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Mendes: Senators' Bobby Ryan delivers powerful performance in return to Ottawa – TSN



As the media walked away from Bobby Ryan’s locker stall at 10:20 p.m. ET on Thursday night, the Senators forward was exhausted. 

After two live television interviews and a lengthy scrum with reporters, Ryan had just spent the last 15 minutes trying to articulate his feelings about a night that was – in so many ways – indescribable. 

“I need to take a deep breath,” Ryan said aloud, as the assembled crowd headed for the locker room exit. 

If movie studios were cautious about buying the rights to a film about a 42-year-old Zamboni driver beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on a Saturday night because it seemed implausible, they might express a similar skepticism about purchasing the Bobby Ryan story. 

Consider that a week ago, Ryan stood in the exact same spot in front of the glaring lights of television cameras and admitted that his three-month absence from the Ottawa Senators was due to an ongoing battle with alcohol abuse.

He alluded to unresolved childhood issues from an unstable upbringing as a potential root cause for his issues. Ryan – who is still actively receiving therapy – was sheepish about admitting his missteps in public, but understood it was a necessary step if he wanted to return to the NHL. 

The 32-year-old Ryan talked about hitting a “reset” button and getting one more chance to fulfill his dream of playing in the NHL.  He vowed to not take his professional career for granted any longer. 

Against this backdrop, not even the most clichéd scriptwriter from Disney would suggest a plot where the main character as described above, would come back and score a hat trick in his first home game six days later. 

And yet, we all witnessed that very storyline unfold in front of our eyes Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

“You can’t write that, right?” Ryan said incredulously after his three-goal performance. “The way that went, it was just an incredible evening.”

Ryan’s hat trick – his first in 1,886 days – left many with the impression that hockey gods are a real entity, doling out good fortune and luck to those who are deserving. Ryan admitted that he does subscribe to the theory of a higher power in hockey, but he never imagined it would cast any good fortune in his direction. 

“Yeah I do,” Ryan said. “But I didn’t think I’d be on their good side for everything that’s gone on in my personal life for the last little while. But I guess they granted me some reprieve and gave me a good night.”

Thursday night in Ottawa was also a reminder that the most genuine and visceral sports moments can come without a trace of forewarning. There was no palpable electricity surrounding this game in the hours leading into it. A major winter storm blanketed the city with a heavy, wet snow several hours before the game, leaving many to wonder how many fans would actually show up to the arena. 

The announced attendance ended up being 12, 166 – an excellent indicator for the lack of voltage around the contest. 

But 10 years from now, twice as many fans are going to claim they were inside the building in Ottawa to witness the improbable heroics from Ryan. It certainly felt like a capacity crowd when the chants of “Bobby, Bobby!” rained down. 

The last time that chant was heard inside the Canadian Tire Centre was during Ryan’s unexpected surge during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, when he became Ottawa’s most dangerous forward during a remarkable run to the Eastern Conference Final. 

It was so captivating inside the building Thursday that even the other players and coaches – who are often laser-focused on the game unfolding on the ice – were paying attention to the repeated chanting. The Sens players were even getting in on the fun. 

“For sure I did,” said head coach D.J. Smith, when asked if he could hear the chanting of Bobby’s name. “It was going on – on our bench.” 

One of the drawbacks of the salary cap era is that fans in rabid hockey markets often view NHL players through the singular lens of their salary. It’s often an impossible task to separate the contract from human being.

Ryan’s $7 million dollar salary, coupled with his disappointing production in a Senators jersey, creates the perfect recipe for the prototypical whipping boy in a Canadian market. But the fans were able to park their cynicism about a multi-million dollar contract on Thursday night and simply look at Ryan as a vulnerable human being.  It was a refreshing moment that was not lost on Ryan. 

“I knew that Ottawa, being the community that it is, that the reception would be good,” Ryan said.

As the chants grew louder – and Ryan clinched his night with the hat trick – he appeared to be overcome with emotion on the bench as the game clock expired. The television cameras appeared to show him wiping away tears from his eyes as he soaked in the moment. 

“It just got harder to keep the emotions down throughout the game. It was incredible they supported me,” Ryan added. “Thank you to all of them.”

The biggest thanks from the veteran forward, however, was saved for his wife Danielle, who was sitting close to where all three of Ryan’s goals went in.

While Ryan received a tremendous amount of support from the hockey world – including frequent texts from the likes of Sheldon Souray and Nate Thompson who also battled addiction issues – it was the care from his wife that was ultimately a catalyst in his recovery. Danielle served as a guest telephone operator for the Senators Foundation telethon on Thursday night, allowing her to get a close vantage point for her husband’s signature performance. 

“I’m glad my wife was here. I’m glad I was able to do it at home,” he said to TSN’s Brent Wallace during his live post-game interview. “It’s been a long 100 days. And a lot of that unfortunately fell on her. She carried the slack and she allowed me to go away and address things. If she hadn’t helped me recognize it, then I don’t know where I’d be. She was the first star.”

Ryan’s comeback performance on Thursday may have essentially engraved his name on the Bill Masterton Trophy for the 2019-20 campaign, the award handed out to the player who demonstrates the most dedication and perseverance towards the game. 

There will certainly be other worthy candidates, but none will have a redemption story quite like the one Ryan has authored.  

“I set the bar too high tonight, because you guys are going to give it to me unfortunately next week,” Ryan said with a laugh. 

When it comes to redemption stories in a single NHL game, Ryan may have set the bar so high that nobody else can reach it. 

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Montreal Canadiens place Alex Belzile on waivers, plus other injury updates – Habs Eyes on the Prize



The Montreal Canadiens have placed forward Alex Belzile on waivers on Monday.

The forward will be assigned to the Laval Rocket should he clear waivers. The 31-year-old was pointless in 11 games this season with the Canadiens. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 AHL games this season.

The team also provided several injury updates, as the new Vice President of Communications Chantal Machabée briefed the media before head coach Dominique Ducharme answered questions.

Joel Edmundson is back from Montreal after being in Manitoba and away from the team. There is no timeline on his return, and the same goes with Carey Price.

Jake Allen will undergo an MRI, while Paul Byron and Tyler Toffoli are nearing a return.

Cayden Primeau will start against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday afternoon. Laurent Dauphin and Josh Anderson also draw back in the lineup. Michael Pezzetta will be a healthy scratch.

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Updates regarding the Canadiens' roster –



GLENDALE – The Canadiens announced the following roster moves on Monday morning.

SHOP: Caufield Blue Socks

Forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen were assigned to the Laval Rocket.

Meanwhile, defenseman Gianni Fairbrother has joined the Rocket and returned to training, having completed his period of isolation required by the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Canadiens will face the Coyotes in Arizona on Monday, January 17.

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Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open if unvaccinated –



Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being thwarted from defending his Australian Open title only to face a new predicament: He could be barred from the French Open this year, too, if he’s still not vaccinated against COVID-19.

A plane carrying the No. 1-ranked player touched down in his native Serbia, closing at least the first chapter in a dizzying drama that has resonance in the world of elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics and the polarized debate over the coronavirus shots.

A handful of fans waving the Serbian flag greeted him at Belgrade’s airport. Djokovic has an almost iconic status in Serbia, and many there felt he was poorly treated by Australia.

But his troubles may not be over yet: He could be barred from the French Open this year, under a new law intended to exclude the unvaccinated from stadiums and other public places. Much could change between now and the start of the Grand Slam tournament in late May, but that raised the spectre the recent saga in Australia would be not just a blip but an ongoing challenge for the athlete, who is increasingly being held up as a hero by the anti-vaccine movement.

A member of the French Parliament, Christophe Castaner, said the new law will apply to anyone who wants to play in the French Open — a reversal of earlier plans to create a “bubble” around the tournament.

“To do your job, to come for pleasure or leisure, to practice a sport, it will be necessary to present a vaccine. This will be valid for people who live in France but also for foreigners who come to our country for vacation or for a major sports competition,” Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu told BFM television on Monday.

But some details of the law are still being hashed out, including how it will deal with people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as Djokovic has. The question is how recent the infection must be to qualify for an exemption to vaccination rules. France’s sports ministry said Monday once the law is in place, there will be no exceptions until further notice.

WATCH | Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal:

Novak Djokovic deported from Australia after losing final appeal

18 hours ago

Duration 2:01

Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic has been deported from Australia after losing his final appeal to not have his visa revoked, meaning he could not compete in the Australian Open. Djokovic’s lack of COVID-19 vaccination has galvanized tennis fans, Australians and become a rallying cry for anti-vaxxers. 2:01

Djokovic is also the defending champion at Wimbledon, which begins in late June. But so far, England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training. The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

It’s also not clear when Djokovic could head back to Australia. Deportation can lead to a three-year ban on returning to the country, although that can be waived, depending on the circumstances.

For now, a warm welcome awaits Djokovic, who has overwhelming support in his native Serbia where his closest family lives. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of “harassing” the top-ranked tennis star and urged him to return home.

Novak Djokovic plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. A court upheld a decision by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Denied entry to Australia

“God bless you Novak,” read one of the banners held by the fans at the airport as he was whisked through the passport control and customs and then driven by his brother Djordje to his apartment in Belgrade.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, said her son will remain in Belgrade in the coming days and won’t make statements for the media.

WATCH | Djokovic says his agent made error on Australia entry form:

Novak Djokovic blames human error for inaccurate travel declaration

5 days ago

Duration 1:52

Novak Djokovic says human error is to blame for an inaccurate travel declaration form that claimed the tennis champion hadn’t travelled for two weeks before arriving in Australia for an upcoming tournament in Melbourne. 1:52

Djokovic’s Australian saga began when he was granted an exemption to strict vaccination rules by two medical panels and the tournament organizer in order to play in the Australian Open because he had recently recovered from COVID-19. He received a visa to enter the country through an automated process. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him.

The initial news that the star had been granted the exemption sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

More than 95 per cent of all top 100 men and women tennis players in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two other men – American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the Australian Open due to vaccine requirements.

In the end, Australian authorities revoked Djokovic’s visa, saying his presence could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and kicking him out was necessary to keep Australians safe. He was deported Sunday, a day before the tournament got underway in Melbourne.

Djokovic has won nine titles there previously. He had hoped this year to secure his 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, breaking the record he shares with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, but Nadal is competing.

WATCH | Canadians to watch at Australian Open:

Canadians to watch at the 2022 Australian Open

3 days ago

Duration 3:17

CBC Sports’ Vivek Jacob walks through the Canadian tennis stars you should be watching as they gear up to compete in the 2022 Australian Open 3:17

As the legal battle played out in Australia, Djokovic acknowledged he had attended an interview in Belgrade in December with journalists from L’Equipe newspaper after testing positive for the coronavirus. He later described this “an error” of judgment.

Asked if Djokovic would face any penalties for flouting his isolation while being infected when he returns to Serbia, Serbian officials said he would not because the country is not in a state of emergency.

Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia, whose president had called the court hearing in Australia “a farce with a lot of lies.”

“Novak, welcome home, you know that we all support you here,” said Snezana Jankovic, a Belgrade resident. “They can take away your visa, but they cannot take away your Serbian pride.”

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