Mitch Marner becomes third Leaf to win rookie of the month this season

The 19-year-old joins teammates William Nylander (October) and Auston Matthews (December) as rookie of the month winners this season, making the Maple Leafs the first NHL team with three different winners of the award in one season.Marner, the fourth overall selection in the 2015 NHL draft, leads first-year players with 29 assists this season and is tied with Laine for the rookie lead in points with 41. He beat Carolina Hurricanes right-wing Sebastian Aho (eight goals, two assists), Detroit Red Wings right-wing Anthony Mantha (four goals, six assists) and Winnipeg Jets right-wing Patrik Laine (four goals, six assists in six games) for the honour. Toronto forward Mitch Marner has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January, becoming the third Maple Leaf to win the award over the first four months of the season.Marner led all rookies with 11 assists and 15 points in 13 games.

Alex Galchenyuk’s return gives Canadiens a nearly full lineup

After that, they have a relatively light final 24 games of the regular season with only a handful of matchups against top teams.With players coming back, others have to move. At the same time we gave young guys an opportunity to show what they can do.”Perhaps the key discovery was that Phillip Danault, who was thought to be a checking centre, could do a solid job on the first line with captain Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov.That will let Galchenyuk play his way back to top form on the third unit. Galchenyuk had two goals and two assists in five games when he first returned on Jan. It appears that the Montreal Canadiens plague of injuries has run its course.After David Desharnais and defencemen Andrei Markov and Greg Pateryn returned in the same game one night earlier, centre Alex Galchenyuk was back at practice on Wednesday.That left only right-wing Brendan Gallagher still in the infirmary, and he is due back soon from a broken hand. You have chemistry through the whole team now. “It’s not easy to come in and have such high expectations thrown on you, but our guys did really well.”Now they hope to stay healthy.The win over Buffalo began a string of eight games in 13 days, after which they get their league-mandated five-game break. “That’s good news for us.“It’s a big boost. 14 after missing 14 games and was pleased to see the team had not gone into a slump.“It’s unbelievable how we did it,” he said. That line will see its first action Thursday night in Philadelphia.Desharnais scored only his fourth goal of the season in Montreal’s 5-2 home win over Buffalo on Tuesday night.“We’re looking for balance on all our lines,” said Therrien “The best example is the Stanley Cup winner (Pittsburgh) who have Phil Kessel on the third line. Everyone’s played with everyone. Now we’ll get Galchenyuk back, (Jeff) Petry should be fine. Our leaders did a fantastic job to maintain the focus and not get distracted. “That’s important for us.“We had adversity and I don’t think we reacted the right way. Having them back, there’s no doubt that we approach games with a different attitude.”The Canadiens injury woes began in early December when Galchenyuk (knee), Desharnais (knee) and Pateryn (ankle) went down, soon followed by Markov (groin), forward Andrew Shaw (concussion) and Gallagher.While the team’s torrid winning pace early in the campaign slowed, they managed to go 12-8-4 since Dec. We got some guys back and you could feel the energy and confidence they brought us. They’re tough to play against because of their balance.”Shaw returned on Jan. Defenceman Zach Redmond was sent down earlier this week and then Montreal acquired rearguard Nikita Nesterov from Tampa Bay, so Mark Barberio was placed on waivers.Petry, who missed the last game with an illness, is expected to return against Philadelphia. “It shows the character and depth we have on this team.“It’s a good thing moving forward. Everyone’s getting healthy and we can get back to what we were doing at the start of the year when we went on that 10 game win streak. Davy’s back scoring goals and sniping. “The last two months was pretty rough health-wise but we were still able to maintain our quality of play,” said coach Michel Therrien, whose club slogged through the last two months without several starters. It can change a game.”The injuries saw a rash of call-ups from the AHL St. 14, but then he missed three more games with the same injury.In practice, Galchenyuk skated between Shaw and Desharnais, a centre who has been moved to left wing. This year we reacted a lot better. John’s IceCaps, with forwards Michael McCarron, Chris Terry, Nikita Scherbak, Bobby Farnham and, more recently, Sven Andrighetto and Jacob De La Rose all seeing action, as well as defencemen Joel Hanley and Ryan Johnston.Other youngsters picked up their game, such as Danault, rookie winger Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron.“The guys that were put in the lineup did a great job of seizing the opportunity and playing well,” said goalie Carey Price. 12 to keep a safe lead atop their division.It’s a huge difference from last season, when a late November injury to star goalie Carey Price saw them plummet from first place to missing the playoffs.“We learned from last year’s adversity,” said Therrien.

Toronto FC says it has not received a formal offer from China for Giovinco

Toronto FC says there has been no formal transfer bid for Sebastian Giovinco, reiterating it has no interest in selling its star Italian striker.Giovinco’s agent made headlines recently in citing “an important offer” from the deep-pocketed Chinese Super League. “It’s not about money or about buying low, selling high. While MLS and Chinese Super League teams have until the end of February to transfer players, Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko made it clear he is not looking to sell the Atomic Ant.“We’re a club that wants to be contending for championships each year,” Bezbatchenko told a media conference call Wednesday. But that has not yet translated into anything concrete. No midfielder scored more than two goals.The team is also looking for some cover for Steven Beitashour at right back.Bezbatchenko said the team currently has 24 players signed, including 17 on its senior roster. We want to partake in the import and export of players, for sure, but we’re not a selling club. The deal is one year plus an option.The 35-year-old Cheyrou is seen as a reliable on-field deputy for captain Michael Bradley when needed. “We just talked about how that’s a lot of money and how the game is changing around the world because of what’s happening in China.”Chelsea reportedly sold Oscar to Shanghai SIPG for €60-million ($84.3-million).Other prominent players headed to China include Brazilians Hulk, Ramires, Paulinho and Alexandre Pato as well as Colombia’s Jackson Martinez and Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi.Bezbatchenko said the effects of the Chinese spending spree will be limited by the restrictions on the number of imports in the league.Giovinco is doing all right for himself in this hemisphere. Under MLS rules, teams can carry as many as 20 or as few as 18 on the senior part of the 28-man overall roster.He indicated he expects to go with 18 senior players. As such, he is expected to stay with the franchise when his playing days are over.Toronto added depth to its backline Tuesday when it signed French-born Congolese defender Chris Mavinga after he was released from his contract by Russia’s Rubin Kazan.“He’s entering his prime, he has the athleticism to do well in our league … he’s a quality defender one-on-one,” said Bezbatchenko, who said the team sees Mavinga more as a centre back than left fullback.The GM sidestepped a question on the 25-year-old Mavinga’s past, which included a suspension from the French federation for leaving an under-21 camp with several teammates to go to a nightclub without permission before a crucial European qualifying game in 2012.Bezbatchenko said another signing could come next week. There are four or five slots open in the supplemental part of the roster that will likely be held for Toronto FC II players.The team is currently training in California. Shanghai Shenhua, for example, is paying Argentine striker Carlos Tevez $40-million (U.S.) over two years, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.“We joked around about Tevez and about [Brazilian midfielder] Oscar and these fees and how crazy they were,” Bezbatchenko said. That would likely be an attacking midfielder, someone who can score or engineer a goal.After Giovinco’s 17 goals and Jozy Altidore’s 10, the leading scorer on the team last season was fullback Justin Morrow who had five goals. The 30-year-old made $7.1-million (U.S.) last season, second only in Major League Soccer to Orlando’s Kaka ($7.2-million) and has three years left on his Toronto contact plus an option year.Also Wednesday, Toronto confirmed it had re-signed veteran French midfielder Benoît Cheyrou, who scored the go-head goal in overtime in the second leg of TFC’s dramatic Eastern Conference championship win over Montreal. Off the field, he is a valuable mentor to the club’s younger talent. We want to be at the top of MLS in every category.“Obviously Seba is one of the best players, if not the best in MLS, so we’re not looking to sell him or put a price-tag on him.”Bezbatchenko said he had talked to Giovinco about the recent spending spree in China as its league looks to up its profile by signing marquee names.

Canadian cross-country skiers win three medals in eight days

22 that disciplinary proceedings were under way on 28 Russian athletes whose urine samples were suspected of being tampered with at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.Six were cross-country skiers who have been provisionally suspended by FIS, skiing’s world governing body. The World Cup final March 17-19 originally slated for Tyumen, Russia, had been moved to Quebec City’s Plains of Abraham.“Being from there and having raced there last year, I had the chance to have a really good day with a second place in the skate sprint,” Harvey said. The 28-year-old from Saint-Ferréol-Les-Neiges, Que., and Toronto’s Lenny Valjas won team pursuit gold Jan. “I think it’s part of it for sure.”The International Olympic Committee said Dec. “It’s a mix of a good body and really good equipment. Kershaw is in Norway with his wife, who is expecting their first child.Harvey and the rest of the team remained in Europe preparing for the world championship Feb. “That actually is the most emotion I’ve ever had in a ski race.“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to maybe relive such a moment again.”Valjas is the only skier from Canada’s World Cup team competing in an Olympic test event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting Friday. Adopting a team mentality in an individual sport meant being accountable to one another and not just themselves.“We’ve been trying to keep each other motivated,” Harvey said. Currently ranked fourth over all in the men’s World Cup standings, Harvey is hitting that sweet spot.“I think I’m just arriving at a point in my career where I’m in my late 20s and that’s prime time for a cross-country skier, kind of like a marathon runner or a cyclist,” Harvey explained.“My body is just able to handle bigger training loads year after year.”Canada has six technicians managing their skis this season. Two men had appeals denied by FIS on Jan. “That’s the biggest gift for us in the sport, being on the podium at the end of a race.”“Now that we did, it confirms we do have a legitimate shot at it for the world championships or the Olympics next year.”It takes time for an athlete to build the powerful internal engine an endurance sport such as cross-country requires. That would have been a big difference.”The Canadian men committed prior to this season to making the relay a priority. “The world championship is more important.“We have an opportunity from the Canadian Olympic Committee to go to Pyeongchang at the end of the season and see the area and the venue.” 25 and the four others are still appealing.Russia’s men won a World Cup relay silver medal prior to the suspensions, but two of them were not on the relay team that finished seventh in Sweden.“The Russians didn’t do so well because some of their top, top skiers were just not racing,” Harvey said. There are a few reasons for a spike in cross-country ski medals from Canada’s men, according to the team’s star.Alex Harvey says peaking at the right time, ski management, a commitment to the relay and the suspension of some Russians from competition combined to produce two World Cup gold medals and a bronze over an eight-day span. 22 to March 5 in Lahti, Finland.“We cannot sacrifice the training camp,” Bouchard said. 15 in Italy followed by Harvey’s 15-kilometre victory and the 4-x-7.5km relay bronze a week later in Sweden.Harvey, Valjas, veteran Devon Kershaw of Sudbury and rookie Knute Johnsgaard of Whitehorse earned the first World Cup relay medal ever by Canadian men.While coach Louis Bouchard played down the absence of four Russian men from the field in Canada’s recent medal burst, Harvey feels it made a difference, particularly in the relay medal.“I think so,” Harvey told The Canadian Press from the Italian Alps. If that seems like a lot, Harvey says the Norwegians have more than 15.“The skis are a crucial part of the equation,” Harvey said. That allows for fairly stable results.“When you are stable in the top 10 you have a bigger chances of getting a few podiums.”The Russian doping scandal has impacted the Canadians in another dramatic way. “Had they been on the team, we would have most likely been fourth.

Brazilian prodigy Gabriel Jesus scores, assists in Man City debut

Only one area needs some work – his discipline – after waving an imaginary card at the referee and being shown the real thing in yellow. So too was Sergio Aguero, whose stoppage-time goal against Queens Park Rangers clinched that title, with the 28-year-old striker forced to watch from the bench until replacing Sterling in the second half.Such was City’s ruthlessness, there was little attention on the other bold decision by Guardiola. He remains a key cog in the team, pulling the strings from midfield, instigating attacks – just as he did for the opener.On an inept night for West Ham, Aaron Creswell’s poor pass on the halfway line allowed De Bruyne to seize possession and launch a counterattack. Pedro Obiang conceded possession and Sane exploited the carelessness before threading the ball through to Sterling. After failing to make a save in a month, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was dropped to the bench and replaced by Willy Caballero, who faced only one shot on target.In other EPL action, Manchester United missed a chance to gain some ground on its rivals for Champions League qualification by drawing 0-0 at home to relegation-threatened Hull, the latest setback for Jose Mourinho’s side.It was a third straight league draw for United, which dominated the match at Old Trafford but failed to break through because of a mixture of poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping by Elvin Jakupovic. As De Bruyne advanced, Gabriel Jesus squared a pass back to the midfielder who coolly swept a shot into the bottom corner in the 17th minute.On De Bruyne’s 50th Premier League appearance, this was his 11th goal, and he was the creator of City’s second four minutes later. Gabriel Jesus marked his full English Premier League debut with a goal and an assist as Manchester City’s new-generation attacking machine tore through West Ham in a ruthless 4-0 Premier League victory on Wednesday.The 19-year-old Brazilian prodigy flaunted his speedy talents to devastating effect against a disjointed West Ham, showing he has quickly adapted to English football. Aside from that lapse, he slipped into a thrilling triumvirate up front with 22-year-old Raheem Sterling and 21-year-old Leroy Sane. The Belgium international carried the ball forward through the centre of the pitch unchallenged before rolling it out to Gabriel Jesus on the right flank. A throughball to Sane allowed the German to dribble in from the left before laying off the cutback for David Silva to tap in.Gabriel Jesus’ shining moment came six minutes before halftime, completing a move that started with more sloppiness from West Ham. Sterling couldn’t continue his advance on goal as he was tripped by January recruit Jose Fonte, but Yaya Toure did convert from the spot in the 67th minute.On a night when City provided a glimpse of the promising future, Toure and Silva were the only two players in the starting lineup who also started the game that clinched the team’s first Premier League title five years ago.Roberto Mancini, City’s 2012 title-winning manager, was in the east London stands on Wednesday to watch this fresh generation in action under Guardiola’s command. Their challenge now is to turn City into title-challengers again, with Pep Guardiola’s side remaining fifth.Such is the trio’s youthfulness, the 25-year-old Kevin De Bruyne seems a veteran. The England winger picked out Gabriel Jesus to slot home.Few goals will be easier for Gabriel Jesus in the Premier League but few teams will roll over as meekly as a West Ham side reeling from the January transfer window departure of Dimitri Payet, its brightest of midfield talents.The loss of one player, however gifted, cannot account for such a capitulation but West Ham was coming up against a Manchester City side attacking with abandon.It was exemplified by high quality passes such as the one De Bruyne threaded through to Sterling in the second half.

Ryan Miller leads unlikely Canucks playoff push

The continued performance of Miller, who turns 37 this summer as he becomes a free agent, will be essential to a potential playoff push.Coach Willie Desjardins is frank about the playoff picture. It has been, said Miller, “a lot of frustration.”Now he is primed. Playing in the Western Conference helps. And the Western Conference playoff bar is unusually low for the second consecutive season.Vancouver’s playoffs prospects, however, may be illusory. They delivered. In his third year as coach, he had been seen by many as an inch away from being fired earlier this season, when Vancouver was struggling. Louis, Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas, and Winnipeg) in contention for the wild-card spots, and the projected playoff bar is again at 87 points.In Vancouver, Miller is on top of his game. His wife, Noureen DeWulf, is a busy actress in L.A., and their first son turns two years old in March.“I do want to get as much out of hockey as I can,” he said. On Tuesday, he said he asked them for more.“We know other teams are going to be better,” said Desjardins, as the team readied to play the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. “If we stay the same, it won’t be good enough.”Last season, the Minnesota Wild made the playoffs in the West in eighth place, with only 87 points. He savours the present – and doesn’t over-analyze his current performance. But the Canucks haven’t suggested they’re looking to sell. Last season, the Canucks weren’t good. Louis at the deadline, where his play became uneven.For him, this potential run in Vancouver comes after two up-and-down winters. The team has ceded the fewest goals in the league since the break. “There are things we’ll have to weigh, but family always comes first – for me.” need goaltending. The West’s playoff bar had previously never been lower than 91 points since the 2004-05 lockout.This season there are six teams (Los Angeles, St. In the first season of his three-year deal paying $6-million (U.S.) a year, he suffered a knee injury in February, 2015, and missed six important weeks. They have a tougher schedule than the other teams vying for the West’s two wild-card slots and will spend a good part of the next month on the road, where they are especially weak. The last time Miller was about to become a free agent, in 2013-14, he was playing well in Buffalo and was traded to St. If he sustains it, it would be only the third time in his long career that he has cracked the 0.920 mark, and he would become only the sixth goaltender 36 or older in the past three decades to reach that mark.At the trade deadline, Miller could bring an interesting return – as rivals such as Dallas and L.A. He knows he had a losing skid of seven consecutive games in the fall.“Hockey gives and takes,” he said.In the recent winning streak, he booked his 350th career victory, putting him at No. 20 on the all-time list among goalies.His aim is to keep playing – but where is the question. When the hockey season started, there were two divergent views on the Vancouver Canucks: Outsiders widely predicted the team would again finish near the bottom of the league; the team believed it was good enough to be in the playoff hunt.The Canucks have so far proven outsiders wrong, largely because of a 9-3-3 run since the Christmas break that has been powered primarily by great goaltending, led by veteran Ryan Miller. Vancouver’s successful run includes four wins against the worst teams in the league, Colorado and Arizona. His save percentage is 0.920. After Christmas, he said he asked his players for an extra effort.

Blues’ GM Armstrong says team has become collection of ‘independent contractors’

When former Blues captain David Backes left as a free agent to join the Boston Bruins in the summer and Troy Brouwer left to sign with the Calgary Flames, they did so partly to enhance their wealth, but also because the Blues made the financial decision to let them go rather than squeeze their demands into their salary-cap structure and make changes elsewhere.So the Blues lost two of their edgiest players and two essential pieces of their identity.Philosophically, Hitchcock always relied on his leadership group to act as a liaison between the coaching staff and the dressing room. For better or worse, a coach’s IQ is almost always linked to his goaltender’s save percentage, no matter how beloved – or disliked – they were. They were a hard team to play against, one that would grind you down physically. So there is no one-size-fits-all solution for an in-season coaching change.But Yeo will seem a lot smarter if he can figure out how to get Allen stopping pucks consistently again. It usually sounds like he should have gotten a raise instead.But on Wednesday, in announcing that he had replaced Ken Hitchcock behind the bench with coach-in-waiting Mike Yeo, St. But in moving to a different type of team, the Blues were no longer the same fearsome opponent. Talent remains – in Vladimir Tarasenko, in Jaden Schwartz, in Colton Parayko and in older players such as Paul Stastny, Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen.But fundamentally, they lost their way.All of that could have been overcome if the goaltending had held up. Last month, the New York Islanders replaced Jack Capuano with Doug Weight and they haven’t lost in regulation since (5-0-1). Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made a fascinating point about why his team is flailing away in the NHL’s Central Division this season. Just about every news conference that follows a coaching change produces the same bland, boilerplate language – the “yadda yadda yadda” of Seinfeld.On his way out the door, the newly unemployed coach is lauded for his diligent efforts; for his contributions to player development; and for the overall stamp he left on the organization. Louis).As the Blues saw their championship window closing, they refreshed their roster, this summer making it younger and putting more emphasis on speed and less on size. The hired-to-be-fired culture isn’t limited to North America or the NHL.A year ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a midseason coaching change – from Mike Johnston to Mike Sullivan – and it translated into a Stanley Cup championship. According to Armstrong, the Blues have lost all sense of team identity and have morphed into a collection of “independent contractors.”Now, most people would have been content to discuss whether Hitchcock had been done in by the goaltending struggles of Jake Allen and/or Carter Hutton; or if he’d “lost” the dressing room because of his unrelenting methods.But Armstrong, a long-time executive who won the Stanley Cup with Hitchcock and the 1999 Dallas Stars, upped the ante considerably by shifting the discussion to selfish play.He understands that being an independent contractor is a fact of life in today’s NHL – and that the notion cuts both ways. Backes – a smart, glib facilitator – did yeoman’s service there, helping to keep the peace when unhappiness threatened to bubble to the surface.For most of their years under Hitchcock, the Blues played the same essential style as the Los Angeles Kings. But the results were far less positive in Florida, where interim coach Tom Rowe had just 11 wins to show for his first 28 games behind the bench after replacing Gerard Gallant. But the Blues determined that this was the year, once and for all, that Allen would be given the opportunity to become the team’s undisputed starter, after moving on from the likes of Ben Bishop, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott. Everybody’s an independent contractor at their core, and the most successful coaches are the ones who can convince players to put their individual goals aside once the ink is dry on their contracts and pursue team goals.Hitchcock leaves the NHL coaching ranks with 781 career regular-season victories, fourth on the all-time list and just one behind Al Arbour, a four-time Stanley Cup champion.Hitchcock is a hockey lifer and as such will resurface – perhaps in an advisory role, perhaps coaching for Canada internationally or even by taking an overseas gig, of which there are always plenty open. Just before the NHL all-star break, the Blues left Allen behind for a game against the Winnipeg Jets so he could take a mental break from the game.He returned Tuesday night, gave up five goals to the Jets – and looked to be the same fragile soul he was before the break.So naturally, the coach had to go.In Yeo, the Blues promoted the man that was going to be Hitchcock’s replacement next year anyway.Last year, the Blues played 20 playoff games and were tied 2-2 in the Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks, with the home-ice advantage, but lost in six.It was the sort of glass-half-full postseason success story that tempted the team to give it one last try with Hitchcock – minus some of the players that played the Hitchcock way.Armstrong’s next key decision will be what to do with defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk, a pending unrestricted free agent and one of the biggest names making the rounds as the NHL trading deadline approaches.The Blues have made it clear that, with their other payroll obligations, they probably cannot meet Shattenkirk’s asking price, which means they’ll either move him by the deadline or risk losing him for nothing in free agency.Again, that’s the nature of the beast in the NHL. Nail Yakupov came in. Robby Fabbri’s minutes were upped. Most times, you’re left wondering: Why did they fire this coaching paragon anyway? In theory, their take-no-prisoners style was supposed to pay dividends in the playoffs (which it did for Los Angeles, but not for St. The decision has been a massive failure to date.Allen has seemingly lost all his confidence, and Hitchcock’s decision to remove him from a series of games in January only exacerbated the problem.

Suarez, Messi lead Barcelona past Atletico Madrid in Copa semi-final

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi did the damage again for Barcelona, scoring superb first-half goals as the defending champion won 2-1 at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday.Suarez scored after a run from almost the halfway line in the seventh minute, and Messi added to the lead with a powerful shot from outside the area in the 33rd. “I’m satisfied with the result.”Celta Vigo hosts Alaves in the first leg of the other semi-final on Thursday. It was more like the Atletico that we are used to seeing.”Griezmann kept the hosts alive with his header early in the second half, igniting the crowd at Vicente Calderon. France striker Antoine Griezmann pulled a goal back for Atletico with a 59th-minute header, and the hosts pressured for the rest of the match at a packed Vicente Calderon Stadium.But Barcelona held on for a win that puts it in a good position to reach the Copa final for the fourth straight season after next week’s second leg at Camp Nou.It has won the trophy three times in the past five seasons.“In the end we could have sealed it with another goal, but we also could have conceded one,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said of Atletico. Three minutes later he almost equalized with a close-range shot that was blocked by Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen on the line.Messi then struck the post from a free kick in the 75th.Neymar is suspended from the return match after being shown a yellow card early in the second half.Atletico will be without veteran defensive midfielder Gabi Fernandez for the same reason.Barcelona played without midfielders Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta because of injuries. Celta eliminated Real Madrid in the quarter-final.Barcelona’s first goal came after Griezmann lost possession, allowing Suarez to start his remarkable run.The Uruguay striker brilliantly cleared defender Stefan Savic with one touch to open a clear path toward the goal and outran the other defenders before finding the net with a low strike from inside the area.“They scored two great goals, there was nothing we could do,” Atletico defender Juanfran Torres said.Messi scored his 11th goal in 12 matches with an unstoppable left-foot drive from just outside the box, hitting a mid-height shot that struck the left post before going in.“Messi is always decisive for us, and ever more so in big matches like this one,” Luis Enrique said.Messi and Suarez each have scored seven goals in nine matches this year.“I leave satisfied with how the team played in the second half,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.“We had more intensity, more attitude.

Thomas has big fourth quarter, Celtics beat Raptors

“He runs through the offence slowly and finds a way to score.”In a final quarter that rivaled playoff intensity, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was fouled on a breakaway attempt and walked over and had words with Lowry before a few others player joined in and had to be separated by the officials. Boston’s Terry Rozier and the Raptors’ DeMarre Carroll were each given a technical foul. The Raptors have lost seven of nine.“He’s more patient than ever,” Sullinger said. Isaiah Thomas has started a new trend that’s growing with each fantastic fourth quarter.Thomas scored 19 of his 44 points in the final quarter to lift the Boston Celtics over the Toronto Raptors 109-104 on Wednesday night in a showdown for first place in the Atlantic Division.When Thomas hits a shot in the fourth now, his teammates and many in the stands look down at their wrists, simulating looking at a watch to signal that it’s Thomas’ time. Thomas had 18 of Boston’s final 23 points.“He’s playing at a really high level,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said of his 5-foot-9 point guard.Lowry led Toronto with 32 points, former Celtic Jared Sullinger had 13 and Norman Powell added 12. No other player in the league entered Wednesday with more than one.“You have to trap him and get the ball out of his hands,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said. That can’t happen.”It was the fifth straight win for Boston, which moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Raptors in the division and holds the Eastern Conference’s No. “I just did it one game and it kept going,” he said. 2 seed.Jae Crowder scored 14 points for the Celtics and Al Horford had 11. “I’ve got teammates, the fans, signs, everybody in social media is saying: ’You know what time it is.“’In his last game, Thomas had 24 in the fourth in a victory over Detroit. “He got three wide-open looks in the fourth. He’s had four games with 20 or more in the fourth.

Monahan has first two-goal game of season in Flames’ 5-1 win over Wild

“I thought going into the third period we still had a shot at it, but they came out strong in the third, which is usually a forte of ours and we didn’t get it done.”Goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 shots for the Wild, who had gone 12-0-2 in their past 14 road games.“It’s a long season,” said Dubnyk, whose streak of nine straight road wins was also snapped. “When you play with good players you get a lot of opportunities. Right now I’m getting some good looks and I’m going to try and continue to work hard and be there for the team.”Deryk Engelland had a goal and an assist for the Flames (26-24-3), who have won back-to-back games after losing their previous four.“They played last night and we knew that, so we had to come out with a big start,” said Engelland, who praised goalie Brian Elliott for his 28-save performance. “It’s not going to be perfect all the time. “Sometimes good things happen. Sean Monahan picked a great time to earn his first two-goal game of the season.The 22-year-old forward scored a pair of power-play goals, including the winner in the third period, to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.“It’s that time of the year where you don’t get as many man advantages so they are crucial and you’ve got to find ways of putting the puck in the back of the net and we did that tonight,” said Monahan, who has scored eight goals in his past nine games. All we’ve got to do is understand why that game was 5-1 and get back to playing how we want to.”Rookie forward Matthew Tkachuk gave the Flames a spark three and a half minutes into the game when he flattened Wild centre Eric Staal with a shoulder check in the Calgary zone.The Flames opened the scoring at 4:26 when Sam Bennett banked a shot off Chiasson’s torso and past Dubnyk.Monahan then put Calgary up 2-0 at 8:09 when he deposited a rebound into the net behind Dubnyk.Parise appeared to pull Minnesota within a goal at 11:37 of the second when he jammed a loose puck in the crease into the net, but the goal was disallowed because the veteran Wild forward made contact with Elliott.“I don’t think so,” said Parise when asked if the goal should have counted. After blocking a shot in the defensive zone, Zucker raced the length of the ice to score his 16th goal of the season.Monahan scored his second of the game and team-leading 18th of the season at 6:19 of the third when he took a pass from Dennis Wideman and snapped a shot to the top corner over the left shoulder of Dubnyk, who was screened by Brouwer on the play.Engelland snapped a shot from the point through traffic past Dubnyk 1:36 later before Ferland rounded out the scoring at 13:47. “Moose was huge at key times at the game to keep us up and when we got the chances, we put it in the back of the net.”Alex Chiasson and Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames, who start a three-game road trip on Friday in New Jersey against the Devils.Jason Zucker replied for the Wild (33-12-5), who had won three in a row and five of their past six.“They played better than us,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team beat the Oilers 5-2 one night earlier in Edmonton. “I’d love to say yeah, but if that happened to our guy, I think we’d all be pretty upset.”Zucker tapped a backhand pass from Mikael Granlund past Elliott at 12:40.

Town overwhelmed by offers to help after theft of Gordie Howe jersey

Folks in a small Saskatchewan town are taking heart at the kindness being shown them after the theft of an autographed Gordie Howe hockey jersey threw the future of the local rink into jeopardy.People in Asquith had planned to raffle off the jersey — donated by one of Howe’s relatives — to pay for continued upkeep on the arena and allow local kids to play hockey. It felt the exact same way.”Residents still hope the case can be solved and the jersey returned. I don’t know how to do that.”Still, the theft has had a lasting effect on community members.Justin Wilson, a young hockey player in Asquith, said he doesn’t feel as comfortable in the rink.“Now that people have broken in, it’s not really safe,” he said.“I was devastated,” said volunteer Blaine Ganchar. But the jersey was stolen recently from where it was being displayed in the rink, leaving volunteers at a loss to how they would be able to keep things going.However, news stories about their plight have prompted an outpouring of goodwill from across the country.Some people have called the town office, offering to donate cash.Others have offered to donate their own memorabilia — including a signed Sidney Crosby jersey — saying it’s more important that kids have a place to play hockey than having a memento in their basement.“(I’m) overwhelmed and humbled by how many responses we have got,” said Kevin Rousell, a rink volunteer. “How do you say thank you to everybody? “It basically felt no different than coming home and finding out someone had been in your house, gone through your belongings.

Tagliabue apologizes for 1994 concussion remarks

Pellman in charge, knowing what his specialties were.”Pellman became a highly criticized figure on that committee because of his lack of background in head trauma cases.“It was truly based on track record that these men had with their teams and what I thought they could help us accomplish with internal change,” Tagliabue said of the appointment.Tagliabue was also a finalist in 2006, 2008 and 2009. “We looked at data from the five seasons before ‘94, and it was relatively flat in terms of concussions. My language was intemperate, and it led to serious misunderstanding. Elliot Pellman, a rheumatologist who became Tagliabue’s personal physician, as the head a mild traumatic brain injury committee. Looking back, it was not sensible language to use to express my thoughts at the time. He said that Jets owner Leon Hess suggested Pellman.“Hess said that he was a hard worker, he was highly intelligent, he was a good organizer and he could work effectively with coaches and players,” Tagliabue explained, “and he was willing to stand up for the medical point of view and not be cowed. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is apologizing for remarks he made decades ago about concussions in football.In an interview with the Talk of Fame Network that airs nationwide Wednesday night, Tagliabue admitted he erred in 1994 in saying concussions were “one of those pack-journalism issues.” He also claimed then that the number of concussions “is relatively small; the problem is the journalist issue.”

Up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Tagliabue spoke out Wednesday about a major blemish on a record highlighted by labour peace throughout his 17-year tenure.“Obviously,” he said, “I do regret those remarks. So I put Dr. My intention at the time was to make a point which could have been made fairly simply: That there was a need for better data. I overreacted on issues which we were already working on. There was a need for more reliable information about concussions and uniformity in terms of how they were being defined in terms of severity.”Tagliabue explained on the Talk of Fame broadcast that the reporting of head trauma issues was inadequate back then, that the system needed improvement. No firm conclusions could be drawn based on the information the league had at the time, he said.So when he appeared at a New York panel discussion, Tagliabue was making comments without in-depth knowledge of the issue.“A few days before that panel, we had reviewed information about concussions and that was one of the things that led me to offer the opinion that there was not an increase,” he said. But that doesn’t excuse the overreaction and intemperate language.“Bottom line, it sounded like I was shooting the messenger, which was the concussion issue. He is eligible in the contributors category along with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. And data from ‘94 was consistent with the prior five seasons.“But I think the consistency there was more about the inadequacy of our reporting system than what was going on on the playing field.”Tagliabue also addressed his 1994 appointment of Dr.

Guerrero and Halladay lead Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017

Marys. During Carter’s reign, the men’s and women’s national teams captured 13 international medals, including gold medals at the Pan Am Games in 2011 and 2015.The late Hudlin, a native of Victoria, served as an umpire in his home province for more than 40 years. Seven years later, he returned to umpire the event, making him the first international umpire ever to work two Little League World Series. He was the first non-American umpire to work the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in 1967. Halladay was an eight-time all-star whose .661 winning percentage is the best in Jays franchise history. He also ranks second among Jays pitchers in wins (148), shutouts (15) and strikeouts (1,495).The Denver native calls Toronto his “home away from home.”“My oldest son now 16 was born in Toronto and considers himself Canadian,” he said in a release. “It was a privilege to live and play in Canada for as long as I did.”In eight seasons with the Expos from 1996 to 2003, Guerrero was a four-time all-star. He also established all-time Expos records for batting average (.323), home runs (234), slugging percentage (.588) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.978).“I was surprised and excited to hear that I’m being inducted,” the native of the Dominican Republic said through a translator. Marys, Ont., later this year.The Canadian team that won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games will also be inducted. Former Expos slugger Vladimir Guerrero and retired Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay are among the 2017 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.Longtime Baseball Canada president Ray Carter and umpire Doug Hudlin will also be enshrined in St. “I knew that I would need to wait at least one more year to join the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but I’m very pleased to join the Canadian Hall of Fame first, since I was given my first opportunity to play Major League Baseball in Canada.”Carter was the president of Baseball Canada for from 2000 to 2016, the longest-serving president in the organization’s history. He died in 2014 at the age of 91.Managed by Ernie Whitt, Canada won its second straight Pan Am Games gold medal with a thrilling, extra-inning win over the United States on July 19, 2015.The induction ceremony is set for June 24 in St.

Racewalker Evan Dunfee’s high-fat diet: ‘You get used to eating packets of butter’

“It kind of becomes part of what we do to keep our fat intake up. “My skin got infinitely healthier. On weekends, which she takes a break from training, she’ll eat an exceptionally low-carb diet or even fast for 16 hours.The results?“Big things I noticed were unbelievable mental clarity. Dunfee has consumed about 40 grams a day as part of Australian Louise Burke’s study.Dunfee and Mat Bilodeau of Calgary are among 28 race walkers from around the world taking part in the study. Or maybe it was just the fact he’d spent several weeks in Australia training with some of the world’s best walkers.“That race almost felt easy,” Dunfee said. Dunfee chose not to launch a counter-appeal. On the days Evan Dunfee hasn’t ingested enough fat, he’ll melt butter in the microwave and then toss it back like tequila.You’d think fat and Olympic-level performance would be mutually exclusive.But the 26-year-old Dunfee, who became one of the feel-good stories of the Rio Olympics when he gracefully declined an opportunity to appeal his fourth-place finish in the 50-kilometre race walk, is part of a groundbreaking study at the Australian Institute of Sport on the effects of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet on endurance events. Barely a few days in, the six-foot-one athlete had already dropped almost nine pounds, plummeting to the lightest he’d been since he was 15 years old. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James famously dropped a large amount of weight (he never specified how much) in 2014 by following a ketogenic diet for 67 days. The Japanese walker was disqualified but then reinstated after an appeal. She’s reduced the amount of carbs she consumes during the week when training. It might have been the diet and the physiological adaptations his body had made from being on it. So that’s the idea, and it could be quite game-changing in terms of sports nutrition guidelines, and what’s recommended.”Dunfee became one of Canada’s most popular athletes at the Rio Olympics when he finished fourth after being jostled and thrown off his stride by Hirooki Arai. So it’s radically different to anything any of us are used to. He tweeted a picture of the scale reading 63.90 kilograms (141 pounds).To rectify the weight loss, he consumed a glass of whipping cream, documenting it on Twitter with photo of him holding up the full cup and a stray bit of cream stuck in his red beard.On Australia Day last Thursday, Dunfee was allowed a treat: an Atkins bar with two grams of carbs.The science behind the diet, simply put, is that strictly limiting carbohydrates forces the body into ketosis, a state where fat is burned as a fuel rather than carbohydrates. “But this diet for health and weight outcomes is totally different and separate than looking at this from a performance perspective. “You really learn a lot about your choice of quality of foods, you’re looking for really high-quality fats, and when you have them you don’t feel bad about them, which is a really nice feeling.”The 28-year-old Vancouver native started cutting down on carbs last year to combat the lethargy she was experiencing between practices. I went from having to nap or watch TV because I could barely focus on a book, to all I do now all day between practices is read and research,” said Gleadle, who won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. The Australian cricket team had a turnaround in form after collectively slimming down on a low-carb diet.Canadian javelin thrower Liz Gleadle talks fondly about grass-fed butter like some of us would chocolate cake.“Who’s ever dissatisfied with eating something that’s been covered in grass-fed butter and garlic and olive oil and salt? After the diet ends Friday, athletes will be tested and monitored for several weeks. “So that really piqued my interest of saying ‘OK, maybe there’s something here.“’Countless top athletes certainly believe there’s something there. “You just get used to eating packets of butter,” Dunfee said of the diet. Dunfee compared the rigorous practice to altitude training, and its adaptations the body makes to training with less oxygen.“Altitude is a perfect analogy,” Dunfee said. It was really noticeable, I was getting tons of compliments from people ‘You look great, what have you done?’Gleadle said she also notices that her joints don’t hurt in the morning.A quick social media search of the hashtags “keto” or “LCHF” suggests that a low-carb, high-fat movement that is growing among the general public.Trent Stellingwerff, an applied sport physiologist who works with many of Canada’s top athletes, cautions that high-performance athletes have different dietary needs than the average person.“There is a whole huge burgeoning underground of average people who are being more conscious of how much carbohydrates they have in their diet,” he said. “And when you come back off the diet, you have adaptations that are advantageous to perform better under ideal conditions with carbs. I don’t think anyone would ever recommend eating cheese when you’re three hours into a training session.”Dunfee will come off the diet Friday after a challenging three weeks. British cyclist Chris Froome credited a low-carb diet with propelling him to three Tour de France titles. After some experimentation and plenty of research — “The Big Fat Surprise” and “Primal Blueprint” were at the top of her reading list. It’s never not a tasty option,” Gleadle said. Even a slender athlete like Dunfee carries enough fat stores to fuel days of exercise, he explained, while glucose is limited and has to be replenished during exercise.Dunfee participated in Part 1 of the study last year, the results of which were recently published, and 10 days after coming off of the low-carb diet he obliterated the Canadian record in the 50 kilometres by over four minutes.The Richmond, B.C., native said he isn’t entirely sure exactly what propelled him to the record. Or perhaps it was more a mental toughness gained while training on such a strict diet. And sometimes those lines get blurred.”According to the Canada Food Guide, 45 to 65 per cent of our diet should come from carbohydrates, or between 210 and 290 grams per day as part of an average 1,800-calorie diet.Gleadle consumes between 70 and 130 grams a day during the week. During 40K long (training) walks, we will eat cheese and peanut butter cookies.