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F1 fans fuming over lack of refunds for cancelled 2020 Canadian Grand Prix – The Globe and Mail

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Racing Point driver Lance Stroll of Canada steers his act down the pit lane during qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Montreal.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The company that stages the Canadian Grand Prix is refusing to explain why it has not yet issued refunds to some fans who purchased tickets to last year’s race, almost nine months after it was cancelled because of COVID-19.

Fans from the United States, Canada, Britain and elsewhere are fuming after Octane Racing Group Inc., the promoters of the Montreal F1 race, repeatedly failed to follow through on a promise to refund tickets, which can cost upward of $3,000 each. After the June, 2020, race was pulled from the F1 schedule, ticketholders were told refunds would be processed before the end of October, 2020. Since then, however, Octane has said only that “unforeseen delays in the refund process” have occurred.

Some fans have launched lawsuits, while others have turned to social media and online petitions to try to force the company to act.

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It is unclear how many ticketholders are still waiting for refunds.

But even as it has refused to shed light on the situation, Octane has lashed out at critics, telling The Globe and Mail in a statement that “sensationalist” news coverage led to company executives being subjected to threats and harassment.

The annual race is subsidized by the Montreal, Quebec and federal governments with almost $20-million annually. In 2017, when the three levels of government announced more than $98-million in support of a five-year contract extension with F1, then-federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the “return on investment is excellent,” because the event “brands Montreal around the world.”

But the refund debacle has some F1 fans pledging to never again attend the Montreal race. Richard Gomez-Lee, a fan in London, bought two premier tickets to last year’s Grand Prix for about $1,200 from F1.com, a third-party reseller. When provincial restrictions due to COVID-19 prompted organizers to officially cancel the race last July 24, ticketholders were given until August 27 to either roll over their tickets to 2021 or request a refund.

But months after Gomez-Lee elected to get a refund, the company that operates F1.com e-mailed him to say it could not return his money because it was “still awaiting the funds from the Race Promoter [Octane Racing Group Inc.].” When he pursued the matter with Octane directly, Gomez-Lee received an e-mail in January from a senior ticketing manager who said the company was “extremely sorry for this inconvenience,” but she was “not at liberty to discuss the nature of the delay.”

On Tuesday of this week, he received another e-mail from F1.com advising that it is “currently awaiting the promoter’s guidelines to establish an estimated timeline for your refund to be issued.”

Gomez-Lee shared the correspondence with The Globe.

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The lack of information has left him frustrated and disenchanted. “If I ever get my money back, as much as I really would still love to go to the Grand Prix, I don’t know if I’d want to do business with the people in place like that,” he said. “That’s not how you treat people.” He suggested Formula One should bar Octane from staging another Grand Prix until all 2020 ticketholders have been reimbursed.

At least one ticket retailer says Octane’s inaction forced her to issue refunds to customers out of her own pocket. Nicola Denbigh, the co-owner of London-based Motor Sports Travel Ltd., which offers package tours to motorsport competitions, told The Globe that even though “we can’t sell travel, we can’t make any money, we’ve effectively been closed for a year, we still have an obligation” to make customers whole.

She added that all of the other cancelled F1 races quickly reimbursed ticketholders. The Singapore race, scheduled for last September, was cancelled on Friday, June 12, “and we had that money on the Monday [June 15th]. They prepared themselves in advance, they knew [cancellation] was a possibility and they were ready to go and they refunded everybody.”

In a statement e-mailed to The Globe on March 19, an F1 spokesperson said, “Discussions are ongoing with all the relevant parties and we remain committed to helping fans who have requested refunds secure them. We’ll be able [to] share more information in the coming weeks.”

Some fans who have made a lot of noise have received refunds. Warren Liebmann of Toronto got his money back after starting a petition on Change.org and having his case covered by GrandPrix247.com, a racing news site. One man told CBC that he received a refund after filing against Octane in small claims court. A fan in Ohio who had purchased three VIP tickets for himself, his wife, and son for more than $12,000, told The Globe he received a refund in February after sending e-mails to senior executives of F1 and Liberty Media, which owns F1.

But others who have spoken with The Globe, including fans in the United States and Canada, are losing hope of ever seeing their money again.

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Last December, Francois Dumontier, the CEO of Octane, told Le Journal de Montreal that all ticketholders would be reimbursed by Dec. 22.

But last month he responded to a request for comment by The Globe with a statement that he would not be giving any more interviews on the matter, in part because an online CBC news story published in December prompted a number of “serious threats.”

“We promised to issue refunds to the ticket holders who have requested them and we will honour our promise,” Dumontier said. “I am sorry but we have no comments to add.”

He has, however, spoken with The Canadian Press in recent weeks to discuss the prospect of the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix going ahead. The race is currently on the F1 schedule for the weekend of June 11-13, though tickets are not on sale to the general public.

Denbigh said she would be wary of selling Canadian Grand Prix tickets in the future. “We cannot run the risk of the same thing happening again,” she explained.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sandrine Garneau-Le Bel, the director of communications and marketing for Octane, reiterated in an e-mail to The Globe that the company would not comment on its failure to reimburse fans in a timely manner. “We promised to issue refunds to the ticket holders who have requested them and we will honour our promise,” she said.

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Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now

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The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.

The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.

The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.

The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.

The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.

Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.

Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.

Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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