Tag Archives: draft

4 UBC Thunderbirds among 16 players taken in CPL-U Sports draft

FC Edmonton took UBC midfielder Thomas Gardner first overall in Friday’s CPL-U Sports draft, one of four Thunderbirds selected in the two-round draft.

Concordia had three players chosen while two each came from the University of Montreal, Mount Royal University and Ontario Tech University.

The 16 players selected will attend pre-season training with the hope of securing a contract. They are eligible for a developmental deal that allows a player to sign with a CPL club while preserving any remaining U Sports eligibility.

The 22-year-old Gardiner was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 draft and 12th overall in 2019, both times by Pacific FC. A native of North Vancouver, Gardner joined the Whitecaps FC residency program in 2011, signing his first pro contract with the USL’s Whitecaps FC 2 in 2015.

FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch, then with the Whitecaps organization, gave Gardner his pro debut in the USL Championship. Gardiner made one appearance for the MLS Whitecaps in a pre-season game against the Portland Timbers in February 2016.

“Tommy is a creative player who we know can play and contribute in the CPL,” Koch said in a statement. “Injury and COVID prevented him from playing in the league previously, and we are excited to welcome him to FC Edmonton.”

WATCH | Coverage of the 2021 CPL – U SPORTS Draft:

Coverage of the 2021 CPL – U SPORTS Draft. 1:01:48

Atletico Ottawa used the second pick on Carleton defender Chris Malekos. Winnipeg’s Valour FC then took six-foot-seven goalkeeper Yuba-Rayene Yesli from the Montreal Carabins.

The 21-year-old ‘keeper, a CF Montreal youth product, spent time with Vibonese Calcio in Italy’s Serie D, helping them earn promotion to Serie C.

“You can’t coach size,” said Valour coach Rob Gale.

York United FC took 19-year-old midfielder Christopher Campoli from Ontario Tech University before Pacific FC chose UBC defender Chris Lee.

Calgary’s Cavalry FC used the sixth pick on midfielder Victor Loturi from Mount Royal University. Loturi spent time with Calvary in 2019.

Carleton forward Stefan Karajovanovic went seventh to HFX Wanderers FC before Concordia defender Garven-Michee Metusala was taken by CPL champion Forge FC to complete the first round.

York took Karajovanovic fifth overall in the 2019 draft.

Valour FC used the 14th overall pick on Carleton defender Tony Mikhael, who has been called up by Lebanon’s under-22 team.

York University defender Reggie Laryea, younger brother of Toronto FC fullback-midfielder Richie Laryea, went 15th overall to Atletico Ottawa. Reggie Laryea has also spent time with the University of Akron and League 1 Ontario’s Sigma FC.

UBC defender Jackson Farmer was taken 16th overall by FC Edmonton. The 25-year-old Edmonton native has won one cap for Canada at the senior level and was a youth international at the U-15, U-18 and U-20 level.

The six-foot-two centre back also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Charleston Battery and Calgary Foothills.

The league says 17 U-Sports draft choices have made CPL rosters since the first draft in 2018. Cory Bent, taken first overall in the last U Sports draft (2019), played 10 games for HFX Wanderers last season.

1st round

1. FC Edmonton, Thomas Gardner, midfielder, UBC; 2. Atletico Ottawa, Christopher Malekos, defender, Carleton University; 2. Valour FC, Yuba-Rayene Yesli, goalkeeper, University of Montreal; 4. York United FC, Christopher Campoli, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 5. Pacific FC, Chris Lee, defender, UBC; 6. Cavalry FC, Victor Loturi, midfielder, Mount Royal University; 7. HFX Wanderers FC, Stefan Karajovanovic, forward, Carleton University; 8. Forge FC, Garven-Michee Metusala, defender, Concordia University.

2nd round

9. Forge FC, Jose da Cunha, defender, Cape Breton University; 10. HFX Wanderers, Kareem Sow, defender, University of Montreal; 11. Cavalry FC, Ethan Keen, defender, Mount Royal University; 12. Pacific FC, Victory Shumbusho, forward, UBC; 13. York United FC, Danial Rafisamii, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 14. Valour FC, Tony Mikhael, defender, Carleton University; 15. Atletico Ottawa, Reggie Laryea, defender, York University; 16. FC Edmonton, Jackson Farmer, defender, UBC.

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CBC | Soccer News

Trinity Rodman, daughter of Dennis, selected 2nd overall in NWSL draft

U.S. international Emily Fox and Trinity Rodman, daughter of former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman, went 1-2 in the NWSL draft Wednesday evening.

Expansion Racing Louisville FC took Fox, a defender-midfielder from the University of North Carolina, to open the virtual draft. The 22-year-old Fox is currently in camp with the U.S. team, looking to add to her three senior caps.

Canadian international forward Deanne Rose was taken by the North Carolina Courage with the final pick of the first round, 10th overall. The 21-year-old from Alliston, Ont., has won 48 caps for Canada with nine goals and eight assists.

Rose, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, had 16 goals and six assists in 42 games over three seasons with the Gators.

University of Wisconsin midfielder Victoria Pickett, a 24-year-old from Barrie, Ont., went in the second round (15th overall) to Kansas City.

Fox started all 69 of her appearances for the Tar Heels with two goals and 20 assists.

The 20-year-old Rodman then went to the Washington Spirit. The U.S. youth international has yet to play a collegiate game due to the pandemic after joining the Washington State Cougars as a freshman last fall.

Sky Blue FC took North Carolina midfielder Brianna Pinto third before trading the fourth pick to Kansas City for $ 175,000 US in allocation money. Kansas City, formerly the Utah Royals, then selected Stanford defender-midfielder Kiara (Kiki) Pickett.

Racing Louisville went local with the fifth pick, taking University of Louisville midfielder Emina Ekic. The Louisville native is a former ACC Offensive Player of the Year.

Louisville came into the draft with 19 players, obtained via the expansion draft, waiver or by trade.

The Chicago Red Stars traded the sixth pick to the Portland Thorns, who used it on TCU midfielder Yazmeen Ryan. Chicago got an international spot for 2021, plus the seventh and 32nd pick, in return.

Thanks to a waiver obtained by the NWSL from the NCAA, players drafted have until Jan. 22, 2021 to decide whether to report immediately to their NWSL club or at the conclusion of the spring NCAA season.

The league also expanded the eligible pool for the draft, waiving the requirement for “senior” collegiate athletes to register for the draft and automatically making all players who exhausted three years of intercollegiate soccer eligibility prior to the 2020-2021 academic year eligible.

Some 50 others registered for the draft, including University of Memphis forward Clarissa Larisey of Ottawa.

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Senators acquire Coburn, Paquette, draft pick from Lightning

The Ottawa Senators have acquired defenceman Braydon Coburn, forward Cedric Paquette and a 2022 second-round draft pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson.

The deal was announced Sunday night.

Ottawa has added two veteran players for now and potentially one for the future in return for two skaters not expected to dress this season, while the Lightning get some assistance towards their salary cap situation.

Both Gaborik and Nilsson, combined for an annual average cap hit just over $ 7 million US for 2021-22, will be placed on long-term injury reserve and will not play this season, according to a release by Tampa Bay.

The 35-year-old Coburn, from Shaunavon, Sask., has played 964 career NHL games with Atlanta, the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay since breaking into the league with the Thrashers in the 2005-06 season, and has scored 49 goals and 232 points. He is in the final season of a two-year deal with a $ 1.7 million average.

The 27-year-old Paquette, from Gaspe, Que., has plays 377 NHL games — all with Tampa Bay — and has recorded 47 goals and 85 points . He is set to make $ 1.65 million in the final season of a two-year contract.

Gaborik underwent back surgery in April 2018 and hasn’t played since. He is entering the final year of a seven-year deal worth $ 4.875 million per season.

Nilsson went down with a concussion in Dec. 2019 and has not returned to game action. He’s owed $ 2.6 this season, his last of a two-year deal.

Sens acquire Derek Stepan from Coyotes

On Saturday, the Senators acquired centre Derek Stepan from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Stepan, 30, scored 10 goals and 28 points in 70 games last season with the Coyotes. The Minnesota native added a goal and four assists in nine games in the playoffs.

He spent the last three seasons in Arizona after being traded from the New York Rangers in 2017. Stepan has played 739 career NHL games, having amassed 167 goals and 312 assists in that span.

The 2021 second-round pick originally belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus traded the pick to Ottawa along with a 2020 second-round pick and Anthony Duclair in exchange for Ryan Dzingel and a 2019 seventh-round draft choice.

Ottawa signs 3rd-overall pick Tim Stuetzle 

Also on Sunday, Ottawa signed forward Tim Stuetzle to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The Sens selected the 18-year-old native of Viersen, Germany with the third overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

“Tim possesses an exceptional blend of both speed and skill and a playmaking ability that our fans are going to enjoy watching for several years to come,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a release. “He’s a dynamic forward who we expect to become a key piece of our roster as we continue trending towards icing an eventual elite-level team.”

Stuetzle had 34 points in 41 games for the Mannheim Eagles in Germany’s top pro league last season.

The six-foot-one 187-pound forward is serving as Germany’s captain at the 2021 world junior hockey championship in Edmonton.

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CBC | Sports News

Things to know from NBA draft night

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

The NBA draft went pretty much as expected (and not very well for Canadians)

As the betting markets predicted, University of Georgia guard Anthony Edwards went first overall to Minnesota. Golden State grabbed centre James Wiseman with the second pick, and guard LaMelo Ball went third to Charlotte. No surprises there. Other stuff you should know from draft night:

For the first time in 11 years, no Canadians got picked. This was no shock either. But it’s quite the drop-off from last year, when a record six Canadians were selected — including RJ Barrett at No. 3 overall and a total of four in the first round. Some mock drafts had talented Quebec college guard Karim Mané going late in the second round, but no one bit on his potential. A silver lining: Halifax’ Nate Darling was reportedly set to sign as an undrafted free agent with Charlotte. The sweet-shooting 6-foot-5 guard averaged 21 points per game last season with the University of Delaware.

The Raptors took a pair of guards. With the 29th overall selection, Toronto grabbed Malachi Flynn. He’s a 6-foot-1 point guard who led San Diego State (Kawhi Leonard’s school) to a 30-2 record and No. 6 national ranking last season. He averaged 17.6 points and 5.1 assists and was named his conference’s player of the year and defensive player of the year. Flynn lacks size, but the Raptors have had great success with small guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, who’s set to become a free agent on Friday and will surely get some tempting offers to leave town. With the 59th pick (second-last in the draft), Toronto took late-blooming 22-year-old guard Jalen Harris. He averaged 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season for the University of Nevada. Read more about the Raptors’ picks here.

One of Milwaukee’s big deals fell through. As part of a full-court press to convince back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to re-sign before his contract expires this summer, the Bucks made two moves earlier this week. They reached a deal with New Orleans to acquire respected guard Jrue Holiday, and they thought they’d added more shooting by working out a sign-and-trade with Sacramento for Bogdan Bogdanovic. Unfortunately, the sign part fell through when Bogdanovic told the teams he’d rather try his hand in restricted free agency. So it looks like that deal is off, unless this is just a negotiating ploy by Bogdanovic.

Philadelphia dumped Al Horford. Just one season after signing him to a four-year, $ 109-million US deal, the 76ers traded the disappointing forward to Oklahoma City for Danny Green and a pair of draft picks. The move saves Philly about $ 25 million in salary and luxury taxes, perhaps freeing up space for new boss Daryl Morey to make a run at someone when free agency opens Friday.

Halifax native Nate Darling is set to sign with the Charlotte Hornets as an undrafted free agent. (Mark Jordan)

Millions of dollars have been stolen from kids’ sports leagues in Canada

An investigation led by CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin found that, in the last decade alone, nearly $ 8 million was taken from youth sports organizations across the country. And that only includes cases where criminal charges were laid or a civil action was launched to recoup funds. Many thefts of this nature are never even reported to police — sometimes to avoid embarrassment for the group or because of a desire to forgive the perpetrator. So the actual total is probably much higher.

In some cases, only a few thousand dollars was stolen. In others, it was millions. But there’s a common thread: the fraud is almost always the work of one person who’s trusted to take care of the group’s finances — often with little or no oversight. A few other takeaways:

Someone robbed the Ontario Minor Hockey Association of nearly $ 2.4 million over just six months. That’s believed to be the biggest theft in the history of North American youth sports. According to court documents, it was carried out by the OMHA’s then director of finance, who worked for the organization for 16 years and had “sole access” to one of its bank accounts. The woman stole the money to pay off the personal credit-card bills she rang up in feeding her addictions to online gambling and shopping. She confessed, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. In another big-money case, a guy in charge of organizing competitions for a bunch of schools around London, Ont., stole almost a million dollars over the course of a decade. He used much of the money to trick out his backyard with a pool, hot tub and expensive landscaping.

In smaller communities, the thefts might be smaller, but they can hit even harder. The Corner Brook (N.L.) Minor Hockey Association serves a town whose entire population (32,000) represents about one tenth of the number of people involved in the OMHA. And the $ 80,000 stolen by the organization’s former treasurer is a fraction of what was taken from the Ontario association. But a theft like that can feel more devastating in a small town — places where there’s typically less wealth and more emphasis on the social fabric of the community. “The money that went missing was money that came from hard-working parents in the community,” says the new treasurer, who’s part of a group of volunteers that has worked to rebuild the Corner Brook organization’s finances.

The schemes are often stunningly simple. In 2012, the former treasurer of the Richmond Soccer Association in B.C. was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $ 200,000 over five years. All she did was write some 200 cheques from the organization to herself and her husband. The treasurer of a different small hockey association in Newfoundland fuelled her cocaine and gambling habits by simply writing about 35 cheques to herself totalling more than $ 50,000 over two years. She got five months in jail.

Read the full story here and look for part two tomorrow on how tough it can be for organizations to rebuild their funds and their trust from the community after they’ve been stolen from.


Klay Thompson is out for the season. Again. This is brutal. Thompson sat out all of last year after tearing an ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals vs. Toronto, and the Warriors’ dynasty turned to dust with him gone and fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry missing the bulk of the season with a broken hand. The franchise that had reached the last five Finals and won three of them finished dead last in the league. But things were looking up with Thompson and Curry returning and No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman arriving to boost the frontcourt. The Warriors were even considered one of the top title contenders again. That is, until today, when the team confirmed Thompson suffered a torn Achilles (reportedly during a pickup game with other pros in Los Angeles) and is expected to miss the upcoming season. Read more about Klay’s injury here.

And finally…

Happy 25th anniversary to when an American team won the Canadian Football League title.

OK, this isn’t exactly a joyous memory for die-hard CFL fans. But it’s a colourful moment in the history of the league. On Nov. 19, 1995, the Baltimore Stallions beat Doug Flutie’s Calgary Stampeders at Taylor Field in Regina to become the first (and likely last) U.S.-based team to win the Grey Cup. Quarterback Tracy Ham won the game’s MVP award to help Baltimore bounce back from its loss to B.C. in the previous year’s championship game.

This was the third (and, it turned out, final) year of the CFL’s experiment with American expansion. Even though the Stallions drew good crowds, their fate was sealed just weeks after the Grey Cup when the NFL returned to Baltimore for the first time since the Colts moved to Indianapolis after the 1983 season. Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell finally got permission from the league to move his team there (where it became the Ravens), and so the Stallions packed up for Montreal and became the Alouettes. The CFL shuttered the other four remaining American franchises to become an all-Canadian league again. Read more about Baltimore’s Grey Cup win and watch some contemporary video clips in this story from CBC Archives.

Coming up on CBC Sports

Skeleton World Cup season opener: The bobsleigh and skeleton seasons have been trimmed to eight stops, all in Europe, beginning this week in Latvia. Canada isn’t sending any athletes to at least the first four, which takes care of the rest of the calendar year. With the exception of one Brazilian, Friday’s skeleton races are made up entirely of Europeans. Watch the two women’s runs live at 3 and 4:30 a.m. ET and the men’s at 8 and 9:45 a.m. ET here.

Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Rostelecom Cup. Once again, due to pandemic-related restrictions, no Canadian skaters are allowed to compete. But the Grand Prix’s Moscow stop features the reigning European champions in each of the four disciplines: Dmitri Aliev (men’s), Alena Kostornaia (women’s), Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (pairs), and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (dance), all of whom are Russian. The short programs take place Friday, and you can watch them all live here, beginning with the men’s at 5:30 a.m. ET.

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CBC | Sports News

Raptors draft pick Malachi Flynn looking forward to learning from Lowry, VanVleet

Malachi Flynn said there’s no better NBA veterans to learn from than Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.

The Toronto Raptors selected Flynn with the 29th pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft, adding another small point guard with a strong defensive presence to their backcourt.

“I think it’s going to be great for me honestly, as a young guy coming in the league, with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, there’s not much bad you can say about those two guys,” Flynn said. “I think it will be great for me to be around them every day and continue to learn.”

The six-foot-one, 185-pound guard led San Diego State to a 30-2 record and a No. 6 national ranking. He was also the Mountain West conference player and defensive player of the year.

WATCH | Raptors take Malachi Flynn at 29:

San Diego State point guard Malachi Flynn is the Toronto Raptors 1st round draft pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, selected 29th overall. 0:37

Flynn said he’s watched the Raptors and “how well they play,” and has paid particular attention to VanVleet and Lowry.

“They’re super savvy,” he said. “Kyle Lowry’s great at getting you in foul trouble, just keeping you on your toes, he knows what plays to make, he’s going to come up in big moments, he does all the little things.”

He’s inspired by VanVleet, who went undrafted but has worked himself into being one of this year’s most coveted free agents.

“He blew up and just continued to get better. He’s six foot, six-one, right around there, guys like that get (overlooked) so seeing him being able to win a championship and put up great numbers in the finals, it’s definitely inspirational for a guy like me,” Flynn said.

The Raptors spoke to Flynn early in the pandemic, and then went to see him two weeks ago in Las Vegas, a trip that sealed the deal.

“He’s a guy we really liked, and can come in and . . . develop under the leadership of Kyle and Fred,” Raptors GM Bobby Webster said. “Those are two guys for him to learn under.”

Webster said Flynn’s a modern NBA point guard, who has a complete game on the offensive end, plus defends at a high level.

The 22-year-old Flynn played two seasons at Washington State before transferring to SDSU. He averaged a team-high 17.6 points on 44 per cent shooting and 37.3 per cent shooting from three-point range, plus 5.1 assists through 32 games for the Aztecs.

Flynn, wearing a charcoal suit for the virtual draft, celebrated the night at his hometown in Tacoma, Wash., sharing a huge sectional couch with his parents and six older siblings.

Webster said it’s too soon to compare the newcomer to Lowry and VanVleet.

“Those guys are incredibly accomplished. I think as you guys will meet Malachi, he’s a serious kid. He’s professional. He’s about the hard work. He’s about winning,” Webster said. “So I think those will be the natural comparisons.”

The Raptors took Nevada guard Jalen Harris with the 59th pick. The 22-year-old Texan was a late bloomer after breaking his back in high school. He was excellent at Nevada last season, however, averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals.

This year’s draft was held virtually due to the pandemic and, originally scheduled for June, ended the longest pre-draft period in history. Because of the Canadian government’s border restrictions, the Raptors had to do much of their research online.

“It was tough,” Webster said of how Wednesday night unfolded. “Every pick would come in, and there would be some gasps and a little bit of disbelief. But you know, all along, Malachi was up there. And that’s who we wanted.”

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Racing Louisville select Man United stars Heath, Press in NWSL expansion draft

Racing Louisville selected U.S. national team players Tobin Heath and Christen Press on Thursday in the National Women’s Soccer League expansion draft.

Both players are currently playing with Manchester United, but Heath’s rights were retained by the Portland Thorns, while Press’ rights were retained by the Utah Royals.

Heath and Press were on the national team that won the Women’s World Cup last year in France. They were among 14 total NWSL players taken by Racing in the expansion draft.

“We feel very good about tonight. There was a lot of decision-making that went into it, a lot of homework and research, and conversations with coaches within the league, with past players, with national team members. So we thought we had a real good insight into what each person brought,” Louisville coach Christy Holly said. “The hope is that the balance that we struck positionally, but also through experience and hunger, is something that will hopefully pay off for us on the field next year.”

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler speaks with NWSL’s new commissioner Lisa Baird:

CBC Sports’ Signa Butler speaks with the NWSL’s new commissioner Lisa Baird about the league’s core values and its return to play. 4:45

Heath, 32, had been with the Thorns since the league’s start in 2013, appearing in 70 games with 12 goals. Press, 31, played two seasons with the Royals, scoring 10 goals in 25 matches.

Louisville, which joins the NWSL next season to bring the league to 10 teams, used its final two picks to select Heath and Press.

Racing selected a pair of defenders, Addisyn Merrick and Julia Ashley, with the opening two picks. Merrick was a rookie this past year with the North Carolina Courage. Ashley, who was selected from OL Reign, was a rookie this season but was injured and didn’t play in the league’s Challenge Cup tournament this summer or the fall series.

Each of the NWSL’s current teams was able to protect 11 players, including allocated federation players. In addition to Heath and Press, some of the other U.S. national team players that were left unprotected were the Reign’s Megan Rapinoe, Portland’s Becky Sauerbrunn and Sky Blue’s Carli Lloyd.

Allocated players are national team players that are distributed across the league.

Louisville was limited to just two total federation players. Racing could select two non-allocated players or one allocated player from among the unprotected players from any given team.

Louisville had already traded for forwards Yuki Nagasato and Savannah McCaskill, giving full roster protection to the Chicago Red Stars. Racing also brought in Cheyna Matthews as a roster for next season begins to take shape.

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Unprotected Canadians could be featured in NWSL expansion draft

Racing Louisville FC, the National Women’s Soccer League’s newest franchise for 2021, will fill out its roster Thursday night and there could be Canadian players involved. 

The 2020 NWSL expansion draft is the first for the league since 2015 when the Orlando Pride joined and there will be yet another next season when Angel City FC enters the fray. 

This year, eight of the nine NWSL clubs are allowed to protect 11 players with up to two U.S. allocated players ahead of the draft (U.S. allocated players are national team athletes whose salary is paid by the federation). 

The Chicago Red Stars have full roster protection for the draft after making an earlier trade with Racing Louisville. It was a steep price, though, giving up forward Savannah McCaskill and midfielder Yuki Nagasato, international player slots in 2021 and 2022, plus the No. 5 pick in the 2021 college draft. 

There are some big names available to Racing (hello, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath), but while those names might look like obvious choices, there are a few things coach Christy Holly may have to consider.

More on the rules and who might don the lavender and midnight violet of Louisville after tonight’s draft: 

So, what are the rules in a nutshell?

All clubs were allowed to protect 11 total players, including up to two U.S. allocated players. That list of protected/unprotected was submitted to the league last week. 

Louisville head coach Christy Holly, who once worked with SkyBlue FC, can select up to two players, or one U.S. allocated player, from each NWSL team in the 18-round draft, and two U.S. allocated players overall. 

Allocation money is a thing, too. If Louisville doesn’t select a U.S. allocated player, it will receive $ 75,000 US per pick, up to $ 150,000 total, to be used toward other player contracts. On the flip side, if Louisville chooses a U.S. allocated player off another roster, that team will receive $ 75,000 as compensation. 

There are Canadian “allotted” players, whose salaries are paid in part by Canada Soccer, but Canadians aren’t part of the allocation money equation in this expansion draft. 

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler speaks with NWSL’s new commissioner Lisa Baird:

CBC Sports’ Signa Butler speaks with the NWSL’s new commissioner Lisa Baird about the league’s core values and its return to play. 4:45

Were any Canadian players left unprotected? 

Yes, of the 14 Canadians who played in the league this past season, which was broken up into the Challenge Cup and Fall Series, nine are available.

They include:

Maegan Kelly (MF, Houston Dash), Lindsay Agnew (F, NC Courage), Stephanie Labbe (GK, NC Courage), Erin McLeod (GK, Orlando Pride), Shelina Zadorsky (FB, Orlando Pride), Quinn (MF/FB, OL Reign), Diana Matheson (MF, Utah Royals FC), Desiree Scott (MF, Utah Royals FC), Jenna Hellstrom (MF, Washington Spirit). 

Of these players, Labbe and Scott are national-team stalwarts, with two-time Olympic bronze medallist Matheson also back in the fold after injuries. All three are approaching their mid-30s and nearing the end of their international and professional careers, but could provide a veteran presence on an expansion club for a couple seasons. 

Fellow Team Canada regulars Zadorsky, 28, is on loan to Tottenham with an option to make the move permanent and Quinn, 25, is on loan to Vittsjö in Sweden.

The possible section of American star Megan Rapinoe brings risk for Racing Louisville FC. (Steve Luciano/Associated Press)

What’s Louisville’s philosophy for the draft? 

Well, only coach Holly knows that for sure, but to start, you want players who actually want to be in Louisville. Some of the veteran NWSL players are already established in their home cities and likely aren’t looking to uproot their lives.

For instance, as tempting as it may be, you’re probably not going to waste a pick on a player like Rapinoe or Heath unless you have assurances they’ll be joining you. Rapinoe did not play this season for OL Reign and Heath, who opted out of the Portland Thorns’ season, is currently on loan to Manchester United in the FA Women’s Super League. Ideally, Louisville will want a name fans will recognize and be excited to watch, a player you can build around. Coach Holly will also have at the back of his mind, if he chooses a U.S. allocated player, they would be gone for a chunk of Racing’s inaugural season because of the Tokyo Olympics.

By all accounts, the Racing Louisville franchise is well supported. That could be attractive to any incoming player. The parent club, which also runs USL champions Louisville City FC, have a brand new soccer-specific stadium that seats just over 15,000 as well as a massive training facility under construction with three natural grass and four turf fields.

What’s next on the NWSL calendar? 

Not much rest for these teams. The trade window opens Friday at 9 a.m. ET. After that, it’s very much up in the air because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league’s college draft date hasn’t been announced and could even go in the spring due to postponements in the NCAA calendar and there isn’t yet a projected start date for the 2021 season. 

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NHL’s Coyotes reverse course, cut ties with draft pick who bullied Black schoolmate

The Arizona Coyotes renounced their rights Thursday to their top 2020 draft pick after saying they learned more about his bullying of a Black classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago.

The team parted ways with Mitchell Miller after taking criticism for selecting him in the fourth round earlier this month despite knowing of his 2016 assault conviction. Arizona acknowledged it knew about the incident when it selected Miller 111th overall.

“We do not condone this type of behaviour but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts,” President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said.

“We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights.”

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of making 14-year-old Isaiah Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

Meyer-Crothers told the Arizona Republic earlier in October he was stunned and saddened when he found out the Coyotes drafted Miller, who he said taunted him with racist language and repeatedly hit him when they were growing up in a suburb of Toledo.

“It hurt my heart to be honest,” Meyer-Crothers told the newspaper. “It’s stupid that [the Coyotes] didn’t go back and look what happened in the past, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behaviour. Meyer-Crothers’s mother, Joni, said Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or their family other than a court-mandated letter.

New general manager Bill Armstrong, who was not allowed to participate in the draft as a condition of the Coyotes hiring him away from the St. Louis Blues, voiced support for the decision.

“Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team,” Armstrong said. “I’d like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for everything they have dealt with the past few months.”

Miller was the Coyotes’ top pick in the draft because former GM John Chayka traded their first-rounder to New Jersey for winger Taylor Hall — who since left in free agency — and their third-rounder to Colorado for forward Carl Soderberg, and their second-rounder was forfeited for violating scouting combine policy. Arizona also was stripped of its 2021 first-round pick for breaking NHL rules by conducting physical testing of draft-eligible players.

The 18-year-old defenceman becomes a free agent, effective immediately.

“We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners,” said Gutierrez, who earlier this year became the first Latino CEO in the league. “Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere.”

The Coyotes said they and their charitable foundation will look to partner with local organizations that combat bullying and racism.

Advocacy group says practice what you preach

On Wednesday night, the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA), an advocacy group led by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and ex-NHL player Akim Aliu, posted a message to social media challenging the Coyotes and the league to “start practising what they preach.”

Formed in June, the HDA had hoped the NHL would partner in its mission to “eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey.”

However, the group decided to part ways with the NHL in early October, asserting the league was not committed to addressing racial inequality. 

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin discusses HDA split from NHL:

The Hockey Diversity Alliance has announced it will separate from the NHL after months of negotiations. The initiative led by Black NHL players said it didn’t see enough action from the league, only performative public relations efforts. 2:03

The HDA pointed to Item No. 6 of its pledge on Wednesday which says in part: “We will not support, partner with or accept support from any organization that has engaged in, promoted or failed to appropriately respond to racist conduct in their organization of any kind.”

In September, the NHL released a set of initiatives, including mandatory training for players, aimed at fighting racial inequality and to promote inclusion.

But the HDA said it felt a lack of commitment from the NHL in putting the plan in place. 

“We have waited many months for a response to the common sense HDA pledge we proposed, and it is clear that the NHL is not prepared to make any measurable commitments to end systemic racism in hockey,” the HDA said in the statement.

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Amid unusual circumstances, Lafreniere goes 1st as NHL draft offers little surprise

There was little surprise at the very top of the NHL’s pandemic-delayed draft Tuesday.

The New York Rangers chose star winger Alexis Lafreniere, the presumptive No. 1 pick since January, with the first selection.

But following a just-completed season like no other — one suspended in March, restarted in August and completed late last month inside a tightly-controlled bubble without fans thanks to COVID-19 — there were bound to be twists with teams and NHL hopefuls linking up remotely instead of being under one roof at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

First there was some timely draft history, then an appearance by a Canadian celebrity, and finally, an emotional selection made by the widow of a hockey icon.

To start things off, however, the night belonged to Lafreniere, a star winger from the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He registered 35 goals and 112 points in 52 games before the 2019-20 season was cancelled because of the pandemic.

“It was an unreal feeling,” Lafreniere, sporting his new team’s hat and jersey, said on a video conference call from the family home in St-Eustache, Que., after having his name called first. “The New York Rangers are a great organization.”

WATCH | Rangers make Lafreniere top pick:

Alexis Lafrenière from Saint-Eustache, Que., is chosen by the New York Rangers as the first overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft. 0:27

Just the second back-to-back recipient of the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the year award, following in the footsteps of fellow Rimouski captain Sidney Crosby in 2004 and 2005, Lafreniere was NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater and long-viewed as the consensus choice at No. 1.

The draft, which was originally scheduled for June 26 and 27, continues Wednesday with rounds two through seven before NHL free agency opens 48 hours later.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time so it was something really special,” added Lafreniere, the first Canadian to go No. 1 since the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid in 2015. “We’re all really excited.”

Before the Lafreniere pick, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league and players are now focused on starting next season on Jan. 1 after previously aiming to get things going Dec. 1.

The Los Angeles Kings had the second selection and chose six-foot-four centre Quinton Byfield of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves. Byfield became the highest Black player picked in NHL draft history after Evander Kane (2009) and Seth Jones (2013) each went fourth overall.

“That definitely means a lot to me,” Byfield said. “Being in the record books for anything is super special, but that especially.”

WATCH | Byfield makes history at second overall:

Quinton Byfield from Newmarket, Ont., is selected 2nd overall in the 2020 NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings. 0:35

The Ottawa Senators used the No. 3 selection, which they acquired from San Jose as part of the Erik Karlsson trade two years ago, to grab shifty German winger Tim Stuetzle, with University of Ottawa graduate and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announcing the pick in a pre-taped appearance.

“I didn’t know like 100 per cent what was going on with [the No. 2 and 3] picks,” Stuetzle said. “It’s just a big honour to play for the capital of Canada.”

General manager Pierre Dorion said Trebek’s appearance was the idea of team owner Eugene Melnyk, adding the gameshow icon recorded versions for Lafreniere, Byfield and Stuetzle.

Trebek’s inclusion even got a thumbs up from Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

“One of the highlights for me in all my time watching drafts,” Dubas said.

WATCH | Alex Trebek announces Senators’ 1st pick:

Alex Trebek, the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ and University of Ottawa graduate, announces that the Senators selected Tim Stuetzle as the 3rd overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft. 0:58

The top-ranked European skater, Stuetzle spent this season with Adler Mannheim in his country’s top professional league, where he was named rookie of the year. He’s also the third German-trained player to be drafted in the top-6, matching 2020 Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl’s selection at No. 3 by Edmonton six years ago.

“I want to win Cups in Ottawa, and I want to play in the NHL as fast as I can,” added Stuetzle, who admitted with a smile he doesn’t watch “Jeopardy!”

The Detroit Red Wings, who dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the first phase of the NHL’s draft lottery in June, got Swedish winger Lucas Raymond with their pick.

Ottawa was back on the clock with its own selection at No. 5 and chose blue-liner Jake Sanderson from the U.S. under-18 program to become the first team since 2000 to make two picks in the top-5.

The Senators, who have largely made headlines for all the wrong reasons since getting within a goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup final, hope securing Stuetzle and Sanderson will accelerate a rebuild that saw a roster once led by Karlsson — the team’s captain and a two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenceman — torn down to its studs.

“It’s one of the biggest nights in this franchise’s history,” Dorion said.

The son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson took in proceedings with his family from a suite at the University of North Dakota’s home arena where he started his first semester this fall.

“It’s a little bit different draft this year,” Sanderson said. “But I think it’s kind of special in its own way.”

The Winnipeg Jets had Crystal Hawerchuk, wife of the late Dale Hawerchuk, make their selection of centre Cole Perfetti from the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit at No. 10.

Dale Hawerchuk, who became the face of the original Jets en route to the Hall of Fame, died in August at age 57 after a battle with cancer.

“Just the raw emotion that everyone feels and then the love that we feel for Dale and his family,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said when reflecting on the moment. “Just the way the stars aligned in our 10th year when we had the opportunity for the 10th pick, we had the idea of who better to make it than the greatest No. 10 in the Winnipeg Jets history?”

“It just felt so special.”

The Oilers took centre Dylan Holloway at No. 14, the Leafs selected Russian winger Rodion Amirov at No. 15 and the Montreal Canadiens snagged defenceman Kaiden Guhle at No. 16. Earlier in the day, Montreal traded forward Max Domi and a third-round pick to Columbus for winger Josh Anderson.

The Calgary Flames traded down twice from No. 19 to No. 22 and then finally to No. 24 where they took centre Connor Zary.

The Senators selected centre Ridly Greig at No. 28, which originally belonged to the New York Islanders. The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, don’t have a selection until Wednesday’s third round.

Unlike their NFL or NBA counterparts, NHL teams are usually seated at tables on the floor of one of the league’s 31 arenas for its draft, but the 2020 edition saw general managers and much of their scouting staffs spread across North America.

Cheveldayoff said it was nice to be able to talk out in the open and not have to try and hide his draft list, but there were downsides.

“There’s nothing like being able to meet the player right away, give him the jersey, have him put it on and just feel their excitement,” he said.

The prospects set to take their first steps into the NHL, meanwhile, all watched proceedings away from the usual bright lights. First-round hopefuls were each sent gear from the league’s 31 teams so they’d have some swag once their names were called.

Lafreniere and his counterparts didn’t get the normal thrill of climbing on stage in front of friends and family, but the night will be memorable nonetheless for every player picked.

“It’s different, and we didn’t expect that a couple of months ago,” Lafreniere said. “Growing up, you’re dreaming of being drafted.

“And for me today, it’s amazing to go first.”

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