Sports CEBL expansion delayed, but commissioner Morreale bullish on plans for coming season
Former premier Eva Aariak is new commissioner of Nunavut
The Prime Minister's Office announced the appointment on Tuesday. Eva Aariak became Nunavut’s second premier in 2008. She subsequently held the role of the territory’s first languages commissioner. Aariak received the Order of Canada in 2018 for her work to protect and preserve Inuit languages. The news release says that, in her years of public service, Aariak was instrumental in passing the "groundbreaking" Inuit Language Protection Act, to ensure Inuit languages are protected and that it's a working language in the territorial government.
In a year when the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) mainly hopes for a return to normal playing conditions, commissioner Mike Morreale's long-term plan for the league is in some ways a dream deferred.
Morreale confirmed this week he has ruled out expansion of the seven-team league until at least 2022 because of the complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. His vision of a coast-to-coast pro circuit with about 12 franchises in most major Canadian cities is still a long way off.
Sabres move 2020 first-round pick Jack Quinn to taxi squad
Quinn, 19, has impressed the Sabres so far with his play at the World Junior and short time in training camp, but still is unlikely to be ready to step directly into the limelight. He has practiced with the AHL-bound players the last few days and Sheahan is expected to be activated from his non-roster designation to play on the fourth line this evening. Still, even getting this far can only be beneficial for Quinn, the Sabres first-round pick from October. As one of the highly-touted players out of the OHL, Quinn is currently in a state of limbo with nowhere to play.
"Our goal is to return to some sense of normalcy," Morreale said. "So that means returning to all of our seven markets in a more profound way … and we understand that could mean limitations on fans at the outset."
The CEBL is working with two sets of plans for its 2021 season, with a preference for regular-season home games in its seven existing markets and fan attendance dictated by public health requirements.
Plan B is to create at least two regional bubbles, followed by a national playoff bubble, if teams can't safely travel between provinces during the regular season.
"You keep all the balls in the air, but you have your priorities," Morreale said. "And priority A would be to return to our markets."
Free agency begins Feb. 1
The league is planning to release its 2021 schedule in March, though Morreale would not say when the season would tentatively begin and end. Teams will begin shaping their rosters when free agency begins on Feb. 1, with a 30-day grace period to re-sign players from their 2020 Summer Series rosters. After that, players are free to sign with any team.
CEBL's BlackJacks hire former Raptors 905 assistant Dubé-Brais as head coach
The Ottawa Blackjacks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced the hiring of former Raptors 905 assistant coach Charles Dubé-Brais TuesdayThe second-year franchise had an opening for the position when former head coach Osvaldo Jeanty informed the team he would not be returning following the end of his contract.
The annual U Sports player draft is tentatively planned for April, and training camps will begin eight or nine days before the start of the season.
"A lot of our players are in game shape from playing overseas," Morreale said. "Within 10 days or so, teams are are good and ready to go."
The draft will likely have a three-round format with the Saskatchewan Rattlers, who struggled to a 1-5 record last season, having the No. 1 pick.
Xavier Moon, the league's two-time reigning MVP with the Edmonton Stingers, will be among the most coveted players in free agency.
"More than likely, I'll be back (with Edmonton)," said Moon, adding he'll definitely return to the CEBL in some capacity this season. "The level of professionalism is top-level, for sure. The level of play is top-level, too."
Moon and several other players raved about the league's COVID-19 safety protocols in 2020, when the CEBL became the first pro league in Canada to return to play during the pandemic.
Some snooping from Canadian spies needs better justification: commissioner
The defence minister's reasons for allowing Canada's foreign signals intelligence agency to perform otherwise illegal activities were sometimes "insufficient", according to the new intelligence commissioner in a first-of-its-kind report. Jean-Pierre Plouffe, the man who helps review the activities of Canada's two spy agencies, said the linkages used by the minister to justify his conclusions were sometimes lacking, although in the end the commissioner ultimately gave spying requests the green light.
"They did an amazing job to just keep players safe," said Guillaume Bouchard, a forward with the Niagara River Lions who \was Canadian Player of the Year in 2019. "It was super-well-managed."
While the bubble tournament was a physical strain for some players, with six regular-season games packed into a short span of time, some were simply happy to be out of lockdown.
"I've never spent so much time without playing basketball for the past 10 to 15 years," Bouchard said. "Just being able to play … was something I was really grateful for."
Though plans for expansion are delayed, they're still very much on Morreale's mind for 2022 and beyond.
Winnipeg, Halifax and St. John's are all high on his list of potential markets, and the league is eyeing at least one franchise in Quebec and possibly more teams British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
"Year Two and the Summer Series was a huge leap for us," Morreale said. "Year Three, I think, will be even bigger. I do believe it will be the catalyst to a league that will be around for a long, long time."
CEBL headed to Montreal, expansion team to come in 2022 .
CEBL commissioner Mike Morreale confirms that an expansion team in Montreal will come in 2022 but the venue is undisclosed at this time.Expansions for 2021 were ruled out due to complications caused by COVID-19.