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Maple Leafs’ top line shows first hints of greatness in win over Senators –



When Joe Thornton is informed that, even at 41 years and 198 days of age, he only became the second-oldest Toronto Maple Leaf to score a goal, Jumbo wants to know about the man standing between him and history.

Who? (Allan Stanley, the Hall of Fame defenceman) And how old? (41 years, 252 days.)

“So… I gotta play a couple more years, you’re sayin’, eh?” Thornton smiled.

If the big-bearded, carpool-karaoke-singing, hockey-hug-initiating legend keeps having himself nights like Saturday, we wouldn’t rule it out.

Even though the oldest forward in the league has been influencing the outcome of NHL games years before Tim Stützle was so much as an umlaut in his parents’ eye.

Sheldon Keefe had a feeling heading into Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre that this would be the night his prime-time top unit would finally break out. Third time’s a charm. The coach just wasn’t betting on Thornton to bust the dam before dynamic linemates Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

“I don’t know that I had Jumbo maybe being the first one to get on the board,” Keefe smiled.

“That line, you could tell right from the drop of the puck today, was going to have a night. They’ve been working really hard. Haven’t had the results here quite yet, but they’ve been really working, and it was just a matter of time for the line.”

Fuelling a 3-2 Leafs victory over the Senators and salvaging a split in the weekend back-to-back, the performance of Thornton-Matthews-Marner was about as dominant as a first-line gets. That trio, Keefe’s most-used unit at five-on-five, skated nine and a half minutes together, out-attempting the opposition 13-3 in the process.

All three notched their first goals of the season, with Marner rebounding from Friday’s lacklustre showing to register three points.

“We’re still trying to get the whole rhythm thing down,” Marner explained. “It was really our first good game together. We were moving well. Down low we were really creating a lot of chances, holding on to the puck, weren’t rushing plays. I think we’re really using our creativity out there — and that’s something we weren’t doing the first two games.”

The trio is also communicating more on the ice, an element led by the boisterous, carefree Thornton whether he’s in sneakers or skates.

“That first goal, he’s screaming the whole time he’s behind me,” noted Marner, who set up Thornton with a slick drop pass on the rush.

Thornton’s first thought, of course, was to feed Matthews cross-ice on the two-on-one. Only when the Sens defender took away that lane did Thornton fire his warning shot to Allan Stanley.

“The amount of attention these two guys get it, I just gotta get open for ’em,” Thornton said. “It’s been so fun with Mitchy and Matty. We have a lot of fun out there, and I think we’ll continue to keep growing as a line. Because we are having fun and we get excited before every game, I think you can tell each game we’re getting better. And that’s a real good sign. Yeah, I love playing with those two kids.”

Matthews won an offensive draw to set up Marner’s quick-strike, which deflected off a sprawling Erik Gudbranson’s skate. And another Marner drop pass teed up Matthews’ bullet one-timer for the power-play winner.

A balanced contribution from three stars who’d had a number of positive shifts but had been snake-bitten up to this point was a major reason Toronto outshot Ottawa 40-19 and gave the puck away eight fewer times than their opponent.

What’s telling is that Keefe expanded the praise of his top line to their defensive efforts, particularly Thornton.

The most senior Leaf has played thrice in four nights, averaging 17:58 per game. He’s on pace for his most ice time since he was a sprightly 38-years-old.

“Joe had really great legs right to the very end of the game,” Keefe said. “Some of our best tracks and catching guys from behind and having a stick on the puck and creating a turnover the last couple of games here in Ottawa came from Joe and his effort there. So, feeling really good about what he’s been able to do and how he looks in that area.”

Certainly, it’s too early to declare the Jumbo and the Kids experiment a rousing success, but Saturday at least hinted at the greatness three guys with elite skill can stir when they’re clicking.

“We want to get better every single day we’re here,” Marner said. “Tonight was a great step forward for us three.”


• Brutal break for 19-year-old rookie Nick Robertson. In his NHL regular-season debut, the winger popped off the screen in his 2:20 worth of work, but suffered a knee injury when he was crunched into the boards by Drake Batherson.

“It looks like he’s definitely gonna miss some time,” Keefe said.

More on Robertson’s status will be known after his MRI, which could be as soon as Sunday.

• Jason Spezza skated less than seven minutes but was a perfect 10-for-10 in the faceoff circle, a major reason Toronto won 63 per cent of its draws.

• Even goalie Jack Campbell had to tip his cap to Stützle’s incredible first NHL goal, a one-timed clapper plucked out of midair.

“The only thing I could think other than ‘I should’ve had it’ was, ‘I just want to shake his hand,’” Campbell said. “That was a heck of a play. What a young talent. It’s good for the league.”

• Keefe spoke highly of Campbell’s work in the victory. Toronto’s starting goalie for Monday’s game versus Winnipeg has yet to be announced.

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'Dom was my guy,' Bergevin says as Ducharme takes Canadiens' reins – Montreal Gazette



“I like offence but, to create offence, you need the puck, you need to retrieve it,” Dominique Ducharme says as he assumes control of Habs.

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Dominique Ducharme faces a difficult task as he takes over the head coaching job with the Canadiens, a team that is falling short of its high expectations.

General manager Marc Bergevin pulled the plug on Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller Wednesday, scant hours before the team left Ottawa for Winnipeg, where they will play the Jets on Thursday (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Ducharme has been regarded as the Canadiens’ head coach in waiting since he was hired as an assistant coach in 2018, but his progression was hurried along when the Canadiens went into a 2-4-2 slide after a strong start to the COVID-shortened season.

While Ducharme, 47, carries an interim tag on his title, Bergevin said he was the first choice for the job and it is his to lose.

“Quarantine or no quarantine, Dom was my guy from the time I made my decision,” said Bergevin. “He’s a new model of coach, a young coach who came a long way, had success at the junior level, at the world junior level. I feel this team needed a new voice and he’s a good communicator and, from what I saw, that’s what the players are looking for.”


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Ducharme talked to his players as the head coach for the first time Wednesday night and he’ll have to communicate his ideas while navigating a schedule that basically sees the Canadiens playing every other night.

When asked about his coaching style, Ducharme said the best answers will be on the ice and he trotted out clichés about playing the right way and playing fast before saying: “I like offence but, to create offence, you need the puck, you need to retrieve it. We want to spend less time in our zone. We want to create more turnovers, we want to counter quick. For sure, we want to go on offence, but we need the puck.”

Ducharme must patch up the Habs’ special teams, which rank in the bottom third of the NHL. Alex Burrows moved over from the AHL’s Laval Rocket as an assistant coach and will guide the power play, while Luke Richardson will supervise the penalty kill, which has been wildly inconsistent after starting the season with a flood of short-handed goals.


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Ducharme enjoyed success in the junior ranks, winning a Memorial Cup in 2013 with a Halifax Mooseheads lineup that included Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. He won gold and silver medals as head coach of Team Canada at the world juniors, but the Canadiens gave him his first professional experience.

“I didn’t take the highway,” said Ducharme. “I took the side road, but I’m proud of that. It made me grow as a coach.”‘

Bergevin said he couldn’t pinpoint when he decided to make a change, but he said the team kept repeating the same mistakes.

“Last season, we had two eight-game losing streaks and I know we had injuries. But this year, knock on wood, we’ve been healthy, and I saw a pattern that I didn’t want to wait much longer.”


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Bergevin said he detected a disconnect between the message Julien was sending to the players and their performance on the ice. The final straw came Tuesday night when the Canadiens lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Senators for their third straight loss.

Ducharme might have had time to implement some changes if Bergevin pulled the trigger last week, when the Canadiens had six days between games, but Montreal was coming off a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs and the general manager said he was giving Julien and Muller a chance to right the ship. The Canadiens proceeded to lose three games after the break.

Ducharme appeared relaxed as he talked to the media during a video conference Wednesday afternoon and he hearkened back to his student days at the University of Vermont, where he was a key member of a powerhouse hockey team alongside future Stanley Cup winners Eric Perrin, Martin St. Louis and Tim Thomas.


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“When you prepare, you sit down at school, get your exam (and) you don’t care what the questions are going to be, you’re ready to answer” said Ducharme. “You’re pretty nervous when you’re not ready, when you didn’t study. I feel comfortable. I’m confident in the group I’m working with and I’m ready to go.”

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks toward the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

    Jack Todd: Canadiens’ sweet start ends in bitter outcome for Julien

  3. Head coach Claude Julien blows a whistle over his mask during Montreal Canadiens practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Jan. 27, 2021.

    What the Puck: Canadiens goalie Price shares blame for Julien’s firing

  4. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien, right, speaks with associate coach Kirk Muller practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday November 27, 2019.  (John Mahoney} / MONTREAL GAZETTE)  ORG XMIT: POS1911271253161652

    Montreal Canadiens fire Claude Julien and Kirk Muller


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Can Tiger Woods come back from this? –



This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Tiger Woods’ injuries might be too much this time

Since yesterday’s newsletter, more details have surfaced about the damage done to the golfer’s right leg when he rolled the vehicle he was driving yesterday in Southern California. And it does not sound good.

Tiger’s camp released a statement around midnight ET saying he had “undergone a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle.” The statement also included descriptions of the injuries and the surgery from the head of the hospital where it was performed by orthopedic trauma specialists. He used a lot of medical jargon but, basically, the lower part of Woods’ right leg was crushed and the major bones shattered.

Woods’ tibia and fibula bones splintered into pieces in multiple places and punctured through his skin. A rod was inserted into the tibia (the larger of the two bones) to deal with that. “Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle” (no details were provided) “were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins,” the hospital head added. He also said surgeons had to cut into tissue to reduce swelling and pressure from “trauma to the muscle and soft tissue of the leg.” Woods’ people added that he was “currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room.”

Once this statement made it clear that Tiger’s life was not in danger, and that his injuries — at least the most serious ones — seem to be concentrated in his right leg, the next question became: could this end his golf career?

No one seems to have that answer right now — partly because there are (thankfully) few instances of an athlete’s body being damaged quite like this. Football is the only major sport capable of regularly producing car-crash-level injuries, so the closest recent comparison to what Woods could be facing might be NFL quarterback Alex Smith.

While playing for Washington in November 2018, Smith’s right leg got caught at an awkward angle as he was sacked by two Houston defenders. He broke his tibia and fibula, and bone punctured the skin. An infection after Smith’s initial surgery caused doctors to fear he’d lose the leg and maybe even his life. He ultimately needed 17 operations on the leg.

It took Smith almost two full years to get back into an NFL game, which he did last season. It was a great story and he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, but he wasn’t the same. He only got in because of injury and/or gross incompetence by Washington’s other two QBs, and he threw more interceptions than touchdowns as the leg hampered him. For their playoff game, Washington chose to start a journeyman with one NFL start over Smith.

Obviously, every injury is different and golf is easier to return to than football. But Tiger is 45 — nine years older than Smith — and his body had already been through a lot. At the time of his crash, he was working to return from a December back surgery — his fifth — that was threatening his career. And, according to this lengthy list of Woods injuries compiled by The Associated Press in March 2019, he’d already undergone four surgeries on his left knee. Now he’s recovering from these massive injuries to his right leg, ankle and foot, and additional surgeries seem like a possibility. If someone showed you this medical history and told you to guess what sport the person plays, you’d probably say pro football. By golf standards, the damage Woods has endured to his body over the last couple of decades is staggering.

It’s too early to tell if the greatest golfer of all time will be able to play the game at a high level again. He’s surprised us before, winning the 2019 Masters after his fourth back surgery left him openly questioning whether he’d be able to compete anymore. But, for his 15th major title to not be his last, Tiger might need to pull off his most astonishing feat yet. Read more about what he’s facing here.

Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening. 2:02


The Montreal Canadiens fired head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. The Habs looked like a possible Cup contender when they started the season 8-2-2. But they have only one win in the six games since then, and they’ve lost all three coming out of their one-week break. Worse, they just dropped back-to-back games to lowly Ottawa. Julien was in his second stint as the Canadiens’ head coach. He never made it past the second round of the playoffs with them, though with Boston he won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reached the final in 2013. Montreal promoted assistant Dominique Ducharme to interim head coach. He coached Canada to gold at the world juniors in 2018 and silver the previous year. Read more about him and the other changes to Montreal’s coaching staff here.

The IOC wants Australia to host the 2032 Summer Olympics. A Brisbane-based bid was selected today by the IOC’s executive board for exclusive talks. The sides will now enter into “targeted dialogue” (the IOC’s phrase) and, if all goes well, they’ll make it official. This leaves only one of the next seven Olympics without at least a tentative host — the 2030 Winter Games. Read more about why Brisbane was picked so early here.

There’s only one perfect rink left at the Scotties. Defending champion Team Canada, skipped by Kerri Einarson, improved to 6-0 by beating Yukon in the morning draw while Pool A rival Ontario (Rachel Homan) fell to 5-1 with a loss to the Northwest Territories. Pool B was considerably messier heading into Draw 14. Quebec (Laurie St-Georges) and the wild-card team skipped by Chelsea Carey were tied for first at 4-2, with four rinks right behind them at 3-2, including six-time champ Jennifer Jones’ Manitoba. The top four in each pool advance to the next round. Read more about today’s results here and catch tonight’s episode of That Curling Show with host Devin Heroux and six-time Scotties champ Colleen Jones at 7:30 p.m. ET on the CBC Olympics Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

And finally…

A guy in the Czech Republic swam for 81 metres under ice. David Vencl held his breath for 95 seconds as he covered the equivalent of more than 1½ lengths of an Olympic-size pool in a frozen-over lake. There was at least 30cm of ice above him at all times and he did it without using any fins, diving suit, cap or weights. The distance broke an eight-year-old world record, according to Guinness. Read more about it here.

Coming up on CBC Sports

Cross-country skiing world championships: Watch the women’s and men’s sprint finals in Germany live Thursday from 5:30-7 a.m. ET here.

You’re up to speed. Get The Buzzer in your inbox every weekday by subscribing below.

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LA sheriff calls Tiger Woods crash 'purely an accident' – World News –



The Los Angeles County sheriff on Wednesday characterized the crash that seriously injured Tiger Woods as “purely an accident” and appeared to rule out any potential criminal charges even as authorities were still investigating.

Deputies did not see any evidence that the golf star was impaired by drugs or alcohol after Tuesday’s rollover wreck on a downhill stretch of road known for crashes, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

“He was not drunk,” Villanueva said during a livestreamed social media event. “We can throw that one out.”

Woods, who had checked into a clinic in 2017 for help dealing with prescription medication, was driving alone through coastal Los Angeles suburbs when his SUV struck a raised median, crossed into oncoming lanes and flipped several times. The crash caused “significant” injuries to his right leg, and he underwent a “long surgical procedure,” according to a post on the golfer’s Twitter account.

Villanueva said investigators may seek search warrants for a blood sample to definitively rule out drugs and alcohol. Detectives also could apply for search warrants for Woods’ cellphone to see if he was driving distracted, as well as the vehicle’s event data recorder, or “black box,” which would give information about how fast he was going.

Joe Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York police sergeant, said it was “premature” for Villanueva to determine the crash was an accident just a day later.

“The blood test could give us a whole other insight,” Giacalone said, noting that some drugs are not necessarily detectable by observation. “Because it’s Tiger Woods, people are going to demand answers. You have to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.”

Crash investigations typically include interviews of first responders and bystanders as well as inspections of the road and the vehicle, including photographing and measuring the scene and checking to see if the vehicle had defects or malfunctions, according to William Peppard, a retired Bergen County, New Jersey, police detective who has served as a crash investigator.

Peppard said in typical cases with no immediate indications the driver was impaired, detectives might not seek blood samples if the crash did not injure anyone else or damage property.

“Take the celebrity out of it — it’s a matter of resources and time,” he said.

The crash was the latest setback for Woods, who at times has looked unstoppable with his 15 major championships and record-tying 82 victories on the PGA Tour. He is among the world’s most recognizable sports figures, and at 45, with a reduced schedule from nine previous surgeries, remains golf’s biggest draw.

He won the 2008 U.S. Open with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg. His personal life imploded in 2009 when he was caught having multiple extramarital affairs and crashed his vehicle near his Florida home. He returned to win his 11th award as PGA Tour player of the year and reach No. 1.

In 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.

And then after four back surgeries that kept him out of golf for the better part of two years, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, ranking among the great comebacks in golf.

Woods had a fifth back surgery, a microdiscectomy, on Dec. 23, just three days after he played the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, now 12.

Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for him to give golf tips to celebrities on Discovery-owned GOLFTV.

Woods was driving his courtesy vehicle from the Genesis Invitational when he crashed. Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the crash, patrols the road and said he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph (129 kph) in the downhill, 45-mph zone. Crashes are common.

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