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How sweep it is: Canucks go 3-0 in first week under Boudreau –



VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks not only won their week, they swept it. Next week, the world!

Well, the world is pretty big and so, too, is the deep, dark hole the Canucks played themselves into while getting general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green fired. But at least the players are finally moving back towards daylight and the vapour trails of the National Hockey League playoff race.

Sensational work by goalie Thatcher Demko and a one-handed shootout winner by Elias Pettersson gave Vancouver a 4-3 victory Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets and the Canucks’ longest winning streak of a season divided between the before and after of the Benning regime, which ended Sunday.

The team is 3-0 this week under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, who looked at the abyss separating the Canucks from the playoffs and decided they should tackle the gap one week at a time. So just win the week, Boudreau said.

The Canucks did better than that.

“With what happened, with the changes, you know, people lose their job,” Canucks winger Conor Garland said Friday night. “It’s not directly their fault. You feel some responsibility as players and it doesn’t feel good when people lose their jobs because of how you’ve been playing. We had to respond and kind of snap out of it a little bit and just start playing better. Obviously, when someone loses their job, it’s never fun. But you move on just try to win hockey games.”

People were still losing their jobs Friday, as assistant GM Chris Gear and director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall, both local guys whose employment with the Canucks preceded Benning’s arrival in 2014, were terminated the day after owner Francesco Aquilini hired Jim Rutherford to be his new team president.

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That brought to six the number of senior people from hockey-ops who lost their jobs this week. But the players, re-energized by Boudreau’s enthusiasm and positivity, haven’t lost since the purge began.

Friday’s game was their poorest of the three, as they bled shots and scoring chances to the Jets. But Demko was brilliant, his 34 saves including an overtime stunner on Kyle Connor and breakaway stops on Blake Wheeler and Nicolaj Ehlers, and his Vancouver teammates were resilient and opportunistic.

Vancouver survived an apparent go-ahead goal by Winnipeg’s Andrew Copp in the second period, disallowed on a coach’s challenge due to Pierre-Luc Dubois’s bump on Demko.

“We probably traded too many chances, more than probably we’d like to,” Garland said. “But that’s why we’ve got Demmer back there and he’s one of the best goalies in the league. So maybe too many shots tonight but back to work tomorrow.

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“We’ve won three in a row for the first time all year. (But) the feeling’s kind of the same; we’ve got a long way to go. Just try to keep playing well and string along some wins.”

Game 5 of Vancouver’s six-game homestand — and Game 4 of the Boudreau era — is Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

After surrendering just one goal in the first two wins under Boudreau, the Canucks allowed the Jets three in the first 31 minutes on Friday and were fortunate to have the fourth one called back at 13:04 of the second period.

Only divine intervention would have helped the Canucks two minutes earlier when Mark Scheifele, unchecked at the back of the slot, scored from a cross-ice pass at 11:08 after Connor was just too quick and agile for Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers.

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The Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler trio crushed the Canucks most of the game. Without top-pairing defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and defensively-sound blue-liner Travis Hamonic, both injured, Vancouver looked overmatched in its own zone against the Jets’ formidable top line, which amassed 17 shots on Demko.

But the Jets lost Wheeler with an apparent knee or ankle injury halfway through the third period after Canuck Vasily Podkolzin accidentally slid into him during a mass wreck of players in front of the Jets’ net.

Nils Hoglander’s two first-period goals for Vancouver, which included a gimme from Winnipeg goalie Mike Comrie, were offset by goals from Wheeler and Connor, who tied the game 2-2 at 6:09 of the middle period when Canuck fourth-liner Alex Chiasson followed his needless turnover by allowing Connor to get to the net ahead of him.

But when the Jets turned over the puck in the Vancouver zone during a Winnipeg line change, J.T. Miller found Garland open behind the Jets’ defence and the Canuck dynamo screwed Comrie into the ice with a breakaway deke at 7:06.

That lead lasted for just three minutes. The Canucks’ sudden winning streak survived.

• Frequently bullied by the Jets in recent years, the Canucks outhit the visitors 28-22, but also logged 16 giveaways and surrendered one power-play goal in three disadvantages … Injured by an illegal hit by Boston Bruin Brad Marchand on Wednesday, Hamonic has been placed on injured reserve. Boudreau said he hopes Ekman-Larsson will be able to play next week.

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Montreal Canadiens place Alex Belzile on waivers, plus other injury updates – Habs Eyes on the Prize



The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Alex Belzile on waivers on Monday.

The forward will be assigned to the Laval Rocket should he clear waivers. The 31-year-old was pointless in 11 games this season with the Canadiens. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 AHL games this season.

The team also provided several injury updates, as the new Vice President of Communications Chantal Machabée briefed the media before head coach Dominique Ducharme answered questions.

Joel Edmundson is back from Montreal after being in Manitoba and away from the team. There is no timeline on his return, and the same goes with Carey Price.

Jake Allen will undergo an MRI, while Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli are nearing a return.

Cayden Primeau will start against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday afternoon. Laurent Dauphin and Josh Anderson also draw back in the lineup. Michael Pezzetta will be a healthy scratch.

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Updates regarding the Canadiens' roster –



GLENDALE – The Canadiens announced the following roster moves on Monday morning.

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Forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen were assigned to the Laval Rocket.

Meanwhile, defenseman Gianni Fairbrother has joined the Rocket and returned to training, having completed his period of isolation required by the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Canadiens will face the Coyotes in Arizona on Monday, January 17.

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Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open if unvaccinated –



Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being thwarted from defending his Australian Open title only to face a new predicament: He could be barred from the French Open this year, too, if he’s still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player touched down in his native Serbia, closing at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the coronavirus shots.

A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at Belgrade’s airport. Djokovic has an almost iconic status in Serbia, and many there felt he was poorly treated by Australia.

But his troubles may not be over yet: He could be barred from the French Open this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places. Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the spectre the recent saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the athlete, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.

A member of the French Parliament, Christophe Castaner, said the new law will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open — a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition,” Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told BFM television on Monday.

But some details of the law are still being hashed out, including how it will deal with people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as Djokovic has. The question is how recent the infection must be to qualify for an exemption to vaccination rules. France’s sports ministry said Monday once the law is in place, there will be no exceptions until further notice.

WATCH | Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal:

Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal

18 hours ago

Duration 2:01

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing his final appeal to not have his visa revoked, meaning he could not compete in the Australian Open. Djokovic’s lack of COVID-19 vaccination has galvanized tennis fans, Australians and become a rallying cry for anti-vaxxers. 2:01

Djokovic is also the defending champion at Wimbledon, which begins in late June. But so far, England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training. The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

It’s also not clear when Djokovic could head back to Australia. Deportation can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that can be waived, depending on the circumstances.

For now, a warm welcome awaits Djokovic, who has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return home.

Novak Djokovic plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. A court upheld a decision by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Denied entry to Australia

“God bless you Novak,” read one of the banners held by the fans at the airport as he was whisked through the passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment in Belgrade.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said her son will remain in Belgrade in the coming days and won’t make statements for the media.

WATCH | Djokovic says his agent made error on Australia entry form:

Novak Djokovic blames human error for inaccurate travel declaration

5 days ago

Duration 1:52

Novak Djokovic says human error is to blame for an inaccurate travel declaration form that claimed the tennis champion hadn’t travelled for two weeks before arriving in Australia for an upcoming tournament in Melbourne. 1:52

Djokovic’s Australian saga began when he was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play in the Australian Open because he had recently recovered from COVID-19. He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.

The initial news that the star had been granted the exemption sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

More than 95 per cent of all top 100 men and women tennis players in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two other men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the Australian Open due to vaccine requirements.

In the end, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe. He was deported Sunday, a day before the tournament got underway in Melbourne.

Djokovic has won nine titles there previously. He had hoped this year to secure his 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, breaking the record he shares with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, but Nadal is competing.

WATCH | Canadians to watch at Australian Open:

Canadians to watch at the 2022 Australian Open

3 days ago

Duration 3:17

CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob walks through the Canadian tennis stars you should be watching as they gear up to compete in the 2022 Australian Open 3:17

As the legal battle played out in Australia, Djokovic acknowledged he had attended an interview in Belgrade in December with journalists from L’Equipe newspaper after testing positive for the coronavirus. He later described this “an error” of judgment.

Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for flouting his isolation while being infected when he returns to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of emergency.

Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia, whose president had called the court hearing in Australia “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“Novak, welcome home, you know that we all support you here,” said Snezana Jankovic, a Belgrade resident. “They can take away your visa, but they cannot take away your Serbian pride.”

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