Bob Corkum abruptly steps down as US women’s hockey coach

Assistant coach Joel Johnson is taking over the United States women’s national hockey team after Bob Corkum abruptly stepped down less than three weeks before the world championships open in Canada.

USA Hockey’s director of women’s national team programs Katie Million did not provide a reason for Corkum’s departure in announcing the move Friday night.

Corkum reached his decision earlier in the day as he and players gathered in Maine for the start of training camp on Saturday in preparation for the world championships in Nova Scotia, which run from May 6-16.

“Bob put his heart and and soul into continuing to build on the legacy of our women’s national team program over the past three seasons, and we’re grateful for all he did,” Million said in a statement released by USA Hockey. “While he’s stepping away, he’ll always be a big part of the USA Hockey family and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Corkum is a former NHL player and assistant coach who coached the U.S. team to win its fifth consecutive world title in 2019. The tournament was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson served as Corkum’s assistant and previously coached the U.S. Under-18 and Under-22 teams. He is currently the associate coach and completed his 16th season with the the University of Minnesota’s women’s team.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone like Joel to step in and guide our team,” Million said. “He’s been an important part of our program and is well-positioned to help build on the success we’ve enjoyed.”

Another Granato making a case for the family name in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tony Granato can laugh now in recalling how angry he was at his brother Don for giving up goaltending at 15 and switching to forward.

Tony regarded his younger sibling as one of the better goalies he faced, even at three years younger, and worried Don was throwing away his future for not wanting to ride the bench every second game as part of a rotation.

“I basically said, `This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard you say,’” the Wisconsin coach and former NHL player said.

That might have been the last time Tony questioned his brother’s life decisions.

Not only did Don Granato teach himself the position by spending hours poring over video — mostly of Wayne Gretzky — to learn the nuances of scoring, he followed in Tony’s footsteps four years later by landing a scholarship from Wisconsin.

“It was really an incredible feat,” Tony Granato said. “That’s where I learned there’s more than just being a hockey player, and there’s a special thinking part of the game that he has that I don’t have.”

The Granato family hockey pecking order is daunting. Tony played 13 NHL seasons and sister Cammi is a two-time Olympian, the first female Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and a scout for the NHL expansion team Seattle Kraken. Another brother, Rob, also played Division I hockey.

Yet the Buffalo Sabres interim coach is known by his siblings as “the smart one.”

“There’s really a simple reason for that,” Don Granato explains. “When you have a brother who’s three years older, and he’s a bit of a bully, you have no option.

“You’re not going to win by brawn,” he said, chuckling. “You had to figure out tactics.”

At 53, Granato might finally be emerging out of their shadows a month into his new role following Ralph Krueger’s dismissal.

Taking over a team in the midst of an 18-game winless skid, Granato has coaxed a competitive edge out of a young and injury-depleted roster and one that just lost captain Jack Eichel for the rest of what has been a miserable season. The last-place Sabres are 4-2-2 in their past eight following an 0-5-1 start under Granato.

His first NHL head-coaching opportunity comes after spending 27 years crisscrossing the continent, working in most every pro league as a coach and assistant, and five years at USA Hockey’s developmental program.

Granato leaned on those experiences in simplifying Buffalo’s approach by emphasizing speed and forechecking. And he eased his players’ frustrations by focusing on making gradual improvements.

“My message to the team the first day I took over was just that: `This streak is not going to define us. So just stop. Stop the worries. Stop the concern, the anxiety,’” Granato said. “I didn’t want to win just one game. I want us to win consistently.”

He didn’t veer from his message when Buffalo’s skid hit 18 after blowing a three-goal, third-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia on March 29. Two days later, with Buffalo up 4-1 entering the third period against Philadelphia, Granato’s put aside providing a pep talk by instead saying he was placing ownership on his players in an eventual 6-1 victory.

“A big part of coaching is knowing when to get out of the way,” Granato said. “We want our guys to become independently strong, we want to empower them. That’s a process. Any time you can hand that off to the group, that helps that process.”

Granato’s calming influence is reflected in what Cammi once said about her brother in a story published by USA Hockey: “Donnie was the one who could talk you through mentally. He was a guy you could have a lengthy conversation with and you’d feel so much better when you were done.”

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin has enjoyed a boost of confidence under Granato.

“I love him as a coach,” Dahlin said. “We do all the things he says, and it works. He makes all the players very confident. Yeah, he’s doing something special.”

Opposing coaches have noticed a difference.

“They’re not sitting back as much in the neutral zone. They seem to be playing more on their toes,” New York Rangers coach David Quinn said.

The sample size is small, but Granato has emerged as a candidate to take over on a full-time basis.

“I think from the beginning, I always thought Donnie should be part of this conversation regardless of what happens,” general manager Kevyn Adams said. “What I see right now out of our team is a team that’s playing with a purpose.“

Granato doesn’t lack in qualifications.

He’s twice worked as an NHL assistant under Joel Quenneville. At the AHL level, he’s coached against Mike Babcock, Claude Julien, Mike Sullivan and Bruce Boudreau. With USA Hockey, Granato developed players such as Toronto’s Auston Matthews, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk and Boston’s Charlie McAvoy.

Granato is comfortable with his journey, believing every step has been valuable, while staying in the moment and refusing to look ahead.

“This feels natural. I don’t know if I would’ve felt that way 10 years ago,” he said. “No matter what happens, we’ll all be OK.”

His minor-league experience prepared him for the chaos of this season and uncertainty of an ever-changing roster, with three players traded over the past two weeks. His time developing teens at USA Hockey is also considered a plus with salary-cap dynamics forcing teams to get more production out of younger players.

Tony Granato is pleased his brother is finally gaining attention. He remembers Don breaking down video on a VCR he received for his 15th birthday.

“He would dissect the game to talk about different things, and we’re kids, and we’re like, `Come on, Donnie, stop,” he recalled. “But he always thought of the game in a tactical way.”

The smart one.

“That’s correct,” Tony Granato said. “Cammi and I and Robbie were all on emotion and energy. Donnie could think it through and say, `Woah, slow down here.′ Yes, that is 100% accurate.”

Islanders close to selling out inaugural season at UBS Arena

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Nearly six months before the opening of their new arena, the New York Islanders are reporting they have nearly sold out of season tickets for the first season in their new home.

UBS Arena, being built next to the racetrack at Belmont Park with an expected capacity of around 17,000 for hockey, has sold more than 90% of its season tickets, the Islanders announced Thursday. The upper level and terrace is sold out, as well as eight sections in the lower bowl.

“With just a few months before puck drop in the fall, it’s exciting to see the demand for season tickets continue,” said Mike Cosentino, the Islanders senior vice president of sales. “We’re well on the way towards selling out every Islanders game of UBS Arena’s inaugural season.”

About 1,000 seats remain available, and after those are sold the Islanders will start a waiting list.

The Islanders began the day Thursday two points behind first-place Washington in the East Division. They have 14 games remaining with a game in hand on the Capitals. New York reached the Eastern Conference finals last year, losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in six games.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic no fans were allowed at Nassau Coliseum this season until early last month. Since then, capacity has been limited to 10% — about 1,400 — to allow for social distancing.

Deal the Kraken? Francis can’t make official trades — yet

Just because the NHL can’t release the Kraken until October doesn’t mean Seattle wasn’t in the mix at the trade deadline.

General manager Ron Francis can’t finalize any transactions until ownership makes its final expansion payment to the league, but there’s precedent for him making a handshake deal or two. That’s what George McPhee did at the deadline four years ago with Pittsburgh, setting the table for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to be the face of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise.

If Francis made an arrangement with another team, he’s not saying, though Seattle was tuned in to the moving and shaking at the deadline and the rest of the league had the Kraken in mind with the expansion draft coming up in July.

“You always have the capability of having those discussions and reaching those agreements if both sides agree to it,” Francis said Tuesday, roughly 26 hours after the deadline. “We’re like everybody else on that trade deadline day: We’re watching it, we’re analyzing things. When trades happen, we’re updating our list and seeing how that affects (how) we were thinking on certain teams.”

Francis said nothing at the deadline surprised him, and little directly affected Seattle because so few players signed beyond this season were traded. Maybe scratch off the available list defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler following a trade from Washington to New Jersey and forward Scott Laughton because he re-signed with Philadelphia, but there was nothing earthshattering.

Maybe that’s because executives learned a lesson. Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong said teams are less likely to let Francis be the “puppet master” manipulating the league like McPhee did.

“I think everyone was a little more conscious of what was coming up at the expansion draft,” Armstrong said. “When you’re looking at if you’re going to protect three defensemen, seven forwards, OK, if I acquire this player, what’s the acquisition price, and then am I going to be able to protect him and what’s it costing me on the other side?’”

The Flyers were willing to risk that with Laughton, so perhaps big forward James van Riemsdyk and his sizable contract are on the board for Seattle. After Vegas took very few high-dollar, long-term contracts, Francis won’t share his philosophy other than to say he’ll evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

He also knows his colleagues have a longer runway to this expansion draft than before Vegas to figure out how to minimize the talent left to be claimed. But they didn’t think the salary cap would remain flat at $81.5 million for multiple seasons because of pandemic-related revenue losses, and the Kraken could seize on those opportunities.

One major positive for Seattle is it can better estimate which players they’ll have a chance at than ever before now that the dust has settled on the trade deadline. There won’t be much more movement until mid-July when protected lists have to be submitted and the drafting begins.

“We’ve already taken a look at where we think we were affected sort of positively or negatively and we’ll continue to look at that and evaluate as we move forward here and regroup as a whole and start preparing from here to July,” Francis said. “We can do a mock draft 12 months or six months ago, but until we get closer to that day and until we get to see that final list, it’s hard to project with 100% accuracy what we’re going to be picking from. But we’ll look at all the different scenarios we think might present themselves and be as best prepared as we possibly can.”

SMALL BUBBLE

With roughly a month left in the regular season, 12 of the 16 playoff spots are all but wrapped up, with a handful of teams vying for the rest. That helped separate the buyers and sellers at the deadline, though many in the race stood pat.

Armstrong’s Blues were quiet, thanks in large part to a three-game winning streak that put them in a playoff position in the West Division. Had they lost those three games, Armstrong could’ve been a seller.

“When we were thinking about being seller, we had a vision of, if we’re going to do something, what we wanted in return,” he said.

Instead, St. Louis is jockeying with Arizona and San Jose for a playoff berth. With the top four pretty much set in the East and North, the only other drama is between Nashville, Chicago and Dallas in the Central.

Why did the league split into well-defined classes this season? Washington general manager Brian MacLellan believes the condensed schedule and strict virus protocols have led to inconsistent play across the league.

“Teams have periods where they’re looking good, they have rest and they’re playing well and then they have periods where they’re working through things or getting through games,” MacLellan said. “It’s a hard year to maintain a high level of play, and I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of teams grouped together.”

Sakic embraces win-now mode with contract decisions looming

DENVER — Deep down, this is precisely the sort of depth Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic always pictured.

Two goaltenders to back up one of the best in the league. Three balanced lines to complement a top one that’s anchored by Nathan MacKinnon. A blue line filled with the perfect mix of young and veteran defensemen.

Only one thing may stop the Avalanche going forward: the salary cap.

Not this season, of course, but next. That’s why Sakic chose to make a strong push at the trade deadline with several deals to bolster his NHL-leading team.

“This is as deep of team as we’re going to have here,” Sakic said. “We’re going to have to get cheaper starting next year at some of those positions.”

That’s due to looming contract decisions with three big pieces of the team: goaltender Philipp Grubauer and captain Gabriel Landeskog, who are both free agents after this season, along with defenseman Cale Makar, a restricted free agent.

At the moment, Sakic is locked in on the playoffs, not contract talks. The last Avalanche team to hoist the Cup was the 2000-01 version that included a forward named Sakic.

“Everybody is focused on trying to win a Stanley Cup here,” Sakic said. “We’ll get to all those guys when we get to them. I don’t really have any information on that. I think we’re just focused on hockey right now.”

In order to boost his team, Sakic surrendered some draft picks and young players in trade swaps. Because as they’ve learned through past experiences with injuries, there’s no such thing as too much depth.

To acquire veteran defenseman Patrik Nemeth from Detroit, Sakic sent a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Red Wings.

To pick up backup goaltender Devan Dubnyk from San Jose, Sakic included a 2021 fifth-round pick in addition to defenseman Greg Pateryn.

And to get veteran forward Carl Soderberg from Chicago, Sakic packaged a pair of young forwards in Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson.

“We’ve got a lot of prospects we feel,” Sakic said. “We feel this is the right time to do that.”

One thing Sakic didn’t want to do was disrupt team chemistry. So he picked up Nemeth and Soderberg, who both have been around the organization.

Nemeth was actually one of Makar’s first defensive partners. The 29-year-old Nemeth spent two seasons in Colorado from 2017-19. Nemeth is also an insurance policy for Erik Johnson, who won’t return for the regular season due to an undisclosed injury but could possibly be available if the Avs make a deep playoff run.

Soderberg was with the Avalanche from 2015-19, collecting 57 goals and 94 assists.

Both know the Avalanche way — and style.

“I know how excited they are to come back,” Sakic said. “Our dressing room is excited, the guys are excited to have them back. They both fill the needs that we wanted to get accomplished.”

Colorado won’t have goaltender Pavel Francouz this season after he had an undisclosed surgery. That led Sakic to acquire Jonas Johansson from Buffalo — for a sixth-round selection — and later Dubnyk. The Avalanche ran into key injuries at goalie during the postseason last year.

Grubauer has been on his game this season. His 25 wins entered the day tied for most in the league. He also had a stretch from March 10 to April 5 where he went 12-0-1, which was a franchise record for consecutive games with a point.

The 29-year-old Grubauer was sharp in a 4-2 win over Arizona on Monday with 35 saves. This after getting a two-game break to recharge.

“He looked rested,” forward Mikko Rantanen said. “He looked sharp. It was fun to watch.”

The same can be said of Colorado’s four stacked lines, which are led by the top group of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen. They’ve combined for 58 goals and 85 assists.

“We believe in the players we have,” Sakic said. “Their expectations are to win and our one goal is to win the Stanley Cup. I know we’re not the only team with that same goal. A lot of quality teams here, and a lot of teams think they’re in a good position to make a run at this thing. We’re the same.”

Players traded to new division face ‘refreshing’ opponents

Fresh off his trade to the Penguins, Jeff Carter reminisced with Sidney Crosby about their classic battles in rivalry games back when he broke into the NHL with Philadelphia.

Now Carter can’t wait to play against the Flyers, but not because he harbors some ill will a decade after they traded him. They’re just something different.

“The schedule’s been crazy, right?” Carter said. “I feel like I’ve played Anaheim and Vegas the whole year, so it’ll be nice. Kind of refreshing.”

Beats the same old, same old for 56 games. This unique NHL season with all divisional play gives a vast majority of players traded at the deadline an added perk: A new set of opponents for the remainder of the season.

After months of worrying only about the six other Canadian teams and not caring much about the rest of the league, Sam Bennett will get to play against six Central Division opponents after Calgary dealt him to Florida. Carter can refamiliarize himself with the East Coast. And Anthony Mantha gets to bang bodies with the Islanders, Penguins and Bruins he hasn’t seen in more than a year after joining the Washington Capitals.

“In the years prior I played against all those guys: Pittsburgh or New York or Boston,” Mantha said before making his Capitals debut Tuesday night against Philadelphia. “It’s going to be exciting, obviously, seeing new faces out there. A lot of trades that happened in the last couple days, so you see new bodies in new places and it’s going to be all fun from here.”

More fun for the players traded to a new division than those stuck in the same one. Apologies to Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac who went from the Devils to the Islanders; Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Sabres to the Bruins; David Savard from the Blue Jackets to the Lightning; and Michael Raffl from the Flyers to the Capitals.

Hall and Lazar have the weirdest boomerang effect with Boston. They’ll face their former team six times over the final month of the season, including a three-game stint at Buffalo next week.

“That fits in just with how this season’s been going,” Lazar said. “It’s been strange in all aspects.”

It was strange for Sami Vatanen to go from New Jersey to Dallas and play immediately for the Stars after getting claimed off waivers. But the veteran defenseman said, “It’s nice to change it up and have some new challenges there.”

Then there’s the challenge of each player getting to know his new teammates after not facing them at all this season, given the schedule. Just as Carter hasn’t watched a lot of Penguins games, Bennett doesn’t have a good grip on how good a team he’s joining in Florida.

“Because we’re so segregated, really I’ve only been paying attention to the North Division,” Bennett said. “I haven’t been able to watch or follow along that closely.”

There are, of course, reputations, and Carter knows a team led by Crosby and Evgeni Malkin plays at a high level. And the Penguins won the Stanley Cup three times sandwiched around Carter’s two championships.

Pittsburgh also has another difference Carter is looking forward to after playing in an empty Staples Center in Los Angeles: some people in the seats cheering for the home team.

“It’ll be nice to have some fans in the stands,” he said. “We haven’t had any in L.A., so that’ll be nice to get some fans behind you.”

Mantha shines in debut, Ovechkin scores as Caps rout Flyers

WASHINGTON — Anthony Mantha had a two points in his Washington debut, Alex Ovechkin scored the 728th goal of his NHL career and the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1 Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.

The East Division-leading Capitals went 3 for 3 on the power play as part of another offensive outburst. They routed the banged-up Boston Bruins 8-1 Sunday night on the eve of the trade deadline.

They gave up skilled young forward Jakub Vrana, a first-round pick and a second-rounder to get Mantha from Detroit in the hopes of better positioning themselves for another deep playoff run. So far, so good: Mantha picked up an assist on Tom Wilson’s goal in the first period, then showed off his shot in the second for his 12th of the season.

Ovechkin scored his team-leading 22nd in the third, beating Brian Elliott from his trademark spot inside the faceoff circle on the power play. The Capitals’ captain is now three back of Marcel Dionne for fifth on the career goals list.

Washington’s longest- and shortest-tenured players weren’t the only ones to get in on the goal-scoring fun against Philadelphia, which sold at the deadline and looked like a team ready for the offseason. Conor Sheary, Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin scored the other goals.

Sheary added two assists for a three-point game. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his 10th victory of the season.

Sean Couturier scored Philadelphia’s only goal, Elliott allowed six goals on 32 shots and the Flyers lost for the sixth time in eight games.

GOALIE ROTATION

Samsonov started for Washington after rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek won the previous two games. The Capitals didn’t add a veteran between the pipes at the deadline and know Henrik Lundqvist won’t be coming back, so the net belongs to Samsonov and Vanecek for the rest of the season.

“We found out that the two goaltenders that we have are pretty good and we have a lot of confidence in them,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Trough the way the year has evolved and the way the goaltenders have played, we feel like these guys are ready for the job.”

But Laviolette is in zero rush to name a No. 1 goalie.

“I think it would be a mistake to tab one guy and run him 13 games out of the last 15 or 16 that we have and say ‘This is our guy,’” he said. “Just keep these guys doing what they’re doing, having them compete each day to be the great goalie … that they have been for us. I think that that’s important.”

NO RAFFL

The Flyers traded pending free agent forward Michael Raffl to the Capitals for a fifth-round pick Monday, but he didn’t make his Capitals debut against his former team because of an injury the team thinks is minor.

“He’s dealing with something,” Laviolette said. “We don’t feel like it’s anything that’s going to be way long term, but we need to get him here — he’s not here yet — and just do an evaluation and do what’s best for him getting ready for the playoffs.”

LAUGHTON STAYS

While Philadelphia traded Raffl and sent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Montreal, forward Scott Laughton stuck around and signed a $15 million, five-year extension. General manager Chuck Fletcher received many calls from contending colleagues about Laughton, who wanted to stay and got the long-term contract he wanted.

“It was pretty important for me to have that security,” Laughton said. “I really believe in this franchise and the people around it, so I want to be a part of something here where we can do something special, and having that term is part of that.”

Trades start likely overhaul for disappointing Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio — General manager Jarmo Kekalainen sees the overhaul of the Columbus Blue Jackets as “an opportunity to reload” rather than a rebuilding job.

Whatever he wants to call it, the Blue Jackets already look different after the trade deadline. The offseason could bring even more big changes.

When a March swoon made it likely that the string of four straight playoff appearances under coach John Tortorella would end, the Blue Jackets traded a core of popular veterans with expiring contracts for future draft picks.

The biggest name was 33-year-old Nick Foligno, the beloved Blue Jackets captain and a cornerstone of a team that was turned around under Tortorella. He was dealt to Toronto the day after 30-year-old defenseman David Savard, another of the team’s longest-tenured players, was moved to Tampa Bay.

Injured center Riley Nash, in his third season with the Blue Jackets, was traded to Toronto on Friday.

In all, the Blue Jackets ended up with two first-round draft picks in the 2021 draft, and second-, fourth- and seventh-round picks in 2022. That means they’ll have three first-round picks — and nine overall — in the draft this July, a rare situation made possible partly by a flat salary cap that hampered blockbuster trades and forced teams to get creative at the deadline to load up for the playoffs.

Columbus was in the unfamiliar position of being a seller. But Kekalainen, who called the losing season “an anomaly of some kind,” insisted the team can return as a contender in 2021-22.

“I think the return was good,” Kekalianen said. “We’re happy with it. I think it gives us an opportunity to reload, is what we call it, and it gives us plenty of different opportunities to do it. There are going to be some interesting decisions this offseason with the expansion draft coming and the flat salary cap.”

Earlier in the season, star center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who clashed with Tortorella and grew unhappy playing in Columbus in his first four seasons in the league, was traded to Winnipeg for Patrik Laine, who had two goals in Monday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago. Jack Roslovic, who also came as part of that trade, has played well and may also end up being part of the team’s new, younger foundation.

“Not to get nostalgic — I’m not going to do that — but it is kind of a little bit like the breaking up of the band because we went through a lot together as we tried to build this,” Tortorella said.

“It’s part of what our world is here in Columbus now,” he said. “We’ve got to start looking towards what we’re going to be again.”

Tortorella’s future is another question. After replacing the fired Todd Richards seven games into the 2015 season, Tortorella steered Columbus to four straight playoffs and won his second Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2016-17. He was a finalist for the honor last season.

With his two-year contract expiring at the end of this season, he and the team have said little about his future.

“We’ll make all those decisions in due time,” Kekalainen said.

One of Columbus’ excellent goaltenders also could be somewhere else by next fall. Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins could bring some badly needed offensive help if the team decided to deal one of them.

With Foligno gone, Columbus won’t name a captain for now. Cam Atkinson, now the longest-tenured member of the team, and Seth Jones will continue as alternate captains.

“We built this culture, it took a long time to get us where we are, and I’m sure as hell not going to let this thing slide,” said the 31-year-old Atkinson, who is signed through 2024-25. “We have an obligation to ourselves, and to this organization especially, to steer this in the right direction.”

Foligno’s family is staying in Columbus, and he has let the team know he would be open to signing with the Blue Jackets as a free agent after trying to win a Stanley Cup with the playoff-bound Maple Leafs.

“We’ve gone through a lot here in Columbus,” said Foligno. who came via a 2012 trade with Ottawa. “We’ve grown this thing to a point where we had a great little run.”

Twins, Wolves, Wild postpone games following police shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In the raw aftermath of another killing of a Black man by police in Minnesota, there was no place for pro sports in the Twin Cities on Monday.

The Minnesota Twins, Wild and Timberwolves all postponed their games a day after the shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright following a traffic stop in a nearby suburb.

Major League Baseball’s Twins were set to begin a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Monday afternoon at Target Field.

About an hour before the scheduled first pitch and as players warmed up in light rain, the police chief in Brooklyn Center — a city adjacent to Minneapolis where violent protests took place the night before — announced that the shooting was an “accidental discharge,” with the officer involved firing her handgun instead of a stun gun.

“We came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was for us to not play today, rooted in respect for the Wright family but also rooted in our mind in the safety of all of those involved in today’s game,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said.

The Red Sox were staying at a hotel outside the city due to the timing of their visit during former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Most visiting teams stay within a few blocks of the ballpark. The Twins, who consulted with MLB and state and local officials about the postponement, said there had been no discussion of moving the series to another city.

The NBA’s Timberwolves called off their game on Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets, without immediately announcing when it would be rescheduled.

“Yesterday’s tragic event, involving the life of Daunte Wright, once again leaves our community mourning,” the Timberwolves said, extending sympathy to Wright’s family.

The NHL’s Wild were supposed to host the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. The postponement was made “out of respect for heartbreaking incident” in Brooklyn Center, the team said. That game was rescheduled for May 12, during the extra week the league has added to the regular season to accommodate postponements due to COVID-19 protocols.

“I think we all just figured it was the right thing to do,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a curfew from 7 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. Tuesday for the three counties that include Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis and the capital of St. Paul, where the Wild play. The rest of the Red Sox-Twins games are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Without a game clock in baseball, plus wet weather in the forecast for Tuesday, there would be no guarantee the games could finish in time if the curfew were extended to additional nights.

Security around downtown Minneapolis already has been heightened because of the trial of Chauvin, whose knee prosecutors say was pressed on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the unarmed Black man was handcuffed and pinned to the pavement on May 25, 2020.

That sparked a summer of sometimes-violent unrest and a national reckoning over racial injustice, felt poignantly and painfully in Minneapolis. Chauvin’s trial at the county government center is about eight blocks from the ballpark, where temporary barricades and fencing were set up as a precaution. Three other officers who were on the scene of Floyd’s death face a separate trial in August.

“Obviously a tough situation, sad situation, especially in this area, right?” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, extending “thoughts and prayers” to the Wright family. “It’s been tough the last 12 months, with everything that’s going on.”

MLB took a high-profile stance on a race-related issue recently by moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to a new Georgia law restricting voting access.

The Twins last year affixed a black “Justice For George Floyd” banner on the wall at Target Field between left and center field.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, who is Black, asked to be removed from the starting lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida, on Monday night because of the situation in Minneapolis. Hicks was drafted by and played his first three major league seasons for the Twins.

“It’s hit Aaron particularly hard,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Whatever the player’s point of view, in whichever sport, the clubhouse conversation will continue.

“Those are never going to end, especially with what we’re dealing with as a community right now, especially with the way that it’s coming into the Twins organization and into our clubhouse directly, and our guys are feeling it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We will never stop talking about it, and we also have some guys that I would put in the category of passionate and were really damaged and hurt by everything that was going on today.

COVID-19 cap crunch limits moves made at NHL trade deadline

The coronarvirus pandemic turned the usual large number of NHL trade deadline deals into a trickle on Monday.

The moves that did take place under a flat salary cap, highlighted by Boston landing 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall in a trade with Buffalo, heavily benefited the buyers. And then there were the teams that got creative, acquiring draft picks in order to take on payroll.

Hall was the highest-profile player to move in an otherwise dry market and the Bruins took advantage by landing the under-performing, six-time 20-goal-scorer at a cut-rate price along with third-line forward Curtis Lazar.

Rather than getting a first-round pick in return, the Sabres acquired a second-round pick and a sparingly used forward in Anders Bjork, while also agreeing to retain half of what’s left on Hall’s one-year, $8 million contract.

Hall gets a chance for a fresh start after a forgettable season with the last-place Sabres, while the banged-up Bruins upgraded their lineup in a bid to complete their late-season playoff push. Boston began the day holding the East Division’s fourth and final playoff spot, four points ahead of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia.

Among the handful of notable moves, Pittsburgh added veteran depth by acquiring 36-year-old center Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings for a pair of conditional draft picks.

The Vegas Golden Knights acquired center Mattias Janmark from the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a person with knowledge of the trade who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been cleared by the NHL. Janmark played against the Golden Knights during the 2020 bubble playoffs with the Dallas Stars.

Carl Soderberg is back for a second stint in Colorado, after being acquired in a trade that sent forwards Ryder Rolston and Josh Dickinson to Chicago.

More notable were the players not traded.

Los Angeles Kings center Alex Iafallo and Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton, both pending free agents, had their names come off the market after signing contract extensions.

Goalie Linus Ullmark is staying in put in Buffalo after the Sabres had enough promising discussions on an extension to believe a deal can be reached before Ullmark is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, according to a person with direct knowledge of talks. who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

The entire trade market was dominated by the salary cap staying flat at $81.5 million, the result of the economic blow suffered by the NHL during the pandemic that hit U.S. sports hard 13 months ago. It led to some interesting deals.

The San Jose Sharks had room under the cap to add payroll and land a fourth-round pick from Toronto to broker the trade in which the Maple Leafs acquired Blue Jackets captain Mike Foligno on Sunday. The Detroit Red Wings were in the same position when they landed a fourth-round pick as part of the trade in which the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning acquired defenseman David Savard from Columbus.

The Sabres and Devils were among the NHL’s top sellers, which represented the disparity of the one-time realigned East in which Buffalo and New Jersey’s 24 combined wins are three fewer than each of the division’s top three teams.

The Devils continued selling off talent by trading defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to Edmonton, and also parted ways with Sami Vatanen, who was claimed off waivers by Dallas. Buffalo traded Hall after already dealing defenseman Brandon Montour to Florida and center Eric Staal to Montreal.

Hall had turned down the Bruins in free agency last offseason to sign with Buffalo. Failing to help transform the Sabres into contenders, Hall was looking forward to filling a secondary role in Boston.

“I don’t want to set expectations too high. I want to come in and win games,” said Hall, who had two goals and 19 points in 37 games.

“These last few days, you do some soul-searching and you look back on what you can do better and look forward to the future,” Hall said. “I think the best way to get confidence is to be part of a winning team and to make yourself part of the bigger solution.”