Toronto FC cries foul at CONCACAF Champions League qualifying change

But starting next year, MLS teams won’t enter the competition until February with the event wrapping up in May.That created a logjam with Toronto and another possible qualifier emerging from this year’s Canadian championship vying for one spot in the revamped 2018 CONCACAF tournament.The CSA decided to institute the one-off playoff – this August in Toronto if needed – to get down to one qualifier and correct the pathway from one tournament to the other as soon as possible. The Canadian Soccer Association, which made the change, says it was necessitated by a revamped CONCACAF tournament format.Previously the CONCACAF club championship ran August through April. When Toronto FC won the Canadian Championship last year, the spoils of victory included a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.Now it has been told that it must clear another hurdle. Toronto has to win this year’s Canadian Championship or, if it fails to do so, beat the team that does win it to secure the CONCACAF tournament invite it thought it already had.

Penguins forward Tom Sestito suspended four games for boarding

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tom Sestito was suspended for four games without pay by the NHL on Thursday for boarding Winnipeg Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom.Sestito was assessed a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct in the first period of the Penguins’ 7-4 victory in Winnipeg on Wednesday night. Enstrom was taken to a hospital and missed the rest of the game.The suspension will cost Sestito $12,778.

James Hinchcliffe returns to IndyCar after Dancing with the Stars

But he said preparations with his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the coming season have been great.IndyCar officials have frozen rule changes for 2017, which Hinchcliffe says will close up the field and make for a competitive year.“For the first time in three years, we haven’t had to be taking big swings at figuring out how to make this car work,” Hinchcliffe said. We’re not on Penske’s level, but nobody is. The Canadian has four career wins including the 2013 race in St. It’s tough. I want nothing more than to give everyone back home something to cheer for. For me, it feels like a much kind of freer start to the season in that sense and everybody’s just talking about going racing and not thinking back to what happened a couple months ago.”Hinchcliffe rebounded at the 2016 Indy 500 – IndyCar’s premier event – by taking the pole position before finishing the race seventh. “I’ve never had that much luck there and to kind of have a good fortune and put up a good result was huge. 28 to Nov. Hinchcliffe said it took lot of convincing to get him on the show, but he has no regrets after finishing second.“I’m floored we even made it to that point. James Hinchcliffe has hung up his dancing shoes and put his racing helmet back on. That moment in Toronto was very special.”The 30-year-old and partner Sharna Burgess were runners-up on Dancing with the Stars. They have more of an advantage on the street courses than anywhere else compared to other teams and that’s something that we’ve obviously put a lot of focus on over this winter to be stronger in 2017.” 24. But if you just put me out in the middle of a dance floor with some random track playing, I’m just gonna go to the fist pump or the Macarena.”Being involved with the TV show meant few breaks for Hinchcliffe, who said he worked every day from Aug. It’s not something I can do. Everybody doesn’t believe me when I tell them, but I can’t dance. Petersburg, Fla.“Our street car package it needs some work. Petersburg – feels like a clean slate.Hinchcliffe, who competed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars last fall, was riddled with questions entering last year after a near-death experience at the 2015 Indianapolis 500 when his left thigh was pierced by the car’s right front rocker following a crash in practice. They put me in a situation where I learned very specific steps to a very specific song and that was it. It’s a much freer feeling than one year ago.The Oakville, Ont., driver says the upcoming IndyCar season – which begins Sunday with the Grand Prix of St. Penske added more firepower to its team in the off-season by signing Josef Newgarden, the 2015 Indy Toronto winner.“The Penske organization really put a firm beating on us all of last year and we’re all very keen to beat back,” said Hinchcliffe, whose last IndyCar win came at the 2015 Grand Prix of Louisiana. “I think going into the start of last season, there was so much talk about ‘the comeback’ and all the rest of it and it carried through all the way into the month of May just being that’s where the accident happened, so the first four, five races of the year it was heavy running commentary on it,” Hinchcliffe said in a phone interview.“Now, coming into 2017, it’s not a story any more, we’re so far past it. “We have a season’s worth of data to look back on and we look at races where we performed well, and more importantly races where we didn’t and try to figure out why.”Last season was dominated by Simon Pagenaud and Team Penske, with the Frenchman winning the IndyCar title ahead of teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. He followed up with a third-place finish at his hometown race, the Honda Indy Toronto, before coming second at the Firestone 600 in Texas.Hinchcliffe said that earning the Indy pole position and finishing on the podium in Toronto were “dream come true moments.”“It was great to be on the podium but it made me that much more hungry to win in Toronto,” Hinchcliffe said.

What should have happened at the annual March meeting of NHL GMs

That’s one rule that needs to be repealed.Bye weeksMany teams are upset that the bye weeks – five-day mid-season mini-vacations for each team – produced some underwhelming performances coming out of the break, a development that misses the point. That has resulted in many fatigued performances where good teams just flat out didn’t have it.If they truly value the health and well-being of the players, then there is an obvious solution: Either trim six games from each team’s schedule or, more practically, significantly reduce the length of NHL training camps and play a maximum of four preseason games. The GMs broke off into discussion groups and pondered all sorts of wild notions – from shifting the faceoff dots to the middle of the ice to limiting the ways a team can block shots.It was a promising start to a 72-hour meeting that eventually devolved into a lot of the same-old, same-old by the end. Offside challenges have hurt, not helped the game. Now, more often than not, it’s a hope call. When players, coaches and managers make mistakes, they usually issue a pro forma mea culpa and that’s the end of it. That was all – a tweak so small and inconsequential that you wonder why they bothered at all.These are changing times at the NHL’s GM level and it is fascinating to see how the generational shift among the group may be affecting policy decisions. If not, feel free to organize that boycott of NHL games during the 2018 Olympics that some advanced thinkers on social media have helpfully proposed. The fact that it has left the door ajar suggests the league will allow its arms to be twisted if for no other reason than it could face a massive backlash from its core supporters, especially in Canada, where fans want to see best-on-best played at the Olympics and would be outraged by a B-level competition.Deep down, you’d have to think the IOC knows how important NHL participation has become to the overall spectacle, and Bettman, as shrewd a negotiator as there is in pro sport, knows that, too. The issue isn’t how a team plays one game out of 82, but the effect of a compressed schedule on the remaining 81. Almost always, the momentum of a game grinds to a halt, no matter what the verdict may be. When the GMs left for home Wednesday evening, their major recommendation was that teams should be prevented from calling a timeout after an icing play in order to rest tired players.That was it. The players are all in shape going into camp anyway, and most everybody views the exhibition season as a necessary evil – from the veterans sleepwalking through the games to the fans paying for less-than-riveting entertainment.If you started the season 10 days earlier and then used the time more productively to give players time off in the regular season, it would make the night-to-night product better (and maybe even safer).Foot-dragging on the OlympicsMost of the rhetoric coming out of the GMs meetings was discouragingly familiar, with commissioner Gary Bettman on message the same way he’s been for years. In practice, however, coaches have perverted the system the way they love to do. On the first day of their annual March meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., NHL general managers were asked to do a good thing – blue-sky any and all ideas and innovations, in the hopes of making the overall game better.This initiative – a research-and-development exercise – is something the NHL has let slide in recent years and so its return, even in an informal setting, was welcome. The NHL doesn’t want to go to Pyeongchang to compete in the 2018 Olympics, unless the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation sweeten the pot and convince the league that it is in its best interest to change course.Of course, if the NHL really truly didn’t want to go, it could have said no by now. They have monitors on the bench and if they even think a goal is probably okay, they roll the dice and ask for a review anyway because the cost – forfeiting their timeout – is negligible.Invariably, the play is so close that the video evidence is inconclusive. They move at a glacially slow pace, partly because some of the changes that they’ve previously pushed through did not have their intended consequences. The GMs are essentially the gate keepers of the professional game and it looks as though the younger, more inexperienced, managers have been slow to find their voices at the table.Collectively, the GMs tend to be conservative. They wanted to get calls on the ice correct and help the linesmen overturn any egregious errors that might have led to an offside goal.All good in theory. If you add in the bye week, it means they’ve had to cram the regular 82-game schedule into 10 fewer days. But when an official misses a call, teams practically want to bring in a special investigator to ponder the unfairness of it all.Human error is part of the game, for everyone on the ice – players and officials. This year, regular-season play started five days later than a year earlier, thanks to the World Cup, but ends on the same date, April 19. Backtracking on rule changes that have failed them – stuffing the genie back in the bottle – takes courage, and when given the opportunity to do just that this past week, they mostly opted for the safe and easy status quo.Instead, what they should have done is:Eliminate offside challengesWhen the GMs originally introduced video review, they all agreed on why they were doing it. Somewhere, amid all the posturing and preening, you’d think this massive game of chicken between Bettman and IOC president Thomas Bach is still going to result in the right decision.

High hopes for rising soccer star Jordyn Huitema after Canadian senior debut

“Starting in the Algarve Cup final. “She just wants to learn, just soaking everything in. In 2014, the then-13-year-old Surrey United striker scored the deciding penalty kick in the shootout that earned Canada the CONCACAF U-15 championship over Haiti.“She’s just a great kid,” said Sinclair. Physically she’s a beast and I mean that in the best possible way. But from what I’ve seen of Jordyn, she’s got the goal-scoring ability and the sort of height and size and presence that you associate with Christine on the field.”Herdman brought her briefly into a camp prior to the Olympics, saying “she knocked it out of the park.”Huitema has been developing with the Vancouver Whitecaps elite girls program for two years.She’s is cool under pressure. At 5-foot-10, Huitema has size and is one of the fastest players in Canada coach John Herdman’s talent pool. For Jordyn Huitema, it was 41 unforgettable minutes. And being surrounded by such amazing people, it was just an honour to represent my country,” Huitema said.Her scoring chance came on a cross from the right side.“I couldn’t quite get in front of the defender for it. She also has a knack for offence, as shown Wednesday.“Jordyn nearly scored on her first touch,” Herdman said. But it was such an honour to step on the field with the women that, when I was younger, I looked up to. “As a youngster, I’ve seen those qualities of Sinclair – the touch, the movement – in people like Janine Beckie. For Canadian soccer, it could be the beginning of something special.The 15-year-old forward from Chilliwack, B.C., made her senior debut Wednesday in Canada’s 1-0 Algarve Cup final loss to Spain in Sao Joao da Venda, Portugal.Huitema becomes the third-youngest woman to play for Canada behind only record-holder Kara Lang and Jessie Fleming, who were also 15. She’s got a knack for goal. It was a big moment for her.”“It was amazing. It was very close,” she said.When Huitema left the field, she was replaced by her idol, Sinclair.“It was very amazing,” Huitema said.The teenager, who managed to squeeze in international football during spring break, returns to Grade 10 classes.And then?“Keep striving to improve in soccer and hopefully come back into this environment.”Huitema, one of seven teens on Herdman’s Algarve Cup roster, was just 13 when she attended an under-15 talent identification camp. She’s like six feet tall and probably the fastest player on our team.“She’s one of those that you just know when she gets her chance, she’s going to run with it. Christine Sinclair, the face of Canadian soccer, didn’t make her senior debut until 16. And especially with a coach like John, you know he’s going to take care of her and develop her at the right stage. The best moment in my life probably so far,” Huitema said.Huitema started the game, giving way as planned late in the first half after the Spanish strategy of pressing the Canadians began to fade.“At first it was very nerve-racking. It is distinguished company. But she’s one for the future for sure.”The future may have just started. Since then she has taken part in a dozen or so national youth team camps or international tournaments, including the U-17 World Cup.“She’s one of the closest things I’ve seen to Sinclair – so no pressure on the kid,” Herdman said dryly.

Bautista’s homer helps Dominicans beat Canada at World Baseball Classic

“I said, ‘This is my game.’ I wasn’t nervous. “They’re a really good lineup. “Whenever you contribute to the cause, you are happy.”Jose Reyes had three of the Dominicans’ 15 hits. It was his first game since the 2013 World Series.“I wish I would have made a couple of better pitches,” Dempster said. I simply worked as I always do.”The Dominicans were the home team and had the majority of support from a boisterous crowd of 27,388 at Marlins Park, with fans chanting, blowing horns and pounding drums throughout the game.Dempster, a 16-year major league veteran who came out of retirement to pitch for the Canadians at age 39, lasted only two innings and gave up four runs. Castillo’s homer came in the second inning, when the Dominicans bunched six hits to score four runs off Ryan Dempster.“That’s a pretty good ballclub they ran out there,” said Ernie Whitt, Canada’s manager. Jose Bautista homered and drove in four runs Thursday, and the Dominican Republic opened its bid for a second consecutive World Baseball Classic title with a 9-2 victory against Canada.Welington Castillo hit a two-run homer for the Dominicans, who went 8-0 to win the 2013 title. They died in separate traffic accidents on the same January morning in the Dominican Republic.“A beautiful gesture from management to show the brotherhood of all Dominican players,” Bautista said. “There are no soft spots for sure.”Carlos Martinez pitched four innings in first career WBC outing and allowed one run.“I achieved my dream — to play for the Dominican Republic,” Martinez said in Spanish. Before the game, manager Tony Pena said his team looks better on paper this year. Bautista singled home a run in the second, singled again in the fifth and hit a three-run homer in the sixth off Dustin Molleken.“This is a team full of cleanup hitters,” Bautista said in Spanish. They almost have an All-Star team.”The Canadians are in danger of being eliminated in the opening round for the fourth time in as many WBCs.Dominican reliever Fernando Rodney had the crowd roaring during pregame introductions when he struck his customary arrow-shooting pose while holding a large plantain.Rodney struck out two in the ninth and celebrated by again striking his pose, this time without the plantain. Jeurys Familia got the final out.The game also had a sombre side for the Dominicans, who hung jerseys in their dugout honouring Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte.

Andersen shines as Maple Leafs get much needed win over Flyers

“Sometimes those help you. The Leafs’ defence pair of Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev forgot all about Simmonds, who had all the room he needed in front of the net to score his 28th goal of the season at 6:09.It was another tough night for Rielly, who was supposed to be celebrating his 23rd birthday, although he could console himself with the assist on Marner’s goal. It’s been a blast so far and there’s lots of big games coming up.“Adrenalin is the best painkiller there is.”The Leafs took that 2-1 lead into the third period and turned up their game considerably. A playoff race is a rare treat.“Obviously, this is way more fun,” he said. I think their power play is real good,” he said earlier in the day.Well, the Flyer power play has been good at times this season, not as good as the Leafs’ third-ranked unit (going into the game) but good enough for 12th in the NHL. Rookie William Nylander took care of the ineptness by ripping a wrist shot to the top corner from the right faceoff dot at 13:57 for his 18th goal of the season. “I don’t like to be on the penalty kill against them. “We’re fighting for a spot. Then he saved it at the end when the Flyers were pressing hard in the third period, first with a power play and then in the final 90 seconds with their goaltender pulled for an extra skater. “There used to be a guy here named Dion Phaneuf that took all the flak for everybody. Rielly is drawing fire for his struggles of late, although Babcock is still in his corner.“Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing,” Babcock said. However, in the Flyers’ previous three games it went 0-for-13.But Babcock was right, as the Flyers were all over the Leafs after Marner took a tripping penalty a little more than five minutes into the game. You’ve just got to get in and anything can happen. Babcock was prescient here as well. Mitch Marner put the Leafs ahead by two goals at 13:44 with a power-play goal.But that familiar fear of blown third-period leads returned when Flyer defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere scored at 17:32. And when you trade that guy, someone else gets the flak, especially when it doesn’t go good for you.“So [Rielly] has just got to quit thinking and worrying about what anybody else says. Unlike Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings when the Leafs started the game flying and then almost blew it, they came out plodding against the Flyers. That’s why you play the game, to compete and to get in the playoffs and then the biggest prize. Fortunately for them, they had Andersen at the top of his game.“I thought we were a little bit tight early,” Babcock said. He understands that the manager and the coach think he’s great and his mom and dad think he’s great.”The Leafs managed to tie the score on a power play of their own eight minutes later but they certainly did not have the Flyers on the run when it started. In their latest biggest game of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs started small and finished big.The biggest Leaf of all was goaltender Frederik Andersen, who held off the Philadelphia Flyers until the Leafs found their skating legs. After a few false starts, the Leafs finally got the puck into the Flyers’ zone. He is dealing with an undisclosed nagging injury, suspected to be a groin muscle, and was a last-second decision to play.Since Bozak, 30, has been in the playoffs exactly once in his eight seasons as a Maple Leaf, aches and pains are not high on his list of concerns. Nazem Kadri scored an empty-netter with one minute left in the period to let the 18,894 fans at the Air Canada Centre breathe again. Good for him and good for us.”It was the power play that provided the scoring for both teams in the first period. The Flyers, who were breathing down the Leafs’ necks in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, fell four points behind the Leafs, who are neck-and-neck with the New York Islanders for the wild-card berth.Nothing illustrated Andersen’s value to the Leafs more than two consecutive saves he made in the second period that preceded a big goal by Toronto centre Tyler Bozak, which gave the Leafs the lead for the first time. “[Andersen] was good. Andersen finished with 36 saves in the 4-2 win Thursday night, the Leafs’ second in a row, which dealt the Flyers a stiff blow in the NHL playoff race. He stopped a tough shot by Flyers forward Brayden Schenn and when the rebound went to defenceman Michael Del Zotto, Andersen kicked that one out, too.The puck went almost immediately to Leafs centre Tyler Bozak, who wove his way down the ice and scored an unassisted goal at 9:28 to put the Leafs ahead 2-1.“A hell of a save,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock.Andersen, as is his wont when the subject of his brilliance comes up, practically shrugged.“Every save and every play can make a difference in the game,” he said. Then the Flyers cranked up the heat by pulling goaltender Michal Neuvirth but Andersen slammed the door on them. It was nice to see the guys go down and score.”Bozak almost didn’t get the chance to score his 16th goal of the season and get an assist on Mitch Marner’s third-period goal that stood up as the winner.

Eugenie Bouchard loses in first round of BNP Paribas Open

The Vancouver product had 10 aces compared to just two for his opponent.Pospisil, who had to go through qualifying just to make the main draw, has his work cut out for him in the second round. Meanwhile, Eugenie Bouchard has made an early exit.The 26-year-old Pospisil, ranked 129th, came from behind to beat 65th-ranked Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan in three sets on Thursday night.Pospisil dropped the first set, but went on to take the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours 28 minutes. He faces world No. 1 Andy Murray of Britain.Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., was dropped in three sets by Germany’s Annika Beck in the first round.Beck, ranked 61st, took the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in 2:14:54.The 53rd-ranked Bouchard was looking to rebound after an opening-round loss in Acapulco last week.Last year she was defeated in the third round in Indian Wells by Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky.Earlier in the week, Milos Raonic withdrew from the event as he tries to recover from a hamstring injury.The 26-year-old Raonic made the final of the 2016 Indian Wells tournament, losing to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Canada’s Vasek Pospisil is moving on to the second round at the BNP Paribas Open.

NFL denies misuse of painkillers described in court filings

NFL teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, according to a Washington Post story based on sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players against the league and reviewed by the newspaper.The documents showed that the league disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, the Post said. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.”The sealed court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of DEA guidelines and were either slow in responding or failed to comply, the Post said.The suit also contained data showing widescale use by medical staff at teams of painkillers and anti-inflammatories, the newspaper said.Reuters was unable to independently verify the allegations in the suit. The National Football League denied the allegations made in the lawsuit which was brought against the league by a group of retired players.“The allegations made by plaintiffs are meritless and the league and its clubs will continue vigorously to defend these claims,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Reuters on Thursday in an e-mail when asked for comment.“The NFL clubs and their medical staffs are all in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act.”“The NFL clubs and their medical staffs continue to put the health and safety of our players first, providing all NFL players with the highest quality medical care.

McEwen and Gushue to meet in Page 1-2 game as Brier playoffs set

McEwen and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador will meet in the Page playoff 1-2 game on Friday night after topping the standings with 9-2 records. The last-place finisher is no longer relegated to the qualification round as the 2018 Brier will be expanded to 16 teams.Nunavut, Yukon and Prince Edward Island did not advance out of this year’s qualification round. Total attendance for the round-robin was 92,258. The Brier champion will represent Canada at the men’s world curling championship next month in Edmonton.Notes: Mile One Centre has a capacity of about 6,000 for curling. “It’s pretty cool to have people recognize (what) we’ve done. They will be included in the main draw next year as the field will be split into two pools of eight teams.The defending champion will continue to return as Team Canada, joining Northern Ontario and the 10 provincial and three territorial representatives.Curling Canada is expected to unveil details in the coming months on the qualification setup for the 16th team.The 3-4 loser and semifinal loser will play for bronze on Sunday afternoon. “I thought we were able to finish the week the way we started the week,” McEwen said. Koe will play fourth-seeded Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario in the Page 3-4 game on Saturday afternoon.Both Koe and Jacobs finished round-robin play at 8-3. That’s tremendous getting first place and hammer.“I couldn’t ask for anything more.”Gushue, who defeated Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy 9-3, is seeded second since he lost to McEwen in round-robin play.Canada’s Kevin Koe beat Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick 7-6 to earn the third seed. Koe gets the third seed since he defeated Jacobs in their head-to-head meeting.The morning results knocked Menard and British Columbia’s John Morris (both 7-4) out of the playoff picture and eliminated the possibility of tiebreaker games.The Page 1-2 winner advances to the final Sunday night while the loser falls into the semifinal. “The crowd was into it and we were into it.“So it’s going to be very similar to that, which is good for us because we’ve done it twice.”In the other morning game, Ontario’s Glenn Howard scored a single in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.It was a record 17th Brier appearance for the 54-year-old Howard, who received a standing ovation from the 5,716 fans at Mile One Centre after the game.“I was emotional there,” Howard said. I have no idea.“I know I don’t have too many left so I relished every moment and that was pretty cool to get a standing ovation from a great crowd.”Howard, a four-time national and world champion, also holds the Brier record with 217 games played.Saskatchewan’s Adam Casey finished round-robin play at 5-6, followed by Murphy and Howard at 4-7 and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher at 3-8.Kennedy and Jamie Koe were tied at 1-10. “Our last three outings were really good. Who knows, that could have been my last Brier. The final four is set at the Tim Hortons Brier.Manitoba’s Mike McEwen earned the top seed Friday morning with a 5-2 win over Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard. The 3-4 winner will advance to the semifinal Saturday night for a berth in the final.“I think we’ve had a good test leading into (the playoffs) with a few (teams) we’ve played against like Koe and Jacobs, those were playoff atmosphere kind of games,” Gushue said.

Hockey Hall of Fame unveils permanent statute of Gordie Howe

“Gordie was one of my heroes from the time I was a little boy and to have a chance to play against him was an honour.“I remember playing against him in 1979 at Maple Leafs Gardens (when Howe was with New England) and (Leafs’ goalie) Mike Palmateer always thought he had a great glove. Howe’s sons, Mark and Marty, participated in the unveiling of the figure that measures over 2.4 metres. “I think that’s the way we were brought up by our parents, to be humble, to be grateful.“It’s pretty awesome. I think the Hall has done a wonderful thing and Marty and I are glad to be here and try to continue the legacy of Gordie Howe.”The six-foot, 205-pound native of Floral, Sask., spent 26 seasons in the NHL, playing 1,687 of his 1,767 career games (both league records) with the Detroit Red Wings, who he led to four Stanley Cup titles.Howe’s 801 goals were the most in NHL history until Wayne Gretzky passed him in 1994 but remain tops among right-wingers. He also amassed 1,850 career points — another league mark that Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr and Mark Messier have since surpassed.Howe was the first NHL player to play in 1,500 career games, made a record 23 all-star appearances and remains the oldest player to participate in a game (52 years, 11 days).Howe also spent six seasons in the now-defunct World Hockey Association, playing with his sons with both the Houston Aeros and NHL’s New England Whalers. “Then we realized, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s on the other team.’“Our coach Red Kelly said, ‘It’s OK, I would’ve stood to but I’m already standing.“’Marty Howe said as fun-loving as his father could be away from hockey, he transformed into someone different upon lacing up his skates.“He wasn’t the same guy, he had a little bit of a mean streak in him,” he said. “He had a few rules: don’t take the puck away from him; don’t make him look bad and don’t hook him around the ribs… I think it’s so fitting that he’ll be at the entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame welcoming people with open arms like he did his whole life.”Lanny McDonald, a 1992 Hall of Fame inductee who’s now the shrine’s chairman, said it was hard not to be in awe of Howe on the ice.“I was always disappointed Jean Beliveau retired just before I started playing,” McDonald said. This is such a great honour. “I bought bricks for my retaining wall and I did that for a month.“Afterwards, I settled down and started thinking back on all the things we’ve done, playing hockey, fishing or just going to the beach. “When I was young I’d see all these kids come up to Gordie Howe and he looked like this mountain of a man,” said Mark Howe, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2011. otherwise his stick would be flying around somewhere and you’d get to visit the doctor.“You wanted him on your team.”Mark Howe, who assisted on his father’s final NHL goal, attended Friday’s event minus his Hall of Fame jacket and ring.“Today is about Gordie Howe and the respect we have for our father, it has nothing to do with me,” he said. Throughout his legendary career Gordie Howe looked out for his teammates. Howe died June 10, 2016 at age 88.“We had a tough time during the summer,” Marty Howe said. “Now people from of all walks of life are going to come here and see he was truly a mountain of a man.“For Dad to be honoured this way, he would never say it but, yeah, he deserved it. But this time Gordie got the puck and when the crowd roared, Palmie realized, ‘Oh my gosh, the puck’s behind me.’ It was perfect.”So, too, was the response by McDonald and his teammates.“Our entire bench stood up as one to celebrate not only a great goal but a great player,” McDonald said. It’s only fitting that a smiling statue of the man known as Mr. “Gordie Howe was a far better person and individual than he ever was as a hockey player.“I watched him, thousands if not millions of times, greet people from all walks of life and especially kids. Some featured items include Jacques Plante’s first goalie mask, Howe’s 1960 Hart Trophy plaque, Bobby Orr’s knee brace, the stick and equipment Gretzky wore when he scored his 802nd career goal and the 1917 minute book that defined the birth of the NHL.“I know Gordie is standing guard and welcoming in these players to this exhibit,” Mark Howe said. One day when I get to come here and there’s no cameras, no media, no fanfare I can just relax and enjoy it, maybe then I’ll be able to grasp it more.” I’ll visit (Hall of Fame) more now, this is a wonderful gift for the Howe family and Gordie.”The Hall of Fame also opened the NHL Centennial Exhibition, which pays tribute to the league’s top players and moments from 1917 to 2017. Hockey now watches over visitors to the Hockey Hall of Fame.Hockey’s hallowed shrine celebrated Howe’s career Friday with a permanent statue its entrance.