Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call
It’s gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It’s just that times are lean
— Colin Hay, longtime Australian-American songwriter
Brady Tkachuk’s ship is coming in soon, right?
It isn’t often that a team’s fan base is hung up on getting a new contract for a restricted free agent — RFA players are generally considered to hold few real options and little leverage — but in Ottawa, this is where we are. And where Senators fans have been all summer, waiting on Brady.
Brady, Brady . . . to borrow from the title of a young reader hockey series written by Mary Shaw.
With the calendar counting down the days to a Sept. 22 camp launch, the two sides have yet to come up with a deal — the Senators discovering just how much leverage the kid truly has. General manager Pierre Dorion said on a Zoom call Tuesday that negotiations with the Tkachuk camp continue.
“We talked as recently as Friday,” Dorion said, as he spoke to reporters about his own contract extension. “We’re not going to negotiate in public, but talks are ongoing and they’ve been very positive so far.
“So, hopefully the next announcement is definitely more important than this announcement.”
Who is Brady Tkachuk?
In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years (or don’t watch Senators hockey), Tkachuk is a player beloved in this marketplace almost beyond reason. A six-foot-four beast of a left winger who doesn’t turn 22 until Sept. 16, yet has the kind of trench-forged reputation and opposition loathing of a veteran Mark Messier or Gordie Howe. No one wanted to tangle with their elbows, either.
A fourth overall draft choice out of Boston University in 2018, Tkachuk is no sniper, yet he led his young Senators team in scoring last season with 36 points in 56 games. Not many of his 17 goals were things of beauty, they were more like rewards from the hockey gods for Tkachuk’s willingness to dine so regularly on the blue tablecloth of the goal crease.
When Tkachuk lost a couple of front teeth in the line of duty one night, he smiled and carried on, laughing at his good fortune that the loose teeth were stuck inside his transient mouthguard for safekeeping, to be reconnected the next morning by team dentist Dr. Bill Henry. Tkachuk wasn’t home from the dentist five minutes before he was on the phone with this Sportsnet reporter, fulfilling an obligation he had made. Typical Brady. Answering the bell.
For his bravado, for his swagger, for his lust to compete, for his ‘Frank the Tank’ shimmy-shake goal celly, for his willingness to “drag his teammates into battle,” as head coach D.J. Smith says so often, Tkachuk wouldn’t be able to pay for a beer in this town over the next eight years if he should happen to sign a contract for that length — for terms likely close to teammate Thomas Chabot’s current eight-year, $64M deal.
Or, perhaps higher than $8M per, given Tkachuk’s importance to the franchise/fan base and the time that has elapsed since Chabot’s deal.
The organization would love to have Brady locked up for eight years, to the point where management has publicly dangled the captaincy in front of Tkachuk. That is, as long as he is willing to go long, as they say on the football sandlot fields.
“You can’t have a captain on a bridge deal,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk famously said on a Toronto-based broadcast in May. “You can’t have a captain there on a bridge contract, it’s not going to happen.”
Some context to Melnyk’s stipulation. The Senators have had a history of seeing their captains walk.
Daniel Alfredsson wore the ‘C’ for more than a decade, but opted to finish his career in Detroit after a contract dispute in Ottawa. Jason Spezza was captain for just one year (2013-14) before he asked for a trade, feeling he bore too much of the blame for team defeats. Erik Karlsson took on the captaincy from 2014-18, but was traded away during the 2018 camp when no contract extension was worked out. Mark Stone, Brady Tkachuk’s Ottawa landlord, was thought to be the heir-apparent as captain, but left for Las Vegas riches at the 2019 trade deadline.
So, you can understand a touch of sensitivity where the captaincy is concerned. Ottawa hasn’t had a captain since Karlsson, but coach Smith has said he feels it is time to appoint one.
Both Tkachuk and Chabot would make fine captains. In fact, you could make a case that Tkachuk should be left to wreak havoc and do “Brady” things while the calm and steady Chabot speaks on behalf of the team in both official languages.
I would be fine with that. Most would.
But if Tkachuk IS your guy, he is your guy. Whether he signs for three, four or eight years, if he is the guy you want leading, he should wear the ‘C.’
Otherwise, the Senators are sending two clear signals to players and fans: 1. The organization doesn’t believe it has the ability to sign Tkachuk to a second contract, after a bridge deal. And 2. That Chabot is the backup choice.
Chabot as Plan B for the ‘C’
After waiting three years to name a captain, this is no way to begin this critical next phase of growth into contention — by letting on that you opted for Plan B as punishment to Tkachuk for not playing ball in negotiations.
In a perfect world, that point will be moot, as Tkachuk signs a long-term deal and puts on the No. 7 jersey with a ‘C’ stitched on the front.
GM Dorion extended through 2024-25
While it wasn’t the contract fans were longing to hear — the Brady one — few would dispute that Pierre Dorion earned the added security that came with the three-year contract extension announced Tuesday. As with most GMs, there have been trades and acquisitions that didn’t work out, but Dorion’s record as a scout and draft overseer is excellent. As the architect of this deep rebuild, Dorion and draft guru Trent Mann have drafted the likes of Chabot, Tkachuk, Tim Stützle (part of the Erik Karlsson trade windfall), Jake Sanderson, Shane Pinto and more.
Dorion feels his young group is ready to take the next step.
End of the rebuild?
“To me, this is going to be the fun part,” Dorion said. “The rebuild is over. Now we’re stepping into another zone and I’m excited about the group of players we have, with the maturity they’ve brought or gotten over the last few years. I’m excited about some of the veterans and how they’ve taken a big step.”
Dorion, 49, would have been entering the final year of his contract, although there was a team option for another year. Now, that option is tacked on to the end of this extension.
The move gives Dorion the freedom to operate without worrying about his future with the organization, or looking over his shoulder at Pierre McGuire, who was hired this summer as senior VP of player development. Dorion deserves a chance to see this plan through.
Now entering his 15th year with the Senators, Dorion moved into the GM role in April of 2016.
“Stability is the message that it sends to the players,” Dorion said. “I’m going to be the GM here for the next four or five years. As the head of hockey (operations) I’ve brought in most of these players as the GM, chief scout or director of player personnel, and I’ve had a big say here in many of these players coming along with many of our quality staff members.”
“Stability is important,” Dorion added.
Considering the recent extensions for Dorion and head coach D.J. Smith, plus the hiring of McGuire, owner Eugene Melnyk certainly has his staff lined up for the next several seasons — years that should involve Stanley Cup playoff contention for the Sens.
Batherson skates in Ottawa
Fresh off his new six-year, $29.85M deal he signed last week, winger Drake Batherson was in Ottawa Tuesday, skating with about 15 of his Senators teammates before speaking to media on a Zoom call.
Batherson said that signing long-term was an “easy decision,” considering how welcome he feels in Ottawa, and how bullish he is about the team.
“I think we are just going to keep building and hopefully have a great year,” Batherson said. “We’re all competitive guys in there, we all want to win, so we’re definitely not going to go down without battling every night and obviously try to push for a (playoff) spot.”
With 17 goals last season, the 23-year-old Batherson was tied with Tkachuk and Josh Norris for second in the team’s goal-scoring department, behind Connor Brown’s 21. Tkachuk, Brown, Norris and Batherson were also jammed together in points — 36, 35, 35 and 34. The essence of Ottawa’s top six forwards is an ability to make plays, but with that shooting element as well.
Last week, Dorion said he could see Batherson hitting the 30-35 goal range if he shoots a bit more.
Batherson doesn’t expect the weight of the new, albeit back-loaded, contract to slow him down.
“I’m pretty hard on myself to just be good every night,” Batherson said. “Every single game, every practice, I’m always trying to get better. I hate to lose — super competitive guy — that’s the driving point for me.”
Lululemon named official Canadian outfitter for next four Olympics | Offside – Daily Hive
Lululemon will be officially heading to the Olympics.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced Thursday a partnership with the Canadian clothing brand Lululemon, making it the country’s official outfitter of Team Canada for the next four Olympics.
“As a Canadian and lifelong fan of the Games, I could not be prouder for Lululemon to partner with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee,” said Calvin McDonald, the CEO of Lululemon in a release. “Supporting these incredible athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s largest sporting stage is a privilege. Through this partnership, all of us at Lululemon are honoured to play our part to inspire, unite and transform the world through sport and share in this excitement alongside all of Canada.”
A small selection of Lululemon Olympic apparel is available online and in-store already, with more to be revealed next month.
The partnership will start at the Beijing 2022 Games, continuing through 2024 in Paris, 2026 in Milan, and 2028 in Los Angeles.
This replaces the Hudson’s Bay partnership that first began in Torino 2006 and expired after Tokyo 2020.
While it’s Lululemon’s first official Olympic partnership, they actually launched a collection that appeared to be heavily inspired by Vancouver 2010.
— Zarah Al-Kudcy (@zalkudcy) July 28, 2016
San Jose Sharks open training camp without Evander Kane amid NHL investigation – ESPN
The Sharks took the ice for the first time this season Thursday, a day after Kane was cleared by the NHL of gambling allegations. But with the league still looking into allegations of physical and sexual abuse made by his estranged wife, Kane and the Sharks decided he will not take part in practice until further notice.
“It’s not ideal, but there is an ongoing investigation from the NHL,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “The focus has to be on our group here, the guys that are here today and the things that we can control, but also respect the process of dealing with some very serious allegations and some things that need to be addressed with the right process.”
The Kane saga has been hanging over the Sharks for weeks after Anna Kane alleged in an Instagram post this summer that Kane bet on NHL games and was “obviously throwing games to win money.”
That launched a probe by the league, and the NHL said Wednesday there was no evidence to back up those charges and that the investigation “raises doubts about the veracity of the allegations.”
But Anna Kane also made additional allegations this week of sexual and physical abuse in a restraining order application filed in Santa Clara County Family Court.
Kane’s attorney denied those charges, but the team said it came to an agreement with Kane that he won’t participate in camp until further notice while the league looks into the allegations.
None of the players made available to the media would comment on the specifics.
“No one knew about anything and no one still knows about anything,” defenseman Erik Karlsson said. “We’re here to focus on the things that we can control and everything other than that is out of our hands.”
There was also a report this offseason from The Athletic that there was a rift between Kane and his teammates, many of whom don’t want him back on the team.
Kane’s teammates said any issues would be dealt with privately in the dressing room and they were happy with the mindset of the group that was on hand for the start of camp.
“I thought today was a real good day,” captain Logan Couture said. “When you get to the rink, you show up, you play hockey, you work hard. You play for the guy next to you. Everyone that’s here is proud to be a San Jose Shark and we want to win for this organization.”
Kane’s absence will be felt on the ice as he was the team’s most consistent forward last season, when he led the Sharks with 22 goals and 49 points.
If Kane can’t play, San Jose will have a hard time reversing the dramatic fall the team has taken the past two seasons after making it to the Western Conference finals in 2019.
“We all just play,” defenseman Brent Burns said. “It’s no different than anything else. At the end of the day, we just make coffee in the morning, come to the rink, get ready to play and you do it. I don’t think it’s any different than guys getting hurt, not being there for lineup. We don’t worry about that stuff. We can’t. There’s too much other stuff.”
The Sharks finished last in the Western Conference in 2019-20 — firing coach Peter DeBoer in December — and they took only small steps forward last season when they finished near the bottom of the West Division with 49 points in the first full season under Boughner.
They made few big moves in the offseason outside of buying out ineffective goalie Martin Jones, acquiring Adin Hill from Arizona in a trade and signing James Reimer for a second stint with the organization. The Sharks’ .891 save percentage over the past three seasons is the lowest in the NHL.
They also added some depth forwards in Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano, but there will still be questions about whether there’s enough firepower on the top two lines, which will be an even greater concern if Kane doesn’t play.
Canadian Hubbard replaces injured McCaffrey as Panthers beat Texans – Sportsnet.ca
HOUSTON — Thanks to another efficient performance from Sam Darnold and continued dominant play by their defense, the Carolina Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when they reached the Super Bowl.
That combination was certainly too much for the Houston Texans in Carolina’s 24-9 victory on Thursday night. But a hamstring injury to star running back Christian McCaffrey could cause serious adversity for Darnold and the Panthers’ offense going forward.
“Losing Christian is tough, but I thought we did a great job of bouncing back,” Darnold said. “We were able to put the first half behind us and do a good job in the second half.”
Canadian rookie Chuba Hubbard replaced McCaffrey. The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and added three catches for 27 yards.
Darnold threw for 304 yards and ran for two touchdowns as the Panthers eased past the Texans despite losing McCaffrey early in the second quarter.
“In the second half we trusted Sam,” coach Matt Rhule said. “We were throwing more verticals and pushing the ball down the field.”
Carolina’s top-ranked defense put the squeeze on Houston rookie Davis Mills in his first career start, sacking him four times and holding him to 168 yards passing. Mills was pressed into action after Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday and was placed on injured reserve.
The Panthers have allowed 573 yards and totaled 14 sacks in three games.
Darnold topped 300 yards passing for the second straight game as he continues to revitalize his career with the Panthers after being cast aside by the New York Jets.
McCaffrey came in leading the league in scrimmage yards, the same thing he did in the 2019 season. But he missed all but three games in 2020 with various injuries as the Panthers sputtered to 5-11 in Rhule’s first year.
Rhule said McCaffrey had a strained hamstring.
“I don’t know the severity level of it yet, to be quite honest with you,” Rhule said. “But I knew the minute it happened I said: `Hey, he’s out for the game.’ That’s all I knew. I saw him in there, and he’s moving around, but it’s a wait and see.”
Darnold rushed for Carolina’s first score in the first quarter and put the game away when he bulled in from 1 yard out to make it 24-9 with about four minutes left, losing his helmet in the process.
Mills threw for a touchdown and avoided big mistakes after he threw an interception in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Cleveland. But the Texans (1-2) couldn’t run the ball, finishing with 42 yards on the ground, and that forced Mills into tough down-and-distance situations as Houston punted six times.
“We just weren’t very good on offense tonight … because we weren’t able to run the ball,” Texans coach David Culley said.
Mills’ favorite target was Brandin Cooks, who had nine receptions for 112 yards.
“I thought he was great,” Cooks said of the rookie. “He handled himself well.”
Darnold’s 5-yard run put the Panthers ahead early and McCaffrey was injured on Carolina’s next drive. Hubbard was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 5 to end that possession.
Hubbard, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State, finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and three receptions for 27 yards.
Anthony Miller grabbed a 1-yard touchdown pass about 30 seconds before halftime, but Joey Slye missed the extra point. Miller made his debut with the Texans after he missed the first two games with a shoulder injury.
Tommy Tremble dashed untouched into the end zone from 7 yards out to put Carolina ahead 14-6 in the third quarter. The teams traded field goals before Darnold’s short rush on third-and-goal capped a 12-play drive that put it away.
Carolina rookie CB Jaycee Horn, the eighth overall pick in the draft, suffered broken bones in his right foot, Rhule said. … Panthers S Juston Burris pulled a groin muscle and Rhule said he would miss some time.
HE SAID IT
“We just didn’t execute. We missed tackles. They were just making plays they were supposed to make and we weren’t making plays we were supposed to make.” — Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey.
Carolina visits Dallas on Oct. 3.
Houston visits Buffalo on Oct. 3.
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