Tag Archives: prospect

Canadian swimmer Maggie Mac Neil facing prospect of competing at Olympics without family

When Maggie Mac Neil won the 100-metre butterfly at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, her mother, father and younger sister were in the stands cheering.

“My parents have done a great job throughout my career always trying to come to as many meets as they can,” said the 20-year-old London, Ont., native who is now attending the University of Michigan. “It was definitely nice to have them there in Korea.”

When Mac Neil competes for Olympic gold this summer in Tokyo, it’s unlikely any family members will be there to watch. Concerns about COVID-19 and restrictions due to the virus are convincing friends and family of many Olympic athletes to rethink travelling to the Games.

Susan McNair, Mac Neil’s mother, said staying home won’t be easy.

“I didn’t grow up anticipating I would have a child in the Olympics,” McNair said. “I didn’t anticipate if she did make the Olympics that we would ever not be there.”

WATCH | Maggie Mac Neil posts Canadian-record time at aquatic worlds:

Canadian teen Maggie MacNeil posts a Canadian-record time of 55.83 seconds at the world aquatics championships. 2:56

Last March, Nathan Hirayama celebrated with his family in the stands at BC Place Stadium after Canada defeated South Africa to win the bronze medal at the HSBC Canada Sevens Rugby tournament. He had hoped to repeat the experience in Tokyo — his parents had already booked flights — but now doubts it will happen.

“Our families have been on this journey with us for so long, supporting us and travelling and staying up in the middle of the night watching,” said the 32-year-old from Richmond, B.C. “They invested in what we’re doing. I think the whole experience would be fantastic to share with our loved ones.

“I think what we’re coming to understand now is, if these Olympics do happen, they’ll look a lot different than what we all dreamed about or foreseen for so long.”

Fears over COVID-19 forced the Tokyo Olympics to be delayed one year. With the Games now scheduled to begin July 23, some of the playbooks that instruct athletes, officials and members of the media of the protocols to be followed have been released, but many questions remain.

“If you have been to the Games before, we know this experience will be different in a number of ways,” reads the playbook for international federations. “For all Games participants, there will be some conditions and constraints that will require your flexibility and understanding.”

WATCH | Breaking down the IOC playbook:

With less than six months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, organizers have said the Games will go on no matter what. Now, they’ve released some preliminary guidelines explaining how that will happen. 1:37

Organizers have said they will wait until the spring to decide if fans will be permitted to travel to Tokyo or attend any events.

Dick Pound, a Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee, believes a limited number of fans will be allowed.

“I would see some, but certainly not full stadiums,” he said.

The Canadian Olympic Committee is waiting for more information before advising families and friends about travelling to Tokyo.

“We continue in our preparation to participate at Tokyo 2020 with a focus on the health and safety of our athletes, their families, and their communities,” Eric Myles, the COC’s chief sport officer, said in a statement.

“We are planning based on the assumptions that the COVID-19 virus will still be present internationally and that Team Canada may not be vaccinated. We expect the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to update their playbooks in April, at which point we hope to provide a more thorough update for athletes to help inform their family and friends’ decisions.”

WATCH | Mac Neil overcomes nerves to claim gold at acquatic worlds in 2019:

Canadian Maggie MacNeil discusses her victory in the 100m butterfly at aquatics worlds. 0:50

McNair, who is a family physician, had originally planned on her brother and his family to join them at the Olympics. Now, with tight restrictions expected on access to athletes, she questions the point of going.

“There’s a lot of factors kind of against going at this point,” she said. “Even if we didn’t have access to her there [but] we could see her swim, I think I’d be the first one on the plane.

“But there’s a lot of cons against it right now. I want the joy of watching her swim, but I also want to do what’s right, in terms of our safety and the safety of others.”

Another deterrent could be recently-introduced rules that travellers returning to Canada are required to take a COVID-19 test upon landing and spend the first three days of their quarantine, at their own expense, at a supervised hotel while awaiting their results.

For Hirayama, whose great grandparents came to Canada from Japan, Tokyo has special significance. His parents had planned to meet up with old friends while in Japan.

He hopes conditions will change and his parents can make the trip.

“It’s hard to plan for anything that’s not a week away,” he said. “Things change so quickly. It would be awesome for them to book a last minute ticket, but I don’t think they’re planning on it now.”

In some ways, not having her parents make the journey would be a relief for Mac Neil.

“My parents are getting older,” she said. “It’s definitely better for them to just stay home safe and healthy.

“I think no matter where I am in the world, no matter where they are, I can always feel their support.”

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CBC | Sports News

Oilers pick up Andreas Athanasiou, prospect from last-place Red Wings

Oilers general manager Ken Holland, who spent 36 years in Detroit, added a second Red Wings player to the Edmonton lineup in less than 24 hours on Monday.

Forward Andreas Athanasiou, who has had a poor offensive season with 10 goals for the NHL’s last-place team, is on his way to the Oilers along with forward prospect Ryan Kuffner for veteran forward Sam Gagner, a 2020 second-round draft pick and 2021 second-rounder.

The 25-year-old Athanasiou from Woodbridge, Ont., whom Holland drafted 110th overall in 2012, has 24 points in 46 games. Five of his 10 goals have come in the last seven outings.

Athanasiou, who was scratched for Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the visiting Calgary Flames, is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, He has 83 goals and 154 points in 294 NHL regular-season contests.

Edmonton will retain 10 per cent of Gagner’s $ 3.15-million US salary. The 30-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The 33-22-7 Oilers are second in the Pacific Division with 73 points, three back of the Vegas Golden Knights for first, but also just three points up on the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Detroit (15-45-4), which is in full rebuild mode, became the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention before the trade deadline since the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

Gagner had five goals and 12 points in 36 games with the Oilers this season.

Kuffner, 23, has zero points in 10 career NHL appearances.

Red Wings first-year GM Steve Yzerman moved veteran defenceman Mike Green to Edmonton on Sunday for retired forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick in either 2020 or 2021. Detroit also retained 50 per cent of Green’s salary.


Ennis adds forward depth

In another move Monday, Edmonton shipped a fifth-round pick in 2021 to Ottawa for winger Tyler Ennis.

Ennis, who’s also set to become a UFA on July 1, had 14 goals and 33 points in 61 games with Ottawa this season.

The 30-year-old from Edmonton has registered 131 goals and 309 points in 604 NHL regular-season contests.

The 26th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 2008 also has three goals and 10 points in 19 playoff games.

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CBC | Sports News

Blue Jays prospect T.J. Zeuch throws no-hitter for triple-A Buffalo

Toronto Blue Jays prospect T.J. Zeuch threw a no-hitter on Monday night for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

Zeuch walked one batter and struck out three over a 114-pitch performance in Buffalo’s 3-0 win over the Rochester Red Wings, the triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.

The 24-year-old right-hander was drafted 21st overall by Toronto in 2016 and is currently ranked the No. 17 prospect in the Blue Jays organization.

Zeuch’s no-hitter was the first thrown by a Bisons pitcher since Bartolo Colon tossed one in 1997.

Zeuch suffered a lat strain during spring training that kept him out of action until June. He has started 11 games at Buffalo since then, going 4-2 with a 3.84 earned-run average.


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CBC | Sports News

Multi-drug resistant malaria spreading fast, could cause ‘terrifying prospect,’ scientists say

A strain of malaria resistant to two key drugs has spread rapidly from Cambodia and has become dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand, with a “terrifying prospect” that it could reach Africa, scientists warned on Monday, 

Using genomic surveillance to track the spread of drug-resistant malaria, the scientists found that the strain, known as KEL1/PLA1, had also evolved and picked up new genetic mutations that may make it yet more resistant.

“We discovered [it] had spread aggressively, replacing local malaria parasites, and had become the dominant strain in  Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, who worked with a team from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute and Oxford University and Thailand’s Mahidol University.

The risk is rising that the new strain could threaten sub-Saharan Africa, where most malaria cases and deaths occur,  largely among babies and children.

“This highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic  properties, raising the terrifying prospect that it could spread to Africa … as resistance to chloroquine did in the 1980s,  contributing to millions of deaths,” said Olivo Miotto of Oxford University, who co-led the work.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.

Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organization estimates, and 400,000 succumbed to it.

Malaria can be treated with medicines if caught early enough, but evolving drug-resistance — such as the spread of chloroquine-resistant malaria across Asia to Africa from the late 1950s to the 1980 — has hampered efforts to eliminate it.

The first-line treatment in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and  piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ.

Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria resistant to this combination had evolved and spread across  Cambodia between 2007 and 2013. This latest research, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it had crossed borders and tightened its grip.

Miotto said further work was now needed to establish how far this resistance had spread and whether it had evolved further — and eventually to understand which drugs would work against resistant malaria parasites.

But there may be some alternative drugs that can be used instead, according to a different study published in the same journal.

“With the spread and intensification of resistance, our findings highlight the urgent need to adopt alternative first-line treatments,” said Prof. Tran Tinh Hien, from the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, in Vietnam, in a BBC News story.

That could include using different drugs alongside artemisinin or using a combination of three drugs to overcome resistance.

“Other drugs may be effective at the moment but the situation is extremely fragile,” Miotto said. 

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CBC | Health News

Jack Hughes remains top prospect as NHL Central Scouting releases rankings

American centre Jack Hughes remained the top North American prospect, while Finnish right-winger Kaapo Kakko maintained the No. 1 spot among international skaters, as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings for the 2019 NHL draft.

Hughes, a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program’s under-18 team, was listed ahead of Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram, Saskatoon Blades centre Kirby Dach, U.S. U18 teammate Alex Turcotte and Lethbridge Hurricanes centre Dylan Cozens on the North American skater list released Monday.

Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin and Swedish defenceman Victor Soderstrom are second and third, respectively, on the international report.

Hughes led the U.S. U18 team with 92 points (25 goals, 67 assists) in 43 games this season. His 202 career points in 103 games is the most in U.S. NTDP history.

His brother, Quinn Hughes, was drafted seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.

Kakko led TPS Turku last season with 22 goals, a record for a draft-eligible prospect playing in the top-tier Finnish Elite League. Internationally, he scored Finland’s gold-medal-winning goal at the 2019 world junior hockey championship.

The 2019 NHL draft will be held June 21-22 at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. The New Jersey Devils will select first.

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Saudi Crown Prince faces prospect of awkward meetings, protests, possible prosecution at Argentina G20

Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.

TODAY:

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Argentina today for the G20 meeting, facing the prospect of awkward meetings, public protests and the possibility of arrest.
  • The Russian space program has a lot riding on Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques' next Soyuz mission.
  • Researching a story about antibiotic use on farms becomes a journalistic reality check for a reporter.
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

Saudi Arabia's crown pariah

There were no bands or flowers waiting for Mohammed bin Salman when he arrived in Buenos Aires this morning.

The Saudi Crown Prince got a red carpet to walk upon, but the dignitaries on hand were mostly from his own embassy, and the official handshake greeting came from Argentina's foreign minister Jorge Faurie, rather than President Mauricio Macri.

All of which is understandable, given that the country's federal prosecutor is considering a legal submission from Human Rights Watch requesting that the de facto Saudi leader be charged with war crimes and torture for his country's attacks against civilians in Yemen, and the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Argentina's constitution gives authorities "universal jurisdiction" to prosecute such crimes, but most observers think it's unlikely that the government will want to cause a major diplomatic incident during this weekend's G20 summit.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting with the Tunisian President in Tunis on Tuesday. (Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images)

Still, MBS, as the prince is known, is likely to be greeted with street protests — like the ones he encountered over the past two days during a stopover in Tunisia — and the cold shoulder from his fellow world leaders.

Seating arrangements at dinner will be awkward, photo-ops worse, and whatever one-on-one meetings he is granted are likely to come at a humbling price.  

Vladimir Putinconfirmed today that he will sit down with MBS, vowing to bring up Khashoggi's murder — widely believed to have been ordered by the Crown Prince — along with oil markets and the situation in Syria.

The Prince has also apparently reached out to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to try and explain how he had nothing to do with the torture and dismemberment of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The Saudi government has admitted that prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in its consulate in Turkey. (AFP/Getty Images)

Erdogan was non-committal, but his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has told a German newspaper that the Saudi hit team couldn't possibly have carried out Khashoggi's "premeditated murder" without high-level authorization.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week declared himself a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia come-what-may. Perhaps he will try to fill the enthusiasm gap during his scheduled tête-à-tête with bin Salman, cozying up to a man who is quickly becoming an international pariah — even as he threatens to cancel his planned meeting with Putin in a protest over Russia's "aggression" in Ukraine.

However, that double standard isn't winning the president many friends on Capitol Hill.

In the U.S. Senate, a rare bipartisan coalition is forming around a bid to introduce a resolution halting American military, intelligence and financial support for Saudi Arabia's brutal intervention in Yemen's civil war. The motion may come to a vote as soon as this week, although the White House is already vowing to veto it.

This morning, Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and defense secretary James Mattis to the Hill for a closed-door meeting with senators in an effort to head off the motion.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, arrives for a closed-door meeting with U.S. senators about Saudi Arabia on Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senators who have grown increasingly uneasy with the U.S. response to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi were expected to grill top administration officials. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority, has said that "some kind of response" is required to address the Saudi government's role in Khashoggi's death.

Pompeo provided one via an opinion piece in the Wall St. Journal today, arguing that Saudis are a "powerful force for stability" in the Middle East.

The murder of Khashoggi "has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on," the Secretary of State writes. "But degrading U.S.-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies."

The piece did promise an additional $ 131 million US in food aid for Yemen, where a Saudi-enforced blockade has contributed to the starvation deaths of 85,000 children and famine threatens at least 13 million more lives, according to the UN.

A Yemeni mother holds her five-year-old son, who is suffering from severe malnutrition, at a treatment clinic in the western province of Hodeidah last week. As many as 85,000 infants under the age of five may have died from starvation or disease since 2015 in war-ravaged Yemen, Save the Children says, basing its estimate on UN-compiled data. (AFP/Getty Images)

But actually halting the conflict appears to be a different matter.

Last night, CNN reported that the United States has "slammed the brakes on" a planned United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a limited ceasefire in Yemen and more humanitarian aid.

The U.S. had been a driving force behind the motion, until Mohammed bin Salman was shown the text and reportedly "threw a fit."

As many as 57,000 people are believed to have been killed in the fighting in Yemen since the beginning of 2016, most of them civilians.

The next round of peace talks between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels is scheduled to take place "within the next few weeks" in Sweden.


What's riding on next Soyuz mission

Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques strolls in Moscow in August during a break from training for his Dec. 3 Soyuz launch to the International Space Station. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)

Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques is scheduled to fly into space on a Russian rocket in just five days. Moscow bureau reporter Chris Brown talks to him about the upcoming launch, and looks at how important this mission is to the Russian space program.

It was just coincidence, but a prophetic one nonetheless, that when our CBC Moscow team visited Canadian astronaut David Saint Jacques at his Russian training site back in August he was practicing a drill known as a "ballistic descent."

It's when the re-entry crew capsule is either forced to leave the International Space Station in an emergency, or when it gets jettisoned from the top of a Soyuz rocket because of a problem during launch and returns to Earth many times faster than usual.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying Nick Hague of the U.S. and Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 11. The rocket experienced a failure and the crew was forced to initiate an emergency ballistic descent. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

"Wild ride" doesn't come close to describing it. For those crammed inside the tiny space, it would feel like the weight of up to 10 atmospheres bearing down on their body.

"We joke that as the Gs [gravitational forces] go up, your IQ goes down," Saint Jacques told me of the technical challenges of actually trying to fly the capsule under such strenuous conditions.

He said astronauts have only a limited ability to steer the capsule on such a descent, but it is possible to "nudge" the spacecraft just enough to get it to a better landing location.

During the very next Soyuz launch in October, that ballistic descent drill suddenly became a real-life scenario.

The spacecraft carrying American Nick Hague and Russian Alexsey Ovchinin came plummeting back to Earth after a booster rocket failure two minutes into their flight.   Thankfully, the capsule's parachute deployed and the two men were picked up from the Kazakhstan desert, shaken but otherwise unhurt.

A NASA employee speaks on the phone next to a Russian Soyuz MS-07 space capsule shortly after it landed south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan on June 3. (Dmitry Lovetsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The problem was an "assembly error" on the launch pad. After a month-long investigation, officials at Russia's space agency Roscosmos pronounced it has been solved.

Saint Jacques now finds himself in the tense position of being the first to fly in a Soyuz since the mishap.

While every launch carries risks, the pressure on Russia's space agency for Saint Jacques' trip to go off without a hitch is extreme. Plagued by several high-profile failures involving cargo rockets, the last thing Russia's space program needs now are doubts about its ability to safely shuttle crew members to the International Space Station.

Members of the International Space Station (ISS) expedition 58/59 at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Centre in Star City outside Moscow on Nov. 14 (from left): Canada's David Saint-Jacques, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Anne McClain of the U.S. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

In our doc for The National tonight, we'll look upwards and into the future of Russia's space program. Its past glories — the world's first satellite, first man in space and the MIR space station — still resonate loudly in Russia, but insiders worry Putin's government is falling far behind in an extremely competitive 21st century space race.


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Sophisticated farming

Sheep on Darlene Stein’s property near Barrhead, Alta. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Working on a story about antibiotic use on farms was a reality check for reporter Raffy Boudjikanian.

While many journalists are good at providing balance in our stories and not showing preferences for different sides of, say, a policy or political argument, we still have to watch out for our own preconceptions.

Take the agricultural community, a crucial sector of the Canadian economy I've explored on a number of occasions since moving to Alberta a couple of years ago.

For my latest story, I visited farms with a CBC News crew as we followed how ranchers are reacting to new federal rules imposing limits on purchases of antibiotics for livestock.

Darlene Stein's property near Barrhead, Alta., has a lot of what you'd expect on a ranch: green grass far as the eye can see, zealous border collie Jill rounding up stray sheep (I lost count of how many "Jill that will do" commands I heard), and a big red barn for good measure.

Raffy Boudjikanian interviews Darlene Stein on her farm near Barrhead, Alta., as curious border collie Jill checks out the camera. (Terry Reith/CBC)

While we were there, Stein whipped out a computerized handheld device that would have been right at home on Star Trek, scanning her sheep and instantaneously receiving results about how much medication was still coursing through each animal's system.

Later, when we met veterinarian Trevor Hook during a routine herd health check on a dairy farm, he donned a pair of goggles to help him conduct ultrasound scans on pregnant cows.

I have to admit, as a city boy (I grew up in the Montreal area), I was astonished to see this kind of technology deployed on small, independent farms.

When you think about it, Stein's device is not all that different in principle from blood sugar monitors used by diabetics every day. And as for the goggles, obviously ultrasound scans are a normal part of regular pregnancy checks on humans, so why should a vet using them on cows be a surprise?

Still, the idea of family farms as places left behind by technology had somehow become ingrained in me. And given how many Canadians are gravitating toward big cities as places to live (Statistics Canada says 12.5 million of us were clustered around Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal as of 2016), I'm likely far from alone.

These days, though, nothing could be further from the truth. Farming is a high-tech business that uses cutting-edge tools and requires a complex skill set, no matter whether it's a huge factory farm or a small family operation.

This story reinforced for me the need to be wary of unconscious biases, and was a good reminder that I have to make sure to check my preconceptions at the door — or in this case, the farm gate.

– Raffy Boudjikanian

  • WATCH: The story about farms and antibiotic resistance this week on The National on CBC Television and streamed online

A few words on … 

Saying farewell to a rebel with a cause.


Quote of the moment

"One of the most vivid memories that stands out is one of my teammates being taped to a table ass-up naked, being whipped with his own belt by two veterans. He was screaming."

– Former NHL agitator Daniel Carcillo talking about the hazing he underwent and witnessed during his time as junior player with the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting.

Daniel Carcillo. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/File)


What The National is reading

  • French swimmer abandons attempt to cross Pacific (BBC)
  • Russia deploying new missiles to Crimea as Ukraine tension rises (CBC)
  • Lion Air crash investigators say plane was 'not airworthy' (BBC)
  • Manafort lawyer said to have briefed Trump team on Mueller talks (NY Times)
  • Margaret Atwood announces sequel to the Handmaid's Tale (CBC)
  • Myanmar refugees protest against ID cards that don't say Rohingya (Asia Times)
  • New Zealand bans China's Huawei gear from 5G network upgrade (NZ Herald)
  • Expedia tells customer he'll lose $ 1,500 flight over misspelled name (CBC)
  • 'Siberian unicorn' once walked among early humans (CNN)

Today in history

Nov. 28, 1967: Young filmmaker David Cronenberg

This earnest, black-and-white discussion about film policy and distribution in Canada is totally worth it for a young David Cronenberg's plot synopsis of From the Drain, his second short film: Two war vets sitting in the same bathtub, dealing with their psychological wounds, until one is killed by a mutant plant that haunts the sewer system.​

Along with his friend Bob Fothergill, the 24-year-old filmmaker talks about making movies and founding the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. 5:03

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Please send your ideas, news tips, rants, and compliments to thenationaltoday@cbc.ca. ​



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Habs prospect Nick Suzuki, centrepiece in Max Pacioretty trade, 'has it all'

An aspiring NHL forward sits quietly as his future bosses praise his work during the team's training camp, understanding he'll soon be sharing the ice with those he knows well back in the Ontario Hockey League.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien tell the 13th overall pick from the 2017 NHL draft he's close to being a regular in the league. The 19-year-old player, his confidence soaring, also believes he's on the cusp of NHL employment. But there's work to be done.

"They want me to play at a higher pace," says Nick Suzuki, the key return for the Canadiens in the Sept. 9 trade that sent captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights, who visit the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday night. "I got used to playing at an NHL pace [at camp] and I have to play a step ahead of everybody [in junior] and try my best to dominate every game."


Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Todd Gill, in his second season coaching Suzuki with the Owen Sound Attack, points out the team's first-year captain only needs to be told things once.

This guy's got it all — the hockey sense, an NHL shot, he sees the ice very well and can pass the puck with the best of them.— Attack head coach Todd Gill on forward Nick Suzuki

In his OHL return, Suzuki didn’t register a point and had a minus-3 rating, but rebounded the next night with a hat trick against the top-ranked Ottawa 67s before adding three assists versus Sarnia four days later.

The native of London, Ont., has points in all but three of 13 games since, recording 13 goals, 25 points and a plus-9 rating across 16 contests, putting Suzuki on track for a second consecutive 100-point season.

"This guy's got it all — the hockey sense, an NHL shot, he sees the ice very well and can pass the puck with the best of them," says Gill, who played 1,007 NHL regular-season games. "But the No. 1 thing with Nick this season is his pace of play has really improved."

Late cut by Team Canada

Earlier in his career, Suzuki says, he didn't move his feet while reading the play but is learning to reach loose pucks and opposing players quicker.

Windsor Spitfires head coach Trevor Letowski, who was as an assistant with Canada’s gold-medal winning national junior team last year in Buffalo, told CBC Sports the urgency and compete level in Suzuki’s game didn’t meet the coaching staff’s expectations during the selection camp last December.

"He wasn't quite there to take on a big role at a world-level tourney," says Letowski, the former NHL forward who won't be part of new head coach Tim Hunter's staff when the world juniors begins Dec. 26 in Vancouver and Victoria. "Nick is such a smart player, kind of deceptive and one of those guys that can make an impact every time he's on the ice, but he just wasn't quite able to create like he had in the OHL. I would guess he's ready now to do that."

Now that the saga is finally over in Montreal, Rob Pizzo explores which team's fanbase should be happier after the trade. 1:59

A late cut of Team Canada, the five-foot-11, 200-plus-pound Suzuki is hoping to catch the eye of Hunter, who takes over from Dominique Ducharme, now an assistant to Julien in Montreal. His audition begins in earnest Thursday night in Sarnia, Ont., when Suzuki will captain Team OHL against the Russian national junior squad as part of the Canada Russia Series.

"I try to get to where the puck's going to be before it's there," says Suzuki, who was further motivated to reach the NHL while watching Vegas' run to the Stanley Cup Final from the press box. "I think I've always been good at reading the play and using my hockey IQ to break up plays."

Attack forward Nick Suzuki is 11th in OHL scoring this season with 25 points on 13 goals and 12 assists in 16 games, putting him on track for a second consecutive 100-point campaign. (Submitted by Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Overage defenceman Sean Durzi, who joined Suzuki in representing Owen Sound at a Canada-Russia Series game in Sudbury last year, believes his teammate has taken his game to another level this season.

Elite hockey sense

"His ability to do the small things that not a lot of people notice, like creating time and space for other players, is next-level stuff," says Durzi, who lives with the same billet family as Suzuki.

A natural centre who has mostly played on the wing the past two seasons, Suzuki believes he not only was born with an elite hockey sense but feels he has studied the game and viewed it differently than others his age.

Since childhood, he has admired the play of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and wears No. 37 because he models his game after Boston's Patrice Bergeron.

"I think he's one of the best players in the NHL at stealing pucks from guys, lifting their sticks and turning defence into offence," Suzuki says of the Bruins centre. "Crosby, just the way he protects the puck low [in the offensive zone]. He's probably the best in the NHL using his body to shield the puck in the corner."

In Owen Sound, Gill counts Suzuki among the best at lifting the sticks of opposing players and retrieving pucks on a back check.

'Sometimes he creates things that aren't even there'

He has also tried learning the moves of NHL star Connor McDavid, concentrating on the Edmonton Oilers forward as he skates down the wing at top speed.

"You see Connor fly with the puck and still do amazing things," said Durzi, "and I think Nick has brought that aspect to his game. The way he's able to make a great play or pass when he's flying down the wing or through the middle [of the ice] is second to none in the league right now.

"Sometimes he creates things that aren't even there and to have that IQ is what's going to make you an elite player in this league and even at the next level."

Suzuki and the Attack will be hosting Erie on Saturday at the same time Pacioretty attempts to erase a poor start with Vegas — slowed somewhat by injury — that has seen the five-time 30-goal scorer find the net just twice in his first 11 games after signing a four-year, $ 28-million US deal with the Golden Knights.

Gill continues to stress to Suzuki the importance of being Owen Sound's best player, most effective defensive forward and top forward every game. For the most part, the 23rd captain in Attack history has responded.

"The No. 1 job in the NHL is consistency," says the coach. "That will get you to the next level. Nick wants to be a leader, the go-to guy.

"Off the ice, he's an incredibly grounded person. He's almost a Bob Gainey-type captain where he leads by example on the ice and when he does talk in the dressing room, the players understand they should listen."

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Blue Jays trade J.A. Happ to Yankees for Brandon Drury, prospect

Toronto general manager Ross Atkins says competitive baseball teams are increasingly less willing to part with top prospects when they tool up for a playoff run.

So while the Blue Jays didn't get a blue-chip minor leaguer when they traded veteran left-hander J.A. Happ to the New York Yankees, Atkins was pleased to get a pair of major league-ready players instead.

The Blue Jays continued their rebuilding process Thursday, sending Happ to the Yankees for infielder Brandon Drury and minor league outfielder Bill McKinney. The trade came hours after the Jays shipped reliever Seunghwan Oh to Colorado for minor league infielder Chad Spanberger, outfielder Forrest Wall and a player to be named or cash.

Drury, who is expected to join the Blue Jays when they start a three-game series with the White Sox in Chicago on Friday, creates a potential snarl in the Jays infield, where Yangervis Solarte, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Aledmys Diaz and Devon Travis are already fighting for playing time. But Atkins said positional depth is necessary for any playoff-calibre team.

"This game will forever be about depth," Atkins said Thursday on a conference call. "You can never have enough of it.

"Having that as a challenge is where you want to be when you become a championship organization," he added. "We'll have opportunities for guys to play, there's no doubt about that. If it means that someone goes to triple-A, that is a good scenario for an organization."

Happ, who turns 36 in October, is 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts and was a first-time all-star, picking up the save for the American League at this year's midsummer classic in Washington, D.C. He joins a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray.


Atkins called Happ a steady professional who helped the development of younger pitchers on staff, including up-and-coming lefty Ryan Borucki.

"In the three years I've known (Happ), he's only become more and more driven and more and more focused, and it's really inspiring to be around him," Atkins said.

Happ has a US$ 13 million salary in the final season of a $ 36 million, three-year contract, and the Yankees are responsible for the remaining $ 4,543,011.

New York began the day 5 1/2 games behind Boston, the AL East leader. The Yankees were just 14-14 in their previous 28 games.

A 12-year major league veteran, Happ is 102-82 with a 3.95 ERA for Philadelphia (2007-10), Houston (2010-12), Toronto (2013-14, 2016-18), Seattle (2015) and Pittsburgh (2015).

With the acquisition of Drury and McKinney, Atkins said the Blue Jays would pivot to the difficult task of trying to obtain young, controllable pitching.

"We're at the point now where our position player talent is very, very strong, and it would be hard to really upgrade," he added.

Drury, who turns 26 next month, was acquired by the Yankees from Arizona in February and began the season as their starting third baseman. He went on the disabled list after the team's eighth game because of blurred vision and migraines, and he lost his job to rookie Miguel Andujar.

Drury has played in just 10 games for New York since and has spent most of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he is hitting .294 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 55 games. He has a $ 621,900 salary and has 2 years, 99 days of major league service, making it possible he could be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time next winter.

The 23-year-old was selected by Oakland with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft, was traded to the Chicago Cubs with Addison Russell and Dan Straily for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammell in July 2014, then dealt to the Yankees along with Gleyber Torres and Adam Warren for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

McKinney has played two games for the Yankees, filling in on March 30-31 because of injuries to other outfielders. He is hitting .230 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in 62 games this year for Class A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Scranton.

Toronto also claimed right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, and said Drake will report to the Major League roster.

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Impact transfer top prospect Ballou Tabla to FC Barcelona

Top prospect Ballou Tabla has been transferred to FC Barcelona in what the Montreal Impact called a proud moment for its organization.

Spanish giant Barcelona, one of the top teams in world soccer, said on its website that 18-year-old Tabla passed his medical exam and signed a contract for three years plus two option years.

While the transfer fee was not disclosed, the contract has a buyout clause of 25 million euros (C$ 38.2 million) for the first three years and 75 million euros ($ 115.2 million) if the deal is extended.

The website’s description of the player said: “Generally known as Ballou, he is one of the hottest prospects in Canadian football and he has played for the national team at various levels.”

Important moment in Impact history

Impact president Joey Saputo sees the transfer as a feather in the cap for his team.

“This first transfer is an important moment in the history and evolution of our club,” Saputo said in a statement. “We take a lot of pride in seeing a young player, developed in our academy, climb the ladder all the way to the first team and realize his dream to play in Europe with a big club like Barcelona.”

The attacking midfielder is to start with Barcelona B in Spain’s second division, with a chance to move up to the top level in the future and perhaps a chance to play with stars like Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.

Retired Impact captain Patrice Bernier was quick to salute his former teammate.

“Congratulations Ballou,” he tweeted in French. “Soak in the day. A logical continuation of your development and career. Remember when you wacthed Neymar before a game, and then there you are. I’m looking forward to following you. Proud of my little brother. Big moment.”

“I am very happy to be in the best club in the world, I expect to learn a lot,” Tabla said in a tweet from FC Barcelona.

Homegrown talent

Tabla played in 21 games (11 starts) for the Impact last season, mostly on the right side, picking up two goals and two assists with 1,146 minutes played.

At 17 years 338 days, he became the youngest Impact player to take part in an MLS game when he took the field in San Jose on March 4.

Ballou joined the Montreal Impact academy in August 2012, before leaving in December 2013. He then rejoined the Impact under-18 squad in April 2015, and played with FC Montreal (USL) in 2016.

Ballou, who was born in Ivory Coast but raised in Montreal, joined the first team on Oct. 20, 2016.

He has played for Canada at age group levels and was named Canada’s under-20 player of the year in 2016, but has yet to decide if he will play senior international soccer for Canada or Ivory Coast.

Tabla made no secret of wanting to play in Europe.

In August, he left the team briefly hoping to force a deal to a French second division club. However, the Impact found the offer unsatisfactory.

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CMA head calls small business tax change a 'heart-wrenching' prospect for female doctors

Doctors are warning that the Liberal government’s proposed changes to the small business tax regime could force female physicians to leave the profession, and some have travelled to the national Liberal caucus meeting to turn up the heat on skittish MPs.

Dr. Gigi Osler, the newly elected president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), hosted a roundtable with doctors in Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday at the same hotel where the Liberal caucus will meet this week, a clear message from doctors who say they won’t stand for these changes.

The CMA hopes to corner Liberal MPs on the sidelines of the meeting and ask them to put pressure on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to abandon his proposals.

Dr. Gigi Osler

Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association, says female doctors are particularly worried about proposed changes to ‘income sprinkling.’ (Dr. Gigi Osler)

Two-thirds of family physicians under the age of 35 are women, and they often don’t have access to maternity leave programs available to many wage earners, Osler said. Many doctors rely on so-called “income sprinkling,” paying their spouses to stay home and raise children while they work to pay off student debts accumulated from years of schooling.

Morneau has proposed measures to curtail income sprinkling, a change that would affect an estimated 50,000 families. 

“The stories are heart-wrenching; they’re in anguish and some of them really feel like they’re being asked to choose between their dream job and being a mother,” Osler said of her female colleagues. “The government needs to be aware of the unintended consequences.”

The government will extend income sprinkling rules that currently apply to minors — colloquially called the “kiddie tax” — to some adults. That means dividend income could be taxed at the highest federal tax rate (currently 33 per cent), even if the money is split with a family member who is in a lower tax bracket.

Morneau also plans to impose a “reasonableness” test so the tax change does not punish legitimate family businesses. The test will determine just how much work a family member actually does at a business, and if they can really lay claim to profits.

‘Gender lens’ focus

Osler, who spoke to CBC News after her roundtable with female doctors, said “some of the stories were difficult to hear. Some women really think, ‘I’m not going to be able to have a family.'”

“We know the government is applying a gender lens to all new legislation, and now we’re hearing that the changes will financially disadvantage women. I truly hope the government is listening to the concerns.”

Stephen Fuhr

Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr says the proposed tax changes need a further look. (Stephen Fuhr/Facebook)

Morneau is motivated to act now because the number of Canadian-controlled private corporations has increased some 50 per cent since the early 2000s. The number of professionals who have incorporated themselves to help reduce their tax burden has tripled over the same period.

The explosive growth is due in part to changes made by the Ontario government in the midst of bargaining negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association in 2005. In exchange for changes to the fee schedule paid to physicians, the province allowed doctors to incorporate their practices as small businesses to pay less in taxes. (There is a roughly 37 per cent gap between personal and business tax rates.)

“We think that those rules need to be changed,” Morneau said Tuesday. “We have a growing number of people that are incorporating and taking some advantages that weren’t originally intended to be there for them.”

Unfair incentive, minister says

Morneau said income sprinkling allows some married women to have a lower tax burden than their single equivalents. “That doesn’t seem to us inherently fair. It creates an incentive we don’t think is appropriate,” he told reporters. “We’re trying to make sure the system will be fair for the long term.”

In an op-ed published in the Globe and Mail Tuesday, Morneau singled out high-income professionals like doctors, arguing they shouldn’t pay less tax than the nurses who work for them.

“An incorporated professional earning $ 300,000 with a spouse and two adult children can save about $ 48,000 in taxes by using just one of these loopholes. What that means is an incorporated professional could be taxed at a lower rate than a salaried nurse practitioner or police officer making much less a year,” Morneau wrote.

“It is legal, but as a former business owner and high-income earner myself, I do not think it is right,” he said.

MPs face backlash

Some Liberal MPs have grown nervous in the face of an organized backlash from the small business community.

“In my opinion, based on a ton of discussion I’ve had with people in my riding, and other MPs, I think we need a mediated solution between what’s being proposed and what can be done,” Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr said in an interview with CBC News.

Fuhr, who pried his Kelowna-Lake Country seat away from the Tories after some 50 years of Conservative representation, said the opposition is ready to pounce on marginal Liberal ridings like his that could be vulnerable in the next election.

Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative finance critic, said Morneau’s proposals will make it more difficult for Canadians to find a family doctor, because physicians could flee to lower tax jurisdictions like the United States.

“Minister Morneau has spent the cupboard bare, and he is now looking to raise taxes on small businesses to pay for it. That’s why his own MPs are turning on him at their party caucus meeting this week.”

Liberal MPs will gather this morning for discussions on the tax matter after a speech from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. MPs are also expected to discuss the influx of migrants and the looming start date for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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