The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 25, 2021 6:59AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 25, 2021 7:06AM EDT
TOKYO — Jennifer Abel did everything she could to ensure the Tokyo Olympics were not a repeat of Rio.
The 29-year-old from Laval, Que., spent a lot of time over the past five years going over her two fourth-place finishes at those 2016 Summer Games.
Sunday’s Olympic silver medal in the women’s three-metre synchronized springboard, alongside teammate Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu, was like a weight off her shoulders.
“Actually, I think I may have added a weight, because this thing is really heavy,” said a laughing Abel, holding up her silver medal moments after the medal ceremony.
“Today we accomplished everything we wanted. We thought about the present moment, not the future or the past. We lived the moment together. I find it beautiful what we have achieved together.”
Added Citrini-Beaulieu: “It’s been a dream since I was young. I kept believing I could do it and now I’m by Jenn’s side and we won a silver medal at the Olympics. I am proud of what we achieved.”
Abel had saidthat she had experienced a certain “identity crisis” after Rio. Because she set the bar so high for herself, she says she left Brazil with a sense of failure. And while she’s since made peace with that moment in her life, the pressure was still high Sunday.
“In Rio, my biggest mistake was focusing on the medal,” said Abel. “But it was not easy to come here and not think about the medal. Especially since Melissa and I have finished second at all the world championships and World Cups since 2017.”
The Canadians started the competition with some difficulty, sitting sixth out of eight teams after two dives. But they quickly climbed the leaderboard by executing higher-difficulty dives.
“We both knew that our first two dives weren’t necessarily the best,” said Abel. “We knew we had to get more points from our last three.
“At the same time, in synchronized springboard, things become very important as of the third dive. That’s when anything can happen. We didn’t get sidetracked with the little mistakes we made at the start because we knew we still had a lot left.”
Abel and Citrini-Beaulieu, from of Saint-Constant, Que., finished the competition with a total score of 300.78.
The Chinese pair of Shi Tingmao and Wang Han finished first with 326.4 points — a fifth straight Olympic title for China in the event. Germany’s Lena Hentschel and Tina Punzel were third with 284.97 points.
“Before our last dive, I knew we were in a good position for a podium finish,” said Abel. “When I entered the water, I knew I had had a good dive. My first reaction then was to look at Melissa and she looked at me with big eyes and she said, ‘I got it’. I turned around and watched the reaction of the coaches and immediately knew that we had won the silver medal.”
On the podium, an emotional Abel wiped away a few tears.
“It’s not easy to come here,” she said. “Everyone talking about the potential of getting the medal. I’m already putting enough pressure on myself and I’m putting some on Melissa too.
“I was really emotional because I couldn’t have had a better partner than Melissa, a person who supports me. I am not always easy to manage. I am very picky. Melissa has always been there for me. It was just doing this together that made me really emotional.”
For Abel, this is a second Olympic medal. She won bronze with Emilie Heymans in London in 2012.
“In 2012, I was young,” said Abel. “With Emilie, she was the one with all the experience and the opportunity to do something huge for her career and for the Canadian team.
“I was in the position where I didn’t want to be the one preventing her from having that title. Here, I wanted to do it for Melissa, it was for our team. We are two very demanding girls, we work hard, we are always ready to do more to reach our goals and that is what we did today.”
Abel will try to apply the same recipe next Sunday in the individual three-metre springboard final.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.
Training camp questions: Edmonton Oilers – TSN
With summer officially coming to an end and training camps set to open across the National Hockey League this week, TSN gets ready for the preseason by looking at the three biggest questions facing each of the seven Canadian franchises.
On tap for today are the Edmonton Oilers, who finished with their highest points percentage in over 30 years (.643) but were swept away by the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs.
1. Is the defence better or worse than last year?
The Edmonton Oilers made massive changes to their defensive corps over the summer.
Gone are Adam Larsson, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and Oscar Klefbom, with Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci as the primary replacements. We know the Oilers won’t have much of an issue scoring goals, but did they do enough over the summer to prevent giving them up?
Like most off-season overhauls, that answer will likely depend on a few different things.
For starters, what does Keith have left in the tank? Keith is a three-time Stanley Cup winner, a three-time All-Star and a two-time Norris Trophy winner. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015 and has 625 points in 1,192 career NHL regular-season games.
But Keith is 38 now and as TSN’s Travis Yost points out, no Chicago Blackhawks skater conceded more goals or expected goals against – goaltender neutral – over the past two seasons. Chicago allowed the seventh-most goals last season and Keith was second-worst on the team at minus-13.
The 27-year-old Ceci was signed to a four-year, $13 million contract by the Oilers in free agency but will join his fourth team in the last four seasons. As things stand right now, it’s likely he’ll play with Keith on the second pairing.
Edmonton locked in their top pairing with contract extensions for Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie. Nurse had a career-best 16 goals last season and Barrie recorded 48 points in 56 games.
Considering the firepower the Oilers have up front, this team shouldn’t have any trouble scoring, especially with their defenceman contributing at that level.
Another intriguing option for head coach Dave Tippett is 21-year-old Evan Bouchard. The No. 10 selection from the 2018 draft, Bouchard only has 21 NHL games under his belt and might be asked to take on a much bigger role than in years past.
2. How will major free agent signee Zach Hyman fit in?
As the clock ticked toward free agency last season, Hyman told reporters he would like to remain with the Toronto Maple Leafs if it made sense. But given the Leafs’ cap situation and Hyman’s desire for a long-term deal, what made sense to one side didn’t to the other.
In swooped the Oilers, who signed Hyman to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal in one of the most debated signings of the off-season.
Hyman’s offensive numbers – 15 goals and 18 assists last season – aren’t necessarily eye-popping considering the kind of dollar value and term he got, but the Toronto native brings a lot more to the table than just points. A skilled two-way player with or without the puck, Hyman is a combined plus-70 the past four seasons. Sure, playing alongside Toronto’s other elite forwards helps that, but it’s not like there’s going to be much of a drop-off with the Oilers.
Hyman is expected to slide in beside Connor McDavid – the same Connor McDavid who had 72 assists in 56 games in 2020-21 – on the top line and should have an instant impact for the Oilers on both ends of the ice in the short term.
Time will tell if that holds up as the years go by. History hasn’t been kind to seven-year deals for 29-year-old forwards like Hyman, especially ones with a documented history of knee injuries. But finding a player like Hyman on the open market isn’t easy and is never cheap.
3. Is Jesse Puljujarvi poised to take the next step?
Two years ago, Puljujarvi appeared to have moved on from the Edmonton Oilers.
He was drafted fourth overall in 2016 but bounced between the Oilers and American Hockey League affiliate Bakersfield Condors during his first three seasons. Things didn’t exactly go smoothly, and he signed with Karpat of the SM-liiga in Finland in July of 2019 and elected to re-sign last summer with an opt-out in time for the 2020-21 NHL season.
Since he left as a restricted free agent, the Oilers retained Puljujarvi’s NHL rights. General manager Ken Holland and Tippett promised the youngster a clean slate if he ever decided to return to the NHL.
That might have been exactly what he needed.
Puljujarvi recorded career highs in both goals (15) and assists (10) and was a plus-6, far outpacing his four goal and five assist tally with a minus-14 goal differential in 2018-19, his last NHL campaign before departing for Finland.
Puljujarvi spent much of last season playing on McDavid’s right side and the duo outscored opponents 42 to 33 at even strength. His goal total from 2020-21 isn’t especially impressive alongside McDavid but when you consider that he saw limited power-play time and 13 of his 15 markers came at even strength, it makes more sense. If Hyman slides in on the left side as expected, there could be plenty more opportunity for the 23-year-old to put up some numbers heading into restricted free agency.
Jim Hughson retiring after 42-year broadcasting career – Sportsnet.ca
Sportsnet’s Jim Hughson is stepping away from the mic.
After 42 years, Hall of Fame PxP commentator Jim Hughson has announced his retirement from broadcasting.
As one of Canada’s iconic hockey voices, Jim leaves a lasting legacy at @Sportsnet & across the entire broadcasting industry.
Thank you Jim!
— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) September 21, 2021
The Hall of Fame play-by-play commentator announced his retirement from sports broadcasting on Tuesday, ending a 42-year career.
“It’s been a fantastic run and I’d like to thank Sportsnet, Hockey Night in Canada and all my friends and colleagues over the years for the tremendous support and countless memories,” said Hughson. “This is a decision I made in consultation with my family and I’m very much at peace with it. My only goal in this industry was to work at the highest level and on the last day of the season. I’ve had that opportunity a number of times and will always be grateful for it.”
Hughson called his first game on radio in 1979. He has been the voice of the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on Hockey Night in Canada.
Hughson has called a dozen Stanley Cup Finals along with the men’s hockey tournament at both the 2006 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“Jim is one of the best this business has ever seen,” said Rob Corte, VP of Sportsnet and NHL Production. “Whether on TV, radio or in video games, for many he has been their soundtrack of hockey. He’s set the gold standard for broadcasting in this country and has accomplished pretty much everything any broadcaster would set out to do in their career. On top of that, he’s a tremendous teammate and an even better person.”
Hughson also was part of the Toronto Blue Jays’ broadcast crew during their World Series runs in 1992 and 1993.
In 2019, the Hockey Hall of Fame awarded Hughson the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award to honour his outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster. He is also a four-time Canadian Screen Awards winner for Best Sports Play-by-Play Announcer.
Jonathan Drouin's absence from Canadiens late last season, in playoffs due to anxiety – CBC.ca
Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin has opened up on the reasons why he took a break from hockey last spring during his club’s push for the playoffs.
In interviews aired Monday night on RDS and TVA Sports, Drouin revealed that he was suffering from anxiety and insomnia last season, problems that have afflicted him for years.
The 26-year-old said his problems reached a peak as the team was warming up for its April 23 game in Calgary against the Flames. Drouin was caught on camera looking pale and suddenly leaving the ice to return to the dressing room.
“That week was difficult for me,” Drouin told RDS. “I had fallen ill to the point where I was no longer controlling my body. That was really the moment when I realized that I needed to take a break from hockey, to take a step back.”
He has not played for the Canadiens since, even though the team went all the way to the Stanley Cup final before falling in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I had made the decision to take care of myself. I was happy with my decision. I respected my decision,” Drouin said. “For me, it was just being able to watch them, to give my support to my teammates and coaches. I was so happy with every game we won. The passion never left me.”
Expected on ice to open camp
The athlete from Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., says he has since restored his mental health, and last week he skated with his teammates at the Canadiens’ practice facility.
“I went to find help, I went to find people to be around me,” Drouin recounted to RDS. “Now I understand how it happens, I understand the little moments when I feel anxiety. I am now better equipped than I was before.”
He addressed rumours that he had entered rehab, saying they were false.
“I have never had a drug or alcohol problem,” he said.
He is expected to be on the ice for the Habs’ training camp, which officially kicks off Wednesday, and he commented on his hopes for the upcoming season.
“I am really happy to be back. I just want to have fun and get better every day,” Drouin told RDS. “I know it’s a cliche, but just having fun playing hockey is going to be the best thing for me.”
In 229 regular-season games with the Canadiens, Drouin has 40 goals and 137 points.
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