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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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Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Marlies News & Player Signings – The Hockey Writers



The Toronto Marlies are the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it makes sense to stay up-to-date with what’s happening within their AHL affiliate. This is especially true regarding the players the Marlies are signing because they might soon make their way to the Maple Leafs’ roster.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Babcock, Parayko, Bracco & More

In fact, at the end of the 2019-20 regular season, nine players who “developed” with the Marlies were in Toronto including Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall, Justin Holl, Zach Hyman, Martin Marincin, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Calle Rosen, and Rasmus Sandin. Frederik Gauthier was also included in this group, but he wasn’t qualified by the team.

Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In addition, because Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must plan for a 2020-21 season that’s still in the shadows, he’s become even more creative in how he utilizes the Maple Leafs and the Marlies as a way to rest players and take advantage of the organization’s depth by setting up a revolving door between the two clubs.

In some cases, this would allow for greater movement – much of it waiver-exempt – between the NHL and the AHL teams and assigning contracts to the Marlies means they don’t count against the Maple Leafs’ cap.

Item One: Marlies Sign Scott Sabourin to an AHL Contract

Last week, the Marlies signed Scott Sabourin to an AHL contract. Sabourin is not a new name. In fact, he was one of the feel-good stories of last season when, after playing with eight different minor-league teams, he finally made his NHL debut at the age of 27. He played 35 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and four assists.

Scott Sabourin Ottawa Senators
Scott Sabourin, when he was with the Ottawa Senators (Courtesy Ottawa Senators)

Sabourin has played in 308 AHL regular-season games with five teams (the Manchester Monarchs, Iowa Wild, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, and the Stockton Heat) and scored 77 points (37 goals, 40 assists) He could rise to take a spot on the Maple Leafs’ roster; but, having an AHL contract is limiting. Specifically, his contract does not allow him to be called up unless the Maple Leafs sign him to an NHL contract when he arrives in Toronto.

Item Two: Long-Time Marlie Richard Clune Returns to the Team

Richard Clune signed a one-year AHL contract with the Marlies. Clune scored three goals and four points in 16 AHL contests in 2019-20. Although the 33-year-old has played 139 NHL games during his career, he hasn’t skated for an NHL team since 2015-16.

Related: Roger Neilson: Coaching Genius & Innovator

Clune has been a good soldier for the Marlies and is valuable in an on-ice leadership capacity. During his five Marlies seasons as an alternate captain, he’s scored 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 164 regular-season games. He’s a native of Toronto and helped the Marlies win the 2018 Calder Cup.

Since he was selected by the Dallas Stars in the third round (71st overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Clune has played more than 600 games at the NHL and AHL levels. He’s been a mainstay on the Marlies for several seasons, and it’s good to see him re-signed.

Item Three: Rourke Chartier Signs a One-Year AHL Contract with the Marlies. 

Rourke Chartier is another depth forward general manager Dubas has signed. At 24 years old, he has played a lot of hockey; however, injuries didn’t allow him to play at all during the 2019-20 season. By signing Chartier, Dubas is taking a chance the young player can get his career back on track.

During the 2018-19 season, he split time with the San Jose Sharks and their AHL affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. He scored a goal in 13 games with the Sharks and six goals and 18 points in 26 games with the Barracuda. In total, the native of Saskatoon has played 121-career AHL regular-season games, scoring 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists).

Rourke Chartier with the San Jose Barracuda (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

Similar to several other Dubas signees, Chartier has a history of on-ice leadership. He played for the Kelowna Rockets when they won the 2014-15 WHL Championship and served as an alternate captain for two seasons.

Item Four: The Marlies Sign forward Tyler Gaudet to a One-Year AHL Contract

The 27-year-old Tyler Gaudet signed a one-year contract. Gaudet is not a new player with the Marlies. He played in 58 games during the 2019-20 season and scored four goals and 17 assists. He’s a long-time AHL player and, during his 356 regular-season AHL games, Gaudet has scored 43 goals and 86 assists (129 points).

Related: Who is the NHL’s Top Goaltending Prospect?

Gaudet is a native of southern Ontario (Hamilton) and has NHL experience, playing in 20 career NHL regular-season games with the Arizona Coyotes, where he scored a goal and three assists.

Item Five: The Marlies Sign Defenceman Riley McCourt to a Two-Year AHL Contract

In signing Riley McCourt, Dubas might be looking for an uncut gem. The 20-year-old, left-shot defenseman went undrafted but has slowly risen through the junior ranks. Last season, he began to see success. McCourt played 63 games with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and recorded a career-high 18 goals and 44 assists (62 points) which ranked fifth among OHL defensemen in scoring.

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He, too, is a southern Ontario native (St. Catharines) and, during his five-season OHL career, he’s played 175 games and scored 30 goals and 87 assists with both the Firebirds and the Hamilton Bulldogs. He might be a fun youngster to watch because he’s showing some offensive potential.

What Might Be After the Marlies?

Dubas has inked all of these players to AHL contracts, largely for salary-cap reasons which allows the Maple Leafs to ascribe their contracts to the Marlies and not the Maple Leafs. Should any of them be called up to Toronto, they’d have to sign NHL contracts.

Related: Maple Leafs Become Chapter in Vesey’s Puzzling Career

When next season begins to unfold – in whatever shape that might be – it’ll be interesting to see if any of these players or who will rise to the big club’s roster. There are always injuries, and Dubas has a way of stockpiling both younger and experienced talent in his organization as a way to help.

As noted, there are a number of Marlies grads who have made a big impact on the Maple Leafs, not the least of which are two current stars – William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.

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John Cusack shares story of MJ duping Kobe in final matchup – Comcast SportsNet Chicago



Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan last faced off in an NBA game on March 28, 2003. 

Jordan was 40 years old, churning out the final days of his playing career for a middling Washington Wizards team. Bryant was 24, already a seven-year pro and three-time NBA champ, enjoying the best season of his young career for the dynastic Los Angeles Lakers.

As such, that late regular-season game at Staples Center was a bit lopsided; Bryant’s Lakers won 108-94 behind a double-nickel from Bryant — 55 points on 15-for-29 field-goal shooting (9-for-13 from 3). Jordan poured in 23 points of his own on 10-for-20 from the field in a losing effort.

That game also produced one of the enduring images of Bryant and Jordan’s friendship.

It started rather innocuously. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and the Lakers ahead 20 points, Bryant strolled up the floor with Jerry Stackhouse lined up across from him. Rick Fox, Jordan’s man, stepped up and set a screen for Bryant. But Jordan sniffed out the intent. As Bryant slammed on the accelerator and attempted to dart around Fox’s screen toward open space on the right wing, Jordan popped out from behind Fox and stymied the drive. Stackhouse clawed over the initial screen. Once regrouped, the two backed Bryant off the 3-point line.

The counterpunch: Bryant dumped the ball off to Fox, then hit the gas again in anticipation of a handoff pass. He collected the ball. He put one dribble down. But there Jordan was again — expectant, feet set and ready to absorb the contact of Bryant’s single-minded drive before he could turn the corner.

Bodies tangled, Jordan hit the floor and a whistle blew. Offensive foul on Bryant. For a moment, the Laker guard stared down his one-time idol, a look of utter contempt plastered across his face. But that quickly melted. The two shared a knowing laugh, Bryant playfully punched Jordan three times in the chest and helped him to his feet. The game went on.

Getty Images

You might recognize another familiar face in that photo, just to Bryant’s left. John Cusack, joining in the merriment, along with seemingly every observer in the vicinity of the play.

In a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Cusack shared what was said between Jordan and Bryant that turned annoyance to ebullience.

“At some point in the game, everyone knew Michael and Kobe were going to go 1-on-1,”  Cusack said. “So, Kobe got the ball, he cleared everybody out and everybody started to bristle up with anticipation and it was going to be Kobe against Michael. And Kobe started to drive, Michael stepped in front of him — right in front of me — and he took the charge.”

And then…

“He (Jordan) went down, and Kobe’s standing above him. And Michael just looked up and said, ‘Well everybody in the f*****g building knew you weren’t going to pass.’” Cusack said. “And then there’s a pause… And Kobe just started laughing and they both started laughing.”

(Story begins at the 04:58 mark)

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Indeed, Jordan’s gamble was an informed one. Bryant had scored 50 of his 55 points at the time of this play. In fact, Jordan had already drawn a charge on him on a similar play the previous quarter. Never count out the wily vet.

“You really felt the passing of the torch, one great to the other,” Cusack added. “You felt it was a moment in sports, it was amazing to be at.”

It’s amazing to relive too. Hat tip to Adam Howes, who put this edit of the story interspersed with game footage together on Twitter:

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Dodgers name Clayton Kershaw starter for Game 1 of World Series –



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