Auston Matthews' apology will probably be good enough
The NHL generally doesn't suspend players for stuff like this
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Auston Matthews apologized for the 'distraction'
We found out yesterday that the young Leafs star was charged with one count of "disorderly conduct-disruptive behaviour" for an incident back in May in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz. According to the police report, a woman working security at a condo building where Matthews lives in the off-season said he and a group of his friends appeared intoxicated when they tried to open the door to her locked car while she was sitting in it doing paperwork late one night. When she confronted them, she said, they told her they thought it would be funny to see how she reacted. She claimed that Matthews then walked away, pulled down his pants and "grabbed his butt cheeks" with his underwear still on. Matthews was not arrested, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
WATCH | Matthews speaks at Leafs' practice:
A pre-trial conference was scheduled for today in Scottsdale, which is how this came to everyone's attention. Matthews wasn't required to attend that meeting, and he didn't. He practised with the Leafs and will play in tonight's pre-season home game against Montreal. The next court date in his case is scheduled for Oct. 22.
Matthews issued a basic apology to a scrum of reporters today. "I regret any of my actions that would ever put a distraction on the team or distress any individual," was the takeaway sentence. He added: "Unfortunately, due to the situation, I'm afraid I can't really make any other comments."
Don't expect the NHL to suspend Matthews — even though it could. There's a broadly worded clause in the NHL's labour deal that gives commissioner Gary Bettman the power to discipline players for off-ice conduct "detrimental to or against the welfare of the league or the game of hockey." But historically, he's reserved the so-called "Rule 18-A" for more serious cases. Slava Voynov and Austin Watson both received long suspensions for incidents of domestic violence. More recently, Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended for three games after testing positive for cocaine at the world championships. He also appeared in a video someone posted online that showed him sitting next to a table with two lines of powder on it. Not to excuse Matthews' behaviour in this instance — it's not OK to drop your pants in public, or to try and open someone's car when they don't want you to — but it's fairly mild in comparison. Having said that, the commissioner can basically do what he wants.
The biggest hit for Matthews will probably be to his reputation. The hockey world is generally very serious, so we've already seen the predictable sports-radio-grade takes about how this shows Matthews lacks the maturity to be awarded the Leafs' vacant captaincy. It's possible this takes him out of the running, but didn't John Tavares already seem like a more natural fit anyway? He's seven years older than Matthews, he's super-serious, he's one of the Leafs' best players, he's now got a full season with the team under his belt, other players are in awe of his work ethic, and he just generally carries himself like a dad. Checks all the boxes.
There's a reason Matthew Tkachuk and Brayden Point signed for a lot less than Mitch Marner. Today, Calgary re-signed Tkachuk to a three-year contract worth an average of $7 million US per year. On Monday, Point received close to the same deal from Tampa Bay. Marner commanded about $10.9 million per year despite being in a similar situation as a star young restricted free agent. That's partly because Marner agreed to a six-year deal. The last two years come after he would have become eligible for unrestricted free agency. That's when players can really cash in, so it costs more to persuade them to give up those years. Tkachuk and Point aren't giving up any UFA years with their deals. Still, those guys (and especially Point) look like a bargain compared to Marner.
Cammi Granato broke an NHL gender barrier. The Hockey Hall of Famer and former U.S. national team star was hired as a pro scout by the Seattle expansion franchise. She's the first woman to land that job with an NHL team, though a few others have worked on the hockey-operations side with other clubs. The Seattle team, which doesn't have a nickname yet, starts playing in the 2021-22 season.
The Canadian track and field team hopes to avoid another shutout. The squad left the last world championships, in 2017, with zero medals. And no one came particularly close either: there were no fourth-place finishes and only two fifths. That was a big disappointment after the 2015 team captured eight medals — including two gold — and then hit the podium six times at the 2016 Olympics. No Canadians can be considered a lock to win a medal at this year's worlds, which start on Friday, but a bunch are in the mix. The best hopes on the track are sprinters Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown, middle-distance runners Gabriela DeBues-Stafford and Brandon McBride, and longer-distance runners Mo Ahmed and Justyn Knight. In the field events, there's pole vaulter Alysha Newman, shot putter Brittany Crew and high jumper Mike Mason. Decathlete Damian Warner is a threat to reach the podium for the third time in the last four worlds. Read more about Canada's medal chances here, and read our primer on the biggest things to know about the meet here. CBC Sports' live streaming coverage starts Friday morning and you can add the full schedule to your calendar here.
A new football record was set — more than a half century after it happened. Thomas Pinckard's punt for the University of New Brunswick on Sept. 24, 1966 was recorded as an 89-yarder. That's massive, but Pinckard always insisted the kick from his own 21-yard line rolled out the back of the other team's end zone after bouncing over the returners' heads. At the time, UNB's fields had 25-yard end zones, and remember that a Canadian field is 110 yards long. So that's a 114-yard boot. Back then, though, they didn't count the end zone when measuring punt yardage in Canadian football. But after studying blueprints of the old field and getting sworn affidavits from people involved in the game, the governing body for university sports in Canada certified Pinckard's punt as the new Canadian record. It surpasses the 108-yarder by the Argos' Zenon Andrusyshyn in a CFL game in 1977. No American punter will be able to beat it either. Their fields are 100 yards long, and any punt landing in the end zone results in a touchback that subtracts from the yardage. So the 99-yarder someone hit back in a 1950 college game can't be topped.
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