Twins, Wolves, Wild postpone games following police shooting

Minnesota wild
Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS — 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.

Scroll Down For:

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    austonmatthews
    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.

    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

    Andrei Kuzmenko
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.