#1 mprehensive preview of the 2014 CFL season, featuring an in-depth look von miaowang123 19.08.2019 06:46

BOSTON -- The World Series trophy was in the building. Bill Russell was courtside. And the next Boston Celtics championship seems so very far away. The Celtics opened the season at home on Friday night without Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Doc Rivers -- or Rajon Rondo, for that matter -- and gave away a 22-point second half lead as the Milwaukee Bucks won 105-98 for their first victory of the season. The loss spoiled the home debut of new Celtics coach Brad Stevens and dampened the cheer in the city following the Red Sox victory in the World Series on Wednesday. Zaza Pachulia had 20 points and nine rebounds, making two free throws with 44 seconds left to give the Bucks their first lead since the opening basket. It was the second straight night Milwaukee fell behind early, having spotted the New York Knicks to a 25-point lead before coming back to tie it -- and then lose -- on Wednesday. "We have to figure this out, getting off to such a bad start," said Bucks coach Larry Drew, who earned his first victory after taking over for Jim Boylan. "Ive got to get my finger on it. Two straight games where we just got off to bad starts. It hasnt been great execution. Were just putting too pressure on ourselves defensively." Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner took the court before the game with the World Series trophy, and Russell was also courtside a few hours after a statue of him was unveiled near City Hall. The 11-time NBA champion was honoured during a first-half timeout, and Stevens made sure his team watched. "There are things that are bigger than the game, although right now I dont feel good about life," the former Butler coach said. "To honour Bill Russell and to have us be in a huddle while theyre honouring Bill Russell wouldnt be right." John Henson had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks, who scored the last 10 points of the game. In its opener on Wednesday, Milwaukee rallied to take a lead with 3:13 left before giving up 10 of the last 12 points. "The second time, same (bad start)" Pachulia said. "In New York, we just couldnt finish out the game. We have to fix the mistakes we make." Vitor Faverani scored 12 points with 18 rebounds for Boston. Brandon Bass and Jeff Green each had nine rebounds for the Celtics, who scored 20 of the first 26 points in the game and led 72-50 with 19 minutes to play. But Milwaukee scored 11 of the last 14 points in the third quarter and then tied it 93-all with a 20-10 run to start the fourth. After Gerald Wallace hit a 3-pointer to give Boston back the lead, the teams traded free throws and then the Bucks scored the next 10 points. Milwaukee made 10 straight free throws to end the game, including two by Pachulia that made it 99-98. "We cant play like that. It all starts with me," Green said. "Weve got to get it going in the right direction and I take responsibility for that. We cant lose -- not the way we played in the first half." It was the first regular-season home game for the Celtics, who traded Pierce and Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets over the summer and sent Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. Stevens replaced Rivers, making his NBA debut about a week after his 37th birthday. Injured point guard Rajon Rondo took over Pierces usual role of speaking to the fans before the opener. Wearing a suit and tie and a fake beard -- a tribute to the Red Sox -- Rondo welcomed the fans before taking a seat on the bench for the rest of the game. Rondo, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, is not expected to play for at least a month. The Celtics arent expected to be competitive until he returns, which is OK with the fans who want them to earn a high pick in what is said to be the deepest NBA draft in years. Boston came out and scored 16 of the first 20 points in the game and never led by less than seven points until the fourth-quarter collapse, when they were outscored 34-15. Faverani had 11 rebounds at halftime and Green had 11 points. NOTES: Celtics PG Avery Bradley was evaluated for a concussion on Friday but was cleared to play. ... Bucks PG Brandon Knight, who strained his right hamstring 2 minutes into Milwaukees opener, did not play. ... Russell sat courtside. ... Bostons Jared Sullinger returned from a one-game suspension after he was charged with domestic violence. The charges were dismissed by a judge. Lawrence Taylor Giants Jersey . Nowitzki scored 28 points, Harris had a season-high 14 for the second straight game and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Detroit Pistons 116-106 Sunday night. Phil McConkey Giants Jersey . Orlando is to begin play in the MLS for the 2015 season. Kaka, who currently plays with AC Milan, is expected to be loaned out to his home club Sao Paulo for the upcoming season before joining Orlando for next season. http://www.nygiantsfanaticshop.com/Black-Mark-Bavaro-Giants-Jersey.html?cat=865 . Rosbergs time of 1 minute, 33.185 seconds at the Bahrain International Circuit was a quarter of a second faster than Hamilton, who had to abandon his final flying lap after running wide at the first corner. Lawrence Taylor Jersey . The commissioners office said Friday that Sears tested positive for metabolites of Methandienone. Sears will be 23 in March. He signed with the Braves in June 2013 out of Arizona Christian, an NAIA school, and is on the roster of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Braves. Julian Love Giants Jersey .J. -- Patrick Sharp is on one of those streaks.Summit, anyone? Its an interesting time for Canada on the international hockey front. The World Under-17 Challenge just wrapped up Saturday in Sarnia, Ont., with three balanced Team Canada(s) (White, Red and Black) finishing fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the eight-team tournament. Russia beat Team USA for gold; Sweden topped Finland for bronze. Tonight, in Saskatoon, the Canadian Hockey Leagues six-game Subway Super Series against a barnstorming Russian all-star team commences, with additional stops in Brandon, Peterborough, Kingston, Bathurst and Rimouski this week and next. Hockey Canada will use the six games involving Canadian all-stars from the Western, Ontario and Quebec Leagues as critical evaluation to determine which players will be invited to mid-Decembers final national team camp for the 2015 World Junior Championship, where Canada hopes to end a five-year WJC gold-medal drought and win a medal of any colour for the first time in three years. Now, honestly, a disappointing if not embarrassing result at one entry-level international tourney (U-17), revamped as it was to give Canada a better chance to do well, and a five-year WJC drought that was preceded by a five-year WJC gold-medal bonanza isnt sufficiently disastrous to warrant getting our countrys greatest hockey minds together in a formal setting in one room to oversee an overhaul of the Canadian development model. So lets try to maintain some perspective here. But that isnt to say we shouldnt, at the very least, maybe just over a cup of coffee, pause for some reasonable discussion, discourse and introspection on how Canadians are going about their hockey business these days. When it comes to hockey, we have always been a nation of extremes. Were the best; its our game. Or, after a particularly poor performance or losing streak, we suck; our game is broken. If youre part of the former camp, youre still dining out on back-to-back gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. All is well with our game and pity the fool who suggests otherwise. If youre a member of the latter group, you take last weeks poor World U-17 Challenge results (Team Canada Black, with three of Canadas better 1998-born players, needed overtime to beat Slovakia to avoid finishing in last place), combine that disappointment with the five-year WJC gold-medal drought that includes the unprecedented (since the Program of Excellence was founded in 1982) no medal at all in back-to-back years, and you have the makings of total system failure. Heres the thing, though. Im not even convinced winning international tournaments should be the primary measuring stick for any countrys development system. Certainly, you cant ignore results. Theres a reason they keep score. But tournament play being what it is, where the margins between success and failure are so fine, theres got to be so much more to it than that. At the U-17, for example, if Team Canada Black had beaten Team Canada White in overtime of their round-robin game, instead of the reverse happening (White beat Black 5-4), it would have virtually guaranteed one Canadian team in each of the semi-finals. That would have meant, at the very least, one medal and two top-four finishes. The optics wouldnt have been nearly as poor as the 5th, 6th and 7th place finishes. Also, if were going to make broad assumptions on the strength, or weakness, of one tournament and hold Team Canada(s) accountable for their performances, should we not delve a little deeper, perhaps make some allowance, for example, for Team Canada White, which was decimated by injuries and lost their top two defencemen and second-line centre before the tourney even began? To take it a step a further, what if it Patrick Kane has scored the golden goal in Vancouver instead of Sidney Crosby, would it really have said anything different – better or worse -- about how we develop Canadian hockey players? Okay, so if international tournament results shouldnt be the primary determining factor in measuring relative strengths and weaknesses of development systems, what should it be then? How about putting individual talent into the NHL? Getting players drafted first overall or in the first round and going on to have long and successful NHL careers? Thats a good one. The quantity and quality of hockey players a country puts at the pinnacle of the hockey pyramid can be an outstanding metric. So as long as Canada continues to produce elite talent as plentiful, smart, speedy and skilled as Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nate MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby, to name only a few, the Canadian game, the Canadian system, is just fine, isnt it? I thought about that a lot as I watched Team Canada White, Red and Black grind the gears at the U-17. I thought about how Russia, Team USA, Sweden and Finland all got better team results in Sarnia and I thought, or at least wondered, how many of the individual Americans, Russians, Swedes and Finns from those U-17 teams will be chosen ahead of many of the 1998-born Canadians in the 2016 NHL draft? Therell be some, of that there is no doubt. Team USAs Max Jones has NHL power forward written all over his game and Russias Dmitri Sokolov is a dynamic offensive presence. There may be some others. But it also occurred to me that the results of this U-17 tournament may well turn out to be at odds with how the NHL evaluates the 1998-born Canadian talent at the 2016 draft in Buffalo. In other words, as collective as the Canadian failure was in Sarnia, what does it say about the Canadian development system if on draft day the individual Canadian players come out on top in the eyes of the NHL? I mean, Connor McDavids Team Ontario finished sixth in the 2013 U-17 tourney. Of course, theres more to winning medals in international tournaments than just developing speedy and skillful hockey players. Getting them to come together as a team quickly and when it matters most is an art form of sorts that often means as much to the final outcome as does the talent of the individual players. Canada clearly struggled on that front in Sarnia. Perhaps, to a point, understandably so. Team Canada White, Red and Black were up against, for the most part, true national teams of the U.S., Russia, Sweden and Finland. The Americans play as a real team in the USHL, train and live together in Ann Arbor, Mich. The European teams come together more frequently and for longer periods than the respective Canadian teams, who were assembled after a 108-player, 10-day evaluation camp last summer in Calgary. Most naturally assumed going from the old U-17 format of five regional teams to three balanced, national teams would make for much stronger squads, but what the three Team Canada(s) gained in depth of talent they perhaps lost in cohesion and/or identity. Besides, if the goal were to win and only win hockey games and tournaments, Hockey Canada would have done the obvious: stack one true national A+ team with the best 22 players, giving itself the best possible chance of beating very good national teams from the U.dddddddddddd.S. and Europe, and then put together weaker Team Canada(s), B and C, with the remaining 44 players. Last Friday night, after all three Team Canada(s) lost their quarter-final games, the mood was understandably morose. Hockey Canada vice president of hockey operations and national teams Scott Salmond gathered together all the Canadian coaching and support staffs that night and told them the same thing he would tell anyone who asked the next day: If we had 10 objectives going into this tournament, we really feel as though we successfully checked off nine of the 10 boxes. We exposed players and coaches to a whole new program, instituted a lot of different elements that weve never done before, important things we think are going to make us ultimately more successful with this age group in the future at the World Junior U-20 level. The one box we werent able to check off here was winning and as important as it is for Canadians to win in international hockey, if that were the only goal here, we would have gone about it in a different way. As Canadians, we dont like losing – believe me, I understand that -- but sometimes, in the interest of development, at this age in particular, there may be things more important than winning. Fair enough. But, for what its worth, if youre going to make the World Under-17 Challenge a nationally televised event – and it was; the semi-finals and medal games were broadcast live on TSN – it almost behooves you to have one true national team, because Canadian hockey fans, bless them, arent going to watch USA-Sweden and Russia-Finland in the semi-finals and be happy about it, to say nothing of a USA-Russia gold-medal game. TV and marketing concerns, as well sparing the battered Canadian international hockey psyche, may not be good enough reasons to eschew development at the U-17 for merely a better chance to win. Or maybe it is. That is what Hockey Canadas post-tournament de-brief will be for. Well see what form this tourney takes a year from now. So given all of that, in the meantime, can we draw any conclusions from the World U-17 Challenge as it relates to the state of Canadas game, the development of young Canadian hockey players? Well, keeping in mind were talking about mercurial 16-year-olds, which is to suggest you could play the tourney all over again next week with wildly divergent results, Im not sure anyone could make any sweeping pronouncements with any degree of absolute validity. I know I couldnt, especially since I only saw a handful of games (Team Canada White beating Team Canada Black 5-4 in overtime; Team USA absolutely demolishing Team Canada Red 7-3; Team USA having to work a little harder but still fully in control to beat Team Canada Black 4-1 in a quarter-final; Russia breaking open a 1-1 third period tie to whip Team Canada Red 4-1; as well as Team USAs convincing 4-1 semi-final win over Sweden and Russia demolishing Finland 6-1 in the other semi). But I can tell you what I saw, and what I felt, small sample size be damned. For the most part, man for man, the Americans and most certainly the Russians and Swedes were superior skaters to the Canadians. They also appeared to be more skillful, if by skillful I mean the ability to give and take passes and makes plays at top speed, than the Canadians. One Canadian coach told me he watched the Swedes practice and was blown away by how few passes were mishandled over the course of a high-tempo practise, using his own CHL teams practice skills as a comparison. Maybe none of that comes as any surprise to anyone. In spite of however many great successes Canada has had internationally over the years, and there have been many, weve always marveled at what seemed like the superior speed and skill of our opponents. But in the limited games I saw in these particular games in this particular tournament, the difference seemed really striking. Incredibly so. What was also really noticeable, though, in Team Canada Reds and Team Canada Blacks losses to Team USA was how much hungrier the Americans appeared. They won more battles, they were far more tenacious. The consistency of their effort was greater and not by a little either. Like I said, with players this age you never know what youre going to get from night to night, never mind year to year. My esteemed colleague, TSN director of scouting Craig Button, told me the 1997-born Russian team that won bronze at this tournament a year ago, was soft and often noticeably lacked effort and drive. The 1998-born Russians, who won the gold medal this time, were precisely the opposite. Which is another cautionary note when making any bold pronouncements on the state of anyones game. As noted, the Russian speed and skill was eye-popping in Sarnia, but in Russias semi-final win over Finland, I couldnt have been more impressed with their tenacity. They had voracious hunger for the puck. They were relentless, hard and physical, winning battles, going to the net, playing with as much passion and commitment without the puck as with it. It was every player on every shift for the entire game. It was no small wonder they won the gold medal the next day with a win over the Americans, who had looked like the team to beat all week. Dare I say it, these Russians played what we like to think is a great Canadian-style game, except with greater speed, skill and strength. I often felt the same way when watching the Americans. Make of that what you will. These are all merely subjective observations from one person after watching a handful of games involving 16-year-olds in a tournament with a somewhat unusual format (Canada splitting its talent over multiple teams). If I were to infer to anything from my time at the World Under-17 Challenge, there would be two takeaways: One, given that Canadians have just one silver and one bronze of the 12 medals up for grabs over the last four years at this event, it would appear obvious that if winning is the primary objective, going with multiple balanced entries or regional teams against the other countries national squads isnt going to cut it. Canadas opponents have simply improved too much, though one may do well to ask how important winning should be at this stage of the development model. Two, whatever statement the NHL Draft or back-to-back Olympic gold medals may ultimately make about Canadas status as a hockey power, I still have to believe there is much Canada can learn from its international competition, especially on how to teach superior skating and skills to its young players. Canada can be better; Canada is going to need to be better because the other hockey-playing nations of the world are continuing to set the bar higher and higher. Im not sure you need a summit to see that. ' ' '

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