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Young Maple Leafs stars have always had an eye on Crosby

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Montreal Canadiens centre Christian Dvorak chases Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner along the boards during the first period at Bell Centre.David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Growing up, like most any other hockey-playing teenager in Canada, Mitch Marner was a big fan of Sidney Crosby.

“He was the guy I always watched,” the Maple Leafs’ 25-year-old right wing said on Thursday. “He was always the guy you wanted to be on the ice against if you were lucky enough so it is always cool to line up against him. You know you are always going to have a challenging game.”

Marner will live out that dream again on Friday when the Pittsburgh Penguins pay a visit to Scotiabank Arena. The team is in a bit of a funk but Sid is still being Sid. The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer leads the Penguins with six goals and nine assists through 13 games.

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He always seems to bring his best against Toronto: In 47 career games against the Maple Leafs, Crosby has 28 goals and 63 points. Only Alex Ovechkin has scored more often among active players, 41 times.

“He is pretty incredible,” said Auston Matthews, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner. In 2021-22, Matthews became the first player in Toronto history to reach 60 goals. “He is the leader of that team and the guy that keeps it going.

“Even though he has gotten a little bit older, he has adjusted his game … no matter what the situation is. It is really impressive. He is a big guy who presents a challenge to opposing teams.”

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The Penguins come in with a 5-6-2 record but are 3-6-1 over their past 10 games. They are currently in an unusual place for them – next-to-last in the Metropolitan Division. The Maple Leafs are 7-4-3, have won three of their past four and rank fourth in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh has qualified for the playoffs 16 seasons in a row.

Erik Kallgren, 1-1-3 with an .890 save percentage, will get the start in Toronto’s net. If not for injury, Matt Murray would have likely got the call against his former team. Murray, who is recovering from an adductor strain, practised on Thursday and possibly could start on Saturday against Vancouver in the second of back-to-back games.

Murray won Stanley Cups with the Penguins in his first two seasons in the NHL but has been traded to Ottawa and Toronto in the past two years. He hopes to revive what looks like a waning career.

He has fond memories of the five seasons he spent with Pittsburgh.

“I was so lucky in my time there to spend time with so many great players, coaches and staff,” Murray said. He started in an opening-night loss in Montreal and has not played since. “It is where I started my career and a big part of who I am. I am very thankful for it.”

The Penguins have had many outstanding players since Crosby entered the league as an 18-year-old in 2005-06 but he is unquestionably the best.

“You can’t say enough about Sid,” Murray said. “He is always going to push himself to be better and lead the way. That is just the kind of person he is.”

Pittsburgh went 2-1 against Toronto last year and is 18-10-2 in the past 30 meetings. It is the first of three games between them in the span of nine days. The Penguins have a deep roster that also includes Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Jeff Petry and Rickard Rakell.

There is only one Sid, however. In Yankees lexicon, he is the fellow that stirs Pittsburgh’s drink.

“I don’t know him that well, but from the outside you see how he trains, how he prepares, how seriously he takes his craft, and the ability he has and how competitive he is,” said Sheldon Keefe, the Maple Leafs coach. “All those things add up to a guy who can play forever and still be productive.”

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Marner shows off custom All-Star Game skates at Maple Leafs practice – NHL.com

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Mitchell Marner is going to be skating on sunshine.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward has some custom skates with a distinct Florida feel for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at FLA Live Arena on Saturday.

Marner, who will play for the Atlantic Divison team on Saturday, helped dream up the design, which is a beach theme over a pastel pink boot. On each tongue is the All-Star Game logo and inside each boot is the Eastern Conference logo.

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Marner’s big customization? Adding his dog, Zeus, to the mix.

“(Zeus) riding a croc, one riding a shark and then just the city outlines,” Marner said. “The white look I think looks sick though. That’s just kind of the idea of them. I wanted to do something cool for the All Star game, don’t really get to customize a lot of stuff as hockey players.”

The True brand skates were on display at Maple Leafs practice on Tuesday. Were they a hit? Well, it depends on who you ask.

“A couple guys said it was pretty juicy looking, a couple guys were chirping me but that’s what usually happens with our team,” Marner said. “I think everyone probably likes them but they’re never going to say it to your face because it’s better just to make fun of you and chirp you. That’s how this team rolls.”

While he won’t be wearing them for a regular season game, trying them out at practice was a must, but did come with it’s challenges.

“(Alexander Kerfoot) and (Justin Holl) were trying to get some scuff marks on them early,” Marner said. “It’s going to happen eventually but I’ll try to keep them as white as possible until Saturday or Friday.”

– NHL.com Independent Correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report.

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Former captain Horvat, family pen letter to ‘Our Canucks family’ after trade to New York – Global News

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Former Canucks Captain Bo Horvat has written a letter thanking fans after nine seasons spent in Vancouver.

Horvat was dealt to the New York Islanders Monday afternoon for two players and a protected first-round draft pick, after months of contract negotiations proved unfruitful.

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“To our Canucks family. The past 24 hours have been filled with an overwhelming number of memories from inside and outside of the rink,” reads the statement in part, posted to Instagram on Tuesday.

“Nine years ago you welcomed us to your beautiful city and province, and before long, you would make sure it felt like home.”

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Vancouver Canucks deal Horvat to New York Islanders for two players, first round pick

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Coming to Vancouver as a 19-year-old and leaving as a 27-year-old father of two, one of the many highlights for Horvat was getting a chance to play alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“I remember meeting Daniel and Henrik that first year. Through them you could immediately feel the history, and the connection the team had with fans and the community… the respect everyone had for what it meant ‘to be a Canuck,’” he said.

“I was only 19, but I knew I was a part of a special place in the hockey world. I remember being determined to work hard, keep getting better and always bring my best effort.”

He also took time to thank his teammates, coaches, trainers and members of the organization along with the many people behind the scenes.

“To have been your captain, was a tremendous honour for us…It was beyond the wildest dreams of that 19-year-old who just wanted to fit in and earn your respect one day at a time.”

“The city of Vancouver and Canucks fans will always have a place in our hearts. Thank you.”


Click to play video: 'Vancouver Canucks trade Bo Horvat'

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Vancouver Canucks trade Bo Horvat


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Tom Brady retires from NFL, insisting this time it's for good – CBC Sports

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Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement.

Brady — the most successful quarterback in NFL history, and one of the greatest athletes in team sports — posted the announcement on social media Wednesday morning, a brief video lasting just under one minute.

“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady says as the message begins. “I’m retiring. For good.”

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He briefly retired after the 2021 season, but wound up coming back for one more year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retires at age 45, the owner of numerous passing records in an unprecedented 23-year career.

A year ago when he retired, it was in the form of a long Instagram post. But about six weeks later, he decided to come back for one more run. The Buccaneers — with whom he won a Super Bowl two seasons ago — made the playoffs again this season, losing in their playoff opener. And at the time, it begged the question about whether Brady would play again.

Only a couple weeks later, he has given the answer.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady says in the video. “I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year.

“I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me. My family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

Brady is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). He’s the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times.

Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady certainly wasn’t expected to become synonymous with greatness. He played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for six yards.

The next year, it all changed.

Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the team beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season, and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful coach-QB duo in football history.

More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.

In 2020, he joined the Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl. He spent his last three years with Tampa Bay, getting them to the playoffs in each of those seasons.

3-time NFL MVP

“I think I’ve been on the record dozens of times saying there’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way,” Belichick said in 2021 — shortly before Tampa Bay, with Brady, came to New England and beat the Patriots in a game dubbed “The Return.” “I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for.”

Brady has won three NFL MVP awards, been a first-team All-Pro three times and selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times.

Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen finalized their divorce this past fall, during the Bucs’ season. It ended a 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of football and fashion.

It was announced last year that when Brady retires from playing, he would join Fox Sports as a television analyst in a 10-year, $375 million US deal.

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