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Insiders defend Zack Kassian and blast Matt Tkachuk’s dangerous plays

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The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety is likely to rule against Zack Kassian and had him a suspension on Monday for beating on Caglary’s Matt Tkachuk, who refused to engage Kassian in a fight after charging and hitting him.

Player Safety has also said there will be no discipline for Tkachuk after his dangerous hits on Kassian last night, reports ESPN: “Both hits delivered on Kassian were legal, full body checks delivered to a player carrying the puck.”

But former NHL players and league insiders have much better things to say about Kassian than they do Tkachuk, whom fans of the Edmonton Oilers have labelled as The Turtle or Turtlechuk for his refusal to fight Kassian.

Said TSN’s Ray Ferraro, an ex-NHL sniper, on the Twitter: “On Tkachuk hits v Kassian. I’m serious here. Aren’t these the same hits Raffi Torres used to throw that the league eventually said were penalties? Any hit from above goal line to player coming from below. #thenandnow”

And TSN commentator Jason Strudwick, who played defence for more than a decade in the NHL: “Kassian will find his road dinners paid for more often by other NHL players for his work Saturday night. The old ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ situation. #freebies #subclubcoupons… You can’t stop the antics of Tkachuk. He is wired that way. So you go after guys who aren’t wired like that and can score for the Flames. Make their night uncomfortable and skate away from Tkachuk. But I would have had the same reaction if Tkachuk had hit me like that. He is a LW coming from the top of circle in own end to hit Kassian behind his net. He was looking for that hit.”

And Corey Hirsch, former NHL goalie and current Sportsnet commentator: “2 reckless head hits in the same game to Kassian, and he’s going to get suspended for having to take matters into his own hands. Smh.”

And former NHL winger Scottie Upshall, commenting on the above clip: “From this angle, it’s clear as day MT (Matt Tkachuk) has ABSOLUTELY ZERO intention of making a hockey play. Again, for those of u who haven’t played at any level, other than Xbox, our new NHL states u must acknowledge there’s a puck on the ice at some point (I had no idea most nights either!)…. Kassian payed the price already. His team lost a big game on his instigator penalty. Smoked 3 times by M.T and he took it like a MAN. By the 3rd hit, he had enough and let the kid know it’s still a MANS game. (Or is it?) Sometimes a punch in the face (or 5) is what a guy needs… For those u haven’t played the game…. coming down from your WING (as a winger) to hit a vulnerable guy on a wraparound is as DIRTY as it gets… I know because I’ve done it, lots. I deserved a punch in the face too. If this hit was on McDavid, 10 GAMER MIN!.”

And former NHLer PJ Stock, now a hockey commentator: “This is where the game is going in the wrong direction. How many players are with concussions today bc of players allowed to get away with their style of play and not be held accountable. The same intention of that hit, yes way way worse on many levels, but by a rookie with-No history- gets 20 games (Stock linked here to a hit by Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond). Yes player left his feet and Dean was hurt but intentions are the same. 20 games. No history. If Connor McDavid were to receive that hit..and get hurt…would Kassian be having this talk? Or would we celebrate him?”

NHL insiders also came to the defence of Kassian.

Boston Bruins insider Joe Haggerty of NBC sports: “The NHL is getting in their own way by moving to punish Zack Kassian after he handled things on the ice w/Matthew Tkachuk in the right way. A vicious way, but the right way. Once again they protect gutless opportunists & punish guys trying to deter it”

In a column, Haggerty added: “Maybe the NHL will handle it the proper way and simply slap Kassian with a fine rather than a more draconian suspension for doing what many NHL players want to do to Tkachuk. It’s another example of the NHL protecting a rat-type player that doesn’t want to answer for their predatory actions on the ice and instead going after somebody that was defending themselves in the way they know best. One player is pretty clearly trying to knock the other one’s head off while lining him up for hits that he doesn’t see coming. The other one is simply trying to curtail the action albeit by throwing the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Tkachuk around like he’s a child that snuck his way into a men’s league hockey game.”


Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers pummels Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 11, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Derek Leung /

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And Hockey Night in Canada host Dan Murphy: “One (if not both) of Tkachuk’s hits was really dirty. I don’t mind Kassian’s response at all. I don’t mind Tkachuk not fighting there. Adds to his elite level of a crap disturber. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. I will not be taking questions.”

And NHL Player Safety Mod, a moderator not affiliated with the NHL who comments on major incidents: “Two separate incidents with Zack Kassian-Matthew Tkachuk tonight. If officials made correct call, Tkachuk would’ve been removed from the game in the first period after an illegal check to the head of Kassian at 9:18 in the first period.”

And scout Mark Seidel of North American Central Scouting Independent Bureau: “To be clear. I love Matthew Tkachuk & he could play for me anytime but he can’t have it both ways. If he wants to lay predatory hits, he needs to stand up & be accounted for. He clearly targeted Kassian but then bailed on answering the bell. He’ll learn but it’s a bad look.”

And the Journal’s Jim Matheson on Twitter: “I must be operating in a different universe on the Kassian-Tkachuk scenario. Kassian should have received a major for fighting and Tkachuk two for a clear charge from behind. And what was linesman doing as Kassian kept throwing them? Kassian will likely get game or two suspension… Our game has become so sanitized that Kassian trying to get his pound of flesh from Tkachuk for running him dangerously from behind into the end boards is looked upon as a cowardly move because Tkachuk won’t fight or hold on. Sorry I’m old school…”

My take

  1. If the on-ice referees had got it right Tkachuk would have been out of the game for the charging blind side head shot on Kassian in the first period.
  2. If the NHL doesn’t take this illegal and dangerous initial hit into account when it considers Kassian’s attack on Tkachuk, it’s rejecting pertinent evidence. It was a failure of the refs to miss the dangerous element of that first Tkachuk hit, and it’s gross incompetence on the part of NHL Player Safety to now say there was no illegal aspect to that initial hit.
  3. I wish the Oilers had drafted Matt Tkachuk. But he needs to be suspended for these vicious and sneaky hits or all hell is going to break loose. It already is.

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Malaika Mihambo and Dennis Schröder Lead Germany’s Diverse Olympic Team to Paris 2024

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“The goals have definitely not changed,” Malaika Mihambo declared in a recent television interview, reaffirming her determination to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games despite a recent setback from a coronavirus infection. The 30-year-old long jumper aims to defend her Olympic gold medal, which she won in Tokyo in 2021.

While Mihambo is a seasoned Olympian, Paris 2024 will mark a special debut for Dennis Schröder, the captain of Germany’s 2023 world champion basketball team. “It has always been a goal of mine to be at the Olympic Games,” said the 30-year-old Brooklyn Nets player.

Mihambo and Schröder are among the stars of the German Olympic team, which showcases remarkable diversity with around 450 top athletes. This team includes individual talents such as tennis stars Angelique Kerber, the silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and Alexander Zverev, the 2021 Olympic champion in Tokyo. Notable teams include the men’s basketball team led by Schröder, the women’s football team, and the men’s handball team.

Among the experienced Olympic stars is table tennis player Timo Boll, who has won several team medals and is immensely popular in China and beyond. Dressage rider Isabell Werth, with seven Olympic gold medals, aims to match the all-time record of nine gold medals held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.

Some German athletes, though not yet household names, have garnered attention with impressive performances leading up to the Games. In athletics, the women’s 4×100 meter relay team, decathlete Leo Neugebauer, and marathon runner Amanal Petros stand out. Trend sports also feature promising talents like surfers Camilla Kemp and Tim Elter, and 17-year-old skateboarder Lilly Stoephasius, who will compete in her second Olympic Games.

Swimmer Angelina Köhler has recently emerged as a star, winning gold in the 100 meter butterfly at the 2024 World Championships. Köhler, who has openly discussed her ADHD diagnosis, described participating in the Olympics as fulfilling “a very, very big childhood dream.”

As Germany heads to Paris, this diverse and dynamic team aims to leave a significant mark on the 2024 Olympic Games.

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Thomas Müller: The End of an Era for Germany’s Iconic #13

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It is difficult to write something about Thomas Müller that hasn’t been written before, yet at the same time, it is difficult to capture his essence in mere words. That alone is an indicator of his distinctive nature as a person and brilliance as a footballer.

It is said commonly, there will never be another Thomas Müller. And that rings true today more than ever, for Germany, for football.

Germany has dominated world football so often throughout history, each era marked by superstars in their own right. And even then, Thomas Müller remains unique, apart from the rest. The idea of a dominant die Mannschaft in the ‘modern era’ of football immediately prompts the mental image of an overjoyed Müller wearing any variation of the iconic white-black German kits, busy shouting in celebration amidst the euphoria of scoring yet another goal for his country on the biggest of stages.

Efficient, unorthodox, enigmatic – yet somehow simple. Everywhere he needed to be on the pitch, yet he left the greatest of defenders oblivious, unable to predict his next move. A goalscorer and creator simultaneously and equally brilliant at doing both. Unapologetically himself – both on and off the pitch.

You’d never be mesmerized by Müller’s touch, flair, or skills. But you’d be mesmerized nonetheless. Unpredictable off-the-ball movement, a surprise element with the ball, and a shot from such unbelievable angles that you’d never believe how it found the net. And even then what forever remained stuck in the minds of fans and opponents alike was the scene that followed after his heroics in the opposition box — a group of elated Germans heralding around Müller as the scoreboard reads a scoreline just as memorable.

A little boy from the south of Bavaria had a dream and had the entire world watch as he lived it to the fullest. Müller represented his country a total of 131 times and somehow every single time he was a pleasure to watch and a menace to face. The lights were bright, but he shone brighter.

His football was messy but incredibly effective. Tall, scrawny, and the furthest thing from muscular, but it worked to his advantage. He was never the “typical footballer” — concerning both his personality and playstyle. He was so good at everything going forward that the orthodox football terms didn’t apply. No problem for Müller – “Ich bin ein Raumdeuter,” said the star clearing things up about his position and inventing a role in football no one other than himself has or ever will truly master.

Germany’s first game at the 2010 World Cup saw Müller walk onto the pitch with the number 13 on his back. The same number was coincidentally also worn by legendary German striker Gerd Müller at the ‘76 finals. Thomas scored that night — it was the first of 45 goals he would go on to score for his nation. The fans (and notably Gerd himself) were overjoyed to see a German named Müller, squad number #13, scoring for Germany again after so many decades.

Speaking postgame about his first international goal, Müller said while laughing: “I was just trying to boost the sales of the Müller replica shirts!” – the first of many playful Müller interviews after a masterclass for Germany. 14 years and 44 goals later, Thomas has made that jersey number his as much as it was Gerd’s.

Thomas Müller — forever Germany’s beloved #13.

What once was a need to prove himself and do everything in his power to lead his country to victory turned into a feeling of grounded pride for what he’s greatly helped achieve, but the desire to win never died. Müller, even after everything, still put in the same effort he did on day one.

There was never a dull moment watching Müller play for his country. Not everything has changed — over all these years, Müller has had the same playfulness, the same laugh, the same witty statements that never failed to make fans smile. He is just as loveable as a person as he is as a footballer. “I don’t have any muscles – how can I get hurt?”, or “I already have one Golden Boot, what will I do with another?” Müller captivated audiences with both his football and his words.

Müller playing for Germany is what made myself (and so many others) a fan of the beautiful game – because the game was only beautiful when Müller had the ball. A mesmerized young boy and a superstar footballer formed an unlikely, one-sided bond over the television screen a decade ago, and that bond only strengthened over the years.

As Müller announces his international retirement today, it is difficult to fathom that we might never see such an icon play for Germany ever again. We might never see him celebrate or joke around in the Germany shirt. We might never see someone represent everything German football stood for as well as Müller did. We might never see him film a challenge video with Mats Hummels at the German camp. And we might never forget the heartbreak of his last game for Germany.

Yet we as fans can look back on one of the greatest international careers of all time. His antics on the world stage are some of the best highlights of a career filled with highlights. There is no need to mention his countless achievements for his country – he is the most decorated German player of all time after all. Even then, Müller, who has always had impeccable timing knew exactly when it was his time to depart. He didn’t want to push it or ever make things about himself.

Müller’s iconic moments turned into unforgettable games. Those unforgettable games made legendary tournaments. And those legendary tournaments? They are the crown jewels of an illustrious career.

So here is a thank you, from the bottom of our hearts – thank you for showing us what football is really about. Thank you for some of the greatest memories a football fan could ask for. Thank you for always giving everything on the pitch, and finally – thank you for being yourself. We will never forget Thomas Müller in the iconic German white. Danke, Thomas.

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Missed Opportunities Plague Yankees in 6-4 Loss to Rays

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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 on Sunday afternoon, continuing a troubling trend of failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The loss came despite Aaron Judge’s efforts, including his MLB-leading 35th home run of the season.

The Yankees’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position (RISP) was the primary issue. In the first inning, hits from Juan Soto and Aaron Judge loaded the bases, but Gleyber Torres and Alex Verdugo couldn’t drive in any runs. Soto then grounded into a double play to end the second inning with the bases loaded.

Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, his 35th of the season, bringing the Yankees within two runs. However, his contribution was not enough to overcome the deficit. Marcus Stroman pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits, including two home runs. He struck out five and did not walk any batters. Despite his solid performance, he received minimal run support.

Gleyber Torres made a critical error in the fourth inning, leading to a run. His 0-for-4 performance at the plate dropped his batting average to .229, adding to the Yankees’ woes. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected after disputing a strike call on Alex Verdugo. This marked his 38th career ejection and fifth of the season.

Soto’s ninth-inning RBI double provided some hope, but it was too little, too late. The Rays’ Jose Caballero homered in the ninth, extending their lead and sealing the victory.

The Yankees began the series with a 6-1 win on Friday but faltered with a 9-1 loss on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s 6-4 defeat. This inconsistency has been a recurring issue for the team. Despite the loss, the Yankees (59-42) remain two games behind the Baltimore Orioles (60-39) for first place in the AL East, as the Orioles also lost 3-2 to the Texas Rangers.

Aaron Judge commented, “No weight. I’ve got good guys behind me. It’s baseball. You’re going to go through some ups and downs, and you’re going to click for a little bit, but there’s months where other guys are going to carry this team and there’s months where I’ve got to pick it up and carry the team, and it’s all part of it.”

Marcus Stroman reflected, “It’s hard to be incredible for 162. I think we have a lot of confidence … how good (Soto has) been — all year, him and Judge — I think we’re kind of losing sight of how incredible those two guys have been. So they can’t do everything, each and every single time. We can’t put all the pressure on them.”

Aaron Boone added, “This game’s hard for us right now, and we’ve got to find a way. We know we’re better than this, and we’ve got to come ready and salvage a series tomorrow.”

The Yankees will aim to split the series against the Rays in the final game on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET. With their recent struggles in key situations, the team must find a way to improve their performance with runners in scoring position to turn their season around.

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