Sports Hockey


Otters GM '100% confident' McDavid will be ready for world junior

By Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun

Canada's Connor McDavid celebrates his goal against the United States during the third period of their IIHF World Junior Championship game in Malmo, Sweden, December 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk)

Canada's Connor McDavid celebrates his goal against the United States during the third period of their IIHF World Junior Championship game in Malmo, Sweden, December 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk)

When it comes to L’Affaire McDavid -- featuring the most publicized fractured finger this country has talked about in a long time -- the most important aspect to emerge from Connor McDavid’s visit with a hand specialist on Wednesday is that he will not require surgery.

While the prognosis is that the Erie Otters superstar will be sidelined 5-6 weeks -- an estimate Otters general manager Sherry Bassin considers a worst case scenario -- the fact the kid has avoided the surgeon’s knife and isn’t sidelined for months should be applauded.

The other positive came from Bassin in regards to McDavid’s potential availability for the World Juniors. Team Canada opens up its training camp at the Mastercard Centre in Toronto on Dec. 11 -- exactly one month after McDavid hurt his right hand in a fight during a 4-0 win over the Mississauga Steelheads on Tuesday -- and plays its first game of the tournament on Dec. 26 in Montreal.

“I am 100% confident that Connor will be ready for the World Juniors,” Bassin told Sun Media in a phone interview on Wednesday night.

McDavid’s healing powers will be the ultimate litmus test of that, but at least there is hope where there once was panic just 24 hours earlier.

Through it all, the McDavid injury has been manipulated by both the fighting and anti-fighting fraternities, each climbing on their respective soap boxes to preach their arguments. The issue: Should fisticuffs be completely banned from junior hockey?

For his part, Canadian Hockey League commissioner David Branch correctly points out that his outfit has made significant progress in cutting down on pugilism. And the numbers back him up.

In the Ontario Hockey League, where McDavid is tearing up the league in scoring with 51 points in 18 games, fighting is down to 0.61 scraps per contest this season -- 13% lower from a year ago and a whopping 42% from six years ago.

As for the actual McDavid bout, Branch said Wednesday night that “after reviewing the situation, we are all confident in our conclusion that Connor was not being targeted in any way in the circumstances leading to the fight.”

Branch also noted that Mississauga’s Bryson Cianfrone, the kid who dropped the gloves with McDavid, “had no penalty minutes up to that point this season and is his team’s leading scorer.

“In fact, that was his first fight.”

In the end, what should be concentrated on here is McDavid’s health and his quest to be ready for Team Canada’s opening game. It’s not an incident to be used to serve the polarizing agendas of the fighting and anti-fighting clans.


Can a league reportedly pick the owners of a team that doesn’t exist yet?

Apparently the NHL can.

According to various reports, the Maloofs and billionaire William P. Foley have been selected by the league as the ownership group it wishes to have a relationship with if and when expansion to Las Vegas actually takes place.

Foley, who is the chairman of mortgage giant Fidelity National Financial and owns more than a dozen wineries, has been linked to the possible NHL Sin City franchise since last month. The Maloof family, meanwhile, owned the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a report by The Hockey News that suggested the board of governors has already approved the group. Maybe so. But, it wasn’t that long ago that the league was pooh-poohing all of this NHL-to-Vegas talk in the first place, remember?

Interestingly, Daly suggested to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune earlier this week that potential expansion likely would mean adding two teams in the west to balance the conferences. Right now, there are 16 teams in the east and 14 in the west.

There is a school of thought that the league continues to eye Seattle as a landing spot. The obstacle: the proposed NBA-first arena. The NHL ideally does not want to be a so-called “second tenant.”

Interestingly, the Maloofs had threatened to move the Kings to Seattle a year ago. Eventually, they sold the team, which remained in Sacramento.

There are still plenty of twists and turns in the NHL’s intrigue with the Nevada hub. But this much appears certain: It’s a good bet the league ends up with a franchise there.

The biggest question is: When?


You are the Montreal Canadiens. You just watched the Boston Bruins get thumped by the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night. And now, on Thursday, here come those same B’s, playing at the Bell Centre for the first time since Milan Lucic made an obscene gesture to the fans last month.

If you, as a member of the Habs, aren’t smelling blood, you can bet the capacity throng at the Bell Centre will be.

What has to be most concerning for Boston coach Claude Julien is that star goalie Tuukka Rask was yanked after allowing four goals on just 16 shots. This is the same Tuukka Rask who has continuously struggled against Montreal during his career.

If that’s not reason to get cranked up for this one, we don’t know what is.

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