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In the Habs' Room: 'We beat ourselves,' coach Claude Julien says – Montreal Gazette



‘Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions,’ coach adds after 4-3 loss to Oilers.

EDMONTON — There’s nothing scarier for an NHL defenceman than to get caught flat-footed at centre ice with the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid coming right at you.

That’s what happened to the Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot early in Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to the Oilers at Rogers Place and it resulted in goal by Leon Draisaitl on a two-on-one with McDavid to open the scoring only 1:30 into the game.

“I was flat-footed because there was a battle on the half wall,” Chiarot said after the game. “I thought our forward was going to poke it out, but it got knocked down. So I was flat-footed and McDavid doesn’t really stop in his own end, he just kind of carries his speed. So he picks that puck up in top gear and I’m standing still. I don’t care how good a skater you are, you’re not catching that guy when you’re standing still.”

McDavid caught Chiarot and defence partner Shea Weber flat-footed again when he broke through the middle on an Oilers power play in the second period to go in alone on goalie Carey Price and score with a nice move to his forehand.

Patrick Russell of the Edmonton Oilers moves the puck past Canadiens’ Mike Reilly at Rogers Place on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Edmonton.

Codie McLachlan /

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“He’s definitely got a couple of more gears than anyone else,” Chiarot said about McDavid. “He’s on top of you so quick. It doesn’t look like he has anything and then he’s gone. Like the power-play one. It doesn’t look like anyone’s coming through the neutral zone and then it goes to Draisaitl on the wall and he just one-touches it and McDavid’s gone already. He’s good at carrying his speed. It looks like there’s nothing and then he gets the puck with speed and you’re not catching him once he touches the puck in full gear.

“Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job of limiting his chances or keeping him to the outside,” Chiarot said. “We made it pretty hard on ourselves.”

Giving the Oilers five power plays certainly didn’t help. Jordan Weal took two tripping penalties and was in the box when McDavid scored. The Oilers have the best power play in the NHL, clicking at 29.4 per cent.

“I’m disappointed,” coach Claude Julien said after the game. “I felt, or we felt, like we beat ourselves. Some really bad penalties in the offensive zone at bad times. Some real bad decisions. Two two-on-one goals. I didn’t think we were sharp tonight. Simple as that. We battled back, but at the end we have only ourselves to look at because we beat ourselves.”

Before the game, Julien said the key to beating the Oilers was to stay out of the penalty box.

“It doesn’t matter what I feel like right now,” Julien said after the game when asked about his frustration level. “I’m disappointed that we took those penalties — simple as that. A lot of them in the offensive zone. So those aren’t good penalties and that’s why I say we beat ourselves. We gave them what they wanted, the momentum with some power plays and, eventually, it came back to bite us.”

Jeff Petry (short-handed), Phillip Danault (power play) and Max Domi scored for the Canadiens. The shots were 26-26 and Carey Price saw his career record against the Oilers fall to 3-8-1.

Danault’s goal was the first of his career on the power play.

“I’m trying to do all those little details,” said Danault, who would love to get more time on the power play. “I won the draw, we worked hard to get that puck. A nice shot by Petey. I’m in front of the net, that’s where you score. It was good to score, but it would be even better if we won.”

Danault, who is averaging 1:08 of power-play ice time per game, now has as many power-play goals this season as Weal, who is averaging 2:03 of ice time with the man advantage.

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Since it was a road game and Julien didn’t have the last line change, it was more difficult for the coach to get Danault — his best two-way centre — on the ice against McDavid. Oilers coach Dave Tippett reunited McDavid with Draisaitl on the same line with Zack Kassian, which made the defensive job even more difficult.

McDavid (21-40-61) and Draisaitl (22-38-60) rank 1-2 in the NHL scoring race after playing 39 games. They are the first teammates to reach 60 points before game No. 40 since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996-97.

“Those turnovers we can’t afford against them,” Danault said about the McDavid-Draisaitl duo. “They live on that. They don’t play defence, they just play offence. So we make a little turnover on the hash mark and it’s over.

“They’re good on PP,” Danault added. “They’re tough to stop on PP. Five-on-five, too, they’re pretty good. It’s definitely a hard line to play against and they play every two shifts so you can’t match them every time. It’s a good line.”

Too good for the Canadiens to stop on this night.


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Hockey Canada's strategy of deflecting serves no one but its disgraced leadership – The Globe and Mail



Witnesses Scott Smith, Hockey Canada President and Chief Operating Officer, left, and Hockey Canada Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo, appear at the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A while back, I had a job in a movie theatre. The theatre at the foot of an atrium in an open-plan tower. We plebs could look up at the offices and hallways above, where the corporation’s big wigs worked.

The biggest wig in our world would often lean over a balcony and stare down at us, like a gargoyle in pinstripes. If you were caught loafing, a call would be made and you’d hear about it.

One day, there was a commotion from several floors above – a lot of screaming and banging. The biggest wig had been fired. His reaction was to go back to his office and barricade himself inside it.

The banging was security kicking in the door. The screaming was him being dragged to the elevators. It was a different time.

But the lesson therein is timeless. Nobody likes being canned. But people in charge take it particularly hard.

Right now, 2½ months into Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse scandal, we’re at the barricade stage.

In any other country, this would be over now. Through a combination of popular outrage and political panic, the Hockey Canada edifice would have been burned to the ground.

But in this country we continue to believe shame will do the job for us. That the people in charge of this world-class gong show will get the message and slink off home.

But Hockey Canada’s leadership is not operating on Canadian rules. They’re pulling from the American handbook on how to survive a scandal. Shamelessness is a prerequisite.

Their first job was deflecting.

In terms of an absolute defence, the deflecting’s gone about as well as a guy trying to push off bullets by waving his hands around. But it bought time. The men in charge knew they could count on Ottawa to a) quickly promise to take decisive action and b) take absolutely forever to decide what that decisive action looks like.

Deflecting has another virtue – it dilutes outrage. No matter how awful, people can only read about a story for so long without becoming bored. And there’s always a fresh outrage to divert us.

This week, Hockey Canada hired someone to head an investigation into the workings of Hockey Canada. You could’ve written out this person’s CV long before the name was made public – retired judge, history of public service, member of the new Family Compact, etc.

Finding people is not hard. There are a whole bunch of them out there twiddling their thumbs, itching for someone to stick a microphone in front of them.

But after two months of withering pressure, Hockey Canada is just now figuring out who will set up the Slack group to discuss how to begin discussing their problems. Let me guess that if they’d been bleeding cash instead, organizing some sort of working committee would have taken two hours.

But this is how you do it, American-style. Pretend it’s a live broadcast with screen time to fill before commercials – stretch. Continue talking about nothing. Don’t stop speaking. It’s the silence that kills.

While you’re stretching, keep your eye on the horizon. That’s where the sports are. If you can make it to sports, you might be okay. The same people who wanted your head paraded in the town square yesterday might be distracted by a waving flag.

On Tuesday, the world junior hockey championship begins in Edmonton. Over the weekend, there will be a barrage of publicity about the tournament that launched a thousand official denials. We’ll rehash the particulars of this ugly affair and assess where we’re at. This column is part of that.

By Tuesday, the usual outlets will be talking about hockey. How’s Canada’s top line measuring up? Where’s the United States at? Whither the Olympic team?

This is how you erect a modern, media barricade.

Having seen a million of these things go down in recent years, you know you’re not going to talk your way out of your problem.

Bottom-line: You were in positions of authority at a public institution when something abhorrent happened. The integrity of that institution cannot be maintained if you continue to lead it.

This is obvious. But in our rush to definitively nail someone, anyone, we have skidded past the obvious. Now we’re all deep in the weeds, hacking away.

Uncovering the minutiae about who said what to whom at what board meeting may absorb reporters and politicians, but it only serves Hockey Canada’s current leadership.

While we’re Inspector Clouseau-ing this thing, we’re also avoiding the clear end point. The longer we spend doing that, the more likely it is that these fish all get off the hook.

This was the goal all along. Deflect, get to the world juniors, hope that Team Canada wins and that everyone is too exhausted by the end of it to keep taking pops at you. By the time your judge wraps up his report – let me guess ‘Mistakes were made but there is a clear plan forward’ – maybe you’ll have successfully run your gauntlet.

It’s not a plan, as such. As with Hockey Canada’s in-camera board meetings, nobody’s written it down. It’s instinctive process based on observation. In scandals as in sports, the mission is getting through today.

It’s not going to work. That’s also obvious. No matter what the eventual report says, it will reignite outrage.

The names of the players involved in the two alleged assaults will come out, probably during the NHL season. That will reignite outrage.

At any moment, the alleged victims could make fulsome public declarations. That will reignite outrage.

Any way you go, the outrage is going to leak out again. The only way to contain it is to blow this down to the foundations. Eventually, everyone’s going to realize that.

Really, all that’s being decided now is how you want to get to the elevators – walking under your own power, or being dragged there screaming by the rest of Canada.

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Rafael Nadal announces he will not be playing at the Canadian Open



Montreal, Canada- 22 Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal, has announced that he will not be playing at the Canadian Open which kicks off this weekend.

Nadal cited that the reason to abandon the Canadian Open was a result of an abundance of caution regarding injury concerns.

“From the vacation days and my subsequent return to training, everything has gone well these weeks. Four days ago, I also started training my serve and yesterday, after training, I had a little discomfort that was still there today.

We have decided not to travel to Montreal and continue with the training sessions without forcing ourselves. I sincerely thank the tournament director, Eugene, and his entire team for the understanding and support they have always shown me, and today was no exception.

I hope to play again in Montreal, a tournament that I love and that I have won five times in front of an audience that has always welcomed me with great affection. I have no choice but to be prudent at this point and think about health,” said the Spaniard.

Last month, Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also withdrawn from the Canadian Open as his status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot enter the country.

Djokovic is also unlikely to play at the US Open after organizers said they would respect the American government rules over travel for unvaccinated players as the United States (US) requires non-citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.

“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.

The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” read a statement from the US Open which is set to take place in New York from the 29th of August to the 11th of September, 2022.

Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic will be joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to play for Team Europe in the Laver Cup.

The event, which pits six European players against six from Team World over three days, will take place in London between 23 and 25 September 2022.

“It’s the only (event) where you play in a team with guys you are normally competing against. To be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy, three of my biggest all-time rivals, it’s going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport,” said Djokovic.

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Canada beats Sweden to claim gold in Hlinka Gretzky Cup –



RED DEER, Alta. — Canada scored early and often and also stayed out of the penalty box en route to a 4-1 victory over Sweden in the gold-medal final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Tanner Howe, Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager scored for the Canadians, who held period leads of 2-1 and 3-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Saturday. Riley Heidt also chipped in with two assists for the champions.

Hugo Pettersson scored for Sweden, who were outshot 36-26. Each team received eight minutes in penalties.

Canada had beaten Sweden 3-0 on Aug. 3.

“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stephane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role and I’m so happy for them.”

The win is Canada’s first gold medal since 2018, the last time this tournament was held in Canada.

“I’m so happy for this group,” added Julien. “They haven’t had it easy in their careers the last two years with the pandemic, but now they have this, a gold medal and something they are going to remember for the rest of their career.”

Canada advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland, while Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2. Finland beat Czechia 3-1 in Saturday’s bronze-medal final.

The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will shift to Europe in 2023, returning to Breclav and Piestany, Czechia for the first time since 2021. 

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