World juniors exhibition game cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols

Thursday's world junior hockey championship pre-tournament game between the Czech Republic and Switzerland has been cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.

More Leafs, Jets enter virus protocol; Raptors sign trio of replacement players

Fans are seen at a Finland-U.S. exhibition at the world juniors on Thursday. Another pre-tournament game scheduled between Sweden and the Czech Republic was cancelled on Thursday due to COVID-19 protocols. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
  • World juniors exhibition cancelled
  • Maple Leafs' Rielly, Jets' Copp and Vesalainen enter virus protocol
  • Raptors sign 3 replacement players
  • More Premier League matches called off
  • NBA stars remain in protocols with Christmas games nearing
  • Vikings' Cook, Saints QBs, others test positive for COVID-19

Switzerland-Czech Republic called off

Thursday's world junior hockey championship pre-tournament game between the Czech Republic and Switzerland has been cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols.

Hockey Canada announced the cancellation on Twitter, but did not provide details on which team or how many players are affected by the protocols.

Canada is scheduled to open its tournament against the Czechs on Boxing Day at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The Canadians were set to face Russia in a pre-tournament game Thursday evening in Edmonton.

Leafs, Jets players and staff into protocol

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Thursday defenceman Morgan Rielly and a staff member have been placed in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol, while two Winnipeg Jets and a team employee have also been added to the growing list.

The Leafs now have a total of 12 players — including captain John Tavares and goaltender Jack Campbell — in isolation along with head coach Sheldon Keefe, two assistants, and four other members of the organization.

The Jets said forwards Andrew Copp and Kristian Vesalainen have entered the protocol along with a member of the club's support staff. Those additions mean all seven Canadian teams currently have players sidelined due to the coronavirus.

The NHL shut down for its annual Christmas break 48 hours early after Tuesday night's lone remaining game.

Four contests originally scheduled for Wednesday and 15 for Thursday are among the 45 postponed since Dec. 13 due to pandemic-related concerns.

The league is scheduled to resume play with 14 games Monday, including Toronto at Columbus and Minnesota at Winnipeg, although more postponements are possible with a number of clubs dealing with multiple COVID-19 cases.

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Raptors fill out COVID-depleted roster

The depleted Toronto Raptors have signed forwards Juwan Morgan and D.J. Wilson and guard Tremont Waters to 10-day contracts.

The players join the Raptors from the NBA G League via the COVID hardship exception.

The moves come after Toronto's game at Chicago scheduled for Wednesday night was postponed by the NBA when the Raptors couldn't field the league-minimum eight players.

Eight Raptors, including starters OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr., are in the NBA's COVID-19 protocol.

Malachi Flynn, Precious Achiuwa and Dalano Banton are also unavailable due to COVID-19 concerns.

Players in the league's protocol have not necessarily tested positive for COVID-19.

Additionally, centre Khem Birch is out with knee swelling, while Justin Champagnie is unavailable with what the team calls a non-COVID-related illness and David Johnson is out with a calf injury.

The Raptors are scheduled to play at Cleveland on Dec. 26.

The six-foot-seven, 232-pound Morgan is averaging 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 29.3 minutes in 13 games with the Maine Celtics.

Wilson, six-foot-10 and 231 pounds, is averaging 14.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 26.1 minutes over 14 games with the Oklahoma City Blue.

Waters, listed at five-foot-10 and 175 pounds, is averaging 17.5 points, 6.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 31.9 minutes in 13 contests with the Wisconsin Herd.

Premier League Boxing Day matches postponed

Coronavirus outbreaks at Leeds and Watford have led to two Premier League matches scheduled for Sunday being postponed in the latest disruption to the competition caused by cases rising in squads.

Leeds was due to travel to Liverpool and Watford was set to play at Wolverhampton as part of the Boxing Day program that still features seven games.

The Premier League has now called off 12 matches due to coronavirus issues in two weeks, with players having to isolate after testing positive or if they are unvaccinated and a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

"The league is aware that the decision to postpone these two matches will disappoint supporters and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games," the Premier League said in a statement on Thursday.

Games are also being wiped out lower down the leagues, with six of Sunday's 10 matches in the second-tier Championship postponed.

NBA stars stuck in protocols as Christmas games loom

Coach Steve Nash said Thursday that James Harden has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols, but he said the Nets don't expect any of their players still in the protocols to come out in time for the team's Christmas game against the Lakers. That would include Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer.

The Nets have had their last three scheduled games postponed — among the NBA's nine postponements thus far — when a coronavirus outbreak left them with a league-high 10 players in protocols. Nash said Harden, Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter had also cleared protocols, though rookies Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. had since entered.

Along with Durant, starters LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre' Bembry remain in the protocols, along with Bruce Brown, James Johnson and rookie Day'Ron Sharpe. Nash said all of the players were experiencing nothing more than mild symptoms.

By late Thursday afternoon, based on team injury reports or similar disclosures, there were more than 90 NBA players dealing with a virus-related issue — often a positive test, though not always.

The list included stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Trae Young. All three are scheduled to be part of the NBA's five-game holiday schedule.

Later Thursday, the Washington Wizards announced star Bradley Beal would miss that night's game at the New York Knicks because of health and safety protocols. Beal, who missed out on the chance to play in the Olympics last year after testing positive, said before this season he was unvaccinated.

The Detroit Pistons said on Thursday evening they had added four players to the protocols, where they joined rookie Cade Cunningham, the team's leading scorer.

Saints QBs, Vikings' Cook test positive for COVID-19

Both Saints veteran quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, Minnesota star running back Dalvin Cook and Cleveland centre JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

But Washington is getting back quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

Hill and Siemian were among nine players for New Orleans placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The others include such key players as safety Malcolm Jenkins and tackle Jordan Mills, who is expected to start Monday night against Miami.

The situation left Ian Book, a rookie out of Notre Dame who has been inactive for all 14 games, as the only active quarterback under contract. It appears Book is in line for his maiden NFL regular-season appearance. Running back Alvin Kamara has been the Saints' emergency quarterback for several seasons and conceivably could take direct snaps as a wildcat threat.

The latest COVID-19 hit to the Saints came as New Orleans awaits the return of coach Sean Payton, who did not travel to Tampa Bay for the Saints' victory has worked from home since testing positive for COVID-19 last Thursday. Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been serving as acting head coach.

Also placed on the COVID-19 list: guard James Carpenter, linebacker Kaden Elliss, safety Jeff Heath, defensive end Jalyn Holmes, and defensive tackle Christian Ringo.

With files from The Associated Press

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