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Stu Cowan: GM Marc Bergevin remains bullish on Canadiens' fortunes – Montreal Gazette

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“We have to make the playoffs … I feel we have a team to make the playoffs. And then once we get in, I feel that anything’s possible.”

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If the NHL playoffs had started on Tuesday, the Canadiens would have been playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

How cool would that be? The two Original Six rivals haven’t faced each other in the playoffs since 1979 when the Canadiens swept the Leafs in the quarter-finals en route to winning their fourth straight Stanley Cup.

But there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played after the Canadiens hit the midway point of this condensed 56-game NHL season in fourth place in the North Division with 13-8-7 record. The Leafs are in first place with a 19-9-2 record, but are 1-5 in their last six games.

The fight for playoff spots will probably go down to the final weekend of the season.

During a video conference Tuesday afternoon, I asked Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin if the playoffs were to start now, what his biggest concern would be about his team and what he likes most about his team.

“It’s hard to answer that question,” he said. “What do I like? … What I don’t like? I can’t really answer that. It’s a progress. I’d like to be healthy, so obviously I’d like to have Ben (Chiarot) back. That would be a big plus for us. I think our special teams overall have improved. Even though we don’t score all the time on our power play, I find we’re more engaged, we have some looks, we control the puck more. I see some good things. I think our goalies are on top of their games now and I’d like to see what (head coach Dominique Ducharme’s) going to do with our team for the second half of the season.”

The Canadiens announced Monday that Chiarot would be out for 6-8 weeks following surgery on the right hand he fractured during a fight with the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller. On Tuesday, Bergevin said it’s probably going to be closer to six weeks, meaning Chiarot could return before the end of the regular season, which wraps up on May 8 when the Canadiens play the second of back-to-back games against the Leafs in Toronto.

The second half of the season for the Canadiens starts Wednesday against the Jets in Winnipeg (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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The Canadiens have a 4-3-3 record in the 10 games since Ducharme took over from Claude Julien. Bergevin said he has had a few conversations “here and there” with players about the new coach and that they like Ducharme’s different approach.

“It’s tricky because I don’t want to say something that it comes across that Claude didn’t do,” Bergevin said. “Sometimes the message … coaches talk to the players every day. So it’s a piece of the business in sports, sometimes the message gets stale. It doesn’t mean it’s a completely different message. But now what the guys like with Dom is the message is different, the approach is different.”

Another big difference is that Carey Price has found his game after a poor start to the season that cost goaltending coach Stéphane Waite his job. Price made 34 saves Monday as the Canadiens beat the Jets 4-2. In his last six starts, Price has a 4-1-1 record while allowing only nine goals, improving his season record to 9-5-4 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. Backup goalie Jake Allen has been solid all season with a 4-3-3 record, a 2.28 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

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Bergevin had high expectations for his team coming into this season after acquiring forwards Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson, defenceman Joel Edmundson and Allen, spending right up to the US$81.5-million NHL salary cap. Those players have all produced. Toffoli leads the Canadiens with 17 goals and Anderson has 11, while Edmundson has the best plus/minus differential in the NHL at plus-26.

Bergevin said his expectations have not changed since the start of the season despite what has been a bumpy road in the first half after a fantastic 7-1-2 start.

“It’s a tough league,” the GM said. “Every night it’s a battle and I expect the same down the road. We have to make the playoffs … I feel we have a team to make the playoffs. And then once we get in, I feel that anything’s possible. It’s hard … I call it a one-goal league. Every night it’s a one-goal league. Last night it’s a one-goal game really, it’s an empty-net (goal to make it 4-2). So every night that’s what it is.

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“Pricer, Jake, top of their game we’re pretty good in net,” Bergevin added. “We’re up there with the best in the league and I like our team. Our young players are progressing. Yeah, they have some little peaks and valleys, but that’s part of being young players. But they care and they want to do well. So, yeah, we have high expectations for ourselves.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki, right, reacts to a change in play as Montreal Canadiens right wing Tyler Toffoli looks on during NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets in Montreal on March 4, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Piecing together the Canadiens’ puzzle at midseason

  2. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said the government-mandated 14-day quarantine for any player coming from the United States to Canada is another roadblock when it comes to making trades.

    Canadiens Notebook: GM Marc Bergevin says it’s unlikely he’ll be making trades

  3. Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli is congratulated by forward Nick Suzuki (14) on his goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Bell MTS Place March 15, 2021.

    About Last Night: The Jets continue to be a cure for whatever ails the Habs

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A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games

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Online Casino Games

Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.

All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.

Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight

Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.

The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment, Betgames.tv, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:

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  • Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
  • Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
  • Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
  • Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
  • MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Wheel of Fortune from Betgames.tv
  • Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
  • Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
  • Bet On Poker Live from Betgames.tv

How old do I have to be to play live casino games?

To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.

What devices can I play live dealer games from?

You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.

What to remember when playing for real money

When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.

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Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada

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Regulation of Online Gambling in Ontario: The Fight Against Black-Market Operators Continues

Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.

Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.

 

Ireland

According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.

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According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).

Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.

 

 

Canada

Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.

A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.

Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.

Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.

 

For instance,

 

  • 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
  • 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.

 

The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.

In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.

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Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman

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John Herdman, Head Coach of Canada, reacts during a press conference at the Main Media Center on Nov. 30, during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.

Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.

Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”

Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?

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Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.

Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?

But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.

Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.

In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.

Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.

A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.

That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.

So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?

This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.

As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.

Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.

Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?

Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.

Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?

Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.

If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.

Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.

So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.

Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.

Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.

A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?

Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.

Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.

At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.

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