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Bobby Ryan opens up about alcohol addiction and the road to recovery – TSN



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Bobby Ryan knew this day was coming.

The veteran forward was well aware he would be peppered with questions about his extended absence from the Ottawa Senators for the past three months. On Friday morning, he decided to open up about the reasons for his departure from the team.

“I’ve dreaded this day for the better part of three months. But if you’re going to stand here and take time to heal yourself, you’re going to have to face the music,” Ryan said to a group of reporters gathered at his locker stall inside Canadian Tire Centre. “I spent two weeks agonizing over the fact it was going to be a media thing for me.”

Until now, the only explanation for Ryan’s leave was a purposely vague joint press release from the NHL and NHLPA on Nov. 20, stating he would be away from the team while participating in the league’s player assistance program.

On Friday, Ryan bravely shared that he has been undergoing extensive treatment for alcohol abuse.

Things came to a head during a Senators practice on Nov. 18, when Ryan abruptly left the team. In an emotional conversation with reporters on Friday, Ryan said he had reached a breaking point in his battle with alcohol that day in Detroit.

“I guess you can call it a panic attack, but it was more of a realization that the route that I was going had no good end in sight,” Ryan admitted. “And that’s not just professionally — that’s personally.”

The 32-year-old said he was caught in a vicious cycle, where he was trying to handle the situation on his own — but without any long-term success.

“It’s something I’ve been battling for a while,” he said. “I’ve tried on my own and I was already getting help for it. What I was doing wasn’t enough. I was trying to white-knuckle things and trying to do things the wrong way.”

Ryan said he was able to stay sober for small stretches, but would ultimately relapse into his old, familiar habits.

“It would be 20 days of nothing and then one real bad day,” he explained.

Ryan headed to an in-patient clinic to seek a permanent solution for his problems. He said it was something he contemplated doing last summer, but only mustered up the courage to do in November. 

“The issue for me was stopping. I just had never had a period in my life where people were around me to help me really stop,” Ryan said. “It took me going somewhere to figure that out. And getting a dry period to start out was very beneficial to me.”

Ryan called the support of his fellow NHLers “overwhelming,” saying a number of players who have battled a substance abuse issue reached out to him directly. He said that while some of the players have publicly shared their journeys, he was surprised at the number of fellow NHLers who contacted him that went through the program anonymously.

“Some guys reached out and I had no clue they did it,” Ryan said. 

At the height of his issues, Ryan said he was constantly battling insomnia. When he would wake up from choppy sleeps, he would often be overridden with feelings of guilt and shame. It was certainly not the recipe for success for an average hockey player, let alone a star commanding a $7 million annual salary.

But Ryan, as many fans know, is not your average NHL player. His atypical path to stardom has been widely documented over the years – starting with a dysfunctional childhood that saw his father change their family name and moving across the country to evade law enforcement. Ryan’s father was accused of domestic assault against his wife and, in order to avoid jail time, he moved the family to California in an attempt to build a new life.

Two decades later, Ryan admits that he is still carrying baggage from his abnormal upbringing.

“A lot of what I’ve been through has been very public,” he said, alluding to his childhood. “I had a lot of issues surrounding that. I know now that for a very long time, I just kind of put my head down and never really dealt with it. I checked a lot of the metaphorical boxes from the time I was 15 on. And I got hit with waves of it in the past little while and haven’t handled any of those waves right for a long period of time, and things just continued to escalate for the past three years.”

Ryan acknowledges that he’s made strides in therapy, but coming to terms with his childhood emotions is still a work in progress.

“It’s something I need to let go and put in my past. I’m still continuing to let go of some more of it,” he said. He made a point of saying that while the therapy sessions have been difficult, he will continue to go through them in the months ahead.

The death of his mother, Melody, in the summer of 2016 after a battle with liver cancer did not help matters for Ryan, who admitted on Friday that his problem has been mounting for the better part of three years. He did acknowledge that his wife, Danielle, who he called “a rock star” throughout this whole ordeal, and their two young children were a catalyst in him seeking help a few months ago.

“I got to point where I said is enough is enough with the shame and guilt and not being the person you need to be for your family,” Ryan said. 

While he admits to being apprehensive about having to share his story on such a public platform, Ryan said he hopes it helps other people who are battling addictions to consider seeking help.

“I guess in that sense there’s a silver lining. I would like to be a role model for other reasons. Everything has led me to here. I wish it hadn’t taken so long for me to get here,” Ryan explained. “If there’s anybody that hears it in some sense and recognize something and find a way to ask for help — hopefully less publicly — then I urge them to do it.”

Ryan, who produced just one goal in 16 games this season, said that his return to the lineup is imminent and he anticipates rejoining the team in the next two weeks. Looking trim and lean, Ryan says he’s lost about 10 pounds and has cleared all of the medical and physical testing required to return to the lineup. 

When he does make his return, Ryan knows there will be a degree of cynicism in the marketplace for a player who has largely failed to live up to the massive seven-year, $50 million contract he signed in the fall of 2014.

“People have reservations about where I’m at in my career and my contract and I understand that. I’m not saying that I’m going come out of this and play to the $7 million dollar guy that I want to be as much as everyone else does,” he said. “But this is a chance for me to reset and prove that I can play in this league and that I can contribute.”

Ryan is hopeful that his chance to return is during a home game. While the club has not given Ryan an indication of a potential return date, Thursday’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks could be a realistic target. Ryan emphasized that it would be more meaningful for him for his return to take place at Canadian Tire Centre.

“In a sense, I hope it’s at home because my wife and kids will be here for that,” Ryan said to wrap up his media session, his voice cracking with emotion for the first time. “They’ve earned this as much as I have.”

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Williams not on January's Australian Open entry list – TSN



MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not long after Serena Williams’ name was absent from the entry list for the Australian Open, she confirmed the obvious: the seven-time champion won’t play the 2022 edition of the season-opening major in January.

The 40-year-old Williams hasn’t played since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon with a right hamstring injury and her ranking has slipped to No. 41. She won the last of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at the 2017 Australian Open, and was beaten in the semifinals this year by Naomi Osaka in straight sets.

The Australian Open’s website Wednesday said the seven-time women’s singles champion would not compete in Melbourne “following advice from her medical team.”

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” Williams told the website. “Melbourne is one of my favorite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year. I will miss seeing the fans, but am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

Novak Djokovic was on the men’s entry list at No. 1 in a further indication that he’ll be playing at Melbourne Park beginning Jan. 17 despite Australia’s strict regulations requiring all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Djokovic has declined to comment on his vaccination status in recent months, although he was included last week on the Serbian team for the ATP Cup which starts Jan. 1 in Sydney.

The nine-time Australian Open champion is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal is also entered for the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 17, but Federer is skipping the tournament as he continues his recovery from surgery.

Daniil Medvedev, who ended Djokovic’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam with a victory in the U.S. Open final, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev are listed above No. 6 Nadal, who is not playing for Spain at the ATP Cup.

Ash Barty tops the women’s entry list and will continue her quest to end a long drought for Australian women at the tournament. No Australian woman has won the singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

On Monday, Canadian Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, said she will take a mental break from tennis and sit out the start of next season, including the Australian Open.


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Canada joins U.S., U.K., in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics – National Post



Said China’s foreign ministry of the Australian diplomatic boycott: ‘Whether they come or not, nobody cares’

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OTTAWA – Canada will not be sending diplomats to the Beijing Olympics in early February, effectively joining a diplomatic boycott with the United States, United Kingdom and Australia denouncing China’s alleged human rights violations.


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“As many partners around the world, we are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Wednesday, flanked by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, as well as MP and former Olympian Adam Van Koeverden.

As the boycott only involves diplomatic staff and government officials, Canadian athletes will still compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympic games beginning next February. The foreign minister argued that Canada’s decision sends a “strong signal” to China without unfairly affecting athletes working to compete in Beijing.

  1. A card calling the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

    John Robson: There is value in a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics

  2. A snowboarder stands in front of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, China, on Nov. 20, 2021. Canada should join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Games, writes Tasha Kheiriddin.

    Tasha Kheiriddin: A diplomatic boycott of Beijing is a no-brainer, except in Ottawa

  3. In this file photo taken on December 01, 2021, people walk past the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics logo at the Shougang Park in Beijing. - Canada will not send officials to the Beijing Olympics in February, Trudeau announced on December 8, 2021, joining the US and other allies' diplomatic boycott of the Games.

    Matt Gurney: Trudeau’s diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics the absolute least he could do


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Joly and St-Onge said their top priority for the country’s athletes competing in China was their safety, and that the RCMP would be working with the Canadian Olympic Committee to ensure they are properly protected during the games.

But neither minister was able to provide details of what that meant.

“There are already agents that have been hired to ensure the security of the athletes and we’re still in discussion with the RCMP with (Public Safety Minister) Marco Mendicino. Everything will be in place to make sure that the athletes are safe,” St-Onge said.

China is facing strong and increasing international criticism over what many countries, including Canada, have called the “genocide” of its Uyghur minority, as well as its recent strongarm tactics to increase its control over Hong King by cracking down on democracy and civil liberties via a security law enacted during the pandemic.


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China also recently released two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained for over three years due to what Canada described as “hostage diplomacy.”

Federal opposition parties criticized the Trudeau government for taking so much time to decide to boycott the Games and not acting sooner to push for them to either be postponed for one year or even relocated to another country.

According to former Canadian ambassador to China Guy St-Jacques, delaying the games for one year to allow an international investigation into human rights abuse allegations in China would have been the clearest and most effective message Canada could have sent.

But a widespread diplomatic boycott is the second-best option at this point and will still send a strong message to Chinese President Xi Jinping without requiring Canadian athletes to suffer the consequences of a full boycott, he said.


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“It will have an impact because this will result in a loss of face for President Xi Jinping. We know that he wanted to use the Olympics to showcase that China’s a modern country, a superpower that knows how to organize things,” said the former ambassador.

It will have an impact because this will result in a loss of face for President Xi Jinping

“He was hoping that having foreign leaders there would confirm that, in fact, China has become so powerful that nobody would dare to criticize it,” he continued, adding he expects many more if not all members of the European Union to join the boycott.

The U.S. was the first country to formally announce that they would send no diplomatic envoys or staff with their athletes to the upcoming winter games during a press conference on Monday, citing China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” against the Uyghur people.


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“U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the [People’s Republic of China]’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

Two other Canadian allies, Australia and then the U.K., followed suit on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, each denouncing China’s repressive actions and human rights violations against its own people.

Joly said that she has used every opportunity possible to discuss the Olympics with Canada’s allies in the G7 and NATO, likely to exhort them to follow suit in the diplomatic boycott.

“There are still many countries studying the question but clearly, I want to make sure as I’m heading to the G7 … that I raise this issue and I want to make sure that more countries in the world send a strong signal,” Joly said.


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The decision is likely to aggravate Canada’s already strained relationship with Beijing, notably as the Trudeau government is also expected to announce a formal decision on whether Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will be allowed to participate in Canada’s 5G network.

In an interview with National Post last week, China’s ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu warned that such boycotts are not in line with the values of the Olympic Games.

“It is for the people. It is for humanity. It is not for politicians,” Cong said. “It is against the spirit of the Olympic Games to politicize these issues.”

China has denied any wrongdoing in Xinjiang and said abuse allegations are fabricated.

Its foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing that Australian politicians were engaged in “political posturing.”

“Whether they come or not, nobody cares,” he added.



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Soccer-Chelsea lose top spot after 3-3 draw at Zenit



Champions League holders Chelsea finished as Group H runners-up after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser in a pulsating 3-3 draw at Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday.

The result left Chelsea second on 13 points from six games, two behind group winners Juventus who leapt into pole position thanks to a 1-0 home win over Sweden’s Malmo.

Both sides had already booked their last-16 berths while third-placed Zenit will go into the second-tier Europa League after the winter break.

Chelsea made a perfect start as Timo Werner fired them ahead in the second minute with a tap-in after a Ross Barkley corner was nodded into his path.

Mason Mount squandered a sitter to double the lead after Zenit twice came close to an equaliser and the England midfielder’s miss turned out to be costly as the home side turned the game round with two quickfire goals.

Brazilian forward Claudinho levelled in the 38th with a glancing header into the far corner after his compatriot Douglas Santos swung in a cross past a static visiting defence.

Rattled by the equaliser, Chelsea fell behind three minutes later when Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun beat the offside trap from Malcom’s fine through ball and slotted home after rounding goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Romelu Lukaku hit back in the 62nd minute as he stroked the ball into an empty net after a flowing move and Chelsea seemed to have forced the final twist after Werner struck again in the 85th thanks to more crisp-one touch passing.

The move left Zenit’s defence bedazzled with Christian Pulisic delivering the final pass to Werner, who fired in a snap shot from 10 metres after side-stepping his marker.

The Premier League side were undone, however, by a spectacular equaliser at the death as they failed to clear a cross and Magomed Ozdoev unleashed an unstoppable volley into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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