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Hutchinson comes up big as Leafs stay hot; beat Red Wings – TSN

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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs finally earned a victory without the services of Frederik Andersen.

Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves while Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews both scored twice as Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday for its fourth win in a row, and first of the season with a back-up goaltender in net.

The crowd at Scotiabank Arena gave the 29-year-old Hutchinson a standing ovation as the final seconds ticked down on his first NHL win since Jan. 10 of last season.

“That was a special moment. Obviously I haven’t been getting the results this year so it was nice to put a win in the column and hear the fans support you,” said Hutchinson, who entered Saturday 0-5-1 with a 4.55 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in six starts.

Andersen, who has been a work horse for Toronto (19-14-4) and leads the NHL in victories, is 18-8-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage in 29 games.

“I’ve been on the bench watching Freddy make big saves, I tried not to over think things,” said Hutchinson. “I feel like I’m in a good head space right now, feeling relaxed.”

Jonathan Bernier started in net for Detroit (9-25-3) — stopping the only three shots he faced. Bernier lasted less than seven minutes before leaving with a lower-body injury that Wings coach Jeff Blashill referred to as a “sore groin” that was bothering the netminder in warmup.

Calvin Pickard came on in relief and made 16 saves for the loss.

Toronto, which was playing the second game of a back-to-back after a 6-3 win Friday against the Rangers on the road, started slow and were sloppy through the opening 10 minutes before settling down.

If it wasn’t for Hutchinson, who stopped two Dylan Larkin breakaway chances early on, the Leafs easily could have been trailing instead of going into the first intermission scoreless.

Hutchinson was there again when needed early in the second.

First he stopped Andreas Athanasiou on another breakaway chance as his teammates appeared to be a tired group for much of the first 40 minutes, and followed that up with a blocker save on Larkin, who was streaking down the wing.

“You get the chances but if one of those go in it’s a different game tonight, that’s the frustrating part for myself,” said Larkin, whose club has dropped 15 of their last 17 games.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe added: “We got the saves early, clearly we needed that.”

Toronto trailed 21-14 in shots when it caught a break for the game’s first goal with 2:50 to go in the second.

Hyman was pulled down by Mike Green on a breakaway leading to a tripping penalty. But video review showed the loose puck bounced off the trailing Red Wings defender and crossed the goal line before the Leaf forward crashed into the net, negating the penalty and giving the Leafs a 1-0 lead.

“I thought it was going to be a penalty shot when they called the trip,” said Hyman.

Toronto appeared to find its energy for the third period, with Keefe dropping William Nylander and moving Mitch Marner onto the wing with Hyman and Matthews.

Matthews doubled the lead 2:18 into the third with a snap shot that beat Pickard five-hole, and Hyman added his second of the game at 8:51 with a backhand over Pickard’s glove.

Any chance of Detroit keeping it close went out the window when Matthews finished off a Marner pass out front at 13:39.

“I just felt the need to mix it up and change the chemistry and try and spark something,” said Keefe.

“The Matthews line didn’t have much going on and I wanted to give them a chance to get going.”

Detroit forward Anthony Mantha had to be helped off the ice in the dying minutes after being thrown to the ice by Toronto defenceman Jake Muzzin near the sideboards in the Leafs’ end. Mantha hit his head on the play and was left wobbly.

Muzzin was given a 10-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct along with a two-minute minor for roughing. The Red Wings took advantage of the man advantage to spoil Hutchinson’s shutout bid on a Tyler Bertuzzi shot that got past him with just 1:44 remaining in the game.

Mantha’s teammates were upset with Muzzin’s actions, and Athanasiou appeared to be out for vengeance when he took a kneeing penalty with just 34 seconds left to play that led to the 25 year old dropping the gloves with Leafs blue liner Justin Holl.

“I think it’s preventable. I think the league really needs to look at that,” Larkin said of the Muzzin play. “A wrestling move can’t be in our game like that…. He takes his legs out and it’s dangerous, not a hockey play.”

Both Mantha and Bernier will miss Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Coyotes according to Blashill. Toronto hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.

Follow @KyleCicerella

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Dec. 21, 2019.

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Jake Muzzin strikes nerve with Matthew Tkachuk, earns retribution for Maple Leafs – Yahoo Sports

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Matthew Tkachuk lost his cool. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For 60 complete minutes there was, perhaps predictably, little-to-no response from the Toronto Maple Leafs in their return clash with the Calgary Flames following Matthew Tkachuk’s contact with now-injured backup netminder Jack Campbell in their previous engagement two days ago. With no code enforced, the Flames forward wasn’t pressured into a fight with Wayne Simmonds or Zach Bogosian, and was instead provided the opportunity to simply play his game.

But just as the Leafs secured their third and fourth points from the two-game road set in Calgary, there was a perfectly subtle, savvy and veteran effort to acknowledge both Tkachuk’s presence and wrongdoings.

It appeared totally innocuous, but Leafs defender Jake Muzzin clearly connected with a nerve when he flipped a perfectly-weighted puck at a kneeled Tkachuk, which landed softly in his lap just as the buzzer finished sounding to end the game.

Failing to appreciate how easy he was let off in the game in that moment, or perhaps just incensed with the result, Tkachuk lost his mind in response to the perceived disrespect, trying desperately to confront Muzzin.

But after failing to accomplish anything with his initial contact with the howling Leafs defender, all he managed to do was make a mess of the game, coming up short in his attempts to work back through the mess of uninterested parties.

Tkachuk then took out his frustration at the Flames bench while his teammates patiently waited for the outburst to conclude.

For Muzzin and the Leafs, it couldn’t have worked out better. Tkachuk was largely a non-factor in the game and wasn’t given the chance to earn respect by fighting a bigger and stronger opponent to atone for his role in the Campbell incident, like he has several times previously in his career.

Instead he’ll have to stew on the incident, the outburst and the jokes online for nearly another month before the two teams finally meet again.

Then we’ll see if he’s the one looking for payback.

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Jake Muzzin strikes nerve with Matthew Tkachuk, earns retribution for Maple Leafs – Yahoo Canada Sports

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CBC

Back to school: Brad Gushue pursuing master’s degree amid chaotic curling season

World Junior champion. World champion. Olympic champion. Three-time Brier champion. The list of accomplishments for Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue is lengthy. There isn’t anything left in curling for him to win. He’s done it all. Now in the winter of his career, the 40-year-old, who’s preparing to head to Calgary next month for upwards of eight weeks to compete in a number of bonspiels, is heading back to class. Gushue is the early days of working towards his Masters of Business at Queen’s University. “I’m a sucker for punishment I think. It just felt like the right time,” Gushue said. “I don’t think I would have done this if the pandemic wasn’t here and didn’t have the curling season we’ve had.” Sitting around and thinking about things isn’t something Gushue particularly enjoys. He’s a perfectionist on the ice — early in his career he’d throw more than 100 rocks a day. That changed when curling great Kevin Martin told him to tone it down. So when there was some down time this past summer in the midst of an incessant pandemic, Gushue started to think about life after curling in a way he hasn’t before, and decided on going back to class. “I was kind of thinking post-curling career, whether that’s in a year in a half, five and a half years or nine and a half years, what do I want to transfer into?” he told CBC Sports from his home in St. John’s, N.L. “As a business owner right now, there were a lot of positives to doing this. I guess the downside is that for this next year I’m going to be pretty busy and have to get back to studying, which I haven’t done in 17 years. Gushue is co-owner with teammate Mark Nichols of Orange Theory Fitness studio in St. John’s. Out of his comfort zone All those years ago Gushue got his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Memorial University. It’s been a long time since he’s been in this type of setting. He’s certainly out of his comfort zone — in the rings and in the hack — and now fully immersed in the books. The only thing he’s finding some sort of resemblance to curling is the team aspect of the program. Gushue says about 50 per cent of the course is team-based learning. During their first meeting Gushue says some of his team members recognized him. Others didn’t, but quickly googled who he was. “Then the questions came,” he said, laughing. “It’s been interesting.” Gushue says his six other team members, many who are fresh off their first degree, have been a massive support system so far. The skip is used to calling the shots, confident in his every move. That’s not the case on this school-studying team. “I feel like I’m the weak link. I’d be fifth if this was a curling team. No disrespect to fifths,” he said. “I wouldn’t be throwing the last rock. Let’s just say that.” WATCH | Breaking down Calgary curling bubble: Brier schedule Gushue, like he does before any major competition, has mapped out what his Brier schedule and school schedule are, and how much time he’ll be able to put into his studies while trying to win a fourth national championship. In the beginning of the event he says he’ll probably put about two hours a day into his studies between or after games to end the day. The ideal plan for Gushue is to win the Brier, play in the mixed doubles national championship, play in the men’s world championship and then stay a little longer to compete in the two Grand Slam events — he then has to quarantine for two weeks when he returns to St. John’s. It’ll be a long haul but Gushue takes comfort in knowing he’s using that time effectively by working towards a master’s degree. “When I went into this I spoke to the director and I talked to him about my priorities in trying to get back to the Olympics,” Gushue said. “It shouldn’t conflict with any classes.” His classes are every second Sunday and Monday. Curling championships are played on Sundays. Gushue won’t say what championship event and classes could collide, not wanting to jinx it, but he insists they’ve talked about a plan should it come to that. “That’s a problem I’m willing to entertain.”

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BBWAA rejects Schilling's removal request – TSN

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Curt Schilling’s request to be removed from Baseball Hall of Fame consideration appears to be heading for rejection.

A day after the three-time World Series champion asked to have his name taken off the ballot for 2022 following his failure to reach Cooperstown for a ninth time, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released a statement saying that such an accommodation cannot be made and is a violation of the rules set forth by the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

 The BBWAA secretary Jack O’Connell cited one rule in particular that would prevent Schilling’s wish from being granted:

“The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.” 

Schilling appeared on 71.1 per cent of ballots, falling 16 votes shy of the 75 per-cent threshold. The BBWAA urges the board to leave the six-time All-Star on the ballot for his final year of eligibility in 2022.

The Hall of Fame assigned the BBWAA to be the electorate in 1936,” O’Connell said. “This association has abided by the rules for 85 years and shall continue to do so. The BBWAA urges the board to reject Mr. Schilling’s request.”

Schilling’s candidacy has been a controversial one because of the views espoused by the 54-year-old right-hander in retirement.

A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, Schilling voiced support for the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, causing a number of Hall of Fame voters to ask if their votes for Schilling could be rescinded.

Along with Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will also appear on the ballot for the final time in 2022.

Schilling is not the first person to ask to have his name removed from the ballot.

In 2009, after falling a single vote short of Cooperstown, former MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller asked to be taken off the 2010 ballot.

“Many years ago, those who control the Hall of Fame decided to re-write history instead of recording it,” Miller said at the time. “The aim was to eradicate the tremendous impact the players union on the progress and the development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment and as an industry.”

Miller would finally be elected to Cooperstown in 2019, seven years after his death in 2012.

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