Gary Bettman says NHL open to Chinese investment as hockey tries to expand footprint

“I would say that’s still in the nascent stages – of both interest and coming to fruition – but I certainly think it’s a very real possibility that that happens in the future.“There’s no doubt there have been a number of expressions of interest from Chinese business entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in the league.”Foreign ownership is not new to the NHL. And although it may have taken decades to build soccer in China, the looming Olympics mean hockey is likely to develop at greater speed.“The growth of winter sports will be faster than [soccer],” Feng said.In January, Daly made a whirlwind trip to China to meet with potential sponsors, sit down with government officials and otherwise pave the way for future business opportunities.“I didn’t get to do a lot of sightseeing,” Daly said.He sketched out possibilities for relationships with Chinese businesses, holding more NHL events, and “investing in youth hockey in China, which we are prepared to do. in Montreal is going to be about the standards you’re going to get if you put together a national league here,” he said, adding that it could take at least a generation for the country to reach global hockey competitiveness.But in a country where state planners – and a desire to please the emperor – still hold power, things are changing.In Beijing, high schools are building rinks and cobbling together hockey teams. They’re teaching them well.”Still, “fans in China are passionate about the sports they watch,” Beleskey said. They would be subject to the same ownership criteria as every other potential investor and subject to board of governors’ approval, but anybody who has an interest in our league, we have an interest in them.”Other professional sports have already built sizable audiences in China. Schools in the Chinese capital plan to make participation in winter sports compulsory for elementary and middle-school students.The NHL has aired on CCTV 5+, the digital outlet of the Chinese state-run sports broadcaster, which sent announcers to the Stanley Cup final last year. “We would listen” to a proposal from a Chinese buyer, Bettman said. Yao, a former Chinese and NBA star, is often credited for the boom in basketball’s growth in China.NHL officials are finalizing details for a pair of September exhibition games between the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings in Beijing and Shanghai. “They want deals.”There are parallels with China’s sudden lust for soccer clubs in the past few years, with companies and investors spending more than $2-billion on clubs since 2015, and hundreds of millions of dollars more to buy overseas talent for teams in the Chinese Super League.No one expects that much money to pour into hockey, a sport with a much smaller footprint.“But I’m sure it’s going to happen,” said Feng Tao, chief executive of Shankai Sports, a sports-marketing firm. football, whose rules and game-play are also more difficult to understand.Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League had a team begin playing in Beijing last year, and though it has struggled to win a large audience, made the playoffs this season. “We had no traffic. In recent months, he has also spoken with several groups about investing in the NHL.There is interest on both sides of the Pacific to create closer ties as the NHL tries to expand its footprint beyond North America and Chinese authorities look to the NHL for its expertise in helping them develop a hockey culture and trying to popularize the sport in China ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.Chinese president Xi Jinping is widely believed to be a hockey fan, his ardour for the sport second only to soccer. “A beer-league team renting ice at 3 a.m. That’s a certainty.”NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly foresees a time when Chinese investment in NHL franchises becomes a reality.“I think there are those people out there,” Daly said. The original owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning were Japanese, while the San Jose Sharks are currently owned by German billionaire Hasso Plattner. “If there’s a willing seller on the NHL side, there are willing buyers in China. The Chinese are hoping a trickle-down affect will help create a stronger national hockey team that won’t be embarrassed during the Olympics.As a result, hockey has vaulted into a new position of national prominence in China, a country that does not have the equivalent of a Yao Ming to spread the sport’s gospel. Another Asian Olympics next year, the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea, has further fuelled a desire in China to achieve winter sports glory. Last week, the Beijing team announced the hiring of former NHL coach Mike Keenan, another indication of its ambitions – and funding.Local bankers, too, are casting a wide net. Instead, they have trained their sights on clubs such as the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes.“The stars are in line,” said Peter Schloss, managing partner at CastleHill Partners Ltd., a Beijing-based merchant bank that specializes in media, sports and entertainment.“We’ve been approached frequently by potential Chinese buyers of all or parts of NHL franchises,” he said. Every Saturday morning, they watch basketball on television,” he said.China is “a massive market – and hopefully we can dig into it.” In January, the league signed a five-year streaming deal with Chinese Internet giant Tencent, which also holds NBA and Premier League rights.Boosters hope that hockey, with its rough-and-tumble action, will better appeal to Chinese more than slower-moving sports such as baseball or U.S. Though such investments can take time to assemble, at least one buying group has got close enough to discuss financial terms for a potential purchase.“They’re very much in the market, and trying to complete a transaction,” said Alexander Jarvis, chief executive of Blackbridge Cross Borders, a company known for its deal-making expertise, and which has connected Chinese money with European soccer clubs. Groups of Chinese buyers have begun talks with advisers in Beijing and elsewhere, discussing NHL clubs that might accept an initial investment. I think there are a number of different facets of becoming relevant on the Chinese sports landscape and I think it’s something we’re prepared to do.”China’s dramatically different cultural background, however, is likely to pose challenges.Matt Beleskey, a Boston Bruins left winger from Barrie, Ont., was asked by the Bruins to travel to China last summer and participate in youth hockey clinics along with teammate David Pasternak, who wears No. It’s an exciting, interesting opportunity that, based on the sheer magnitude of the market, can’t be and shouldn’t be ignored.”In China, local government functionaries and corporate titans alike believe they can help hockey grow in part by acquiring ownership in a North American team whose skill, savvy and branding can be used to improve hockey back home.Chinese buyers are looking for high-performing teams that can provide a return on investment, while knowing that the Original Six are likely too sacred to touch. APSN ceased operation a few years later.Hockey hasn’t found its own Yao, either. He currently plays for the Madison Capitols, in the United States Hockey League, where he has not scored a goal in 42 games.Meanwhile, home ice remains populated largely by figure skaters, speed skaters and recreational skaters. Commissioner Gary Bettman is planning a trip to Beijing later this month to announce the games, which will fit with a broader effort to increase both Chinese corporate sponsorship and interest in hockey, and may one day even result in the NHL helping the Chinese set up its own league.“Our understanding is, they’re looking at building hundreds of rinks and arenas and looking for ways to introduce the game to people throughout the country – and that’s something we’ve been interested in exploring at all levels in the game,” Bettman said.“The more interesting play, which they’re not ready for yet, is the creation of an indigenous Chinese league that we could use our resources to set up and launch. Jarvis has been meeting with a strategic investments division of the Bank of China, which asked him to profile potential targets for its investments.“Hockey clubs, snowboarding, winter sports – pretty much every sector in winter sports you can imagine, even clothing,” Jarvis said. In 2015, Andong Song became the first mainland-born Chinese drafted into the NHL. He believes it’s related to martial-arts training.“They would ask, ‘What test do I have to pass to make it to the NHL?’ I’d say, ‘That’s not really how it works.’ But they want to do the work and learn the skills. The entire country is unlikely to count more than 6,000 registered hockey players, a tally that has grown by at most 1,000 in the two years since Beijing won the 2022 Olympics, estimated one person with decades of hockey experience in the region.With a few exceptions, skill levels remain low, too. 88 – 8 being a lucky number in China.Beleskey said the way Chinese players learn and absorb lessons is different than the way North American players are trained. The NBA reportedly signed a $940-million (all figures U.S.) Internet rights deal with China in 2015; soccer’s Premier League last year signed a similarly-sized deal for three years.Hockey’s first steps into China were less successful.In 2010, Schloss secured the online streaming rights for NHL games in Asia through Allied Pacific Sports Network, a company he co-founded. I think watching some of their coaches teaching their kids, they know what they’re doing. Now, those companies are turning to the sport that is sometimes referred to in China as “soccer on ice,” at a moment the NHL is readying a major new push into the world’s most populous country. Nobody would subscribe to the games,” Schloss said. Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have poured billions of dollars into buying soccer clubs across Europe. Take basketball, which is “like a religion to them. “We don’t have any restrictions based on national origin.”Daly also reiterated that “there would be no issue with foreign investment in the league.

NHL players covet Olympic participation despite league’s view

“I’m hopeful we don’t have to get to that point.”If it does get to that point, Fehr knows how players would react if 2018 was off the table.“They’re going to be unhappy,” Fehr said. The International Ice Hockey Federation said it has remedied those concerns, while the NHL has been skeptical.The league also wasn’t keen on IOC rules preventing promotion of its presence at the Olympics, including the airing of highlights.NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this week that the assumption should be that the league isn’t going, while commissioner Bill Daly said in late January that a game-changer of some kind was required.“I don’t know what the something is,” Daly said. “It means a lot. “That’s about all I can say, but that should be obvious.” “All I can tell you is if we’re going to hear the same thing I don’t think it’s going to move the ball.”No formal discussions have taken place between the league, PA, IOC and IIHF since an early February meeting in New York. “It’s very probably an individual club decision.”The NHL declined to comment on the matter when reached Thursday, but it’s not difficult to envision the headache it would cause for the league if players, beyond just Ovechkin, opted to attend next February while the NHL regular season continued to take place. “Everybody wants to go there.”Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid expressed similar sentiment at the all-star game. And it’s something that we ought to try and do.”Owners have groused about the subject for months, however, unconvinced of the tangible benefits of attending in South Korea and concerned about the effects of a regular season shutdown for two-plus weeks. Alex Ovechkin has pledged to attend the 2018 Olympics in South Korea whether the NHL opts to go or not, and the Russian superstar might not be alone.Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, said the possibility of players choosing to compete in Pyeongchang even if the NHL decides against interrupting the 2017-18 season “would be the next issue which arises.”

“I’m not sure we take the view that that’s a league decision anyway,” Fehr said by phone on Thursday afternoon. And to take that opportunity away would be most, most unfortunate,” Fehr said. The 20-year-old said he couldn’t envision an Olympics without NHL players.“There’s a lot of people higher up than me that are going to be figuring that one out, but 100 per cent they should go,” McDavid said.Fehr hoped the NHL decided to go before the decision was made by others, namely the IIHF, which has expressed increasing urgency for a resolution. The distraction alone would be enormous.Both Fehr and the players don’t want it to get to that point though. And it means a lot to players not only during their careers to say ‘I played on an Olympic team’, but after their career and for the rest of their lives when they’re back in their home countries.”“I think the players know it’s very important for us to represent our countries,” Ovechkin told reporters in Washington on Thursday. They’re hoping for a resolution from the NHL which allows the group to attend a sixth consecutive Games.“They know we think it’s important,” Fehr said. Their earliest apparent stumbling block was money that the International Olympic Committee was insisting against paying to cover player costs. “They know that we believe very strongly that players ought to have an opportunity to play. He argued for the “pretty universal” desire among players to represent their countries on the career-defining stage of the Olympics and thought it unwise to pass up two potential opportunities in Asia – Beijing follows in 2022 – during a five-year period.“There’s a patriotic element, too … IIHF president Rene Fasel told The Associated Press on Thursday that he needs to know the NHL’s decision on Pyeongchang by the end of April, but Fehr suggested there was no definitive drop-dead date.“That’s at least weeks away, whether it’s six weeks or 10 weeks or whatever it’s at least weeks away,” Fehr said. They know we think it’s in the long-run good for the game. No further talks were scheduled.Back on the first day of 2017 Fehr said he was “more optimistic now than I ever have been”, but that same level of optimism wasn’t apparent at this stage in late March.

DeRozan scores 40, Raptors rally again to beat Heat

Toronto (43-29) remained in the No. McGruder reached double figures for only the second time in his last 14 games.DEROZAN HISTORYDeRozan became the second player in Toronto history to have a season where he scored 32 or more points at least 20 times. Miami is 0-3 against Boston this season, losing by eight, 10 and three points. Norman Powell scored 14 and Delon Wright added 13 for Toronto, which never led until midway through the third quarter. … Toronto outrebounded Miami 51-36.Heat: Wayne Ellington played, one day after the birth of his son. It’s the second time this month Toronto faces Miami and Dallas consecutively.Heat: Visit Boston on Sunday. He needed 38 shots to score 42 against Chicago on Tuesday. 4, and 24 in the first half of this one. The 84 points tied for Miami’s second-lowest total of the season, and was the first time the Heat failed to reach 90 at home.The Raptors trailed by 15 points early and eventually led by as many as 17 – a 32-point turnaround. P.J. 10 Detroit.TIP-INSRaptors: DeRozan has two 20-plus-point halves against Miami this season. … 8, now just a game ahead of No. The Raptors allowed 33 points in the first quarter, then held Miami to 35 points over the next 27 minutes.Playing with 13 stitches in his right hand, Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Miami. My thing is just find five men who are going to play hard.”Neither team moved in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. Miami’s three second-quarter field goals were a season-low for any quarter. 3 Washington. He had 22 in the second half on Nov. No one in the NBA has been better at pulling off big comebacks than the Raptors, who have come from behind six times since the All-Star break alone.“It talks about toughness, heart,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. 4 spot, pulling within a half-game of No. … Tucker started for Serge Ibaka, who served his one-game suspension for fighting Chicago’s Robin Lopez on Tuesday. “Our give-a-crap level is pretty high, and it’s one of those things where when you count us out, we find a way. Miami (35-37) stayed No. DeMar DeRozan scored 40 points, marking the first time he’s had that many in consecutive games, and the Toronto Raptors pulled off their 19th double-digit comeback of the season to beat the Miami Heat 101-84 on Thursday night.DeRozan shot 14 for 25 from the field and 12 for 13 from the line. … Wayne Ellington III arrived Monday afternoon. 9 Chicago and No. The previous low was four, done four times. Rodney McGruder and Goran Dragic each had 13 points for the Heat, with Dragic shooting just 5 for 18.He wasn’t the only Miami player to struggle. There’s still no timetable for his return, but the Heat said the swelling in his ankle continues to decrease.UP NEXTRaptors: Visit Dallas on Saturday. The Heat shot only 39 per cent, 26 per cent from 3-point range. He was an 11-year-old when it last happened – Vince Carter had 28 of those games in 2000-01.WAITERS UPDATEHeat guard Dion Waiters missed his third game with a sprained left ankle, and remains in a walking boot.

Maple Leafs shake off slow start, beat Devils for third straight win

But that was not the point, as the players and head coach Mike Babcock pointed out.The point was to win and that is what the Leafs did, grinding out a 4-2 decision for their third win in a row. Matthews assisted on the Nylander goal and Marner set up van Riemsdyk’s goal. But Laine scored his 34th goal later for the Jets to regain the sole lead with 61 points.“We have so many of us, we can feed off each other, especially towards this part of the season when you body is wearing down,” Matthews said. Connor Brown ended the Devils’ hopes with an empty-net goal in the last minute. It goes beyond us three [Matthews, Marner and Nylander]. Specifically, it was William Nylander with supporting appearances by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.Less than three minutes after the Devils took the lead on the first shot of the game, Nylander set a franchise record when he set up the tying goal by Josh Leivo on a power play. This really polished up the Leafs’ rookie statistics.Marner’s assist was his 40th of the season, which tied him with Bodnar for the most by a Leaf rookie in one season. Going through everything with a lot of other rookies is special.”After Nylander’s big assist, at least Bodnar’s descendants could take solace in the fact he had a couple of other Leafs rookie records. Well, not so fast. The Leafs now have a three-point lead and a game in hand on the Boston Bruins, who lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.“We discussed that,” said veteran Leafs centre Brian Boyle. The Leafs were on a high after strong performances against the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins and they were coming off a big road win Wednesday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. Since it was Nylander’s 35th assist of the season, that landed him a $212,500 (U.S.) entry-level bonus. We didn’t have the greatest first period but we got our legs about us, and [backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney] played great. That one withstood a coach’s challenge by Babcock over goaltender interference. “It’s a grind, playing an NHL team that’s rested, and we had a big emotional win on the road [Wednesday] night.“So it’s important for all the work we put in last night, to come away with two points. “We’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs and I think everybody is in full force right now, making sure each game matters. Nylander made one of those long, seeing-eye passes all of the Leaf rookies seem to be able to do in the offensive zone that wound up on Matthews’ stick. It was just a win against the New Jersey Devils, a mediocre mixture of veterans and youngsters with no playoff hopes, but for the Toronto Maple Leafs it was just as important as their recent ones over some of the NHL’s best teams.First, it was the kind of game where a letdown is not surprising. “It’s been special. It also meant the Leafs had six players with at least 50 points for the first time since 1990 – Matthews, Marner, Nylander, van Riemsdyk (55), Nazem Kadri (54) and Bozak.However, the Leafs still had to fight their way through the third period, as the Moore scored his second goal of the game on a power-play at 9:04. It is safe to say none of the three previous record-holders was making as much as $212,000 for their entire annual salary.“Playing good against Chicago, Columbus, teams that are up there, gives us confidence and helps us on the push,” Nylander said. His shot was stopped and then mishandled by Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid, which allowed Leivo to jam the loose puck into the net.The assist for Nylander marked the 10th consecutive game in which he recorded at least a point, a new record for Leafs rookies. He drew an assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal as well, which gave him 50 points for the season, a career high. You don’t want to throw it away when you come back on home ice. Devils defenceman John Moore drifted down the right side and fired a routine shot that McElhinney somehow let through him three minutes into the game. The previous record was shared by three Maple Leafs, the late Gus Bodnar, who did it in 1943, Bob Nevin (1960) and Dan Daoust (1983). But the Leafs gradually played better and took over the game as the period wound down.It was the kids who stepped up. Well, the Bodnar clan can say his other record is unlikely to be beaten – fastest first NHL goal at 15 seconds into his first shift as a Maple Leaf.All of the rookie points made for a crowd at the top of the NHL rookie points race at that point, with Patrick Laine of the Winnipeg Jets and Matthews tied at 60, Marner second at 57 and Nylander with 56. That meant the Devils, who were resting and waiting for the Leafs in their Toronto hotel rooms, caught them on the second of back-to-back, road and home games on Thursday night. The present-day Leafs rookies weren’t quite finished.Nylander scored at 18:17 to give the Leafs the lead by the end of the first period and then James van Riemsdyk scored early in the second to given the hosts a 3-1 lead. I think everybody contributes, whether it’s offence, defence or in the faceoff circle.”There was also a landmark for a Leaf veteran, centre Tyler Bozak. Second, given the seven rookies on the Leafs’ roster going into game 72 of the regular season, this is the spot on the schedule where a lot of them can be expected to hit the wall.The game was far from an artistic success, as the Leafs started slowly and then just managed to be a little better than the woeful Devils. That, combined with losses by the teams chasing them in the playoff race, tightened their grip on third place in the Atlantic Division. They’re not always picture-perfect but it was important we made that win in Columbus stand up.”The game had barely started when it looked like it was going to go the way these things often do.

Hurricanes keep playoff hopes alive with win over Montreal

This kind of performance won’t cut it in the playoffs.”Lee Stempniak scored twice and Eddie Lack stopped 21 shots for Carolina. Montreal head coach Claude Julien called his team’s performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night “unacceptable.”The Canadiens fell 4-1 to the visiting Hurricanes and saw their lead atop the Atlantic Division shrink to one point.“Our effort and focus were unacceptable,” said Julien. We’ve been on a good run here. The Hurricanes, undefeated in regulation time in nine straight games (6-0-3), also got goals from Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner, into the empty net.Montreal was the slower team and failed to dictate much of the play. Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu was a healthy scratch for the second time in the last five games. That move paid off just minutes into the encounter when Galchenyuk scored his first goal in 10 games at 6:46.Andrew Shaw and Galchenyuk moved in on Lack on a 2-on-1, with Shaw completing a perfect pass to his new linemate, who made no mistake for his 16th of the season.“Chucky looked more comfortable with Shaw and it was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal there early and get his confidence up,” said Pacioretty. With Alexei Emelin in the box for holding, Lindholm completed a gorgeous tic-tac-toe play for an easy tap-in at the side of Carey Price’s net.The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead with 39 seconds remaining in the second period when Stempniak’s harmless backhand shot took a big deflection off Emelin’s skate to skip past Price.Stempniak got his second of night at 5:11 of the third as he cashed in a 2-on-1 pass from Skinner. We still believe and we’re going to keep going about our business.”Despite being one of the league’s best third-period teams, Montreal only took five shots on net in the third.Carolina had not beaten the Canadiens in Montreal in seven games (0-6-1) dating back to Feb. We’re playing complete games and we’re not giving up much.”Skinner scored his team-leading 29th goal of the season into the empty net at 17:57 of the third.“The guys know what’s on the line,” said Carolina coach Bill Peters of the playoff picture. “Now it’s up to our line to produce offensively.”Lindholm extended his point streak to nine games when he scored his 10th of the season at 16:10 of the first, on the power play, to make it 1-1. The Canadiens turned the puck over 22 times and only won 35 per cent of the game’s faceoffs.Defenceman Jordie Benn said the home side got complacent, especially after the early lead.“We got slow and we got away from our game,” he said. “We have to find some extra motivation. “When we’re playing our game, we’re pretty effective. We had a good start but we got away from it.”Alex Galchenyuk scored the lone goal for Montreal after Julien demoted him from first-line centre to third-line winger. “This is the most important time of the season. Hard to win games when that happens.”

Montreal (41-24-9) took an early lead but Carolina (32-27-13) scored four unanswered goals to extend their point streak to nine games and keep their playoff hopes alive.The Hurricanes are five points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in their season.“Our execution wasn’t there tonight,” said Phillip Danault, who centred the first line between Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. “We’re getting better as the season is going along. 13, 2012.Notes: Price stopped 19-of-22 shots in defeat. “We weren’t on our game. We were chasing the puck all night. The goals were Stempniak’s 13th and 14th of the season.“We’re a confident group and we think we can get into the playoffs,” said Stempniak.

Turris, Ryan score in shootout as Senators edge Penguins

The Montreal Canadiens are up next for the Senators as the two meet for the third time in eight days on Saturday in Montreal. “It turns out worse than most other times, plays like that happen all the time, but I don’t think it was intentional or dirty.”Crosby echoed those sentiments saying he wasn’t looking to injure Methot.“I was just trying to get his stick and I think I caught his finger judging by his reaction and their reaction. This one just went bad.“(Crosby) puts his stick in as (Methot) is trying to shoot the puck in and unfortunately it hits his finger,” Karlsson said. It’s shattered and he’s out for weeks,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said.Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson said it was an unfortunate play, but a play that happens all the time. Ottawa played the final 45 minutes without Methot, who left the game with a bloodied and mangled finger on his left hand following a two-handed slash from Crosby. They don’t feel good.”Mike Hoffman found the back of the net in regulation for the Senators (41-24-8), while Mike Condon made 34 saves, including two incredible point blank stops in overtime to keep the game going.“I was lucky to get it on the blocker there and thankfully it went over the net,” Condon said of his overtime save off Chris Kunitz.Nick Bonino had the goal in regulation for the Penguins (46-17-10), who got a 29-save performance from Matt Murray.After being outplayed for much of the first two periods, the Senators were much better in the third and tied the game 1-1 on the power play at 9:43 as Hoffman beat Murray over the shoulder with a wrist shot just 14 seconds after Matt Cullen was penalized for holding.“I couldn’t really see it until late and by that time, he’s got such a good shot it was already too late for me to react to it. Crosby didn’t receive a penalty on the play.Methot grabbed Crosby by the jersey after the whistle and had a few words for the Penguins’ captain before leaving the ice.“His finger is destroyed. I’ve gotten those before. Penguins forward Oskar Sundqvist turned 23-years-old Thursday. Bonino moved in from the point and took a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle that went bar down and in behind Condon.Zack Smith had a chance to tie the game seconds later when he was sent in alone, but shot wide, narrowly missing his fifth short-handed goal of the season.The opening period, despite not having any goals, wasn’t without its moments, including a huge windmill save by Murray off a Ryan Dzingel shot seven minutes into the game.Hoffman had another great opportunity for the Senators but his rocket of a shot late in the period rang off the crossbar.Notes: Craig Anderson will have to wait at least until Saturday to play in his 500th career game. The Ottawa Senators got a big win Thursday, but suffered a big loss at the same time.Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan scored in the shootout as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Thursday night.They appear to have lost defenceman Marc Methot for perhaps an extended period of time, though, after he took a slash from Sidney Crosby in the first period. It’s a tough style to play against and I think we did a really good job of not really feeding into their transition and got pucks behind them when we needed to. But I’ve got to have that short side, so that’s probably on me,” Murray said.“They play that 1-3-1 in the neutral zone and they just basically sit and wait and poach and wait for a turnover and they’re good in transition. The Penguins host the New York Islanders Friday. All together I thought we did a pretty good job of playing against it.”After being stopped on a partial break earlier in the period, Bonino opened the scoring at 9:21 of the second on the front half of a double minor to Senators defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

Rinne makes 24 saves, leads Predators over Flames

Johnny Gaudreau prevented a clearing attempt from Filip Forsberg from crossing the blue line and he found Micheal Ferland on the goal line to the left of the Nashville net. Predators C Mike Fisher missed the game with a lower-body injury. The 17 shots on goal for the game were a season low for Nashville.Dougie Hamilton cut Nashville’s lead in half at 10:29 of the second. There, Sissons kicked the puck to his forehand before beating Johnson who was outside the crease to challenge a potential shot by Wilson.Nashville scored twice in the second despite recording just three shots on goal in the period. Ferland returned after missing two games with an illness.UP NEXT:Flames: At St. Pekka Rinne made 24 saves to lead the Nashville Predators over the Calgary Flames 3-1 on Thursday night.Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons and Ryan Ellis scored, and Colin Wilson had two assists for Nashville, which has won five of six.Dougie Hamilton had the lone goal for Calgary. … Just 5 seconds after a roughing penalty to Calgary’s Freddie Hamilton expired, Craig Smith had the puck behind the Flames’ net and found Jarnkrok all alone in the slot, where he beat Chad Johnson high to the glove side.Johnson finished with 14 saves.Sissons, playing in his 100th NHL game, doubled Nashville’s lead at 7:58 of the second. Louis Blues on Saturday.Predators: Host San Jose Sharks Saturday. After winning 17 of 21, the Flames have lost two straight. … Jarnkrok scored the game’s first goal at 5:02 of the second period. Wilson carried the puck in along the left boards and moved toward the slot, where he slipped a backhand pass to Sissons on the right side. … Calgary LW Matthew Tkachuk served the second of his two-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty in the face Sunday. Ferland then found an unchecked Hamilton in the slot, and Hamilton he beat Rinne with a one-timer.Ellis made it 3-1 at the 12-minute mark of the third with a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that beat Johnson high to the glove side.NOTES: Nashville D Mattias Ekholm played his 300th career NHL game.

Magnus Paajarvi scores two, Canucks fall to the Blues

Magnus Paajarvi scored twice to lead the St. Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks who have lost seven of their last eight to fall to 11-22-3 on the road. St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.Kyle Brodziak and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Blues who won their fourth straight to give them nine wins in their last 10. Louis has now earned a point in six consecutive games against the Canucks, going 5-0-1 in that span. Canucks C Henrik Sedin now has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his last 16 games.UP NEXTCanucks: At Minnesota on Saturday in the fourth game of a five-game trip.Blues: Host Calgary on Saturday. That gave him the second multi-goal game of his career and first since Feb. 5, 2011, with Edmonton.Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins challenged the goal saying that the Blues were offside entering the zone but the video replay proved inconclusivePietrangelo capped the scoring with at 2 1/2 minutes left.Sedin opened the scoring for Vancouver when he scored his 15th of the season.Paajarvi tied the game when he pushed his own rebound past Miller.NOTES: St. Jake Allen made 27 saves for his seventh win in eight starts while allowing just nine goals in the stretch. Louis C Paul Stastny was scratched as he is out week-to-week with a lower body injury. … … Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots.Brodziak snapped an 11 game goal scoring drought when he roofed a slap shot by Miller late in the second period for his eighth goal of the season to put the Blues up 2-1.Paajarvi added some insurance when he scored his second of the game and eighth of the season midway through the third period.

Argos head coach Marc Trestman unveils 2017 coaching staff

Toronto’s offensive coaching staff will consist of Mitch Browning (offensive line), Tommy Condell (receivers), Josh Moore (running backs) and Steve Walsh (senior assistant coach).Condell originally joined the Argos as special advisor in February. “Our players will enjoy being coached and mentored by them during the upcoming season.“Now that we have our entire staff assembled, I look forward to building our three phases of football.”Earlier this month, Trestman announced the appointment of Chamblin and Marcus Brady as offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach. He follows in the footsteps of Mike O’Shea, the former standout linebacker who served as the Argos special-teams coach from 2010-13 before being hired as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach.“These are men of high character as well as great teachers in the science of football,” Trestman said in a statement. Wendell Avery will serve as Toronto’s assistant special-team coach. Eiben, a former linebacker who spent 11 of his 12 CFL seasons with Toronto, will handle the Argos special-teams. Toronto Argonauts coach Marc Trestman unveiled the remainder of his staff Wednesday and it includes former CFL players Tyron Brackenridge and Kevin Eiben.Brackenridge, a former Saskatchewan Roughrider safety, will serve as an assistant defensive backs coach to Corey Chamblin, the Argos’ defensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach who’ll also be in charge of coaching the secondary. Condell was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offensive co-ordinator and receivers coach from 2013-15.The other members of Chamblin’s defensive staff include Mike Archer (linebackers), Kerry Locklin (defensive line) and Gavin Lake (quality control).

Canadian rookie Lance Stroll set to make his Formula One debut

In a sport that
is increasingly getting younger, turning to drivers who are groomed from a young
age to be sophisticated tacticians by the time they hit their late teens,
Verstappen surprised critics of the youth movement when he won the 2016 Spanish
Grand Prix.Stroll
comes into this season with a lot to prove, and must hush the naysayers who have
questioned him throughout his career, saying he is only afforded opportunity in
racing because his father, Lawrence, is a billionaire.It’s
a challenge he knows he must address at every level, and one that can only be
answered with strong performances on the track. You don’t have the
results he had in Formula 3 last year without being a special
driver.”Jensen
will be tuning in Sunday to see how the talent he spotted at a young age can
handle the sport’s biggest stage. For the
most part, though, Stroll shrugged it off as something that comes with the
territory – all part of having to make a debut under a spotlight. For father
and son, there is no prerace routine.“I
let him do his own thing. It’s not a perfect proxy for what he’ll experience on
Sunday, but it has helped the initiation process.“For
me especially, being a rookie, there’s so much to learn and to understand behind
the wheel,” Stroll said. I just
want to come in, do my job, and we’ll see where we end up,” Stroll
said.Stroll’s
first training run at Williams got off to a bumpy start a few weeks ago when he
missed a turn and went off the track, damaging his car in the process. “Things are coming at you quicker, so braking distance
is shorter, and the corner is coming at you quicker.”But
with the new car specifications, Stroll adds, “It’s challenging for
everyone.”Only
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who made his debut last season still six months
shy of his 18th birthday, can claim an earlier F1 introduction. Meanwhile,
his climb up the ranks into F3, and ultimately into a spot at Williams, is
estimated to carry a price tag in the tens of millions.But
the Ferrari talent scout who discovered Lance as a boy and helped recruit him to
the program said Stroll’s results on the track show he is an unusual
talent.“Good
drivers are good drivers, and special drivers are special drivers,” said Eric
Jensen, a racing veteran who is now a consultant for Ferrari, and is based in
Toronto. Every corner you’re risking your life, because if you make a small mistake
you can crash at 150 miles per hour, and then you’re on God’s goodwill if you’re
fine or not. The reality of racing, though,
is that it is a sport that requires huge sums of money, and there are virtually
no drivers in F1 who don’t come with significant financial backing.Lawrence
Stroll, who made his money bankrolling the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Michael
Kors in the fashion world, is estimated to be worth billions. It’s amazing, Formula One. The gruelling races in F1 will be Stroll’s
toughest challenge, he says.“He’s
going to be pretty tired, so can he handle that? I’m his dad, he has enough professionals, his
engineers, etc., giving him all the advice he needs,” Lawrence said. But it’s exciting,” Stroll said from Melbourne this week,
where he was walking the track, as drivers often do a few days before
competition to get the lay of the land. “I don’t want to think results, I don’t want to think positions. Meanwhile, the cars hit top speeds of more than 360 kilometres an hour, nearly
100 km/h faster than the cars in F3. These guys do it at a consistently high
level for two hours without making mistakes.”When
Stroll jumped to Williams last year, it was because the team was offering a
faster route into F1 than Ferrari could. Changes to the cars this year, including
wider tires, have made them faster still, increasing the G-forces that will pull
at drivers and make the latter stages of a race even more tiring.To
prepare, Stroll has spent the past several months training on F1 tracks using
the Williams 2014 car. When he’s alone on the starting grid at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend,
Lance Stroll will divert from his usual routine.For most of his career, the 18-year-old from Montreal, who is making his
Formula One debut at the Australian Grand Prix, has followed the same prerace
ritual.With his helmet on and the motor rumbling, Stroll usually takes a second to
breathe deeply and say a few words to himself: I know I’m ready. I know I’m
fast. His first
season in F3 began under a similar cloud when he was involved in two crashes,
including one that flipped his car, and earned a one-race penalty, along with
the ire of more experienced drivers. “Lance has shown signs that he’s a special driver. “And the general public doesn’t understand how on-the-limit you
are. When Lance was
recruited at 11 to race with the Ferrari Driver Academy, which develops young
talent, his entry into that program is said to have cost millions. That’s because he is treating his first race, and
perhaps his entire debut season, as a learning exercise.“I try and always find a couple of key words, like a couple of ‘I know this,
or I know that’ sentences,” he says. Last year’s Australian GP was won by
31-year-old Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in just more than 1 hour 48 minutes,
making it three times longer than most F3 races Stroll competed in last year. Even though he won 14 of
his 30 races in claiming the F3 championship last year, Stroll knows that counts
for little in F1.“It’s
a fresh start now. How success will be defined for Stroll
this season is an open question though. Stroll called it “probably the worst
possible point of my career.”But
the learning experiences of the first season gave way to the F3 championship in
his second season. What ends up happening driving
a race car is as your body gets tired, then your mind starts making mistakes,”
Jensen says. Williams dominated the circuit in the
1980s and 90s but is now a mid-ranking team, finishing fifth last
year.While
winning a race, as Verstappen did, would be ideal, Stroll’s job at Williams will
be to accumulate as many points for the team as he can, even if he never sees
the podium, since prize money in F1 dictates the budget for the following
season. “It’s new, and I’ve got to build up to
it again.”There
will be much to get used to: The races are longer, the cars are faster and the
talent is more experienced and aggressive. “The last
thing he needs is more advice from me.” “But the reality is, it’s my first race in
F1, and there’s not much that I know.”As learning experiences go, Stroll’s entry into the sport’s most glamorous
echelon will be among the most pressure-filled imaginable.Fresh
off his F3 title last year, he was unveiled in November as the new hope for
British-based Williams Racing, just a few days after his 18th
birthday.With
less than five months to prepare, and only a few days allowed under F1
regulations to get to know the car he will be driving in Melbourne, Stroll’s
preparation for this season has been a race of its own. Canadian Lance Stroll says F1 debut prep has been ‘hectic’ (The Canadian Press)

It’s a confidence exercise he adopted long ago under the tutelage of a sports
psychologist when Stroll, at age of 11, began working his way up the racing
ranks as a GoKart driver in Quebec.Dubbed a prodigy from an early age, and often racing against older drivers,
the words helped calm any last-minute nerves.After dominating Formula 3, one of racing’s top minor circuits, last year,
Stroll will become the first Canadian to race in F1 since Jacques Villeneuve in
2006 – not to mention the youngest driver in Sunday’s field.And even though the butterflies come far less frequently now that he’s
emerged as one of auto racing’s top prospects, Stroll says this time he’ll skip
those same verbal cues. It’s a development path he hopes to duplicate now, even if it
takes longer at the highest level.“There’s
so many things that need to come together to get good results and it’s better to
just focus on the process of getting there than just focusing on the result,”
Stroll said.Though
Lawrence Stroll is a fixture at the track when his son races, he said he’ll be
mostly trying to stay out of Lance’s way in advance of Sunday’s race.

Raptors’ Ibaka suspended one game for throwing punches in scuffle with Lopez

Lopez was to serve his suspension Wednesday when the Bulls hosted the Detroit Pistons. Words were exchanged before Lopez threw the first punch. Ibaka punched back before officials and players from both teams pulled the two apart.Ibaka will miss Toronto’s game against the Heat on Thursday in Miami. Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka has been suspended one game without pay for throwing punches in Tuesday’s altercation with Chicago centre Robin Lopez.Lopez was also suspended a game, the NBA announced Wednesday.Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire has been fined US$15,000 for pushing Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

Ibaka and Lopez were ejected from the game for the fracas, which occurred with 3:58 left in the third quarter of the Raptors’ 122-120 overtime win over the Bulls.The two were bumping under the basket before Lopez swatted the ball out of Ibaka’s hands.

Eugenie Bouchard loses in first round at Miami Open

Barty, a 20-year-old Australian, was off the tour for about 1 1/2 years, including a stint playing cricket. But Bouchard fended off those chances, then took that set by breaking in the last game.At 3-all, Barty broke with a forehand winner. Barty converted on the second when Bouchard sent a forehand long.Next up for Barty is an all-Australian match against 2011 U.S. 5 in 2014, the year she was the runner-up at Wimbledon and reached the semifinals at two other Grand Slam tournaments.Barty could have ended this match much sooner, because three times she was a point from serving for it in the second set. Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard a fourth consecutive loss, losing 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 to Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday.Barty claimed the last three games of the match between two past junior Wimbledon champions whose careers have both been filled with ups and downs. She has now won eight straight matches.Bouchard, a 23-year-old from Westmount, Que., has exited in the first round of each of her past three tournaments and is now ranked 56th after reaching No. But she is back and better than ever now, ranked a career-high 91st after winning her first WTA title as a qualifier at Kuala Lumpur. She then saved a pair of break points to go up 5-3, and broke again when Bouchard double-faulted twice in a row to set up three match points. Open champion Sam Stosur, who is seeded 14th.In other first-round action Wednesday at the hard-court tournament, American wild-card entry Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in nearly 2 1/2 hours, American qualifier Madison Brengle got past Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, Yaroslava Shvedova saved a match point to edge Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), and qualifier Jana Cepelova eased past Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4.In men’s matches, 108th-ranked American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo beat Britain’s 43rd-ranked Dan Evans 7-5, 0-6, 6-3, Donald Young advanced when Dustin Brown double-faulted on the final point of the American’s 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 win, and Fabio Fognini defeated Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-5.

USA Hockey postpones women’s training camp amid wage dispute

The U.S. is the defending champion and has won six of the past eight world championship gold medals. USA Hockey has postponed the start of the women’s national team’s world championship training camp amid an ongoing wage dispute.USA Hockey said the camp originally scheduled to begin Wednesday in Traverse City, Michigan, won’t happen.The organization “anticipates” a training camp in Plymouth, Michigan, site of the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship. USA Hockey says it sincerely regrets cancelling camp in Traverse City.The tournament begins March 31. Without a deal, there’s no clarity on when a potential training camp might begin or how long it would run.The camp was supposed to go from Wednesday through March 28 and include an exhibition game Saturday against Finland that also won’t take place. Players announced last week that they’d boycott the tournament unless they made significant progress with USA Hockey in negotiations on a labour deal. The sides met for 10-plus hours Monday, and John Langel, a lawyer for the players, tells The Associated Press that the next meeting will be by phone but hasn’t been scheduled yet.USA Hockey and players called Monday’s talks “productive,” and star forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said the team was “hopeful” about reaching an agreement.

Bertrand Charest doesn’t deny having had sex with some ski students: lawyer

Charest and certain of the (alleged) victims,” Antonio Cabral said outside the courtroom after calling his third and final witness at the former ski coach’s sex assault trial. Bertrand Charest doesn’t deny having had sex with some of his teenage ski students but disagrees with his portrayal by the Crown and his alleged victims, one of his lawyers said Wednesday.“There were sexual relationships between Mr. Charest wasn’t ready to admit was that this was a generalized behaviour and that it was generalized with 12 (alleged) victims as is reported in the charges.”Charest, now 51, is on trial on 57 charges, including sexual assault and breach of trust, in connection with 12 alleged victims between the ages of 12 and 19 during the 1990s.They claim Charest abused them when he was their coach, before and during his stint with Alpine Canada’s women’s development team between 1996 and ‘98.Several of the alleged victims testified they had sexual relationships with Charest, with many saying he was controlling and manipulative toward the athletes whose careers he managed.Some of them said they felt they were in love with Charest at the time but eventually came to believe they had been manipulated.On Wednesday, Cabral said his client disagreed with the way he was portrayed by the alleged victims, especially when it came to their level of consent.Cabral said Charest believes the sex he had with the young skiers was consensual.Earlier, a former assistant ski coach testified that Charest had an “intense” relationship with his students and sometimes made comments about their bodies.Alexandre Lussier said hearing the comments made him uncomfortable but none of Charest’s students ever came to him to complain while he travelled with them during the ‘95-’96 ski season.Lussier, like the two previous defence witnesses, said he never witnessed any sexual behaviour between Charest and his students, and only heard rumours of inappropriate conduct when Charest was removed from the national development team in 1998.Charest’s sister and a director of a regional ski association testified earlier this week for the defence.Speaking outside the courtroom, Cabral said he believes the defence presented a different perspective on Charest’s behaviour by showing he acted largely the same with everyone he dealt with in the ski world.“He’s someone who maybe lacked judgment in certain situations but who wasn’t looking for sexual gratification through his behaviour,” he said.Cabral said Charest did not testify because he saw no reason to add to what he told police in a 2015 deposition.In that video, which was shown earlier in the trial, Charest told police he was in love with two of his alleged victims and added, “I never did anything with anyone against their will. “What Mr. When there is no consent, for me, it’s rape.”The trial continues Thursday as the Crown and the defence seek to clarify the location of a ski competition described in earlier testimony.The judge is expected to indicate whether closing arguments will be delivered in the courtroom or by writing.

Ottawa Senators make the Hart trophy case for Erik Karlsson

“It’s not just going out there and fronting it, he’s realizing when the proper time is to block the shot and get the play going.”And it all fits with Boucher’s “extremely defensive” style of play, which has the club leading the NHL in blocked shots while leaping from one of the worst defensive outfits to top-10 status.More blocked shots mean less time with the puck though, so the Senators are actually giving up more shot attempts with Karlsson on the ice this year. The captain’s puck-possession numbers, relative to teammates, have also gotten slightly worse as he adapts to fit the team’s system.Absorbing the NHL’s heaviest workload last season – almost 29 minutes a game – Karlsson has seen his ice-time scaled back. “Right now it’s absolutely sublime, it really is.”

Karlsson is having the most well-rounded campaign of a career that already includes two Norris trophies. He unexpectedly led the league with 196 entering Wednesday’s games and already has more than last year, when he finished 11th.He said the improvement has been “helping me defensively to get pucks out easier and not having to battle the big guys in front of the net.”“The blocks are so well thought out,” veteran Senators centre Chris Kelly said. Guy Boucher might be biased, but the Ottawa Senators head coach is sounds certain that Erik Karlsson deserves consideration for the Hart trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.“With what he’s done this year, the way he’s done it, I can’t imagine better,” Boucher said. “It’s the price of the ticket right there for sure.” Some say he was robbed of a third Norris as voters sought to rectify Drew Doughty’s lack of hardware.Having nearly caught Brent Burns for control of the points lead among defencemen this season, while starring for an unexpected Atlantic Division contender, Karlsson is increasingly looking like the favourite for the award once more.Perhaps no better judge of his long-term evolution exists than Kelly, a teammate during Karlsson’s first two NHL seasons who then played in Boston for six years before returning to the club last summer.The 36-year-old sees a more confident and physically mature Karlsson, someone who’s rounded into a “special player.”It was all the little plays that made him great, Kelly said, how he helped Ottawa easily exit the defensive zone, how crafty he was in creating scoring opportunities, how well he skated, how he ran a power play and how underrated he was as a defender “because the highlights don’t show that.”“You see the highlights of him going end to end or making a nice move and making a great pass, but the game-to-game plays to help our team have success that’s what I’ve got a truer appreciation for,” Kelly said.Given all he does and does exceptionally well for Ottawa – including elite-level power play production – Karlsson is owed not just Norris love but MVP consideration as Boucher suggests.“Every effort he’s put in, his approach to the team this season, this year, was all about leadership and winning and the collective and it’s easy to say, but he’s done it,” Boucher said. But his improvements have actually been subtle, magnified by the Senators’ excellent play this season.In other words, he was already pretty good.Even Karlsson wonders if he’s actually at his best, noting no improvements in his skill or skating “or anything like that.”His defensive improvement this season is primarily tied to blocked shots. He’s is actually garnering almost five shifts more per-game than last year (31.7, second-most in the NHL), but they’re cut down by 13 seconds on average.Maybe most interesting and effective for Ottawa is an increase in Karlsson’s penalty-killing duties; his work has helped the unit leap from 29th last year to top-15 over all.“There’s always going to be nights when you think you can do more and you want to do more, but you don’t get the chance to do it and at the end of the day that might be a good thing,” Karlsson said.Karlsson’s per-minute scoring numbers are about on par with last year when he became the first defenceman to post 82 points in a season since Brian Leetch and Ray Bourque in 1995-96.