Tag Archives: action

Olympic champion Kingsbury calls for urgent action to allow sport in Quebec schools

Quebec mogul king Mikael Kingsbury is calling for the return of sport in schools.

In an open letter on Wednesday to Quebec Premier François Legault, the reigning Olympic and world moguls champion says urgent action is needed amid the COVID-19 restrictions.

“I am worried about the situation of young athletes,” wrote the 28-year-old freestyle skiing star. “The health of thousands of young people is at risk.”

Inspired in part by his own experiences growing up, Kingsbury is lending his voice to the efforts of a 16-year-old high school student, Isaac Pépin, who has been urging the provincial government to show flexibility in its approach to sport in schools.

WATCH | Kingsbury writes open letter to Quebec Premier François Legault:

Days before the world championship, the moguls skier writes an open letter to Quebec Premier urging the government to get kids out of their houses. 5:49

Kingsbury told CBC Sports in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the plea is something he understands all too well.

“Having grown up skiing and playing baseball with my friends, sport is a motivator. A source of meaning,” he said, adding that sport was a big part of what helped keep him coming back to class.

For the 28-year-old native of Deux-Montagnes, Que., it’s also a question of mental as well as physical health.

“I am worried that young people are lost. That they are abandoning sport in favour of screens,” Kingsbury wrote in his letter to Legault.

This is why Kingsbury supports Pépin’s calls for the resumption of supervised sport.

‘I got dizzy’

“I stopped this week and wondered what I would do if I was this young man deprived of sport for a year in a period of a pandemic,” Kingsbury wrote.

“I got dizzy! I wouldn’t have had the capacity to survive a full year without my passion. I tell you very simply: I would be adrift. I am convinced that sports clubs, sports organizations and federations have the capacities, the means, but above all the determination necessary to protect young people and their families. Before, during and after sports practice.”

And Kingsbury feels the time to act is now.

“It’s been a year where people across Canada, but especially in Quebec, have not been able to play collective sports,” he told CBC Sports. “It’s like a year the kids are losing and will never get back again.”

WATCH | Kingsbury reflects on consecutive World Cup victories:

A day after winning his 1st event in Deer Valley, reigning Olympic and world moguls champion Mikael Kingsbury from Deux-Montagnes, Que., earns his 2nd straight victory with a win in dual moguls. 1:35

Legault said he understands the frustration, but also the importance of sport on mental health during a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

“People who know me know that I do a lot of sports,” Legault said. “Sports is important. There’s nothing better to decrease stress levels, and it’s important for mental heath. But we all agree that certain sports, at the very least, we might get too close and bring about contagion.”

While discussions with sports federations are still ongoing, Legault will offer more of an update next week and acknowledged that “as of March 15th, everywhere in Quebec will be able to start outside school activities.”

Meanwhile, Kingsbury — who only recently returned to action in February after fracturing his T4 and T5 vertebrate in November prior to the opening of the freestyle ski season — is in Kazakhstan gearing up for freestyle skiing world championships in Almaty.

He says the passion that Pépin and fellow organizers have exhibited for sport has given him extra motivation to win. 

“[They] are only asking for one thing: to breathe new life into young people by allowing them to reconnect with their passion.”

Kingsbury won’t be able to stand with protestors at a planned rally in front of the provincial parliament on Sunday, but remains hopeful activities will open up when he returns to his home province.

“On behalf of all athletes in Quebec, amateurs and professionals, I hope that when I return home in mid-March, sport will find its rightful place.”

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CBC | Sports News

Canada men’s soccer set for 1st action in over a year with scrimmage against U.S.

The Canadian men see their first action in more than a year Saturday when they take on the U.S. in a soccer scrimmage in Bradenton, Fla.

Both teams are holding camps at the IMG Center there.

Saturday’s meeting is not considered an official match, given it will be in the form of two 70-minute scrimmages, allowing both coaches to dig deep into their squad. Because the camp does not fall in a FIFA international window, both sides do not have their full lineups.

Still, the camp marks the start of a busy year for Canada with World Cup and Olympic qualifying starting in March and the Gold Cup in July.

“This year’s crucial for us if we really want to make it to the big leagues, if we really want to make it to the World Cup, if we want to win a Gold Cup,” Whitecaps striker Lucas Cavallini told reporters from the Canada camp on Thursday.

“It’s huge,” he added. “Guys need to step up their game. It’s going to be a lot of international games and we have to be ready. We have to ready for whatever. Guys have to push themselves now more than ever, because this is do or die.”

Opportunities for the young guys

Saturday’s scrimmage will see a lot of Canada’s young talent in action.

First-time call-ups by coach John Herdman are Tajon Buchanan (New England), Cristian Gutierrez (Vancouver), Belal Halbouni (SV Werder Bremen II, Germany), Alistair Johnston (Nashville SC), Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Ralph Priso (Toronto FC), Dayne St. Clair (Minnesota United), Frank Sturing (Den Bosch, the Netherlands) and Joel Waterman (CF Montreal).

“A lot of new faces,” Cavallini said. “It’s a great chance for the young talent to showcase their abilities, their willingness to be a part of this national team, to show that they’re able to understand what the national team has to bring. And to understand how John wants us to perform.

“This is a good window for them. Just so they get a good sense of how Canada soccer is evolving, that we’re no longer a joke and we’re here to reach our objectives and have good results and hopefully qualify for a World Cup.”

‘Day by day’

Cavallini had six goals in 18 games in his first season with the Whitecaps in 2020. The 28-year-old from Toronto has won 17 caps for Canada with 11 goals and one assist.

Cavallini elected to sit out the MLS is Back Tournament last summer for personal reasons. He had lost two family members to COVID-19.

On Thursday, he said he is taking things “day by day” in 2021.

“It is what it is nowadays so we’ve just got to cope with COVID and get around these things like we’ve been doing at this camp. We’ll see how the year unfolds.”

Canada Soccer reports everyone fit for the weekend scrimmage, which essentially marks the camp’s finale. That includes the unidentified player who had to self-isolate after testing positive upon arrival at camp.

“The team has had almost two full weeks preparation,” Cavallini said of the buildup to the scrimmage. “The boys have been looking good, showing a lot of emotion, showing a lot of anxiousness just to play this game against the U.S. Obviously it’s a really good matchup to play and we’ve been training hard, doing what John wants us to do and training as if we’re going to play against the U.S. each day.”

Fullback-midfielder Raheem Edwards has joined the Canadian camp ahead of the scrimmage. Formerly with Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Minnesota, Edwards was selected by Los Angeles FC in the December re-entry draft.

The Canadian men, currently ranked 72nd in the world, last played Jan. 15, 2019, when they lost 1-0 to No. 46 Iceland in a friendly in Irvine, Calif.

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CBC | Soccer News

Quebec pins all its hopes on the vaccine, but experts say action is needed on multiple fronts

The old saying holds that only fools and the dead never change their minds.

Health Minister Christian Dubé is neither of those things. Eighteen days ago, at a news conference about Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dubé insisted his hands were tied by Pfizer’s requirements that second doses of the two-dose protocol be held back to observe the prescribed 21-day interval between shots.

A course correction followed a few days later and this week, he announced second doses would be delayed up to 90 days.

“This is the best strategy,” he said, citing the urgency of the situation.

On Dec. 29, Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda sat next to Dubé at a news conference and alluded to the possibility that Pfizer could reduce its supply to Quebec if the province didn’t follow the recommendations, a prospect since echoed by federal officials.

Dubé this week: “We’re not asking permission.”

The reversal was sudden, it also represents an unusually aggressive move by a government whose response to the pandemic has been typified by cautious decision-making.

Going it largely alone on delaying doses for months suggests, above all else, that the Legault government is pushing its entire stack of chips onto the square marked “vaccines.”

The decision is based on the advice of experts from the province’s vaccine committee, the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec, which studied clinical evidence. And it runs counter to guidelines from Pfizer and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube arrives at a COVID-19 press briefing Thursday, January 14, 2021 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

A high-stakes gamble

The contrast with other major decisions made since the turn of the year is informative. 

In the same week Dubé announced his department was going full bore on vaccination, it also announced an easing of restrictions on rapid testing.

And, last week, the province highlighted the portion of an expert panel’s report on air purifiers and filters in schools that confirmed the devices won’t interrupt the main causes of disease transmission — mainly, proximity of students — rather than the part indicating they help lower the number of viral particles in the air.

Police forces across Quebec handed out 750 tickets during the first weekend of the province’s four-week overnight curfew. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Take, as well, the provincial curfew that went into effect a week ago, which in effect relaxes a series of previously existing measures and does little to tackle what provincial statistics indicate are a key venue for transmission: workplaces, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sector.

The rationale has been that shutting down those industries on a large scale could imperil supply of essential goods.

It’s true there are few easy policy choices in the middle of a raging pandemic.

Why the unusual forcefulness and speedy action on vaccines, then? Perhaps because there is no discernible Plan B.

Still more that could be done

Many experts believe the new restrictions that went into place last Saturday won’t be enough — and argue more needs to be done in a number of areas including testing and contact tracing, stronger measures in schools and in the many workplaces that remain open.

The headline grabber of early 2021 is the curfew that requires people to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Non-essential retailers, as well as non-essential offices, restaurants, bars and gyms, were ordered to remain closed, while manufacturing and construction sectors — both major sources of new outbreaks — were allowed to stay open, unhindered.

“If the manufacturing industry is accounting for ongoing community transmission, which I suspect that it is, then there needs to be more control to ensure public [health] measures there,” said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre who is also a science advisor for the federal COVID-19 therapeutics task force.

Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet issued a statement Friday suggesting they may finally crack down. In a follow-up interview with Radio-Canada, he said inspectors will be “vigilant.”

“We won’t hesitate when there are violations of the health guidelines to hand out fines,” he said, though they have only handed out 21 at construction sites in the past week.

Schools, too, have been allowed to reopen. While the benefits of keeping them open are clear, Vinh said the government could still do more to get a handle on transmission, including a clearer stance on ventilation.

“If internally within schools there could be stricter public health measures, I think that would be helpful,” he said. 

Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet says certain construction sites can reopen on April 20, but strict sanitary protocols must be followed. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Premier François Legault has defended the measures by saying the curfew is a way to seize the public’s attention and to limit exposure to older people while they await the vaccine.  

He has pointed out, repeatedly, that 80 per cent of those hospitalized are over the age of 65.

But, it remains unclear whether the curfew, and the other measures in place, will be effective on that front.

Testing, testing

Then there’s the question of interrupting the contagion in the community.

As Eastern Townships Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said this week, the virus “is everywhere.” Quebec has been reluctant to more widely employ rapid tests as a way to better understand exactly where the virus is spreading.

On Thursday, after 200 Quebec scientists published an open letter calling on the province to make more use of rapid tests, Dubé retreated from comments on Monday that the tests were unnecessary. 

Based on a report from a panel of internal experts issued that same day, Quebec will start using rapid tests to bolster its regular testing capacity on a limited basis, in highly specific circumstances.

Is the change of heart enough? Not in the view of Dr. David Juncker, a testing expert who is chair of biomedical engineering at McGill University and a scientific adviser to Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which advocates for a large-scale implementation of the technology.

“It’s a step in the right direction … but it’s a little bit too little, too late,” Juncker told CBC’s Quebec AM. “That’s the real risk, that we’re trapped in cycles of too little, too late here.”

Photo: Radio-Canada\ Ivanoh Demers Images pour illustrer le déconfinement économique. Photo prise dans Lanaudière, Québec, Canada. Sur la photo: (Gauche à droite) Le Costco À Terrebonne est toujours aussi populaire…. File attente, Le 28 Avril, 2020 2020/04/28 (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

He likened the government’s approach to rapid testing — which it plainly views as unreliable and a major drain on human resources — to the discussion surrounding face masks in early 2020.

Provincial public health officials initially opposed masks, before realizing they could be a key tool in preventing the spread of the virus. 

The National Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which issued its first report Friday, suggests rapid antigen tests could be exactly another useful tool, given the ability to test frequently and obtain instant results. 

In a technical briefing this week, officials with Quebec’s Health Ministry defended their approach to rapid tests, saying the current testing regime is perfectly adequate, and that, in any event, they don’t have enough people to deploy them at scale.

What’s frustrating to experts like the signatories of the open letter is there doesn’t appear to be a plan to develop that capacity any time soon.

‘We need to kickstart now’

Frontline doctors remain concerned about the coming weeks, with intensive care wards in Montreal at risk of being overwhelmed.

As COVID-19 cases surge in Ontario and Quebec, hospitals in both provinces are preparing in case they can’t treat everyone and laying out the criteria for determining who gets prioritized for critical care. 1:47

Even if hospitals are able to hang on until Feb. 8, when the measures are set to lift, the province isn’t expected to begin vaccinating older people outside care until the middle of the month.

Vinh said Quebec’s situation is rendered “tricky” by the fact vaccine procurement and supply are out of its control.

The announcement from Pfizer on Friday that it would temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada due to issues with its supply chain underscored the risks involved in the Legault government’s plan.

The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity.

The move means Quebec will receive 8,775 doses instead of the 46,800 originally scheduled for the week of Jan. 25, and 39,000 of the 82,875 doses expected the following week.

The disruption is far from catastrophic, given the doses will be replaced in later deliveries and Quebec is also receiving tens of thousands of vaccines from Moderna. But it will have an impact. 

That was the week the province was supposed to begin vaccinating in private retirement homes.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Dubé said the supply chain hiccup merely reinforces Quebec’s decision.

“The strategy remains the same: we need to kickstart now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health-care workers as possible, as quickly as possible,” reads the statement.

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CBC | Health News

Ontario could hit 6,500 new COVID-19 cases daily by mid-December without further action, modelling suggests

Ontario could see 6,500 daily new cases of COVID-19 by mid-December if no further action is taken to curb the fast-rising curve, new modelling shows. 

New projections by Ontario’s science advisory table show the pandemic is worsening across the province overall. Long-term care residents’ deaths are increasing each week and case numbers likely exceeding those of European cities currently in some form of lockdown, if case counts grow by five per cent.

But a five per cent growth rate is an “optimistic” scenario, according to Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table.

The province’s seven-day growth average right now is already about four per cent, Brown said at a news conference Thursday. Over the last three days, the growth rate has been about six per cent.

Asked if further restrictions are needed to curb the rising curve, Brown offered this response without elaborating:

“If the goal is to reduce the number of cases and the goal is to reduce the impact to the health system, then yes,” he said just before the news conference ended. 

Without it, he said, “You’ll continue to see growth in cases, you’ll see more ICU cases, more deaths in long term care homes, even with new restrictions if they were implemented today, you’d still see growth in mortality as it takes some times to filter through the system.”

“I do not believe there’s a way that the cases will change without action.”

WATCH | Public health official on the need for tighter restrictions: 

“If the goal is to reduce the number of cases and the goal is to reduce the impact to the health system then yes,” Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table replied. 0:32

Meanwhile, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams emphasized the importance of individual behaviour.

“If everybody did what they were supposed to do, we can bring these numbers down,” said Williams.

Asked whether he would consider further lockdowns, Williams said the province’s health table has yet to answer key questions about what such a scenario might look like, whether it would be provincewide, what the trigger might be and whether schools should also be closed.

No answers were provided to any of those questions, with Williams instead saying those questions need to be answered soon.

Over the past seven days alone, Ontario has seen 71 deaths in long-term care homes, a number health officials expect to quickly rise as case counts grow. 

The modelling also shows the number of people in intensive care will surpass the 150-bed mark within two weeks, a critical point when experts say the province will have to cancel many surgeries. Under the worst-case scenarios, ICU occupancy will exceed 400 beds within six weeks. 

“Access to non-COVID ICU gear will become rationed,” Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of the intensive care unit (ICU) at Michael Garron Hospital.

“It will force significant cancellations of surgeries, diagnostic tests, just about all non-COVID-related activity.”

As for the apparent disconnect between today’s modelling and the province’s response, Warner said:

“I’m really at a loss for words. I feel like Premier Ford and Dr. David Williams are on an island by themselves making decisions independently. Because the decisions they’re making make absolutely no sense.

“Unless something changes, our future is extremely grim,” he said. 

“We need new leadership and pandemic response immediately.”

The updated modelling comes as the province blew through its earlier projection of 1,200 new daily cases by mid-November, with 1,575 new cases of the virus announced Thursday — its third straight record-high day.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Premier Doug Ford defended the province’s plan, saying that while the numbers are “concerning” and “alarming,” widespread shutdowns are not the answer.

WATCH | Ford says province taking a ‘balanced approach’ to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Premier Doug Ford responds to a report by the Toronto Star that suggests Public Health Ontario recommended setting several key thresholds for the red “control” tier — the most stringent set of restrictions before a full lockdown — at levels four times lower than those the government ultimately chose.   1:35

“The easiest thing to do, folks, is to sit back and say let’s just shut down the whole province. How do you deal with the mental health of people? It’s easy for people to say just shut everything down.”

The first 22 minutes of that news conference were spent almost exclusively focusing on Ontario’s economic picture, with Ford announcing what he called a “historic” new partnership for a Hamilton shipbuilding company to build steel ship parts.

Asked Thursday evening if the premier would comment on the projections, Ford’s press secretary Ivana Yelich sent a copy of his comments from earlier in the day, adding that he has repeatedly said he won’t hesitate to take action when it is recommended by Dr. Williams. 

WATCH | Modelling shows pandemic worsening in Ontario:

Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said resident deaths in long-term care homes are increasing each week and case numbers across the province will likely exceed European cities currently in some form of lockdown if growth continues at five per cent. 2:01

Based on the growth rate of new cases in early November, Ontario is on track for 2,000 cases a day around Dec. 1, according to recent projections by the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative. Work by this group — which includes scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital — has fed into the province’s own modelling forecasts. 

The last time Ontario released modelling, at the end of October, Premier Doug Ford hinted that it would show good news.

“We see the curve going down,” he said one day before the modelling was released publicly.

The modelling suggested the rate of increase in new COVID-19 cases was slower than it had been in previous weeks, but infections were still on the rise.

Read a copy of the government’s latest modelling report:

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CBC | Health News

Christine Sinclair nets hat trick as Thorns take down Reign in NWSL action

Christine Sinclair had three goals and the Portland Thorns beat OL Reign 4-1 on Wednesday night in a National Women’s Soccer League fall series match.

Sinclair scored her first in the 40th minute off a pass from Lindsey Horan, then added a penalty kick in stoppage time before the half.

Sinclair hadn’t scored against the Reign since 2013, a string of 18 matches. The longtime captain of the Canadian national team is the international goals record holder among men or women.

Portland’s Rocky Rodriguez scored from near the penalty spot in 57th minute. After Bethany Balcer scored for the Reign to close the gap to 3-1, Sinclair completed her third NWSL hat trick in the 74th.

WATCH | Sinclair guides Thorns past Reign:

Christine Sinclair scored a hat trick to lead the Portland Thorns to a 4-1 win over the OL Reign. 1:49

The Thorns were coming off a 3-0 win over the Utah Royals in the fall series. The NWSL’s regular season was cancelled because of the coronavirus, but the teams have been playing regional games in local markets after playing in the Challenge Cup tournament in Utah this summer.

The Reign were coming off a 2-2 draw against the Royals on Saturday.

The match was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but because of poor air quality in the Pacific Northwest caused by wildfires, it was pushed to Sept. 15. When conditions didn’t improve, it was eventually moved to Wednesday.

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CBC | Soccer News

’90 Day Fiancé’: Deavan Calls Out Jihoon for Being All Talk and No Action (Exclusive)

’90 Day Fiancé’: Deavan Calls Out Jihoon for Being All Talk and No Action (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Jets sniper Patrik Laine ‘still kind of far away’ from being ready for game action

Patrik Laine said back in May there was a good chance he’d look “terrible” if the NHL resumed its season this summer.

Like most players locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the always-blunt Winnipeg Jets sniper hadn’t been on skates in more than two months. He also scoffed at the idea of strapping on rollerblades.

With training camps now in full swing eight weeks later, and the league’s restart fast-approaching, that feeling of not being ready hasn’t really changed.

“Still kind of far away,” Laine said Wednesday when asked about the current state of his game. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.

“But just trying to make the most out of it and trying to be as well-prepared as I and as we can… just try to work hard these next couple of weeks so we’ll be ready when the puck drops.”

Those games are coming quick for the 24 teams involved in the resumption of play, including the Jets, who are set to meet the Calgary Flames in the only all-Canadian matchup of the best-of-five qualifying round beginning Aug. 1 in the Edmonton hub for spot in the traditional post-season bracket.

In truth, the entire league is scrambling to get back up to speed. Certain players had access to home gyms and ice sooner than others. It’s simply a reality of the times.

And all things considered, Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said Laine, who eventually got skating back home in Finland, isn’t as far away as the winger made it sound.

“Kind of looks exactly like everybody else,” Maurice said. “I don’t think anybody looks the way they’re going to in about two weeks. We all expect that. It’s part of building.”

Building out full game

Building is also what Laine did with his own game this season before the NHL was shuttered in mid-March by the novel coronavirus.

Coming off a disappointing 50-point campaign in 2018-19 — he’d scored 80 goals and added 54 assists in his first two seasons after being picked second overall behind Auston Matthews at the 2016 draft — Laine focused on becoming a more complete player.

“You always want to get better at everything you’re doing, but I think just try to add some consistency,” said the 22-year-old. “The difference between a bad night and a good night — that gap — just try to get that a little bit smaller and try to get the better overall game in better shape.”

WATCH | Edmonton, Toronto prepare to welcome NHL:

As Toronto and Edmonton prepare to host the rest of the NHL season, questions are being raised about player safety and the accuracy of the financial benefits for the bubble cities. 2:01

Laine missed training camp back in September while working on a two-year, $ 13.5-million US contract extension, but shot out of the starting blocks after rejoining the team, having put up 28 goals and 63 points in 68 games when the season was suspended.

“Development and growth,” Maurice said of what Laine showed from October through March compared to his three previous campaigns. “It’s hard to explain when you get a young man that has such success in something specific like scoring goals. But in so many ways, he wouldn’t be any different than any other 18-year-old, especially coming from Europe. [The NHL is] a different style of hockey.

“It’s a far different level of the game. It happens so much faster.”

Hoping for top-line duties

Maurice said Laine’s biggest jump came at 5-on-5 and understanding the need to work as part of a unit.

“There’s a big chunk of the game of hockey where nothing actually happens unless you don’t do your job,” said the coach. “He’s gotten to be quite a bit better at just doing the job, plays without the puck more.

“If he’s the first guy on the forecheck, he needs to do something so the four players can move. Most skilled players or uniquely-skilled players that you get into the NHL, they’ve never really had an awareness of that — that what they do changes what everybody else around them does.”

Laine made waves during his contract impasse when he told a Finnish reporter he deserved to play with the Jets’ best players, namely Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.

“I think I’ve been able to show everybody that I’m capable of playing top minutes and against top players,” Laine said Wednesday. “Hopefully I’m going to get more responsibilities in the future.”

Maurice, meanwhile, made it clear at no time did he have a problem with Laine’s comments.

“Had I taken offence to that, I would’ve been greatly offended 20 years ago and every year since,” said the veteran of exactly 1,600 regular-season NHL games. “I wonder a lot of times if it’s not requisite to greatness. These guys want more. They want to play more. They want to play more minutes.

“The great players have to have that belief in themselves that they deserve to be on the ice all the time.”

That belief is surely still there for Laine, even though it might be a little shaky at the moment.

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CBC | Sports News

MLS returns to action after poignant moment of silence to protest racial injustice

Nearly 200 players took the field for an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence to protest racial injustice before Major League Soccer’s return to action Wednesday night.

Players wore black T-shirts, black gloves and black facemasks emblazoned with Black Lives Matter. The shirts had varying slogans that included Black And Proud, Silence Is Violence and Black All The Time.

The players walked toward midfield, raised their right arms one at a time and held the pose so long that some could be seen stretching fatigued muscles afterward.

It was a poignant moment that put two of the nation’s most prominent changes over the last four months — masks and movements — at the forefront of the sport’s return.

WATCH | Players observe 8 minute, 46-second moment of silence:

Before the MLS is Back Tournament got underway, members of the Black Players for Change took to the field in a joint protest to send a powerful message about social injustice. 6:13

The group was formerly called the Black Players Coalition of MLS but changed its name this week to Black Players for Change. Originally announced on Juneteenth, the group started in the wake of George Floyd’s death with the hope of combating systemic racism both in soccer and the players’ communities. The league and the players’ union endorsed the organization.

Several other players from Orlando City and Inter Miami took a knee near midfield during the demonstration. Orlando’s Nani scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time and held on for a 2-1 victory over expansion Miami.The two in-state teams delivered their own moment of silence by taking a knee along with the referee and the line judges just before the opening kick.

WATCH | Orlando wins 1st game of MLS is Back tournament:

Nani scored seven minutes into 2nd half stoppage time to help push Orlando City SC to a 2-1 win over Inter Miami in the MLS is Back Tournament. 1:17

The national anthem was not played before or after the demonstration. MLS previously said it would not be played because no fans were in attendance.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Prosecutors said that a police officer had his knee on the neck of Floyd for 7 minutes, 46 seconds — not the 8:46 that has become a symbol of police brutality.

MLS players had weeks to decide what to do prior to the MLS is Back tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World.

Tournament underway with hiccups

The league’s teams are sequestered in resorts for the duration of the World Cup-style tournament, which began with a Group A match that was the first meeting between two Sunshine State teams.

FC Dallas withdrew Monday after 10 players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19. A day later, Nashville SC’s status was thrust into doubt with five confirmed positive tests.

Nashville was supposed to play Chicago in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday but it was postponed.

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12, after the league’s teams had each played two regular-season games.

The reboot had a considerably different feel — without fans and with plenty of concern even amid a safety bubble. Can 25 teams that include nearly 700 players plus coaches, trainers and other support staff do everything right for a month? And what’s the threshold for more positive tests?

The NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball surely have a close eye on what’s happening outside Orlando.

The NBA should get an up-close look. The league already has part of its bubble established at the ESPN venue. NBA team flags fly on every flagpole, and some areas have been sanitized and cordoned off for basketball’s return later this month.

Reyes leaves on stretcher

MLS is using three fields near the back of the complex, two of the ones the NFL used for Pro Bowl practices the last four years. The league mandated masks for everyone other than players. Coaches, support staff and media donned masks during the game. Miami star Rodolfo Pizarro, who wasn’t in the starting lineup, also wore one during warmups.

Miami’s Andres Reyes left the field on a stretcher early in the second half after a scary collision with Orlando’s Dom Dwyer. Replays appeared to show Dwyer hitting Reyes in the throat as they went for a 50-50 ball.

Reyes had trouble breathing as teammates and the referee called for help. Adding to the growing concern on the field, the emergency crew got hung up trying to gain access to him.

Security personnel struggled to open a gate, delaying the medical team’s response. It was slow enough that one of Reyes’ teammates, Juan Agudelo, ran across the field to help and ended up assisting in pulling the stretcher across the soggy grass.

Chris Mueller scored the equalizer for Orlando, getting a sliding toe on a perfect cross from Nani to the back post in the 70th minute.

Agudelo scored the first goal of MLS’ return, drilling a left-footer past Pedro Gallese to cap a play that started with two teammates on top of each other in the box.

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