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Canucks make valiant effort but slow start to season too much to overcome – Sportsnet.ca

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All that will, and Elias Pettersson’s skill, were just not enough for the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday when their 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild felt like the end of their playoff dream.

Up 3-2 late in the second period and still tied 3-3 on the road halfway through the third against a bruising, formidable opponent, the Canucks’ fuel gauge finally hit empty after all these months and the Wild scored three times in the last eight minutes to sink a dagger into Vancouver’s improbable playoff drive.

Leading scorer J.T. Miller hobbled to the final buzzer after blocking a slapshot on the inside of his knee. Checking centre Brad Richardson insisted on finishing the game after getting his nose smashed by Kirill Kaprizov’s stick in the first period. Goalie Thatcher Demko tried to play through whatever is affecting him — even if that is simply exhaustion after playing 63 games — but just didn’t have it.

The Wild were too good, too big, too deep.

The Canucks’ first regulation loss in nine games was still enough to feel like the end of hope after a magnificent four-month charge back towards the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But it wasn’t this game that cost them, even if it seemed that way. It was all those games they lost in November, when a team that needed everything to go well for it to make the post-season began the National Hockey League campaign 6-14-2.

That is the lesson they need to take from Thursday, from this season: Playing three-quarters of a season, even at the winning clip of a top-10 NHL team, isn’t enough when only half of the league’s 32 entries are allowed to play for the Stanley Cup.

Pettersson, who was stuck at six goals on Jan. 15, scored twice Thursday to bring his season total to 31, 13 of them in the last 12 games. But even if the Canucks win their final four games, starting Saturday in Calgary, it may not be enough.

It wasn’t enough that Miller, with 30 goals and 93 points, built the most productive season by a Canuck since Henrik and Daniel Sedin were winning consecutive NHL scoring titles a decade ago. It won’t be enough that Bo Horvat, now out with an ankle injury, scored 31 times. Or that defenceman Quinn Hughes will likely still set a new franchise record for points by a defenceman, needing three points from the final four games to surpass the 63 points Doug Lidster amassed 35 years ago. And it wasn’t enough that Demko had an MVP season, not only showing he can start over an 82-game campaign but proving he is one of the top goalies in the NHL.

All of these achievements were not enough to undo the damage to the Canucks from those first 22 games. Game 78 on Thursday — 32-15-9 since those first seven weeks — was a painful reminder of how much is required to make the playoffs.

“We had a lot of guys go down recently,” winger Conor Garland said Thursday after setting up Pettersson’s goals. “Everybody stepped up and played as hard as we could for as long as we could, trying to just keep winning games, trying to give ourselves a chance to get in. A lot of guys played hard for a long time. That won’t change the last four (games) but tonight definitely hurts.

“We understand what that (loss) means. It’s tough to be tied against probably one of the top two or three teams in the Western Conference in the third period, and we just couldn’t find a way to get it done. It sucks. We just couldn’t find a way to get that fourth one.”

Pettersson’s second goal, giving him five two-goal games in the last dozen, put the Canucks ahead 3-2 at 16:09 of a wild second period when he deftly converted Garland’s rebound to give Vancouver its only lead.

But it lasted less than two-and-a-half minutes because at 18:36, Mats Zuccarello crossed with Kaprizov in the Canucks’ zone and fired a wrist shot in off Demko’s catching glove to tie it.

Kevin Fiala scored the winner for Minnesota at 12:17 of the third period, shaking free from the Canucks’ Brad Hunt as he circled behind the Vancouver net, skated out into the slot and scored short-side on Demko. Kaprizov fired between the goalie’s pads at 18:05, and Ryan Hartman added an empty-netter.

“Until eight minutes to go in the third period, I thought we were doing a really good job,” Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought their third goal was a little bit of a backbreaker. I mean, if we usually get into the third period with the lead, we’re usually at least getting a point out of it. That hurt a little bit.”

But Boudreau added later: “They give it everything they have. I mean, tonight, for example, Miller’s blocking a shot; he’s got a couple ice bags on. Richardson breaks his nose and still wants to play. I mean, that’s the kind of effort and character that these guys have. I’m very proud of them. They never quit, they never die. Obviously, tonight was very disappointing at the end, but… they could have given up a long time ago, the odds were so against us. But they believed and they still believe. They’ll believe again tomorrow.”

With four games remaining, three against teams likely to be in the playoffs, the Canucks are four points back in the wildcard race, seven points behind the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division.

If they win out, the Canucks will have 95 points and that still may not be enough to make the playoffs.

“Everyone tried their best,” Pettersson said after his team was outshot 15-4 in the third period. “Everybody knew what’s on the line, everybody worked their hardest.

“It’s extremely tough. We know how badly we wanted this win. We battled all 60 minutes. It’s not looking better for us, but it’s certainly not over. We’re going to battle until we don’t have any games left.”

There are as few as eight days left in their season.

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US Soccer announces both men and women will split the prize money from FIFA

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Atlanta, United States of America (USA)- The US Soccer Federation (USSF) has announced soccer players representing the United States men’s and women’s national teams will receive the same pay and prize money, including at World Cups.

Under the new deals, which run through 2028 and cover the next four World Cups, dozens of top men’s and women’s players have been told in internal presentations that they can expect to collect average annual payouts of about US$450 000 from the USSF and potentially more than double that in successful World Cup years.

The deal also encompasses other areas such as child care, parental leave, short-term disability, mental health impairment, travel and equal quality of venues and field playing surfaces.

“This is a truly historic moment. The first Federation in the world to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money. These agreements have changed the game forever here in the United States and have the potential to change the game around the world.

US Soccer and the USWNT (United States Women’s National Soccer Team) and USMNT (United States Men’s National Soccer Team) players have reset their relationship with these new agreements and are leading us forward to an incredibly exciting new phase of mutual growth and collaboration as we continue our mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States,” said USSF president, Cindy Parlow.

This latest development comes after the USSF was ordered to pay US$24 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit with a group of past and present USWNT stars.

As part of their settlement, the group of women’s players will divide US$22 million, which was around a third of what they had originally hoped to seal, with the extra US$2 million used to establish a fund that helps the players navigate their post-soccer careers and women’s sports to grow.

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Formula 1 sets 22 races for 2022 & 3 sprinting events

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London, England- Formula 1 has confirmed that there will be 22 races for the 2022 calendar and 3 sprinting events.

The move follows Formula 1’s decision to permanently cancel Russia’s race at Sochi in the wake of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

Formula 1 organizers cancelled the event shortly after Russia’s military operations in February leaving the original slot open as they worked through various replacement options to fit with the original schedule.

Following the cancellation, Formula 1 received plenty of interest from host venues but had to work out if any addition would prove beneficial to the schedule rather than increase costs in terms of logistics.

With the original 23-race number set to be a record for a Formula 1 season, the event organizers then decided the most efficient approach was to simply drop the race that was originally slated for September 25 and leave two weeks between the previous three-straight slate in Europe and the following back-to-back weekends in Singapore and Japan.

Meanwhile, the number of sprint qualifying events that had been expected to be doubled to six this year will remain at three.

However, according to McLaren’s CEO, Zak Brown, Formula 1 teams are in favour of more sprints, “We tried to get six sprint races off last year, which obviously didn’t happen for this year. I think all the teams voted in favour of six sprint races now we have seen the data which tells us it creates more fan awareness, and that’s what I think is most important in growing the sport, how do our fans respond when we try new activities?”

Revised 2022 Formula 1 Calendar:

 

  1. Bahrain GP (Sakhir) March 20

 

  1. Saudi Arabian GP (Jeddah) March 27

 

  1. Australian GP (Melbourne) April 10

 

  1. Emilia Romagna GP (Imola) April 24

 

  1. Miami GP (Miami) May 8

 

  1. Spanish GP (Barcelona) May 22

 

  1. Monaco GP (Monaco) May 29

 

  1. Azerbaijan GP (Baku) June 12

 

  1. Canadian GP (Montreal) June 19

 

  1. British GP (Silverstone) July 3

 

  1. Austrian GP (Spielberg) July 10

 

  1. French GP (Paul Ricard) July 24

 

  1. Hungarian GP (Budapest) July 31

 

  1. Belgian GP (Spa) August 28

 

  1. Dutch GP (Zandvoort) September 4

 

  1. Italian GP (Monza) September 11

 

  1. Singapore GP (Marina Bay) October 2

 

  1. Japanese GP (Suzuka) October 9

 

  1. United States GP (Austin) October 23

 

  1. Mexico City GP (Mexico City) October 30

 

  1. Sao Paulo GP (Interlagos) November 13

 

  1. Abu Dhabi GP (Yas Marina) November 20

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CFL strike ends after league, players reach tentative agreement on new CBA – TSN

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The first Canadian Football League strike in nearly 40 years ended Wednesday night, opening the door for the full resumption of training camps and the first on-time start to the regular season since 2019.

The CFL and the CFL Players’ Association reached a tentative seven-year deal on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) Wednesday, less than 96 hours after the strike began when talks broke off.

Monday’s preseason game in Saskatchewan between the Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers is being rescheduled – an announcement is expected on Thursday – but in terms of actual casualties because of this labour stoppage, that’s it.

The end result is a deal – which still has to be ratified by the league’s board of governors and CFLPA members – that produces measureable gains for the players in several areas including health and safety, revenue sharing, salary cap, and guaranteed contracts.

There are tangible measures to slow player turnover, which has long been a CFL problem ignored in collective bargaining.

The big question mark economically is how meaningful the revenue sharing formula will prove to be for the players, and whether they will truly be able to share in any league prosperity.

There is always much debate about the state of the business in Canadian football, but this deal suggests that not all is doom and gloom. Coming off two years in which the league suffered massive losses from a lost 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and significant ones off a reduced 14-game schedule in 2021, the CFL did not bargain like a league that was on its last legs.

It provided minimum annual increases to the salary cap that are double those prescribed in the last CBA. And the league signed a deal that provides far more than what’s been given in recent memory. All of which suggests there must be some optimism about what lies ahead, barely a year after the CFL parted ways with the idea of merging with the XFL.

So if there was so much ‘give’ from the owners side on this deal, what did they owners ‘get’ in return?

Essentially, besides the term of the deal, the league gained flexibility for its teams in how the league’s ratio of Canadians is applied. The CFL ratio is always the most hotly debated, misunderstood and controversial aspect of Canadian football – people tend to love it or hate it.

The league itself tends to love it … well, sort of.

There’s never been an intent to eliminate the league’s quota for 21 Canadian players on every roster, seven of whom have to be starters.

But reduce it? Sure, the league’s always been open to that and the players’ association has always opposed it.

The uncomfortable truth in all of this is reducing the ratio improves the quality of the game, and improving the quality of the game is something with which the league has become acutely concerned about of late. That’s not a knock on Canadians. It’s just a recognition that the numbers of players in the United States far, far, far outnumber those north of the border.

The sides came up with a solution that preserves the seven Canadian starters but provides for more flexibility for coaches to use American players than they would have been able to in the past. Specifically, veteran American players, those who’ve spent at least three years with their team or five in the league, will be allowed to play as Canadians in some circumstances.

That not only is going to put more of the best players on the field, it’s going to give additional value to American veterans, which slows roster turnover, another key issue this agreement effectively addresses.

Players have a strong incentive to re-sign with their teams, since that allows up to 50 per cent of the final years of their contracts to be guaranteed.

Overall, both the movement of players from team-to-team and out of the league should slow, which is a true win-win for players, fans and general managers.

It’s hard to imagine what the world of Canadian football will be like in 2029, when the new CBA expires.

No doubt much will have changed.

The league is marching into that future with a new collective bargaining agreement that addresses many longstanding issues in the CFL.

Who wins on the business side is hard to say, given all the uncertainties that lie ahead.

But right now all that matters to most is that collective bargaining has been put to bed and the CFL is finally ready to embark on a full season of football.

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