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Maple Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk excited to settle in with Leafs after rocky few seasons

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Maple Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk excited to settle in with Leafs after rocky few seasons

TORONTO — Alex Galchenyuk might never have predicted a career trajectory that went from high first-round draft choice to landing with six different teams in the last three years. But following his trade from Carolina to the Maple Leafs last weekend, Galchenyuk is decidedly uninterested in focusing on his rocky past, when there is still a potentially hopeful future ahead.

“We can sit here and talk about what went right, what went wrong,” Galchenyuk told reporters on a Zoom call Sunday following some on-ice sessions at Ford Performance Centre. “But I think that’s part of playing hockey, playing the sport. There was a lot of great times. We can sit here and talk all day about my career and the turns, but that’s not where my head is. My head is here, and I’m really excited to be here.”

How he arrived in Toronto has been a winding road, punctuated by the events set in motion eight days ago. That’s when, on Feb. 13, Galchenyuk was traded by Ottawa to Carolina for Ryan Dzingel and then subsequently placed on waivers. When he cleared, Galchenyuk was traded again, this time to the Leafs for Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky. All that went down over the span of an eventful 48 hours – both personally and professionally.

“It was a pretty wild couple days,” Galchenyuk admitted. “Definitely a big weekend, and I turned 27 too [on Feb. 12] at that time, so a big couple days. [Carolina] had just told me to sit tight [after the trade] and they’d let me know what the plan was the next [morning], and then the next morning I was on waivers.”

That wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that Galchenyuk has been staring down the barrel of imminent change.

The third overall pick by Montreal in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Galchenyuk faced the weight of expectations that come with being such a selection. He tried living up to them with the Canadiens, appearing in 418 games and amassing 108 goals and 255 points. His best season to date unfurled with a 56-point campaign in 2015-16, the only time Galchenyuk has ever hit the 30-goal mark.

In June 2018, Galchenyuk’s time in Montreal came to abrupt end, when he was shipped to Arizona in exchange for Max Domi. He’d spend one season there, appearing in 72 games with 19 goals and 41 points.

Then it was off to the next stop, this time via trade to Pittsburgh, where Galchenyuk almost immediately suffered a lower-body injury that would hold him to just 45 games and 17 points for the Penguins before he was traded to Minnesota. Galchenyuk appeared in 14 regular season games for the Wild and notched seven points, and went on to skate in four postseason contests as well.

By late October, Galchenyuk had signed a one-year, $1.05 million free agent contract with Ottawa, but started out the season for them as a healthy scratch. When he did get in, Galchenyuk failed to record a point in his first seven games, and ended up with one goal in eight total appearances before the trade to Carolina.

While he never actually reported to the Hurricanes, the whole experience has been a whirlwind for Galchenyuk, and he’s happy now just to be focused on hockey.

“[The hardest part] is the move itself from one place to another,” he said.” “It’s not really hockey things, but trying to find a home and this and that. But obviously over the years you meet a lot of guys, a lot of teammates and then you bring some friendships along the way, and then there’s a new system now, everything is new. But it’s part of life and it’s exciting [to get going].”

One teammate who was especially glad to see Galchenyuk in the fold is goaltender Jack Campbell. After Galchenyuk did a 30-minute practice session with Leafs’ assistant skating consultant Randi Milani, he joined Campbell, who’s rehabbing from a leg injury suffered on Jan. 24, to do some on-ice work together.

Campbell goes back a long way with the winger, to when they both played in the Ontario Hockey League from 2010-12. Moving up through hockey’s ranks, Campbell also faced Galchenyuk when he was netminder for the Los Angeles Kings, and couldn’t resist resurrecting a memorable encounter when the two shared a dressing room for the first time.

“He actually ripped a one-timer by me in preseason like three years ago in Arizona,” Campbell laughed. “And when I saw him the first time, I said, ‘Remember the shot?’ and he was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ It was cool; I’m glad he’s on this side now. I like his demeanour out there, he has fun but he works really hard and I think everybody will see how skilled he is too so I’m really excited to have him.”

The goaltender isn’t the only familiar face for Galchenyuk in Toronto. He was taken in that 2012 draft just two spots ahead of where the Leafs took Morgan Rielly, and Galchenyuk said they’ve stayed in touch over the years after getting to know one another during pre-draft events.

More than anything though, Galchenyuk is anxious to actually bring his skill set into the Leafs’ lineup, although he admits head coach Sheldon Keefe hasn’t told him much about when or where that might happen.

“I haven’t spoken a lot about a plan or where [I’ll play] and all that stuff,” he said. “[Keefe told me to] just keep getting better, stay prepared, stay ready and I’ll get my opportunity.”

Until that time comes, Galchenyuk intends to continuing tapping into the Leafs’ skill and development team to ensure he’s ready to make good on his chance.

“Skill is a big part of my game,” he said. “I’ll keep working on it and be dialled and then keep focusing on making a few adjustments and then keep working on the traits of the game. Today was the first time I had to pretty much touch base on some things [with the skills’ staff] and I’m looking forward to that and keep working. Keep working, keep attacking, keep going out there and making plays. That’s my game and you’ve just got to compete basically.”

Source: – TSN

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills

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North Division

It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.

The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.

Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.

Passers

Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.

Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.

Shooting

A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.

Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.

Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.

Stick Handling

Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.

If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.

Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.

When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

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Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards

Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.

Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.

Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.

“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.

“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”

After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.

Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.

Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.

“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.

“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.

“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”

Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.

“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.

“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”

For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.

“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.

“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”

 

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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