Redskins

Ryan Nelsen to join Toronto on Feb 1

Ryan Nelsen to join Toronto on Feb 1

TORONTO (AP) Ryan Nelsen will start his new job as coach of Major League Soccer's Toronto FC on Feb. 1.

The 35-year-old defender from New Zealand will play his last game for Queens Park Rangers of the English Premier League at home against defending champion Manchester City on Jan. 29, Toronto said Tuesday.

He was hired by the MLS team on Jan. 8.

Toronto, which opens at Vancouver on March 2, also said Tuesday that it had hired former Canadian national team goalkeeper Pat Onstad as chief scout and manager of football partnerships. The 44-year-old was a D.C. United assistant coach during the last two seasons and played three games in 2011 because of injuries.

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Draft Trade Simulator: Are the Chargers desperate enough to make the Redskins move?

Draft Trade Simulator: Are the Chargers desperate enough to make the Redskins move?

The Redskins hold the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL Draft and there could be plenty of suitors for the pick. JP Finlay works through hypothetical draft day trades. 

As some buzz grows that Washington might look to trade down from the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, one team that could be interested in moving up would be the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Yes, Los Angeles, not San Diego, and that’s a big part of why this could actually happen. Once the Chargers left Ron Burgundy’s hometown to move up to Hollywood, they lost a ton of fans, and soon they will be playing football in a new stadium. A rookie quarterback with a national name could help sell a lot of tickets and convert new fans to the Lightning Bolts. 

That quarterback’s name? Tua Tagovailoa.

The Bengals will take the draft’s biggest star in Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, and after Burrow, no player will command more attention than the former Alabama record-breaker. Injury questions will trail Tua throughout the pre-draft process, and the lack of official visits and workouts could hinder his ability to make an impact of NFL decision makers. Still, Tagovailoa is an elite prospect decorated with an incredible career for the Crimson Tide that, if healthy, could transform an NFL team immediately.

So how could a trade between the Redskins and Chargers happen? Let's take a look.

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Parameters

In 2016 the Eagles made a massive trade to move from the eighth spot to the second spot so they could draft Carson Wentz. To make the move, the Eagles sent the Browns five total picks, including their first-rounder, third-rounder and fourth-rounder that year in addition to another first and second-rounder in subsequent years. In the transaction Cleveland sent back a fourth-rounder in 2017. 

This year the Chargers hold the sixth pick but their biggest competition to take a quarterback is Miami, the team with the fifth overall pick and a load of draft capital to make any move work. If the Chargers want to get ahead of the Dolphins, the package will need to be big, and perhaps similar to the deal the Eagles made in 2016 for Wentz.

The Chargers hold one pick in every round of the next two drafts, so they could work out a package of picks to move up if they want. Los Angeles could also try to package tight end Hunter Henry in a deal. He’s currently on the roster via the franchise tag, and the Redskins desperately need help at the tight end position. 

Outlook

Don’t count on it but don’t count it out either. The Chargers have Tyrod Taylor under contract for 2020 but no long-term answer at quarterback. 

It’s also possible Los Angeles decides to wait for a QB another season and just build the rest of the team for multiple reasons. The Coronavirus could change schedules dramatically, and the Chargers have a lot of talent on their roster. Another year of building the entire team could be the best path, besides a major draft trade could hurt the effort to build a long-term winner in LA. 

Here's the thing though, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The Chargers ranked dead last in NFL attendance for the last three seasons. In 2019, the Chargers averaged about 32,000 fans per game, almost 20,000 fans fewer than the next closest team.

Los Angeles has to build its fanbase. Must. Tua could be the ticket to selling tickets. 

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Nicklas Backstrom warns of the challenges teams will face when the season resumes

Nicklas Backstrom warns of the challenges teams will face when the season resumes

No one is quite sure when the NHL season may resume from its current pause due to the coronavirus and no one can agree on what exactly the NHL season should look like when it does. But if you think resuming the season is as simple as naming a date as soon as possible and staring on the fly, guess again. In fact, getting the players back up to game speed may be so difficult, Nicklas Backstrom wants to see exhibition games played before anyone starts playing in games that matter again.

“I think obviously a small training camp would be huge and some exhibition games too," Backstrom said in a video conference with the media on Wednesday.

The problem, as Backstrom notes, is that players will need to get back into game shape and teams will have to get back up to speed. Expecting players to jump from a lengthy break straight into the end of the regular season or even into the playoffs, the most intense hockey of the season, puts the players in a difficult position.

"I think it's important we've got to have some sort of camp if this is going to be able to start again hopefully," he said. "To be fair, I think that the teams that maybe's not in the playoff or already eliminated, they've got no shot. After that, you've just got to make it as easy as possible, but you've got to have some exhibition games before because otherwise, jumping straight in the playoffs, it's going to be a little tough I think."

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He added, "I see a lot of guys are practicing on their stickhandling on Instagram and stuff like that, but that is not the same.”

A realistic option for when play does resume is returning to empty arenas. The Columbus Blue Jackets were set to become the first team to play in front of an empty arena, but their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins was postponed due to the league's pause.

If you have ever wondered if a crowd can really affect the players, Backstrom was unequivocal that, at least for him, the crowd is critical.

"It would be really tough to play without the fans because they are everything to us and without fans, the atmosphere they bring, I think it would be really tough," he said.

But don't take any of this to mean that Backstrom is ready to throw in the towel on the season.

While no one seems quite sure how the NHL should finish its season, there seems to be a general consensus among everyone in hockey that it is absolutely critical to find a way to award a Stanley Cup champion for the 2019-20 season. The issue is not whether the NHL should, it's how?

"We're pretty close to the playoff," Backstrom said. "You obviously want to finish the season with a champion. That doesn't change anything. Whether we play mid-summer, you want to do it. You want to have a champion this year if possible. That's for sure. I think we're pretty unknown, what's gonna happen. We're just following the directions from the government and the league I think. Best-case scenario would be for us to finish the season, whether it's in summer or pretty soon."

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