Meeting may move NHL closer to decision on 2018 Olympics

“You can make the argument on the negative impact it can make during the regular season, but then globally, the positive impact it can make. There’s a lot of talk about China and preseason games and the growth there when the Olympics go there. “This was a courtesy visit and there was a very good open and friendly atmosphere,” Bach said. “This was a courtesy visit and I hope we can build on this and continue to work to a solution that will benefit the sport of ice hockey.”The league is reluctant to shut down for two-plus weeks, though many of its players want to participate in what would be a sixth consecutive Winter Olympics. The next Winter Games is in China in 2022.NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last weekend that team owners were leaning against allowing their players to participate in the Olympics. “Hopefully this has prepared the ground for successful negotiations between the NHL and international federation. A key meeting on the topic of whether NHL players will participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea a year from now ended Friday without a decision.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach joined International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Director Don Fehr in New York for the first time to discuss the Pyeongchang Games. The governing body spent about $14-million (U.S.) to cover travel and insurance for NHL players for the 2014 Olympics in Russia.More than 400 miles away, John Tavares was paying attention in the Motor City to the meeting .“Getting them all in the same room is important,” the New York Islanders centre said before a game against the Detroit Red Wings. “And, hopefully there’s some positive discussions.”Tavares, a union representative, said the topic seems to be a bargaining chip for the league and NHL Players’ Association in labour talks.“It can be used as a sensitive issue,” he said. The NHL does not enjoy its distinction of being the only professional sports league that pauses its season to allow its athletes to participate in the Olympics.The IOC has indicated it does not want to cover the costs for travel and insurance expenses to get hockey’s best to the Olympics as it has done every four years since 1998. There’s a lot of moving parts.” We’ll see what happens. Of course, we all want see the best players at the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, and we know the players feel the same. Therefore, we hope even more that the international federation and the NHL will reach a solution to make the Olympic dreams of the players come true.”Fasel said Bach was in New York for other meetings, setting up the visit without “hard negotiations,” or “major updates,” among the parties.“I think it was very important to get us and the IOC and NHL/NHLPA together,” Fasel said.

Tiger Woods withdraws from Dubai Desert Classic

got treatment done early this morning for 3 1/2 hours, but can’t get it out,” Steinberg said. “He says it’s not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can’t get the spasms to calm down. He played in the Bahamas the first week of December in an unofficial event with an 18-man field and no cut.After Dubai, Woods has a week off before playing back-to-back weeks on both ends of the country, Los Angeles (Genesis Open) and Florida (Honda Classic). He had last played on the PGA Tour in August 2015 at the Wyndham Championship, where he tied for 10th. He missed a 12-foot birdie putt on his final hole on the North Course for an even-par 72 and missed the cut at Torrey Pines for the first time in his career.Woods was coming off the longest layoff of his career as he recovered from two back surgeries. He can move around, but he can’t make a full rotation in his swing.”Woods made a comeback after multiple back surgeries after a 16-month layoff, and was expected to play four times in five weeks, starting from last week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he missed the cut.The European Tour, without giving a reason, announced his withdrawal on Friday before Woods began his second round in Dubai.After his opening round, Woods said: “I wasn’t in pain at all … I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a very good job.”Last week in San Diego, Woods returned to the PGA Tour and lasted only two days.Woods never got anything going after starting with a birdie in the Farmers Insurance Open and didn’t come close to making the cut. Tiger Woods withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday with back spasms after shooting an opening-round 77 a day earlier, marking another frustrating start to his return to golf from a lengthy injury layoff.Woods’ manager, Mark Steinberg, said Woods had back spasms on Thursday night after dinner. “Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night …

Babcock’s precocious Leafs get a reality check

The stops and starts work against getting into a winning rhythm, although the Leafs did post a 7-3-2 record in January.But the month was troublesome for the team’s most important player. Goaltender Frederik Andersen was out-of-sync in January, his save percentage dipping to .902 from the sparkling .948 he posted in December.Over all, though, it must be remembered that the Leafs are way ahead of their rebuilding plan. The Leafs are a young, developing team and reacted to their recent troubles as such a team usually does; given the number of problems that came along almost at once, it is no surprise they overwhelmed the team.These problems need to be dealt with quickly or the Leafs will see the one advantage they have with the schedule melt away. That means a loss in Boston on Saturday night will not be a disaster, but it also means the Leafs cannot be cavalier with those games in hand.However, barring any more serious injuries to key players (and that is a risky assumption indeed), the only problem the Leafs can’t do anything about is the schedule. By the time the Leafs returned him to the Toronto Marlies farm team this week, head coach Mike Babcock was barely playing him 10 minutes a game.This is why making assumptions about injuries is so risky. And that includes putting Matt Hunwick back in for the ineffective Martin Marincin.Also, despite the cramped schedule ahead, in some respects the worst part of it is behind the Leafs. The team’s reaction to a stretch of adversity – a 2-3-1 record in the six games they were without their best defenceman, Morgan Rielly, and their current three-game losing streak – should not be taken as the Leafs hitting a wall but as a team showing its true status. He struggled with the pace of the NHL game and was weak in his own end. 8, which came on the heels of the Christmas break and ended just two weeks before yet another break – for the NHL all-star game. The five-day break that was instituted this season as part of the collective agreement proved to be disruptive rather than relaxing.The Leafs had theirs starting Jan. The rest can be handled with varying degrees of success.Starting with Saturday’s game in Boston, the Leafs have 65 days left in the regular season and 33 games to play. At present, the Leafs have five games in hand on the Boston Bruins, whom they trail by three points for the last sure playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. If one of the Leafs’ top three centres – Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak – should be lost, there could be enormous problems. The Leafs do have options – William Nylander could be shifted back to his old position, and the overall quality of the team’s top nine forwards is such that the damage might be mitigated – but there is no equal replacement for any of those three players.On the plus side, now that Rielly had one game to get the considerable rust off his game – he was on the ice for three of the Blues’ five goals in Thursday’s loss in St. He returned to the lineup on Thursday along with Rielly. That is quite a closing act.What the six games without Rielly showed is that there is a significant gap in talent between the Leafs’ best young players and the bottom of the roster.This problem is not confined to the defence. Smith is an ordinary player, but Gauthier still could not fill his skates. In their last four games, the Leafs have to face the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. That leaves 32 off-days – not a bad number for a team with as many young legs as the Leafs.The trouble is, an NHL schedule never runs as neatly as play one night, take the next one off. Given the excessive volume that always accompanies the Toronto Maple Leafs, their first serious skid of the season is setting off the usual panic in the Leafs Nation hen house.Even though the problems need immediate attention if the Leafs are to continue their surprising run toward the NHL playoffs, a consideration of all the factors involved does not reveal any serious flaws in the organization’s grand plan. The Leafs have three sets of back-to-back home and away games in February alone, plus two more in March and April and one set of back-to-back road games for a total of 12.Then they end their schedule with a tough week of five games in six nights. Louis – the defence should be better. Equally telling was the loss in December of fourth-line centre Ben Smith to a broken finger. The mediocrity of the Eastern Conference means they could still find themselves in the playoffs, but true success is still a couple of years away. The best the Leafs could come up with as a replacement for Smith was 21-year-old Frédérik Gauthier.

New England Patriots locked in to proven approach entering Super Bowl 51

Blount established a franchise single-season record with an NFL-best 18 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Tight end Martellus Bennett’s production has plugged the offensive hole created when Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery in December.And as they prepare to face an Atlanta team that scored the most points per game in the league, the Patriots have jelled at the perfect time on defence. We’re in this game for a reason. He threw for 28 touchdowns and helped the Patriots set a record by throwing just two interceptions during the regular season. Lewis has surged in the playoffs after a stint on injured reserve, and White may be New England’s most-improved offensive player.“It’s a brotherhood. They will make their seventh Super Bowl appearance under Belichick on Sunday when they take on the Atlanta Falcons. “We’re just going to go out and execute our game plan. That’s kind of the mantra that’s kind of bestowed around here.”It’s a program that’s led to four Super Bowl rings for Belichick and Brady. For him, it’s crystalized so that even at this stage in his career he’s experiencing a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.“You can’t take these things for granted,” Brady said. It’s really just on us going out there and executing.”Prediction: Patriots 27, Falcons 23. Along with quarterback Tom Brady, Belichick already is part of the winningest coach/quarterback combination in NFL post-season history, taking 24 games together.The 64-year-old coach has done it by having an uncanny ability of getting his teams to buy into a program that has become known as the “Patriot Way.”“A lot of people talk about the ‘Patriot Way.’ There’s not a straight definition of it, but here you know that we’re going to work every day,” linebacker and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower said. “It is a resilient team, but we’re going to continue to do everything we can to put ourselves in a good situation.”That’s not to mention the latest group of Patriots newcomers who have made an impact. But it doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother us,” Hightower said. And they are 10 words that he leans on whenever he is queried about what’s gone into making his team an annual threat to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.“I do what I think is best for the team,” he says.For the better part of those 17 seasons, that approach has worked out well for the Patriots. He has two picks in the playoffs, but they have been blips compared with the five touchdowns and 671 yards he’s compiled this post-season.On the ground, LeGarrette Blount has taken a lot of pressure off him. We love each other and we always have each other’s backs,” Blount said. “Around here, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. Yeah, I heard it. Ten words have driven Patriots coach Bill Belichick since he arrived in New England 17 years ago. Neither could the surprise departures of defensive stalwarts Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.Brady said playing in a place that doesn’t tolerate allowing outside drama to creep into its walls has helped everyone inside the Patriots’ bubble to lock in. Brady’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension couldn’t send them off track. “We’ve been very blessed, as part of this organization, for the guys that have been on these teams to make it this far, but it’s a very steep mountain to climb.”What will aid that journey Sunday is a combined passing and rushing attack that may be the best the Patriots have had under Belichick.Brady is continuing to defy his age at 39, ancient for a football player. New England’s defence is allowing 16.5 points per game in the playoffs after allowing a league-low 15.6 during the regular season.The group will also had to endure questions this week about the level of competition it’s faced so far. It’s like a family here. Think that will provide some motivation?“I don’t care. And this year’s team is strong enough to bring them a fifth title.The reasons are plentiful, but it starts with the experience at the top.Belichick is preparing for his 36th playoff game, and is an expert at shielding his team from distractions. He’s also finally clear of an illness that limited him at times in New England’s first two playoff games.Blount will also have plenty of support from backfield mates Dion Lewis and James White. Receiver Chris Hogan has become Brady’s most-trusted deep threat and had a huge AFC title game.

Canadian men’s rugby squad led by young talent

“I was surrounded by some very good people,” he said of his recovery.Paris has missed just one game this season, due to a concussion. He scored his first try 10 seconds after coming on the field in a 26-7 victory over Argentina.Agen is currently second in France’s second division behind Oyonnax, which is home to veteran Canadian forward Jamie Cudmore. Just 24, Taylor Paris is one of the veterans of Canada’s team at the Americas Rugby Championship.Recovered from a serious knee injury suffered on the eve of 2015 Rugby World Cup, the speedster from Barrie, Ont., is part of gifted pool of Canadian backline talent that includes Jeff Hassler, DTH van der Merwe, Ciaran Hearn, Connor Braid, Conor Trainor and Matt Evans among others. Anscombe’s starting 15 has a combined 119 caps with 78 of those belonging to Nick Blevins (37), captain Gordon McRorie (23) and Paris (18).Paris, as shifty a back as they come, says don’t underestimate the young talent.“This is an exciting team,” said Paris. He had just turned 18 when he made his debut for Canada in November, 2010, against Belgium, becoming the youngest Canadian international ever.He had already entered the record books at 17, becoming the youngest Canadian to play international senior men’s sevens. He played several games, only to injure the medial collateral ligament in his other knee in training, ending his season.Everything is now mended. “If we can get everybody together, get everybody firing on the same page, I think we could have a pretty impressive backline,” Paris said.The problem for Canadian coach Mark Anscombe is assembling them at the same time, due to injuries and club commitments.France-based Paris (Agen) and Trainor (RC Vannes) are the only two in Anscombe’s squad for the Americas Rugby Championship, which opens Saturday when Canada faces Argentina ‘A’ at Langford, B.C.Paris, who was part of Canada’s November tour of Europe, says Anscombe and his French coach came to an agreement that will see him get some playing time for Canada while missing just two club games.While the tournament falls in an international window, the Canada coach has elected to save his all-points summons for key events like this summer’s World Cup qualifying matches. Paris is committed to helping Agen win promotion again before heading off to join Castres Olympique in the top flight next season.Paris tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a loss to the United States a month before the World Cup kicked off. At 24 I’m starting to feel old on the team because there’s 19- and 20-year-olds everywhere.”Paris started young himself. Amazingly he returned to action some six months after surgery. “The ARC’s a good time to trial a lot of new young boys. Before I used to be one of the young guys on the team but I think I’m slowly working my way up with Gordie McRorie and Phil Mack (34 caps) as being one of the old dogs. As such, the ARC allows him to blood new talent — 19 players earned their first test cap for Canada at last year’s inaugural event — against the likes of Argentina ‘A,’ Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and the United States.While Saturday’s match against Argentina does not have test status due to the South Americans fielding their second squad, it will still be valuable experience for uncapped starters Conor Keys, Robbie Povey and Carl Pocock.Four more uncapped players will wait their turn on the bench at Westhills Stadium.The remaining matches all have test status.It’s a remarkably green Canadian squad Saturday.

Atlanta Falcons’ defence could be key to beating Patriots

They beat the Packers twice, beat Seattle pretty good in the playoffs, won at Oakland. That’s impressive. “It was expected when you have three or four guys that have never played in the NFL before. It doesn’t matter what happens on the play, you’re going to have 11 guys chasing the guy with the ball. 27 ranking in scoring defence, disguise the recent improvement that made Freeney proud.“We went through issues and problems early in the year,” Freeney said. Atlanta’s defence was on an upswing even before holding a shocking 31-0 third-quarter lead over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the 44-21 NFC championship game win.Atlanta started four rookies and four second-year players on defence against the Packers. Jones and Neal each had more than 100 tackles this season to lead the team.The fourth rookie starter, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, could play a key role on Sunday against tight end Martellus Bennett .Vic Beasley, a second-year linebacker, led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks, production that finally solved the Falcons’ long-term pass-rush woes.Brady called Beasley’s season “incredible” for a second-year player and said Freeney “is one of the greatest pass rushers I’ve ever played against. We had to catch these boys up and the offence was rolling while these guys were catching up and understanding what they need to do. They beat a lot of good teams.”Still, the Falcons’ strength is an offence which hasn’t been held under 30 points since a 29-28 loss to Kansas City on Dec. “They do a lot of things very well, which is why they’re in this game.”Prediction: Falcons 24, Patriots 20 Two more rookies, linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal, each had six tackles. 4.Atlanta led the NFL in scoring and is the first team to advance to the Super Bowl by scoring at least 30 points in each of its last six games — all wins.While most of Atlanta’s defensive players are still establishing themselves, the Falcons’ stars are quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.The Atlanta offence is on a roll, but even the high-scoring Falcons may not be able to extend the run of 30-point games against New England’s defence, which allowed the fewest points in the league.That’s why defence could be the key to a Falcons win.“I have a lot of respect for them, have a lot of respect for their defence,” Brady said. They hit and tackle very well.”And the young guys have taken the lead.Rookie defensive back Brian Poole led the Falcons with seven tackles and two quarterback hurries in the win over Green Bay. That’s the sign of a team that is very well coached. Now those boys are playing.”Atlanta allowed fewer than 20 points in four of its last six regular-season games.The Patriots noticed the turnaround.New England offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels said the Atlanta defence’s “length at corner, the aggressive strong safety and the speed on defence in general” all remind him of the Seattle defence the Patriots faced in the Super Bowl two years ago.McDaniels said the Falcons “all run to the ball as well as any team that we’re going to play. The lacklustre overall statistics, including a No. The unit played with the toughness and speed of the celebrated Seattle defence Dan Quinn co-ordinated before becoming Atlanta’s coach two years ago.The greybeard of the Atlanta defence, 36-year-old pass-rush specialist Dwight Freeney, knows many observers thought the defence was too young. There’s no question that they are. They played a lot of great teams this year. He’s one of the best defensive players that I’ve ever played against.”“I think they cover well,” Brady said. “They’ve got a great scheme. The popular thinking is the Atlanta Falcons’ only path to their first Super Bowl championship is to win a high-scoring game against New England.After all, big offence is the Falcons’ big weapon.The best reason to think Atlanta can beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, however, may be the Falcons’ improved defence.

American wrestlers banned from freestyle World Cup in Iran

“I’m just bummed. “Like, you always feel like ‘Well, the Presidency or these strict laws or these Muslim bans or whatever you like to call them, they’ll never affect me.’ This is one of the few times where something so personal has occurred. This will never happen!”Khatami said the United States is reiterating an “old message” from previous administrations, regardless of political party.“Your message is aimed at confronting religion and Islam,” he said. administration left Iran no other choice but to ban the wrestlers.USA Wrestling, the sport’s domestic governing body in the United States, said in a statement it hasn’t officially been told it won’t be allowed to compete. Ghasemi said the policy of the new U.S. In this world of wolves should we remain unarmed and they do whatever damn things they want? Where do we compete?’” said Burroughs, a four-time world champion. No way! Where do we go? I love Iran. Almost like it [was] handed down from the President to us. wrestlers from the freestyle World Cup in response to U.S. 16 and 17 in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah.The decision marks the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump’s executive order banning visas for seven Muslim-majority countries. President Donald Trump’s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians, the official IRNA news agency reported. But, unfortunately, sometimes you can’t control that,” USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said.Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion and long viewed as the face of wrestling, has yet to compete internationally since leaving Rio without a medal.“These decisions, these executive decisions, are always so far beyond your reach,” he told The Associated Press. “We are living in a world of wolves. We’re like ‘OK, what do we do now? Our missile drills are a show of our might,” he said. A senior Iranian cleric vowed, meanwhile, that his country would continue its missile program despite threats from the Trump administration that it was preparing to levy new sanctions.“Training comes to a halt. “We are currently working to find a solution for the freestyle World Cup as soon as possible.”Wrestling is extremely popular in Iran and is rooted in an ancient practice of combining the sport with physical education and meditation.Tehran Friday-prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said Iran would continue its missile program despite opposition from the U.S. government. It’s a bummer.”U.S. I love their people, and I don’t get into politics. Since then, Americans have attended Iran-hosted wrestling competitions 15 times.The Iranians have made 16 visits to the United States as guests of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.“Crazy! “You have been against Islam” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran, which followed an absence of nearly 20 years. U.S. wrestler Jordan Burroughs saw this month’s tournament in Iran as a chance to redeem himself after a rough performance at the Rio Olympics.It looks like that won’t be happening.Iran on Friday banned U.S. wrestler Reece Humphrey tweeted Friday.The 2018 freestyle World Cup is in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Iranian team is expected to qualify.“Though we had hoped for a different outcome from Iran’s Foreign Ministry, we appreciate the complex nature of this decision,” said Nenad Lalovic, president of United World Wrestling, the sport’s international ruling body, in an e-mail to The Associated Press. team for the tournament, and “eventually the visit … was opposed.” The competition, one of the sport’s most prestigious events, is set for Feb. I’ve never been more welcomed by any country in the world and now we can’t even enter the country!” U.S. The group added that if that is the case, USA Wrestling is “extremely disappointed” in what it calls an “unacceptable situation.”“We don’t think politics [should] have any role in this. Wolves such as the arrogant government of America. I was going to compete.”IRNA quoted Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying a special committee reviewed the case of the U.S. I wasn’t going to make a political stance. The Trump administration said Thursday it is preparing to levy new sanctions on Iran in the first punitive action since the White House put Iran “on notice” after it test-fired a ballistic missile on Sunday.“We have missile drills.

Major League Baseball mulling changes to speed up the game

We have to recognize the reality of life today, which is that attention spans are going down and choices are going up. “More to follow when those negotiations are complete.”Manfred has pushed for faster games since he became commissioner two years ago. “We know that from our fans and TV partners. For those rooting for baseball to speed up the game, commissioner Rob Manfred says: have patience.Owners and players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement in December, but they’re still negotiating innovations designed to improve the pace of play. It’s going to be an ongoing effort to make sure our game moves along in a way that is most attractive to our fans.”Miami Marlins president David Samson said Major League Baseball is aware that despite much talk about the need to speed up games in recent years, the problem has gotten worse.“Pace of game is critical,” Samson said. Owners discussed the issue during two days of meetings that concluded Friday. One playoff game took more than 4 1/2 hours.The new CBA, which extends labour peace to 26 years through 2021, addresses issues such as smokeless tobacco and World Series home-field advantage but not on-field rules.“Given the really serious big economic issues on the table, I think it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to get an agreement (regarding pace of play) when you’re doing the overall agreement,” Manfred said.Management would like to tighten restrictions on trips to the mound and introduce a pitch clock, which has been used in Triple-A and Double-A the past two seasons. “The ‘we’ there is players, owners, umpires – everyone who is invested in this game.“I don’t think there’s a magic bullet that is going to come one year to be the solution to pace of play. But the average time of a nine-inning game last season was three hours, a four-minute increase over 2015. Players generally have resisted such changes and many say there’s no problem with the length of games.Manfred disagrees.“Pace of play is an issue that ‘we’ need to be focused on,” he said. Whatever business you’re in, you have to adjust.” “We did review some rule changes largely related to pace of game that are being discussed with the players’ association,” Manfred said.

Canadiens’ Andrew Shaw steps up to join anti-homophobia initiative

Shaw has volunteered to be the Habs’ representative on a league-wide anti-homophobia initiative, in partnership with the You Can Play Project. One of its founders is Patrick Burke, who works in the NHL’s department of player safety.Shaw also had a lengthy heart-to-heart conversation with Chris Hine, a Chicago Tribune hockey writer who is openly gay. They included the You Can Play Project. Remember, this is the very same player who, as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, was suspended in last year’s NHL playoffs for hurling a homophobic epithet from the penalty box.After initially saying he couldn’t recall using any objectionable words, he apologized unreservedly and effusively. On Friday, he held up his hand for “selfish” play against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night; with the Habs up 1-0, he took a needless penalty, the Flyers scored on the power play and won 3-1.“I can’t be doing that. I’m here to help the team win … I love to win, I love to be part of a winning culture,” he said. He wants to do his bit to support vulnerable people, which he plans to do mostly by listening.“I want everyone to be themselves and to be comfortable with who they are … I think the only way to be truly happy is to be yourself through and through,” he said.Shaw also alluded to the evolving attitudes in professional locker rooms, where casual homophobia has existed since time immemorial. I want it to be about the program, not about me. Now he’s backing up his words with deeds.“I thought it would be an opportunity to help out, you know. In person and in print, Hine encouraged him to learn from the controversy and do better.Shaw reckons this is a chance to do just that.And lest any cynics out there believe this is more about burnishing Shaw’s personal brand or the Habs’ well-tended reputation, there is no evidence to support that; he volunteered, the league made that fact public and the media asked to talk about it with him.“I don’t want it to be a bigger story than it is. What I went through last year, I learned from it. I just want to be there to help, and help is what I’m going to give,” Shaw said.He equated homophobic insults with racist slurs and said the simple message he intends to carry on behalf of the club is this: “Everyone’s equal out there, everyone’s the same, so I think we should all step up and start treating people the way we want to be treated.”To be clear, this isn’t some sort of conversion on the road to Damascus; Shaw is well aware that what he said was wrong. “I accept the full consequences of my actions.”He was then asked about riding the edge between aggressive and dirty play – whether it’s hard to stay on it.“Some days,” he said with a wry smile. Words affect people,” Shaw said.The 25-year-old native of Belleville, Ont., is a self-described agitator who admits the suspension was perhaps the most difficult few days of his life.The offshoot, however, was that several gay-advocacy organizations reached out to both him and the league. The well-known moral philosopher Johnny Cash once said of mistakes: “You build on failure. Change, he said, “can only be a good thing.”Speaking of apologies, they tend to come in bunches with rumbustious players like Shaw, who was acquired mostly for that reason (well, that and his two Stanley Cup rings). You use it as a stepping stone.”Another wearer of dark metaphorical hats, Montreal Canadiens winger Andrew Shaw, appears to have embraced the man in black’s wisdom.