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No regrets two years after trade, but Raptors sure miss Valanciunas – TSN

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TORONTO – Jonas Valanciunas isn’t likely to forget February 7, 2019 – the day he found out he had been traded.

It was late afternoon in Atlanta and moments before the NBA’s trade deadline buzzer would have allowed him to breath a sigh of relief and shift his focus back to that evening’s game against the Hawks – what would’ve been his return from a thumb injury that had cost him the previous two months.

That sigh of relief never came. Instead, he received the news. After spending his first six and a half seasons with the Raptors, he had been dealt to Memphis – along with Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a second-round pick – for veteran centre Marc Gasol.

“That was my first trade, I had never been traded [before],” Valanciunas said ahead of Monday’s reunion with his former team – a 128-113 comeback win for Toronto. “At the time, I was kind of shocked because you don’t know what you’re going through and it’s kind of a new thing for you. But I adapted, I’m feeling good.”

“I just remember sitting down with him for a little bit,” said Nick Nurse. “Just talking about [how] this kinda stuff happens in the league, stay positive, and I’m sure it’ll be a good home for him. And it’s turned out to be a good home for him.”

Two years and one day later, both sides have moved on.

Valanciunas signed a lucrative contract with the Grizzlies a few months after the trade and has helped accelerate his new team’s rebuild, fitting in well with its young core.

Of course, the Raptors went on to win the title that season and that probably wouldn’t have happen without Gasol, who’s defence and veteran savvy proved crucial along the way, particularly in neutralizing Joel Embiid during that memorable seven-game, second-round series against Philadelphia.

Even without an active player left to show for that deal – with Valanciunas in Memphis and Gasol leaving for the Lakers over the off-season – the championship banner hanging at Scotiabank Arena is all the closure the Raptors need. Based on the way things turned out, it’s hard to imagine they’ve got any regrets.

Still, it was hard to watch Monday’s contest – or the first half of it, anyway – without thinking; that big Lithuanian would look pretty good wearing his old No. 17 for Toronto again.

Before fans get any ideas, there’s no reason to think that Valanciunas is on the market. He’s got one year left on his deal and, to reiterate, the Grizzlies seem happy with what he’s brought since arriving in Memphis. But with the Raptors stumbling through an 11-13 start to the 2020-21 season and in desperate need of some consistent production from a traditional centre following the departures of Gasol and Serge Ibaka, it’s clear they could use somebody like Valanciunas.

Facing his old club for the second time, JV made sure to remind them of their glaring need at the five. The 28-year-old was as dominant as ever. He and Australian big man Aron Baynes have had some hard-fought battles over the years – internationally and in the NBA – but Baynes didn’t have a chance this time around. The Raptors didn’t seem to have an answer for Valanciunas.

JV had a first half double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds. To put that into perspective, Baynes didn’t grab his first defensive board of the game until early in the third quarter. Dating back to Saturday’s loss to Atlanta, Baynes – Toronto’s 6-foot-10 starting centre – went 27 straight minutes without grabbing a single rebound.

Late in the first half, Valanciunas simply out muscled three Raptors players – Baynes, Stanley Johnson and Fred VanVleet – on the offensive glass and managed to get a shot off while being held down and fouled by Baynes. With three minutes left in the third quarter, he caught the ball just outside of the key and used his size and strength advantage to overpower Chris Boucher and get to the rim.

As it turned out, that would end up being a crucial point in the game. Moments later, Nurse was ejected after picking up his second technical foul of the night for arguing with the officials. His team had already given up 92 points and was down by seven. From there, they outscored Memphis 43-19.

Playing without the injured OG Anunoby, who missed his sixth straight game with a calf injury, and after losing Kyle Lowry to back spasms in the first quarter, VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell combined to score 93 points on 29-of-49 shooting and 15-for-24 from three-point range.

Whatever sparked them – whether it was Nurse getting tossed, VanVleet’s impassioned speech during a huddle, or maybe they just got tired of watching Valanciunas bully them in the paint and flipped the switch – it worked. Boucher played the final 17 minutes and mostly held his own in a tough matchup with JV, though Toronto sent multiple defenders at the Grizzles centre when he caught the ball in the post and attacked him in the pick and roll on offence – a formula opposing teams used to use to neutralize Valanciunas when he was with the Raps.

In that regard, Monday’s game also served as a reminder of why Dwane Casey would often close games with Valanciunas on the bench, or why Nurse opted to platoon him with Ibaka. For all of his strengths offensively, there are still ways of exploiting his physical limitations on defence, especially late in games or when teams play small.

He’s not a perfect modern big, though he has worked hard to adapt his game over the years, but he makes up for that by excelling at the things he does well; rebounding, scoring efficiently around the bucket and getting to the free throw line – all things that the Raptors badly need from the centre position.

Baynes appeared to be turning the corner a bit after his rough start to the season, but there’s no way to sugar coat it – he’s been a major disappointment, even based on the relatively modest expectations the team had when they signed him to help fill the void at the five. Alex Len, the other traditional big man that they added, was waived after a forgettable nine-game stint with the team.

Outside of Boucher, who’s had a strong start to the campaign and gives them a different look, the Raptors are still searching for answers at the position. More and more, it’s looking like that answer isn’t currently on the roster.​

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Canadiens GM says Carey Price had no input in decision to fire coach – Montreal Gazette

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Marc Bergevin says he did consult with head coach Dominique Ducharme, but final decision to fire goalie coach Stéphane Waite was his alone.

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Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says Carey Price had no input in his decision to fire goalie coach Stéphane Waite and that he didn’t ask the goalie for his opinion.

“The day that I work like that, I’m not the right guy for the job,” Bergevin said during a video conference Wednesday to explain his decision to fire Waite after the second period of Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, in which Price made 26 saves for his first win in his last four games.

Price now has a 6-4-3 record with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

Bergevin said he did consult with Dominique Ducharme about firing Waite, but added the new interim head coach didn’t ask for a new goalie coach. Bergevin said the decision was his and that Ducharme supported him.

As for Price, Bergevin said the goalie didn’t learn Waite had been fired until after he had done a video conference with reporters following Tuesday’s game. The Canadiens announced Waite’s firing an hour after the game ended.

“It’s surprising, obviously,” Price said Wednesday when asked about his goalie coach for the last eight years getting fired. “It’s an unfortunate part of the business.”

When asked what went wrong as far as working with Waite, Price said: “It’s an evolution of maybe small things that have led up to this point.”

When asked if he could pinpoint those small things and whether they were technical or mental aspects, Price said: “Both.”

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Price is a man of very few words and that was the case again Wednesday. When it was mentioned to Price that his answers in interviews can give some people the perception he doesn’t care enough about what he’s doing, Price said: “It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

Waite’s firing comes a week after head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were both fired.

“It’s just about moving forward,” Price said about all the coaching changes. “I’m grateful for the time that I spent with Steph. He’s been a hard-working, dedicated goalie coach and I really appreciate all that work that he’s done with us and right now it’s a quick turnaround. We don’t have a lot of time to dwell on things. So it’s all about regrouping and getting the work done and start bonding quickly.”

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Now it will be Sean Burke’s job to get Price back on track as the Canadiens’ new “director of goaltending.” But first Burke will have to observe a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine after arriving in Montreal from his home in Arizona. In the meantime, Price will work with Marco Marciano, the goalie coach for the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

“He’s a very enthusiastic guy,” Price said after working with Marciano at practice Wednesday. “He brings a lot of energy and it’s going to be fun.”

Not surprisingly, Bergevin said Waite took his firing hard, adding his work as a goalie coach is his passion.

“It wasn’t easy for him, not at all,” Bergevin said.

Price said he spoke with Waite Tuesday night after the firing was announced.

“Obviously, we’re thankful for our time spent together and I’m very grateful for his hard work,” Price said.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Stéphane Waite talks with Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price during a workout at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on July 21, 2020.

    Stu Cowan: Survivor 2021 — Canadiens edition

  2. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says he still believes Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the NHL despite having a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

    Canadiens Notebook: GM went with ‘gut feeling’ to fire Stéphane Waite

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Which Countries are Experiencing a Boom to Their Gaming Industries?

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Which countries around the globe are becoming popular destinations for gaming? They might not be quite where you think! Find out more here!

When we speak of the countries that are leading the way in game development, you will often see the same names coming up over and over. For example, Japan and the US are market leaders in game development and that is unlikely to change any time soon. However, we are also seeing some other countries experience a boom that could make the industry a more level playing field overall.

Spain

 

The Spanish gaming sector is rapidly increasing. In cities like Valencia, many companies are beginning to open shop and develop new and innovative titles for their audiences. This is proving to be a popular destination for new start ups for several reasons.

Spain has a much lower cost of living than other countries, even in some of the bigger cities like Madrid. This means that people are able to operate businesses here and enjoy a good quality of living all at the same time. Even the more expensive cities such as Barcelona can still be fantastic choices for the right people.

Start ups can choose to target English or Spanish-speaking European markets, but there is also the potential to appeal to the markets in Latin America. With new opportunities constantly emerging in the Spanish markets, this is a great place to watch the gaming industry grow.

Finland

Finland is another country that has proved that it has a fantastic market for gaming that is only going to be set to grow. The capital of Helsinki is bustling with start ups and plenty of opportunities are arising for people who want to make a living in this sector.

Gaming has been a long-standing tradition in Finland for years so it is unsurprising that they have seen a move towards the mobile market flourish. Though there have been many changes to the models of paid mobile gaming over the years – first with a one-payment download and then with the rise of the free-to-play model – the Finns have managed to stay with the trends while innovating and pushing even further.

In particular, the Finnish iGaming industry is booming and is only set to increase. Anyone who wants a clear picture of what the Finns are able to put out in terms of gaming expertise need only turn to the iGaming industry to see their power.

Singapore

The Asian gaming market is massive. Though big countries like China, Japan, and South Korea dominate the market, there is a lot of interest in some of the other smaller markets, such as that surrounding the city-state of Singapore.

eSports are huge across Asia and there is a lot of development being put forward to help establish teams and game developers across various countries. This is certainly true in Singapore where a lot of money has already been invested. The aim here is to set up not just credible game developers that can trade on an international level, but also several high-ranking eSports teams that can play in many of the big tournaments around the world.

These tournaments include ones within individual sports, such as the various Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournaments that take place, but also tournaments that would allow competitors to represent Singapore itself in competition. For example, the Southeast Asian Games added eSports to the sports included in the Southeast Asian Games. There have also been several discussions as to whether or not eSports should be added to the Olympics. With so many opportunities to compete arising, it is unsurprising that we are seeing investment pouring into places like Singapore in response.

A Global World of Gaming

It is clear that you no longer have to be based in one of the top countries for gaming in the world to be able to have any degree of success in creating games. There are so many opportunities for game developers all over. With high-speed internet and cloud solutions offering connectivity like never before, we are able to come together and work on games even if we were situated in remote destinations all over the world.

This high level of ease of interaction is likely to lead to some amazing opportunities for gaming in the future. If you are searching for some of the biggest and most exciting launches in the future, you are just as likely to find them emerging from a small developer as you are from one of the major players.

The world of gaming is definitely shifting, and it makes it an incredibly exciting place to keep up with. If you are interested in the gaming markets, make sure you check out what is happening in some of the smaller players as well as the big ones. We can never tell where the next internet-breaking game is going to come from!

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Stu Cowan: Survivor 2021 — Canadiens edition – Montreal Gazette

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Goalie coach Stéphane Waite is the latest contestant to get voted off Habs Island by GM Marc Bergevin and the timing was very puzzling.

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Welcome to the Habs Survivor reality-TV show.

Maybe the Canadiens can come out with a board version of the game, so fans can play while stuck at home during the COVID-19 curfew and try to predict who will get voted off Habs Island next.

My money would be on Luke Richardson, the only coach who hasn’t been fired during the last week. Or maybe the Zamboni driver at the Bell Centre.

You know it won’t be Carey Price being told to give back his torch. The goalie has basically become bigger than the team with his massive eight-year, US$84-million contract that has five more seasons left after this one and includes a full no-movement clause. The goalie has immunity on Habs Island unless he decides he wants to leave.

Goalie coach Stéphane Waite didn’t have immunity and became the latest person to be voted off Habs Island by GM Marc Bergevin. The decision came one week after head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were both told to pack their things and leave.

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The bizarre timing of Waite’s firing made for some very interesting reality-TV speculation. Bergevin decided to fire Waite after the second period of the Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Maybe Bergevin didn’t like the goal Price gave up late in the second period, which he probably should have stopped.

Waite, who had been with the Canadiens for eight years, was told to pack his stuff and leave the Bell Centre during the third period. The Canadiens didn’t announce the news until an hour after the game ended and the post-game video conferences, which included Price and new head coach Dominique Ducharme, were over.

What should have been a good-news day for the Canadiens on Wednesday — with the focus on Ducharme getting his first NHL win as a head coach, the team playing better defence and Price making 26 saves after working one-on-one with Waite for a few days to find his game — suddenly became all about the goalie coach and what the heck happened.

“Just to be clear, nothing happened,” Bergevin said when he held a video conference Wednesday morning. “There was no fight, argument, none of that. I think they had a good relationship. I made the decision for the organization, for the team, for the players. That’s my job and I take full responsibility to making that change today.”

Price has struggled this season with a 6-4-3 record, a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage. Jake Allen, who is 4-2-2 with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SP, deserved to start Tuesday, but Ducharme decided to go with the $84-Million Man and Price played well. If Price had let in five goals in the first two periods, the timing for the firing of Waite might have made sense.

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The other thing that makes the timing strange is that Sean Burke, who has been named the new director of goaltending, lives in Arizona and will have to go through a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine before he can even start working on the ice with Price. In the meantime, Laval Rocket goalie coach Marco Marciano will work with Price and Allen.

If Price had played better this season, Julien, Muller and Waite might still all be on Habs Island, but Bergevin bristled when that suggestion was made.

“No, please don’t go there at all,” the GM said. “I’m not here to protect Carey, but I’m not here to blame him, either. … You win as a team, you lose as a team. So please don’t go there at all.”

Bergevin was also asked if Price should assume more accountability for his performance.

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“Where do you see there’s no accountability here?” Bergevin asked, obviously not appreciating the question. “He has accountability. Every player, if it’s Carey, if it’s Ben Chiarot, Shea Weber, Phil Danault, Brendan Gallagher, they’re all responsible for their performance. That’s on them. Every one of them. My job is to provide them the best tools I can for them to have success. But … it’s on the players to perform and if they don’t perform then that’s where I come in and try to help.

“I had a talk with Carey recently and he knows that he’s not on top … he knows,” Bergevin added. “It might not come across when he talks to you guys that he cares, but he knows. He knows that his game is not where it should be. He knows more than anybody else, even me. So that’s not an issue.”

Now that there’s one less scapegoat, Price’s play will become a bigger issue for the Canadiens.

Outwit, outplay, outlast is the motto for the Survivor TV series. Bergevin has been able to last nine seasons as GM of the Canadiens.

If they miss the playoffs this year, you have to think Geoff Molson will be the one voting Bergevin off Habs Island.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. “It’s surprising, obviously,

    Canadiens GM says Carey Price had no input in decision to fire coach

  2. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin says he still believes Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the NHL despite having a 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

    Canadiens Notebook: GM went with ‘gut feeling’ to fire Stéphane Waite

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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