SIMMONS: Problems aplenty for Leafs and coach Keefe – Toronto Sun
This is the first mini-crisis of the Sheldon Keefe era with the Maple Leafs.
And maybe ‘mini’ is the wrong word to use here. Maybe this is the first real crisis, three losses in a row, three lousy games in a row after looking like a top-5 NHL team .
The worst loss occurred on Sunday night in Sunrise — in the biggest game to date of the regular season, a chance to push the Florida Panthers way back in the standings.
The Leafs didn’t show up. They never announced their presence. They weren’t ready to play. They looked as loose and sloppy and careless as at any time during the final days of Mike Babcock’s regime.
They looked nothing like a team that anyone would take seriously.
Keefe has brought new life and new energy to the hockey club. At first, he seemed almost magician like. The players were looser, happier, seemingly enjoying his unusual possession-style of game, with twists they haven’t seen in the offensive zone.
Then came last Monday and the Edmonton Oilers. And that began Keefe’s first real week of NHL difficulty since he was trying to catch on with the Arizona Coyotes as a winger 16 years ago. The Leafs and Frederik Andersen were rather lost against the Oilers, and too uninvolved against the Winnipeg Jets and then the disaster of Sunday night in Florida where everything from goaltending to effort to structure to accountability disappeared. The new magician: Now you see the Leafs, now you don’t.
And now, Morgan Rielly is out for at least two months. The problems just continue for Keefe.
General manager Kyle Dubas is all locked in to this problematic week as well. His unwillingness or inabilty to add a quality backup goaltender has made the recent difficulties of Andersen all the more unpleasant. Andersen has been pulled in two of his last three starts, only once on merit. But his save percentages in the past three games are .667, .893 and .842. That’s good enough to get you a lottery pick.
In other NHL cities, when the starter hits a bad stretch, the team can turn to the backup goaltender. Michael Hutchinson isn’t that guy. He isn’t good enough to get you out of trouble. Andersen got pulled against the Oilers — Hutchinson gave up three goals on 16 shots. Against Florida, after Andersen was yanked early in the second period, he gave up four goals on 17 shots.
Dubas has stubbornly maintained this isn’t a problem area. It is the single largest welt on his young resume. It has been a problem all season long. It’s more of a problem now with the all-star Andersen struggling to find his all-star form. Tampa can turn to Curtis McElhinney if Andrei Vasilevskiy needs a break. Boston can turn to Jaroslav Halak when Tuukka Rask is off. And on Sunday night, the Leafs lost to somebody named Chris Driedger, an Ottawa Senators draft pick from years gone by, who two years ago was playing for the Brampton Beast. That Chris Driedger.
He would probably be an upgrade on Hutchinson. Just about anyone would. Hutchinson has played 12 games this season for the Leafs, nine as a starter, three as a backup. He has two decent starts, one strong relief appearance, six games you want to forget about. You need more dependability from a backup, especially with Andersen off his game. You need Glenn Healy or Jamie McLennan
This is just one of the problems that have become evident as the Keefe magic is slowly wearing off.
Under Keefe the Leafs still have a 15-6-2 record, a long way from the 9-10-4 team he inherited. That’s 114 point pace compared to 78 point pace. That’s a huge change. But they’re 0-2-1 in the past seven days. Eighteen goals against in the three defeats. The old problems — defensive zone coverages, gap control, inability to win battles on loose pucks, shoddy neutral zone play, too many odd-man rushes against, an overall lack of effort — seemingly came back all at once. And it isn’t one player, one pair of defence, one forward line to fix — it’s the whole team right now.
Keefe’s Leafs are first in the NHL in scoring since he took over as coach. And they’re 11th in goals against in those 23 games, up from 30th when Babcock left. Statistically that works. The goal differential, one of Babcock’s favourite numbers, is +21 since Keefe took over. It was minus-8 under Babcock in the same number of games coached.
But in the last three games, it is minus-9, and it would be worse than that if the Leafs didn’t score some garbage goals after they were way behind.
Oddly, after the horrible game in Florida, after the Leafs were granted a day in the sun, they were given the day off Monday. Keefe is anything but conventional, but this is all new for him now.
His first NHL predicament. His job to find a way out. The players disgraced themselves Sunday night in Florida. That’s on them. Now it’s time for the coach to fix all that is seemingly wrong.
Sail Canada says coach Lisa Ross was fired for financial reasons, not because she was pregnant – The Globe and Mail
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.
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.”
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.
Kamloops Blazers rout Peterborough Petes 10-2 in Memorial Cup – ESPN – ESPN India
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.
Sail Canada says coach Lisa Ross was fired for financial reasons, not because she was pregnant – The Globe and Mail
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