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Canucks’ Rutherford keeps diversity front of mind in hiring process

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VANCOUVER – For an older, white male who in appearance and experience seems to embody the National Hockey League establishment, Jim Rutherford has some progressive ideas about building his management team with the Vancouver Canucks.

Rutherford told Sportsnet in a pre-Christmas interview that he admires the diversity of the Seattle Kraken, which under chief executive officer Tod Leiweke filled many positions with women and people from various ethnic backgrounds so that the NHL’s newest organization would reflect the community it serves.

After he was hired by Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini to be the president of hockey operations, Rutherford told reporters at his introductory press conference on Dec. 13: “Our society is changing all the time, and I would like to see a more diverse staff if possible.”

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A few days later, the 72-year-old’s first hire was assistant general manager Derek Clancey, a highly-respected “hockey guy” whose 16 years with the Pittsburgh Penguins meant he started there before Rutherford arrived as general manager in 2014 and orchestrated two Stanley Cups.

Rutherford had his eye on Clancey when he said yes to Aquilini, and the Canucks had – still have – pressing needs in their front office. Clancey, 52, is now in charge of professional and amateur scouting, among other duties, but doesn’t qualify in any way as a minority hire.

Rutherford, however, re-iterated in his interview with Sportsnet his desire to hire people with diverse backgrounds and experiences in hockey.

Jamie Dodd and Thomas Drance dive deep on the issues that matter for any die-hard Canucks fan, bringing comprehensive coverage and exclusive interviews.

The Globe and Mail reported before Christmas that the Canucks were looking at a trio of female candidates for another assistant GM position: Jennifer Botterill, Jayna Hefford and Angela Ruggiero.

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“My feeling is if you can build a front office with people that grew up playing hockey or in the game, not even necessarily playing but as part of the game, then you get different voices, different opinions,” Rutherford said. “You have a better chance of getting different ideas. That’s really where I’m coming from here as to having people from different (backgrounds) coming through the system.”

In Pittsburgh, Rutherford helped mentor future NHL GMs in Jason Botterill, Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald. He said he is comfortable hiring and teaching people who understand the game and are willing to work hard, even if their resumes are not extensive.

“You talk about resumes and comparing resumes and comparing people, you have to do that all the time,” Rutherford explained. “Even when I talk directly to some of these people, they will say: ‘Well, I haven’t done this, I haven’t negotiated contracts.’ None of us had done anything at one point in our careers. I mean. . . every person that has any job, whatever it is — in this case, we’re talking about an NHL hockey team — at one point in time, none of us had ever made a trade. None of us had ever done a contract, none none of us had ever dealt with the salary cap. You have to start some time.

“Part of me being in Vancouver and taking this job is to mentor people. I’ve mentored some people that have gone on to be GMs, some guys who started as young coaches. I think it’s an advantage for our organization to bring certain people in that maybe don’t have a lot of experience, but they’re smart and they know the game. And their input is going to be heard. As each day goes by, they’ll learn things. I mean, I’ve done this for a long, long time, almost forever, and I learn new things every week.

“Our game changes all the time; you have to be willing to learn. So for people coming in that don’t have experience, they’re going to be just like people that have experience: they’re going to learn, right? But the important thing is to hire people that are willing to do that, work hard, have some kind of background in hockey. I think it will really strengthen our organization.”

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Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

Rutherford wouldn’t confirm he has spoken to Botterill, Hefford or Ruggiero, but said he has spent much of his time so far as Canucks’ president on the phone seeking out and speaking with potential hires.

He did say that the next AGM is likely to oversee the salary cap and player contracts, but he envisions a management umbrella with three assistants working under a yet-to-be-hired general manager, who will report to Rutherford.

He hopes to start in-person interviews for that senior position in January, although the current resurgence of COVID-19 is complicating the process, and he will wait as long as necessary to get the right GM.

In the meantime, Rutherford wants to expand the Canucks’ analytics department and hire a replacement for former director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall, who was fired by Aquilini along with assistant GM Chris Gear the day after Rutherford was hired on Dec. 9.

Rutherford praised the work of Canucks senior analyst Aiden Fox, a possible successor to Wall, and also raved about player development director and minor-league GM Ryan Johnson, whom he did not know before coming to Vancouver.

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Rutherford has already promoted career Canuck Stan Smyl to vice-president of hockey operations and said he is thankful to inherit special advisers Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“I like a lot of people that are still there, so I don’t foresee needing to make changes to the people that are in the office now,” Rutherford said. “I’ve got to continue to build the structure of hockey operations and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

With Rutherford’s ideals about diversity in mind, here are 10 potential candidates for management. The Canucks’ next GM may even come from this group.

Patrik Allvin

With an extensive scouting background, the Swede has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the last 16 years and was promoted in 2020 by Rutherford to the position of assistant general manager. Allvin was briefly the interim GM after Rutherford resigned, but lost out on the full-time title when Ron Hextall was hired. NHL insider Frank Seravalli reported last week on Sportsnet 650 that Allvin, 47, is the frontrunner to be named Canucks GM.

Jason Botterill

The 45-year-old crashed and burned as a first-time GM with the Buffalo Sabres. But he remains respected for his broad experience, including cap management, and was so well-regarded by Rutherford that he was previously an associate GM in Pittsburgh. Currently the top assistant to Seattle GM Ron Francis, Botterill may not be available to the Canucks until after this season — and not at all unless he comes as the new general manager.

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Jennifer Botterill

OK, so the siblings on this list are not named Sedin. Before the Globe reported the Canucks’ interest in the iconic three-time Olympic champion with Team Canada, Botterill was touted by a rival NHL manager as an ideal candidate for the Canucks. The 42-year-old has an honours degree in psychology from Harvard and has won praise for her sharp insights as a studio analyst for Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada.

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Cammi Granato

The greatest female player in U.S. hockey history, the Hall-of-Famer has spent the last two years working for the Kraken as a professional scout, which means she was instrumental in their expansion process and knows the league intimately. Granato, 50, lives in Vancouver with her partner, hockey analyst Ray Ferraro, so she understands the market and has seen the Canucks as much as anyone over the last couple of seasons.

Mike Grier

The 46-year-old Detroit native played more than 1,000 games in the NHL after becoming the first Black U.S. player to make the league entirely through American hockey channels. After retiring as a player, Grier worked as a professional scout for the Chicago Blackhawks and assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils before the New York Rangers hired him last spring as a hockey operations adviser under new GM Chris Drury. Grier’s brother, Chris, is general manager of the Miami Dolphins.

Craig Heisinger

When we asked around the league about a manager qualified to be an NHL GM but who is rarely mentioned, the Winnipeg Jets assistant GM’s name popped up a couple of times. Heisinger’s name is rarely mentioned because the 59-year-old Winnipegger loves his hometown and is fiercely loyal to the Jets and owner Mark Chipman as senior vice-president of True North Sports and Entertainment. But Heisinger’s impressive experience includes working with the Canucks when the franchise’s minor-league team was the Manitoba Moose.

Ryan Johnson

Johnson, 45, is in his ninth season in Canucks hockey operations and has been the team’s director of player development since 2016. He is also the general manager of its American Hockey League franchise, a title he carried from Utica to Abbotsford, and has a ton of operational knowhow. A tireless collaborator who cares passionately about his players, Johnson has a bright future as an NHL manager. When Rutherford talks about hiring an entry-level GM he can mentor, he could be referring to Johnson.

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Chris MacFarland

None of these GM-candidates lists ever appear without the Colorado Avalanche’s assistant GM and right-hand-man to executive VP and GM Joe Sakic. MacFarland, 51, spent 16 seasons working his way up through Columbus Blue Jackets’ hockey operations before moving to Denver in 2016. With a business degree and experience at law school, MacFarland has worked in every aspect of hockey management. He is so highly regarded around the NHL, the New York native can be choosey about his next opportunity.

Alexandra Mandrycky

Another rising hockey-ops star with the Seattle Kraken, Mandrycky was an analytics pioneer before putting her industrial engineering degree to work by joining the Minnesota Wild in 2015 as a data analyst. The Kraken wanted her badly enough that they hired the 30-year-old from the Atlanta area in 2019 — before Leiweke named Francis his GM. Mandrycky is Seattle’s director of hockey administration.

Scott Mellanby

We’re not including Mike Gillis on this list, but the former Canucks general manager gave Mellanby his start in management as a special consultant in Vancouver. Mellanby left to try coaching as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues before joining Montreal Canadiens hockey-ops in 2012. He was named an assistant GM in 2014 and groomed since then by general manager Marc Bergevin to be his successor. But the 55-year-old resigned from the organization a month ago when it became clear he would not survive the regime change that saw Bergevin fired and Jeff Gorton brought in as executive vice-president.





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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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