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Alex Burrows on getting chirped, chasing a dream in NHL return | Offside – Daily Hive

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There was never much doubt that Alex Burrows would have a career in hockey if he wanted one, following the end of his playing career.

Well known as a student of the game during the course of his 913-game NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators, few players thought the game as well as Burrows.

It was, however, a surprise that he ended up back in the NHL so soon, after retiring as a player three years ago.

Hired as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in Laval in 2018, it took less than three years for Burrows to earn an NHL promotion. When Dominique Ducharme was hired as Claude Julien’s replacement on February 24, Burrows was elevated into an assistant coaching role with the Habs.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen this quick,” Burrows told reporters today, from Vancouver. “I was really shocked. I didn’t expect the call, but at the same time I was really excited, really thrilled to get a chance to get back in the NHL with my childhood team, and to chase that Lord Stanley again.”

Burrows didn’t exactly ease into his new role either.

There’s not many places like Montreal in terms of media scrutiny, as evidenced by the fact that Burrows — an assistant coach — spoke to reporters for a whopping 49 minutes today in English and French.

Burrows was given a rather large responsibility, being immediately put in charge of the team’s power play. So far so good, as the Canadiens have the best power play percentage in the league since the former ball hockey star took over.

What Burrows learned with the Canucks

Burrows famously didn’t play a lot on the power play as a player with the Canucks, with Alain Vigneault usually only giving him second-unit time, even when he was a 30-goal scorer playing on the first line with the Sedins. Even when he wasn’t a part of either power play unit, Burrows said he always made sure to sit in on the power play meetings — a surefire sign that he would make a good coach some day.

“What else was I going to do?” Burrows explained. “I might as well try to learn more, see what our power play was going to try to do, and if I was the next man up I wanted to make sure that I knew what my route was going to be, what my role was going to be, what I should be looking for.

“So that’s why I would go in there, sit in these meetings, and I just liked it, that’s pretty much it.

“Instead of eating bagels in the lounge, I would rather be in there making sure that if my name was called upon to be the next guy up, I was going to be ready for it.”

On what he picked up from his longtime linemates Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Burrows said they were “experts at simple plays.”

“It wasn’t always that crazy between the leg saucer pass, back door, and the tic tac toes. The way they had success was by keeping it simple, over and over and over, and becoming experts at that. It comes down to execution, it comes down with knowing where teammates are going to be on the ice.”

Players chirping him

Still just 39 years old, Burrows is closer in age to many of the players than he is to members of the Canadiens coaching staff. He’s just four years older than Corey Perry and Shea Weber for instance, two players he battled with many times during his career.

That makes him a bit more like a friend that players can talk to, rather than a father figure, Burrows says. It might also make him more vulnerable to chirps.

During Monday’s morning skate, Burrows said some of the Canadiens players had some fun at his expense, pointing out his image in the Ring of Honour in Rogers Arena.

“The boys, they reminded me in morning skate that my name was up there and they were giving me their chirps — ‘How did you get up there?’ — I heard it all yesterday from the players. They were joking with it, it was fine with me.”

Burrows is no stranger to dishing out chirps, of course, so those players better be ready to take it too.

Still chasing that dream

On his approach to coaching, Burrows had a simple but inspiring answer: be yourself.

“Everybody says the same thing, try to be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and that’s what brought you here. That’s how I made my career, I never really changed, I always tried to be a hard worker,” said Burrows.

“Every day in the NHL is always a great day. And now that I’m here, I won’t start changing the way I am. I’m going to be myself and that’s what brought me here, that’s what gave me the career I had, so why change now?”

Burrows’ rags to riches story is well known, working his way up from the ECHL, to the AHL, then to the NHL as a checker and agitator. He was never supposed to be more than a third or fourth line grinder, but he ended up carving a pretty nice career as a goal-scorer. But through it all, he had the same dream as every other hockey player, to win the Stanley Cup, and his dream as a coach is no different.

“I’ve pretty much seen it all, played at all. Obviously there’s only one thing missing. If I can do it as a coach, I’ll be extremely happy.

“I’m still chasing that dream.”

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Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now

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The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.

The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.

The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.

The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.

The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.

Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.

Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.

Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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