Raptors-Hornets pregame notes.

• The Toronto Raptors host the Charlotte Hornets at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday night. This marks the first game at Amalie Arena that will not include fans. Due to rising COVID numbers in the area, both the Raptors and Tampa Bay Lightning agreed to suspend fans attending games until at least Feb. 5. The Raptors had an average attendance of 3,663 through three home games with fans in attendance.
• Thursday’s game vs. Charlotte marks the start of a five-game homestand (Jan. 14-22) – the longest on the first half schedule. Charlotte is also the first opponent the Raptors will face in a new series model incorporated into the 2020-21 schedule to help reduce travel. The Hornets will stay in Tampa and face the Raptors again Saturday at Amalie Arena. The Raptors will play five opponents in a series (vs. Miami, at Indiana, at Milwaukee and vs. Philadelphia). Only the Indiana series will be played in a traditional back-to-back.
• Toronto was 14-5 last season in games decided by five points or less and 3-2 in games decided by one point. The Raptors dropped both games of a back-to-back for the first time since Dec. 26-27, 2017 – a streak of 32 sets.
Pascal Siakam recorded his first career triple-double Jan. 11 at Portland with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He becomes the 11th player in franchise history to record a triple-double, and the first player (other than Kyle Lowry) since Jose Calderon in 2012. Lowry holds the franchise-record with 14 triple-doubles. Calderon and Damon Stoudamire are the only other players in team history with multiple triple-doubles.
Fred VanVleet has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 42 consecutive games (Dec. 20, 2019 – Jan. 11, 2021). He passed the previous record of 38 games set by C.J. Miles (Dec. 10, 2017 – Mar. 15, 2018). VanVleet is the eighth player in franchise history to record 400 3-pointers.
Kyle Lowry is the longest serving players on the Raptors roster (nine seasons) and the franchise’s all-time leader in three-pointers made (1,413), assists (3,999) and steals (838). He is currently 80 points away from joining DeMar DeRozan (13,296) and Chris Bosh (10,275) as the only players in franchise history to reach 10,000 points. He also needs one assists to reach 4,000. According to the Elias Sports Bureau only three active players have recorded 10,000 points and 4,000 assists with their current team – James Harden
(Houston), Stephen Curry (Golden State) and Damian Lillard (Portland).
Chris Boucher has led the bench in scoring six times this season, including 20 points Jan. 11 at Portland. Through 10 games this season Boucher has scored 15+ points five times (all on the road), including a season-high 24 points Jan. 2 at New Orleans. He had a career-best seven games last season with 15+
points. Boucher is one of seven undrafted players on Toronto’s roster.

Gordon Hayward (Left Hip Strain) – PROBABLE
Cody Zeller (Left Hand Fracture) – OUT

THE SERIES MODEL: The 2020-21 schedule incorporates steps to reduce
travel, including the use of a “series” model. In some instances where a
team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been
scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of
four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road. Additional
steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games
against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50 percent fewer
instances of teams making single-game road trips.
Nick Nurse was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season. Nurse guided the Raptors to a 53-19 record during the regular season
(second best in the NBA) and set a franchise-record with a .736 winning
percentage. Highlighting Toronto’s season was a franchise-record 15
straight victories (Jan. 15 – Feb. 10) – the longest winning streak in Canadian sports history. He earned Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honours twice and also coached Team Giannis at the NBA All-Star Game.
Terence Davis was named to the 2019-20 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Davis became the 11th player in franchise history, and first since Jonas
in 2013, to receive All-Rookie honours. He averaged 7.5
points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 16.8 minutes last season and was the
only Raptor to appear in all 72 games. Davis ranked fifth among rookies in
three-point percentage (.388) and eighth in field goal percentage (.456).
• The Raptors added Chris Finch and Jama Mahlalela (Jah-MAH MAH-lalay-lah) as assistant coaches to Head Coach Nick Nurse’s staff. Finch spent
the past three seasons in New Orleans (2017-20). He has also served as
an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16). Mahlalela rejoins the Raptors coaching staff where he was an assistant for five
seasons (2014-18). Mahlalela was head coach for Raptors 905 the past two
seasons where he accumulated a record of 51-42 (.548).
Kyle Lowry has 16 career triple-doubles, including 14 in a Raptors uniform.
Lowry’s 14 triple-doubles are more than all other Raptors combined (12).
The last player to record a triple-double for Toronto other than Lowry was
Jose Calderon (Dec. 16, 2012 vs. Houston).
• The Raptors have finished with a winning record each of the past 24 calendar months (February 2017 – August 2020). The streak is the longest in
franchise history and the longest current streak in the NBA. The last month
in which Toronto did not have a winning record was January 2017 (8–9).
• Toronto has not lost games on consecutive days since Dec. 26–27, 2017
(at Dallas and Oklahoma City). The Raptors have played 32 pairs of games
on back-to-back days since then, sweeping both games 14 times and splitting 18 times.


GETTING IT DONE ON THE DEFENSIVE END: During the 2020-21 season, the Hornets have been one of the better defensive teams in the NBA as they are holding their opponents to 107.3 points per game, which ranks eighth in the NBA. Charlotte has a defensive rating of 107.0 points per 100 possessions, the seventh best rating this season as the Hornets are giving up 107.3 points per game, the eight lowest opponent scoring average this season. The Hornets are holding their opponents to just 39.4 field goals made per game, which is tied for sixth in the NBA while the team is 11th this season in opponent field goal percentage at .449%. Charlotte is averaging 54.8 contested shots
per game, including 25.3 contest 3-point shots, which is tied for sixth in the NBA as Hornets opponents are shooting just .330% from beyond the arc, the fourth lowest opponent field goal percentage from 3-point distance.
Charlotte is working hard and running around on the defensive end as the Hornets lead the league in distance traveled of miles traveled on defense per game at 8.81.
GONE STREAKING: With a win over the New York Knicks on Jan. 11, the Hornets won four straight games, marking their longest win-streak of the season, which began on Jan. 6. This streak marked the Hornets longest win-streak since the 2018-19 season when Charlotte won four games in a row from Apr. 3 to Apr. 9, 2019. During the four-game span, Charlotte averaged 110.5 points, 43.0 rebounds, 27.5 assists, 10.0 steals and 6.5 blocks per game.
Over the Hornets last five games, the team is averaging 107.0 points, 45.0 rebounds, 27.2 assists, 9.6 steals, 6.6 blocks and 13.2 turnovers per game, ranking sixth in assists, third in steals, tied for fifth in block s and ninth in turnovers per game over every team’s last five outings. Charlotte has been solid on the defensive end as well during the last five games as their opponents are shooting are averaging just 36.4 field goals per game on .409% shooting from the field as their opponents only averaging 100.2 points per game. Over their last five games, the Hornets rank first in opponent field goals made per game and opponent shooting percentage while holding their opponents to the
second lowest scoring average over that time. Charlotte is forcing 14.6 turnovers per game, the 10th most over each team’s last five games. Charlotte is second in the league in defensive rating and sixth in net rating over every team’s last five contests, giving up 103.9 points per 100 possessions with an 6.6 net rating. Forward Gordon Hayward is averaging 26.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting .517% from the field, .500% from 3-point range and .900% from the free throw line over his last five contests. Hayward has the 12th highest points per game average among all players last five games as only him and Kawhi Leonard have averaged 25.0 points per game and shoot .500% or better from the field and from beyond the arc during the five-game stretch. Guard LaMelo Ball is accumulating averages of 11.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game over his last five game as he’s 13th in rebounds and 14th in assists per game over every players last five outings. Guard Devonte’
has recorded at least seven assists over his last five games marking the longest streak of games with five-plus assist in a single season for the third-year guard since the 2019-20 season when he did it in nine straight games from Jan. 28 to Feb. 20. Graham is fifth in the NBA over his last five games in steals per game at 2.4 while guard Terry Rozier is tied for the sixth highest steals per game average over every player’s last five games, averaging 2.2 steals per game over his last five games. Rozier has had at least one steal over that span, the longest for Rozier since he had eight consecutive games with a steal from Dec. 13 to Dec. 29, 2019.
SCORING IN THE FOURTH: The Charlotte Hornets have seen strong fourth quarter showings from forward Gordon Hayward and guard Terry Rozier as Hayward leads the NBA this season in total points scored in the fourth quarter with 72 points. Rozier has scored 65 total points in the fourth quarter this season, which ranks seventh as the Hornets are currently the one of two teams this season with two players in the top 10 in fourth quarter scoring, including the Los Angeles Lakers (LeBron James, 67 points; Montrezl Harrell, 64 points).
Rozier’s 21 points in the fourth quarter in the season opener at Cleveland on Dec. 23 are the most in the fourth quarter in the NBA this season. Hayward has scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in two games (1/6 at ATL, 1/8 vs. NOP) this season as only Nets forward Kevin Durant has two games this season with 14+ points in the fourth quarter of that respective game. Hornets forward Miles Bridges also had 14 points in the fourth quarter on Dec. 26 vs. Oklahoma City as the Hornets have the most players this season (3) with 14+ points in the fourth quarter as well as the most games (4) where a player totaled 14 or more points in the final quarter of regulation.
HAYWARD’S FIRST HALF HEROICS: The Hornets beat the New York Knicks, 109-88, behind a strong performance from forward Gordon Hayward who scored 34 points going 11-for-17 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Hayward scored 28 of his 34 points in the first half, setting a new career-high for points in any half as this is the second time this season he’s scored 25+ points in the first half. Since the 1996-97 season, Hayward’s 28 first half points are tied for the second most by a Hornets player with Glen Rice (28, 2/19/97 vs. PHO) and behind Kemba Walker who scored 35 points in the first half vs. Memphis on Mar. 22, 2018. Hayward also joins Rice (3 times,
1996-97) and Walker (2 times, 2018-19) as the only two players since the 1996-97 season with multiple games scoring 25+ points in the first half of that respective game. Hayward is one of two players this season along with Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to score 25+ points in the first half in two games and one of five players with 25+ points in two games in any half, also joining Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Hayward has now scored 30+ points in two games this season Hayward is one of nine players this season to go perfect from the free throw line while taking 10 or more free throw attempts and the first Hornets player to do so since Marvin Williams on Dec. 2, 2019 vs. Phoenix when Williams went 10-for-10 as well. This is the fifth time Hayward has done this in his career and the firs time since Dec. 1,
2018 when he went 10-of-10 from the charity stripe for Boston in a win at Minnesota. Hayward’s teams are 4-1 in his career in those instances.
SHARING IS CARING: The Charlotte Hornets are leading the league in assists (28.7) with Washington (27.3) , Denver (27.2), Memphis (26.8) and Miami (26.8) rounding out the
top five. The Hornets have dished out at least 30 assists in fives games this season, which is the most by any team this season. The Hornets also lead in assist percentage at 73.8% and in assist ratio at 20.1. Charlotte also lead’s the NBA in assists points created at 72.8 per game and in secondary assists (3.8) per game as the Hornets are second in the NBA in passes made per game, averaging 314.3 passes made per game. Guards Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball rank 15th and 26th in assists per game respectively The Hornets set a season high with 35 assists on Dec. 27 vs. Brooklyn, which is the team’s most in a game since Apr. 9, 2019 against Cleveland. Their assist total against
Brooklyn is the tied for the sixth most by any team in the league this season as Charlotte has managed to stay in the top 5 among league leaders in assists per game since the season began in their opener against Cleveland (Dec. 23, 2020).
second in the Association in percentage of their total points coming off the fast-break.

P.J.’S BLOCK PARTY: Hornets forward P.J. Washington notched 22 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in Charlotte’s win over Atlanta on Jan. 9. Washington is the first Hornets player with 20 points and six blocks since Dwight Howard on Dec. 8, 2017 vs. Chicago and just the seventh player with at least 20 points and six blocks in franchise history. Washington is the first Hornets player to block six-plus shots in a single game since Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Oct. 20, 2018 at Miami. Washington currently ranks 17th in the NBA in blocks per game this season as he’s one of six players with six blocks in a game single-game.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Hornets forward Gordon Hayward entered the 2020-21 season with 9,813 career regular season points over his first 10 seasons. With
a 3-point field goal at the 7:54 mark in the third quarter at New Orleans, Hayward reached the 10,000-point mark. Hayward currently has 10,077 career points in the regular season as he is 43rd in points among active players in the NBA as he passed 76ers forward Tobias Harris on Jan. 9, who is now 44th on that list with 10,017 career points. .
DEFENDING THE BASKET EARLY: In the Hornets win at Atlanta on Jan. 6, Charlotte scored 112 points and allowed just 94 points to the Hawks. Charlotte was stingy on the defensive end in the first quarter, giving up only 11 points on 5-of-22 shooting to the Hawks in the first 12 minutes of the game. With the Hornets allowing the Hawks to score only 11 first quarter points, this is the lowest points allowed in a first quarter by any team all season and tied for the second lowest points given up in any quarter this season.
In franchise history, this is just the ninth time where the Hornets held their opponent to 11 points or less in the opening quarter of a game with the last time being on Feb. 10, 2020 at Detroit. Against Atlanta, 11 points is the fewest the Hornets have given up in any quarter in all games played against one another in team history with the previous low being 13 points; all those games came on Atlanta’s home court as well (Apr. 14, 2014, Oct. 31, 2000, Mar. 25, 2000).
FIGHTING UNTIL THE END: The Hornets picked up a second straight victory in comeback fashion, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 118-110, despite being down by as many as 18 points. Charlotte was down by 12 points at halftime, 59-47, but managed to pull within five points to start the fourth quarter with the score at 87-82. The Hornets went down by 10 early in the fourth, but were able to take the lead with 5:46 to go and aside from a tie on the next possession, Charlotte went back up, 106-105, and never looked back to secure the win. In the second half, the Hornets totaled 71 points setting a new season-high for points in a half as this marked the second time this season Charlotte has scored 70+ points in a half (70 points in the second half at Cleveland (12/23,). In franchise history, this is just the second time where the team has had
multiple second halves with 70 points or more in a single season with the other time coming during the 1995-96 season (71 points on Nov. 4, 1995; 74 points on Nov. 22, 1995), according to Basketball Reference.
The Hornets knocked down 13 field goals from beyond the arc in the second half, including nine in the third quarter alone, marking the fourth time in franchise history where Charlotte has had nine-plus 3s in a single quarter. Charlotte’s franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter is 10 (3/24/19 at TOR, Q3) with the Hornets making nine shots from 3-point distance on Jan. 25, 2016 at Sacramento in the third quarter and on Jan. 13, 2020 at Portland in the third quarter as well. Through games played on Jan. 7, only the Warriors had made nine 3-point field goals in a quarter, doing so vs. Sacramento on Jan. 4 in the fourth quarter. This was the fifth time this season a team has faced a deficit of 18+ points and gone on to win as only seven other teams have completed a comeback of 18+ points, including Portland (1/13 vs. SAC), Brooklyn (1/12 vs. DEN), Toronto (1/8 at SAC), Golden State (1/8 vs. LAC), Detroit (1/8 vs. Phoenix), New York (1/7 at UTA), and Chicago (1/5 at POR). The Hornets 18-point comeback is the largest for the team in a win since being down by 20 points in a win at Miami on Mar. 11, 2020.

OH, BROTHER: With LaMelo and Lonzo Ball matching up against one another on Jan. 6, the pair become the first brothers drafted in the top 5 over their respective draft in NBA history as they are also the only brothers in the NBA to both be drafted on the top 5, according to Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats & Info. Among players who have appeared in at least one game since the 2018-19 season, there are 13 sets of brothers in the NBA. During the 2019-20 season, there were seven games where relatives appeared in a game against one another, which included Juancho and Willy Hernangomez (2/12/20, CHA at MIN; 1/15/20, CHA at DEN), Jrue, Aaron and Justin Holiday (2/8/20, NOP at IND, 12/28/19, IND at NOP), Markieff and Marcus Morris Sr. (7/30/20, LAL at LAC; 3/8/20, LAL at LAC; 11/6/19, DET vs. NY). Among the list of relatives who are active players, Brook and Robin Lopez, Jrue and Aaron Holiday, Markieff and Marcus Morris Sr. and Cody and Tyler Zeller were all selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. According to ESB, the Hornets are one of four teams that had five or more players appear in at least one game for them in a season, who also had at least one brother appear in an NBA game before or during that season. The 2020-21 Hornets join the 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks (five players: G. Antetokounmpo, T. Antetokounmpo, B. Lopez, R. Lopez and Sterling Brown), the 2018-19 Memphis Grizzlies (five players: Marc Gasol, Delon Wright, Andrew Harrison, J. Holiday and T. Zeller) and the 2014-15 Suns (six players: Seth Curry, Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic, Miles Plumlee and the Morris twins).
BISMACK HITS THE BOARDS: Bismack Biyombo finished the Jan. 1 game against Memphis with 16 points and 12 rebounds, leading the team in both scoring and assists for the night. Last season he recorded four double-doubles and was tied for fourth most on the Charlotte Hornets. Biyombo surpassed a career total of 4,00 rebounds against Memphis as he currently has 4,051 for his career. In the Hornets game against Dallas on Jan. 13, Biyombo grabbed nine rebounds, which helped him pass Anthony Mason for sixth on the Hornets All-Time rebounds list as he currently has 2,361 overall. On December 26th Biyombo grabbed nine rebounds against the Thunder, the most of any Hornet for the night. Biyombo finished with three offensive rebounds, surpassing Gerald Wallace for fourth on the Hornets All-Time offensive rebounds list as he currently has 802 offensive rebounds in his Hornets career.
BRIDGES AND BALL BRING IT OFF THE BENCH: Hornets forward Miles Bridges recorded his first double-double of the season with 20 points and 16 rebounds on December 27th vs. Brooklyn. Bridges 16 rebounds marked a career-high in both defensive rebounds (16) and rebounds overall. off the bench making him the fourth player in franchise history with a 20-point, 15-rebound game as a reserve. Bridges 20 points combined with rookie LaMelo Ball’s 22 points marked the first time that the Hornets had two 20+ point scorers off the bench since April 5, 2019 (Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb).
DEVONTE’ AND THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham posted 10 points and 10 assists on Dec. 23 at Cleveland and 14 points and 10 assists on Dec. 26 vs. Oklahama City. Graham is the first Hornets player in franchise history to open a season with consecutive point-assist double-doubles. On December 26th, Graham’s 10 assists helped him advance past Kelly Tripucka’s 607 career assists for 17th on the Hornets All-Time assist list as Graham is currently at 664 career assists. Graham’s 10 points and 10 assists in the season opener made him the third player in franchise history with a points-assist double-double to kick off the season.



Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Joe Thornton described that as a real fun game for everyone, but at times were you a little concerned about what was going on in the back end with your team?  

Sheldon Keefe: It’s the first game of the season here, first time playing a game at that tempo. We just had a pretty emotional comeback win here for our first so I’m not going to get too nitpicky. We’ll get better everyday. 

Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Sheldon, the puck really seems to be exploding off Nylander’s stick early days here. What sort of improvements do you think he’s made since last season? 

Sheldon Keefe: I don’t know, he was a pretty explosive player last season too. He’s a great talent. I think he’s come in really motivated and driven to continue to be a difference maker and to take it to another level. We’ve had a lot of pretty blunt discussions between he and I about where he needs to continue to get better away from the puck. He’s bought into that. I think it goes hand-in-hand. When he’s competing away from the puck, he’s more engaged when he has it, he’s more involved in the game. He was really good today. He and John were both really good. 

Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: What were your first impressions of Joe alongside Mitch and Auston? 

Sheldon Keefe: I thought they were good. I have to watch the video back for all our lines and the whole game, but I thought when he got the puck he put it in good spots, he made a play with it, he was around the net at different times. He came up with a couple of pucks on the forecheck. He looked like he had legs even through the third period. I was watching him, he had some really good tracks and returns back into our own end to have lots of legs and energy despite playing a lot the way the game went. I thought it was a good game for him. 

Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: How’s Auston doing? He seemed to be in a bit of pain right before the overtime? 

Sheldon Keefe: I think he just took a bit of a stinger. My understanding is he’s okay. He didn’t hesitate when I asked him if he was good to go for overtime. 

Q. Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun: First season opener for you in your home building under very different circumstances. What did that feel like? 

Sheldon Keefe: Once the game starts you’re caught up in it and, I’ll be honest, it just feels like hockey. The guys are competing, you’re into it. When you’re coaching behind the bench you’re making a decision every couple of seconds. You’re too engaged in it to really get caught up in it. I think once the puck drops it just feels like we’re in a game. I think the start of the game, before it really gets going, especially in a home opener like this is where you really felt the no fans. I believe the home opener, in particular for your new players, your incoming guys, it’s a great opportunity for them to connect with the fans and the fans to recognize them, in particular in our situation, of course, with guys like Joe and [Simmonds] coming back here to Toronto and Ontario. You miss out on those kinds of moments. We miss our fans in such a fun, back and forth type of game like this. It would have been nice, of course, to have them here. We’re going to have to get used to this, this is what we’ve got. Hopefully we’re able to entertain people at home. 


Q. Kristen Shilton, TSN: What did you like about your line tonight and how you guys were able to gel in this first game?

William Nylander: Well I think we did a good job. It was more of a grind game. We didn’t really get that many clean looks. So, I think we were relentless and when we gave up that goal, we were able to get one back which was huge.

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What did you make of Wayne Simmonds dropping the gloves there and maybe turning things around for you guys a little bit?

William Nylander: Yeah, that was a turning point in the game, for sure. He got the boys going, fired up. I think we were a little soft and slow in the beginning and after that we got fired up and got going which was huge.

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What about your own shooting tonight? Those were a couple of real nice shots. Anything going through your heads in those particular moments?

William Nylander: The first one was just a great job by the guys getting to the net. Price couldn’t see the puck. And the second one was just waiting, waiting and looking for a pass and just put it on net.

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: And what about Jimmy Vesey tonight with the goal that forces overtime?

William Nylander: Yeah, it was huge. We were heavy on the forecheck there. We were able to get Price – lucky bounce though but it was a nice goal to get for us, for sure.


Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Your thoughts on how this game went and your own play tonight? 

Morgan Rielly: I think it was a good game to play in, good game to watch, good way to open the year with a win. They’re a good team, they came out and played hard. It’s what we expected. We’re happy with the win, obviously, and I think we’ve got a lot of areas to get better. We’re going to talk tomorrow on ways we can improve. To open the year with a win, that’s always a good feeling. 

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What did you think of pairing up with TJ Brodie? 

Morgan Rielly: I like playing with TJ, he’s great. I think he’s really good going back for pucks. He’s really good breaking it out, he’s calm with it, that first pass it great. It’s been a pleasure so far, just keep talking, keep trying to make it work better for us. 

Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Wayne Simmonds told us his fight, he thought the boys needed a spark. How did the boys take that fight on the bench and on the ice? 

Morgan Rielly: I think it was awesome. I think that’s what Wayne brings to this group. He’s been doing that in his career for a long time. It’s incredibly valuable. He brings a whole lots of aspects, of great things to our team. The way that he’s able to play and that part of his game, and then his off-ice leadership. He’s incredibly valuable to this team and we’re very, very lucky to have him. He’s hard to play against so it’s nice to have him on our side for once. I think tonight was the perfect example of him taking it upon himself to get the team going and that’s exactly what happened. 


Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What did you feel of your performance tonight and the team’s performance tonight?

Wayne Simmonds: I thought we chased the game a little bit, but I thought we showed great character and the comeback. We kept coming back and we made it tough on them. At the end of the game we ended up with two points, obviously. It’s most important we build off of our mistakes and keep in mind what we did good, but at the same time, like I said, we build off of our mistakes and we continue to get better day after day here.

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: There’s usually nerves when a player comes to a team for the first time, plays his first game, maybe fans have something to do with that. How did you feel?

Wayne Simmonds: I was fine. I’ve been around the last year. I think this is my fifth team in the last year. I’m comfortable coming to new surroundings, the boys made it really easy for me to integrate within the team. I was just really excited for the game tonight to be honest.

Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Obviously, you’re brought in for your physicality, we all know that, you know that is part of your game. Probably not going to scrap every night, but how did it feel to drop the gloves there, as short as the fight was. From these eyes, and others saw a bit of a turning point for your club in the second period.

Wayne Simmonds: Yeah. It felt good. That’s my first real game action in like 10 months, 28 days, and I can probably tell you to the second. It felt really good and I thought the boys needed a little bit of a spark there. I know my role on this team. I asked Chiarot and I didn’t think he wanted to go at first, but then he dropped the gloves before me so it was green light, go. I’m happy he gave me that one and helped turn the tide for our team. 


On his first game as a Maple Leaf:

Joe Thornton: Wasn’t that fun? It was great. Great game, boys were down early but we managed to come back and what a great finish by Mo. I think the 40-plus players and coaches really enjoyed being out there again.

Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: What was the most fun part for you?

Joe Thornton: Just starting, hearing ‘Number 97 from St. Thomas, Ontario,’ you can’t beat that. Just competing again, competing with the guys, getting good looks, good passing, the competition again was nice to have. 

Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You mentioned the finish by Morgan there. What stood out to you the most about Rielly since you’ve been around him? 

Joe Thornton: He just competes. I think his skating is very elite, he’s a big body, great shot, sees the ice very, very well. Being from out west, really we don’t watch too much East games, but he’s been very, very impressive. 

Armas to coach TFC


Toronto FC announced today that Chris Armas has been named the 10th head coach in club history.

“I could not be more excited to join a club with Toronto FC’s level of excellence and winning tradition and I will work tirelessly to uphold those standards,” said Toronto FC Head Coach Chris Armas. “I’m grateful to Mr. Tanenbaum and to Bill Manning and Ali Curtis for their belief in me and for giving me this opportunity. As an opposing coach I felt the passion the fans and supporters bring to BMO Field. It is next level. I can’t wait to put a team on the field that will not only make them proud with the way we play, but also with the way we run, battle and compete every minute of every game.”

Armas, 48, joins Toronto FC after most recently serving as the head coach of the New York Red Bulls. Armas took over the Red Bulls on July 6, 2018 and finished that season with a record of 12-3-3, leading the Red Bulls to the 2018 Supporters’ Shield and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. He departed the Red Bulls on September 4, 2020 with a record of 33-27-11 in all competitions while his teams averaged 1.61 points per game, (7th best all-time, minimum 50 MLS games managed). Armas originally served as an assistant coach under Jesse Marsch from 2015 until he took over head coaching duties following Marsch’s departure. In Marsch and Armas’ first season with the Red Bulls, the club won the 2015 Supporters’ Shield.

“Chris has an excellent winning pedigree and is a fiery, competitive guy who wants his teams to play on the front foot. He is the right fit to build upon the foundation that’s been established at TFC,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “Our fans are going to love his intensity and how that’s going to translate into our team’s style of play for years to come.”

As a player, Armas is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS history. He played 12 years in the league, two with the LA Galaxy and 10 with the Chicago Fire. With the expansion Fire in 1998, Armas was a linchpin as Chicago won the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double in their first season. During his decade long run in Chicago, Armas was a part of teams that won an MLS Cup (1998), the 2003 Supporters’ Shield and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006).

Armas is one of only five players in league history to have been named to the MLS Best XI five times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003). He was a six-time MLS All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and was named the 2003 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Armas earned 66 caps for the U.S. National Team and won two Concacaf Gold Cups (2002, 2005). He was named U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2000.

“During my career, I have been fortunate to have had the experience of interacting with football professionals both domestic and abroad. The integrity, authenticity, and professionalism that Chris possesses is unmatched when I think of professionals in the game. Having gone through this process before, I know that Chris will be an excellent coach for the club. While I have known Chris over the years, during the interview process, he conveyed perspective, vision, and coaching qualities, which solidified our belief in him as the top candidate,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “I am excited about his intensity, passion, tactics, and way of teaching. The resources and support that we will provide to Chris will be different than his previous roles, which we know will be beneficial to his vision and our success. There has never been a moment in the history of sports like we are in now. We are a team that strives to win championships, and Chris is the ideal coach to lead us now, and in the future.”

Armas’ coaching staff will be announced at a later date.


MONTREAL CANADIENS (0-0-1 – 1 Points) vs.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (1-0-0 – 2 Points)



GAME SUMMARY         |           EVENT SUMMARY        |           FACEOFF SUMMARY


  • William Nylander put the Maple Leafs on the board at 15:56 of the first period and later Toronto’s second goal of the night on the power play at 18:00 of the second period before collecting the lone assist on Jimmy Vesey’s third period goal. Tonight’s game is his first multi-goal game and multi-point game of 2020-21. He had four multi-goal and 12 multi-point games in 2019-20. He has 14 points (8-6-14) in 14 career games against Montreal.
  • John Tavares collected the secondary assist on Nylander’s first period goal and later scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the game on the power play at 19:21 of the second period before recording the primary assist on Rielly’s overtime goal. Tonight’s game is his first multi-point performance of 2020-21 after he had 18 in 2019-20.  Tavares had 60 points (26 goals, 34 assists) in 63 games last season. In 36 career games against the Canadiens, he has recorded 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists).
  • Jimmy Vesey scored the fourth Toronto goal of the night at 10:33 of the third period. Vesey’s goal is his first goal as a Maple Leaf and first point as a Maple Leaf. He had nine goals and 11 assists in 64 games during the 2019-20 season with the Buffalo Sabres. Tonight’s game is his first game as a Maple Leaf.
  • Morgan Rielly scored the fifth Maple Leafs goal of the game at 3:24 of overtime. Rielly’s goal is his fifth career overtime goal. In 2019-20 he scored three goals, including two game winners.
  • Justin Holl registered the primary assist on Nylander’s first period goal. In 68 games last season, Holl registered two goals and 16 assists.
  • Jason Spezza registered the primary assist on Nylander’s second period goal. Spezza’s assist is the 600th assist of his career. He has 70 points (32 goals, 38 assists) in 67 career games against the Canadiens.
  • Zach Hyman had the secondary assist on Nylander’s second period goal. Hyman’s assist is his first point of 2020-21. He registered 37 points (21 goals, 16 assists) in 51 games during the 2019-20 season.
  • Mitch Marner recorded the primary assist on Tavares’ second period goal. Marner’s assist is his first point of the season. He led the Maple Leafs with 51 assists in 2019-20. 
  • Frederik Andersen picked up the secondary assist on Tavares’ second period goal. Andersen’s assist is his first since November 15, 2018 vs. San Jose.
  • Auston Matthews had the secondary assist on Rielly’s overtime goal. Matthews’ assist is his first point of 2020-21. He had 47 goals and 33 assists in 70 games played in 2019-20.
  • Frederik Andersen stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced in the win.

SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)

MONTREAL11 (6)7 (3)12 (12)2 (0)32 (21)
TORONTO7 (7)14 (4)9 (9)4 (0)34 (20)

SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)

MONTREAL23 (15)20 (10)22 (22)3 (0)63 (47)
TORONTO20 (20)27 (9)20 (20)6 (0)73 (50)


Record at Home1-0-0 (1 Game)
All-Time Record vs. Montreal 301-342-88-17 (748 Games)
All-Time Record vs. Montreal at Home191-128-45-10 (374 Games)


Shot Attempts14 (Matthews)
Faceoff Wins13 (Matthews)
Faceoff Win Percentage100% (Nylander, Simmonds)
Blocked Shots(Muzzin)
Takeaways(Five players tied)
TOI28:35 (Rielly)
Power Play TOI4:43 (Matthews)
Shorthanded TOI3:51 (Holl)
Shifts31 (Rielly)
5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage65.7% (Marner – 23 for, 12 against)


Opponent scores first1-0-0
Trail after 11-0-0
Tied after 21-0-0
Score multiple power play goals1-0-0
Allow multiple power play goals1-0-0
Outshooting opponent1-0-0


  • The Maple Leafs went 1-for-3 on the penalty kill and 2-for-4 on the power play tonight.
  • Alexander Barabanov made his NHL debut.
  • Zach Bogosian made his Maple Leaf debut.
  • TJ Brodie made his Maple Leaf debut.
  • Zach Hyman, Alex Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev were the lone Toronto skaters to not start a 5-on-5 shift in the offensive zone.
  • Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly were on the ice for a team-high 24 shot attempts at 5-on-5 tonight. Matthews finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 64.9% (24 for, 13 against), while Rielly finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 63.2 percent (24 for, 14 against).
  • Wayne Simmonds made his Maple Leaf debut.
  • Joe Thornton made his Maple Leaf debut.


  • Friday, January 15, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa Senators (TSN4, FAN 590)
  • Saturday, January 16, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa Senators (Sportsnet, TSN 1050)
  • Monday, January 18, 7:00 p.m. vs. Winnipeg Jets (Sportsnet Ontario, TSN 1050)
  • Wednesday, January 20, 7:00 p.m. vs. Edmonton Oilers (Sportsnet, FAN 590)
  • Friday, January 22, 7:00 p.m. vs. Edmonton Oilers (TSN4, TSN 1050)

San Jose Sharks rookie unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol — Red Bluff Daily News

The NHL announced, in accordance with the League’s COVID Protocols, that San Jose Sharks forward Maxim Letunov was unavailable to practice Wednesday. Letunov, who was not on the ice for at least early last week, is the only Sharks player on the list, which contains over 20 names. The Sharks just finished their training camp…

San Jose Sharks rookie unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol — Red Bluff Daily News