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Canucks Extra: Big game players – The Province



The Canucks got a huge performance from their goalie and crucial goal from their best player.

The stats are wild.

It’s the first time the Canucks have given up more than 50 shots against since 2010. (They did give up exactly in 2016 vs. St. Louis.)

It’s the just the fifth time this century the opposition has racked up 50 or more shots on goal.

So yes, Jacob Markstrom’s performance on Saturday was *the* story.

He was tremendous. He tried to down play the volume of shots against, but really, there were a pile of shots from the best scoring area: the slot.

That’s not a winning strategy. Against a better team, it would have been a disaster.

Good thing Markstrom turned nearly everything away.

After Toffoli scored, I was just about to tweet that the Canucks were going to need more than Markstrom if they were going to pull this game out of the bag, then Pettersson scored.

It was a bit of sweet relief for the Alien, who had been denied by Jonathan Quick on a breakaway in the second period.

“It was great. He saw me kind of stopped. And then, he had a better lane for me to pass and I tried to just one-time. It was a great pass by him,” Pettersson said of the goal.

“We found a way to win. Of course we know that we can’t play like this, we know we’ve got to work harder, be better with the puck.”

Chris Tanev said the winning goal actually went all the way back to a strong play by Brock Boeser.

“A huge goal by Petey, I mean he always comes through in those big moments. A great pass by Millsy and great play by Brock to just to lay it into an area I think that gets that’ll get lost in the whole play, but it was a great play by him just to put it in space and let Millsy skate on to it.”

What’s with those second periods?

Now, after the first period, the whole game was a mess for the Canucks. Forget the third on this one, that’s a whole other story. Here it is notable that again they’ve struggled in the second.

I asked Tanev if he had any thoughts on why. He had some good ones. It’s about not getting stuck out there on a long change.

“Just executing. I mean when you have that long change, if you’re not playing it properly and getting pucks deep, guys get tired on the ice and you’re going to be in your end longer than you want to be so. That’s a big part that we need to improve on in the second.”

It makes sense. Mistakes build up zone time for the opposition and the more tired you get the more mistakes you get, just compounding the problem. Pettersson suggested that on this particular night, there was too much loose play at the blue line, which kept bringing the pressure back on them.

Some nights go that way

The Beagle line got crushed. And somehow Tyler Motte scored a goal on one of the four shot attempts he was on the ice for.

“Lucky to skate into one,” Motte admitted about the drop pass he took off Pettersson on his goal.

The rest of the night was tough on the Beagle/Motte/Schaller trio: they saw the Kings direct pucks towards the Canucks’ goal 25 times on the night.

The only Canucks forwards to finish above 50 per cent in shot quality were Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel; they did a good job of keeping the Kings to the outside while driving the puck towards the Kings’ net.

Chris Tanev was the only other Canuck in the positive by that metric;  he did another outstanding job in similar terms.

Oscar Fantenberg, on the other hand, had a nightmare of a game, basically his whole game was played in his own end. Bet on Jordie Benn drawing back in in his place in Calgary.

Jacob Markstrom stared down Tyler Toffoli on a breakaway in the second period on Saturday.

Gerry Kahrmann /


More Markstrom contract comps

There are a handful of goalies who have played more than 100 games in the NHL from the 2008 draft.

The only three to play more than 200 games are Braden Holtby, Jake Allen and Jacob Markstrom.

In a given draft, you’ll find three to five goalies who play any kind of true stretch in the NHL.

From that draft 11 years ago, Holtby is far and away the race leader. Allen has had a solid if relatively disappointing career.

Markstrom, as we know, is the late bloomer.

Holtby is on a deal that expires this season; it’s carried a $6.1 million cap hit.

Markstrom, obviously, is a tier below.

Allen had a run as the starter in St. Louis but now finds himself back in the backup’s role behind Jordan Binnington.

He’s making $4.35 million over the next two seasons.

Markstrom has played just 22 fewer games than Allen. Allen’s career save percentage is .912. Markstrom’s is .910.

Markstrom, surely, will point to the salary Allen’s been making and thinking he deserves above that.

Mikko Koskinen signed a $4.5 million extension last season, with next to no NHL track record.

That’s another in Markstrom’s cap.

And yet, if he went to market, what’s his value? He’s actually going to be one of the youngest goalies, potentially, in free agency next summer.

There are teams that need goalies. (The bottom of this list is Aaron Dell at $1.9 million.)

Another name stands out: Robin Lehner, who is making $5 million to be the backup to $6 million Corey Crawford in Chicago. Those two set a standard of sorts.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are incredible pieces to build your team around and the Oilers have managed to do the opposite.

Harry How /

Getty Images Files

My Contract Sucks: The Next Generation

Connor McDavid’s deal really looks weird now in the light of the contracts Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner signed. They both locked down shorter terms than McJesus.

There was no reason for him not take max money and no reason for him to take the term that he did. The team was already lost at that point; Chiarelli had no idea how to build out the lineup in a way that would optimize the game’s best player.

Now McDavid finds himself locked into a frustrating box. New GM Ken Holland knows it will be a couple years before this ship is righted as they have to find, well everything. They need better depth forwards. They need a top-end puck-moving defenceman … or two.

McDavid is already doing just about everything he can to keep that ship afloat. The Oilers dominate play when he and Leon Draisaitl are on the ice. They get dominated otherwise.

The team is mediocre and now it’s sinking fast.

Imagine him asking out.

The spirit of the rules

Hey, let’s be clear: I’m not suggesting Brent Seabrook’s career is definitely done. After all the guy has missed just 32 games in his career, which started in 2005-06.

He’s shown durability. He never takes a step back.

I am skeptical, though, that if it turns out that the veteran defenceman *can’t* come back from the triple-headed surgery monster — hey he’s expected to be ready for training camp next September — that, with years left on his contract and $20 million owed to him, he’ll “retire.”

If he can’t play, he’ll be retired in everything but official. It’s an old path. The Blackhawks do have cap reasons for them to simply get him off their books, but they also have the creative accounting world of LTIR to consider, too. Having his cap hit around, even if he’s never to play again.

Joffrey Lupul was a clear case of a player who should have been declared retired, but remained on the Leafs’ books because he wanted to collect his remaining salary.

That’s been the case with multiple other players. Heck, Chris Pronger even worked for the NHL while he was still technically under contract with the Coyotes. In fact, working for the league while also being employed as a player is supposed to be prohibited under the terms of the CBA.

How’s that for spirit of the rules.

It sure has a funny flexibility to it, that spirit.


(To mark the end of a story being handed in to the editing desk, be it via a local reporter or off the news wire, it was standard practice to write -30- at the end of the story, so that the editors would know where the end of the story was.)

Gerry Kahrmann is now a former journalist. He’s been working as a photographer at the Province and the Sun for three decades. Saturday, he shot his final assignment: the Canucks game.

Since I took on the Canucks beat last season, I’ve generally worked Tuesday through Saturdays.

Saturdays are always a treat, not just because it means the Hockey Night in Canada caravan arrives in town — tonight, by the way, the last game of the decade was called by John Shorthouse — it also usually meant I’d get to work with Gerry.

As our newsroom has shrunk over the years, we’ve had fewer and fewer opportunities to have our own photographers at hockey games.

Over the past year and a bit, Saturdays were pretty much the only games where I’d see one of our photogs. So it was always a treat to see one of my talented colleagues.

That it was Gerry was an added pleasure.

From just about day one, he’s been the kindest colleague. He always went out of his way to check in on how I was doing. He was a strong hand in advising me and other younger colleagues during our contract negotiation nearly three years ago between our union and ownership.

He helped land a deal with the company that saw my colleagues make sacrifices to save a large number of jobs. I’m forever thankful for that.

Staff photographers are a ever-rarer breed nowadays. The camaraderie you can have with them is special but it also enhances the ability to work together on finding the perfect photo subject to help tell your story. Last night, for instance, I suggested we get a couple photos of Drew Doughty. Gerry nailed them. And because he’s such a wise hand, he also got some key photos of Elias Pettersson trying to deke our Jonathan Quick and Jacob Markstrom stonewalling Tyler Toffoli.

Sometimes it’s just about luck, Gerry would say, but you still have to be good.

Gerry was good. He still is.

I’m going to miss working with him.

-30- indeed.

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Tkachuk: Sens who tested positive for COVID-19 are 'doing well' – TSN



Brady Tkachuk is hunkered down with family in St. Louis trying to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ottawa Senators winger has also been also keeping close tabs on a pair of teammates who tested positive for the disease.

“Those guys, they’re doing well,” Tkachuk said on one of the NHL’s video conference calls Monday. “We’re a tight group, so we’re always in contact with one another.”

Two of the league’s four players to test positive since the season was suspended March 12 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak are unnamed members of the Senators.

The team played in San Jose, Calif., against the Sharks on March 7 despite a warning from officials in Santa Clara County against holding large public gatherings. The Colorado Avalanche played at SAP Center the following night, and two members of that team have also since tested positive for COVID-19.

“All of us are concerned about (the Ottawa players) and everybody impacted by it,” Tkachuk added.

Reporters have been asked by the league to submit questions ahead of time for the video conferences calls.

Despite being on one of two teams to have players test positive, Tkachuk was only asked one question on the subject by a member of the NHL’s public relations staff during a 35-minute session that also included a trio of Atlantic Division rivals — Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Detroit Red Wings centre Dylan Larkin.

The Senators said March 17 the first player had tested positive before making the second announcement four days later.

Gord Wilson, the club’s veteran radio colour commentator, revealed Friday he also tested positive for COVID-19.

The Senators had two days off in California following their game in San Jose before meeting the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on consecutive nights. Ottawa’s contest at the Staples Center on March 11 came 24 hours after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — who had four players test positive — played at the same arena against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Avalanche faced off against the Kings at Staples Center on March 9.

COVID-19 pandemic has killed thousands of people across the globe, devastated economies and brought about an era of social distancing and self-isolation.

As for the pause to the NHL season, Tkachuk said he and older brother Matthew, who plays for the Calgary Flames, have been doing their best to stay active.

“Been keeping busy with him and my younger sister,” Tkachuk said. “We’ve got the Peloton (bike) downstairs that we’ve been going on. We’ve been just keeping active with basketball and stuff like that. It gets fired up.

“It’s not stuff we’re not used to, but I’m trying to make the most of it.”

Tavares, who’s at home in Toronto with his wife and young son, said it took some time to process this new reality.

“First couple days just try to get an understanding of kind of where things are at and what’s hit us,” Tavares said. “Since then just try to develop some type of routine, some type of structure.”

Select players from the Metropolitan Division and Pacific Division took part in video conference calls late last week, while the Central Division is scheduled to go Tuesday.

Chara provided the funniest moment of his session when he was asked — every player has been lobbed the same question — which teammate he’d least like to spend time with in quarantine?

The answer: Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.

“The way he farts … the smell is awful,” said Chara, who had the other players cracking up. “He likes his chicken wings.”

Turning serious, Chara, whose Bruins sat first in the overall standings when the league paused after falling in Game 7 of last spring’s Stanley Cup final, said it’s important to put everything in perspective.

“It’s one of those situations that you can’t really control,” said the 43-year-old defenceman. “Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families. Hockey’s secondary.

“Hopefully we will play again and we’ll see when that’s gonna be.”

On a separate call with a representative from the remaining Atlantic Division teams later Monday, Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber touched on the public service announcement he did on the importance of listening to public health and government officials during the crisis.

“We’re in this together,” Weber said. “As soon as someone’s messing around or not taking it seriously, that’s when things can turn bad for everyone.

“It’s tough times, but we’ve just got to stick together and come through this together.”

Players were also asked their preference for how the league should proceed if it’s allowed to resume this spring or summer.

“It would be tough to jump straight into playoffs, there’s no question about it,” Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman said. “But this is uncharted waters for everyone.

“It’s tough to see where this is going to end.”

Added Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel: “We really don’t know what tomorrow holds, never mind a month from now.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.


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Ottawa Race Weekend cancelled due to COVID-19 –



Ottawa Race Weekend is the latest event to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

Organizers announced Monday they’re calling off the annual race, scheduled this year to take place May 23-24, over fears it would be impossible to maintain a safe distance between runners of the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, 2K or children’s event.

It’s the first time the event has been cancelled since it began in 1975.

But before you hang up your Vaporflys and hit the couch, Run Ottawa, the organization behind Race Weekend, is offering an alternative that will allow runners to compete while still following the physical distancing guidelines set out by Ottawa Public Health.

Competitors will be offered a spot in a virtual race, where they’ll determine their own route and run or walk their chosen distance through their own neighbourhood. The virtual race will start as early as May 23, but will be spread out over the spring and summer months, until August 31. They’ll receive a race kit, including medal, T-shirt, and even a photograph of them crossing a virtual finishing line.

A runner holds a rubber chicken as he begins the half-marathon in Ottawa on Sunday, May 27, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press )

“Part of having a long runway to complete the event is that maybe things will be a little bit different further into the summer, and will allow people to run in groups of two or three,” said Ian Fraser, executive director of Run Ottawa.

Run Ottawa said it will partner with the international race timing company Sportstats to create a virtual finish line, using “e-bibs.” Participants will be able to share their results with friends and family, and compare their times with other runners once the final results are published.

The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.– Ian Fraser, Run Ottawa

Registration, which was halted two weeks ago with around 18,000 runners signed up, will be reopened to allow for more people to join up for the virtual races. 

“There’s a great spirit in the running community that I think is going to see this as something they can celebrate, to push something positive forward in difficult times,” Fraser said.

Run Ottawa had been expecting some 33,000 runners this year.  

The virtual race won’t be a sanctioned event, and the results will not qualify runners for major marathons elsewhere, such as Boston. 

No refunds

There will be no refunds, according to Fraser.

“Pretty much all of the registration money that we take in is spent quite a ways before you actually get to the start line,” he said. “The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.”

Instead, people who have already registered will be given a 50 per cent discount on next year’s race, which is scheduled for May 28-29.

Run Ottawa considered postponing the event until fall, but worried about the crowded running calendar, and the possibility of ongoing mitigation efforts over COVID-19.

“We’re also not certain that the world’s going to be in a better place by then, and we were really mindful to not double disappoint our participants,” Fraser said.

The decision to proceed with a virtual event is meant to encourage runners to keep going with their fundraising efforts for local charities. In years past, runners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities including The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. 

Fraser said he understands people will be disappointed.

“I’ve been a runner since I was eight years old,” Fraser said. “I understand the hard work that goes into preparing for one of our events. But the journey to get to the finish line is every bit as important as the actual event itself…. I think using running as a way of coping with what we’re going through is really important. I think there are more people running now than I’ve ever seen before.”

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Belarus defiantly keeps playing while the rest of the sports world goes on hiatus – The Globe and Mail



Fans react during the Belarus Championship soccer match between Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino and Belshina Bobruisk in the town of Zhodino, Belarus, on March 27, 2020.

Sergei Grits/The Associated Press

With most sports around the world shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic, longtime Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is proudly keeping soccer and hockey arenas open.

The Eastern European nation of nearly 9.5 million even started a whole new soccer season this month as coronavirus cases rose.

The move has the full support of Lukashenko, who took to the ice in an amateur hockey tournament on Saturday with a few hundred spectators in the stands.

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“It’s better to die standing that to live on your knees,” he said, defending Belarus’ refusal to introduce isolation measures and border restrictions like its neighbours, such as Russia.

Soccer fans in need of their weekly fix are turning to Belarus, home to one of the few professional leagues that is still playing. Reuters

With foreign sports networks having little to show and few other options for sports betting, Lukashenko says the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to put the country’s soccer league on display.

“I look at Russia and some people there are winning a lot on bets, because beforehand they didn’t really know our teams,” Lukashenko said. “Someone’s losing, someone’s winning. It’s all useful.”

Fans entering the stadiums in Belarus are given antiseptic hand gel and some have their temperatures monitored by medics. Few wear masks because they’re not considered necessary for open-air events, Belarus soccer federation spokesman Alexander Aleinik said.

Belarus doesn’t publish daily figures on the spread of the virus. On Friday, the last day for which statistics are available, the country recorded 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no deaths.

The Belarusian league isn’t usually an international attraction. Crowds this season barely average 1,200 and UEFA ranks it the continent’s 25th strongest, just below Norway, Israel and Kazakhstan.

But Russian TV has given its games prominent slots on state sports channels and betting firms around Western Europe are streaming them for customers.

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British fans on social media have picked teams to follow and thrown themselves into a new fandom, elevating obscure players to hero status and berating coaches for supposedly negative tactics.

There isn’t much competition, with betting sites offering little more than Nicaraguan soccer, Tajikistan basketball and Russian table tennis as rivals.

Sergei Melnikov is one of those hoping to make an impression on the mostly empty global sports stage. He is the director of the Isloch club, which beat Smolevichi 1-0 on Sunday to keep pace with the leaders on points.

“The whole world is watching our soccer right now,” Melnikov said. “That means we have to show the best that we’ve got.”

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