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Flames need to be 'way better' if they want to survive Pacific Division logjam – Calgary Sun

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The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers provided must-see entertainment on a snowy Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The game even had the Hockey Night in Canada panel of David Amber, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kelly Hrudey and Elliotte Friedman giddy with excitement, waiting to see what would happen next and warning viewers to stay in their seats the entire night. They wouldn’t want to miss what happens next — and they weren’t wrong.

But between the past, the lead-up, the goalie fights, and the shade thrown through the media after Saturday’s game, the end result was clear for Flames head coach Geoff Ward.

His team wasn’t good enough.

His team gave up two valuable points on the table.

And his team squandered a chance to pull ahead of their provincial rivals, win their fourth straight game against the Oilers and, instead, were embarrassed 8-3 on home ice.

It was the most goals they’ve allowed all season.

“I mean, everybody saw the same thing,” Ward said, fuming. “They were good and we weren’t. So, what can we control? It’s how we prepare to play. The lessons we take from this? We have to be way more competitive. I thought some of our guys were. I thought as a team, overall, we could have been more competitive. So, yeah.”

This isn’t over, of course. Far from it.

But with six of their next eight games slated against Pacific Division opponents, they have zero time to dwell on what could have been — or who said what about what in which post-game scrum.

Speaking of which, Leon Draisaitl finally broke his silence on what he thought of David Rittich’s bat-flip in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win, saying that it was disrespectful: “We hit two posts and he’s celebrating like they just won the Stanley Cup. I get it, they’re excited, and good for them, they won the game in the shootout, but show some respect, I think. That’s my opinion.”

Also weighing is was Mike Smith who is Rittich’s former counterpart-turned Oilers goalie who made headlines by dropping the gloves with Flames netminder and former Edmonton netminder Cam Talbot.

“He’s a fiery guy, but sometimes it goes a little too far,” Smith said. “Sometimes what goes around comes around.”


The Calgary Flames’ goalie David Rittich (33) flips his goal stick in celebration after stopping the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl (29) during the shootout at Rogers Place, in Edmonton Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020. Photo by David Bloom

All of which are interesting story angles, which the Flames refused to entertain leading into Saturday’s rematch. Resident you-know-what-disturber Matthew Tkachuk downplayed it, telling Scott Oake in the pre-game interview that: “It was just another game. Honestly.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Saturday was the biggest game to date for both teams and what went down stoked feelings of nostalgia as people of a certain generation remembered heated versions of the Battle of Alberta from the past.

Nothing will ever top the first-ever BOA goalie fight, although expect some fireworks and scores to be settled in the final meeting of the season on April 4 at Calgary and, if we’re lucky, playoffs.


Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot and Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith fight during NHL action in Calgary on Saturday, February 1, 2020.

Gavin Young /

Postmedia

But if the Flames are focused on all of that at the start of this week — beginning with Tuesday’s game against the visiting San Jose Sharks (7 p.m., Sportsnet West, Sportsnet 960 the Fan) — they’re missing the point.

“Collectively, we needed to be way better,” Ward said. “At this time of the year, defence gives you a chance to win. (Saturday) our defensive game was exposed a little bit and put us behind the eight ball early.”

The Flames are 27-20-6 and, heading into Sunday’s action and, after Saturday’s game, woke up sitting fourth in the Pacific Division. Five points separated fifth place (Arizona) from first place (Vancouver) and every game they squander from now until April matters.

Ward hoped that desperation starts to sink in.

“I want (this) feeling to stick with us for a while, for sure,” he said. “If you’re not a little bit angry in your stomach about what happened tonight and it’s not bothering you, you’ve probably got an issue. So, we need to harness that a little bit … we have to make sure our minds get there, that we take what we need to out of this game. Then, we start Monday (at practice) and we’ve gotta be way better.”

kanderson@postmedia.com

Twitter: @KDotAnderson

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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