Tag:Randy Cunneyworth
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 5:08 pm
 

What would all-Quebec team look like for Habs?

By Brian Stubits

Go back a few weeks when Randy Cunneyworth's "hiring" in Montreal was all the rage. Literally, rage. It led to organized protests against the Canadiens organization, not just Cunneyworth (although that was the impetus).

Those who didn't support Cunneyworth's hiring because he doesn't speak French were upset not only with the Cunneyworth promotion, but what they called the entire Anglicization of the Montreal Canadiens, Quebec's only team since the Nordiques became the Avalanche.

The list of complaints went beyond the coach not speaking French, however. Here is what the Canadian Press reported about the protests.

Protesters also complained the music played at the Bell Centre is in English, that announcements are in both languages and that the team has few francophone players.

I laughed when I first saw that. Would the people of Quebec rather have a team of Francophones that stink than a team of Anglophones that wins (of course they have neither right now)?

So that got me to thinking: What would an all French-speaking, Quebec-born team look like? I wanted to take a look and see how good of a team I could put together, keeping salary cap restraints in mind. (Hey folks, it's the All-Star break, just having some fun here.) Consider this my own All-Star fantasy draft.

Let's just get right to it, shall we?

Head coach

Alain Vigneault is the guy. The Quebec City native has actually tried coaching the Canadiens before, making the playoffs only once from 1997-2001. He was fired midseason in the 2000-01 campaign. But he's found success since moving on to Vancouver, winning the Jack Adams once and coming in as a finalist in 2011 (he was also a finalist in 2000 with the Habs). A return trip to Montreal will hopefully go better this time.

Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury, Jean-Sebastien Giguere get the nod here. Now this is a position where I have a lot of choices. Fleury I think is a pretty clear starter based partly on his age, but for the second spot there are a lot of veterans: Giguere, Martin Brodeur, Jose Theodore, Martin Biron, Mathieu Garon and Jonathan Bernier. They can stop pucks in Quebec, that's pretty clear.

In terms of salary, Fleury takes up $5 million, Giguere only $1.25. So $6.25 million in goal is a decent price to pay, but not bad.

Robidas has spent time in Montreal already. (Getty Images)

Defensemen

I'm going with (in no particular pairing order) Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Francois Beauchemin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Stephane Robidas and Marc-Andre Gragnani. Letang leads the scoring punch while Bergeron, Beauchemin and to an extent Vlasic adding some more points. Defensively, Vlasic and Beauchemin highlight a pretty good two-way corps. But if anybody goes down, it gets thin after that.

As a whole, the defensemen don't cost that much. Beauchemin ($3.8 million), Letang ($3.5 million), Robidas ($3.3 million), Vlasic ($3.1 million), Bergeron ($1 million) and Gragnani (550,000) come in at a total of $15.25 million.

Center

Now this is a group of guys I like: Patrice Bergeron, Danny Briere, David Desharnais and Maxime Talbot. You'll notice one pretty big omission here and that's Vincent Lecavalier, but that $10 million per year is too big of a burden, I don't know how the Lightning do it. But I still have two guys who can score, arguably the best defensive center in the game, a young and promising player in Desharnais and a solid worker in Talbot.

Naturally this is costing me some cash here. Briere ($6.5 million) is costly, then add Bergeron ($5 million) before getting a little reprieve with Talbot ($1.75 million) and Desharnais ($850,000). In total, they take up $14.1 million.

Right wing

OK, I take it back about center. This is where my team is really loaded. Check out this lineup of Martin St. Louis, Jason Pominville, P.A. Parenteau and Alex Burrows. That's some serious scoring ability on the wing. I didn't have room for Maxim Lapierre or Pascal Dupuis at this position, but more on them later.

As you'd expect, this is the most expensive per-player corps on the team. St. Louis commands a cool $5.625 million, Pominville takes $5.3 million, Burrows costs $2 million and Parenteau a very reasonable $1.25 million. Total bill: $14.175 million.

Left wing

Here we have an Achilles' heel. The lineup we could toss out is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Alex Tanguay, David Perron and Guillaume Latendresse, but that's an awfully risky group of players. Each of Bouchard, Perron and Latendresse have dealt with concussions while Tanguay has been suffering with a neck strain. So to add a little stability, I'm going to convert Dupuis to the left side and leave out Bouchard -- more expensive than Latendresse.

The good news is this group doesn't cost a whole lot. Tanguay ($3.5 million), Latendresse ($2.5 million), Perron ($2.15 million) and Dupuis ($1.5 million) run up a bill of $9.65 million.

Scratches

Since he didn't make the list at right wing, Lapierre is going to serve as our daily scratch. But really he's likely going to be playing a lot at left wing with the injury potential. What he also gives is a physical presence. He's at least not averse to dropping the gloves, having five fights this season for Vancouver. Maybe we could try and talk Georges Laraque to coming back and serving the enforcer role, but undoubtedly sitting in press row most nights.

Lapierre comes in at an even $1 million.

Overall

The total salary for this team checks in at $60.425 million, giving our GM (we'll just keep Pierre Gauthier) a little room to maneuver or sign maybe another defenseman that would likely sit in the press box most nights.

Moreover, the top prospect in the system would have to be Jonathan Huberdeau, the player who went third overall to Florida in the last NHL Draft. He's likely to be in the NHL next season and right now projects to be a center but he can also play on the wing, so he could help out with the weaker left side.

In the end, it's actually a much better team than I thought it could be. It might be a little lacking in the physical department, but the team has a lot of ingredients: It has some big-time scorers (seriously, a top two lines of Tanguay-Bergeron-St. Louis and Perron-Briere-Pominville isn't bad at all), it has some agitators (I'm looking at you, Burrows and Lapierre), is good defensively and I think it's solid in net.

And don't forget, everybody speaks French!

More from Eye on Hockey

Yes there were protesters in Montreal
Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire
Owner: Bilingual coach is important

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 9:44 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Mike Cammalleri traded to Calgary

CammalleriBy: Adam Gretz

Just when you start to think the Montreal Canadiens have hit rock bottom on the season, it just finds a way to keep getting crazier. And crazier. And crazier.

The latest development: Forward Mike Cammalleri being traded to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night after he was pulled during the third period of the team's 2-1 loss in Boston.

The deal involves Cammalleri, goaltender Karri Ramo and a fifth-round draft pick going to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2013 second-round draft pick. This, of course, will be Cammalleri's second stop with the Flames after having spent 2008-09 season in Calgary, producing what was the best season of his career with 39 goals and 82 points in 79 games. He signed with Montreal after that season, inking a five-year, $30 million contract.

Said Flames general manager Jay Feaster in a team released statement on Thursday, “Mike Cammalleri is a dynamic player who enjoyed great success playing in Calgary. We believe Cammalleri will help our offensive production, solidify a second scoring line, bolster our power play, and bring another strong veteran voice to our room. We are confident that a return to Calgary will be good for Mike and good for our continued pursuit of a playoff berth.”

The "strong veteran voice" comment is certainly interesting, seeing as how his "voice" has to be one of the reasons he was even on the market in the first place. Cammalleri's name was in the news earlier on Thursday for some controversial remarks about his team and the way they prepare for games. Less than 24 hours later? He's gone.

Following Thursday's loss in Boston, the Canadiens are now 16-20-7 on the season and seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The team has already fired two coaches this season, dumping assistant coach Perry Pearn in the first month of the season, and then replacing head coach Jacques Martin last month. The latter was a move that has resulted in the entire organization facing criticism from a vocal minority of fans that are unhappy Martin's replacement, Randy Cunneyworth, doesn't speak french.
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Add in the Cammalleri storyline, both his comments and the ensuing trade, and it's been total chaos.

At the halfway point of the season Cammalleri had been struggling this season and had scored just nine goals in 37 games.

Bourque is obviously the key part of the trade for Montreal, and his name had been coming up in trade rumors for what seems like two years now. And while he's a solid player having scored 27 goals in each of the past two seasons, and on pace for nearly the same number this season, it's hard to argue that the Canadiens are a better team after this move (even though Montreal general manager Pierre Gauthier tried to do just that when announcing the move).

Really, the only benefit Montreal gets is that it dealt a player that made some comments the team didn't like, and saves a few million in salary cap space over the next couple of seasons. Cammalleri's contract still has two years remaining on it with an average salary cap hit of $6 million per season. Bourque is signed through the 2015-16 season and has an average salary of $3.3 million, giving Montreal a savings of about $2.7 million per year.

The Flames entered their game on Thursday night against Anaheim four points out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Bourque is currently suspended for his elbow to the head of Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom. It should be noted that the Canadiens, Bourque's new team, play the Capitals on Wednesday, and he will be eligible to play that night.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:12 pm
 

Habs' Mike Cammalleri: We play like losers

By Brian Stubits

The season is getting away from the Montreal Canadiens so much now that it's not just their never-shy fans calling them losers. One of the Habs fans' biggest targets for their derisive boos, Mike Cammalleri, isn't shy to say it.

"I can't accept that we will display a losing attitude as we're doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it's no wonder why we lose," Cammalleri told Francois Gagnon of RDS and La Presse (by way of TSN).

"When you display a losing attitude like we do now, you lose more often than you win and you stay in the same place. When you show a winning attitude, you are not stifled by mistakes and you respond to a mistake with 15 good plays at the other end, you win and you get out of misery. This is not what we are doing here now."

There's always a fine line to toe in these instances. Some cases this is seen as an honest assessment and much-needed wakeup call for the team. It can just as easily come across as a malcontent who just became a "locker room cancer" That's what you can get for speaking your mind.

I don't think he's in much danger of falling into the latter category in this case, it's more saying the team needs to start expecting to win. I don't see him calling his teammates losers, just that right now they are playing with that kind of mentality. They are defeated team at the moment.

As for the booing? Well, Cammalleri can live with that.

"You've got to be sensitive to the fact that Canadiens fans live and die by their team," Cammalleri said. "So if anything, you can identify with how they feel. They're unhappy, and they let you know it. So I wasn't disappointed; I think more so I probably expected it."

As the whole team probably does. They obviously know full well what playing poorly in Montreal can bring.

Moreover, Cammalleri is a little frustrated by his ice time, or lack thereof. It's been down from what he's used to playing and like any player, he'd like to get more action.

"I'm not playing as much, so I need to get a little work here in practice to stay in shape," Cammalleri told NHL.com. "I'm used to playing 20 minutes a night."

He hasn't been getting that much under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth.

So the Habs have lost seven of their last 10 and are 12th in the East with a player underperforming and seemingly becoming a malcontent. You all know where this is heading, right? It's likely that if nothing else, you'll hear Cammalleri's name floated around in the trade discussions as the deadline approaches in February.

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 7, 2012 10:39 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 11:51 pm
 

Yes, there were protesters in Montreal

By: Adam Gretz

The great Montreal Canadiens language debate of 2011-12 continued to roll on Saturday night. Prior to the Canadiens' 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning a group of around 200 protesters made their presence felt outside of the Bell Centre to voice their displeasure of the hiring of interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth (following the dismisal of Jacques Martin) and his inability to speak french. Along with that, the Quebec-based group is also unhappy about the Canadiens team not having enough french-speaking players on the roster.

This, of course, isn't all that different from what was being said by a small, yet vocal minority of the Canadiens' fan base the day Cunneyworth was hired, and we even knew this demonstration was coming.

Mario Beaulieu, the president of Mouvement Quebec francais released the following statement in advance of the demonstration. Via the Montreal Gazette:
"The Montreal Canadiens management does not respect the status of French as Quebec’s official language. The music played in the Bell Centre is English. All announcements made in the arena are bilingual. There are only two or three francophone players left on the team. And now they have named a head coach who doesn’t speak a word of French. Not even ‘Bonjour’.”
It should be pointed out that these group of xenophobes doesn't represent the entire Montreal Canadiens fan base. Your average Canadiens fan that shows up at the Bell Centre every game in his Mike Cammalleri jersey, ready to pound down a couple of Molson's with his buddies would probably be satisfied if the guy standing behind the bench spoke, I don't know, Chinese, just as long as the team on the ice won games. But the loudest voices always get the most attention, and here we are.

If nothing else, this most recent demonstration illustrates that this noise isn't going away anytime soon.

Previously At Eye On Hockey

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments
Jacques Martin fired by Canadiens

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter
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Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

By Brian Stubits

OK, this whole language fiasco is getting out of hand. Who knew the province would be so angry after Jacques Martin was fired as Montreal Canadiens head coach?

A lot of stink has been raised about the fact that interim coach -- as in, not the full-time coach -- Randy Cunneyworth doesn't speak French. Because of that fact and that fact alone, the decision to elevate Cunneyworth to the top spot has drawn a lot of fire.

So much is being made about it that now a protest is being planned by a Quebec sovereignty group to rally against the Canadiens' coaching decision. From the Montreal Gazette:

Mario Beaulieu, president of the French Quebec Movement, and Denis Trudel, of the French Movement Montreal, issued a news release Thursday saying a rally would be held Jan. 7 outside the Bell Centre to protest “the Anglicization of the Montreal hockey club.”

The protest is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. ET, two hours before a game between the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We will be providing Quebec flags to Canadiens fans who, in waving them during the game, can also express their opinion,” Beaulieu and Trudel said in the news release.

The team's managers don't respect French as the language of Quebec, the release alleges.

The complaints go on to say that they don't play enough French music at games, kvetch about announcements being read in two languages at games (yes, that's really ignoring French) all the way to the fact that there are only a few players on the team who speak French (so I get the sense these Quebecers would rather have a team full of French players who suck than a good team with Anglophones that is good). The final straw to break the camel's back is the coach.

More on Canadiens
Ray Ratto Ray Ratto
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments Read

I understand full well the desire of the people of Monteal (and Quebec) to want a coach that can speak French. To me, it is a very valid request. But what I just don't get is the backlash against this move. People, the coach was fired midseason because your Les Habitants weren't living up to expectations. They didn't have a chance to find the coach they wanted on a full-time basis, so they made an assistant the interim coach. Let it slide.

This does not mean that the Canadiens don't understand what it means to play as Quebec's team. Of course they do, the Canadiens are tied in very tightly with Quebec as a province, as silly as that might sound. The concept of having a Francophone lead their team isn't lost on them. One of the team owners, Geoff Molson, said as much.

Wait until a full-time hire is made before beginning this protesting. If the Habs were then to go out and hire a coach who doesn't speak French, rail away, say the team doesn't respect its French fan base. I'd be fine with that as a reasonable complaint. But it's just not right in this case.

Of course I feel awful for Cunneyworth. This is a guy who is trying to make his way up the NHL coaching ranks and is getting his shot to lead an NHL team. But he is at the center of a firestorm that is really nothing of his own making, unless you feel like faulting Cunneyworth for never learning to speak French. At least the guy should be given a chance to learn French. Instead, from the moment he was "hired" the complaints have been rolling in.

For his part, Cunneyworth says he's not paying attention to the circus environment that it's becoming, telling the Winnipeg Free Press that his focus is only on the team.

"I’m not even concerned with that," said Cunneyworth Thursday at MTS Centre. "Those are stories I haven’t even read or looked at or thought about. I have enough on my plate with the group we have. We’re just trying to win some hockey games."

Asked if the negative publicity undermined his authority with the team, Cunneyworth added:

"I’m not reading those articles or listening to that kind of media. It may be going on, but I only know of it because I get the odd positive comment from a stranger or somebody who is close to me. But I’m not reading those articles, I’m not thinking about those things at this time. I’m really focused on the group we have."

If he is able to drown all this talk out, then maybe he does have what it takes to be an NHL coach. Either that or it's because he doesn't understand the complaints (bazinga!).

Who'd a thunk that being the first Canadiens coach to start 0-3 in his career since the 1920s wouldn't even be his most egregious act as boss of the storied Habs?

Something -- OK, a lot of things -- are being lost in translation here.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey nd @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:29 pm
 

Habs owner: Bilingual coach 'important factor'

By Brian Stubits

Ah yes, the best way to get a message through is to go after the wallet. As we all know, money talks.

As you already know, a nationalistic group in Quebec wasn't happy with the Montreal Canadiens' decision to fire Jacques Martin and replace him with interim coach Randy Cunneyworth. Their anger has nothing to do with the Habs' poor play and everything to do with Cunneyworth's lack of ability to speak French.

Apparently they don't understand the concept of an "interim" coach, as in a fill-in, a guy keeping the seat warm. Either way, the threat was put out there of a boycott on all Molson products. Of course, Geoff Molson (pictured) is the majority owner of the Habs and his Molson company makes some pretty popular beverages.

The chatter caught his attention (well, I'm sure Molson was already aware of the issue to begin with). Molson released a statement expressing the priorities and concerns for the organization when they hire a full-time coach. Here is a snippet.

"Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach.

"Like all our fans we hope for the Montreal Canadiens to be among the top teams in the NHL and we are doing everything we possibly can to win."

More on Canadiens
Ray Ratto Ray Ratto
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments Read

Everything except hiring a coach that doesn't speak French, of course. That's what I'm led to conclude.

It would seem to exclude Cunneyworth from getting the job full-time if he proves worthy as a coach this season. That's unless he takes some classes in French and shows an effort to speak the local language. It would really be a shame if he didn't get the job primarily for this reason, but that's a long way away.

But with statements like this, it gives the feeling that Cunneyworth is a lame duck. You have to figure that the candidate pool is very limited and you can certainly expect to hear the name Patrick Roy come up a lot, as well as one-time Quebec Nordiques coach Marc Crawford. Funny enough, Crawford didn't speak French when he was hired in Quebec, but he learned. Of course it wasn't much help when the 'Diques moved to Colorado the next season.

But man it would be so delicious to see Roy come back to the Canadiens bench. Could he really complain if a player took exception to his managing and demanded a trade?

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:44 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

By: Adam Gretz

There can't be a job in the NHL that carries more pressure and faces more scrutiny than being the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Not only is it a rabid fan base that demands perfection, but you also have to deal with two separate groups of equally harsh media, one of which speaks English, and another that speaks French.

Shortly after he was named as the interim replacement for Jacques Martin following his firing on Saturday, Randy Cunneyworth is starting to get a taste of what it's like inside the belly of the beast. And it's all because he doesn't speak French.

Over the past 20-plus years the Canadiens have made it a point to hire coaches that speak both languages, and when looking at lists of prospective new hires it's almost always limited to bilingual candidates. That of course changed with the placement of Cunneyworth behind the bench over the weekend, and predictably, some people in Quebec aren't happy about it. Mainly those that speak French.

Impératif Français, a Quebec-based nationalist group, has criticized the hire and called it a "bodycheck to Quebec." Along with being overly critical of the hire and calling the ability to speak French a "prerequisite" for the job, the nationalist group has also called for a boycott of all Molson Products, the corporation that owns the team.

Pro-French activist Gilles Rhéaume, representing Ligue Québécoise contre la Francophobie Canadienne, released a similar statement as translated by CJAD in Montreal:
"There are many in Quebec and in all of French America who are asking, the day after a unilingual anglophone was given the head coaching job, if the Canadiens' management hasn't been stricken with francophobia, characterized by a total insensitivity to the French fact in Quebec," Rhéaume wrote. "Not being able to speak French is a severe handicap for someone who occupies such a position. Knowledge of the language of Quebec is an integral part of the skills required to lead the Montreal Canadiens."
What? And you thought the ability to lead the team to wins was the the only integral part of the job?

The problem is people like this -- along with having an obvious fear or bias against anything that's from outside of Quebec -- is that they are still stuck in the stone ages when NHL teams were mostly provincial due to territorial rights, and a team like the Canadiens was made up of almost nothing but French-speaking players from Quebec.

Knowing French may be helpful in his dealings with the media, but to be a head coach in the league today is to deal with a wide range of people from every possible background and culture. The Canadiens roster, as currently constructed, has just three players from Quebec. It has five players from the United States and 10 from various countries in Europe, including Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and Russia.

It's a global game, and the Canadiens are a global team.

As long as Cunneyworth can communicate his message to his players and put them in a position to succeed, the language he speaks (or doesn't speak) shouldn't matter.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Canadiens Fire Jacques Martin
More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Jacques Martin fired by Canadiens

By: Adam Gretz

It had been a couple of days since the NHL went through a coaching change, so it was probably time for another one. On Saturday morning the Montreal Canadiens announced that head coach Jacques Martin has been relieved of his duties and will be replaced on an interim basis by Randy Cunneyworth for the remainder of the season.

The Canadiens will be in action on Saturday night at home against the New Jersey Devils. They enter the weekend with a disappointing 13-12-7 record which puts them in last place in the Northeast Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of the No. 8 seed. Crushed by injuries all season, especially along its blue line where the team has been without one of its best players, Andrei Markov, from the start, as well as several other key players at various teams, Montreal struggled out of the gate losing seven of its first eight games.

That slow start made assistant coach Perry Pearn the early-season sacrificial lamb, which really did nothing more than buy some additional time for Martin behind the bench.

This was Martin's third season as Montreal's coach, and during his tenure with the team compiled a 96-75-25 record. During his watch the Canadiens qualified for the postseason in each of his full seasons with the team, with the high point being the 2009-10 season when the team made an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals behind the stellar goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, eliminating the No. 1 seed Washington Capitals and defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, both in seven games.

Last season Montreal exited in the first round, losing a game seven to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.

Replacing him behind the bench for the remainder of this season will be the 50-year-old Cunneyworth. A former player in the NHL for nearly two decades, Cunneyworth was hired as the coach of Montreal's AHL team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, prior to the 2010-11 season.

This is already the sixth coaching change to take place since the start of the regular season, as Martin joins Davis Payne (St. Louis), Bruce Boudreau (Washington), Paul Maurice (Carolina), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim) and Terry Murray (Los Angeles) as coaches to take the fall for their teams early season struggles.

More on the NHL's coaching carousel here

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
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