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Golden Knights fire Gallant, hire ex-Sharks coach DeBoer – TSN

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The Vegas Golden Knights have fired head coach Gerard Gallant and hired Peter DeBoer as his replacement.

The Golden Knights fell to 24-19-6 with Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, their fourth loss in a row, and currently sit tied for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with the Winnipeg Jets, who have two games in hand. The team is, however, just three points back of the Arizona Coyotes for first in the Pacific Division.

Gallant is set to serve as head coach of the Pacific team at next week’s All-Star Game since the Golden Knights were first in the division when the coaches were announced on January 3.

Assistant coach Mike Kelly was relieved of his duties on Wednesday.

“In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights. They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons and we wish them all the best moving forward.

“In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal. We are excited to welcome Peter and his family to the Vegas Golden Knights organization. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the seasons to come.”

DeBoer was fired by the San Jose Sharks last month after opening the season with a 15-16-2 record. He spent five years as head coach of the Sharks, reaching the playoffs in all four of his full seasons behind the bench and guiding the team to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year.

Prior to joining the Sharks, DeBoer served as head coach of both the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils. He has a career record of 415-329-111 record behind the bench.

Gallant was the first head coach in Golden Knights franchise history and led the expansion team to the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, winning the Jack Adams Award. The Golden Knights made the playoffs again last season, posting a 43-32-7 record. Vegas was eliminated by DeBoer’s Sharks in their first-round series in overtime of Game 7

Gallant becomes the seventh head coach this season to be fired. He previously served as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003-2006 and the Panthers from 2014-2016. He has a career coaching record of 270-216-4-51. 

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Hall of Famer Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer battle – Toronto Sun

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Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

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Bossy, 64, announced his illness on Tuesday in an open letter in French on TVA Sports’ website. He is stepping away from his analyst job at TVA Sports, with whom he has worked since 2015.

“Today it is with sadness that I must retire from your screens for a mandatory break,” Bossy wrote in French. “A necessary break during which I will have to receive treatment for lung cancer.

“I can tell you that I intend to fight with the determination and the enthusiasm that you have seen me display on the ice and in my game. That same determination that helped me achieve my dreams and my goals, the one that propelled me to the top of my sport, when I still put on my skates.”

The NHL acknowledged Bossy’s battle on its publc relations account on Twitter: “The @NHL family is with you, Mike Bossy.”

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A four-time Stanley Cup winner with the New York Islanders (1980-83), Bossy recorded 1,126 points (573 goals, 553 assists) in 752 career games. The eight-time All-Star spent his entire 10-season NHL career with the Islanders.

Bossy won the 1978 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year, and the 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He also was a three-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy recipient (1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86).

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A chronic back injury forced Bossy to retire following the 1986-87 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

“The battle I am about to wage will not be easy,” Bossy wrote. “Know that I will give my 100 percent, nothing less, with the objective of meeting you again soon, after a very eventful hockey game. You will never be very far in my thoughts. On the contrary, you will occupy a privileged place and you will be one of my motivations to get better.”

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Raptors Notes: Boucher, Roster, Nurse, Tax – hoopsrumors.com

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After missing the entire preseason due to a dislocated finger, Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been cleared to return for the team’s regular season opener, writes Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (link via The Toronto Star).

Boucher had a breakout year in 2020/21, averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in 60 games (24.2 MPG). He’s expected to once again play a regular role in the Raptors’ frontcourt this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2022.

“My whole career, my whole time in Toronto, nothing has been promised … I had to work for everything, I see it the same way this year,” Boucher said of his mindset in a contract year, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “… At the end of the day I gotta be consistent, that’s the one remaining thing I gotta focus on.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto’s roster, which is heavy on long, versatile forwards, is unlikely any group the franchise has put together in its 27 years of existence, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith observes, 11 of the Raptors’ 15 players on standard contracts have listed heights of at least 6’7″, but none are taller than 6’9″.
  • Having lost veteran leaders like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol in recent years, head coach Nick Nurse will be tasked with leading a less experienced group this season, Smith writes for The Toronto Star. While Nurse adjusts his style to accommodate the new-look roster, Fred VanVleet says he’s helping the newcomers adapt to Nurse’s outside-the-box approach to coaching. “He’s a little weird at times, but he won us a championship, so he knows what he’s doing,” VanVleet said.
  • Following the Raptors’ roster cuts on the weekend, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca took an in-depth look at the team’s cap and tax situation and which recently-waived players are – or aren’t – expected to play in the G League with the Raptors 905. Toronto’s team salary is currently above the luxury tax line, but the club still has the flexibility to duck below that line after pushing back the salary guarantee dates for Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga.

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Raptors reveal starting lineup for season opener vs. Wizards – Yahoo Canada Sports

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After weeks of speculation, we finally know who Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse is using in his starting lineup — at least to start the season.

The Raptors announced Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa as their starting five for Wednesday’s season-opening game against the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena. It’s not the most surprising lineup, with Dragic beating out Gary Trent Jr. and Achiuwa earning the nod over fellow big men Khem Birch and Chris Boucher.

Rookie Scottie Barnes (4) is starting the season in the Raptors' starting lineup. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

Rookie Scottie Barnes (4) is starting the season in the Raptors’ starting lineup. (Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)

The frontcourt doesn’t possess much size, but Barnes, Anunoby and Achiuwa are all long players with plenty of athleticism to boot. That should make for a strong defensive unit, even without a traditional centre.

In VanVleet and Dragic, the Raptors feature a veteran backcourt that can facilitate for teammates and knock down the three-point shot with consistency.

Whether this five-man unit will be the norm going forward or if Toronto will adapt game-to-game based on matchups remains to be seen.

Nurse said he plans to use nine or 10 players in his rotation on opening night, meaning Birch, Trent, Boucher, and Svi Mykhailiuk should all see minutes off the bench.

Boucher was questionable after missing the entire preseason with a dislocated finger, but Nurse confirmed he was available against the Wizards.

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