B.C.’s provincial health officer says the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through the Vancouver Canucks hockey team is a “cautionary tale.”
Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Tuesday that what’s happening with the team is a reminder that the virus spreads “very, very easily.”
“It just tells us that once this virus gets hold, it can spread very quickly, despite having routine testing protocols, having protocols to try and protect people as much as possible,” she said.
Right-winger Jake Virtanen was the latest Canuck placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Tuesday. Eighteen of the 22 players on the team’s active roster are currently on the list.
Officials with Vancouver Coastal Health have been working with the team to make sure players and their families are being tested and getting the health care they need, Henry added.
She also disputed multiple reports that the Canucks’ outbreak is linked to the P1 variant first identified in Brazil.
WATCH | Canucks sidelined by COVID-19:
The Vancouver Canucks have cancelled several upcoming games after a COVID-19 outbreak hit at least half the team’s roster. 1:59
“I’m not aware that any of the cases in the Canucks organization are related to P1,” she said. “I don’t know where that started, but not that I’m aware of.”
The Canucks and NHL have not commented publicly on results of tests since coach Travis Green confirmed the initial case last week.
Vancouver forward Adam Gaudette was the first to test positive during the outbreak, and was pulled off the ice midway through practice on March 30 after the result came back.
The NHL postponed four Canucks games the following evening when defenceman Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were added to the list.
Two additional games are now listed as postponed on the Canucks’ website and it’s unclear when Vancouver will return to the ice. A total of six games have been postponed.
Vancouver forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter, defencemen Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers, and goalies Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby have all joined the list over the past week.
A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.
The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.
The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual’s initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.
If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it’s considered to be a “confirmed positive.”
The Canucks’ outbreak comes amid a surge in cases across B.C. The province recorded 1,068 new cases Tuesday.
The NHL’s Canadian-based North Division has been impacted by COVID-19 for the second time in less than two weeks.
The league postponed Wednesday night’s game between the Canucks and Flames after a second Vancouver player and a member of the team’s coaching staff were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Canucks forward Adam Gaudette, who was pulled from Tuesday’s practice following a positive test result, was added to the list that afternoon.
Vancouver and Calgary were preparing as if Wednesday’s game would still go ahead — both teams held morning skate’s and virtual media availabilities at Rogers Arena — but the league announced its decision in a press release roughly 90 minutes before puck drop.
The NHL, which said it would provide a further update Thursday, added the call was made by medical teams from the league, NHL Players’ Association and Canucks.
A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive.
The Montreal Canadiens had four games postponed — the first contests scratched in the North this season — last week when forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were added to the protocol list.
Those postponements, which included the shuttering of the Canadiens’ practice facility, forced the rescheduling of 11 games.
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said at the time one of his players tested positive for a coronavirus variant, which precipitated the shutdown. Kotkaniemi was removed from protocol Tuesday when the Canadiens returned to the ice against the Edmonton Oilers, but Armia remains on the list.
Canucks head coach Travis Green would not say following Wednesday’s morning skate if Gaudette had tested positive for a variant.
“I’m not going to get into personal stuff with Adam Gaudette,” he said. “We’re preparing to play, and planning to do so.”
Green added his club felt they were in the clear with just one positive test following some nervous hours.
“[Tuesday] when you get the news, you’re always wondering about it,” he said. “Last night we had a pretty good idea we were good to go this morning.
“We’ve tried to just stay focused on that task, and let the people that advise us on the protocols let us know if there’s anything else changing.”
42 games now postponed
The NHL’s truncated 56-game schedule has now seen 42 contests postponed because of COVID-19.
The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual’s initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.
If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it’s considered to be a “confirmed positive.”
The league requires individuals with positive tests to self isolate for 10 days, and for close contacts to self isolate for two weeks.
The 24-year-old Gaudette has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 33 games this season. The Canucks were also missing winger Jake Virtanen at Tuesday’s practice, who Green said “wasn’t feeling well so he stayed home.”
Tonight’s <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLFlames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NHLFlames</a> at <a href=”https://twitter.com/Canucks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Canucks</a> game has been postponed. <a href=”https://t.co/vepmbbLjWr”>https://t.co/vepmbbLjWr</a> <a href=”https://t.co/daMOp6TECj”>pic.twitter.com/daMOp6TECj</a>
Vancouver and Calgary are tied for fifth in the division with identical 16-18-3 records, five points back of Montreal for the fourth and final playoff spot, although Montreal has a big advantage with five games in hand.
The Flames are scheduled to visit the Edmonton Oilers on Friday before opening a four-game homestand against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Canucks beginning Sunday.
The Canucks were coming off a six-day break heading into Wednesday before getting ready to embark on a seven-game road trip set to begin Saturday in Edmonton.
That’s all now very much up in the air.
Vancouver forward J.T. Miller and defenceman Jordie Benn missed multiple games in January after being placed into protocol.
“It’s not ideal,” Miller said Wednesday morning. “Everybody’s trying to do the right things to not have this situation happen.
“Hopefully we can minimize the damage here, and hopefully Gauds isn’t feeling too poorly.”
WHL Kelowna in 14-day quarantine
Also Wednesday, the Western Hockey League announced the Kelowna Rockets have had all activities suspended for a minimum of 14 days following six additional positive COVID-19 tests, taking the total to seven within the club after a positive test one day earlier.
The WHL says the positive COVID-19 test results belong to two staff members and four players.
In accordance with the WHL’s return-to-play protocol, the Rockets have immediately isolated and are being tested, and anyone with close contact has been instructed to self-quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days.
Playing professional hockey in Switzerland is no holiday for Daniel Winnik.
That’s why Winnik, who plays for Genève-Servette HC of the Swiss National League, has signed a petition asking that Canadian professional hockey players returning home from overseas be placed on the COVID-19 essential travelers list and be exempt from a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine.
“I know there’s a bunch of ‘Snowbirds’ who go to Florida and southern places to get away from winter,” Winnik, a Toronto native who spent 11 seasons in the NHL, said from Geneva. “We’ve got guys that come over here to work. Obviously, all of us would love to be playing in North American in the NHL or AHL but the reality is we couldn’t get jobs there.
“We came overseas to be able to provide for our families. We’re not here on vacation. We’re making a living for our families.”
In February, the federal government introduced measures that call for most air passengers to take a COVID-19 test after landing in Canada and spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine period in a designated hotel to await their test results. The hotel stay could cost up to $ 2,000.
Maxim Noreau, a Montreal native who plays defence for the ZSC Lions in Zurich, estimates the mandatory hotel quarantine will cost around $ 4,000 for him, his wife and two sons.
“We are all here overseas trying to earn income to supply for our families and coming back to Canada is a big stress for us, especially with my two little boys,” Noreau said in an email.
“Coming back to Canada is a safe haven for us and we 100 per cent want to quarantine in our own home for 14 days as we would expect everyone else to do the same without bias.”
The petition, on Change.org, says Canadians playing hockey overseas are there “for their livelihood” and “putting these individuals and their families into the same category as travellers/vacationers would be unfair.”
The petition’s goal is 10,000 signatures. So far over 7,800 people have signed.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said in an email it is aware of the hockey players’ petition, but said the border measures are in place to prevent the introduction of new COVID-19 cases.
The government has issued exemptions to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period under national interest grounds for professional athletes, staff and third-party personnel “to support safe return-to-play when robust measures are in place to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
“These exemptions are not intended for professional athletes returning to Canada,” the agency said.
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No difference between vacation, working
Anita Ho, an associate professor in bioethics and health services research at the University of British Columbia, said COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate.
“I don’t really see the [argument of] vacationing versus work destination,” she said. “COVID spreads among people. So, if you are in close proximity, whether it is through work, whether it’s through playing hockey or playing and vacationing, it makes no difference.”
Ho acknowledged the mandated hotel stay can impose a financial hardship on some people.
“The government should make it as affordable as possible for people to do those three days,” she said.
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently said the federal government has agreed to offer 750 Olympic and Paralympic athletes — along with members of their support staff — exemptions from some quarantine-related travel restrictions in the lead-up to the Olympics.
Ho understands the exemption for Olympic athletes who have lived in a bubble and have been routinely tested.
‘A lot of money’
“That’s why you can show their risk of being infected is very low,” she said.
Winnik was taken 265th overall in the 2004 NHL draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. A six-foot-two, 210-pound forward he would play 798 games — scoring 82 goals and 251 points — with eight teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Winnik has played the past two seasons with Genève-Servette, collecting 22 goals and 44 points in 49 games this year.
Winnik’s team is currently in the playoffs, but the season is over for many other Canadians who are looking to return home. The mandatory hotel stay adds another cost.
“It’s a lot of money,” Winnik said. “They’re asking people to pay to be able to return home to where they’re from.”
Cyril Bollers’ ultimate goal in coaching is to reach the NHL. But for now, he’s happy leading Team Jamaica.
“I think there’s been a lot of frustration in the past with me that I have all the certifications … I just don’t know why I haven’t been given that opportunity,” Bollers said. “But there’s other coaches that are in the same boat of colour that haven’t been given that opportunity either. So I’m not going to say it’s just me, but for me, my goal is to one day coach for Team Canada.”
The 52-year-old doesn’t expect to make a jump straight to the NHL or Olympics, and speculates that the reason he hasn’t advanced much, despite recommendations from the likes of Hockey Hall of Famer Paul Coffey, is a lack of connections at the next level.
“I don’t want to say it’s colour, especially with hockey being for everyone. Other people may — I don’t. I just want to say that the opportunity hasn’t arisen yet and I’m hoping it does. So based on that, I’m continuing to network,” Bollers said.
Bollers is the president of Skillz Black Aces, a Toronto-based program that helps bring hockey to underprivileged and BIPOC youth. It has produced NHLers such as Anson Carter, Wayne Simmonds and brothers Anthony and Chris Stewart.
Born in Guyana, Bollers now lives in Scarborough, Ont., after moving to Canada when he was four. He was inspired to become a coach when his son was six and playing house-league hockey for a coach who heavily favoured his own son.
Soon, coaching became a passion. He’s since worked with the Toronto Red Wings and Marlboros of the GTHL and the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL.
“I was told that I couldn’t because of the colour of my skin, which fuelled the fire, which promoted the education in regards to quality certificates, which gave me the opportunity to prove others wrong,” Bollers said.
In addition to his work with the Black Aces, Bollers has also served for the past four years as head coach and general manager of Team Jamaica — a country that doesn’t contain so much as a single ice rink.
Bollers also works with the Black Canadian Coaches Association in hopes of reaching a broader base of BIPOC coaches throughout the country to serve as a mentor and to help create a network between coaches and sports organizations.
Legacy with Black Aces
But it was with the Black Aces where Bollers helped inspire a generation of BIPOC players, many of whom followed him to Team Jamaica.
“I guess when they say build it and they will come, that’s what it was. Everybody wanted to become a Skillz Black Ace,” Bollers said.
The program began around 20 years ago, partially the brainchild of former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes, as a camp that would run a few times per year. Bollers helped build it into more of a team that would enter — and quickly dominate — tournaments against top competition.
In addition to a heavy majority of BIPOC players, Bollers led a group of five Black coaches on the bench. The team consistently stunned its opponents with blazing speed and won way more often than it lost.
For parents of colour, the Black Aces was an opportunity to show their children there are other hockey players who look like them.
“And that was the main thing was he was not an outsider or ‘that one kid’ with this group,” said Mark Francis, whose son Peyton played for the Aces and now plays centre for the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.
Loren Francis heard racist comments from the stands when she watched her son play on predominantly white teams. Since Loren is white, other parents did not realize she was Peyton’s mom. When the Black Aces opportunity arose, Mark and Loren were intrigued.
“I thought this was going to be more like a how-to-play hockey type of thing,” Mark said. “And then we went out and I was shocked because not only were the kids very highly skilled, but [Bollers’] coaching methods, I would say, were top notch.”
Vancouver Canucks forward Justin Bailey is another Black Aces alumnus. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., a 12-year-old Bailey was hesitant about joining a team across the border where he didn’t know anyone.
It took some convincing from his mother, Karen Buscaglia, and the decision was an instant success.
“People embraced their differences. And they had fun music playing in the locker room. And it was the first time that I could look at him and I could see he just had a blast. And obviously hockey was predominantly white, so he had never been exposed to anything like that,” Buscaglia said.
While a fun atmosphere certainly existed around the Black Aces, both Francis and Buscaglia say Bollers ran a tight ship where discipline among players — things like walking in an orderly fashion and politeness — impacted players’ ice-time.
The Black Aces, counting one edition of the team featuring one of Bollers’ three sons, often faced racism from other teams, including hearing the N-word uttered against them on the ice.
“We used to laugh at it because we were so good we would beat people. And for me, I would just tell the guys, ‘They can’t beat you on the ice. They’re going to try to beat you with their words. But words are just words,'” Bollers said.
Equal success with Jamaica
As a white player born in the Caribbean, Ethan Finlason had a slightly different experience when he joined Bollers’ Team Jamaica. Finlason played inline hockey in his home country of the Cayman Islands before eventually moving to Canada to pursue ice hockey.
He was met with hostility from other kids who said he should quit because he was Caribbean. Then a goalie from his academy team stayed behind to watch one of the team’s games.
“The Canadian goalie was shocked that Jamaicans could skate,” said Ethan’s father Andrew. “And I don’t know where this bias comes from. I mean, most of these kids grew up in Canada. But they’re tremendous athletes. They have a tremendous coach. But there’s this stigma that they shouldn’t be able to play.”
In 2019, Jamaica went 5-0 en route to winning the championship at the LATAM Cup, an international tournament pitting top Latin American and Caribbean teams.
But Jamaica can’t be fully sanctioned by the IIHF until it builds a rink. When that happens, more resources could be poured into the program and the pitch to NHL players of Jamaican descent, like the Subbans, can begin.
“I’m sure that once that’s happened, we can just place a call to Karl [Subban] and then Karl will round up the boys and then we’ll take it from there. But I think until it’s fully sanctioned, we don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Bollers said.
When that finally happens, Bollers said his admittedly lofty goal is to qualify for the Olympics.
Between the Black Aces and Team Jamaica, Bollers’ hands are plenty full in the world of hockey, even as he continues to eye a pro position. He can take solace in the fact that if nothing else, his teams simply win.
“They used to come and watch us play because we were fast, we were strong, it was entertaining hockey. But more importantly we could coach, and I think what people forget is I’m a hockey coach by choice, Black by nature.”
Canada’s roster for the SheBelieves Cup has been ravaged by injuries and pandemic-related travel issues, with captain Christine Sinclair one of seven players to miss the four-country soccer tournament that starts next week in Florida.
Canada Soccer announced Saturday that Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who have 500 caps and 205 international goals between them, didn’t make it to camp in Orlando because of injury. And that veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod and uncapped defender Bianca St-Georges had both gone back to their clubs after picking up injuries at camp.
Adding to the roster woes is the fact that centre back Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon), fullback Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema (both Paris Saint-Germain) were denied release by their French clubs.
Canada, tied for eighth with Brazil in the world rankings, opens play Thursday against the top-ranked Americans.
The 37-year-old Sinclair has been a constant for Canada. Since her senior debut in 2000, she has played in 296 of Canada’s 341 international matches (86.8 per cent). Since 2007, when she became full-time captain, Sinclair has missed just three camp call-ups.
Priestman, in her first camp at the Canadian helm, opted to see the glass half-full, saying the absences mean opportunity for other players and a chance to assess the depth of the program.
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The second impeachment trial of former U.S. president Donald Trump begins Tuesday in the Senate.
Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives nearly four weeks ago for “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.
It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, with 10 Republicans joining the Democrats in the vote to impeach, indicating they believe Trump violated his oath to protect and defend U.S. democracy.
Now, the process moves to the trial stage.
Trump’s defence team will begin by arguing the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president and because he did not incite the riot.
Trump did tell his supporters at a rally that morning to “fight like hell” and talked about joining them in marching to Capitol Hill, though he didn’t follow through.
No witnesses are expected to be called, in part because the senators sworn as jurors will be presented with footage of the scenes they themselves experienced that day as they were forced to flee to safety.
Here are the main players who will be front and centre in the proceedings.
Trump’s defence team
Trump was forced to quickly replace his original legal team only a week ago. The lawyers who had previously signed on abruptly left, reportedly over Trump’s desired defence strategy of relying on his thoroughly debunked allegations that election fraud cost him the presidency in the Nov. 3 election. He will now rely on two lead lawyers to defend him.
David Schoen is a civil rights and criminal defence lawyer. While he has represented accused rapists, killers and alleged Mafia bosses, he has also been awarded for fighting to change the face of public institutions in the south, according to his website, including the foster care system, public schools, prisons and more.
In 1995, he was a recipient of the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for his commitment to providing volunteer legal services to those in need.
He represented Trump’s former adviser, Roger Stone, who was convicted in 2019 of lying under oath in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump pardoned Stone weeks before he left office.
Schoen also met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein about joining his defence team handling sex trafficking charges just days before the financier killed himself in a New York City jail.
Bruce Castor is a former district attorney from Pennsylvania. His highest profile case was in 2005 when he declined to charge comedian Bill Cosby after Andrea Constand of Toronto, who worked at Temple University in Philadelphia at the time, accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in his home.
He lost re-election as district attorney to an opponent who later went on to charge Cosby.
Dozens of other women later came forward with sex-related allegations against Cosby, who was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting Constand.
In a statement to The Associated Press upon joining Trump’s defence team, Castor said, “The strength of our constitution is about to be tested like never before in our history. It is strong and resilient. A document written for the ages, and it will triumph over partisanship yet again, and always.”
WATCH | The former head of the FBI says Trump is guilty and should not be able to run for office again:
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The impeachment managers
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi named nine House representatives to argue the case against Trump. All are lawyers and many of them have experience investigating the president.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a former constitutional law professor, is the lead impeachment manager. He wrote the House resolution after the Jan. 6 attack that called on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unable to complete his term in office. When Pence ruled out doing so, Raskin helped to draft the article of impeachment against Trump.
Of the Jan. 6 riot, Raskin told The Associated Press, “That is the groundwork for fascism, when you add racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theory and magical thinking. That is an absolute powder keg in terms of an assault on democracy…. So we have to be very tough, and very strong right now in defending the constitution and democracy.”
The impeachment trial is happening just six weeks after Raskin lost his 25-year-old son to suicide on New Year’s Eve.
Rep. Joaquin Castro is a member of the U.S. House intelligence and foreign affairs committees, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and later to Congress, where he is in his fifth term.
Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a former public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the House judiciary committee.
He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of the three original authors of the most recent impeachment article. He and Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning. “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol,” he wrote.
Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania is a lawyer who was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House judiciary committee. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment” with a conviction.
“I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma,” Dean said. “And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.”
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Rep. Diana DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, Colo., is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The Speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to control the passions on the floor.”
She said she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” DeGette said.
Rep. Ted Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the judiciary and foreign affairs committees.
The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. air force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said.
Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House judiciary committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office.
“This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said a week later, speaking of the act of certifying the 2020 election results. “Clearly, the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.”
Delegate Stacey Plaskett does not have voting rights in the House because she represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, as opposed to a state, and so was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the U.S. Justice Department.
“Donald J. Trump has been and continues to be a clear and present danger to our republic, to our constitution, and to the people of this nation,” she said in a statement. “I will do my duty and defend our blessed country.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California also serves on the intelligence and judiciary committees and was deeply involved in congressional probes of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019.
“The case that I think resonates the most with the American people, and hopefully the Senate, is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said.
Other figures to watch
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, was one of the strongest figures behind Trump’s acquittal in his first impeachment trial in early 2020.
Initially repulsed by the graphic images of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, McConnell denounced the violence and pointed blame at Trump. But in late January, he was one of 45 Republican senators who voted in favour of a failed procedural motion seeking to force a vote on the constitutionality of the second Trump impeachment trial. Many of McConnell’s fellow Republicans in Congress have expressed support for Trump, arguing his comments do not make him responsible for the violence and questioning the legitimacy of trying someone no longer in office.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, will be working to try to rally Republican votes against Trump.
While announcing the timing and structure of the trial Monday, Schumer said, “For the past few weeks, the political right has been searching for a safe harbour. A way to oppose the conviction of Donald Trump without passing judgment on his conduct, to avoid alienating the former president’s supporters without condoning his obviously despicable, unpatriotic, undemocratic behaviour. But the truth is, no such safe harbour exists.”
A complaint from members of the Canadian women’s sevens team has prompted Rugby Canada to call in an independent investigator and revamp the team coaching staff.
The sevens side is coached by John Tait, a former Canadian international who serves as Rugby Canada’s director of women’s high performance. The 47-year-old coached the sevens women to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold at the 2015 Pan-American Games.
In its five-paragraph release Friday, Rugby Canada did not name Tait, say who was the subject of the investigation or specify the complaint. But Tait does not figure in the new-look coaching setup.
“Of course, matters of employment and confidentiality are really important to us. I would ask you to draw your own conclusions,” Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said in an interview when asked if Tait was involved in the complaint.
In a subsequent email, he said: “matters related to employees are confidential.”
Vansen said he could not provide further details about the complaint other than to say: “I can certainly share that the complaints are from multiple individuals.”
Tait, in a text to The Canadian Press, said he can’t comment at this time but hoped to be able to speak on the matter in the coming weeks.
“It’s surreal,” he said.
An imposing figure, the six-foot-eight Tait won 37 caps for Canada from 1997 to 2002. He played professionally in Wales with Cardiff and France with CA Brive.
He has been a coaching constant at Rugby Canada for more than a decade, having served as an assistant coach with the men’s 15s team and head coach of the women’s 15s team prior to taking over the sevens women. Last August, the father of three was given additional responsibilities, handed the high-performance role on the women’s side in addition to his sevens head coaching duties.
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Team captain Ghislaine Landry confirmed that the complaint was made by members of the team but declined further comment.
In the statement, Vansen said: “Rugby Canada is taking these concerns very seriously. We are following our internal policies and procedures that are in alignment with established national response guidelines, and in a manner that reflects our values.”
He said he hoped the investigator’s report will be completed by the end of March. “And we have been assured it will be no later than mid-April.”
The clock is ticking. The Olympic rugby sevens competition is scheduled for July 26-31 in Tokyo. And reputations are at stake.
The Canadian women are a medal threat. They were third in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings when the season shut down after five events last year, having finished runner-up at three events and third at a fourth.
Canada was third overall the previous season, lifting the trophy at the Kitakyushu Sevens in Japan in April 2019. It marked the first cup win for the Canadian women since 2017.
Sandro Fiorino, head coach of the women’s 15s team, has temporarily moved from Ontario to Langford, B.C., to serve as interim sevens coach with help from Maria Gallo, an assistant coach with the 15s team.
Mick Byrne, a specialist coach with both New Zealand and Australia who has consulted remotely with the Canadian sevens side since 2012, “will assume the role of national senior women’s sevens interim head coach through to the Olympic Games.” Rugby Canada said in the statement.
Byrne is not currently in Canada. Vansen said Rugby Canada is working on the necessary paperwork to get him into the country.
“We remain united and focused on our goal of winning a medal at the Olympic Games.” Landry said in email to The Canadian Press. “We are training together and are confident in the interim plan. We look forward to working with Mick, Sandro and Maria.”
The World Series ground to a halt when the pandemic stuck. Rugby Canada says the women are expected to travel to a tournament in early April with Byrne expected to join the team on the trip.
FC Edmonton took UBC midfielder Thomas Gardner first overall in Friday’s CPL-U Sports draft, one of four Thunderbirds selected in the two-round draft.
Concordia had three players chosen while two each came from the University of Montreal, Mount Royal University and Ontario Tech University.
The 16 players selected will attend pre-season training with the hope of securing a contract. They are eligible for a developmental deal that allows a player to sign with a CPL club while preserving any remaining U Sports eligibility.
The 22-year-old Gardiner was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 draft and 12th overall in 2019, both times by Pacific FC. A native of North Vancouver, Gardner joined the Whitecaps FC residency program in 2011, signing his first pro contract with the USL’s Whitecaps FC 2 in 2015.
FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch, then with the Whitecaps organization, gave Gardner his pro debut in the USL Championship. Gardiner made one appearance for the MLS Whitecaps in a pre-season game against the Portland Timbers in February 2016.
“Tommy is a creative player who we know can play and contribute in the CPL,” Koch said in a statement. “Injury and COVID prevented him from playing in the league previously, and we are excited to welcome him to FC Edmonton.”
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Atletico Ottawa used the second pick on Carleton defender Chris Malekos. Winnipeg’s Valour FC then took six-foot-seven goalkeeper Yuba-Rayene Yesli from the Montreal Carabins.
The 21-year-old ‘keeper, a CF Montreal youth product, spent time with Vibonese Calcio in Italy’s Serie D, helping them earn promotion to Serie C.
“You can’t coach size,” said Valour coach Rob Gale.
York United FC took 19-year-old midfielder Christopher Campoli from Ontario Tech University before Pacific FC chose UBC defender Chris Lee.
Grateful to be drafted in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/CPLsoccer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CPLsoccer</a> draft by <a href=”https://twitter.com/yorkutdfc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@yorkutdfc</a>. Eager to get to work! <a href=”https://t.co/Hbrjkb2ELi”>https://t.co/Hbrjkb2ELi</a>
Calgary’s Cavalry FC used the sixth pick on midfielder Victor Loturi from Mount Royal University. Loturi spent time with Calvary in 2019.
Carleton forward Stefan Karajovanovic went seventh to HFX Wanderers FC before Concordia defender Garven-Michee Metusala was taken by CPL champion Forge FC to complete the first round.
York took Karajovanovic fifth overall in the 2019 draft.
Valour FC used the 14th overall pick on Carleton defender Tony Mikhael, who has been called up by Lebanon’s under-22 team.
York University defender Reggie Laryea, younger brother of Toronto FC fullback-midfielder Richie Laryea, went 15th overall to Atletico Ottawa. Reggie Laryea has also spent time with the University of Akron and League 1 Ontario’s Sigma FC.
UBC defender Jackson Farmer was taken 16th overall by FC Edmonton. The 25-year-old Edmonton native has won one cap for Canada at the senior level and was a youth international at the U-15, U-18 and U-20 level.
The six-foot-two centre back also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Charleston Battery and Calgary Foothills.
The league says 17 U-Sports draft choices have made CPL rosters since the first draft in 2018. Cory Bent, taken first overall in the last U Sports draft (2019), played 10 games for HFX Wanderers last season.
1. FC Edmonton, Thomas Gardner, midfielder, UBC; 2. Atletico Ottawa, Christopher Malekos, defender, Carleton University; 2. Valour FC, Yuba-Rayene Yesli, goalkeeper, University of Montreal; 4. York United FC, Christopher Campoli, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 5. Pacific FC, Chris Lee, defender, UBC; 6. Cavalry FC, Victor Loturi, midfielder, Mount Royal University; 7. HFX Wanderers FC, Stefan Karajovanovic, forward, Carleton University; 8. Forge FC, Garven-Michee Metusala, defender, Concordia University.
9. Forge FC, Jose da Cunha, defender, Cape Breton University; 10. HFX Wanderers, Kareem Sow, defender, University of Montreal; 11. Cavalry FC, Ethan Keen, defender, Mount Royal University; 12. Pacific FC, Victory Shumbusho, forward, UBC; 13. York United FC, Danial Rafisamii, midfielder, Ontario Tech University; 14. Valour FC, Tony Mikhael, defender, Carleton University; 15. Atletico Ottawa, Reggie Laryea, defender, York University; 16. FC Edmonton, Jackson Farmer, defender, UBC.
Canada coach Bev Priestman took the first step towards deciding her Olympic soccer roster on Monday, naming a 29-player squad for a camp ahead of next month’s SheBelieves Cup.
The roster will be reduced to 23 for the four-team tournament scheduled for Feb. 18-24 in Orlando. But Priestman will have to further narrow down her squad to 18 for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Her message Monday was inclusive, with six uncapped players invited to camp — seemingly saying that while the Olympic roster is small and a core of veterans remains, show me what you’ve got.
The pre-tournament camp, which opens Feb. 6 in Orlando, marks Priestman’s first hands-on time with the team since taking over in November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller stepped down to coach in his native Denmark.
The 34-year-old English native is jumping in at the deep end. Canada’s opening match at the SheBelieves Cup is Feb. 18 against the top-ranked Americans.
Priestman suggested the camp and tournament will help answer questions around her squad.
“I think actually selecting the squad right now would be really difficult,” Priestman told a media conference call. “I’m excited to see what the new faces bring. I’ve definitely picked up a certain tendency of hunger, desire, hard work from the group of new faces coming in.
“And I think for an sort of winning team, you have to have that level of competition for places.”
Opportunity to prove themselves
Potential debutantes include goalkeeper Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), defenders Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars) and Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), midfielders Sam Chang (University of South Carolina) and Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), and forward Evelyne Viens (Paris FC).
Rose, who turns 18 on Feb. 12, has attended two senior camps but has yet to earn a cap.
“Any player that’s getting exposure in this first camp has absolutely nothing to lose,” said Priestman. “Do I expect those five, six players to be in an Olympic roster? Maybe not but who knows? They may absolutely prove me wrong. They can certainly be knocking on the door and they’ve got nothing to lose because they’ve been brought in for a reason.
“They’ve shown some attributes that I think this group needs. I’ve just said to them ‘Bring what it is that you brought that’s got you here.”‘
Players who can line up in multiple positions will have an advantage, given the small size of the Olympic rosters, she suggested.
It’s the first time Canada Soccer has summoned the 23-year-old Viens, a prolific goal-scorer at the University of South Florida who is currently on loan to Paris FC from Sky Blue FC of the NWSL.
“What I see in Evelyne — what all have seen — is she finds the back of the net, really well” said Priestman.
Chang is a former Canada youth captain, who can also play centre back. St. Georges can play centre back or fullback.
Veterans include captain Christine Sinclair (296 caps), Diana Matheson (206 caps), Sophie Schmidt (199 caps), and Desiree Scott (157 caps). Goalkeeper Erin McLeod (118 caps) earns her first call-up since returning from injury in 2019.
The 37-year-old Sinclair goes into the Florida tournament with a world-record 186 international goals to her credit.
In addition to the host Americans and the Canadian women, tied for eighth with Brazil in the FIFA rankings, the SheBelieves Cup also features Brazil and No. 10 Japan.
After playing the U.S., Canada takes on Japan on Feb. 21 and Brazil on Feb. 24. It’s the kind of schedule and opposition the Canadians will face in Tokyo.
“It’ll be the last tournament setting that we get before an Olympic Games,” said Priestman. “Seeing players go back to back to back, all the processes that come around that, this [international] window was key for that.”
“To test ourselves against some big hitters is where we need to be for an Olympic Games,” she added.
Priestman’s stated goal is to change the colour of medal from bronze, which Canada won at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. To do that, the Canadians will have to improve their record against Tier 1 opposition.
Canada’s record against the top-ranked Americans is 3-50-7 while it is 1-15-0 against No. 2 Germany.
“There’s some realities there. This American team doesn’t lose very often as we’ve seen,” said Priestman. “But I think on Canada’s day we absolutely could and should be competing with the U.S.”
It’s a big ask.
The U.S. women are riding a 34-game unbeaten streak and have scored two or more goals in 30 of those games. The Americans are also unbeaten in their last 50 home matches (45-0-5) during which they have outscored their opponents 179-27 — including a 49-3 edge during their last 13 home matches.
Time spent with younger generation
Priestman has a good handle on Canada’s young talent. From 2013 to 2018, she helped develop talent for the Canadian women’s program and served as an assistant coach under John Herdman, whom she had also worked with in New Zealand.
She left in August 2018 to return home, serving as Phil Neville’s No. 2 with the English women’s team and English youth coach.
Eleven of the players on the Canadian camp roster are currently with teams in Europe with five playing in England, five in France and one in Sweden. There are 11 players from the NWSL, five from U.S. colleges and two from the developmental Super REX Ontario program.
The Canadian women have not played since March 10, when they wrapped up play at a tournament in France with a 2-2 tie with Brazil. A Canadian camp scheduled for England in October was called off on the advice of medical experts due to the pandemic.
All four teams at the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Tokyo Games, with Canada finishing runner-up to the Americans at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship last February.
And all four made the knockout phase of the 2019 World Cup in France. The U.S. won the tournament while Canada, Brazil and Japan were eliminated in the round of 16.
Priestman has experience at the SheBelieves Cup, having gone there the last two years with England.
The defending champion Americans have won the SheBelieves Cup three times. France won in 2017 and England in 2019.
Back in September, after the Tampa Bay Lightning were awarded the Stanley Cup, the NHL announced over 33,000 tests were administered during 65-playoff days in the Edmonton and Toronto bubbles with zero positive results for COVID-19.
That was then. Things are different now.
Since the NHL resumed play earlier this month with teams playing in a division format, players have tested positive for the coronavirus, practices have been cancelled and games postponed.
The positive tests are to be expected, said Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control, and an infectious disease specialist at the University Health Network in Toronto — even with the protocols and safety measures implemented by the NHL and its teams.
“I wouldn’t say it’s surprising at all,” said Hota, who also is an associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto. “The bubble is a very controlled environment but it’s also artificial. It’s not going to be reflective of what happens if you open things up and people are going in and out into the communities.
“It’s a mixing of populations. It’s going to be much more difficult to manage things out of a bubble, even with the same measure of testing.”
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Vancouver Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn and forward J.T. Miller both missed games due to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.
Benn said he had “no idea” how he contracted the virus.
“I didn’t have any symptoms,” he said. “I felt good for the 10 days I was in isolation. You see people that are in hospital and taking it a bit harder. It’s a weird virus.”
The NHL has prepared a list of “preventative measures” for players and team officials to avoid COVID-19. Included is staying at home, not engaging “in unnecessary interactions with non-family members”, wearing face coverings and avoiding going to “restaurants, bars and clubs.”
Players understand importance
Earlier this month the Winnipeg Jets were forced to cancel a practice due to COVID-19 concerns. Centre Mark Scheifele said the players understand the importance of being careful.
“It’s kind of what we have been doing for the last 10 months, since this all started,” he said. “Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your social distance from people. That’s all you can really do, worry about yourself, control your own environment.
“That comes to every single guy on this team, every single guy in the league. You all have to hold each other accountable for their actions and abide by all those protocols that have been set forth by the professionals that we are relying on.”
Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said concerns about the virus have changed players activities both at home and on the road.
“On the road, you can pretty much go for a walk and that’s it,” he said. “There are no dinners with teammates on the road, no dinner with friends.
“When I’m at home, I want to be with [my son] and the family as much as possible.”
Hota said the risk of exposure doesn’t end with the players. Many have families. Their children attend schools, wives shop at the supermarket.
“You look at the experience we’ve had within the hospitals and healthcare workers who are being very vigilant and are aware of what the transmission risks are,” she said. “We continue to have people being exposed from their family members who test positive or from other unknown community-type exposures.”
Heading into last weekend there were 21 names on the NHL’s list of players who were unavailable to play or practise in accordance with the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
That included Alex Ovechkin and three other members of the Washington Capitals. The Capitals were fined $ 100,000 US because the players gathered in a hotel room during their season-opening road trip.
“That speaks to the fatigue issue,” said Hota. “Everyone’s a little bit tired of this.
“We’re all social creatures as human beings. You crave that kind of contact with other people.”
Reason for concern
While the overall numbers may be small there still is reason for concern, said Hota.
“It can set off something that will then go rampant,” she said. “And if the players aren’t affected, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t.”
The emergence of a coronavirus variant in Canada also raises red flags.
“What’s happening is areas where variants have taken over, they’re up to 70 per cent more transmittable than what we’ve been seeing so far,” said Hota. “How that’s actually happening and why is it they’re more transmittable is not entirely clear.”
The NHL has restricted travel so teams only play within their divisions but that doesn’t eliminate the risk of spreading the virus.
“It’s an added layer for sure,” said Hota. “I get more concern about importing risk from one area that’s more of a hotspot to an area where there’s less transmission and public health measures may be less strict.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told a video conference earlier this month the league may have to be “flexible and agile” in dealing with COVID circumstances as the 56-game season progresses.
Hota said the league must be adaptable because “nobody’s exempt from this pandemic.”
“The more contingency plans you have and the more prepared you are to change the way you approach something, the better off you’ll be,” she said.