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Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s Canadiens tenure can be defined by impatience – Habs Eyes on the Prize



The easy reaction when the Montreal Canadiens announced they would not match the Carolina Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi would be that the Canadiens failed to develop another high draft pick.

In reality, it’s a little more nuanced than that. One thing that comes up again when going through the relationship between Kotkaniemi and the Canadiens organization is timing, and impatience.

It’s a bit ironic that it worked out this way, because Bergevin was pretty measured when it came to Kotkaniemi’s immediate future at the 2018 Draft when he selected the centre.


“He’s coming to Montreal next week for our Development Camp. We’ll look at him closely and we’ll go from there,” said Bergevin after the 2018 Draft. “We’ll do what’s best for him in the long run, but we also have to look at the big picture and his future.”

At the team’s development camp, Kotkaniemi showed enough to earn his entry-level contract after the final on-ice session. That earned him an invitation to the team’s rookie and training camp before a decision would be made on his future at that time.

By now, you know what happened. Max Domi got suspended in the pre-season, providing an opening for Kotkaniemi to grab a hold of a roster spot and earn his opening night place on the roster.

This is where the impatience starts to come in. You can argue about whether it was the right or wrong decision, and the circumstances that made Kotkaniemi one of the team’s top centres through that camp. It’s similar to what happened with Victor Mete and the lack of other options on defence the previous year at camp. In fact, in that same press conference after the 2018 Draft, Bergevin used Mete as an example as a player who could play his way onto the roster.

“It’s easy to re-do things three, four years later,” said Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on Monday. “He had a very good training camp, a very good first half of the season, it was in the second half where he started to struggle. At the time I remember thinking maybe it’s his age, maybe it’s the 82 game schedule… and today, I look back and maybe it was the better decision to send him back to Finland.”

When you pick in the top three, you would be more inclined to try to keep the player on the opening night roster. You just went through a tough season, and it’s a lot easier to point to the prize from going through that bad season. The fact that Kotkaniemi performed well early on was even more incentive to do that.

There was a next phase to the impatience from the Canadiens perspective. After Kotkaniemi’s struggles in the second half of his rookie season, expectations were high that he would bounce back in his second year. An injury he tried to play through saw Kotkaniemi struggle, and he finished the pandemic-shortened regular season in the American Hockey League with the Laval Rocket. Kotkaniemi played well in Laval, and when the Canadiens made the post-season, he raised his game to a level we hadn’t seen from him.

Once again, expectations were high for his third season, but Kotkaniemi was inconsistent. He couldn’t be at the level he needed to be at for the entire season. The result was that he was scratched three times in the team’s playoff run.

“Sometimes it takes longer, or their view of what’s happening is different than the reality,” Bergevin said. “Sometimes a young player feels like ‘I shouldn’t be going through this because I’ve been here before’… Well, we have to win hockey games. That’s the job that coaches have.”

Quite frankly, the team could not afford to be patient enough to play through his growing pains. Some might say that it was the result of a failed development path, but reading between Marc Bergevin’s words, it was more a mismatch of the role Kotkaniemi was going to have to play, and the ability he had at this point in his career.

“There are things that I saw in the last two years that I don’t think that would have changed [with a different path in his first season]… It’s more than just going back to Finland,” Bergevin said.

At this point, we looked at the decision making process from the Canadiens’ point of view. But even accepting Carolina’s offer in the first place showed a bit of impatience from Kotkaniemi’s point of view. He wanted to secure his financial future in a way a bridge deal just wouldn’t do. And if he wasn’t understanding the reasons he wasn’t in the lineup — as Bergevin might have alluded to as well — you can understand why he may not have felt he would have had the opportunity to prove his worth during that contract.

The decision to accept the offer sheet — and the offer’s structure itself — then forced Bergevin’s hand.

“He put us in a situation where we had to make a decision on what was best for our team now and moving forward,” Bergevin said. “With the offer sheet, for me it was excessive at $6.1 million for one year for the stage he’s at in his career. We made a decision based on that, but also based on the future of the Canadiens, and the future of our salary cap that we need to manage. We have some good players who are pushing, so we need to be careful, we need to do good things as a manager, so the decision was made.”

So the story between Kotkaniemi and the Canadiens ends here. It’s clear that there’s still promise in Kotkaniemi, otherwise Carolina wouldn’t want to pay him the amount that they are paying him. It still provides Bergevin with an ability to learn from it. The results from Nick Suzuki’s return to junior — the same year that Kotkaniemi made his NHL debut — may have solidified Bergevin’s learning when he later took a more patient approach with Cole Caufield.

“It is a lesson, I can say that. I’m not perfect,” Bergevin said. “Sometimes we don’t make the right decision but we do it for the right reasons. … It is something that we’ll watch closely moving forward.”

The Canadiens didn’t necessarily want to lose Kotkaniemi, but they weren’t sure if he was the ideal centre behind Suzuki at this time. They wanted him signed at an amount that was reflective of the player he is to give them the flexibility to improve their current roster.

The bridge contract, like the offer sheet, is a tool in the collective bargaining agreement so teams can use all of their up to seven years to decide what to do with their young players.

Kotkaniemi has yet to show what he could be. The Canadiens simply decided they didn’t want to pay the inflated amount of the offer sheet to find out.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks



The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade seeing goaltender Casey DeSmith going the other way.

A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.

Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.

Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.


In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.

The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.

DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.

In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.

DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

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Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags



The Mike Babcock hiring has been a disaster from the beginning. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.

“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.


“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”

Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.

But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.

Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.

“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.

To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.

Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.

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But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.

Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.

On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.

By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.

Babcock’s quick and swift dismissal comes as no surprise given his spotty reputation of being an emotionally abusive coach during his days with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.



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