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Jack Todd: Canadiens get vintage Carey Price at the right time this season – Montreal Gazette

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Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was Price’s best performance of the season by a wide margin, proof that he can still bring it

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The hated Maple Leafs were ahead. The fans were whinnying their perpetual displeasure.

The Canadiens, collectively, were looking like they couldn’t score with a 3-on-0 break on an empty net. Hockey Night in Canada was cutting to so many close-ups of Auston Matthews, it was like we were meant to be watching the reincarnation of Gordie Howe.

But the big man stood tall. Carey Price, who once did this sort of thing with some regularity, made saves from his knees, saves from his skates, saves on pucks he couldn’t possibly see, simply because he was always in the right position.

Price kept the Canadiens in it, and kept them in it, and finally Tyler Toffoli scored on a slick feed from Phillip Danault (goat on the Mitch Marner goal that opened the scoring) and HNIC cut to Mathews on the bench for no visible reason whatsoever.

Then Brendan Gallagher scored the winner and everyone went to bed happy. Well, actually, they went to bed bitching and moaning because the Canadiens weren’t more entertaining — but that’s Montreal.

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The important take-away here is that the Canadiens got vintage Price at the best possible time to pull out of a short tailspin, beat the best team in the North Division and go into a weeklong break believing that they can go head-to-head with the Leafs — which is a good thing because they meet Toronto again coming out of the break.

It was Price’s best performance of the season by a wide margin, proof that he can still bring it. That has to be a huge relief to Price and to his team. Although this bunch is far better than last season’s 24th-place team, it is not better enough to win consistently without its best player.

Hockey executive Brian Burke.
Hockey executive Brian Burke. Photo by Lyle Aspinall /Postmedia News files

Pittsburgh, what were you thinking? We’ve always had a soft spot for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Maybe it’s because when your Monday Morning Quarterback went there to write a profile on Mario Lemieux after the 1987 Canada Cup, Super Mario was kind enough to sit in the empty stands after practice and chat with me for an hour.

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We liked Lemieux as a player, loved watching Jaromir Jagr, and over the years we’ve enjoyed the Penguins because they put skill on the ice. But Brian Burke? Seriously? What could Burke possibly add that the Penguins don’t already have?

Ron Hextall, fine. He may have been a goon when he played, but Hextall is smart. He might make a very good GM for Pittsburgh.

Burke? Burke is what’s wrong with hockey. He is a charter member of that Old Boy’s Club that runs the hockey side of the league as though it were still 1955. Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy, Burke, Burke’s son Patrick — if you want to know why the Department of Player Safety remains a joke under George Parros and why the Toronto War Room exists mostly to make war on common sense, it all goes back to Burke and his bunch.

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Much as we’re delighted to see Burke removed from a Hockey Night in Canada panel that is watchable only when Kevin Bieksa is talking, we’d rather not see the man in a position to directly influence the product we see on the ice. There are enough problems in the NHL as it is.

Brandon Hagel #38 of the Chicago Blackhawks scuffles with Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at the United Center on Feb. 13, 2021 in Chicago.
Brandon Hagel #38 of the Chicago Blackhawks scuffles with Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first period at the United Center on Feb. 13, 2021 in Chicago. Photo by Stacy Revere /Getty Images

Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: How much farther can Columbus go with John Tortorella? When Patrik Laine feels he has to fight a marginal player like Chicago’s Brandon Hagel (season production two assists) to stay on the ice, it’s ridiculous. Laine took two hard rights and could have been sidelined for weeks or worse. The day of bully coaches like John Tortorella and Mike Babcock is surely over — the sooner the Blue Jackets bid goodbye to Torts, the better. …

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Anyone notice the scene at the end of the Golden State Warriors’ game after Steph Curry hit 10 3-point shots against Orlando? Curry was walking off the court, chatting with Orlando players, when he bounced the ball hard from the top of the key — and it hit nothing but net. Sometimes, a guy just can’t miss. …

Hurts to see Paul Byron on waivers. This is a very hard season for cap management. Alex Galchenyuk, on the other hand — he has only his father to blame. …

Galchenyuk may soon have something in common with Marc Bergevin, the GM who drafted him. Galchenyuk is already on his sixth NHL team. Bergevin played for eight teams during his 20-year career. …

Sorry, Urban Meyer, but there is no possible defence for hiring Chris Doyle. You messed up. Again. …

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Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights waits for a faceoff in the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on February 11, 2021 in Las Vegas.
Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

Those Golden Knights helmets look like Trump toilets upside down. Las Vegas might be the best team in the league, but it’s also the tackiest.

Heroes: Victor Mete, Brendan Gallagher, Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Petry, Phillip Danault, Paul Byron, Marc Bergevin, Steph Curry, Chris Boucher &&&& last but not least, Carey Price.

Zeros: Brian Burke, golden helmets, Carey Price fan boys, John Tortorella, Urban Meyer, Chris Doyle, Ron MacLean, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

jacktodd46@yahoo.com

Twitter.com/jacktodd46

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Why Aaron Rodgers got away with a fine and three Buccaneers got banned – The Globe and Mail

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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was fined US$14,650, a sum negotiated between the league and the players’ union while developing the COVID-19 protocols. The team was nailed for US$300,000 for its lack of oversight in the Rodgers case.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers flaunts the NFL/NFLPA coronavirus protocols and gets a fine that barely shows up in his paycheque.

Antonio Brown and two others do the same and get three-game suspensions.

What gives?

It’s complicated, but in some ways it’s also pretty simple why the Packers quarterback was fined US$14,650, a sum negotiated between the league and the players’ union while developing the COVID-19 protocols. And why Brown, teammate Mike Edwards and former Buccaneers player John Franklin III took a much bigger hit for falsifying vaccination documents.

Rodgers was fined for not wearing a mask in some instances, at a Halloween party and during press conferences. A joint investigation by the NFL and union revealed that he was wearing a mask at other points and complied with the protocols.

Aaron Rodgers admits misleading people on his vaccine status, but stands by remarks

Aaron Rodgers scorns NFL COVID-19 protocols because he can – with no consequences

Rodgers did mislead the public and the media, but he informed the club – which told the NFL – and his teammates of his status. Indeed, everyone in his ecosystem was aware he was not vaccinated, and he was testing for COVID-19 daily, and social distancing at the team facility. It was those exceptions when he did not do so that led to the fine.

The Packers were nailed for US$300,000 for their lack of oversight in the Rodgers case. Whether that indicates complicity by the organization is a matter of debate.

Tampa Bay was not fined, though it loses an important defensive back in Edwards for part of the stretch run, and doesn’t have Brown, who has missed the past five games with an ankle injury. He also sat out the Bucs’ Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19.

The actions of Brown, Edwards and Franklin began during the summer and, according to a person familiar with the case, “were acting like they were vaccinated when they were not.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the players’ specific violations have not been announced.

“The league wanted to make an example of these three,” the person said, “and wanted to suspend them six to eight games and they settled on three.”

The agreement was the players would take the three-game suspensions for repeated protocol violations, not appeal, and there would be no public statements about the fake vaccination cards.

Another person with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that all three players now are vaccinated.

“These players put all of their people at risk, and themselves and family members, their teammates and team personnel,” the person said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “They were not wearing masks when they [needed to] and were not tested every day, acting as if they were vaccinated.”

All 32 NFL teams were visited during training camp last summer and advised of the updated COVID-19 protocols. As early as July 22 the league made a presentation to the clubs to be on the lookout for fake vaccination cards, and noted to the teams the potential for that to happen based on media reports of people buying fake cards. The NFL even placed within the slide presentation the logo of the FBI, stressing that acquiring and using a fake vaccination card is a law enforcement issue that could lead to jail time.

And the players’ association made sure all of its members were aware that they actually falsified a federal document if they had a bogus vaccination document.

However, the protocols do not outline discipline for such a violation. Thus, the negotiations between the league and union that led to the three-game dockings.

There has been speculation that Brown’s history of misconduct, which includes an eight-game suspension in 2020 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, led to stiffer discipline. Both the league and union have insisted that is not the case.

The Brown/Edwards/Franklin case is the first disciplinary action with suspensions, and was announced through a joint statement by the NFL and NFLPA, reflecting the seriousness both take with the protocols.

Will there be more such scenarios? With about 95 per cent of NFL players vaccinated – and providing valid and verified proof – the numbers say that’s not likely. By handing down relatively major penalties for such violations, both the league and union hope a loud message has been sent.

Still, imagine if that message has not been heard or heeded, and one or more star players receive suspensions when playoff time rolls around in six weeks.

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Senators’ Dorion rephrases state of franchise: Core pieces are in place – Sportsnet.ca

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When the Ottawa Senators opened training camp, general manager Pierre Dorion made waves with a declarative statement that the team’s rebuild was “done.”

The Senators finished last season 9-2-1 in their final 12 games, and after four straight years as NHL basement dwellers, Ottawa’s bright young core led by Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle, among others, looked ready to take a step up. Dorion felt empowered to make that declaration.

Fast-forward to the quarter-mark of the season, and it’s abundantly clear that’s not the case. The Senators are 32nd in the NHL with a 5-15-1 record, headed once again toward draft lottery sweepstakes for what could be another foundational player.

On Saturday, Dorion acknowledged that his pre-season statement needs to be rephrased.

“Sometimes the excitement of a season gets to you,” said Dorion. “What I should’ve said is pretty much all the core pieces of the rebuild are in the organization right now.

“Obviously, (I) didn’t foresee us just winning five games after 21 games, but probably how I should have phrased it, and that’s on me, no one else, is that most of the core pieces, I feel we might be one piece away, are in the organization at this point in time.”

The Senators have faced several obstacles out of the gate. In November, 10 players and associate coach Jack Capuano entered COVID-19 protocol, causing three games to be postponed.

Beyond COVID, they’ve also dealt with a plethora of injuries: Colin White (shoulder), Austin Watson (ankle), Shane Pinto (shoulder), Erik Brannstrom (hand) and Josh Brown (upper-body), to name a few.

Dorion pointed to White and Pinto, two centremen who are still out for the foreseeable future, as “monumental losses.”

“When we projected our team, you know, sometimes you can reject losing one guy for 10 games, but at the same time, when you project losing both guys for a majority of the year, we’re going to suffer,” said Dorion.

Ottawa has made minor moves in an attempt to shore up their lack of depth by trading a seventh rounder for Dylan Gambrell and picking up Adam Gaudette off waivers.

“I know at the same time you can go out and make trades where you sacrifice important pieces of your future for immediate help, but I don’t think that was part of the plan. It’s not something that, you know, we can look at doing,” said Dorion.

“I’m not going to lie to anyone here, I’ve had a few sleepless nights. I’ve not enjoyed this stretch of our team, but it’s not by lack of effort. The players are playing hard, but sometimes players don’t play up to their potential and they know that too, and the buck stops with me and I’m not afraid to say that we didn’t anticipate this. But we’re going to battle through this.”

Dorion also cleared up the situation surrounding goaltender Matt Murray, who was shockingly placed on waivers on Nov. 27.

Since joining the Senators via trade and signing a hefty four-year, $25-million deal, the two-time Stanley Cup champion has struggled. This season, he’s gone 0-5 with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage.

Now in Belleville with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, Murray addressed being sent down earlier this week.

“They just called me in and said they’re going to put me on waivers with the intention to send me to Belleville,” said Murray in an interview with The Athletic’s Ian Mendes. “They said it was a management decision and that’s about all I got.”

On Saturday, Dorion detailed the steps he took to tell Murray he was being placed on waivers, including a “four-to-five minute conversation with an explanation of why” between himself, the Senators goaltender and head coach D.J. Smith.

“We said if someone picks you up, good luck. If not, you’re going to be assigned to Bellville,” said Dorion.

When Mendes asked Murray if Dorion had reached out to communicate with him since the discussion, he said: “Not Pierre, no.”

With Murray still part of the organization, Dorion says he’s still holding out hope for a resurgence.

“We still have faith in Murray. He’s just got to find his game, not be under the NHL microscope, and at some point in time, you’ll be back with Ottawa,” said Dorion.

The Senators take on the Colorado Avalanche Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE.

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Vice-skip Darren Moulding leaves Brendan Bottcher’s curling rink – Globalnews.ca

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Vice-skip Darren Moulding has left the curling rink led by Brendan Bottcher.

Team Bottcher announced the lineup change on Friday night in a statement posted to Twitter.

The rink said that Moulding is taking time away from curling for personal reasons and that it would announce a new player at a later date.

READ MORE: Lethbridge man prepares to represent his city in 2017 Brier

Moulding disputed the statement in his own tweet saying “‘Personal Reasons’ lol? that’s a head scratcher?. Might have ask whose “personal reasons” those are.”

He added hashtags saying “Don’t believe it” and “lies” to the tweet.

READ MORE: Koe wins against Bottcher, Einarson falls to Duncan at Grand Slam of Curling’s National event

Bottcher’s statement said that the new player would play with the rink for the rest of the season, including defending the Tim Hortons Brier title.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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