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Raptors fans’ cheers after Durant injury ‘overstated,’ Toronto mayor says

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Toronto’s mayor is defending his city’s basketball fans, saying cheers from Raptors supporters when a star Golden State Warriors player got injured in Monday’s nail-biter playoff game are being “overstated.”

Large sections of Raptors fans at the Scotiabank Arena initially cheered when Kevin Durant went down clutching his Achilles tendon, prompting several Toronto players to wave their hands to get the crowd to stop.

Many in the stands soon started clapping instead and muted “K-D” chants could be heard as Durant was helped off the court in the second quarter.

The incident drew criticism from some Golden State players and observers, including many on social media.

But Toronto Mayor John Tory stressed Tuesday that while any crowd may contain some who react the wrong way, the “vast majority” of people at Monday’s NBA Finals game in Toronto acted like good sports fans.

“I was in the arena and it happened right at the end of a play and people were cheering at the end of the play but very quickly after that (Durant) got a very warm round of applause as he was taken on to the dressing room — as he should, he’s a superstar, and nobody wants to see him hurt,” Tory said.

It’s important not to overblow such incidents or make generalizations about what Toronto sports fans are like, the mayor added.

“Toronto sports fans are good fans, they’re considerate fans,” Tory said. “They understand a superstar when they see one and I think that’s the kind of applause he got as he left the arena.”

At least one Toronto fan set out to salvage Raptor Nation’s reputation following the incident by launching an online fundraiser for the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which helps at-risk youth.

“We’re sorry that some fans of Raptor Nation at the Scotiabank arena, Jurassic Park, and in some bars/restaurants showing the game, displayed an ugly side of fandom when they cheered on the injury of Kevin Durant,” says the fundraiser on GoFundMe.

“This isn’t cool. This isn’t right. This isn’t what I expect from fellow Canadians.”

The fundraiser, which aims to collect $50,000, received roughly $250 in its first hours.

Some players previously said they were surprised at the initial fan response.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry, who lived in Toronto when his father played for the Raptors from 1999-2002, said Monday that the cheers left him “confused.”

“It’s not my experience with the people of this city,” said Curry, whose wife, Ayesha Curry, grew up in nearby Markham, Ont. “I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series.”

The Warriors eked out a victory Monday, winning 106-105 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Finals. Game 6 of the series goes Thursday in Oakland, Calif.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Alberta

Hockey Canada cancels summer camps, going virtual with training camps

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Tom Renney

CALGARY — Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled all summer camps for national teams — including the Canadian junior team — and will hold virtual training sessions instead.

The cancellation of scheduled events runs until Sept. 1 and is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian junior squad’s annual development camp was originally scheduled to go from July 27 to 31.

The national women’s under-18 summer camp, women’s development camp, the Program of Excellence coaching seminar, the Program of Excellence goaltender development camp and men’s under-17 development camp will also all be delivered virtually.

Hockey Canada says the virtual sessions will include at-home strength and conditioning plans, mental performance plans and check-ins, nutrition, dry-land skills, skating simulations, team-building activities, short-term international competition preparation and meetings with coaching staffs.

Hockey Canada has yet to name the rosters and staff for the team programs, but says an announcement will be made in the “coming weeks.”

“It is certainly disappointing to come to this decision for our summer events this year, but it is the right decision as we keep the health and safety of our participants a priority,” Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada,” said in a release.

Meanwhile, the March cancellation of the remaining 2019-20 hockey season included all national championships, leading to Hockey Canada and various host organizing committees having to plan, or make changes, for the 2020-21 season and beyond.

Prince Albert, Sask., which was set to host the 2020 Esso Cup — Canada’s U18 women’s club championship — will retain its hosting rights for the 2021 Esso Cup, with Lloydminster, Alta., hosting the 2022 Esso Cup.

Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., and Cape Breton, N.S., were scheduled to host the 2020 and 2021 TELUS Cup, respectively. However, Canada’s U18 men’s club championship has been changed. Cape Breton will now host in 2022, while Saint-Hyacinthe is being considered as the host for 2021 or 2023.

The 2020 Centennial Cup, originally scheduled in Portage la Prairie, Man., will now be hosted in Penticton, B.C., in May 2021. Estevan, Sask., will host Canada’s national Junior A championship in 2022, with the potential for the event to return to Portage la Prairie in 2023.

Hockey Canada’s current event schedule beyond Sept. 1 remains unchanged for the fall and winter.

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

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calgary flames, winnipeg jets

CALGARY — The Calgary Flames’ first opponent if and when the NHL resumes is a team they saw once this season outside.

The Winnipeg Jets edged the Flames 2-1 in overtime Oct. 26 in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Regina.

Bryan Little scored the winner at snowy, chilly Mosaic Stadium.

The NHL halting the regular season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the Jets didn’t travel to Calgary two days later and again March 31.

But the league’s relaunch plan pits the prairie-province clubs against each other in a best-of-five “play-in” round which would determine the 16 playoff teams.

Having potentially two months to prepare for an NHL opponent is unique.

“I don’t think we want to focus on Winnipeg so, so much that we’re frozen by it,” Flames head coach Geoff Ward said Wednesday during a conference call.

“We’ll do our due diligence on Winnipeg. We know who the opponent is now, but the most important thing we’re thinking about is how we’re going to prepare our team to play Winnipeg.”

When the NHL hit pause, Calgary (36-27-7) ranked third in Pacific Division four points back of the second-place Edmonton Oilers.

The Jets (37-32-8) were fourth in the Central and held down the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

“I think playing them late in the season would have probably been an advantage to both teams in terms of preparation,” Ward said.

“Obviously now we get to study Winnipeg a little bit more because we know they are our opponent. The most important thing for us is what are we going to do, let’s get to our game and what does that involve?

“How do we prepare ourselves the best to come out of the break and be playing our best hockey, when that first puck drops?”

Both Calgary and Winnipeg were eliminated in the first round of playoffs in 2019.

The Jets reached the Western Conference final in 2018 before bowing out to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The NHL going to conference matchups instead of divisional may have negated an early Battle of Alberta in the relaunch, although the league has yet to announce how playoff teams will be seeded.

The Flames could end up playing the Jets in Edmonton because the provincial capital is a candidate city for the NHL’s hub-city concept to complete the playoffs.

“It’ll be a lot less travel to get there,” Flames captain Mark Giordano acknowledged.

“We’re all expecting to have no fans in the building, so I don’t think it will be too much of an advantage either way.

“The big thing for us is how the seeding works. Home-ice advantage is still an advantage obviously for last (line) change and stuff like that.”

Ward, who took over as Calgary’s interim head coach in November when Bill Peters resigned, has some experience coaching an NHL team that wants to hit the ground running.

He was an assistant coach of the Boston Bruins during the lockout season of 2012-2013. The NHL didn’t resume until Jan. 6.

“There certainly are some parallels and some things you can draw on there,” Ward said.

“We need to understand there is a little of urgency coming out of this one just in terms of the first one being a best-of-five, just in terms of how long the players are going to have been off without really being able to skate.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Hockey Canada cancels summer camps, going virtual with training camps

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