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Maple Leafs ownership ‘fantastically supportive’ of Shanahan’s plan

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TORONTO – Brendan Shanahan, the player, sees a common link between the two most famous coaches he played under, Mike Keenan and Scotty Bowman.

“I can handle a mean coach. I don’t mind a guy barking and yelling and winding me up, and I do think it had to be some of their plan with me,” Shanahan explained Monday, in conversation with Brian Burke at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference.

“It was wind me up, get me mad, then put me on the ice. I was usually a better player when I was angry.”

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Bowman and Keenan could be anger provokers, a couple of excellent if gruff bench coaches who weren’t afraid to play mind games or keep their players on edge.

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Absolutely, Keenan’s off-ice methods weren’t always well received by his charges. An example: spitefully scratching a player he’d learned had purchased a bunch of tickets for friends and family to watch him play road game.

But once the puck dropped, both men knew how to drag the best performance out of Shanahan, who won three Stanley Cups with Bowman’s Detroit Red Wings.

“Scotty hated comfort. He hated for his team and his players to ever feel complacent and comfortable. So, he created adversity always,” Shanahan said.

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“Then once the playoffs started, he took away adversity. You were hardened by then. Scotty created adversity, but it wasn’t cruel.”

It is through this lens, then, that we must frame the approach of Brendan Shanahan, the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

We are now 16 games deep into Year 8 of the Shanaplan. Although the homegrown president’s vision has produced a resounding No. 1–overall lottery win, many secured free agent targets, and five straight postseason appearances, there’s been no winning when it matters.

“To me, it’s always about development. It’s about them dealing with the adversity,” Shanahan said, bringing it back to the Bowman method.

“If it didn’t exist in November, December, January, he found a way to create adversity, so you’d be hardened by the time the playoffs came. When things get noisy and the pressure mounts, we work internally to solve problems and solve issues.”

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Internally, there is a direct line of belief in place.

Shanahan has his handpicked GM, and Kyle Dubas has his handpicked head coach. Sheldon Keefe had a major voice in selecting his current assistants. And the brain trust agreed to double-down on its Core Four star forwards, avoid blockbuster trade temptation, and re-up top defenceman Morgan Reilly before the bill came due.

The sense that this could be a make-or-break campaign for the key players involved is well founded.

Remember, Dubas declared heading into this fall: “For better or worse, I believe in this group…. I know that the decision lies on me, and the risk is for me in going ahead that way.”

A run of eight wins in nine outings (some ugly, some dominant) has helped ease the tension in Leafland from the rocky four-game losing skid that preceded it.

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Shanahan joined that rocky October roadie following Toronto’s embarrassing 7-1 loss to Burke’s depleted Penguins squad, and his presence spurred (denied) speculation that someone (Dubas? Keefe? A star player?) might not be long for the Blue and White.

Adversity like that is a reminder of the radioactive market in which Shanahan must steer this ship, but it could well be directed as fuel for this spring.

During a rare public appearance, Shanahan again endorsed everyone under his employ.

“I think we’ve got a great coach. I think we’ve got a great general manager. And I think the whole staff is really committed to it,” Shanahan said, unwavering.

“We’ve got fantastic players who care a lot. They want to be the ones. Not everybody wants to play in a big city where there’s a lot of pressure, but our guys want to be the ones to rewrite history here in Toronto.

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“They understand it has to happen in the playoffs. It hasn’t happened yet, but I do really believe in them all that we’re going to get it done.”

Shanahan’s company line hasn’t changed much from the tone he struck after the Leafs’ Round 1 collapse to the Montreal Canadiens.

But one of the great unknowns is how Shanahan’s own bosses, Larry Tanenbaum and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, truly feels about his plan to keep running it back through the adversity.

Tanenbaum has been spotted at multiple home games this season and went into the dressing room to congratulate the players after a win.

“Ownership has been fantastically supportive,” Shanahan said.

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“And when I look at some of these players we have—good mix of veterans, young guys, many that we drafted and brought up—to me, it’s about going through these adverse moments so your stronger when the playoffs do come.

“You keep pounding on that door until you finally break the door down.”



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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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