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Guentzel out for remainder of regular season for Penguins – NHL.com

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Jake Guentzel will be out for at least the remainder of the regular season for the Pittsburgh Penguins after having surgery on his right shoulder.

The 25-year-old forward was injured when he fell awkwardly into the boards following a collision with Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot after scoring at 6:55 of the third period during a 5-2 win at PPG Paints Arena on Monday. He went to the locker room holding his right arm and did not return.

The Penguins said Tuesday that Guentzel is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 months, putting his earliest return sometime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs should Pittsburgh qualify.

“It’s tough,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “To see him playing as well as he has been and he was taking his game to another level, you want to see your teammate succeed, especially a guy like that. Just found every way to contribute. To see that happen, it’s an unlucky thing. 

“He’s as tough as they come, and I’m sure he’ll make sure he’s back as soon as possible. I don’t think there’s anything you can really say to someone in that situation. You feel for them.”

Guentzel leads the Penguins in goals (20) and points (43), and was named Monday to the Metropolitan Division team for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.

“Things were going well for him,” forward Bryan Rust said. “He was obviously having an unbelievable year, being kind of the catalyst behind our offense. Through everything, he’s been kind of the one steady presence given the injuries. I think that’s the reason he was our All-Star.” 

Pittsburgh is also without Crosby (core muscle surgery, 22 games missed), a center; forward Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery, 20 games); and defensemen Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery, 12 games) and Justin Schultz (lower body, five games). Crosby practiced Tuesday for the first time since his surgery, but there is no timetable for his return. He said he won’t play when the Penguins (24-11-4) host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, NBCSCA, NHL.TV).

“He’s not an easy guy to replace,” coach Mike Sullivan said of Guentzel, “but we’ve lost some tough guys to replace here throughout the course of this whole season.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Wes Crosby contributed to this report

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Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Marlies News & Player Signings – The Hockey Writers

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The Toronto Marlies are the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it makes sense to stay up-to-date with what’s happening within their AHL affiliate. This is especially true regarding the players the Marlies are signing because they might soon make their way to the Maple Leafs’ roster.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Babcock, Parayko, Bracco & More

In fact, at the end of the 2019-20 regular season, nine players who “developed” with the Marlies were in Toronto including Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall, Justin Holl, Zach Hyman, Martin Marincin, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Calle Rosen, and Rasmus Sandin. Frederik Gauthier was also included in this group, but he wasn’t qualified by the team.

Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In addition, because Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must plan for a 2020-21 season that’s still in the shadows, he’s become even more creative in how he utilizes the Maple Leafs and the Marlies as a way to rest players and take advantage of the organization’s depth by setting up a revolving door between the two clubs.

In some cases, this would allow for greater movement – much of it waiver-exempt – between the NHL and the AHL teams and assigning contracts to the Marlies means they don’t count against the Maple Leafs’ cap.

Item One: Marlies Sign Scott Sabourin to an AHL Contract

Last week, the Marlies signed Scott Sabourin to an AHL contract. Sabourin is not a new name. In fact, he was one of the feel-good stories of last season when, after playing with eight different minor-league teams, he finally made his NHL debut at the age of 27. He played 35 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and four assists.

Scott Sabourin Ottawa Senators
Scott Sabourin, when he was with the Ottawa Senators (Courtesy Ottawa Senators)

Sabourin has played in 308 AHL regular-season games with five teams (the Manchester Monarchs, Iowa Wild, Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls, and the Stockton Heat) and scored 77 points (37 goals, 40 assists) He could rise to take a spot on the Maple Leafs’ roster; but, having an AHL contract is limiting. Specifically, his contract does not allow him to be called up unless the Maple Leafs sign him to an NHL contract when he arrives in Toronto.

Item Two: Long-Time Marlie Richard Clune Returns to the Team

Richard Clune signed a one-year AHL contract with the Marlies. Clune scored three goals and four points in 16 AHL contests in 2019-20. Although the 33-year-old has played 139 NHL games during his career, he hasn’t skated for an NHL team since 2015-16.

Related: Roger Neilson: Coaching Genius & Innovator

Clune has been a good soldier for the Marlies and is valuable in an on-ice leadership capacity. During his five Marlies seasons as an alternate captain, he’s scored 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 164 regular-season games. He’s a native of Toronto and helped the Marlies win the 2018 Calder Cup.

Since he was selected by the Dallas Stars in the third round (71st overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Clune has played more than 600 games at the NHL and AHL levels. He’s been a mainstay on the Marlies for several seasons, and it’s good to see him re-signed.

Item Three: Rourke Chartier Signs a One-Year AHL Contract with the Marlies. 

Rourke Chartier is another depth forward general manager Dubas has signed. At 24 years old, he has played a lot of hockey; however, injuries didn’t allow him to play at all during the 2019-20 season. By signing Chartier, Dubas is taking a chance the young player can get his career back on track.

During the 2018-19 season, he split time with the San Jose Sharks and their AHL affiliate the San Jose Barracuda. He scored a goal in 13 games with the Sharks and six goals and 18 points in 26 games with the Barracuda. In total, the native of Saskatoon has played 121-career AHL regular-season games, scoring 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists).

Rourke Chartier with the San Jose Barracuda (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

Similar to several other Dubas signees, Chartier has a history of on-ice leadership. He played for the Kelowna Rockets when they won the 2014-15 WHL Championship and served as an alternate captain for two seasons.

Item Four: The Marlies Sign forward Tyler Gaudet to a One-Year AHL Contract

The 27-year-old Tyler Gaudet signed a one-year contract. Gaudet is not a new player with the Marlies. He played in 58 games during the 2019-20 season and scored four goals and 17 assists. He’s a long-time AHL player and, during his 356 regular-season AHL games, Gaudet has scored 43 goals and 86 assists (129 points).

Related: Who is the NHL’s Top Goaltending Prospect?

Gaudet is a native of southern Ontario (Hamilton) and has NHL experience, playing in 20 career NHL regular-season games with the Arizona Coyotes, where he scored a goal and three assists.

Item Five: The Marlies Sign Defenceman Riley McCourt to a Two-Year AHL Contract

In signing Riley McCourt, Dubas might be looking for an uncut gem. The 20-year-old, left-shot defenseman went undrafted but has slowly risen through the junior ranks. Last season, he began to see success. McCourt played 63 games with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and recorded a career-high 18 goals and 44 assists (62 points) which ranked fifth among OHL defensemen in scoring.

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He, too, is a southern Ontario native (St. Catharines) and, during his five-season OHL career, he’s played 175 games and scored 30 goals and 87 assists with both the Firebirds and the Hamilton Bulldogs. He might be a fun youngster to watch because he’s showing some offensive potential.

What Might Be After the Marlies?

Dubas has inked all of these players to AHL contracts, largely for salary-cap reasons which allows the Maple Leafs to ascribe their contracts to the Marlies and not the Maple Leafs. Should any of them be called up to Toronto, they’d have to sign NHL contracts.

Related: Maple Leafs Become Chapter in Vesey’s Puzzling Career

When next season begins to unfold – in whatever shape that might be – it’ll be interesting to see if any of these players or who will rise to the big club’s roster. There are always injuries, and Dubas has a way of stockpiling both younger and experienced talent in his organization as a way to help.

As noted, there are a number of Marlies grads who have made a big impact on the Maple Leafs, not the least of which are two current stars – William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.



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John Cusack shares story of MJ duping Kobe in final matchup – Comcast SportsNet Chicago

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Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan last faced off in an NBA game on March 28, 2003. 

Jordan was 40 years old, churning out the final days of his playing career for a middling Washington Wizards team. Bryant was 24, already a seven-year pro and three-time NBA champ, enjoying the best season of his young career for the dynastic Los Angeles Lakers.

As such, that late regular-season game at Staples Center was a bit lopsided; Bryant’s Lakers won 108-94 behind a double-nickel from Bryant — 55 points on 15-for-29 field-goal shooting (9-for-13 from 3). Jordan poured in 23 points of his own on 10-for-20 from the field in a losing effort.

That game also produced one of the enduring images of Bryant and Jordan’s friendship.

It started rather innocuously. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and the Lakers ahead 20 points, Bryant strolled up the floor with Jerry Stackhouse lined up across from him. Rick Fox, Jordan’s man, stepped up and set a screen for Bryant. But Jordan sniffed out the intent. As Bryant slammed on the accelerator and attempted to dart around Fox’s screen toward open space on the right wing, Jordan popped out from behind Fox and stymied the drive. Stackhouse clawed over the initial screen. Once regrouped, the two backed Bryant off the 3-point line.

The counterpunch: Bryant dumped the ball off to Fox, then hit the gas again in anticipation of a handoff pass. He collected the ball. He put one dribble down. But there Jordan was again — expectant, feet set and ready to absorb the contact of Bryant’s single-minded drive before he could turn the corner.

Bodies tangled, Jordan hit the floor and a whistle blew. Offensive foul on Bryant. For a moment, the Laker guard stared down his one-time idol, a look of utter contempt plastered across his face. But that quickly melted. The two shared a knowing laugh, Bryant playfully punched Jordan three times in the chest and helped him to his feet. The game went on.

Getty Images

You might recognize another familiar face in that photo, just to Bryant’s left. John Cusack, joining in the merriment, along with seemingly every observer in the vicinity of the play.

In a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Cusack shared what was said between Jordan and Bryant that turned annoyance to ebullience.

“At some point in the game, everyone knew Michael and Kobe were going to go 1-on-1,”  Cusack said. “So, Kobe got the ball, he cleared everybody out and everybody started to bristle up with anticipation and it was going to be Kobe against Michael. And Kobe started to drive, Michael stepped in front of him — right in front of me — and he took the charge.”

And then…

“He (Jordan) went down, and Kobe’s standing above him. And Michael just looked up and said, ‘Well everybody in the f*****g building knew you weren’t going to pass.’” Cusack said. “And then there’s a pause… And Kobe just started laughing and they both started laughing.”

(Story begins at the 04:58 mark)

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Indeed, Jordan’s gamble was an informed one. Bryant had scored 50 of his 55 points at the time of this play. In fact, Jordan had already drawn a charge on him on a similar play the previous quarter. Never count out the wily vet.

“You really felt the passing of the torch, one great to the other,” Cusack added. “You felt it was a moment in sports, it was amazing to be at.”

It’s amazing to relive too. Hat tip to Adam Howes, who put this edit of the story interspersed with game footage together on Twitter:

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Dodgers name Clayton Kershaw starter for Game 1 of World Series – Sportsnet.ca

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