The wait is almost over for William Villeneuve. The right-shot defenceman hasn’t played since his Saint John Sea Dogs, who will host the Memorial Cup, lost in the opening round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs way back on May 12.
“It’s been pretty hard,” the 20-year-old admitted. “That first-round exit, that’s not the outcome we were expecting. We took a week away from the rink to kind of get a reset and then we came back and went at it like it was a training camp. We were on the ice for two hours every day and working out and all that. It’s been a hell of a grind. We’ll be ready to go.”
The Sea Dogs will face the Ontario Hockey League champion Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday when the Canadian Hockey League championship tournament opens in New Brunswick.
“A lot of excitement around this game,” said Villeneuve, who was picked by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round of the 2020 National Hockey League draft. “We haven’t played in so many days, so for us, it’s going to be important to win the first five minutes and really come out strong and take advantage right off the bat. That will be our mentality.”
Villeneuve is looking to build off a strong regular season. He produced 56 points in 64 games, led the league in plus/minus (plus-60) and was nominated for the QMJHL defenceman of the year award. The native of Sherbrooke, Que. reflected on his growth as a player during a conversation with TSN. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
TSN: Where did you improve the most this year?
Villeneuve: “Being reliable in every aspect of the game. When I first came in [to the QMJHL] at 16, I was very offensive-minded and not good enough in my zone and not physical enough. Trying to defend better and use my body more has been a big focus this year and I’ve done a good job of that.”
— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) June 16, 2022
TSN: How do you work on that?
Villeneuve: “Sometimes you make mistakes in practice, so I try and challenge myself and implant that in my head. And then it’s doing a lot of video work with [Leafs director of player development] Danielle Goyette, especially during the second half, and really trying to cut down on the little mistakes.”
TSN: What’s it like working with Goyette?
Villeneuve: “It’s great. You send her a text and in 10 minutes she answers and the next day you’re doing video with her. It’s pretty crazy that I have access to NHL people like that. Two years ago, I didn’t have that, so it’s been great.”
TSN: What has been the biggest message from Goyette and the Leafs this season?
Villeneuve: “It’s really, ‘Dial in on the little details of the game.’ I was at Leafs training camp early in the season and the biggest thing I saw there is that every NHL player is good at the simple plays. So, for me, through Danielle, my focus is on being great at little plays and simple plays that in the long run make a big difference.”
TSN: What stands out about the resources the Leafs organization can provide you?
Villeneuve: “Ah, it’s pretty crazy. There’s so many people who want to help you in terms of food and sleep and working out and on-ice stuff, so it’s really great to have a lot of people support you. It makes you feel confident.”
We get the lead back with Ryan Francis’ second of the game and William Villeneuve passes Thomas Chabot for the most assists by a defenseman in Sea Dogs history. What a GOAL! 🚨#CityofChampions @MapleLeafs pic.twitter.com/Neetf9BU34
— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) March 27, 2022
TSN: Did you watch a lot of Leafs games this year?
Villeneuve: “During the season I tried to catch some games and I was pretty into the series against Tampa. It was a great series with two top teams going at each other over seven games. You couldn’t ask for more. I would’ve liked to see them get the win, but I know they’ll be back.”
TSN: What stands out about the way the Leafs play?
Villeneuve: “Just so fast and there’s lots of movement in every zone, especially the offensive zone. They have two D and three forwards, but everybody’s moving around and creating confusion for the other team. That’s my biggest take: really fast and lots of movement, so I’ll have to work on that.”
TSN: Is there an NHL player you watched this season to learn from?
Villeneuve: “[Sea Dogs defence consultant] Paul Boutilier worked closely with Noah Dobson in New York, so he sent a lot of clips of him. I enjoyed watching and learning from him.”
TSN: What did you learn?
Villeneuve: “He’s really good at simple plays. He was working on the same thing we were working on with our team, which was trying to [manage] the gaps. Seeing him play at the highest level, you see how the little details make such a big difference. We were able to see his evolution and how he got so much better at doing the little things that Paul was teaching us.”
TSN: Have you made gains when it comes to your size and strength?
Villeneuve: “Yeah, it’s getting better. I came in at 16 at around 150 pounds and now I’m around 180. There’s still a lot of growth to do and I will keep on working in the gym this summer and trying to get stronger.”
TSN: You were named Saint John’s top academic player at the end-of-season banquet. Why is that important to you?
Villeneuve: “You never know what happens, so it’s good to stay educated in every aspect of life. I try to have conversations with people who are very intelligent. I think it helps me. And then it’s just my background. My parents have always put a lot of emphasis on school. It’s important to stay educated even if you can’t do five or six classes per semester.”
TSN: Do you have a favourite subject?
Villeneuve: “I like French. Writing and reading and stuff like that, I like that.”
TSN: Read anything good lately?
Villeneuve: “I read a book about stocks. I know it’s not good right now, but just on the psychology of money and trying to learn the little tricks.”
TSN: Like what?
Villeneuve: “To not jump on the big opportunity that looks so good and really try to dig down a little bit. There’s always a little something that you need to learn more so not being too excited about some things.”
— QMJHL (@QMJHL) March 15, 2021
TSN: Why do you wear No. 13?
Villeneuve: “When I was younger, we were a billet family for the Sherbrooke Phoenix during their first year. The guy we had was Dominic Talbot-Tassi and we got super close when he was living with us. I took 13 because he [wore 13].”
TSN: Former Leafs goalie Felix Potvin coached you with the Midget AAA Magog Cantonniers. Are you still in touch?
Villeneuve: “Not really. He’s a quiet guy, so he’s not really easy to reach out to. He’s doing his thing and camping and hunting and fishing, so I kind of let him do his thing. But he was a great influence on me. I really liked him as a coach and a person.”
TSN: What do you remember most from being around Potvin?
Villeneuve: “Just his love for the game. When it was game time, he was just so passionate about it.”
TSN: After winning the final 15 games of the regular season, what went wrong in the playoff series against Rimouski?
Villeneuve: “We felt very strong coming into the playoffs, but Rimouski just played a better series overall. During crunch time we didn’t capitalize and get the job done. It’s a good opportunity for us to just learn from it and bounce back. There’s lots of teams in the CHL that would like a second opportunity and we get it, so we got to take advantage of it.”
So much hard work on and off the ice to get the mem cup. Thank you to the organization for making it happen. Time for us, the players, to go out there and bring it home. Lets get it 💙 https://t.co/urntmXU0ul
— William Villeneuve (@WilliamVillene9) September 22, 2021
Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com
Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports
Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.
The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.
It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.
The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.
“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.
“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”
“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”
WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:
Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”
“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.
“Couldn’t be more honoured.”
Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).
The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.
His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).
Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.
“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.
“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”
The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.
The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.
Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders
Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.
His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.
When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).
Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.
“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.
“Never took a day off.”
A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.
The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.
“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”
Best line in hockey <br><br>Luongo-Sedin-Sedin
Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons
Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.
The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.
“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.
Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.
“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.
“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”
Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.
She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.
Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.
Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.
Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.
“I am so proud.”
Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.
The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.
On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.
For now, that still means a member of the Nets.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.
Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.
He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.
The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.
Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.
“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.
And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.
But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.
Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.
A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.
“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”
NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
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