Sharks’ veteran duo of Thornton and Marleau not out of gas yet

Thornton logged more than 25 minutes Wednesday night in Ottawa while Marleau scooped up 22 minutes of his own in the Sharks’ 4-3 win over the Senators, their second shootout win in as many nights.San Jose holds the puck more often than not when the duo take the ice. Thornton ranks second on the team in puck possession (55 per cent), with Marleau just a touch back in third (54 per cent).“I think both of us love the game and we still feel we can play the game at a high, high level and want to contribute each and every night,” said Marleau, born two months after Thornton in 1979.Thornton and Marleau are among the most productive players of the last decades, two stunning marvels of fitness who rarely miss a game. Ten players in the league this year weren’t even born when Thornton and Marleau were drafted in 1997.Marleau has missed only 31 games over more than 18 seasons since he was drafted second overall behind Thornton in 1997. “(I’m) having fun out there so I’ll keep going.” The underrated Marleau ranks fifth in points (1,047) during that same 19-year span and also fifth in goals (488). Asked last March about playing as long as 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr, Thornton responded: “If I feel good I’d love to play that long, but right now it’s hard to say if I could.”“I feel great,” Marleau said more recently. “They know how to work their way around the rink, make plays, win battles, those types of things, put themselves in good positions and that’s allowed for good careers.“There’s no secret, you need a little luck along the way, but those guys have earned everything they’ve got.”Still, Thornton and Marleau are certainly not the players they once were.Thornton is on pace for a 30-point dropoff from last season’s marvellous 82-point campaign and his lowest point total in a full season since he was a teenager in Boston. “Now you see a lot more teams talking about it and taking a lot more optional skates, especially with a west coast team that travels as much as we do. He’s played in 95 per cent of possible games for the Boston Bruins and Sharks, missing a mere nine games since the start of the 2006-07 season.Marleau credits his longevity to adjustments in training, eating, stretching and exercise as well as a new approach to rest. Marleau has long been a terrific skater with persistence and a scorer’s touch.“But at the end of the day I think their hockey sense stands alone,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. Never the swiftest on skates, Thornton employs superb passing, vision, and an undervalued ability to protect the puck. The Sharks annually face some of the league’s most arduous travel and head coach Pete DeBoer has made it a priority to ensure that his players, especially the old guys, get to recover.“I think there wasn’t too much emphasis on rest and recovery right when we first came into the league,” Marleau said. He ranks first in games played among all NHL players during that stretch (1,472), last sitting out a game during the 2008-09 season.Thornton isn’t far behind. He hasn’t scored in 17 straight games after mustering 19 goals last year.Marleau is only slightly off-pace for his 14th 20-goal season, but he’s also on track to tally a career-low 31 points.And yet the Sharks are undeniably a better team when either player is on the ice. He’s tops in both points (1,360) and assists (981) since joining the league. A lot of practices are video, going over video and things like that.”No NHL player has been more productive than Thornton. San Jose generates the lion’s share of scoring chances when Thornton and Marleau are out there at even-strength.Both remain weapons on the power play too.Both are also unrestricted free agents with uncertain futures at season’s end. It’s been almost two decades since Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau made their NHL debuts, but the San Jose Sharks old-timers still have some gas left in the tank.The 37-year-olds are in the twilight of their Hall-of-Fame-worthy careers and no longer the stars they used to be, but they continue to play a large role for the reigning Western Conference champions and current Pacific division leaders. He’ll likely become the 45th player in NHL history to reach 500 career goals at some point this season.Both endure in different ways.

Christine Sinclair named Canada’s top women’s soccer player for 13th time

All they know is Canada’s been to back-to-back Olympic podiums, lost in the quarter-finals of a World Cup and is ranked fourth in the world. That’s probably the only constant for a Canadian women’s soccer program that has grown in leaps and bounds since Sinclair made her international debut as a 16 year old in 2000.“Oh God yeah, I think it’s night and day,” Sinclair said Thursday on a conference call. She scored seven goals and added four assists in 18 international appearances, including the winning goal in the bronze medal match in Rio.She increased her career international goal total to a whopping 165, second only to American Abby Wambach (184). that was pretty cool. collegiate player of the year.Janine Beckie, 22, has 12 goals in 22 appearances for Canada’s senior team. Lawrence’s 21-year-old Mountaineers teammate Kadeisha Buchanan — dubbed the “Christine Sinclair of defence” by Canada women’s coach John Herdman — is a finalist for the women’s MAC Hermann award given to the U.S. Sinclair, Canada’s talismanic captain and star striker, was named Canada Soccer’s women’s player of the year Thursday, winning the award for the 13th time in 17 years. They expect nothing less and I absolutely love it.”Sinclair, from Burnaby, B.C., is the veteran backbone of a growing power in women’s soccer. “The depth of the team and this program is like we’ve never seen before. 2 Germany along the way.A look at the other finalists for the Canadian women’s award shows just how well Canada has been able to build around Sinclair.Runner-up Ashley Lawrence, just 21 years old, was a big part of Canada’s podium finish in Rio and helped West Virginia reach the NCAA women’s soccer final. Canada won its second consecutive Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games, beating World No. “When I first made the national team, we were losing to the Americans 8-0, and losing to Germany 6-0, and you went into those games hoping not to lose by a touchdown.“The mentality of the team now is we’re heading into every game to win. In the process she passed the legendary Mia Hamm on the all-time scoring list in February.Sinclair said eclipsing her idol was a highlight of her year.“I had (Hamm’s) jersey growing up and I remember thinking on my first year or two on the national team ‘Oh my God she has so many goals, how is anyone ever going to reach that level?’ To pass her this year … 1 world ranking. That was something I’ll never forget.”Saying she’s not one to dwell on individual awards, Sinclair instead talked enthusiastically about Canada’s rise as a top-ranked squad.“We performed as a team pretty much every time we stepped on the field and you saw that in Rio,” she said. I love that these younger player expect to win and they know no different. For me it’s exciting because I’ve waited my whole career for this.“There is no turning back from this moment on, and we are only going to get better.”Sinclair also helped the Portland Thorns win the National Women’s Soccer League’s Shield, scoring four goals in the last five games to help her club clinch the title.The award was voted on by Canadian media and Canadian coaches. Eighteen-year-old Jessie Fleming is a star on the rise and 28-year-old Sophie Schmidt is a veteran of 137 appearances who patrols the defence for the German club FFC Frankfurt.Still, Sinclair was a star for both country and club in 2016. Christine Sinclair remembers dark times for Canada at the beginning of her international soccer career — routs at the hands of the powerful Americans and lopsided losses to European giants.Now she’s the heart of a Canadian team that wins Olympic medals and is emerging as a threat to claim the No.

NBA, players reach tentative agreement on labour deal

It’s great.”News broke of the tentative agreement just as Wednesday’s games were starting. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side was releasing exact details.If the deal is ratified, the season will start a week earlier, preseason games would be capped at six and one of the most dreaded elements of the schedule — the four-game-in-five-day stretches — may be eliminated.Other details of the new proposed CBA include increases in values of rookie-scale contracts, minimum salaries and exceptions, with a 45 per cent increase in minimum salaries across the board in the first year of the new agreement. “I’m happy for our fans, the owners involved. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra heard the news after a victory over the Pacers and said he felt a sense of relief.“We’re all very fortunate to be in this profession,” Spoelstra said.Talks have gone on for months, and unlike those surrounding the most recent deal between the league and its players, these were mostly amicable. maybe.”But most players who spoke Wednesday seemed thrilled.“It just shows you how big the NBA, how popular the NBA is, that it can’t afford a lockout,” Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan said. “I want to play basketball. The NBA and its players have agreed to keep the most lucrative era in league history rolling.The sides agreed Wednesday in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement, one that could last up to seven years and needs now only to be ratified by players and owners in the coming weeks. The players were locked out for 161 games, resulting in a shortened season and plenty of frustration.“For me, this is a relief,” Heat guard Goran Dragic said. That will kick in Jan. The rookie deals will be proportionate to the salary cap, either rising or falling as that does. “The conversations were great, everything was cordial. If approved by votes of players and owners — likely to be formalities — there will be no lockout next summer and no labour issues for years to come.“It’s amazing. Players and their families will be provided with education, training and counselling and players facing allegations will be subject to a new investigation, discipline and appeals process.Another issue addressed in these negotiations was a deal where the league would help fund programs to help retired players with medical expenses. Some players reacted quickly on social media, including Golden State’s Draymond Green — who said “one day we will get it right…. The average player salary is expected to hit $8.5 million next season and rise to $10 million by 2020-21 under the new terms.“It’s fair. I’m excited,” union president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers said. “That’s all we were asking for.”The deadline for opting out has now been extended to Jan. Everyone knows how well the game is going and didn’t want to mess that up.”NBA officials and players expressed optimism throughout the process, pointing to the league’s skyrocketing revenue and salaries — thanks to a massive new television deal — and rising TV ratings.From the outset, these talks seemed much different than the unfriendly discourse that went on five years ago, when the league and its players were so far apart that the 2011-12 season wound up getting shortened from 82 games per team to 66. Most of the major issues — such as keeping the split of basketball-related income the same as it is in the existing deal — were agreed upon weeks ago.Included in the more-than-400-page document is a proposed program that addresses domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. And contracts would be able to be extended for five, or in some cases, six years.Neither NBA Commissioner Adam Silver nor NBPA executive director Michele Roberts spoke publicly after the tentative deal was announced. It’s fair,” said Miami Heat guard Wayne Ellington, his team’s player rep to the union. The deal was struck a day before the sides faced a deadline for opting out of the current deal. 13, with the NBA saying that’s “in order to give both sides enough time to review the terms of the agreement and vote to ratify.”“That’s the second-best news of the night,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks joked when asked about the CBA right after Washington’s victory over Charlotte.Two-way contracts between the NBA and the D-League will be in play for the first time, which would figure to enhance player development. It’s a great thing.”Three people briefed on the terms said the deal extends for seven seasons, with an opt-out possible after six. I didn’t want to sit home.” 1, even before this deal is likely ratified.“I think everyone negotiated in good faith,” Paul said. “People love the game too much.

Raptors roll past 76ers for fourth straight victory

Long one of the NBA’s worst teams, the Sixers haven’t won three straight games since they took four in a row from Dec. Lowry brought the Sixers crashing back to reality.Lowry buried two quick 3-pointers that brought the Raptors within two and scored on a driving layup that tied the game at 45-all. They could have used another 30 minutes to top the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.The Raptors have won 10 of 11 games and are 11 games over .500 for the first time this season.Lowry dedicated the win to his mother on her birthday .“I got as many points as her age,” he said, laughing. 4, 2014.Robert Covington led the Sixers with 26 points and Okafor had 17.The Sixers had won two straight on the road and seemed like they could win a rare game at home when they opened with a strong first 17 minutes. “I just try and be better every single year.”He’s having his best one yet.Lowry helped blow the game open in his Philadelphia homecoming. The Raptors turned a three-point deficit to open the second quarter into a 60-54 halftime lead. DeRozan posterized Jahlil Okafor with a dunk over the Sixers big man and easily rolled to his second straight 30-point game. My work ethic,” DeRozan said. Lowry made a 3-pointer in the fourth that stretched the lead to 99-80 and earned some applause for the All-Star raised in the area.DeRozan and Lowry helped squash the Sixers’ modest two-game winning streak. He scored 30 points on Monday against Milwaukee and came in averaging a robust 27.9 points per game.“It’s just experience. A night later, Lowry and DeRozan ditched the courtside seats to team up and keep Philadelphia the worst team in the NBA.DeRozan scored 31 points and Lowry added 20 to help the Toronto Raptors win their fourth straight game, 123-114 over the 76ers on Wednesday night. The Sixers went on a mini-run late in the fourth and got within five points with 30 seconds left. 29, 2013-Jan. DeRozan continued to make the 30-point mark a routine part of his game and scored 31 points through the first three quarters. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan spent an off night in town at Villanova watching the best basketball team in the Philly area dominate in another victory.

Labanc scores in shootout, Sharks hand Senators third straight loss

The Sharks were 0 for 7 on the power play.Phaneuf gave the Senators the lead with a power-play goal at 16:14, but just over a minute later the Sharks tied it as Tierney beat Condon with a wrist shot.Marc-Edouard Vlasic got tangled up with captain Erik Karlsson and appeared to spear him late in the second period. Turris went after Vlasic and ended up with a minor penalty for instigating, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.Down 2-1, Mark Stone made a great cross-crease pass to Turris, who buried it to tie things up with under three minutes in the second.Burns had given the Sharks a 2-1 lead midway through the second on a great individual effort as he easily got around Ben Harpur, playing just his sixth NHL game, and put it behind Condon.San Jose opened the scoring at 5:57 of the first period as Couture dropped a no-look pass to Pavelski all alone at the side of the net.The Senators tied it less than two minutes later as Ryan Dzingel found Ryan in front and he beat Martin Jones far side. Midway through the period things got ugly as Mike Hoffman cross-checked Logan Couture up high from behind and was given a five-minute major and game misconduct.Patrick Marleau appeared to score on the power play, but the goal was challenged and upon review was ruled offside. 30th and just his fourth of the season.Prior to the game the Senators recognized Chris Neil for playing 1,000 NHL games. After 40 minutes it was tied 2-2, and the Senators had a tough final 20 minutes just to earn a single point.Ottawa was without Turris for much of the third as he sat in the penalty box after being handed a 10-minute misconduct at 19:40 of the second. It was Ryan’s first goal since Oct. Mike Condon, making his fourth straight start, made 26 saves. Kevin Labanc scored the shootout winner as the San Jose Sharks beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 Wednesday night.Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Chris Tierney scored in regulation for the Sharks (18-11-5) as Martin Jones made 29 saves.Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris and Dion Phaneuf scored for the Senators (16-11-3), who have lost three in a row for the first time this season. Neil becomes just the third player in Senators franchise history to reach the milestone.

Kadeisha Buchanan claims second-straight MAC Hermann award finalist nod

Fellow Canada international and West Virginia teammate Ashley Lawrence of Toronto was a semi-finalist for the honour.Buchanan is the four-time reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Canadian international Kadeisha Buchanan is a finalist for the women’s MAC Hermann Trophy for a second-straight year.The West Virginia defender from Brampton, Ont., is up against University of Southern California midfielder Morgan Andrews and Stanford midfielder Andi Sullivan for the award granted to the top women’s player in NCAA soccer. She anchored a Mountaineers defence that allowed just 12 goals this season and lifted the team to the NCAA women’s soccer championship, where top-ranked West Virginia was defeated 3-1 by USC.Internationally, Buchanan and Lawrence helped Canada win a second-straight Olympic bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games.Wake Forest midfielder Ian Harkes, Florida Gulf Coast forward Albert Ruiz and Maryland forward Gordon Wild are the men’s MAC Hermann finalists.Vermont forward Brian Wright of Ajax, Ont., was a semi-finalist for the men’s award.

Cesc Fabregas helping Chelsea build on their comfortable table lead

Used sparingly by Chelsea during its long run of victories, Cesc Fabregas is providing significant reminders of his enduring value to the English Premier League leaders.Two weeks ago, it was Fabregas’s raking pass to set up Diego Costa’s goal that sparked Chelsea’s come-from-behind win at Manchester City. On Wednesday, it was the Spain midfielder’s classy goal – a one-two with Willian before a composed finish from the edge of the area – that earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Sunderland, a 10th-straight victory in the league and six-point lead over Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premier League.“In football today, people forget very, very, very quickly who you are and what you can do,” Fabregas said. “It is important that Cesc had a good game.”In the early stages of Chelsea’s winning run, the team was scoring freely – five goals against Everton, four goals against Manchester United – but it has been eking out victories in recent weeks.This was Chelsea’s third 1-0 win in its last five matches. “Hopefully now I can get a run of games in the team.”Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been mostly selecting Nemanja Matic alongside the tireless N’Golo Kante in central midfield, an axis in a 3-4-3 formation that has driven the team to maximum points since Oct. 1.The 29-year-old Fabregas covers less ground than Matic but offers something different: More vision, more creativity and a stronger goal threat. “Hopefully we can keep it up.”It was a night when all of Chelsea’s potential title rivals – Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United – won.Middlesbrough 0, Liverpool 3Adam Lallana scored two goals and set up another to inspire Liverpool to victory as goalkeeper Simon Mignolet marked his return to the team with a clean sheet.Mignolet regained his starting spot in place of Loris Karius, who was dropped after making errors in the last two matches, but had little to do.Lallana headed home Nathaniel Clyne’s cross to put Liverpool ahead in the 29th minute, provided a low cross that was swept in by Divock Origi in the 60th, and wrapped up the win in the 68th with his sixth goal of the season.Liverpool climbed into second place, above Arsenal on goals scored.Manchester City 2, Watford 0City lost midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to a serious knee injury in a win that brought mixed emotions for manager Pep Guardiola.Gundogan appeared to be in tears as he was helped off the field late in the first half, and Guardiola said after the match that the Germany international would be out for a “long time” with damaged ligaments.The injury marred a welcome victory for Guardiola, with goals by Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva ensuring City bounced back from consecutive losses to Chelsea and Leicester. It’s not a bad selection headache for Conte to have.“Some games, you need players more physical and some games with more technical,” Conte said. Those defeats had sparked criticism by many pundits of Guardiola’s methods and philosophy.City is fourth, seven points behind Chelsea.Crystal Palace 1, Manchester United 2Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 88th-minute winner for United, which has collected consecutive victories in the league for the first time since August.It was the Swedish striker’s 13th goal in his first season in English football, keeping United three points behind fifth-place Tottenham.Paul Pogba slotted United in front on the stroke of halftime, before James McArthur equalized at Selhurst Park.Other resultsChristian Eriksen scored twice and had a hand in the other goal as Tottenham beat Hull 3-0, and Salomon Rondon scored a hat trick of headers to guide seventh-place West Bromwich Albion to a 3-1 win over Swansea.Mark Noble’s penalty earned West Ham a 1-0 win over Burnley, while Stoke drew 0-0 against Southampton after surviving with 10 men for more than hour following Marko Arnautovic’s sending-off. In its 10-straight wins, Chelsea has only conceded two goals and this latest clean sheet was preserved by a stunning save by Thibaut Courtois off Patrick van Aanholt late in the game.“You have seen many times that teams win titles with 1-0 wins,” Fabregas said.

NHL, players running out of time to decide on 2018 Olympics

The NHL, which has been stunted by three lockouts since 1993, provided a public spin on why it would have been good for the game.“Most importantly, it tells the world and our fans there’s nine years of labour peace after this season which we thought would be a good thing even if there were things that we might want to change,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at last week’s board of governors meeting.NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said the league didn’t make a formal proposal, but floated it as an option.“We took it seriously and ran it by the players and it’s not something players are interested in at the moment,” Fehr said. 1 in Toronto where the Maple Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings outdoors. The NHL seems set up to enjoy hockey without labour-related headaches for at least two-plus seasons. The union rejected the idea. The other 66 players, who played over the last 50 years for the most part, will be announced Jan. The collective bargaining agreement and the Olympics were tied together recently by the NHL itself. And there are financial issues bubbling up among the players, particularly when it comes to escrow and how they believe it has become a heavy tax on their salaries. The IOC spent about $14-million (U.S.) to cover travel and insurance for NHL players for the 2014 Olympics in Russia. The league made an offer, asking if the players’ association would eliminate its opt-out option in 2019 and extend the labour pact three years through the 2024-25 season in exchange for participating in a sixth consecutive Olympics. A $5.2-billion broadcast deal with Rogers for national TV rights in Canada, for example, is worth a lot less than it was when that deal was done in 2013.“This whole thing then morphed into a discussion of the escrow which I’m a little mystified with because this system as it works depends on the escrow,” Bettman said. Even if interested parties come up with enough money for travel and insurance, there’s no guarantee the league and union will agree to participate in the next Olympics in part because, according to Bettman, owners have a “negative sentiment ” about it at this point. After calculations were made following recent seasons, players have ended up losing about 13 per cent of their pay by getting 3 per cent to 5 per cent of the escrow refunded from the league. … If you lowered the cap, then you would have less escrow. That doesn’t mean it’s a drama-free league.A decision must be made soon about whether the NHL’s hockey players will be at the Olympics in South Korea in 14 months. Wayne Gretzky set an NHL record with 2,857 points.TURNING 100The NHL will drop the puck for its centennial celebration on Jan. Players have 16 per cent to 18 per cent of their paycheques put in escrow each season. “The reason the cap is set where it is, and in fact player contracts are somewhat inflated beyond what the systems calls for is, because there’s an escrow to recapture that extra money. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said a decision would need to be made by early January at the latest, giving the league time to create a schedule for next season with or without a two-plus week break for the Olympics. That has happened in large part because the U.S. 27 in Los Angeles during All-Star weekend. The 44-year-old Florida Panthers wing has pulled within four points of Mark Messier, who had 1,887 points from 1979-2004. “Hopefully we will continue to try to resolve our issues, including the Olympics.”The Olympic-related problems revolve around travel expenses and insurance because the International Olympic Committee does not plan to pay those bills, as it has done since 1998 to get NHL players to the Winter Olympics. One stakeholder is trying to stay out of the fray, acknowledging the highly-anticipated decision isn’t up to him or the governing body he leads.“We will await the NHL and the NHLPA’s decision and hope for a positive result,” International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said Tuesday.As for the labour pact, an emerging issue for players involves an escrow system that ensures a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between the players and the owners. On that day, the league will begin to share which players made the list of the 100 greatest to play in the NHL, starting with 34 who played predominantly from 1917-1966. dollar is worth about 25 per cent more than it was against Canadian currency five years ago. It’s that simple.”Here are some other things of note around the NHL:AGELESS WONDERJaromir Jagr is closing in on second place on the NHL career scoring list.

Top NHL prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois looks to find game at world juniors

In junior, sometimes you wait for the puck and it’s not always coming but in the NHL, as soon as you’re open the puck’s coming to you. The speed of the game is so much different. I think this year I’m mentally ready. “I see it as a good challenge.“I think I’m ready for it. I met everybody. 26 to Jan. That performance prompted the Blue Jackets to skip over higher-ranked Jesse Puljujarvi and take Dubois third over all in the NHL draft in June.“It’s never easy to come back to junior from the NHL,” Canadian junior coach Dominique Ducharme said of Dubois. I know what to expect. Half of our team were in NHL camps.”Chabot is the only defenceman returning from last year’s world juniors.“For sure, there’s a little more pressure on my shoulders, but I don’t really see it as pressure,” he said. Last year, I just tried to not to make mistakes.”He made it to the final day of the Blue Jackets camp before being sent back to junior.“Nobody likes to get cut, but it’s a process,” said Dubois. Dubois and Dylan Strome, drafted third over all in 2015 by the Arizona Coyotes, are the closest to star status.Strome is among five returning players from the Canadian team that lost in the quarter-final of last year’s world juniors in Finland. They said ‘get lots of minutes that you wouldn’t get in Columbus.’”A highlight this season was being captain of the QMJHL team that swept a two-game series with the Russian juniors.Another player who has had a taste of the NHL is Thomas Chabot. “I learned a lot there.“I usually play against 19- or 20-year-olds in junior and to go up to the NHL and play against older guys was a good challenge. The Saint John Sea Dogs rearguard got a good look in Ottawa’s training camp and played one regular-season game for the Senators.“It’s a lot different in the NHL,” said Chabot, 19. It’s hard to come back but I’ve got it pretty easy in Saint John. 5 in Toronto and Montreal. They said go ‘back to junior. I’m concentrating on what I can do to help the team win and what I can do to get better. Highly rated prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois hasn’t dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since his return from the Columbus Blue Jackets camp, but he has a chance to make up for it at the world junior championship.The big centre, who will reportedly be traded by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Dec. I played last year with Joe Hicketts pretty much against the other teams’ top lines, so I learned a lot there.” “There’s always a period to adapt and to bring your mind back to it.“He wanted to be playing in the NHL and that’s quite normal, right? I can see the same thing probably happening with Pierre-Luc when he came back.”There are no star attractions, like Connor McDavid in 2015 or Mitch Marner last year, on the Canadian team that will play in the world junior event Dec. “It was my first camp with older guys.“This year I went to the summer [development] camp. “I don’t think coming back at 18 is a bad thing.“It’s going to help my career in the long term. I saw that with [Jonathan] Drouin when he came back to Halifax [from the Tampa Bay Lightning].It took him a month, or a month and half to get going, but once he did he was pretty dominant. So there are a lot of mental things to go through when you face that. I’ll try again next year. When I go on the ice, I try to have fun. 18, has a decent but hardly overwhelming six goals and 18 points in 20 QMJHL games this season, well off-pace from the 42 goals and 99 points he put up in 62 games last season. Work on everything.’ They want me to play centre and I only started playing centre halfway through last season. Dubois didn’t make that team.“Last year, on the ice, I was ready but I was nervous,” said Dubois, 18.

Hometown rookie Troy Stecher makes a splash with the Vancouver Canucks

The ethos is: Go for it. “He’ll go into a corner with a guy bigger than him – and I’ve seen it at the NHL level too – and he’ll come out with the puck. “He didn’t care about how big I was. That tells you about his personality.”Fred Harbinson’s first encounter with Stecher, when the defenceman was 15, was much the same. At the end, pressure came back: Connor McDavid was flying toward the Vancouver net and Stecher rode him to the outside, snuffing the threat, and checked him into the boards. In his sophomore year, a few NHL teams took interest. When the puck emerged from the scrum, Stecher snagged it and put it safely up the ice for a line change.Stecher grew up in the Vancouver suburbs and, given his short stature, went undrafted by the National Hockey League as a teenager. And they are again mired at the bottom of the NHL standings, now home after another difficult road trip.Twenty-one games into his career, Stecher is already one of the best Canucks, among the team’s leading puck-possession players. Harbinson, coach of the Junior A Penticton Vees, met Stecher and his dad for breakfast, after his scouts had told him about the defenceman’s potential.“He looked like he was 12 years old,” remembered Harbinson of the breakfast, when he tried to convince the teenager that he needed another year in midget hockey.Stecher declared: “I’m going to make your team.”The next day, seeing him on the ice, Harbinson agreed: “That kid’s going to make our team.”After three seasons in Penticton, Stecher was the only player in his North Dakota freshman class who hadn’t been drafted by the NHL. It didn’t take him long to get back. Signing him, followed by his rapid success, is a win for the Canucks’ beleaguered management.Stecher had a strong preseason but started the year in the American Hockey League. A resolute confidence has carried him.“When he doesn’t have the puck, he wants the puck,” said Brad Berry, hockey coach at the University of North Dakota, where Stecher played three seasons and last spring helped win a national title. He plays 21 minutes a game, near the top of other rookie defencemen around the league.Most impressive is his ability to generate shots on goal. He was named third star in his first NHL game.It was in Junior A, under the guidance of Harbinson, that Stecher began to believe he could reach the NHL.His coach told him: just go play.“People were always doubting me because of my size,” Stecher said. “One of my strongest assets is my feet, my ability to skate – I think it has to be, with my height.”The NHL is not a welcoming place for 5-foot-10 defenceman: The average D-man stands 6-foot-2.But while only a fraction of defenders who make it are Stecher’s height, the ones who do tend to be potent players, offensively and defensively, guys such Brian Rafalski and Brian Campbell.Stecher’s coaches, from junior through college to the NHL, all cite his fervent work ethic. He cared about heart.” That kind of defies all odds but he seems to do that on a consistent basis. The Canucks are again dealing with injuries to the team’s best defenders. His average of three a game is among the best of all defencemen in the league.Stecher has likened his approach to leaping from college to the NHL to that of jumping in a swimming pool, cannonball-style. On one shift, early in his second NHL game in late October, Troy Stecher put on a quiet display of confidence at both ends of the ice.It started when the 5-foot-10 Vancouver Canucks defenceman collected the puck in his team’s zone and fired a tape-to-tape pass 70 feet up and across the ice to spark an offensive push against the Edmonton Oilers. As a 22-year-old rookie, after a strong collegiate career, he has quickly become a key part of the Canucks roster.Stecher’s arrival is good fortune in bad times. I just want to skate it out,” said Stecher. The mindset jibes with the numerous young, fast, attacking players who have emerged in the NHL.He’s a defenceman but his instinct is to drive the offence.“It’s a lot more fun playing offence than defence, so sometimes I don’t really want to look for a pass if I have the lane. Playing for the team he grew up loving was a plus. Last season, as a junior, his offensive output more than doubled and about 20 teams came calling.There were promises of a guaranteed spot on opening-night rosters.Stecher was skeptical.In Vancouver, he saw opportunity and knew he had to fight for it.

With the Cleveland Browns still winless, the Detroit Lions can relate

The Lions moved on with Martin Mayhew as general manager and Jim Schwartz as coach.Neither of them is still with the organization, but they helped the Lions recover from depths no team had ever reached. “Every day you wake up, don’t look at the record. During one stretch, they dropped games to Minnesota, Houston, Washington and Chicago, all by eight points or fewer. “It’s hard. Colletto!’ And Colletto finally answered and said, ‘Sorry, coach. “We were about to score and [quarterback Jon] Kitna was gesturing to the sideline to let them know that he wasn’t hearing a play in his headset. But he has some, well, interesting tales.“What really sums it up is what happened in Atlanta in our first game,” Williams said. Know you’re a big part of the team and every time you have a chance, you want to be a part of the reason they’re winning – not part of the reason why they’re losing. Jim! Team president Matt Millen was fired during that 2008 season, and Marinelli met the same fate when it was over. Rod says into the headset, ‘Come in Jim! That awful season netted them the No. I know what they’re going through.”The 2008 Lions had their chances to win a game. Before Detroit’s 0-16 nightmare under Rod Marinelli eight years ago, the Lions managed to win the four games that didn’t count.Of course, even that may have come with a cost.“We were 4-0 in the preseason and showed our whole hand,” said Roy Williams, a wide receiver for that team. “We used all our plays and didn’t change anything when the season started.”Williams got off easy that year. If Cleveland does finish 0-16, those 2008 Lions would have company in that pitiable club, but Detroit isn’t exactly buzzing with anticipation.“Can we wait for them to go 0-16 before I pop champagne?” joked Dominic Raiola, who played centre for the Lions from 2001-2014.All kidding aside, it’s not like an 0-16 season in Cleveland would change what the Lions had to endure eight years ago.“I haven’t been following what they’ve been doing and I don’t really care if they win a game or not,” said Raiola, now an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Lions.The Browns actually have a chance to surpass the 2008 Lions in one measure of futility. Needless to say, it’s hard to stay hopeful during a season like that, and players – both in Detroit in 2008 and Cleveland this year – are put to an unenviable test.“Be a pro. He was traded in October to Dallas. He says in their Thanksgiving loss to Tennessee, the Lions were penalized for delay of game immediately after a timeout, and he had to apologize to Marinelli because he’d drawn a blank on what play to call.“There wasn’t anybody dozing off,” Colletto said.Colletto can certainly empathize with what Cleveland’s coaches are facing now.“I know [Browns coach] Hue Jackson. There’s a lot of good coaches there,” Colletto said. It’s really hard. Cleveland also lost all four of its preseason games this season. At the end of the day, not everyone’s going to give you their best, but you want to be one of the good guys.”If there’s any solace for the Browns, it’s that the Lions actually recovered from 0-16 rather quickly. Detroit was even tied in the fourth quarter of the season finale at Green Bay before falling 31-21.“Every week it just kept building and building,” Muhlbach said.Muhlbach and quarterback Dan Orlovsky are the only current Lions players who were with the team in 2008. “As a football player to another football player, I hope no one else has to go through that.”

The Browns have three more chances to avoid a winless season, starting with this weekend’s game at Buffalo. Detroit long-snapper Don Muhlbach was with the Lions back in 2008, when they became the first – and so far, the only – NFL team to go 0-16.This season, as the Cleveland Browns approach that mark of infamy, Muhlbach would rather not see a sequel.“That was a brutal year,” Muhlbach said. You have a job to do,” said Tampa Bay offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus, who played for the Lions in 2008. I must’ve dozed off.’” Colletto, who was Detroit’s offensive co-ordinator that year, says he doesn’t remember any incident like that. In 2011, Detroit made the playoffs – and Stafford is a big part of this year’s NFC North-leading team.“Yeah, but we could’ve won one game and still got Stafford,” Muhlbach said.Plenty of teams have hit rock-bottom and then returned to respectability. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, which they used on quarterback Matthew Stafford.Calvin Johnson was in his second season when the Lions went winless, and he went on to become one of the greatest players in franchise history. Only one of them went 0-16.The memories of that season linger for those who experienced it.

MLB owners, players ratify collective-bargaining agreement through 2021

The new deal expires Dec. I feel that opportunity was missed here.”The union said its executive board unanimously ratified the Basic Agreement, Benefit Plan Agreement, Joint Drug Agreement and Joint Policy on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse.Former all-star first baseman Tony Clark led the union’s negotiations for the first time. He took over as executive director following the death of Michael Weiner in November 2013.“The players’ involvement during negotiations was both essential and unprecedented, and today’s unanimous vote was the culmination of those efforts,” Clark said in a statement.“This was a team effort from beginning to end.”Negotiators reached an agreement Nov. After eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the sides have negotiated deals without a strike or lockout in 2002, 2006, 2011 and this year. 1, 2021.Teams voted 29-1 to approve, with Tampa Bay Rays managing general partner Stuart Sternberg as the lone dissenting vote, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the vote breakdown was not announced.While Sternberg declined to comment on the vote, he did express his views on the deal.“I am thankful for the hard work, leadership and spirit of compromise that were essential to this agreement coming together,” he said in an e-mail to the AP.“However, twice a decade, the bargaining process provides an opportunity to address the extraordinary and widening competitive gap that exists on-field between higher and lower revenue clubs. 30 in Irving, Texas, about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the previous contract.The deal raises the luxury-tax thresholds, increases some of the tax rates, imposes a hard cap on signing bonuses for international amateurs and bans smokeless tobacco for players who do not already have major-league service.It also eliminates the provision that gave World Series home-field advantage to the all-star winner and bans rookie hazing that includes costumes as women. Baseball owners and players have ratified the sport’s new five-year collective-bargaining agreement, extending their labour peace to 26 years through 2021.The sides announced their approval Wednesday, a day after holding votes in separate telephone meetings.“This agreement allows us to build on the positive momentum from last season and promote a generation of young players,” baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Long-time Coyotes fan Matthews to face his favourite team with Leafs

He particularly loved the goal celebrations of the second-ever pick of the Coyotes franchise (Dan Focht was first), how he’d get down on one knee with an emphatic fist-pump. I was walking outside in shorts and flip-flops,” Matthews said after practice on Wednesday afternoon. His childhood was not the hockey life of a kid growing up in Ontario or Alberta, but Matthews, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ emerging centre, said it wasn’t far off either.“I was still waking up at 6 in the morning, but it was about 65 [Fahrenheit] and sunny outside. Congrats #AM34.”“Just to get a nice little shout-out from him was pretty nice,” said Matthews, represented by the Creative Artists Agency that also used to represent Briere.Though the Coyotes franchise has endured a pair of turbulent decades since moving from Winnipeg in the mid-1990s, Matthews suggests the market has potential to attract kids to the sport and perhaps one day produce NHL-calibre talent. Toronto has turned bitterly cold in recent days making next week’s trip (just in time for the holidays) all the more special.“I mean home’s home,” Matthews said, “so it’s always nice to be there.” Absolutely incredible. Louis when Matthew was only three years old.Matthews, meanwhile, played for the Jr. Coyotes minor-hockey program and was a long-time fan of the local NHL team.If there’s one thing he now misses about life in Arizona it’s the weather. California is now a bona-fide hotbed for young hockey talent after Wayne Gretzky’s move there in 1988 drew eyes and eventually skates and sticks to the ice.Matthews, a contender to become the first American Calder trophy winner since Patrick Kane in 2008, could be a similar source of inspiration for youngsters in a place known most for its red-hot sun.The Coyotes were what drew Matthews to hockey, and now perhaps he can help lure in others.The only other NHL players ever born in Arizona were Ty Conklin, who grew up in Alaska, Jim Brown, a defenceman who played three games for the Los Angeles Kings in 1983, 24-year-old Philadelphia Flyers centre Sean Couturier and Calgary Flames 18-year-old Matthew Tkachuk.Couturier was born in 1992, before the Coyotes even existed, and spent his formative years in New Brunswick. Playing alongside one of Briere’s sons growing up, Matthews actually got to know the two-time all-star.“It’s just funny kind of looking back at pictures with him when I was six, seven years old and then just how fast the time’s flying by,” said Matthews.Maybe the most meaningful congratulatory message following Matthews’ historic four-goal NHL debut came from Briere, who posted to Twitter: “Wow. Tkachuk’s dad Keith was traded from Phoenix to St. Back when Daniel Brière was putting up 283 points over 364 games as a dynamo centre for the Phoenix Coyotes, a young boy named Auston Matthews was one of his biggest fans.Today, the 19-year-old Matthews, who was born the year after the former Winnipeg Jets landed in the desert and were relaunched as the Coyotes, is the first real byproduct of the sun-splashed hockey community to make the NHL. “To me, it was just normal growing up there.”Matthews will face his favourite childhood team for the first time in Toronto on Thursday night before heading back home next week for his first NHL appearance at Gila River Arena, the rink he used to attend as a Coyotes fan.He’ll get to face off against long-time Arizona captain Shane Doan, one of the players he used to root for as a kid.Some of Matthews’s best memories from those days actually didn’t involve the Coyotes at all, but their opponents. He remembers watching Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby with awe, recalling with precision a pair of special goals both scored in Glendale, Ariz.Matthews was there rooting for the Coyotes, “but secretly you wanted to see something fun happen from those really special players.”Briere was the hometown hero though, the player Matthews just couldn’t get enough of as a kid.