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NHL Rumors: Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Blue Jackets – The Hockey Writers

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In today’s NHL rumors rundown, we start the column with a non-rumors relation appreciation note to Connor McDavid. From there, Travis Dermott’s name is in the trade rumor mill for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he commented on the chatter. There’s more news on the return of Carey Price and there’s increased talk that Joonas Korpisalo could be on the move out of Columbus.

McDavid Wows the NHL With Goal of the Year

When asked what he was thinking taking on four New York Rangers players and beating them all, including goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, McDavid said, he gets paid to score big goals and he was just doing his job. His teammates called if the best goals they’d ever seen, but no one should be surprised that McDavid downplayed it.

While it isn’t rumors related, it seemed important to draw attention to what an incredible goal Connor McDavid scored on Friday. It’s a video that is already viral and being passed around the league but it’s so incredibly impressive that it earns a nod in our rumors column.

Dermott Talks His Name Being Discussed in Trade Rumors

Travis Dermott was asked by reporters this morning what he thought about his name being in trade rumors. He responded: “I’m in the blue and white right now so that’s where my heart is.”

Travis Dermott Toronto Maple Leafs
Travis Dermott, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s been chatter that the Maple Leafs are currently shopping a defenseman and the two names mentioned most often are Dermott’s and Justin Holl’s. Nick Kypreos reports that the Leafs have made it clear to NHL clubs that both players are available in trade discussions and the expected return is an upper-mid-round draft pick or a more rugged defenseman with less term on his contract.

Related: Maple Leafs Trade is Imminent and Shortsighted

If Dermott is available, it’s likely because his fairly strong play to start the season may have upped his value around the NHL.

In other Leafs’ news, Kristen Shilton is reporting, “Petr Mrazek has tweaked something related to his previous groin injury, hence #Leafs recalling Joseph Woll. Team expects to know more tomorrow about Mrazek’s status moving forward.”

Agent Disputes Report Leafs are Negotiating with Jack Campbell

According to Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun, Campbell’s agent says that reports the Maple Leafs and the goaltender are already engaged in contract discussions are false. Traikos quotes Kurt Overhardt who told Postmedia during a phone interview on Friday:

“Whoever said we’re talking is full of crap. That’s so inaccurate. I can tell you that there’s been no material discussions (with the Leafs). Jack just wants to play hockey. That’s it.”

source – ‘TRAIKOS: Maple Leafs have already waited too long to re-sign Jack Campbell’ – Michael Traikos – Toronto Sun – 11/5/2021

Carey Price Returns Monday

Further to our report yesterday that the Canadiens expect to get goaltender Carey Price back soon, details of his return surfaced Friday that he’ll be back with the team this Monday. Head coach Dominique Ducharme revealed that Price will meet with athletic therapists and develop a plan moving forward.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ducharme added, “He’s coming off a surgery, so we’ve got to see where he’s at with that. And then from there I think it’s gym, then on the ice by himself, then with the goalie coach, with shooters, with the team.” Price may have a conditioning stint with the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket before returning to action with the Canadiens. He did something similar last season when he joined the Rocket after recovering from a concussion.

Korpisalo Trade Chatter Increases

As per Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, that talk out of Columbus that goalie Joonas Korpisalo could be on the move has increased. There were whispers around the NHL claiming GM Jarmo Kekalainen was taking calls on the netminder and now it seems he is officially available.

Joonas Korpisalo Columbus Blue Jackets
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Portzline writes:

We poked around with three NHL front-office types. Arizona, Buffalo and Montreal were seen as the most likely destinations for Korpisalo, who has one year remaining on his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The best the Blue Jackets could do last summer was a mid-to-late round draft pick or a lukewarm prospect, so they waited for a better market to emerge. With Korpisalo headed to UFA status, they may not get much more.

source – ‘Blue Jackets Sunday Gathering: A chat with Gary Bettman, and Joonas Korpisalo trade chatter intensifies’ – Aaron Portzline – The Athletic – 10/31/-2021

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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”

Other content contributions include: NHLtradetalk.com, The Sportster and hosting weekly video casts, THW News and Rumors Rundown, plus Oilers Overtime.

For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.

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Tennis-Canada’s Andreescu to sit out Australian Open

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Canada‘s Bianca Andreescu will not play in the Australian Open next month following a challenging spell brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, the former U.S. Open champion said on Monday.

Andreescu, 21, said time isolating in quarantined hotels took a toll on her mentally and physically and that she did not feel like herself while training and playing matches.

“I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders,” Andreescu, who also said her grandmother spent weeks in ICU due to a COVID-19 infection, wrote on Twitter.

“I could not detach myself from everything that was going on off the court; was feeling the collective sadness and turmoil around and it took it’s toll on me.”

Andreescu became Canada‘s first Grand Slam singles champion with her 2019 U.S. Open triumph, when she beat Serena Williams in the final, but endured a run of injuries starting with a knee problem at that year’s WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

The hard-hitting Canadian withdrew from this year’s Tokyo Olympics, a decision she put down to all the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andreescu, who last competed on the WTA Tour in October at Indian Wells where her title defence ended in the third round against Anett Kontaveit, did not say when she would return.

“I want to give myself extra time to re-set, recover, and grow from this … and continue to inspire by doing charity work, giving back and working on myself because I know by doing this I will come back stronger than ever,” said Andreescu.

“I will therefore not start my season in Australia this year but will take some additional time to reflect, train and be ready for the upcoming 2022 tennis season.”

The Australian Open is set to begin on Jan. 17.

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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China’s winter sports industry hopes Olympic Games yield white gold

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China’s snow sports industry is pinning its hopes on people like Shi Haoping, 32, who takes to the slopes to de-stress from his job as head of an online education company.

“This is such a physical activity, it relieves the pressure for me,” Shi said while taking a break from snowboarding at Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Zhangjiakou, not far from where several Winter Olympics events will be held in February.

(To see a picture package of China’s ski resorts, please open https://reut.rs/3os2F87 in a web browser.)

Shi was seated with his wife, Ding Yaohui, who works for a video production company, and their Shiba Inu dog, who had made the three-hour drive with them from Beijing. Music from an X Games snowboarding event thumped in the background.

“First we learned skiing,” Shi said. “Then last year we took up snowboarding, because it looks more trendy and cool.”

China hopes hosting the Games will springboard the country towards becoming a winter sports destination and will help deliver on a target set by President Xi Jinping to get 300 million Chinese involved in winter sports, with an aim to build a 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion) industry.

The stakes are high, and not just for China, as the global snow sports industry looks to rising incomes in the world’s most populous nation to offset what industry data shows to be stagnating participation in traditional ski markets.

China wants to build a thriving winter sports ecosystem, from success on the slopes – some of its best Olympic medal hopes are in the freestyle ski and snowboard events – to world-class resorts and the manufacture of equipment to service them.

The country has more than 700 ski areas but the industry is highly fragmented and most are tiny. Only about 20 would be considered destination resorts, including Thaiwoo and the nearby Genting Resort Secret Garden, which will host the Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions.

With snowfall scarce in many parts of China, including the winter sports hub of Zhangjiakou, the necessity of water for snowmaking https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/making-snow-stick-wind-challenges-winter-games-slope-makers-2021-11-29 limits intensive resort development.

Industry insiders say the longer-term challenge is to ensure the full experience is enjoyable – from the renting of gear to the quality and standards of teaching, and the après-ski social activities – so more beginners want to spend the time and money to become regulars.

Justin Downes, president of Axis Leisure and an adviser to the Games organisers, said the Chinese ski industry is unrecognisable from when he arrived in 2007.

Even so, he added, it takes years to build a ski culture and the infrastructure around Chinese ski areas, many in farming and mining areas, has yet to be developed.

“If you go to a ski resort in Switzerland or in Canada, you’re walking into a community of people that have been there for generations,” the Canadian said.

BIG BUSINESS?

Skiing and the Games are transforming parts of Zhangjiakou’s once-impoverished Chongli district. Chongli was connected two years ago with Beijing by a high-speed train that takes less than an hour.

Before COVID-19 jolted the industry, skier visits in China doubled from 10.3 million in 2014, the year before Beijing was awarded the Games, to a peak of 20.9 million in 2019.

On a five-year average, China ranks eighth globally in skier visits, according to the 2021 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism by industry expert Laurent Vanat, with the United States, Austria and France making up the top three.

China’s government is all in. Last month, a ministry said it was “urgent” to promote production standards for equipment such as snow makers, snow grooming machines and all-terrain snow vehicles, an industry dominated by European and American manufacturers.

Chinese private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, whose founder Zhang Lei is an avid snowboarder, owns half of the Chinese business of Vermont-based Burton Snowboards, the industry pioneer.

Three years ago, Chinese athletic wear giant Anta Sports, a sponsor of the Beijing Games, led a group that paid 4.6 billion euros for Finland’s Amer Sports, whose portfolio includes venerable European ski equipment brands Atomic and Salomon, as well as high-end Canadian outerwear brand Arc’teryx.

‘I HAVE MONEY’

On a recent early season day at Thaiwoo, which has a Western-style resort village with a brewpub and shops for global brands such as Bogner and Patagonia as well as Chinese snowboard maker Nobaday, the crowd was well-attired.

Unlike in the United States and Europe, where skiers are predominant, China’s snow sports market skews towards boarders like Anthony Zhang, 31, who works in finance and was decked out in 15,000 yuan worth of gear including a baby-blue snowsuit and pink snowboard for his first time on genuine slopes.

“It’s very expensive. It’s not just equipment – it’s a big expense to hire a trainer. I take classes in an indoor simulator in Beijing, and each class costs several hundred yuan,” he said.

The expense is not a deterrent, however.

“I have money,” Zhang said, laughing.

$1 = 6.37 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 

(Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by Karishma Singh and Gerry Doyle)

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Jets’ Pionk suspended two games for kneeing Maple Leafs’ Sandin – Sportsnet.ca

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Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk has been suspended two games for kneeing Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin.

The NHL’s department of player safety made the announcement after having a hearing with Pionk on Monday.

The incident occurred with 14:15 remaining in the third period Sunday when Winnipeg hosted Toronto. As Sandin received a pass in the Jets’ zone and proceeded to take a shot on net, Pionk attempted to line up a body check, but misjudged Sandin’s position, causing him to extend his leg and create knee-on-knee contact with the Maple Leafs defenceman.

“We acknowledge Pionk’s argument that this is an attempted full-body check, but this play cannot be classified as merely a collision between two players, where one or both move reflexively or defensively at the last moment to avoid contact,” said the department of player safety in a video explaining the punishment.

“If he wants to deliver this hit, the onus is on Pionk to take an angle of approach that ensures he’s in good position to make a legal, full-body check. Instead, having taken an angle which has him lined up outside of Sandin’s path, Pionk turns his right leg and extends his knee, jutting it forward to avoid missing the check entirely. This results in forceful, dangerous and direct knee-on-knee contact.”

Watch the full video breakdown here:

Sandin was helped off the ice and appeared as though he could not put weight on his right leg after the play. Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said he had no update on Sandin’s condition on Sunday night.

Pionk, who has never been suspended or fined before this event, will forfeit $58,750 in salary.

Just two minutes after the incident, Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza retaliated with a knee of his own — targetting Pionk and catching him near the head as he slid on the ice to make a play.

Spezza is at risk of also receiving a suspension and will have a hearing with the department of player safety via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon.

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