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Canadiens, Gallagher affirm belief in each other with long-term contract –



Nov. 30, 2014: Brendan Gallagher signs a six-year, $22.5-million extension with the Montreal Canadiens. The former 147th draft pick is locked in long-term after playing just 150 games in the NHL, two years and six weeks into the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract.

The deal came when the majority of the league’s players in Gallagher’s category were being signed to bridge contracts, with risks mitigated on both sides of the ledger depending on the quality of the player. And it was signed just three weeks after he went point-less for nine consecutive games—the longest drought of his career up to that point in time.

Sure, Gallagher had accumulated 40 goals and 82 points and established himself as a relentless, greasy scorer while playing mostly third-line minutes, and there was ample reason to believe the contract would prove to be a steal for the Canadiens.

But the deal wasn’t on trend.

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Ask Alex Galchenyuk, the former third-overall pick of the Canadiens who broke in with Gallagher in 2013 and scored 27 goals and 73 points in the 137 games he had played up until Gallagher’s signing. He was signed for two years, $6.5 million, exactly eight months later after completing the 2014-15 season with 20 goals and 46 points.

So how come Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had no pause about signing Gallagher when he did?

“He doesn’t take a shift off, he never has,” he said on the day Gallagher signed in 2014. “The effort is always there, and his character is off the charts. He’s always in the paint, he works hard, he gets loose pucks and he’s not afraid of anything. He competes night in and night out.

“The way Brendan performs on the ice, he’s always around the net. Whether you’re six-foot-eight or six-foot-one, he plays the same way. His foot is always on the accelerator.”

In simpler terms, Bergevin knew exactly what he was buying.

Five years into the deal, nothing has changed. Gallagher’s amassed 115 goals and 218 points in 340 games. And though he’s spent those five years as an assistant captain—first to Max Pacioretty, and then to Shea Weber—he’s been second to no one in the organization in the dedication department.

Gallagher built status as the heart and soul of the Canadiens long ago, and he’s maintained it ever since. And given all that, and the resonance of Bergevin’s words back in November of 2014, there was no sense in allowing the perception that the Canadiens and Gallagher were at odds to linger any longer than a day.

On Tuesday, Gallagher’s agent, Gerry Johannson, leaked to two reporters that negotiations between both parties had broken off.

On Wednesday, Gallagher signed a six-year, $39-million deal.

Was it a surprise? The timing of it was, absolutely. Especially after Bergevin made overtures on Tuesday about how his 2021 free agents would have to accept that there was only enough money to go around under a stagnant salary cap ceiling and that they’d have to “make some sacrifices” if they wished to remain in Montreal.

But it shouldn’t be that shocking Bergevin and Gallagher were able to find middle ground in a hurry.

It took a couple of minor concessions on Gallagher’s end. As we noted on Tuesday, he had the $45.5-million contract Chris Kreider signed with the New York Rangers in February as the closest comparable to use in negotiations, but he ended up accepting one year and $6.5 million less than Kreider did. Kreider also got $22 million of his deal in signing bonuses, which is $22 million more than Gallagher got.

Bergevin conceded, too. He gave Gallagher the type of security almost no one is getting in this pandemic-stricken system. He signed him until his 35th birthday, after giving 26-year-old Josh Anderson a seven-year, $38.5 million contract that takes him to 33 and Tyler Toffoli a four-year deal worth $17 million that takes him to 32.

Bergevin promised he’d make Gallagher his highest-paid forward, and he delivered on his promise.

He did it because Gallagher has earned it, but certainly because he knows what he’s buying.

Is there risk in this deal? Plenty of it. The chances Gallagher produces as much on his next contract as he did (and will continue to do) on his current one are not favourable. And players who play like him—like a human pinball—tend not to age unblemished.

But you don’t win without them.

And the Canadiens have their sights on winning now. That much is clear after Bergevin burned through every dollar available to him under the cap to secure a much-improved roster for the 2020-21 season. He’ll gladly take on the risk that Gallagher’s deal could prove troublesome on the back end for the potential reward of having the player he knows and loves for right now—and for at least a couple of years more.

Does it mean some other players get squeezed out down the line? Almost assuredly. Looking at Montreal’s cap situation for the 2021-22 season, it’s no secret Bergevin’s going to have some hard choices to make.

But it was an easier decision to lock Gallagher up now than to allow him to think for even one more second he could be perceived as less vital to the team’s championship aspirations than any of the other players Bergevin signed over the last six weeks.

Maybe Bergevin would have squeezed a better deal out of Gallagher had he waited.

Or maybe he would have created resentment where there wasn’t some before. The kind that could push Gallagher to the open market.

That would’ve undone a lot of good work the GM has done to finally put this team on a winning track.

You know, the work Gallagher just invested in by agreeing to stay with the Canadiens.

He said just over a month ago that nothing mattered more to him than winning. It’s clear he believes he can do it in Montreal.

“I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else,” he said in a video message to Canadiens fans through the team’s Twitter account. “I love what Berge has done this summer. We’re going to have a very competitive team, and the guys are excited.”

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2020-21 start date moved back to Feb. 5 | – American Hockey League



SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson has announced that the league’s Board of Governors has approved moving the anticipated start date of the 2020-21 season to February 5, 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

The AHL continues to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities. Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League season are still to be determined.

In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.

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What Joey Moss and those in similar roles contribute to sports locker rooms –



One thing I’ve been blessed to see over the course of my life is how a circumstance of inclusion helps both parties, and to a degree few people seem to understand.

The life of Joey Moss makes everyone even tangentially related feel good, and so it should. So often when hearing his story, though, people consider the great life that hockey and football seem to have provided for him, while understating just how valuable his daily presence was to others. What most see is someone simply getting to spend time with a pro team, when a line from the piece Mark Spector wrote after Moss’s passing more accurately sums up the immediate relationships at play:

“In the heartless world that pro sports can be, Joey became the goat in the horse barn, putting an arm around a player that had just been released, assuring him better days lie ahead, and leaving an impression that no coach, GM or teammate possibly could.”

“The goat in the horse barn” is nothing but a compliment, as it’s a very real thing (seriously, google “comfort goats” — it’s amazing).

So let me frame what I’ve seen and learned given my somewhat-unique experience around those in roles like the ones Joey Moss held.

I’ve been in dressing rooms my whole life, first with my Dad’s teams and then in my own career both playing and coaching. It’s not at all uncommon for a team to employ a helper of sorts. These helpers maintain a variety of titles and duties depending on their age and capabilities, and almost all of whom are beloved if they have any run of time at all with the team. Some of these people are physically disabled, some intellectually; some are just kids, and some are seniors. But make no mistake: There’s a lot of work to be done to keep a pro hockey team clicking along at max capacity, and these are the people who help them get from 99 per cent to 100.

I also have a brother who’s active in the disability community and has been his whole life. Being from Kelowna, B.C. – a good-size town but not exactly a metropolis – meant that growing up I was a full-time member of wheelchair basketball teams, and a participant on numerous other wheelchair teams, given finding enough people between a reasonable age range with comparable limitations can be tough without a huge population to draw from.

I was around when the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL got my brother involved, and heard numerous stories of team experiences that have been provided to those within the disability community.

I’ve seen the benefits to both parties here in the immediate, from the person getting the opportunity (the value of the confidence and sense of purpose is immeasurable), to the team getting the help, both tangible and emotional.

It’s the value of that “emotional” part I don’t think many teams fully understand or even appreciate, given it’s rarely anywhere near the focus of often stressful in-season days.

It wasn’t until I took my role with the Marlies that I was really able to step back and process the true value someone like Joey Moss would’ve provided, and that’s because we had Pistol Pete Flagler. Sportsnet featured the Marlies’ locker-room attendant a couple years back:

You can follow Pistol on Instagram here.

Pete has a very real job working with the team, but he also moonlights in a kind of voluntary advisory role. One day Pete had me set up a laptop so he could go through the shifts of a Marlies centreman to help find him more ice time. He regularly campaigned to Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe for more opportunity for his favourite players, which included a group of … basically everyone who was nice to him, which was pretty much everyone (extra love here for Connor Brown, Justin Holl and Rich Clune). He even addressed the full team on multiple occasions, and when he did he could wipe away tension in a way no player or coach ever could.

He earned his jewelry:

Here’s the thing with a pro hockey locker room. With the exception of those who’ve made it to the highest level and have long-term deals and no-move clauses, almost every day and every interaction is vaguely competitive. It’s exhausting. The players are trying to climb past the players beside them with their performance on the ice.

But part of being put in good positions with linemates and ice time to do that means impressing upon staff on a daily basis that they deserve the best opportunities, which means for those more-unestablished players, even the most random conversations matter. Players aside, coaches have to juggle giving direction with keeping players happy, and how they do that is judged by the players and other around them. The evaluation rarely stops for anyone.

To go with that, every day exists in the shadow of the previous game. Players who underperformed are held to vaguely higher standards whether that’s spoken or not. There’s handwringing over team shortcomings. And if the team lost (or is generally losing a lot), the strain of each day becomes immense. Blame is just floating around, looking to land on the most inactive of the team members in the room.

Having someone like Pistol Pete, or Joey Moss, or anyone who exists somewhat outside that competitive ecosystem creates the opportunity for everyone to talk to without pressure. In the midst of the darkest times, there’s a ray of light. And if you’re ever so misfortunate as to be stuck in a cave at night, you’ll come to see just how much you can appreciate a single candle.

So while I know Joey and Pistol and their cohorts benefit from their roles, I know the players and staff benefit, too — and I don’t think either side realizes how much. When the medical staff has that ray of light around, that candle, they’re often put in better mental frames to do their job, and that trickles down to those they work on. The coaches benefit, the extended staff and management benefits — even if just in small amounts. But those small bits, for everyone, accumulated, can have a profound effect on a locker room. I believe the whole of the operation makes larger gains than any one person may feel them.

For those teams in development leagues, these relationships also provide younger players an opportunity to learn about compassion and kindness.

If there are teams out there not offering a role like this up to someone from their community, they’re missing out. Missing out on making someone’s life better, but also missing out on helping their team grow, both on the ice and off. Guys like Joey and Pistol Pete are proof of the impact that can be made in those jobs, and in turn, the positive effect that can be had on so many people.

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Justin Turner tests COVID-positive at World Series, hugs teammate after win –



Star player tested positive in 6th inning

The Los Angeles Dodgers just won their first World Series in 32 years, but the big win comes with a serious foul.

An hour after securing a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, star player Justin Turner stepped onto the field to celebrate with his team, despite testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the game.

Once on the field, Turner hugged longtime teammate Clayton Kershaw and pulled his mask down to sit front and centre for a team photo, potentially putting his team at risk of catching the coronavirus.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and third baseman Justin Turner, with the red beard, pose for a group photo after the Dodgers’ World Series win. (Image credit: Eric Gay/The Associated Press)

Turner’s result, which came during the game’s sixth inning, was Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days.

Test results can sometimes be wrong, and follow-up testing is needed to confirm a false positive.

In a post-game tweet, Turner didn’t comment on potentially having exposed his teammates to the coronavirus.

Turner’s teammate and World Series MVP Corey Seager sympathized with Turner, who has waited years for the win, only to test positive for COVID-19 during the final game.

“It’s gut-wrenching … If I could switch places with him right now, I would. That’s just not right.”

Turner is L.A.’s career leader in post-season home runs, with 12, including a pair in this series, in which he hit .364.

What happens next?

It’s unclear whether Turner will face any repercussions for his actions, but MLB is expected to make a statement in the coming days.

Despite the sour moment, the night was still a massive triumph for the Dodgers, who now have a total of seven World Series wins.

With files from The Associated Press

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