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SIMMONS: Have you see a goal better than the one McDavid scored? I haven't – Toronto Sun



You see it the first time and you’re not sure what to think.

You watch it a second time and it looks even better on the replay.

Then you watch it and stop it and rewind and watch it again in slow motion just to be sure. I was trying to come up with a goal I’ve seen in person that was better than the one Connor McDavid scored against the Maple Leafs on Monday.


I covered a lot of Wayne Gretzky games when he was scoring 200-points regularly with the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t remember seeing anything as fast and slow and quick and skilled as the one McDavid scored on Michael Hutchinson.

I was fortunate to see special Mario Lemieux moments up close — his goal against Boston and Raymond Bourque in the playoffs, his goal against the Minnesota North Stars when he undressed every played on the ice — spectacular goals they were. Those were the best I’d ever seen.

The McDavid goal on Monday was a take-your-breath-away hockey moment. I asked Paul Coffey about it right after the game. He smiled and said: “Don’t ask me. I couldn’t do that. Are you kidding me? Why don’t you ask 99?”

He meant Gretzky.

McDavid has entered that special territory, that short list for players who do things no one else can do, or ever do. I think was the greatest goal I’ve ever seen.


It’s a Toronto thing, saying Auston Matthews is in the Hart Trophy conversation. He may be in our conversation. But around the NHL he’s behind McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Leon Draisaitl to name three and if their teams were in playoff positions, Jack Eichel and Patrick Kane would be under stronger consideration, too. And it’s impossible to choose between David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand on the Bruins, who will split votes, as to which would be the MVP choice. So yeah, Matthews is probably in a conversation somewhere, and maybe around the Top 8 at this time, but ahead of whom? … Rick Vaive, Dave Andreychuk and if you can believe this, Gary Leeman, are the only 50-goal scorers in Leafs history. The underappreciated Vaive did it three times, in consecutive seasons, in Toronto. Andreychuk scored his 50 playing alongside Doug Gilmour. After scoring 51 with the Leafs, Leeman scored just 47 the final six years of his career … Matthews needs 19 goals in 37 games to hit the 50 mark. He’s scoring at 63-goal pace since the Leafs made the coaching change … Pekka Rinne scored a goal. Better he should be stopping goals, which he hasn’t done very well this season for the Nashville Predators … All Peter Laviolette does is make teams better. He did it on Long Island, in Carolina, where he won a Stanley Cup, in Philadelphia and in Nashville, where he lost in the final. If I had an opening for a coach, I’d hire him in a second.


Mitch Marner and Matthews lead the Leafs in points scored per minute, and when you consider that Marner kills penalties and Matthews doesn’t, Marner actually is the leader in the category. Surprisingly, not far behind them is Jason Spezza who, after the initial controversy that began his season, has settled in nicely and is much appreciated around the Leafs as a jack of all trades … Rasmus Sandin dominated the world junior hockey tournament. Up next for him: Dominating the American Hockey League. If he does that, he forces the Leafs to call him up. There’s no pointing rushing him now, at least until next season when they’re going to need him … This much I can tell you: If Mike Babcock was still coaching the Leafs, Pierre Engvall would almost certainly be in the AHL. Babcock didn’t care much for Engvall and Justin Holl, both of whom are showing themselves as NHL players of some value … The Arizona Coyotes have lost 22 games. Phil Kessel has scored goals in just two of those defeats, 11 of them one-goal games. Kessel, with just three even-strength goals, is having an equal-opportunity season, minus-10 at home, minus-9 on the road. No one else on the Coyotes is worse than Derek Stepan’s minus-6 … Thoughts are with Marlies assistant coach Rob Davison, who suffered a grand mal seizure Friday night in Dallas. That’s frightening for all who witnessed this, frightening for Davison and his family … Not enough has been said about the quick release of the Winnipeg Jets’ Kyle Connor. You know Patrik Laine can shoot; you know Mark Scheifele can shoot. I didn’t realize until recently, how high end Connor’s release happens to be.


Now that the Raptors have won an NBA championship, the DeMar DeRozan-returns-to-Toronto storyline becomes less and less intriguing. First time, it was a big deal. On Sunday, meh, it’s just another game in this odd and scrambled Raptors season … If the Miami Heat has any kind of dip in the second half of the NBA season, Nick Nurse has a shot of winning coach of the year. But it’s Erik Spoelstra’s trophy right now … There is something about Oshae Brissett, the 21-year-old from Mississauga who is splitting time between the Raptors and their G League team, that screams NBA. This kid is going to be a player, here or somewhere else … Is anybody else bothered by the Blue Jays hiring of Shane Ferrell, son of former Jays manager John (Benedict Arnold) Ferrell, as director of amateur scouting? … The Houston Astros won in 2017. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2017. What seems rather clear now is that both teams — one managed by Alex Cora, one coached by him — used electronic devices to essentially cheat their way to championship seasons. What the rather invisible commissioner, Rob Manfred, does now can’t possibly match the stench that surrounds those tainted World Series wins … The garage sale shopping has been pushed to the side. The one thing you can’t accuse the Blue Jays of this winter is being cheap. And I liked the re-signing of reliever Ken Giles. Signing him, to me, was a notice of commitment to winning. Trading him would have been almost contradictory in the wake of the Hyun-Jin Ryu signing.


I got excited when I first heard the Royals were moving to Canada. I thought that meant baseball was back in Montreal. My all-time favourite Royal: George Brett … Kevin Stefanski, the Minnesota offensive coordinator who is getting interviews for NFL head coaching jobs, is the son of former Raptors and current Detroit Pistons executive Ed Stefanski … One thing about the Rooney Rule in the NFL. If Tony Dungy announced tomorrow he wants to coach again, there would be a lineup of teams wanting to hire him …. So sorry to hear of the passing of legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart. Bet you didn’t know he was the band’s second drummer. The first, the late John Rutsey, was brother to longtime Toronto Sun baseball writer Mike Rutsey … Eddie Olczyk will be in Toronto next Saturday signing copies of his book, Beating the Odds, at the Eaton Centre at 1 p.m. … My big-league commissioner power ratings: 1. Adam Silver, NBA; 2. Gary Bettman, NHL; 3. Roger Goodell, NFL; 4. Rob Manfred, MLB … Having said that, I can’t believe the NBA fined Jimmy Butler for his taunting post-game soliloquy the other night. They should have sent him a cheque and thanked him for his entertainment … In the future, McDavid, Brooke Henderson, Mike Soroka and Alfonso Davies will win the Lou Marsh as Canada’s athlete of the year. And McDavid’s the oldest of the four, he turns 23 on Monday … Born this date 90 years ago: Tim Horton … And happy birthday to Chris Boucher (27), Abdullah the Butcher (79), Nikolai Borschevsky (55), Claude Giroux (32), Nigel Wilson (50), Drew Pearson (69), John Avery (44), Bill Madlock (69), Marian Hossa (41) and Dominque Wilkins (60) … And hey, whatever became of Mason Raymond?


Edwin Encarnacion played more than 600 games at third base in the major leagues, not all of them well, with both the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays. In the early years, the initials of his first and last name rather symbolized his career in the field.

But it seemed the minute the Blue Jays freed him from his difficulty at third — moving him to first base and designated hitter — his time as a big league star began to blossom.

In the eight seasons that followed his move from third base, he hit 42-36-34-39-42-38-32-and 34 home runs. Not just magnificent totals for the quiet man. Nearing the end of his career now, he has been one of baseball’s most consistent and successful power hitters.

So why does this matter now?

It matters because the eye test has met the statistical findings released the other day and after just one big league season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been rated as one of the worst defensive players in the game and probably not suited to play third base anymore.

Now, he hasn’t played anywhere near the 600 games it took for stubborn baseball men to move Encarnacion from a position he clearly struggled with to a place he felt confident. Guerrero is just a kid. He turns just 21 in March. His first big league season, for all it was built up to be, was clearly disappointing. But I wonder now, looking back at Encarnacion’s career and it’s straight-line brilliance, if Guerrero wouldn’t benefit offensively from a position change. It’s something the Jays have to be thinking about to make them better offensively and defensively.


When Mike Babcock was fired as coach of the Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews was ninth in the NHL in scoring.

This morning, he is 10th in the NHL in the Art Ross Trophy race, 15 and 16 points behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

In the 22 games with Sheldon Keefe as coach — 15 of them wins — Matthews leads the league in goal scoring with 17, but is just 13th overall in points during that time.

The easy and popular narrative right now is that Matthews is playing significantly better under Keefe than he was under Babcock, whom Matthews clearly had some issues with.  That may be true, but the statistics, though, aren’t quite so clear, even while Matthews is playing 96 seconds more at even strength per game than he was under Babcock – which is basically two additional shifts a game.

In the 23 games Babcock coached this season, Matthews had 27 points.

In the 22 games Keefe has coached 22 with the Leafs, Matthews has 27 points for him.

Same production, different coaches.

Matthews is indeed showing growth in his overall game but he reminds me of a construction project: The foundation is there, the skills and the will are there, but the decorations and furnishing, the final touches still need to come. This is Year 4 and he’s playing well and scoring well and yet there is more of him to give.

This is just the beginning for Matthews under Keefe. The convenient narrative, not necessarily accurate at this time, will come for the long term.


I worry about Bianca Andreescu.

I worry that she is so young and vibrant and talented and full of moxie and already is having the challenge of staying healthy enough to play top-level tennis.

She just announced she won’t be playing the Australian Open this month, the first major since she won the U.S. Open.

This time it’s a knee injury. Last year, she had a shoulder problem. She missed more than half the 2019 season with injuries. And she’s just a kid, just starting out, really.

With good health and good fortune, who knows how many major tournaments Andreescu might win? Her talent is immense as is her toughness and her all-court game is quite unusual and powerful.

But you worry because this is really just the beginning of her second professional season. We underrate the way tennis beats up its athletes and how many players get hurt year after year. We’ve certainly seen an up close example of how Milos Raonic’s career has been altered and flattened by his inability to stay healthy. What would Raonic have accomplished by now with good health? Truth is, we don’t know.

There is this Canadian in all of us that wants Andreescu to be great, not just in one Major, but in a lot of them. That hope is on hold now as she undergoes her latest rehab on the road to the French Open.

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Sail Canada says coach fired because lack of money, not pregnancy



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 she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year, Ross was fired.

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 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.

$80,000 annual salary

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.”

I would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring I can continue in my role …— Former Sail Canada coach Lisa Ross on her firing

“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 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.”

Another female hired on contract basis

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.”

Lawsuit not filed against Sail Canada

Milner also wrote in that email 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 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



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.


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



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.


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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