Their heart will go on: How Celine's signature ballad became the Jets' victory anthem - Canadanewsmedia
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Their heart will go on: How Celine's signature ballad became the Jets' victory anthem

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LAS VEGAS — It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They’d opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn’t until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

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LAS VEGAS — It might just be the most absurd victory song in all sports. And for the Winnipeg Jets, the bizarre idea for what has become their memorable rallying cry was born here in Sin City.

We take you back to last November, when this young squad was still struggling to find its way. They’d opened the season with a pair of painful back-to-back losses, which had some fans already reaching for the panic button.

And while they were able to right the ship fairly quickly, it wasn’t until after they touched down in Vegas that the Jets really got airborne.

They had kicked off that particular three-game road trip with impressive 4-1 victory in Dallas, then flew to Vegas immediately after, where they enjoyed three full days between game action. On one of their off-nights, most of the team headed for the Omnia Nightclub in Caesars Palace. Some of the most popular DJs in the world were playing a benefit concert following the October mass shooting tragedy.

In between the thumping bass and pounding beats, Canadian songstress Celine Dion made a surprise appearance. And she belted out My Heart Will Go On, her famous ballad.

The Jets got thumped a couple nights later at T-Mobile as Vegas skated circles around them in a 5-2 win. But the following night, Winnipeg responded with an impressive 4-1 bounce-back victory in Arizona.

And veteran forward Mathieu Perreault decided to change things up with the post-game music playlist.

The Las Vegas Strip.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Las Vegas Strip.

“I thought I’d put it on after the game because we won the game, to make the guys laugh. And it just kind of stuck around with us,” Perreault told the Free Press Wednesday morning as his Jets prepared to take on the Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.

Winnipeg immediately went on a four-game winning streak, and a 9-2-1 run overall, which included a 7-4 victory on home ice over Vegas at Bell MTS Place. Being the superstitious sort and not wanting to mess with success, the players made Dion’s music a regular part of dressing room protocol.

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas, where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert.

“She’s an icon of music. Even if you’re not from Quebec everybody knows about her. No one was against it for sure,” said Perreault. “We’ve had success playing it, so now we’ve just been going with it.”

Defenceman Josh Morrissey said building a winning team isn’t just about throwing the 20 most talented players out against the other team hoping for the best. Chemistry, both on and off the ice, is important. And even the smallest things, such as a funny victory song, help build that up.

“I think it was kind of a fun thing in the dressing room. Something that, over the course of a season, obviously it’s a long year. There’s lots of little things you can rally behind and have fun with. And that was one of those moments for sure that was pretty funny, that some guys got a good laugh in,” Morrissey said Wednesday. “Those are some of those fun times you remember when you look back on the season, things like that that develop over time.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that My Heart Will Go On is most famously linked to the Titanic movie. And given how that ended, some might question the logic of a sports team tying their hopes to a song famously related to a sinking ship.

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine's ballad "My Heart Will Go On" has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Celine Dion impersonator Steven Wayne performs at The LINQ in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The real Celine’s ballad “My Heart Will Go On” has become the Winnipeg jets victory song.

“It’s different, but whatever works,” said Christian Rivard, a Winnipegger who is in Vegas this week to watch the Jets along with his three brothers and their father.

“It’s an interesting thing, for sure,” said Nicolas Rivard.

“Let’s just hope the Vegas Golden Knights are Leo at the end,” added Jeremie Rivard, referring to actor Leonardo DeCaprio, whose character drowns in the movie.

If it’s a bad omen, the Jets don’t seem worried. And as they continue to navigate the waters of the Stanley Cup playoffs, they no doubt hope for continued smooth sailing.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Read more by Mike McIntyre.

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Mariners get Alex Colome, Denard Span in trade with Rays

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Still two months before the deadline, the Seattle Mariners struck first in the trade market in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, the teams announced Friday. 

The Mariners, seeking their first postseason appearance since 2001 — the longest in the majors — received reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays for right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore and minor league pitcher Tommy Romero.

“This is a trade that makes us a more complete club in the present while also offering impact beyond this season,” said Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto in a written statement. 

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“Alex Colomé brings an all-star resume, fortifying what we believe is an already solid back end of the bullpen. Denard Span adds length to our lineup as a steady and smart player with consistent on-base skills in addition to a veteran presence that enhances our environment.”

Colome, who is 2-5 with 4.15 ERA, served as the Rays closer the past three seasons. He’s converted his last 10 save opportunities for 11 this season. 

Span, a career .288 hitter, of 11 MLB seasons, gives the Mariners an experienced left-handed bat in the lineup. He is batting .238 with 27 runs scored in 43 games. 

The Mariners, 29-20 heading into Friday night, are three games back of the Houston Astros in the AL West. The lost their leadoff hitter Dee Gordon to a fractured toe this week and All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano to an 80-game suspension. 

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Kurtenbach: Why all eyes should be on Steve Kerr ahead of Game 6

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HOUSTON — Rockets guard Paul Chris Paul — the man who effectively willed Houston to a critical Game 5 win and a 3-2 series lead behind a bevy of absurd second-half isolation shots — will not play in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals

His status for a possible Game 7 is up in the air as well.

Some might view Paul’s injury as clearing the way for the Warriors to win back-to-back games and advance to the NBA Finals. It’s an easy viewpoint to have and it’s not entirely misplaced.

If only it were that easy.

The Warriors might cite their triumph in the 2016 Western Conference Finals — when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Oklahome City — as evidence that this 3-2 hole is not as daunting as it might look (an argument that became easier to make with Friday’s news). But that was a different team under different circumstances.

Paul’s injury has not given the Warriors a reprieve. Houston needs to win only one more game in this series (with two chances to do it, one at home) and even without their star guard, the Rockets remain more than capable of fulfilling that requirement. Meanwhile, the Warriors are a team that’s having an offensive identity crisis at the worst possible time.

These next two games will be turned into a referendum for many of the Warriors and the operation as a whole, but amid that scrutiny, the man under the most pressure to perform isn’t Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant.

It’s Steve Kerr.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sits on the bench while playing the Houston Rockets during the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Kerr is an exceptional coach when it comes to managing the responsibilities and personalities that come from having an exceptionally talented team — that’s not easy to do — but his performance as a game manager over the last two games has been suspect.

We saw the Warriors run out of gas in the fourth quarter of Game 4 — bizarre rotations and poor time management playing a big role in a 12-point fourth quarter and a stunning loss the evened the series at two games apiece.

In Game 5, we saw a total shift in bench deployment — David West played nearly a full quarter and Quinn Cook was on the floor in crunch time — as well as a continuation of the Warriors’ offensive woes, which unmistakenly manifested themselves in the fourth quarter of the team’s second straight loss.

The loss of Andre Iguodala to a leg injury and the Rockets’ nothing-to-lose physicality created a tricky situation for Kerr to manage over the last two games, no doubt. But it’s hard to say that he passed either test.

His biggest challenge is righting the Warriors’ disjointed offense. That is his area of tactical expertise, after all. Golden State had one of the best offenses in NBA history this season, but over the last two contests, they’ve failed to average a point per possession. If that continues, the Warriors stand little-to-no chance to win this series.

So what did Kerr tell his team after Game 5?

“Well, there are things I tell you guys here, and there are things I tell my team that are private,” Kerr said Friday.

Fair enough.

At the same time, Kerr is clearly talking to his team through the media — pushing a message of relentless positivity amid the most trying moment this team has faced since Durant joined it in July 2016.

There is something to be said about finding the silver linings in a loss. But then there was Kerr’s approach after losing Game 5 on Thursday and falling behind 3-2 in the series. If you had not watched the game, you could have easily interpreted Kerr as saying “Yes, we’re down 3-2, but we have the Rockets right where we want them.”

We’ll see if that bold strategy pays dividends.

Golden State Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr talks with Stephen Curry (30) in the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr talks with Stephen Curry (30) in the first quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. 

Regardless, the truth remains that the Warriors exhausted their margin for error in this series with Thursday’s loss. They might not feel they need any leeway — that they are on the precipice of putting everything together against a team they can no longer consider a worthy adversary with Paul sidelined at least for one game.

But the fact that the Rockets missed 30 — yes, 30 — uncontested shots (per the NBA’s tracking data) Thursday night, with James Harden missing all 10 of his uncontested attempts, and still won cannot be ignored.

The Warriors have banked on the Rockets’ offensive inefficiency in recent games, but it only takes a few extra uncontested Houston shots to fall for the Warriors’ season to end.

That is if the Golden State offense doesn’t break through.

It’s upon Kerr to find a way to mesh the Warriors’ offense, which currently looks like it’s in a battle with itself over what it wants to be. It’s a challenge that could go a long way to defining this team’s legacy and his as a coach.

In Games 4 and 5, Golden State appeared to have two diametrically opposed offenses, fighting for supremacy possession by possession. There was the Kevin Durant-is-the-fulcrum isolation game — which advanced the Warriors to these Western Conference Finals — going up against the Warriors’ traditional ball-movement attack, led by Stephen Curry.

It’s easy to propose that the Warriors go all-in on a Curry-led attack — it looked better in Game 5 — but that’s simply not possible. The Warriors need Durant and what he brings, too. He’s a perfect counter to Houston’s defense.

But Durant’s isolations have become predictable and direct to a fault. And juxtaposing that attack with the Warriors’ ball-moving sets hasn’t created a challenge for the Rockets’ defense, it’s merely created dysfunction for the Warriors.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by head coach Steve Kerr, left, after their win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) is congratulated by head coach Steve Kerr, left, after their win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 

“Last night wasn’t his best game, but I thought he still carried us at times,” Kerr said of Durant, who had zero assists in Game 5 and has only 10 in this series.

“Houston’s doing a great job defensively. They’re doing what we do. When you switch everything, it makes ball movement more difficult, and it makes player movement more difficult. That’s why you do it. That’s why they’ve built the roster they have, and that’s why we’ve built the roster we have. Everybody’s saying why aren’t you guys moving the ball? Well, it’s good defense. So we’re lucky we have Kevin, because Kevin is the ultimate answer against switching defenses. He’s had a great series.”

It’s not on the players to figure out this puzzle as they go. We’ve seen how that has gone over the last two games. Kerr was imploring Durant to trust his teammates in Game 5, but if that message resonated, it certainly didn’t manifest on the floor.

It needs to happen Saturday in Game 6.

Kerr has earned a reputation as a great coach after winning two titles in his first four years. I’m not here to debate that. I will say, though, that at least part of Kerr’s generally sterling reputation is on the line in Game 6, and, if the Warriors prevail, Game 7.

Somehow, someway, Kerr needs to find a balancing point in the Warriors offense that allows the Warriors to maintain a steady energy while also utilizing Durant’s elite one-on-one skills.

If he can’t, the Warriors will again be at the mercy of the Rockets and the presumptive NBA MVP, Harden. And this time, they just might take advantage.

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UFC star Nick Diaz is arrested after 'strangling a woman and breaking her hip' while 'coked up' in Las Vegas

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  • Nick Diaz has been arrested after a domestic abuse incident in Las Vegas 
  • The 34-year-old was charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation
  • He was reportedly aggressive toward police and his bail is set at $18,000
  • His alleged victim, a woman, was taken to hospital after the incident 

Hannah Moore For Dailymail.com

UFC Star Nick Diaz has been arrested on domestic abuse charges after allegedly strangling a woman and breaking her hip. 

Diaz, 34, was arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after an incident on Thursday evening, MMAJunkie reported.

He has been charged with felony domestic battery by strangulation, as well as misdemeanor domestic battery.

Police were called to the home about 7.20pm local time and a source with knowledge of the case says 12 units in total were sent out. 

Diaz was reportedly hostile to the arresting officers and his bail has been set at $18,000 – the majority of which comes from his strangulation charge. The fighter must face court on Saturday morning before he can be released.

His alleged victim was taken to hospital after the incident.  

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

UFC fighter Nick Diaz was arrested on domestic violence charges in Las Vegas on Thursday

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz's arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

Pictured: Details of Nick Diaz’s arrest. His bail is $18,000 and he must face court on Saturday before he can be released

A representative for Diaz says the fighter is not a violent person, and would not hurt someone else even if he was provoked. 

Matt Staudt Jr said there was ‘no scenario where Nick would put his hands on anyone unless it was necessary self-defense, and then watch the f*** out’.

In a lengthy statement posted to social media, Staudt said Diaz’s alleged victim is ‘the most deranged and insane I’ve met to date’.

‘She has been obsessed with and stalked Nick for maybe two years now. Suicide attempts, calls to his family from fake numbers, thousand of calls a day – yes thousands, showing up everywhere he goes following his story,’ he wrote.

‘He changed his number to get away but Vegas is small and they crossed paths again. She left their interaction feeling some type of way yesterday and put in a fake report to get even and have him arrested which she’s threatened to do many times before as well. 

‘I can’t even fully digest this whole thing because of how insane and wrong it is.’  

But multiple sources told TMZ police were told the woman had been in an ‘on again – off again sexual relationship’ with Diaz for years, and things had blown out of proportion because of his alleged cocaine use. 

The alleged victim claimed to police she had been slammed to the ground and choked around the neck.

When police arrived, sources said she had red marks around her neck and her eyes. 

Social media personality Front Row Brian said sources at Las Vegas Police had told him the woman suffered a broken hip and Diaz had fought officers inside Clark Country Detention Center.

Diaz has not been able to comment on his own behalf, and the woman in the situation has not been identified. 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim 'deranged and insane' 

Matt Staudt Jr (left) posted a passionate defence of Diaz to social media, calling his alleged victim ‘deranged and insane’ 

 

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