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Brooks’ milestone helps patchwork Maple Leafs pick up win over Oilers – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — When Adam Brooks made his NHL debut under the roof at Madison Square Garden last season, he commemorated the achievement by getting linemate Jason Spezza to autograph a stick for him.

So you can imagine how thrilled the 24-year-old was Friday to have the veteran set up his first NHL goal. Never mind that it required a member’s bounce for the Toronto Maple Leafs inside Scotiabank Arena — with Spezza throwing a pass to the high slot on the power play and seeing it bounce in off Brooks’ right skate.

“It was a lot of fun, a great moment that I’ll remember forever obviously,” said Brooks. “To say that [Spezza] assisted on my first goal, a guy that’s played for that long and of that calibre, it’s a pretty cool moment for me.

“Just the whole thing was pretty exciting.”

It helped propel the Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on a night where they played without Auston Matthews (upper body) and Joe Thornton (rib fracture), two-thirds of their No. 1 line as recently as 48 hours earlier.

Under these circumstances, goals were not going to be easy to come by.

There would have been no way to predict that Brooks would get on the board for Toronto this season before Spezza, Wayne Simmonds or Ilya Mikheyev found the back of the net. This was his first time playing in a game that counted since last February and he only had a few hours notice once it was confirmed that Matthews wasn’t able to go.

For the Leafs, that goal wiped away Edmonton’s 1-0 lead just 43 seconds after a Leon Draisaitl short-handed strike. For Brooks, it was a massive milestone on a professional journey that began when he was a fourth-round pick in 2016.

“I think there was a lot of pressure taken off me,” he said.

Some pressure was relieved for the entire team after the 3-1 loss to the Oilers earlier this week. We came into this two-game set expecting an offensive explosion and instead found two North Division combatants much more concerned about their own end of the rink.

Absent Matthews, in particular, the Leafs didn’t look nearly as imposing.

The injuries forced head coach Sheldon Keefe to rearrange all four of his lines and he found success with the Jimmy Vesey, Alexander Kerfoot and William Nylander trio. They enjoyed the better ice while largely matching up against Edmonton’s second line of Dominik Kahun-Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto, and saw Vesey score the 2-1 goal during a shift against Edmonton’s bottom six.

That came after Kerfoot, Vesey’s former teammate and linemate at Harvard, stole the puck from Adam Larsson beneath the goal-line and fed it to Nylander, who fooled Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen by sliding it over.

“Kerf made a nice anticipation play and picked it off and found Willy, who made a great play to me,” said Vesey. “I think a lot of people thought he would have shot that puck but froze the goalie and slid it over. I just tried to bury it.”

The new-look line rebounded from a sputtering start to produce a sterling stat line with 88 per cent of the shot attempts, 86 per cent of the expected goals and a 5-0 advantage in shots during its nearly 10 minutes together at even strength.

“They skated well,” said Keefe. “It took them a little while to get going in the game, I thought, like it did our whole team. But they were on the puck, on the puck hard. I think what I liked mostly is that they scored us a 5-on-5 goal.

“Those have been hard to come by and it was good to get one.”

The other goals came from two usual suspects: John Tavares and Mitch Marner.

Tavares got the winner by tipping home a Marner shot after Connor McDavid had tied things up — giving the Leafs captain four power-play goals already on the season. Marner finished the job with an empty-netter.

It was a grind from start to finish, but there was satisfaction to be found in limiting the damage inflicted by McDavid and Draisaitl at even strength.

“Well I think it’s a good sign in seeing how much pride guys take in the defensive role and especially when you face two of the better players in the league,” said Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. “It’s obviously a great task and it’s been great to see the team respond and really take that role seriously and not give them anything for free.”

It’s going to take everyone in a year this unusual.

Even players like Brooks, summoned off the taxi squad to play just his eighth career NHL game here. The Winnipegger helped add two points to the standings and claimed another souvenir in the process: The puck that pinballed off his skate and eluded Koskinen.

“I’m sure my parents will steal it and put it in their basement,” he said.

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We should be grateful that Tiger Woods is alive, 'that his kids haven't lost their dad,' says an emotional Rory McIlroy – CNN International

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The 45-year-old is awake and recovering from surgery after being involved in a serious car accident on Tuesday near Los Angeles.
He suffered serious leg injuries and was trapped but conscious when emergency responders reached the scene of his one-vehicle rollover crash on a stretch of California road known for speeding and accidents, authorities said Tuesday.
The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
“He’s not Superman … He’s a human being at the end of the day,” four-time major winner Rory McIlroy told reporters, ahead of WGC-Workday Championship which begins on Thursday. “And he’s already been through so much.
“At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it’s not even on the map at this point.”
In the aftermath of the crash, Los Angeles County Sherriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s Erin Burnett the single-car crash was “purely an accident,” and investigators will not pursue any charges.
He also said Woods told investigators Tuesday at a hospital that “he had no recollection of the crash.”
McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan emphasized that while he’d love to see Woods on the golf course in the future, thoughts should be with his family.
“Tiger’s a human being. Tiger’s had some really difficult injuries — the most important thing is, you know, is his well-being. It’s Tiger recovering, it’s supporting Tiger’s family. The golf — when Tiger wants to talk about the golf, we’ll talk about the golf. All the energy right now is going to be poured into supporting him in the days and months ahead.”
Given the grisly nature of the crash, former world No. 1 Jon Rahm said he is just appreciative that Woods is alive at all.
“Just over a year ago we lost Kobe Bryant out of the blue, and I’m just, if anything, thankful that Tiger’s still here. Hopefully he comes out of this one,” the 26-year-old told the media.
“Hopefully his body’s still good. I don’t necessarily need to see him on a golf course again. I would love to, but I just hope he can live a normal life from here on. He’s given everything to this game, he’s done so much for us, and every day that we’re all out here is going to be a memory of Tiger Woods.
Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.
“Luckily he’s got so much impact in this world that even though if he doesn’t hit a golf shot, with his foundation and many other works, he’s still able to make a great impact in this world.”
Dustin Johnson added: “He’s such a big part of the PGA Tour and what it’s become today so, yeah I mean once he’s not playing anymore it definitely, you know, the game will miss him but I feel like he’ll always somehow be around and be involved in the game.”

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Canadiens will keep paying Claude Julien $5 million for another season – Montreal Gazette

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“I did tell Geoff (Molson) what I was doing and he supported my decision,” GM Marc Bergevin says after firing head coach.

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With no fans in the arenas because of COVID-19 and very little revenue coming in, these are not good financial times for any NHL team.

So Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson can’t be thrilled about having to pay Claude Julien his $5-million annual salary for the rest of this season and all of the next one. Julien, who was fired by GM Marc Bergevin on Wednesday and replaced by Dominique Ducharme, was in the fourth year of his five-year, US$25-million contract. Associate coach Kirk Muller, who was also fired Wednesday, was in the final season of his contract.

“I’m well aware of what you just mentioned,” Bergevin said during a video conference from Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon when Julien’s contract was brought up. “I did tell Geoff what I was doing and he supported my decision. That’s all I could say.”

This is the second time Molson has had to continue paying a fired coach with Bergevin as GM. Bergevin hired Julien on Feb. 14, 2017 to replace Michel Therrien, who still had another two full seasons remaining on his contract.

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The fact Ducharme was already on the payroll as an assistant coach will lessen the financial hit on Molson.

After playing about $8 million under the NHL salary cap for the last three seasons, Bergevin spent right up to the $81.5-million cap with his off-seasons additions and expectations were high coming into this season. The Canadiens got off to a 7-1-2 start, but are 2-4-2 in the last eight games.

“I know what type of team we have,” Bergevin said. “I know what we’re capable of doing.

“The hard thing to watch is the swing from being a really good hockey team that was playing with pace, was engaged, were playing to our identity, which is speed,” he added. “And then going to the other side where the team was looking for anything. The expression we were chasing our tail … we were chasing the puck. We were not in sync and that was frustrating for me. Sometimes you can blame injuries, but we had none. Zero. If the message is the same and they’re acting differently, then the change needs to be made.”

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Bergevin had a sleepless night in Ottawa Tuesday after the Canadiens lost 5-4 to the Senators in a shootout and finally decided it was time for a coaching change. He informed Julien and Muller of his decision Wednesday morning before the Canadiens flew to Winnipeg, where they will play the Jets Thursday night (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

“Yeah, it’s emotional because they’re good people,” Bergevin said. “It’s not fun. It’s a tough part of my job. To walk in these two men’s rooms this morning was not easy.

“I said at training camp we mean business,” the GM added. “We raised the bar. It’s not an easy day for anyone, for me personally to make this decision. … Expectations are high. I expect to tack the boat first and for the players to respond.”

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If they don’t, it could be Bergevin looking for a job at the end of the season. He has one more year remaining on his contract.

“Listen, the day that I took the job here it came with a lot of things, including pressure from the media and our fans,” he said. “I have no problem with that. I make decisions, I live with them and the consequences. But I’m very confident in our team and I’m very confident in Dominique Ducharme.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks toward the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

    Jack Todd: Canadiens’ sweet start ends in bitter outcome for Julien

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Sheldon Keefe Post Game, Leafs 2 vs. Flames 1: "Part of it is perhaps Willy being misunderstood… Part of it is that he still has to grow as a player" – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 15-4-2 on the season.


On why William Nylander seems to be misunderstood within the market:

In the last couple of games, he has had real good legs. He has been skating well with the puck. I said the other night that it feels like he was ready to break out. That’s good.

Why is he misunderstood? Willy has to own some of that. He has got find more consistency in his game. He and I have talked a lot about those kinds of things. He has got to be engaged and good without the puck.

Part of it is perhaps being misunderstood. Part of it is that he still has to grow as a player.

On Michael Hutchinson’s performance:

I thought we did a good job once again here of not giving up [a lot] with the exception of the goal we gave up. That is the one big chance. That was really the way the game was going: Who is going to give up the big chance? We had a breakdown there. It felt like we stopped playing for a little bit and exposed ourselves there. That is an area where you never want to give that up. Aside from that, I thought we did a good job.

Certainly, I thought Hutch was really solid. He gave us lots of confidence to just keep playing today. He gave us a chance to win. He keeps it at 0 for most of the game, and he keeps it at 1. You’ve got a hope and a chance. We found a way through a nice group effort there at the crease to get one in. It gives us a chance for Will to do his thing and win the game on a spectacular goal.

On whether Auston Matthews’ wrist was bugging him as the game went along:

Yes, it was. Yeah.

On why he started Tavares-Marner and then Matthews-Nylander in OT:

It was really just as simple as Auston wasn’t comfortable taking the faceoff. It was just the way his wrist was feeling. The faceoff, to me, is really important at three-on-three. We sent John for that. We intended to send Auston on the fly. It just so happened we had a d-zone faceoff, but it was on the right side, and Will took it and won it. We won both of those faceoffs, and it gave us the puck for the bulk of the time we spent there.

If you have the puck, you give yourself a good chance at three-on-three to make something happen.

On whether Matthews’ wrist situation is a real concern and if it can be easily treated:

I think it is something that can be treated. He has been dealing with it for a long time now throughout the season. It hasn’t slowed him down. Today, it was a factor.

We do have a couple of days here before we play again — a full day off tomorrow, a practice and travel day, and then we get out West. We will see how he is. We will continue to take care of him and monitor it. We don’t think it is anything more at this point than what he has been dealing with.

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