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Top three Toronto Maple Leafs moments of the past decade –



For a team that exits the 2010s without a single playoff series victory, there is no shortage of memorable Toronto Maple Leafs moments from the past decade — good, bad and ugly.

From Phil Kessel swinging a lightsaber at big John Scott, Curtis McElhinney stoning Sidney Crosby at the doorstep, the kids making the post-season ahead of schedule, John Tavares returning home to his bed-sheets squad and Auston Matthews sniping the Centennial Classic winner with a forgiving Dave Keon in the house, the memories are indelible and plentiful.

Here’s our top three.

4-1 is the most dangerous lead in sports • May 13, 2013

The most memorable Maple Leafs moment of the decade is a painful one, because of course it is. For 52 years, Toronto’s hockey narrative has been an exercise in misery, broken up by the odd bout with devastating disappointment.

When Nazem Kadri scored 5:29 into the third period on that night of May 13, 2013, giving Toronto a 4-1(!) lead over the Boston Bruins, Maple Leaf Square partied like Round 2 was reality.

Cue the greatest comeback/collapse in Game 7 NHL history.

Nathan Horton scores at 9:18. The Bruins pull Tuukka Rask with two minutes left. Toronto can’t hit the open net. Milan Lucic scores with the sixth attacker on the ice at 18:38. Patrice Bergeron ties it with 51 seconds on the clock, and again in overtime — thrusting a goalie (James Reimer, under siege), an organization and a city into a state of shock.

So, when the Leafs later gave away three one-goal leads to the Bruins to squander Game 7 at TD Garden in 2018, or failed to stomp the throat in either Game 6 or Game 7 in the 2019 rematch, those failures feel quaint by comparison.

“We were undocking from the space station and returning to Earth during that final game of that series,” Canadian astronaut and noted Leafs fan Chris Hadfield told The Toronto Star.

“While I was coming down in flames, the Leafs were going down in flames too, unfortunately.”

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Auston Matthews hits ’em with the four • Oct. 12, 2016

The scorched-earth rebuild, the trading away of sniper extraordinaire Phil Kessel and miscast captain Dion Phaneuf, the washing the sins of Salutegate, that bizzaro Peter Horachek era, the expertly executed tank campaign and president Brendan Shanahan holding a No. 1 placard at the finale of the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery while the most expensive head coach in hockey history jumped for joy in his living room… it all made sense on Opening Night of the Auston Matthews era.

The soon-to-be Calder Trophy winner scored not once, twice or thrice but four times in his NHL debut as superstars from around the league began tuning in and tweeting their amazement at the clinic in Kanata.

“It was pretty surreal,” Matthews said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

“That’s the best night we’ve had since I’ve been here by 10 miles, not even close,” former coach Mike Babcock said. “Now we have an opportunity.”

And an entire nation of Leafs fans felt the same.

In a perfectly Leafian twist, it was Ottawa’s Kyle Turris — Matthews’ man, he’d admit — who scored the overtime winner for the Senators, but for once there was hope. A franchise centre had arrived, with a bang. Hey, how many single regular-season hockey games spawn their own rap songs?

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Tyler Bozak scores in a snow globe • Jan. 1, 2014

The spectacle was a long time coming — a lockout put the kibosh on the 2013 Winter Classic — but totally worth the wait… and the white-knuckle drive across Highway 401.

The historic outdoor matinee at Ann Arbour’s Michigan Stadium packed 105,491 Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs fans into the Big House, warmed them with cold domestic beer and sprinkled their toques with snowflakes the size of toonies. Best of all, some marketing wizard dreamed the idea of selling half the building’s seats to Toronto supporters and the other half to Detroit, creating a red-versus-blue battle line in the stands.

Aesthetic bonus: Both teams wore darks.

That the game itself was a tight affair with three lead changes and a back-and-forth shootout was a cherry on top of the snow globe. Tyler Bozak capped off the victory by sniping low-blocker on Jimmy Howard, prompting Babcock to crown the day “a home run for hockey.”

“Having 105,000 people screaming and yelling for us is really amazing,” Bozak said. “As hockey players, we’re never going to forget that.”

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics



Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?



It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s



Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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