Tag Archives: Edmonton

Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Calgary

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET as the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada.

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Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Toronto

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET as the Edmonton Oilers battle the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.

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Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Vancouver

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET as the Edmonton Oilers take on the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada.

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Alberta approves NHL games for Edmonton and Calgary, feds waive 14-day quarantine rule for players, staff

Alberta is the first province to officially say the NHL can play games in its arenas for the upcoming season, while at least two of its counterparts say they are working on the issue.

In a statement to The Canadian Press on Thursday, the Alberta government said it approved Edmonton and Calgary for competition on Dec. 25 following the review of protocols outlined in the league’s return-to-play plan, along with some additional enhancements.

Later Thursday, a spokesperson for the Manitoba government said discussions concerning the NHL and hosting games in Winnipeg are ongoing.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief provincial public health officer in Manitoba, said the province was a joint signatory on a letter sent to the NHL by the five Canadian jurisdictions with teams last week and is working toward the resumption of the season.

“There is still some paperwork and procedural steps that need to take place but, from a public health perspective, it’s a solid plan.”

Atwal said there are a couple of small steps that still need to be finished.

“I believe one is that the orders have to change to allow them to play,” he said.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that his province is still discussing whether games can be hosted there.

“We haven’t given a final answer but we will soon,” he said at a news conference.

Health officials in Quebec and Ontario did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether NHL games can be held in those provinces.

The confirmation from Alberta is the first from any of the five provinces with NHL teams since deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated on Dec. 24 that the league believes it can play games in all seven Canadian markets.

Those franchises will only play each other during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs as part of a newly-formed North Division, and won’t be crossing the border with the United States, which remains closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal government waives 14-day quarantine

Daly’s Dec. 24 statement came after TSN and Sportsnet reported Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, sent a note to the league on behalf of the provinces asking for increased testing or a return to a scenario in which all teams would be in a secure zone in one city, like this summer in Edmonton and Toronto.

In a separate statement Thursday, the federal government said it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff returning to Canada for training camps under “national interest grounds.”

Daly said in an email to The Canadian Press that modified quarantine procedures for players and team staff entering the country are determined by provincial health authorities.

“Modified quarantine means different things in different markets,” Daly’s email read.

However, the provinces with NHL franchises must give their approval for games to be played between Canadian teams during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the league’s plan for training camps offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” It added all provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.

The PHAC statement said all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to begin training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the summer post-season as part of the resumption of the pandemic-halted 2019-20 campaign. The other six Canadian teams are slated to open training camp Sunday or Monday.

The federal government also cleared the Toronto Blue Jays to hold training camp at Rogers Centre under “national interest grounds” this summer, but rejected a proposal for home games against teams from the U.S. The Blue Jays eventually settled on Buffalo, N.Y., as their 2020 base.

The only Canadian professional sports teams to play on home soil during the pandemic have been the six NHL clubs to qualify for the 2019-20 post-season in Toronto and Edmonton, along with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.

The soccer teams were cleared to take part a series of games against each other in August and September before relocating to the U.S. to face American opposition.

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Slovakia, Finland, Russia pick up wins to kick off world juniors from Edmonton

Vasili Ponomaryov scored twice for the Russians as they defeated the Americans 5-3 in their tournament opening game at the world junior hockey championship.

After both teams scored in the first period, the Russians scored three goals and ended the second with a 4-1 lead. The scoreline would lead to the Americans pulling goaltender Spencer Knight.

Knight, a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2019, allowed four goals on 12 shots before making way for Dustin Wolf before period’s end.

The Americans attempted a comeback in the third period with goals from John Farinacci and Trevor Zegras to bring to deficit to one goal.

But an empty net goal from Yegor Chinakhov with 21 seconds to play put the game out of reach for the Americans.

The Americans will play Saturday against Austria, while the Russians will return to action Sunday evening against the Czech Republic.

Slovakia shuts out Swiss

Roman Faith scored late in the third period as Slovakia beat Switzerland 1-0 in the opening game of the world junior hockey championship on Friday.

Slovakia goaltender Simon Latkoczy registered the shutout, recording 28 saves. He made a highlight-reel glove save on Inaki Baragano on a Swiss power play late in the third period at Rogers Place.

Faith scored at 14:17 of the third, banging a loose puck from the slot past Thibault Fatton.

Slovakia returns to action Sunday against Canada. The Swiss play Finland the same day.

Slovakia and Switzerland lost in quarter-final action last year. Switzerland fell to Russia and Slovakia dropped a game against Canada.

Switzerland crushed Slovakia 7-2 in preliminary-round action last year.

Both teams will play their next games Sunday. The Swiss will play Finland while Slovakia will play Canada.

Balanced attack helps Finland past Germany

Ottawa Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle scored a goal and an assist for the Germans, but they fell short against Anton Lundell and the Finns as they lost 5-3.

Finland got goals from five different goal scorers, Anton Lundell, Aku Raty, Mikael Pyythia, Topi Niemela and Henrik Nikkanen in the victory.

The Germans were without nine players due to COVID-19 protocols. Three of their players will be in quarantine until Dec. 27, while five others will be quarantined until the 29th.

An additional German player tested positive yesterday and must be in quarantine until Jan. 4.

Germany will play Team Canada Saturday, while Finland will play Switzerland on Sunday.

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Unusual world juniors in Edmonton set to open as Canada defends gold

A world junior men’s hockey championship like no other opens Friday in Edmonton with zero spectators and teams walled off from the general public because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world under-20 tournament at Rogers Place is modelled on the NHL’s “bubble”, which allowed that league to complete the 2019-20 season in the same arena without any positive tests for the novel coronavirus over an eight-week span.

Defending champion Canada opens the tournament Saturday against Germany.

Shorter in duration with fewer personnel than when the NHL post-season “bubble” started, the 12-day, 10-country tournament is still a major logistical undertaking for Hockey Canada and the host committee.

That it wasn’t cancelled along with so many other International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments in 2020 indicates a determination to televise live games to hockey fans looking for a distraction from the pandemic’s grim effect on lives and the economy.

The Alberta government didn’t pull the plug on the tournament despite a spike in cases in the pandemic’s second wave.

WATCH | World Juniors to proceed despite COVID-19:

Ten cases of COVID-19 have made it inside the World Hockey Juniors bubble in Edmonton. This is despite a gauntlet of quarantines and daily testing of staff and players. But so far, it’s still game on. 2:14

Hockey Canada vice-president of events Dean McIntosh said the province has been “incredibly supportive.”

“We have an opportunity to give Canadians a gift here at Christmas time as well,” McIntosh said. “The holiday season, the tradition of the world juniors has been great.”

The tournament generated a $ 22-million profit the last time it was held in Alberta in 2012.

That money was split between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, the IIHF, Hockey Alberta and the minor hockey associations of host cities Edmonton and Calgary.

Team Canada secured the country’s 18th gold medal last year at the World Junior Hockey Championships after defeating Russia in Ostrava, Czech Republic. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

But ticket revenue this year from a tournament that regularly does big business in Canada will be limited to buyers who don’t ask for a refund, but instead keep their tickets for the 2022 tournament awarded back to Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.

The teenage players must follow the same protocols NHL players did in August and September such as daily tests and regular temperature checks, but with the addition of contact-tracing beacons embedded in their event credentials.

When they’re not on the ice, players are largely confined to their team’s floor in one of two hotels.

Unlike the NHL hub in the summer and early fall, Edmonton’s winter temperatures aren’t conducive to shooting hoops and hanging around food trucks in the hotel courtyard.

‘Bubble’ life a second time

Entry into the 2021 tournament secure zone was bumpy with positive COVID-19 test results eliminating six pre-tournament games and extending quarantines for both Sweden and Germany.

Sweden overhauled its coaching staff before departing for Canada because the head coach and three assistants tested positive for the virus.

Canada’s selection camp was interrupted by a 14-day quarantine after two players tested positive.

The host country is arguably in the easier of the two pools alongside Finland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Germany.

Russia, United States, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Austria comprise Pool B.

The top four teams in each group advance to quarterfinals Jan. 2, followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and the championship game Jan. 5.

Depending on the COVID-19 situation and restrictions in their respective countries, the number of league games each player has under his belt coming into the tournament varies widely.

Russian, Finnish and Swedish players in the tournament have played something resembling a regular season in their respective leagues.

There are Canadian and American players who haven’t appeared in a real game in months because the Western and Ontario major junior leagues won’t start until 2021.

A handful of players are living hockey “bubble” life a second time after experiencing it with their respective NHL teams this past summer.

No relegation round this year helps countries like Slovakia, Germany and Austria, which are assured a return trip to Alberta for the 2022 world junior tournament.

Countries that might have earned promotion can’t because the second-tier championship was cancelled.

OHL delays start again 

The Ontario Hockey League has delayed the February start of its 2020-21 season.

The OHL announced Wednesday the season will not start on Feb. 4, the date targeted earlier this year. Players were scheduled to report to their teams in early January.

The decision follows Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision to put the entire province into lockdown starting Saturday as cases surge during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sport Minister Lisa MacLeod said that Ontario’s lockdown orders allow for professional and high-performance athletes to train within the province but not to compete.

“At this point we do not have any further guidance from the chief medical officer of health to allow them to return to play,” said MacLeod. “That work is ongoing.

“Right now we’re focused on getting our health-care system at a capacity where it’s not overloaded. That’s our No. 1 priority.”

MacLeod said that any decision to cancel the season would be up to the OHL.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is the only one of three Canadian major-junior hockey leagues to have started play this season. Play was suspended Dec. 1, with the league saying it hopes to return with its 12 Quebec teams playing in four markets in late January. No date has been set for the return of the QMJHL’s six teams in Atlantic Canada.

The Western Hockey League had hoped to start its season in January, but announced another delay earlier this month.

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NHL players, staff arrive in Edmonton, Toronto ahead of restart

NHL players have been eager to find out what life will be like inside the bubble.

They got a first taste Sunday.

The 24 teams — each with a 52-person travelling party — set to participate in the league’s restart entered the secure zones in two Canadian cities ahead of the resumption the pandemic-halted 2019-20 season.

Players and staff checked into tightly-monitored hotels inside the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles, where they will be separated from the general population by security fencing and undergo daily COVID-19 testing.

“We’re just excited to get into our setup,” Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman said Saturday. “Get into the hotel, see what’s available, see the lounges.”

People entering Canada usually have to isolate for a mandatory 14 days upon arrival, but the federal government approved the NHL’s modified cohort quarantine plan — 18 of the 24 teams involved in the restart are based in the United States — paving the way for the games to be held north of the 49th parallel.

Each bubble has 14 restaurants for players and staff, as well as a concierge service for deliveries.

‘Very unique situation’

“The really unique thing about this is we’re going to be with each other 24/7 pretty much,” Hyman said of his teammates. “That’s pretty special and doesn’t happen very often.

“It’s a very unique situation.”

Despite a number of COVID-19 hot spots across the U.S., the league reported just two positive tests during the first week of training camps. The NHL has acknowledged it expects there to be positive tests inside the bubbles, adding it has a plan to deal with that.

WATCH | Details of Edmonton, Toronto ‘bubbles’:

The NHL released in-depth information on what Toronto and Edmonton will look like for the NHL teams they are hosting. Find out what they player’s living situations will be like. 4:51

“My level of confidence has increased along the way,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said recently of how he was feeling about the resumption of a season that was suspended in mid-March. “I’m comfortable with the protocols and procedures we have in place. And more importantly, I’m comfortable with how all the players seem to have embraced them and taken them seriously and are adhering to them.”

BMO Field — normally the home of Toronto FC of the MLS and the CFL’s Argonauts — is part of that city’s bubble, serving as an outdoor recreation facility.

‘Business as usual’

“It’s pretty impressive what they’ve been able to throw together in just over three weeks, a month,” Toronto defenceman Tyson Barrie said. “Sounds like it’s gonna be pretty good food and they’ll have some stuff set up for us, but at the end of the day when you’re in playoffs you’re not doing a whole lot anyway. You just play the game, practice, go home and rest, eat well.

“Outside of maybe a little bit of fresh air it’ll be business as usual.”

Practices will be closed to the media as teams gear up for exhibition games starting Tuesday.

Eastern Conference teams are in Toronto, while Western Conference clubs are in Edmonton for the first three rounds. The conference and Stanley Cup finals will be held in Alberta capital.

The best-of-five qualifying round begins Saturday, along with a seeding tournament for the top four teams in each conference. The Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all are in the qualifying round.

Four-time Grammy winner Michael Buble is slated to perform the national anthems for the opening games next weekend, while video game company EA Sports is set to provide crowd noise inside the fan-less Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Place.

The NHL, which entered the final phase of its restart the same day it was announced four-time Cup winner Eddie Shack had died and Hall of Fame centre Dale Hawerchuk is battling cancer for a second time, plans to use individual teams’ goal horns and chants to add to the atmosphere.

At one of the two bubble locations in Toronto, a major intersection was blocked off near the Fairmont Royal York hotel as team buses arrived, while a van from DynaLIFE Medical Labs, which is performing the COVID-19 testing, was seen entering Hotel X at Exhibition Place just west of downtown. The league insists its testing won’t take away from public resources in either jurisdiction.

Indigenous leaders hold pipe ceremony in Edmonton

Officials with the Oilers and local Indigenous leaders held a pipe ceremony Sunday at Rogers Place just outside of a plaza surrounded by a fence that marked the boundary for the bubble.

“It was very, very, very special because it gives us an opportunity to welcome hockey, welcome the world back to Edmonton, to also welcome them to our territory of Treaty 6,” Chief Wilton Littlechild said. “The elder prayed for continued good health and safety for all the players, fans, all the staff, media, all who are going to be participating.”

Inside the fence, picnic tables and a basketball hoop were set up, and three food trucks were already open.

“This is at the core of making sure we can run this tournament safely,” Oilers spokesman Tim Shipton said about the sealed-off area, adding officials have worked in conjunction with Alberta Health to balance safety with the players’ needs. “One of the things we heard loud and clear from our players was fresh air.

“The players didn’t want to be indoors for weeks and weeks.”

Embracing the new normal

Canucks head coach Travis Green said a key will be to embrace the new normal.

“There’s probably going to be times where you might want to complain,” he said. “Those are things we talk about in a normal season, that we don’t need energy-suckers. There’s no sense complaining about things. It’s different right now, and that’s OK.

“Let’s embrace it. Let’s be excited about playing.”

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NHL players, staff arrive in Edmonton, Toronto ahead of restart

It’s move-in day for NHL players in Toronto and Edmonton.

Twenty-four teams are scheduled to enter bubbles in the two Canadian cities today in advance of the league’s restart.

Players and staff will check in to four hotels in Edmonton and two in Toronto, where they will be separated from the general public and undergo daily COVID-19 testing.

Practices will be closed to the media as teams gear up for exhibition games starting Tuesday.

The best-of-five qualifying round starts next Saturday, along with the seeding round for the top four teams in each conference. The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all are in the qualifying round.

Eastern Conference teams are in Toronto and Western Conference teams are in Edmonton for the first three rounds The final four teams will all be in Edmonton for the last two rounds of the playoffs.

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Caleb Jones says he tested positive for COVID-19

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Caleb Jones has acknowledged he tested positive for COVID-19 before training camp.

Jones says he tested positive when he returned to Edmonton from his home in Dallas.

Jones opened his media session on Friday by revealing his positive test. He said he was asymptomatic.

The NHL is not releasing the names of players who test positive for COVID-19, and the league also is no longer revealing the teams in updates on positive tests.

Jones, 23, becomes the second NHL player to acknowledge a positive test in a media interview. Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews also told reporters he tested positive on the first day of training camp on Monday, weeks after a report in The Toronto Sun on the star’s diagnosis.

Jones said he did his 14 days of isolation before camp started, but was held out of main sessions for the first three days as he tried to get himself back up to speed.

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CFL’s Edmonton franchise won’t confirm reports of name change

The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are refusing to confirm two published reports that the team will change its name.

TSN and Postmedia are reporting the Edmonton club will make the change, following the Washington NFL team’s decision to do the same earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for the Edmonton club said the team had no update Friday morning.

Pressure has mounted in recent weeks for sports teams to eliminate racist or stereotypical names.

Critics say the Edmonton team’s name is a derogatory, colonial-era term for Inuit.

Aaron Paquette, a city councillor in Edmonton, tweeted that he met with the CFL club on Thursday and, while he didn’t confirm the name will be changed, he was “very impressed with the potential coming out of our conversation.”

“I had an extremely productive meeting with [Edmonton’s] own football team today after they accepted my invitation to share ideas & perspectives,” Paquette wrote.

“I can’t say any more but we’ll see what develops.”

WATCH | Washington NFL team to change nickname:

Washington’s NFL team has announced it will drop the Redskins name after decades of complaints it was racist and growing pressure from sponsors. 2:08

In February, the Edmonton club announced it was keeping the name following year-long research that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. The club said it received “no consensus” during that review.

On July 8, the Edmonton club promised to speed up another review of its name and provide an update by the end of the month. In that statement, the club noted “a lot has happened” since it made the decision in February.

One of the team’s sponsors, national car-and-home insurance provider Belairdirect, had announced a day earlier that it was rethinking its relationship with the team because of the name.

WATCH | Pro sports teams reconsidering Indigenous nicknames:

CBC News’ Raffy Boudjikanian reports on the Washington Redskins’ plans to review their nickname, followed closely by the Cleveland Indians’ decision to reconsider their team nickname. 2:30

Other sponsors also said they would welcome a review of the name.

Boston Pizza said “as part of a larger shift in our overall marketing strategy, Boston Pizza recently ended its sponsorship of Edmonton’s CFL team.” It tweeted the statement as a response to someone asking about whether it planned to follow the lead of Belairdirect.

All this happened as NFL’s Washington team said it would undergo a thorough review of its name. A similar announcement was made by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians.

‘Time for a change’

It is unclear when Edmonton would play its first game with a new name, if the change goes through. The CFL in June postponed the start of its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is no guarantee the league will play this year.

There have been repeated calls in the past for the Edmonton team to change its name.

Canada’s national Inuit organization in 2015 said it was time for a change.

“It isn’t right for any team to be named after an ethnic group,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada’s 60,000 Inuit. Obed has said that Inuit people are not mascots.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, citing Obed’s statement, said in 2017 that the team should take steps toward a name change.

Although American Inuit continue to use the word Eskimo, northern people in Canada left that name behind about the same time they began negotiating their land claim in the 1970s.

Many historians believe the origin of Eskimo comes from an Algonquin term meaning “eaters of raw meat.” Others believe it comes from another Aboriginal term that refers to people wearing snowshoes.

The people themselves have used the word Inuit for centuries. It means “the people” in Inuktut.

Founded in 1949, the Edmonton team has won the Grey Cup 14 times, second only to the Toronto Argonauts at 17. The community-owned club’s impressive history on the field includes a record five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982.

Edmonton set a North American pro sports record by qualifying for the playoffs in 34 straight seasons from 1972 to 2005.

Other sports teams in Edmonton used the Eskimos name before the CFL club was founded.

There is no indication whether Edmonton has considered any possible new names.

The team applied for the trademark “Edmonton Empire” in 2018 for use on souvenir items.

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