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Naomi Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two-time champion Naomi Osaka has confirmed she will not play at the Australian Open, adding her name to a growing list of notable withdrawals.

Organizers confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that Japan’s Osaka, the Open champion in 2019 and 2021, will not be playing in Melbourne.

“Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open. We will miss her at #AO2023,” the tweet said.

The 25-year-old Osaka’s ranking has slipped to 47 and she hasn’t played since September after withdrawing during the second round in Tokyo. She won her first round match at that tournament when Australia’s Daria Saville withdrew after one game with a knee injury.

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Osaka won only one completed match since May and was beaten in the first round of her three previous tournaments, including the US Open at which she also is a two-time champion.

Last week she posted pictures on social media of a trip to Europe with her United States rapper boyfriend Cordae and had been considered unlikely to play in the first Grand Slam of the season.

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska has been promoted to the main draw in her place.

Osaka took a mental health break after missing the 2021 French Open and later said she had been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years. Her absence from Melbourne adds to uncertainty over when or if she will resume her career.

The Australian Open which starts on Jan. 16 already has lost several leading players including men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz who pulled out Saturday with an ankle injury.

Former finalist Simona Halep also is not playing this year and Venus Williams also has handed back a wildcard entry after suffering an injury while practicing in Auckland.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Canucks left searching for off-ice leadership in wake of Horvat trade – Sportsnet.ca

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Bobby Hull: Winnipegger and former teammate shares memories | CTV News – CTV News Winnipeg

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Without Bobby Hull, the Winnipeg Jets wouldn’t be in the NHL right now. That’s how one of his former teammates feels about the late Jets forward.

Hull passed away on Monday at the age of 84 and he is being remembered by Joe Daley as one of the best teammates and friends a person could ask for.

Daley played with the Jets and Hull in the World Hockey Association from the 1972-73 season until 1978-79.

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Daley, who is from East Kildonan, stuck around in Winnipeg after his playing career and now runs Joe Daley’s Sports and Framing with his son.

“When (Hull) joined the Jets in Winnipeg, he was probably in the top two or three players in the world,” said Daley.

“Over the years, playing with him, getting to know him, getting to see what he could bring to the table was just incredible.”

Daley said Hull was a superstar on the ice, with his speed, skill and at the time the hardest shot in the league. Off the ice, he was always doing interviews, signing autographs and interacting with fans.

“I had a lot of respect for him and I think he had a lot of respect for me. As teammates, that’s what you want. I think you brought that to the dressing room and taught us how to be pros.”

Daley feels Hull is one of the reasons that the NHL came to Winnipeg.

“I’d like to think that we can go and cheer on the Winnipeg Jets today because of the fact that Bobby and (Ben Hatskin) got together and decided Winnipeg was going to be a major league city for hockey,” he said. “It’s hard for me to fathom the NHL would come knocking on our door saying, ‘I think Winnipeg deserves a franchise.’ I think we have a franchise today because of what we all got going in 1972.”

That is a sentiment expressed by current Jets head coach Rick Bowness.

“He helped grow the league to where it is today by bringing in those four teams from the (WHA) in ’79 and the continued expansion after that,” said Bowness.

While speaking with CTV News, Daley was also asked about some of Hull’s off-ice transgressions. Hull had allegations of spousal abuse and was also convicted in 1986 for assaulting a police officer.

“I know a lot of things have been said and suggested. It doesn’t do me any good to repeat them when I have no knowledge if they are fact or not,” said Daley.

He added as a friend and teammate, there was no one better, but he knows Hull had a life outside of his friendship.

“I didn’t live with him 24 hours a day. The time I spent with him was fun times, good times, and great times. I would rather have my memories of him in that regard than for me trying to dive into areas of people’s lives that have nothing to do with me.”

While with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA, Hull played 411 games, scoring 303 goals and 638 points. When the Jets made it to the NHL, Hull played part of a season with the team scoring another four goals and 10 points in 18 games.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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Canucks trade Bo Horvat: 'The timing was right, it was a good trade for both teams' — GM Patrik Allvin – The Province

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The Canucks land a roster forward, young centre and protected first-round 2023 pick in Horvat trade.

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The Vancouver Canucks traded captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon in exchange for forward Anthony Beauvillier, centre Aatu Raty and a protected 2023 first-round draft pick.

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For Horvat, the news hit hard.

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“I thought I was going to be a Canuck for life,” Horvat said in a Zoom session. “Things didn’t work out that way and it hasn’t really fully sunk in yet. There was a lot going on this year, to say the least. It hasn’t been an easy year dealing with just everything that’s gone on and happened.

“I’m sure when this is all over and it starts to sink in, I’m definitely going to have a little bit of weight off the shoulders. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy, with everything that went on, and the unknown and my family the unknown, with people asking me what’s going to happen. It was a lot.

“And then to have deal with you (media) guys every day, definitely didn’t make it easier. But I think it made me stronger as a person, as a player. And, again, it led me to this moment right now. So I’m grateful for that. Definitely looking forward to joining the Islanders.

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“I also can’t say enough about the fans and the province of B.C. and all of the unbelievable people that I’ve met in my time in Vancouver. I’m getting emotional here. It’s a tough goodbye.”

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As for the trade, the Canucks got what they sought in a veteran forward, prospect centre and first-round pick. The Islanders also announced the Canucks will retain 25 per cent of Horvat’s expiring salary. His cap hit this season was US$5.5 million and $4.450 million in actual salary.

“First of all, we would like to thank Bo Horvat for all that he has done for the Vancouver Canucks during his nine seasons in Vancouver,” Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said in a club news release. “He has been a great leader and ambassador for our hockey club.

“As difficult as it is to trade away our captain, we are excited to add a high-quality 25 year old winger in Beauvillier, a young centre in Raty, and a protected first-round draft pick. These pieces will be a big part of our development and growth moving forward.”

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In his late-afternoon media address, Allvin seemed satisfied as checking the boxes in getting a veteran forward, prospect centre and a first-round pick before possibly landing a right-shot defenceman at the trade deadline.

“We need to improve our team,” stressed Allvin. “Five weeks to the trade deadline and I’ll assume that more calls will come along. We did prioritize to get a young centre or defenceman back for Bo. But we felt strongly that Raty was a key piece in this deal.”

Did the Canucks get enough for Horvat? Allvin said they wanted to retain their captain, but when that process hit a stalemate, the general manager had to pivot and start talking to his peers about a potential return for the centre.

“The market dictates what players are worth, and in this case, we’re really excited about what we got back,” said Allvin. “We got three first-rounders and it was important to get a first-round pick. A couple of months ago, we put our best offer in (to Horvat) and they wanted to wait and that’s when we needed to see what the value is and get a return.

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“We were open. We never closed any doors. I respect that Bo put himself in this position to be a UFA this summer where he can dictate where he wants to play and how much money he wants.”

So, why now? Why not wait for a bigger haul closer to the March 3 trade deadline when more contenders or pretenders seek that missing piece?

“Or, maybe not,” stressed Allvin. “The timing was right. It was a good trade for both teams.”

It also presents a culture shift with the captain’s departure. More will be asked of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in leadership roles, but naming a successor to Horvat will likely play out over the summer.

Beauvillier, 25, has appeared in 49 games with the Islanders this season and has 20 points (9-11) and 10 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 180 pound forward has spent his entire career with the Islanders since entering the league in 2016-17. In 457 regular-season games, Beauvillier has 209 points (102-107) and collected his 100th NHL goal during a three-point outing (2-1-3) on Dec. 23 against Florida. He has also appeared in 49 career NHL playoff games with the Islanders, compiling 29 points (15-14-29).

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Beauvillier has another year left on his three-year, US$12.45 million deal at a US$4.15 million cap hit, so he has plenty of incentive to excel to land an extension here.

“Beauvillier has been playing pretty consistent for the Islanders and I saw him a lot with my previous organization (Pittsburgh) in the playoffs and I like the details he plays with — his tenacity and his puck hunting,” said Allvin. “He’ll fit in well with our top-six group on the left side.

“He has shown he can play the power play and penalty kill and he was effective in the playoffs and excited about the way we want to play.”

The Sorel-Tracy, Que., native has represented Canada on various occasions, including at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (gold); 2015 IIHF World U-18 Championships (bronze); 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship; and 2018 World Championship.

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New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) plays the puck from his knees defended by Detroit Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider (53) during the first period at UBS Arena on Jan. 27, 2023.
New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) plays the puck from his knees defended by Detroit Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider (53) during the first period at UBS Arena on Jan. 27, 2023. Photo by Dennis Schneidler /USA TODAY Sports

Before beginning his pro career, Beauvillier spent three seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, leading the team in scoring in his second season (42-52 in 67 GP) and points-per-game (1.61) in his final junior season. Beauvillier was originally selected by the Islanders in the first round, 28th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Raty, 20, has split the 2022-23 season between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Islanders, registering two goals (2-0) in 12 NHL games. At the AHL level, the left-shot centre has produced 15 points (7-8) in 27 games and has 12 penalty minutes. Before making his North American debut last season with Bridgeport (2 GP, 0-0), Raty played three seasons in the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga) with Oulun Kärpät and Mikkelin Jukurit, totalling 51 points (18-33) in 94 regular-season games.

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“We’re going to assign him to Abbotsford, and as a first-year pro, he played really well at the world juniors last summer and really strong in Finland,” said Allvin. “Educating him on how we want to play and for him to settle in with the system before he plays here.”

“For a young player to step in from Europe and play as well as he has in 12 games with New York, is pretty impressive. But it’s up to develop him to become a full-time NHL player

The 6-foot-2, 190 pound centre ranked second in team scoring for Mikkelin Jukurit in 2021-22 with 40 points (13-27) in only 41 games, for the second highest points-per-game average on the team (0.98). A native of Oulunsalo, Finland, Raty has also appeared on the international stage with Finland multiple times, including earning silver at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge and collecting three points (2-1) at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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Raty was originally selected by the Islanders in the second round, 52nd overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

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The Canucks were tied to the Islanders with 2022 trade speculation at the draft. There were rumours that a discussion had taken place about moving J.T. Miller to the Islanders. It had supposedly fallen apart when the Islanders traded their first-round pick to Montreal, instead of Vancouver, at No. 13.

Two picks later, the Canucks selected forward Jonathan Lekkerimaki.

“There was nothing going on,” Allvin said at the time.

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello replied: “Talk to Vancouver.”

Meanwhile, the departure of Horvat and loss of Lane Pederson to waivers could open the door for Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander to return to the NHL. Their games and confidence have grown in the AHL at Abbotsford. Podklozin is playing more free and has 16 points (7-9) in 26 games. Hoglander has 11 points (5-6)  in 17 games.

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“We need to make some call-ups and those particular names come up and Podkolzin has been playing well and not just scoring — it’s his attitude, how he plays a 200-foot game and his practice habits,” said Allvin. “I could see him and Nils eventually getting a chance.”

As for Horvat, he got on a heater in late October and his 13 goals in the following 13 games set the performance bar to expand the parameters of a contract extension that was never cemented. He was well on his way to establishing a new career standard — he’s on pace for a whopping 50 goals and 90 points — and the hockey operations’ department was contemplating salary cap hell before making the trade.

Horvat knew what was likely coming, but stayed true to his professionalism last week.

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“I can’t look at that (trade speculation) right now, it’s doing whatever I can to help this team win,” Horvat said last Tuesday. “It’s just being dedicated to our structure. If we dig in with our systems, then we’re going to have a lot of success. 

“We can be a little tighter in the defensive zone, stopping in the right areas, and not blowing the zone and cheating for offence.”

He’ll face his former club on Feb. 9 at the Islanders’ new arena.

“That is going to be an interesting game to say the least,” he said Monday. “It’s going to be weird skating on the other side from my teammates. I’ve got the game circled on my calendar.”

New York Islanders centre Aatu Raty (16) skates the puck into the zone against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at UBS Arena on Jan. 27, 2023.
New York Islanders centre Aatu Raty (16) skates the puck into the zone against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at UBS Arena on Jan. 27, 2023. Photo by Dennis Schneidler /USA TODAY Sports

Initial negotiations with Horvat’s camp were about awarding past performance and not the promise of bigger future production and his 31 goals through 49 games. It’s why there was a stalemate in talks because of the dominoes that needed to tumble to make Horvat fit. They never did fall. Too much money was tied up in players they couldn’t move.

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“We’ve taken our best shot and the contract we have on the table I think is fair for what he’s done up until this year,” Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said Jan. 16 in a wide-ranging media address. “But it’s certainly under market value for what he’s done this year, so we’re in a pickle here.”

That pickle was complicated by the Andrei Kuzmenko, two-year, US$11 million extension Thursday that cut into the Horvat math to get a deal done.

“He’s had a career run and he’s looking for his money and deserves it,” Rutherford said of Horvat. “I don’t blame him. But even with what we have on the table for him now, without any changes, we’re well over the cap on the projection.”

And that was before the Kuzmenko extension.

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“There are ways of moving money around, but it’s always a tight fit,” noted Rutherford.

bkuzma@postmedia.com

twitter.com/@benkuzma

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