Injuries. Schedule. Practice facilities. All have been talked about as being detrimental to the Toronto Argonauts over the first 10 games this CFL season, but talk has become cheap, and its time for the team to move on. Players are coming back from sick bay. Andre Durie and SirVincent Rogers were both back taking regular snaps on Tuesday, which was also the Argos first day in their new practice facility. "I thought our guys did a good job of not making too many excuses," Scott Milanovich told TSN.ca, "But you wonder, as a coach, how much of that is in the back of their mind." That said, seeing familiar faces on the field buoyed spirits, especially the sight of Durie, who was second in the CFL in catches a year ago. A broken clavicle in Week 2 has sidelined him since then, but his return to the first-team offence was something that lifted spirits at the Tuesday session, as did practicing at a location the team could actually call its own. "Its almost refreshing to be here," continued the coach. "The guys are loose today and they just seem happy, and thats a big part of it when youve got 60 guys together for a whole season." From afar, the lack of a permanent home may not have seemed like a big deal. After all, theyre professional athletes and a football field, is a football field, is a football field. Milanovich says that theres much more to it than that. "Coaches consider themselves teachers," said the third-year Argo head coach. "When you have some sort of a traditional meeting space that has everything that the players can have, whether it be boards or video, or the ability to copy sheets right there in the building, all those things matter to us as coaches because we want to give our players everything they possibly can have so that they can learn." As for the schedule, the Argos are in the middle of a 48-day stretch where they dont have a home game. In August they played three games in 11 days. "We knew this season was going to be difficult in the beginning," admitted Milanovich. "Certainly we didnt expect to be 3-7 at this point, but we knew that if we could hang in there we would have a chance to make some hay down the stretch if we needed to." Consider this as time to harvest. The chore will be made easier by the return of Durie. "I think maybe now that the guys are getting back were starting to pick up the tempo a little bit," Durie told TSN.ca, "And (the veterans) are showing the guys that this is the important part of the season where we have to buckle down and bring a lot of energy over the next couple of weeks." What did he learn from his extended stay on the injured list? "I watched (the games) very critically," said the product of York University. "We just need to take care of that ball a little bit more and with the (high number of) penalties, you see it a little differently from the outside looking in, so coming back you want to key on those things and make sure that you help the guys around you focus on those key issues." The Argos are coming off the Labour Day game in Hamilton where they allowed just three points over the final three quarters, but still lost 13-12. Middle linebacker Shea Emry noticed the jump in the teams step on Tuesday. "With what went down last week and with the record that we have," said Emry, "Coming into the locker room and having a great, energetic practice is all we can ask for out of the guys right now." Hes also a believer in the personnel the team has assembled. "For sure," said Emry, who signed with the club in the off season as a free agent. "Its why I came over here. Weve got a great locker room. Weve been riddled with some injuries and there have been guys moving in and out and we just havent been able to finish games, but at the same time I think beginnings of the season like this build character." The run to the post season is underway and next opportunity to test that character will be Saturday in Calgary. Wholesale Air Force One
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.com) - The Minnesota Twins made it official on Wednesday, announcing the signing of outfielder Torii Hunter to a one-year contract.(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to play spoiler as the Los Angeles Kings will try to match their longest winning streak in over four years in Thursdays battle at Staples Center. Watch the Kings vs. Maple Leafs live tonight on TSN starting at 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt. Toronto hopes to rebound after having a three-game winning streak halted in its last outing. The Maple Leafs were pounded 6-2 by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, losing one night after beginning a five-game road trip with a 3-1 win in Anaheim. Jake Gardiner registered both Toronto tallies in Tuesdays loss, while James Reimer allowed all six goals on 48 shots for the Leafs. "I thought we did a lot of things that gave them a lot of opportunities, specifically turning the puck over," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. Toronto, which fell to 13-13-7 as the road club this season, is still in second place in the Atlantic Division. The Leafs are one point ahead of Montreal and three in front of fourth-place Tampa Bay. L.A. has won two straight and three of the last four meetings against the Maple Leafs overall, but Toronto has claimed the past two encounters at Staples Center. The Kings have won eight games in a row and seven of those victories have come after the Olympic break. The time off in February apparently was productive for Los Angeles, which had dropped nine of 11 games before the league went on hiatus for the Sochi Olympics. Another victory tonight would give L.A. its first nine-game winning streak since Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010, but a former teammate could prevent that from happening as Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier gets set to make his return to the Staples Center. Bernier, who served primarily as Jonathan Quicks backup during his time with the Kings, was dealt to Toronto last summer in exchange for forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a seecond-round draft pick.dddddddddddd Frattin and Scrivens have since been traded by L.A., while Bernier is having a terrific debut season with the Leafs, going 25-16-7 with a 2.59 goals against average and .926 save percentage in 49 games. Originally a first-round pick of Los Angeles in the 2006 draft, Bernier had a 29-20-6 career record with six shutouts and a 2.36 GAA in 62 games with the Kings. He expects to get the start tonight and has a chance to end the Kings recent hot streak. Thanks to the recent surge, the Kings are sitting comfortably in third place in the Pacific Division, nine points ahead of Phoenix for the last of the divisions three automatic bids to the playoffs. L.A. is still nine points behind San Jose for second place and 11 points behind Anaheim for the top spot. The Kings are back home on Thursday after a perfect three-game road trip. Los Angeles is beginning a five-game homestand tonight and is 19-10-3 at Staples Center this season. The club capped its recent swing with Mondays 3-2 regulation win at Calgary. Anze Kopitar scored the eventual winner in the third period as Los Angeles survived a late push from the Flames to pick up the win at the Saddledome. Trevor Lewis and Justin Williams scored for the Kings, while Martin Jones made 24 saves in the win. "Good way to finish off the trip. We did what we wanted," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter. "If you score three on the road you should win the hockey game." Quick expects to get the start for L.A. on Thursday. The Kings No. 1 backstop is 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals against average and .910 save percentage in three career games against the Maple Leafs. Kings forward Jordan Nolan is eligible to return tonight after sitting out the last game due to a suspension. Nolan earned the one-game ban for a sucker punch on Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu on Sunday. ' ' '