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Former Montreal Expos pitcher and radio host Derek Aucoin dies at 50 – CBC.ca

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Former Montreal Expos pitcher Derek Aucoin died at the age of 50, his family confirmed on Sunday.

Aucoin had been battling brain cancer since August 2019.

“There are very few words to express the deep pain and sorrow that pervades us as our beautiful Derek left us peacefully surrounded by love yesterday in the early evening,” his wife Isabelle and son Dawson wrote in a news release.

“For 18 months, he had been resiliently fighting a hard fight against glioblastoma multiforme. Despite this merciless cancer, he lived in gratitude of the present moment in a way only he could.”

A native of Lachine, Aucoin pitched two games in the Expos uniform in 1996. He also spent time in the minor leagues with the New York Mets in 1998.

A need to give back

Baseball Canada’s business and sports development director, André Lachance, reconnected with him once Aucoin’s baseball-playing days were over.

“I had met him for the first time in 1997 and then we reconnected years later when his athletic journey was over and he wanted to give back as a coach,” Lachance said. “We shared lots of ideas, lots of best practices for young people, we developed a great friendship from there.”

For Lachance, Aucoin’s journey was proof that a young Quebec player could dream big.

As a host and analyst with TVA Sports and 98.5 FM for several years, Aucoin was inducted into the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in November 2019.

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Connor McDavid goes super-nova in 5-2 Edmonton Oilers win over Vancouver – Edmonton Journal

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ZACK KASSIAN. 6. That was more like it. Zack Kassian was skating better and was involved in the play more over-all, chipping in 3 hits and 3 shots. Unlucky to have not scored, as Thatcher Demko absolutely stoned him in close with a terrific glove save on an early chance. Set up McDavid for a chance a shift later. Part of a 3-way sequence that led to Nugent-Hopkins ringing one off the post. More, please.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse will be asked to carry a heavier load this year with Oscar Klefbom on the shelf for the season. If tonight is any indication, Nurse is up to it. 2 shots, 5 hits, 2 blocks in a team-leading 23:54 of TOI. A nifty take-away and shot in the 1st. 61% CF (30-19 at even strength). He was a tower of power. +3.

ETHAN BEAR. 7. Had a terrific game. Always on the right side of his man. Made a number of nice, crisp outlet passes. A key clear on a 1st Period PK, again on a 3rd period penalty kill. A shot, 2 blocks, and played in all 3 disciplines across 23:44. Nurse nudged him out in ice time by 10 seconds. +3.

LEON DRAISAITL. 9. Dominant on both sides of the puck. Put up 4 assists, the first a shot off the post that Nugent-Hopkins back-handed home. Won the faceoff with just 2.5 seconds in the opening frame which led to McDavid’s 1st. His drop pass was part of the high-light reel goal by McDavid described above. Then, Leon set up Connor’s hat trick goal with a sublime, no-look backhand pass that was just out of this world. Without the puck he also chipped in 3 hits, was 71% in the circle, and also had an impressive 1st Period back-check that broke up a dangerous Canucks sortie in the 1st. What a player.

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Steve Nash has his hands full with the Brooklyn Nets – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

Steve Nash is blessed — and also maybe cursed

There’s an element of Greek tragedy to it. The gods (or, in this case, Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks) grant our hero a gift that can make him more powerful than all his rivals. But it comes with a catch that threatens to destroy him.

That’s where Nash, the Canadian basketball legend and NBA coaching rookie, finds himself after the Nets’ blockbuster trade for James Harden. The kraken of a deal (technically two deals), officially completed today, involves four teams, seven players, six draft picks and four pick swaps. The gist is that Harden is moving from Houston to Brooklyn, Caris LeVert from Brooklyn to Indiana, and Victor Oladipo from Indiana to Houston. Brooklyn is giving Houston three first-round picks and the right to swap first-rounders in four other years, and the Rockets grabbed another first-round pick from Cleveland. Whew.

On one hand, Nash is blessed. It’s every coach’s dream to see his front-office go all-in like this on a championship run. In his first season as a head coach at any level, he now commands one of the best triumvirates ever assembled in pro basketball. Harden is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the sport, the winner of the last three NBA scoring titles and a former MVP. Kevin Durant is a two-time Finals MVP who owns four scoring titles and a regular-season MVP. Kyrie Irving has hit a championship-winning shot and is one of the most dazzling ball-handlers and finishers anyone has ever seen.

But the Nets’ Achilles heel is painfully obvious. All three of their superstars are difficult personalities who have worn out their welcomes with other teams. Harden forced his way out of Houston by demanding a trade and then showing up for the season out of shape and sullen, alienating teammates and fans. Durant, despite great personal and team success in Golden State, never found the fulfilment he sought in joining the Warriors’ dynasty. He clashed with teammates and the media during his final, sour season there.

And then there’s Kyrie. After unhappy endings in Cleveland and Boston, he could be headed for another one in Brooklyn. Irving is currently on an unspecified, indefinite leave from the team — the reasons for which remain mysterious. No one knows when — or even if — he’ll return to the NBA. So, at this point, the Nets’ Big Three exists only in theory. And, oh yeah, there’s still only one ball for everyone to share.

Time isn’t on Brooklyn’s side either. Harden and Durant are both on the wrong side of 30. Kyrie turns 29 in March but seems like one of the NBA’s oldest souls. So there’s tremendous pressure on Nash to win right now.

The Nets recruited the universally beloved Canadian for this job over far more experienced coaches because of his “soft” skills. He has the ability to relate to, empathize with — and command the respect of — modern superstars. Those talents were put to the test with just Durant and Kyrie on the team. With Harden, the degree of difficulty — and the stakes — have been raised.

Depending partly on how Nash plays this, Brooklyn could win the championship this year. Or go down in flames. And no one would be surprised either way.

James Harden, a 3-time scoring champion, adds another prominent figure in the Nets’ locker room. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Quickly…

Another province cancelled its curling playdowns. Saskatchewan joins B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in deciding not to hold tournaments to determine its representatives for this year’s Brier and Scotties. Unlike most of the others, Saskatchewan isn’t simply sending last year’s provincial champions. Instead, it considered recent results and landed on the teams skipped by Sherry Anderson, whose last Scotties appearance was in 2018, and Matt Dunstone, who finished third at last year’s Brier. Both the Brier and the Scotties will be played in a bubble in Calgary this winter, and Curling Canada announced yesterday that it’s expanding the fields to 18 by adding two extra wild-card teams to each event. Read more about Saskatchewan’s decision in this story by CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux.

Another track star broke doping rules. Reigning Olympic 100-metre hurdles champion Brianna McNeal didn’t test positive for a banned substance, but the 29-year-old American has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for “tampering within the results management process.” Read more about the ruling here.

A five-time Olympic swimming medallist was charged for taking part in the U.S. Capitol riot. The FBI caught Klete Keller after a video apparently showed him, wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket, among those storming the building. He’s charged with knowingly entering a restricted building to impede an official government function, disorderly conduct and obstructing law officers. Keller, 38, competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He won two gold and a silver medal as part of relay teams, plus a pair of individual bronze. Keller was known to be an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump on social media. Read more about Keller and the charges against him here.

And finally…

A Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $5.2 million US. That’s a new record for a sports card, shattering the $3.94 million paid for a one-of-a-kind Mike Trout rookie only five months ago (yes, cards are a thing again). Unlike most super-expensive cards, this Mantle is not a rookie. But the 1952 Topps is special for a few reasons. As ESPN notes, that was the first year Topps produced an annual set, and the company ended up dumping thousands of them into the Hudson River because of overproduction. Also, this particular Mantle card was graded PSA 9, and only six in that condition are believed to still exist. The record may not last, though. There are three known ’52 Topps Mantle cards graded PSA 10 — also known as “gem mint” condition. Those are valued at more than $10 million.

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Oilers show growth defensively, capitalize on McDavid show vs. Canucks – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The journey began a day late Thursday evening, for an Edmonton Oilers team that didn’t like losing its home opener the previous night — but was particularly sour about the way that 5-3 loss went down.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl put on a show through 40 minutes, giving Edmonton a 4-2 lead over the Vancouver Canucks. But when the teams emerged for the third period, the circus had gone home.

All that remained was the security folks, as the Oilers clamped on to their two points with a dull, but extremely effective, third period. The Oilers were far more concerned with the “2” than the “4,” a trait they’ve struggled to embrace over the years.

“That was talked about, that’s for sure,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “You’ve got to play a certain way and there were still a couple of instances in the third that will be discussed, when we turned pucks over, we had our D in there too tight.

“You know, you’ve got to have a mindset of how you’re going to win. It doesn’t matter if you win by two or win by eight, you’ve just got to win. And when you want to win by eight, sometimes you don’t win by two.”

It was two different brands of hockey: 40 minutes of the Connor McDavid Show, as he answered a scoreless opener with a hat trick and a four-point night, and 20 minutes of Vancouver seeking a crack in an opponent that has for so many years given them that breath of life.

This year’s team has identified that area as a place where they plan to grow, and if the measurement is from Game 1 to Game 2, then that growth was enormous.

“Defence is very important to us, we’ve preached that throughout camp,” said Leon Draisaitl, who had four assists. “Yesterday wasn’t the way we wanted to show up and play. Great response tonight.”

One night after Brock Boeser had flexed his muscles for the Canucks, it was the Oilers’ star players who took over this game. The line of McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian was too much for Vancouver at 5-on-5, and the Edmonton power play was merciless, scoring on two of their four opportunities.

If you’re looking to someone other than McDavid for why Edmonton beats Vancouver, then look to a perfect penalty kill that thwarted the Canucks on each of five chances.

“All four lines, all six D — right from the start we had the right mindset,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “We knew we needed to clean some things up after last night, and in a back-to-back, you don’t have too much time to think, and dwell on things. We responded really well.”

Look, when McDavid plays like this, you’d better win.

He was “Warp Speed Connor” on Thursday — dominating in a style that has added some power and guile. The 2-0 goal he scored with 0.7 seconds left in the opening period was equal parts skill, strength and power, as he busted through his check to pot a rebound that broke Vancouver’s back.

“It seemed like we had a little more juice than they did,” observed McDavid. “But that happens in a back-to-back, sometimes a team just doesn’t have it. I thought we did a good job as a group. The power play was good, the PK was good. 5-on-5 I thought we did a pretty good job as well.”

The growth of a team happy to shut ‘er down after 40 is a necessary element in this town.

“That’s the position we want to be in all season long, up in the third period and being able to hold those leads,” McDavid said. “I thought we did a good job. They had a couple of looks, they hemmed us in a little bit, but I liked the way we were able to find a fifth and were able to finish the game off.”

And so we’re off. Through two games, we’ve seen Mikko Koskinen with an excellent bounce-back night, the ageing Mike Smith already dinged up and young Jesse Puljujarvi — though pointless still — is clearly not the player he was when he last donned the blue-and-orange silks.

“This is his first two North American games he’s played in a long time,” cautioned Tippett. “He’s still finding his way out there but he’s relentless. He works. He’s heavy on the puck. He wants the puck all the time. I think he’s going to keep trending in the right direction.”

Puljujarvi’s game is simpler, and he uses his natural assets better than before. There is definitely something here.

“He’s committed to playing really hard and trying to do the things we want to do structurally,” Tippett said. “There’s lots and lots of upside there. It would be nice to see one of those go in the net for him but it’s good that he’s getting chances. Hopefully, it comes soon.”

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