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Virtanen signs two-year, $5.1 million contract with Canucks – NHL.com

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Jake Virtanen signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $2.55 million.

The 24-year old forward was a restricted free agent and avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 28. He scored 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with the Canucks last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“Obviously there’s a bright future with the Canucks organization, so many young, talented players coming in and the moves that we’ve made, I think it’s going to be just a brighter future for our team moving forward,” Virtanen said. “I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how our team’s going to do and super excited to get things going.

“[Contract negotiations] felt like a long time but obviously super excited to get this done and be back with the Canucks for two more years. Just happy to get it done and get it over with and just focus on training and skating and the whole thing, being ready to go.”

With forward Tyler Toffoli signing a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, it opened up a spot on one of the top two lines, and Virtanen is hoping he’ll get a chance to play there.

“Obviously I’d love to play top six and have a bigger opportunity, more responsibilities,” Virtanen said. “That’s what I really hope I get. I want to be able to prove that to the team and my teammates that I can play up there and be consistent every night, making sure that I can play night in and night out. It’s an opening for me to try to jump up there. I’ve got to make sure I’m coming to camp ready to go.”

Selected by Vancouver in the first round (No. 6) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen has scored 95 points (50 goals, 45 assists) in 279 regular-season games and three points in 16 playoff games.

“Jake has continued to make progress on his two-way game and remains a contributor offensively, using his speed and size to generate chances,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “We look forward to him taking additional steps in his growth this year to help our team be successful.”

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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In Pictures: Diego Armando Maradona, 1960-2020 | Latin America – Aljazeera.com

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Diego Armando Maradona, who was one of history’s best football players and who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, has died after suffering a heart attack at the age of 60.

With an illustrious club career at Italian side Napoli and Spanish giants Barcelona, among others, Maradona captivated fans worldwide over a two-decade period.

Although his reputation was tarnished by his addictions, he remained idolised in Argentina as the “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy” and by football fans globally.

The number 10 that he wore on his jersey became synonymous with him, as it also had with Pele, the Brazilian great with whom Maradona was regularly paired as the most skilled of all time.

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Tributes for ‘legendary’ Diego Maradona pour in from around sports world – Sportsnet.ca

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Diego Maradona’s sudden death at the age of 60 shook the world, let alone soccer and sports as a whole, to its core on Wednesday.

The Argentine legend, who won the World Cup in 1986 and who guided Napoli to new heights in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was so revered that there was a literal deity named after him. Hundreds, if not thousands, of newborn boys in Naples were named after Maradona thanks to his heroics.

Maradona clearly influenced so many lives, which is what led to an outpouring of tributes for one of the greatest players of all-time.

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Football legend Diego Maradona dies at 60 – Al Jazeera English

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One of the greatest footballers of all time, Maradona passed away aged 60 after suffering a heart attack in Tigre, Argentina.

Argentinian Football legend Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players all time, has died after suffering a heart attack.

He was 60.

Argentina President Alberto Fernandez declared three days of national mourning following Maradona’s death in the city of Tigre on Wednesday.

“You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy,” the president tweeted.

Maradona, who in 1986 led Argentina to a World Cup triumph, had a history of health problems.

Earlier this month, he underwent successful brain surgery for a blood clot in a specialist private clinic in the capital, Buenos Aires.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from Buenos Aires, said people were “just getting used to the idea that he (Maradona) will no longer be here”.

“People have been saying that Maradona made them cry out of happiness because he helped them win the World Cup … now, they will be crying out of pain,” Bo said.

‘We are in mourning’

Retired Brazilian football star Pele mourned the Argentinean icon’s death.

“Sad news to lose a friend like that. May God give enough strength to his family. For sure, one day we will kick a ball together in heaven,” he said in a brief statement.

In 2001, FIFA named Maradona one of the two greatest in the sport’s history, alongside Pele.

Former football stars Brazilian Edson Arantes Do Nascimento ‘Pele’ and Argentinean Diego Maradona, left, sit together at a reception May 14, 1995 in Rio de Janeiro [File: Guillermo Copolla/Reuters]

Former team-mate and Argentine player Osvaldo Ardiles said Maradona was the “best football player in the history of football”.

“Thank dear Dieguito for your friendship, for your football, sublime, without comparison,” Ardiles posted on Twitter.

“Simply, the best football player in the history of football. So many enjoyable moments together. Impossible to say which one was the best. RIP my dear friend.”

Argentinean football superstar Diego Armando Maradona cheers after the Napoli team clinches its first Italian major league title in Naples on May 10, 1987 [File: Meazza Sambucetti/AP]

Italian football club Napoli, based in the city of Naples, said the death of its former player was a “devastating blow” for both the city and the club.

“We are in mourning,” said club spokesman Nicola Lombardo. “We feel like a boxer who has been knocked out. We are in shock.”

Maradona played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991, helping the city win its first Serie A league title.

Hours after his death, Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris said the city’s football stadium should be renamed to honour Maradona.

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