All the Blue Jackets had to do was come up with a contract that would work for both sides, and he would sign it.
Seven years and $68.25 million ($9.75 million average annual value) did the trick.
Gaudreau put pen to paper Wednesday night and was introduced to the Columbus community in a press conference at Nationwide Arena on Thursday afternoon.
“I wanted to come here,” Gaudreau said. “This was always a place circled on my list.”
The 28-year-old forward led the Calgary Flames and was tied for second in the NHL last season with 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) in 82 regular-season games. He led the NHL with a plus-64 rating and set NHL career highs in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (nine) and shots on goal (262).
Gaudreau also led the Flames in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 12 games.
The Flames made Gaudreau an eight-year contract offer reportedly worth more annually than he got from the Blue Jackets. But he told Flames general manager Brad Treliving on Tuesday night that he was not going to sign with them.
Once he made that decision, Gaudreau and his wife, Meredith, pivoted to the Eastern Conference so he could play closer to where he grew up in South Jersey. He said it was always a dream of his to play for an east-coast team.
They decided Columbus, even though it’s not near the coast, was close enough.
“I only got to play here once a year and it was from the hotel back to the rink and then back to the hotel and I had never been to Columbus before that,” Gaudreau said. “But throughout the summer, I did my homework on places that I thought were good for me, talked to some former players. After every time I talked to a different person about this city, it seemed like the person was more excited than the last person I was talking to. It sounded like a perfect spot for us.”
The Blue Jackets’ young core was also part of his decision.
“I think there’s a lot of potential,” Gaudreau said. “They’ve got good players on this team. I’ve heard a lot of great things. They’re a close-knit group. That’s who you want to play with, guys who get along in the locker room and love coming to the rink and working every single day. It’s just a healthy environment to be around.”
The Blue Jackets did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, missing by 19 points last season and 16 in 2020-21.
But that didn’t matter to Gaudreau.
“I’m so excited, I think we have a good group here,” he said. “I didn’t come to Columbus to check out the views. I came here to win hockey games.”
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Gaudreau said making the decision to leave Calgary was hard, but he felt it was the right thing to do for he and Meredith, who is pregnant and expecting the couple’s first child in September.
“It went right down to probably 11 o’clock the night before free agency where I decided I wasn’t going to go back,” Gaudreau said. “It was difficult, but it was the best for us. We were super excited to sign here in Columbus. They were one of the teams we were really interested in and when they called, we had all smiles.”
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen said it was unanimous in the Blue Jackets’ front office that they had to make it work with Gaudreau because of the interest he expressed in them.
“We all agreed that we just can’t pass on an opportunity like this with a player of his caliber wanting to come here,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously, he was wanted by a number of teams. We had watched him — I don’t know how many times — with our scouting staff and continued talks with his agent and it came through fairly quickly after we realized that we both wanted this. There was a deal to be made and we signed it.”
Gaudreau could find himself playing on the same line as Patrik Laine, who is a restricted free agent. Kekalainen said they expect to get Laine under contract.
The options at center include Boone Jenner, Cole Sillinger, Jack Roslovic and potentially Kent Johnson, the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, who played nine games and had three assists last season.
Johnson gave No. 13 to Gaudreau, the number he had throughout his eight seasons in Calgary.
Johnson had been wearing No. 13 because Gaudreau was his idol growing up.
“Talking to everyone right after I signed and I was like, ‘I don’t need 13, he can have 13’. I feel bad. I don’t want to take his number. I’ll get a fresh new start,'” Gaudreau said. “I’m going to have to take him out to a couple dinners. It was very nice for him to do that. He didn’t have to. It shows what you’re surrounded by here, guys that are willing to do those little things and not expect anything in return.”
Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said he has not yet talked to Gaudreau about where he might fit in the lineup, players he could play with, the systems Columbus plays or anything of the sort.
Those conversations will happen, but for now the coach is just happy Gaudreau wanted to be a part of what they’re doing in Columbus.
“He chose to come here,” Larsen said. “He chose us, this organization, this city to grow his family coming really coming into the prime of his career. It’s a big statement.”
Eugenie Bouchard happy to feel the burn after successful return to tennis – Sportsnet.ca
Her first match left her exhausted physically and mentally, but Eugenie Bouchard couldn’t be happier.
After a 17-month layoff recovering from right shoulder surgery the native of Westmount, Que., is back playing tennis at the Odlum Brown VanOpen.
“The goal of surgery and coming back is to be able to play exactly how I want to and how I was playing before,” the 28-year-old former world No. 5 said Monday.
“This is what we do as athletes. The point is not to practice all the time, the point is to play.”
Bouchard opened the tournament Sunday night, teaming up with fellow Canadian Kayla Cross to defeat Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti and Elisabetta Cocciaretto in a doubles match.
“I was exhausted,” Bouchard said with a smile. “I started feeing tight in my body, my muscles were getting sore.
“It’s just that mental focus. To play in a match is different than practice. It’s about getting those reps in over and over again. I’ll get the endurance from that and be able to get back to playing matches totally normal, but it’s one baby step.”
Bouchard plays her first single match Tuesday against Arianne Hartoro of the Netherlands, a player she knows nothing about. Bouchard knows there may be bumps along the road and accepts being an underdog.
“Expectations are really low, expectations are on the floor,” said the two-time Canadian Press female Athlete of the Year. “My actions and my personal standards are high but in terms of results, we don’t know what to expect.
“I’ve never had to come back from surgery before, I’ve never had such a big injury. For me, it’s really ground zero.”
The Odlum Brown VanOpen ends Sunday. The tournament, which returns after missing two years due to COVID-19, has attracted 135 players to the Hollyburn Country Club battling for a combined purse of over US$274,360.
The men’s tournament, which has a top prize of $21,600, has been an ATP Challenger Tour event for several years. For the first time this year the women’s competition is a WTA 125 tournament with a $15,000 top prize.
Bouchard, who received a wild-card entry into the tournament, last played March 2021 at the Monterrey Open where she hurt her shoulder in a first-round match against Zhu Lin.
Bouchard became the first Canadian to advance to the singles final at Grand Slam in 2014 when she lost in the final at Wimbledon to Petra Kvitova. She also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and French Open that year.
Since then, Bouchard has battled multiple injuries, including suffering a concussion after a fall in the dressing room at the U.S. Open.
Dealing with the injuries and time away from the game has been a learning experience.
“I’ve learned a lot in life and been through some really hard moments,” she said. “It’s really tested my patience having to be out for so long. It’s not like when you retire and you’re at peace with stopping. This is like a forced step. It’s hard to accept mentally.
“It made me realize how much I love tennis. There are so many other great things in life beside tennis, but it’s what I want to do now and for the next few years.”
Vancouver resident Rebecca Marino, who is also playing in this year’s tournament, understands the challenges Bouchard faces.
Marino burst onto the WTA Tour and reached a career-high No. 38 in 2011 before quitting the sport in 2013 due to depression. She returned to tennis in 2017 then missed another 18 months with an injury.
“To come back, not having competed in a match, it’s really hard to replicate that match feel from practice to competition,” she said. “There’s a lot of nerves in your first event, there’s a lot of challenges.”
Bouchard played at the Odlum Brown event as a junior in 2012, the same summer she won the Wimbledon junior girls’ title.
Other tennis stars who have played at the event include Marino, Milos Raonic, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Leylah Fernandez, Johanna Konta, Kevin Anderson, Vasek Pospisil, Marion Bartoli, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Bianca Andreescu, Taylor Fritz, Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova.
Bouchard knows she’s at the start of a new journey, but isn’t sure where it will end.
“The goal of the surgery and coming back is to be able to play exactly how I want to and how I was playing before,” she said. “It (the first match) went well, and everything is great. Now the goal is to just accumulate matches and hopefully everything stays fine with my shoulder.
“The journey is as long as it needs to be. I love playing tennis. I’m just here to do what I can.”
BASELINES: Two seeds in the women’s singles draw were uprooted Monday. Heather Watson of Britain eliminated eighth-seeded Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, while Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra bounced seventh-seeded Misaki Doi of Japan 6-3, 6-2. … Rebecca Marino of Vancouver will play American Emma Navarro on Tuesday in her first singles match at Hollyburn Country Club. … Gabriel Diallo of Montreal is the first Canadian men’s player to advance to the second round of singles after he knocked off world No. 154-ranked Belgian Zizou Bergs 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). Diallo is ranked at 553rd in the world. … Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver will play his first singles match on Tuesday against Felipe Meligeni Alves of Brazil.
Canada finishes preliminary round undefeated, top of group with win over Finland at world juniors – CBC Sports
Ridly Greig was a little banged up after helping Canada to a big win at the world junior hockey championship on Monday.
Not only did the Ottawa Senators’ prospect score and contribute an assist in the 6-3 victory over Finland, he blocked some big shots when the Canadians ran into third-period penalty trouble.
“Whatever it takes to win, whatever it takes to do anything for the boys or kind of get some momentum, I’m going to do it,” Greig said. “Whether it’s stand in front of a slap shot, I’m going to do it.”
The Finns got their second stretch of five-on-three hockey with less than five minutes left on the clock when William Dufour joined Ethan Del Mastro in the penalty box.
Finland pulled goalie Leevi Merilainen just as Del Mastro’s penalty expired and with the extra man Roby Jarventie put a puck in off the glove of Canadian goalie Dylan Garand to make it 5-3.
Dufour sealed the score at 6-3 with an empty-net strike 18:13 into the third.
The Finns had a prime opportunity to eat into Canada’s lead with a minute-long two-man advantage midway through the final period.
Donovan Sebrango was sent to the box for high-sticking and less than a minute later, teammate Will Cuylee was tossed from the game for a knee-on-knee hit.
Canada weathered being down two men, then chewed through the four remaining minutes of the major penalty without conceding a goal.
WATCH | Bedard, McTavish lead Canada past Finland:
“I thought our penalty kill was elite today, so many guys blocking shots. And that’s a great sign for a team that’s trying to win something,” said Canada’s captain Mason McTavish, who had a goal and two assists in the win.
“Finland, they’re a great team. I think they were 3-0 coming into this, their power play is ridiculous. So the fact that our PK stood up there with one of the best power plays in the tournament is huge for us.”
Connor Bedard scored and contributed an assist for Canada (4-0-0), while Dufour, Brennan Othmann and Tyson Foerester also found the back of the net. Olen Zellweger tallied three assists.
Joakim Kemell scored and contributed an assist for Finland (3-1-0) and Samuel Helenius rounded out the scoring.
Canada’s Garand made 22 saves and Merilainen stopped 31 of 36 shots for the Finns.
The result was an important one for Canada, who finished the preliminary round atop Group A. They’ll face Group B’s Switzerland (1-3-0) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Switzerland clinched its spot in the quarter-finals earlier on Monday with a 3-2 win over Austria (0-0-4).
Finland was disappointed with Monday’s result, said head coach Antti Pennanen.
“It was OK but it wasn’t enough. And we were angry after the game, that’s for sure,” he said.
A big goal early in the third whittled the Finns’ deficit to 5-2.
Canada called for a coach’s challenge, arguing that the puck had gone off the netting before falling back to the ice ahead of the goal.
“The guys on the ice are generally the ones who can tell you what’s going on,” said head coach Dave Cameron. “My players were 100 per cent sure it went in [to the net]. So you trust your players.”
After an extended video review, officials determined the goal was good. The Canadians did not receive a delay-of-game penalty because officials said the review was “inconclusive.”
The Canadians dominated the middle frame, outshooting the Finns 20-5 and taking a 5-1 lead.
McTavish gave his country its second power-play goal of the game 16:17 into the period after Finland’s Rubin Rafkin was called for interference.
WATCH | Johnson scores highlight-reel goal:
Zellweger sent the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect a pass from inside the blue line and McTavish uncorked a one-timer that flew over Merilainen’s shoulder stick side.
Thirty-one seconds into the second, Canada went up 4-1 after the Finnish goalie bobbled a shot by Joshua Roy.
Greig slid in on one knee to put the rebound in the back of the net with his third goal of the tournament.
Canada went into the first intermission up 3-1 after a late Finland goal.
A knot of players battled for the puck behind the Canadian net and Finland’s Kalle Vasisanen came up with it. He sent a pass to Helenius at the high hash marks and the L.A. Kings’ prospect got a shot up and over Garland’s shoulder with 57 seconds left in the period.
Bedard put away his third goal of the tournament in memorable fashion 17:19 into the first.
Canada was penned in its own zone for an extended period, but the 17-year-old phenom showed no signs of exhaustion when he collected a cross-ice pass from McTavish at the blue line and sped into the faceoff circle.
He then ripped a blistering shot past Merilainen, pinging the puck off the inside of the crossbar to make it 3-0.
Greig’s shot ricocheted off Merilainen’s pad but Foerester was in position to poke the rebound in from the top of the crease as he slid past the net.
Finland got off to a strong start, outshooting the host nation 4-0 across the first five minutes of the game.
It was Canada that opened the scoring, though, 6:21 into the first.
Defenceman Zellweger fired a long bomb from inside the blue line and Othmann batted it in past Merilainen.
The play was reviewed for a potential high stick but the goal — Othmann’s second of the tournament — was determined to be good after officials reviewed the video.
Reigning champion Americans also undefeated
The preliminary round wrapped Monday night with Group B’s Sweden (3-1-0) registering a 4-2 victory over Germany (2-2-0).
Sweden will battle Latvia (1-2-1) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday while Germany will face Finland.
The reigning champion Americans (4-0-0) also went undefeated in round-robin action and will play Czechia (1-2-1), the country commonly known as the Czech Republic, in the quarter-finals.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal games will go Saturday.
Three Stars from Day 6 of WJC: Bergmanis steals the show in Latvia’s historical win – Sportsnet.ca
In a slate of games featuring the likes of Sweden, Finland and the United States, the showstopper of Day 6 at the World Juniors was Latvia.
The tiny country notched its first ever win in WJC preliminary round play and by the same token hopped over Czechia and Slovakia into third place in Group A.
Latvian captain Ralf Bergmanis scored a hat trick and his team downed Czechia 5-3. They will play a World Juniors quarterfinal game for the first time in the country’s history.
Needless to say, the young men in burgundy were quite thrilled.
Finland had no pity for Slovakia and continued their solid run in the tournament with a 9-3 win. The Young Lions were 5-for-7 on the power play, sending their next opponents Canada a message to stay disciplined for their final preliminary round game on Monday.
Slovakia saw their chances to play a quarterfinal game crumble before their eyes in the next game. Sitting in the stands, Slovak players held their heads in their hands as Bergmanis scored his third goal from across the ice into an empty net.
The Americans outpaced Sweden for most of their battle for first place in Group B. Goaltending woes allowed the Junior Crowns to hope for a comeback but the red, white and blue weathered the late storm to clinch a 3-2 win.
The Swedes will play Germany on Monday and the winner will end the preliminary round in second place.
Here is a look at the top performances from Day 6 of the World Juniors:
3rd star: Matt Coronato, USA
Coronato’s scoring ability is more than evident. If you give an inch, he’ll take a mile.
The five-foot-10 winger added two goals to his World Juniors tally and helped the Americans finish atop Group B. Coronato is now tied with his country-mate Carter Mazur as the tournament’s second-leading goalscorer with four.
The Calgary Flames’ 13th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft showed his eye for goal with his second marker of the night. Off a Swedish turnover, Coronato bagged the eventual game-winner with a sniper’s goal.
Coronato notched his first goal of the game in the second period when he pounced on a rebound from a shot by Logan Cooley. The soon-to-be Harvard sophomore made Sweden goalie Jesper Wallsted look bad by lodging the puck under his blocker and into the net.
2nd star: Kasper Simontaival, Finland
There’s no shame in being opportunistic, especially if it earns you points in return. Simontaival did exactly that to bridge the gap between the Finns and Slovaks. The winger finished the game with three points (two goals, one assist) including one assist on the power play.
The LA Kings third-rounder in 2020 stood by the slot and pounced on a rebound to give Finland a power-play goal 34 seconds into the second period. The goal was later given to Roni Hirvonen, who had touched the puck last.
Both players also combined in the first period, this time Hirvonen found Simontaival in the slot for the goal.
Simontaival notched his second goal of the game in the third period when he was, once again, in front of the net. He redirected Aatu Raty’s pass in the back of the net and gave Finland an 8-3 lead.
The 20-year-old even screened goalie Tomas Bolo for Finland’s ninth goal of the game courtesy of Kasper Puutio. Bottom line, sticking around dangerous areas is paying off for the five-foot-nine winger.
1st star: Ralfs Bergmanis, Latvia
Captain Latvia came through for the motherland. Charles and Nikolaj Boyle from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct would be proud.
Bergmanis opened his tournament account and finished the game as the hat trick hero, lifting his country into the knockout round.
Bergmanis completed his hat trick in an empty net, from behind his own net. A rink-long shot sealed his team’s victory, as the disillusioned Slovak players watched their elimination from the stands.
[brightcove videoID=6310886309112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
Latvia took a first-period lead and right as Czechia attempted the comeback with an equalizing goal in the second, the University of Vermont commit got to work. Bergmanis regained Latvia’s lead when his shot from the point in traffic found the back of the net.
Bergmanis then gave his country a two-goal lead on the power play. From the point, the blueliner broke Frantisek Nemec’s ankles before beating Czech netminder Jan Bednar with a wrister.
The 20-year-old is still undrafted but he sure made a lot of eyes look his way in one of the biggest games in Latvian junior hockey history.
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