Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari settle in quickly after blockbuster trade
Traded to the Maple Leafs by St. Louis late the night before, Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari arrived at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Soon thereafter they suited up for Toronto for the first time and did their share in a 5-1 victory over the Canadiens.
O’Reilly went 12-2 in faceoffs and contributed an assist while Acciari fired five shots on net and registered a team-leading five hits.
“I catch myself every few hours,” O’Reilly said afterward. “I can’t believe everything that has gone on. It has just been a whirlwind. I am still kind of shocked I am here.”
In O’Reilly the Maple Leafs picked up the most coveted player available before the NHL trade deadline on March 3. The trade has the potential to be one of the most important in the team’s 105 years.
The 32-year-old centre has won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, a Selke Award and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He is a top defensive player, rarely gets penalized and was the Blues’ captain when they won their first NHL championship in 2019.
He and Acciari could have travelled from St. Louis to Chicago, where Toronto played on Sunday evening, but they chose instead to join their new teammates as quickly as possible.
“It’s kind of like going into cold water,” O’Reilly said. “It is better to just jump in headfirst than to tiptoe into it. It is just better to get here and start playing.”
On Sunday night, in the Leafs’ 5-3 loss to Chicago, Acciari scored his first goal as a Leaf, his 11th of the season, with 2:14 left in the second period.
O’Reilly is from Ontario and his parents and wife are from Toronto. This is his 14th season in the NHL and he has scored 20 goals or more seven times. He has also played in 64 post-season games during which he has 22 goals and 34 assists. He scored eight times and had 15 assists in 26 games during the Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup.
“His pedigree speaks for itself,” general manager Kyle Dubas said Saturday. “His defensive prowess, his playoff performance, what he brings to the centre position, and what he will bring to our team on and off the ice is vital to what we are trying to accomplish.”
Along with O’Reilly, the Maple Leafs acquired a gritty forward in Acciari without giving up anyone from their NHL roster. It cost them two AHL players and one in the WHL along with first-, second-, third- and fourth-round draft picks.
In addition, St. Louis agreed to pay half of O’Reilly’s US$7.5-million contract for this year, and Minnesota, an intermediary in the deal, agreed to pay $US1.875-million.
One thing to note: It is a bit of a gamble because O’Reilly and Acciari will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
Acciari, 31, has played in the NHL for eight years and had a career-best 20 goals in 2019-20 for the Florida Panthers.
Between them Toronto believes they bring the experience and depth necessary to help the team win its first playoff round since 2005 – and possibly more.
“We have been in the top 5 in the standings [in recent years] and when you are there your goal has to be to win the Stanley Cup,” Dubas said. “People will scoff and that’s fine, but we are trying to win. Anything short of that and we will be disappointed.”
“There was excitement in the locker room today with us getting two guys that are going to help our team,” Michael Bunting, who scored twice in the victory over Montreal, said afterward.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was driving home from his son’s hockey practice on Friday night when he heard about the trade.
“I wasn’t expecting a deal in any way,” Keefe said Saturday a few hours before the puck was dropped. “It was exciting. To be honest with you it was tough to sleep. As a coach I thought about all of the different options it presents. I think I am just like all of the players. You are thrilled to be able to make the team better.”
Later, Keefe remarked that they “came as advertised. They are two veteran players, very experienced and accomplished and fit right in right away.”
On Saturday, O’Reilly centred a line on which John Tavares played left wing and Mitch Marner played on the right. O’Reilly nearly scored on his first shot.
“This is exciting for our team and no doubt our fan base,” said Tavares, the Maple Leafs’ captain. “When Kyle [Dubas] and management make a move like that it sends a strong message about their belief in the team and what we want to accomplish.”
Morgan Rielly, the Toronto defenceman, said, “[the trade] is a move that as players we look at and it kind of puts everything into perspective. The organization has belief in the team and where we are trying to go. We got better and that is a great feeling.”
Switzerland win LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023
Defending champions Switzerland beat Norway by 6-3 in Sunday afternoon’s gold medal final at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023.
This was a fourth successive world title for skip Silvana Tirinzoni, fourth player Alina Paetz and second Carole Howald. For Paetz and Howald it is a sixth world women’s championship title.
After blanking the first end, Switzerland’s fourth player Alina Paetz opened the scoring with a single point in the second end when she played a raise take-out.
The Swiss still led by 1-0 in the fourth end when Norway’s fourth player Kristin Skaslien had a complete miss on an attempt to blank the end and gave up a steal of one point to double Switzerland’s lead to 2-0.
In the fifth end, Skaslien made amends with a draw to put two points on the board for Norway, that levelled the score at 2-2.
After another blank end in the sixth, Switzerland took the lead again in the seventh end when Paetz brought her last stone draw inside three Norwegian stones to score one (3-2).
Norway levelled again at 3-3, in the eighth end when Skaslien played a hit to promote one of her own stones into scoring position.
In the ninth end, Switzerland’s Paetz played her final draw precisely onto the button and inside three Norwegian stones, to score one and nudge her team into a 4-3 lead.
In the tenth end, Norway’s Skaslien had a draw to tie the game and force an extra end, but her shot came up short to hand Switzerland a steal of two points and a 6-3 win.
The gold medal winning Swiss team are: skip and third player Silvana Tirinzoni, fourth Alina Paetz, second Carole Howald and lead Briar Schwaller-Huerlimann, supported by their coach Pierre Charette.
The silver medal winning Norwegian team are: skip Marianne Roervik, fourth Kristin Skaslien, second Mille Haslev Nordbye, lead Martine Roenning and alternate Maia Ramsfjell, supported by their coach Rune Steen Hansen.
Gold medal game result
Engage with the World Curling Federation about the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Weibo and be searching the hashtags #WWCC2023 #curling
Despite 17 birdies, Rory McIlroy needs two trips to ‘friendly’ No. 18
Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele were deadlocked in their quarterfinal match Saturday afternoon at Austin Country Club when both players yanked their tee balls at the par-4 finishing hole.
The closest ball had found the left rough, just 74 yards from the hole but with a large tree blocking a straightforward wedge shot.
McIlroy was pretty sure that ball was his.
“I was walking up there expecting it to be a TaylorMade ball and I saw a Callaway on it, and I was as surprised as anyone, because mine was further left than Xander’s off the tee,” McIlroy said. “Look, you need a little bit of fortune in these things, and that was a bit of luck for me today.”
McIlroy’s tee ball had trundle farther down the hill, about 30 yards away. Schauffele, meanwhile, was forced to punch his second shot under and to the left of the tree. He missed the birdie chip, leaving McIlroy, who had pitched to 12 feet, a chance to win a match on No. 18 for the second time in one day.
And McIlroy buried it to advance to the semifinals of the final WGC-Dell Match Play.
“It’s sort of been friendly to me all week,” McIlroy said of the last hole, which he’s now played in 4 under in three trips this week. He eagled after driving the green with a 375-yard shot in Thursday’s group-stage win over Denny McCarthy.
“Yeah, hopefully if I can play a little bit better, I don’t need to play 18 tomorrow. But we shall see.”
McIlroy was certainly joking. His closing birdie against Schauffele marked his 17th of the day. He carded nine of those in a 2-up victory over Lucas Herbert in the Round of 16.
“Both ends of the bag are working pretty well,” McIlroy said, “and the stuff in the middle is not too bad, either.”
McIlroy has seemed to get everyone’s best shot so far, and that figures to continue in his semifinal bout opposite Cameron Young on Sunday morning.
Young played 32 holes in 12 under on Saturday.
Hab posts video showing frustration with punishment for Bruin – CTV News Montreal
Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman took to social media Friday to vent his frustration with a decision by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“So I’ve gotten a two-game suspension for cross-checking a guy in the back of the helmet. A full-blown intentional cross-check to the face? One game. Hmm,” a bloody-chinned Hoffman says in a video shared online.
Hoffman is referring to the one-game suspension given to Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer, who cross-checked Hoffman in the face during the first period of the Bruins-Canadiens game Thursday night.
The incident occurred after the players slashed each other’s sticks leading up to a faceoff.
Greer was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct. Hoffman was able to complete the game sporting a bloodied face and a mask covering the injured area.
In addition to the suspension, Greer will forfeit US$4,121.62 in salary.
The Canadiens lost the game 4-2.
With files from The Canadian Press.
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