Andy Behrens recommends adding these two picks to your roster before the new week even begins.
Andy Behrens recommends adding these two picks to your roster before the new week even begins.
The Raptors will open the 2020-21 season against the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 23.
It's the final week of the fantasy football regular season, so make sure to check out these rankings before you set your lineup.
It seems the NHL and NHLPA had some meaningful discussions over the last few days.
Tom Brady signed a two-year, $50 million deal with the Buccaneers in 2020.
New Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch has a long history with head coach Nick Nurse and is excited to coach alongside him instead of against him. Finch discusses his relationship with Nurse, improving the Raptors half-court offense and how playing in Tampa will have its perks.
What the NFL doesn’t want is a repeat of the messy back-and-forth between the 49ers and Santa Clara County officials.
William Lou is joined by Vivek Jacob of CBC Sports to discuss the journey of Pascal Siakam.
The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse's staff.
Robert Saleh "would help us reach peaks that have seemed unobtainable for so long," the group wrote in an open letter.
Longtime junior hockey executive Larry Mavety has died. He was 78.
The study found that about 48 per cent of Canadian youth who come out to teammates reported being the target of homophobic behaviour, including bullying, assaults and slurs.
There's one way the Lakers could be a factor during 2021’s bonanza of a free-agent class after signing LeBron and AD to new deals.
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors will play host to the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 23 in their NBA season opener in their temporary home of Tampa, Fla. The league unveiled the first half of its schedule on Friday. The NBA schedule opens Dec. 22 with Canadian Steve Nash making his head coaching debut with the Brooklyn Nets against the visiting Golden State Warriors, and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers facing the Los Angeles Clippers. Amalie Arena will be the Raptors' home for at least the first half of their 72-game schedule because of border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. It marks the 11th time in the past 12 seasons the Raptors start the year with a home game. The Raptors also opened against New Orleans last year in Toronto. The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series" model. In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of four series in the first half. Toronto has five series in the first half, starting Jan. 14 and 16 against visiting Charlotte. The Raptors' first road game is Dec. 26 in San Antonio against the Spurs. Toronto faces Boston for the first time since losing to the Celtics in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference semifinal last season on Jan. 4 in Tampa. After that game, the Raptors begin a four-game west coast trip. Toronto's longest trip is five games — Feb. 5 to 12 in Brooklyn, Atlanta, Memphis, Washington and Boston. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Running back Andrew Harris, who was instrumental in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ending their Grey Cup drought in 2019, tops the CFL team's list of potential free agents. Harris is among 329 players listed by the CFL on Friday as being eligible to hit the open market at noon ET on Feb. 9. The 33-year-old Winnipeg native ran for 134 yards and a TD and registered five caches for 35 yards with another touchdown in leading the Bombers past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game. That earned Harris Grey Cup MVP and top Canadian honours, making him the first player to secure both awards in the same year. Harris and the Bombers didn't have a chance to defend their title as the CFL cancelled its plans for an abbreviated 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in August. Harris isn't the only top Bomber slated to his free agency. Offensive linemen Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick are among Winnipeg's potential 33 free agents, along with veteran kicker Justin Medlock. The Montreal Alouettes (48) have the most potential free agents, just ahead of the Edmonton Football Club (47) and Ottawa Redblacks (45). Hamilton has 33 players listed, including receiver Brandon Banks (CFL's 2019 outstanding player), quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and Canadian offensive linemen Chris Van Zeyl and Mike Filer. The Saskatchewan Roughriders (28) have the fewest potential free agents but one is veteran linebacker Solomon Elimimian. The CFL also announced Friday the moratorium on clubs re-signing their players will be lifted effective noon ET on Monday. "As we look forward to 2021 and a CFL season with optimism, we are moving to provide our clubs with the guidelines and information they need to build competitive rosters," CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. "While we are quite aware of the COVID-19 challenges currently facing society at large and sports in particular, we are also encouraged by the almost daily reports of progress in the development and distribution of rapid tests, treatments and, most importantly, vaccines. "We are taking every step to be prepared to return to the field next year." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Canadian indoor soccer star Ian Bennett has joined the Florida Tropics for the 2020-21 Major Arena Soccer League season.The 37-year-old from Hamilton has been with the Milwaukee Wave since 2009 but found himself without a team when the Wave cancelled their 2020-21 season due to pandemic-related restrictions on attendance at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.That ends a run of 36 straight indoor seasons for the Wave, who have won seven titles. The team is coached by Canadian Giuliano Oliviero.Milwaukee was poised to defend its MASL title when the season was cut short in mid-March, on the eve of the playoffs, due to the pandemic. The league declared the Monterrey Flash and Florida Tropics as Western and Eastern Conference regular-season champions.The Flash (20-2) and Tropics (18-3) were leading their conferences when the season was called. Milwaukee (14-6) was second in the East.The MASL has opted for a modified 2020-2021 regular season, with 11 teams participating — as opposed to the 17 last season. While final schedule details have yet to be announced, the season will likely run January through April.Bennett and other Milwaukee players on multi-year contracts will revert to the Wave at the conclusion of the season.The Canadian forward has appeared in 273 indoor games, scoring 381 goals and adding 104 assists. He was a first-team all-MASL selection in three of the last four seasons, making the second all-star team the other year.Bennett was second in the league in goals scored last season with 44. In the three previous campaigns, he scored 47, 50 and 53 goals, respectively.“This is truly a watershed moment for this franchise," Florida head coach Clay Roberts said in a statement. "To add a player of Ian’s talents, stature and class is truly a game-changing move."The Tropics and its ownership are committed to finishing what we started last season when we won the Eastern Conference championship. Bringing in someone of Ian’s immense skill, leadership and championship mindset will be a big boost in helping us in trying finish the job this spring."\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Watching Connor McDavid let a slapshot fly or Fred VanVleet sink a deep three can be a salve to the soul of a sports fan run down by the difficult realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while health experts agree that the NHL and NBA saw great success in wrapping up their seasons in "bubbles", some are concerned that the return of professional sports could see the virus spread not only between athletes, but into the larger community. Here’s a look at risks they see with various return-to-play scenarios as the sports calendar attempts to fill up after a quiet November: BUBBLE UP When the NBA and NHL announced they were creating sealed-off environments in which to finish their seasons in the summer, some skeptics expected to see COVID outbreaks. Neither league saw a single positive test result in their bubbles. “We didn’t see those massive transmission events that we were concerned about,” said Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba. “The bubble aspect worked. The problem that we get into is how well can you maintain that for an entire season?” While effective from a health perspective, players weren’t enthused about spending months locked down and separated from loved ones. They aren’t eager to repeat the experiment this season, with the NBA having all teams play in home markets (except for the Toronto Raptors, who will call Tampa, Fla., home because of border restrictions). Some sports are trying to repeat the bubble experience, albeit for shorter time periods. The world junior hockey championship is expected to begin in a bubble in Edmonton later this month. Team Canada’s selection camp is already underway in in Red Deer, Alta., though all athletes and staff are currently under quarantine after two players and a staff member tested positive for the virus. Because there are more cases in the community now than earlier this summer, there’s a greater chance of the virus crossing into a protected environment, as anyone with access to the facilities can bring it in, Kindrachuk said. “If there’s high community transmission, you’re hoping that those people stay negative,” he said. “But even if they have a negative test, that doesn’t mean necessarily that the next day they’re not going to become positive and that they’re potentially spreading the virus. So it becomes extremely difficult.” Frequent testing in a walled-off environment allows for positive cases to be identified quickly, but the virus can be passed on before a person is tested, he added, and the number of tests needed over an extended period can take up resources needed elsewhere. “How much extra pressure do we potentially put on to communities that are underneath much larger restrictions in regards to being able to maintain these bubbles?” Kindrachuk asked. Another bubble could add extra pressure to Alberta’s health-care system. Curling Canada announced this week that it is planning to stage events in a protected environment in Calgary. The organization has not yet released details on dates, event specifics or formats. The National Women’s Hockey League, which includes the expansion Toronto Six, will also need to protect its bubble when the league begins play in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Jan. 23. While most leagues with deep pockets have found ways to play during the pandemic, sports like curling and women's hockey face the threat of being replaced if they spend too much time away from fans, said Moshe Lander, a sports economist with Concordia University. “If you’re not even on TV, then you can quickly find yourself irrelevant,” he said. “And that poses an existential threat to those leagues, to those circuits, where you miss a season. And that’s a problem.” PLAY ON Some leagues have opted to return with seasons that look almost normal, albeit with more face masks and less fans. The NFL has gone 12 weeks with teams travelling between cities and some stadiums even allowing a limited number of fans in the stands. But outbreaks among players and staff have climbed recently, forcing the league to postpone games and teams to play without stars. The NFL shows what happens when you combine the lack of bubbles with a high number of community cases, Kindrachuk said. “We’re seeing a lot of players, a lot of coaching staff that are testing positive. All these things start to come down to the question ‘Is it worth the risk?’” he said. After seeing success with a bubble in Florida earlier this year, NBA teams — except the Raptors — are returning to their home arenas for a season set to begin on Dec. 22. The league tested players as they started individual workouts and announced on Wednesday that 48 players — about nine per cent — tested positive. Those athletes are now isolating before they can join group workouts. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League also decided to forge ahead with travelling when it started its season in October. It hasn’t been a smooth journey, though, with five teams having to halt activities due to outbreaks, and provincial restrictions postponing games and practices. The league hosted a temporary bubble in Quebec City last month to help alleviate some of the schedule crunch, then announced last week it will suspend play until at least Jan. 3. When teams are moving between communities, there’s a much higher risk of transmitting COVID-19, said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease expert with the University of Toronto. “(Teams) can do things to reduce it, and they’re trying to, but it’s not perfect,” he said. Junior hockey “absolutely” poses a unique challenge because athletes are together for long bus trips and are integrated with their communities, living with billet families, Morris said. The QMJHL is the only major junior league to have started its season, with the Western Hockey League saying it plans to begin in early January and the Ontario Hockey League setting early February for its return. Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario sport minister, has said OHL players will not be allowed to body check in the 2021 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Morris isn’t convinced that banning body checking is the best way to cut down on transmissions. “I would say that’s ill informed and has no relation to our understanding of the transmission of the disease,” he said. SOMETHING NEW Details for the 2021 NHL season have yet to be unveiled, but the league has said it is targeting early January for a start date. Several possible scenarios have been floated, including temporarily realigning divisions to reduce travel and deal with border restrictions. The possibility of an all-Canadian division “really would help” because the pandemic is at very different stages in the U.S. and Canada, and each country has different approaches to public health, said Dr. Brian Conway, head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre. “The Canadian division makes a lot of sense,” he said. Conway also doesn't see huge concern in having players return to Canada from other countries, assuming each man is tested and quarantines upon arrival. Testing athletes as they arrive for training camps allows teams — and the league as a whole — to create a baseline where no one is infected, Conway said. “It’ll start out well, they’ll be reassured by how things go, and then as you move forward, there will be more and more cases,” he said. After the baseline is established, athletes and staff will interact with people in the community. Because numbers in the community are currently so high, each interaction will carry greater risk than it would have earlier this year, Conway said. Those interactions between the community and athletes are what’s driving up numbers in the NFL, he added. Conway said he’s worried about what happens when athletes get time away from the rink. There have already been cases this year of NHL players being caught out at nightclubs despite the pandemic, he noted. “I’m very, very concerned that people who are in a bubble or are in a very, very controlled environment and then are (allowed) to loosen the rules for the next couple of days, that people are going to view this as a licence to do whatever they want, the old normal,” he said. “That’s a big risk.” In order to keep transmission of the virus low, the NHL needs to come up with serious consequences like steep fines or forfeited games for breaking COVID protocols, Conway said. “There needs to be in place a lot of education. Sort of ‘This is what you need to do and this is why,’” he said. WHAT TO DO? As COVID-19 cases climb, questions are being raised about how much longer professional sports will be able to continue. “With the (way) things are going in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine any of the major sports reasonably continuing to have games outside of a bubble,” Morris said. “So they’ll either have to bubble or take a pause. I think that’s the high likelihood.” Even if games can be played, some experts wonder whether they should. The long-term impacts of the virus are still relatively unknown, Kindrachuk said, and leagues should be asking whether returning to play right now is worth the risk. “If we just put this off by the months that we need to be able to get things back in our communities to where we need, get transmission back under control, to me, that is more worthwhile,” he said. Others say society needs to continue to function in order to maintain people’s mental and physical health. “In North America, team professional sports is so much a part of the day-to-day lives of many that it has to exist in some way,” Conway said. “So I think if we were to turn around at this stage, given what’s been done, and shut it down, there would be a very big push back that would affect health.” Sports also need to continue from an economic perspective, with multi-billion dollar TV deals that need to be fulfilled, said Lander. Leagues also need to find a way to keep players safe so competition remains at a high level, he added. “The show has to go on and it has to be legitimate. It can’t just be trotting out a bunch of third stringers or practice squads, or there’s a problem,” Lander said. Getting fans back in the stands is important, too, Lander added, but having people take in a sporting event live can’t risk public health. A super-spreader event or a death linked to a game would be catastrophic, he said. “The public backlash would be so severe that it’s not worth violating for a season or maybe even two seasons to get things done.” Athletes and sports leagues are in a unique position to help others, Morris said, but in order to do so, they’ll need to focus on public health instead of playing games. “If I were in professional sports — every single professional sport — if they want to have the greatest chance of success moving forward with the least risk to their athletes, they would be spending the time right now on mobilizing the public to follow public health measures and to encourage people, when the vaccine comes, to take the vaccine,” he said. “Sports are really influential and they can make a huge difference in the trajectory of the pandemic.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. — Follow @gkarstenssmith on Twitter Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
The NBA released on Friday a first-half schedule for the 2020-21 season ripe with entertaining games.
The conference is planning to make up 10 games over those two weeks.
Canadian Kadeisha Buchanan has been swimming with the sharks for four seasons now, helping anchor the Olympique Lyonnais defence as the French powerhouse cruised to one trophy after another. The hard-nosed centre back from Brampton, Ont., has shown she belongs with an all-star roster that has no equal in women's club soccer. Lyon won the treble in 2020, claiming the Champions League and French League titles as well as the French Cup. Her performance for Lyon, as well as helping Canada book its ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, has earned the 25-year-old Buchanan her third Canadian Women's Player of the Year award. "A great year, (despite) all that's going on in the world," Buchanan said in an interview Friday. "I'm proud to get such results after being off for a few months (due to the pandemic). To really put that effort in after and to go after the (Champions League) trophy was very rewarding." Lyon had gone an amazing 73 matches without defeat prior to a 1-0 league loss at Paris Saint-Germain last month. PSG was the last team to beat Lyon in any competition, 1-0 in the French Cup final in May 2018. The streak was even longer — 80 matches — stretching back to December 2016 in French league play. Like Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, voted Canada's top men's player on Thursday, the 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., lifted the Champions League trophy this year. But while it was a first for the 20-year-old Davies, Buchanan is a four-time winner of the European club competition. “For Kadeisha to have played an integral part in her fourth UEFA Champions League speaks to one of her many accomplishments and contributions to both club and country in which she should be very proud,” Canada women's coach Bev Priestman said in a statement. “It has been a fantastic season for Kadeisha and it has been great to see her performances and the goals she has scored, too. “She has world-class qualities that any country would be proud to have and she is a highly valued member of the squad both on and off the pitch, so we are thrilled for her personally in receiving this well-deserved recognition. As a team, to know you have a centre back that opposing forwards hate to play against, it fills the group with confidence.” Buchanan finished ahead of Canada captain Christine Sinclair in voting by Canadian coaches and media. Manchester City's Janine Beckie and Paris Saint-Germain's Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema completed the top five in voting. Sinclair also had a memorable year. The 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., moved atop soccer's all-time goal-scoring list — for both men and women — on Jan. 29 at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Edinburg, Texas. Sinclair, a 14-time winner of the Canadian Player of the Year award, notched goals No. 184, 185 and 186 at the tournament to pass retired American Abby Wambach. While Sinclair is a soccer legend, one can argue that Buchanan is Canada's most decorated soccer player, among men and women. She has won the women's European club crown and French league title all four years since making her pro debut in 2017. She has also hoisted the French Cup three times. A winner of the Canadian Player of the Year Award in 2015 and 2017, Buchanan's trophy case also includes an Olympic bronze medal (Rio 2016) and three CONCACAF silver medals. At the 2015 World Cup, she won the Hyundai Young Player Award and was chosen to the tournament all-star team. Buchanan has remarkably lost just four competitive club matches since joining Lyon from West Virginia University in January 2017. Lyon's dominance was shown by the fact that the club provided 12 of 50 players — including Buchanan — shortlisted for the 2020 UEFA Team of the Year. The number is 13 if you include English star Lucy Bronze, who left for Manchester City during the summer. Lyon is the 14-time defending champion of France and has won the French Cup nine times and the Champions League seven times. An athletic, physical defender who is good in the air, Buchanan has been paired with France captain Wendie Renard at the heart of the Lyon defence. French international Griedge Mbock, another key cog in the Lyon backline, underwent surgery in June to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. Renard, Bronze and four other Lyon players are among the 12 shortlisted for FIFA's Best Women's Player award this year. Renard is also one of six nominees for the BBC World Sport Star 2020 Award. The internal competition at Lyon is intense. Buchanan started in her first and fourth Champions League finals, while she was among the substitutes in the finals in between. Buchanan featured in 17 games for Lyon this year, scored three goals and was a major part of the team’s 20-match unbeaten streak across all league, cup and UEFA competitions from Jan. 12 to Nov. 13. Buchanan played in all seven of Lyon's Champions League matches in 2019-20. And she played every minute at centre back in August when Lyon dispatched Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals, Paris Saint-Germain in the semifinals, and VfL Wolfsburg in the championship game in San Sebastian, Spain. Buchanan helped blunt Wolfsburg's Ewa Pajor and Pernille Harder, the Bundesliga’s back-to-back scoring leaders, in a 3-1 win as Lyon completed a 2019-20 treble. "The game wasn't easy," Buchanan said. "It was very intense … To hear the final whistle was a great moment." Lyon is also proving to be an enjoyable home away from home. "(I'm) still loving it, said Buchanan. "I'm getting more and more intertwined with the culture each year, speaking more and more French. I wouldn't say I'm fluent as yet but I'm getting there … I'm definitely settling down in France. At the moment I feel very comfortable here." Buchanan was 14 when she made her debut in the Canadian youth program in 2010 and 17 when she made her senior debut in January 2013. She featured in six internationals with Canada from January through March this year before the pandemic hit. She was named Canada’s player of the match against the U.S. in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship final, which also marked her milestone 100th international. Buchanan, whose cap total now stands at 101 including 96 starts, was named to the CONCACAF tournament's Best XI. The Canadian Player of the Year award is presented by Allstate. Past winners of the Canadian Players of the Year Award 2020: Kadeisha Buchanan and Alphonso Davies 2019: Ashley Lawrence and Jonathan David 2018: Christine Sinclair and Alphonso Davies 2017: Kadeisha Buchanan and Atiba Hutchinson 2016: Christine Sinclair and Atiba Hutchinson 2015: Kadeisha Buchanan and Atiba Hutchinson 2014: Christine Sinclair and Atiba Hutchinson 2013: Christine Sinclair and Will Johnson 2012: Christine Sinclair and Atiba Hutchinson 2011: Christine Sinclair and Dwayne De Rosario 2010: Christine Sinclair and Atiba Hutchinson 2009: Christine Sinclair and Simeon Jackson 2008: Christine Sinclair and Julian de Guzman 2007: Christine Sinclair and Dwayne De Rosario 2006: Christine Sinclair and Dwayne De Rosario 2005: Christine Sinclair and Dwayne De Rosario 2004: Christine Sinclair and Paul Stalteri 2003: Charmaine Hooper and Pat Onstad 2002: Charmaine Hooper and Jason deVos 2001: Andrea Neil and Paul Stalteri 2000: Christine Sinclair and Craig Forrest 1999: Geraldine Donnelly and Jim Brennan 1998: Silvana Burtini and Tomasz Radzinski 1997: Janine Helland and Mark Watson 1996: Geraldine Donnelly and Paul Peschisolido 1995: Charmaine Hooper and Alex Bunbury 1994: Charmaine Hooper and Craig Forrest 1993: Alex Bunbury --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Hamilton's Forge FC looks to book its ticket to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday against CD Marathon in Honduras. The matchup for the play-in game was determined last week when Forge and Marathon both lost their quarterfinal matches in the CONCACAF League, a 22-team competition that serves as a feeder tournament for the confederation's elite club tournament. On Friday, CONCACAF confirmed the dates and venues for the two play-in matches. Forge will meet Marathon at the 35,000-seat Estadio Tiburcio Carias in Tegucigalpa — the Honduran capital. Nicaragua's Real Esteli FC will travel to Tegucigalpa to face Honduran side FC Motagua in the other play-in match Wednesday. The play-in match winners will join the four CONCACAF League semifinalists — Costa Rica's LD Alajuelense and Deportivo Saprissa, Honduras's CD Olimpia and Haiti's Arcahaie FC — in the 2021 Champions League field. Arcahaie defeated Forge in a penalty shootout on Tuesday in quarterfinal play in the Dominican Republic. The Canadian Premier League champions, whose domestic season wrapped up Sept.19, had previously won CONCACAF League matches in El Salvador and Panama. Forge is bidding to become the first team in the fledgling CPL to qualify for the Champions League. Marathon has made it five times (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2019), reaching the Champions League quarterfinals in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The Honduras side, founded in 1925, topped its group in 2008-09, beating out Mexico's Cruz Azul, Costa Rica's Saprissa and MLS's D.C. United. The next year, it defeated Mexico's Toluca en route to the final eight. Forge will also have a chance at Champions League qualification via the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, slated for the first quarter of 2021. There is no word yet on what happens to the Champions League berth on offer in the Canadian Championship final if Forge wins in Honduras next week. “CONCACAF remains in discussions with Canada Soccer and will provide an update in due course,” a CONCACAF spokesman said. The 2021 CONCACAF Champions League field also already includes Mexico's CF Monterrey, Club America, Club Leon and Cruz Azul, the MLS's Philadelphia Union (Supporters' Shield winner) and Portland Timbers (MLS is Back Tournament winner) and Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic. The MLS Cup winner will also secure a berth. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press