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Toronto Raptors prepare for a very different NBA draft – The Globe and Mail

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Taking place in November instead of June, and during a pandemic that has limited the ability to scout players in person, the Toronto Raptors are preparing for a very different NBA draft experience.

The Raptors have the 29th and 59th picks in the draft, which will take place on Nov. 18, a little more than a month after the NBA Finals concluded inside the bubble in Orlando. The process of evaluating prospects live at games, combines and individual workouts has mostly shifted to studying those players on film and interviewing them by video calls.

The Raptors scouting department works year-round and has scouts around the world. Their staff had already learned a great deal about prospects before the pandemic shut down the sports world, including March Madness, in the spring.

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“I think that we’re a front office that spends a lot of time digging in on guys throughout the entire season, not just during the predraft,” said Dan Tolzman, Raptors assistant general manager and vice-president of player personnel. “So a lot of the work we’ve done, it happened earlier in the year while the games were still going on.

“We feel pretty comfortable where things were when everything got changed. I think it’s going to come down to trusting in our gut feeling on some of these players.”

Typically, NBA teams bring potential picks to their cities for individual workouts close to the draft, but the league restricted most player travel because of the pandemic. Some players did local workouts and teams connected by video to watch or talk to them.

“We value the visits … and we get to know [the prospects] in person,” Tolzman said during a video call with reporters, adding that it was also a good way to sell the potential players on the city. “A lot of these guys have never been out of the country or especially to Toronto. It’s unfortunate for that side of things to kind of miss out on that opportunity. We’re still getting some one-on-one time. We’re doing a lot of Zoom interviews. It doesn’t recreate the interperson discussions, but we’re doing our best to at least get to know them.”

The Raptors are still doing homework on the prospects, including speaking with people who know them. Tolzman added that it can be tough to evaluate virtually how a player is doing with goals he may have stated months ago, such as changing his diet, adding or losing weight or improving a particular skill.

“It seems like forever since we’ve seen these players. They might be completely different from the last time we saw them playing in March,” Tolzman said. “We’re basing a lot of these decisions on extensive film work, discussions as a staff and a lot of background digging on players to get as much info as we can to make an educated decision come draft night.”

All teams missed the scouting opportunities that would have come with U.S. college conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament.

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“Those are two events that are so important for the performances under pressure, the different sort of environments that are really good for critiquing players and getting to see them in different settings,” Tolzman said. “It’s almost like the final exam of a scouting season where you can go to a conference tournament and you can see 12 different draft prospects in one day.”

Tolzman said he believes the market for undrafted talent could be huge this year, because some potential gems never got the chance to shine in front of scouts.

He added that international prospects might be more NBA ready than in in the past, because they spent four or five months before this draft training in the United States, rather than previous years when they would typically be playing back home.

“Because of this situation most of them are now State-side and they’re already doing the NBA-type training methods,” Tolzman said. “They might hit the ground running a little bit quicker than normal.”

The NBA has not released any details about how the draft will operate or what it will look on TV. The Raptors will still feel at home where key members of their staff usually work on draft nights, inside their Toronto training facility – OVO Athletic Centre – fitted with sophisticated analytics technology.

“We’re waiting to hear officially from the league on what to expect,” Tolzman said. “I think all the technologies and all the setups that we usually have at OVO for these sorts of thing, we’re going to have the same things right in front of us. It’ll just be a matter of it looking and feeling a little bit different. But we’re going to make sure it’s all set up and ready to go at least a week in advance to get comfortable and ready.”

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Alphonso Davies named Canadian men’s player of the year – Sportsnet.ca

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Alphonso Davies, who drew worldwide acclaim while helping Bayern Munich fill its trophy case in a remarkable 2020, has been named Canadian Men’s Player of the Year.

The 20-year-old from Edmonton also captured the award in 2018, then the youngest-ever winner of the men’s award at age 18. He was named Canada’s U-17 Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Canada Soccer, which will announce the women’s award winner on Friday, said Davies earned a record vote total from Canadian media and coaches, finishing just ahead of Christine Sinclair’s record set in 2012.

News of the men’s award comes the same day that Davies, now a fixture at left back for the German champions, returned to first-team training after tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in late October.

“To see what Alphonso Davies has accomplished this year is awe-inspiring for the next generation of players,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement. “His achievements have raised the flag in our sport higher than anyone else in our lifetime on the men’s side of the game and he has helped put this country as a football country on the world map.

Converted to fullback by Bayern, Davies has turned heads with his speed and ability to create attacks. Bayern veteran Thomas Mueller dubbed him the Bayern Road Runner after the pacey cartoon character.

In June, Davies was named Bundesliga rookie of the year in voting by fans, clubs and the media. Kicker magazine, a German sports magazine that focuses mainly on football, included him in its Bundesliga team of the season.

This week ESPN ranked Davies as the second-best left fullback in the world, behind Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.

He was third in voting for the Golden Boy award won by Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. The annual award, run by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, honours the best young player in Europe.

And he was shortlisted as a nominee for UEFA’s Team of the Year and Defender of the Year,

Davies shone on the biggest stage.

In an 8-2 beatdown of Barcelona in Champions League quarterfinal play in August, he set up Bayern’s fifth goal in the 63rd minute with a sensational run down the left flank. Davies beat three Barca players, befuddling Portuguese international Nelson Semedo before racing past several more defenders into the penalty box and sending a perfect pass to Joshua Kimmich to slot in from close range.

“That was unbelievable,” Kimmich said later. “Even I was a bit ashamed when I celebrated. He gets 99 per cent of the credit for the goal. I only had to get the ball over the line.”

Davies, who turned 20 on Nov. 2, also excelled in Bayern’s 3-0 win at Chelsea in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie in late February. Davies made a lightning run down the left flank and crossed to Robert Lewandowski for a tap-in in the 76th minute.

“Alphonso Davies’ parents fled Liberia in the civil war. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and moved to Canada when he was five. Here he is playing beautifully for Bayern at 19. What a wonderful story,” former England striker Gary Lineker, now an analyst with BBC Sport, posted on Twitter.

“Alphonso Davies is a world-class left back,” added former U.S. international Stuart Holden. “Top five in world soccer right now easy.”

The six-foot, 165-pound Davies set a Bundesliga speed record out in a 1-0 win at Werder Bremen that earned the Bavarian powerhouse an eighth straight league title. He was clocked at 36.51 km/h in the first half against Bremen, according to the Bundesliga. That erased the fastest recorded speed in league history (36.19 km/h by Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi) since detailed data collection began in 2011.

In 2020, Davies has helped Bayern to the Champions League and Bundesliga titles, the DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup. He is the first Canadian male to lift the Champions League trophy.

Covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons from January through October 2020, Davies featured in 33 matches and scored two goals and six assists. Along the way, he was chosen Canada Soccer’s Player of the Month in February, July and August as well as FC Bayern’s Player of the Month and the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Month in May.

The young Canadian international joined Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a then-MLS record US$22-million transfer. The deal was done in July 2018 but Davies finished out the MLS season before joining Bayern in January 2019.

In April, he signed a contract extension with Bayern that will keep him with the German champions through June 2025.

Davies has won 17 caps for Canada, with five goals and seven assists. Off the pitch, he has attracted a huge social media following with 3.1 million followers, 2.9 million on TikTok. on Instagram and 233,000 on Twitter.

A former refugee, Davies became a Supporter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees this year, using his platforms and his public profile to raise awareness and fundraise in support of refugees.

“Alphonso has to be commended for his passion and spirit with which he plays, but also for his ability to connect with people off the field,” said Herdman. “He is a real ambassador for our sport in Canada and on the global stage.”

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Why adult sports in B.C. are shut down, but kids can keep playing – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
From hockey to soccer, curling and even bowling, nearly all adult sports have been suspended in B.C. 

“A lot of these adult team sports are as much social gatherings as they are sport,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday. “It’s the going for a coffee or a beer after a game that has been the most (common) source of transmission. But sometimes it’s very difficult, because a lot of that is built into the culture of many of the adult team sports.”

Henry says kids’ sports don’t have the same history of COVID-19 transmission, so they’re allowed to continue, but players can only practice with their teams. No games are being held and there is no travel between jurisdictions.

“We are hoping we can preserve, safely, those opportunities for young people without the riskier parts of what they’re doing around playing games and travel,” said Henry.

The Adult Safe Hockey League is one of the largest organizations impacted by the adult sports shutdown. Its 400 teams play out of three Canlan Ice Sports facilities in Burnaby, Langley and North Vancouver, and they just resumed full-game play last week.

“It’s frustrating for our hockey players, those that come to play, they need an outlet,” said Canlan Ice Sports executive vice president Mike Gellard.

He said Canlan facilities have done everything they can can to keep players and staff safe, including plexiglass dividers on the bench and strict time limits in dressing rooms. But he recognizes pre-and post game gatherings can be an issue.

“It’s not the on ice where the risk is,” said Gellard. “The biggest part of an adult hockey game was having a beer after the game in a room. Well, obviously that doesn’t happen anymore. Where they go after the game, we really can’t control that.”

The owner of Scottsdale Lanes is disappointed bowling is included in the adult sports ban. Families can still drop in to play with the members of their household bubble, but adult league games have been suspended.

“Our leagues are totally our bread and butter,” Ken Clarke said. “If we don’t have our leagues, it’s questionable whether it’s even worth being open. I would say 80 per cent of our revenue is league-based revenue.”

Children’s bowling leagues can continue, and kids can keep practicing with their sports teams. Dance studios have also been allowed to reopen, but again, for children’s programs only.

With all adult hockey programs now cancelled, Canlan Ice Sports facilities will be nearly empty at what is normally a very busy time of year.

“We’re going to have a lot of open ice, so if you want to buy some ice, give us a call,” Gellard said.

As for when the adult teams could return?

“The only way we’re going to be able to reopen is if COVID numbers get better and the vaccine starts to get distributed,” he said. “So I think we are in this for a little bit longer.” 

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NHL 'taking our time' planning for start of 2020-21 season – NHL.com

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The NHL is planning for what could be an unusual 2020-21 season with the goal of returning to normal in 2021-22.

The League has targeted Jan. 1, 2021 for the start of this season. 

“That is a work in progress, influenced largely by what we’re hearing from the medical experts, and we talk to some pretty highly placed people without name-dropping,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday.

“COVID[-19] is going through a second wave, which could be worse than the first wave, and between Thanksgiving and the aftermath and what they think is going to happen for Christmas and the aftermath, we are taking our time and making sure that as we look for ways to move forward we’re focused on health and safety and doing the right things.”

Commissioner Bettman made the comments in an online interview during Sports Business Journal’s Dealmakers in Sports conference.

The Commissioner said the NHL Players’ Association would sign off on a training camp of appropriate length, which might be slightly shorter than past seasons. Teams probably would want to play a preseason game or two, he said.

Based on what the NHL is being told by medical experts, particularly regarding the availability of vaccines to the general public, Commissioner Bettman said arenas could be full in 2021-22, when the Seattle Kraken begin play as an expansion team.

“I think this is perhaps the most important thing,” the Commissioner said. “What we’re focused on is trying to get through the ’20-21 season so that we can be back in position for ’21-22 to normalcy. … We are hopeful and optimistic based on everything we’re hearing that we can look at normalcy by the time we get to ’21-22 whatever happens this season.”

Commissioner Bettman said the NHL has not asked the NHLPA to renegotiate the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement after the League and union announced a four-year extension July 10 that takes the agreement through 2025-26.

The Commissioner said the NHL and NHLPA are discussing short-term issues and the long-term economic impact.

Short-term issues include what the season will look like; whether teams will play in home arenas, hubs or a hybrid; and potential for temporary divisional realignment.

The Canada-United States border is closed to nonessential travel, and Canada has said it will remain so until the pandemic is under control. Commissioner Bettman said even if NHL teams could cross, the issue of quarantine remains.

“If you’re playing a regular schedule of games, you can’t quarantine players for 14 days as you’re moving in and out of the country, which is why, among the other issues that are going to impact a possible season, is we literally would have to realign and create a situation where maybe the teams in Canada only play each other, and we have to realign the way all of our teams are playing competitively,” the Commissioner said.

“It’s part of the myriad of issues that we’re dealing with, which is why when people say, ‘Oh, well, they’re trying to renegotiate,’ the answer to all of this is, we’ve got a lot of issues and a lot of problems to deal with, and the system is going to be stressed for everyone. And is there an appetite for working through all of those issues?”

The owners and the players split hockey-related revenue 50-50 under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. A portion of players’ salaries is held in escrow during the accounting process. The extension capped escrow, starting at 20 percent for 2020-21 and descending to 6 percent by 2023-24.

The NHL salary cap is tied to hockey-related revenue under the teams of the collective bargaining agreement as well. It will remain at $81.5 million until hockey-related revenue surpasses $3.3 billion, according to the extension.

It is unclear how many fans, if any, could attend games in 2020-21. Governmental limits on gatherings for public events vary from market to market.

“Whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50 percent,” Commissioner Bettman said. “And if we overpay them and they don’t pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time. There will be stresses on the system, and we’ve had discussions about what those stresses are and how they might be dealt with, but we’re not trying to say you must do X, Y and Z. We’re trying to look for ways to continue to work together.

“I know it’s being portrayed as something else, and it’s unfortunate and it’s inaccurate, because at the end of the day, if the system gets stressed, it’s going to be stressed for both of us.

“If we have to pay out lots of cash, two-thirds of which is going to come back to us, that may cause some stress, but we’ll have to deal with it if we’re going to move forward. And by the same token, if the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we’re owed.

“So the [situation] isn’t like, well, we demand a renegotiation. To the contrary, it’s we see the way the system is going to be impacted. Is it something that makes sense to deal with in the context of everything else that we may have to do, which is out of the ordinary and unanticipated, in order to be in a position to possibly play?”

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