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REPORT: Jim Benning and Travis Green out, Bruce Boudreau in as Canucks head coach – Vancouver Is Awesome

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On Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada, Rogers Arena echoed with boos and chants of “Fire Benning.” It was clear that the Canucks could no longer ignore the calls for change from their fanbase.

Less than 24 hours later, the Canucks heeded that call for change.

While the chants on Saturday called for the Canucks to fire general manager Jim Benning, many Canucks fans also want to see a coaching change. Like a rich child at Christmas, Caanucks fans are apparently getting everything they wanted. 

As first reported by Elliotte Friedman, the Canucks have hired Bruce Boudreau as their new head coach. 

According to Darren Dreger, Boudreau will be joined by Scott Walker, who played 15 seasons in the NHL, including parts of four seasons with the Canucks before embarking on a coaching and front office career.

Walker was a development coach with the Canucks for two seasons from 2015-2017, then served as the team’s director of player development for the 2018-19 season.

The report came prior to any notice of now-assumedly-former head coach Travis Green being fired. Green just signed a two-year deal as the Canucks’ head coach in May, but was left dangling by a thread as the team struggled to start the season, with news leaking that the team was actively seeking his replacement.

Green got the Canucks to the playoffs in just one of his four full seasons as head coach, albeit with a team that was rebuilding at the start of his tenure. Green ends his time with the Canucks with a 133-147-34 record.

What was missing from these reports is the status of Benning, the person at whom Canucks fans have aimed most of their ire. Satiar Shah added an interesting tidbit to the mix: Boudreau was not Benning’s hire.

There has been speculation that Benning does not have autonomy to make decisions at this point, which isn’t entirely unsurprising. There have been questions regarding how independent his decisions have been from ownership for quite some time. 

There were reports that the Canucks were granted permission to talk to Claude Julien about the Canucks’ head coaching job. Julien and Benning have a relationship that goes back to their time with the Boston Bruins. It seems likely that Julien was the coach that Benning wanted but was vetoed. If he didn’t even have the authority to hire a coach, how much longer could he last as GM?

Sure enough, as first reported by Irfaan Gaffar and confirmed by Rick Dhaliwal, Benning and his right-hand man, John Weisbrod, are also out, along with assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. One of Stan Smyl or Chris Gear is expected to take over as interim GM as the team seeks a long-term management fix.

The Canucks missed the playoffs in five of seven seasons under Benning and had a 242-257-61 record during his tenure. 

Boudreau, then, is presumably a coach that the Canucks’ ownership agreed on and it’s not hard to understand why. Boudreau is a big name, with 13 seasons of experience as an NHL head coach, most famously with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals but most recently with the Minnesota Wild.

Boudreau is known for being a more offensive-minded, with a willingness to unleash talented forwards to be creative, sometimes at the expense of the team’s defensive structure. Ovechkin thrived under Boudreau en route to a Presidents’ Trophy, although they had minimal playoff success together. With two of the Canucks young stars, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, struggling to score, perhaps the thought is that Boudreau might be able to get more out of them than Green.

Despite his reputation, Boudreau showed that he can coach sound defence with the Minnesota Wild, although their offence, in turn, took a hit. The question, then, is what style will Boudreau bring to the Canucks? 

One interesting aspect is that Boudreau is not an interim coach. Boudreau has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Canucks, same as the outgoing Green. If the Canucks do end up hiring a new general manager at some point in the future, he’ll have to decide whether to retain Boudreau or bring in his own head coach, potentially leading to the Canucks paying three head coaches simultaneously.

Boudreau’s hiring fits neatly into the pattern of the Edmonton Oilers in their final season under Peter Chiarelli as GM. The Oilers fired their head coach at about this same point in the season and hired a veteran, big-name coach in Ken Hitchcock. 

There have been many parallels between Benning’s Canucks and Chiarelli’s Oilers, but the Canucks are likely hoping that the rest of their season isn’t one of them. The Oilers were exactly as bad after Hitchcock’s hiring as they were before.

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Canucks add goalie Spencer Martin, two assistant coaches to COVID protocol – Sportsnet.ca

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VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks are down two more goalies due to COVID-19.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau says Spencer Martin has been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and Arturs Silovs of the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks has tested positive for the virus.

Martin made his debut for Vancouver on Friday, backstopping the Canucks (18-18-4) to a 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, the NHL’s top scoring team.

Star netminder Thatcher Demko and backup Jaroslav Halak are already in protocol, so Michael DiPietro is the lone goalie available to start Sunday when the Canucks host the St. Louis Blues.

Rylan Toth of the University of B.C. Thunderbirds will act as the emergency backup goalie.

Assistant coaches Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson have also been added to the protocol, joining Canucks forwards Bo Horvat, Conor Garland and J.T. Miller.

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Canada's Jacob Panetta suspended by ECHL, cut from team for apparent racist gesture – CBC Sports

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Warning: Content may distress some readers

The ECHL acted swiftly on Sunday, suspending defenceman Jacob Panetta indefinitely pending a hearing, for an apparent racial gesture toward opponent and fellow Canadian Jordan Subban of South Carolina Stingrays during Saturday night’s game.

Jacksonville Icemen later released Panetta, a 26-year-old from Belleville, Ont., who was in his second season with the team.

“To be clear, our core values as an ownership group include … zero tolerance for racism or any other forms of hate against any group,” Icemen chief executive officer Andy Kaufmann said in a statement. “We apologize to anyone who was offended and look forward to beginning the process of healing together as one.”

Video of the incident 23 seconds into overtime in the Florida city shows Panetta appearing to raise his arms toward his side while looking at Subban, also a defenceman and a Toronto native.

According to the Florida-Times Union newspaper in Jacksonville, the game report indicates the officiating crew assessed two game misconduct penalties to Panetta for continuing an altercation and for “inciting,” under ECHL Rule 75.5, which applies to “obscene gestures on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.”

After the game, Subban accused Panetta of making a monkey gesture.

His older brother P.K. Subban, an NHL defenceman with New Jersey Devils, took to Twitter to react to the incident at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

“We all know what’s ok and what’s not,” the elder Subban wrote. “Even your own teammates wanted to see you get your clock cleaned. This happens a lot and it never gets exposed in the lower leagues. One thing that I love about this is Jordan’s teammates standing in there and showing support. Love that.”

Subban, pictured being held back by an official during Saturday’s skirmish, responded to Panetta’s apparent racial gesture on Twitter, saying ‘[Panetta] was too much of a coward to fight me.’ (Submitted by Andrew Fielder/AndrewFielderPhotography.com)

Jordan Subban, also 26, further shared some thoughts on social media.

“More like [Panetta] was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Subban 
wrote on his Twitter account.

‘Suspend that kid for life’

“When is this ever gonna end … suspend that kid for life,” retired NHL player Georges Laraque, an inspirational figure in the effort to rid hockey of racism, wrote on Twitter Sunday before speaking with CBC News Network.

WATCH | Laraque says the ECHL is under pressure to mete out appropriate punishment:

Canadian hockey player cut from team after apparent racist gesture on ice

2 hours ago

Duration 7:19

The ECHL indefinitely suspended Canadian hockey defenceman Jacob Panetta, pending a hearing, for an apparent racist gesture toward fellow Canadian player Jordan Subban. Retired NHL player Georges Laraque shares his reaction and how the incident could affect racialized kids playing the sport. 7:19

Jacksonville currently has no Black players on its active roster after goalie Charles Williams was summoned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League earlier this month.

Last September, American defenceman Jalen Smereck was the target of a racist taunt during a Ukrainian Hockey League game last September when an opponent mimed peeling a banana and eating it. Smereck, who is Black, later reached a “mutual agreement” with HC Donbass to terminate his contract, according to the team.

Smereck also shared his thoughts of Saturday’s occurrence on social media.

On Friday, the AHL barred San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games following a racial gesture toward another player earlier this month.

Earlier in the week, Boston Bruins retired the No. 22 jersey of 86-year-old Fredericton native Willie O’Ree, the first Black player to appear in an NHL game well known for trying to combat racism that still exists in the league.

The ECHL, formerly called the East Coast Hockey League, is a mid-level professional loop comprising 25 American teams and two in Canada — the St. John’s-based Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions in Quebec.

The longest suspension in Icemen history is 16 games, according to the Times-Union. It was handed to Emerson Clark in January 2020 for physical abuse of an on-ice official.

The Icemen said the organization is co-operating with the ECHL’s review of the incident.

“As an organization, our fans, partners, and sponsors know our core values and we intend to make comments and decisions after completion of league review,” the team said in a statement.

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49ers stun Packers with second-half comeback, advance to NFC Championship – Sportsnet.ca

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Robbie Gould continued his playoff perfection and moved the San Francisco 49ers one step away from their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons with a 45-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-10 upset of Green Bay on Saturday night.

On a field littered with snow flurries, Gould’s kick knocked off the top-seeded Packers and possibly ended Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay.

The 49ers (12-7) continued their postseason hex on Rodgers and advanced to an NFC championship game matchup Jan. 30 at either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) or Los Angeles Rams (13-5). Those teams play Sunday in Tampa.

Rodgers dropped to 0-4 in career playoff matchups against the 49ers. San Francisco beat the Packers 37-20 in the NFC championship game two seasons ago before losing 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

The Packers (13-5) earned the NFC’s top seed for a second straight season but again failed to reach the big game as the 49ers rallied by scoring 10 unanswered points in the final five minutes.

San Francisco tied the game with 4:41 left thanks to a breakdown by Green Bay’s special teams, the Packers’ biggest weakness all season.

Jordan Willis’ outstretched left hand blocked a punt by Corey Bojorquez, who was kicking from the front of his end zone. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the ball at the 6-yard line and ran it in to make it 10-10.

After the Packers went three-and-out, the 49ers got the ball back at their 29 with 3:20 left and drove into field-goal range. Deebo Samuel delivered a 9-yard run on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 38, and the 49ers ran down the clock to set up Gould.

A.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession that put the Packers ahead 7-0. Green Bay’s offense didn’t do much of anything after that.

The temperature at kickoff was 14 degrees with a wind chill of zero, making it the fifth-coldest playoff game in Lambeau Field history. The second half was played amid snow flurries.

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