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Ryan Reynolds wants a piece of the Ottawa Senators. The NHL needs to make sure it happens

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For nearly five minutes on Tuesday evening, Brady Tkachuk stood near his locker stall and fielded questions about the Ottawa Senators’ 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Tkachuk wore a grim expression on his face for most of the session, a clear indication that the current six-game losing streak is not sitting well with the captain. Many of Tkachuk’s answers were laced with passion as he spoke about the current state of the team.

He used the word “frustrating” to open and close his first answer.

At one point, he bluntly stated, “Everybody in here hates losing. It’s not fun.”

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But at the very end of the media scrum, Tkachuk’s eyes suddenly brightened with a new line of questioning. His expression changed and the more affable version of Tkachuk — the one we usually deal with — reappeared.

And the question that changed his tone?

Was it a bit of a distraction to have Ryan Reynolds show up on Tuesday night?

“I think it’s great. He’s got interest in the team and I think it would be great for the community,” Tkachuk said. “You can see the fans really enjoyed it too. So to have somebody like him kind of have interest in us, it’s pretty cool to see.”

There are few things that can distract a passionate and angry hockey market and its captain from a six-game losing streak. But an A-list celebrity suddenly being on the radar to buy your NHL franchise is certainly one of them. We’ll have plenty of time to wallow in the misery of defensive breakdowns and questionable roster decisions. Heck, I’ve probably written that column a dozen times in the calendar year 2022.

But in the midst of this abysmal losing streak, we need to take a brief moment and appreciate what is unfolding in front of our eyes.

In the span of a week, Reynolds’ interest in the Senators has gone from a vague single emoji on Twitter to a full-court press. And on Tuesday evening, he dropped into the Canadian Tire Centre, where he was given a massive ovation when he was welcomed in the first TV timeout of the contest.  At ice level, Senators players were banging their sticks against the boards to join the chorus of applause inside the arena.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed some of the movies he’s been in,” said Tkachuk. “So to see him live was pretty cool.”

This surprise appearance in Ottawa came less than 24 hours after Reynolds appeared on The Tonight Show and publicly expressed his interest in owning a portion of the team.

“I am trying to do that,” Reynolds told host Jimmy Fallon. “It’s very expensive. So I need a partner with really deep pockets.”

As we’ve reported for several months in this space, there are multiple parties interested in purchasing the Senators and keeping them in Ottawa. It stands to reason that all of them would connect with Reynolds now, as the actor is clearly putting his cards on the table for everybody to see.

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In usual circumstances, Gary Bettman doesn’t like this type of showmanship from potential owners who are outside of the NHL circle. If we’re following the typical league playbook, it feels like splashy PR campaigns and media appearances drastically reduce an outsider’s chances of joining the NHL’s inner sanctum.

But during a media session on Tuesday night in Winnipeg, Bettman seemed to embrace the fact that Reynolds is publicly showing interest in being part of the Senators franchise.

“Listen, anything that engages the fan base, that brings a lot of attention to the franchise or the team is a plus,” said Bettman. “He’s a very popular and well-respected person.”

Bettman’s response feels like a stark departure from the usual script, where newcomers are kept at arm’s length until a thorough vetting process has concluded. But Reynolds doesn’t fit the mould of a typical prospective NHL owner. He’s not a wealthy hi-tech entrepreneur who is trying to become a household name by owning an NHL franchise.

Instead, Reynolds is already a household name and arguably the brightest star in the Hollywood galaxy.

In this case, it would be the Senators using Reynolds’ stardom to build their brand. Not the other way around.

The NHL sphere — especially at the corporate level — is full of milquetoast personalities who generate little buzz and excitement. The board of governors meetings could certainly use an injection of Reynolds’ star power. Over the past week alone, the Senators and the NHL have ended up with significant mentions in People magazine and The Tonight Show.

Sure, the Senators have enjoyed brief brushes with celebrities before.

There was the time Rihanna inexplicably wore a Sens jersey as a fashion statement.

Matthew Perry briefly sported a Senators shirt in the movie The Whole Nine Yards.

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And of course, Carrie Underwood spent some time in Ottawa when Mike Fisher played for the Senators.

But all of these were fleeting moments.

Reynolds, meanwhile, is looking to own a piece of the Senators and ostensibly become a significant voice for the franchise. As a content producer, Reynolds could probably dream up imaginative ways to market the hockey team to a much wider fan base.

The Senators have always suffered from “little sibling syndrome,” geographically stuck in between the two most storied Original Six franchises in Montreal and Toronto. But bringing Reynolds on board could help alter that power dynamic. It won’t erase the decades of history those franchises have on Ottawa, but it will significantly change the perception of Ottawa as the sleepy, boring government town that fun forgot. Even the most obstinate Canadiens or Maple Leafs fan would concede that Reynolds owning a piece of the Senators would improve Ottawa’s street credit in NHL circles.

Reynolds likely has a vision and a plan for how to make this work, with his ownership stake in the Wrexham soccer club serving as a good template for embracing the underdog mantra.

And the fact that Reynolds wants to buy a piece of the Ottawa Senators because he has a personal connection to the city should not be lost on anybody. He’s made it clear on a number of occasions that spending time in Vanier as a teenager had a profound effect on him. And Tuesday’s surprise cameo in Ottawa makes it feel like Reynolds wouldn’t be an absentee owner in this market.

The Senators’ financial picture has always felt like a house of cards, with financial instability and attendance issues putting them just a notch or two above Arizona in the minds of many hockey fans. Just imagine if a celebrity of Reynolds’ stature suddenly expressed an interest in purchasing a stake in the Coyotes. It would seem unfathomable.

But that’s the gift the Senators have been given this week.

Reynolds doesn’t need the Senators. The Senators need him.

But the most important thing is that Reynolds wants the Senators.

And that should be enough for any prospective ownership group to make sure that Reynolds has a stake — and a voice — in the Senators moving forward.

As his media scrum concluded on Tuesday, Tkachuk was asked if Reynolds came by the Ottawa dressing room after the game.

“No, we didn’t see him,” Tkachuk said. “Maybe down the road potentially we can see him.”

If the NHL is smart, they’ll make sure that’s a reality for Tkachuk and his teammates.

(Photo: Richard A. Whittaker / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Bedard earns attention, rave reviews at CHL – NHL.com

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LANGLEY, British Columbia — Connor Bedard was the center of attention during the 2023 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Langley Events Centre on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old forward with Regina of the Western Hockey League, and projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft, had a bit of a home-ice advantage. He grew up about 30 minutes away in North Vancouver.

“I’ll have a good amount of people there,” Bedard said before the game. “I think some relatives. Obviously, my sister, my parents and some buddies for sure. I should have a decent crowd.”

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Tom Bedard, Connor’s father, was relishing the rare chance to see his son in person; Regina is a 20-hour drive.

“My wife (Melanie) actually is in Regina with Connor, so she gets to go to a few more games,” Tom said. “I get out five or six times a year but it’s difficult. It’s nice to have things close to home.”

It was a good show for family and friends. Bedard had a game-high six shots on goal for Team Red in a 4-2 loss to Team White.

The only people watching Bedard as closely as his family was the opposition.

“Keeping him off the scoreboard, that was kind of a team goal,” Team White goalie Scott Ratzlaff said. “Just making sure he’s always covered, making sure we’ve got eyes on him. It was good.”

There was a fair amount of physical play aimed at Bedard, including Team White defenseman Lukas Dragicevic taking a cross-checking penalty against him 20 seconds into the first period. Bedard also had a game-long, trash-talking conversation with Team White defenseman Oliver Bonk.

The frustration led to Bedard taking a penalty for cross-checking Bonk at 16:30 of the third. Bonk said the back-and-forth wasn’t anything malicious, more about the respect for Bedard’s ability to take over a game.

“He’s the best [2005-born player] in the world right now,” Bonk said. “It was good to get him off the ice for two minutes for our guys.”

Bedard (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) is used to physical play and won’t shy away from it. He was a presence in front of Team White’s goal on most of his shifts and had no problem battling in all areas of the ice.

“It’s hockey,” Bedard said. “It’s competitive and you’re allowed to hit so you’ve always got to expect that. It’s a contact sport and you’re going to get hit and you’re going to give hits. That’s part of it and it was good.”

Despite the physical play, Bedard still displayed his game-breaking ability. With Team Red on the power play in the first period, he wheeled through the high slot and fired a shot on net that Ratzlaff saved. Midway through the second, Ratzlaff had to make a spectacular pad save to stop Bedard at the net on a give-and-go with Zach Benson.

“The goalies played well and obviously it would have been nice to see a few go in, but it didn’t happen,” Bedard said.

Ratzlaff also plays in the WHL, for Seattle. Though it was his first time facing Bedard in a game, he knows exactly what he’s capable of doing.

“He’s just so dynamic, and he’s just good from anywhere,” Ratzlaff said. “You think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to commit because he’s going to shoot,’ and then he makes a pass backdoor right on the guy’s tape. So, I think just being ready for anything because he’s just so good and just patient with the puck so he can really create, turn nothing into something.”

Bedard said his focus now returns to Regina, where he leads the WHL in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81). Since being held off the score sheet in the season opener, he has a point in 32 straight games. He’s No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm ranking of North American players presented by BioSteel and almost a certainty to hear his name called first at the 2023 draft at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28.

“When you look, you can see his similarities with his quickness, offensive smarts, that go up to the Connor McDavid level, but then just the pure substance and overall makeup of his game is reminiscent of Sidney Crosby,” said Dan Marr, vice president of Central Scouting. “He’s right up there with those players that are going to be all stars and win a lot of hardware moving forward.”

Bedard has said the draft is something he’ll worry about down the road. Now that all the attention from the Top Prospects Game has passed, he’s focused on helping Regina reach the WHL playoffs.

“I want to win in Regina,” he said. “We’ve been playing well of late, [won] four of the last five, so we want to keep that going and I’m excited to get back and get to work.”

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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Still affected by carjacking, Mitch Marner speaks out on mental health – Sportsnet.ca

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Quick Reaction: Raptors 113, Kings 95 – Raptors Republic

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S. Barnes38 MIN, 7 PTS, 6 REB, 10 AST, 2 STL, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 22 +/-

Scottie was finding his teammates all night long, one of the stronger defensive performances from Scottie tonight as well, first game without double digit points in quite some time but he impacted the game in other ways.

O. Anunoby31 MIN, 11 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 4-9 FG, 3-6 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 24 +/-

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Solid shooting night for OG who was able to really impact this game defensively by being a menace in the paint, did some great stuff against Sabonis.

P. Siakam35 MIN, 26 PTS, 11 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 11-24 FG, 2-8 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 15 +/-

Great night for. Pascal, defense was very impactful as he mucked up a lot of Sacramento’s acts through Sabonis, he was hitting his teammates all night, cleaned up on the glass, and kept the pressure up late with his scoring.

G. Trent Jr.36 MIN, 16 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 7-15 FG, 2-6 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 13 +/-

Gary’s shot wasn’t all the way there tonight but he still managed to get a couple down, had some good looks in transition.

F. VanVleet38 MIN, 17 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL, 7-16 FG, 2-9 3FG, 1-1 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 20 +/-

Fred didn’t shoot the ball well tonight but he still put up 17, had a game high 4 steals tonight which is a testament to his impact on that end tonight.

P. Achiuwa28 MIN, 19 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 9-12 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 3 +/-

Great night on both ends for Precious, really impactful defensively, had some great finishes as a roll man and see created.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 16 PTS, 6 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 7-11 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 3 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

Great spark off the bench and made his presence felt at the rim on both ends of the floor, great energy tonight.

J. Hernangomez12 MIN, 1 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-2 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-

Didn’t really standout tonight.

Nick Nurse

Great game plan for Sacramento, never let Sabonis get comfortable, great minutes for Precious and Boucher.

Things We Saw

  1. One of, if not the strongest defensive performances from Toronto this season holding this high powered offense to 50 at halftime and 95 for the full game, really encouraging.

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