Tim Tebow heading to Mets minor league team
Players across the National Hockey League have been making it clear for awhile that they want to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
You can add Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews and Boston Bruins star Brad Marchand to that list.
“I think it’s important,” Matthews said of NHL players taking part.
“I think everybody likes the idea of the Olympics for sure. I remember always watching them growing up and to play in it would be a huge honour. I’ve represented my country at the NTDP (U.S. national team development program), world championship and world junior and it is always pretty special to put on your country’s jersey.”
Marchand was asked whether he would be disappointed if it’s determined NHL players won’t be going to South Korea.
“I think anyone would be,” Marchand said. “For athletes to get themselves to that level where they can have the opportunity to play in the Olympics, and then for someone to take it away from them, I don’t think it’s really fair, but that is a long ways away.”
Marchand has represented Canada four times, but not in the
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tim Tebow is joining the Columbia Fireflies.
The former two-time Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback will start his pro baseball season with the Mets Class A franchise in Columbia.
New York Mets manager Terry Collins announced the move Monday.
The 29-year-old Tebow has been in spring training with the Mets and is hitting .235 with four hits in 17 at-bats. He’ll break camp the first week in April and join Olympic games. He would be a shoo-in to go if the NHL sends its players.
And it would be difficult for the United States to leave Matthews at home.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock never shies away from telling those who will listen that NHL players should be in the Olympics.
“I think getting your name on the Stanley Cup is something you dream about, but playing for your country in the Olympics and best on best, there is no better event, there is none,” said Babcock, who has coached Canada to back-toback Olympic gold medals. the Fireflies when they open play on April 6 in a four-game series with Augusta.
Fireflies President John Katz expects Tebow to add extra buzz to the team and the city. The club says Tebow will wear his football number, No. 15, with the Fireflies.
Tebow signed with the Mets on Sept. 8 and participated in three Florida Instructional League games. He played in 19 contests in the Arizona Fall League.
Through the absence of Kyle Lowry and the angst behind a team that was floundering there for a while, there was an area of recent progress on the Raptors roster that kind of got overlooked.
Jakob Poeltl is in his rookie season, is the first Austrian ever drafted into the NBA and for the most part this season, a quiet presence on the end of the Raptors’ bench.
But lately Poeltl’s seat at the end of he Raptors bench has been unoccupied because the 7-foot product of Larry Krystowiak’s Utah program has earned himself some significant minutes.
Poeltl had a strong pre-season and with Jared Sullinger suddenly no longer in the mix found himself with some consistent minutes in the early part of the regular season before Dwane Casey and his staff settled on Pascal Siakam as the starting power forward.
The minutes dried up, but Poeltl continued to learn whether it was watching from the end of the bench, in practice, playing with the D-League 905s in Mississauga or the spot minutes he got in games with the parent club.
For most of that period Lucas Nogueira was eating up most of those back-up centre minutes and doing a solid job. Lately though it has been Nogueira on the end of the bench and Poeltl coming in. Through March he is averaging 12.8 minutes a night, the most playing time he has seen since November way back at the beginning.
“For me, just every time you put him in, he does something positive,” Casey said. “There’s that trust, not only with myself but with his teammates. He’s doing positive things, he plays with physicality. The only thing — and it’s not his fault — is cheap fouls, he gets a lot of cheap calls.”
Those calls will eventually even out as Poeltl earns some credibility with the league’s officials.
But make no mistake, it has been Poeltl’s eagerness engaging opposing players physically that has made his jump up the depth chart possible.
“He’s always in the right place, very few mistakes, he’s very physical, he’s not afraid, he loves contact,” Casey said. “All those things add up, this is a physical game ... and he meets all those criteria.”
Ironically it was the physical nature of the NBA game that Poeltl’s counts as the toughest adjustment he has made.
“Not now, not anymore because I feel like I’m used to it already,” Poeltl said. “I’m still not the most physical player but at least I’ve got adjusted to the new level of physicality in the NBA. But that was definitely a challenge to start the season, getting used to playing against bigger bodies and stronger guys.”
There’s also a natural feel for the game that, when you think about it, should be unnatural for a young man raised in Austria far away from any basketball hotbed.
Even Poeltl is a little unsure where his natural basketball instincts come from, but he is very much aware that he has them
“I don’t know,” Poeltl said following a lengthy practice on Monday. “I mean, I guess both my parents were athletes, I was always in love with sports in general, I was like playing around, playing basketball as a little kid. But it’s really just instincts. I don’t know where it’s coming from, I just feel comfortable out there and I feel like I know where I’m supposed to go.”
Poeltl has surpassed Nogueira on the depth chart which leaves just starting centre Jonas Valanciunas ahead of him in terms of minutes.
Valanciunas is more of an old school centre among today’s versatile big men. Offensively he’s one of the better shooters on the team and has expanded his range even from last year. He’s still very effective banging with the other traditional bigs but struggles when he has to go outside to cover a big with shooting range and then recover back to the basket.
But Poeltl, even at this early stage in his career and the tender age of 21, is better equipped for that type of game and will eventually develop himself into that type of centre that can pull opposing covers out to the three point line.
At some point the Raptors are going to have to make a decision on whether they can live with the defensive limitations Valanciunas comes with. His slow reaction time and slow recovery time are not traits Poeltl shares. The Austrian is athletic and considerably quicker than his Lithuanian counterpart.
Having said that, Raptors fans would be wise to recall that last year in the playoffs it was Valanciunas, until he got hurt in the Miami series, that was putting this team on his back and carrying them.
Poeltl is still at least a couple of years away from being able to do that.
But down the road, and not too far down the road, it’s not hard to imagine Poeltl getting that introduction as the Raptors’ starting centre.