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Canadiens acquire veteran centre Eric Staal from Sabres – Montreal Gazette

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Habs give up third-round and fifth-round picks at NHL Draft, while Sabres will retain $1.625 million of Staal’s $3.25-million salary.

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Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin added some much needed experience at the centre position Friday afternoon when he acquired Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft.

The Sabres will also retain $1.625 million of Staal’s US$3.25-million salary. This is the final season of the 36-year-old’s two-year, US$6.5-million contract.

In 32 games this season with the Sabres, Stall had 3-7-10 totals and was averaging 15:34 of ice time while winning 48 per cent of his faceoffs. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also had a minus-20 differential on a terrible Buffalo team that has a 6-22-4 record and is winless in its last 16 games (0-14-2).

During 17 seasons in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and the Sabres, Staal has 439 goals and 592 assists for 1,031 points in 1,272 regular-season games. The Hurricanes selected Staal in the first round (second overall) at the 2003 NHL Draft.

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Staal won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native also helped Team Canada win gold at the 2007 IIHF World Hockey Championship and was part of the gold-medal team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Heading into this season, one of the biggest question marks for the Canadiens was their youth and inexperience at centre. Bergevin was counting on Nick Suzuki, 21, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, 20, and Jake Evans, 24, to maintain the level of play they showed in the post-season bubble last year in Toronto. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi tied for the team lead in goals with four each in 10 games, while Evans was solid in his fourth-line role during the six games he played, picking up one assist.

But through 31 games this season, Suzuki (seven), Kotkaniemi (four) and Evans (two) have combined for only 13 goals. Evans has no goals in his last 24 games. It also hasn’t helped that veteran centre Phillip Danault has scored only two goals this season. Suzuki (44.1 per cent), Kotkaniemi (48.2 per cent) and Evans (48.2 per cent) have also struggled in the faceoff circle.

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Staal scored a career-high 45 goals with the Hurricanes in 2005-06, their Stanley Cup season, and scored 42 goals in 2017-18 with the Minnesota Wild.

The government-mandated 14-day quarantine for NHL players traded from an American team to a Canadian team remains in place. There were reports this week that the federal government is poised to approve a shortened seven-day quarantine with extra testing for NHL players ahead of the league’s April 12 trade deadline.

The Canadiens could soon have a second player joining Staal on the team after going through a COVID-19 quarantine. Cole Caufield, the Canadiens’ first-round pick (15th overall) at the 2019 NHL Draft, is expected to turn pro after his University of Wisconsin Badgers were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

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Caufield scored two goals and added an assist in Wisconsin’s 6-3 loss to the Bemidji State Beavers in the first round of the Bridgeport Regional in Connecticut. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound right-winger finishes the season with 30-22-52 totals in 31 games, leading the NCAA in goals and points. The 20-year-old is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in the NCAA.

Bergevin said this month that he had a plan for Caufield after he turns pro, but wasn’t ready to divulge it. Caufield could join the AHL’s Laval Rocket or the Canadiens.

The Canadiens had four games postponed this week after Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the NHL’s COVID Protocol Related Absences list on Monday. On Thursday, Bergevin confirmed one of the players had tested positive for a variant of the coronavirus and the other had been in close contact.

Depending on the results of daily COVID-19 testing in the next few days, the Canadiens are planning to open their Bell Sports Complex training facility in Brossard for a practice on Monday and are scheduled to play the Senators Tuesday night in Ottawa.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Emergency-room doctor Drew Reid, who used to play hockey at McGill University, in Montreal on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Emergency-room doctor sheds light on Habs’ COVID situation

  2. 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: ‘No one did anything wrong,’ Habs GM says of positive test

  3. Cole Caufield, the Canadiens' first-round pick (15th overall) at the 2019 NHL Draft, is now expected to turn pro.

    Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield’s university team is eliminated

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UEFA threaten to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions

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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – European soccer‘s governing body UEFA has warned clubs linked to a breakaway Super League that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

In a joint statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/mediaservices/mediareleases/news/0268-12121411400e-7897186e699a-1000–statement-by-uefa-english-fa-rfef-figc-premier-league-laliga-le with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations, UEFA said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts and bans from domestic leagues, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said it had learnt that clubs from those countries “may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League”.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we….(and) also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” UEFA said.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.

In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation” – meaning players would be banned from the World Cup.

Sunday’s UEFA statement said: “The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

 

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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Netherlands and Poland seal narrow Billie Jean King Cup playoff wins

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(Reuters) – The Netherlands and Poland both needed deciding doubles wins to battle through their Billie Jean King Cup playoffs on Saturday but Britain, Italy and Canada all enjoyed easier passages.

In Den Bosch, the Dutch were without world number 11 Kiki Bertens for the second day because of injury and found themselves trailing China 2-1 after Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening singles.

But Aranxta Rus beat Wang Xinyu to level the tie and then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to defeat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan to send the hosts through.

It was equally tight in Poland where the hosts were pushed to the brink by Brazil.

Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Alves took the tie into a deciding doubles with a win over Katarzyna Kawa but the Poles prevailed 3-2 as Kawa and Magdalena Frech came back from a set down to beat Meligeni Alves and Luisa Stefani.

Kazakhstan also won a deciding rubber to see off Argentina.

Britain led 2-0 overnight against Mexico in London but Marcela Zacarias beat Heather Watson to keep alive the tie.

Katie Boulter proved too strong for Giuliana Olmos though to clinch the tie for the hosts.

Italy beat Romania 3-1 while Canada‘s teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her country’s path as she gave her side an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia thanks to a three-set win over Nina Stojanovic.

Ukraine eased past Japan 4-0 while Anastasija Sevastova secured Latvia’s 3-1 victory over India.

The eight winners move forward to next year’s qualifying round where they will hope to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

The old Fed Cup was re-branded last year and named after the American great and 12-times Grand Slam singles champion who won the inaugural tournament nearly 60 years ago.

This year’s 12-team Finals were postponed because of the pandemic and a new date has yet to be finalised.

 

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year

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(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.

With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.

F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.

The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.

“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.

The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.

“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”

Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.

One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.

The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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