Rosie Chapman was hired on a contract basis.

Chapman is partially subsidized by athletes and costs 20 per cent of a full-time salary, Sail Canada said.

Ross competed for Canada in 2004 in Athens in women’s three-person keelboat and 2008 in Beijing in women’s dinghy.

She coached laser sailor Brenda Bowskill at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ross was named the Canadian sailing team’s development coach in 2020, but she coached the senior men’s laser team that year.

Ross didn’t coach at Tokyo’s Olympics in 2021. She was on maternity leave with her second child.

She was coaching the 49er FX women’s development team when she was fired. Her third child is due Sept. 1.

She’d planned to continue coaching until August when she could no longer fly.

Ross intended to be back with the athletes in time for January’s world championship and to help prepare them for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She says she communicated that plan to Sail Canada the day she told the organization she was pregnant.

Milner replied that same day: “You should also know Rosie and I have been talking on and off for more than a year on joining our team and I think this is a great opportunity for the girls while you are on mat leave.”

Milner also wrote in that e-mail to Ross that his “initial thought” would be to have Chapman become the international coach after April’s Princess Sofia or Hyeres regattas “and focus you on domestic training.”

Ross has filed claims with Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Board and Human Rights Commission, but has not sued Sail Canada.

“I’m not asking for a massive amount of money,” Ross said. “I’m asking for my job back.”

The World Sailing Trust recently launched a half-dozen recommendations under an initiative called Project Juno to “support better maternity policies in sailing.”

While Sail Canada insists her pregnancy did not cost Ross her job, it says the organization has pregnancy and parental leave policy “that is in keeping with the Ontario Employment Standards Act” and also subject to Sport Canada’s Athletes Assistance Program policies and procedures.

Ross says she has never seen that policy.

She hasn’t filed a complaint with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which was established almost a year ago to administer Canadian sport’s universal code of conduct. Sail Canada is a signatory to OSIC.

“I want my job back, so I want to focus on that,” Ross said. “I want to be a part of the sport system that I’ve been a part of since I was 17.

“I went to my first Pan Am Games when I was 17. It’s been a scary process to go through, just even with my relationship with Sail Canada because that’s been a huge part of my life and I want that to continue.”

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Jubilant Latvians given national holiday after shock ice hockey win over USA

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Latvians woke up to go to work Monday morning, only to find they didn’t have to. Their parliament had met at midnight to declare a holiday after the national ice hockey team chalked up its best result at the world championship.

Latvia, where hockey is hugely popular, co-hosted the men’s championship with Finland, and the country’s 4-3 overtime victory over the United States for the bronze medal on Sunday was greeted with jubilation.

A plane bringing the team home from Finland flew at low altitude over central Riga on Monday to greet thousands of fans who had gathered to welcome the squad.

At quarter to midnight on Sunday, members of parliament, sporting red-and-white national team jerseys, convened for a 10-minute session to unanimously declare the holiday.

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It was “to strengthen the fact of significant success of Latvian athletes in the social memory of the society,” according to the bill’s sponsors.

The bill was introduced by a smiling member of parliament with her face painted in the colors of the national flag. Another giggled while trying to read out the names of absent parliamentarians, to laughter from many in the hall. There was an ovation from everyone present after the final vote.

But as dawn broke, there was confusion about who was working and who was not. Court hearings were canceled and schools and universities were closed, but national exams for high school students went ahead, with staff paid at holiday rates. Several hospitals chose to stay open to honor doctor appointments.

Businesses found themselves in some disarray, with Aigars Rostovskis, the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telling public broadcaster LSM: “It will be chaos for many.”

Canada won the gold medal, the team’s record 28th world title, by defeating Germany 5-2 on Sunday.

 

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Kamloops Blazers rout Peterborough Petes 10-2 in Memorial Cup – ESPN – ESPN India

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KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — Logan Stankoven had a goal and four assists, Connor Levis had a goal and two assists and the Kamloops Blazers routed the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes 10-2 in the Memorial Cup on Sunday.

The win came after Kamloops defenseman Kyle Masters was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was hit and fell backward into the corner boards with less than seven minutes remaining. There was no immediate word on Masters’ condition.

Ryan Michael, Fraser Minten, Ashton Ferster, Matthew Seminoff, Dylan Sydor, Jakub Demek, Matthew Seminoff and Ryan Hofer each scored goals for the Blazers, who bounced back from an 8-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Quebec Remparts on Friday night.

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Caedan Bankier and Olen Zellweger also added two assists each for the Blazers, who scored four power-play goals and improved to 1-1 in the four-team, 10-day tournament.

Peterborough dropped to 0-2 and must beat Quebec on Tuesday to advance.

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