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Relentless Burrows still chasing Cup dreams as assistant with Canadiens –



VANCOUVER – You could not shake Alex Burrows. Playing in the National Hockey League with the tenacity and hunger of someone who never forgot his meagre start as a professional, Burrows was as relentless as he was annoying to opponents.

He was like sand in your bathing suit. Every game.

Even teammates couldn’t get rid of Burrows. The Vancouver Canucks would go into power-play meetings — the skill guys, the stars — and who was that at the back of room? Burrows, uninvited.

The former ball hockey player was about to quit the East Coast League and go back to school in Montreal when the Manitoba Moose, with a couple of extra roster spots due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, called him up to the American Hockey League. Burrows was the power-play crasher.

“What else was I going to do?” he explained Tuesday to reporters. “I might as well try to learn more, see what our power play was going to try to do. If I was the next man up, I wanted to make sure that I knew what … my role was going to be, what I should be looking for. So that’s why I would go in there and sit in these meetings. I just liked it. Instead of eating bagels in the lounge, I would rather be in there making sure that if my name was going to get called upon to be the next guy up, I was going be ready for it.”

Burrows usually had bagels on the ice, scoring just 10 times in his first season-and-a-half in the NHL.

“If someone wants to learn something, that was always good for us,” Henrik Sedin, the retired Canucks star, told Sportsnet when asked about his ex-linemate crashing assistant coach Newell Brown’s power-play meetings. “You could tell from Day 1, this is not a guy that’s going to be here two games and then get sent down and you’ll never see him again, which is the case sometimes when you see new guys coming up. He was also a guy that you could tell was going to get a chance on the power play because he was so smart.”

As he graduated from agitator to scorer, Burrows became that power-play guy. He still is.

Burrows returned to Vancouver this week as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, who promoted him from their farm team staff in Laval when general manager Marc Bergevin fired head coach Claude Julien and top assistant Kirk Muller two weeks ago.

Dominique Ducharme is the interim head coach. Far better known for his penalty killing, Burrows is responsible for coaching the Montreal power play that has led the NHL since Feb. 24 with a 45.5 per cent success rate, going 5-for-11.

The power play produced Montreal’s goal in Monday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Canucks. The rematch is Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

“Manny Malhotra is a power-play coach too in Toronto, right?” Sedin said, referring to another ex-Canuck renowned for his checking. “Burr has seen it from the other side. He’s been a PK guy, so he knows what the PK is going to do. And he played power play for many years, too. I don’t think it’s a big deal, as long as you know the game of hockey and you can pick up on little things.”

Burrows, 39, certainly knows the game, having climbed from obscurity to immortality in hockey, starting with a tryout in the East Coast League and ending with his name and image added to the Canucks’ “Ring of Honour” 15 months ago.

Burrows returned to Rogers Arena two months later as red-carpet guest for Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s jerseys retirement ceremony.

“The boys reminded me in the morning skate that my name was up there, and they were giving me their chirps, and ‘How did you get up there?” Burrows said of the Canadiens’ skate Monday. “I heard it all yesterday from the players. They were joking with it, but it was fine with me.

“Normally with my family, we come back to (Vancouver) every summer and spend a couple of weeks here and see some friends. But this summer with COVID, we couldn’t come back. So yesterday was the first time back in the building since the twins’ night. Obviously, it was special. Vancouver is always going to have a special place for me. So many good memories in this city, in this building.”

Burrows played 822 for the Canucks over 13 seasons, scoring 193 goals and 384 points, and making it within one game of winning the 2011 Stanley Cup.

After an unlikely and prolonged journey to the NHL as a player, his return as a coach has been almost meteoric. Burrows landed his first coaching job with Laval immediately after retiring as an Ottawa Senator in 2018. Just 2½ years later, here he is.

“The way he sees the game and is able to relate to all these guys in the minors because he has done that journey himself, I thought it was a great fit for that team,” Sedin said. “I think he’s going to do a great job with Montreal. He’s going to be a coach for a very long time, for sure.”

“I don’t know if it makes me a better coach or not,” Burrows said of his initial struggle to build a career. “I’ve pretty much seen it all, played it all. Obviously, there’s only one thing missing. If I can do it as a coach, I’ll be extremely happy. I’m still chasing that dream.

“I was shocked when I got the news that night that Marc called me and announced to me that there was a car service that was going to pick me up the next morning and I was going to join the (Canadiens) in Ottawa. Obviously, I was really shocked. I didn’t expect the call. But at the same time, I was really excited, really thrilled to get a chance to get back in the NHL with my childhood team and chase that Lord Stanley again.”

Burrows is relentless.

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona



Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.


(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19



(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Nick Foligno hopes to make Leafs debut Thursday vs. Jets



Former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is eyeing Thursday as his potential debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he said on an podcast.

The Maple Leafs acquired the left wing on April 11 in a three-team trade with Columbus and the San Jose Sharks, with each team retaining a portion of Foligno’s salary so he can join the North Division leaders for their Stanley Cup pursuit. Toronto visits the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Because he moved from the U.S. to Canada, Foligno was required to quarantine for seven days before joining his new team for practices and games, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

“Seven days of just nothing, and then you jump right into it, it would be nice to probably have a practice, but I rather just that — let’s go,” Foligno said on “The Chirp with Darren Millard.” “I’m here to play for them and get this thing rolling, so I probably prefer just to jump right into it and get going.”

If the Leafs put Foligno in their lineup Thursday at Winnipeg, he’ll get to play against his former Columbus teammate, Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Foligno played eight-plus seasons for the Blue Jackets and his first five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators. In 950 career games, he has tallied 203 goals and 279 assists.

The Maple Leafs sent their 2021 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-rounder to Columbus and their 2021 fourth-rounder to San Jose in order to add Foligno to their stacked group of forwards, which includes NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner.


Foligno’s father, Mike Foligno, was an NHL veteran who played parts of four seasons for the Leafs


(Field Level Media)

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