Sports·JAN 4 COVID ROUNDUP

Matthews-McDavid Wednesday showdown may be wiped out by Oilers star's positive test

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews returned a negative result for COVID-19 on a PCR test one day after a rapid test came back positive. He has not been ruled out for Wednesday's game against visiting Edmonton, which could be minus Connor McDavid after his positive test.

Leafs player returns negative result; Canadian figure skaters questionable for trials

The Oilers' Connor McDavid might not face fellow NHL star Auston Matthews when Edmonton visits the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday night. McDavid tested positive Tuesday and will be re-tested, while Matthews returned a negative COVID-19 test result after a rapid test came back positive Monday. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images/File)

The latest sports news:

  • Raptors duo out Tuesday against Spurs
  • NHL reschedules, postpones 5 upcoming games
  • Canadian figure skaters James, Radford questionable for Olympic trials
  • Canadiens' protocol total at 22 team members after 5 additions 
  • Blue Jackets lose D-man Werenski to COVID-19 protocol
  • Curling Canada seeks new date, site for U18 curling nationals

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews returned a negative result for COVID-19 on a PCR test one day after a rapid test came back positive.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe says the team is awaiting further results, but Matthews has not been ruled out of Wednesday's game against the visiting Oilers, who could be minus Connor McDavid after his positive test, according to head coach Dave Tippett.

The 24-year-old Matthews missed a second straight practice from precautionary reasons Tuesday. He was held out of Monday's on-ice after his positive result on a rapid antigen test

Maple Leafs assistant coach Dean Chynoweth, who also tested positive on Monday, had his result confirmed by a PCR test Tuesday.

Monday's positive tests came at the tail end of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Leafs that saw 14 players and seven staff members placed in the NHL's coronavirus protocol at its height. Those 21 people had cleared protocol as of Monday.

WATCH | Virus wreaks havoc on NHL schedule:

NHL playing schedule left in disarray by COVID-19

5 months ago
Duration 2:12
More than 90 NHL games to date have been postponed due to COVID-19, as more players — including Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews — test positive.

Matthews is coming off an outstanding December that saw him named the NHL's first star of the month after putting up 10 goals and four assists in seven games.

Tippett also said centre Derek Ryan tested positive after playing in New York against the Rangers the previous night.

Neither McDavid or Ryan practised Tuesday in Toronto and both are set to be tested again later Tuesday before their availability for Wednesday's game can be determined.

Matthews, the reigning Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy winner, and McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy last season, each previously tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020.

"The way things are going here, just a daily occurrence," Tippett said.

NHL reschedules, postpones 5 games

The NHL has made the decision to postpone and reschedule five upcoming games on Tuesday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets-New York Islanders game scheduled for Jan. 18 will be played on another date yet to be announced, as the Islanders will play their previously postponed game from Nov. 30 against the Philadelphia Flyers that night.

The Detroit Red Wings-Flyers game will also be pushed back to another date due to that scheduling change.

In addition, the Islanders game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, originally scheduled for Jan. 22, will now be played April 17, while their matchup in April initially set to be played in New York, will now be played in Toronto.

Recently ill James, Radford unsure about skating at trials

Recent positive COVID-19 tests could keep Vanessa James and Eric Radford out of Canadian figure skating's Olympic trials this week.

Canada's top-ranked pair team this season revealed on a conference call they'd tested positive within three days of each other over the Christmas break.

James tested positive on Dec. 23, while Radford's positive test came on Boxing Day.

Radford said preparing for the Olympics is tough enough on athletes, but now they're also faced with an "invisible minefield" of having to avoid COVID-19 amid the easily transmissible Omicron variant.

A positive test at the Canadian championships could keep an athlete from Beijing based on the time crunch around required pre-travel tests.

Skate Canada isn't requiring athletes to show proof of a negative test to compete this week.

James, from Toronto, and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., say if they're unable to compete this week, they're hopeful they could still be named to Canada's Olympic team for Beijing based on results this season.

20 Canadiens players, 2 coaches in protocol

The Montreal Canadiens have 22 team members in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol after adding five more Tuesday.

The team said forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen, defenceman David Savard and goaltender Samuel Montembeault have entered the league's protocol, along with assistant coach Trevor Letowski.

That gives the Habs 20 players and two coaches in the league's protocol.

Forwards Brandon Baddock, Paul Byron, Laurent Dauphin, Jake Evans, Mike Hoffman, Artturi Lehkonen and Tyler Toffoli, defencemen Louie Belpedio, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Gianni Fairbrother, Jeff Petry, Alexander Romanov and Chris Wideman and goaltenders Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau are also sidelined due to COVID-19 concerns.

Letwoski joins goaltending coach Eric Raymond in the protocol.

The Canadiens paused team activities to deal with the outbreak after Saturday's 5-2 loss to Florida.

Montreal's next scheduled game is Jan. 12 in Boston in a game originally scheduled to be played in Montreal.

Raptors' Watanabe, Mykhailiuk sidelined

The Raptors announced Yuta Watanabe and Svi Mykhailiuk have entered the NBA's health and safety protocols and will not be available for Toronto's game Tuesday night against visiting San Antonio.

The Raptors have been dealing with a significant number of COVID-19 cases over the past weeks.

They had 10 players in the NBA's protocol, including their entire starting lineup, when they suffered a Dec. 26 loss at Cleveland. The Raptors were forced to field an eight-man roster featuring four hardship signees.

However, Toronto had most of its players available for its previous two games, both wins.

Blue Jackets without D-man Werenski

The Columbus Blue Jackets placed defenceman Zach Werenski in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.

The team also added goaltenders Jean-Francois Berube and Cam Johnson to the taxi squad prior to Tuesday night's game against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

Werenski, 24, leads Columbus blue-liners with 20 points on six goals and 14 assists in 30 games this season. He leads the team in time on ice, averaging 26 minutes 34 seconds per game.

Werenski has 71 goals209 points (71 goals, 138 assists) in 365 games since the Blue Jackets drafted him with the No. 8 overall pick in 2015.

Berube, 30, posted a 9-10-4 record with a 3.30 goals-against average and .898 save percentage in 34 career NHL games with Chicago and New York Islanders from 2015-18.

Johnson, 27, signed a one-year, two-way contract extension with the Blue Jackets on July 16, 2021 but has never appeared in an NHL contest.

Junior hockey games postponed in Western Canada

The Western Hockey League has postponed five games after suspending team activities for the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels.

The league said in a news release teams have had multiple players and staff added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive for COVID-19.

The Warriors' games Friday at Lethbridge and Saturday at Medicine Hat have been postponed, as have the Oil Kings' games Friday at Red Deer and Sunday at Medicine Hat and Red Deer's home contest Saturday against Lethbridge.

The postponements are in addition to three games in early January that the WHL pushed back because of capacity limits in Manitoba. Moose Jaw's game Monday in Winnipeg was postponed, along Calgary's games this Friday in Brandon and Saturday in Winnipeg.

U18 curling nationals postponed

Curling Canada has been forced to explore alternate dates and a new location for the under-18 championships due to the ongoing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Feb. 14-20 event was scheduled for Timmins, Ont., where there is no other ice availability for the balance of the season.

However, the city will remain host of the 2023 competition in February of that year.

"We understand these are difficult circumstances for Curling Canada, so we were fully supportive of the decision," Steve Meunier, co-chair with Tony Chilton of the Timmins host committee, said in a news release. "We now can hit the pause button and start preparing for the 2023 event and make sure that every player, coach and family member has an amazing experience in Timmins."

Curling Canada continues to consult with local, regional and national health authorities about the rest of this season's championship events.

"We understand the importance of the Under-18 championships and how crucial this event is for developing our next generation of athletes," said Katherine Henderson, chief executive officer of Curling Canada. "We're grateful to the host committee in Timmins for their understanding, and we will continue to work on giving our Under-18 athletes an opportunity to show their talent this year."

Also Tuesday, Curling Canada confirmed the inaugural Under-23 Lethbridge Classic, scheduled for March in Alberta, will be cancelled.

Details for an Under-25 Invitational event slated for September will be released later this season.

The Under-15 RockFest Regional events will be held virtually instead of in-person. Details will be released later in January on how kids can compete using Curling Canada's new singles curling app in their home centre.

With files from CBC Sports

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