Tag Archives: Montreal

Quebec imposes earlier curfew for Montreal and Laval

The latest:

Some provinces are strengthening public health measures amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, with Quebec on Thursday tightening restrictions in regions of concern and B.C. announcing a new workplace closure order to deal with outbreaks.

In Quebec, Montreal and the suburb of Laval are seeing their curfew return to 8 p.m. starting on Sunday, Premier François Legault announced at an afternoon news conference.

Legault said even though transmission rates are currently stable in the Montreal area, he wants to prevent the situation from worsening.

“The level of contagion is very high and we expect it to accelerate even more,” Legault said.

People wait in line at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, on Thursday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

As well, stricter lockdown measures that are in place in Quebec City, Lévis, Gatineau and Beauce are being extended.

Schools, restaurant dining rooms, gyms, hair salons and other non-essential businesses will now remain closed in those regions until at least April 18. Religious gatherings will also be limited to 25 people and the overnight curfew will remain at 8 p.m. until at least that date.

Quebec on Thursday reported 1,609 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. A provincial dashboard put the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at 566, with 132 people reported to be in the province’s intensive care units.

Meanwhile, British Columbia reported a record high of 1,293 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the spread is fuelled by social gatherings that then spread into workplaces.

“It is not OK to have friends and family over right now. It is not OK to go on a weekend getaway. That is not essential — nor is your ski trip just because you have a pass. It is not OK to have a wedding, a birthday. All of these need to be postponed for now,” she said.

People enjoy a patio in the Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver on Tuesday. B.C. imposed a three-week ‘circuit breaker’ on March 20 that included suspending indoor dining. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Henry announced a new workplace closure order that will allow WorkSafeBC to operate under the Public Health Act. When three or more employees at a workplace test positive for COVID-19, it will be closed down for 10 days.

Essential workplaces like police departments, fire stations and grocery stores are exempt.

The province also reported two additional COVID-19 deaths on Thursday. There are currently 336 people in hospital, with 101 in intensive care, officials said.

– From CBC News and the Canadian Press, last updated at 7 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Ontario essential workers facing financial crunch as stay-at-home order begins:

Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa and District Labour Council, says workers in restaurants, grocery stores and big box stores are facing the potential of reduced hours and less income as Ontario issues another stay-at-home order. 0:53

As of 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,036,029 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 64,430 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,211.

Health officials in Ontario on Thursday reported 3,295 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional deaths. According to data published by the province, hospitalizations stood at 1,417, with 525 people in intensive care units “due to COVID-related illness.”

The latest figures came after a stay-at-home order came into effect across Ontario in response to worsening COVID-19 trends in the province.

People shop for essential items only at Costco as the company was forced to block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

“The reality is, despite everything we’ve done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants continue to spread,” Premier Doug Ford said at a briefing announcing the order on Wednesday. “Our hospitals are reaching capacity and patients in the GTA must now be sent to other parts of the province for care.”

Under the stay-at-home order, stores that sell goods such as groceries, cleaning supplies and pharmacy products can remain open but only to sell essential items. Non-essential retail can open for curbside pickup or delivery only.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. There are 20 people in hospital due to COVID-19, the most in the province since the pandemic began, including 13 in intensive care.

WATCH | Coronavirus variant driving N.B. outbreak:

New Brunswick has the largest number of people in hospital with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical health officer, noting the outbreak is largely driven by the highly transmissible variant first reported in the U.K. She also said the age of the patients is getting younger. 1:01

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Thursday, while Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island each reported one new case.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut on Thursday.

Yukon’s chief medical officer of health said Wednesday it’s too early to lift COVID-19 restrictions in the territory. This despite the fact that Yukon has no new COVID-19 cases and about 68 per cent of residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

Dr. Brendan Hanley says there are too many cases involving variants in neighbouring jurisdictions and there’s a territorial election taking place.

WATCH | Manitoba premier gets vaccinated:

Brian Pallister received his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Thursday. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, administered the shot. The premier says he’s proud to do his part to keep his family and community safe from COVID-19. 0:57

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 139 new cases and three additional deaths on Thursday. The province also announced its first death linked to the B117 coronavirus variant first reported in the U.K., a man in his late 70s from the Winnipeg health region who died in late March.

Saskatchewan reported 205 new cases and two additional deaths on Thursday. There are 206 in hospital due to COVID-19, including 41 people in intensive care.

Starting Friday morning, anyone in the province 55 and over will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Meanwhile, Alberta reported 1,429 new cases and three new deaths on Thursday. Hospitals were treating 340 patients for the illness, including 83 people in ICU beds.

People infected with highly contagious variants now make up about 45 per cent of all active cases in the province, health officials said.

Vaccination clinics are set to open at the Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta, officials announced earlier in the day. An outbreak last spring saw at least 950 employees — nearly half its workforce — test positive and was linked to three deaths.

– From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

People stand by the National Covid Memorial Wall beside St Thomas’ hospital in London on Thursday. The half-kilometre-long wall consists of around 150,000 painted red hearts to represent lives lost to COVID-19 in the U.K. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

As of Thursday evening, more than 133.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University case-tracking tool. The global death toll stood at nearly 2.9 million.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday warned of the risk of a permanent divergence in the global economy, and urged major economies to strive to provide significant amounts of new fiscal support to secure a robust recovery.

In a statement to the steering committees of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Yellen underscored the need to continue supporting the world’s poorest countries as they grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and high debt burdens.

She urged the World Bank to support developing countries and ensure they get timely access to COVID-19 vaccines, and said the U.S. supported accelerated negotiation to replenish the World Bank’s International Development Association fund for the poorest countries.

The African Union has dropped plans to buy COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India and is exploring options with Johnson & Johnson, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters on Thursday.

The institute will still supply the AstraZeneca vaccine to Africa through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, said Dr. John Nkengasong, but the African Union would seek additional supplies from Johnson & Johnson.

In the Asia-Pacific region, new coronavirus cases in India hit a record Thursday at 126,789, while deaths rose 685 in the past 24 hours, the highest since November. 

Dozens of cities and towns are imposing night curfews to try to contain the surge but the federal government has refused to impose a second nationwide lockdown for fear of hurting the economy.

Health workers attach a notice about the shortage of coronavirus vaccine supplies at a vaccination centre in Mumbai on Thursday. Despite India being the world’s largest producer of vaccines, several states say they are running low on shots. (Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters)

Indonesia’s health minister said the schedule for around 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines faced delays.

Health officials in South Korea said they will decide whether to resume administering AstraZeneca vaccines to people 60 and younger over the weekend. The injections were paused while regulators in Europe reviewed a possible link between the shots and rare blood clots.

Australia, meanwhile, has moved to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine by recommending it not be given to people under 50. The announcement came after drug regulators held a series of urgent meetings earlier in the day.

The Philippines suspended use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for people under 60 to investigate reports about blood clots.

In Europe, Spain plans to join other European nations in limiting use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias said after meeting with regional health chiefs Wednesday that authorities will limit the use of the vaccine in those over 60.

The decision came after the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots.

Last week, Germany and France limited the vaccine to elderly groups, and earlier Wednesday British authorities recommended that the vaccine not be given to adults under 30. Belgium said Wednesday it would not allow its use for people under age 56.

The EMA advised no such age restrictions, saying the benefits of the vaccine far exceed the very rare cases of thrombosis.

In the Americas, Mexico’s president says he plans to get the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to boost confidence in the shot.

The vaccine is one of several being used for people over 60 in Mexico’s current round of vaccinations. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 67, say the benefits far outweigh any risks of a rare blood-clotting disorder.

In Brazil, the country saw a new record of 4,249 coronavirus deaths in a day. More than 345,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, making it the second-deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 after the United States.

In the Middle East, Iran has hit a new coronavirus infection record for the third straight day, reporting 22,586 new cases. The country is grappling with a spike after millions defied government guidance against gathering and travelling during Nowruz, the nation’s biggest holiday.

The new case count Thursday pushes Iran’s total during the pandemic over two million. The additional 185 reported deaths increased the confirmed total to 63,884 deaths in the country of 83 million.

People walk in the bazaar or market, in the town of Pishva, south of Tehran, Iran, on Thursday. (Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press)

The Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain has announced that starting next month, residents who can prove that they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be able to attend gyms, indoor restaurants, mass sporting events, conferences, spas and cinemas.

– From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

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CBC | Health News

Montreal health agency says communications with family were ‘incomplete’ after woman found dead in ER

Montreal’s West Island health agency has admitted its communications were lacking with the family of a woman who was found dead last month on the floor of a room in the emergency department of Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe-Claire, Que. 

But the family says that’s not enough.

In a statement emailed to the media this morning, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest de l’Île de Montréal said it has asked the coroner to investigate Candida Macarine’s Feb. 27 death. 

“Although the investigation is still ongoing, the CIUSSS is already able to say that its communications with the family were incomplete, especially at the time of the announcement of the death,” the statement said.

“The CIUSSS team is obviously sorry for the concerns this caused to the family of the deceased,” it continued.

Macarine died in a negative pressure isolation room that nurses in the Montreal-area hospital had warned managers about several times, saying it was difficult to see and monitor patients there.

The day of her death, Macarine’s family was told only that she had died of cardiac arrest. 

Learned circumstances of mother’s death from news report

It wasn’t until they noticed a CBC News story two weeks later about a woman found “dead and ice cold” on the floor beside her bed that they realized that woman was likely their mother.

The family and CBC News have repeatedly requested more information from the hospital during the last two weeks.

The agency finally acknowledged Tuesday that Macarine was the patient who died, and that it had failed to report the circumstances of her death to the family.

WATCH | Placido Macarine shares how it feels to know so little about his mother’s death:

The family of a woman who died at Lakeshore General Hospital in a room that staff had warned managers about for weeks only learned about the circumstances of her death after reading a CBC story earlier this week. 2:19


The statement comes a day after the family of Filipino heritage held a tearful news conference, accusing the hospital of racism.

In an interview with CBC Tuesday, Candida Macarine’s son Emmanuel Macarine said he wasn’t impressed with the hospital’s statement.

“No, no, I’m sorry, but for me it’s not an apology,” Macarine said.

He scoffed at the hospital’s admission that its communication with the family was “incomplete.”

“Incomplete? Well I don’t know how they tried to communicate with us! Until now, we didn’t receive anything — until after the press conference yesterday,” he said.

Head of CIUSSS offers to meet with family

The health agency intends to act on recommendations from the coroner’s investigation to “ensure that such a situation does not happen again,” CIUSSS said in its statement.

“Moreover, if it is shown that our staff acted inappropriately, the CIUSSS will not hesitate to take the decisions and actions that are necessary in such situations.”

The health agency statement didn’t explain why the family was never told of the circumstances of Macarine’s death.

In an email, a spokesperson told CBC News that the agency would not comment further until the CIUSSS CEO Lynne McVey has had a chance to meet with the family.

“Lynne McVey wrote to family members yesterday and asked to meet with them to offer her support in this difficult ordeal,” the statement said.

‘Cannot trust them anymore’

Emmanuel Macarine said the family has no immediate plans to meet with McVey.

“After all the refusals to our requests to know the truth of what happened to our mom, we cannot trust them anymore,” he said. “I mean, what are they going to say now?”

Macarine said the family would prefer to deal with the coroner’s office.

He said he and some of his brothers and sisters would hold a news conference Wednesday.

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CBC | Health News

Wilfried Nancy named head coach of CF Montreal, team to start season in Florida

After overhauling their name and look, CF Montreal have announced their latest adjustments — a new coach and a new temporary home.

The club announced Monday that former assistant coach Wilfried Nancy has been promoted to the top job. He takes over from Thierry Henry, who resigned last month citing family reasons.

“I’m not going to lie — soccer, football, it is my passion,” Nancy told reporters Monday. “For me, this is a good step.”

Montreal also announced it will open the season playing home games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because of border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nancy, a 43-year-old Frenchman, has been an assistant coach with the first team since 2016, and said he wants to build on what the group accomplished last season.

Montreal finished the regular season with a 8-13-2, good for ninth spot in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. The club — known as the Montreal Impact before a rebrand in January — made the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but was eliminated by the New England Revolution in the play-in round.

‘We’re going to be a good team’

The team established a style of play last year, Nancy said.

“We will continue that style of play,” he said. “We’re going to be a good team, proactive, dynamic and we will be able also to put produce on the opposition.”

Working under Henry — formerly a marquee striker with Arsenal in the English Premier League — was an illuminating experience, Nancy said.

“I worked with a champion,” he said. “Thierry was a star as a player and I understood why he was a star,.”

Henry was a demanding coach who found it hard to accept that players would make mistakes, but he also set a strong example for the team, Nancy said.

“For me, it was good to learn from Thierry about the desire to win and the desire to succeed,” he said. “This is the first time that I can see that close to me.”

CF Montreal announced on Feb. 25 that Henry was stepping down after a single season as the club’s head coach.

There was a lot of interest in the job from people across Europe and North America, sporting director Olivier Renard said. While he declined to say who else was considered, Renard added that the pandemic wasn’t an obstacle in the hiring process.

What set Nancy apart from other applicants was his determination and his familiarity with the club, Renard said.

“I know his philosophy, I know what he wants to do for the club. And the club knows also what he makes the last 10 years of the club,” he said.

“It’s not only we gave him the chance, he deserved the chance also.”

While’s Nancy’s contract is for one year, Renard said in French that the new coach doesn’t have a sword hanging over his head.

Nancy said he understands the situation and is OK with it.

“I have to do my job now as a coach to go forward,” he said.

Experience developing young talent

Before joining the first team as an assistant coach, Nancy worked as a coach in the club’s academy system.

His experience developing young talent is part of what makes Nancy a good fit for the head coach role, Renard said.

“One of the best qualities of Wil is his communication with young guys,” he said. “We need that.”

Assistant coaches Kwame Ampadu and Laurent Ciman, goalkeeper coach Remy Vercoutre and fitness coach Jules Gueguen will complete Nancy’s staff.

The newly minted coach and his team opened training camp in Montreal last week, but will soon make the move to a warmer locale.

Club to play in Fort Lauderdale

The club announced Monday that it will begin its season in Florida, playing at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale and using Inter Miami CF’s facilities for daily training.

CF Montreal is set to move south on April 6 and plans to play two pre-season games in Florida before the MLS season begins on April 17.

The club will have ample Canadian company in the Sunshine State. The Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC are all playing in Florida due to border restrictions and the Canadian national men’s soccer team also will play a home World Cup qualifying game in the state.

The restrictions forced all three Canadian MLS teams to move south last season. Montreal finished out the year in Harrison, N.J., sharing a stadium with the New York Red Bulls.

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CBC | Soccer News

Thierry Henry, citing family, steps down as CF Montreal head coach

CF Montreal lost a head coach and Major League Soccer said goodbye to a marquee name with news Thursday that Thierry Henry was stepping down.

Citing family reasons, the 43-year-old former star striker said he was quitting the club after one season at the helm to return to London. Kevin Gilmore, Montreal’s president and CEO, called it a “difficult day” but said Henry was leaving on good terms.

“I’m surprised but given the circumstances it doesn’t shock me that this has happened given what he went through last year,” he told reporters.

Separation from his children plus the prospect of having to spend another season on the road due to pandemic-related travel restrictions contributed to Henry’s decision.

“Last year was very difficult on this club across the board,” said Gilmore. “But especially with those that had to spend the last four months of the season outside of Montreal. And the prospect of starting a season like that again is very difficult. And it’s taken its toll on a lot of people. Obviously it’s taken its toll on Thierry and his children.

“He made a difficult decision — although I keep saying when you make decisions based on family, they’re always good decisions — to stay in London and give up his position as the head coach of the club in order to be close to his family.”

‘Heavy heart’

The announcement comes on the eve of training camp. Players report Monday for a seven-day quarantine period, medicals and COVID-19 testing prior to the start of team training March 8. The MLS regular season kicks off April 17.

Montreal said it will take a committee approach to coaching led by assistant coach Wilfried Nancy until a successor is found. The new head coach will take charge of a roster that has been radically changed since last season with 11 players having left and eight new faces.

Henry spoke to the Montreal players and staff Thursday via video but not the media.

“It is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to take this decision,” the French native said in a statement. “The last year has been an extremely difficult one for me personally. Due to the worldwide pandemic, I was unable to see my children.

“Unfortunately due to the ongoing restrictions and the fact that we will have to relocate to the U.S. again for several months, [this year] will be no different. The separation is too much of a strain for me and my kids. Therefore, it is with much sadness that I must take the decision to return to London and leave CF Montreal.”

Henry was hired in November 2019, succeeding interim coach Wilmer Cabrera on a two-year contract with an option for the 2022 season.

Henry has been linked to the managerial opening at England’s Bournemouth in recent days. But Montreal officials said there had been no contact with the Championship side, which recently handed the manager’s job to Jonathan Woodgate through the end of the season.

“Bournemouth was nothing more than a rumour,” Gilmore said.

Still, Montreal says it will be entitled to compensation if Henry takes a position with another club in the near future.

Gilmore said Henry was not focused on a job hunt. “Right now his sole and only focus is his children and his family.”

But Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard said he hopes Henry returns to coaching as soon as possible.

“He deserves it. I can say that I was very proud of him last year ΓǪ You could see he was in difficulty about his family, about the players. He was the leader of the team.”

Henry, seen taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, led Montreal (8-13-2) to the playoffs last season, for the first time since 2016. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Henry led Montreal (8-13-2) to the playoffs last season, for the first time since 2016. Montreal, which finished out the 2020 campaign based in Harrison, N.J., exited in the play-in round in November thanks to a 95th-minute goal by New England’s Gustavo Bou.

Gilmore said Henry flew home for the holidays, returning to Montreal the last week of January. After finishing quarantine in early February, he told the club he had to fly home to deal with some personal issues.

“His children were struggling with him having just left,” said Gilmore.

Last Thursday, Henry indicated he was leaning toward not coming back. Gilmore said while the club tried to find ways to ease his burden, Henry told them Monday he was stepping down.

“Is it perfect timing? Absolutely not. But like I said there is no deadline or prescription date on personal decisions and we fully understand where he’s coming from,” Gilmore said.

“Of course it’s a loss when you lose a person like Thierry Henry, who’s a football legend known worldwide and is associated with your club,” he added. “The thing is he’ll always be associated with this club.”

Gilmore said the team is in the process of finalizing where in the U.S. it will play home matches this season while the border restrictions continue. A return to New Jersey or Florida are possibilities.

Toronto FC is also looking at Florida, with Orlando and Tampa possible venues. Vancouver is reportedly looking at Utah.

Henry was an elite forward whose playing resume includes Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, the New York Red Bulls and France. He retired in December 2014 after a 20-year career that saw him score 411 goals in 917 matches.

Henry was an academy coach at Arsenal and an assistant coach with the Belgian national team before taking charge of AS Monaco and then Montreal.

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CBC | Soccer News

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien

The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller.

The team announced that Dominique Ducharme will serve as interim head coach and Alex Burrows has joined the coaching staff. Luke Richardson and Stéphane Waite retain their respective duties within the coaching group.

Julien ends his tenure with the Canadiens with a record of 129-123-35. In his four years with the team, Montreal missed the playoffs twice and lost in the first round the other two years. The Canadiens were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the 24-team post-season last year and then upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round. They then lost in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.

“I would like to sincerely thank Claude and Kirk for their contributions to our team over the past five years during which we worked together. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard,” general manager Marc Bergevin wrote in a press release.

WATCH | Habs lose 2nd straight game to Senators:

Ottawa edges Montreal 5-4 with Josh Norris’ shootout winner. 1:20

“In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group. We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change.”

Ducharme joined the Canadiens coaching staff in April 2018 after 10 seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He won the Memorial Cup with Halifax in 2012-13 and has twice been Canada’s head coach at the world junior championship, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018.

Bergevin and Ducharme addressed the media Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg.

“It’s not fun. It’s a tough part of my job. To walk into these two men’s room this morning, it was not easy,” Bergevin said.

In a pandemic-shortened 56-game season, Bergevin said he didn’t want to wait to make a change behind the bench.

“The hard thing to watch is the swing from being a really good hockey team that was playing with pace, was engaged, playing to our identity, which is speed, then going to the other side to a team that’s looking for anything,” he said.

WATCH | Bergevin asserts confidence in Ducharme:

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirms that Dominique Ducharme will be the coach for at least the rest of this season after firing coach Claude Julien on Wednesday. 4:56

“We’re chasing our tail, we’re chasing the puck, we’re not in sync. And that was frustrating for me.

“If the message is the same and they’re acting differently, then change needs to be made.”

Bergevin said he wanted to give Julien and Muller an “honest try” to fix things over the squad’s recent six-day break.

“After that week off, I thought we would really come out flying, refocused, re-energized and back in sync. And I didn’t see that,” he said.

Putting Ducharme in charge gives the players a “different voice,” Bergevin said.

The Canadiens also promoted Alex Burrows to assistant coach. Burrows, formerly a winger for the Senators and Vancouver Canucks, has been a member of the coaching staff for the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval, Que., the past two seasons.

‘A new model of coach’

Ducharme will “100 per cent” remain at the helm for the rest of the season, Bergevin said.

“Quarantine or no quarantine, [Ducharme] was my guy from the time I made my decision,” the GM said. “The reason why, he’s a new model of coach, a young coach that came a long way, had success at the junior level, had success at the world junior level. I feel that a new voice is what the team needs.”

Ducharme, who will make his debut when Montreal plays Thursday in Winnipeg, said he wants the Canadiens to spend less time in their zone, create more turnovers and give more support to the player who has the puck.

Taking on the role of head coach is much like sitting down to take an exam when you know you’ve studied hard, he said.

“I feel comfortable, I feel ready. I’m confident in the group, I’m confident in the guys I’m working with. And I’m ready to go,” said the 47-year-old native of Joliette, Que.

Still, being appointed to the position came with a range of emotions.

“I’m losing two colleagues and two great people. To see them leave, obviously, it’s a mixed feelings,” Ducharme said. “But I’m proud to be here. It’s been a long road for me. I didn’t take the highway, I went the side road, but I’m proud of that. And I think it made me grow as a coach. And today I’m ready for it.”

Julien returned to the Habs for his second go-round as head coach midway through the 2016-17 season.

He previously lead the team from January 2003 through January 2006. After being dismissed by Montreal in 2006, he joined the New Jersey Devils for a brief stint, then went on to coach the Bruins from 2007 until 2017, winning a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011.

Julien, 60, had to leave the team during the first round of the playoffs last year in Toronto when he had a stent installed in a coronary artery. Muller took over the head coaching duties and the Habs extended the top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers to six games before bowing out.

The Habs were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the 24-team post-season last year and then upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round.

This season, a tightly contested all-Canadian North Division has heightened the stakes for the seven teams north of the border, said Calgary Flames coach Geoff Ward.

“I think really what we’re starting to see is that the emotion of the Canadian division is starting to come to the front,” he said. “And because of that, the rivalries are ramping up a bit and with the division being so tight, it can sway perspective very easily one way or the other.”

Ward said he owes Julien “a lot” and sent him a text Wednesday morning when he heard the news.

“He’ll bounce back, if he wants to and when he wants to. He’s a great coach. And somebody else now will benefit from what happened today,” he said.

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Montreal MLS team rebrands as Club De Foot Montreal

The Montreal Impact are rebranding, changing the Major League Soccer club’s moniker to Club De Foot Montreal — or CF Montreal.

The club announced the move Thursday morning in a virtual press conference.

Team owner Joey Saputo said that to make an impact, the name Impact needs to be retired, replaced by a new name that will tell a story about the city of Montreal.

More than 2,000 soccer fans have already registered their displeasure with the rebrand, signing an online petition calling for the Impact to keep its name.

The petition says the change will cause a “rift” between the team and its fanbase.

The club has been known as the Impact since it joined the American Professional Soccer League in 1992 following the dissolution of its predecessor, the Montreal Supra.

Saputo chose the name because he wanted the franchise to make an impact on the city and local soccer community.

Montreal made its MLS debut in 2012. In 2015, the team finished a franchise-best third place in the Eastern Division before being ousted from the playoffs in the quarterfinals by the Columbus Crew.

Last season, the club finished ninth in the East with an 8-13-2 record after COVID-19 border restrictions forced all three Canadian MLS squads to relocate south of the border in mid-September.

The New England Revolution eliminated Montreal from the playoffs in the qualifying round.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has said the league is targeting mid-March to start the 2021 campaign.

Bob Foose, head of the MLS Players Association, said Wednesday that the “best solution” for Canadian teams would be delaying the start of the season since the Canada-U.S. border remains closed.

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Montreal Impact begin outdoor individual training for first time since start of COVID-19

The Montreal Impact returned to their training centre Monday for their first individual outdoor practice sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Impact players had been training on their own since Major League Soccer suspended play March 12.

Local authorities initially turned down the MLS team’s request to get going with the voluntary individual sessions. But the Impact got the green light to start Monday.

“It feels amazing,” said captain Jukka Raitala, who is coming off a broken bone in his right leg suffered in a CONCACAF Champions League match in late February.

“The circumstances are different, way different, but we need to adapt. It’s a very nice step to be back on the field and start working on fitness and working with the ball. I couldn’t be more happy.”

“I feel great. My leg feels great. Looking forward to working even harder,” added the Finnish international.

‘Happy to be here’

Raitala said while he needs to work on his fitness, he has a “big hunger” to get back into top shape.

Spanish attacking midfielder Bojan also welcomed the chance to get back to training.

“Happy to be here,” said Bojan, who like Raitala wore a mask in his post-training interview.

“Everyone, we all want to be back playing, enjoying our sport,” he added. “But we know that the situation is not nice so we need to be patient.”

Impact midfielder Steeven Saba broke his left foot last week on what the club called “a routine jog” near his home in Montreal. he will be sidelined eight to 12 weeks.

Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps have already started their individual training sessions.

Both natural grass fields at Centre Nutrilait are being used, which allows eight players to train at the same time in separate quadrants as per the league protocol.

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Victor Wanyama’s search for happiness in Montreal postponed by the pandemic

Running sprints alone up a stairwell in his condo building isn’t exactly how Victor Wanyama pictured things would be a month into his time in Montreal.

But the Impact’s newest designated player is trying to make the best out of an unprecedented situation.

“It’s been tough, I just moved in and I haven’t even had a chance to get to know the city well. Everything happened so fast,” Wanyama said.

The 28-year-old Kenyan signed with Montreal March 3, played his first game March 10 — a 2-1 loss to C.D. Olimpia in leg one of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal — and the club shut down its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic after practice March 12.

Since then, he’s been trying to stay in shape and building bonds with his new teammates online.

He’s also focused on helping fight against the spread of COVID-19 in his home country.

Last week, he sent sanitizing kits to families who live in the Mathare slums of Nairobi through his foundation.

“The people who are back home living in the ghettos are being told to stay at home, but they have nothing to eat. So I tried to reach out and tried to give what I can give,” Wanyama said.

“They are grateful and they are good people.”

Wanyama broke barriers for Kenyan soccer

Victor Wanyama’s soccer prowess was evident at a young age.

He debuted on the Kenyan national team in 2007, when he was only 15, and he’s been breaking down barriers ever since.

Wanyama celebrates after the African Cup of Nations group C soccer match between Kenya and Tanzania. (Ariel Schalit/The Associated Press)

When he was playing for Glasgow side Celtic FC, he became the first Kenyan to score a goal in the UEFA champions league. When he first suited up for Southampton FC in 2013, he became the first person from Kenya to play in the English Premier League.

Kenyans took pride that one of their own was good enough to play in the English Premier League, so Wanyama says some of his supporters were confused about his decision to scrap the remainder of the five-year contract he signed with Tottenham Hotspur FC in June 2016 to come to play for Montreal.

“Most of them understood that I needed to get my happiness back and the only way to get my happiness back was to come and enjoy playing football again,” Wanyama said.

“I was frustrated with how I was treated [at Tottenham] and it was bad,” Wanyama said.

“I lost a little bit of passion. For me to lose passion? I’m the guy that loves the game. I was so frustrated and I just wasn’t happy.”

Wanyama’s falling out with Tottenham predated José Mourinho

Contrary to what some onlookers have suggested, Wanyama says the Hotspur new manager José Mourinho was not the source of his falling out with his former club.

Mourinho, who was hired in November 2019, is a decorated manager with several championships to his credit. He also has a reputation for having a fiery personality, which can be tough on his players.

“The first thing [Mourinho] told me, he was wondering why I wasn’t playing. I have to be playing. The problem wasn’t with the coach if you ask me. The problem was a little bit upstairs and they didn’t give me a chance,” Wanyama said.

Tottenham’s manager José Mourinho has a reputation of being fiery, but Wanyama doesn’t believe the coach was the problem. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press)

Wanyama believes his rift with upper management started when he began having issues with his knee in 2017.

After he recovered from the injury and was ready to return to action, he said it felt like an order had come down to keep him from getting back on the pitch.

“I was not given the chance to come back,” Wanyama said.

“They tried to frustrate me. They gave me one game after four months, or three months, so it was a little bit tough.”

Wanyama said he offered to move to the reserve team to prove he was able to play at the same level he did before the injury, but the club wasn’t interested.

“I was frustrated. I wanted to get my happiness back, my football happiness back. That’s when the manager here, Thierry [Henry] called me and asked if I wanted to play. And I said yes.”

He said the Impact’s sporting director, Olivier Renard, sold him on his plan to build a team around young players. That, combined with a person of Henry’s pedigree leading the team, sealed the deal.

Building team chemistry while isolated

Wanyama says oddly enough, being stuck in isolation due to the pandemic has brought him and his new teammates closer together.

A few times per week, they join each other on apps such as Zoom or FaceTime to catch up and hang out.

“It’s a great thing to do, to have that bond and be a team even though we can’t be together at this time,” Wanyama said.

Of course, he’s anxious to get back on the pitch with his team and to play his first game at Saputo Stadium, but for now there is no timeline in place to return to action.

On Thursday, the MLS extended its moratorium on training until at least April 24. The Impact’s opening game at Saputo Stadium was set for April 18 so it will have to be rescheduled.

In the meantime, Wanyama says he will continue running the stairs, from the eighth floor up to the 46th floor of his building, trying to stay fit and ready for the big day.

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‘Chances it will be cancelled’: Fate of world figure skating in Montreal to be announced today

A decision on the fate of next week’s world figure skating championships in Montreal is expected to be announced later Wednesday.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said a call is coming shortly on whether the event will go ahead as scheduled March 18-22 at the Bell Centre.

“We are examining, there are chances it will be cancelled,” Legault told reporters Wednesday morning in Quebec City. “We should, today, be in a position to make an official announcement.”

The spread of the novel coronavirus has caused Quebec health officials to evaluate whether the event should be held as scheduled.

Skate Canada postponed two media conference calls scheduled for Wednesday with athletes.

The world women’s hockey championship, which was scheduled to start later this month in Nova Scotia, was cancelled on Saturday.

The other major winter world championship event in Canada remains on schedule. The women’s world curling championship is slated to start on Saturday in Prince George, B.C. Provincial health officials in B.C. said Tuesday they expect the curling event to go on as planned.

A World Rugby Sevens event went on as scheduled this past weekend in Vancouver.

Montreal, which last hosted the world figure skating championships in 1932, was awarded the event in September of 2017.

The 2021 world championships are scheduled for Stockholm.

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ISU issues strict requirements for attending world figure skating champs in Montreal

The International Skating Union sent out strict requirements for attending next week’s world figure skating championships in Montreal amid the threat of the novel coronavirus.

Media, officials, skaters and coaches scheduled to attend the event received a lengthy Coronavirus Information Package on Tuesday from the world governing body for skating.

Among requirements for entry, individuals must undergo a temperature check and receive a temperature reading of less than 38 C.

“If there is evidence of an acute respiratory infection (cold symptoms, runny nose, sore throat, cough, chest discomfort or difficulty breathing) you will be provided with a mask, the medical personnel are notified, and isolation will be required,” the ISU’s questionnaire said. “The Canadian Public Health officials will be notified and their protocols will be followed. An accreditation will not be issued until you have been cleared by the Canadian Public Health officials.”

The questionnaire also asked attendees whether they’ve had any recent travel to or from any high-risk areas for the coronavirus, or have been in contact with anyone who has travelled to high-risk areas.

The requirements come a day after Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says the government is evaluating whether to allow the championships to go ahead.

The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled the women’s world hockey championship on Saturday. They were to take place March 31 to April 10 in Nova Scotia.

In a statement on its website Tuesday, the ISU said it “learned that the Quebec Health Ministry has scheduled a meeting for this morning Quebec time to discuss all major events in the province.

“The ISU will not fail to communicate and comment on conclusions of this meeting as soon as publicly available.”

McCann said provincial public health and public security officials are involved in the analysis of the March 16-22 figure skating event, with input from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

She says cancelling the competition has not been ruled out, and a decision will be made as quickly as possible.

“We have to do a case-by-case analysis of the events, but we are aware that we need to make a decision rapidly concerning the (figure skating event) … What I want to say is a decision needs to be taken as quickly as possible,” McCann said.

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