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.
Darryl Watts thought she’d retired from hockey after a stellar NCCA career.
The 23-year-old from Toronto was accepted into the University of Wisconsin’s masters commercial real-estate program last fall after a summer internship in that field.
But a week before returning to her alma mater in Madison, Watts did what people her age often do which is change her mind about what she wanted to do with her life.
“I backed out seven days before. My dad was so upset,” Watts told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. “He supports everything I do and he was so supportive after he kind of got over it.”
While recharting the course of her life, what brought her out of retirement was the Premier Hockey Federation’s announcement Dec. 14 of a salary-cap doubling next season to $1.5 million US per team.
“I was kind of pursuing other things at the time,” Watts said. “Once I saw the news that the PHF’s salary cap had doubled to $1.5 million US, that was the turning point.
“The conversation with my family was playing women’s professional hockey is a very viable financial option and it can support a really great lifestyle for a 23-year-old. Why wouldn’t I pursue this and see what the options are?”
Days after the Toronto Six signed the forward to a two-year contract, Watts made public Wednesday her 2023-24 salary which at $150,000 is a league record.
“I’m disclosing this because women’s hockey has been struggling for so long” Watts said. “I’m so grateful and fortunate to be the recipient of this historic contract.
“It’s my duty, almost, to the women’s hockey community, to share this contract, provide clarity into what the women’s pro hockey atmosphere looks like right now.
“This is a staggering number. It sends the message to young girls who play hockey that they can look forward to a pro women’s league where they have the opportunity to make a really significant amount of money to support themselves while playing the sport they love.
“I’m also disclosing this because I hope this will attract other players, which will then accumulate into the establishment of one single professional women’s hockey league.”
Wilson-Bennett buries it and Daryl Watts has her first PHF point! <a href=”https://t.co/zzhyEEY3Tw”>pic.twitter.com/zzhyEEY3Tw</a>
Toronto forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis was the PHF’s highest-paid player heading into this season after signing an $80,000 contract with the Buffalo Beauts.
The seven-team PHF, with clubs in Toronto and Montreal, has upped the financial ante in its bid to be the North American women’s pro hockey league of record.
The average salary this season is $34,000 on a 22-player roster, but pay ranges anywhere from $13,500 to the $80,000 of Grant-Mentis.
Watts’ contract that converts to $200,000 in Canadian dollars next season is a milestone in terms of raising the financial bar.
It’s also the PHF’s latest message to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, whose 80-player membership includes stars Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield.
The PWHPA, which holds showcase games and tournaments, intends to start its own league with Billie Jean King Enterprises and Mark Walter, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as potential backers.
Women’s hockey nearly lost a high-calibre player in Watts, who ranks second all-time in NCAA scoring with 297 points in 172 games with first Boston College and then Wisconsin from 2017 to 2022.
In her rookie year with the Eagles in 2018, Watts became the first freshman to win the Patty Kazmaier Award that goes to the top player in women’s Division 1 hockey.
Watts represented Canada at the world under-18 hockey championship in 2017 in a silver-medal effort. She also played for the national under-22 team in a three-game series against the United States in the summer of 2019.
With the help of her father Michael, a corporate lawyer who acted as her agent, Watts entered into discussions and negotiations with PHF clubs.
She said she was attracted to the Boston Pride and the Connecticut Whale because they’re coached by former NHL players Paul Mara and Colton Orr respectively, as well as Buffalo because of proximity.
But her hometown team, which ranks second in the league at 10-2-2 behind Boston, won the Watts sweepstakes.
“They offered me a really great contract,” Watts said. “Born and raised in Toronto, I had a special place in my heart for the Toronto Six.
Watts stepped on the ice for the first time in 10 months for Six practices last week. She played in Toronto’s games Saturday and Sunday against Connecticut and had an assist.
“I was absolutely sucking wind,” Watts said. “My legs were on fire. I was blacking out on the ice. Didn’t feel great. Physically I was struggling, but mentally having a great time.
“I’m hard on myself. I expect myself to perform at the level that I know I’m capable of. I hadn’t been on the ice in the year and I spent the summer shedding my hockey muscle.
“I hope to be performing at a 100 per cent by the time playoffs come.”
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.
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
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.
For Horvat, the news hit hard.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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).
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.
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.
“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.
Raty was originally selected by the Islanders in the second round, 52nd overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“There are ways of moving money around, but it’s always a tight fit,” noted Rutherford.
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Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull has died at the age of 84.
He played for Chicago and Hartford of the NHL as well as the World Hockey Association’s Winnipeg Jets over a 23-year pro career. The Chicago organization confirmed his death Monday.
In 1961, he helped lead Chicago to its first Stanley Cup in 23 years, and is 55th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 610 goals and 560 assists. He also had 303 goals and 335 assists in the WHA for combined 913 goals in both leagues in 1,474 games.
To put that into context, Wayne Gretzky has a combined total of 940 goals in both leagues over 1,567 games, although all but 80 of those were in the NHL.
His 604 goals with Chicago remain a team record.
“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the club said in a statement. “Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”
Hull was the first player in NHL history to score more than 50 goals in a single season. He set the record of 54 in 1966 and broke it by four goals a couple of seasons later.
Along with Chicago teammate Stan Mikita he helped popularize the curved hockey stick blade in the NHL. He would first soak the wooden blade, bend it under a door and leave it overnight. It made Hull’s slapshot, clocked at close to 200 kilometres per hour, even harder for a goalie to stop.
WATCH | Hull on leaving Chicago, playing in the WHA and his son, Brett:
His defection to Winnipeg of the WHA in 1972 was the catalyst that helped shatter the NHL’s stranglehold on players. It also started the escalation of salaries that now make Hull’s once record-setting million-dollar payday look like small change.
There were plenty of hard feelings at the time on both sides, but in 2011 a statue of Hull was erected alongside one of Mikita outside the United Center, where Chicago now plays.
“I never, ever thought in 100 years I’d ever be standing here tonight,” Hull said at the unveiling.
Robert Marvin Hull Jr., was born Jan. 3, 1939 in Pointe Anne, Ont., now part of the city of Belleville, and was 12 when he was first scouted by Chicago. He started playing with the team in 1957 at 18.
He was regarded as the fastest skater in the NHL and led the league in scoring seven times in the 1960s. When he left the NHL in 1972 for the WHA, he was second on the all-time scoring list behind only Gordie Howe, and Howe had been in the league for an extra decade.
“It was sort of a dream that came true,” said Joe Daley, Hull’s teammate on the Jets who is from the Winnipeg area. “You always hope that you get a chance to have wonderful teammates, and I got lucky in having him here.
“Certainly, what he brought to Winnipeg and the way he conducted himself with every fan in every city, it was amazing to see.”
Although not large by today’s standards (five-foot-10 and just under 190 pounds), the muscular Hull was not afraid to scrap. In 1966, when he set his first scoring record, he also had 70 penalty minutes in 65 games.
In an era when few players worked out in the off-season, Hull stayed in shape throwing around bales of hay on his farm, which led to a still iconic black and white photo of the shirtless Hull in action, a bale on the end of his pitchfork.
This was always my favourite picture of the great Bobby Hull. <a href=”https://t.co/dzpVhVCbga”>https://t.co/dzpVhVCbga</a>
In 1978, Hull was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 and his No. 9 jersey was retired by Chicago and the old Winnipeg Jets (who moved to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes before the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011 and reclaimed the Jets name).
Son Brett became a star and Hall of Famer in his own right as a star scorer with St. Louis and Dallas and is 25th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Bobby and Brett each won the Hart Trophy as league MVP, becoming the first father-son duo to accomplish the feat. Bobby won in 1964-65 and 1965-1966, while Brett won in 1990-1991.
In a statement released by the St. Louis Blues, for whom he works as an ambassador, Brett said his father gave his family and others “a tremendous amount of great memories.”
“Those of us who were lucky enough to spend time with him will cherish those forever,”Brett said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Bobby Hull will always have a special place in our Blues family. The memories we share with him and Brett are some of the fondest in our team’s history. The entire Blues organization extends our condolences to the Hull family as they mourn the passing of the “Golden Jet.” <a href=”https://t.co/BHyD2AmGtG”>pic.twitter.com/BHyD2AmGtG</a>
Hull renewed ties with the the Jets after their return to Winnipeg.
“I was lucky enough I actually got to meet Bobby Hull. He was an awesome guy to meet,” Jets forward Mark Scheifele said. “Obviously, a moment that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
“He was a guy that revolutionized the game and was one of the stars and made hockey what it is today. So we wouldn’t be where we are without him.”
Scheifele called Hull a Winnipeg “legend.”
“He always will be,” Scheifele said. “He’s something that made hockey what it is in the world, and especially in Winnipeg. Obviously, his legacy will always be there forever.”
Bobby Hull helped Chicago return to the top of the NHL after it was one of the worst teams in the league for years before his debut during the 1957-58 season. He had 13 goals and 34 assists in his first campaign with the team, finishing second in the Calder Trophy race for rookie of the year.
During his prime, there was no more prolific goal-scorer in all of hockey.— NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Bobby Hull
It was a steady rise from there. Hull posted 13 consecutive seasons with 30 goals or more from 1959-72, becoming a perennial fixture at the all-star game and a regular candidate for the league’s top awards.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement called Hull “a true superstar with a gregarious personality.”
“When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves,” Bettman said. “During his prime, there was no more prolific goal-scorer in all of hockey.
WATCH | Hull scores 1,000th goal in Jets’ WHA win in 1978:
“We send our deepest condolences to his son, fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Brett; the entire Hull family; and the countless fans around the hockey world who were fortunate enough to see him play or have since marvelled at his exploits.”
Hull said he loved his years in Chicago and the fans, but the organization didn’t love him as much. He resented what he was paid, as did many in the league at that time, and got into high-profile disputes over money with the Wirtz family that owned the team.
In 1972, he became the linchpin around which the WHA was formed and the first hockey player to earn a million dollars, his signing bonus for joining the new league with the Jets.
Although some resented him for the leap, Mikita once said he got down on his knees and thanked his former teammate and the Jets — his salary doubled almost overnight because of the competition.
But the move cost Hull a chance to play in the 1972 Summit Series when the NHL refused to let him join Team Canada. He made up for it in 1974, when a team of Canadians from the WHA met the Soviet Union in a second Summit Series, and again when he played in the 1976 Canada Cup.
Nicknamed The Golden Jet for his speed and blond hair (even before he joined the Jets), Hull spent eight seasons with the team, the last in the NHL, and helped make them one of the strongest clubs in the WHA. They won three Avco Cups, the league’s ultimate prize, in the seven years it was awarded, and were runners-up twice.
Hull played only part of the final Jets’ final WHA season in 1978-79, and returned only briefly the next season when Winnipeg joined the NHL as the two leagues merged. He moved to the Whalers, who also jumped to the NHL, for nine games that same season.
He was 42 when he made a brief comeback attempt with the New York Rangers in 1981 before finally hanging up his skates.
Hull could be aggressive and controversial off the ice.
An acrimonious divorce from his second wife of 20 years, Joanne, which included numerous allegations of abuse, cost him a stake he owned in the original Jets.
He returned to farming/ranching during the early years of his time away from hockey and then settled in Florida with third wife Deborah.
Hull was convicted of assaulting a police officer who intervened in a dispute with Deborah in 1986. He also was accused of battery, but that charge was dropped after Deborah told authorities she didn’t want to testify against her husband, a state attorney told the Chicago Tribune.
However, the police officer who Hull took a swing at during the investigation did not drop charges and Hull was fined $150 and placed on six months court supervision.
Until Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull was the biggest star of the 60s. A childhood friend idolized the Golden Jet. He approached him for an autograph without pen or paper. Hull pulled out a dollar bill and signed it for him. Off ice issues taint his legacy but an all time great on the ice. <a href=”https://t.co/eOqaTLSMte”>pic.twitter.com/eOqaTLSMte</a>
I’ll just say this: It’ll be very interesting to see how the league and the Blackhawks grapple with Bobby Hull’s legacy in its totality.
He stoked more controversy when in 1998 he told the Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper, the Nazis were not without merit, the Black population of the United States was growing too fast and genetic breeding was a worthy idea.
“Hitler, for example, had some good ideas. He just went a little bit too far,” Hull, who was visiting Russia, was quoted as saying.
Chicago brought him back as a team ambassador in 2008 and he was on hand for its 2010 Stanley Cup win, the club’s first since 1961.
The franchise announced in February 2022 that Hull had retired from any official team role, calling it a joint decision.
“Bobby Hull will always be remembered as one of the greatest Blackhawks players of all time. He was a beloved member of the Blackhawks family,” team owner Rocky Wirtz said in a statement.
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